"Here's the fans latest declarations of love for you Nick."
The young man with messy blonde hair poked his head out from under the warm blankets as a rain of envelopes fell on him.
"Already? What the hell time is it?"
Ron, his bodyguard, glanced at his watch. "About 3pm. About time for you to get your ass out of bed."
"My ass is sick." Nick protested.
"Well maybe if you weren't out getting drunk off it when you should be sleeping, your ass would be just fine."
"Thanks Dad." Nick made a face and pushed the letters to the floor.
"Oh, here." Ron handed Nick another envelope. "This one must be special, it was taped to the door with duct tape. Took some of the damn paint off." Ron pulled the bunk curtains closed , still griping about the fans.
Nick collapsed back onto his bunk after sound check. Maybe he would stay in tonight and just sleep. He felt like hell. He put almost as much into sound check as he did his show. It nearly killed him, but Nick wanted everything perfect. He lay back on the pillows and idly picked up the letter that had been stuck to the bus door earlier. Nick laughed to himself as he fingered the envelope decorated with hearts, flowers and his initials. Fans would do anything to get attention. Most of them had been standing out there since early that morning and it was freezing out. Just to get a glimpse of him. He shook his head in amazement. He even recognized a few that had traveled to all his tour dates so far. They were probably as sick as he was by now. He ripped one end of the envelope off and pulled out the neatly folded letter.
What a stupid term to use. I don't think you're dear. Matter of fact.... I HATE YOU!!!!!!!!!
I've had just about all I can take. I'm tired of losing her to you. Everytime. This is it. You have to stop.
I MEAN IT
If you perform tonight, you are a dead man. I'm right outside and I have tickets for the show.
But if I see you on that stage, she is getting more of a show than she thought.
I WILL KILL YOU
Don't think this is a joke. I'm serious. I have a gun and a knife and I will kill you.
Stay off the damn stage tonight. If you value your life.
Ron poked his head through the curtains to Nick's bunk. "Yes?"
"Did you see who put this out there?" Nick held out the duct taped envelope.
"No idea, it was already stuck to the bus when I got out." Ron shrugged. "There's at least a hundred kids out there, Nick. It could have been any of them."
Nick tossed it to him to read.
Ron quickly scanned the letter. "Well that's it. We're cancelling the show tonight." He stood and parted the bunk curtains, scanning the crowd quickly. "Come up to the front and we'll work everything out."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Nick sat up and held his hands up in protest. "I *am* performing tonight."
"Some wacko is looking for an opportunity to kill you. No you are not." Ron glared down at Nick, his muscular arms folded across his chest.
"Yes I am. All the guys are coming to this one. Some of the record company people. I need to show them what I can do. I'm singing."
"It is my job to keep you out of danger. That is why the record company and your manager hired me. This is dangerous."
"It is my job to entertain people, all those people." Nick pulled aside his window curtain and gestured outside. "I'm not disappointing them."
"Hire some more local security, get extra checks at the doors, hell, check people now. I'm going on tonight."
"No, Ron, I refuse to quit. There's time to get more security. Shit, You can even stand on stage in front of me if you want." Nick laughed at the thought of Ron trying to keep up with him on stage.
"You are one stubborn asshole, you know that?" Ron placed a hand on Nick's shoulder. "What if this wacko is serious? What if he tries to take you down?"
Nick went silent for a moment his face at first thoughtful, then serene.
"Then I die doing what I love, for the people I love."
"Five minutes to showtime Nick! Ready?" Ron clapped Nick on the back. He could feel Nicks muscles jumping under his skin, the only way you could tell he was nervous.
"Got the extra security?"
"Tons of guys all through the crowd." Ron confirmed. "We did extra bag and coat checks, some pat downs. Everything seems secure."
"The guys here?"
"Up in the balcony, with additional security."
"You didn=t tell them?"
"Good, otherwise they'd been down here telling me what a dumbass I am." Nick grinned at his bodyguard.
Nick turned to the older gentleman.
"You're a dumbass. But I like you. Be careful out there."
Nick hugged his guard and wiped his face of the tears that had started to fall. "I will, lets do it!"
Nick scanned the audience from the stage. He could see all the security, they were bigger men, and their attention was anywhere but the stage for the most part, they were scanning the crowd for suspicious movement. The audience looked normal, lots of screaming girls, older ladies smiling knowingly at some of his double entendres and bored boyfriends hoping for the end of the show. But no one that looked like a killer. He smiled up to the guys in the balcony, his brothers. This show was for them, so they could see that he could do it on his own. They pumped their fists back at him, cheering him on. He grinned and turned back to the audience.
"Okay, okay, whoever's shooting that water at me, I'm gonna getcha!" Nick pointed and smirked. "Do you want some more?" He gestured with his arms to get the crowd going. "I can't hear you!" The crowd screamed louder. "C'mon ladies, do you want some more?"
The crowd was so screaming so loud no one heard the gun fire. Nick snapped back into the drumkit as he was hit and grabbed his chest. He looked over to Ron in confusion and pain. He slowly slumped to the floor as he was surrounded by the band on stage and his personal security. The audience froze in place, unsure of what was happening.
"Jesus Christ, what happened?" Kevin pushed through the cordon of security and kneeled beside Nick.
"He said.....said...he was gonna." Nick gasped for air.
"Some jackass said he was going to kill him tonight if he performed." Ron replied softly, wiping Nick's mouth as he coughed up blood.
"And you let him perform?"
"I couldn't stop him. He wanted to go on for his fans." Ron studied the group of four huddled around Nick. "And for you four."
"Was...it....good?" Nick's eyes tried to focus on the people around him.
"Don't talk Nick. Where's that damn ambulance? We're losing him!"
"Was...I?" Nick persisted.
"You were fantastic Nick! Amazing!" AJ assured him.
Nick smiled gratefully and sighed. "I think....I...gotta....I'm..."
Nick's head lolled back in Ron's arms, the smile still in place.
The ambulance attendants pushed through the hushed crowd and jumped onto the stage. After checking for Nick's vital signs, they looked around sadly. "He's gone, I'm sorry." They bundled Nick onto the stretcher and wheeled him off the stage, going through the back to avoid the fans.
"I'm sorry boys. I was supposed to protect him and I failed. I'm so very sorry." Ron wiped away his tears.
Brian touched his arm. "You did, you were great for him. You couldn't stop him tonight. None of us could."
"It's how he would have wanted it." Kevin said quietly. "It's what he lived for."
"That's what Nick said this morning." Ron replied. "That if he died it would be while doing something he loved for the people he loved."
"That's Nick." The five men huddled in a group and raised their heads skyward.