"Howie! Psst, Howie," Brian whispered into the darkness. The sun would be rising soon and he still hadn't slept a wink. When Howie didn't answer, Brian jabbed at the mattress springs of the bunk bed above him.
"Howie, you awake?"
"I am now," replied an annoyed grumble. Brian smiled to himself. That was just like Howie — sounding all annoyed when really he didn't mind staying awake and talking one lick. That's why he was such a good guy, the Backstreet Boy they all confided in.
"What is it, Brian?"
Brian sighed, using a fingertip to trace the stars he had carved into the bedframe to remind him of the sky back home in Kentucky. Finally he spoke.
"You hear Justin Timberlake's got a new album coming out?"
"Aw, Brian, don't think about that. You know that it's gonna make you all upset again," Howie said back.
"Yeah, but it just got me thinking...Why can't we do something like that?"
Brian heard the mattress shift above him and soon Howie's upside-down head came into view, his dark curls making waves in the dark.
"I've told you before," he said, voice thick with patience. "We're the Backstreet Boys. We got different things to offer than Justin and 'N Sync."
"Cut it out, you two," came Kevin's tired voice from across the room.
"Yeah, ya bums," said Nick. "Don't you know that some of us gotta work in the morning?"
"Sorry, sorry," Brian replied defensively. "But don't you ever think that there are other things out there for us?"
"Whuddya mean, other things?" interrupted the voice of A.J.
"Aw, now you done it, Brian," Kevin groaned, covering his ears with a pillow. "How am I ever gonna catch a wink now that this motormouth's joined in on the conversation?"
"Come on, Brian," A.J. continued. "Tell us what ya mean by 'other things.'"
"I dunno," Brian replied. "I just got this feeling in my guts that there are people out there who still care about us is all."
"You're full of it," Nick snorted. "You really think —"
"Let 'im talk," Howie cut off. "Keep talking, Brian."
"Like," Brian paused, almost too embarrassed to continue. "I was thinking that maybe we should make a documentary or something."
"A documentary? Like a movie?"
"Nah, forget it." He was blushing now. "It's a stupid idea."
"Are you kidding?" Howie swung down off the mattress, landing on the ground next to Brian's head. "It's a great idea. Then everyone would remember us. We'd be the name on everyone's lips."
"Even Timberlake's?" Nick piped in.
"Yeah, even Timberlake." Howie emphatically pounded his fist into his open palm. "Then nobody could say that the Backstreet Boys are nothin.'"
"Alright, alright," Kevin moaned. "We'll make a documentary. Just shut up so I can get some sleep already."
"Yeah, yeah," Howie muttered climbing back up into his bunk bed. "Calm down already."
After a few moments the boys returned to silence. Brian only spoke up again when he was sure that almost everyone else had fallen asleep.
"You really think it's a good idea, Howie?" he whispered, equal parts timid and thrilled about the prospect that something might actually be happening for once.
Yeah, Brian," Howie whispered back. "Yeah, I think it's a good idea."
That night, in the Lou Pearlman House for Wayward Boys, five 30-40-year-old men fell asleep with ghosts of smiles on their faces and the dream that — one day soon — everything was about to change.