37 - Reunited: Day Thirty

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Regis and Kathie-Lee were sitting on a pair of chairs in front of an excited audience of teens and young adults. The show was in the midst of a commercial break as the first guest was escorted to their dressing room and the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls prepared to join the two hosts on the stage. The girls were to go on stage first. It was to be Melanie's first official public appearance on television since the accident. She had been introduced to Regis and Kathie-Lee prior to the show in hopes of making her more comfortable for the interview.

"How are you doing, Melanie?" Victoria asked. She wrapped her arm over Melanie's shoulders and squeezed her tightly.

Melanie shrugged, not looking Victoria in the eye. As much as they tried, they still couldn't get Melanie to converse with them. They'd kept up with making her say three words a day, but rarely got anything more than one word at a time. They could tell she hated it, but her psychiatrist had warned them that Melanie's progress and recovery would be delayed without encouragement.

"Here we go," Emma exclaimed excitedly as Kathie-Lee began introducing the girls. She squeezed Melanie's hand and smiled as Regis introduced the girls. Melanie breathed deeply and walked out onto the stage with the other girls. As they stepped out from behind the curtain, Melanie could see the hundreds of people that filled the seats in the room. When she'd been introduced to the two hosts earlier, the studio had been empty apart from a few crew members. Her jaw dropped as she looked at the crowd and she attempted to go back behind the curtain, but Emma continued to pull her toward the chairs that had been set up for them.

The girls sat on the chairs, Mel and Geri closest to the two hosts, Victoria in the middle, and Emma and Melanie furthest away. Emma linked her arm with Melanie's and interlaced their fingers, pulling Melanie's hand close.

"We're so excited you could be here, girls!" Kathie-Lee exclaimed. "I'm sure you don't need to be introduced, but just in case there is someone watching that has been living under a rock, let's get your names." Each of the girls greeted the audience and introduced themselves, smiling and waving at the camera and the crowd. Emma introduced herself and Melanie, knowing Melanie wouldn't do it herself. The girls had promised Melanie earlier that she wouldn't have to speak unless she wanted to.

Regis and Kathie-Lee did a brief speech to the camera, talking about the girls and their rise to fame, the joint tour with the boys, the bus accident, and the recovery of Melanie, AJ, and Brian. As they asked the girls questions, Melanie briefly glanced out at the crowd before quickly dropping her gaze to the floor. Emma could feel Melanie shaking and watched her closely, gauging whether she should take Melanie backstage or not.

"This is Melanie's first time in front of an audience since the accident?" Regis asked. Melanie looked up suddenly, hearing her name. Realizing Regis was looking at her, she quickly dropped her head, swung her legs nervously, and bit her lip.

"All right, Regis. We don't want to make her uncomfortable," said Kathie-Lee. She and Regis continued interviewing the girls, avoiding bringing too much attention to Melanie. She glanced up at them occasionally, but kept her gaze on the floor for the majority of the interview.

"The girls are going to stay with us a bit longer," Kathie-Lee announced to the audience and cameras. "And after the break, the Backstreet Boys will be joining us and performing their latest single. We'll be right back."

"Cut!" the director shouted as the program cut to commercial. A few people in the crowd began chanting and cheering for the girls as the stage crew brought in more chairs for the boys to sit on. Melanie flinched as one of the men set a chair next to her and she quickly slid out of her chair, ducking between Emma and Victoria to get away from the man. A collective round of concerned cries was heard from the crowd as Melanie gripped Emma's hand tightly and backed against Victoria.

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