“Nick stop pacing, you’re making the rest of us more nervous.” Said Kevin to Nick who hasn’t stopped walking back and forth since they arrived at the hospital.
“I can’t help it. I’m worried about Val.” Said Nick still pacing. Brian came up to him and put his hands on Nick’s shoulders to stop his pacing.
“Stay.” Said Brian. “It’s not going to help if you make a hole in the floor from walking back and forth so much.” He added.
“I know.” Said Nick giving up and sliding down into a chair. “I just don’t know what to do.” He said putting his head into his hands.
“She’ll be fine.” Assured him Howie.
“Yeah, just give the doctors a few more minutes.” Said AJ.
“That’s what you said twenty minutes ago.” Snapped Nick.
“Geez, Nick. We’re all worried about Val, but don’t take your frustration out on us.” Said AJ calmly.
“I know, I’m sorry.” Apologized Nick and then jumped from his chair when he saw the doctor approaching them.
“You’re Valerie Stans’ friends?” asked the doctor looking at the five guys.
“Yeah, how is she?” asked Nick impatiently.
“She’s going to be fine, as soon as she gains some weight and gets some sleep.” Said the doctor smiling. “Now, I understand she lost her parents recently?” she asked.
“Yes, a few weeks ago. They were killed in a plane crash.” Said Nick sadly.
“Well, that would explain her depression and not sleeping or eating. She was given some sleeping pills and she’s resting now. You can go see her but she won’t be able to talk to you for at least another few hours.” Said the doctor.
“Thank you.” Said the guys. Nick went to see Val while the other guys waited for him in the waiting room.
Nick opened the door to Val’s room and walked in. Val was sleeping peacefully on the bed. There was an IV hooked up to her arm, which was giving her the vitamins and nutrients she needed to get better. Nick sat down on a chair and looked at his girlfriend lovingly. He didn’t say anything, just sat there watching her sleep. After a while, he got up and went back to the waiting room.
“How is she?” asked Kevin when he saw Nick.
“She’s sleeping.” Said Nick sighing. “I’m staying here today. I have to be there when she wakes up.” He said determinately.
“Okay, call us when she wakes up and we’ll come right away.” Said Brian getting up.
“I will.” Promised Nick. The guys then left and Nick went back to Val’s room.

*~*~*

A few hours later, Nick saw Val stirring. He came up to the bed and looked at her. Val’s eyes fluttered open, first showing panic, but then she focused on Nick’s face and calmed down.
“Hey sleepyhead.” Said Nick grinning.
“Hey where am I?” asked Val looking around.
“Hospital.” Replied Nick. “You fainted.” He explained.
“Oh, so that’s why everything is so fuzzy.” Said Val rubbing her head. “How long have I been out?” she asked.
“About six hours. Do you feel any better?” asked Nick concerned.
“Yeah, I feel more rested.” Said Val.
“Good, maybe now you’ll actually start eating again.” said Nick gently, but sternly.
“I’ll try.” Said Val smiling at Nick.
“That’s good to hear.” Said Nick and smiled back. “Val, you gotta take care of yourself. I would drive myself nuts if I go back on tour and not know if you were okay or not.” Said Nick seriously.
“I tried doing that, I really did. But nothing seems to matter anymore.” Said Val lowering her head and tears beginning to drop from her eyes. Nick sat on the bed and put his arms around Val.
“YOU matter Val. You’re alive.” He said looking into her eyes. “I don’t think your parents would want you to be like this. I’m sure they would want you to get on with your life.” He added.
“I know you’re right, but every time I think about them being gone, everything falls apart again.” said Val tears still rolling down her cheeks.
“I know that nothing I say will make you feel one hundred percent better,” began Nick, “But I care about you so much and I would do anything to make your pain go away.” He said with sincerity in his eyes.
“I know, but I think I need to be alone now.” Said Val.
“Val, I can’t leave you alone.” Insisted Nick.
“Please Nick, I need to think about some things.” Pleaded Val.
“I don’t know…” said Nick uncertainly.
“Please.” Said Val.
“Okay, but I’m not leaving the hospital. I’ll be in the waiting room.” He said and started to walk out the door.
“Nick,” called Val. Nick turned around. “Go back to the hotel, get some sleep. You look almost as bad as I probably do.” Said Val with a small smile.
“I don’t need sleep, I’m fine.” Said Nick shaking his head.
“That’s what I said, and the next thing I know, I’m here.” Said Val gesturing towards the hospital room. “Please, for me, go and get some sleep and food too.” She told him. Nick’s shoulders sagged as exhaustion overwhelmed him.
“Okay, I’ll go, but I’m calling the other guys. They wanted to know when you wake up.” He said taking out his phone. “Hey Rok.” He said when Brian picked up the phone.
“Hey, is she awake?” asked Brian with worry in his voice.
“Yeah she is. She’s also insisting that I go get some sleep.” Said Nick.
“She’s right. Come back to the hotel and we’ll go be with Val.” Said Brian agreeing with Val. “Wait a few minutes, we’ll get here and you can go back to the hotel in the car that’ll drop us off.” He told Nick. Nick agreed and hung up.
“They’ll be here in a few minutes, and yes, then I’m going back to the hotel.” Said Nick turning to look at Val.
“Good, that will make me feel better and it will make you feel better.” She said smiling. “How long do I have to be stuck here anyway?” she asked.
“Until you gain some of your weight back.” Replied Nick. “You lost too much.”
“Well, I hope that happens soon so I can get out of here.” Said Val making a face towards the hospital room.
“Just eat and sleep, and you’ll go home in no time.” said Nick and gently kissed Val. A few minutes later, the other four guys arrived and Nick left. Val asked the guys to give her a little privacy to think things over so they all went to get something to drink. Val leaned back against the pillows and closed her eyes.

*~*~* FLASHBACK TWO YEARS AGO VAL’S 16TH BIRTDAY *~*~*

“Happy Birthday!” shouted Mr. and Mrs. Stans waking up their daughter. Val literally jumped about a foot in her bed and then glared at her parents.
“Okay, you know I love you guys, but I would like to survive my birthday!” she said seriously, but couldn’t suppress a grin. “Where’s my present?” she asked impatiently.
“Well well well, someone has absolutely no patience.” Said Mr. Stans smiling at his daughter, his blue eyes twinkling.
“Yes, and I get it all from you Dad. Now where is it?” laughed Val and looked expectedly at her parents.
“Well, if you will get up, shower, and get dressed, we’ll take you to part one of your present.” Said Mrs. Stans smiling.
“Part one?” asked Val. “I’m gonna like this!” she exclaimed and quickly climbed out of bed and ran into her bathroom. Mr. and Mrs. Stans exchanged an all-knowing smile between themselves. Mr. Stans then put his arm around his wife and they went downstairs to wait for Val.
Val made it in and out of the shower in record time and was downstairs in 10 minutes.
“Okay, I’m here, let’s go.” She said out of breath because she ran all the way to the living room. Her parents laughed.
“Don’t you want some breakfast?” asked Mrs. Stans.
“Nope, let’s go.” Said Val taking her father’s hand into her right hand and her mother’s hand into her left.
“We’re not going anywhere until you eat something, believe me, you’ll need your strength.” Said Mr. Stans mysteriously.
“Oh alright, I’ll go eat something.” Said Val giving up and went to the huge kitchen. She got herself some orange juice and waffles. After she pretty much inhaled her food, she went back to the living room. “Okay, I’m done, we can go now.” She announced to her parents, who laughed.
“Okay, let’s go.” Said Mrs. Stans. The three of them got into their car and left. Val tried to figure out where they were going but she couldn’t. She thought that she was going to burst from excitement when finally her father pulled over and stopped the car.
“Where are we?” asked Val looking out the window.
“At the DMV.” Announced her mom proudly.
“I’m going to get my license?” exclaimed Val her eyes shining.
“Yes, everything is all set. You take your written test now and your road test is right after.” Replied Mr. Stans.
“Oh thank you thank you thank you!” said Val excitedly and hugged both of her parents tightly. Then the three of them went into the DMV. A few hours later, Val was proudly holding her driver’s license in her hand as she was going back home.
“So what’s the second part of my present?” she asked looking at her parents.
“You’ll see when we get home. I just hope it has arrived.” Said Mrs. Stans.
“I hate it when you two do this to me!” exclaimed Val in frustration. She really wanted to know what her present was. She was sitting anxiously in the car when they finally pulled up in front of the house.
“Where is it?” asked Val jumping out of the car.
“It’s out back, where your party is supposed to be.” Said Mr. Stans and laughed when Val took off in that direction like a torpedo.
“Four three two one…” counted off Mrs. Stans and then both her and her husband heard Val’s scream of joy as she discovered her present. They then proceeded to go to the backyard.
“Do you like it?” asked Mr. Stans looking at Val who was standing there with her jaw practically on the ground.
“LIKE it?? Are you kidding?? I LOVE IT!!” exclaimed Val looking at her silver BMW. The license plate read: I LOVE LIFE. She turned to her parents and hugged them tightly and kissed them. “I can’t believe that this is my present!” she said in disbelief.
“Well believe it, you deserve it.” said Mr. Stans smiling at his daughter.
“Thank you so unbelievably much!” said Val as she opened the door to her car and got in. She was wearing huge grin on her face as she started the car.
“And where do you think you’re going?” asked Mrs. Stans.
“I just want to drive around our house, please?” begged Val making puppy eyes at her parents.
“Okay, but be back soon.” Said Mrs. Stans smiling because she could never resist those puppy eyes.
“Thank you!” exclaimed Val and drove off. She came back 20 minutes later still grinning like an idiot. She parked her car in the garage and went upstairs to change her clothing since the guests were supposed to arrive at that time.
The party went perfectly just as Val had planned. The live band played wonderful music and Val had a ton of fun with her friends. It was possibly the best day of her life.

*~*~* END OF FLASHBACK *~*~*

Val smiled as she thought about that day, but then she realized that her parents will never attend another one of her birthdays and she began to cry all over again. At that moment, Kevin walked into her room.
“Hey, are you okay?” he asked concerned. Val shook her head no. “Val you’ll get through this, I promise.” Said Kevin and hugged her. Val had become practically like a little sister to him over the past few months. He hated to see her in pain.
“But I don’t know how to get through this. Kevin, everything reminds me of my parents, everything!” exclaimed Val sobbing.
“Shh, I know.” Said Kevin soothingly stroking Val’s hair. “You just have to tell yourself over and over that your parents are in heaven and that they’re looking down on you and smiling.” He said. “That’s what I do when I think about my father.” He added with emotion in his voice.
“Yeah, I guess of all people, you would know how I feel.” Said Val looking at him.
“True, I know how you feel half way.” Said Kevin. “Do you feel any better?” he asked.
“A little.” Replied Val quietly. “Get some sleep, that should help.” Said Kevin getting up and letting Val lie down. Val nodded and closed her eyes. Kevin kissed her forehead and quietly left the room.
Val was sitting in a movie theater; only it was completely empty. She was looking at the blank screen, when suddenly it began to show something. She looked closer and saw that it was a movie beginning with a plane flying over the ocean. She settled back in her chair and watched. Then with a sickening feeling in her stomach, she recognized her parents’ jet. She bolted up in her chair and looked at the screen terrified. She was unable to look away because her body seemed to be not responding. She watched as the plane seemed to lose control and then take a nosedive into the ocean. As soon as it hit the water, Val screamed: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!”
“Val wake up!” yelled Nick as he gently shook Val. Val opened her eyes and Nick saw that they were full of terror. Val was soaked in sweat and was breathing rapidly. “It was just a dream.” Said Nick softly and Val fell into his arms crying.
“I saw…my parents’ jet crashing into the water. It was so…real.” Sobbed Val.
“It’s okay, it was just a dream.” Said Nick rocking Val back and forth.
“It was so real.” Val kept repeating.
“I know, nightmares are like that.” Said Nick. “But it’s over and you’re safe.” He added.
“Yeah, but Nick, I need to be alone.” Said Val looking at her boyfriend.
“But Val…” he started to protest.
“Really, I do.” She interrupted him.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yeah.” Replied Val.
“Okay.” Said Nick quietly, kissed her softly on the lips and slowly left the room.
“How is she?” asked Brian when he saw Nick emerge from Val’s room.
“She had a nightmare. She said that she saw her parents’ jet crashing into the water.” Said Nick sitting down beside his best friend.
“Wow, she’s going through so much.” Said Brian shaking his head.
“I know, but she keeps pushing me away lately. She wants to be alone a lot.” Said Nick his face full of confusion.
“You gotta give her some time to recover from this Frack. I know that all you want to do is hold her and protect her from everything, but that’s not what she needs.” Said Brian thoughtfully.
“But I can’t help it!” exclaimed Nick. “Every time I see her cry all I want to do is hug her and take the pain away!”
“That’s just the thing, you can’t take the pain away.” Said Brian gently. “Only Val can make that pain go away.” He added.
“So what am I supposed to do in the meantime?” asked Nick.
“Just be there for her when she needs you.” Said Brian.
“I guess can do that.” Said Nick sighing.
“Good.” Said Brian.

*~*~*

The next day Val was able to go home. She walked into her house and swallowed back her tears. She was determined not to cry.
“Are you feeling better?” asked Jeffrey carefully when he saw Val come in.
“A little.” Nodded Val.
“Well, you certainly look better.” Said Jeffrey with a small smile.
“That’s on the outside.” Said Val sadly and then Nick helped her to her room. Val sat down on her bed and looked at Nick who was standing in the doorway looking uncomfortable. “Aren’t you going to come in?” she asked him.
“I don’t know. Do you need me to come in?” asked Nick more harshly than he had intended.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Val confused by the way Nick was acting.
“It means exactly what I said. Lately all you want is to be alone.” He snapped.
“Nick I’m going through a lot, sometimes I need to be alone.” Said Val trying to explain.
“I just don’t see how you would want to be alone at a time like this.” Said Nick looking past Val out the window.
“I need to sort all of my feelings out.” Said Val.
“Do you ALWAYS have to sort them out?” asked Nick bitterly.
“Excuse me?” asked Val getting angry.
“You heard me. It’s like I don’t see you anymore, and when I do see you, you’re always crying or telling me that you need to be alone.” Said Nick angrily.
“NICK!” exclaimed Val in shock. “What’s your problem?”
“My problem is that you’re just unwilling to get past everything. I know you can, but you just won’t, for some strange and bizarre reason.” He said looking straight at Val.
“I lost my parents Nick! You have no idea how I feel!” yelled Val.
“Well isn’t it about time you moved on with your life?” asked Nick still mad.
“Why are you acting like such a jerk?” asked Val.
“I’m not acting like a jerk Val. I tried to be patient, I tried to be understanding, but I’ve reached my limit.” Said Nick coldly.
“What do you mean?” asked Val quietly.
“I mean that I can’t do this anymore. I can’t just sit and wait around until you need me.” He replied. Val looked like she’s been slapped.
“Fine, then don’t do it.” Val spat out.
“Fine.” Said Nick and stormed out of the room slamming the door behind him.
The next day, the Backstreet Boys went back on tour.


chapter 7 chapter 9