In Pieces – Chapter 4

“You guys may not remember this one.” Brian said as he looked out into the crowd of screaming girls. Sitting down on a black folding chair, he grinned as the opening notes to As Long As You Love Me began to play. This just added to the screams of the crowd, who recognized the song instantly.

“Although loneliness has always been a friend of mine, I’m leaving my life in your hands.” Nick sang, almost flawlessly. After ten years of performing this song, one should hope that he would be able to sing it near perfectly.

Joey grinned as she sang along to the familiar song. The song that had made her and Ashleigh Backstreet Boys fans in the first place. She looked over at Ashleigh, who looked less than enthusiastic. She was standing, but her arms were crossed and she was staring at the ground at her feet.

“Come on Ash.” Joey nudged her. Ashleigh didn’t respond. Joey rolled her eyes, she knew that Ashleigh was worried that Nick might recognize her. Either that or she couldn’t bear to look at him. Joey hadn’t realized that Ashleigh was still feeling this way, she figured that she would have been over it by now.

“Who you are, where you’re from, what you did…” The boys sang in harmony, dressed in slick black outfits and sitting on the ever popular black folding chairs. Ashleigh peeked up at them and smirked a little. She’d always thought that chair dance was lame.

Joey grinned at her friend, knowing that this part of the concert had to be amusing her. She’s always laughed whenever she’d seen this video on MTV, and as much as she and Asheligh had loved the boys, they loved to make fun of the cheesiness that was the As Long As You Love Me video. Putting her arm around her best friend, she sang the last lines of the song along with the rest of the crowd.

Her smile grew wider when she realized that Ashleigh, though not really looking up at the stage, was also singing along.

As the song ended, the crowd erupted with applause and screams of adoration.

Up on the stage, Nick flashed the audience a smirk as they yelled and cheered for him. “Minneapolis!!” He shouted, making the crowd scream louder. Years and years of performing, and he never tired of the adrenaline rush that seared through him as he stood on the stage, overlooking hundreds of fans. “If you liked that, you’ll love this.” He said, and the familiar strumming of a guitar began to play.

If the crowd had erupted during As Long As You Love Me, they were surely going to explode during this next song. A Backstreet Boys classic, a song that would forever identify them as the biggest pop group of the nineties.
“Am I your fire…” Brian sang, and the rest of the arena joined him. Nick couldn’t help but grin as he looked out into the crowd. They had been through a lot, and yet he still felt as though they were on top. Even if the charts said otherwise.

Nick scanned the first few rows of the audience, as he did at every concert. The girls usually went nuts as he made eye contact with them, as they felt that for one brief moment, he was singing right to them.

And he saw them.

He squinted at first, unsure where he knew them from. All he knew was that they looked familiar. He had definitely seen these girls before. Groupies maybe?

And it hit him.

Groupies, of course. But not just any groupies. Those groupies. The two girls that had followed him all around the country, watching every concert, singing along to every word. And her, catering to his every whim and desire.

He had been so stricken and shocked that he’d nearly forgotten it was his turn to sing. Awkwardly, and horribly off key, he managed to sing his part of the verse. Not that anyone had really noticed, they were all too busy singing along to the hit single.

He almost couldn’t believe that they were here. He’d half expected her to destroy all of his CDs, tear up all his posters, never think about him again. But clearly, she still thought of him. After all, she was a fan.

And yet, it intrigued him. This girl, who after eight years was still attending his concerts. Her blonde head bobbing along to the music as her friend sang along with a wide grin plastered on her face.

Oh yeah, it was them all right. AJ was going to be floored when he heard this.

Could it be that she hadn’t yet gotten over him? Or was it that she had in fact moved on with her life, and was now able to enjoy the concert without a second thought as to what had happened.

Knowing it was probably a bad idea, Nick couldn’t suppress his curiosity. He had to find out.

“AJ, AJ, J!” Nick called, sprinting towards AJ’s bus, as they got ready to leave the venue after the concert was over. It had been torturous for Nick, wanting so much to spill everything, but unable to do it during costume changes during the remainder of the show for fear that Brian or Howie would overhear him.

“What?” AJ said, looking irritated. He wanted nothing more than to go back to their hotel and crash for the night.

“You’ll never guess what-“ Nick paused, catching his breath. “No, who, I saw!” He said, still not believing it himself.

“Who?” AJ said, sounding exasperated. Not that he really cared.

“Ashleigh….and Joey, I think.” Nick replied.

AJ furrowed his eyebrows, not exactly knowing who Nick was talking about. “Who?” He asked again.

“Those groupies! Remember??” Nick pressed, annoyed that AJ didn’t have a clue who he was talking about.

“Since when do you remember groupies, Nick?” AJ laughed, rolling his eyes. He couldn’t possibly be serious, getting this worked up over some girl he’d slept with.

Nick glared at AJ. “I remember the ones I fucked more than once.” He said defensively, narrowing his eyes at him. “Anyway, we met them during Black and Blue.” He continued, hoping that would job AJ’s memory.

AJ tried to think, and finally he began to recall what Nick was referring to. “Oh…right.” He said, turning to go back into his bus, but Nick pulled him back.

“Let’s go talk to them.” He urged.

AJ pulled away from Nick and stared at him in bewilderment. Talk to them? He had to be out of his mind! “Are you nuts? Go out there, you’ll get mauled!” AJ exclaimed.

Nick shrugged, he was sure he’d be fine. “This isn’t 1998.” He replied casually. “Most of them won’t even recognize me.”

AJ just shook his head. “You’re lucky, Kev isn’t here. He’d kick your ass for even suggesting this.”

Meanwhile, the two girls were taking their time leaving the arena. The reason being that Joey was still sitting in her seat, babbling on and on about how great the concert was, how much she loved the new songs live, how cute they all looked…

Ashleigh was not as exited. In fact, she couldn’t wait to get out of there. She thought she had seen Nick looking at her at one point, and the thought terrified her. She was sure that if he had recognized her (though she doubted he would) he would surely think she was a creepy stalker.

And so, as the arena was finally nearly empty, Joey stood up to leave and Ashleigh was quick to follow. She couldn’t help but smile, despite her negative attitude towards the whole thing, she had had a good time. As they leisurely strolled through the corridors, slowly making their way to the parking lot, Ashleigh turned to her friend.

“Thanks for making me come, Joe.” She said sincerely.

Joey just smiled, knowing that once Ashleigh had seen that nothing bad had come of the concert she’d be happy she’d come. “You’re welcome.” She smiled.

As the two of them made their way to the parking lot, laughing and giggling all along the way, Ashleigh suddenly felt a hand on her right arm. Spinning around, she found herself face to face with a set of crystal blue eyes and tousled blonde hair.

“I thought that was you.”

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