Bed of Roses
Chapter Two
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Twenty-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine
Chapter Forty
Chapter Forty-One
Chapter Forty-Two
Chapter Forty-Three
Chapter Forty-Four
Chapter Forty-Five
Chapter Forty-Six
Chapter Forty-Seven

You and me used to be together
Everyday, together
I really feel like I'm losing my best friend

Nick awoke to the sounds of laughter in the kitchen area. He rolled over and stretched, then swung his feet off the bed and onto the floor. With a sigh, he stood up and began the trek to the front of the bus.

"AJ! My God, are you always like this? I'm trying to cook!"

He looked up at the sound of Alli's voice and almost smiled. She was wearing a makeshift apron on top of her PJs. AJ was tickling her while she scrambled eggs on the small stove in the corner.

"Ha! Trying to cook? Since when do you cook anyways?" AJ retorted with a grin. Alli rolled her eyes.

"You're not going to get any toast if you insult my cooking," she returned, eyebrow raised. AJ chuckled.

"Baby, I want the eggs, not the toast."

Alli rolled her eyes again. "Yeah, I'll bet you do, McLean."


Alli laughed, and Nick couldn't help but smile. As soon as he caught himself, he frowned and rubbed the back of his neck. "What's for breakfast?"

Alli turned to him with a grin. "Sleeping Beauty awakens! Oh, someone sound the trumpets. This should be written in the history books! Nick Carter, up before noon? I have got to be hallucinating..."

Nick looked up and glared at her. "Shut up and make me food."

AJ chortled. "Gee, someone sure knows how to sweet talk a woman..."
Nick's features twisted into a surprised expression. "Why the hell would I need to sweet talk Alli?"

Alli winked at him and set a plate of toast on the table. "Relax, Carter, J was kidding. It's the thought that counts. And I know you love me."

Nick rolled his eyes. "Yeah, whatever." He pulled a chair out and sat down, helping himself to the food before him. "What's the plan for today? Do we have a show tonight?"

AJ nodded and sat down across from him. "Yeah, we do. Howie's going to pick Jessi up from the airport, though, so that's where we're headed now."

Alli's eyes lit up at the sound of her friend's name. "Jessi's coming?"

AJ laughed. "Yes, Alli, Jessi's coming. Howie couldn't get through a tour without her, Al. You know that."

Alli chuckled to herself. "Yeah, I'll bet not. Those two are like...I don't know, peanut butter and jelly, maybe. They're perfect. They're one of those cute couples."

AJ smiled at the expression. "One of those cute couples, Al?"

Nick grunted in response and took a bite of toast. "Cute couples make me sick," he announced with a mouth full of toast. Alli eyed him with amusement.

"That was adorable, Carter," she remarked. "Ever heard of swallowing?" When he glared at her and AJ stifled more laughter, she shook her head. "Man, if only the fans could see you guys in the morning. So much for that Backstreet Boy sex appeal..."

AJ turned towards her and arched an eyebrow. "You don't think we're sexy? Come on, babe, you know you want Nicky over there."

Alli laughed. "Carter? J, he's not even legal..."

AJ grinned and placed a hand on either of Nick's cheeks, pressing them together. "But wook at this wittle face. Ain't he just the cutest thing you ever saw?"

Alli's eyes widened slightly and she shook her head. "Um, no..."

Nick rolled his eyes and pushed AJ's arms aside. "Fuck off, McLean."

AJ chuckled to himself and stood up. "Gladly, Carter." He turned to wink at Alli, who smiled in return. "I'll see you kiddies later. Have fun!"

Nick shoveled a spoonful of eggs into his mouth as soon as Alli placed them on the plate. "What're you doing?"

Alli gave him an odd look. "Um, serving breakfast?"

Nick rolled his eyes. "No, not now, dumbass. I meant today."

Alli shrugged. "Don't know. I'll probably hang out with the girls or something."

Nick's eyes widened. "You want to hang out with the girls again?"

Alli laughed at him and shoveled a bit of cereal into her mouth, then swallowed. "They're my friends, Carter. That's what friends do."

Nick glared at her. "Oh, so they're your friends? Then what am I?"

Alli furrowed her brow and tapped her chin lightly with her index finger. "You? Hmm, let me think..." She paused for emphasis, and then grinned. "Ooh, I know! You're an ass!"

Nick rolled his eyes. "Be serious for once. If I said that I wanted to take you out today, what would you say?"

Alli raised an eyebrow. "Is that to say that you'd go out with me, or you'd go out with me and a girlfriend?"

Nick sighed. "I'd go out with you, and only you."

Alli chuckled. "Gee, Carter, don't sound so happy about it..."

Nick shook his head in disbelief. "Do you ever stop making fun of me?"

Alli leaned in towards him conspiratorially. "Tell ya what, Carter. If you stop making it so easy for me, I'll stop making fun of you." While he stumbled over a comeback, she smiled again and took a sip of orange juice. "So, where are you taking me?"

Nick eyed her carefully before noticing that she wasn't prepared to joke. "Not sure, probably out to lunch and a movie."

Alli's eyes widened hopefully. "Could we go to the mall?"

Nick shook his head and frowned deeply. "Alli! Hell no! I'd get recognized, and then we'd never get out of there."

Alli pretended to think about it and finally nodded in agreement. "Yeah, with an ego your size, you'd be kinda hard to miss, wouldn't you?"

Nick growled at her. "At this rate, Al, I'm not going to take you out at all. Not if you're going to be a pain in the ass about it."

Alli's smile faded, and her face took on a serious expression. "Easy on the swears, Carter. And if you don't want to take me out, you don't have to."

Nick sighed. "It's not that I don't want to. Are you going to be nice?"

Alli cracked a grin. "You kidding? I'm an angel, babe. Where've you been?"

Nick shook his head. "I don't understand you..." he trailed off and looked at her expectantly. "Come on, Al, get ready. We're leaving in five minutes."

She rolled her eyes and gave him a pointed look. "Where are we going?"

"To a movie," came the curt response. Alli sighed.

"Well, gee, don't sound too enthusiastic, Carter." When he neglected to give her more than a glare in response, she rolled her eyes. "All right, all right. I'll be out in three minutes, and we'll go see a movie."

Nick sighed in relief, knowing that Brian would finally get off his back. And that was all he needed, right? He turned around as Alli walked back out of the rec room, dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt with "Rock Never Died" written across the front. He could hardly suppress his smile at something so characteristically Alli.

"You ready?"

She smiled and nodded. "Yeah, let's jet."

* * * * *

After an hour and a half, Nick was thoroughly annoyed. They were sitting directly behind an attractive group of girls, and every time he'd try to make an impression, Alli would screw it up. She'd toss popcorn at him or smile cheekily and blow straw paper. Before, he would've been glad to join in the fun, but he was older now. Too mature for child-play like that. He rolled his eyes when a Milk Dud hit him on the forehead.

"Look, sis," he hissed. "I'm trying to watch this movie. I don't have time for your little high school games, so quit it."

Alli looked at him in shock. "Sis? Uh, Carter, what game are you trying to pull?"

Nick rolled his eyes and glared straight ahead. "Just watch the movie, Alexandra."

"Your wish is my command," she snapped before turning the other way. Nick sighed contentedly. At last, he could make his move. With ease, he tossed a little of the popcorn into the other girls' area. When they turned around to chew him out, he feigned shock.

"Oh my God, I am SO sorry. My little sister is a bit immature, and I've told her countless times that she was going to disturb someone, but...can you forgive me?"

Alli's eyes bugged out of her head as she watched the exchange. The girls were fawning over him in no time, and she couldn't believe that Nick would do something like that. But you knew he was like this. You knew that he played around...

"Look, lemme make it up to you girls. Are you all free tonight? I'll take you out to dinner. Seriously, it'll be on me."

She almost gagged. At any other time, Alli would've turned around and warned the girls in a few of the colorful, witty words that were characteristic of her, but she couldn't do it. She was too surprised that Nick would use her to get another date. She sighed heavily, knowing that it was her duty to the females of the world to warn them anyway. She leaned in close.

"Girls, I'd watch yourselves, or he'll make sure that you're the ones on him once the bill's on the table. For good measure, she winked. "Trust me on this one. Sisters always know better."

The girls looked at Alli and then back at Nick. He was clearly seething, and the spokesperson of the female group spoke up.

"Uh, look, it's okay. A little popcorn never hurt anybody, but you only get to see the movie once." With that, she turned back around and the others followed her lead. Alli leaned back in her chair with a satisfied smile. Girl power!

Nick, however, turned to her with a horrible look in his eyes. "Alli, that was totally uncalled for. You're being a bitch."

She closed her eyes to steel herself against his words, but they hit hard nonetheless. She sighed, trying to think of something smart. She wouldn't let him see that he was hurting her.

"Look, Carter, I'm not a bitch, I'm the bitch, and that's Miss Bitch to you. Now, as Miss Bitch, it's my job to save cute girls from becoming a good fuck. And my job here is done. That said, I've got to go to the restroom. I'll meet you after the movie." Pleased with her comeback, she stood and walked steadily out of the theater, waiting until she had reached the bathroom to admit the truth--she was slowly losing her best friend.

"Don't Speak"
lyrics and music by No Doubt