"Okay, that is just not fair. No one should look like that." There was a
brief pause. "No, I take it back--I wish I looked like that."
Aaron Carter rolled his brown eyes, laughed, and flopped
onto the couch beside his best friend. He'd had the day off and had just returned from a quick trip to the grocery store.
His findings were lying in two plastic bags on the coffee table. He focused his attention on the girl beside him, however,
and peered over her shoulder at the latest issue of Seventeen. "Who are we looking at now? Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera,
Mandy Moore, or Britney?"
"Britney," came the heavy sigh. "It's just not fair."
Aaron bit back another laugh.
"So you wish you looked...what? Blonde? Popular? Thin? Perfect? Crest Kid? 'Every heterosexual male on the planet wants to
fuck my brains out'?"
"All of the above," Cara admitted, laughing. Aaron rolled his eyes again, but he couldn't help
grinning in amusement.
"Cara, sweetie...you're such a girl." She arched an eyebrow and smirked.
sweetie...you're such a guy." She sighed again as her gaze returned to the magazine. "But, seriously, if you were a girl,
you'd want to look like Britney too."
Aaron shook his head in disagreement and leaned back into Cara's lap, batting
his eyelashes innocently. "No, if I were a girl, I'd want to look just like you, C."
She rolled her eyes and smacked
him as his high-pitched giggle rang throughout the small apartment. "Flatterer. I know you, Aaron Carter. You're just trying
to get out of dish duty."
Aaron's eyes widened in protest as he sat up straight. "Dish duty? I don't think so, girl!
I did the dishes last night, remember?"
Cara burst out laughing. "Air, we had pizza last night. There were no dishes."
He shrugged petulantly. "It doesn't matter! Last night was my night. We didn't have dishes, so I'm off until Tuesday.
Tonight isn't my night."
Cara rolled her eyes playfully. "It's not mine either, dork. I did them Friday night when
we had the rest of the cast over for dinner."
Aaron's eyes twinkled mischievously, and Cara quickly caught on. They
shared a knowing smile before solving the problem in unison. "It's Terry's night."
As if on cue, the girl appeared
with two humongous shopping bags that she promptly dropped in the doorway. "Hey all...uh-oh, I know that look. What'd you
Aaron shrugged. "Oh, nothing. Just, well...it's your night to do dishes."
Theresa's eyes widened, and
she began shaking her head almost immediately. "Oh, no you don't. I can smell lasagne already, and I refuse to clean that
mess up without any help." She looked immediately to Cara and smiled brightly. "Hey, Care, could you...?"
and stood up, shaking her head. "No way, babe. I cooked dinner. I did my duty for the night." Before Theresa could even attempt
to rope Aaron into the job, Cara turned around. "Oh, and don't even try getting A to do it. He's determined to play couch
Aaron grinned widely from his spot on the sofa. "Game's on tonight," he informed Theresa happily.
The older woman rolled her eyes.
"Good God, not again..."
Aaron laughed. "Come on, Terry, what do you have
Theresa threw her hands up in exasperation. "It's got no point to it! Besides, they're playing
a new movie on MTV that I really wanna see..."
Both of her roommates looked up at the mention of MTV. "Seriously?
She nodded in affirmation. "Yeah, and it's supposed to be really kick-ass. I don't see why you'd choose
some lame-o football game over..."
Aaron interrupted her with a wave of his hand. "What's it called and when does
"It's called Family Affair and it's on at nine."
Aaron grinned. "Hey, that leaves you
just enough time to go get some more paper plates!"
Theresa eyed the bags on the coffee table suspiciously. "Then
what the hell did you go to the store for?"
Aaron shrugged. "Oh, you know...the usual. I just forgot."
hands slid up to her hips, where they rested threateningly. "So get off your lazy ass and get them yourself."
sighed. "But Terry, you're so much closer to the door. Besides, I'll give you money to buy that new CD you've been freaking
Theresa arched an eyebrow skeptically. "No joke?"
Aaron nodded. "I promise. I'll shell it out right
He pulled a wad of bills out of his pocket and handed the correct amount to Theresa, smiling at her to reassure
her that there weren't any strings attached to the deal. She took it gratefully and smiled in return.
"A, I owe you
big, man. This CD is da bomb, baby..."
Aaron laughed. "Yeah, I know. I figure that, once you've bought it, we'll only
have to hear about it half as much."
Theresa glared at him for a moment as though trying to formulate a comeback before
firing her attempt at a retort. "You suck."
Aaron nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah, that I do..."
flew from her hips to her ears. "Dammit, A, I don't wanna know! I'm outta here."
To emphasize her declaration, the
door slammed behind her and Cara reappeared from the kitchen, folding her apron and wiping her hands on a dishtowel. "That
girl is such a character."
Aaron leaned back into the sofa and closed his eyes, sighing heavily. "Yeah, that she is."
His tone was soft to the point of sounding defeated, and he rubbed a tired hand over his face. Cara recognized the look immediately
and went to sit next to him on the couch.
"How was your day off?" Her worry heightened when the younger man groaned
loudly, and her brow furrowed in concern. "What?"
Aaron removed his hand from his face and opened one eye to look
pointedly at her. "Nick called."
Cara's eyes suddenly widened in understanding, and her eyebrows rose and fell accordingly.
"Oh. What's up with him?"
Aaron moaned and fell back against the pillows. "The better question might be 'what isn't
up with him?' I swear, C, you'd never know that he's the big brother. He does the same crap that he used to do, crap that
I've never done in my entire life. As if that's not enough, he's gotten worse about it. He's a shit, plain and simple."
eyes softened as she recognized tears in her best friend's eyes. She leaned back against the couch as well, ready for a long
conversation and no longer surprised that Aaron had been so eager to get Theresa out of the apartment. "What did he do?"
laugh was bitter as he spoke. "He called, isn't that enough?" He paused to sigh heavily. "Trying to talk to Nick these days
is about as successful as trying to fly with bricks taped to your arms. It just doesn't work, regardless of how many times
you've convinced yourself that it's got possibilities. He's impossible to talk to."
closing his eyes again. "You know the story, C. He's a monster, and he doesn't even know what he's doing. However, the other
Boys aren't around to screw his head on straight, so I've got to do it."
Cara's eyes darkened as she leveled a stern
gaze on Aaron. "A, we've talked about this. Nick isn't your responsibility."
Aaron threw his arms up in frustration
as his eyes snapped open. "Well, he's got to be someone's, 'cause Lord knows he can't handle himself. And it's got to be me,
'cause no one else is paying him any attention."
Cara frowned. "Where's the rest of Backstreet?"
Backstreet. They haven't been Backstreet for at least four years now," Aaron reminded her sadly. "And if I knew, don't you
think I'd have them on his case by now?"
"Why aren't they?"
Aaron shrugged indifferently again, but Cara could
clearly see the pain in his eyes. "They probably don't know what's up. Nick kinda lost touch with the other guys after they
Cara sighed thoughtfully. "If they really were as close as you say, that should've been reason enough to jump
Aaron looked at her expectantly. "Well, it wasn't, was it?" He paused a moment and an anguished expression
crossed his boyish features. "This is horrible, C, but I don't blame them for not wanting to be around him. Most of the time,
I don't even want to pick up the phone when he calls."
"I'm sorry," Cara said softly. She'd gotten to know Aaron fairly
well while they'd been living together, and she knew how much family--especially Nick--meant to Aaron. She also knew, however,
that nothing she could say would have much effect on him, and she had too little knowledge of the situation to do much more
"Me too," Aaron sighed. "I really, really hate the person he's become. He never used to be like this."
"You can't change who he is, Aaron," Cara reminded him gently. "Granted, you've got influence on him, but you can't
make someone become something they aren't."
"No," Aaron agreed, "Nick's already done that. He became someone he wasn't
a long time ago, and no one helped him."
"It's up to him to change back, then," Cara said softly. She hated the defeated
look on Aaron's face. She wouldn't deny that she'd been a Backstreet fan years ago, but she thought very little of Nick Carter
after seeing what he did to Aaron. Her thoughts were interrupted by Aaron's sigh.
"You know, C, that's what bothers
me the most. I'm not sure he ever will."