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Chapter 40

“Excuse me, could you tell us where we could find Nick Carter?” Howie asked a nurse down in the Emergency Room.

“Nick Carter,” she murmured, thinking.

“He was in a car accident, and we were told he was somewhere here in the ER,” Kevin added.

“Oh, yes, I know who you’re talking about,” she said. “Right this way.” They followed her down a hallway, until she stopped in front of a door. She glanced at the chart hanging next to the door, which had Nick’s name on it, and slowly opened the door and peeked inside. “Go on in, guys,” she said, holding the door open for them.

“Thanks,” AJ said, as the three of them walked in. They found Nick propped up in bed, his arm bandaged and in a sling. Other than that, he looked unharmed, just pale and tired.

“Hey, Nick,” Howie greeted softly.

“Hey,” Nick said dully. “I’m sure you heard about Harry, right?”

“Yeah,” Kevin replied sadly.

“It’s all my fault, you know,” Nick said, his voice monotone.

“What?” Howie asked.

“What the hell are you talking about, Nick?” AJ asked. “It was an accident.”

“He was driving me back to the hotel,” Nick said. “If I wasn’t around, he wouldn’t have been driving that late at night when he was so tired.”

“Nick, don’t say that!” Kevin said sharply. “He was driving back to the hotel so he could sleep too. Aunt Jackie probably would have made him go anyway, whether you were going or not.”

Nick said nothing, just stared blankly at the wall. Finally, he spoke up again, saying, “well, this whole thing is my fault anyway.”

“Nick, stop it,” Howie said. “Nothing’s your fault.”

“Yes it is,” Nick insisted bitterly. “I left Brian and all you guys, and then when I came back, everything bad started to happen.”

“Nick, that’s just coincidence,” AJ reasoned.

“Yeah, and anyway, not everything that’s happening is bad. I mean, I just lost one of my cousins, but because he died, my other cousin has another chance to live,” Kevin added.

“Hey, where is Brian anyway?” Nick asked, suddenly perking up. “Has he gone into surgery yet?”

“I don’t think so,” Kevin replied. “They were starting to get him prepped when we came down here. I doubt he’s gone in yet.”

“I want to see him before he goes in,” Nick declared.

“Nicky, you’re in the hospital. I don’t think-“ Howie started to say, but Nick cut him off.

“I want to see my best friend now, and I’m not taking any bullshit from the doctors,” Nick said defiantly and slapped his call button.

A few moments later, the nurse that had led the guys to Nick’s room before, Megan, came in. “Can I help you, Mr. Carter?” she asked.

“Yeah, I want to go down and see my friend, Brian, before he goes to have heart surgery,” Nick said. Kevin could see the stubborn look on his face and knew that he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

“Well, Mr. Carter, that’s not customary procedure,” Megan started.

“I don’t give a f*ck about ‘customary procedure’, this could be the last time I get to see my best friend, and I’m going, no matter what you, or anyone else says!” Nick said sharply. The nurse’s eyes widened. “And if you don’t let me, I’m going to rip this goddamn IV out of my arm and go anyway,” he threatened, his blue eyes narrowed icily.

“Well… uh… ok, Mr. Carter. I guess I can make an exception just this once. Hang on, and I’ll get you a wheelchair,” she replied hesitantly, backing out of the room. Nick just smiled, satisfied. A few minutes later, she returned, pushing a wheelchair. She helped Nick into it, which was more difficult than it seemed, for Nick was more banged up and bruised than he had thought, and getting into the chair was quite painful. But finally, he was seated in it. The nurse wheeled the IV pole out next to him. “Ok, do one of you guys want to push while I wheel the IV pole?” she asked.

“Sure, I will,” Kevin said. He got behind Nick’s wheelchair and slowly wheeled him out of the room, while Megan rolled the IV pole along beside him. Nick felt awkward in the wheelchair, but it didn’t matter to him then. What was important now was Brian, and Brian only. Nothing else mattered.

Chapter 41