Linz let out a sigh as Brian pulled her close for the slow song. She looked over and saw Sara dancing the same way with A.J. She couldn't help but smile at the irony of the situation. Sara had always sworn that she could never date a man with tattoos, and A.J. must have had at least ten of them. On the other hand, Linz had always sworn that she could never date a wholesome guy like Brian. A.J. was exactly the type of guy that she would usually end up with, while Brian was the type of guy who would end up her best friend. But maybe that was a good change. When Linz had gone out with guys like A.J. before, she had always ended up losing them. Maybe this meant that she and Brian would be near each other for a longer period of time. But still...as Linz looked over again and saw the way that A.J. was whispering to Sara and smiling, she couldn't help but feel a bit of jealousy.
Sara laughed quietly as A.J. leaned forward and whispered a joke in her ear. A.J. was...unusual, but she had to admit that he was very good-looking and had a great sense of humor. Just the type of guy she would expect to be her best friend in the world, but never her boyfriend. I'm thinking ahead of myself, Sara thought. We just met, and I'm already thinking about him being my boyfriend. She sighed sharply, seeing the way that Linz was resting her head against Brian's chest, and A.J. looked down at her with concern.
"Hey, are you okay?" he asked, brushing some hair out of her face.
She forced a smile. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"So listen, I was wondering if maybe you'd like to go out with me sometime?" A.J. asked nervously.
Sara smiled. "I'd love to."
"Do you maybe want to go get something to eat tomorrow night?" Brian was asking Linz. "I know that's soon, but we go out of town after that."
Linz smiled. "I'd love to."
"Well, I think we've pretty much covered my career," Nick said with a grin. He had spent the last two hours talking about being a Backstreet Boy and summarizing all that had happened ever since the group had formed. Katie had listened to all of it in fascination, especially to the parts with Kevin. "What about you?"
Katie smirked and tossed a potato chip into her mouth. "Mine isn't nearly as exciting. Like I said, I'm a secretary," she informed Nick. "Bo-ring."
Nick smiled and shook his head. "I could never work in an office. Every day must be exactly the same. I need variety."
"Well, after leading a life like mine, I need anything but variety," Katie said quietly.
Nick sighed and held his arms out to his sister. She half-smiled and crawled into them. "What exactly happened to you over those years, Katie?" he asked softly.
"No offense, Nicky, but...I pretty much just met you, and that's very hard for me to talk about to anyone," she murmured, sounding guilty.
"That's perfectly all right," he reassured her. "You'll talk to me when you're ready though, right?"
She nodded. "I will. I just...I've had a pretty rough time, and I don't open up to new people very easily."
"I understand," Nick said softly, so that she knew he meant it. "Oh, Kevin wanted me to give you this," Nick remembered, seeing the piece of paper and handing it to her.
Katie unfolded it and smiled. "Call me, (301) 386-1219. Love, Kevin," was scribbled on it in pencil. She pocket the note and chuckled to herself.
"So you're a secretary, huh?" Nick recalled, starting up another conversation. "What do you do for fun?"
Katie shrugged. "I sing."
"You do? That's so cool!" Nick exclaimed. "So do Leslie and Aaron, and me of course. Can I hear you?"
"Well..." Katie hesitated. "I'm not really that good. And I sing mostly Broadway stuff."
"Bull, I'm sure you're great. And I love Broadway. Please?" Nick begged, pouting.
Katie smiled. "There's an amateur night at a local club here in two weeks, and I'm performing then. Maybe you could come to that," she suggested.
"Two weeks?! That's a long way away," Nick complained. "But the guys and I will be back in New York then. Okay."
Just then Katie yawned.
"Oh, you must be exhausted," Nick realized.
Katie smiled sleepily and moved out of Nick's lap. "Yeah, I should be heading home."
"You can't drive home now," Nick protested. "It's eleven o'clock at night."
"Okay...I'll try to get a room here," she amended.
Katie smiled. "I'll sleep on your couch?"
"Bingo," Nick said. "Would you like a cookie or a small parade?"
"No, a family is enough, thank you," Katie whispered, a tear trickling down her cheek.
Nick wrapped his arms around her tightly and kissed her forehead as his own eyes brimmed with tears as well. Katie buried her face in his chest as she cried happily for the second time that night.
A few minutes later, Nick gently eased her away. "We should go to sleep."
Katie nodded and reached for a tissue to wipe her eyes. Nick quickly spread the extra blankets and pillow out on the couch. He stood up and scratched his head. "You probably don't want to sleep in that dress, do you?"
"Oh, it's no problem."
Nick grinned and walked over to the closet. "No, it's okay, I have some extra stuff." He opened up a cardboard box and pulled out some unused merchandising: a Backstreet Boys t-shirt and Backstreet Boys boxers. He tossed them to her. "These haven't been used yet. You can have 'em."
Katie smiled. "Okay, thanks. I'll be right back," she said, heading towards the bathroom.
A few minutes later, she was crawling into bad. Nick came to hug and kiss her goodnight.
"G'night, Nick," she whispered, tousling his hair.
He smiled warmly. "Goodnight, Katie. I...love you," he whispered.
After Nick turned off the light and got into his own bed, Katie lay awake for awhile thinking about his last words to
her: "I love you." It was the first time since the accident that a man had said that to her and had truly meant it. Katie sighed
and rolled over, closing her eyes. After ten painful years, things were finally looking up for her.