There was a drive-by shooting in New York City, and try as they might, observers couldn't get a license plate of the car, as there wasn't one on it, just a cardboard sign reading, "license applied for." The injured were Diana and Ashley Smith. Diana got shot in the shoulder, which was quickly treated and she was released. Ashley got shot in the lower back while shielding Kevin from getting shot. Ashley now has no feeling from the waist down, and there is a chance that he may never walk again. Kevin was lucky in the way that he didn't get shot. Unfortunately, Kristin was not so lucky, for she died after suffering a gunshot wound to the forehead.
For awhile, Kevin was blaming Ashley for Kristin's death, and at one point even came into his room to try and beat him up. His family however, after finding out about his actions from Zachary, made him see reason, and he realized, though he had already known it and just didn't want to admit it to himself, that he was being a really big jerk. Kevin promised that he would apologize to Ashley, and try to salvage a friendship between them, if possible.
As Kevin was curled up in a ball sobbing at the time, Brian signed the medical release giving the doctors permission to perform a cesarean section on Kristin to save the babies. They were successful, and Kevin is now the proud, single parent of twin boys, Jordan Scott Ashley Richardson and Jeremy Thomas Ashley Richardson.
As if the death of Kristin Willits-Richardson wasn't enough sadness for one day, Diana Smith received a phone call from Mrs. Lansbury, the housekeeper at the Smith family home in Middlebury, Vermont. With much sadness, Mrs. Lansbury informed Diana that her father, Donald Smith, had suffered a massive heart attack earlier in the afternoon, and had passed away. Diana was of course quite shaken by the news, as were Zachary and Kerr. Even Scott, despite never actually meeting Donald, was shaken up, because he knew how much Kerr loved his Uncle Don.
Later Jackie Littrell visits Ashley in his hospital room, and during the course of their conversation, Jackie figures out the reason as to why Ashley risked his own life to save Kevin's: Ashley is in love with Kevin. Jackie tells Ashley that she has always suspected that Kevin might be bisexual, but she can't be certain. She also however asked Ashley not to pressure Kevin into anything, or to let Kevin know about his feelings, as Kevin has enough to deal with at the moment, having just lost his wife, whom Jackie knows Kevin loved very much. Ashley assures Jackie that he will not try to pressure Kevin into anything, saying that he would never come on to a person whose wife just died.
Eventually, Kevin comes into the room, and first apologizes to Ashley for blaming him for Kristin's death and trying to beat him up. Kevin also makes it quite clear to Ashley that he is very, very grateful to him for saving his life. At this point, a nurse wheels in two baby cradles, and Ashley meets the two other people who, in Kevin's words, "are especially grateful to you for saving my life." Ashley holds one of the babies, Jordan, while Kevin holds Jeremy, and Kevin then informs Jackie and Ashley of his choice in names, saying that he and Kristin had already agreed to Jordan Scott and Jeremy Thomas if they had boys. Kevin says that he just added in Ashley to both of the boys' names to further show his gratitude to Ashley for saving his life.
As if this wasn't already enough, Kevin then asks Ashley to stand up with him at Jordan and Jeremy's baptism as their Godfather. When Ashley accepts, Kevin replies that it's good that he accepted, because he wasn't going to take no for an answer. Jackie decides that she will leave the four of them alone for awhile, and soon after she leaves, Kevin looks deeply into Ashley's eyes. Then, before he even realizes what he's doing, Kevin leans toward Ashley and presses his lips against Ashley's, gently kissing him.
Almost as quickly as the kiss begins, Kevin pulls away, and replies, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that."
"It's okay Kevin, I don't mind."
"Well, it was a mistake. I don't know what came over me," replies Kevin, "I mean Kristin hasn't even been dead yet for a day, and here I am kissing someone else. Another guy no less. Don't take that the wrong way, Ash, it's just that..."
"It's okay, Kevin, it's okay. I understand, you don't need to explain. You just lost someone very dear to you, and it's only natural that you'd reach out to someone for some comfort. I don't mind, Kevin. If you need to talk, or if you need someone to listen to you, or even if you just need a shoulder to cry on, I'm here for you."
"Thanks, Ash, I appreciate it. Well, I suppose I really should be getting Jordan and Jeremy back to the nursery now, and I know that Zach and Diana need to speak with you, so I'll be on my way now."
"Zach and Diana need to speak to me? Did they mention what about?"
"I know what it is that they need to talk to you about, but it really isn't my place to tell you. So, I'll let your brother and sister discuss things with you. I hope that you get better soon, and get some feeling back in those legs. I want you to be able to be standing up at these little guys' baptism, without the aid of crutches, or a walker. And I certainly don't want you sitting there in a wheelchair, so you better work hard with the physical therapist, you hear?"
"Yes, sir!" replies Ashley, as he salutes Kevin, who just grins at him, before he opens the door to the room, and wheels the baby cradles out of the room, before closing the door behind him.
"Yes, Mrs. Lansbury, I know," replies Zachary into his cell phone, "Yes, I know. Diana and I will be returning home to Middlebury soon to take care of the arrangements. I know Ash will probably want to be involved though too. We'll need to talk to the doctor and see if it's okay for him to travel in his current condition."
"Oh my, I was so sorry to hear about Master Ashley's misfortune," replies Mrs. Lansbury, "Even cook was a bit shaken up by the news of Ashley getting shot, and of course Master Donald's death."
"Cook was shaken up by it?" replies Zachary, completely and utterly shocked by the news, "My God, that's hard to believe. Anyway, I have to be coming back home soon anyway. I have to make arrangements for a substitute for my classes at the high school, and to drop off their midterms and lay out a lesson plan for the sub."
"Okay, Master Zachary, I shall make sure that everything is ready for your arrival," replies Mrs. Lansbury, "What should I tell Mr. Kensington?"
Jonas Kensington was Donald Smith's lawyer, as well as the lawyer for Smith Industries. Undoubtedly, he's been calling about how necessary it is for the family to come and get the situation dealt with, as in getting the reading of the will done, and moving on as quickly as possible so that Smith Industries doesn't suffer financially. Jonas Kensington is a rather cold-hearted person, and probably isn't showing the least bit of grief over Donald Smith's death. He will of course say how sorry he is to Ashley, Zachary, and Diana, but they all know that he most definitely doesn't mean it. Even Donald Smith knew that Jonas has a frozen heart and ice running through his veins, but he was a very good attorney, so Donald kept him on retainer.
"Just tell him that we will get there when we get there," replies Zachary, "I know he'll persist and say that it's imperative that we wrap up all the loose ends tied to my father's estate as quickly as possible so that Smith Industries doesn't suffer, but he's just going to have to wait. He pulled this after my mother's death, and forced us all to speed through the estate papers and such, and he is not going to do it again. I mean mother wasn't even in her grave yet when her will was read. Dad might not have been the type to use an iron fist with Jonas, but I guarantee you, he isn't going to walk all over me. And you know that Ashley and Diana won't let him either."
"Yes, Master Zachary, I know," replies Mrs. Lansbury, "Okay, well I'll let you get back to things there now. I have to go and check on Cook. She's in another one of her moods today. Goodbye."
"So, Kevin have you decided on names yet?" asks Anna, who was waiting at the nursery when Kevin returned with the boys. Jackie had decided that she would let Kevin tell the rest of the family what he decided to name his sons, and about his decision to have Ashley be Godfather.
"Yes, I have," replies Kevin, "The one on the left is Jordan Scott Ashley Richardson, and the other is Jeremy Thomas Ashley Richardson."
"What's with the Ashley?"
"Well, mom, it's the least I could do. I mean if it wasn't for Ashley those two wouldn't have parents right now. I've come to my senses, and realized that Kristin's death wasn't Ashley's fault. I had no right to blame him for it. Anyway, to further express my gratitude to him, I asked him to be Jordan and Jeremy's Godfather, and he accepted. Of course I wasn't going to take no for an answer anyway."
"Well, Kevin, I'm proud of you," replies Anna, as she pulls her youngest son into a tight hug. "Very proud of you."
"Thanks, mom," replies Kevin, as he returns the hug. "I'm hoping that Ashley will be a very big part of Jordan and Jeremy's lives, because I'm certainly going to need help raising those two since I'm a single parent and all."
"Yes, well, Kevin, I'm sure that Ashley will do all he can to help you," replies Anna, as she looks at her son, straight into his eyes, as she reads him. "So, how was it?"
"How was what?"
"The one you gave Ashley on the lips."
About half-an-hour after Kevin left, Ashley once again has visitors. He was smiling when Zachary, Diana, Kerr and Scott walked in, but when he saw the expressions on their faces, his smile faded away very quickly.
"Ash, we have some bad news, and we're not sure how to say this."
"Just spit it out, Zach."
"Well, Ash, you're not going to want to believe this, and trust me I didn't want to believe it either."
"What are you talking about Diana? If you have something to tell me, just say it, and stop beating around the bush!"
"Ash, Mrs. Lansbury called. Dad was admitted to the hospital in Middlebury this afternoon, after suffering a massive heart attack."
"Oh my God, Zach, you're not saying that he's..."
"Unfortunately, I am, Ash. I didn't want to believe it either. So I called the hospital in Middlebury, and had them fax proof here to the hospital. His death certificate was the proof that they sent."
Ashley looks down at his legs, and takes a deep breath. Amidst several astonished looks from his family, Ashley's sits up in bed, and swings his legs over the side of the bed. Kevin had untied his arms before handing Jordan to him earlier, and now, Ashley stands up, a bit shakily at first, but soon gains his balance, as he hangs onto the bed for support.
"Ash, you can stand?"
"Yeah, the feeling came back in my legs a little while ago. Now, if one of you would be kind enough to get a doctor in here, I'm checking myself out of this hospital. We need to get back to Middlebury."
"Are you sure that's a good idea, Ash? I'm sure that you should be getting some physical therapy or something."
"I can still get that, Kerr, but right now, I'm needed in Middlebury, so don't argue with me."
Half an hour later, Ashley is fully dressed and sitting in a wheelchair being wheeled out of the room by Zachary. Ashley didn't really want to use the wheelchair, but even he realizes that he's going to need some physical therapy before he can walk with ease again. As they pass the waiting room, Ashley takes over control of the wheelchair, and makes a side trip into the waiting room, to find Kevin and Brian's family, as well as all of the other guys sitting around the room. Before anyone else can say anything, Ashley speaks up.
"Well, as much as I hate to save Kevin's life and run, or perhaps I should say roll, I have to get back home to Middlebury. As I'm sure you all have heard, my father passed away today, and I need to get home and take care of some things."
Tim and Jerald both stand up at the same time, and come over to Ashley, as they kneel down beside him. They both pull him into a hug, as they thank him for saving their brother's life, as well as give him their condolences on the loss of his father. Ashley thanks them, and soon finds himself in the arms of Anna Richardson, who is also hugging him.
"Ashley, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for saving Kevin's life today," replies Anna, as she releases him. "Now though, I wish you God speed back to your home."
"Well, thank you. It won't take all that long though. The Smith Industries jet is ready and waiting at La Guardia to fly us into Burlington International Airport, which is a flight of less than half an hour. From there Diana will fly us into the Middlebury State Airport in a small aircraft, and then we drive the rest of the way, which should be about a twenty minute drive. So, we'll be back home in about an hour and a half."
"Diana will fly you in?"
"Yes, Joey, I have a pilot's license."
"Wow, that's cool," replies Joey.
Four hours later find Ashley, Diana, Zachary, Kerr, and Scott back at the mansion in Middlebury, sitting in the lounge, chatting about the funeral plans. Scott has never been here, and he is in awe when he sees it. The mansion is quite large, and one part of it looks like a scaled down version of the Notre Dame Cathedral. The truth is that Donald Smith had that part of the house built for his wife, because she had always dreamed of being married in the Notre Dame Cathedral. It wasn't the real one, but Katherine Smith was still more than happy to renew her vows to Donald there.
Suddenly the doorbell rings, and Zachary, knowing that he gave Mrs. Lansbury the afternoon off, since she too was totally distraught over Donald's death, gets up to go and answer the door. He's quite shocked at who he finds standing there.
"Seth? Bruce? What are you two doing here?" asks Zachary, as he looks rather confusedly at Seth and Bruce Hall, both of whom are Ashley's ex-boyfriends.
"Well, Zach, we heard about your dad," replies Seth, as Bruce finishes the sentence, "And we figured that considering our past with Ashley, we had to come out and give you our sincere condolences in person."
"Well, thanks you two," replies Zachary, as he steps aside and the Hall twins enter the house, "How'd you find out about dad?"
"Well, Mrs. Lansbury called Seth, after she called Diana."
"Well, I don't suppose Mrs. Lansbury told you anything else did she?"
"Well, Ash was shot earlier today, saving the life of Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson."
"Ash was shot? How badly?"
"Not all that badly, Bruce. He took a gunshot to the lumbar vertebrae. For awhile he was paralyzed from the waist down, but I guess he's started to get the feeling back in his legs now."
"Well that's good," replies Seth. "Did you say he was shot saving the BSB's Kevin?"
"Yeah, I did say that," replies Zachary. "Come on, let's go into the lounge. Ash and Diana are in there, as are Kerr, and his new beau, Scott."
"Pay up bro," says Seth, as Bruce frowns and pulls out his wallet as he hands a hundred dollar bill to Seth.
When Zachary looks at the two with confused looks, Seth just smiles, as Bruce replies, "Seth and I made a bet on whether or not Kerr was gay. I said he wasn't."
"Well, Ashley seems like a very nice young man," says Anna. "It's so sad though about his father. As if the possibility of spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair wasn't enough."
"Yes, he does seem like a good guy," replies Tim. "I'll always be eternally grateful to him for saving Kevin's life."
"We should probably go to his dad's funeral," replies Jerald. "I'd say after he saved Kevin, it's the least we can do."
"Yes, Jerald, that's a good idea," replies Harold III. "Hey, Kevin? Any idea when the funeral for Donald Smith is?"
"No," replies Kevin. "I don't think Ashley and his brother and sister have made any definite plans on that yet, though I assume it will be in Middlebury."
"Well, I think that we should all go," replies Harold Jr. "As long as it isn't the same day as Kristin's that is. Kevin, when is Kristin's funeral anyway?"
"In three days," replies Kevin rather quickly, which surprises his family. "Kristin had insisted that we both get our funerals pre-planned, so that our children wouldn't have to deal with all of that when our times came. So, with all of the arrangements already made, she just has to be embalmed, and then sent back home to Lexington to be made up by the funeral parlor there that we chose to go with."
"Okay, well, perhaps we should get in touch with Ashley," replies Jackie, "and find out when his father's funeral is, so that we can all make plans to attend it, assuming that it isn't taking place as quickly as Kristin's."
"Ashley gave me his cell phone number at the concert the other night," replies Kevin. "I'll call him later. I had planned on doing it anyway, because I wanted to make sure he got home safely."
"Have the media found out yet?"
"Yes, Tim, they have," replies Brian. "Management has set up a press conference later today at the Plaza. Nick and I are going to handle it."
"Aren't they going to ask why Kevin isn't there?"
"Yeah, Jackie, they most assuredly will," replies Nick. "But, we're just going to tell them that Kevin is in mourning, and that he just didn't feel up to dealing with the press just yet."
"Thanks, Bri, Nick. Truth be told, I really don't think I could deal with the press right now," replies Kevin, as he pulls both his cousin and Nick into a hug, as he sheds a few tears on their shoulders, with Nick and Brian both rubbing his back soothingly.
"Hey, Zach, who was at the door?" replies Diana, as Zach comes in.
"Oh nobody special," replies Zachary, as he steps aside to reveal Seth and Bruce Hall. "Just these two knuckleheads."
"Gee thanks, Zach," reply Seth and Bruce in unison, as they both playfully punch Zach in the arm.
"Hey, Seth, Bruce," replies Ash. "It's nice to see you two again."
"You too, Ash," replies Seth. "So, other than being shot, how's your life been since my brother and I broke up with you?"
"Who broke up with whom?" asks Ashley, with a smile to his former boyfriends. "If I remember correctly, the breakup was a result of my wanting to only date one of you, instead of both. It isn't my fault if you two are so messed up that you refuse to date separate people."
"We're not messed up," replies Bruce, "We're just very close."
"Anyway," replies Seth, "I still don't think that it was really a case of your not wanting to date us both. I mean you had no problem with it for the five years that the three of us were together. Don't think that Bruce and I don't know the real reason you broke up with us."
"What's the real reason?" asks Ashley, knowing perfectly well what Bruce and Seth will say.
"Your crush on Kevin," replies Bruce and Seth in unison, before Bruce adds, "Who we've heard you saved the life of earlier today?"
"Yes, I did jump in front of a bullet and push Kevin down to the sidewalk today," replies Ashley, "His wife wasn't so lucky though."
"Kristin? What happened?"
"She suffered a gunshot in the forehead, Seth," replies Diana, "She didn't make it."
"Well, that's sad," replies Bruce, as he rests his head on Seth's shoulder and Seth wraps an arm around his brother, "I guess today is a really black day, huh?"
"Yeah, it would seem so," replies Zachary, "So, Bruce, how's 'Passions' going?"
"It's going well," replies Bruce. "I have to admit that I love playing Reese. I know he's a total nerd, but he's also so crazy that its really fun playing the role. I get to do a lot of really crazy and weird things, such as playing bongos on Timmy's head, and I also get to work with some really good actors, such as Ben Masters and Juliet Mills. Not to mention some really hot guys like Jesse Metcalfe and Travis Schuldt."
"Alright, I know Jesse plays Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald, and Travis Schuldt plays Ethan Crane, or I should probably say Ethan Bennett," replies Zachary, "But remind me who do the other two you mentioned play?"
"Ben Masters plays Julian Crane and Juliet Mills plays Tabitha Lenox," replies Bruce. "Their characters might not be the nicest in the world, but in real life they're both really nice and fun to work with. And working with Robyn Strasser, aka Hecuba, is also fun. Reese hasn't had any scenes with her, but I still run into her off camera occasionally. She may play an old heartless crone, but she's nothing like that in real life."
"Yeah, you certainly seem to enjoy it," replies Diana. "Though I have to admit when I first looked at the cast list and saw your name, I was like, "Bruce is on the show? Who in the hell does he play? I didn't see him." Then I realized that you played Reese. God those makeup artists do a good job."
"Yeah, they certainly do," replies Seth. "Truth be told when I first watched the show, I didn't even recognize Bruce at first. As close as we are, that says a lot."
"So, Seth, can we call you Dr. Hall yet?"
"Not quite yet, no," replies Seth. "I've still got about a few more years before I can be called that, Diana."
"Damn you're slow," replies Diana. "You know I could have already been a practicing physician if I had chosen to go into medicine."
"Yeah, Diana, I know," replies Seth, "But we're not all lucky enough to be born smart enough to complete high school in nine weeks, and enter college at the age of 10."
"Well, that's true I suppose," replies Diana. "If you ever need any help with any of your exams or something, let me know. I may not have chosen to be a doctor, but I'm sure I could still help you out, Seth."
"I'm sure you could," replies Bruce. "So, how many degrees do you have now?"
"I have BAs in Physics and Calculus," replies Diana, "Master's in Accounting, Business, and Computers, and I'm working on my PhDs in Psychology and Law."
"You think you have enough yet?" asks Seth, with a grin.
"Seth, you can never have enough education."
"How did I know she would say that?" asks Seth, as everyone else, including Diana, starts to laugh.
To be continued...
I wasn't really planning on ending this chapter here, but after rethinking it a little, I figured that this was a good place to end this chapter. Chapter 10 will be by the middle of February at the latest, and among a few more sad things, such as Kristin and Donald's funerals, it will also mark the beginning of where the story turns towards a happy note for the next several chapters. I do hope that you enjoyed this installment, and I also hope that you all had a Happy Holiday season and are enjoying 2001 so far.
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