On The Outside: By Amy
"Church is boring," Nick Carter decided as the preacher continued to lead the congregation in a sing-along of religious hymns.
"Act like you're happy anyway," Kevin Richardson demanded, speaking through his teeth.
Nick's eyes narrowed. "Why are we even here when there might not be a God anyway?"
Kevin stared down at the young man. "How the hell could you say such a thing?"
Brian sighed. "That's really great, Kev. Swearing in church."
"I'm only human," Kevin retorted, with a sigh. "Why doesn't Nick believe in God?"
"You'll have to ask him, but he has his reasons," Brian Littrell whispered.
"Nick, why don't you believe in God?" Kevin pondered softly, bending down.
"Why don't ask him later?" Howie Dorough hissed from the pew behind them. "Everybody's staring at you guys!"
"Well, I think it's an important question to ask!" Kevin proclaimed. "It's a very serious subject."
"Of course it is," Howie quietly agreed. "But it's not a question to be brought up when you're surrounded by about forty people that do believe in God."
"OH, HAPPY DAY!" AJ McLean continued to sing at the top of his lungs, oblivious to the situation unfolding before him.
"Why are you singing so loud, AJ?" Brian asked, placing his hymn book in front of his face to conceal his embarrassment.
"To impress my date from the dance last night!" AJ claimed proudly, winking at the blonde sitting across from him. "Doesn't Darcy look great?"
"DICEY!" the entire group said in exasperation.
AJ slouched as he saw the preacher sending them an annoyed glare. "Dicey...Darcy...Close enough."
"Why is church so formal?" Nick questioned, tugging on Brian's pant leg.
"I don't know," Brian answered.
Nick wrinkled his nose. "Well, I think it's stupid. If God does exist He probably wants people to be comfortable when they talk about him. If God loves us all then, He shouldn't care what we look like or what we wear."
"Nick, leave your tie alone," Kevin directed as the blonde tugged at the fabric dangling from his neck.
"But it's annoying!"
"So are people that talk through the service," Howie coughed.
"OH, HAPPY DAY!" AJ continued to belt out, returning to oblivion as he shamelessly flirted with the young lady across the aisle.
Howie rolled his eyes. "AJ, quit flirting with Dicey."
AJ scratched his head. "I thought her name was Darcy?"
"Nick, stop touching your tie!" Kevin growled, gently pulling away the youth's grip.
"But it's itchy!" Nick whined.
Brian's cheeks flushed with color as he brought the songbook closer to his face. "I'm disowning you people."
The preacher smiled down at the townspeople lining the rows of church. "Thank you all for coming, this brings the service to an end."
Nick sighed, undoing the tie around his neck. "Thank God."
Brian Littrell aimlessly kicked at the rocks laying along the side of the road. "If Sunday is suppose to be a day of rest why are we going to work?"
"Because we get to serve everyone else that's resting," Kevin Richardson grumbled.
"Why do people where ties in church?" Nick sighed, glancing down at the material in his hand. "Kevin, you and Brian didn't have to wear ties! You got to wear nice sweaters."
"You needed to wear the tie to cover up the stain on your blouse," Kevin answered tiredly.
"Brian?" Nick questioned, as he stumbled down the street.
"Why weren't Kit and Patti there? Don't they go to church?"
Brian shrugged, tucking his head away from the cold breeze in the air. "I dunno. Sometimes, their grandma doesn't feel well enough to go, and Kit needs to sleep."
Kevin Richardson shoved his hands into his pockets, hurrying his pace. "Because she works very late hours at The Jazz Note, so, she's asleep during the morning service and at work by the evening service. Why are you always asking so many questions?"
"Cause you don't find nothin' out if you don't ask," Nick explained, with a wrinkle of his nose.
Richardson rolled his eyes. "You wouldn't find anything out," he corrected.
"Kevin?" Nick called out as they approached the diner.
"What?" Kevin retorted, fighting to keep his patience as he unlocked the door.
"Why is the guy up at the alter the only one talking?"
"Ask Brian," Kevin replied, stepping into the restaurant.
Nick tilted his head, looking at Brian for the answer. "Why?"
"Sometimes people get together at revivals, Bible studies or youth groups to discuss God," he yawned, removing his jacket.
"Hi ya' boys!" Mr. Angelo called from the kitchen. "You ready to start another day?"
Kevin rubbed his sleepy eyes. "As ready as I can get, Tony. What do you need me to do?"
"Start heating up the soup of the day," Tony replied, watching as Kevin removed his sweater, tying an apron around the white T-shirt that lye beneath. "Brian and Nick, could you boys start setting down the chairs at the tables?"
"Sure, Mr. Angelo," Brian said, hanging up his jacket. "We'll start right now."
"Hey, Mr. Angelo!" Nick hollered toward the back of the building.
"Yeah, kid?" the Italian asked, glancing up at him.
"Do I have to wear a tie around here?"
"No," the man replied, with a laugh.
"Thank you!" the young blonde cheered, pushing the tie into his pocket.
The owner heaved a small sigh as he listened to the phone ringing. "Must be somebody calling in for take-out already."
Kevin smiled wearily as he lifted one the heavy pans onto the stove. "Never a dull day."
"Brian!" Tony shouted, placing his palm over the phone. "You got a call from a girl that sounds pretty upset."
Brian raised his brow. "I guess it's Patti, you mind if I answer?"
The kind man shook his head. "Go right ahead."
"KEVIN!" Howie Dorough shouted, bursting into the small diner. "KEVIN!"
AJ McLean quietly walked behind the older man, carrying a newspaper in his hands.
"What's going on?" Kevin whispered, walking toward the startled Latino.
Howie fought away the tears in his eyes. "Kev, I'm so sorry."
"So sorry about what?" Kevin questioned. "What are you talking about?"
AJ turned to Howie, speaking softly. "He doesn't know."
"Why is everybody acting so weird?" Nick Carter inquired meekly, instinctively clinging close to Kevin's side.
AJ remained silent, simply passing over the newspaper to Kevin.
Richardson glanced down at the folded paper, seeing Kit's picture placed upon the front page. He smile slightly, remembering the kiss from the evening before. Calmly, he opened the paper, his statement soon falling as his dark skin paled. The item slipped away from his trembling hands, falling to the floor as he read the headline. 'LOCAL SINGER FOUND DEAD'