Bed of Roses
Chapter Five
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

I put my hands around your shoulder
You're saying you're scared is all
I think I know too much about you
You think this life would make me colder
I'd give in to the alcohol
I put my loving arms around you, child

"But Alexie, I love you. Please dance with me?"

Alli rolled her eyes and brushed Nick's arms off her shoulders. They'd only been at the club for an hour, and he was already wasted. She looked at him with obvious disgust. He had forgotten about being angry with her, but he'd also forgotten everything else...with the exception of her name, that was. And he was calling her what he had called her before Backstreet, which only served to annoy her further. As soon as she brushed him off, he fell back into the booth they were seated at. Alli rolled her eyes again. Yup, he's wasted. Completely wasted.

"Carter, I don't dance. You know that. Now sit down and behave."

Nick rolled out his bottom lip and fixed her with large and glassy puppy-dog eyes. "Alexie...pwease? Just one dance?"

Alli glared at him. "Carter, I said to behave."

His eyes widened. "I'ma...a...a..." He paused to scratch his head and looked at AJ. "Whatchamacallit?"

AJ, who had stayed true to his word and refrained from getting drunk that evening, put a hand over his mouth to hide the smile that he knew would infuriate Alli. "Angel?" he suggested kindly. Nick nodded with a big grin, obviously appeased.

"Yeah, that! I'ma angle!" He took one look at Alli and rolled out his bottom lip again, completely unaware that he'd gotten the word wrong. "Pwease?" he persisted. Alli looked anxiously to the others for help, but no one said anything. Finally she turned to Nick with an exasperated expression and slowly slid out of the booth.

"Fine. One dance." She gave him a meaningful look. "Any more and I'll beat your ass."

AJ let out a low whistle. "Ooh, I'd be careful, Nick. Alli's going to get violent on you."

Nick giggled and turned to Alli with a grin as they walked off. "Alexie, who's he? I don't remember him. But he's funny..."

Alli closed her eyes to prevent getting any angrier. "Yeah, Carter, I bet you don't remember him. That's AJ."

Nick grinned again. "Thas great. How d'ya spell it?"

Alli pressed her palm against her forehead and then pulled Nick into a hug, turning away so that she couldn't smell the alcohol on his breath. She'd just about had enough. She was, however, grateful that it was a slow dance, because she wasn't sure that Nick could manage to stay on his feet otherwise.

Slowly the two began to sway in time to the music, and Alli leaned her head against Nick's chest in attempt to soothe her headache. She closed her eyes and tried to forget about the past two days in a silent prayer that everything would be better soon. The lyrics slowly found their way into her world, and she listened intently as they played on inside her.

Everybody's got something
They had to leave behind
One regret from yesterday
That seems to grow with time

There's no use looking back or wondering
How it could be now or might have been
All this, I know, but still I can't find ways to let you go

I never had a dream come true
Until the day that I found you
Even though I pretend that I've moved on
You'll always be my baby

I've never found the words to say
You're the one I think about each day
And I know no matter where love takes me to
A part of me will always be with you

You'll always be the dream that fills my head
Yes you will, say you will
You know you will, oh baby
You'll always be the one I know I'll never forget

At the table across the room, the guys and their respective girlfriends all watched as Nick and Alli swayed together, both in perfect time. The two had a certain aura about them that seemed to radiate peace and comfort. However, AJ knew that as soon as the song ended, Alli would rush back over and avoid Nick for the rest of the evening. He knew that they had once been the best of friends, but it was frightening to all of the other Boys just how little of that friendship there was left. And all because they weren't the same people.

There's no use looking back or wondering
Because love is a strange and funny thing
No matter how I try and try
I just can't say goodbye
No, no, no, no

I never had a dream come true
Until the day that I found you
Even though I pretend that I've moved on
You'll always be my baby

I've never found the words to say
You're the one I think about each day
And I know no matter where love takes me to
A part of me will always be with you

A part of me will always be with you *

As soon as the ending chords faded into a fast-paced song, Alli pulled away from Nick and practically ran back to the table. She shoved herself into the booth next to AJ and gulped her water until there was none left, but Nick remained on the dance floor for a moment before stumbling over to them. He had a far-off look in his eyes that Alli couldn't honestly pinpoint. When he scooted in next to her and settled an arm around her shoulders, she shrugged him off again and gave him a threatening look.

"Carter, I mean it. I'm not one of your girls. Cut it out."

Nick frowned. "But Alexie, I wuv you..."

Alli rolled her eyes and fixed him with a glare. "Carter, you're drunk. You hated me an hour ago."

AJ laughed at the confused expression on Nick's face. "Al, give the kid a break. He doesn't remember anything. He's totally plastered, right? So be glad that he isn't hitting on any other beautiful women."

Alli grinned sarcastically. "Yay! He's hitting on me!" Her grin faded to a sneer. "Just peachy."

Nick looked at her with hurt and shock as he took another sip of the half-empty Jack Daniels in his right hand. "Alexie, don't you love me too?"

Alli had snatched the bottle from him and was about to give one of her trademark retorts, but something about the look in Nick's eyes made her change her mind. She sighed in defeat and set her empty glass on the table beside Nick's beer before looking up to face him.

"Yes, Carter, I love you too."

He grinned at her and goofily offered his hand. "Always friends?"

Alli sighed, struggling against the tears that the scene evoked. He's drunk, Al. He has no clue what he's saying. Get a grip on yourself and answer the kid. Then take him back to the hotel before he passes out cold in this VIP booth.

"Yeah, always friends," she agreed, shaking firmly. Nick looked up slyly and winked at her.

"Alwath more," he slurred as he kissed the back of her hand lightly. Alli closed her eyes a moment to regain her composure. When she reopened them, she pulled him out of the booth by his bicep and offered a lopsided grin in the others' direction.

"I'm gonna take Carter on back," she informed them lightly. They all nodded in turn. Nick grinned and gave a small wave.


AJ tried his hardest not to laugh as the two walked out of the club together, with Nick's arm firmly around Alli's shoulders. He knew that, in the morning, Nick wouldn't care at all about anything that he'd said or done, but AJ had seen the look on Alli's face when Nick had reverted momentarily back to his old friendship. Alli had looked startled, but pleasantly startled. And she had seemed pretty genuine when she told Nick that she loved him too. With a secret smile, AJ turned back to the rum and Coke that he was nursing and twirled his cherry around.

* * * * *

Alli heaved a huge sigh as she tossed Nick onto the bed in his hotel room. He had continued to "put the moves on her" the whole ride over, and she was more than sick of it. By the time they reached his room, he was trying to open the door and stick his hand up her skirt, none of which she was pleased by. When he had finally unlocked the door successfully and landed with a thud on the mattress, she started to leave.

"Alexie, don't leave me yet..."

Alli turned back to Nick with anger flashing in her gray eyes. "Why not?"

Nick rolled out his bottom lip and frowned deeply. "Sleep with me?"

Alli's eyes bugged out as she tried to think of something to respond with that didn't involve physical abuse. Finally, she settled on a very certain, "Hell no!"

Nick frowned. "Why don't you like me anymore, Awwi?"

Alli shook her head and closed her eyes, raking a nervous hand through her auburn curls. Talking to Nick when he was drunk very closely resembled talking to a confused three-year-old. God, this is not happening to me. Not now. I knew this club thing was a bad idea. Note to self: NEVER join Carter if you know there's going to be alcohol involved...

"Carter, I do like you. As a friend. And, because I'm your friend, I can't sleep with you."

Nick seemed to accept the answer. He slowly began pulling off his shirt and looked expectantly at Alli.

"Friends help friends," he insisted. With a sigh, she pulled his shirt over his head for him and backed away, careful not to look at him.

"Anything else?" she muttered. Nick nodded like a child as he gestured to his leather pants.

"They itch," he confessed shyly, and she had to laugh.

"Well, they look like they might," she admitted with a grin, and Nick returned her smile. She helped him pull the legs off and sighed with relief when she saw that he was wearing boxer-briefs. He laughed and playfully ruffled her hair.

"Alexie, why'd you go psh?" he asked as he crawled up on the bed, and Alli let a giggle escape at his imitation of her.

"I wasn't sure if you were wearing any clothes, there, Mr. Carter," she teased, and Nick blushed.

"I wear clothes," he assured her seriously, and she laughed again. This time, when he patted the seat beside him invitingly, she found herself crawling up onto the bed and into his open arms. For a moment they just sat that way, with Nick holding her close and Alli leaning back against him. She sighed contentedly, and Nick erupted into giggles.

"You did it again!" he slurred, and Alli shook her head in amusement. Even if he was drunk, it served as some type of comfort that the guy she remembered as her best friend hadn't totally vanished.

"Why can't you always act like this?" Alli asked him quietly as his chest rose and fell against her. She wasn't surprised when her only answer was the soft sound of Nick's snoring. She reluctantly pulled herself out of his arms and off of the bed, then turned out the lights and crept quietly from the room. She tip-toed down the hall to her own room for the night. She turned the key quietly in the lock and opened the door gingerly. But she couldn't suppress her broad smile as she got dressed for bed. When she finally pulled the covers over her head, she was still grinning softly, relishing in the new hope that she might be able to get the old Nick back after all.

"Girl Like That"
lyrics and music by Matchbox 20

*"Never Had A Dream Come True"
performed by S Club 7