Comforting Lie
Chapter Seventeen
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
Chapter Forty-Eight
Chapter Forty-Nine
Chapter Fifty
Chapter Fifty-One
Chapter Fifty-Two

I'm close to finding the key to duality
Chemical formulae which could and would
Alter the patterns of man's personality
Guiding him either to evil or good
Weight the potential, the great possibilities
Colleages, dear friends understand!
We have a chance to make history here in our hand

Aaron stopped singing and took a breath, leaning on the podium in front of him with a look of grave solemnity as he furrowed his brow. He did, however, allow his tone to convey the excitement that was obvious in his eyes. "Each of us is the embodiment of two distinct and opposing forces--good and evil--each fighting for supremacy inside us. If we could separate these two forces, we could control and ultimately eliminate all evil from mankind. My experiments with animals have led me to believe that the day is not far off when this separation will be possible. To achieve it, I must be allowed to try my formula on a living human being!"

Harold, an older member of the cast with a round figure and a blackish mustache, stepped forward with a frown as he allowed the character of the Bishop to take over. "And what if you're right, Jekyll? And you do manage to separate good from evil--what happens to the evil?"

Aaron took another deep breath and raised a hand to convey the emotional frustration he was supposed to feel.

There are doomed, broken souls in a thousand asylums
I defy you to say you don't care if you can
In the name of compassion and medical science
I can save many lives if you give me one man!

Harold's features contorted in anger as he waved a hand and allowed his voice to carry over Aaron's.

I tell you now
The church will never sanction it!
Sacrilege, lunacy!
Blasphemy, heresy!

Dale, another older member of the cast with a tall, lanky figure and distinctly expressive eyebrows arched one of his famed appendages and pointed a finger accusingly in Aaron's direction, making sure to let the Jekyll of the stage know that Sir Archiblad Proops had no intention of going along with his scheme.

You seem to be treading on dangerous ground
In legal terms, I'd say extremely unsound

Harold took up where Dale left off, taking a step towards Aaron in a rather threatening manner and disregarding the cross that was hanging around his neck (the gift which had been a joke from the cast).

The whole thing's un-Christian, barbaric, and odd!
You're playing with fire when you start to play God!

At long last, Kyle stood up from his desk in the corner of the stage with a sneer.

The Bishop speaks for all of us
When he says you're playing God
There's such a thing as ethics
Over which you ride rough-shod
You're a doctor, not our savior
Doctor Jekyll, for a start!
But I just from your behavior
You can't tell the two apart

Aaron arched an eyebrow threateningly in Kyle's direction as though daring the other man to continue to contradict him in his dreams and ambitions.

Dear Mr. Stride, I am simply a scientist
I have a code to which I remain true
I don't presume to the stature of moralist
I leave pretensions like that, sir, to you

Despite the fact that he could hear the familiar sound of Theresa's cracking whip sound effect in the background, Rob took a deep breath and stepped forward with a pleading expression, directing his gaze to a rather angry Aaron.

Henry, I've always encouraged your enterprise
And I've been hopeful that you would succeed
But in the face of these powerful arguments
I see no choice but for you to concede

Aaron shook his head in frustration and slammed his palm on the podium for effect, scanning the stage anxiously as he made eye contact with each governor in turn.

I know my fate is yours to choose
But if they win, the world will lose
I am on the brink of great success
I beg you, governors
You must say "yes!"

Tabitha stepped forward, shaking her raven locks and rolling her eyes at the apparent idiocy of Aaron's character.

Doctor Jekyll, enough of this ranting, sir!
This is a hospital, here to save lives

Do you think we would let you play havoc
With all the high principles for which it strives?
Do you expect us to compromise all that we stand for
Indulging your dangerous games?
How many rules should we break
For your dubious aims?

It was Aaron's turn to roll his eyes and lean forward in hopes of swaying the board members in front of him.

Can't you see?
I am NOT playing games!
Just give me the opportunity

His words, as expected, sparked an argument between the characters onstage as each cast member shot out his or her lines with vigor and venom, glaring at each other as they did so. As the argument progressed, their voices grew until Kyle's gavel hit his desk and his shout rang out across the auditorium.

"Order! Order!"

Aaron slammed his fist on the podium again and widened his eyes in anger as he spat out his next lines. "If I ever need further justification for my experiments, gentlemen, you have just provided it!" He took a deep breath and launched into the next verse of the song, trying to rush just enough that he conveyed the urgency of his message, but trying to keep close enough to the tempo that his message wasn't confusing. Of course, the fact that he didn't want to be the reason that Cal called a halt to the entire scene was also fairly influential in keeping him on track.

Just look at what has happened here
Mix anger with a touch of fear
The danger's all too crystal clear
Just look at you
Our darker side keeps breaking through
Observe it now--in me and you
The evil that all men can do must be controlled
I beg of you
I'll show you all
It can be done

Here is a chance to take charge of our fate
Deep down you must know that tomorrow's too late
One rule of life we cannot rearrange
The only thing constant is change *

"And with that, I'd like you to end this lovely charade," Cal sighed heavily, vaulting onto the stage with a pencil behind his ear and a clipboard in hand. "Amazingly enough, that wasn't half bad. Aaron, your voice boomed enough for me to notice that you've finally abandoned your chest for your diaphragm. Tabitha, you actually looked angry this time, which was a first in this scene. Now, it only took us five takes to get here, but you've finally made the 'Board of Governors' number look somewhat decent. However, decent isn't going to cut it with me. Decent is like getting me a head of lettuce when I asked for a Caesar salad. And so, young ones, we're going to have a little education session regarding how to pull off a scene with panache..."

Aaron and Rob exchanged looks, and both men made obvious attempts not to groan.

*      *      *      *      *

"You know," Cara began, staring up at the stage in curiosity, "I think that's the nicest he's ever been about critiquing a scene that he didn't like."

"He's been pretty gentle all day today," Larkin agreed, pausing to take another bite of her apple. "What do you think is up?"

"He got laid," Theresa nodded knowingly. "I mean, hell, look at him. The man was smiling this morning, and Cal NEVER smiles at the beginning of a rehearsal. Not only that, but he said that we might get to go home early today, and that NEVER happens."

"No joke," Trent muttered. "And now he's being polite about scene critiques. I feel like I've entered the Twilight Zone."

"No, the Twilight Zone is too old, and you know how Cal is about reinvention," Larkin chuckled. "It's probably Candid Camera. I'm waiting for some weirdo with greased-up hair to jump out and take our picture."

"No, they don't play along this well on Candid Camera," Theresa insisted. "This is more like the freaking Jamie Kennedy Experiment. We've all been X-ed."

"Actually, I think Jamie Kennedy's a little bit taller than Cal..."

"You would notice, Cara," Trent muttered with a laugh. Cara just smiled innocently.

"What? I can't see eye level with Cal. This makes him short."

Theresa shook her head. "I still say we've been X-ed. I mean, hell, he just gave Aaron a pat on the back. If this stuff doesn't quit, I may have to call the WB network and file a complaint..."

"You may just file a complaint, but Aaron would probably sue," Cara pointed out with a smile, gesturing towards the stage and the bewildered look on their friend's face.

Trent frowned in confusion. "What would he sue for?"

"Emotional damages," Theresa finished with a laugh. "He looks pretty damaged over there."

"Add this to Nick's recent behavior, and he's got plenty of reasons to be damaged," Cara sighed.

Theresa nodded her agreement. "I hate to say it, but you're right. I'm surprised the kid hasn't blown a gasket yet with all of the tension in that apartment."

Larkin frowned. "But I thought things were going well with Older Brother Backstreet? Didn't you say that he was getting better?"

Theresa rolled her eyes. "Yeah, well, we forgot that you're not supposed to count your chickens before they hatch."

"The Backstreet Boy hatched?" Trent intoned, fighting back his smile with all of his might. Tabitha had once been a fan, so he knew that he'd be in trouble if he started to ridicule the group, but he had never had much respect for Nick Carter.

"Oh, he hatched all right," Cara muttered. "He hatched, and all we got was a rotten egg. We didn't even get a deformed chicken. The damn thing hadn't even been fertilized."

"I think the problem was that it had been fertilized," Theresa countered. "The Carters caused quite a disaster when they introduced that one to the land of the living."

Cara shook her head. "I don't know, Terry. Something tells me that Nick had more of a hand in causing the disaster than his parents did."

"No joke," Larkin muttered. "I mean, sure his mother sounds like a bitch, but that boy should take responsibility for his own actions for once."

Trent sighed. "I hate to interrupt this little tirade we've got going here, but I'm still kind of clueless as to why he's such a villain nowadays."

"Well, see, he was getting better, right?" Theresa began, but caught the angry glint in Cara's eyes and trailed off with a smile. "I'll let C tell it. She's a little bit more emotional than I am."

"And more entertaining, then," Larkin agreed, turning her attention to Cara. "What happened, C?"

Cara laughed bitterly. "Oh, he was doing better. He had fooled us all into thinking that he was trying to be good, right? And then, the night after my disastrous private rehearsal with Cal, the boy comes home piss drunk and passes out on the couch mumbling bullshit about how horrible his life is and how he doesn't understand why Rhine can't sing him the rain song."

Trent waved an arm in confusion. "Wait, hold up. Who the hell is Rhine?"

Theresa shrugged. "Some girl he signed to a deal when he was trying to be a nice guy. Apparently that song of hers made an impact."

Cara rolled her eyes. "Anyway, I thought he was just lapsing, that he'd be better the next day, but he wasn't. He didn't even get home until four in the morning, when he fell through the door and knocked a lamp over while looking for the light switch. I had to spend an hour of my precious sleeping time trying to dig ceramic shards out of the carpet because Butterfingers couldn't keep his hands to himself."

"He was drunk again, I'm assuming," Larkin clarified, and Cara nodded miserably.

"Just when I think the asshole's pulling himself out of the humongous hole he's been digging for four years, he starts to pull the stupid drunk stunt. He hasn't spent an evening sober for the past four nights, and I'm seriously starting to get sick of it."

"Not only that," Theresa pointed out, "but he whines about hangovers every morning and bitches to everyone about how terrible he feels. He was better than this in the beginning of his nightmare of a visit."

Trent frowned at the new knowledge, trying to conjure the image of a drunk Backstreet Boy knocking over lamps. "How's Aaron taking all of this?"

"Well," Cara began lightly, "that's kinda the thing. He isn't taking it. He's ignoring it. Whenever T and I start complaining, he changes the subject. It's like he knew it was going to happen. Of course, that's the saddest part. He really doesn't have any faith in Nick anymore."

Theresa shot Cara a look of complete and total disbelief. "Well, come on, C. Can you blame him? It's not like Nick is handing out reasons to believe in his abilities, you know. I mean, the man couldn't be more amoral if he decided to walk around the streets naked and take Playboy as his signature channel. Nick doesn't act like he cares, and so Aaron's taught himself not to care about Nick."

Larkin arched an eyebrow skeptically. "What a healthy relationship."

Cara sighed. "Well, I can certainly see where Aaron's doubt comes from. T's not far off when she says that Nick hasn't done a great job of giving Aaron something to believe in. The dilemma for me, though, is figuring out what the hell went wrong. I mean, he was doing better. Even Aaron agreed that things were starting to go well with Nick. It doesn't make sense that he'd go so far down so fast."

"Maybe not to you," Theresa retorted, "but it makes perfect sense to me. Don't you see? Nick got scared, Cara. He's not used to attempting a flawless image. He knows deep down that he can't do it, and so he gave up trying."

Trent eyed Theresa with obvious amusement. "You sound like you're speaking from experience there, T."

Theresa locked gazes with him, but she didn't smile in return. "I am. I've been where Nick is, and it sucks. There's nothing fun about it. Getting out of the situation is scary, though, and it's going to be harder for Nick because he's succeeded in cutting off all of the people who used to mean something to him."

Larkin sighed. "Which is where you and C come in, right?"

"Not for me," Theresa answered with a small shake of her head. "I'm done with this guy. It's up to Cara now. She did a number on him last time, and it's too frustrating for me to watch. I know that nothing I say or do is going to change him, so I'm not even gonna try. Aaron's smart to ignore it, because trying to fix it would only frustrate the hell out of him, and he doesn't need that right now."

"No joke," Cara interjected. "I mean, A's been through enough with Nick in the past four years without all of this flaring up right in his face."

"So do you think there's a chance that he'll make a change for the better?" Trent asked with a frown. He didn't necessarily like what he knew about the Backstreet Boy, but he considered Aaron to be a dear friend, and he didn't want to see the kid hurt any more than he had to.

"Maybe, maybe not," Theresa shrugged. "That's all up to Nick."

"If there's a chance, it's a slim one," Cara added. "I mean, the guy was my project to begin with, and I'm already losing hope."

Theresa sighed and glanced up at the stage, watching the scene unfold before them once again. "You may be losing hope, C, but Aaron's lost hope, and that's what probably had the biggest effect on Nick. He doesn't have anyone rooting for him anymore."

Cara heaved a sigh identical to Theresa's and followed her friend's gaze to Aaron, who was thoroughly engrossed in the character of Dr. Jekyll. "That's not Aaron's problem anymore. All I can hope is that the next time Nick looks in the mirror, he'll see why he doesn't have any support. And the chances of that are slim to none."

With that, the conversation ceased, and the four cast members turned to watch Dr. Henry Jekyll argue a hopeless case to the impermeable board of governors.

* "Board of Governors" music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Leslie
Bricusse, from the musical JEKYLL & HYDE

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  All of the dialogue written as JEKYLL & HYDE script for the characters isn't's the actual words written for JEKYLL & HYDE.  I did my research, lol.  Anyway, those words were written by Leslie Bricusse, and will show up much more as the story progresses, so be sure to take notice of that.