Fame and Fortune / Dust and Dirt

“Tell me again why we’re doing this?” I asked bitterly as we sat backstage at the London O2 arena.

“Because he asked. And because you’re a nice person, you’re going to do this, Nick,” Howie reminded me, giving me a look.

I had to bite my tongue. If Kevin was here, this wouldn’t be happening. Actually, nevermind, it probably would. Kevin hated these fad groups just as much as I did, but he was also a lot nicer to their faces than I was. So he probably just would have given me the same response as Howie just did, but at least when it was over we’d be able to laugh about it.

I slumped down in my chair. Where the hell was Lauren with my wheat grass juice?

“Sit up,” Brian commanded me. He’s such a dad. And not the good kind of dad, giving out advice and shit (like Kevin) the bad kind, who always tells you what to do and how to do it. And when I was around Brian, sometimes I acted like a child who rebelled just ’cause I wanted to piss him off.

So I didn’t move from my position. I glared at Brian and he just rolled his eyes. He didn’t say anything, but I think he knew why I was in such a crap-ass mood.

Everywhere we went in the last eight years people had looked at us like we were crazy for staying together. We’d get looks and comments from people in the industry. Everyone always said the same thing.

“Boy bands are dead.”

But we didn’t care. We wanted to keep going and keep making music. We wanted to show the world that even without the silly boy band label, that we could still be a respectable group. No matter how many times I said those words in interviews, I still wasn’t sure if I believed them. I mean, come on, the only way we were able to play such huge venues in the last ten years was by doing a nostalgia tour with New Kids on the fucking Block.

(Don’t tell them I said that.)

So fuck being in a boy band. I wanted us to go in a different direction. I wanted myself to go in a different direction. I wanted to write music based on my own life and experiences, not about some random girl who had dumped me, or who had a boyfriend that I didn’t like. I think that I did a good job of it too. Sure, my album was still pop music, but pop music that had real meaning behind it.

Not some What Makes You Beautiful bullshit.

So you can sort of see why I wasn’t in the greatest mood sitting backstage waiting to meet some punkass kid. Niall Horan… his name even sorta sounds like mine. He was, for all intents and purposes, the new me. One Direction’s Nick Carter. Perez Hilton had even called him that.

Fuck Perez. I was going to have to have a talk with that guy.

It made me feel like I was fucking irrelevant.

Sure, we’d been on top of the world at one point, and at the time we’d legitimately thought it was because we were actually good. That people actually liked what we were doing. Now, I realize that it was just because we were a passing fad. We’d worked our asses off to get where we were, and now it just felt like we were at the bottom again.

I looked over at AJ. He was really excited. He actually loves One Direction. He plays their CD all the time and I’ve caught him rocking out to One Thing more times than I can count. But that’s AJ for you. He loves fads. And he’s a nice guy. He can accept stuff like this. He keeps saying that they’re the same as we were when we were first starting out.

I didn’t think that was true at all. One Direction had it easy. They auditioned for American Idol or X Factor or some shit like that and instantly got famous because of Simon Cowell.

You hear that? They got put together by Simon Cowell. We got put together by some fat guy who pretended to sell blimps. And who do you think has more respect in the industry? Yeah, life’s not fair.

AJ practically jumped off the seat when this kid walked backstage. I tried my best not to roll my eyes, so I just gave him a friendly wave.

Well, as friendly as I could anyway.

“What’s the craic guys?” he asked in some sort of thick accent I couldn’t place.

Fuck this kid and his stupid accent.


I could hardly contain my excitement as I walked backstage. I was practically skipping! To think that I was going to meet the Backstreet Boys (and afterwards, New Kids on the Block!) was practically a dream come true. I could only hope that me and the lads would have a career as good as theirs.

As soon as I walked into their dressing room, I grinned and AJ was really quick to greet me. He shook my hand and told me how happy he was that I had come to see the show.

How happy he was? Really? I was just me… nowhere near as big as them!

“What’s the craic guys?” I asked, looking around at the others. I was really nervous and excited, but I tried my best not to show it. “London O2 two nights in a row… you lads must be really excited!”

“Oh yeah, it’s great, we’re really happy to be here,” AJ said, still standing next to me and smiling. “You guys have played here before too, right?”

I nodded quickly. Yeah, we had, but not by ourselves. “Yeah, when we were on tour with X Factor, we’ll be playing it on our big arena tour next year though. I can’t wait.”

“First big arena tour, that’s gonna be really fun,” Howie said as he walked up to me. He extended his hand and I quickly shook it. “I’m Howie, by the way.”

“Niall Horan,” I said politely. It was a little bit awkward, because I was sure they all knew who I was. Since they knew I was coming to meet them and all. Not because I thought I was some big star.

“Trust Howie to get the introductions rolling,” Brian said with a laugh as he stood up and came over to where we were all standing. “Brian Littrell,” he said, shaking my hand.

“Hi,” I said, still sort of in awe of their presence. I looked over at Nick, who was still sitting in his seat. He was giving me a bit of a look that I couldn’t read.

“Hi Nick,” I said, when he didn’t say anything to me.

Nick sort of nodded his head in a polite way. “Hi.”

I didn’t really know what else to say after that. It seemed like he wasn’t really in the mood to talk. I looked to the others who were still standing around me. “So, what are you planning to do once your tour with New Kids is finished? Are you going to record another album or…?” I looked to Brian, AJ and Howie for answers.

They glanced at each other. “Well, we’re going to record another album this summer and hopefully have it out in time for our 20th anniversary tour this year.”

I was sure that my eyes went wide. Twenty years?! I didn’t know that they’d been together for that long! Again I found myself hoping that my career would last as long as theirs did! “Wow, I didn’t know you’d been a group for twenty years! When did you get together?”

“Well,” Brian said, smiling at me and looking at the others. “It was officially April 20th 1993. I got the call from Kevin, flew down to Orlando on that day, sang for them and the rest is history.”

“Except it’s not just history,” I heard Nick mutter from his chair. “We played a bunch of middle schools and got dropped from a record label before we went anywhere. Oh and our manager stole all our money and created another boy band right under our noses. We paid our dues.”

“Okay,” I said slowly, not really knowing how to respond that. What was with this guy?

AJ just brushed it off and looked at me. “Don’t worry about him. He’s in a mood.”

“I’m not in a mood,” Nick replied, finally coming over to where we were all standing. “I’m just saying that we worked really hard. It’s what makes our anniversary so important. Because we went through so much.”

I looked up at him. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to intimidate me or what, but I had to admit it was sort of working. I didn’t understand why, it wasn’t like I’d ever done anything to him! I’d only ever just met the guy! “Right, well congratulations then,” I said, not really knowing what to do. “I hope that me and the lads can have as good a career as yours.”

“You will,” AJ said to me reassuringly. “Just keep your head up and don’t worry about all that industry stuff. Focus on the music.”


I wasn’t sure why I was giving this kid such shit. It wasn’t like he himself had done anything wrong. He’d just auditioned for X Factor I guess and got put in a boy band. It’s not really his fault that Simon Cowell wanted to capitalize on the fact that they were young and good looking or whatever.

I had to bite my tongue from saying anything else to him. As it was the guys were probably going to give me hell for being rude once he left. I didn’t give a shit though. This kid had no fucking clue what he was getting into in this industry. No. Fucking. Clue.

“Hey guys, let’s take a picture,” our manager, Jenn, said, coming over to us with her camera. I breathed a little sigh of relief. At least if we took a picture I wouldn’t have to talk to him anymore.

Thank God for that, because he was sort of pissing me off with his little gangster hat and stupid accent. I was sure that God damn accent got him so much ass. He didn’t even have to work at being articulate, he could probably just read the phone book and girls would fall all over him.

If I wasn’t articulate, people just laughed and called me stupid.

Fuck that.

I stood there thinking about all those things as Jenn snapped the picture. I probably didn’t look great in it, but to be honest I really didn’t give a shit. I was too busy thinking about my life, my career and how we were probably the only ones in the world who thought our 20th anniversary meant anything.

Fuck, we’d been a group longer than this kid had been alive I bet.

“Right, well, it was great to meet you guys, but you’ve got a show to do, and I’m going to go say hello to New Kids,” he said brightly once we were done taking the photo. “Thank you so much. Good luck with your show tonight, I’m really excited to watch you perform!”

“Hey thanks man, anytime,” AJ said, shaking his hand again. God, AJ was such a fanboy. I bet if they asked him to join One Direction he would.

He left and the other guys just looked at me.

“What the hell, Nick?” Brian said harshly. Remember before when I told you he was the dad? Yeah. “You didn’t need to tell him our life story.”

“I didn’t, I just told him that we worked hard,” I shrugged.

But Brian saw right through me. He always did. That’s why he was the Frick to my Frack… even though no one had called us that in well over ten years. “You basically insinuated that we worked hard and they didn’t.”

Again I shrugged. “Yeah, well, can you blame me?”

“Yes!” Brian exclaimed with annoyance. “Yes, I can! Did you even see how excited he was to meet us? Did you see how much he looked up to us? Come on, Nick, how would you have felt if Jordan Knight had acted that way to you when we met him when we were first starting out?”

I rolled my eyes. Actually, Jordan Knight had been an ass to us the first time we’d met him. We were on Lou’s stupid yacht and he was there, acting like he was some bigshot in a boy band and that we would never amount anything because we were just copy-


Fuck Brian! He had such a smug look on his face when he saw that he’d gotten his point across. That guy wasn’t always right, but when he was he was such a tool about it.

“You’re right, sorry,” I said quickly as I dashed out of the dressing room before he could make some wise-ass comment.


When I stepped out of the New Kids dressing room, I still had a grin on my face. That is, until I looked up and saw Nick standing right in front of me.

I panicked a little. Was this guy going to try to fight me? He was pretty big, I didn’t think I could take him. What was he up to? “Uh…hi, again,” I said awkwardly. It was just the two of us standing there in the hall.

“Hey,” he said, coming up closer to me. “Look, sorry I was such an ass in there. It’s just that… you sort of remind me of me when I was your age, you know?”

I eyed him awkwardly. Was that what he had been on about? “It’s fine,” I said.

“No it’s not,” he continued. “You guys are just doing what you’re gonna do and that’s great. I just want you to know that it’s not all fame and fortune when you’re in a boy band, it’s a lot of hard work. And staying on top when that bubble bursts, that’s even harder.”

I just listened to him as he continued to talk. I sort of hoped I wouldn’t become this bitter when I was old.

“You guys are on top right now, and while you’re on top don’t forget where you came from. Don’t forget that it’s you and the other four guys who are in this together and who will always be in it together. Different managers and songwriters and producers will come and go, but as long as the five of you stick together, and you’re always there for each other, nothing will break you apart. You can keep making music for as long as you want because even when that bubble bursts your fans, your real fans will still be there.”

He looked me straight in the eyes, but he kept talking. Like he was trying to tell me something really important. “I made that mistake once, and I thank God every day that they let me back in the group. I don’t know where I would be without them.”

I didn’t know what to say. I sort of wanted to ask him what he was talking about, and what had happened to their group that was so bad, but I sort of knew. They weren’t the big popstars they once were anymore, but that wasn’t really why I admired them. Nick was right, they kept going on and they kept making music regardless of what the media said about them.

And that’s what I wanted to do too! I don’t think he got that I really understood him. I really did have a close relationship with the other lads.

“We auditioned for the X Factor separately,” I told Nick after a couple of seconds. “We all wanted to be solo artists, but I guess they didn’t think we were good enough. Simon brought us back and put us in this group. Now, I can’t imagine doing this without Liam, Harry, Louis and Zayn around. They’re like my bothers.”

He looked at me and nodded. “You guys keep that attitude, you’ll go far,” he said with a smile. He reached out his hand and I quickly shook it. “Good luck to you guys, really. And maybe in ten years we can do this all again, NKOTBSB1D,” he laughed.

I laughed a little too. “Thanks mate,” I said with a grin. “Looking forward to it.”

And you know, I really was.


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