"Boy, AJ, this is really nice of you to take the time out and invite me and Kev over for dinner, thanks." Howie said as he finished his plate of spaghetti.
AJ smiled at Howie. "No problem, I wanted to."
As Kevin started to clear the table, AJ stopped him.
"No, Kev, leave those here, I want to show you and Howie something in the basement I have, it's really cool." AJ said as he walked towards the basement door.
Howie and Kevin followed AJ down the dark, narrow basement stairway. Kevin noticed how damp the basment smelled. When they got to the bottom of the steps, AJ turned on a light.
AJ pointed towards a room off to the left. "Go into this room here."
Kevin and Howie walked into a small room that was filled with cans and boxes and two portable beds. Just as Howie turned to ask AJ a question, AJ slammed a steel barred door shut.
"Ha, ha, very funny AJ." Kevin said dryly. Kevin stood looking at AJ on the other side of the door. He waited patiently for AJ to open it back up.
As AJ turned and walked away, Kevin called out, "Hey, come on, let us out!"
"Yeah, come on AJ, what the hell is your problem? This isn't funny." Howie said.
As Kevin and Howie waited to hear AJ's footsteps coming back towards the room, they were disappointed to hear the sounds of his footsteps on the stairs. The lights went off and Kevin and Howie found themselves sitting in the basement in total darkness.
Feeling their way around in the dark, they managed to find the portable bed and they both sat down and waited for AJ to return.
"He is gonna get it when he comes back. I have things to do tonight and if he makes me late, I am gonna kill him." Howie sputtered.
"Yeah." Was all that Kevin said.
Brian hung the phone up. He was suprised that Howie wasn't home. He had left several messages. They were supposed to meet at his house to go over some songs they were working on together.
After a few minutes, Brian decided to take a shower. He figured Howie was going to be a no show and either got side tracked or forgot about them meeting.
While Brian was in the shower, he thought he heard his front door open. He strained to listen with the water running, then dismissed the idea thinking he was hearing things.
AJ walked quietly around Brian's living room. He let himself in with the spare key that Brian had given him. AJ picked up a picture of Brian that was taken this summer on their tour. It was of Brian and a fan. Looking at the picture, AJ mumbled to himself, "Pretty soon all of this will be mine!"
"What was that, AJ?" Brian walked out of his bedroom into the living room. His hair was wet from the shower and he was toweling it dry.
AJ spun around. "Oh, nothing, how ya doing?"
"Pretty good. You haven't talked to Howie today, have you?" Brian asked.
"Nope, not today I haven't." AJ lied.
"He was supposed to meet up here and we were gonna go over some songs we were writing together. I guess he forgot about it." Brian said as he sat on the leather couch.
"Probably. Hey, you hungry?" AJ said as he put the picture back on the shelf.
"Yeah, starved." Brian replied.
AJ smiled at Brian. "Let's go to DeLuca's and have a good pizza, my treat."
"That sounds great. Let me go put a shirt on. Be back in a minute." Brian said as he stood up.
AJ heard the bell on Tyke's collar. He looked down to see the tiny dog sitting in the middle of the living room.
"Hey, you might want to bring Tyke along, I don't know how long we will be out." AJ called out in the direction of Brian's bedroom.
Brian came out wearing blue jeans and a denim dress shirt. "Naw, he'll be fine, won't cha baby?" Brian looked down at Tyke while he spoke.
The dog looked up at Brian and wagged his tail and jumped up an down. AJ rolled his eyes.
"I'll be back in a bit." Brian said to Tyke as he put on his ball cap and put his wallet in his back pocket.
AJ glanced at Brian out the corner of his eyes while he drove. Brian was looking over the CD's in the case.
"Hey, Bri, before we go to the restaurant, I need to stop at my place, okay?" AJ stated.
"Sure, no problem." Brian replied. "Hey! I didn't know you liked Garth Brooks!" Brian said with his head down, still looking at the CD's.
"Um, well, that was a weak moment one afternoon," AJ replied with a slight laugh.
"Well, you know we just have to listen to some of this then." Brian said as he opened the CD case up and put the CD into the player.
AJ pulled into his driveway. "Hey, Bri, why don't you come in with me, there's something I want to show you in the basement."
"Okay." Brian said as he undid his seatbelt and opened the car door.
"Follow me this way." AJ told Brian as he opened the basement stairs door. This time, instead of leading Brian towards the room where Kevin and Howie were, AJ turned to the right and led Brian down a narrow hallway. AJ opened a door and turned on a light that revealed a tiny closet-like room that had a bare mattress on the floor and blankets folded on shelves that went from the floor to the ceiling.
When Brian stepped into the room, AJ slammed the door quickly behind him. Brian yelled out, "AJ this isn't funny, open this door NOW."
Brian had a hard time with small places. He never told the guys about it because when they found out about his fear of heights, they rode on him constantly about it.
Brian could feel himself starting to panic. He pounded his fists on the door and yelled until his voice was hoarse and his arms were tired. Leaning against the door, Brian slowly slid down and sat on the floor, his heart beating rapidly.
Nick looked at the address he had written on the slip of paper.
"God, I hope I have this right." He said to himself as he pulled into the empty parking lot. He was to be meeting with the rest of the group for a rehearsal.
Pulling his vehicle into a parking lot, Nick put it into park, but left the engine running so he could listen to the radio. Suddenly, Nick heard the sound of someone tapping on a window. He looked around inside the car and saw AJ standing outside the driver's side window.
"God, AJ, you scared me!" Nick shouted when he saw him standing beside the car laughing.
"Hey Nicky, how come you're so jumpy this morning?" AJ said still laughing.
"Just nevermind, you have this bad habit of sneaking up on people and I hate that." Nick sputtered.
"Well, sorry, boy. Hey, we have switched locations." AJ said as he watched Nick take a drink out of the McDonald's coffee cup. "It't on the way by my house, jump in my car and I'll take you there."
"How about I just follow you, AJ, I really hate to leave my car." Nick replied.
"Okay, suit yourself, follow me." AJ turned and got into his car.
Nick followed AJ's car and was suprised when AJ drove into the driveway to his house.
"Wonder why he's stopping here." Nick said as he followed AJ's vehicle.
AJ jumped out of his car and walked back to Nick's. Nick rolled his window down when he saw AJ walking towards him.
"Nick, you might want to come in, this is going to take me a few minutes." AJ said with a smile on his face.
"Why? You gotta use the john?" Nick chuckled.
"NO!" AJ replied quickly and with a tone of sarcasim.
"I'm okay, I got my coffee, go ahead, I'll wait out here." Nick replied.
Nick watched AJ walk towards the house and then turn around and walk back. Nick rolled the window down again.
"Yes?" Nick asked.
"I forgot to ask, I need you to come in and help me. I have something I need to move in the basement and I can't do it by myself." AJ stated.
Nick sighed and turned the engine off. "You know what the rest of the guys are gonna say, AJ if we're late."
"Yeah, and I really don't give a damn right now." AJ replied.
Nick reluctantly followed AJ into the house.
"It's down here." AJ led Nick into the basement. As AJ led Nick down the same small, narrow hallway he led Brian, Nick thought he heard voices. "It's in this room, here."
AJ unlocked the door to where Brian was being held captive. As AJ tried to open the door, he was met with resistance. He groaned as he tried to shove the door open.
"It's sticking for some reason." AJ huffed.
"Lemme have a go at it, you wuss." Nick said as he moved AJ aside. It took one shove from Nick to move the door open. He felt the side of the wall for the light switch and turned it on only to see a man's body laying on the floor. Looking at the figure on the floor, Nick realized it was Brian.
"What the hell? BRIAN!" As Nick knelt down beside him, AJ slammed the door shut. Nick jumped up and grabbed the door knob and found out that it was locked.
"AJ! Are you going crazy on me? Brian needs help, open the door, dammit!" Nick couldn't believe what was happening. He turned and went back to Brian. Touching his body, Nick pulled his hand back again quickly. Not believing the coolness in Brian's body, Nick listened intently for Brian to breathe. He looked down at Brian's pale face. His body was limp and his mouth was dropped open.
Nick pressed his finger into the side of Brian's neck to find a pulse. Once Nick realized there wasn't any pulse, he sat down on the floor and cradled Brian's head and rocked back and forth sobbing. Turning his face upwards towards the ceiling, Nick screamed.
The auditorium was packed in anticipation of the start of the new Backstreet Boys tour. AJ was excited and couldn't wait to start out as the solo Backstreet Boy. His plan had been carried out without a hitch.
The screams of the crowd suddenly became quiet when only AJ stepped out onto the stage.
As AJ announced to the audience that the group was split up and he was going to take over the BSB, angry fans started throwing objects onto the stage.
AJ successfully sidestepped the objects that were flung onto the stage and he gave the signal for the band to start playing, thinking this would calm the crowd down.
As he broke out into song, he didn't see the baseball that was sailing towards his head. AJ turned in time to see it as it hit him between the eyes. He was unconscious before he hit the floor.
"I think he's coming around."
AJ opened his eyes and saw Nick, Brian, Howie and Kevin standing around him. He looked around the room and realized he was laying down on a couch, in a backstage at some auditorium.
Confused, AJ spoke up. "Hey, what the hell is going on here?"
As AJ started to try to sit up, he was met with Brian's hand on his shoulder, pushing him back down towards the couch.
"Easy there, AJ, take it slow." Brian said softly.
"Well, what happened?" AJ demanded.
"You fainted before we even got out onstage." Nick answered.
"Fainted?" AJ asked, puzzled.
"Yep." Nick replied.
"You don't know how happy I am to see you guys, do you?" AJ said quietly.
Brian laughed. "No, how happy are you?"
"I had this weird dream, I was gonna take over the group and I kidnapped everyone of you guys and I was gonna be a solo act." AJ recounted his dream to them.
The boys responded with fits of laughter.
"Hey, what's so funny about me being a solo act?" AJ asked defensively.
After catching his breath from laughing, Nick was the first to reply. "You as a solo act AJ would be as funny as Howie being a mega porn star." Nick started laughing again.
Everyone in the room laughed at Nick's response except for Howie and AJ.