“I think you're a white boy who tries so hard to be black and hip and stylish. I'm sorry to those who have to hear your whiny voice and pity those who think you sound great singing that way. I think you depended more on your dance to take people's attention away from your not so average voice. I think you're a publicity whore who talks about failed relationship and show off your body cause you depend on those things to keep in the limelight. You think you're so great? Think again.”

That's what I'd like to say to Justin Timberlake right in his face. I've said it millions of times in my head, for the sake of good order, I hope it never get heard by others. Doesn't mean I don't want to though. Every nerve in my body is practically screaming for the release, but no, I can't just say that out loud. What would people think? I'm Nick Carter for God's sake.

We had this unspoken agreement, that whenever people ask about the BSB and Nsync war, we deny it. How can we be enemies? We're labelmates man! What I think of Justin Timberlake? I think he's a really cool guy. We're not good buddies or anything, but we've talk, been to the same parties, he's nice.

Sure, when that moment comes, hell shall freezes over.

Truth? Justin and I couldn't stand each other. We strive on getting each other down. Right now, he's winning though. And you can tell that I'm nowhere happy about that.

Being in this All-Star Tour Concert is cool and all; it's exhilarating since this time, I'm travelling as a solo artist. I have my own band to travel with me and although they're not the guys, they're pretty much my age, so it could get crazy sometimes. I find myself being Kevin most of the time, cause I've been to the parties, been drunk, been there done that, but these guys, they're just about to start tasting the upside of being famous. No one to stop you, everyone welcomes you.

I shouldn't have come but I did. I didn't do this just so I can expand my social life with other celebrities hanging out with us, but I finally got tired of Lisa's whining and pouting and gave in to her demands in the end. She's annoying to say the least but in other aspects of my life, she's the only person I know and trust with my life on this tour. Lisa is Kevin's prodigy. Yes, as in Kevin Richardson. Like 50 Cent is to Eminem. And well, Lisa is on tour with us too.

“Okay, don't look now, but Justin Timberlake is looking our way.”

Did I fail to mention that she's head over heels in love with Justin Timberlake? Well, like they say, love is blind.

“Oh?” I said, feigning interest. She knew that I hate that guy, she knew about the entire BSB-Nsync thing, so of course, it all came out sarcastic.

“I hope so Nick, or else he'd be looking at you, and the way he's looking all lustful, I'd gag if it wasn't because of me.”

Lisa almost has a sharp mouth. Just like me. Which makes us compatible is most ways and unbearable in others. She's beautiful though, can't deny that fact. The first time Kevin showed her off to us, my mouth dropped to the floor. AJ needed help to roll his tongue back in his mouth. She is just the type of girl I'd go crazy for.

Long, slightly wavy jet black hair and the most piercing, darkest blue eyes I've ever seen. It made her look sensual and mysterious but her personality begs to differ. If unlike anything else, Eliza Leigh Manning is the girl version of myself. It scares me sometimes but hey, who isn't? Well, maybe Kevin, but he's not human.

“What is it with Justin and the girls huh? I see nothing attractive on him.” I said, of course, that's largely my ego talking.

“I'm glad you didn't Nick, or I'd be very worried for you.” Lisa said, failing miserably to look as if she's frowning. I rolled my eyes. “Hey, let's go dance, I wanna see how you work that ass.”

Work that ass?

“I feel so violated whenever you speak. Why is that?”

“Carter, the last time I heard you talking about girls, I felt raped and you haven't even touched me. Just shut up and lets go dance.”

“I don't really like dancing.”

“Yeah, you love your booze more. Come on, I'll even let you grind.”

Violated, yet again.

“And you're telling me you felt raped? You're confused, woman.”

“Talk is cheap Nick, lets show me how you move and we'll go from there k?”

Well, it's better than sitting here and listen to her yap about Timberfuck all night.

So Lisa Manning doesn't only knows how to work that voice, she knows how to work that body. The moment we were on the dance floor, I saw eyes looking at us, well, basically at her, shamelessly ogling over her body that she kept grinding on me. Not to say I didn't appreciate it though, but we're surrounded by celebrities man, not just some random guy. And we all know Mr. Justin is the dancer in town.

It felt good at first, to be in the company of this beautiful girl and having everyone acknowledged that. She was dancing for me and I was dancing for her. You could say it had been awhile since I had a girl dancing like that on me and wasn't drunk out of her mind.

“See Carter, you got nice ass.”

Now why am I blushing? I'm Nick Carter darn it, I can make a comeback!

“But you haven't even touch it yet. Now if you do, I bet you're gonna say I got sexy ass.”

“Don't tempt me.” Lisa threatened. Right.

“I'm not.” I smiled and grabbed her waist so our body started grinding again. “If Kevin was here, I would be in a lot of trouble.”

“But you're Nick Carter, you're suppose to be in trouble!” Lisa laughed.

“Not right now Lisa, I don't need one.” I smiled.

I thought we were having a good time, I mean, hey, I'm the one on the dance floor dancing with the sexiest girl in the club and Justin is still somewhere out there, getting drunk. I was proud to tell the world you don't have to be Michael Jackson to get the sexiest lady on the dance floor. But see, this is my life we're talking about. It will always screw up somewhere along the road.

Lisa Manning has an ulterior motive for getting me on the dance floor. She wants Justin to see how she work it. I saw her stealing glances over at him and I saw him reciprocating that look. Every time Justin acknowledged her, she'd grind deeper on me. So now I'm the prop? I didn't know I had moved up the level this quick.

But I have my dignity [or what's left of it] you know. I'm not going to be someone else's boy toy or whatever the fuck that means. I grabbed her shoulder so she would stop dancing and make her look at me.

“All you have to do is ask him and he'll coming running. You don't need me for this.”

She gave me that confused look, but hey, I'm Nick right? I'm not proclaimed the innocent Backstreet for nothing. “That look ain't gonna cut it with me girl. If you know what you want, go get it.” I should really use my own advice sometimes. Like I should have kissed her when she was looking at Justin and make her see who the real deal is.

“You think I dance with you cause I wanna get to him?” Lisa asked me.

“I know you dance with me cause you wanna get to him.” I replied. The club was getting crowded and I really needed some fresh air. “You know I don't like him and I know you will never understand why, but if you want to dance with him, don't make me stop you.”

She rubbed her hand on mine and gave me that sorry look. She's cute when she do that. Kevin always give in to her every whim when she gave him that look. But Kevin, I'm tired, can we take five?

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to use you in any way.”

“I'm used to being used, but you're my friend and I expect more than that from you .”

She stood there staring at the floor, I know I had her wordless and she should, because what she did is really not cool at all. And here I am thinking I could actually get someone on the dance floor because she likes dancing with me. So typically me.

I didn't wait for her to response to that because I know it would take her awhile to process whatever I had just said. Not that she's stupid, but when something 'deep' ever come out of this mouth, people tend to be shocked. Most of them forgot that even though I'm the young, blonde one, I've seen stuff that no 23 year old should have seen. I've been around the world, seen things that shocked me, others that humbled me and some that downright scares me. I know how it feels like to be used again and again, I know how it feels like to be worked until I was bedridden for a week cause my fever was dismissed as some twenty four hour bug that would go away with Advil.

“Tony's gonna stay with you, I'll send Dave back here once he drive me back to the hotel. Good luck.” I lowered myself and gave her a quick peck on the cheek and walked out of there, never once turning back. The guys in the club must really be going 'that moron, does he have any idea what he's doing?' Well, I can definitely say that I know what I'm doing for once.

I couldn't help a quick glance over at Justin and his 'dawgs' and he had his eyes fixed on the dance floor, my bet was he was flirting with Lisa. I felt so old, like I am done with this dating game. I don't know how he keeps it up but I feel like I had been on this road too many times and it always ended up the same way. I swear sometimes, I feel like I had a sign on my back saying 'don't love me, just use me'.

“That's fast.” Dave said as I climbed into the rented limousine. Back into this little place I call my cabin, where behind heavily tinted windows, the true emotions and colours were let off guard. Here, nobody is able to judge, I'm just another man riding in a car, tired and spent.

“Yeah, too much ego going on in there.”

The engine started to drum softly, heating everything up and revving the air con to full blast. "Yeah, don't wanna get yours bruised this early huh?” Dave joked, at least I thought he was. He better be!

“It's already bruised.” I sighed. He chuckled. I'm glad someone find humour in all these.

“Destination, hotel?”

Where else would I go? I doubt I could get anywhere without being recognised. At least not when I'm riding in this limo and with no bodyguard around. “Yeah.”

I remember the first time the guys and I rode in a limousine. It would be our first ever dinner party with all the important sponsors and I was only sixteen then, barely legal to be in a party where Champaign flow freely and caviar- fish eggs that they decided to call food and sold at ridiculously expensive price- were munched like Oreos. I remember being pinched and called cute throughout the night and even got my fair share of ogling at busty women in very revealing clothing, of course at that time, we don't know Britney Spears yet.

So anyway, about the limousine.

At first, it was oohh and ahhhh. Who would have thought a car could fit in a fridge and a television? I remember having the time of my life conducting my own tests on the car phone and the squeal Brian and I let out in that car when my mom answered the call. 'Ma! I'm in a limousine! Can you believe it? A Limo Ma!' And of course, Lou's dismay in having to pay for that trunk call we made.

When it got routine, that feeling of being suffocated in this mobile box with tinted windows affected me really bad. During times when we hardly had any rest and were at each others' nerves, to be trapped together inside this tiny space got to me. And then there were the thudding and slamming of fans just right outside, calling out our names to open the window, to let them in. I always fear that they would rip the doors apart and ripping my hands [and other limbs attached to this body] off.

From cars to vans to bus. I see the promotion of vehicle throughout our career as a prove that we had came a long way. 'When the bus is no longer safe for you guys, we'd go for submarines next' our Manager had joked after that out of this world incident in Rio.

I was brought out of my reverie by the smooth halt of the car. We were at a junction, stopping for the red light. I couldn't see all of these of course, I was just guessing. You don't expect to know what was out there when you're hiding behind these black windows.

My cell phone rang then and the ID showed AJ's number. I was a little bit surprised by that. We had lost contact for quite some time now. That was another thing to get used to. Before, we were inseparable, these days, we had learn to live out of each others' lives. Growing up meant finding our own lives and identity, being someone on our own, to learn about individuality and experiencing things on our own. It was scary at first, to see Kevin and Brian married and the rest of us suddenly getting involved with girls and having downtime where we weren't together. Now, it is refreshing and something that I cherished. It is during these alone time that I find the space to do things that I never thought I would do with all the cramped schedules. It was a time to just sit back and look at what was going on around me.

“Wassup bro?” I said, finding myself smiling despite the turn out of event not long ago.

“Nothing. Just thought I call in since I found out you're on tour with Lisa. You lucky son of a gun.”

I laughed, heartedly so too. “Yeah, she's cool.”

“Is that so?”

“U huh…”

“Nothing else?” I know that sly tone on his voice. We're about to get involved in a very heated, arousing conversation.

“She's Lisa dawg, lets not spoil the image I already have of her.”

“What? Just because she's practically Kevin's daughter doesn't mean we can't look at her the same way we look at other gorgeous women.”

“Kevin's daughter?” I laughed. “I definitely wouldn't wanna flirt with his daughter, she'd be like my niece! Ew!”

“Okay, wrong thing to say, but you get what I meant. She's hot man, and she's single, and you're single since forever now, put two and two together Nicky, I know you're not *that* blonde.”

AJ thought the very thought had never crossed my mind. What does he think I am? A saint? I'm a single guy who loves women, sue me. Lisa is a nice girl, unfortunately, she's also huge and popular and wanted by all single male on this very planet earth. Some competition I've got, if I even want to pursue it.

“I know. But it's gonna be complicated J, I don't want to mix business with pleasure. If she's just another girl, it'd be different though.”

“Nick, you're contradicting yourself.” Big word AJ! “You always whine about-”

“I do NOT!”

“Shut the hell up and listen, damn it kid, my ear!” I sighed, already giving up the fight. Given I was in a different situation, I might fight back, demanding him not to call me kid, but right then, I was plain tired. “you always say that you want others to see you as Nick first and then Nick Carter the Backstreet Boy, but you're looking at Lisa and immediately see her as the untouchable one, the superstar who is too good, too beautiful, too perfect for you. Damn man, she's just a 22 year old girl.”

“She's interested in Justin, in fact, I think she's dancing with him right about now while I'm on my way back to the hotel.”

“So he's interested in him, nobody's perfect bro.” That's what I said! No wait, I said love is blind. “But so what? It's not like you've never got involved with girls that are too wrong for you too. I shall not quote names but you get what I mean.”

“I'm tired of being used AJ.” There, I finally said it. Perhaps that would shut him up and just start calling me a wuss or some other colourful names and then I can start fighting him back and the conversation would get better from there.

“Man, tell me right now, that you've never use anybody for something you want. Tell me right now and I'm gonna let you off.”

“AJ, using you as a shield to get myself into the hotel unscathed is different! That's called a favour.”

“Bull shit and you know it. Come on Nick, people make mistakes, if Lisa did that to you, which I have a feeling she had by the tone of your voice, she'll realise it. She's just living this new life man, there's so much for her to learn.”

AJ has always been wise the entire time I've known him. But he was the one who always made the dumbest decisions in life. Like letting alcohol rule his life, like playing out Sarah when they were supposed to get married, stuff like that. He scares me sometime, I look up to him to almost everything and when he started spiralling out of control, I see myself going next and that scares me because I don't want Aaron to think that it is the way he is supposed to end up too. That boy is already growing up too fast, sometimes when I look at how he was embracing this celebrity lifestyle, I fear for him.

“Yeah…so…wassup with you?”

“I'm doing fine. Going back to AA, putting my life back on track and stuff like that. I'm gonna fetch Sarah in ten minutes, if she manage to get out early from work, we're gonna watch Finding Nemo.”

“Dude! I wanna go see that! Squirt is so cool!” Well, he does! Sea turtles are cool, almost cool like Ninja Turtles.

“Hey, did you see that part where this duck I think, farted under water? Now that's cool!”

“No, I didn't see that one. But I've heard you done it more than a couple of times, I see why you can relate.”

“Yeah, yeah…I wonder if we can smell it…you know, if we fart underwater?”

And AJ could be a moron. “If you wanna get water in your nose and drown, yeah, sure you can.”

“Oh yeah…that one tiny problem…yeah well, that sucks. I'm going off now, you call me some time okay? Just cause you're hanging out with the big boys, don't forget us down here.” AJ said, faking a sob.

“If you call Justin the big boys, then I'd rather be what you call, 'down here'. I'll call, and behave AJ, don't mess things up with her again.”

We hung up and it must have been a long conversation because we had already arrived at the hotel. Thankfully, no fans were loitering around. I let Dave off to get back to the party and wait for Lisa and Tony while I went straight to bed, sleeping the night off, hoping to wake up to a better day because that's all I could do, hope.

It felt like I had only drifted off to dreamland when I felt the hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake. I woke up to see Lisa sitting on the edge of my bed. I don't even want to know how she got in. She smelt a mix of dried perfume, the lingering smell of tobacco and expensive wine. Those things alone woke me up to full alert.

“Are you awake?”

“No, I just sleep with my eyes open.”

She smiled briefly before looking at me with that resigned face. Her shoulders hunched, her head lolled to the side, her eyes fighting to stay awake. I pushed myself up and sat on my bed, immediately pulling the covers up because I couldn't remember if I had stripped myself down to my boxers. I tried to move around a little and realised I was still fully clothed and relaxed.

“I'm sorry about tonight. I shouldn't have done that, especially not to you.”

“Why not to me?”

She cracked her fingers, another bad habit of hers. “You're too nice Nick, nice guys shouldn't be treated that way.”

“Nice guys always finish last cause they're treated that way. You're just standing the motion.”

“No! It's awful! I've always thought that people who use others for their own greed are the lowest being on earth and I was doing it tonight and I didn't even know it! And to actually do it to a good friend? I feel so horrible, will you ever forgive me?”

I rubbed my neck. I never had a girl who had used me, actually come up to me and admitted it and then apologise for it. Nope, never. All of them had just got up and leave, the last few famous words being 'asshole' or 'I never really loved you'. So Lisa isn't that bad right? Perhaps AJ was right after all. That asshole.

“Lisa, you got to know that in this business, you have to watch for yourself, you can't trust anyone just with a snap of a finger and not get hurt. I was just protecting myself when I walked out on you tonight. I never meant to make you feel horrible.”

“Well I should cause I was horrible. And I know I can't trust just about anyone and that's why I feel so lost cause you're the only friend I have in this tour Nick, if I lost you because of some guy, then who do I have left?”

I smirked and pushed her shoulder lightly. “Some guy? What happen to the oh so gorgeous Justin Timberlake?”

She cringed her nose and glared at me in disgust. “He's cool and all but he ain't real. I got the feeling he was putting a front all the time, it really bugged me.”

“I'm beginning to forgive you, if you could just continue with your Justin Timberlake trashing, I might just find it in me to forget the whole thing.”

She laughed and ruffled my hair and I reached out to do the same to her. She of course, was quick enough to block me. Instead, she reached out her hand for mine and said, “Friends?”

“Just friends? That's it? I thought I dance good tonight.” I joked.

She smiled and caught my eyes and she lingered there, holding me in her stare. “One step at a time okay Nickolas?”

I almost stopped breathing altogether.

“Yeah sure, friends.” I took her offer and we shook hands. She got up from my bed and started walking back towards the door.

“I'm sorry I woke you up, I just have to let this out tonight. Goodnight Nick, see you tomorrow.”

I wanted to just wave her off and sleep but I couldn't help myself.


She stopped, turned and looked at me. “Yeah?”

“So I'm cooler than Justin?”

She laughed and shook her head. “Why do you always ask something that is so obvious Nicky?”

I drifted off to sleep, wondering what the hell she meant by that.

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