This story contains FICTION of a male-male nature. Do not read this if you are:

  1. too young, or
  2. too narrow-minded, or
  3. living in a city/state/country where it is illegal.

Again, this is FICTION. While I have bumped into them here and there in Orlando, I do not, in fact, know any of the Backstreet Boys, nor do I make any claims about any of their sexualities.

NOTE: If you have not read 'Forever', I suggest you do so before reading this story.

Equilibrium: Beyond Forever

by: DJ

Chapter 3

The night was still, although not totally silent. Our house was removed from the beaten path, but there was still enough traffic to keep the low hum going. I was so used to it now that it was basically just background noise.

I lay in our big bed, just staring at my sleeping husband. He'd started to show a few gray hairs near his left temple. Other than that and the longer hairstyle, he still looked the same to me as he had when we'd first met. Beautiful.

But, it wasn't the beauty on the outside that took my breath away. It was the man inside that never ceased to amaze me. He could spend an entire day with Preston at his worst and never get even a ruffled feather. He was always so patient with his son, so kind. It was obvious he was made to be a father.

And, as for how he treated me, I don't think anyone could've done better. He took care of me, as I tried to do for him. He was the strong rock when I needed one, the soft caress when I desired one. As I'd said to him before, he was my world and my life. I didn't know how I could ever survive without him.

"What's wrong, D?" Kev's voice startled me. I glanced to his eyes and realized he was awake.

"Nothing, Kev," I replied. "Just watching you sleep."

Kevin shifted, rolling on his side to face me. The move brought our bodies closer together, a job he finished a moment later by wrapping his arm around me and pulling me tight against him. I sighed, snuggling into his embrace as I wrapped my arm around him.

"Well, why don't you join me sleeping instead of just watching?" he wondered as he softly kissed my forehead.

"Because, that's not as much fun," I replied, turning so my lips met his briefly.

"Maybe not," he agreed against my mouth, "but you still need to sleep, sweetie."

"I know," I replied. "I will."

We lay there then, neither of us really moving. I waited to hear his breathing even out, for some indication that he'd fallen asleep. I wasn't ready to sleep just yet, but I didn't want to keep him up.

Lately, I'd found myself examining my life, our lives, and wondering if this was where I wanted to be. There was no question that I loved Kevin, and that I wanted to be with him. I just wasn't sure if Orlando was home for me anymore.

I'd really started missing the west, my family. Mom had been having some health problems over the last year, making me worry that she was spending too much time alone. With both Jeremy and I scattered across the country, she was basically on her own. Plus, Jeremy and Kris had finally started a family of their own. Little Jana was almost three years old, and I rarely ever saw her.

But, there were obstacles to our ever moving anywhere. Preston, of course, was at the top of that list. He was, for all intents and purposes, our son. However, he was Kari's natural child. If we wanted him to move with us, Kari would have to give up her life here, also, which I didn't realistically see happening.

Plus, Kevin really loved it here. He was established here. Nick was still based in the area, even if his career had him travelling most of the time. Howie and Deb had residences across the country, but still considered Orlando their home. And, while Brian and Leighanne lived in Georgia, they still spent a lot of time visiting this area when they had a chance.

AJ, of course, was another story. He visited once in a while, but Orlando wasn't his home. After Backstreet went their separate ways, AJ had taken to the road for all intents and purposes. He performed concerts, put out some albums, and just generally followed his own course. During the time on his journey, he'd drifted away from us. I found I missed him not being around.

I knew my discontent was probably more wanderlust than anything else. I'd moved a great deal with my parents as a child. The longest I'd ever lived anywhere prior to Orlando was something like 5 years. Orlando was past that point, now, and I was starting to itch for something new.

"D, stop it," Kevin whispered, breaking in on my thoughts.

"What?" I wondered, even though I already knew the answer.

"Stop thinking and go to sleep," he replied.

"Sorry, Kev," I said softly.

I felt him sigh next to me. A moment later, he was shifting again. When he eventually settled, he had us facing one another on our sides, staring at each other in the near darkness of the room.

"What's wrong?" he asked, his naturally quiet voice even more so in the deep night.

"I dunno," I replied. "I've just got a lot on my mind, I guess."

"You wanna talk about it?" I stared at him, wondering if this was the time.

"I guess part of it is what you said tonight," I answered, deciding to avoid the bigger issue for now.

"What's that?"

"When we were talking about me being gone lately," I whispered, looking away from his gaze. "I didn't realize it bothered you so much. I thought you understood, that you were okay with it."

"D," he said, shifting his hand up to my cheek to get me to look at him again, "I DO understand. It's just..." he faded away.

"What?" I prompted him. He didn't respond right away.

"Do you remember how I was after the final tour?" he asked.

"Yeah, sure." I paused, wondering if he would continue right away. "Right away, you were sad, I guess. Depressed that that chapter of your life was over." I paused again.


"And...and after a few weeks, you got better. You started taking care of Preston, working on your personal music collection. You seemed happier than I ever remembered seeing you before."

"Yeah, those were probably some of the happiest moments of my life," he replied. "And, do you know why?" I thought for a few moments before answering.

"No, not exactly," I hesitantly spoke up. "I always assumed it had something to do with Preston, with having him in your life. That and your newfound freedom from the press, the schedules, the fans."

"D," hesaid, his tone an odd mix of laughter and frustration, "what was it about my life right then that made it better than before? What was it that made it so special?"

"I don't know, Kev," I answered. "I told you what I thought it was. Obviously, there's something more to it."

He sighed, his frustration evident. Suddenly, he shifted, moving towards me, then pushing me over on my back as he slid on top of me. He leaned down and gave me a light kiss before leaning back and staring into my eyes. And then, I knew the answer he was looking for.

"Me," I spoke up just before he started to talk.

"You," he agreed. "Yes, YOU."

He paused then, just staring, holding my gaze with his. Reassuring and chastising me, all with a single look.

"You...complete me," he whispered, almost sounding embarrassed at the emotion in his voice, in his words. "When you're not here, life is just...I don't know. Plain? Boring? Like it has no light, no real purpose."

"But, Preston," I tried to argue, but he cut me off with a shake of his head.

"No, D, no `but'." He gently squeezed my face between his hands to emphasize his words. "Preston is my son, and nothing can ever change that. Next to you, I love him more than anyone or anything in the world. But," he paused again, "you're my partner...my husband."

I really didn't know what to say. Everything I could think of to say seemed inadequate to the moment. While a loving and demonstrative husband, Kevin rarely resorted to words to convey his feelings. He preferred to rely on our innate connection, as well as other physical signs to show me his love.

My eyes were filling with tears, feeling at once foolish and overwhelmed. His words did things to me that I couldn't describe. As always, he was able to make me feel so loved that it nearly hurt.

Unfortunately, his words also evoked a lot of guilt. I knew it was unintentional on his part, but it was there, nonetheless. He'd just gotten through telling me how important to his life I was, which basically made me feel terrible that I'd been gone so much from it recently.

"Now," he spoke softly, again stroking my face as he lay atop me, "I want you to forget about this for a while. I love you, and I understand that you've got to be away a lot right now. Just..."

He paused to stare at me, again. The love there took my breath away. But, as I searched his gaze, there was something else. Something that added fuel to my worries, in spite of his words.

"Just don't forget that I'm here, and what we agreed to earlier," he finished.

"I won't, Kev," I replied, my words barely even a whisper. "I don't think I ever could."

He leaned down, then, joining our lips in a soft kiss. I lost myself in his touch, in the joy of knowing this wonderful man was in love with me. I let him take me away from my cares for a time, allowed him to make me forget my worries.

For a time.

Chapter 4

The Present

I sighed, shaking off my memories. I hated when I let this happen, allowed myself to relive the past. I'd learned to shut it out, to close off all the memories, all the feelings. I'd had to withdraw in order to survive, to continue living.

If what I did now could really be passed off as living, of course. I worked nearly every day. When I wasn't working, I was travelling. I had no social life. Even when colleagues asked me out for something as simple as lunch or a beer, I turned them down.

Saying yes meant letting someone back in. And I no longer had the heart for that. While my life was lonely, at least it was free of pain. As long as I could keep the past away, as long as I kept my mind solely on the present, I could make it.

One day.

Then another.

And another again.

I stood, again, moving from my desk to the shelf in the corner. I kept a supply of `medicine' there, the kind of medicine that usually helped me to forget things when they became too much. I tried not to take it very often. But, sometimes, it was a necessity.

I opened the bottle of whiskey, pouring a healthy shot in a glass. I took the glass out to the kitchen, intent on adding a cube of ice. While I could stomach whiskey straight, I preferred it to be a little cold. Plus, the ice helped water it down, which I knew was better for me.

I found myself wandering out onto the back porch. It was unusually warm here tonight. December was nice here, but normally not this nice. I barely even felt a chill in the air, although I had to admit that it was probably due to the medicinal shot more than the ambient temperature.

I settled into a chair, leaning back to take in the view. While I didn't have much of a view of the city, I did have an exceptionally clear view of the stars tonight. Staring at the sky had always been a favorite hobby of mine, I suppose.

Tonight, there were thousands of white lights visible, maybe even more. It seemed strange to see so many while I was still in the city. Normally, the light pollution cut down on what I could see.

The pinpricks of white light showed starkly against the near-total black of the sky.




Just as I'd become.

Author's Notes:

Hi, everyone, I'm back. Couple of items before I get too far off track:

  1. I want to say a big Thanks to the Archivist for his patience while I deal with this HTML stuff. I'm afraid he's suffering under my HTML experiment along with a few others whose browsers won't support the newer tag formats.
  2. For those who've had problems reading the early chapters I posted, let me know if you still have problems with this one.
  3. Fair warning, the next chapter's where things start to crash and burn. Be prepared.

Okay, having said all of that, thanks to those of you who are reading, and to those who have expressed their opinions via e-mail. If I haven't gotten back to you, don't be discouraged. I'm trying.

For those who were wanting a blow-by-blow of last night's concert in Ft. Lauderdale, I will have to disappoint. I'm afraid I wouldn't be much of a music critic, as I just sit back and enjoy. Or, in last night's case, stand up, scream my ass off, and enjoy. I'm terrible about tracking every song and every little trick or dance move. I sort of just live in the moment when I'm doing the concert thing.

I will say that it was an EXCELLENT show. It was an end stage, which took a little getting used to. We had floor seats, towards the opposite end from the stage. This might sound bad, but it actually turned out to be awesome. As I measure in around 6'5", I towered head and shoulders above nearly everyone else on the floor. Plus, there was another thing the guys did that made the seats more than worth it. I won't give away what that was for those who are going to see the show, but trust me.

They did a good mix from all of their albums. There were several 'medleys' of stuff from their original album, as well as the big hits from Millenium. My only personal beef was that they didn't perform the song It's True from Black & Blue. I love that song and was disappointed it wasn't included, although they did so many other songs that I could understand how a few from Black & Blue would have to be sacrificed.

All in all, a great show, well worth the money. I will be attending the concert in Denver in February, also, so maybe I'll have more highlights from that show if I'm still posting the story.