50 - Reunited: Day Sixty-Five

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Following the trial, the two bands and their crews had flown back to Texas to pick up where they had left off with the mini tour they had scheduled. Because of the trial, they arrived back in San Antonio on the day of the performance and spent the morning cleaning up the last of their choreography and doing a full dress rehearsal. Once they were back at the venue, Melanie's demeanour had instantly returned to how it was before their return to Oregon. She was excited to get back into rehearsals and didn't want to stop when they were collected to go back to the hotel until the show.

Hair and makeup was done that evening at the hotel before everyone was taken back to the venue. By the time they arrived, most of the fans were already inside the venue, aside from some late comers that were quickly filing into the building and not paying attention to the two busses as they drove to the back of the building.

Simon and Sam stood off to the side near the front row where they could watch the performance and keep an eye on the crowd. Simon was visibly anxious, chewing on his lip and staring anxiously up at the stage. Even though they had warned fans that Melanie wasn't guaranteed to perform, he was still hoping she'd make it through the entire show. She was so keen during rehearsals, but now there were another 2500 people in the room and Simon suspected she could go either way.

"Relax," Sam chuckled. "She'll be fine." Simon startled and looked at Sam with surprise, interrupted from his thoughts. He released the breath he had been holding and leaned back against the wall.

"Will she?" he asked skeptically. Sam shrugged, trying to remain hopeful as he looked out into the full crowd. Every seat was filled and fans of all ages were chanting excitedly, waiting for the two bands to finally grace the stage.

The house lights dimmed and excited screams erupted from the crowd. The band broke through the cacophony and the boys made their way onto the stage singing 'Everybody (Backstreet's Back)', followed by 'Get Down', 'All I Have to Give', and 'We've Got it Goin' On'. They stopped between songs to chat to the crowd and to keep the energy up before throwing the show over to the girls. The boys ducked out stage left as the band picked up with an upbeat number the audience wasn't familiar with. Emma and Geri entered slowly from stage right, singing the opening verse of a song the two bands had written together, followed by Mel and Victoria singing the next lines. There was a palpable tension in the room as the crowd eagerly waited to see if Melanie was going to join the group on stage. Even Simon had started biting his nails, not entirely sure if Melanie was going to make it out.

Finally, as the girls broke into the first chorus, Melanie appeared on stage singing along and belting out the ad libs like she'd rehearsed. The crowd went mental, screaming with excitement as the five girls sang together. Nick and Howie suddenly reappeared on stage from the left, singing the next verse, joined soon after by Brian and Kevin, then AJ with the chorus and ad libs. The crowd was completely entranced, having not expected the two bands to sing a number together.

During the musical interlude, some of the musicians made their way to the edge of the stage, interacting with the fans and dancing to the music. AJ took Melanie by the hand and spun her around, dancing with her until the last verse where he and Melanie alternated with the rest of the ad libs.

As the song came to an end, the two groups immediately began interacting with the crowd. Melanie let go of AJ's hand and quickly raced off stage, unnoticed by the rest of the girls. AJ looked worriedly at the stage hand that Melanie had run past, who merely shrugged and disappeared after Melanie.

"Hello, San Antonio!" Geri shouted. "Are you ready to party?"

"It's so good to be back!" Emma added. "Aren't the lads fantastic?"

The crowd was cheering excitedly. There were kids jumping and waving at the girls, hoping to be noticed by the musicians in front of them. A subtle chanting of Melanie's name from the crowd soon escalated until the room was filled with Melanie's name. Thinking the crowd was excited that Melanie was back, the girls looked back, expecting to see her on the stage with them and were shocked to see she'd taken off.

Victoria motioned for the girls to keep going as she and AJ ducked off stage to find Melanie. Simon cursed under his breath and stepped out of the auditorium to go make sure Melanie was ok. Victoria and AJ ran into Vern who smiled and assured them everything was fine.

"She's in the change area," Vern explained. "She's just getting ready for the next number." Victoria immediately relaxed and continued on to the change area, leaving AJ and Vern behind. AJ thanked Vern and rushed back on stage, informing the crowd that Melanie would be back to perform again.

"Melanie, honey?" Victoria asked as she entered the backstage area where curtains had been hanged to cover the girls while they changed. Melanie pulled back her curtain and looked at Victoria with concern. "Darling, are you all right?" Melanie nodded and stepped out of the curtained off area wearing her next outfit. "You ran off so quickly," said Victoria, taking Melanie's hand. "We thought something was wrong."

"I'm ok," Melanie replied softly, looking behind Victoria as Simon rushed into the room.

"Was that enough, love?" Simon asked breathlessly, having run all the way from the auditorium. "Was it too much?" Melanie shook her head and looked down at her outfit with confusion.

"I'm ready for the next one," she replied softly. Simon visibly relaxed and smiled, realizing he'd worried for nothing. Victoria smiled at Simon and ducked into her own change room as she heard the other girls running to join them.

"You can stay out there for a little bit and talk the fans," Simon explained, nodding at the rest of the girls as they appeared in the doorway and rushed into their own change areas. "Just wait for the girls to come back here and you come with them, all right?"

Melanie looked at him uncomfortably and hugged her arms to herself, dropping her gaze to the floor as she timidly told him she didn't want to. He looked at her sympathetically and moved to place his arm on her shoulder, stopping as she flinched away from him.

"Come here," he said softly, pulling her close and wrapping his arms around her. "That's fine. You do what you're comfortable with." He kissed her cheek and took her hand, leading her back to the stage to wait for her cue. The two of them watched as the girls' dancers ran through their choreography for 'Stop' to give the girls time to change. As the rest of the girls joined them, Melanie smiled excitedly and followed the four girls as they made their way on stage to perform 'Stop', 'Love Thing', 'Do It', 'Too Much', and a medley of 'Wannabe' and 'Spice Up Your Life' before being joined on the stage by the boys once more to sing 'Your Love Keeps Lifting Me (Higher and Higher)'.

The concert continued with an intermission and another set from each group before ending with both groups singing 'I've Had the Time of My Life'. The girls managed to keep Melanie on the stage long enough to thank the audience and end the show before running off to change and get ready to leave.

"You did it, babes!" Emma gushed as she took Melanie's hand and bounded toward the change rooms. "What did you think?"

"I really like it," Melanie replied, grinning excitedly. "Do we get to do it again?"

"That's up to you," said Mel. "We've got a show booked for tomorrow if you want to have another go." Melanie nodded emphatically before racing into her room to change.

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