****NOTE THIS IS THE SAME EPILOGUE FOR BOTH ESCAPE AND CHOICES****
Hi everyone! Welcome to the final(definitely final) posting of Escape and Choices. This is the epilogue I have been promising since May. Look I finally finished it! And I got it posted on the one year anniversary of the first posting of Escape. Wow! Can you believe it's been a year already? Thanks for reminding me about that Sarah. And I hope your 'future' with Justin is agreeable to you, sweetie. DJ, I couldn't give ya' Kevin or Justin, so I hope you're happy with lil' 'ol Joey. :)
I'm including a cast of characters at the beginning for the sheer fact that the families have grown over the past 20 years between the endings of Escape and Choices and this epilogue. So strap yourselves in and find out what happened to everyone. At the same time, let's all celebrate Kevin's 50th birthday!
This, along with all the other chapters of both stories and other stories, is posted on my website. http://rachels_stories.tripod.com/disclaimer.htm Some special interactive stuff has been done with the family members on the website. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cast of Characters:
Kevin, AJ, Ben, Melanie, and Rachel
The Littrell's: Brian, Leighanne, Alexis, Katie, and Taylor
Joey Fatone and David Williams
The Bass-Garvonne's: Lance, Jean-Michel, Briton, and Luke
The Timberlake's: Justin, Sarah, Colleen, and Maura
The Chasez's: JC, Janel, and Kenny
The Kirkpatrick's: Chris, Danielle, Kira, Haley, Micah, Lynley, Natalie, and Molly
The Dorough's: Howie, Luna, Brandon, and Juan
The Carter's: Nick, Allie, Jack, and Rob
The Jones': Daniel, Britney, Karen, and Cole
The Warner's: Marilyn and Mikel
Epilogue: Part One--Where
Are They Now?
"There were 10 of them." The announcer paused. Each time she said a name a short clip was shown.
The final clip was of all ten of them doing an interview together.
"The Backstreet Boys and `Nsync reigned over the pop industry for 7 years. They had everything. Fame, fortune, and family. Then the two groups decided to quit while the going was good. Since then they have all gone in different directions each of them being successful."
The announcer smiled at the camera. "The scandals that occurred during their careers and the criticisms have long disappeared. These days Backstreet and `Nsync are played on the Oldies stations."
"For the next hour, we're going to go over the careers of both Backstreet and `Nsync. And we are going to answer the question of what the past 25 years have held for them."
"The group of ten has an illustrious resume post-boy band careers. There are two PhD's, a CEO of a record company, a CEO of a management firm, an architectural engineer, a club owner, a producer, a actor, a songwriter, and a breeder."
"Stay tuned to find out who lived out their post-boy band dreams."
AJ walked through the living room. His 16 year old daughter Melanie was curled up on the couch in her pajamas watching VH1.
"Mel turn that crap off." AJ sat down next to his daughter. Melanie shook her head. "No way. This stuff is great. You're just sore because this is a Where Are They Now? special."
"At least it's not a Behind the Music Papa." Rachel said as she joined her father and older sister on the couch. She was dressed in old jeans and a flannel shirt.
"Dad will be in when he's done with Bruno." Rachel picked hay out of her hair and put it on Melanie.
"Get that off me." Mel hissed, tossing the hay back at her.
"What's wrong with Bruno?" AJ asked ignoring the petty bickering that Rachel and Mel always engaged in.
"He's just fussy this morning. Dad wants to make sure he eats okay."
"Well before your father gets back we need to talk about today."
Melanie and Rachel both simultaneously rolled their eyes. "Don't give me those looks. I want today to go smoothly. It's a big day for Dad."
"Yup. He's going to be officially old." Mel joked. "He's not that old. He's only 50." Rachel said to her. "Joke Rachel. Jeez work on your sense of humor."
"Okay you two chill out." AJ warned. "We've got lots of work to do before everyone gets here."
"Well I know what I'm doing so I don't need to be here for the conversation." Rachel said starting to get up.
"Sit down young lady." Rachel sat. AJ meant business when he said young lady.
"Uncle Brian and Aunt Leigh will be here anytime now. When they get here, Alexis will help you make runs to the airport to pick up everyone else Mel."
"Why do I have to drive back and forth all day? Can't Ben do it when he gets here?"
"No. Ben has to help get everything set up." Mel pouted, but knew not to argue. AJ turned to Rachel.
"You've got to keep Dad occupied on the farm all day. He can't get close enough to the main house to see everyone arriving."
"We're out of coffee!" Kevin called from the kitchen. AJ shot Melanie a look. Breakfast was her responsibility. Rachel and Kevin took care of the animals. AJ did the rest of the meals and the housework, besides the laundry. Kevin still did that.
Melanie looked at him sheepishly. She got up and went into the kitchen.
"Sorry about that Dad. I'll make more. I made pancakes and bacon for breakfast."
"Thanks sweetie." He gave his oldest daughter a kiss on the cheek before sitting down at the table. Melanie put a plate of food in front of him.
"Do you want to come riding with me and Rach today? We've gotta' check the south pasture fence for holes."
"Actually I've already got plans. Papa and I are going to do some work in the studio. He said that both Justin and JC okayed my idea for one of the tracks on the album so we're going to do it today."
Kevin had always been amazed at how all three of their children had such an interest in a facet of their lives. Ben was following in his parents footsteps for the most part. He had been performing since he was 16 mainly in dance troops. Currently, he was the lead choreographer for a dance troop based out of Chicago. Melanie had been in the studio with AJ since she was a baby. She loved producing and engineering music. And Rachel had Kevin's passion for the outdoors. She loved helping around the farm and taking care of the horses they had there. Rachel had been one of those kids who could ride before she could walk.
"How's Bruno?" Mel asked, putting some coffee in front of Kevin. She grabbed a cup for herself and sat with him.
"He's fine. I think he just wanted to be fussy this morning. Where's Rachel and Papa at?"
"They're chatting in the living room. I know Papa ate already. And all Rachel wants in the morning is her OJ."
Kevin grinned. "I'll never understand where she learned to eat like a bird. No one in this household follows that pattern."
Melanie nodded. "I guess I was just lucky to get Papa's metabolism or else I wouldn't have this slim figure." She said jokingly.
"Your father used to have problems gaining weight when he was younger. Whenever we were on tour, it was always a struggle for him to stay at a decent weight."
"He's still a beanpole." Kevin grinned. "He always will be."
"I gotta' get in the shower Dad. I'm all scrungy."
"Okay. See you later honey." Mel left the room and Kevin ate his breakfast in silence. It was his 50th birthday today. No one had said anything. It was really rare AJ forgot anything, much less Kevin's birthday.
"Morning sweetie." AJ said to Kevin when he walked into the kitchen. "Morning."
AJ leaned over and kissed Kevin softly. "How's my cowboy doing this morning?"
"Good. Bruno's fine. He was just being a little drama queen."
"Oh so he was acting like Lance." AJ joked. "No where near as bad."
Kevin grinned at his husband. Their 20th anniversary had been a few weeks ago. They had stayed at Lance's house in Miami for a few days, leaving Ben in charge of the farm. Luckily Rachel could take care of the farm herself since Ben was relatively useless when it came to running the farm.
"Mel's going to work with me in the studio today. You didn't need her for farm work did you?"
Kevin shook his head. "Rachel and I can handle it. Still working on JC and Justin's stuff?"
AJ nodded. "They're coming back Tuesday to record some more. I wanted to be able to show them something."
"Are they bringing their families again?"
AJ shook his head. "Sarah is working on a case and the kids have school. Janel is staying home too. I think JC might be bringing Kenny with him. Unless Joey's coming of course."
"Doesn't Kenny have school too?" JC and Janel's son was only 8.
"I don't ask questions like that. Last I heard, JC was home-schooling him because of problems Kenny had in school."
Kevin nodded. "I think I remember Justin telling me that."
"Mel was watching that `Where Are They Now?' Boy band special earlier. The one from 2018."
Kevin winced. "I can't believe we all agreed to do that. It makes me feel like I've done nothing since Backstreet ended. And the separation was going on then too."
"At least we weren't going through a nasty divorce like Howie was. They painted Ameena as such a whore."
"That didn't help her relationship with Luna any. Howie told me they still won't talk to each other. Same with her and Brandon too."
AJ sighed. "I don't know how I would react if I had such a horrible relationship with any of my kids." He shuddered at the thought.
"Let's not think about it. Do you want to go out to dinner tonight? Something intimate and romantic."
"You mean just the two of us? No kids?" AJ asked in mock seriousness. The kids usually came with them whenever they went out.
"I figured we deserved a night out alone. Ben's not coming home this weekend is he?" AJ shook his head. "He's still in Chicago for another two weeks. I think he's coming home for a bit then."
"I wish that boy would settle down. He's 30 now. It's time for him to start a family."
Kevin began to laugh as soon as he finished speaking. "I sounded so much like my mother there. Scary."
AJ grinned. "So there's finally some Ann-isms showing up in you after all these years. And you thought you had escaped that."
Kevin sighed. "I should have known better. No one escapes my momma."
Ann had passed away three years ago at the age of 92. She had been living with Tim and May in Kentucky for the previous 10 years.
"Do you want anything else?" AJ asked Kevin. "No. I'm done." AJ grabbed his plate and put it by the sink for Mel to clean after her shower.
"So you ready for your morning shower, Cowboy?" AJ asked him, wrapping his arms around Kevin's neck and kissing his cheek.
"Of course." Kevin smiled. "No day would be complete is I didn't shower with you."
AJ took Kevin's hand and they headed upstairs. They passed Rachel who was watching the special now. They both paused for a moment when they saw a short clip of their wedding.
"Rach. Why don't you eat some breakfast?" Kevin asked her. She held up her glass of orange juice, giving her usual response to the question.
"Okay. Papa and I are going to shower. We'll be down soon."
Rachel wrinkled her nose. "TMI Dad. Thanks."
"No problem sweetie. It's my job as a parent to gross you out. I have to do it at least once a day."
AJ and Kevin walked upstairs leaving Rachel alone.
Kevin and Alex
"AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson got married on September 22, 2002 in a small ceremony in Vermont."
The wedding video was shown, brief parts of it, interposed with pictures of them together.
"Though the band ended in 2003, the two of them continued to live their lives in the public eyes for another three years before retiring and moving to a small farm in Georgia."
"The Richardson Farm became home to Alex, Kevin, and their son Ben. Eventually the small farm grew into a huge 220 acre horse farm which Kevin ran. Alex returned to music, choosing to produce for a number of bands in the studio he had built on the farm. His numerous projects have garnered him many accolades and a number of awards. His collaborations with Marilyn Manson as a co-producer have won both of them Grammy awards on two separate occasions. The name Alex Richardson holds a great deal of weight in the music industry."
"Soon after they moved to the farm, Kevin and Alex welcomed another addition to their family. A baby girl named Melanie. Both Melanie and her younger sister, Rachel, were kept from the public eye for the first few years of their lives. Eventually they began to bring the kids with them to award shows and public appearances."
"Kevin and Alex's oldest child, Ben, proved to be as much of a dancer as his parents. At 16 he was one of the most sought after dancers in the country. When he was 18, he joined the MTV family, taking over the TRL position from Carson Daly. He is currently the head choreographer for the Chicago-based Matinee Dancers."
"In the past few years, Kevin has slowed his public appearances down to almost nothing. Becoming almost a recluse on the farm, the kids have become Alex's only visible support in the public eye."
The next scene was Kevin and Alex sitting on the back porch of their farm in Georgia. The three kids were there with them.
"I've lived long enough in the public eye. I have responsibilities here that I have to take care of." Kevin said, gesturing to the barns and paddocks that surrounded them.
"People seem to think that Kevin's not being seen anymore means that there is trouble between the two of us." Alex said to the camera. "We've never been comfortable living our lives in the public eye. Kevin finally had enough. I assure you that our relationship is still as strong as ever."
The scene switched again and the announcer was strolling in a field.
"About three weeks after that interview was taped, Alex and Kevin separated. Alex took Melanie with him and went to New York. The two of them are currently living with Joey Fatone."
"Whatever the future holds for these two former members of the Backstreet
Boys, it is safe to say that they will go through it together, with the
grace and honesty they always have in the past."
"We should have gotten Mel to pick us up too." Leighanne said as she lifted the stroller into the back of their rental van.
"I'd rather drive myself. Mel scares me when she drives. Besides Alexis is going to need the van to pick others up." Brian said as he attempted to strap Taylor into a car seat.
Taylor protested loudly, hitting his father with a stuffed animal. Katie just giggled from her seat. Alexis had turned around and was making faces at the baby.
"You think this is amusing don't you? Why don't you try strapping this monster in?" He said jokingly to his youngest daughter. The five year old shook her head.
"I'll do it, Brian." Leighanne said, poking her head in the van. She opened her eyes wide and made a funny face at Taylor. He began to laugh and Leighanne quickly strapped him in.
"See that's why you're the Mommy. I can't do stuff like that." Brian said shutting the door to the van. He and Leighanne continued to load up their luggage.
"Yeah, but you can get Katie to take a bath. That deserves a Nobel Peace Prize."
"I am good at that aren't I?" Brian said proudly.
"Now don't go getting a swelled head. Bribery goes a long way." Leighanne grinned at her husband. Brian tried to look hurt, but he gave up and began to laugh.
"It's the only way she listens."
"You are going to spoil her rotten. She's going to end up like Luna if you aren't careful."
Brian shook his head. "My daughter will never be a bitch like Luna. I won't let that happen. Besides, Alexis turned out just fine with me spoiling her."
He shut the back of the van. "It was all Ameena's fault anyway. She never treated her like anything more then an inconvience."
Leighanne sighed as she climbed into the middle seat next to Taylor. Alexis was sitting in the front seat with her headphones on.
"You always blame Ameena. Howie was the one who tried to buy her love. Ameena just knew it wasn't there in the first place."
"Luna still talks to Howie doesn't she?"
"Luna talks to Howie when she needs money or when she actually wants to see her son. That's about it."
"Do we really need to talk about this now? Neither Luna or Ameena will be there today. Besides, Brandon turned out just fine." Alexis said, pulling her headphones off. She hated hearing her parents argue about Luna.
"You're right sweetie. Let's drop it." Brian said, pulling the van slowly out of the garage.
"Are you flying back to California immediately or do we get you for a few days in New York, Dad?"
Brian smiled. "After this, I don't have to fly back for a whole three weeks."
Brian loved his job, but he hated being so far from his family. Leigh's series was taped in New York and his was taped in LA. They had decided to base the family in New York since they had Joey there to watch the kids when they needed him to. No one had ended up in LA surprisingly. Brian turned out of the airport onto the highway. It was about a 45-minute drive to Kevin and AJ's farm outside Atlanta.
"Dad, this tastes a little funny." Alexis said holding her cup of coffee out to Brian. "So you give it to me to taste. Thanks, Lexie." Brian said jokingly using his pet name for her.
"Mom's asleep." Brian looked back at Leighanne who was already crashed in the backseat between Taylor and Katie. "So you get the honor of testing my coffee out for me."
Alexis smiled at her father. Brian just shook his head and held out his hand. He took a sip of her coffee.
"Tastes fine to me, Lexie." He took another sip before handing it back to her.
"So you're really going to be home for three weeks, Dad?"
"Yeah I am. I wish it was longer though."
"It'll be nice to have you home for those three weeks anyway."
Brian looked over at his oldest child. Alexis was 18 now and had just started her senior year of high school. She was actually a year behind because the family had been in Spain for a year when she was supposed to start school. Instead Brian and Leigh had kept her home, starting her in school when they got back in the States.
Alexis looked just like Leighanne, except her blond hair had a reddish tone to it, like his. Her blue eyes were always sparkling and she always had a mischievous grin on her face. Alexis had been 14 when Katie had made her surprise appearance. She had taken it in stride, showing more maturity then her parents thought she had. When Taylor had been born two years ago, Alexis had become a godsend, almost as much as Joey did.
"So we're going to go look at Colgate and Ithaca next week right?" Alexis asked him.
"Of course. How did you like Bryn Mawr?" Alexis had flown to Philly last weekend to visit the college. Allie had taken her around and she had stayed with the Carter family.
She shrugged. "It's nice. Plus the Carter's are there, so I would always have someone around that I know. But I don't know if I could do the all-girl college thing."
"There's always Allie and Nick's alma mater, Haverford. But you have a
few more months to think about it. You don't need to start putting applications
in until January."
"Brian Littrell was the sweet Southern voice of reason in the Backstreet Boys. Always one to help out, he ended up being the only one without a significant other at the end of the scandals. Then Leighanne Wallace came back into his life. The two of them married on June 16, 2003. Their first child Alexis was born in February of 2004."
"Surprisingly, Brian dropped out of the public eye completely, choosing instead to support his wife's career. He became the consummate stay-at-home Dad, spending all his time with Alexis."
"Brian followed Leighanne to Spain where she was shooting a movie. One day while he was out with Alexis, he was approached by a producer. Brian brushed him off at the time, but when the family returned to the States, Brian began to seriously consider entering the acting field as well."
"Now Brian stars in `My Life'. He has made numerous successful films and has performed on Broadway in Grease and Bizarre. Brian and Leighanne have based their family in New York City despite the fact that Brian's series `My Life' is taped in LA."
"Brian and Leighanne's
second child, a girl named Katie, was born eight months ago. They were
shocked when they found out Leighanne was pregnant again, but they are
thrilled to have the new baby in their lives."
Joey's eyes were closed tightly as he attempted to catch a few minutes of sleep while he waited for Janine to get back. David was crashed on his shoulder, drooling slightly.
"Wake up sleeping beauties." Lance shook Joey gently. Joey blinked and looked around for a moment.
"Where am I?"
"Sleeping in an airport, Uncle Joey." Briton said, hopping up on his lap. She poked David for a moment until he opened his eyes as well.
"Hey Briton." David said sleepily. He gave Joey a kiss on the cheek.
"Where's Jean and Luke at?" Joey asked Lance, still trying to wake up.
"They're on their way. We ran into Janine. She told us that the two of you were over here."
"Uncle Joey!" A child's voice called out. A moment later Luke launched himself on Joey's lap, hugging him tightly.
Joey smiled at Lance. His exhaustion was evident though. "When's the flight?" Joey just wanted to go back to sleep.
"In about 20 minutes. You gonna' be able to stay awake that long?" Lance joked with him.
"Ah shut up, Scoop. You didn't work all night. David and I did."
"So did I, Joey. Remember?" Janine said stepping out from behind Jean-Michel.
"Yeah but you go without sleep all the time. You're a freak like that."
Janine shook her head and grabbed Briton. She swung the small girl around. Briton was tiny for a 12 year-old. Luke was the same way.
"So do I get you as a seat partner or do I have to sit with Uncle Joey and David again?"
Briton giggled. "Oh course I'll sit with you." Janine looked over at her parents. "Is that okay?"
Lance and Jean-Michel exchanged glances. "Yeah. She was asking if she was going to be able to sit with you anyway."
Jean sat down stiffly. "Where are Brian and Leighanne?"
"They flew out really early this morning. There was no way I was taking a 7am flight to get to Atlanta that early. This 9:30 flight is bad enough." Joey said watching Jean closely.
"I am sure Katie and Taylor loved that."
"Are you kidding? Those kids are so awake in the morning it's crazy. Leighanne or Alexis will drop them off and they will just run around the apartment until I've had my coffee and can actually pay attention to them."
"Steve didn't come along?" Lance asked Janine. She shook her head. "Someone had to be there for the club and Steve `volunteered' so to speak. He drew the short straw. He sends his love."
David sat quietly, still sleepy, but feeling yet again, slightly left out. He had been a part of Joey's life for almost a year now. He knew Lance, Jean-Michel, and their kids really well, but he still felt like he was an outsider.
"David, I'm going to go grab some coffee. Wanna' join me?" Lance asked him, breaking David out of his blank stare.
"Sure. Be back in a minute sweetie." He planted a kiss on Joey's cheek who just grinned and continued talking to Jean. Luke was still on his lap, playing with a toy car.
"You look just as exhausted as Joey does. Were you working at the club last night too?" Lance asked as they headed towards a coffee stand.
"Yeah. One of their bartenders called out so Joey gave me a buzz at home. Working one night at Fatone's as a bartender can pay my rent for the month."
Lance nodded. "That club is amazing. He, Steve, and Janine have done an incredible job with it."
"It's almost like Joey was born to do that."
They walked in silence for a moment. Lance watched David out of the corner of his eye. David had been in Joey's life a lot longer then anyone had expected him to be. The 25 year old seemed very happy with Joey as did Joey with him. After JC got married the first time, Joey had pretty much given up on finding someone to spend the rest of his life with. He pretty much bounced from person to person.
Joey listened to Jean talk and rested his chin on Luke's head. "When was the last time you saw Joshua?" Jean asked him, reaching over to tie his son's shoe.
"I flew down to Kevin and AJ's about three weeks ago when he and Justin were recording."
"How is he?"
Joey shrugged. "Still irresistible. Still talented. Still owner of my heart. Still married."
Joey let his mind wander back for the millionth time to the day Josh broke
"You're getting married?" Joey asked in disbelief. JC nodded. "How can you get married? What about us?" Joey's voice trembled slightly as he looked at the man he loved.
"Kim and I have been together for a long time. I love her. I want her to be my wife." JC said to him. "We decided a long time ago that we couldn't be in a serious relationship with each other. We could do what we wanted."
Joey shook his head. "I never thought you would fucking marry her!"
"Why is this bothering you so much? It's not going to change anything between us."
"I am not a home wrecker, Josh."
"Kim and I have been together for two years. This affair never bothered you before."
Joey rubbed his bare knees with his palms. "It probably should have."
JC put his arms around Joey, holding him tightly. Joey was his soul but they couldn't make a serious relationship work. They both knew that. JC had moved on. Joey hadn't.
"Kimberly has no idea does she?" Joey asked him softly.
"None at all. She just thinks we're best friends." JC kissed Joey's neck gently.
"I love you, Josh."
"I love you too, Joey."
"Why are you marrying her if you love me?"
"Because I love her too. We would never last if we got married honey."
"How do you know that? We never tried."
JC sighed, resting his head on his lovers shoulder. "You do remember how bad the last few months were, right?"
Joey nodded. "I almost lost you completely then. If we got married I would lose you forever. I couldn't live like that."
"So instead you're getting married and I'm demoted to the other woman." Joey said bitterly.
"No. You will always be first in my heart. You know that."
"I feel sick."
"This isn't normal, Josh."
"We've never been normal, Joey."
"I can't change your mind can I?" JC shook his head.
"Then I'll learn to live with it." He paused. "Somehow."
"What if she finds out?" Joey asked him.
"If she does though? Am I gone?"
"Never baby. I won't give you up ever."
"What if she tells you to?" JC shrugged. "I won't do it."
"Kimberly will leave you. She won't stand for it. For me."
"We aren't even married yet and you already have her leaving me."
"It's the truth. This won't last."
JC frowned. "Well thanks for being so supportive of me. I really appreciate
it." He let go of Joey and climbed out of their bed. JC pulled his boxers
on and left the room.
"Joseph?" Jean-Michel shook him gently, trying to break him out of his silent musings.
"Oh sorry. Got a little caught up in the past."
"I understand. Joshua?"
Joey nodded and smoothed Luke's hair. "How are you feeling today?" Joey asked changing the subject from Josh back to Jean-Michel.
"Not bad. I even ate some breakfast this morning." Jean-Michel said happily.
"Yeah. Briton and I made Daddy toast and eggs this morning. He ate everything." Luke said proudly.
"Good for you guys. I'm glad you're helping your daddy feel better." Joey said kissing Luke on the top of his head.
Janine watched the two of them talk. Briton was sitting quietly next to her reading a book. Jean-Michel looked terrible no matter what way you looked at it.
He had been diagnosed with cancer six years ago. They had managed to force it into remission twice so far, but it came back again about three months ago. That's when he and Lance made the move to New York City.
Her little brother had somehow become the favorite uncle of all the kids and parents over the years. When Lance had been looking for a new doctor for Jean, the first place he had looked was New York. The kids could be with Joey when things got bad.
Lance sipped his coffee and watched Jean-Michel carefully. David was talking to him, but he wasn't really paying attention to him as they walked back to the rest of the group.
The cancer had been pretty much licked, or so they thought. This current bout of it had been the worst so far. Jean had purposely scheduled his treatments around Kevin's birthday party. He refused to miss it, saying that it might be his last chance to see everyone together.
His curly black hair had fallen out a long time ago. Today he had on his now familiar black bowler. Lance smiled slightly as he watched him interact with their son.
"Is he doing okay today, Lance?" David asked him quietly.
"He's doing better then he has been lately, but better is all relative these days."
"Maybe going to the farm will help him a little. Joey says that the country air revitalizes him. That's why he goes down so often."
Lance looked over at him, surprised that David still hadn't figured out the secret they all kept for Joey.
Joey and JC had never ended their affair. They had been together for almost 21 years now. They had managed to hide it from everyone until JC's first wife, Kim, found out. She flipped out, divorced him, and threatened to tell everyone. Instead Joey and JC had come clean about it.
Kevin and AJ agreed to help them out, letting the two of them come to the farm as often as needed. Joey still kept a bedroom in his apartment for just him and JC. Anytime JC wasn't there, it was locked.
Apparently David still hadn't figured this out. Lance wasn't going to be
the one who told him. God knows it hadn't been pretty when JC's second
wife Janel had found out.
"Joey, `Nsync's ever-single swinging bachelor, never really stopped having fun. The music business wasn't for him after `Nsync ended, so instead, he decided to go into business for himself."
"Together with his sister, Janine, and brother Steve, he opened what has become the most popular club in New York City. `Fatone's' opened up in 2008 to huge fanfare. Since then it has become the popular place for celebrities and club kids alike."
"Joey is there almost every night, wandering through the crowd. Often he hops behind the bar and plays bartender. On the right night, you can find Joey playing DJ for the evening."
"Some say that his almost obsessive love for the club is his only outlet for his failed personal life. His strings of lovers is long and no one special has entered his life since he and JC Chasez ended their affair."
"Despite his lack of success in his personal life, Joey is a happy man. He has become the favorite uncle for all of the kids born to either a member of Backstreet or `Nsync."
"In the next few years we can hope that Joey only has more success."
"Is Summer flying up as well?" David asked Lance as they re-joined the rest of the group.
"Yeah she and Nikki are meeting us in the airport. Their flight is coming in about 20 minutes before us."
"Cool. I like Summer."
"You have met everyone before right David?" Lance asked, crossing his legs and looking at him.
"I've never met Chris before. I've met a couple of his kids, but never him or his wife. I've also never met Nick either. Again, I've met the kids, but not him."
"Chris and Nick are really sweet. Don't worry about them."
David shrugged. "I suppose."
"Before `Nsync was anywhere near finished, Lance Bass was already a well-known and well-respected businessman in his own right, running a multi-million dollar management firm known as FreeLance. He began managing country artists then moved on to other areas of music. Eventually his firm employed almost 25 different managers and managed about 150 artists."
"When `Nsync did come to an end, Lance began to run the company full-time, with his long-time lover, Jean-Michel Garvonne at his side. Together the two of them built the company up to what it is today. The couple retired in 2010 from running the company hands on, to taking a backseat so they could raise their daughter together."
"Briton was a blessing for Lance and Jean-Michel after years of trying to adopt. They ran into many legal snags regarding the status of their relationship. The couple never married but they held all property, bank accounts, and business accounts jointly. Finally, Briton came into their lives."
"They moved out of Orlando to Colorado, choosing to raise Briton in Aspen instead. Lance and Jean-Michel decided to keep their house in Miami for vacations."
"One year ago, Lance and Jean-Michel adopted their second child, a son named Luke. The family was doing great. The company was doing great. It all had to come crashing down somehow."
"On March 18 of this year, Jean-Michel was diagnosed with Stage III Hodgkin's Disease. Intensive therapy was started immediately. One week before this special was taped, Lance and Jean-Michel received word that the cancer had been pushed into remission."
"At this time, Jean-Michel has declined to appear on camera for the special.
However, Lance made it clear that he was recovering from his illness."
"Please get in the car, Colleen." Sarah said, the annoyance obvious in her voice. Colleen rolled her eyes, but climbed into the backseat. Her younger sister Maura was already in the car, reading a book quietly.
"Justin! Come on!" She shouted loudly. Justin slammed the front door, locking it behind him. He ran to the car, pausing to kiss Sarah on the cheek.
"Sorry, sweetie. I was giving Penelope a hug good-bye."
Sarah slid into the passenger seat. "You spoil that dog so much, Justin." Sarah smiled at him, knowing that Justin adored that dog even more then he let on.
"Well we are going to be gone for a few days. I hate to leave her alone in that big empty house."
"Julie is coming over twice a day to take care of her. She'll be fine."
Justin shrugged. "I suppose so." He looked at the girls in the backseat. "So are you guys excited to see everyone?"
Maura shrugged. Colleen didn't even acknowledge the question.
"You guys love the farm. And there will be a ton of kids there your age. Jack, Rob, Rachel, and Briton. Plus anyone else's kids that we don't normally see."
"Jack and Rob are annoying. Briton is a snob and all Rachel cares about is her horses." Colleen shot back at him.
"Can you do me a favor and at least attempt to be pleasant? Just this once." Justin said to her.
Colleen scowled back at him. She hated being dragged to these stupid things with all her parents stupid friends from years ago when they had all been famous.
"Briton's not a snob." Maura said softly.
"Yes she is. All she cares about is what she has or what Daddy's going to buy her."
"Have you ever really spent time with Briton?"
"I've been around her enough to know that I don't like her."
"Rachel took me and Briton on a trail ride last month when we were all at the farm. Briton was really sweet and a lot of fun. You should have come instead of playing basketball with Jack and Rob."
Justin and Sarah looked at each other as the girls argued in the backseat.
"This is going to be a fun weekend." Sarah said dryly as she put in a disc.
Justin put the car in reverse and pulled out of their driveway.
"It's already going to be a fun weekend just because JC, Janel, Joey, and David are all going to be in the same place at the same time."
Sarah grimaced. "Has Joey told David yet?" They were talking quietly so the girls wouldn't overhear them.
Justin shook his head. "I doubt it. Joey doesn't talk about his relationship with JC to anyone, not even us. I think maybe Chris, but that's about it."
Sarah shook her head. "I don't want to think about it. Let's talk about something happier. I got a new deal for Astra to look at when we get back."
Justin nodded. "Okay. JC and I are going to try and get some time with Alex and Mel while we're there this weekend. If not, we're flying back on Wednesday to do more recording."
"Did Alex decide whether or not he was going to call in Marilyn on that one track or not?"
"When I talked to him yesterday about it he said that he was going to have something for us to hear this weekend and if it's what we want, then that's that. If not, he's going to drag Marilyn into the studio to give his opinion."
"It's rare that Alex and Mel can't come up with what you two want. What's holding it up on this song?"
Justin shrugged. "Something's just not clicking. It's hard to explain without hearing the song. Marilyn's input may be what we need."
"Mom! Colleen cursed." Maura shouted from the back seat. Sarah turned around and glared at the girls.
"Colleen, don't curse. Maura, don't tattle-tale. Don't make me come back there."
Sarah turned back around. Justin looked over at her. "I sound just like my mother." She said softly.
Justin grinned. "Well the girls'll turn out okay then. Your mother raised you right."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "You are such a strange cookie, Justin. How have I stayed married to you all these years?"
"Because I am such a charming person and you can't help but love me." Justin batted his eyelashes at her as he pulled into the airport parking lot.
"Oh right. Thanks for reminding me." Sarah grinned as she waved to Janel, who was waiting for them next to her car.
Justin parked the car and everyone climbed out. Sarah hugged Janel tightly.
"Hey sweetie. Where're your boys at?" Justin began to unload their luggage from the back and put it next to the pile JC must have pulled out.
and Kenny went to get a luggage cart for all this stuff. They'll be back
in a moment."
"'Nsync's golden boy, Justin Timberlake is still the golden boy we've grown to love over the years. He married his long-time sweetheart Sarah in February 2004, taking him off the market."
"Everyone assumed that Justin would fall into a solo career as soon as `Nsync finished. Instead he shocked the world by going to college and getting a degree in Architectural Engineering."
"But music called him again."
"In a reverse of the way `Nsync began, JC Chasez called up Justin and asked him if he would consider re-entering the music business."
"At this point in time, Justin and Sarah had a two year-old and an infant. However, at Sarah's insistence, Justin said yes. And yet again, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez made history."
"Astra became a phenomenon really. Their first album, produced by Alex Richardson on Howard Dorough's record label with management by Lance Bass, flew up the charts."
"Suddenly Justin found himself on top again, idolized and worshipped for his talents. In one of the most telling moments of his second career, Justin was quoted as saying: `I can understand how the pressure of being a parent and being on the road got to Chris Kirkpatrick now. All I want is to be at home with my two little girls while traveling all over the world performing. Kind of a little quandary I have, don't you think.' And then it happened. Astra went away."
"Justin is back at home with his kids and his wife. Sarah is an entertainment
lawyer who works almost exclusively for FreeLance and Sweet D Records.
Justin is working for a firm in Orlando as an architectural engineer. He
has no plans to re-enter the music business again. As he said in one interview:
`One Timberlake in the music industry at a time is plenty. It's Sarah's
JC pushed the cart through the parking lot. Kenny was riding on it quietly, not saying anything like usual. It bothered JC that his son hated him so much. No matter what he did or what Janel did, Kenny just didn't show any sort of affection towards him.
"So are you going to talk to me at all today or not?" JC asked his son.
"Are you coming home at all this week?"
JC sighed. "Yeah I am. The only reason I would be going back to the farm is if we don't figure out what's going wrong with that one song."
"Are you going to New York anytime soon?"
Sometimes JC really didn't know if Kenny was picking up on his father's unfaithfulness. He would ask questions like that, trying to flush out the truth from JC.
"No. I don't need to go to New York anytime soon. Maybe sometime next month. You can go with me."
And that was it. JC knew it. Kenny knew it. JC didn't even want to try again. He pushed the cart in silence.
"Hey Josh." Justin said, lifting Kenny out of the cart. "Hey Kenny."
"Hi Uncle Justin." Kenny smiled happily at him. It was like a knife into JC's heart. Kenny was extremely friendly and affectionate towards Justin for some reason.
Justin put Kenny down and turned to JC. Kenny ran right over to Janel and took her hand. JC looked away.
"Any better today?" Justin asked him softly. JC shook his head. "Of course not."
"So is everyone ready to go?" Janel asked the group.
"Let's hope so. Our plane leaves in half an hour." Sarah smiled happily, pulling her long brown hair back into a ponytail.
"Can we just go, Mom?" Colleen asked rescuing her laptop from the pile that JC and Justin were putting on the cart.
"In a minute, Coll." Sarah put her arm around her older daughter. Colleen shrugged her off and walked over to the car, leaning against it as she waited.
Maura put her arm around her mom's waist. Sarah smiled and squeezed her younger daughter close to her.
"What if we just toss what we have and start over?" JC asked. Justin sighed. "Alex has worked for a while on this, Josh. I don't think we can just trash his work."
"Justin, Alex is a great friend and a great producer, but he also works for us. If we don't like what he's doing, we can complain."
"I know." Justin said softly. "I guess I'm just scared, Josh. We haven't released a record as Astra in seven years. Alex is a huge name still. We aren't. What if people hate it?"
"They won't, Justin. We're as good as we ever were."
Everyone move." Janel said as she started to herd the group towards the
"The end of `Nsync saw JC embarking on a solo career, the only member of either band to do so. Less then a year after `Nsync broke up, JC joined the ranks of the married men, marrying model Kimberly Williams. Kimberly had appeared in two `Nsync videos in the past, `Bye Bye Bye' and `It's Gonna Be Me' from their hugely successful `No Strings Attached' album."
"But all wasn't happy for JC. His career wasn't going the way he wanted and his marriage was on the rocks. He and Kim were involved in a messy divorce after less then two years of marriage."
"JC fell into a deep depression, losing himself to cocaine for a period of time. He was pulled out of his destructive spiral by the woman who he would eventually marry, Janel Phillips, a dancer from New York. The two of them married in 2009."
"Then JC decided it was time for a career change. He recruited his best friend, Justin Timberlake, and together they formed Astra, one of the most popular bands to come out of the past decade."
"Combining the talents of himself and Justin, JC capitalized on Alex Richardson's huge popularity as a producer. `After the Fall' became one of the top-ten selling records of all time."
"But the band didn't last long. Justin wasn't willing to be separated from his family as much as JC was. So in January of 2015, Astra called it quits. Two months later, JC and Janel had their first child, a son named Kenny."
"Currently JC is working as a songwriter. JC has no plans at the time to
start performing as a solo artist again."
"Hand me a pacifier." Haley pointed to the diaper bag next to Lynley.
Lynley began to search through the bag for a pacifier, but came up empty-handed. She turned around in her seat and gently shook her mom.
"Mom. Wake up."
Danielle stirred slightly and looked up at her daughter. Chris was still conked out drooling on her shoulder.
"What, Lynley?" Danielle asked squinting in the unnatural light of the airplane.
"Where's Molly's pacifier? I can't find it in the diaper bag."
Danielle yawned and stretched her arms, dislodging Chris from his comfortable resting place. He jolted awake and looked around.
"Where are we?"
"Flying over Alabama right now, Daddy." Lynley said to him. Chris nodded and turned over, curling up to go back to sleep again.
"Here's one. Is Molly being a pain?" Danielle pulled one out of her purse.
"No. I think Haley just wanted to give her something to occupy her."
Danielle nodded and shut her eyes again. She and Chris always ended up sleeping on flights mainly because it was so exhausting getting the six kids and whoever else was with them ready to go.
This trip out to Kevin and Alex's farm was one of the biggest undertakings they had tried since Molly had been born six months before. She had been Chris and Dani's surprise baby. Before her, the last one was Natalie and she was 15 now.
Kira stretched and opened up the window blind next to her. Her fiancée Billy, was talking quietly with her brother Micah. Micah's girlfriend Jennifer was sleeping.
Haley and Lynley were sitting behind Kira and Billy. They had Molly at the moment so Natalie could sleep for a bit. Natalie adored Molly and loved to take care of her.
"Haley. Quintas?" Kira asked turning to talk to her twin sister. "Nobatat." Haley replied as she rocked the baby.
"Would you two stop doing that? It's really annoying." Lynley said. "I feel like your talking about me or something."
"Sorry Lyn." Kira knew that Lynley especially hated it when she and Haley talked in their made-up language. Her parents had explained it as twin-speak to the other kids. However they didn't like it when they did it around the other kids.
"She just asked me what was going on. I told her nothing really." Haley explained to her.
"Besides sis, you know we would talk about you to your face." Kira said reaching over the seat to pinch her sister's cheek.
"You're nutso, Kira." Lynley said pushing her hand away. "Yeah but you know you missed me while I was gone. You're thrilled to death that Billy and I are home for a few months."
Lynley smiled. "Well duh. England is a long way away."
"The house has gotta be kinda empty with only the three of you there. And Molly doesn't really get around much yet to create havoc."
Haley, Kira, and Micah were all in college. Kira had gone to England with Billy on a study abroad program. She was a Literature major at USC Berkeley. Haley went to the University of Chicago. She was a Fine Arts major. And Micah went to NYU as a Political Science major. Much to Chris and Dani's chagrin, none of the kids went to the University of Arizona. Tuition would be free there because both of them taught there. They were pushing Lynley to do that.
"Hey Mic. How's Uncle Joey?" Kira asked interrupting his conversation with Billy.
"So-so. He hasn't been around the last few weeks much. Actually he's stayed at David's a few times and he was at the farm for a while too."
Kira nodded. "Uncle Josh was recording there wasn't he?"
Micah nodded. Despite the fact that they all weren't supposed to know about Uncle Joey and Uncle Josh's relationship, all the kids did. Actually all the kids over the age of 15 knew. The younger ones hadn't picked up on it yet. They didn't spend as much time with Uncle Joey as the older kids.
"Chris. Are you awake?" Danielle poked him gently in the side. Chris jumped and turned to face her.
"Mmhmm. What's up?"
"The kids are talking about Joey and Josh again." Chris groaned and sat up.
"Guys. How many times have I told you not to talk about that?" He said loudly knowing that his voice would carry over the five rows the family took up.
"Sorry Daddy." Kira said sitting back down. Micah and Billy resumed their
conversation and Kira closed her eyes.
"Chris was the first member of either band to call it quits, retiring in August 2002 to become a stay-at-home dad. Chris and his girlfriend Danielle left the limelight and went back to where they had met. College."
"Danielle had taken a position as a psychology professor at the University of Tampa right before she found out she was pregnant with her first baby. When she gave birth to twins, she took a leave of absence, knowing that there was no way she could take care of twins and work while Chris was on the road."
"When he retired, they were expecting their third child and she was going back to work. Micah was born in January. That fall, Chris decided to go back to college himself. He went on to get his masters and PhD in clinical psychology and education."
"By that time, Chris and Danielle were on baby number five. Natalie was born about a month after Chris and Danielle both took positions at the University of Arizona. They moved the family to Phoenix and have been there ever since."
"Chris never went back to music. He would occasionally join the group when they did a special reunion show or something along those lines, but for the most part, he was happy being a teacher and a father."
"Chris and Danielle finally decided to get married three years ago. In
a small ceremony outside of Orlando, Chris Kirkpatrick and Danielle McShane
tied the knot. Their five children, Kira, Haley, Micah, Lynley, and Natalie
stood with them."
Howie held his grandson in his arms, keeping his other eye on Luna as she wandered around the terminal. He was pretty sure she was on something, but Howie had no idea what it was.
He had no plans to bring her with him today. She had shown up yesterday from god knows where asking for money again.
The last time she had disappeared, Howie and Ameena had sat down together and discussed her drug addiction. They decided to refuse to give her any money and her access to her son was to be only in their presence.
When Howie had told her that yesterday, Luna had flipped out and tried to steal his car. There was no way he was leaving her home while he took the baby. And both she and Ameena refused to have her stay at Ameena's.
His son, Brandon, was flipping through a magazine and basically ignoring the rest of them. Brandon was never a problem. The boy was painfully shy though. Howie was the only person he really trusted in his life. Brandon didn't get along with Ameena either, having been ignored even more then Luna had been by her. Sometimes, Howie wondered if the 18 year-old even wanted to spend time with his mother.
Juan was quiet like usual. He had never been a rowdy baby. Howie did his best to keep everything in Juan's life stable, but Luna was the biggest problem. If he could just get Luna out of Juan's life completely he would be happy. Having Luna walking in and out of Juan's life just confused the four year-old.
Juan buried his head in Howie's shoulder, holding onto his neck tightly. Luna wandered over to them.
"Give me my son." She held her arms out. Juan's arms tightened around Howie's neck. Brandon looked up from his magazine for a moment.
Howie shook his head. "Go sit down, Luna. Melanie will be here in a few minutes."
"You can't keep me from my son."
"Luna, sit down. We're not talking about this now." Luna, amazingly, listened and slid into a seat, closing her eyes.
"Pop-Pop. I have to go to the bathroom." Juan whispered into Howie's ear. Howie had started potty-training Juan a few weeks ago. He had been doing pretty good with telling Howie when he needed to go.
"Okay. Let's go."
Howie walked over to Luna and shook her gently. She opened her eyes and stared at him.
"Don't move. I'm taking Juan to the bathroom." Luna nodded and shut her eyes again. "Watch her, Bran." Brandon nodded.
Howie carried Juan towards the bathroom. Melanie was supposed to be here anytime now to pick up him and the Carter family. Their plane had gotten in 10 minutes ago. Howie was waiting for them to show up.
"Howie!" Nick shouted from across the terminal. Speak of the devil. Rob came running over.
"Hey Uncle Howie." Rob grinned up at him. He idolized Howie.
"Hi Robby. Can you do me a favor?" Rob nodded. "Luna's sitting over there. Can you go watch her while I take Juan to the bathroom?"
Rob nodded and gave Howie a quick hug before going over to Luna. He was wary around her. Everyone was wary around her.
Howie helped balance Juan on the toilet while he went to the bathroom. As much as he loved Kevin, this 50th birthday party couldn't have come at a worse time.
Howie had his hands full with Juan and Sweet D Records. The label was taking up more time then it had in the past. And the worst part of it was that Astra was the biggest problem he had right now. Thankfully, Brandon helped out around the house. He was a godsend, but he had started college a few weeks ago and had left the house. Already, Howie was struggling without his son around.
On top of that, having Luna re-appear just made everything worse. If only she got along with her mother.
"How long is the flight delayed for, Dad?" Allie asked. Mikel sighed and shrugged his shoulders.
"Who was your pick-up person?" She watched the video screen as Mikel turned to Marilyn who was reading the news on another handheld.
Marilyn looked up. "Alexis was supposed to pick us up." He went back to reading the news.
"I'll make sure to let her know that the flight is delayed. Have you tried calling Alex?"
Mikel shook his head. "I decided to call you first."
"Can I talk to Grampa?" Jack asked, pulling on his mother's arm. Allie shook her head. "Go sit back down, Jack. You're still in trouble."
"What happened, honey?" Mikel asked.
"Jack and Rob thought it would be funny to steal Nick's glasses while he was sleeping on the plane. They proceeded to hide them in the bathroom. One of the other passengers accidentally flushed them."
"Whoops. Well you go be the big, bad disciplinarian, Allison. We'll see you at Kevin and Alex's."
"Bye Dad. Bye Brian."
Allie turned off the video display on her handheld and put it back in her purse. She turned to face Jack and Rob again.
"Now what would have happened if Dad hadn't had another pair of glasses with him?"
Neither Jack or Rob answered. Nick watched them try to hold up under their mother's gaze. Luna slept. Howie watched as he played with Juan.
"Answer me please."
"Dad wouldn't have been able to see and that would have been bad." Rob answered softly.
"That's right. Now what should your punishment be for losing your father's glasses?"
Jack and Rob exchanged glances. "No video games for a week."
Allie nodded. "Going with an old favorite. Good idea."
"That starts when we get home." Nick threw in, not wanting to spoil the boys fun for the weekend.
Allie turned to look at him, an angry expression on her face. They glared at each other for a moment, speaking through looks instead of words.
Finally Allie turned to face the boys again. "Starting when we get home."
"Thanks Mom." Jack jumped up and hugged Allie. She hugged him back. "This doesn't mean I'm not mad at you two."
"We know. Can we go get a soda?" Rob asked. Allie nodded, digging out a few dollars and handing it to them.
"Take Juan with you." Howie said, handing the baby over to Jack. Rob grinned and turned around.
"Put him on my back." Jack put Juan on Rob's back and the three of them ran down the terminal.
"No running!" Nick shouted after them. They slowed to a very fast walk.
"Why couldn't we have had girls?" Allie moaned sinking into the chair next to Luna.
"Girls aren't any easier, Allie." Howie said looking over at Luna. She was obviously asleep now. Brandon had put down the magazine and was listening to them.
"When did she show up?" Nick asked quietly. "Yesterday. I couldn't leave her at the house. She already tried to steal my car when I refused to give her money. The house could be gone by the time I get back."
Allie watched Luna sleeping quietly. "Is she on anything right now?"
Howie nodded. "I couldn't tell you what, but I know she is."
"I don't want Jack and Rob near her." Allie said to Nick. He nodded but looked over at Howie guiltily.
"Don't worry about offending me. I won't even let her own son near her."
Brandon sighed and looked over at his big sister. Sometimes he wished she
had never come back into their lives. It would have made things so much
easier for all of them.
"Howie had everything he wanted when the BSB ended. He was happily married with two young children. So what was next for him?"
"Sweet D Records."
"Apparently everything Howie touched business-wise turned to gold. Sweet D Records took off, starting mainly as an outlet for Latino artists. Then in a huge coup for both companies, Sweet D Records and FreeLance Management signed a deal that gave both companies everything their artists needed."
"Meanwhile Howie's home life was getting a little strained. Luna turned out to be more of a handful then Howie had counted on. She and her mother, Ameena, didn't get along at all. Brandon was the only happy part of his home life."
"Ameena spent most of her time on the road now. She was tour manager for a number of major bands, coming home for a few weeks at a time only."
"Finally in 2016, Howard and Ameena Dorough filed for divorce. Luna dropped out of high school and disappeared soon afterwards. She eventually landed in Arizona and lived with the Kirkpatrick's for a few months before taking off again."
"Howie would hear from her when she needed money or was in serious trouble."
"Then she finally came home when she was almost 17 years old. She was eight months pregnant and on drugs."
"Ameena washed her hands of her daughter a long time ago. Howie was left to pick up the pieces of his family only to discover that his soon to be ex-wife had been cheating on him for almost six years now."
"Howie flipped. He sent his son, Brandon, to Arizona to stay with the Kirkpatrick's. He took his grandson, Juan, and disappeared for two months. Rumor has it that he went to Spain and hid out for a while."
"Howie only returned to the US a month ago. He had to be present for the
final divorce hearings. He declined to appear on this special but gave
permission for us to discuss his life."
"So Nick, how did the last show go?" Howie asked holding the soda Juan had been drinking. He had grown disinterested in it when Jack and Rob began playing hide and seek.
"Great Howie. I love doing shows at `Fatone's'. The clientele is so receptive to my style of artwork."
"I'm sorry I didn't make it to New York for this one. I hate to miss them."
"Please, Howie. This is the first show you've missed in ten years. I think you've been to more then Allie's been to."
"I would bet on it." Allie said with a laugh.
"Nick was the first to leave Florida, having fallen in love with the area of Philadelphia where both he and his wife, Allison, went to college. They kept a huge house in Haverford which was eventually turned into a pseudo-dorm for students at Haverford College, where both Nick and Allison graduated from."
"They moved to Bryn Mawr soon after they graduated. Allie entered med school at the University of Pennsylvania while Nick pursued his masters in art education at the University of the Arts."
"Surprisingly, Nick never had the urge to return to show business. He quickly fell into the pattern of school, enjoying the time he had to learn and focus on his artwork."
"Allie dropped out of med school after about a year. She went on to work at a small research lab doing research on the common cold. Nick got his masters in art education and began teaching at Bryn Mawr College while he pursued his PhD."
"Through this time, Twiggy Ramirez would drop in and out of their lives, often living with them for months on end. He bounced around the country and bounced in and out of rehab. Allie and Nick did what they could to help him, but finally Twiggy's story ended in a seedy motel outside Dallas, dead of an overdose."
"Twiggy's death sent Allison and her parents into a downward spiral. Nick did his best to keep her sane while taking care of their two small children, Jack and Rob."
"Twiggy's death sent Allison's step-father, Marilyn Manson, over the edge. Her father, Mikel, had to put him in drug rehab shortly afterwards. After four visits to Betty Ford, Marilyn finally got clean."
"Allison's life went back to an even keel and everything moved smoothly. Her parents were fine, living in Aspen, close to Lance Bass actually."
"Nick's artistic career was taking off. He began to do numerous shows throughout the country, many of them in New York. He did his most famous shows at `Fatone's' instead of a more artistic friendly environment."
"Both he and Allison are extremely happy in their careers and their life
in general. The music industry is still waiting to see if Nick will return,
but it seems almost definite that he will not."
"Would you please turn that off, Rachel?" AJ groaned as he walked back downstairs.
Rachel looked up at him. "Yeah it's over anyway." She flipped off the TV and ran upstairs to change into a T-shirt.
"You ready to get to work, Pumpkin?" Kevin asked, poking his head into her room.
"Yup Dad. I'll be down in a minute."
"Okay. Meet you downstairs." Kevin shut her door behind him and went downstairs.
AJ was on the phone.
"How long was it delayed?" Kevin slid up behind him and planted a kiss on AJ's neck.
AJ practically jumped ten feet in the air.
"Kevin you scared me!" AJ said it loud enough that Mikel would be able to hear. A moment later AJ heard a click as Mikel hung on the phone.
"Who you talking to?"
"Oh no one." AJ hung up the phone with a smile. Kevin looked at him strangely, but let it drop.
"Rach and I are heading out. I'll have the vid link with me if you need to get in touch with us."
AJ smiled. "Have fun, Cowboy." He leaned forward and kissed his husband.
As soon as Kevin and Rachel were out the door, Melanie appeared with a smile on her face.
"Talk about timing. Uncle Brian just pulled up."
Epilogue: Part Two--50
years and counting...
"Thanks for coming with me, Mel. It gets kinda boring driving back and forth all by myself."
"I know. I've been doing all day myself. Besides Uncle Marilyn and Uncle Mikel are a little fussy about things. If you want my opinion, Uncle Marilyn is crazy."
Alexis smiled as she concentrated on the road. "I haven't seen them in years. I barely remember what they're like."
"I was kinda surprised when Papa put them on your pick-up list. I can handle Marilyn. A lot of people can't."
"Probably because you got the Kirkpatrick's. They're a handful."
"Yes they are. There were ten of them this time. Micah brought his girlfriend and Kira brought her fiancée."
Alexis pulled up to the terminal at the designated pick-up spot. This was the last trip they had to do today thankfully. All the other guests were safely back at the farmhouse waiting for the party this evening.
Marilyn and Mikel's plane had been delayed in Chicago so they were the last to come in. Mel was kinda worried about that. Knowing Marilyn, he was going to be pissy because of that.
"I can't believe Kira's getting married in June. She's not that much older then we are." Alexis said as she and Mel climbed out of the van.
"I know. There they are." Melanie pointed Mikel and Marilyn out to Alexis.
It had been about ten years since Alexis had seen either of them. She had only been eight and Marilyn had scared her half to death.
Her eyes widened as she looked at them.
"Melanie! Darling!" Marilyn shouted to her, waving her over. Mel grinned and grabbed Alexis' arm, pulling her along.
Marilyn grabbed Melanie and hugged her tightly. Mikel smiled at Alexis warmly.
"God Alexis, it's been years. Last time we saw you, you came to my waist."
Mikel hugged her briefly before letting go. "Okay share the Melanie."
Marilyn let go of Mel and turned to Alexis. He threw his arms around her, hugging tightly.
"It's so good to see you, Lexie. Your Dad still calls you Lexie right? I always thought that was such an adorable nickname."
"Umm...yeah he does Uncle Marilyn. It's good to see you too." This was definitely not the same Marilyn she had known when she was a kid.
Marilyn let go of her and picked up a small bag. He cuddled it and turned to Mikel.
"Are you ready to go, Pumpkin?"
Mikel nodded. "How's Muffin?" He peeked into the bag. "She's still sleeping."
"Are you two still sneaking that dog on the plane?" Melanie asked them both, grinning at them as she picked up one of their bags.
"Of course we are. Muffin needs to be with us."
Alexis shook her head in amazement. "How long?" She whispered. Melanie grinned as she cut her off. "Have they been this gay?"
Alexis nodded. "Pretty much since they moved to Aspen and Marilyn got completely clean. It's kind of funny to look at him now and look at how he used to be."
Alexis smiled and picked up a bag. "They are nice now."
"Please Taylor. Let go of that for Mommy." Leighanne pleaded with her son as he clutched Jean-Michel's hat.
Juan was laughing as he and Taylor ran from Leighanne. She sat down on the ground and sighed.
"I hope you didn't really want it back, Jean. I don't think they're going to give it up anytime soon."
Jean smiled at her. "Do not worry about it. I have another in my suitcase."
Ben wandered into the back room, where everyone was hiding for now. The amazing thing was that they could all fit into one room. Besides the guys and all their families, all of the Richardson family was there. Alex's parents, both sets of them, and his brother and sister were there. Justine, Madeline, and their son Kirby. Marilyn and Mikel had just arrived. Britney and Daniel had brought their two kids. A ton of Kevin's old friends were mixed in, including Janet Jackson, Fatima, Trent Reznor, the former members of Marilyn Manson, and the guys from 98*.
Ben grinned and picked up Allie in a hug. "Hi Aunt Allie." He put her down, smiling warmly at her. He had eventually gotten over his little crush on her a few years before.
"Where's your beautiful fiancée at, Benji honey?" Allie asked hooking her arm in his.
"Shhh...that's still a secret. I haven't told Dad and Papa yet." Ben grinned at her.
Allie smiled and made a zipping motion over her lips. "Your secret is safe with me. So where is she anyway?"
Ben pointed to where Brielle was talking to Justin and Sarah. "Talking with the Timberlake's."
"Kev and Alex are going to flip when they find out. They just adore Brielle."
Ben smiled as he watched his fiancée talking. "Who doesn't?"
"It makes me feel old knowing you're getting married, Benji." Allie said as they wandered through the crowd of people.
"Allie, you're only 8 years older then me. You're still young."
Allie nodded. "I know. It's just the it's funny to me that I've been married longer then your parents. Hell, Nick and I just hit 20 years together. That makes me feel old."
Rachel flew into the room and jumped on her big brother's back. "Benji!!!"
"Hey squirt. Aren't you supposed to be keeping Dad occupied?"
"I came to make an announcement actually." She slid off his back. "I get to play organizer since Papa is currently getting Dad ready to go out."
"Has Papa said anything to him about the fact it's his birthday yet?"
Rachel shook her head. "None of us have. He's going to be so surprised."
"Dr. Carter." Chris said with a smile.
"Dr. Kirkpatrick." Nick replied, throwing his arms around Chris.
"Do you feel silly saying that too?" Nick asked Chris.
Chris began to laugh. "Well I have been Dr. Kirkpatrick a lot longer then you've been Dr. Carter. I've had more time to get used to it. Though calling you Dr. Carter just blows my mind."
"Who would have thought the two of us would be the Dr.'s in the group?"
Nick laughed. "Certainly not me."
"Hell the rest of us were surprised you even went to college, much less became the professor you are."
"I missed you." Joey whispered to JC softly. "I missed you, too."
"Are you coming to visit this month?"
JC nodded. "In a few weeks. Justin and I have to finish up some stuff with Alex."
"Do you want me to come down for a bit?" Joey asked him, trying to keep an eye on where David was in the room.
"Of course I do." JC said, slipping his hand into Joey's and giving it a squeeze.
Out of the corner of his eye, JC saw Janel frown and he let go of Joey's hand.
Kira held Billy's hand tightly. The older kids had gravitated towards each other. Natalie, Lynley, Brandon, Micah, Jennifer, Haley, Alexis, Melanie and Luna were all talking. Britney and Daniel's daughter Karen was there as well. Lynley was holding Molly so Danielle could make the rounds and say hello to everyone.
"Well have you thought about Chicago, Lexie?" Haley asked her.
"Not really. I'm not much for the Chicago atmosphere. Plus I want to stay somewhere close to New York."
"NYU is a great school. I love it." Micah added in.
"Did you like the schools near the Carter's?" Melanie asked. "I was thinking about looking at some of them, but I'm not sure if they have the programs I want."
"You're looking for a music production program right?" Haley asked.
"Check out U. of Chicago, and USC. They both have really good programs."
"Where did you decide to go to college, Brandon?" Micah asked, trying to draw the shy boy into the conversation.
"Umm...well. I'm kinda going to Harvard." He said softly.
All eyes turned to him in amazement. None of them had known that.
"You look great, Brit." Summer said, hugging her old friend tightly.
"So do you, dear." Britney hugged her back. "How are you enjoying married life so far?"
Summer smiled and squeezed Nikki's hand. "It's been great."
Rachel climbed on Justin's shoulders and let out a loud whistle. The room fell silent for the most part. The little kids were still making noise.
"All right everyone. We're going to head out back in a few minutes. Papa is upstairs with Dad getting him ready to go out. So everyone be ready to go."
"You look great you know." Alex said, kissing the back of Kevin's neck softly.
Kevin grinned at the reflection of the two of them in the mirror.
"I still can't believe that we used to have to wear stuff like this all the time. I hate it now."
Kevin pulled the white shirt he was wearing a little bit to get it more comfortable. For him these days, dressing up consisted of khakis, a white button-down shirt, and a blazer. Alex, on the other hand, still dressed with flair. He was wearing a pair of pinstripe trousers and black silk shirt.
"Well are you ready for a night out on the town, Cowboy?" Alex intertwined his fingers with Kevin's and they headed downstairs.
"Oh, we need to tell the girl's we are leaving." Alex said.
"Mel! Rach! Where are you?" He shouted loudly, hoping they could hear him.
"We're out back, Papa!" Melanie shouted back to him. Rachel motioned for everyone to hide as best as possible.
The door to the deck opened and AJ pushed Kevin outside.
"What are you doing?" Kevin asked, looking at him in confusion.
Kevin's jaw dropped and his eyes filled with tears when he saw everyone standing on the lawn in front of him. He wrapped his arms around Alex tightly.
"Thank you." He whispered softly. "Thank you."
Epilogue Part Three:
"Okay. As the oldest living boy band member, I get to make a toast to the old man sitting over there." Chris said, holding up his glass towards Kevin.
"Over the past 25 or so years of knowing you, Kevin, there's one thing I have finally learned. And no it's not that you can eat 15 hotdogs in 5 minutes, which by the way, I'm still in awe of."
The room chuckled at Chris' joke. "I've learned that you are always there when I need someone to talk to. I've always been able to turn to you and ask you for help. And for that, and the hot dog thing, I am honored to have you as my friend."
"Well thanks, Chris. And I forgive you for telling everyone in the room about the hot dog trick. I can do 20 now though. I'll show you later on." Kevin said with a grin.
"I'm next!" Nick shouted, jumping up on his chair. His behavior made his kids laugh. Allie just pulled him down with a grin.
"Well Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. You're an old man now. Not that you've ever been a young man. It's just now you have the disposable diapers to prove it."
Nick walked over to the main table and stood next to Kevin. "Now I didn't come all the way from Pennsylvania to bash you, Kevin. I actually came to give you something." He motioned to Jack, who ran out of the room.
"You've been my best friend, my brother, my parent, my practical joke partner, and my confidant. I can't find the words to say what you have meant to me over the years."
Jack came back in carrying a box. He brought it over to his father and uncle.
"So I'm giving you this." Nick opened the box and pulled out a picture.
Kevin gasped and took it in his hands. It was a simple line drawing of the photo taken at his and Alex's wedding. Somehow, Nick had managed to capture the joy in all of their faces from that day. Kevin could swear he was looking at the photograph, not a replication of it.
"Its beautiful, Nick. Thank you."
Nick leaned over and gave Kevin a kiss on the cheek. "That's the first part of the gift. The second half will come along later."
He straightened up. "Where's my photographer?" He called to the crowd.
Leslie stood up and waved to Nick. She had ended up becoming a photographer, while her brother, Tommy, became a film maker. He was actually wandering around with a camera. His son, Mike, was on his back, watching everything.
Leslie made her way up front.
"Uncle Kevin, Nick asked me to re-create that picture with everyone here today. So with your permission, I would like to start setting it up."
Kevin put his hand over his mouth in surprise. He just nodded to her. Leslie turned to the crowd.
"Can everyone I talked to earlier please come up front?"
The Timberlake's, the Littrell's, the Kirkpatrick's, the Chasez's, the Carter's, the Dorough's, the Bass', Joey and David, Marilyn and Mikel, and the Richardson's got up and walked to the front of the room.
Leslie began to move people around, placing Kevin and Alex first, sitting in two chairs. She put Melanie and Rachel in front of them, sitting on the ground. Ben and Brielle were behind them, resting their hands on Kevin and Alex's shoulders.
Leslie moved Brian and Leighanne next to Kevin. Alexis held Taylor and Brian had Katie on his back. Howie stood next to Alex, with Luna standing next to him and Juan standing right in front of him, holding his hand.
"Justin and Sarah, can you stand next to Howie? Colleen and Maura can stand in front of you." They moved into their positions."
Leslie grinned. "Now for the fun part. Trying to arrange the Kirkpatrick's."
They all laughed as she took stock of the situation.
"Danielle and Chris, stand next to the Littrell's. Micah, I want you and Jenn to stand behind your parents. Haley, you and Natalie kneel on the ground in front of them. Kira, you and Lynley stand on either side. Billy, stand behind Kira. And I want Danielle to hold Molly."
"Joey, you and David stand next to the Timberlake's. JC, I want your family next to Joey with Kenny standing in front of you and Janel. Then I want Lance next to them. Can you stand in front of your parents, Briton and Luke?"
"Finally, the Carter's and the Warner's are going to go next to the Kirkpatrick's. I need Allie and Mikel to stand next to each other."
Leslie backed up and centered the picture. "Everyone smile!"
The camera went off and the assembled group of people began to laugh. When the flash went off, it flashed the words `Happy 50th Uncle Kevin.'
Leslie grinned and held up her hand. "One more." She took another before letting the group disband.
Once everyone had settled, Ben stood up.
"Now before we all disperse again and go back to visiting, I have one last surprise for my parents."
He reached over and took Brielle's hand. She stood up next to him.
"Dad. Papa. I would like to introduce you to my fiancée, Brielle Solomon."
Tears filled Kevin's eyes as he stood up and hugged his son. Alex had his arms around Brielle immediately, hugging his soon to be daughter-in-law. Brielle had been part of the family for years now. They were both so happy that it was her that Ben was going to marry.
"Congratulations Ben." Kevin whispered in his ear.
Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday dear Kevin!
Happy birthday to you!"
The crowd clapped as the birthday cake with all 50 candles burning brightly was pushed out. Kevin laughed when he saw the cake. He hugged Alex tightly as the cake was brought to him.
"Well I guess I need to make a wish now." Kevin said. He closed his eyes tightly, trying hard to think of something good.
'I wish that we all stay friends forever and we are all able to get together like this for years to come'
Kevin leaned over and took a deep breath. He began to blow out the candles, getting about halfway finished before he had to take another breath.
"Damn. 50 candles aren't as easy to blow out as it looks." Kevin said with a smile, leaning over to blow the rest out.
He finished and the crowd began to laugh as the candles lit again. Kevin put his hands on his hips and looked at Alex with a smile.
"You and your trick candles." Kevin pulled him into a kiss. When he let him go, Alex just grinned at the crowd.
until he tried to scoop out the ice cream."
They moved out on the dance floor, Kevin and Alex first. Slowly the strains of `I knew I loved You' by Savage Garden began to play.
"Our wedding song." Kevin whispered.
Joey danced with David, holding him tightly in his arms. His eyes wandered though to where JC was dancing with Janel.
"Joey." David said softly. "Yeah sweetie?"
"Why didn't you ever tell me about you and Josh?" Joey's arms tightened and he almost stopped dancing. David kept them moving.
"I'm not mad, Joey." He whispered. "Why didn't you tell me? I would have understood."
Joey shrugged, resting his head on David's shoulder. "I guess it's just been a secret romance for so long, I just thought it would be easier to keep it from you. Besides, I was afraid I would lose you if I told you about me and Josh."
"You're not going to lose me. I love you, Joe."
Joey's arms tightened again, this time out of comfort. "I love you too, David."
Lynley held Taylor tightly as she spun him around on the dance floor. Natalie was doing the same with Juan. The two little boys were so ecstatic, laughing as they `danced' with the big people. Brandon was dancing with Katie, who was happy to be dancing with him. Leighanne took a picture of her daughter dancing on with her feet on top of Brandon's.
Howie was dancing with Danielle, watching both Luna and Juan at the same time.
"D. You need to relax a little. Juan is in good hands. And Luna is behaving herself." Danielle said to him, reaching up and massaging his shoulders gently.
"I know, Dani. It's just so hard for me to relax. And since Brandon left for college, I've gotten even more stressed. I guess I never realized how much I needed him around."
Dani hugged him. "It's never easy when they leave, D. Especially if you are really close with them. I had so much trouble letting Micah go to New York. My baby boy was leaving home."
"Yeah but now you have Molly for another 18 years. You and Chris will never have an empty nest."
Dani groaned softly. "Don't remind me. Not that you're one to talk. You've got Juan. Lord knows Luna's never going to want to take care of him."
"She's never going to get the chance to."
Nick, Justin, Sarah, and Allie were all dancing in a small group, talking to each other.
"Well what about next month, we do the three day family trip thing again?" Nick asked them.
Justin looked over at Sarah, who just nodded. "Sounds good. The last camping trip we went on was great. Surprisingly, the girls loved it."
"So did Jack and Rob." Allie said.
Jean-Michel sat at the table with Luke curled up on his lap, sleeping peacefully. Jean was exhausted, but he didn't want to miss the party.
"Fancy meeting you here, stranger."
Jean looked up with a smile. "Britney."
"Jean-Michel." She leaned over and kissed both his cheeks. "How longs Luke been asleep?"
"About an hour now. All the excitement tired him out." Jean smiled.
"Looks like it tired you out too." Britney said. Jean nodded. "I am tired, but I do not want to leave. I do not want to miss anyone."
"You're speaking like this is the last time you're going to get to see everyone. Where's the healthy Jean-Michel optimism that I've grown to love over the years?"
Jean-Michel shrugged. "It is around somewhere. At the moment, it is losing to the famous Jean-Michel cynicism."
Britney squeezed his shoulder. "Get the optimism back. We don't want to lose you."
"Where is Daniel?"
Britney grinned. "Dancing with your boyfriend." Sure enough, Lance and Daniel were dancing together as they talked.
"Why don't you dance with him?" Janel asked softly. JC just shook his head.
"Not in front of Kenny."
"Oh Josh. Kenny pretty much knows what's going on. Besides, he is happily playing with Jack, Rob, and Cole. Go dance with Joey. Send David over to me."
JC smiled. "I love you, Janel." She smiled and rested her hand against his cheek.
"I love you too baby."
Kevin felt someone tap on his shoulder. "Mind if I cut in?" He grinned and turned to look at Justine.
"Well, if it were anyone but you, I would say no. Just make sure you get him back in one piece." Kevin smiled as he handed Alex over to Justine.
"Dad!" Ben shouted to him. He waved him over to where he was standing with Brielle, Tommy, Nicola, Leslie, and Adam.
"Hi everyone." He signed as he spoke for Tommy and Nicola.
Tommy held up his hand. "Don't worry about signing. We're cool." Nicola nodded in agreement.
"Are you ready for the next surprise, Dad?" Brielle asked him. Everyone else was just grinning, already knowing the next surprise.
"Should I get Alex?"
"We'll tell him later." Brielle said, linking her arm with Kevin's.
"All right then."
Brielle took his hand and put it on her stomach. "So do you have any interest in being Grampa Kevin anytime soon?"
"Oh my God." Kevin whispered, wrapping his arms around her.
Kevin rested his head on Alex's shoulder and watched as all of their friends and family danced and talked with each other.
"Thank you, Alexander."
Alex picked up Kevin's head and kissed him softly. "You're very welcome. Thank you."
"I wouldn't change a minute of the past 30 years. Thank you for being a part of them with me."
Alex kissed him again. "Anytime, Cowboy. Anytime."
And they watched as the stars came out and the crowd continued to dance and have fun.
This was how life was supposed to be.
***Thank you everyone for being a part of Escape and Choices. I really appreciate all the support I've gotten over the past year. See you all soon!***