The press find out about Brian and Kevin's new relationships. How will everyone deal with it?
The rest of the break passed quickly for the group. The new couples spent time alone, getting to know one another on several dates. The group still enjoyed playing games and having fun together too. All too soon it was time for the next concert. Michelle’s injured ankle only caused a small problem. She could walk on her ankle finally, refusing to use the crutches, but she moved slowly. With the help of Julie, she managed to still get everything she needed done.
“Shouldn’t you use the crutches?” Julie asked her during the first concert after the break.
“No. I didn’t even elevate my ankle or use ice for very long. I’m an athlete, and I hate not being able to move, so I’m forcing myself to heal quicker. After a few days I’ll be fine; I just won’t be able to play sports for a few weeks yet.”
Michelle’s ankle did heal quickly, and she started walking normally again after a few days. After the concert in Michigan, they had a few days in which they traveled by bus to Florida for their next concert. Kevin switched places with Nick the entire time, causing Nick to tell him he could just switch permanently. Kevin could tell Nick was upset, and had a talk with the young man to smooth things over.
“Why are you bothered by my switching buses?”
“You only spend time with Julie now, or maybe with Brian and Michelle too, but you rarely spend any time with the rest of the group.”
“I do spend time with the rest of the group, but right now I’m still getting to know Julie. Brian and Michelle are already on that bus, so yes, I spend time with them too. I still plan on spending time with the rest of the group. I love spending time with you all, especially when you and Brian do some of your crazy stunts. I don’t want to switch buses permanently, just for these few days; unless of course you don’t want to switch back to your bus.”
“No, I get it. I’m sorry for snapping, I just felt like you were pulling away from the group, that’s all. Enjoy spending time with Julie. I’ll enjoy spending time with AJ and Howie.” Nick grinned at Kevin, who rolled his eyes in anticipation of the complaints that were sure to come from the two other guys on that bus.
Once they arrived, a short press conference was scheduled before the concert. The Boys sat in chairs behind a table, facing a group of reporters and photographers, blinded by the continually flashing cameras. The first set of questions was expected, questions about their tour, the new album they were currently working on, etc. Half way through the conference though a reporter asked a question no one expected.
“Who are the two women you’ve been seen with recently Kevin and Brian? Are they girlfriends?” A picture was brought forward, and Kevin and Brian stared at the pictures of each of them with Julie and Michelle. The one of Kevin showed him eating lunch with Julie on their first date, pulling out the chair for her. The other showed Brian carrying Michelle out of the hotel when her ankle was sprained. The reporters waited for the Boys’ response with bated breath.
“I’m afraid that’s all we have time for right now,” AJ said, intervening. “As you know we have a concert to perform and we need to go get ready. Thank you.” The guys left the room, ignoring the questions shouted after them.
“Thanks,” Brian told AJ in the car, on the way to the arena.
“No problem man. I could tell you guys needed an out. When are you going to tell them?”
“The press or our girlfriends?”
“Your girlfriends.” Brian shrugged, unsure of his next move. He looked at Kevin, who looked just as confused.
“I think we’ll worry about that tomorrow and focus on the concert tonight.”
When they arrived at the arena, they dashed inside and got ready. Julie gave Kevin a good-luck kiss before going on stage. The Boys performed without blemish, as usual. The fans screamed for more when they exited, but the Boys were already changing outfits and heading out the building. By the time the fans began filing out of the building, the Boys were already heading to their hotel. The group went to bed immediately, drained from the bus ride and the concert.
When Michelle got her coffee the next morning, she sat down to read the magazines brought to her room each time a new one featured some article on the Backstreet Boys, complete with pictures. She liked knowing how the clothes she picked out transferred to magazine pictures. If she saw something less than desirable, she fixed the problem or threw the outfit out all together. This morning was different. The pictures, normally showing the Boys getting in or out of the buses, eating at a restaurant, or the perfectly manicured photo shoot results, showed something entirely different. She grabbed the magazine and headed back upstairs.
“Brian!” She yelled while pounding on the door. Sounds of stirring bodies greeted her slowly from the other side. She pounded on the door again, and Brian opened the door a few seconds later.
“What?” he asked. In answer Michelle shoved the magazine in his face. He took it from her and held it away from his face in order to see it. She noticed his expression changed from confusion to shock to anger and then resignation and remorse. “I suppose I should have told you last night, but I didn’t think the story would get out so fast. Why do you have this magazine anyway?”
“I have someone get every magazine for me that has pictures or articles about you guys in it. I have to know how you guys look in the photos. But what did you mean by you should have told me last night? Did you know about this?”
Brian explained what happened at the press conference and the decision he and Kevin made about telling the two later. He told her to wake up Julie and wait in their room while he got Kevin, and then they’d discuss what to do. Michelle did as he said. Julie, not used to being rudely awakened so early, groaned and turned over to go back to sleep. Michelle shook her again and Julie slapped her with the back of her hand without realizing it. Michelle then resorted to shoving Julie off the bed to wake her up. Once she was finally up, Michelle handed her the magazine.
“Why didn’t you tell us last night?” Julie asked the minute Kevin and Brian walked through the door.
“We didn’t think the pictures or any article would appear so quickly,” Kevin told her.
“When they asked us about the pictures at the conference yesterday, we were caught off guard,” Brian said. “Thankfully AJ stepped in and saved us from having to respond. We wanted to talk to you both before we said anything. We also thought they’d wait to run the story until they had more information. Since it’s out now, how do you feel?”
Both women thought about the situation carefully before answering. Neither wanted to offend the men, but both were uncomfortable with the thought of being pulled into the limelight. While the aspect of fame daunted half of their thoughts, the other half considered the possibility of separating from their new boyfriends and found the idea unbearable. Returning to life without the love and companionship of the two men standing before them appeared as a vast hole, the bottom of which seemed distant and frightening. Michelle made her decision and spoke up first.
“It’ll take more than a picture in a magazine to scare me away.” Brian smiled and pulled her into a bear hug, picking her petite frame up and twirling her around.
“I agree with Michelle,” Julie said to Kevin. “Now that I’ve found you, I’m not giving you up for the world.” Kevin smiled at Julie and gave her a hug too, though one not as enthusiastic as Brian and Michelle’s.
The hugs were interrupted by a knock on the door, reminding everyone they still had to get on the buses to leave for the next concert, which was fortunately only a few hours drive from their current location. Opening the door found them looking at Howie, AJ, and Nick, who looked back at them just as intently.
“You guys coming or what?” Nick asked.
“We’re coming,” Brian told him. The group headed downstairs and found their manager waiting outside.
“Michelle, Julie, I’m afraid you’ll be riding on the other bus today. I need to speak to Brian and Kevin.”
Michelle heard Brian gulp dramatically, and nudged him in the ribs. She and Julie then followed the other three guys onto their bus, watching as Brian and Kevin followed their manager onto the other bus.
“What do you think he needs to talk to Brian and Kevin about?” Howie asked.
“Probably about the magazine article from this morning,” Michelle said. She told the guys what happened. “What I don’t understand is why he needs to talk to them.”
“He probably wants to find out what they’re going to do about it,” AJ said. “I mean, what one of us does affects the entire group; so those photos of you affect our image.”
“I hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not. There’s nothing you could do about it, and the press was bound to find out eventually. Don’t worry about it.”
“AJ, I don’t feel like I know you well enough yet,” Julie commented from the couch. “What do you like to do in your spare time?”
“When I have spare time, you mean,” he said laughing. “I enjoy writing poetry, actually. I find it enjoyable, expressing myself on paper, writing out thoughts and emotions I don’t express on a day to day basis. I also enjoy dancing, but not the ballroom dancing Kevin does.”
“Wait, Kevin does ballroom dancing?” she interrupted.
“Yeah. He’s a qualified ballroom dance instructor. I’m surprised he didn’t tell you that.”
“Oh, I’ll be sure to mention it the next time I’m around him.”
“What about you Howie?” Michelle asked.
“I really enjoy dancing too, even ballroom dancing occasionally.”
“You should see him water ski though,” Nick blurted out.
“Are you good?” Julie asked.
“I guess. It’s a lot of fun. Most of us enjoy being active, whether it’s through sports or other things. That’s why we like playing basketball and other sports during the breaks. I also really enjoy racquetball, but no one knows how to play.”
“Maybe you should teach us how to play so we can play with you,” Michelle suggested. I’m always up for learning a new sport.”
“AJ, do you have any poetry that we could read, or that you’re willing to let us read?” Julie asked. She waited while AJ pulled out a small notebook and flipped through the pages, finally stopping and handing the notebook to her. She quickly read through the poem, careful not to read the next one unless AJ allowed her to. “This is really good AJ. I like your rhyming pattern and descriptive words. I admit, it’s a bit depressing, but it’s still really good.”
“I know it’s depressing, but sometimes the depressing stuff just comes out the best. I don’t know why.” AJ took back his notebook and let Michelle read the poem. “I find it’s a nice way to get out any negative emotions, rather than making things difficult for the other guys.”
“That’s pretty cool. Howie, do you do anything like this?”
“No. Typically, I’m the level headed one who stays out of the arguments.”
“So you help keep the peace?” Michelle asked.
“Sort of. Other times I remain neutral and watch things play out. I remember one time Kevin and Nick arguing over something really small, I think Nick forgot his hotel key again, and I tried to intervene. I told them it wasn’t the big a deal and to stop arguing. Well then they both just turned on me, telling me to mind my own business. Eventually they sorted things out, but now I try to avoid getting between the two.” Howie smiled at the memory.
“Do you and Kevin fight often?” Julie asked Nick.
“I guess. We get in fights and he usually tells me I’m being immature, and then I tell him he’s acting like my father. By the end we don’t even bother arguing about the original problem again, because the same thing would happen. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy to death, but sometimes I just wish he’d lighten up.”
“I bet he wishes sometimes that you would grow up.” Julie laughed when Nick’s expression turned from mirth to contemplation about the new theory.
“Okay, I think it’s our turn to ask some questions,” Howie said.
“Fire away,” Michelle told him.
The remainder of the bus ride was spent asking and answering questions, sparing no one in the process. Each person took turns doing the asking, and then later the answering. The time spent getting to know one another brought about a new sense of camaraderie, allowing the women to feel more comfortable with the idea of dating Kevin and Brian. They knew that the other guys in the group would help them adjust to the spotlight and care for them like brothers.
Brian and Kevin immediately sought out the women when the buses parked at the arena for the next concert. They confirmed the women’s suspicions of what the manager wanted to talk about. The two assured the manager their intentions were honorable and would do everything to maintain the group’s image. Then they asked the women how their bus ride went, which brought about laughter after hearing some of the stories the guys had shared.
“Now,” Michelle said, getting into her professional mode, “let’s get you guys ready for this concert.” She pushed everyone inside and began preparations for the concert.