Christmas With Family

Chirstmas With Family
Sequel to Flight To Paradise
©1999-2000
By Sarah
Chapter 16


        Nick smiled at his sisters as they all started talking to him at once.  Seeing his family made him feel so much better, he needed them badly.  He handed Maggie to BJ and watched as she cooed over her, tickling the little girlís stomach and laughing with her.  Maggie adored all her aunts and her uncle.  Everyone in his family got along with her well, they all loved Maggie.
        ĎJust like they all loved Sheryl,í Nick thought, his happiness fading.  The smile on his face slowly disappeared as he remembered about the promises he and Sheryl had made to each other, the times when he felt that she was the one for him, the only one that he would ever want or need in life.
        ĎBoy was I wrong,í he thought, almost bitterly.  Though he still loved Sheryl, he was angry with her for doing this to him.  He had no idea what exactly to do now, he and Maggie were alone, without anyone to help them in their lives.  Sheryl was their strong hold, the rope that kept them moored to the dock, the one thing that Nick relied on to keep his life in order and keep him sane.
        ĎBut now Sheryl is gone, and Maggie and I are on our own, we need to learn to rely on each other, now,í Nick thought sadly, looking down at the floor instead of at his laughing family.  He didnít hear their voices anymore, he could only hear Sherylís laugh in his head, ringing through like bells.  He shook his head and put his head in his hands, squeezing, trying to squeeze out Sherylís memory.
        "Nicky?  Nick?  Honey, are you ok?"
        Nick stood up and ran out of the room, running through the kitchen and out the back door, running until he reached the end of the property, leaning against the large oak tree that held an old tree house of Brianís.  He climbed up the tree and into the small house, pulling the thin blanket that was in there around him, trying to stay warm.  He looked up at the sky, watching the snow as it fell around him, but not hitting him, the branches protecting him.  He leaned his head against a branch and closed his eyes, starting to cry.  He let the tears flow freely for the first time, ignoring everything around him.  Heíd been afraid to cry before, only really crying when heíd been with Sarah earlier that day.  But he needed more time to cry, more time to let it out.  At the moment, right where he was happened to be the place he chose to do it.
        "Nick?"
        Nick froze in his sobbing, holding his breath, and thinking he heard a voice.  He decided he didnít and bowed his head, crying into his bent knees.
        "Nicky?"
        That time, Nick knew heíd heard someone, but he didnít care.  He just let the tears fall, ignoring whoever it was, hoping they would go away.
        "Hey, Nicky."
        Nick looked up at the person as they climbed up into the tree house and sat across from him.
        "Go away, Kevin," Nick said harshly, surprised at his own tone.  He didnít really despise Kevin, but he was angry with him for making him feel so bad that night, so bad that he went out on stage and then collapsed in front of an arena full of people.  He couldnít forgive Kevin for pulling a guilt trip on him and causing him to end up in the hospitalÖand then nearly dying.
        "Iím not, Nick, not until I know youíre ok," Kevin said, getting comfortable.
        "Iím fine, go away," Nick said, looking away from Kevin.
        Nick felt a jacket fall around his shoulders and looked up as Kevin sat back.  He pulled the jacket around him closer, slipping his arms into the sleeves and zippering it closed.
        "Thanks," he said quietly.
        Kevin nodded.  "You know, Nick, you can talk to me, Iím here to listen, Iím not going to ridicule you for anything."
        Nick shook his head.  "You donít understand, Kevin, you never could."
        "I could try."
        "But you wouldnít be able to, you have no idea how Iím feeling, you will never have any idea how Iím feeling."
        "Just give me a chance, Nick, I want to help."
        Nick sighed and finally looked at Kevin.  "You arenít leaving until I talk, are you?"
        "Absolutely not, you ought to know me well enough to know that I wouldnít leave alone a problem until it was solved, so Iím not going to leave this alone," Kevin said stubbornly.
        Nick looked away from Kevin and up into the sky, looking into a patch of clear sky as the clouds parted.  He saw stars shining down from above, the north star being the one most noticeable.  He sniffled and shifted his gaze back down, looking at his sneakers, wiggling his toes as he felt snow seep through them from when he ran across the backyard.
        "Sheryl and I went to a resort about a year before Maggie was born, and we just sat and watched the snow fall the entire time.  We promised each other so much, to never leave, to always love each other, to be together for all their lives.  She wanted to have a little girl so badly, but it wasnít easy for her to get pregnant.  I made a promise to her that night that she would have the little girl she wanted to badly, and then a year later we had Maggie, after the most difficulties any doctor in Florida had ever known.  Maggie was our gift, the only gift we would ever share.  After she had Maggie, Sheryl was told that she couldnít have another child.  That killed her; she wanted a large family.  After the first year of Maggieís life, Sheryl was still moaning and groaning about not being able to have another child.  It wasnít that she had any damage, just that her body wouldnít be able to handle it.  So she demanded that we try again, she wanted to prove everyone wrong.  I went along with the idea, and a few months ago she had a miscarriage.  She never told anyone, I found out by accident.  She wasnít going to tell me, she wanted to keep trying, she wanted another baby.  I refused to have us try again and she got angry with me, very angry, and we used to have fights whenever we talked, unless it was when we were going to bed.  She wanted another baby so bad, she was even considering going to a fertility clinic.  She had the appointment set up and everything.  But in the meantime, she was complaining about how hard it was to take care of Maggie, how little time she had for herself.  I never knew Sheryl to be selfish, she never was when we had first met, or when we were going out, or when we were engaged, but all of a sudden, she got very whiny and selfish.  She wanted everything for herself, insisting that she came before everything I did.  I loved her so much that I gave her what she wanted.  And now, sheís gone.  Youíd think that she had a sudden attack of conscience and realized what sheíd been doing for the last year and a half," Nick said, blurting out what was on his mind.  He just rambled, waiting for Kevin to interrupt.  When the interruption never came, Nick spoke up again.
        "Do you think that it was right of her to leave me?  Did I really do something wrong?"  Nick asked, looking up at the man he considered his big brother.  He felt tears start to fall again and looked down at the ground, sobs shaking his body.
        "You didnít do anything wrong, Nick, she was the one who did something wrong.  She wanted something you couldnít give, something that no one can give her.  Sheís very selfish, Nick, she was an only child for most of her life, she got what she wanted.  It wasnít right of her to leave you, you probably couldíve found a way for you two to fix this and work it out.  But she gave up, Nick, you didnít.  The pain will ease with time, but you canít keep all of this inside," Kevin said, pain in his voice.
        Nick sniffled and wiped his eyes, looking up at Kevin.  "Iím sorry."
        "You have nothing to be sorry for," Kevin said quickly.
        "Yes I do, I havenít even acknowledged your being for the last five years, you deserve an apology from me.  I ignored you and I shouldnít have, it wasnít even your fault.  I had the ultimate decision to go out on stage or not and I chose to go out and perform.  It wasnít your fault, the only one who couldíve prevented it was me," Nick insisted.
        Kevin was quiet until Nick looked up.  He saw something heíd only seen once before, Kevin crying.
        "I sometimes think about it and I practically want to kill myself for making you feel so bad, for threatening you to get out on stage.  And then, two years of not talking to you made me feel awful.  The last concert we did, three years ago, I wanted so badly to be able to talk to you, but you never even looked at me, I felt as if I didnít exist," Kevin said quietly.
        Nick moved next to Kevin and gave him a hug that he felt he needed.  "Iím sorry, Kevin, I didnít mean to."
        A few minutes later, the two pulled apart as they heard someoneís footsteps in the snow.
        "Nicky?  Come down, Nicky, get inside before you catch yourself a cold," Sarahís voice came from below them.
        Nick laughed.  "And what if I donít, Mom?"  He called down to her, smiling at Kevin.
        "Then Iíll climb up there after you and probably ruin the nice new sweater Brian gave me and Iíll make you buy me a new one," Sarah said.
        "Iím not coming down," Nick said, almost in a singsong voice.
        Sarahís head appeared in the small doorway to the tree house a few moments later and she hoisted herself inside.  "I havenít climbed a tree since I was eleven, Carter, youíre in trouble," she said, brushing off her sweater.  "Eww, thereís sap on my hands," she said, rubbing her hands together.
        "Youíre the only person I know that would climb a tree in a skirt," Kevin said.  Nick looked at Sarahís legs, and indeed, she was wearing a long skirt with green holly leaves.
        "I am the only person who is crazy enough to, now letís go, both of you.  I hate to interrupt a bonding moment, but Iíve been sent out to find you in this cold and I want you both inside before you get yourselves sick," Sarah said, wagging her finger at them.
        "Wait a second, I thought we were your older brothers?"  Nick asked as he slid over to the rope ladder and branches to get down.
        "You may be my older brothers, but I still have the right to beat both of your asses if need be," Sarah said, hitting him on the back of the head.  Nick winced and jumped down the rest of the way to the ground, then looked up as Kevin came down.
        "Both of you turn around, Brian will kill me as it is for climbing this damn tree with a skirt on, heíll kill you both if you see me," Sarah said as she turned around.
        Nick chuckled and turned around with Kevin, looking at him sideways and trying hard to hold back laughter.  Nick glanced back at Sarah as he saw her grip slipping and darted forward, catching her before she fell.
        "Nicky, youíre my hero!"  Sarah said sarcastically.
        "Would you rather be sitting in snow?"  He asked, nodding down to the ground as he adjusted his hold on her legs.  He held her cradle-style, but titled her forward, threatening to drop her.
        "Uh, no, thatís ok," Sarah said quickly, wrapping her arms around his neck.  Nick grinned goofily and Sarah laughed.  He set her on her feet and the three walked back to the house.
        "Sarah, where did you find them?"  Nickís mother asked as they came in, running over to him and rubbing his cold cheeks.
        "Right where I knew I would find Nick.  He goes to the tree house to think everytime heís here, even I know that," Sarah said as she was met by Brian.  Nick saw Brian pull Sarah into his arms and rub her arms in an attempt to make her warmer.
        "She knows me well," Nick said as he took off his coat.  He glanced over at Kevin, who was being fawned over by both his mother and his wife.  Nick couldnít help but smile, Courtney was holding onto her father for dear life.
        "Nicky?"  Nick looked down at his motherís concerned eyes and shook his head, telling her to not ask, that heíd explain later.
        "Nick, uh, this is for you," Kevin said quietly, holding out a small package.
        Nick looked quizzically at the package as he took it from Kevin, then slowly tore open the wrapping.  He smiled as he looked at the picture, the very first picture ever taken with the original four Backstreet Boys.  Nick was thirteen, AJ was fifteen, Howie was twenty, and Kevin was barely twenty-two.  It was taken when the guys first all met together at the studio, the very first day the three met Kevin.  Nick felt instant friction with Kevin, being so much younger.  You could see it in the picture, but you could also see a bond starting to form between the four.
        "Thanks, bro," Nick said, looking up at Kevin.  The two exchanged a hug, much to the surprise of everyone around them.  Nick pulled away from Kevin and looked at him, the two of them smiling.
The feud was over.

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