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Leighanne ran over to Brian as soon as they heard the glass bottle smash. 

“Hey, sorry I'm late!” 

Kevin looked up to see Howie and Leigh at the back of the house. He'd totally forgotten that they'd invited them but here they were. 

“Husband, are you okay?” Leighanne asked again, because he hadn't answered her. Brian coughed uncomfortably and started shushing her, because he was annoyed. He didn't like being fussed over and she was embarrassing him by making a scene. 

“I'm fine, no worries. Kevin and I were just discussing some stuff. Seriously, I'm fine honey. I'll be fine.” he insisted, rolling his eyes when she wasn't looking. Shr eventually left him alone to everyone's relief.

He and Kevin exchanged looks and cleaned up the glass before Kevin went back to setting up the burgers on the grill.

"I hate when she's like that. Sorry about the mess." Brian apologized. Kevin put up his hand to let him know it was fine. 

“Did I miss something? You guys are quiet.” Howie asked. Nobody said anything, but Kevin closed the grill and grabbed another beer, handing one to Howie. Brian took one as well. 

“I asked Brian if I could come back to the group.” Kevin blurted. Howie still looked confused. 

“Come back? Like come back, come back? Are you sure?"

Kevin looked at the ground. If everyone was going to have this reaction, maybe it was better he didn't return. Maybe it was better if he just told them he was joking and to pretend that he didn't miss them as much as he did. Maybe he should just forget the whole thing and let everyone go on with their lives just as they had been for the past six years. They didn’t need him. 

“What brought this on?” Howie asked. For the first time ever in their lives, Howie seemed shocked to discover that Kevin was actually nervous. 

“Just a few things I’ve been thinking about. I feel inspired again. I want to make music again.” 

Brian and Howie stared and Kevin stared back, his eyes focused. 

“You're really serious about it, aren't you?” Brian asked. Kevin closed his eyes and took a breath because he’d been rehearsing this speech over in his head all morning since he decided to tell them at the barbecue. His mouth suddenly got dry and he took a drink before continuing. 

“I have just been thinking about a lot of stuff. I miss the stage. I miss singing and performing. I miss the fans. I just started thinking about all of it. Especially about how AJ said the door was open, so I decided the hell with it and just to ask you all what you felt. I really miss you guys. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable.” 

“That's great, I know we miss you too...I'm sorry for freaking out. Of course we'd love to have you back. I mean that cuz. Right, Howie?” Brian said, patting Kevin on the back. Howie nodded in agreement. 

“I agree. AJ and Nick should be happy about it too. Nick talks about you all the time.” Howie said. Kevin gave them an unsure look. He kept thinking about Nick blowing up at him and it just played in his head any time that he even thought about Nick and talking to him. He didn’t want to see Nick angry at him again. He’d let him down and hated himself for it even though he knew he did what was right for himself at the time.  

"See. I told you." Brian agreed.

“Does he really?” Kevin asked. All he could think about was when he'd dropped the news on them in that conference room. He remembered it like it was yesterday. 

“I HATE YOU!!!” 

“Yeah he does. We all miss you, Kev. You're our big brother.” Howie said as Kevin went back to paying attention to his grill and flipped the hamburgers. Somehow Kevin didn’t think this was the same sentiment that Nick had, and it was then he knew he would have to get him alone to find out how he really felt. Even when he had performed with them one time years ago things were very awkward between him and Nick, he could only imagine what it would be like now. He knew Nick didn't hate him anymore but he knew how Nick felt about him leaving. 

All he thought about was Nick and how he knew he’d have to talk to him, to get him to be okay with him coming back before he went to the record label and officially reunited with the Backstreet Boys. The thought excited him and scared him to death at the same time. If Nick was okay with it, that would cement his decision and make him feel like he was making the right choice in returning. 

“Maybe I'd better talk to them too. I mean, Nick didn't speak to me for weeks...months after I left.”

Kevin didn’t notice the looks that Brian and Howie exchanged and the two of them felt it was better that way. Howie coughed and pretended to look at the burgers cooking on the grill, distracting Kevin with a discussion about barbecue pits. Brian wouldn’t have any of it and brought the conversation back. 

“So what are you going to do about Nick then?” 

“I should pay him a visit in Tennessee.” Kevin nodded thoughtfully. 

Brian sipped at his beer and went quiet. He'd known all too well about that, how Nick had thrown a fit and he'd watched Kevin chase after him outside. Nick played it off as if everything was okay at first but when they all realized Kevin really was gone…Nick was angry again. He'd cursed and cried until he was red in the face. Brian hadn't forgotten because he was the one who picked up the pieces after Kevin had gone. It had taken a couple hours to even get him out of the bathroom he’d locked himself in because he didn’t know how else to deal with it. The bathroom was Nick’s answer to most things he didn’t want to deal with. 

“I think that's a great idea.” Brian said with a smile, trying to pretend he wasn't worried. Part of him wondered if Kevin should even be going alone to see Nick because he wasn’t sure how it would go. Sure, Nick was generally over the whole situation, but it had been six years. How would he feel about Kevin coming back after making such a huge scene when he left? 

He only wondered how Kevin was going to convince him things were going to be fine. Everyone knew how Nick was. Brian just hoped that Kevin knew what he was getting himself into.

“So we are going to shoot the video in Nashville, yes?” 

Nick was half paying attention to his manager, Lori. They were discussing his new album and the music video for his single Burning Up. He was really proud of the album and didn't care if it even made it to number one. He just was happy to make solo music again. Being a Backstreet Boy was something he loved but he also loved doing his own thing as well. He was grateful for his bandmates allowing him the freedom to do that. 

“Sure, Lori. That sounds great.” 

His phone vibrated and he saw a text from Kevin, but he ignored it. He was in the middle of a meeting…it could wait. 

Kevin stared at the message he'd sent Nick, frowning. 

“You all right?” Kristen asked from across the living room. 

“I think Nick is ignoring me.” 

Nick usually answered him back right away but lately it seemed like he was avoiding him. Kevin didn't like to think that but the way everyone was acting he couldn't help but feel the slightest bit annoyed by the situation. 

“I'm sure he wouldn't. Maybe he's just busy.” 

Kevin nodded and continued to eat his lunch, thinking. 

“Leave me alone, I hate you!!!”

Nick's words echoed again and he shook them off. He was sure Nick would be okay with him wanting to come back. Brian and Howie seemed happy. Maybe he could just talk to AJ first and leave Nick for later. That would surely be better. 

Kevin went to see AJ in LA for lunch because it was easiest to get him that way. AJ was busily planning his wedding to Rochelle, a girl he’d been seeing for a few years. Kevin was really proud of him for finally taking that step and being serious about it this time. AJ seemed like he was in a good place in his life, sober and happy. 

“It’s really good to see you, Kev.” AJ said as they hugged before sitting down to eat dinner. They’d gone to a local burger place and ordered their food. Kevin got a beer but AJ didn’t, he ordered a Coke. 

“No beer for me,” he’d said with a chuckle. 

Kevin smiled and sipped at his drink as they talked. 

“I’m so happy for you and Rochelle. She seems like a great woman.”

“Thanks, I mean marriage scares the crap out of me. For real. Was it like that for you, or did you always know you wanted to marry Kris?"

“It was like that for me, but I know you’re making the right move. I can tell you’re really happy, Jay. Truly happy and it’s great.” Kevin smiled. Of all the people in the group, Kevin was the one AJ had to thank the most for being where he was today. If he hadn’t barged in his hotel room that day and staged the intervention he’d have overdosed that day. They’d exchanged so many words that afternoon and it was forever engraved in his brain. 


The words had stung, but in the end he’d gone to rehab and he thanked God every day that he had listened to his friend because he’d have never met his fiancé. Rochelle was a makeup artist and after working with her a few times, he’d managed to ask her on a date. They’d been together for a while before AJ had proposed to the surprise of everyone. Nobody thought that the band’s resident bad boy bachelor would ever settle down, but it was finally going to happen that year. 

“I have you to thank for a lot of it. It’s good to see you because we all miss you so much. Seriously.” AJ said. 

Kevin smiled again, digging into his French fries and dipping them in ketchup. 

“I’m so glad to hear you say that, because I’ve seen so many interviews where you mentioned the door was always open for me to come back.” 

“Well, I meant every word.” AJ replied, drinking his Coke. 

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you….I want to come back to the group…”

AJ almost spilled his soda all over the table and Kevin laughed. It was just like Brian and Howie at the barbecue...would all of them react this way? He really wondered how Nick would react. Maybe he was making the wrong decision. 

“Look, if you guys don’t want me to come back, I completely understand.” he muttered. AJ’s eyes were going wild and Kevin seemed surprised that a smile played at the corners of his mouth. 

“What kind of a question is that? Of course you can come back!! I’m sure the other guys are going to be so stoked about it when we tell them!!” AJ said. This made Kevin happy but his mind once again turned to Nick and the fight they’d had when he left, the fact that his messages were getting ignored and that they had not spoken in months. Nick was always busy but it seemed like he was too busy to make time for his big brother. 

Kevin really hoped he could figure out a way to talk to him.