36 - Reunited: Day Twenty-Seven

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As the week went on, Melanie seemed to become slightly more at ease around the crew, reporters, and cameras that constantly surrounded the two bands. She'd watched her friends participate in multiple photoshoots and interviews and, with Joan's permission, Simon booked Melanie to join the girls for a photoshoot for Entertainment Weekly Magazine. Emma and Victoria had gotten Melanie to watch as they had their hair and makeup done so that she could see what Karin, their makeup lady, and Jenny, their hairstylist would be doing with her.

Melanie was sitting in front of Karin, tense and gripping Emma's hand, as Karin gently applied her eyeliner. Emma tried to convince Melanie to relax, but it was the first time Melanie had allowed anyone apart from the other girls, the Backstreet Boys, or the hospital staff, to touch her. She didn't dare move for fear of being reprimanded.

"There you are, darling," said Karin as she capped the mascara wand she'd used to define Melanie's eyelashes. "You're done."

Melanie relaxed slightly and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She could see Emma and Karin smiling back at her, but she didn't return the gesture. She looked away and waited to be told she could get up. Emma sighed sadly and gently ran her fingers through Melanie's hair, which Jenny had straightened and added blue extensions to.

"Kenny's picked out a few outfits for you," Emma explained, taking Melanie by the hand and leading her to the dressing room they were sharing with Mel. "You go ahead and pick the one you want and meet me back here once you're changed, all right?"

Melanie surveyed the room to make sure no one else was there before stepping inside and closing the door behind her. Emma rested back against the wall in the corridor while she waited for Melanie to return. She let her head fall back and closed her eyes. They'd had Melanie back for over two weeks and she'd hoped Melanie would have eventually returned to her normal self. However, Melanie still hadn't spoken more than a few words and still wasn't completely comfortable around any of her friends.

"Em, you all right?" Victoria asked, interrupting Emma's thoughts. She was peeking out of one of the other dressing rooms with her robe on, a glass of wine in hand, and her hair in curlers.

"Fine," Emma replied softly. "I'm just not sure how well this is going to work. She's not going to smile for any of the photos."

"Well, neither do I," Victoria laughed, taking Emma by the hand. "It's just hard for her to smile when she's terrified all the time. I'm sure she'll do fine." Emma nodded and squeezed Victoria's hand. "Come here a minute," Victoria instructed. "I need your help deciding what to wear."

"Where did you get that?" Emma asked, pointing to Victoria's glass of wine as the two of them stepped into Victoria and Geri's dressing room. "I want one."

"They're serving them in the other room," Victoria replied. "I think they're trying to loosen us up a bit before our interview. They're hoping we'll tell all our dirty, little secrets." She smiled cheekily and took a sip of her drink, setting it on the vanity before walking over to her wardrobe to get Emma's opinion on what she should wear. They both jumped as Geri burst into the room in her dressing gown, looking for her boots.

"I'll bet you anything Melanie B has them," Geri growled. "I told her I wanted to wear them today!" She stormed out of the room to finish her tirade, leaving Emma and Victoria in a fit of giggles.

Geri threw open the door to the other dressing room and began digging through Mel's wardrobe in search of her boots. She leaned forward, causing the hood of her dressing gown to fall over her head. "Dammit, Melanie!" she spat, tossing Mel's boots into a pile behind her. "Shit!"

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