Alli rolled her eyes as Nick chased her down the bus.
not kidding, Al! That was so mean! You're definitely going to get it now!"
"Watch it, you two," Kevin growled from
his bunk. "Kristin and I are trying to SLEEP here."
Brian grunted in agreement, but Nick only rolled his eyes as he threw
open the door to the recreation area.
"Okay, Alexandra. Out of here, NOW. I know you're hiding."
giggling from behind the couch and went to check it out. "Alli! How dare you! Now, granted, I've pulled a lot of pranks in
my day, but that was down right mean!"
Alli grinned. "You're welcome, Carter. I knew you'd love it."
it? LOVE IT? Alli, now all my stuff glows in the dark! I HATE it!"
"Oh, Carter, you know you love me..."
He rolled his eyes
and turned to the front of the bus, mumbling to himself. "Sure I do. I'm calling Jasmine now."
"Is that the one I
like?" Alli called after him. He shrugged his shoulders.
"You never like my girlfriends."
"That's because you
have so many that I can't keep track of all of them."
Brian burst out laughing from his bunk. "Ooh, Little Nicky got
shafted," he taunted, pulling Leighanne closer. Nick let out a snort of disapproval, but Alli giggled, sensing an opportunity
to tease as she turned to Leighanne and Brian with mock seriousness.
"No, Brian, Little Nicky is a shaft,"
she corrected. AJ burst into laughter from the front of the bus. Nick rolled his eyes and glowered at Alli.
had enough of this. I'm leaving now. I have someone to meet!"
Alli laughed as she emerged from the rec room. "So,
which one is it this time. Maria? Mandy? Lexus? Jasmine?"
"Shut up? But, Carter, I'm not even close
to finishing. I'm only getting started! Where is your address book, anyway?" she teased. By now, Howie and AJ had burst out
laughing from the kitchen area as Nick turned about twenty different shades of pink.
"You wait, Lacey! I'm getting
you back for this!"
She nodded, smiling slyly. "Sure you will, Carter. Just like you got me back for putting Elmer's
on the rims of your glasses."
"Now that was NOT funny! I almost lost my eyebrows because of you!"
forbid Nick Carter run around without those sexy eyebrows. What would the teenyboppers think?"
Kevin began to snicker
from his bunk. "Hey, Nick, leave while you're ahead," he advised, hiding a smile. Nick just growled.
"Alli, I'll get
you back later. I'm going to see Jasmine."
She nodded. "Have a nice lay! I mean day. Whoops! There I go again..."
The slamming of the bus doors interrupted her tirade. She plopped down into a wooden chair next to Howie. "Well, that
Howie raised an eyebrow skeptically, trying to hide his smile. "He is NOT happy with you."
teach him to put itching powder in my sheets on the first night."
AJ smiled in amusement. "Itching powder, huh?"
"So you put glow-in-the-dark spray in his bags?"
She nodded proudly. "Not like it's that big a deal. I mean,
it washes right out. But we all know just how often Carter does his laundry..."
AJ and Howie burst out laughing at
the thought of Nick bent over a washer and dryer. "Hell would freeze over first," AJ remarked between giggles.
Howie took a sip of coffee and turned back to their guest. "So, Al, how long are you here for this time?"
She shrugged. "Dunno. Until Carter kicks me out. I mean, I'm a graduate now."
"What was your major again?"
Alli looked at him pointedly. "Education. Remember? I want to be a teacher."
AJ nodded. "That's
right. You want to save the world from more disasters like your buddy."
Alli grinned. "Better not let him hear you
say that. He's ticked enough as it is."
Brian yawned, coming up behind them. "Yeah, thanks to you and your antics.
Not that I blame you, though. Someone needed to rag him about all of those girls."
Alli's expression turned serious.
"Yeah, I got a call from one of his girlfriends the other day at his place. She had seen a photo of him kissing someone else,
and she was NOT happy, to say the least."
Leighanne came up from behind Brian, her arms encircling his waist. "I can
imagine not. I'd be furious."
Alli sighed. "You'd think he'd learn. She was really sweet. Jamie, I think her name
was. She lives in Orlando."
Brian nodded. "I remember her. Brown hair, green eyes. She's really funny. They dated
for a while. We thought he was serious about her."
Alli snorted. "Yeah, right. Carter, serious about a woman? Whatever."
"He's pretty serious about you," AJ commented, looking at her with a pointed expression. She shrugged.
just the friend. I don't cross the boundaries of lust. I made it perfectly clear to Carter that I'm not one of his girls.
You guys know that. Besides, I've known him forever. And, much as I love him, I wouldn't trust him with my worst enemy's dog."
The expression struck them as funny, and the whole group laughed again while Alli shrugged innocently. She was
definitely glad to be back in their company. The Backstreet gang was family to Alli. Her mother, a drug addict, had run out
on her father long ago. Her father had worked hard to pay the bills, managing somehow to spend small amounts of quality time
with his only daughter. Alli had spent every second of her childhood, or so it seemed, at the Carters' house, and she
and Nick had remained the best of friends. It wasn't until the Backstreet Boys blew up that Nick became someone Alli
didn't trust. She knew that he abused his fame more than he should, and she didn't much approve. However, she wouldn't leave
him because he had stuck by her when they were younger. And, at least by Alli's standards, true friends never said good-bye.
So she was stuck with the gang again, trying to help Nick out of his ego and into his former psyche.
AJ smiled at
Alli. He considered her to be one of his best friends, and it was always Alli that helped him out of his scrapes with women.
Where there was a broken heart or wounded pride, Alli was always there to help. It had been Alli that had convinced him to
quit smoking, and Alli who had played matchmaker when he and Amanda were in one of their slumps. He often grew angry that
Nick took her for granted, but it wasn't his place to say anything. Alli made a face at him, bringing him out of his
reverie, and he laughed.
"So," she began, still eyeing AJ. "When's Amanda joining the tour?"
"She's got some business in Orlando, but she'll be here as soon as she's done. We've done some talking lately, and she doesn't
mind me being gone so much anymore. She does mind that you're not going to be in Tampa, but she'll get over it. It'll just
make her work faster."
Alli nodded. She and Amanda had been good friends from day one, and it calmed her to know that
AJ was in good hands. He always seemed to crave the attention of a woman, and he and Amanda were perfect for each other.
I can't wait to see her," she said, eyes sparkling. Alli was known for her gray eyes, which did much to accent her auburn
hair. She was naturally pretty, and none of the guys would disagree. However, she was a little sister to them, and they
were protective of her. Whenever she suggested dating, they were skeptical. Since she had no brother, the guys seemed to automatically
take to the role, and all of them protected her well. She took care of them when needed, and they were glad to offer help.
Their girlfriends were never jealous of Alli, though, because she offered friendship to them as well. There were few women
that didn't get along with Alli, and the majority that did were not part of the gang for long.
"You and me both, babe,"
AJ returned, and she smiled.
"Gosh, I'm tired. When do you think Carter'll be back?"
Brian grinned slyly.
"You said it yourself. He'll get laid. Then he'll come back all tired out. I wouldn't count on a late night movie this evening.
She sighed, looking around the table. "Come on, guys. What's that new Adam Sandler movie again? Doesn't
anyone want to come with me?" she pouted, looking around hopefully. Leighanne laughed.
"C'mon, Als, you and Kristin
and I can make a date out of it." She turned to the back of the bus. "Kris? What do you say?"
Kristin yawned. "Yeah,
movie later. Sleep now."
Alli nodded. "It's a deal. But, right now, I'd really like to get something to eat. Everybody
up for food? I think there's a Mickey D's across the street."
AJ clapped his hands eagerly. "Oh, she's going for the
brownie points, today. I love Mickey D's."
Alli rolled her eyes. "And we all know how much I want to make AJ happy.
It's what I live for," she cried dramatically, her voice dripping with sarcasm. AJ pouted, moving his hand to his heart and
pretending to cry.
"Now, Als, when you do that, it hurts...so much...right here," he sniffled, tapping his heart.
She suppressed her laughter.
"I'm sorry, Age. I'll never do it again, I promise." She crossed her fingers behind her
back and wiggled them for the rest to see. Brian snickered.
"AJ, I'd watch that one," he advised knowingly. "She's
Alli laughed. "Who, me? I'm not trouble! I'm loads of fun, aren't I, Leigh?" she asked innocently, turning
to Leighanne, who nodded amusedly.
"Babe, you're the epitome of innocence."
Alli smiled proudly. "See, Brian?
Leighanne loves me."
Brian nodded. "I guess I have no choice but to deal with you, huh?"
Alli grinned mischievously.
"Oh, you could say that. I'd watch the insults, Littrell. You might end up the only Backstreet Boy without a quarter-pounder."
Brian nodded eagerly. "Oh, Alli, I'll be good, I swear. I'm an angel. I'm better than an angel. I'm..."
going," Alli called, and then dropped her voice, imitating the Terminator. "Ah'll be bahck."
She stepped cheerfully
out of the bus, their laughter ringing in her ears.
* * * * *
Late that night, Nick walked back onto the bus, grinning widely.
His eyes soon lost their sparkle as he looked around him and realized that Alli was nowhere to be seen. Puzzled, he looked
at Brian for an answer.
"Where is she?"
Brian looked up from the book he was reading and smiled. "Who?"
rolled his eyes. "Duh, Brian! Alli! Where'd she go?"
Brian laughed. "Oh, she went out with Leighanne and Amanda. They
were bored, so they decided to go out and see that new Adam Sandler movie. What's it called again?"
Nick sighed. "Big
Daddy. She said that we'd go see it together."
"And you said that you'd spend the first day with her," Brian
returned, raising an eyebrow for emphasis. Nick slapped a palm to his forehead.
"Oh, shit," he mumbled, then turned
to look at his friend. "B, I forgot, I swear. I mean, I totally forgot that I told her that. She's not mad, is she? I mean,
hell, it wasn't a major commitment or anything." He raked a hand through his hair and blew out a stream of air through lightly
pursed lips. "Girls get so worked up over shit like that."
Brian raised an eyebrow and cocked his head to the side.
"Nick, she is your best friend. That should count for something. I mean, when was the last time you saw her?"
shrugged. "I dunno, maybe four months ago. Whenever we started the tour in Europe. I haven't seen her since then."
rolled his eyes at the response. "And yet you don't care that she's taking off her first semester at grad school to be with
Nick shrugged indifferently. "It's not like she has to. She made the choice."
"But it'd be nice if you
were around to be with," Brian countered expectantly, and Nick rolled his eyes.
"God, if it's that important to you,
I'll try to make some time for her."
Brian's eyes widened at the heated response. "You'll try to make some time
for her? Nick, you shouldn't have to do that! You should want to spend time with her! I'm still shocked that
she puts up with you."
Nick laughed. "Hey, man, you said it yourself. She hasn't seen me in four months. She hasn't
had to put up with me."
Brian shrugged. "Doesn't mean that she should have to put up with you."
yawned. "Then she shouldn't have come. I'm available now, but she's gone. Her loss."
Brian watched in awe as Nick
headed to the back of his bus, toward his bunk. He shook his head slowly. "Nope, your loss."
As if on cue, the bus
door opened and Leighanne ran breathlessly into the room, followed by Kristin and Alli. She looked at him with wide eyes and
managed a small smile.
"Did we make it back on time?"
Brian laughed and pulled her in for a hug. "Yes, sweetie,
you made it back in time. We've got five more minutes before Danny comes back to drive us to another city."
smiled in relief and looked over to the couple. "Hey, Bri, is Kevin back there?"
Brian nodded. "Yeah, but he's asleep."
Kristin shot an evil grin in Alli's direction. "Not for long. I'll see you guys in the morning."
"See ya, Kris. Have fun with Kev."
She looked over to Brian and Leighanne, who were caught in a
passionate kiss, and shook her head with a smile. Talking to them for the evening was obviously out of the question. And,
though she wasn't too thrilled with her best friend, she was anxious for company.
"B, is Carter back yet?"
pulled away slowly and laughed. "Yeah, but he's being a little weird. Good luck with him."
Alli nodded her thanks.
"Sorry for interrupting. You guys have a nice night. Try to get some sleep," she added with a wink, and then vanished to the
back of the bus. Leighanne laughed against Brian.
Brian smiled. "You can tell she's best friends
with Nick. Although I sometimes wonder if she's AJ's twin..."
Leighanne laughed again. "Maybe, if we're lucky, she'll
talk some sense into Nick."
Brian nodded, and his smile faded. "Yeah, he needs it."
* * * * *
Alli jogged to the back of the bus and threw open the door to the
rec room. "Honey, I'm home!" she called happily after closing the door, careful not to wake the others. Nick looked up from
his spot on the couch and rolled his eyes.
"Are you always this loud?"
Alli cast him a sideways glance and
rolled her own eyes to mock him. "Are you always this bitchy?" she shot back. "Geez, you'd think that men would actually be
happy after sex."
Nick glowered at her. "Yeah, well, I got back and you were gone."
Alli laughed and flopped
onto the couch beside him. "I got sick of being in the bus. It happens. You were gone, and I do have other friends."
leveled a stern gaze on her. "So you came to see them and not me?"
Alli raised her hands in mock surrender. "No, but
I love them just the same! I wanted to spend some time with people. So sue me! What's up your ass anyway?"
and glanced at the television, where a cartoon was rolling. "Nothing. I had a rough day."
Alli rolled her eyes to
the ceiling in exasperation. "Oh, I feel your pain."
He glared. "Al, be nice for once, okay? Jasmine flipped out on me."
Alli sighed. "Why did she flip out on you?" she asked, trying to rid her tone of aggravation. Nick looked to her in
Alli gave him a pointed glance. "Yeah, dumb butt. It's in the job description."
sighed. "She heard about me seeing other women and blew a fuse. I still don't get it, but she refused to have sex again until
I could make a commitment." He paused to roll his eyes. "But, I mean, it's just sex. I don't see why she got so worked up
Alli nodded slowly. Inside, however, her mind was reeling with the changes in her best friend. Just
sex? Since when does Nick think of women as a good fuck? Have I taught him absolutely nothing?
"Maybe she saw
it as something more," she suggested lightly. Nick shrugged.
"Probably. Dunno why. I mean, hell, I'm in a different
city every night, and she expects a commitment. Isn't that kind of unreasonable?"
Alli sighed again. "Maybe so, maybe
not." She stood up and stretched, trying to ignore the bad feeling in the pit of her stomach. She couldn't believe what she
would be dealing with, but she had to find the Carter that had left her for Europe. "Listen, Carter, I'm tired. I'm gonna
hit the sack for now, but I'll see you in the morning, okay?"
Nick nodded. "Yeah, 'night Al."
a light grin. "Don't let those bed bugs bite your ass, Carter."
Nick rolled his eyes and playfully glared at her.
"Blow me," he growled. She just laughed.
"I'll leave that to the infamous Carter Playbunnies, thanks."
turned to offer a saucy reply, but she was already out of the room. With a sigh, Nick flipped the switch on the television
and headed to his own bunk.