DISCLAIMER: This is fiction. I don't know the Backstreet Boys, I am not one of them, and I don't know their sexuality. If you're under 18 or homophobic, leave now.


AUTHOR NOTE: Another day another chapter and another thanks to David (esp. for fixing part 2). Allen, you're as crazy as you are cute, but you kick so much ass and make me laugh to no end- much love to you (watch out for falling halo's!). Today's plug is for the very sweet and funny Evan, author of "Justin's Dark Angel" who has a very unique plot and a RPG-ish feel to his writing. It's like Nsync meets Vampire the Masquerade, lol it's great, and now finished! For Now. Check out his website for the ending chapters and to say hello at The Dark Realm. Thanks for the emails everyone sent. Hello to everyone in the boybands chatroom who know me as Sher-VillainNo1 (yep, if you didn't know, I am a female). Also, if you care, there's a list of what my all time fave boy band stories are at the very bottom of this page (it's long! LOL). Check out my friend Sophie V's "Porcelain". Her first language is French, by the way! (I hoped you liked the tapes!) This took so long to get out because of a bunch of bad shit happened / is happening. Sorry all. I can be reached at VillainNo1@aol.com for any questions or comments. Love you all! -Sher

"Too often, we lose sight of life's simple pleasures. Remember, when someone annoys you it takes 42 muscles in your face to frown, but it only takes 4 muscles to extend your arm and bitch-slap the motherfucker upside the head..." - unknown


W A R N I N G * P L E A S E * R E A D * W A R N I N G

After Chapter 1 this became a sort of "Choose Your Own Adventure" story.
There are 3 storylines to choose from: Reclaim, Live, and Die. One path for the 3 ways this story could go based upon the end of Chapter 1.
It is NOT advised to read both "Reclaim" and "Die" until the series ends. They are VERY similar and might get confusing.
Scroll down to find the bold title breaks to read storyline 1, 2 or 3.


The Body Switch With Nick Carter - Ch. 3




STORYLINE ONE: Reclaim...

There was a soft knock on the bathroom door. Tyler had gotten out of the bath and toweled off, pulling on the last of the clothes he had on before.

"Yes?"

"It's Kevin, I'm back from downstairs."

Tyler opened the door after pushing on Nick's glasses and Kevin handed him a covered dish. "Thank you." He looked ahead and saw the rest of the guys were in the room as well, and Brian was awake. All of them sat on the bed, except for Kevin who took the same chair as earlier. Tyler joined the others, finding a spot next to AJ.

The room had that overbearing silence, where there was much to be said but no one was saying it. Howie caught his helpless gaze and softly cleared his throat.

"I just got done telling the guys about going to New York. We cancelled the concert promising to make up for it later. They are making us pay for the plane tickets but like that matters to anyone. Also, they agreed not to say anything about where we are, so we can do this in privacy."

"Make up the concert?" Tyler asked. "When are we supposed to do that?"

"They didn't say really, but don't worry, we all figured that with your help we can just go with the plan Brian had last night. While in New York we can say you had an accident and diagnosed with amnesia."

"That is, if you're okay with that." Kevin added.

Tyler uncovered the dinner and started to eat it hungrily. He answered Kevin after a few bites. "I really don't mind. I'm just not very comfortable about lying to his family. But I guess we sort of have to. No one would believe us if we told them the truth."

"It's a bitch of dilemma." AJ said next to him, stealing a single shrimp from Tyler, smiling sheepishly up at him while he did so.

"Well I'll go along with it. I don't really mind either way. When do we leave?" Tyler asked.

"Tonight at seven. I called the airport because D is a moron and only likes to make reservations over online." AJ said.

"That's fast." Tyler looked at AJ and couldn't help asking. "You guys have a lot of nicknames... exactly who is who?"

Howie raised his hand. "I'm the one they keep calling D. It's from my last name, Dorough. Kevin has a bunch, but we really just call him Kev. AJ over there is Bone." He looked at Brian who sat next to him wearing a mask of depression. "Brian and Nick are... er were...er well I don't know what tense to use, but they were called Frick and Frack."

Brian was slightly responsive to hearing the double nicknames and Howie's embarrassing bumbling, and Tyler smiled to himself about being right about the ring. "That makes everything easier." He said. "So how is Brian doing?" All eyes turned to Brian who glanced up sadly at Tyler, mildly amused by the use of condescending projected third person.

"I'm... doing." He sighed more than said. "How are you doing?"

Tyler finished eating the last shrimp before AJ could get another one. "I'm as good as could be expected, I guess. Personally I'm okay, but I still feel bad for all of you."

"Tyler," Kevin began, "what are you going to do about your family?"

Tyler half choked on a mouthful of mixed vegetables. "My family. I don't have much of a family. I have my mother and my father, and a bunch of relatives I haven't seen since a child. My parents and me hate each other. I couldn't really care less. They don't have to know anything about this, it's worlds easier letting them think what they want." He couldn't help but noticing the shock registered on everyone's, even Brian's face. "Okay let me explain. My parents are really religious. When I was young, everything was fine and great. But as I got older, I started to form my own opinions about life. The older I got the more I was convinced that everything they believed in wasn't for me. When I started college, I finally told them I believed in evolution and was an atheist and all that. They freaked out. It was all so crazy. They didn't accept me for it and ugh it was just a big huge mess. Trust me, we hate each other."

"That's... awful." Brian whispered.

"I have had a lot of time to come to that conclusion. It's something I'm used to though, don't feel so bad. But to answer your question Kevin, I'm not going to do anything about my parents. They don't have to know anything about this. It's better for everyone that way. I don't feel bad about it, so you shouldn't either. It's just another one of those things you can't do anything about, so stop making those faces."

They noticed that they all wore a similar frown composed of sympathy, anger, and helplessness. "It's pretty sad, Tyler." AJ stated.

"Of course it is, but what can you do? Some things just can't be resolved. This isn't even my fault. THEY are the ones that have a problem with ME. I've tried to explain to them this is who I am but that's like trying to blow out a light bulb." Spite their mood Tyler's joke earned him a few smiles from the guys, except Brian. "Seriously though, it's okay. Please don't worry about me."

AJ made an exaggerated face of concern, reached over to Tyler to put him into a loose headlock, and felt his forehead. "Guys I think he's sick, or in shock. We should get him a doctor."

Tyler suppressed some laughter and elbowed AJ away. "I'm not in shock, and I don't have a fever."

"Yeah, yeah. We remember all that crap you told us earlier." AJ retorted, still in a small slap-fight with Tyler.

"Good, because it's true. This is how I deal with things. Calm and rationally and blah, blah, blah. Howie uses silence. You use jokes. Kevin plays big brother and Brian shuts off."

The guys nodded at their traits and Brian glanced up tiredly. The shadow of Nick stared back at him with the sad gentle smile he always remembered. He then saw it turn into the evil snickering grin Nick could possess when he was cooking up his next prank. Brian was just barely aware enough outside his thoughts to feel one of the mixed vegetables, a piece of square carrot, bounce off the end of his nose and leave a warm splatter of butter on the target area. The honest shock and realization washed over his face so obviously that the other guys howled with laughter.

The warm smile returned on Tyler's face and he cocked his head to one side, catching the sad Backstreet Boy's gaze. "Cheer up, Bri." He softly pleaded.

Brian made a shifty-eyed glance at the other guys, a small gesture to grind some guilt into them for laughing and tried to wipe off the small butter mark with dignity. "Y'all are going to pay for that." He said evenly. He knew he succeeded in being convincing when the other guys' eyes widened from the threat. Turning his attention back to the blue eyes he used to know so well, Brian melted. How could that not be Nick? It certainly gave a new meaning to that ignorant phrase 'if it walks, talks and acts like a duck, it must be a duck'. Because appearances are always deceiving, and Nick was gone.

Tyler saw Brian's eyes zone out with his thoughts and sighed at him. Covering his dish, he put it on the floor next to the bed and awkwardly crawled across the length of the bed to sit between Howie and Brian. Brian snapped out of his daydream as he felt a large body approach to sit next to him. He looked up to see Tyler wearing the beaming Nick-smile as he put his left arm around Brian's shoulders, hugging him comfortingly.

Brian had no real facial expression except for a kind of repressed longing. After a few seconds he gave in to the affection and carefully leaned into Tyler. "Thank you." He said with a soft whisper. "I miss him so much."

"I know you do, that all of you do." Tyler replied with a reassuring squeeze. "But I'm here to help out. I won't replace Nick, I can't be Nick, but I'll do what I can to make things easier for everyone." Brian just sighed again and Kevin was giving Tyler a goofy admiring smile. "What?" Tyler asked, feeling on the spot now that AJ and Howie had joined in.

"Nothing. Just forget it Captain Oblivious."

Tyler scowled knowingly. "Uh huh. I know what you're thinking AGAIN, but it doesn't matter. Trust me, I am okay."

"I hope so."

"Kev, don't be so worried, he seems to be fine to me." Howie butted in while ruffling up the bed-head hairdo Tyler's new body sported. Tyler in return pretended to snap at Howie's hand, which earned a "bad dog" comment from AJ. Kevin just shook his head at them and Brian put more weight into Tyler's friendly embrace.

"So..." Tyler began, trying to change the subject.

"When should we leave for the airport." Brian asked.

"About an hour before the flight, like always. We only need to bring our own bags by the way, the band and crew are going back to Orlando and will take everything else." Howie answered.

"On our own huh?" AJ said, amused. "I don't know what you said to them D, but I can't believe were getting to do this without bodyguards or babysitters."

"Well come on. We are going to a funeral. This is serious, and I wasn't going to have it any other way. Management knows when to back off."

Kevin didn't want the mood to upset and quickly addressed Tyler. "Does Ash know we're coming?"

Tyler looked blank for a second, and then slightly blushed. "She knows *people* are coming."

"But not the Backstreet Boys." Kevin pushed, adding finger-quotes.

Tyler shook his head. "It wasn't a good idea to tell her... yet. See she's a fan, and I don't know what her reaction would be. I can't control her from here. So, I figured I would tell her when I see her. I just said that Nick's friends were coming with me. She was asking a lot of questions too." He laughed a little. "She's the only reason I know what any of you looked like. She's got this horrible poster in her room. I always felt like you were all staring at me."

"Paranoid much?" AJ laughed.

"Shut up." Tyler was embarrassed at his pathetic comeback.

"What poster was it?" Howie asked.

"You were all laying in a circle on the ground."

"But which one?" He persisted.

"What do you mean which one?" Tyler smiled widely. "You're telling me you took more than one picture like that?"

"Hey, those circle pictures are some of our best group work." Kevin tried to joke. The others looked at him like he was stupid, and he shrugged in apology for trying to joke about their topic. He needed something else to say. "Who was her favorite?"

Tyler tilted his head at the question, not sure, if he should actually say. "Do you really care?"

"No, but we always ask people we know that have friends who are fans of us. We tally up the scores." AJ informed, wiggling his eyebrows jokingly.

"If that's the case, then give another point to this one." Tyler said, giving Brian another squeeze and added a pat on the head. "He is her favorite."

Brian arched a brow and craned his neck to give Tyler a skeptical look. "A lot of good that'll do."

AJ looked shocked. "Awe he made a joke. What a good boy!" AJ reached over, taking the surprised Brian's head in his hands and laid a big wet kiss on his forehead.

Tyler laughed as Brian pushed him away sputtering and scowling. "AJ! EW!" He turned to Tyler and rubbed his head on the fabric of his shirt and AJ mocked offense. The guys kept laughing.



The drive to the airport was a blur. The guys had gotten ready soon after AJ's stunt. The lobby was lazily scattered with people who were waiting to leave or just arriving.

Families greeted one another with affection and the boys were herded into a fancy solitary room so the crowd would not notice them.

Drinks were poured, words were exchanged, but nothing permanently etched into their memories. The flight took off soon after 7pm and each of the boys took a seat in first class, silently staring forwards waiting for a fleeting moment of sleep.



AJ burst through the door of large hotel room they had paid for at the counter minutes before. He flung his luggage into one corner of the room and turned to see the others entering behind him, each stacking their respective luggage along the far wall. Howie yawned and fell back on one of the four beds. Brian and Kevin lumbered past and both silently agreed to share a bed, since they were related, letting the others sleep alone. Brian was visibly bothered by the whole situation, but never made a move to say something.

Tyler looked around at the tired and sleepy bodies that lay sprawled across the hotel room. Kevin was propped sitting up on the bed and Brian laid his head in his lap. Kevin was murmuring comforting things to him and was telling him to sleep. The time was just past 10:30, and Tyler grabbed the hotel phone, dialing Ash's number. Usually on Friday nights they would be together without cares, watching a movie or at the park, but no, not today, today was just-

"Hello?"

"Hi Ash, its Tyler."

"Hey! How are you?"

"Good I guess. I'm here in New York. I'm pretty close by, so I'll be at your place as soon as possible okay?"

"Yeah no problem, are you the only one coming?"

Tyler gave respective glances at the other guys. Brian was now sleeping semi-peacefully in Kevin's lap and the only one not on the brink of passing out was AJ. "Uh, I think I'm going to go alone. We can come back here after I explain some things to you, allright?"

"Sure, that's fine. I can't wait to see you."

Tyler emitted a snort-laugh and sighed. "Right. Now, I have to warn you now, don't freak out, ok? When you see me, that is. I'm going to make it perfectly clear that it's me before you answer the door. Don't scream when you open it."

"Uh... Tyler? Why would I freak out and scream? Are you a mutant or something?" Her voice had a humorous edge to it and Tyler smiled.

"No, just, take my word for it. I'm gonna head over there now ok? See you soon."

"Allright, I'll be here. Hurry."

"Bye Ash."

"Bye Tyler."

"Not gonna take me huh?" Tyler looked over at AJ who spoke. "It's cool, I'll just stay here and cuddle with Howie." He patted Howie's head roughly until the napping singer swatted at him and colorfully told AJ to stick it where the sun don't shine.

"I'm sorry AJ, I really would like to take you but..."

"Ty I'm only kidding! I'll tell the guys where you went. Get going would you?"

Tyler smiled. "I am!"



The cab ride was uneventful. Ash's place was pretty dark inside, but she was home. Tyler took deep breaths before knocking on the door. He waited a few moments, and knocked, followed by "Ash its Tyler. You awake?" Footsteps echoed inside and stopped at the door. A lock was removed, and Ash appeared in the doorway.

"Tyler! Ty-... Tyler? Nick? NICK? OH MY-"

Tyler lunged for her and clapped a hand around her mouth. "I TOLD YOU! Shh! This is the body I woke up in! That's why I told you not to scream, which by the way, you're not doing a very good job of!" He pulled her into the house and shut the door, letting her go.

"Holy shit! Tyler... So okay, the other guys, Nick's friends... they're the others, right? The Backstreet Boys?" Tyler nodded. "Wow."

"Ash... it's so much worse. You have no idea."

"I'm beginning to get one! Oh god, I can't believe you're Nick. Can I touch you?"

Tyler did a double take and began to burst out laughing as hard as his vocal cords could handle. "WHAT? Is that what you would have said to the real Nick? You freak."

"Stop making fun of me! How embarrassing. I just meant like, I'm never gonna get to be so comfortable with a sex symbol before! And since it's you..."

"ASH! Bad! Bad, Bad girl! NO! No pawing Nick's body. And you need to wipe your mouth, because you're drooling. This is why I wanted to come alone. I didn't know how you would react if you saw all five of us here."

"Oh shush. I'm teasing anyway. Well, kind of." She stuck her tongue out. "Brian is my favorite anyway."

"Yeah I know. Okay that reminds me. There's more I have to tell you about this story. You ready?" Ash nodded, leading them to sit on the living room couch. Tyler got dead serious. "Ok my body died. That means Nick is the one who is going to be buried tomorrow, not me. It also means, the Backstreet Boys just lost one of their best friends, their brothers. No one else knows about this except them and you and me. That is a huge problem there alone. We don't know what to tell their families, or if we should tell mine. They have some scheme planned that we can say Nick got amnesia and that's why when we visit his family he doesn't remember anything."

"Are you serious? Would you do that?"

"I don't have much of a choice. Fake amnesia, or tell them I body switched with their son, AND that he died in my body. I surely can't pretend I'm Nick." Ash nodded in sympathetic agreement. "Anyway, there's more. But I don't know how to say it."

"Try."

"I am. Ok, just so I'm positive, Brian Littrell IS your favorite right?" He waited for Ash to nod. "Ok. He is... Well with Nick, he... they're..." COUGH "Gay." COUGH. Ash shook her head for a second.

"Do what now?"

"Brian and Nick are gay." He spit out. Ash's eyes went wide. "And they're together." Wider. "In fact they planned on getting married." Now her mouth was fallen open. "I told you I didn't know how to say it. This ring is Nick's." Tyler held out his hand showing Ash the gold band. She awed and looked at Tyler with a sadness that five minutes ago never would have shone.

"Poor Brian. I can't even find the words."

"Exactly. It's the worst mess, and I don't know what to do. Tomorrow it's just gonna be us... I don't know, hanging out, waiting..."

"That's going to be tense."

"I know. For once, I am at a total loss. I am going to bury myself. I have to sit there, and watch my family bury me! I can't wait to see what my parents say. It would be worth going just for that."

"Just don't start any trouble." Ash warned.

"You know I wont. Besides, I have to go in disguise. All of us are going, we can't let anyone find out. My parents don't know any of my recent friends at all, I'm sure they wont say anything."

"So now what?"

"So now what, what?" Tyler smiled. "I don't know. I told the guys I would take you back to the hotel with me, but it all depends on if you can behave, especially at such a time like this. Everyone was sleeping when I left anyway."

Ash got into a begging stance. "Tyler please, please take me with you! I'll be so good you won't even know I'm there, I swear!"

Tyler smiled and gave in. "Fine. But no squealing, and no touching, and no putting your foot in your mouth or telling embarrassing stories about me! I mean it!"

"DONE!"



"AJ can you get the door please?" Kevin mumbled with his head tilted back, still cradling Brain on his lap.

"Sure thing Kev." AJ got up from where he lay and roughly climbed over Howie's bed on purpose, earning him some well-deserved smacks, and opened the door. There stood the person formerly known as Nick, with a somewhat shy girl clinging to his arm with all her strength. "Hey Tyler, is this Ash?" Tyler yelped when the girl's nails dug into his arm deeper.

"He knows my name?" She mewed.

"ASH!" Tyler whispered fiercely. "You promised! That's it." He wrenched her arm off his and put her into a friendly headlock, messing up her ponytail with a noogie.

"Ok, ok I promise again, no more acting star struck!" Tyler let her go. "Meanie."

AJ snickered at them. "How cute. Come on in guys, you can help me torture D."

"No they won't." Howie fired back, his face buried in a pillow, making his voice muffled. The others laughed and all entered the room. Kevin opened his eyes and gave a curt nod and a hello to Ash. Howie sat up and shook her hand. Brian remained asleep and Ash gave him a thoughtful glance.

"Tyler told me what happened, obviously. Is Brian going to be okay?" She bravely knelt next to the bed on the floor, and cast a questioning gaze at Kevin.

"God I hope so. Having Nick's body around is a double-edged sword. It helps and hurts. It is an illusion for us all, that Nick is here, he's not truly gone, but it also poses a reminder for Brian that he will only be able to look and not touch his former fiancÚ. We were all together for eight years. Brian shared much more with Nick than any of us though, on any level. But Tyler's been a really great help, for all of us."

"He usually is." Ash smiled at Kevin, who smiled back. Tyler came over to them and took a spot next to Ash.

"Has he been asleep the whole time I was gone?" He asked, reaching out to carefully touch Brian's hair.

"Yeah. God help me I started to think he stopped breathing or something." AJ answered for Kevin.

"Nah." Tyler whispered. "Brian wouldn't give up so easily."

Kevin gave Tyler a strange look. "How do you know?" He asked softly.

Tyler shrugged with a frown. "I just know. Brian doesn't make it obvious, but he's really strong. The way he fell apart earlier may contradict that, but in fact it enforces it. He is able to lose it without reservation, and pull himself back together. He keeps his emotions at a balance."

Kevin looked at Tyler with a shocked blink-blink stare. "You know, that's something Nick would have said." He looked down at his little cousin. "You know Tyler, out of the countless people on this earth, I'm glad it was you who was chosen to switch places with Nick." He put a hand on Tyler's shoulder with a reinforcing squeeze. Tyler patted the hand till it was withdrew a few moments later, and lifted himself off the floor to sit on the edge of Howie and AJ's bed.

"You know guys," Ash began. "I'm not sure if I should be here. It's kind of late and I can imagine how stressful and tiring it's been. You should all go to sleep. Besides, I have to admit I'm tired myself."

"But you just got here Ash!" AJ protested.

She smiled. "Yeah I know. I knew I should have stayed home, but I couldn't resist."

"Why don't you just stay the whole night with us?" Kevin asked.

Ash visibly blushed and tried to tame the quirky smile toying with her mouth. "Uh..." She looked around. Four beds, six of them. How was this supposed to work anyway? "I think it would be better, and more comfortable, for me to just go home. Afterall, me and Tyler aren't together, anymore, and-"

"And if one of you suggest her sleeping with you, watch out, cuz her head might implode." Tyler joked.

"TYLER!" Ash protested. He giggled evilly at her. "Anyway, I think I'm gonna head home. I'll see you guys later though."

"Be careful Ash." Howie told her. "It was nice meeting you."

"Yeah. We'll see you Sunday definitely." Kevin added. "Tyler are you going to take her home?"

"No I can go myself. I drove my car here."

"We'll I'll walk you to the parking lot." AJ suggested. "I need some fresh air."

"All right, thanks. I'll see you all again soon." She headed towards the door with AJ in tow. The guys said goodbye and she returned the farewell, and moments later they were gone.

Howie got up and did his respective bathroom routine, followed by Tyler. AJ returned after Tyler exited the bathroom with a T-shirt and boxers on.

"Did Ash faint on the way to the car?" Tyler kidded.

"No, she made it fine smartass. She's pretty nice. I wanted to make sure she got to the car okay and all that. And no Kevin, before you ask, I did not put the moves on her." Kevin smirked at his friend and closed his mouth. AJ made his way to the bathroom, making his visit quick so that Kevin could get in and out and into bed, following the already sleeping Howie's example. Tyler helped Kevin gently ease out from under Brian, and put one of the fluffy pillows under his head to take the place of Kevin's body. He sat and watched the blonde sleep deeply, giving the prone form a small smile. You're gonna be fine Bri, he thought.

"You can have the last bed Tyler. I'll share this one with Brian okay?" Tyler took off the glasses perched on his nose and looked up at Kevin who was now dressed down for sleep. "I don't mind, afterall he is my cousin."

Tyler felt hesitant, but silently got up and into the last empty bed. "Goodnight Kevin."

"Goodnight Tyler. Thanks."



Tyler stared up at the ceiling for what had to be the second hour of restlessness. He hated the impersonal echo of hotel rooms. They were always so hard to fall asleep in. The room's four other occupants were dozing just fine, each humming a soft snore of one kind or another. He had gotten used to the sounds so much; he noticed when one of them ceased. A sigh cut the air, and Tyler knew immediately it was Brian. Tyler turned his head to face his new friend, to find him looking right back.

"I can't sleep." Tyler answered the non-existent question. "I don't know how you guys can sleep in hotels so much." Brian didn't answer. He just sighed again and pressed his face deeper into his pillow. "I know you miss him Bri."

"It's the worst feeling." Brian whispered.

"Ash was here tonight. Even though you're her favorite, she didn't even think to wake you. I know she wished she could though." Tyler smiled into the darkness.

"I'm sorry I missed her. How long did it take before AJ hit on her?"

Tyler laughed. "He didn't actually. The boy held some restraint."

Brian emitted a weak but genuine laugh. "Shocker."

"Hey Bri, did you want to share this bed instead? Kevin chose to sleep in the bed with you because you guys were cousins and I didn't want to protest..."

"Really?" He lifted his head from the pillow to meet Tyler's eyes. "You would do that?"

"Yeah, come on."

Brian carefully rose from the bed, tiptoeing to the empty side of Tyler's bed and pulled himself under the layers of blankets and sheets. It was odd sleeping in all his clothes, for he hadn't had a chance to change into something comfortable, but that feeling was nowhere near as uncomfortable compared to sleeping with Kevin. "Thanks Tyler."

"Anytime. Really."

"Don't shake it off so easily. I mean it, about everything since this happened. You have been an amazing help, especially to me. I can't thank you enough. None of us can."

Tyler looked over at Brian and smiled. "So I've been told. I'm more than happy to help out though. I feel like I know all of you so well and it's only been a short time, I guess it's only natural. I don't think Nick has completely left. At times I have felt things, and known things, that I don't think I would have been so keen about under different circumstances. It's very strange, but not scary."

"Like what?" Brian queried.

"Well, I read the inscription on the ring you gave Nick. I knew what it meant. And I knew from the moment we walked in here, that you wanted to sleep in the bed Nick was in."

"Frick and Frack forever. That was everyone's phrase for us. I wish it was still true."

"Whatever you do, don't wish for anything. I can tell you from experience, the results can be devastating."

"Yeah thanks for reminding me."

"I do wish I could fall asleep though." Tyler sighed. "Care to help me?"

Brian looked over, confused. "Do you want me to sing or something?"

Tyler laughed. "No, no. Nothing like that. My idea is better, and we'd both benefit from it."

"Which is?"

Tyler rolled onto his side to face Brian, and with both lean strong arms, pulled the smaller man across the space on the bed. Getting comfortable, Tyler adjusted the blankets, tucked himself in, and wrapped an arm around Brian's waist, fitting his head against Bri's chest.

Brian looked down at the top of Tyler's head, and with both arms, held the warm body against him. "Thank you." He whispered.

"No." Tyler said. "This time, thank you. We both need this tonight."

Brian nodded into his pillow and shut his eyes. "Goodnight Tyler."

"Night B-Rok."



Saturday morning sun fought to be seen behind the thick hotel curtains, desperate to wake up the five sleeping souls. It's playful rays danced about the shadows, until it found the twitching eyelids of...

AJ blinked, and rubbed his eyes forcefully. The urge to pee was overwhelming and he hauled himself over to the bathroom. After reliving himself, brushing his teeth, taking a quick scalding-hot shower and wrapping a towel around himself, he headed into the chilly air of the open room to grab some clothes for the day. His suitcases were packed tightly with the strangest clothes one could think up, and he picked out a semi-normal all-black outfit, unaware of the pun, and took a glance at his band mates. Moving towards the bathroom, he stopped suddenly, and looked again. Tyler was gone. He did a headcount. Howie, Kevin, Brian... Wait, didn't Brian sleep with Kevin?

AJ blanched at his confusion and snuck over to where Brian lay sleeping. The lump under the covers was too big to be just Bri, he didn't exactly carry so much mass. When AJ got closer, he was rewarded with an answer. There, covered over with blankets and barely noticeable under the chin of his friend, was the unmistakable messy hair of Nick- er Tyler. A thin black AJ-eyebrow went up at the sight. What was this? Whatever was going on though, Brian looked almost happy. AJ smiled. He crept to the bathroom to quickly dress and run some gel in his hair, and quietly came out. He snuck to Howie's bedside and poked him till he stirred.

"D, get up D, you gotta see this."

"AJ!" He whined. "I'm sleeping! Leave a message!" He rolled away from his friend and buried his head under his pillow.

"No I can't you have to see this! Please?" Howie snorted and climbed out from under the warm solace of the bed. He crossed his arms and cocked his head.

"What am I looking at, aside from my jackass best friend?" AJ pointed at the bed next to him. While Howie smiled, AJ unmercilessly knocked on Kevin's skull until a strong fist grabbed his comparatively tiny hand and squeezed.

"AJ I'm gonna beat you till you- Where's Brian?" AJ pointed again. Kevin looked over and up at his cousin and Tyler snuggled in the bed. "Awe. Do you think he snuck over there?"

"I don't know, but Ty is hugging back so I doubt it. He probably felt sorry for him."

"Maybe. But lets be quiet, don't wake them up too you dick."

AJ was taken aback. "Kev! I would never. I only woke you deadbeats up so you could see for yourself. Our little Brian is smiling!"

"Uh huh. Dick. I'm using the bathroom. I'll try to hurry, ok D?"

"No Prob., Kevy Kev."



Brian inhaled his first conscious breath, enjoying the smell of Nick's shampoo. He snuggled his nose into the blonde strands of hair and pulled the body closer to him. I miss you Nick, Brian silently said. He felt that Tyler wasn't awake yet, and prayed that he would sleep for a bit longer, just for a few more minutes. He heard movement in the background and realized the other guys were awake and watching TV with the volume down low. They knew. He wondered what Kevin was going to say. Knowing them, they probably thought it was cute.

The heartbeat that was throbbing against Brian was slow and steady, but full of life. Nick had always been so full of life. As a kid, when the band first got together, he was non-stop movement. Always moving, playing, making noise, and just about being surgically attached to Brian's side. Brian had developed a soft spot for Nick immediately. He would sometimes get on the other guy's nerves, especially Kevin because he was so much older than 13, and had already taken on an adult outlook on life. Brian always stood up for Nick when he was snapped at by the guys or told to leave the room because his banter at the Nintendo game he was losing was too loud. But, they never did stay mad at Nick for too long. The boy never took offense at his scolding and would often give them a thumper-like sheepish apology, with a pearly white wide smile. It could melt polar ice caps.

It was different, however, when he started to play pranks on people. It was all Brian could do to keep someone from throwing Nick out of a hotel window. God, those were the good times. Then came the day when Nick started to look at Brian differently. There was more depth to his gaze than usual. He didn't just see "friend" in the gleam anymore it... changed. When Nick was around 17 years old, he developed little quirks in his behavior around Brian, and no one knew exactly what to make of it, until Brian had found one of Nick's drawing books. He saw it was page after page of pencil drawings of him self, some of them with girly hearts around the border, and even some of Brian kissing Nick, with the label "Frick and Frack Forever" scribbled somewhere near the bottom. Brian remembered his breath was knocked from him by a mysterious wind. He has just been made knowledgeable to a series of secrets and epiphany's. Nick was in love with Brian, which was why he was acting so strange. He had never had the slightest inkling that Nick might have been gay, and wondered if Nick knew that Brian shared the same sexuality- which he had kept as a secret from everyone. Up until that moment, he had never even thought about Nick in a romantic way, because he felt from day one it was so implausible that it would only lead to disaster and a broken heart.

This changed everything. There was a problem though, a big one. If he was to act upon his feelings for Nick, he would- they would, both have to come out to the guys. Plus, Brian wasn't sure if he would like hearing that his notebook was looked at without permission. For a few days the others noticed Brian seemed to be struggling with something, but didn't want to interfere. Brian was sure the guys wouldn't think differently about him if they knew, afterall, they had gotten lots of fan mail from gay teens before and none of them reacted badly. Hell, they used to even write them back along with their hetero fans before they got overwhelmed with fame.

One day out of the blue he came to a finalization. He was going to tell them all, just like that. If Nick wanted to, he could choose to do the same, and if so, Brian would tell him later about the drawings, and that he did feel the same way. The day of the meeting Brian hid his shaking hands behind is back and blurted it out to his stunned friends and cousin. Kevin was a little shocked, but AJ said he figured as much, and Howie thought it was cute. Nick seemed like he was trying to get words out, but his mouth wasn't working. Kevin addressed the blonde to ask what he thought, and if he was going to help support his best friend, when Nick whispered that he was also gay... and hopelessly in love with Brian. Kevin dropped his fork when he jumped at AJ's outburst of "I KNEW IT!" echoing in the room.

Later when the noise died down, Brian confessed about seeing Nick's Frick and Frack artwork, and how he not only was impressed with his drawing ability, but he felt the same way about him. Everything from that point on went happily ever after... well, Brian thought bitterly, not the ever after part anyway.

He felt Tyler stirring against him, and he looked down. Don't wake up yet, please, not yet! He silently begged. Brian held is breath as he felt Tyler slip back into sleep, soft breath falling on his skin through his shirt. Brian gently pressed his lips against the top of the beautiful blonde head and sighed. Suddenly the head stirred, and looked up.

"Mornin' Bri." Tyler managed to say through his dry morning voice.

DAMMIT! "Good morning Tyler."

"Hey it's about time you guys woke up." AJ said climbing onto the bed. He pulled Tyler under one arm and Brian under the other, smiling at the double headlock. "So what went on last night?" Howie and Kevin muted the TV and watched the horseplay.

"AJ!" Brian whined, wanting to be released. "We couldn't sleep, so Tyler said I could sleep in his bed." AJ let him go and sat back, facing the two of them.

"Awe Ty, taking care of my B-Rok."

"Hey that reminds me. Tyler, how did you know they called me that?" Brian asked.

Tyler looked at Brian and blanked out. "I said that?"

"Yeah, and they haven't called me that in forever, only Nick does."

"I don't know... It just came to me I guess. What's it mean anyway?"

Kevin spoke up. "It's a basketball nickname. Brian is a damn good player."

"I can't play for shit." Tyler admitted. "But I am pretty hungry. I see you guys got breakfast already? How late did we sleep in?"

"Yeah no one wanted to wake you guys up, so we ordered ahead. And I believe the time is," Howie checked his watch. "A little past noon."

"Ouch. Well can you guys order me up something while I take a shower?" Tyler begged cutely.

"No problem bro." AJ said, reaching for the phone. "Any specifics?"

"Nah, just get whatever sounds good, I'm starving! Nick appetite, remember?" They smiled. Tyler got up and got a change of clothes out of Nick's suitcase and as he turned the doorknob to the bathroom, he looked over his shoulder. "Thanks guys."

When he was gone, all eyes were on Brian. "So?" Kevin asked.

"So, what?"

"You both slept in till noon, cuddling, that's what."

"He told you. We couldn't sleep and he asked if I wanted to share his bed, and then he cuddled up to me and said he needed it. That we both did." Brian was still looking towards the bathroom, listening to the water running. "He feels sorry for me."

"I don't think he feels sorry for you exactly, I think he's just really nice, and sympathetic." Howie suggested.

Brian focused on AJ who was on the phone ordering more food. "AJ, order me up something too, please." AJ nodded. "Well whatever he feels, I'm glad he's around."



Saturday passed quickly for the singers, especially with Ash called back over to keep them company and distract them. She loved hearing about Tyler's bed sharing, and even though she promised, she had great fun telling stories about Tyler that were horribly embarrassing. For an early evening lunch they sent out for little under a metric ton of Chinese food and ate to their hearts content while watching Ash's taped collection of Sex and the City. Later in the evening, things began to get more grounded and reality started to sink in about Sunday afternoon.

Howie, Kevin and AJ went to sleep early, leaving Ash, Brian and Tyler to talk quietly about what they might expect. Tyler warned them his parents might be a bit overzealous about hoping their son flies safely to heaven, and might unconsciously make him look bad on his day of burial on how he chose to be an atheist. Ash had formed a friendship with Brian quickly that day, joking that now they both slept with Tyler. She now sat at the foot of Tyler's bed with Brian between her legs leaning back against her, with her arms around his neck and folded on his chest. The sadder he seemed about the following day, the tighter her hold became.

Again, when the time grew late, Ash took her leave. She hugged her old boyfriend and the heartbroken Brian, and told them she would meet them tomorrow at the funeral home. They walked her to her car and waved till she was gone.

Inside, they took turns dressing down for bed and Brian timidly asked what the sleeping arrangements were going to be that night. Tyler smiled and patted the empty spot on his bed for invitation. Brian was all too happy to oblige, and instead of torturing himself for an hour debating in his mind whether he should be so bold as to suggest being held, the arms of Nick Carter wound their way around his torso again.



Tyler's forehead pressed against the glass of Ash's passenger seat window. He felt unimaginably stupid with AJ on his lap, but there was no way six people were going to fit in Ash's car. AJ was the skinniest out of Brian, Howie and Kevin, so he was voted up front.

The whole morning was spent in solemn calmness, and consolation. They talked about Nick's memory and all the good times they had while in a circle embrace crowded on one bed. Mostly they were trying to brace Brian for the experience, building his confidence to make it through the goodbye. Ash showed up to take them all to the funeral, and everyone took a deep breath and tried to be strong.

The funeral home was very nice, and there weren't too many cars parked in the lot. Tyler knew there wouldn't be because he didn't have much family in New York.

Ash parked the car and the boys filed out, stretching their legs from being packed inside so tightly. Tyler pushed on Nick's glasses and stared at the door to the place, dreading what he might see. He turned and looked at the guys, who were all hugging Brian, and slowly leading him towards the entrance. Ash came to Tyler's side, and offered to go inside with him, and explain to anyone who might ask about who they all were. He took a brave step forward, and forced himself to go inside.

Flowers covered the room that was assigned to his party. His parents sat in the front row of the chairs set out for everyone, and next to them was two of his aunts, one of his uncles, a grandfather he hadn't seen in years, and some of his parents annoying close friends. Not so bad, Tyler thought to himself. His eyes then looked past the relatives, and saw the casket. Tyler felt himself pale, and his legs got shaky. Just when he thought he would pass out from anxiety, he was held up from behind until he got his bearings.

"I got you, don't worry Tyler." A soft voice said.

Tyler swallowed and looked towards the casket again. He put an arm around the one holding him, and turned to face Brian's sapphire eyes. "Thank you." He whispered. He hugged Brian in a constricting grip for a moment, before slowly letting him go and walking up the small rows of chairs to seat himself quietly. Ash gave a comforting look towards the other guys, and followed him, taking her seat as well. They in turn followed her.

The funeral director walked up and whispered some brief words to Tyler's parents, before taking his place at the front of the room. He began to talk but Tyler wasn't listening. He couldn't help but try to calm his racing mind. Here he was, at his own funeral! It was almost like an out of body experience, or like he wasn't even there, just a ghost or a non-entity watching from behind the scenes. He couldn't help but insist to himself that it was he who should be in the coffin, his soul, not Nick. It was wrong. He cursed that wish he made that night in his moment of despair. He cursed Hunter and his psychopathic mind set. He cursed Ash for dating him before he met her. Anything that he could find to "what if" was attacked. He stared at the man leading the ceremony, and looked over at his parents. They looked genuinely sad and heartbroken. Well, why not? Tyler told himself. He was afterall, their son. Well, the body of their son anyway. Tyler clenched a fist. He was regretting ever coming here. He wanted to just get up, leave, and die in a hole.

He looked at the faces of the guys that had loved Nick like a brother. They were all intently listening to the bullshit droning of the director. Tyler considered it bullshit anyway. He hated funerals as a whole. They were always so dishonest. People giving speeches about the one whom passed, only mentioning their good traits. As far as Tyler was concerned, that meant everyone who died was a "loving person, who cared about children and puppy dogs, who loved their mother and graduated college". Right, he hissed in his head. He felt restless and antsy, and when the talking stopped and he saw his parents heading towards the head of the room, a giant black hole flared in his stomach.

"Our son was a beautiful person." His mother began. "He cared about the people around him, and was a joy to our lives when he was born, and to the people around him. We watched him grow up into an intelligent young man." Tyler's teeth gritted. "Unfortunately he never found God the way we did. He shunned our beliefs and then shunned us, but we never stopped loving him dearly. We will never get over this tragic thing that has happened, but all we can do is hope that now he has accepted his calling with Jesus and the Lord, and he is at peace in Heaven." Tyler tried to keep his scowl from showing too much, and winced as his mother turned around and placed a kiss on the forehead of the body that he once knew, that now laid still in the satin of the box. "Thank you. And many blessings to his friends that decided to join us today." Tyler felt his breath catch and he looked into his mother's eyes. He was about to panic, but she threw his small group a smile, and turned to her husband who nodded and followed her back to the seats they were in.

The director suggested everyone make his or her final good-byes known. Tyler's parents went back up to the casket and quietly bid their son farewell. Next in the small line, was his other relatives. Ash waited until they had finished and moved into the back of the room before she went up, and gazed at the old face of her ex-boyfriend and wished Nick all the luck he could want, where ever he was now. She brushed her fingers down his face slowly, and stepped away, beckoning for Tyler to come up to her.

Tyler looked panic-stricken again, and glanced at the Backstreet Boys he came to know as friends. Kevin nodded forwards, and AJ mouthed "Go." Tyler got up slowly and walked over to the casket as Ash backed away to let him have his privacy.

Tyler opened his mouth to say something, but couldn't find the words. Instead, he carefully reached up and ran a finger over one of the bruises Hunter had left. Bastard. He could not get over the fact he was looking at himself. It was so strange. The sleeplike face looked so lost, like the body he once called his own knew that something wasn't right. Tyler leaned down to whisper to his old self. "I don't know what to say Nick, except that I should be where you are. You have some great friends, and it's horrible that they lost you, especially Brian. He loved you more than anything or anyone. I don't know what I am going to do now. I don't know what they're going to do. Nothing is right. You shouldn't have wished to be someone else, but I think you know that by now. You had great friends, a fiancÚ, and a successful life. You let one thing hold you back from being happy. It wasn't worth a wish. I refuse to believe that things happen for a reason, and there is no excuse for what happened to us. There is no justice in saying you had to die in my place. That was my fate, I'm sorry for ever being born. I'm just plain sorry. I'll be waiting to meet you, one day. Farewell." Tyler pulled himself back a few inches to take one last look at his face. He was going to miss his old life. He stepped back, joined Ash's side, and faced the guys.

"I'm gonna go next." Howie said. He got up to move, but a hand on his forearm stopped him. "Kev?"

"Let's all go together, please?"

Howie nodded, smiling softly. "Sure thing." He held out his hand to Brian, beckoning him to rise. Brian took it with a strong hold, and he in turn led AJ. Together, they stood at next to the person they came to see.

"So," AJ whispered. "This is Tyler." He looked down at the face and body that had trapped Nick when it could no longer sustain life. "Finally we meet."

All the guys exchanged looks regarding the person they stood over, ranging from surprise, sorrow, shock and understanding. Each of them had wondered what Tyler's true face and body looked like, but none of them wanted to vocalize the idea. They figured they would just see for themselves when they arrived at the wake. Now it was the moment of truth.

Tyler had the face of an innocent, which was childish and peaceful. His skin was smooth, clear and had a light complexion. He had a playful mouth, the kind that could hold a smile with ease, but at the same time, it was sensual, full and very pink. His nose was proportioned to his face perfectly, and could only be described as "cute." He had slate-black hair that was straight and almost chin length, and it was deceptively thick and very soft, with thin little eyebrows to match. His eyes however, were hidden behind unmoving lids, never to be seen again; that was a sad thought. Tyler's body, though covered in a black suit, was still somewhat visible. He had a lean build, but overall he was average if not small for a guy. He seemed to only be about 5'8" in height but had nice broad shoulders for his frame. The last thing the four signers noticed was how Tyler had tiny wrists with almost manicured hands, which were folded, on his stomach.

"He's very..." Howie began.

"Yeah. He was..." AJ added.

"Beautiful." All four of them finished at once. They smiled up at one another.

"Time to say goodbye guys." Kevin said. They nodded.

AJ sighed. "Gosh Nick, when you were around, I never ever thought I would have to see the day where I would be at your funeral. You were always such a crazy little bugger when we first met you. You, me and Howie trying out at talent shows. You were good then, and you were even better now. You were the baby of the group, keeping us grounded with your childhood innocence, and making us laugh when we were sick or depressed. We loved you so much little bro. We will always love you. Thanks for being my friend." AJ took his favorite shades out of his pocket and laid them in the coffin lining. "Look good in the afterlife, Nicky. Goodbye." AJ rubbed his nose with the back of his hand, and blinked several tears out of his eyes, clearing his vision. He looked at his band mates. "Go on, guys."

Howie stepped up, and took a deep breath, trying to calm the tremor in his voice. "Like AJ said, I never thought I would have to bury you. It seems like just yesterday you were that thirteen-year-old kid, whining about not knowing how to do his math homework. I don't even know what to say to you. You were taken from us so soon, so fast, so suddenly. But I guess it's usually like that huh? I'll never forget you, Nicky, but then you knew that. You're not very forgettable. I want to thank you for always being there for me, helping me, and keeping me in touch with my inner child. You always knew how to make me laugh, especially when you drew those goofy caricatures of us. Watch over us, blondie, and don't give Jesus any wedgies, he might not take it as well as we did." He smiled and winked, taking out a gold locket. "Say hello to Caroline for me. I love you both." He opened the locket of his sister, and put it in the pocket of the suit Tyler's body was fitted with. Howie stood back, making room for Kevin, and put his arm around the silently weeping AJ.

"The little brother I never had. How do I say goodbye to you?" Kevin choked up immediately, making it hard to speak clearly. "I know at times I seemed to get impatient with you, especially when you were really young and with that youth came the natural loudness and immaturity you had a flare for, but I just didn't understand. I had forgotten what it was like to not have any worries, free to be myself. You were always a reminder. Sometimes I felt like a father to you, instead of a big brother, and I... always thought of you as my son." Brian hugged his cousin tightly, trying to be strong for at least now. "And Nick, a parent should never have to bury their children. I'll miss everything about you. I'll even miss, the way you used to pull pranks on us. I know I used to get mad to find my underwear in the freezer when we had a show to do, or when you gave me fart spray for deodorant, but deep down I thought it was funny, I just couldn't admit it. I loved watching you grow up, and I loved it even more to think that I had something to do with how you turned out. And if I could, I would give you my life so you could grow up." Kevin gently let go of Brian for a moment to unlatch a watch that clung to his wrist. "Take care of my father, please, and tell him I miss him so much." Kevin fastened the watch to Tyler's wrist, his friends noting that he was burying one of the most sentimental keepsakes his father had left him. "I love you so much Nicky, may you rest in peace." Kevin stroked the face in the coffin before him, playing a kiss on each eyelid and whispering goodbye.

Brian was now left alone, several feet from his brothers, staring at the angelic face of the lifeless Tyler. It was now his turn to finalize his goodbye with his best friend, his lover, his fiancÚ, and his soulmate. He cleared his throat a little, and began to speak. "I love you, Nick. I wanted to make sure that after being parted for these few days, that those three words would be the first you would hear when it was my turn. My love for you was one of the strongest things I had ever believed in. Part of me wants to die at the thought that I have to live out the rest of my life never seeing you again. You and me had a connection that started five minutes after I laid eyes upon you. You were so little and cute when I first met you, and it was amazing to watch you grow up to be so tall and strong. I cherished every word you said, and every laugh. I knew a side of you no one else did. No one could talk with me like you. You had such a deep serious side that you never let anyone see, and that made me feel even more special to have such a trust and closeness with you. I have a countless list of the moments I'll never forget about you. The time you snuck in my bed after watching a scary movie, watching your eyes light up all those birthday parties we threw you, the time you went trick or treating without permission and the hotel guards wouldn't let you back inside..." Brian laughed softly at the memory. "Not to mention our first kiss, the first time you said you loved me, and the night you accepted my proposal." Warm tears slid down Brian's face, cooling quickly on the surface of his skin. "You were perfect, Nicky. I would give anything, I would do anything, say anything, wish anything... just... ANYTHING to have you back. If I had only known how unhappy you were with keeping your true self from the spotlight, I'd have done anything to ease that pain. I don't blame you for what you wished though. I could never blame you for anything. All I know how to do is love you. Till the day we meet again Frack... I'll always be waiting. God bless you, I love you, Goodbye." Brian leant into the casket, kissing the forehead, the eyelids and finally the cold lips of the beautiful face before him, pressing a picture of Nick and himself into the palm of one of the hands.

Tyler and Ash moved to the group of friends and exchanged hugs. They turned to move towards the back of the room to be led outside, when Tyler's mother stepped into their path.

"You young men were friends of my Tyler?"

They all were silent as Tyler, as Nick, spoke up. "Uh, yeah. We were his best friends actually. I'm... Nick. This is Kevin, Howie, Brian and AJ. This uh, young lady is Ash. She was his girlfriend."

His mom smiled at them all, noticing they were all crying. "I am positive, that he would be so happy to know you all were here. Did he ever speak of his parents?"

Tyler stiffened. He wanted to yell out who he really was, and that he was so pissed off for his parents for starting all that religion bullshit between them, ruining his relationship with them. He wanted to strangle his mother for not being accepting and tolerant of her son' choices, and how he chose to see things, but then he stopped. It wasn't her fault, he decided. She was brainwashed in believing what her parents believed, and part of her was so dense to the fact, that she was almost in her own world. Her loyalty to God was too strong and her love for Him didn't allow her to see the wrong she did in insisting Tyler would change. Let it go, he told himself. "Yeah. A few times, he did... mention his parents. He said once that he wanted to reunite with you, but things kept coming up, he assumed he had the rest of his life and what couldn't be done today could be done tomorrow."

His mother nodded with a tight-lipped smile, and thanked them.

Outside they walked up the path and waited for the coffin to be lowered into the grave. Everyone threw in a flower, followed by a small blessing, and watched the box disappear from sight.

Tyler and the others made their way back to Ash's car, where he bent over the trunk, leaning on his elbows, crying. They consoled him until he calmed down, where Kevin looked right into his eyes.

"It was good of you to say what you to your mom Tyler. Brave, too. And it's okay, because we're here now, and we're going to help you in every way we can, okay? Right guys?"

"Yeah." They replied softly.

Tyler smiled, wiping away tears. "Thank you guys, that... means a lot. Thank you."

Brian moved next to Tyler and pulled him into a hug. "Anytime."

TBC.





STORYLINE TWO: Live...

Tyler had gotten out of the bath and toweled off, pulling on the last of the clothes he had on before. He opened the door after pushing on Nick's glasses and looked around the still empty room. He found some gel and a comb and quickly tried to do his hair before deciding to meet up with the others. He was glad that Nick was okay, and that he didn't have to tell them any bad news. Nick was an important part of all their lives and he would be irreplaceable if anything happened to him.

Humming on his way down the hall, Tyler entered the room with a beaming smile, finding a spot next to AJ on the bed. "So guys, what did I miss?"

"NOOO!"

Tyler winced and leaned back, noticing everyone was watching a basketball game on TV, paying little attention to him. He laughed at the situation and AJ looked at him.

"Sorry man, our team isn't doing too hot."

"It's okay. Nice to see you guys are cheering up."

"Likewise Tyler." Kevin said. "It's good to see you're relieved as we are." Tyler smiled appreciatively. "Do you have any thoughts about the amnesia plan? We kind of sprung it on you, I know." Commercials flashed on the TV and the other boys listened in on the conversation.

"I really don't mind. I'm just not very comfortable about lying to his family. But I guess we sort of have to. No one would believe us if we told them the truth."

"It's a bitch of dilemma." AJ said next to him.

"Well I'll go along with it. I don't really mind either way like I said before. When do we leave?" Tyler asked.

"Tonight at seven. I called the airport because D is a moron and only likes to make reservations over online." AJ said.

"That's fast." Tyler looked at AJ and couldn't help asking. "You guys have a lot of nicknames... exactly who is who?"

Howie raised his hand. "I'm the one they keep calling D. It's from my last name, Dorough. Kevin has a bunch, but we really just call him Kev. AJ over there is Bone." He looked at Brian who sat next to him sipping a glass of water. "Brian and Nick are called Frick and Frack."

Tyler smiled to himself about realizing what the inscription meant on Nick's ring. "That makes everything easier." He said.

"Tyler," Kevin began, ignoring the game he was previously watching all together. "What are you going to do about your family?"

Tyler blanked out. "My family." He repeated hesitantly. "I don't have much of a family. I have my mother and my father, and a bunch of relatives I haven't seen since a child. My parents and me hate each other. I couldn't really care less. They don't have to know anything about this, it's worlds easier letting them think what they want." He couldn't help but noticing the shock registered on everyone's face. "Okay let me explain. My parents are really religious. When I was young, everything was fine and great. But as I got older, I started to form my own opinions about life. The older I got the more I was convinced that everything they believed in wasn't for me. When I started college, I finally told them I believed in evolution and was an atheist and all that. They freaked out. It was all so crazy. They didn't accept me for it and ugh it was just a big huge mess. Trust me, we hate each other."

"That's... awful." Brian whispered.

"I have had a lot of time to come to that conclusion. It's something I'm used to though, don't feel so bad. But to answer your question Kevin, I'm not going to do anything about my parents. They don't have to know anything about this. It's better for everyone that way. I don't feel bad about it, so you shouldn't either. It's just another one of those things you can't do anything about, so stop making those faces."

They noticed that they all wore a similar frown composed of sympathy, anger, and helplessness. "It's pretty sad, Tyler." AJ stated.

"Of course it is, but what can you do? Some things just can't be resolved. This isn't even my fault. THEY are the ones that have a problem with ME. I've tried to explain to them this is who I am but that's like trying to blow out a light bulb." Tyler's joke earned him a few smiles from the guys. "Seriously though, it's okay. Please don't worry about me."

AJ made an exaggerated face of concern, reached over to Tyler to put him into a loose headlock, and felt his forehead. "Guys I think he's sick, or in shock. We should get him a doctor."

Tyler suppressed some laughter and elbowed AJ away. "I'm not in shock, and I don't have a fever."

"Yeah, yeah. We remember all that crap you told us earlier." AJ retorted, still in a small slap-fight with Tyler.

"Good, because it's true. This is how I deal with things. Calm and rationally and blah, blah, blah. Howie uses silence. You use jokes. Kevin plays big brother and Brian shuts off."

The guys nodded at their traits. Brian stared at the face of his best friend wistfully, stuck in a memory of perfection. Tyler noticed, and decided to take advantage of the moment.

Brian dazedly watched Nick's eyes and his smile, and saw it turn into the evil snickering grin Nick could possess when he was cooking up his next prank. Brian was just barely aware enough outside his thoughts to feel one of the crumpled fast food napkins bounce off the end of his nose. The honest shock and realization washed over his face so obviously that the other guys howled with laughter.

The warm smile returned on Tyler's face and he cocked his head to one side, catching the Backstreet Boy's vengeful stare. "Smile, Bri." He half-ordered.

Brian made a shifty-eyed glance at the other guys, a small gesture to grind some guilt into them for laughing. "Y'all are going to pay for that." He said evenly. He knew he succeeded in being convincing when the other guys' eyes widened from the threat. Turning his attention back to the blue eyes he used to know so well, Brian melted. How could that not be Nick? It certainly gave a new meaning to that ignorant phrase 'if it walks, talks and acts like a duck, it must be a duck'. Because appearances are always deceiving, and Nick was gone.

Tyler saw Brian's eyes shimmer as he lunged towards him with inhuman speed. Tyler squealed with pseudo-fear and scrambled to get away fast enough. "NO!" He yelled, falling off the bed onto the floor.

"Not a chance! You're MINE!" Brian hurled himself onto the floor next to the fallen Tyler, and tackled him full-body. Tyler fought to free himself, but AJ grabbed an arm, and Howie got another. "Prepare for punishment!" Brian announced, tickling Tyler anywhere conceivable to be sensitive.

Tyler was laughing so hard it hurt, and tears flew from the corners of his eyes. "STOP! I GIVE UP!" He laughed until he turned blue, and the guys loosened their grip. "Evil singers!" Tyler managed to get out when his breath returned.

Brian snickered, also catching his breath from the tumble. Tyler put his arm around Brian and pulled him into a lingering half hug.

"I had no idea Nick was so ticklish!" He gasped. Brian looked up at him with a careful expression in regards to the affection. After a few seconds he gave in to the hug and leaned into Tyler.

"Thanks for playing along." He said with a soft whisper. "I miss him so much."

"I know you do, that all of you do." Tyler replied with a reassuring squeeze. "And we're gonna see him soon." Brian happily sighed and Kevin was giving Tyler a goofy admiring smile. "What?" Tyler asked, feeling on the spot now that AJ and Howie had joined in.

"Nothing. Just forget it Captain Oblivious."

Tyler scowled knowingly. "Uh huh. I know what you're thinking AGAIN, but it doesn't matter. Trust me, I am okay."

"I hope so."

"Kev, don't be so worried, he seems to be fine to me." Howie butted in while ruffling up the bed-head hairdo Tyler's new body sported. Tyler in return pretended to snap at Howie's hand, which earned a "bad dog" comment from AJ. Kevin just shook his head at them and Brian put more weight into Tyler's friendly embrace.

"So..." Tyler began, trying to change the subject.

"When should we leave for the airport." Brian asked.

"About an hour before the flight, like always. We only need to bring our own bags by the way, the band and crew are going back to Orlando and will take everything else." Howie answered.

"On our own huh?" AJ said, amused. "I don't know what you said to them D, but I can't believe were getting to do this without bodyguards or babysitters."

"Well come on. This is serious, and I wasn't going to have it any other way. Management knows when to back off."

Kevin addressed Tyler. "Does Ash know we're coming?"

Tyler looked blank for a second, and then slightly blushed. "She knows *people* are coming."

"But not the Backstreet Boys." Kevin pushed, adding finger-quotes.

Tyler shook his head. "It wasn't a good idea to tell her... yet. See she's a fan, and I don't know what her reaction would be. I can't control her from here. So, I figured I would tell her when I see her. I just said that Nick's friends were coming with me. She was asking a lot of questions too." He laughed a little. "She's the only reason I know what any of you looked like. She's got this horrible poster in her room. I always felt like you were all staring at me."

"Paranoid much?" AJ laughed.

"Shut up." Tyler was embarrassed at his pathetic comeback.

"What poster was it?" Howie asked.

"You were all laying in a circle on the ground."

"But which one?" He persisted.

"What do you mean which one?" Tyler smiled widely. "You're telling me you took more than one picture like that?"

"Hey, those circle pictures are some of our best group work." Kevin tried to joke. The others looked at him like he was stupid, and he shrugged in apology for trying to joke about their topic. He needed something else to say. "Who was her favorite?"

Tyler tilted his head at the question, not sure, if he should actually say. "Do you really care?"

"No, but we always ask people we know that have friends who are fans of us. We tally up the scores." AJ informed, wiggling his eyebrows jokingly.

"If that's the case, then give another point to this one." Tyler said, giving Brian another squeeze and added a pat on the head. "He is her favorite."

Brian arched a brow and craned his neck to give Tyler a skeptical look. "A lot of good that'll do."

AJ looked shocked. "Awe he made a joke. What a good boy!" AJ reached over, taking the surprised Brian's head in his hands and laid a big wet kiss on his forehead.

Tyler laughed as Brian pushed him away sputtering and scowling. "AJ! EW!" He turned to Tyler and rubbed his head on the fabric of his shirt and AJ mocked offense. The guys kept laughing.



The drive to the airport was short and Tyler hated to leave the Limo. The guys had gotten ready soon after AJ's stunt. The lobby was lazily scattered with people who were waiting to leave or just arriving.

Families greeted one another with affection and the boys were herded into a fancy solitary room so the crowd would not notice them.

Drinks were poured, words were exchanged, and the guys laughed it up in the private VIP bar. The flight took off soon after 7pm and each of the boys took a seat in first class, flirting with the stewardesses and listening to music on their CD walkmans, waiting for a fleeting moment of sleep.



AJ burst through the door of large hotel room they had paid for at the counter minutes before. He flung his luggage into one corner of the room and turned to see the others entering behind him, each stacking their respective luggage along the far wall. Howie yawned and fell back on one of the four beds. Brian and Kevin lumbered past and both silently agreed to share a bed, since they were related, letting the others sleep alone. Brian was visibly bothered by the whole sleeping situation, but never made a move to say something.

Tyler looked around at the tired and sleepy bodies that lay sprawled across the hotel room. Kevin was propped sitting up on the bed and Brian laid at the foot with his head hanging backwards over the edge. The time was just past 10:30, and Tyler grabbed the hotel phone, dialing Ash's number. Usually on Friday nights they would be together without cares, watching a movie or at the park, but no, not today, today was just-

"Hello?"

"Hi Ash, its Tyler."

"Hey! How are you?"

"Good. I'm here in New York!"

"Wow already? I guess you guys got last minute tickets huh?"

"Yup. So I'm guessing visiting hours are over at the hospital?"

"Yeah, I got home around eight. Your parents were there for a while, they said they would come back tomorrow when, uh, TYLER was more comprehensive."

"Ugh. I so don't want to run into them tomorrow!"

"Well just say you're close friends of the patient and you would like some time alone. They were fine with me, I told them as much as I could, and tried to keep them from talking too much to Nick."

"Thanks so much. Hopefully he won't snap out of it before we get to him first."

"Well I'll be here as soon as the hospital allows visitors again. I believe they said one in the afternoon."

"Sounds good, I'll tell the guys."

"Speaking of... do I get to meet them tonight?"

"Tonight? Well, I, uh... Well, I am pretty close by, so I'll be at your place as soon as possible okay?"

"Yeah no problem, you're the only one coming?"

Tyler gave respective glances at the other guys. Brian was now sleeping. Kevin looked totally relaxed, and Howie was curled up with a pillow. The only one not on the brink of passing out was AJ. "Uh, I think I'm going to go alone for the moment. We can come back here after I explain some things to you, allright?"

"Sure, that's fine. I can't wait to see you!"

Tyler emitted a snort-laugh and sighed. "Right. Now, I have to warn you now, don't freak out, ok? When you see me, that is. I'm going to make it perfectly clear that it's me before you answer the door. Don't scream when you open it."

"Uh... Tyler? Why would I freak out and scream? Are you a mutant or something?" Her voice had a humorous edge to it and Tyler smiled.

"No, just, take my word for it. I'm gonna head over there now ok? See you soon."

"Allright, I'll be here. Hurry."

"Bye Ash."

"Bye Tyler."

"Not gonna take me huh?" Tyler looked over at AJ who spoke. "It's cool, I'll just stay here and cuddle with Howie." He patted Howie's head roughly until the napping singer swatted at him and colorfully told AJ to stick it where the sun don't shine.

"I'm sorry AJ, I really would like to take you but..."

"Ty I'm only kidding! I'll tell the guys where you went. Get going would you?"

Tyler smiled. "I am!"



The cab ride was uneventful. Ash's place was pretty dark inside, but she was home. Tyler took deep breaths before knocking on the door. He waited a few moments, and knocked, followed by "Ash its Tyler. You awake?" Footsteps echoed inside and stopped at the door. A lock was removed, and Ash appeared in the doorway.

"Tyler! Ty-... Tyler? Nick? NICK? OH MY-"

Tyler lunged for her and clapped a hand around her mouth. "I TOLD YOU! Shh! This is the body I woke up in! That's why I told you not to scream, which by the way, you're not doing a very good job of!" He pulled her into the house and shut the door, letting her go.

"Holy shit! Tyler... So okay, the other guys, Nick's friends... they're the others, right? The Backstreet Boys?" Tyler nodded. "Wow."

"Ash... You have no idea."

"I'm beginning to get one! Oh god, I can't believe you're Nick. Can I touch you?"

Tyler did a double take and began to burst out laughing as hard as his vocal cords could handle. "WHAT? Is that what you would have said to the real Nick? You freak."

"Stop making fun of me! How embarrassing. I just meant like, I'm never gonna get to be so comfortable with a sex symbol before! And since it's you..."

"ASH! Bad! Bad, Bad girl! NO! No pawing Nick's body. And you need to wipe your mouth, because you're drooling. This is why I wanted to come alone. I didn't know how you would react if you saw all five of us here."

"Oh shush. I'm teasing anyway. Well, kind of." She stuck her tongue out. "Brian is my favorite anyway."

"Yeah I know. Okay that reminds me. There's more I have to tell you about this story. You ready?" Ash nodded, leading them to sit on the living room couch. Tyler got dead serious. "Something fantastic, but at the same time tragic happened. Two human beings had their souls switched. One is a total nobody- me, but the other, is an extremely famous singer- Nick. That means the Backstreet Boys are technically missing a member of their band. I don't know the first thing about singing or dancing, and my body with Nick in it sure as hell can't resume his life as a celebrity. No one knows about this except them, you and me. That is a huge problem there alone. There is no one to help us. We don't know if we should take a chance and tell any of our parents. The guys have some scheme planned that we can say Nick got amnesia, and that's why he doesn't remember anything about being a Backstreet Boy, or anything about his family."

"Are you serious? Would you do that?"

"I don't have much of a choice. Fake amnesia, or tell them I body switched with their son. I surely can't resume his life and just pretend I'm Nick, and he isn't going to live my life and pretend to be me." Ash nodded in sympathetic agreement. "Anyway, there's more. But I don't know how to say it."

"Try."

"I am. Ok, just so I'm positive, Brian Littrell IS your favorite right?" He waited for Ash to nod. "Ok. He is... Well with Nick, he... they're..." COUGH "Gay." COUGH. Ash shook her head for a second.

"Do what now?"

"Brian and Nick are gay." He spit out. Ash's eyes went wide. "And they're together." Wider. "In fact they planned on getting married." Now her mouth was fallen open. "I told you I didn't know how to say it. This ring is Nick's." Tyler held out his hand showing Ash the gold band. She awed and looked at Tyler with a sadness that five minutes ago never would have shone.

"Oh God. What's Brian going to do?"

"Exactly. It's the worst mess, and I don't know what to do. Tomorrow we're all gonna to see Nick and explain to him in intimate detail of what's going on and what are plans are.

"That's going to be tense."

"I know. For once, I am at a total loss."

"So now what?"

"So now what, what?" Tyler smiled. "I don't know. I told the guys I would take you back to the hotel with me, but it all depends on if you can behave. Everyone was sleeping when I left anyway."

Ash got into a begging stance. "Tyler please, please take me with you! I'll be so good you won't even know I'm there, I swear!"

Tyler smiled and gave in. "Fine. But no squealing, and no touching, and no putting your foot in your mouth or telling embarrassing stories about me! I mean it!"

"DONE!"



"AJ can you get the door please?" Kevin mumbled with his head tilted back.

"Sure thing Kev." AJ got up from where he lay and roughly climbed over Howie's bed on purpose, earning him some well-deserved smacks, and opened the door. There stood the person formerly known as Nick, with a somewhat shy girl clinging to his arm with all her strength. "Hey Tyler, is this Ash?" Tyler yelped when the girl's nails dug into his arm deeper.

"He knows my name?" She mewed.

"ASH!" Tyler whispered fiercely. "You promised! That's it." He wrenched her arm off his and put her into a friendly headlock, messing up her ponytail with a noogie.

"Ok, ok I promise again, no more acting star struck!" Tyler let her go. "Meanie."

AJ snickered at them. "How cute. Come on in guys, you can help me torture D."

"No they won't." Howie fired back, his face buried in a pillow, making his voice muffled. The others laughed and all entered the room. Kevin opened his eyes and gave a curt nod and a hello to Ash. Howie sat up and shook her hand. Brian remained asleep and Ash gave him a thoughtful glance.

"Tyler told me what happened, obviously. How is Brian doing?" She knelt next to the bed on the floor, and cast a questioning gaze at Kevin.

"He's doing pretty good. Having Nick's body around is a double-edged sword though. It helps and hurts. We were all together for eight years. Brian shared much more with Nick than any of us though, on any level. But Tyler's been a really great help, for all of us."

"He usually is." Ash smiled at Kevin, who smiled back. Tyler came over to them and took a spot next to Ash.

"Has he been asleep the whole time I was gone?" He asked, reaching out to carefully touch Brian's hair.

"Yeah. Like a baby." AJ answered for Kevin.

"And just as cute." Tyler whispered.

Kevin gave Tyler an amused look. "Yeah." He looked down at his little cousin. "You know Tyler, out of the countless people on this earth, I'm glad it was you who was chosen to switch places with Nick." He put a hand on Tyler's shoulder with a reinforcing squeeze. Tyler patted the hand till it was withdrew a few moments later, and lifted himself off the floor to sit on the edge of Howie and AJ's bed.

"So how was Nick when you saw him?" AJ asked.

"We'll he was pretty out of it. Like I told Tyler, he kept saying he wanted to see Brian. His parents didn't try to talk to him too much, which is good, because he doesn't know ANYTHING about this body switch ordeal. But, he doesn't look too bad. He's got a bandage on one side of his head from where it was hit pretty hard, and some minor bruises that will disappear soon."

"How early can we see him tomorrow?" He continued.

"Visiting hours starts at one. I'm gonna come back here and get you guys, is that okay?"

Kevin nodded. "Perfect. Thanks for telling us everything."

It's no problem. Anything to help."

"We appreciate it." Howie yawned.

"You know guys," Ash began. "I'm not sure if I should be here. It's kind of late and I can imagine how stressful and tiring it's been. You should all go to sleep. Besides, I have to admit I'm tired myself."

"But you just got here Ash!" AJ protested.

She smiled. "Yeah I know. I knew I should have stayed home, but I couldn't resist."

"Why don't you just stay the whole night with us?" Kevin asked.

Ash visibly blushed and tried to tame the quirky smile toying with her mouth. "Uh..." She looked around. Four beds, six of them. How was this supposed to work anyway? "I think it would be better, and more comfortable, for me to just go home. Afterall, me and Tyler aren't together, anymore, and-"

"And if one of you suggest her sleeping with you, watch out, cuz her head might implode." Tyler joked.

"TYLER!" Ash protested. He giggled evilly at her. "Anyway, I think I'm gonna head home. I'll see you guys later though."

"Be careful Ash." Howie told her. "It was nice meeting you."

"Yeah. We'll see you Sunday definitely." Kevin added. "Tyler are you going to take her home?"

"No I can go myself. I drove my car here."

"We'll I'll walk you to the parking lot." AJ suggested. "I need some fresh air."

"All right, thanks. I'll see you all again soon." She headed towards the door with AJ in tow. The guys said goodbye and she returned the farewell, and moments later they were gone.

Howie got up and did his respective bathroom routine, followed by Tyler. AJ returned after Tyler exited the bathroom with a T-shirt and boxers on.

"Did Ash faint on the way to the car?" Tyler kidded.

"No, she made it fine smartass. She's pretty nice. I wanted to make sure she got to the car okay and all that. And no Kevin, before you ask, I did not put the moves on her." Kevin smirked at his friend and closed his mouth. AJ made his way to the bathroom, making his visit quick so that Kevin could get in and out and into bed, following the already sleeping Howie's example. Tyler helped Kevin gently reposition Brian so he lay lengthwise on the bed. He sat and watched the blonde sleep deeply, giving the prone form a small smile.

"You can have the last bed Tyler. I'll share this one with Brian okay?" Tyler took off the glasses perched on his nose and looked up at Kevin who was now dressed down for sleep. "I don't mind, afterall he is my cousin."

Tyler nodded and got up and into the last empty bed. "Goodnight Kevin."

"Goodnight Tyler. Thanks."



Tyler stared up at the ceiling for what had to be the second hour of restlessness. He hated the impersonal echo of hotel rooms. They were always so hard to fall asleep in. The room's four other occupants were dozing just fine, each humming a soft snore of one kind or another. He had gotten used to the sounds so much; he noticed when one of them ceased. A sigh cut the air, and Tyler knew immediately it was Brian. Tyler turned his head to face his new friend, to find him looking right back.

"I can't sleep." Tyler answered the non-existent question. "I don't know how you guys can sleep in hotels so much." Brian didn't answer. He just sighed again and pressed his face deeper into his pillow. "I know you miss him Bri. It's just a few more hours."

"It's the worst feeling." Brian whispered.

"Ash was here tonight. Even though you're her favorite, she didn't even think to wake you. I know she wished she could though." Tyler smiled into the darkness.

"I'm sorry I missed her. How long did it take before AJ hit on her?"

Tyler laughed. "He didn't actually. The boy held some restraint."

Brian emitted a genuine laugh. "Shocker."

"Hey Bri, did you want to share this bed instead? Kevin chose to sleep in the bed with you because you guys were cousins so I didn't say anything."

"Really?" He lifted his head from the pillow to meet Tyler's eyes. "You would do that?"

"Yeah, come on."

Brian carefully rose from the bed, tiptoeing to the empty side of Tyler's bed and pulled himself under the layers of blankets and sheets. It was odd sleeping in all his clothes, for he hadn't had a chance to change into something comfortable, but that feeling was nowhere near as uncomfortable compared to sleeping with Kevin. "Thanks Tyler."

"Anytime. Really."

"Don't shake it off so easily. I mean it, about everything since this happened. You have been an amazing help, especially to me. I can't thank you enough. None of us can."

Tyler looked over at Brian and smiled. "So I've been told. I'm more than happy to help out though. I feel like I know all of you so well and it's only been a short time, I guess it's because you guys are so nice."

"Thanks Tyler."

"You know, I read the inscription on the ring you gave Nick. I was wondering... What does it mean?"

"Frick and Frack forever. That was everyone's phrase for us."

Tyler smiled at having his suspicions confirmed. "I wish I could fall asleep." He sighed.

Brian looked over. "Do you want me to sing or something?"

Tyler laughed. "No, no. Nothing like that. Here, I got a better idea."

"Which is?"

Tyler rolled onto his side to face Brian, and with both lean strong arms, pulled the smaller man across the space on the bed. Getting comfortable, Tyler adjusted the blankets, tucked himself in, and wrapped an arm around Brian's waist, fitting his head against Bri's chest.

Brian looked down at the top of Tyler's head, and with both arms, held the warm body against him. "Thank you." He whispered.

"No." Tyler said. "This time, thank you. We both need this tonight."

Brian nodded into his pillow and shut his eyes. "Goodnight Tyler."

"Night Brian."



Saturday morning sun fought to be seen behind the thick hotel curtains, desperate to wake up the five sleeping souls. It's playful rays danced about the shadows, until it found the twitching eyelids of...

AJ blinked, and rubbed his eyes forcefully. The urge to pee was overwhelming and he hauled himself over to the bathroom. After reliving himself, brushing his teeth, taking a quick scalding-hot shower and wrapping a towel around himself, he headed into the chilly air of the open room to grab some clothes for the day. His suitcases were packed tightly with the strangest clothes one could think up, and he picked out a semi-normal all-black outfit, and took a glance at his band mates. Moving towards the bathroom, he stopped suddenly, and looked again. Tyler was gone. He did a headcount. Howie, Kevin, Brian... Wait, didn't Brian sleep with Kevin?

AJ blanched at his confusion and snuck over to where Brian lay sleeping. The lump under the covers was too big to be just Bri, he didn't exactly carry so much mass. When AJ got closer, he was rewarded with an answer. There, covered over with blankets and barely noticeable under the chin of his friend, was the unmistakable messy hair of Nick- er Tyler. A thin black AJ-eyebrow went up at the sight. What was this? Whatever was going on though, Brian looked almost happy. AJ smiled. He crept to the bathroom to quickly dress and run some gel in his hair, and quietly came out. He snuck to Howie's bedside and poked him till he stirred.

"D, get up D, you gotta see this."

"AJ!" He whined. "I'm sleeping! Leave a message!" He rolled away from his friend and buried his head under his pillow.

"No I can't you have to see this! Please?" Howie snorted and climbed out from under the warm solace of the bed. He crossed his arms and cocked his head.

"What am I looking at, aside from my jackass best friend?" AJ pointed at the bed next to him. While Howie smiled, AJ unmercilessly knocked on Kevin's skull until a strong fist grabbed his comparatively tiny hand and squeezed.

"AJ I'm gonna beat you till you- Where's Brian?" AJ pointed again. Kevin looked over and up at his cousin and Tyler snuggled in the bed. "Awe. Do you think he snuck over there?"

"I don't know, but Ty is hugging back so I doubt it."

"Maybe. But lets be quiet, don't wake them up too you dick."

AJ was taken aback. "Kev! I would never. I only woke you deadbeats up so you could see for yourself. Isn't that the cutest thing?"

"Uh huh. Dick. I'm using the bathroom. I'll try to hurry, ok D?"

"No Prob., Kevy Kev."



Brian inhaled his first conscious breath, enjoying the smell of Nick's shampoo. He snuggled his nose into the blonde strands of hair and pulled the body closer to him. I can't wait to see you Nick, Brian silently said. He felt that Tyler wasn't awake yet, and prayed that he would sleep for a bit longer, just for a few more minutes. He heard movement in the background and realized the other guys were awake and watching TV with the volume down low. They knew. He wondered what Kevin was going to say. Knowing them, they probably thought it was cute.

The heartbeat that was throbbing against Brian was slow and steady, but full of life. Nick had always been so full of life. As a kid, when the band first got together, he was non-stop movement. Always moving, playing, making noise, and just about being surgically attached to Brian's side. Brian had developed a soft spot for Nick immediately. He would sometimes get on the other guy's nerves, especially Kevin because he was so much older than 13, and had already taken on an adult outlook on life. Brian always stood up for Nick when he was snapped at by the guys or told to leave the room because his banter at the Nintendo game he was losing was too loud. But, they never did stay mad at Nick for too long. The boy never took offense at his scolding and would often give them a thumper-like sheepish apology, with a pearly white wide smile. It could melt polar ice caps.

It was different, however, when he started to play pranks on people. It was all Brian could do to keep someone from throwing Nick out of a hotel window. God, those were the good times. Then came the day when Nick started to look at Brian differently. There was more depth to his gaze than usual. He didn't just see "friend" in the gleam anymore it... changed. When Nick was around 17 years old, he developed little quirks in his behavior around Brian, and no one knew exactly what to make of it, until Brian had found one of Nick's drawing books. He saw it was page after page of pencil drawings of him self, some of them with girly hearts around the border, and even some of Brian kissing Nick, with the label "Frick and Frack Forever" scribbled somewhere near the bottom. Brian remembered his breath was knocked from him by a mysterious wind. He has just been made knowledgeable to a series of secrets and epiphany's. Nick was in love with Brian, which was why he was acting so strange. He had never had the slightest inkling that Nick might have been gay, and wondered if Nick knew that Brian shared the same sexuality- which he had kept as a secret from everyone. Up until that moment, he had never even thought about Nick in a romantic way, because he felt from day one it was so implausible that it would only lead to disaster and a broken heart.

This changed everything. There was a problem though, a big one. If he was to act upon his feelings for Nick, he would- they would, both have to come out to the guys. Plus, Brian wasn't sure if he would like hearing that his notebook was looked at without permission. For a few days the others noticed Brian seemed to be struggling with something, but didn't want to interfere. Brian was sure the guys wouldn't think differently about him if they knew, afterall, they had gotten lots of fan mail from gay teens before and none of them reacted badly. Hell, they used to even write them back along with their hetero fans before they got overwhelmed with fame.

One day out of the blue he came to a finalization. He was going to tell them all, just like that. If Nick wanted to, he could choose to do the same, and if so, Brian would tell him later about the drawings, and that he did feel the same way. The day of the meeting Brian hid his shaking hands behind is back and blurted it out to his stunned friends and cousin. Kevin was a little shocked, but AJ said he figured as much, and Howie thought it was cute. Nick seemed like he was trying to get words out, but his mouth wasn't working. Kevin addressed the blonde to ask what he thought, and if he was going to help support his best friend, when Nick whispered that he was also gay... and hopelessly in love with Brian. Kevin dropped his fork when he jumped at AJ's outburst of "I KNEW IT!" echoing in the room.

Later when the noise died down, Brian confessed about seeing Nick's Frick and Frack artwork, and how he not only was impressed with his drawing ability, but he felt the same way about him. Everything from that point on went happily ever after... well, sort of.

He felt Tyler stirring against him, and he looked down. Don't wake up yet, please, not yet! He silently begged. Brian held is breath as he felt Tyler slip back into sleep, soft breath falling on his skin through his shirt. Brian gently pressed his lips against the top of the beautiful blonde head and sighed. Suddenly the head stirred, and looked up.

"Mornin' Bri." Tyler managed to say through his dry morning voice.

DAMMIT! "Good morning Tyler."

"Hey it's about time you guys woke up." AJ said climbing onto the bed. He pulled Tyler under one arm and Brian under the other, smiling at the double headlock. "So what went on last night?" Howie and Kevin muted the TV and watched the horseplay.

"AJ!" Brian whined, wanting to be released. "We couldn't sleep, so Tyler said I could sleep in his bed." AJ let him go and sat back, facing the two of them.

"Awe Ty, taking care of my B-Rok."

"B-Rok?" Tyler asked.

"Yeah," Kevin spoke up. "It's a basketball nickname. Brian is a damn good player."

"I can't play for shit." Tyler admitted. "But I am pretty hungry. I see you guys got breakfast already? How late did we sleep in?"

"Yeah no one wanted to wake you guys up, so we ordered ahead. And I believe the time is," Howie checked his watch. "A little past eleven."

"Ouch. Well can you guys order me up something while I take a shower?" Tyler begged cutely.

"No problem bro." AJ said, reaching for the phone. "Any specifics?"

"Nah, just get whatever sounds good, I'm starving! Nick appetite, remember?" They smiled. Tyler got up and got a change of clothes out of Nick's suitcase and as he turned the doorknob to the bathroom, he looked over his shoulder. "Thanks guys."

When he was gone, all eyes were on Brian. "So?" Kevin asked.

"So, what?"

"You both slept in till noon, cuddling, that's what."

"He told you. We couldn't sleep and he asked if I wanted to share his bed, and then he cuddled up to me and said he needed it. That we both did." Brian was still looking towards the bathroom, listening to the water running. "He was being nice."

Brian focused on AJ who was on the phone ordering more food. "AJ, order me up something too, please." AJ nodded. "I'm glad he's around."



Tyler's forehead pressed against the glass of Ash's passenger seat window. He felt unimaginably stupid with AJ on his lap, but there was no way six people were going to fit in Ash's car. AJ was the skinniest out of Brian, Howie and Kevin, so he was voted up front. Thankfully, the hospital wasn't too far away.

Ash came over to the hotel soon after they all got ready, and had formed a friendship with Brian quickly, joking that now they both had slept with Tyler. She loved hearing about Tyler's bed sharing, and even though she promised, she had great fun telling stories about Tyler that were horribly embarrassing.

Ash parked the car and the boys filed out, stretching their legs from being packed inside so tightly, and donning some accessories to hide their identity. Tyler pushed on Nick's glasses and stared at the door to the hospital, anxious to the maximum about seeing Nick in his body. "Ready guys?" He called behind him.

"Let's go." AJ said.

Ash knew the way to the room by now, and after signing in on a guest sheet, she led the group to their friend. Once outside the room, Brian pulled off his hat and grabbed Kevin's hand in a death-grip, bracing himself. Ash confirmed everyone was ready, and walked into the room. Thankfully, Tyler's parents were nowhere in sight.

The guys shuffled around the bed where Nick seemed to be sleeping, stuffing their hats and glasses in their respective clothing folds. It was now, for the first time, that the guys were getting a glimpse of Tyler's true body. He had the face of an innocent, which was childish and peaceful. His skin was smooth, clear and had a light complexion. He had a playful mouth, the kind that could hold a smile with ease, but at the same time, it was sensual, full and very pink. His nose was proportioned to his face perfectly, and could only be described as "cute." He had slate-black hair that was straight and almost chin length, and it was deceptively thick and very soft, with thin little eyebrows to match. His eyes however, were hidden behind the sleeping lids. His body, though covered in thin sheets and a hospital blanket, was still somewhat visible. He appeared to have a lean build, but overall he was average if not small for a guy. He seemed to only be about 5'8" in height but had nice broad shoulders for his frame.

"He's very..." Howie began.

"Yeah. He was..." AJ added.

"Beautiful." All four of them finished at once. They smiled up at one another. Tyler immediately blushed with embarrassment.

Brian looked at the others, not noticing Tyler. "Should I try to wake him?"

"Uh, sure Bri. Why not?" Tyler shrugged.

"Nothing personal, but, maybe you should sit over, uh, out of his direct sight." Kevin tried to get out.

Tyler nodded in understanding and stood away from the group, waiting for Brian to make his move.

Brian leaned in close to the sleeping face; careful not to touch the bandage covering the cut Hunter caused. "Nicky? It's me Brian. I made it. Wake up for me okay? I heard you were asking for me, well I'm here. Please open your eyes?"

"Bri?" A soft and weak voice answered him. "I... am... awake." He struggled to open his eyes, and Brian gasped.

"Oh my god." Howie blurted. "Tyler? You have yellow eyes?" He asked over his shoulder.

"Uh, no, not exactly." He whispered. "They're just really light brown."

"They look yellow to me."

"GUYS! SHH." Kevin demanded. "Did we wake you up Nicky?"

Nick giggled softly. "Yeah, but it's cool. You guys are... too much. How's it go Kev? D? AJ? I feel like a train ran me over." He closed his eyes again and yawned as Brian stroked his forehead. "Brian... what happened to me, where the hell am I?"

Brian took a deep breath. "I have to show you something first." He held out a hand to Tyler, beckoning him to come over to his side. Kevin made a face at Brian, silently asking if he should be doing this. Brian sternly insisted with his eyes that he had to show Nick, to convince him. Tyler obeyed, feeling the butterflies in his stomach throw a party. "I want you to meet... Tyler."

Nick opened his eyes and found himself staring into his own face. "Guys, what the hell is going on?" Nick began to panic, feeling confused and cornered. Who was this?

"Nick calm down, it's okay. You know the other night, when you were alone on the balcony and made that wish that you were someone else?"

Nick nodded slowly, tears clouding the amber eyes. "How... How did you know that, Brian?"

"Tyler made the same wish, that same night, at the same time. And when we went to sleep that night so did he... and it came true. You were body switched. You are in Tyler's body, and he is in yours."

"What are you telling me, Frick. I'm not me? I'm not in my body? What am I doing here, this is a hospital."

Brian's voice closed in his throat and he strained with all his willpower to not cry. He had to be strong at least in front of him, at least for now. "Nicky... You are correct. Listen to your voice. Look at your hands. Feel your hair. You are in Tyler's body. That is why YOUR body is standing here, next to me. This isn't some look-a-like that we found, and this is far from a joke. And yes, this is a hospital. Tyler had some trouble with his girlfriends ex, and he came after him that night and attacked him, attacked you. You were put into a coma for it for a while."

Ash discreetly moved next to Brian's other side and handed him something. Brian looked at her offering and saw it was a mirror. His eyes met hers and she nodded.

"Nick, look." Brian angled the mirror so Nick could see himself, and terror struck him suddenly.

"Brian... I'm scared. What's happening?" He pulled Brian down weakly, struggling for a hug. Brian obliged, rubbing his back slowly but firmly.

"We don't know, Nicky." Kevin answered for him. "Tyler woke up in Miami, scared out of his mind. It took us forever to calm him down. He told us his side of the story and called Ash here, who said you were in the hospital, in New York. We just got here on a last minute flight yesterday. No one can answer anything about what happened."

"What are we going to do?" Nick whispered shakily, burying his face in Brian's shoulder.

"We don't know." AJ admitted in defeat.

"I'm sorry, Nick." Tyler mumbled. "This is all my fault. I'm so sorry."

"What?" Nick sobbed, letting go of Brian. "No, it wasn't your fault. It really wasn't anyone's fault. Maybe that asshole that put me into the hospital, but, not making a wish in the middle of the night that you never meant to come true to begin with."

"Maybe that's why it did come true." AJ pondered. "Maybe that wish was granted, to scare us into not taking things for granted. To be happy with what we have. Do I have a point, or am I just talking out of my ass?"

"No AJ I think you could be right." Tyler agreed. "But we won't ever know anyway. Any guess is good by me. We probably aren't supposed to know."

"Nick, do you think you're going to be okay? How are you handling this?" Kevin asked the scared ex-blonde.

"I will be okay eventually Kevin." He sniffled out. "But I don't know how I'm going to handle it. I never meant for that wish to come true! It was just something stupid I said!"

"Nick don't worry about the what-ifs. You guys didn't do anything wrong." Brian consoled.

"Well someone sure as hell thinks we did." He argued.

"Nick don't strain yourself. You're gonna pass out like I did when this was dumped on me." Tyler smiled. "And my body wasn't as strong as yours is, I'm much more prone to fainting with head wounds."

He half smiled. "It's not so bad, really." Nick said softly.

"Yeah?" Tyler perked. "Wait till you see how small my-"

"TYLER!" Ash yelped. "Please spare us the comedy routine. And stop saying that, it is not small, at all."

AJ busted out laughing, hanging on Howie for balance, and Nick kind of laughed a little as well. Brian stroked his face gently. "At least Tyler knows his new body doesn't have that problem." He murmured to his body-switched boyfriend.

"BRIAN!" Kevin said, shocked. Nick was now blushing, but feeling a lot better. Kevin caught Tyler's wink, secretly letting the band's big brother figure in on his work. He was trying to lighten the mood, and calm Nick down with humor. Kevin winked back and mouthed "thank you."

"Geez..." Nick said looking around. "I sure do have quite an audience. And you," he said, pointing at Ash. "You were with me yesterday weren't you?"

She blushed humbly. "Yeah. I had to stay with you, to make sure you were okay... and everything."

"Thank you. I know I wasn't all there, but it helped having someone around, instead of being here all alone." He pushed himself further back on the bed, into more of a sitting position. Brian helped him carefully achieve this and put a pillow behind his back. "Much better. Can I see that mirror?" He said his lover. Brian handed it over, and Nick took a look at himself, studying the face that blinked back at him. He reached up and traced the contours, running his fingers through his new black hair, and staring into the golden eyes. "Howie was right... Tyler? You do have yellow eyes."

Tyler's eyebrows went up a notch. "Well technically, they're yours now." He smiled.

Nick looked up at him, now amazed at the transformation. "Yeah, I guess they are." He whispered. "Sorry that mine needs glasses though. But god this is wicked seeing so clearly... and I have to admit, you're almost better looking than me."

That was the final blow to ending some of the tense air that was left, for nearly everyone emitted some sort of a laugh, and Tyler again was blushing. "Thanks." He answered lamely, momentarily silenced. Nick wiped his eyes clear of all the post-sobbing debris and sighed deeply. "How do you feel, Nick?" Tyler asked his former self. "Do you even remember anything at all about what happened?"

Nick shook his head no a few times before giving a vocal answer. "I don't remember shit. I mean not the attack, but I remember everything about myself, and that the last thing I did was fall asleep in the Miami hotel with Brian."

"Well that's good I guess."

"Yeah, it is. Trust me, I don't want to remember getting pummeled into a coma. But, I feel pretty good for having a huge lump on my head. It's kind of throbbing, but I can handle it fine. How soon do you think they'll let me out of here? I want to go home, like now."

Everyone exchanged blank looks and shrugs. "None of us seem to have a clue." AJ admitted. "But if you say you're doing fine, it might not be too long, just long enough for them to do tests on your stability and shit like that. I wish I watched ER." Howie playfully nudged AJ for his stupid comment.

"Guys, I have a question." Nick seriously said. "What are we going to do about the group?"

Kevin blinked. "Nick, who cares. You being with us and alive is what matters, we'll worry about that Backstreet Boy crap later."

"I care." Nick said blandly. "I want to know what is going to happen to us. Singing is all I know, I can't be in the group like this, I don't even know if I can make this body sing."

"First of all," Kevin said, "Singing is not all you know. You're a damn good artist, and you can act. Secondly, maybe Tyler CAN sing, can you?" All eyes focused on Tyler.

"I... don't know. It's not like I ever recorded myself or anything, why don't you just try, Nick."

He looked worried, but looked down and cleared his throat a little. Suddenly he looked up. "Why bother? Even if I can, what does it matter? I can't join the group and be what- the sixth Backstreet Boy?"

Brian cut in. "I have to admit that even though none of us care about this over you, the question did come up for us the other day. We had to cancel that last concert as long as we said we would make it up at later date. We realized we needed to do something to keep us out of the spotlight for a while, performing and all, so we thought up this scheme about you having amnesia. While we run with the story, we can think of what to do and buy us some time."

"Amnesia? So I'm guessing we're not telling ANYONE about this?" He asked.

"Honestly, none of us want to. No one would believe us anyway, Nicky." Howie answered.

"I guess. Do you know how fucked up its going to be watching Tyler BS this routine to my family?"

"Oh yeah, we've thought about it." Kevin said. "It isn't going to be easy."

"Speaking of family," Tyler butted in. "But mine is gonna show up sometime today."

"Yeah." Nick piped up. "What are we gonna tell them?"

Tyler decided to take this one. "A little back-story on my parents." He began. "Due to my admitting a disregard for their religion, me and my parents don't speak, or get along, or see each other or anything. I think, if we handle it the right way, as long as they know I am going to be A-OK, they wont stay very long or come back here. It will be easy to get rid of them."

"So we both have to act to our families." Nick confirmed. "If it's what you want, I can do that Tyler."

"I know none of you approve, but it's the best thing to do, at least for now. Just so we don't have any scrutiny from behind. If I ever get out of his ordeal, I swear to try and fix things, okay?"

Everyone nodded, agreeing with the terms. They pulled up as many chairs as they could find, and all sat down around the bed. Brian got Nick a drink of ice water, and Kevin got his friends sodas from a machine down the hall. The hospital was very empty, so they didn't have to worry too much about being recognized, and if things got out of hand, they always had their pocketed disguises.

A nurse came in after a few minutes and checked all of Nick's vitals, taking strange glances at the hat and shades covered crowd. Nick asked when he would be able to go home and insisted for her to send in the doctor in charge of him. She said she would try her best, and left.

The group of friends talked idly, watching Nick eat his tray of food, and a light knock rapped on the door. Ash got up to answer it, since she was the closest. The guys could hear some words exchanged, and she came running back into the main area of the room, panting.

"TYLER!" She hissed lowly. "It's THEM, your parents are here! What are we going to do! I told them I'd be back in a second!"

Tyler stood, on the brink of panicking, and threw himself to Nick's bedside. "Can you get through this? Do you think you can put on an act strong enough to get them to go home?" Before Nick could answer, he continued. "Just whatever they say, tell them you haven't changed your mind about being an atheist and you never will. Say that the doctor will let you out in a few days, and that you're absolutely fine. Then, tell them that we are friends from college, okay?"

Nick was wide-eyed at this outburst, and quickly nodded. "Yeah, I think I can do it. I'll do my best okay?" He took Tyler's hand, the one he knew as his all his life, and gave a reassuring squeeze. "Let them in."

Ash ran back to the door, composing her self, and let in Mr. and Mrs. Ellis. They walked in, smiling politely at the group of teenagers in their sons' room. "Hello. Are you boys friends of my Tyler?"

They all nodded, with nervous smiles. "Yeah... Mom." Nick strained. "Um they came to visit me from college."

She regarded her son with an unsure look, and let go of her husband's hand. "Well that's good. So, how are you doing? Yesterday you didn't talk much, the doctor said you needed time to heal more before you were fully aware of things."

"Much better, thanks. He said I will be able to go home in a few days, maybe even two, if I stayed in bed and took it easy." He lied.

"So have you thought about, your... choices? Are you going to join us in church next week? A lot of people miss you."

Nick looked at Tyler, who shook his head no. "Play along." He mouthed. "Say anything." Nick turned to Tyler's mother and sighed. "No, mom. You know that I'm not going to change. I believe in my own thing now."

"It is not a belief, Tyler, it's wrong. You can't just ignore the Lord. Please, we came here in prayer for you, hoping you would come back to us."

"Mom, please don't do this, not here. I am not going back to the church, I will not change my mind." He glanced at Tyler for support. Tyler gave him a discreet thumbs-up. "I would appreciate it if you would stop bringing this up!"

"So that's it huh?" His "Father" piped up. "Just continue this feud of yours? The whole point of coming here was to hope that you would join this family again, to show you this is what happens when you don't have God."

What! Nick thought. What! This guy is saying I deserved this? That Tyler deserved this? That, that... "Excuse me? Are you insinuating that God punished us? Er- Me? You only came here to convince me to put this family together again, when it's a situation at fault by all three of us? I don't want to be rude, you are my parents, but I'm greatly offended at your words. I would like it if you would go back home, and stay there. When you feel you can accept me for who I am, give me a call."

Tyler's father "humphed" and turned on his heel, bidding a muffled goodbye to the guests in the room. His mother frowned and backed up a step. "I will pray for you, Tyler. You will see the path soon. Glad you're doing better. Goodbye." She softly called after her husband, and trotted after him, shutting the door behind her.

Kevin looked a little shocked, and Brian looked sad. "Jeez."

Nick let out a breath and half-smiled at his friends. "I didn't mean to be so rude to your parents Tyler, did I do anything wrong?"

Tyler snorted. "Are you kidding? They probably thought my head got knocked harder than the doctors thought, usually I fling the F word at them like rice at a wedding, and I yell, a lot. You were downright angelic compared to the fights *I* have with them. You did excellent though, trust me. And I REALLY appreciate it. I need them to not be here right now. The less interference the better. Good job, Nick. Kevin is right, you can act."

"Honeslty for a minute there your dad pissed me off. They are a bit overzealous." Nick admitted.

"Trust me, I know." Tyler laughed. "I know."

"Well if you don't feel bad Tyler, I wont. None of us will okay? It's really none of our business anyway." Brian said. His band mates agreed, but still felt a bit of the fleeting discomfort at watching Tyler send off his parents so dismissively.

Just then, another knock echoed on the door. "Oh god, I hope that's not them." Tyler muttered.

Ash voted herself doorperson a second time, and when she came back into the room a doctor was following her. Some of the boys slipped on their shades, just incase he had a daughter at home.

"Hello Tyler!" He said cheerfully. "I don't think we have formerly met, I'm Dr. Videl."

"Hi." Nick greeted politely but shortly.

The Backstreet Boys also greeted the doctor, and Ash asked about how he was doing since she last saw him. He curtly shook hands with them and turned his attention to Nick.

The doctor checked Nick's chart and regarded him thoughtfully. "I have to say Tyler, you sure did make an amazing 180 from when you were brought in here. Honestly I have never seen anything like it."

"I try." Nick answered. "Anything to get out of here as soon as possible."

"Not a fan of hospitals are we? Let me take a look at that head wound." Nick sat obediently as the doctor loosened the bandage's clips and pulled it from his head. The lump's swelling had gone down significantly, and the bruising had visibly lessened in color. The cut wasn't deep to begin with, and by now, it was safely scabbed over. "Well it looks to be in good shape, no sign of infection at all. I would like to put a fresh bandage on there for another 24 hours though to be on the safe side."

"That's good." Nick smiled. "So how much longer do I have to stay here, because I want to be as blunt as possible and tell you that I really want to go home."

The doctor looked over Nick with some hesitance. "Uh, well you don't *have to* stay here, but I would like to keep you here for at least the twenty-four hours I mentioned for just simple observation. Plus one of the neurologists said they wanted to give you a skills test to make sure there wasn't any permanent damage done."

"I can live with that." Nick agreed. "When will they want to do that test?"

"I am not sure, but it's a good chance they'll do it some time tomorrow before visiting hours."

"Okay, thanks Dr. Videl."

"Do you have any other questions Tyler, or your friends?" Nick shook his head and the others remained quiet. "All right then. We have nurses patrolling the halls and checking in on people at random, so if you need anything you can stop one, or just hit the red button right here. If you still feel so strongly about being released, I'll be by tomorrow afternoon. Good day to you all."

They bid the doctor farewell and Nick felt relieved. "So guys, tell me in detail what you have been up to without me."

The guys shifted in their seats and rolled their eyes at the memories so far, and AJ was the first to lay into the tale.

Throughout the day the boys and Ash stayed as long as permitted, taking breaks to go eat and replenish their strength. When the visiting hours ended, Ash took them all back to the hotel where they ordered Chinese food and watched the free HBO, joking and being obnoxious.

The hours flew by and everyone's lids started to get heavy. Ash went home, agreeing to meet them at the hospital at one again, leaving the singers to pass out in their beds without hesitation. Brian shared with Tyler again just for sentimental reasons.

TBC.





STORYLINE THREE: Die...

There was a soft knock on the bathroom door. Tyler had gotten out of the bath and toweled off, pulling on the last of the clothes he had on before.

"Yes?"

"It's Kevin, I'm back from downstairs."

Tyler opened the door after pushing on Nick's glasses and Kevin handed him a covered dish. "Thank you." He looked ahead and saw the rest of the guys were in the room as well, and Brian was awake. All of them sat on the bed, except for Kevin who took the same chair as earlier. Tyler joined the others, finding a spot next to AJ.

The room had that overbearing silence, where there was much to be said but no one was saying it. Howie caught his helpless gaze and softly cleared his throat.

"I just got done telling the guys about going to New York. We cancelled the concert promising to make up for it later. They are making us pay for the plane tickets but like that matters to anyone. Also, they agreed not to say anything about where we are, so we can do this in privacy."

"Make up the concert?" Tyler asked. "When are we supposed to do that?"

"They didn't say really, but don't worry, we all figured that with your help we can just go with the plan Brian had last night. While in New York we can say you had an accident and diagnosed with amnesia."

"That is, if you're okay with that." Kevin added.

Tyler uncovered the dinner and started to eat it hungrily. He answered Kevin after a few bites. "I really don't mind. I'm just not very comfortable about lying to his family. But I guess we sort of have to. No one would believe us if we told them the truth."

"It's a bitch of dilemma." AJ said next to him, stealing a single shrimp from Tyler, smiling sheepishly up at him while he did so.

"Well I'll go along with it. I don't really mind either way. When do we leave?" Tyler asked.

"Tonight at seven. I called the airport because D is a moron and only likes to make reservations over online." AJ said.

"That's fast." Tyler looked at AJ and couldn't help asking. "You guys have a lot of nicknames... exactly who is who?"

Howie raised his hand. "I'm the one they keep calling D. It's from my last name, Dorough. Kevin has a bunch, but we really just call him Kev. AJ over there is Bone." He looked at Brian who sat next to him wearing a mask of depression. "Brian and Nick are... er were...er well I don't know what tense to use, but they were called Frick and Frack."

Brian was slightly responsive to hearing the double nicknames and Howie's embarrassing bumbling, and Tyler smiled to himself about realizing what the inscription meant on Nick's ring. "That makes everything easier." He said. "So how is Brian doing?" All eyes turned to Brian who glanced up sadly at Tyler, mildly amused by the use of condescending projected third person.

"I'm... doing." He sighed more than said. "How are you doing?"

Tyler finished eating the last shrimp before AJ could get another one. "I'm as good as could be expected, I guess. Personally I'm okay, but I still feel bad for all of you."

"Tyler," Kevin began, "what are you going to do about your family?"

Tyler half choked on a mouthful of mixed vegetables. "My family. I don't have much of a family. I have my mother and my father, and a bunch of relatives I haven't seen since a child. My parents and me hate each other. I couldn't really care less. They don't have to know anything about this, it's worlds easier letting them think what they want." He couldn't help but noticing the shock registered on everyone's, even Brian's face. "Okay let me explain. My parents are really religious. When I was young, everything was fine and great. But as I got older, I started to form my own opinions about life. The older I got the more I was convinced that everything they believed in wasn't for me. When I started college, I finally told them I believed in evolution and was an atheist and all that. They freaked out. It was all so crazy. They didn't accept me for it and ugh it was just a big huge mess. Trust me, we hate each other."

"That's... awful." Brian whispered.

"I have had a lot of time to come to that conclusion. It's something I'm used to though, don't feel so bad. But to answer your question Kevin, I'm not going to do anything about my parents. They don't have to know anything about this. It's better for everyone that way. I don't feel bad about it, so you shouldn't either. It's just another one of those things you can't do anything about, so stop making those faces."

They noticed that they all wore a similar frown composed of sympathy, anger, and helplessness. "It's pretty sad, Tyler." AJ stated.

"Of course it is, but what can you do? Some things just can't be resolved. This isn't even my fault. THEY are the ones that have a problem with ME. I've tried to explain to them this is who I am but that's like trying to blow out a light bulb." Spite their mood Tyler's joke earned him a few smiles from the guys, except Brian. "Seriously though, it's okay. Please don't worry about me."

AJ made an exaggerated face of concern, reached over to Tyler to put him into a loose headlock, and felt his forehead. "Guys I think he's sick, or in shock. We should get him a doctor."

Tyler suppressed some laughter and elbowed AJ away. "I'm not in shock, and I don't have a fever."

"Yeah, yeah. We remember all that crap you told us earlier." AJ retorted, still in a small slap-fight with Tyler.

"Good, because it's true. This is how I deal with things. Calm and rationally and blah, blah, blah. Howie uses silence. You use jokes. Kevin plays big brother and Brian shuts off."

The guys nodded at their traits and Brian glanced up tiredly. The shadow of Nick stared back at him with the sad gentle smile he always remembered. He then saw it turn into the evil snickering grin Nick could possess when he was cooking up his next prank. Brian was just barely aware enough outside his thoughts to feel one of the mixed vegetables, a piece of square carrot, bounce off the end of his nose and leave a warm splatter of butter on the target area. The honest shock and realization washed over his face so obviously that the other guys howled with laughter.

The warm smile returned on Tyler's face and he cocked his head to one side, catching the sad Backstreet Boy's gaze. "Cheer up, Bri." He softly pleaded.

Brian made a shifty-eyed glance at the other guys, a small gesture to grind some guilt into them for laughing and tried to wipe off the small butter mark with dignity. "Y'all are going to pay for that." He said evenly. He knew he succeeded in being convincing when the other guys' eyes widened from the threat. Turning his attention back to the blue eyes he used to know so well, Brian melted. How could that not be Nick? It certainly gave a new meaning to that ignorant phrase 'if it walks, talks and acts like a duck, it must be a duck'. Because appearances are always deceiving, and Nick was gone.

Tyler saw Brian's eyes zone out with his thoughts and sighed at him. Covering his dish, he put it on the floor next to the bed and awkwardly crawled across the length of the bed to sit between Howie and Brian. Brian snapped out of his daydream as he felt a large body approach to sit next to him. He looked up to see Tyler wearing the beaming Nick-smile as he put his left arm around Brian's shoulders, hugging him comfortingly.

Brian had no real facial expression except for a kind of repressed longing. After a few seconds he gave in to the affection and carefully leaned into Tyler. "Thank you." He said with a soft whisper. "I miss him so much."

"I know you do, that all of you do." Tyler replied with a reassuring squeeze. "But I'm here to help out. I won't replace Nick, I can't be Nick, but I'll do what I can to make things easier for everyone." Brian just sighed again and Kevin was giving Tyler a goofy admiring smile. "What?" Tyler asked, feeling on the spot now that AJ and Howie had joined in.

"Nothing. Just forget it Captain Oblivious."

Tyler scowled knowingly. "Uh huh. I know what you're thinking AGAIN, but it doesn't matter. Trust me, I am okay."

"I hope so."

"Kev, don't be so worried, he seems to be fine to me." Howie butted in while ruffling up the bed-head hairdo Tyler's new body sported. Tyler in return pretended to snap at Howie's hand, which earned a "bad dog" comment from AJ. Kevin just shook his head at them and Brian put more weight into Tyler's friendly embrace.

"So..." Tyler began, trying to change the subject.

"When should we leave for the airport." Brian asked.

"About an hour before the flight, like always. We only need to bring our own bags by the way, the band and crew are going back to Orlando and will take everything else." Howie answered.

"On our own huh?" AJ said, amused. "I don't know what you said to them D, but I can't believe were getting to do this without bodyguards or babysitters."

"Well come on. We are going to a funeral. This is serious, and I wasn't going to have it any other way. Management knows when to back off."

Kevin didn't want the mood to upset and quickly addressed Tyler. "Does Ash know we're coming?"

Tyler looked blank for a second, and then slightly blushed. "She knows *people* are coming."

"But not the Backstreet Boys." Kevin pushed, adding finger-quotes.

Tyler shook his head. "It wasn't a good idea to tell her... yet. See she's a fan, and I don't know what her reaction would be. I can't control her from here. So, I figured I would tell her when I see her. I just said that Nick's friends were coming with me. She was asking a lot of questions too." He laughed a little. "She's the only reason I know what any of you looked like. She's got this horrible poster in her room. I always felt like you were all staring at me."

"Paranoid much?" AJ laughed.

"Shut up." Tyler was embarrassed at his pathetic comeback.

"What poster was it?" Howie asked.

"You were all laying in a circle on the ground."

"But which one?" He persisted.

"What do you mean which one?" Tyler smiled widely. "You're telling me you took more than one picture like that?"

"Hey, those circle pictures are some of our best group work." Kevin tried to joke. The others looked at him like he was stupid, and he shrugged in apology for trying to joke about their topic. He needed something else to say. "Who was her favorite?"

Tyler tilted his head at the question, not sure, if he should actually say. "Do you really care?"

"No, but we always ask people we know that have friends who are fans of us. We tally up the scores." AJ informed, wiggling his eyebrows jokingly.

"If that's the case, then give another point to this one." Tyler said, giving Brian another squeeze and added a pat on the head. "He is her favorite."

Brian arched a brow and craned his neck to give Tyler a skeptical look. "A lot of good that'll do."

AJ looked shocked. "Awe he made a joke. What a good boy!" AJ reached over, taking the surprised Brian's head in his hands and laid a big wet kiss on his forehead.

Tyler laughed as Brian pushed him away sputtering and scowling. "AJ! EW!" He turned to Tyler and rubbed his head on the fabric of his shirt and AJ mocked offense. The guys kept laughing.



The drive to the airport was a blur. The guys had gotten ready soon after AJ's stunt. The lobby was lazily scattered with people who were waiting to leave or just arriving.

Families greeted one another with affection and the boys were herded into a fancy solitary room so the crowd would not notice them.

Drinks were poured, words were exchanged, but nothing permanently etched into their memories. The flight took off soon after 7pm and each of the boys took a seat in first class, silently staring forwards waiting for a fleeting moment of sleep.



AJ burst through the door of large hotel room they had paid for at the counter minutes before. He flung his luggage into one corner of the room and turned to see the others entering behind him, each stacking their respective luggage along the far wall. Howie yawned and fell back on one of the four beds. Brian and Kevin lumbered past and both silently agreed to share a bed, since they were related, letting the others sleep alone. Brian was visibly bothered by the whole situation, but never made a move to say something.

Tyler looked around at the tired and sleepy bodies that lay sprawled across the hotel room. Kevin was propped sitting up on the bed and Brian laid his head in his lap. Kevin was murmuring comforting things to him and was telling him to sleep. The time was just past 10:30, and Tyler grabbed the hotel phone, dialing Ash's number. Usually on Friday nights they would be together without cares, watching a movie or at the park, but no, not today, today was just-

"Hello?"

"Hi Ash, its Tyler."

"Hey! How are you?"

"Good I guess. I'm here in New York. I'm pretty close by, so I'll be at your place as soon as possible okay?"

"Yeah no problem, are you the only one coming?"

Tyler gave respective glances at the other guys. Brian was now sleeping semi-peacefully in Kevin's lap and the only one not on the brink of passing out was AJ. "Uh, I think I'm going to go alone. We can come back here after I explain some things to you, allright?"

"Sure, that's fine. I can't wait to see you."

Tyler emitted a snort-laugh and sighed. "Right. Now, I have to warn you now, don't freak out, ok? When you see me, that is. I'm going to make it perfectly clear that it's me before you answer the door. Don't scream when you open it."

"Uh... Tyler? Why would I freak out and scream? Are you a mutant or something?" Her voice had a humorous edge to it and Tyler smiled.

"No, just, take my word for it. I'm gonna head over there now ok? See you soon."

"Allright, I'll be here. Hurry."

"Bye Ash."

"Bye Tyler."

"Not gonna take me huh?" Tyler looked over at AJ who spoke. "It's cool, I'll just stay here and cuddle with Howie." He patted Howie's head roughly until the napping singer swatted at him and colorfully told AJ to stick it where the sun don't shine.

"I'm sorry AJ, I really would like to take you but..."

"Ty I'm only kidding! I'll tell the guys where you went. Get going would you?"

Tyler smiled. "I am!"



The cab ride was uneventful. Ash's place was pretty dark inside, but she was home. Tyler took deep breaths before knocking on the door. He waited a few moments, and knocked, followed by "Ash its Tyler. You awake?" Footsteps echoed inside and stopped at the door. A lock was removed, and Ash appeared in the doorway.

"Tyler! Ty-... Tyler? Nick? NICK? OH MY-"

Tyler lunged for her and clapped a hand around her mouth. "I TOLD YOU! Shh! This is the body I woke up in! That's why I told you not to scream, which by the way, you're not doing a very good job of!" He pulled her into the house and shut the door, letting her go.

"Holy shit! Tyler... So okay, the other guys, Nick's friends... they're the others, right? The Backstreet Boys?" Tyler nodded. "Wow."

"Ash... it's so much worse. You have no idea."

"I'm beginning to get one! Oh god, I can't believe you're Nick. Can I touch you?"

Tyler did a double take and began to burst out laughing as hard as his vocal cords could handle. "WHAT? Is that what you would have said to the real Nick? You freak."

"Stop making fun of me! How embarrassing. I just meant like, I'm never gonna get to be so comfortable with a sex symbol before! And since it's you..."

"ASH! Bad! Bad, Bad girl! NO! No pawing Nick's body. And you need to wipe your mouth, because you're drooling. This is why I wanted to come alone. I didn't know how you would react if you saw all five of us here."

"Oh shush. I'm teasing anyway. Well, kind of." She stuck her tongue out. "Brian is my favorite anyway."

"Yeah I know. Okay that reminds me. There's more I have to tell you about this story. You ready?" Ash nodded, leading them to sit on the living room couch. Tyler got dead serious. "Ok my body died. That means Nick is the one who is going to be buried tomorrow, not me. It also means, the Backstreet Boys just lost one of their best friends, their brothers. No one else knows about this except them and you and me. That is a huge problem there alone. We don't know what to tell their families, or if we should tell mine. They have some scheme planned that we can say Nick got amnesia and that's why when we visit his family he doesn't remember anything."

"Are you serious? Would you do that?"

"I don't have much of a choice. Fake amnesia, or tell them I body switched with their son, AND that he died in my body. I surely can't pretend I'm Nick." Ash nodded in sympathetic agreement. "Anyway, there's more. But I don't know how to say it."

"Try."

"I am. Ok, just so I'm positive, Brian Littrell IS your favorite right?" He waited for Ash to nod. "Ok. He is... Well with Nick, he... they're..." COUGH "Gay." COUGH. Ash shook her head for a second.

"Do what now?"

"Brian and Nick are gay." He spit out. Ash's eyes went wide. "And they're together." Wider. "In fact they planned on getting married." Now her mouth was fallen open. "I told you I didn't know how to say it. This ring is Nick's." Tyler held out his hand showing Ash the gold band. She awed and looked at Tyler with a sadness that five minutes ago never would have shone.

"Poor Brian. I can't even find the words."

"Exactly. It's the worst mess, and I don't know what to do. Tomorrow it's just gonna be us... I don't know, hanging out, waiting..."

"That's going to be tense."

"I know. For once, I am at a total loss. I am going to bury myself. I have to sit there, and watch my family bury me! I can't wait to see what my parents say. It would be worth going just for that."

"Just don't start any trouble." Ash warned.

"You know I wont. Besides, I have to go in disguise. All of us are going, we can't let anyone find out. My parents don't know any of my recent friends at all, I'm sure they wont say anything."

"So now what?"

"So now what, what?" Tyler smiled. "I don't know. I told the guys I would take you back to the hotel with me, but it all depends on if you can behave, especially at such a time like this. Everyone was sleeping when I left anyway."

Ash got into a begging stance. "Tyler please, please take me with you! I'll be so good you won't even know I'm there, I swear!"

Tyler smiled and gave in. "Fine. But no squealing, and no touching, and no putting your foot in your mouth or telling embarrassing stories about me! I mean it!"

"DONE!"



"AJ can you get the door please?" Kevin mumbled with his head tilted back, still cradling Brain on his lap.

"Sure thing Kev." AJ got up from where he lay and roughly climbed over Howie's bed on purpose, earning him some well-deserved smacks, and opened the door. There stood the person formerly known as Nick, with a somewhat shy girl clinging to his arm with all her strength. "Hey Tyler, is this Ash?" Tyler yelped when the girl's nails dug into his arm deeper.

"He knows my name?" She mewed.

"ASH!" Tyler whispered fiercely. "You promised! That's it." He wrenched her arm off his and put her into a friendly headlock, messing up her ponytail with a noogie.

"Ok, ok I promise again, no more acting star struck!" Tyler let her go. "Meanie."

AJ snickered at them. "How cute. Come on in guys, you can help me torture D."

"No they won't." Howie fired back, his face buried in a pillow, making his voice muffled. The others laughed and all entered the room. Kevin opened his eyes and gave a curt nod and a hello to Ash. Howie sat up and shook her hand. Brian remained asleep and Ash gave him a thoughtful glance.

"Tyler told me what happened, obviously. Is Brian going to be okay?" She bravely knelt next to the bed on the floor, and cast a questioning gaze at Kevin.

"God I hope so. Having Nick's body around is a double-edged sword. It helps and hurts. It is an illusion for us all, that Nick is here, he's not truly gone, but it also poses a reminder for Brian that he will only be able to look and not touch his former fiancÚ. We were all together for eight years. Brian shared much more with Nick than any of us though, on any level. But Tyler's been a really great help, for all of us."

"He usually is." Ash smiled at Kevin, who smiled back. Tyler came over to them and took a spot next to Ash.

"Has he been asleep the whole time I was gone?" He asked, reaching out to carefully touch Brian's hair.

"Yeah. God help me I started to think he stopped breathing or something." AJ answered for Kevin.

"Nah." Tyler whispered. "I don't think Brian wouldn't give up so easily."

Kevin gave Tyler a contented look. "Yeah." He looked down at his little cousin. "You know Tyler, out of the countless people on this earth, I'm glad it was you who was chosen to switch places with Nick." He put a hand on Tyler's shoulder with a reinforcing squeeze. Tyler patted the hand till it was withdrew a few moments later, and lifted himself off the floor to sit on the edge of Howie and AJ's bed.

"You know guys," Ash began. "I'm not sure if I should be here. It's kind of late and I can imagine how stressful and tiring it's been. You should all go to sleep. Besides, I have to admit I'm tired myself."

"But you just got here Ash!" AJ protested.

She smiled. "Yeah I know. I knew I should have stayed home, but I couldn't resist."

"Why don't you just stay the whole night with us?" Kevin asked.

Ash visibly blushed and tried to tame the quirky smile toying with her mouth. "Uh..." She looked around. Four beds, six of them. How was this supposed to work anyway? "I think it would be better, and more comfortable, for me to just go home. Afterall, me and Tyler aren't together, anymore, and-"

"And if one of you suggest her sleeping with you, watch out, cuz her head might implode." Tyler joked.

"TYLER!" Ash protested. He giggled evilly at her. "Anyway, I think I'm gonna head home. I'll see you guys later though."

"Be careful Ash." Howie told her. "It was nice meeting you."

"Yeah. We'll see you Sunday definitely." Kevin added. "Tyler are you going to take her home?"

"No I can go myself. I drove my car here."

"We'll I'll walk you to the parking lot." AJ suggested. "I need some fresh air."

"All right, thanks. I'll see you all again soon." She headed towards the door with AJ in tow. The guys said goodbye and she returned the farewell, and moments later they were gone.

Howie got up and did his respective bathroom routine, followed by Tyler. AJ returned after Tyler exited the bathroom with a T-shirt and boxers on.

"Did Ash faint on the way to the car?" Tyler kidded.

"No, she made it fine smartass. She's pretty nice. I wanted to make sure she got to the car okay and all that. And no Kevin, before you ask, I did not put the moves on her." Kevin smirked at his friend and closed his mouth. AJ made his way to the bathroom, making his visit quick so that Kevin could get in and out and into bed, following the already sleeping Howie's example. Tyler helped Kevin gently ease out from under Brian, and put one of the fluffy pillows under his head to take the place of Kevin's body. He sat and watched the blonde sleep deeply, giving the prone form a small smile. You're gonna be fine Bri, he thought.

"You can have the last bed Tyler. I'll share this one with Brian okay?" Tyler took off the glasses perched on his nose and looked up at Kevin who was now dressed down for sleep. "I don't mind, afterall he is my cousin."

Tyler nodded and got up and into the last empty bed. "Goodnight Kevin."

"Goodnight Tyler. Thanks."



Tyler stared up at the ceiling for what had to be the second hour of restlessness. He hated the impersonal echo of hotel rooms. They were always so hard to fall asleep in. The room's four other occupants were dozing just fine, each humming a soft snore of one kind or another. He had gotten used to the sounds so much; he noticed when one of them ceased. A sigh cut the air, and Tyler knew immediately it was Brian. Tyler turned his head to face his new friend, to find him looking right back.

"I can't sleep." Tyler answered the non-existent question. "I don't know how you guys can sleep in hotels so much." Brian didn't answer. He just sighed again and pressed his face deeper into his pillow. "I know you miss him Bri."

"It's the worst feeling." Brian whispered.

"Ash was here tonight. Even though you're her favorite, she didn't even think to wake you. I know she wished she could though." Tyler smiled into the darkness.

"I'm sorry I missed her. How long did it take before AJ hit on her?"

Tyler laughed. "He didn't actually. The boy held some restraint."

Brian emitted a weak but genuine laugh. "Shocker."

"Hey Bri, did you want to share this bed instead? Kevin chose to sleep in the bed with you because you guys were cousins so I didn't say anything."

"Really?" He lifted his head from the pillow to meet Tyler's eyes. "You would do that?"

"Yeah, come on."

Brian carefully rose from the bed, tiptoeing to the empty side of Tyler's bed and pulled himself under the layers of blankets and sheets. It was odd sleeping in all his clothes, for he hadn't had a chance to change into something comfortable, but that feeling was nowhere near as uncomfortable compared to sleeping with Kevin. "Thanks Tyler."

"Anytime. Really."

"Don't shake it off so easily. I mean it, about everything since this happened. You have been an amazing help, especially to me. I can't thank you enough. None of us can."

Tyler looked over at Brian and smiled. "So I've been told. I'm more than happy to help out though. I feel like I know all of you so well and it's only been a short time, I guess it's because you guys are so nice."

"Thanks Tyler."

"You know, I read the inscription on the ring you gave Nick. I was wondering... What does it mean?"

"Frick and Frack forever. That was everyone's phrase for us. I wish it was still true."

Tyler smiled at having his suspicions confirmed. "Whatever you do, don't wish for anything. I can tell you from experience, the results can be devastating."

"Yeah thanks for reminding me."

"I do wish I could fall asleep though." Tyler sighed.

Brian looked over. "Do you want me to sing or something?"

Tyler laughed. "No, no. Nothing like that. Here, I got a better idea."

"Which is?"

Tyler rolled onto his side to face Brian, and with both lean strong arms, pulled the smaller man across the space on the bed. Getting comfortable, Tyler adjusted the blankets, tucked himself in, and wrapped an arm around Brian's waist, fitting his head against Bri's chest.

Brian looked down at the top of Tyler's head, and with both arms, held the warm body against him. "Thank you." He whispered.

"No." Tyler said. "This time, thank you. We both need this tonight."

Brian nodded into his pillow and shut his eyes. "Goodnight Tyler."

"Night Brian."



Saturday morning sun fought to be seen behind the thick hotel curtains, desperate to wake up the five sleeping souls. It's playful rays danced about the shadows, until it found the twitching eyelids of...

AJ blinked, and rubbed his eyes forcefully. The urge to pee was overwhelming and he hauled himself over to the bathroom. After reliving himself, brushing his teeth, taking a quick scalding-hot shower and wrapping a towel around himself, he headed into the chilly air of the open room to grab some clothes for the day. His suitcases were packed tightly with the strangest clothes one could think up, and he picked out a semi-normal all-black outfit, unaware of the pun, and took a glance at his band mates. Moving towards the bathroom, he stopped suddenly, and looked again. Tyler was gone. He did a headcount. Howie, Kevin, Brian... Wait, didn't Brian sleep with Kevin?

AJ blanched at his confusion and snuck over to where Brian lay sleeping. The lump under the covers was too big to be just Bri, he didn't exactly carry so much mass. When AJ got closer, he was rewarded with an answer. There, covered over with blankets and barely noticeable under the chin of his friend, was the unmistakable messy hair of Nick- er Tyler. A thin black AJ-eyebrow went up at the sight. What was this? Whatever was going on though, Brian looked almost happy. AJ smiled. He crept to the bathroom to quickly dress and run some gel in his hair, and quietly came out. He snuck to Howie's bedside and poked him till he stirred.

"D, get up D, you gotta see this."

"AJ!" He whined. "I'm sleeping! Leave a message!" He rolled away from his friend and buried his head under his pillow.

"No I can't you have to see this! Please?" Howie snorted and climbed out from under the warm solace of the bed. He crossed his arms and cocked his head.

"What am I looking at, aside from my jackass best friend?" AJ pointed at the bed next to him. While Howie smiled, AJ unmercilessly knocked on Kevin's skull until a strong fist grabbed his comparatively tiny hand and squeezed.

"AJ I'm gonna beat you till you- Where's Brian?" AJ pointed again. Kevin looked over and up at his cousin and Tyler snuggled in the bed. "Awe. Do you think he snuck over there?"

"I don't know, but Ty is hugging back so I doubt it. He probably felt sorry for him."

"Maybe. But lets be quiet, don't wake them up too you dick."

AJ was taken aback. "Kev! I would never. I only woke you deadbeats up so you could see for yourself. Our little Brian is smiling!"

"Uh huh. Dick. I'm using the bathroom. I'll try to hurry, ok D?"

"No Prob., Kevy Kev."



Brian inhaled his first conscious breath, enjoying the smell of Nick's shampoo. He snuggled his nose into the blonde strands of hair and pulled the body closer to him. I miss you Nick, Brian silently said. He felt that Tyler wasn't awake yet, and prayed that he would sleep for a bit longer, just for a few more minutes. He heard movement in the background and realized the other guys were awake and watching TV with the volume down low. They knew. He wondered what Kevin was going to say. Knowing them, they probably thought it was cute.

The heartbeat that was throbbing against Brian was slow and steady, but full of life. Nick had always been so full of life. As a kid, when the band first got together, he was non-stop movement. Always moving, playing, making noise, and just about being surgically attached to Brian's side. Brian had developed a soft spot for Nick immediately. He would sometimes get on the other guy's nerves, especially Kevin because he was so much older than 13, and had already taken on an adult outlook on life. Brian always stood up for Nick when he was snapped at by the guys or told to leave the room because his banter at the Nintendo game he was losing was too loud. But, they never did stay mad at Nick for too long. The boy never took offense at his scolding and would often give them a thumper-like sheepish apology, with a pearly white wide smile. It could melt polar ice caps.

It was different, however, when he started to play pranks on people. It was all Brian could do to keep someone from throwing Nick out of a hotel window. God, those were the good times. Then came the day when Nick started to look at Brian differently. There was more depth to his gaze than usual. He didn't just see "friend" in the gleam anymore it... changed. When Nick was around 17 years old, he developed little quirks in his behavior around Brian, and no one knew exactly what to make of it, until Brian had found one of Nick's drawing books. He saw it was page after page of pencil drawings of him self, some of them with girly hearts around the border, and even some of Brian kissing Nick, with the label "Frick and Frack Forever" scribbled somewhere near the bottom. Brian remembered his breath was knocked from him by a mysterious wind. He has just been made knowledgeable to a series of secrets and epiphany's. Nick was in love with Brian, which was why he was acting so strange. He had never had the slightest inkling that Nick might have been gay, and wondered if Nick knew that Brian shared the same sexuality- which he had kept as a secret from everyone. Up until that moment, he had never even thought about Nick in a romantic way, because he felt from day one it was so implausible that it would only lead to disaster and a broken heart.

This changed everything. There was a problem though, a big one. If he was to act upon his feelings for Nick, he would- they would, both have to come out to the guys. Plus, Brian wasn't sure if he would like hearing that his notebook was looked at without permission. For a few days the others noticed Brian seemed to be struggling with something, but didn't want to interfere. Brian was sure the guys wouldn't think differently about him if they knew, afterall, they had gotten lots of fan mail from gay teens before and none of them reacted badly. Hell, they used to even write them back along with their hetero fans before they got overwhelmed with fame.

One day out of the blue he came to a finalization. He was going to tell them all, just like that. If Nick wanted to, he could choose to do the same, and if so, Brian would tell him later about the drawings, and that he did feel the same way. The day of the meeting Brian hid his shaking hands behind is back and blurted it out to his stunned friends and cousin. Kevin was a little shocked, but AJ said he figured as much, and Howie thought it was cute. Nick seemed like he was trying to get words out, but his mouth wasn't working. Kevin addressed the blonde to ask what he thought, and if he was going to help support his best friend, when Nick whispered that he was also gay... and hopelessly in love with Brian. Kevin dropped his fork when he jumped at AJ's outburst of "I KNEW IT!" echoing in the room.

Later when the noise died down, Brian confessed about seeing Nick's Frick and Frack artwork, and how he not only was impressed with his drawing ability, but he felt the same way about him. Everything from that point on went happily ever after... well, Brian thought bitterly, not the ever after part anyway.

He felt Tyler stirring against him, and he looked down. Don't wake up yet, please, not yet! He silently begged. Brian held is breath as he felt Tyler slip back into sleep, soft breath falling on his skin through his shirt. Brian gently pressed his lips against the top of the beautiful blonde head and sighed. Suddenly the head stirred, and looked up.

"Mornin' Bri." Tyler managed to say through his dry morning voice.

DAMMIT! "Good morning Tyler."

"Hey it's about time you guys woke up." AJ said climbing onto the bed. He pulled Tyler under one arm and Brian under the other, smiling at the double headlock. "So what went on last night?" Howie and Kevin muted the TV and watched the horseplay.

"AJ!" Brian whined, wanting to be released. "We couldn't sleep, so Tyler said I could sleep in his bed." AJ let him go and sat back, facing the two of them.

"Awe Ty, taking care of my B-Rok."

"B-Rok?" Tyler asked.

"Yeah," Kevin spoke up. "It's a basketball nickname. Brian is a damn good player."

"I can't play for shit." Tyler admitted. "But I am pretty hungry. I see you guys got breakfast already? How late did we sleep in?"

"Yeah no one wanted to wake you guys up, so we ordered ahead. And I believe the time is," Howie checked his watch. "A little past noon."

"Ouch. Well can you guys order me up something while I take a shower?" Tyler begged cutely.

"No problem bro." AJ said, reaching for the phone. "Any specifics?"

"Nah, just get whatever sounds good, I'm starving! Nick appetite, remember?" They smiled. Tyler got up and got a change of clothes out of Nick's suitcase and as he turned the doorknob to the bathroom, he looked over his shoulder. "Thanks guys."

When he was gone, all eyes were on Brian. "So?" Kevin asked.

"So, what?"

"You both slept in till noon, cuddling, that's what."

"He told you. We couldn't sleep and he asked if I wanted to share his bed, and then he cuddled up to me and said he needed it. That we both did." Brian was still looking towards the bathroom, listening to the water running. "He feels sorry for me."

"I don't think he feels sorry for you exactly, I think he's just really nice, and sympathetic." Howie suggested.

Brian focused on AJ who was on the phone ordering more food. "AJ, order me up something too, please." AJ nodded. "Well whatever he feels, I'm glad he's around."



Saturday passed quickly for the singers, especially with Ash called back over to keep them company and distract them. She loved hearing about Tyler's bed sharing, and even though she promised, she had great fun telling stories about Tyler that were horribly embarrassing. For an early evening lunch they sent out for little under a metric ton of Chinese food and ate to their hearts content while watching Ash's taped collection of Sex and the City. Later in the evening, things began to get more grounded and reality started to sink in about Sunday afternoon.

Howie, Kevin and AJ went to sleep early, leaving Ash, Brian and Tyler to talk quietly about what they might expect. Tyler warned them his parents might be a bit overzealous about hoping their son flies safely to heaven, and might unconsciously make him look bad on his day of burial on how he chose to be an atheist. Ash had formed a friendship with Brian quickly that day, joking that now they both slept with Tyler. She now sat at the foot of Tyler's bed with Brian between her legs leaning back against her, with her arms around his neck and folded on his chest. The sadder he seemed about the following day, the tighter her hold became.

Again, when the time grew late, Ash took her leave. She hugged her old boyfriend and the heartbroken Brian, and told them she would meet them tomorrow at the funeral home. They walked her to her car and waved till she was gone.

Inside, they took turns dressing down for bed and Brian timidly asked what the sleeping arrangements were going to be that night. Tyler smiled and patted the empty spot on his bed for invitation. Brian was all too happy to oblige, and instead of torturing himself for an hour debating in his mind whether he should be so bold as to suggest being held, the arms of Nick Carter wound their way around his torso again.



Tyler's forehead pressed against the glass of Ash's passenger seat window. He felt unimaginably stupid with AJ on his lap, but there was no way six people were going to fit in Ash's car. AJ was the skinniest out of Brian, Howie and Kevin, so he was voted up front.

The whole morning was spent in solemn calmness, and consolation. They talked about Nick's memory and all the good times they had while in a circle embrace crowded on one bed. Mostly they were trying to brace Brian for the experience, building his confidence to make it through the goodbye. Ash showed up to take them all to the funeral, and everyone took a deep breath and tried to be strong.

The funeral home was very nice, and there weren't too many cars parked in the lot. Tyler knew there wouldn't be because he didn't have much family in New York.

Ash parked the car and the boys filed out, stretching their legs from being packed inside so tightly. Tyler pushed on Nick's glasses and stared at the door to the place, dreading what he might see. He turned and looked at the guys, who were all hugging Brian, and slowly leading him towards the entrance. Ash came to Tyler's side, and offered to go inside with him, and explain to anyone who might ask about who they all were. He took a brave step forward, and forced himself to go inside.

Flowers covered the room that was assigned to his party. His parents sat in the front row of the chairs set out for everyone, and next to them was two of his aunts, one of his uncles, a grandfather he hadn't seen in years, and some of his parents annoying close friends. Not so bad, Tyler thought to himself. His eyes then looked past the relatives, and saw the casket. Tyler felt himself pale, and his legs got shaky. Just when he thought he would pass out from anxiety, he was held up from behind until he got his bearings.

"I got you, don't worry Tyler." A soft voice said.

Tyler swallowed and looked towards the casket again. He put an arm around the one holding him, and turned to face Brian's sapphire eyes. "Thank you." He whispered. He hugged Brian in a constricting grip for a moment, before slowly letting him go and walking up the small rows of chairs to seat himself quietly. Ash gave a comforting look towards the other guys, and followed him, taking her seat as well. They in turn followed her.

The funeral director walked up and whispered some brief words to Tyler's parents, before taking his place at the front of the room. He began to talk but Tyler wasn't listening. He couldn't help but try to calm his racing mind. Here he was, at his own funeral! It was almost like an out of body experience, or like he wasn't even there, just a ghost or a non-entity watching from behind the scenes. He couldn't help but insist to himself that it was he who should be in the coffin, his soul, not Nick. It was wrong. He cursed that wish he made that night in his moment of despair. He cursed Hunter and his psychopathic mind set. He cursed Ash for dating him before he met her. Anything that he could find to "what if" was attacked. He stared at the man leading the ceremony, and looked over at his parents. They looked genuinely sad and heartbroken. Well, why not? Tyler told himself. He was afterall, their son. Well, the body of their son anyway. Tyler clenched a fist. He was regretting ever coming here. He wanted to just get up, leave, and die in a hole.

He looked at the faces of the guys that had loved Nick like a brother. They were all intently listening to the bullshit droning of the director. Tyler considered it bullshit anyway. He hated funerals as a whole. They were always so dishonest. People giving speeches about the one whom passed, only mentioning their good traits. As far as Tyler was concerned, that meant everyone who died was a "loving person, who cared about children and puppy dogs, who loved their mother and graduated college". Right, he hissed in his head. He felt restless and antsy, and when the talking stopped and he saw his parents heading towards the head of the room, a giant black hole flared in his stomach.

"Our son was a beautiful person." His mother began. "He cared about the people around him, and was a joy to our lives when he was born, and to the people around him. We watched him grow up into an intelligent young man." Tyler's teeth gritted. "Unfortunately he never found God the way we did. He shunned our beliefs and then shunned us, but we never stopped loving him dearly. We will never get over this tragic thing that has happened, but all we can do is hope that now he has accepted his calling with Jesus and the Lord, and he is at peace in Heaven." Tyler tried to keep his scowl from showing too much, and winced as his mother turned around and placed a kiss on the forehead of the body that he once knew, that now laid still in the satin of the box. "Thank you. And many blessings to his friends that decided to join us today." Tyler felt his breath catch and he looked into his mother's eyes. He was about to panic, but she threw his small group a smile, and turned to her husband who nodded and followed her back to the seats they were in.

The director suggested everyone make his or her final good-byes known. Tyler's parents went back up to the casket and quietly bid their son farewell. Next in the small line, was his other relatives. Ash waited until they had finished and moved into the back of the room before she went up, and gazed at the old face of her ex-boyfriend and wished Nick all the luck he could want, where ever he was now. She brushed her fingers down his face slowly, and stepped away, beckoning for Tyler to come up to her.

Tyler looked panic-stricken again, and glanced at the Backstreet Boys he came to know as friends. Kevin nodded forwards, and AJ mouthed "Go." Tyler got up slowly and walked over to the casket as Ash backed away to let him have his privacy.

Tyler opened his mouth to say something, but couldn't find the words. Instead, he carefully reached up and ran a finger over one of the bruises Hunter had left. Bastard. He could not get over the fact he was looking at himself. It was so strange. The sleeplike face looked so lost, like the body he once called his own knew that something wasn't right. Tyler leaned down to whisper to his old self. "I don't know what to say Nick, except that I should be where you are. You have some great friends, and it's horrible that they lost you, especially Brian. He loved you more than anything or anyone. I don't know what I am going to do now. I don't know what they're going to do. Nothing is right. You shouldn't have wished to be someone else, but I think you know that by now. You had great friends, a fiancÚ, and a successful life. You let one thing hold you back from being happy. It wasn't worth a wish. I refuse to believe that things happen for a reason, and there is no excuse for what happened to us. There is no justice in saying you had to die in my place. That was my fate, I'm sorry for ever being born. I'm just plain sorry. I'll be waiting to meet you, one day. Farewell." Tyler pulled himself back a few inches to take one last look at his face. He was going to miss his old life. He stepped back, joined Ash's side, and faced the guys.

"I'm gonna go next." Howie said. He got up to move, but a hand on his forearm stopped him. "Kev?"

"Let's all go together, please?" The oldest Backstreet Boy begged softly.

Howie nodded, smiling softly. "Sure thing." He held out his hand to Brian, beckoning him to rise. Brian took it with a strong hold, and he in turn led AJ. Together, they stood at next to the person they came to see.

"So," AJ whispered. "This is Tyler." He looked down at the face and body that had trapped Nick when it could no longer sustain life. "Finally we meet."

All the guys exchanged looks regarding the person they stood over, ranging from surprise, sorrow, shock and understanding. Each of them had wondered what Tyler's true face and body looked like, but none of them wanted to vocalize the idea. They figured they would just see for themselves when they arrived at the wake. Now it was the moment of truth.

Tyler had the face of an innocent, which was childish and peaceful. His skin was smooth, clear and had a light complexion. He had a playful mouth, the kind that could hold a smile with ease, but at the same time, it was sensual, full and very pink. His nose was proportioned to his face perfectly, and could only be described as "cute." He had slate-black hair that was straight and almost chin length, and it was deceptively thick and very soft, with thin little eyebrows to match. His eyes however, were hidden behind unmoving lids, never to be seen again; that was a sad thought. Tyler's body, though covered in a black suit, was still somewhat visible. He had a lean build, but overall he was average if not small for a guy. He seemed to only be about 5'8" in height but had nice broad shoulders for his frame. The last thing the four signers noticed was how Tyler had tiny wrists with almost manicured hands, which were folded, on his stomach.

"He's very..." Howie began.

"Yeah. He was..." AJ added.

"Beautiful." All four of them finished at once. They smiled up at one another.

"Time to say goodbye guys." Kevin said. They nodded.

AJ sighed. "Gosh Nick, when you were around, I never ever thought I would have to see the day where I would be at your funeral. You were always such a crazy little bugger when we first met you. You, me and Howie trying out at talent shows. You were good then, and you were even better now. You were the baby of the group, keeping us grounded with your childhood innocence, and making us laugh when we were sick or depressed. We loved you so much little bro. We will always love you. Thanks for being my friend." AJ took his favorite shades out of his pocket and laid them in the coffin lining. "Look good in the afterlife, Nicky. Goodbye." AJ rubbed his nose with the back of his hand, and blinked several tears out of his eyes, clearing his vision. He looked at his band mates. "Go on, guys."

Howie stepped up, and took a deep breath, trying to calm the tremor in his voice. "Like AJ said, I never thought I would have to bury you. It seems like just yesterday you were that thirteen-year-old kid, whining about not knowing how to do his math homework. I don't even know what to say to you. You were taken from us so soon, so fast, so suddenly. But I guess it's usually like that huh? I'll never forget you, Nicky, but then you knew that. You're not very forgettable. I want to thank you for always being there for me, helping me, and keeping me in touch with my inner child. You always knew how to make me laugh, especially when you drew those goofy caricatures of us. Watch over us, blondie, and don't give Jesus any wedgies, he might not take it as well as we did." He smiled and winked, taking out a gold locket. "Say hello to Caroline for me. I love you both." He opened the locket of his sister, and put it in the pocket of the suit Tyler's body was fitted with. Howie stood back, making room for Kevin, and put his arm around the silently weeping AJ.

"The little brother I never had. How do I say goodbye to you?" Kevin choked up immediately, making it hard to speak clearly. "I know at times I seemed to get impatient with you, especially when you were really young and with that youth came the natural loudness and immaturity you had a flare for, but I just didn't understand. I had forgotten what it was like to not have any worries, free to be myself. You were always a reminder. Sometimes I felt like a father to you, instead of a big brother, and I... always thought of you as my son." Brian hugged his cousin tightly, trying to be strong for at least now. "And Nick, a parent should never have to bury their children. I'll miss everything about you. I'll even miss, the way you used to pull pranks on us. I know I used to get mad to find my underwear in the freezer when we had a show to do, or when you gave me fart spray for deodorant, but deep down I thought it was funny, I just couldn't admit it. I loved watching you grow up, and I loved it even more to think that I had something to do with how you turned out. And if I could, I would give you my life so you could grow up." Kevin gently let go of Brian for a moment to unlatch a watch that clung to his wrist. "Take care of my father, please, and tell him I miss him so much." Kevin fastened the watch to Tyler's wrist, his friends noting that he was burying one of the most sentimental keepsakes his father had left him. "I love you so much Nicky, may you rest in peace." Kevin stroked the face in the coffin before him, playing a kiss on each eyelid and whispering goodbye.

Brian was now left alone, several feet from his brothers, staring at the angelic face of the lifeless Tyler. It was now his turn to finalize his goodbye with his best friend, his lover, his fiancÚ, and his soulmate. He cleared his throat a little, and began to speak. "I love you, Nick. I wanted to make sure that after being parted for these few days, that those three words would be the first you would hear when it was my turn. My love for you was one of the strongest things I had ever believed in. Part of me wants to die at the thought that I have to live out the rest of my life never seeing you again. You and me had a connection that started five minutes after I laid eyes upon you. You were so little and cute when I first met you, and it was amazing to watch you grow up to be so tall and strong. I cherished every word you said, and every laugh. I knew a side of you no one else did. No one could talk with me like you. You had such a deep serious side that you never let anyone see, and that made me feel even more special to have such a trust and closeness with you. I have a countless list of the moments I'll never forget about you. The time you snuck in my bed after watching a scary movie, watching your eyes light up all those birthday parties we threw you, the time you went trick or treating without permission and the hotel guards wouldn't let you back inside..." Brian laughed softly at the memory. "Not to mention our first kiss, the first time you said you loved me, and the night you accepted my proposal." Warm tears slid down Brian's face, cooling quickly on the surface of his skin. "You were perfect, Nicky. I would give anything, I would do anything, say anything, wish anything... just... ANYTHING to have you back. If I had only known how unhappy you were with keeping your true self from the spotlight, I'd have done anything to ease that pain. I don't blame you for what you wished though. I could never blame you for anything. All I know how to do is love you. Till the day we meet again Frack... I'll always be waiting. God bless you, I love you, Goodbye." Brian leant into the casket, kissing the forehead, the eyelids and finally the cold lips of the beautiful face before him, pressing a picture of Nick and himself into the palm of one of the hands.

Tyler and Ash moved to the group of friends and exchanged hugs. They turned to move towards the back of the room to be led outside, when Tyler's mother stepped into their path.

"You young men were friends of my Tyler?"

They all were silent as Tyler, as Nick, spoke up. "Uh, yeah. We were his best friends actually. I'm... Nick. This is Kevin, Howie, Brian and AJ. This uh, young lady is Ash. She was his girlfriend."

His mom smiled at them all, noticing they were all crying. "I am positive, that he would be so happy to know you all were here. Did he ever speak of his parents?"

Tyler stiffened. He wanted to yell out who he really was, and that he was so pissed off for his parents for starting all that religion bullshit between them, ruining his relationship with them. He wanted to strangle his mother for not being accepting and tolerant of her son' choices, and how he chose to see things, but then he stopped. It wasn't her fault, he decided. She was brainwashed in believing what her parents believed, and part of her was so dense to the fact, that she was almost in her own world. Her loyalty to God was too strong and her love for Him didn't allow her to see the wrong she did in insisting Tyler would change. Let it go, he told himself. "Yeah. A few times, he did... mention his parents. He said once that he wanted to reunite with you, but things kept coming up, he assumed he had the rest of his life and what couldn't be done today could be done tomorrow."

His mother nodded with a tight-lipped smile, and thanked them.

Outside they walked up the path and waited for the coffin to be lowered into the grave. Everyone threw in a flower, followed by a small blessing, and watched the box disappear from sight.

Tyler and the others made their way back to Ash's car, where he bent over the trunk, leaning on his elbows, crying. They consoled him until he calmed down, where Kevin looked right into his eyes.

"It was good of you to say what you to your mom Tyler. Brave, too. And it's okay, because we're here now, and we're going to help you in every way we can, okay? Right guys?"

"Yeah." They replied softly.

Tyler smiled, wiping away tears. "Thank you guys, that... means a lot. Thank you."

Brian moved next to Tyler and pulled him into a hug. "Anytime."

TBC.





Okay I have read A LOT of the Nifty Boy Bands section, but not everything! These are my favorite stories SO FAR, listed in alphabetical order.

Any Path ...By Dara Lynn
Bad Boy B-Rok ...By Leprechaun
Because I Love You ...By Lucas
Beneath it All ...By Scotty T
Be With Me Brian ...By Daniel
Blind Faith ...By Sam Dauson
Brian and Me ...By DLS
Bring Your Own BSB ...By Cory J
BSB and Nsync ...By WWJustNDo
Fixing the Backstreet Boys ...By KB
Heaven in Your Eyes ...By ZeroDQ
Home ...By JM (JM-Stories)
I Just Wanna Be Wit U ...By Xenaspace
Jamies Romance ...By Bangoremail
Justins Dark Angel ...By Eexodus9 - due to people copying his work, he stopped updating on Nifty and continued on his own page- The Dark Realm.
Kevin and Chris ...By CL
Kevin and Justin ...By Peter Kamphuis
Kevin Behind the Scenes ...By Kevsstory
Lance in Shining Armour ...By Scotty T
Life's Discoveries ...By KB
Lucky Me ...By Lauren
Millennium Love ...By Kenitra
Mirrors ...By Scotty T
Model Romance ...By Zack
Nick and Brian ...By JCV
Nick and Justin ...By Brwy Milo
Nsync Lance and JC ...By DC Kevin
Question of Faith ...By Nate
Set You Free ...By Kenitra
Some Kind of Bliss ...By Braan
Studio in the Country ...By Mike Ellis
Ten Guys, One Night ...By Kenitra
Waiting For Nick ...By Terabithia