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

I peer through windows
Watch life go by
Dream of tomorrow
And wonder why

The past is holding me

"Cut, cut, cut..."

Calvert Holland waved his arms and shook his head, sighing. As always, it had been a long day, and it only seemed to be getting longer. He was an older man in his fifties, harshly mannered and amazingly musical. He had worked on Broadway for years as an actor before stepping backstage and discovering a new realm to participate in, and he was loved dearly for his hard work and passionate interpretation of the classics. However, the most recent weeks had been spent knee-deep in material for his interpretation of the musical Jekyll & Hyde. Cara was that day's unfortunate victim as she rehearsed her solo fully for the first time.

"Cara, do you wonder or do you wander? For God's sake, child, you don't wander. Can you wander why? I don't think so." He shook his head impatiently, and his spectacles slid further down his nose. "Lovely tone, but try using a little diction, would you? We didn't just step out of Nashville and onto a stage in New York City. And you're reflective, not focused. For once, you're Lucy the human, not Lucy the Playboy poster girl. No smirks, and no stifled laughter. Quit watching Aaron." His eyes narrowed towards the younger man off to the side of the stage. "And Aaron, quit messing around. I'm not going to tell you again. You knew when you auditioned that this wasn't going to be *NSYNC remastered. We're actually singing here, and this is serious. Quit acting like you're three years old."

Those mentioned nodded briefly, and Aaron had the decency to blush. Cara smiled lightly at him from her position in the spotlight before stretching. She let out a long breath and prepared to do the piece again.

Much to the chagrin of those that performed under him, Calvert (or Cal, as many casts affectionately called him) was also a perfectionist. He waved his hands impatiently and the music began again. Cara looked far off into the balcony and let her mind wander (not wonder) as she sang, knowing the detached state of mind was exactly what the song called for.

I peer through windows
Watch life go by
Dream of tomorrow
And wonder why

The past is holding me
Keeping life at bay
I wander lost in yesterday
Wanting to fly
But scared to try...

"Cut, cut, cut..."

The entire cast rolled their eyes as Calbert waved his hands again. Silence fell over the auditorium, and Cara's eyebrows rose expectantly as she waited for the latest criticism. To her surprise, Calbert smiled at her.

"Well, kid, you got it. You wondered and you wandered. How'd it feel?"

Cara rolled her eyes good-naturedly. "Lovely."

His tone deadpanned. "Great. Now, can we try holding the 'i' sound of fly a little longer as opposed to saying fly-ee? We're not Nick Carter, and this isn't 'I Want It That Way'."

At the mention of his older brother, Aaron's smile darkened to a scowl, and he retreated into the lobby of the small auditorium as Cara's voice continued to wash over him through the speakers. She sang beautifully, and he smiled again as she corrected her part accordingly.

"What's up, A?"

Aaron looked up in alarm at the sound of Theresa's voice, but smiled quickly when he saw her. "Not much, just had to get away from Cal for awhile. How 'bout you?"

She held up a Coke with a grin. "Got thirsty and went to raid the vending machines. My next part isn't for awhile, and I figure that they'll call if they need me." She rolled her eyes knowingly as she smirked. "They always do."

Aaron laughed. "Yeah, Cal's not exactly famous for his ability to be subtle," he agreed. Theresa's hand rose to her breast in mock surprise.

"You mean he can actually be subtle?"

The two shared a quick laugh before Theresa paused to listen. "Is that C in there now?"

Aaron nodded. "Yeah, he's drilling 'Someone Like You' and correcting all of her diction mistakes."

Theresa rolled her eyes again. "Go figure. She sings like an angel, and he's still got to find something wrong with it."

Aaron laughed. "Well, I guess you've always got room for improvement."

Theresa nodded, eyes wide as she took another sip of her drink. "Yeah, and some of us need it more than others," she said with a wry smile. "Speaking of which, I'm going to go study lines. I screwed mine up pretty badly in this morning's run-through."

Aaron grinned knowingly. "Really? I thought we were going to have to bug you about getting new glasses..."

Theresa groaned audibly and rubbed a hand across her face in frustration. It was common knowledge among all who knew Theresa that she absolutely hated wearing glasses. She'd been lucky enough to get contacts recently, and the entire cast had been thrilled to be spared the complaints for the duration of rehearsals.

"Aaron, you are so not funny..."

Aaron shrugged, offering a smirk in response. "Yeah, yeah. You just have no appreciation for quality humor. Go run your lines, little girl."

Theresa chuckled. "Tune your song, devil child. You were sharp this morning."

Aaron wiggled his eyebrows playfully. "I'm always sharp, baby..."

Theresa leveled him with a pointed gaze. "Hate to be the one to tell you, A, but that ain't always a good thing."

With that, she made her exit, both of them laughing until Aaron couldn't see her anymore. He could still hear the distant strains of "Someone Like You" through the thick wooden doors, so he slid down the wall to sit on the floor, pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, and decided to check his messages. He honestly couldn't remember the last time he'd actually bothered to listen to any of them. Before he could dial the number to his mailbox, however, the phone rang in his hands. He groaned immediately at the caller ID, but his conscience forced him to answer the call anyway.


"G'day, Mr. Jekyll," the caller rasped in a ridiculous bourgeoisie accent. "Or is it Mr. Hyde?"

Aaron rolled his eyes at his older brother's lame attempt at humor. Normally, such a pun would've been appreciated, but everything sounded different coming from Nick. His voice, which had once inspired childish giggles and megawatt smiles from Aaron, now gave the younger man chills. Years of chain-smoking had done more harm than good. With a sigh, Aaron attempted to muster enough self-control to maintain a decent conversation.

"Neither. What do you want, Nick?"

His brother laughed. "Oh, it's one of those days, is it? Maybe I shouldn't have called..."

No, you shouldn't have, Aaron silently agreed, but his tone said otherwise. "No, it's just been a long day. Rehearsal is going really slowly, and Theresa just had the decency to inform me that I've been sharp all day."

"Tsk, tsk," Nick teased. "AC, you ought to know better than to be out of tune!"

Aaron rolled his eyes. "Right."

"Didn't you sing professionally once?" Nick continued, completely unaware of Aaron's petulant mood. Aaron could hear him snap his fingers and braced himself for another sarcastic comment. "Oh, wait, you rapped. You know what? My bad."

Aaron sucked in a breath, silently telling himself to remain calm. If anything, he could vent his frustrations to Cara and Theresa over TV dinners and Dawson's Creek. "Nick, was there a point to this phone call?"

Nick laughed again. "What, little bro? Aren't you glad to hear from me?"

NO! "Nick, it's been a long day, remember? Work with me here."

Nick's chuckle allowed his consent. "Okay, okay. Actually, I did have a reason for calling. I've got some business up in New York for the next few months, and you mentioned that you guys had a guest room you were thinking of renting out. I was wondering if I could come crash over there for the sake of saving hotel costs and hanging out with you. You know, you never come down to Florida, so I don't see you so much anymore. It really sucks, man."

Aaron took a deep breath, relieved that Nick couldn't see the horrified expression on his face. God, he wants to come here? The business I can understand, but why does he want to stay with me? As though living with him a thousand miles away isn't hellish enough, he wants to share the same apartment for a few months? Is he out of his fucking mind? He cringed when he realized that hed have to run the subject by his roommates. Neither one was particularly fond of Nick, though Cara had once been a Backstreet fan. He smirked at the thought of Theresa. From what he knew, Theresa though that the former Backstreet Boys were a bunch of not-so-pretty faces who had managed to land a record deal and record a few sappy pop songs. She reveled in punk rock and Broadway, so Aaron knew that she wasn't all too fond of his brother's type of music.

"Nick," he began, "I think you're forgetting that I live with two other people. This isn't a 'drop by whenever you feel like it' situation."

Nick frowned on the other end. "Look, dude, I was thinking it'd be cool to spend some time together. I'll be gone a lot anyway on business, remember?" He paused a moment. "Do you not want me there?"

Aaron groaned inwardly. "Nick, man, it's not like that. Look...let me run it by Cara and Theresa, okay? We're all beat from rehearsals every night anyways."

"I promise not to get in the way," Nick said solemnly, sounding serious for once. "Dude, you won't even know I'm there. Just say the word, and I'll disappear until y'all feel like company."

Yeah, but it's where you'll disappear to that has me worried. "Can I get back to you? I think I hear them calling me onstage, and C's going to be ready for some relief. Cal was tearing her solo to shreds earlier," Aaron managed in what he hoped to be a convincing tone. He heard Nick snort indignantly.

"Tell her to practice, and he won't have anything to shred," Nick retorted, and Aaron seethed.

"You don't know Cal, okay? Just let me call you back later tonight."

"Fine," Nick agreed reluctantly. "Don't forget, though. I'm counting on you for room and board, remember?"

Aaron rolled his eyes. When the hell did he get so inconsiderate? "Yeah, I know. I've gotta go. I'll talk to you later."

"Yeah, later."

Aaron clicked the phone off when the dial tone began to ring in his ears. He quickly pocketed the phone and sighed. Truth to tell, he hadn't been called in to rehearse; he had been overly anxious to get off the phone with Nick. For some reason, his head had begun to pound after the announcement that Nick was coming to New York. Distance could no longer serve as a buffer between the two brothers, and Aaron was terrified of the result. Needless to say, the thought of his older, changed brother under the same roof for months at a time was even more disturbing. He prayed that Theresa and Cara would object, but he knew better. Neither one would deny him the opportunity to see Nick.

Breaking the news to them was going to be the hard part, though. He groaned and ran a hand through his hair as he began shaping his speech. They wouldn't object, but they would most certainly demand a lengthy explanation.

He grabbed his keys from Cara's purse against the wall and jogged out to the Safeway across the street. If anything, he could put his break time to good use. He began searching the aisles for popcorn immediately. A lengthy explanation would call for food, and he was sure that they were going to be talking for awhile.

Damn, this is gonna be interesting...

"Someone Like You"
performed by Linda Eder
lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, music by Frank Wildhorn
taken from the musical JEKYLL & HYDE