A.J. fidgeted in the passenger seat.
"Settle down, Bone."
"I hate community service. I hate it! Hate it!" A.J. said.
"It's good for the community," Howie suggested.
"Bad for me." A.J. fixed his hat.
"Come on Bone, these are people who have so much less than us and wish they had one fourth of the stuff we take for granted," Nick encouraged.
"Maybe they should set their standards higher." A.J. turned around.
"Maybe you should stop being nonaltruistic," Kevin smacked A.J. in the head.
"Big word, Train, big word." A.J. rubbed his head.
"Thank G-d, we're here."
"A.J., take rehab," Brian commanded.
"You'll feel right at home there Bone," Nick pointed out.
"Shut up." A.J. walked in.
"Kev and Howie take ICU." Brian looked at the list. "Frack and I will cover the children's area." He folded the list up.
A.J. walked up to a nurse in the rehab center. "Hi, I'm here to volunteer some of my time," A.J. said with a forced smile.
"Oh, great. We need some help in the cold turkey dept."
"That's what we call the addicts that are taking the immediate recovery."
"Oh, cold turkey."
"Yes, right this way."
Linz held her empty stomach as she coaxed herself. 3 more days. Just 3 more days. I NEED CRACK. No no I don't . I hate my mom. She did this to me. She's dead, she left me to suffer through this hell called life.
"Hi, I'm A.J."
Great, another volunteer.
"I'm in pain."
"Is there something I can get you?"
"Yeah some crack."
"You're a crack addict."
"Yeah, you'll find a lot of them around here."
"To tell you the truth, I didn't want to come."
"No one's keeping you." Linz turned her head.
"Are you always like this?"
"No, when I'm high I'm in a much better mood."
"That's a given."
"Yeah." Linz exchanged a smile with the stranger.
"Are you sure I can't get you anything?"
"You could get me outta here."
Linz couldn't believe it, this A.J. guy was actually going to help her. Where should she stay though? The police had taken her apartment away from her. Too much for a 15 year old to deal with.
A.J. looked at the girl. She had been through a lot. He could see it in her eyes. That's it! he decided. He picked her cold clammy body up and secretly carried her out to the car. No one had noticed. Thank G-d.
"Where else would I go?"
Suddenly A.J. saw Kevin coming out to the car.
"You thinking of taking off, Bone?"
"Not at all."
"Really? So you like the rehab center?"
"I wouldn't go that far."
Kevin moved to get into the car.
"Wait, wait. Don't go in..."
Kevin turned to see a girl in the passenger seat.
"I'll be right back."
Kevin slowly got out of the car to face A.J.
"Why is there a girl in the car, A.J.?" Kevin asked in a fatherly tone.
"It's not what it looks like. See she's a crack addict and..."
"Oh, that makes it all better."
"Hey Kev did you find...what's going on?" Howie asked.
"A.J.'s freeing a crack addict."
"You should have seen this place, Train. They just gave her a bed and let her get through it on her own."
"That's what they're supposed to do," Howie said.
"I saw it in her eyes," A.J. said. "Did anyone else?"
"Fine, I'll take her, you go back to the rehab."
"I'll come with you Kev, that ICU doesn't do much for me if you know what I mean."
"Yeah I know."
"I'm Linz. Is there a reason why you all are doing this?"
"Yeah we're kidnapping you."
"Anything better than this hell hole."
Kevin looked over at the distraught 15 year old. Something about her made him feel bad for her, unlike A.J. he knew that these crack addicts were masterminds at tricking people into feeling bad for them and doing stuff for them. She was different. She didn't care where she was going.
"Where do you live?"
"I'm Howie." Howie winked at the apathetic girl.
"Right here's good," Linz seemed to say with as much enthusiasm as she could manage.
Kevin and Howie were thinking the same thing. "Where?"
"Is your house behind this alley or something?"
"If I had a house it would be."
"You don't have a house?"
"A 15 year old crack addict usually doesn't own a house."
"What about your parents?"
"Mom's dead from a drug overdose and my dad...well my dad was a client of my mom's."
"So you don't have a house and your parents are dead, what about foster homes?"
"I ran away."
"Get back in the car."
"Because I'm not letting you live on the streets."
"It's one street and where else am I gonna go?"
"You'll stay at my place until I find you a foster home."
"Why are you doing this?"
"What kind of a person do you think I am?"
"I dunno I'm just meeting you."
"Just get in."
Linz laid down on Kevin's couch. Who was this guy? Why was she letting him do this for her? Who cared? She certainly didn't. She still felt like shit. This cold turkey stuff wasn't working. Her urges were too strong.
"Do you want some Advil?"
"No, thanks. I can't have any type of drug for 3 more days."
"Why'd you run away?" Kevin brought her tea. "They could have loved you like any real family."
"But my real family didn't love me like they did." Linz thanked him for the tea. "It was weird. They just crowded me."
"So you left them?" Howie walked into the room.
"Yeah. Is it cold in here?" Linz asked with a shiver.
"No, not at all," Kevin answered with a perplexed look.
"You act so calm around us," Howie noted.
"Why shouldn't I?" Linz looked back at Howie.
"Because we're BSB."
"Is that some club or something?"
"Wait. You've never heard of us?"
"No. Is that a bad thing?" Linz grabbed another blanket.
"Are you one of those religions where they don't watch TV?"
"No I don't have a TV though."
"Oh. That's why."
"Are you guys famous or something."
"Yeah you could say that."
A.J. showed the confused Brian and Nick into Kevin's apt.
"Kevin? What's goin' on?" Brian asked.
"Who's she?" Nick pointed Linz out.
"She's the crack addict A.J. took from the rehab center."
"You stole a crack addict?"
"You don't steal a crack addict." Linz sat up.
"Whoa, she talks!"
"Shut up Nick." A.J. hit him on the back of his neck.
"How are you feelin' Linz?"
"Like crap. This cold turkey shit sucks."
"Then why are you doing it?"
"Because if the police catch me again them I'm going to juvy."
There was dead silence for a couple minutes until A.J. stood up.
"Come on. You can stay at my house."
"She's fine her."
Two days later Linz was looking and feeling much better. Kevin softly woke up Linz. She sat up quickly.
"What's wrong? Did you have a bad dream?" Kevin asked.
"Yeah. One more day," Linz noted to herself.
"Why do you keep counting down? What's t'morrow?"
"The day I won't be dependent on crack anymore. Supposedly."
"How many times have you done this?" Kevin asked.
"Well you know how they saw 3rd time's the charm?"
"Well, it wasn't for me."
"Why'd you do it anyway?"
"I was a crack baby and my mom never told me so one day after school my bf talked me into doing it and I got addicted."
"Oh, I'm really sorry." Kevin looked at her.
"Don't you have to go?"
"Yeah, I do." Kevin stood up.
"I was thinkin'."
"Never mind. I wouldn't want to impose."
"Well, I used to dance right? So I was wondering if I could come watch you guys?"
Kevin walked over to Linz. She seemed to be enjoying herself. It was the first time he had seen her smiling.
"Do you wanna try?"
"I don't know, you guys are really good."
"You could do it."
"Ok but don't laugh or anything."
"Ok white girl. Get your ass up here," Fatima welcomed Linz. "Here's your cane sweetie."
"1&2 3&4 hit the cane around and turn."
A.J. tried to catch his breath as Fatima went and turned the music back on.
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah, I'm ok." A.J. looked up to see Linz. Was this the same girl that was in the rehab center?
"You're doing great, girl. Get up here with me," Fatima called to Linzey.
They did the dance a couple of times only to learn that it was time to go.
Kevin called Linz over to him. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah. One minute." Linz turned around to Fatima. "Thanks for letting me try the dance Fatima."
"It was my pleasure. Hey, I would love it if you would be one of my dancers. It pays good cash."
"Dance for the BSB?" Linz asked.
"Yeah. Just think it over. Bye."
Kevin and Linz walked to his car.
"I was thinking, that maybe I could go find a job t'morrow. Ask for early pay and go get a new apt. for myself. I don't want to overstay my welcome." Linz looked up at Kevin.
"Linz, I said I would find you a foster home." Kevin's green eyes met hers.
"What? Do you think I can't run away again? It's a nice though but I won't stay." Linz smiled. She was right, she wouldn't stay, they both knew it.
"Okay." Kevin started the car.
"Listen, you guys have helped me so much. I don't want to be a problem for you anymore," Linz said. "You'll still see me around."
"I doubt it," Kevin mumbled.
Trust me you'll see me." Linz patted Kevin's arm.
Linz woke up early that morning to leave for their audition. She wrote Kevin a quick note.
Kev: I'll be back around 3 to either pack up my things or look in the paper for more job offerings. You can reach me at Warner Bros. until 10 and then Renaissance Pictures for the rest of the day.* * *
Kevin woke up several hours later to find Linzey's note. Renaissance Pictures? What the...? he thought. She's an actress. Ok. It seemed like she was trying to leave Kevin. She probably just felt like an intruder. That was something Linz would do. What and now he knew her? Maybe she was luring him into her trap.
"Thank you, Linzey. That was amazing," the casting director said with an enthusiastic smile. He looked around carefully and motioned for Linzey to come closer. "What would you say to the lead part?" he asked.
"Yes you're an amazing actress and you fit the description. You'll hafta sign on for 5 years though." His bright blue eyes shined.
"Of course. That's great, but I was wondering if I could get a little bit of cash up front because I'm living with a friend I don't want to overstay my welcome?" Linzey pleaded with her eyes.
"Of course. It's no problem. How about enough for a nice apartment?" He took out a check and wrote it up.
"Wow, thank you so much." Linzey took the check with gratitude.
"You realize this is your pay for the first month, don't you?"
"Yes, yes. Thank you."
"Think nothing of it. Be here tomorrow for fitting and have the first fifteen minutes memorized. We'll need you here by 6:00 AM. Here's the pilot script. Nice to have you on board." The casting director handed her the script.
Linzey rang the doorbell to Kevin's apt.
"Hey." Kevin opened the door.
"Hey. I got the part. I found an apartment too, right next to A.J. actually." Linzey smiled as she walked in.
"How's you get here?" Kevin asked solemnly.
"Taxi, it's outside. I just wanted to thank you. You really got me back on track." Linzey held back tears.
"It's no problem." Kevin slipped her some pieces of paper. "Call me."
"I will." Linzey smiled. "Well I got to go. Bye."
"Bye," Kevin said.
Later that night Linzey was assembling her bed frame that she had gotten that afternoon. There was a knock at the door.
"Yes?" Linzey went to the door.
"It's me," A.J.'s voice said.
"Oh A.J. Thanks for filling that up for me." Linz helped him with the water mattress following him into the room.
"This is gonna be pimpin', your apt. right next to mine," A.J. said excitedly.
"Yeah it will be," Linzey said. She was turning her life around and it felt good.
Linzey and Ryan kissed passionately in his room above the set area. Ryan started to undress Linzey, but Linz pushed her shirt back on and moved away from him.
"Why won't you give yourself to me? Don't you love me?" Ryan tried to coax her back on top of him.
"Ryan, we've been going out for a month. That's too early."
Ryan slapped Linzey hard across her face, knocking her to the floor.
"You prude little bitch. Get undressed now!"
"Linz you in there?"
"Yeah come on in."
"What's going on?"
"We were just practicing our lines."
"Oh, are you ready to go?" A.J. said as he thought about the untrue statement. Ryan wasn't an actor, how could they be practicing their lines.
"Yeah, let's get out of here." Linzey grabbed her jacket from Ryan's bed.
"Your face it's all bruised!" A.J. touched her face, but Linzey moved away from the pain she felt when he touched it.
"Oh, that's probably the...makeup from today," Linzey lied.
"Oh, well see you in the morning." A.J. unlocked his door.
"Yep in the morning." Linzey did the same as A.J. and ran into her room before he could see her tears. How could Ryan do that to her? That's it, she would break up with him tomorrow.
It was the next day, and they had finished shooting for the day. Ryan led Linzey up to his room. Ryan immediately pushed Linzey against the door when they got in. The doorknob hit her right in the back making her want to cry, but she held back the hot tears in fear he might do something.
"Take off your clothes," Ryan demanded.
"Get off of me you pervert." Linz managed to free herself.
Ryan grabbed her arm and pulled her down on the ground, which made her hit her head against his dresser drawer. Linz felt dizzy as she tried to get up, but Ryan kicked her back down. He got back down on top of her and started to undo her shirt. Linz tried with all the strength she had left to push in away. It barely worked and left Ryan even more mad.
He punched her repeatedly in the stomach. He finished unbuttoning her shirt.
"I would like to take a shower before we do it so if you thought you were going anywhere..." Ryan trailed off as he kicked her in the stomach and then put all of his weight on one of her legs, breaking it.
Linz yelped and cried in pain as he went into the bathroom. Linz locked the door from the outside and crawled over to the phone. She hoped she dialed the number right to A.J.'s cell because she could barely see.
"A.J. can you come here now?"
"I kind of have a concert in two hours."
"But it's really urgent." Linz started to break down into tears.
"Wait what's wrong?" A.J. sensed something was seriously wrong.
"It's Ryan. He's been beating me and..."
"He hit me and kicked me. I think he broke my leg and some ribs. Hurry A.J. I'm getting really dizzy." Linz almost went unconscious but she forced herself awake.
"Oh G-d! Linz hold on. I'll be there as soon as I can."
"Get here A.J. I need you."
"I know sweetie. Just fight it, ok?"
A.J. hung up the phone and walked right past the boys.
"What's going on Bone?" Kevin asked.
"Ryan's abusing Linz. I have to go save her." A.J. started to walk out the door.
"We have a concert in a couple of house," Brian informed.
"And in a couple of hours Linz'll be dead if I don't go now." A.J. ran out with Kevin following him. The other three looked at each other and quickly followed.
Ryan had been banging on the door for an hour. Suddenly someone burst into the room. He was tall and skinny and he was walking towards Linz!
"No! Don't hurt me!" Linz screamed.
"It's me baby. It's me." A.J.'s voice soothed as he picked her up.
She clung tightly to his neck as she fell out of consciousness.
"How could he do something like this to her?" Kevin asked in disgust. Kevin looked down at Linz, who was still unconscious in A.J.'s arms. The paramedics had stopped the bleeding from behind her neck. Kevin stroked Linz's wild red hair. She seemed so peaceful as she slept the bad memories off.
"Do you love her?" Kevin asked A.J.
"I don't know. Whatever it is it feels right." A.J. looked down at her with loving eyes. "I need to get her to the hospital."
Linz yelped in pain as she woke up almost making A.J. lose his balance.
"Omig-d." Linz held her stomach. "It hurts so bad."
"Don't worry baby. We're gonna call the hospital," A.J. soothed Linz with his protective voice. "Come on, Kev. Help me get her into the car."
"No, we can't go to the hospital He'll find me. He'll have someone kill me. I just know it," Linz managed to say through her pain.
"Actually there is a reason we can't go but that's not it," Kevin realized.
"What?" A.J. turned to him.
"Linz's hospital past. Think about it," Kevin hinted.
"The rehab," A.J. remembered.
"We'll go somewhere else then."
Linz woke up to find herself moving. A car. Ryan's car?! A.J.'s car. Thank G-d.
"You know that I would have died if you didn't come. Ryan would have busted down that door sooner or later."
"Speaking of which, how did he get in there anyway?" Kevin scared Linz but she answered nonetheless.
"He got on top of me and started to undo my shirt and I-I tried to push him off but he was too strong and I was too beat up so he punched me a couple of times and undid the rest of my shirt and said he wanted to take a shower before we did it so I locked him in the bathroom," Linz explained through tears of pain and bad memories.
"You're very brave." Kevin smiled at her.
"Are you kidding me? I'm sitting here crying. Ow!" Linz yelped in a burst of pain.
"Don't worry. We'll be at the hospital in a couple of minutes." A.J. looked down at her with a worried look on his face.
"A.J. she's bleeding again." Kevin carefully picked Linzey's head up to see the bloody gauze.
"Here take those off and put these on. Hold those down though. We need to keep pressure on it." A.J. handed Kevin some new gauze.
"What's going on?" Linzey said almost fading into unconsciousness.
"Hold on baby just a couple more miles." A.J. kissed her forehead.
"Ok I'm gonna put some pressure on the back of your neck. You can squeeze my hand if you want," Kevin said taking Linzey's sweaty hand. Linzey didn't feel the pain though. She quietly faded into a deep sleep.
A.J. sat by Linzey's hospital bed with Kevin waiting for her to wake up.
"I can't believe Ryan. That bastard." Kevin shook his head.
"How could this happen to her? She changed her life around." A.J. put his hands in his head.
Brian, Nick, and Howie walked into the closed in area.
"How is she?" Nick asked solemnly.
"Not so good. 2 broken ribs and a broken leg. Not to mention a bruised spinal bone." A.J. didn't take his head out of his hands.
Brian winced in a forgotten pain. 2 broken ribs? Poor kid.
"Don't Ryan!" Linz broke out of her nightmare.
A.J. calmed her down. "It's ok sweetie, Ryan's gone. He can't hurt you anymore."
"Where am I?" Linzey looked at everyone.
"The hospital. How are you feelin'?" Kevin looked at her.
"I'm not feeling," she noticed.
"That's because you're on a lot of pain killers." A.J. pushed a ringlet out of her face.
"What about your concert?" Linz looked at all of them.
"We're having everyone who came last night come t'morrow," Brian explained.
"I'm so sorry," Linzey apologized.
"You did the right thing Linz," Howie chimed in.
"Thanks you guys. I don't know what I would've done without you." Linzey smiled.
The phone rang.
"Hello?" A.J. answered. "She can't talk right now but I'll relay the message to her.…You what? But she…Yes of course. Bye."
"What is it?" Linzey looked into A.J.'s eyes.
"They wrote you out of the show." A.J. looked down.
"Ok…" Linz thought for a moment. "I want to go home, A.J."
"You can't. You're all broken," Nick reason with her.
"I don't care. I want to go home," Linzey argued.
"Ok, ok. I'll get you out of here." A.J. looked up at her.
"We'll see you in the morning, Bone," Brian said as he signaled to the other guys to leave.
After the other guys left Linz looked up at the stressed A.J.
"I'm sorry. I'll stay here. I don't want to get in your way. I didn't mean to stress you out." Linz looked into his eyes.
"Is that what you think baby?" Linzey nodded. "No, not at all, honey. I just can't believe they're doing this to you."
"It's not your fault, A.J. I-I...don't care if you stay or not. You can leave," Linzey lied.
"No. I...I..." A.J. trailed off as he kissed Linzey.
Linzey barely pushed away.
"What are we doing?"
"What we should do." A.J. pulled her closer to him.
"I'm vulnerable and..."
"I'm not. Doesn't this feel right?"
"Yes it does but...just don't rush me into this. I just got out of, well you know," Linzey pleaded with her eyes.
"Okay, baby, I can wait." A.J. stroked her hair.
"I just can't trust anyone." Linzey restrained herself from kissing him.
"I know. I know. You wanna leave still?"
Linzey nodded. A.J. picked her up in his arms and he quickly and quietly slipped out of the hospital.
Linzey got out of A.J.'s bed and picked up hre gun.
"Who's there?" Linzey called out.
She saw something move around and fired the gun.
"Jesus Christ." A.J. stood up.
"A.J.?" Linzey looked into the darkness. "Is that you?"
"No, it's the Boogie Man," A.J. said sarcastically.
"I'm sorry honey, I-I thought you were...someone else." Linzey stopped herself from saying Ryan.
A.J. came towards her and hugged her. "He's gone baby."
A.J. kissed her passionately.
"Ah, A.J., watch the ribs."
"They still hurting you?" A.J. looked down at her ribs.
"The doctor said for another month or two." A.J. wrapped her arms around his waist.
"I thought you had another performance t'night," Linzey said.
"I just told you that so I could surprise you. I didn't think you'd pull a gun on me." A.J. smiled.
"I'll make it up to you." Linzey smiled.
"Oh, Linz, whatever do you mean?" A.J. pulled Linzey into the bedroom.
"Oh, I'm glad we moved your waterbed in here." A.J. sat onthe bed as Linz sat on top of him. He was glad to be home.
"A.J. you there?" Kevin's voice called from outside the door. "It's really important."
A.J. got out of bed carefully not to wake up Linzey. He put on his pants and went out to open the door.
"A.J. come on I know you're there." Kevin banged on the door.
"Shh! You're gonna wake up Linz." A.J. opened the door.
"Sorry. Look at this." Kevin walked in and handed A.J. an already opened letter.
A.J. read over the letter. "Ryan's being let out?" A.J. asked. "Where'd you get this?"
"I wrote to the court and asked to get any information about Ryan."
"What are we gonna do?" A.J. looked up.
"I don't know. I guess abusers can't get a sentence longer than 3 months and they said Ryan wasn't a serious offender."
"Wasn't a serious offender?" A.J. repeated. "She was..."
"Just don't tell Linz, I don't know what she'll do. She has a gun and she almost shot me today." A.J. looked down.
"She tried to shoot you?"
"She thought I was someone else."
"Poor thing. She's really scared, huh?"
"Yeah, but I won't let anything happen to her." A.J. looked determined.
"That's great and all but you have to keep touring sweetie." Linz was sitting in a chair behind A.J.
"How long have you been here?"
"Well...you could come with us."
"I'd be in the way," Linz argued.
"Not if you were dancing," Kevin said.
"The doctors said I can't dance while my ribs are all broken."
"Great so Ryan gets out of jail and you're still suffering. That's just wonderful!" Kevin yelled.
"Settle down Kev." Linz looked into his eyes. "It's ok."
"No it's not!"
"I can deal with him.," Linz said comfortably.
"You couldn't last time, baby." A.J. stroked her hair, but she turned from him. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that."
Linz breathed deeply and stood up.
"I'm going back to bed."
Linz ran her hands through her hair.
5 hours later Linz woke up and saw that A.J. still wasn't in bed yet. She went to the living room to see that he wasn't there either. 'Did he leave me?' Linzey thought frantically to herself.
Her eye caught a piece of paper.
I went to go find something out and I'll meet you at the rehearsal area. I want you to go straight to the rehearsal area. Love you baby.
Linz walked past the guard and up to Brian.
"Hey! Wow it's been like 2 months." Brian hugged her excitedly.
Linz hugged him back despite her pain. "It's great to see you though." Linz closed her eyes.
"So any guess where A.J. and Kevin are?"
"I have an idea."
"Ryan's being let out of jail and they were talking about it early this morning. I went back to bed and found a note from A.J. when I woke up."
"Ryan's being released?" Brian looked at her.
"Yeah. Look it's no big deal." Linz forced a smile.
"Linz! No big deal?! This guy almost killed you and it's no big deal that he's being let out of jail." Brian sarcastically yelled.
"He won't find me," Linz comforted.
"You don't know that." Brian calmed down.
"Yes I do. He...he thinks I'm dead," Linz explained.
"And how did he get that impression?"
"I paid some guys to tell him that I died in the hospital That's why I'm so calm."
"Linzey, that's practically against the law. What if it gets around? You're fucking with his head."
"Like he didn't fuck up mine, Brian?!" Linzey almost broke down in tears.
"I'm sorry. I know." Brian hugged Linzey. "It's gotta be hard for you."
"What's going on?" A.J. asked as he put his arms carefully around Linzey.
Brian looked up as he let go of Linzey.
"Hafta tell you something sweetie." Linzey wiped her tears away.
"That's pretty smart, baby." A.J. held Linzey tighter as she finished explaining.
"Actually that's crazy," Kev answered back.
"I still want to keep you near for a couple of days," A.J. said protectively.
"Only?" Linz joked.
"No baby. Forever." A.J. kissed her.
Ryan eyed the knife. He had always done the right thing, and now he had killed someone? Someone had cared about. She would never know that though. Even if she was alive. Ryan never knew anything but abuse. His mother had always loved his dad and his dad beat his mom. I thought Linz would have loved me more, Ryan thought. He grabbed his knife. If Linz was still alive, he would find her.
Linz bent down to tie her shoe. It had been a long two days. All of this talk about Ryan and jail was giving her a headache. She looked up to see Fatima's smiling face.
"Girl did you change your mind?" Fatima asked.
"No just watchin' fer now." Linz smiled.
"Come on just try it," Fatima urged.
"Can't I got broken ribs," Linz fessed up.
"Oh you okay?" Fatima looked worriedly.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Linz forced a smile.
"Well feel better. Tell me if you change your mind." Fatima smiled and then walked off.
A.J. walked up behind Linz.
"Hey baby. How you feelin?"
"I kinda got a headache."
"Come on, sweetie, I'll show you to my dressing room."
"A.J. I don't want to..."
"Linzey Elizabeth Jones! Get your mind out of the gutter," A.J. joked. "Come on, baby. You can lie down on the couch for awhile."
A.J. got Linz some cool water and brought it to the couch where she was lying down. He had turned the lights off and open the blinds slightly so some daylight barely lit up the room.
"There you go sweetheart. Get some rest and I'll be back in a couple of hours."
A.J. kissed her forehead.
"Okay. I love you."
"I love you too."
A.J. walked out and closed the door.
Linz woke up as the door creaked open.
"A.J., is that you?"
"No, Linz, it's me," a familar voice sent chills down her spine.
"You had me trickled for a while there, baby."
"Don't call me that, you bastard." Linz got up.
"I missed you." Ryan walked towards Linz.
"Ryan! Don't! Please," Linz begged almost through tears. "I don't want to hurt you, just cooperate." Ryan touched her face.
"No!" Linzey shrieked despite her tears.
"Okay I'm sorry."
"You're what?!" Linzey looked up from the tight ball she had former body in.
"I decided what had to happen if it came to this," Ryan said as he pulled out his gun.
A.J. looked up as he heard a loud shriek and a gunshot. His stomach turned when he realized it was Linzey's shriek. A.J. ran to his dressing room to find something he never would have though he would have to see.
Linzey's body didn't move from a tight ball for a couple of moments that seemed like months to A.J.
"Baby are you okay?" A.J. ran over to her reluctantly warm body.
"He's gone, he did." Linz rocked back and forth.
"Who? What?" A.J. looked around to find someone. Ryan. Ryan had killed himself.
"Oh G-d!" A.J. turned Linzey's head away from the body. "It's okay, it's okay."
"Can we save him?"
"He shot himself in the head, sweetie." A.J. felt Linzey's body shiver in fear.
Kevin ran in.
"Linz--omig-d! I'll call the paramedics." Kevin got out his cell phone.
The other boys came quickly after that and comforted Linzey after A.J. took her in his arms. A.J. started to put her down but was interrupted by Linzey's yelp.
"What? What's wrong, baby?"
"Please don't put me down, A.J., I'm scared."
"That's what Ryan said."
"He called me baby."
"I won't anymore."
"No, please do. I need you to be there for me and I-I like it when you call me that."
Linzey held his neck tighter until she fell into a deep sleep from exhaustion.
Linz woke up in the cool room at A.J.'s apartment. A.J. was sleeping next to her, keeping her close to him.
"Hey sleepyhead." A.J. kissed her neck passionately.
"Oh!...A.J. sweetie where are we?"
"In your waterbed, my apartment."
"I'm dizzy. What's wrong?" Linz sat up.
"You were suffering from exhaustion baby. The doctors had to give you some disorienting mediceine. They said you probably haven't gotten a good night's sleep in a month." A.J. slowly pulled her back to bed.
A.J. walked into his apartment gloomily as usual. It had been half a year since Linzey dumped him. Half a year, he thought. Linzey had constantly been having panic attacks and nightmares when they were together. Always thinking about Ryan, about that night he killed himself.
Linz curled up tightly in a ball. She was hungry, but there wasn't any food in the refrigerator. She could go down to the store, no! No more people, she thought. She missed A.J. so much, but what if he did what Ryan did. Linz didn't want to cause any more deaths.
A.J.'s phone rang.
"Hi. This is Linzey Jones' next door neighbor. There's a problem."
"What kind of problem?" A.J. managed to stay calm.
"She hasn't been checking her calls, checking her mail, or coming to her door. I know she's there because I used to bring her some food after the well...you know."
"What can I do?" A.J. looked at his key that went to Linzey's new apartment.
"Just go over there and try to talk some sense into her. And hurry, I don't think she's been eating lately," the neighbor said before hanging up.
A.J. rushed out of the apt. and hurried over to Linzey's apt.
Linzey's apartment door opened. She didn't even flinch. She didn't care who it was.
"Linzey? Baby, is that you?" A.J. asked.
"No, no, A.J. can't be here. No more people." Linzey started to rock herself.
A.J. hurried over to her. He kneeled down in front of her and held her droopy head in his hands.
"Shh, it's okay. Everything's gonna be okay," A.J.'s voice soothed. "I brought you some food, okay? Will you eat for me?"
Linzey nodded unevenly.
"Okay, good." A.J. got out some food.
A.J. tucked Linzey in tightly. He started to walk away but was pulled back by Linz.
"What is it, baby?" A.J. bent down and stroked her hair.
"I'm sorry if I hurt you, A.J. I do love you, but I didn't want to hurt anyone anymore." Linzey's eyes were filled with sincerity.
A.J. looked deep into her eyes and leaned over to kiss her. They kissed passionately until Linzey pulled away.
"I'm not stable." Linz stared into his brown eyes.
"Okay, I'll wait." A.J. kissed her one last time before sitting on the floor next to the couch she was going to sleep in.
Memories flooded Linzey's head when she woke up in her old water bed. A.J. came into the room and pulled back the sheer leopard curtains. "Morning." A.J. smiled.
"Hey." Linz smiled almost apologetically. "Wait where'd you sleep?"
"I haven't slept in here since you left me. It brought back too many memories."
A.J. could see the tears in Linzey's eyes. "What's wrong, baby?" A.J. asked as he sat next to her on the bed.
"I'm so sorry. I thought I wouldn't be hurting you by leaving you but I just hurt you more, didn't I?" Linzey looked up at A.J. with tearful eyes.
"What matters is that you're with me now, baby." A>J. stroked her hair. "Get some rest, sweetie. I'm going to get you better."
"I love you." Linz laid back down.
"I love you too." A.J. kissed her forehead.
Linzey sat up from her bad dream. Someone eased her back down. She turned over, hoping to see A.J.'s comforting, but it wasn't A.J. It was...it was...Ryan?
"Ryan?" Linzey asked.
"Yes, Linz. Now that I'm dead the plan must be completed." Ryan took out his bloody gun and shot Linzey twice.
Linzey sat up from the bad dream to see A.J. next to her on the bed helping her back down. Linzey touched his face for reassurance.
"It's just a bad dream, honey," A.J. said as he wiped some sweat from her forehead.
Linzey started to fade into sleep again but A.J. pulled her out of it with his words.
"No, no, no, it's time for lunch." A.J. smiled.
Linzey sat up and turned her whole body towards him. There was a short silence before they started to kiss each other. They found themselves laying on the bed as A.J. kissed Linz's neck. They kissed again but A.J. pulled away before anything more could happen.
"We shouldn't be doing this." A.J. got up from on top of her.
"Why? Is it me?" Linz sat up dizzily.
"Look at you." A.J. turned around to face her. "You're...G-d! You're perfect, but you still aren't well yet."
"I'm fine," Linz protested.
"Maybe mentally, but you still are having trouble walking, and...and I promised myself I would get you better no matter what." A.J. paced back and forth.
"Okay, baby. I just thought you wanted it."
"I do," A.J. moved towards her and held her waist. "Just not until you're better. Come on, lunch is waiting."
"Hello? A.J.? Linzey?" Kevin walked into the apartment.
"Hey?" Kevin was surprised to see Linzey up already and laughing with A.J. at that.
"Hey. A.J. tell him the joke," Linz laughed.
"He's heard it."
"The one about the penguin," A.J. said through laughter.
"That one is funny," Kevin laughed.
"How you feelin, munchkin?" Kevin asked Linzey lovingly.
"Since when am I munchkin, Kev?"
"Well if fits you so well," Kevin smiled.