"You know what I said about it all being too much for you to handle and that's why you got all fixed on the 'being evil' thing?"
She nodded, still patting the cool damp cloth he'd given her over her tear-ravaged face.
"Ummm… Think you are up to hearing a bit about how you aren't anywhere near as fucked up as I am?"
He was surprised by the normalcy in his voice when he said it. He never talked about this; he was too scared, too scarred, by it. Maybe hearing how much all this stuff had affected her by bottling it up was what was giving him the strength now.
She looked at him with concern. "You okay?"
He thought about it for a moment. "No. I'm not. I haven't been for a long time. You got issues; so do I. And they are big ones. I gotta tell someone. I think you'd understand them."
"Are you sure you want to do that? I mean, wouldn't you be better off telling one of the others? They know you better than I do?"
He shook his head feverishly. "No way! I love them, but they'd never understand. You would, I think." He smiled at her, trying to make light of it. "'Sides, AJ can't keep a secret. Howie's fucked up in ways I don't even wanna touch. Brian's in La-la-love-Leighanne land and Kevin's an ass."
Kat chuckled mischievously. "And what an ass…"
He grinned and leaned over, rubbing a hand over his boxer-clad bottom. "Hey, my booty's much better than his'll ever be. And at least I don't have a stick up it." His visage clouded. "I tell Kevin anything and he'd want to analyse it to death. And he'd never let me forget I told him. I told him once I didn't like spiders much and a few weeks ago he wanted us to sit down and talk about how the upcoming Spiderman movie might affect me."
Kat started to giggle. Nick snorted derisively. "It's not funny, Dude's like an elephant. He never forgets and you never know when he's gonna use it against you."
She crawled up the bed and gave him a hug. "He's probably not trying to use it against you - just trying to look after you. And the spider thing is funny."
He leaned into her hug. "I suppose. But it's frigging annoying. Nope, I'd rather tell you. You'd understand and you sure know how to keep a secret." He gave a quick squeeze. "You kept that stuff in a little too long, which isn't right, but probably 'cause you didn't have anyone you could tell it to."
Kat moved so they could both get back under the covers. They both reorganized the pillows so that they could leaned back as they talked and then they snuggled up together again.
"Anyway," he continued. "I think that may be my problem too. I DON'T want to be this screwed up but if I don't let it out it might just take me over, you know? And maybe I'm just making too much of it - like you were. I mean, like, you were in a screwed up situation, you know? It wasn't you who was screwed up, just everything around you." He was starting to stumble over his words until she interrupted.
"Nick. You have been great - listening to me through all this. And putting up with my nightmares and stuff. You are a good person, so whatever you tell me I am sure it is not you causing it." She reached over and brushed some hair out of eyes. "You have things to tell me, I'll listen."
He released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "Thanks," he mumbled quietly.
He was quiet for a minute as he gathered his thoughts and then finally said, "my mom is a bitch."
Kat snorted. "Tell me something I don't know." When he glanced at her sharply she continued. "I mean, come on, that's something every Backstreet fan knows. We almost all universally hate her. That bloody 'Heart and Soul' book… hadn't she made enough money off you already without coming out with that crap?"
He chuckled. "It was a god awful book. I still cringe if some one wants me to sign it. They really all hate her?"
"Okay so maybe not all of them, but a large number think she's awful for manipulating you the way she does. The book… That National Enquirer thing… the houses… Even the way she uses Aaron. She's a bitch. Never met her and not interested in doing so."
He sighed. "Yeah well, after this you may want to, if only to punch her." He shuddered. "I just don't know how to deal with her. I mean she's my mom and I love her, but deep down I think I hate her more than I hate anyone else on the planet."
"I know what you mean," Kat murmured. "About hating your mother. And feeling miserable 'cause you do."
"No kidding. We both got a raw deal on that, you know?" He held her a little tighter. "Thing is… your mom thought all that shit about incest… my mom tried it."
"What?" Kat exploded out of his arms, turning so she could look him in the eyes.
"My mom tried to… When I was a virgin… She…" He broke off, trying to find a way to articulate properly. He took a deep breath. "When I started with the Boys I was only 13. I'd had little or no contact with girls. And then, when we got more popular, there were girls all over. Mom got nervous, maybe even a little jealous, I dunno. She was afraid that I'd end up getting the first girl I slept with pregnant or marrying them or something. That she wouldn't be in charge of me anymore." He glanced up at her. "Would you stop looking at me like that? It creeps me out."
Kat blinked and relaxed. "Sorry. It's just…"
"Yeah, I know. How do you think I felt when she came to my room with her fucking proposal?" He laughed humourlessly. "'Fucking' is right. Basically she decided that it was time for me to lose my virginity and that I needed an experienced woman who wouldn't use me or something. So she said she'd take care of things for me. She said 'no kissing' because that would be weird but that she'd go down on me and then let me have sex with her. Just so I understood what it was all about."
"What did you do?"
"What do you think I did? I was a horny teenager…" He paused when she gasped. "Oh no, I didn't do that! That would have been disgusting. I freaked out. I told her I wanted sex more than anything but not that way. That I'd rather never have sex with a woman than to do that. With her." "Of course, that freaked her out even more. The thought that her little boy would be gay." He snorted. "She just didn't get it. It's like that 'conscience' thing was missing in her, you know? She was more upset that I may be gay than that I might be more upset that my own mother had offered to fuck me. She tried to rape me."
He glanced around quickly. "Not so loud, okay? I don't want to wake up whoever is in the next room."
She took a deep breath. "Okay. It's just… You're right. She ever comes around her I'm gonna deck the bitch."
Nick chuckled. "Thanks, babe. I knew you would. I'd do it for you if I could."
Kat smiled and slid back into his arms. "I know you would."
Nick kissed the top of her head and continued. "Yeah, so she tried to rape me. Now, if that ain't gonna fuck you up, I don't know what will. One minute my mom offers to fuck me, then next she's trying to hold me down and rip my clothes off. Good thing I'd been playing ball and working out a little - I wasn't sure I'd be able to fight her off. She was going fucking apeshit. I finally kicked her in the stomach and she fell off. Then, while she was still gasping, I pushed her out of my hotel room and deadbolted the door. Even put a chair there. She tried to get in again, but no deal."
"Shit.," Kat breathed.
"Next day was even more freaky. She acted like it all hadn't happened. I mean, she had scratchs and stuff… Hell, I did too, but she said she'd tripped or something. And I was afraid to be left alone in a room with her. I think I was driving the others crazy because I didn't even want to be in a bathroom alone in case she came looking. I was needy before, but after that I was worse."
"And every night she tried to get into my room."
"What happened?" Kat asked nervously.
"About a week later she clued in that it wasn't gonna work. So she tried another way. She got me a hooker. A female one, of course, she wasn't gonna take a risk on anything else. She grabbed me in the lobby before I could make a dash for it and then pushed me into my room and introduced me to Kiki. She was this big, blonde woman. Hot, but not so hot that I'd want to get mixed up with her on a long term basis. That's my mom: always looking out for the angles. Anyway, she introduced us, told Kiki what she wanted her to do and then left."
"I wish I could say I looked the gift horse in the mouth… but I didn't. I figured she was right me and about all the fans and groupies. I didn't want to look like I didn't know what I was doing. I mean, I was Nick Carter, you know? And she was pretty. And she sure as hell wasn't my mom! I think that was what decided me - that if I said no Mom would try again."
"Was it at least good?"
"Yeah," he sighed. "It was great. But I still hated it. I mean, I believed all that stuff we were singing. All that romantic, love stuff. I wanted my first time to be with some special. I admit I wanted it be soon," he grinned, putting a lot of adolescent angst in his voice. Then his face returned to the blank it had been throughout his story. "But, I still wanted it to be special. Kiki - strange that I can still remember that, hunh? Anyway, Kiki tried her best. She was a great teacher and all. But it was still just not what I would have wanted."
"But Mom did back off."
"She better have," Kat growled.
"See, that's the worse part. Cause she did back off. I mean she still interfered if she could. Like with the book and when I was dating Tina. And yeah, she did end up with a hell of a lot more of my money than she should have. Don't tell anyone, but I have someone investigating that. I think she skimmed a lot and hid it. Even from my dad. I think she's doing it to Aaron too."
"But I think that is the part that scares me most. I think she's done it all to Aaron too." Nick's voice broke and tears started to trickle down his face.
"Oh, Nick." Kat scrambled up to hold him as his body started to shake. "Sweetie, it's okay. Let it out."
And he did. He started sobbing in earnest, letting out all the fear and confusion he'd held in since that horrible night.
"See, I think she offered him the same thing, you know?" he shuddered. "He says he isn't a virgin anymore. And I don't want to ask. Mom is always with him when he tours. That's why I don't like to visit him on the road unless Dad's there too. But the last time we were talking about sex and, like, I said 'you're too young' or something. And he said he'd done it. That he wasn't a virgin anymore. He had this smirk on his face. And I was so fucking scared. I wanted to know - I wanted to tell him that it wasn't right - but I was afraid to find out she'd tried it on him and he'd given in. I mean, he could have done it with someone else, but…"
"Hey," Kat pulled his ravaged face up so he was looking into her eyes. "That's what you hold on to. That he did it with someone else. Anything else will drive you nuts. You always looked out for your brother. You taught him right from wrong. And you've talked to him about sex and stuff before, haven't you?" Nick nodded. "Then hold onto that. He was curious too. And he found someone. I've heard rumours about how he's always hanging out with his band and dancers, so maybe one of them helped him. Believe that. Nothing else."
"But what if…"
"If he comes to you and tells you something different… If he needs to talk about it… Just listen and try not to judge. You know how hard it is when you're young and all those hormones and girls and stuff. So don't think the worst until he tells you. And then just help him deal."
He let out another sob. "Oh god. If she did…"
She shook his head, trying to stop him from sinking back into the black hole of doubt. She knew too well what it was like. "Don't think that! Concentrate on something else, like getting her if she's taking your money. Or his. But don't think that happened. Aaron grew up on the road, yeah, but he also grew up around you and the Boys. He's a mature kid. A little obnoxious, I hear, but still good. Don't sell him short. He'd kick her out if she tried, just like you did."
"He would?" The trembling in his voice broke her heart and she pulled him into another hug.
"He would," she said firmly. She leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "He's a sharp guy. Just like his older brother. He wouldn't fall for that."
Nick smiled shakily. "Thanks." Then he leaned over and kissed her cheek.
There is a body of thought that says that when people have been through a life-threatening incident they feel the need to assure themselves that they are still alive. One reason why people end up in bed together after attending a funeral, or why people predict a rise in the birth rate about nine months after the traumatic events of September 2001.
Which could explain what happened next.
One minute the two were reassuring each other that neither was nuts - or evil - or otherwise, and then they were wrapped around each other, kissing one another feverishly as what few clothes they were wearing were quickly shed.
Soon the only sounds in the room were the moans and gasps of two people enjoying each other physically.