The Awakening – Chapter 2

Chapter 2 — The Power of Three

Day 10 — Jacksonville, FL — The Jacksonville Landing — The Parking Area

“So tell me guy, who are the people that captured you?  What part of the government is it?”  Darren asked as he looked at JT.  “Are they really part of the government or is there something else going on?  How were they able to hold you, being as powerful as you are?”

“I—I don’t know,” JT replied as he looked down.  “There—there was this guy there.  I—I think I know him from somewhere, I just can’t remember where from though.”

“Is it somebody you went up against in the past?  Is it someone you dated?  Is it someone you know from another reality or something?”  Tara asked as JT sighed.

“I don’t know,” JT replied with a frown.  “I—I just know that he’s someone I should know.”

“If it’s someone you should know, then what’s this person’s name?”  Darren asked.

“I—I don’t know!”  JT snapped as the area around them shook again as ripples glided across the water in the river.

“Calm down man, you know what happens when you get upset,” Tara stated as she sighed and then shook her head.  “We don’t need you shaking time and reality with those magical powers of yours.”

“It’s not my magical powers I’m concerned with right now,” JT stated as he shook his head.

“Then what is JT?  What’s really going on here?”  Tara asked.

“There’s something—something is wrong with me,” JT stated as he turned away from Tara.  “While—while I fought with those military men, I—I wasn’t able to morph any energy around me.  Hell, at the last minute, they were able to take me out with gunfire.”

“They were able to take you out with gunfire,” Tara said as she looked at JT closely.  “Are you kidding me JT?  Are you telling me that you were taken out by bullets from a gun?  You were taken out by bullets from an actual gun?”

“Yes,” JT replied as he looked down as Darren looked at him and Tara.

“Come on now, I know it’s been a long time and all, but I know your telekinetic powers can deflect bullets,” Tara stated, walking around in front of JT as she got closer to him, lifting his chin so she could see his eyes.  “Your telekinesis are working, aren’t they?”

“As far as I know they are,” JT replied as he waved his hand as a trash dumpster near them floated into the air and then fell to the ground, loudly.

“I guess they are,” Tara stated with a frown.  “So tell me, what’s going on around here?  What was that earlier comment about your powers about?  Why weren’t you able to escape on your own?”

“I—I can’t explain what happened back there,” JT replied as he shook his head.  “One minute I was kicking ass and then the next, I’m going down like the damn Titanic™.”

“How did that happen JT?”  Tara asked as she looked at JT and then back at Darren.

“I don’t have that answer.  I was able to fly, lift all those men with just a thought and even control the elements.  At the last minute though, something strange happened and before I knew it, I was knocked out.  My telekinesis didn’t even stand a chance against all that was going on around me.  It was like I was a damn baby, trying to fight with an adult or something,” JT explained as he shook his head, looking down at the ground as a few tears fell from his eyes.

“Were you some place that dampened your powers or something?”  Tara asked.

“No,” JT replied as he looked over at Darren.  “He was able to get in to rescue me, so there couldn’t have been any power dampeners around.”

“That’s not really the case JT.  You could have been in a place with power dampeners and such,” Darren stated as he looked over at JT.  “She used her mind powers to find you and I used a magical spell to travel to where you were, to get you and us out of there once we had you.”

“That can’t be the answer either,” JT stated as he rubbed at his head.  “My—my own magic didn’t work, if it had, I wouldn’t have been there as long as I had been.”

“Did you try to use your magic JT?”  Tara asked as JT’s eyes glowed an eerie purple-pinkish color.  “Ah JT, what’s going on?”

“We have company and we might have to fight,” JT stated as a few military men moved in around them, aiming their rifles at them.

“You three, stop right there!”  Someone yelled.

“Oh here we go,” Tara stated as she shook her head and then jumped into the air, taking flight.

“We have a flier, take precautions!”  One of the military men yelled.

“Man, are you able to protect yourself?”  JT asked as he looked over at Darren as the man smiled and then waved his hand as a strange glitter-like energy rained down on him as he disappeared.  “I guess he can.”

“You, stop!”  One of the military men demanded as JT shook his head and then flew into the air quickly, but crashed into some sort of invisible barrier that blocked him from moving further as he fell to the ground, hard.

“What in the hell was that?!”  JT screamed as he rolled over on the ground as a few military men surrounded him.  “Damn it, that hurt like hell!  Why isn’t my psychic armor working to keep me from feeling the hurt?”

“Don’t move freak!”  One of the military men screamed, moving past the other soldiers to stand in front of JT as he pointed at gun at him.

“I don’t think so!”  Tara yelled as she landed behind the soldier, kicked the gun out of his hand as JT’s eyes glowed brightly as he disappeared as Tara vanished next.

“No!  The freaks vanished!  The boss isn’t going to like this one bit!”  The soldier snapped as he and the others ran in the opposite direction, heading for a helicopter.

‘Tara, do you want to play tag along?’  JT telepathically asked Tara as the area where he previously lay on the ground started to change, looking as if something was walking across it.

‘We might as well find out what’s going on and who these people are and who that so-called big boss is,’ Tara mentally replied as she and JT Moved through the area, unseen by the military men around.  ‘How long are we going to be cloaked like this?’

‘Forever or until my power stops working,’ JT telepathically responded as he and Tara boarded the helicopter with the military men.

Two Hours Later — A Secret Government Installation on the Outskirts of Town

‘JT, do you happen to know where we are?’  Tara mentally asked as she looked around, still cloaked by JT’s power.  ‘Are we even in Jacksonville still?’

‘I believe we are,’ JT telepathically answered as an alarm sounded in the area that he and Tara walked into.

“This is not a drill!  We have an event!”  One of the soldiers yelled, taking on a fighting stance as he readied his rifle.  “Men, be prepared to fire, on my command!”

“Stand down men,” a tall white man spoke as he walked into the room as the other men saluted.  “Someone turn that blasted thing off!  There isn’t an event here!”

“Sir, the monitoring system has detected strange energies emanating in this area,” one of the soldiers spoke up, reading information from a computer screen.

“Then there has to be a problem with the detection system here,” the man said as he walked over to a soldier in the room.  “This information can’t be correct.  It says the energies detected are emanated from this room, just a few feet away from this very spot, but we’re the only ones in here soldier.”

“Sir, there is nothing wrong with the detection system, they are calibrated daily.  The readings are correct,” the soldier spoke as he looked around.  “There is something or someone here and it’s emanating tremendous amounts of energy.”

“Nonsense,” the man spoke as he pushed the soldier out of the way and then took a seat behind the computer terminal as he pressed some buttons as the lights in the room changed colors and then started flashing off and on as some other lights in the room came on, bathing the area in a strange glow.

“Sir, the readings haven’t changed,” the soldier spoke as he pressed a button on another console.  “The energy readings are still in this room.”

“Soldier, have all of these men been certified?”  The man asked as he looked around at the other soldiers in the room.

“Sir, these men have been certified,” another soldier spoke up as he pressed a button on a terminal as the strange lights stopped flashing and then a new light enveloped the room.

‘JT, are these machines detecting your energy wavelengths?’  Tara mentally asked as the man walked over to another machine in the room, pressed a button and then moved towards where Tara stood as another alarm sounded and then the lights in the area went out as the air around JT’s body crackled.

“Soldier, it seems we have an event!”  The man yelled as the soldiers moved into a firing position, aiming their guns at the general vicinity where JT and Tara stood.  “You might as well show yourself.  We know you’re here.  We can see the electromagnetic aura around your body.”

“In that case, here I am!”  JT snapped, his body materializing slowly as he raised his hands quickly as all of the soldiers guns flew from their hands, floating to the ceiling and crashing together, grinding into dust.  “I’m not going to allow you evil people to hurt me or anyone else with your weapons!”

“Hello again,” the man said as he walked over to stand in front of JT.  “Remember me?”

“Get away from me!”  JT snapped as Tara materialized nearby.  “Oh no, sorry Tara, I—I lost my concentration.”

“What’s going on here?  Who is this guy?”  Tara asked, looking at the man strangely as she removed a lasso from her belt.

“Don’t know that and I’m not trying to find out right now,” JT said as he grabbed Tara’s hand as the two of them floated upwards, but were stopped by an invisible barrier  “Oh no, that that barrier thing again!”

“Sorry freak, but I can’t let you leave here,” the man said with a smile as he walked under where JT and Tara floated as he snapped his fingers as a button was pushed and then JT and Tara fell to the floor.

“Damn it!  That hurt like hell!”  Tara snapped as JT shook his head and prepared to get up as a few soldiers poked rifles in his face.

(<SPLINGKKKKK>)

“As I said freak, I’m not letting you or her, leave here,” the man said with a smile as Darren materialized in the area.

“Sorry dude, you don’t have a choice in the matter,” Darren said as he placed each of his hands on Tara and JT’s bodies as the three of them disappeared from the room.

“Damn it!  No!”  The man yelled, stomping his feet on the floor like a little child would that didn’t get what it wanted.  “Search this base damn it!”

“On it sir,” One of the soldier’s said, gesturing with his head as the soldiers left the room.

“This is the third time you’ve gotten away from me.  There won’t be another,” the man said as he wiped at his head with a handkerchief and then turned and left the room.

Somewhere on Staten Island, NY

(<SPLINGKKKKK>)

“What in the hell was that back there JT?”  Tara asked as the three of them appeared.  “Who in the hell was that man?  Apparently he knows you and you know him.  How in the hell did he get from Washington so quickly?”

“I don’t know Tara, I can’t give you an answer to that question,” JT stated as he sighed and then shook his head.

“He knows you JT.  He knows enough about you that he can stop you from using your powers and he can detect when you’re using them,” Tara stated with a frown as she scratched at her head.

“Buddy, you need to search that psychic mind of yours and figure out who that guy is,” Darren stated as he pushed JT’s shoulder.  “I’m not going to allow you to put my wife in any more damn danger!”

“I—I wasn’t trying to put her in danger,” JT replied as he looked down.

“Like hell you weren’t!”  Darren snapped as he pushed JT’s shoulder again.  “What in the hell were you thinking when you teleported the two of you into their base?”

“I didn’t teleport us into their base, we—we took a ride with them to it,” JT stated as he looked at Darren strangely.

“You did what!”  Darren snapped as he threw his hands up.

“I didn’t teleport us anywhere, we rode with them in their helicopter,” JT stated.

“But… I—I saw you two disappear,” Darren stated, pointing his finger in JT’s face.

“No, you saw me use my magic to blend us in with our surroundings,” JT stated with a small smile.  “I’m sure you know how to enhance a glamour spell, being that you’re magical too.”

“I—I wasn’t thinking about anything like that,” Darren stated as he looked down.  “I was thinking about how much danger my beautiful wife was in!”

‘Sounds like someone is overreacting,’ JT thought as he shook his head and then sighed.

“Come on baby, I’m fine,” Tara stated as she moved over to Darren and then kissed his lips as she caressed his cheeks.

“We’re not fine right now.  I’m sensing something heading for us,” JT stated as his eyes glowed an eerie purple color as his body glowed brightly as a strange ribbon-like energy that looked like fabric flared around his body.

“What is it JT?”  Tara asked as she turned around.

“I—I think it’s someone—someone is running towards us,” JT stated as he scratched his head.  “I know it’s not the person I thought it would’ve been.”

“Maybe we need to get away from here,” Darren stated as he looked over at JT and Tara.  “We’ve been out in the open for a bit too long for my liking.”

“Yeah, we’ve been in the open for far too long,” JT stated as he turned around as the energy and ribbon that flared around his body collapsed upon him, revealing a new set of clothing, mainly a black pair of pants with what looked like lightning bolts on each side of the legs, a black under-armor top with what looked like a planet symbol in the center of the chest with dark blue boots and gloves, two gold colored belts that hung loosely around his waist and a gold colored visor over his eyes.

“A new look,” Tara said with a smile as she looked JT up and down and then looked over at Darren.

“There’s nothing wrong with an upgrade,” JT stated as Tara giggled as she shook her head.

“I guess so, being that you’ve added something to that goth look you’re so used to having.  I’m glad you added some color this time,” Tara stated as JT raised an eye at her.

“Tara, this is the costume I had when we were kids, it’s just a bit age appropriate now,” JT stated as he turned around, waving his hand at her in a dismissing manner.

“Uh huh,” Tara replied as she spun around in a circle as her body exploded in light, revealing a costume JT hadn’t seen before.

“Wow, you got rid of the blue, white and whatever color that was,” JT stated as he smiled at Tara.  “I like this black and gold you have going on.  How long have you had this costume?”

“Since you left and went into hiding it seems,” Tara replied as JT looked down with a frown on his face.

“I—I didn’t go into hiding,” JT stated as he sighed.  “I just preferred living my life.  I wanted to live my life Tara.  I didn’t want to be running around trying to fight or run from Halloween, Talisman, Master Power, Lord Zeos or any of those other fools that tried to kill us on multiple occasions.”

“I know the feeling, but nothing compares to kicking ass as a super hero,” Tara stated as she moved back just in time to see a dozen police cars driving past them.  “Damn!  What in the hell is happening with that?”

“Yeah, what in the hell is going on?”  Darren asked as he looked at JT and then back to Tara as they all watched the police cars.

“It seems the little speed demon that I detected earlier is causing some problems for the local police.  It seems he’s competing with them,” JT stated with a frown as he shook his head. “This guy is reminding me more and more of an old friend of ours.”

“Why is he competing with the police?”  Tara asked as JT shrugged his shoulders as his eyes glowed.

“He’s racing with a squad car as we speak,” JT stated as he jumped into the air, taking flight, keeping an eye on things from the sky.

A Few Miles Away — A Police Blockade

“Come in Barton, do you have the street blocked off yet?”  One of the police officers asked as another officer nodded his head.

“I don’t think a road block is going to stop this guy,” the other officer stated as two more patrol cars arrived on the scene.

“So what’s the word?”  The first officer asked as he looked over at the two new arrivals.

“The perp has hit ten more department stores and it seems no one can seem to get a good visual on him,” another officer announced as something moved past him quickly, knocking him down to the ground as one of the patrol cars flipped over.

“Damn it Haynes, are you okay buddy?”  Another officer asked, assisting the officer on the ground up.

“Whatever this is, we have to do something to stop it.  We can’t let this thing get away,” another officer stated as he stepped back.  “This thing is like a damn wraith or something.”

“There’s no such thing as a wraith,” another officer stated as something moved behind all of them as there was a loud noise as all the officers covered their ears quickly, falling to the ground.

(<SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE>)

“Oh God, no!”  JT screamed as he floated in mid air, covering his ears as he flew erratically through the air as his eyes glowed brightly as the young speedster stopped momentarily to watch the chaos and devastation he had created.

“What the fuck is happening?!”  Tara screamed as she fell to the ground, rolling around as something fell from her body, hitting the ground and then growing in size, revealing that it was Darren’s body as he screamed out, his voice alerting the young speedster that was nearby along with the police officers that lay on the ground.

“What in the hell just happened here?  Who in the hell are those—those damn people?”  One of the police officers asked as he rushed over to where JT, Tara and Darren were on the ground.  “Stop, get your hands up!”

“No!”  JT screamed, using his powers to knock the police officer backwards to the ground as the gun floated from the officer’s hand and exploded into multiple pieces.

“What just happened here?”  Tara asked as she sat up on the ground.

“It seems our little speedster there broke the sound barrier just now and caused a great deal of reverb,” JT stated as he shook his head and then got up to his feet.  “If I hadn’t reacted when I did, I wouldn’t have been able to shield myself from the impending shockwaves that came with it.”

“It seems someone’s a bit selfish,” Darren stated as he sat up on the ground, rubbing at his head.  “You could’ve shielded the rest of us from that crap too.”

“You were not with me,” JT stated as he assisted Tara with standing up.  “Oh great, the little troublemaker is gone, but it seems we have some unnecessary company of our own to deal with.”

“Not up for dealing with the police,” Tara stated as she waved at the officers and then flew off into the air as JT and Darren disappeared.

“Did you see that?”  One of the police officers spoke as he pointed up at the sky.  “That woman just flew away like a damn bird and the other two, they—they vanished as if they weren’t here.”

“Can it Haynes, the Sarge will think you’ve been hitting the bottle with talk like that,” another officer spoke as he rubbed at his head.  “There’s no such thing as flying girls and vanishing guys.”

“But she just flew up into the sky, I saw it with my own two eyes and the other two were right there, they disappeared like they weren’t really there,” the officer stated.

“We don’t have any actual proof that they were here, so they weren’t,” the other officer said with a frown as he took off his heat and then fanned his face with it.

“Look man, I know what I saw.  I’m not going crazy,” the other officer stated as he showed the middle finger to the other officer and then walked off.

“He better learn to keep his mouth shut before he say something to get himself killed,” another officer spoke as he opened the patrol car door and then got inside as he started the vehicle and drove off.

Not Too Far From the Statue of Liberty

“Hi there guy,” JT spoke as he floated down in front of the young speedster.

“He—he’s flying,” the young man spoke as JT held his hand out as the young man shook his head and then turned around quickly to run away, but wasn’t able to move.  “What’s happening?  Why am I not moving?”

“Nope, I’m not going to let you get away.  You’re not leaving from here,” JT stated as he stepped closer to the young man.

“What are you doing to me?”  The young man asked.

“I’m stopping you from drawing more attention to yourself,” JT stated with a weak smile at the young man.  “What you did earlier wasn’t called for.  You could’ve hurt someone and you could’ve leveled this town with that reverb you created when you broke the sound barrier.”

“That was cool wasn’t it, that was my best effect yet.  Besides, I was only having a little bit of fun, no harm down man,” the young man said as JT’s eyes glowed.

“Now isn’t the time to be seeking fun Brian Steele,” JT stated as the young man turned and looked at him strangely.  “Yes, I know your name.”

“How do you know my name?”  The young man identified as Brian asked.

“Let’s just say that I’m a mind reader,” JT replied as the young man looked down and then stopped trying to move his legs.  “I’m just like you, well not just like you.  You have the power to run fast, I have the power to—to do other things.”

“So you’re a super person too,” Brian stated as JT nodded his head.

“Yes I am, but you have to stop what you’re doing,” JT stated as he looked around, waving his hand through the air as Tara appeared as Brian’s eyes widened.

“How—how did you do that?”  Brian asked, looking at JT strangely, not taking his eyes off of him.

“As I said, I can do other things,” JT replied as Darren grew to his full size as he stood next to Tara.  “That’s really freaky.”

“Oh come off it J, I’ve seen you change your size before,” Tara stated as JT shook his head.

“No Tara, when you would see me change size, I was normally growing taller to a giant, not growing from the size of an atom to normal size.  That’s just odd,” JT stated as his eyes glowed brightly, creating an aura that resembled a firebird around his eyes.  “Guys, we have trouble approaching quickly and it seems to be our new government friends.”

“I suggest we get out of here then,” Darren stated as he looked over at JT.

“Brian, I think you need to come with us,” JT stated as he looked over at the young man.  “You being out here in the open, the way you have been, as of late, isn’t a good thing.”

“I don’t need you guys, I can take care of myself,” Brian stated as JT shook his head.

“With your actions earlier, I don’t know if that can be considered taking care of yourself.  It was more like super mischief,” JT stated as Tara raised an eye, looking at him strangely.  “Besides, it’s time that you allowed others to help you.”

“I don’t know you man, but being out here on your own isn’t a good thing,” Darren stated as Tara looked at him strangely as JT raised his hands as energy crackled around his body.

“Come on, let’s get out of here, before those people come to tag us and take us away,” JT stated as he looked over at Brian.

“Fine,” Brian stated as JT motioned with his hand as the four of them disappeared just before some military soldiers reached the spot where they were.

Day 12 — The South side of Jacksonville, FL — The Avenues Mall

“These are normally two hundred dollar shoes girl.  I can’t believe I got those for such a low price,” Jennifer stated a she and a friend walked through the mall, carrying shopping bags, while pointing out different items in other stores they passed.

“I know girl, I can’t believe it either,” the young woman spoke with a smile.  “I can’t believe the sales lady give you all those discounts like that.  Do you know her or what?”

“No, I don’t know her, but I’m glad she did what she did,” Jennifer stated with a smile.  “I’m glad I get these, I’m going to break them tonight at the Metro.”

“So you’re going out, yet again,” the young woman stated as Jennifer nodded her head.

“Why not, I have nothing else better to do,” Jennifer stated as they got to the escalators.  “I’m feeling a bit lunchy girl, are you hungry?”

“A little bit,” the young woman replied as Jennifer nodded her head in the direction of the food court.  “It’s been a while since I had something to snack on.”

“I know the feeling,” Jennifer spoke as she adjusted the shopping bags in her hand.

“Do you know what you want?”  The young woman asked, adjusting the bags in her hands as she looked up to see a strange looking man that stood over by an exit door, watching the two of them.

“Why don’t we go down to the first level and get something to eat from the food court,” Jennifer stated with a small smile as she checked the guy out from the corner of her eye.  “I think I can go for some Chinese.  What about you Laci?”

“I can go for that.  Would love some shrimp fried rice, chicken wings and some lo mein,” the young woman stated as they rode the escalator down.  “What are you going to get?  Jen?  Hey Jen, girl are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Jennifer replied as she looked around to see that the man was gone, no longer in her range of vision.

“Are you sure?”  The young woman identified as Laci asked as they stepped off the escalator and then walked towards the food court.

“I’m sure, I’m just a bit hungry,” Jennifer stated as she walked quickly over to a set of tables and placed her bags down.  “Why don’t you go over and get our food ordered and I’ll sit here and watch our stuff.”

“Okay girl,” Laci stated as she walked over to the Chinese food counter to place their orders.

“Okay, you might as well make yourself seen.  I don’t know who you are, but I’m not going to let you get the drop on me,” Jennifer spoke aloud as she looked around, noticing that there weren’t many people around them in the mall as it normally would’ve been for that time of day at the Mall.  “Maybe I’m being paranoid here, but where are all the people that should normally be here at a time like this?”

To Be Continued…

If I Ain’t Got You – Chapter 1

Chapter 1 — In Need of Rest

Dec 13, 2002 — Orlando, FL — Knight Entertainment – Donnie Knight’s Office

“What do you mean I’m stuck on this damn tour for an extra two months?” Justin Tanner, a member of the band All*Star and a solo performance artist asked as he walked over to the executive manager’s desk with a mean expression on his face.

“I’ll take that as a sign that you overlooked the dates for April and May,” Donnie Knight, the executive manager and head honcho of the company spoke as Justin’s eyes widened as he shook his head and then threw up his hands.

“I didn’t overlook any damn thing!” Justin snapped as he turned to face the man. “I’m tired and I can’t do these extra shows!”

“I’m sorry Justin, but you just can’t stop the tour in March,” Donnie stated as he got up from his chair behind his desk.

“Why? Where in the hell did those extra dates come from?” Justin asked as he looked at Donnie, an expression that showed he was ready to fight. “I need rest damn it! I’m exhausted here. I’ve been pushing myself way too hard for far too long.”

“I’m sorry Justin, but those dates were already in place when everything was signed into place. Didn’t you read your agenda when the contracts were sent over?” Donnie asked as he walked around in front of his desk to stand in front of Justin.

“The agenda I have has my tour slated to end in March, not in damn May!” Justin snapped as he shook his head and then threw his hands up again.

“Then apparently you didn’t read your agenda thoroughly,” Donnie stated as he picked up a file and passed it over to Justin.

“No damn it! I—I can’t do this Donnie! All of this, it’s… No, it’s draining me damn it!” Justin snapped and then sighed as he covered his eyes.

“You’re on break right now for the holidays Justin. I suggest you use this time to rest up as much as you can,” Donnie suggested, watching Justin as he looked through the file. “I don’t care what you have to do, but you’ll make those dates and you’ll follow-through with everything set out in your agenda.”

“Are you fucking serious here? You’re telling me to rest up as much as I can? How in the hell am I supposed to get rest Donnie? Maybe you’ve forgotten what’s on my damn plate right now!” Justin snapped as he pointed his finger in the man’s face. “I have damn rehearsals with Chrissy and the dancers, a few radio interviews and other damn things that you and everyone else around in this fucked up slave-hole has me lined up to do! How am I supposed to get any damn rest?”

“Who do you think you’re talking to?” Donnie asked.

“I’m talking to the slave-driver in front of me!” Justin snapped as he shook his head. “You work me day and night! How am I going to rest with any of that crap going on? Tell me that damn it!”

“Like I always tell you, you’ll get through it, you always do,” Donnie stated as he crossed his arms across his chest. “Is that all Justin?”

“Is that all? Is that all? What is that Donnie? Are you just blowing me and my concerns off? Are you trying to get rid of me now? You have something else important to do, that’s more important than your multi-million-dollar superstar?” Justin asked as he walked around Donnie’s desk and then slammed his fist down on the desk, causing some papers to fly off, landing on the floor.

“Justin, I think you need to calm it down,” Donnie stated as his assistant walked into the room with a concerned expression.

“Man, you must be full of shit right now! I’m not calming down here!” Justin snapped as he shook his head. “Fuck this, I’m outta here! See how well you do without me performing at those so-called dates I missed in my agenda! I’ll be waiting when you want to actually listen to what I have to say!”

“What?! Justin, Justin come back here!” Donnie yelled as Justin displayed the middle finger and then walked past the assistant out of the office.

“Sir, is everything okay?” Donnie’s assistant asked as she walked over to Donnie’s desk. “Should I call security or something?”

“No, that’s just Justin Tanner, acting like the spoiled brat that he is,” Donnie stated as he knelt down, picked up the things that Justin had knocked to the floor and then straightened his tie. “Get me Lynn Hart on the phone.”

“Yes sir,” the assistant spoke. “Is there anything else you’ll need?”

“No Erica,” Donnie replied as he shook his head. “I suspect he’ll go talk to her next and tell her where he’s going. That boy has another thing coming if he thinks he’s going to bail out on those tour dates that are already lined up for him Chrissy.”

“Should I get Chrissy’s tour manager on the phone as well?” The assistant asked as she looked over at Donnie.

“No, just call Perry and tell him to keep an eye out for any possible problems that may arise. All you need to let him know is that Justin is being a bit dramatic, but nothing more than that. We don’t need the media getting wind of any of this just yet,” Donnie stated, shaking his head as he turned around, looking out the window as he covered his eyes.

“Okay sir, I’ll get on that right away. I’ll let you know what has been taken care of,” the assistant stated as she walked out of the room to start on her tasks.

Across Town – The Sheraton World Resort – Justin’s Hotel Room

Justin’s POV

I can’t believe he acted as if my words meant nothing! All he cares about is his damn money and his damn shows! What would he do if I was gone? How would he get his precious money then? As I see things, no one else for his company makes as much money as I do. He might want to rethink things and give me what I want. I need some rest and working me the way he is, isn’t getting me the rest I need. I don’t care what he or anyone says, I’m going to get away from here and get some damn rest. It’s the holiday season and I’m going to do what I can to make the holidays the best.

As I pulled into the hotel’s parking garage, the phone rang just as I was parking the car. With a sigh, I pulled the phone from my pocket and checked the caller id. Like I expected, it’s Donnie, but he’s not going to get my time that easily. He’s going to have to stew for a bit before I even consider talking to his ass. My goal is to get up here, pack my bags and get the hell away from here. Once I feel rested up, that’s when I’ll talk to Donnie. Grabbing my things and walking towards the hotel’s entrance, the phone rang again as I looked at it to see that it was Ma. I bet he called her to get her to convince me to get back to the tour. That’s not going to happen. Opening the door, I answered the phone…

“Hi Ma,” I spoke into the phone.

“Justin, what’s going on?” She asked as I shook my head, waved at the security guy that sat at the desk and then walked on over to the elevator, pressing the button as I waited for it to arrive.

“Nothing’s going on Ma,” I replied as the elevator doors opened as I stepped inside, riding the car up to my floor so I could go pack.

“Don’t lie to me Justin, something’s going on. I’ve gotten multiple phone calls from Donnie and I don’t think he’s a happy camper. So what’s the deal? Why is he calling so much? I haven’t even made it home and he’s back-to-back calling my phone,” she said as I shook my head as the elevator doors opened on my floor as I walked down the hall, passing one of my security guys as I got to my door, opened it and then went inside.

“He’s probably trying to get you to convince me not to leave the tour so I can get some rest,” I said as I opened the closet door, grabbed my suitcase and then threw it on the bed.

“Why are you leaving the tour Justin?” She asked.

“I need to get some rest Ma and I can’t do that while I’m here, working like a dog,” I stated as I opened the drawers and started throwing items into the suitcase. “I have to get away from here.”

“Where are you going?” She asked.

“I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going to go someplace and be there for a long while, so I can get some rest. Maybe then Donnie will realize how overworked I am,” I said as she sighed.

“Honey, you can’t just up and leave the tour like that. Think about the fans, think about Chrissy,” she said as I shook my head and continued placing items into the suitcase.

“The fans will be fine and so will Chrissy,” I said as she sighed again.

“Are you out of your mind Justin? What in the world has gotten into you? This isn’t like you!” She snapped as I held the phone away from my ear a bit. “Chrissy and the other performers on the tour have put a lot of hard work into making that tour the best and here you are, throwing that hard work down the damn drain!”

“I’m not doing anything, Donnie did that,” I replied, a bit pissed that she was talking to me this way. She’s my Mom, she’s supposed to be on my side, not everyone else’s side.

“Don’t leave Chrissy and the other performers in a jam like that,” she said as I could hear the unsettled anger in her voice.

“Trying to make me feel bad because I need to get some rest isn’t going to work. I’m not going to feel bad because of Donnie’s actions. I need rest and I’m going to get it,” I said, zipping the suitcase up and placing it on the floor. “Donnie seems to think that this one measly week is enough for me to get some rest when it’s not. I don’t seem to feel the same way he does about this matter.”

“Don’t do this Justin. Just stay there and get as much rest as you can and then come home for the holidays,” she said as I shook my head.

“No Ma, no!” I snapped this time. “How am I supposed to get rest when I still have work to do? I have photo shoots, interviews and a few meet and greets. I can’t rest, still having to do those things Ma,” I said with a sigh this time. “How is that resting Ma? How am I going to rest when I still have to work?”

“I know you have a lot on your plate right now honey, but do what you can to get through it all and just think about it like this, once May arrives, you can get all the rest that you want,” she said as I looked at the phone, wanting to hang up on her, but choose not to.

“I need rest right now Ma. If I don’t get some rest, I’m going to go crazy,” I said, pacing in front of the bed.

“Justin please don’t do this right now. Don’t run out on your commitments,” she said. “You’ve done a lot of hard work to make a name for yourself. Don’t let that go down the drain because you don’t have enough self-control to keep yourself on task. “Remember, you were the one that wanted to go and do this.”

“Oh, so now you’re blaming this on me!” I snapped as she sighed again.

“I’m not blaming this on you Justin,” she replied as I shook my head as I felt the tears sliding down my cheeks.

“It seems I’m the only one that cares about my well-being here,” I said, thinking about all the bad things that’s happened to me over the last couple of months. “This is real sweet of how you’re throwing this in my face too.”

“Honey please…” She said as I shook my head again.

“First Josh gives me crap and now you. I know I wanted to do this, but I also wanted a stress free life and I don’t seem to have that right now. It seems like I’m going through the same crap I went through with the guys,” I said as I wiped at my eyes.

“Honey, just stay there and get some rest and…” She said as I interrupted her.

“No Ma, I need to leave here and get some rest,” I said, sniffling now.

“No, you need to stay there and finish what you started,” she said as I looked at the phone again.

“I—I can’t do this now,” I said with a sigh. “I—I’ll call you at a later time.”

“Justin, honey please,” I heard her say as I closed the phone, ending the call.

Someplace in Jamestown, NY – A Private Townhouse – The Home of Nick Canton

Nick’s POV

“Hey sis, what’s going on with you?” I asked, walking into my bedroom and throwing my things down on the bed as I sat down on it.

“Mom’s pissed off,” she said as I looked at the phone strangely as I kicked my shoes off and then crawled backwards on the bed.

“What do you mean she’s pissed off, why?” I asked, leaning up against the headboard of the bed as I reached for the remote to turn on the television.

“You have to come back here. You know Mom wants you to be here for the holidays,” she stated as I shook my head.

“I’m not flying back down to Tampa right now. I just want to stay here, by myself, where I am. I’m in no mood for flying anytime soon,” I said, hoping that would change the subject of things as I got up and walked over to the windows and sat on the cushions there. “The purpose of me coming here was for me to get AWAY for a bit and get some rest away from people. If I was there with you guys, I wouldn’t get any rest.”

“Bro, you can rest here with the rest of us,” she said as I shook my head again and then sighed.

“I would rather stay here and be by myself,” I replied, playing with a few strands of my hair.

“Nick, I… Does this have anything to do with the love interest thing you complain so much about?” She asked as I covered my eyes.

“What are you talking about girl?” I asked as she sighed.

“You know what the hell I’m talking about Nick,” she said as I sighed this time. “Stop playing bro.”

“I’m not in the mood,” I said, looking down at my hands as I felt a few tears drop.

“You don’t have to worry, he’s not coming Nick,” she said as I shook my head.

“Who’s not coming,” I asked, looking up at the stars in the sky.

“You know who I’m talking about Nick. You need to quit playing games with me. You know damn well who I’m talking about here. Brian isn’t coming, he went back to Kentucky to be with his parents,” she informed me as I felt more tears sliding down my cheeks.

“Why—why would I be worried about him coming?” I asked as I rubbed at my eyes.

“You’re so damn transparent Nick. You’ve been avoiding Brian since he got back together with ‘her’,” she said, not mentioning Brian’s wife’s name.

“I haven’t been avoiding him. I’ve just been too busy and I haven’t had the time to see him or anything,” I said, standing up as I leaned against the wall.

“Yeah right Nick,” she said as I frowned. “It’s time for you to move on with your life. He loves her, not you. He might’ve loved you in the past, but now she’s in his life and I don’t think he’s going to ever really leave her to be with you again, now that there’s a possibility that he’s the father of her child.”

“I—I really don’t want to hear any of this right now,” I said as more tears fell.

“The way I see it, you need to hear it Nick. This is the only way you’re going to force yourself to forget about being with him and move on,” she said.

“I—I don’t want to move on, I—I love him. I’ve always loved him,” I said, crying full out.

“I know you have Nick, but he doesn’t love you like that anymore,” she said with a sigh as I sniffled and then wiped at my eyes. “He has her now. Why don’t you follow his lead and move on the way he did?”

“I—I can’t,” I said as I continued to cry as I let the phone fall to the floor.

“Nick? Nick? Nick talk to me, I can still hear you bro. You have to be strong now. You can’t let this continue the way it’s going,” I heard her say as I shook my head, not wanting to hear any more of what she had to say.

Dec 20, 2002 – Orlando, FL – The Spot Nightclub

“What can I get you man?” The bartender asked as Justin took a seat at the bar.

“Let me get a rum and cola on the rocks,” Justin replied, pulling out his wallet.

“Okay, coming right up guy,” the bartender replied as he pulled a glass from below the counter, filled it with the requested alcoholic beverage and then passed it over to Justin. “Here you are, that’ll be nine bucks guy.”

“Here you go, keep the change,” Justin said as he grabbed the drink and knocked it back in one gulp.

“Whoa man, do you want another one?” The bartender asked, watching Justin.

“Yeah I do,” Justin replied as he put the glass down on the counter. “Do you run tabs here?”

“I do, but I need your ID for that,” the bartender answered as Justin reached into his pocket, pulled out his driver’s license, showing it to the bartender. “Oh, I have a celebrity on my hands. My boyfriend listens to your music.”

“Well thanks,” Justin replied with a weak smile as he looked around quickly. “Can you… Can you keep it down? I don’t want anyone recognizing me in here.”

“Guy, you’re in a gay bar. I’m quite sure everyone in here will recognize you,” the bartender stated with a wide smile.

“I’ll take my chances, but I don’t need you broadcasting it to everyone that I’m here. Please don’t bring me any unneeded attention while I’m here,” Justin stated as he handed the guy a one-hundred-dollar bill.

“Okay sir, my lips are sealed,” the bartender said as he fixed another drink for Justin and placed it in front of him.

“Thank you,” Justin replied as he took the glass and knocked it back in one gulp also.

Almost Two Hours Later

“Guy, I think you need to quit for the night. I think you’ve had enough,” the bartender said with a frown.

“I—I think you’re right about that,” Justin replied as he slid off the stool, stumbling a bit as he tried to stand up and walk.

“Guy, just sit back down. I’ll call you a taxi. You can’t drive in your condition,” the bartender stated as he moved over to where Justin was as he helped him over to a booth to sit down. “You just hold tight and I’ll get you a taxi.”

“Naw, I don’t need a taxi man. I just need to get back to my hotel and sleep it off. I can drive myself back there,” Justin slurred as he waved his hand dismissingly at the bartender and then hiccupped.

“You can’t drive in your current condition,” the bartender said with a frown. “You’re really drunk. You’re in no condition to drive like this. If you were to drive, you’d kill yourself or someone else.”

“I… (<burp>) … can’t go back… (<burp>) … to my hotel and be seen getting out of a taxi,” Justin said as he shook his head. “What if… (<burp>) …the tabloids found out?”

“Well is there someone you can call to come and get you?” The bartender asked as he looked at Justin closely.

“No, I’m in this town all by my lonesome,” Justin replied as he hiccupped again and then vomited on the table. “Oops, look what I just fucking did.”

“Don’t worry about that man, you just sit right there. Wait a few minutes and I’ll take you to your hotel, that’s if you want me to,” the bartender suggested with a frown.

“You can’t do that. I can’t let you do something like that for me. I—I’ll just drive myself back there,” Justin said as he tried to get up again, but fell down to the floor and then passed out.

“Oh shit,” the bartender said under his breath, shaking his head. “Justin? Justin? Damn it, he’s out cold.”

“What’s going on over there Jackson?” Another bartender asked.

“Nothing, it’s nothing man,” the first bartender replied as he looked down at Justin. “Come on Justin, you have to wake up for me.”

“What’s going on?” Justin slurred as he opened his eyes. “What’re you doing to me?”

“I’m picking you up off the floor,” Jackson, the bartender said with a frown. “You need to get home and sleep this off or you’re going to have one big hangover.”

“I—I don’t get hangovers,” Justin said with a giggle as he burped loudly and then grabbed Jackson’s thigh. “I get layovers, if you get my drift.”

“What are you doing Justin?” Jackson asked as he pushed Justin’s hand away from his crotch.

“I thought I was holding onto the baby maker,” Justin replied with a smirk as he licked his lips.

“I’m trying to help you out man. Under different circumstances, this would be nice, but you’re drunk and you don’t know what you’re really doing,” Jackson said with a frown.

“I know what I’m doing. I’m trying to get you into my bed,” Justin responded as he felt between Jackson’s legs again.

“Stop that man!” Jackson snapped as he pushed Justin’s hand away again. “Is there someone that can come get you, to take you back to your hotel?”

“Either I drive myself back there or you can take me,” Justin answered as he pulled out his car keys and dangled them in front of Jackson’s face. “Come with me; come back to my hotel with me. You’re really cute and you know I would be a very fun ride.”

“I’m trying to be your friend here. I’m not going to indulge you right now,” Jackson said, popping Justin’s hand to stop him from grabbing at his crotch. “Come on man, I’m trying to get you to your place, so you won’t hurt yourself or someone else.”

“Take me back to my place so I won’t hurt myself,” Justin said as he smiled goofily at Jackson.

“Just sit tight for a few more minutes. I have some more things to do and then I’ll let the others know that I’m leaving,” Jackson said as Justin sat there in the booth, acting goofy and continued trying to touch him.

“I’ll wait right here with bells on,” Justin said as he waved as Jackson shook his head and then walked off.

Jamestown, NY – The Private Townhouse of Nick Canton

Nick’s POV

“Hello,” I spoke into the phone as I leaned over the side of the bed.

“Nick! Why aren’t you home?” Laura asked as I slid back up on the bed and then laid down.

“You do realize what time it is, don’t you?” I asked, yawning as I rubbed at my eyes.

“We’re in the same damn time zone, it’s still early. Mom and Dad want you here for the holidays,” she said as I shook my head.

“I remember telling you the other night that I wasn’t coming,” I said as she sighed.

“Nickolas Canton!” She screamed as I moved the phone away from my ear. “Get over it already!”

“I already told you,” I said, remembering the conversation from the other night.

“Oh fuck you,” she said as I shook my head.

“Don’t talk to me that way,” I said, pissed off with her.

“I need to talk in a far worse fashion than this Nick. If I were there with you right now, I would be kicking your ass all the way back here,” she said as I could hear the sound of something being hit on.

“Well you’re not here, so just leave me the hell alone and let me be. I don’t want to be bothered by you or anyone else for that matter,” I said.

“You need to get your ass to the airport right now Nick,” she whined. “I called and booked you a flight back here. Get on your flight and you should be here in the morning. Christmas is just a few days away. You don’t want to really be alone then, do you?”

“Yes Laura, I would rather be alone,” I declared, sighing as I looked around. Hell, I’m already alone.

“Well tough fucking luck Nick. You’re going to be home with the rest of us,” she said as I shook my head and then sighed. “Answer the door Nick.”

“What?” I said, looking at the phone strangely.

“I said answer the door,” she said again just as there was a knock at the front door.

“What? How in… What in the hell is going on?” I asked as I got up out of bed, placed the phone on the bed and then walked out of the room and down the hall to the door. “Who’s there?”

“Open the door Nick,” I heard a familiar voice as I looked at the phone. No she didn’t send him!

“Kevin? What’re you doing here?” I asked as I opened the door to see my band mate, Kevin Richards standing there.

“I’ll be your escort,” Kevin replied as he looked at me. “I’ll be escorting you back home.”

“I’m already home Kevin and I’m not going anywhere,” I told him as I got ready to close the door in his face as he stopped me.

“Hmmm, Laura said you would say that. That’s why I’m going to drag you back to your family home, kicking and screaming, whether you like it or not,” Kevin stated as I shook my head.

“No Kevin, I’m not going anywhere. Don’t make me call the police and have you arrested,” I said as he watched me as I picked up the phone again.

“You would actually call the police on me Nick?” Kevin asked, looking at me like he was heartbroken.

“Damn skippy,” I replied, moving away from him as I turned my attention back to the evil sister on the phone. “So you sent Kevin here to kidnap me, is that right?”

“Just come back here with him Nick,” she said as I shook my head again. “Mom and Dad are really sad and upset that you’re not here with the rest of us.”

“I don’t care,” I said as the tears flowed down my face. “If I were there, I would only bring everyone’s holiday down.”

“No you wouldn’t,” she said as I shook my head.

“Yes I would,” I said, dropping the phone as my tears overtook me.

Kevin’s POV

Oh man, this doesn’t look so good. He’s breaking down all over again. When Laura told me that he was cracking up, I never imagined it would be like this. I thought she was just exaggerating, but now that I’m here, seeing him like this, maybe she wasn’t far off in her words. Damn Brian for what he did. All of this happening is his fault. I told him what he was doing was going to cause some problems, but did he listen to me? I told him not to play both sides, but no, he wanted to have his cake and ice cream too. Damn him!

“Nick, Nick are you there?” I heard Laura ask as I grabbed the phone as Nick just leaned against the wall, crying for all he was worth.

“Hey Laura, it’s me. I’ll take care of him, just give us a bit of time,” I said, looking at the condition he was in and thinking about how I was going to actually get him back with his family.

“Please bring him home Kevin. We’re all worried about him,” Laura stated.

“I know you are, just let me do what I can,” I spoke. “I’ll call you back later on.”

“Okay, take care Kevin,” she said as I turned the phone off.

Sighing, I placed the phone on the counter and turned around to see him sitting on the floor, crying as he rocked himself back and forth. Walking over to him, I sat down next to him and wrapped my arms around him as he cried.

“Everything’s going to be okay Nicky,” I softly said with a frown. “I know he hurt you very badly.”

“What?” He said, looking up at me as he sniffled.

“I know everything Nick. I knew all about your relationship with Brian,” I told him as he looked down.

“How—how did you know about us?” He asked as I looked down this time.

“One, I walked into you guys’ room one night last year and saw you two having sex,” I replied as I rubbed his back. It was more like Brian fucking him senseless, but oh well. “Two, he told me about you two.”

“I—I love him Kevin. I love him more than anything. How—how could he just up and leave me like that?” He asked, crying on my shoulder.

“Because he felt he needed to do the right thing,” I replied, pulling him closer.

“He felt he needed to do the right thing. What right thing?” He asked, pushing me away from him. “So the right thing for him was to leave me here, heartbroken like this?”

“No Nicky, that’s not what I meant,” I said, mentally kicking myself for saying it that way. “In Brian’s mind, he thinks that the right thing for him to do is to be with Layna and his child, not being with a man. He couldn’t see himself living in a gay relationship.”

“He should’ve said that a long time ago Kevin. He should’ve said that before I fell in love with him,” he said, lying down on the floor, crying out more.

“I know Nicky, I know. I wish there was something I could’ve done to change that. I wish there was something I could do now to take your pain away, but I can’t,” I told him as I pulled him back to me, rubbing his back as I smoothed his hair away from his face.

“Why doesn’t anyone love me Kevin? Why am I the one that always get the short end of the fucking stick?” He asked as he held onto my waist.

“I don’t know Nicky, I really don’t,” I replied, hugging him. “I don’t know why all of this happened to you. I wish it hadn’t.”

“What’s wrong with me Kevin? Am I doomed to be lonely forever?” He asked, shaking his head. “First I was used and abused by James, then Jacob had his fun with me and my emotions and now Brian. Will I ever find someone to love me and not leave or use me?”

“I don’t really know Nicky,” I replied, shaking my head, pissed off with what I just heard.

“Am I that ugly and fat?” He asked.

“You’re not ugly and you’re definitely not fat,” I told him.

“Then why doesn’t anyone want me?” He asked, crying more in my arms as he laid his head on my chest.

“I told you that James was a jerk in the first place and well Jacob wasn’t good enough for you, because he was pining after his best friend. As for Brian, Brian is just… well he just wants to be right with God,” I told him as he sniffled and then gasped. “None of them were good enough for you anyway.”

“Well who is good enough for me?” He asked as he looked into my eyes as all I could see was his hurt.

“I don’t know Nicky, but he’ll come along one day,” I said, rubbing the top of his head as he continued crying and sniffling.

To Be Continued…