(All under boy-bands)
Set You Free
Ten Guys, One Night
So, I'm back again with another story. This one has been completely written already, so there won't be any delays in posting the chapters.
I must give a big Thank You to Justin for giving me the title Blissful Tears and for creating the wonderful image for this story in the Boy Band Screensaver. Thanks must also be given to Chris and Neo, for your chats and suggestions. You guys are all great!
Well, I'd hope by now everyone knows it, but just in case:
1. If you shouldn't be here, don't tell me and don't get caught!
2. I don't know any of the people mentioned in the story...it's fiction folks!
If you have any comments about this story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I try to respond to every single email I get!
As always, thank you for reading!
He picked up the mail from his mailbox and immediately spotted the two large brown envelopes. He practically ran to the elevator and jumped on. The pictures had finally arrived. He ripped off the end of one and peered in. The elevator dinged and he jumped off, running down the hall to his apartment.
"Damn," he swore quietly under his breath as the lock jammed. He jiggled the key and the lock popped open. Slamming the door shut behind him, he sat down on his couch and poured the photographs onto the coffee table.
He wasn't interested in the ones of the tall, young blond, or the two brunettes. He sighed happily when he found what he was looking for; a close up shot of that beautiful face with soft, wavy light brown hair, intense blue eyes and square jaw.
Ripping open the second envelope, he repeated his actions. His brown eyes lit up when he found the picture he'd been dreaming about. The five singers were in a row, all but one with goofy smiles on their faces. He hadn't been able to smile. Having those arms around him had been too distracting. Another picture on the table attracted his attention. The five men were wearing shirts and jackets, but their pants were down at their ankles showing their legs. He couldn't resist running his fingers over the picture and down those sexy, muscled legs of his beloved.
Suddenly tears began to run down his face as he remembered the announcement from a few weeks ago. His beloved was going to get married in September.
(in another apartment, elsewhere in the city)
"Thanks, cus," he said, trying to contain his excitement. He picked up the package and walked back to his bedroom. He closed the door and made sure it was locked. He couldn't risk having anyone walk in on him and wonder what he's doing.
Sitting down at the desk, he opened the envelope and pulled out the photographs. As he sorted, he set aside the pictures of his cousin, the young blond, and the other brunette. He only wanted the pictures of his angel with the short, spiky, colored hair and goatee. He smiled gently at the individual shot he found. Then he sighed as he realized that in all the pictures, his love was wearing his dark sunglasses. All he wanted was to see those beautiful brown eyes. Finally, he found the picture he'd been waiting for. The five were standing in a row, arms around each other, joking around. He had managed to slip in beside his angel and when the photographer said for everyone to hug, he'd done just that. His eyes closed as he remembered the feeling, standing so close and holding him in his arms, even if only for a moment. Looking at his own image, he recognized the genuine smile, one people rarely saw in his pictures. But how could he not smile when everything his heart truly desired was standing beside him, and in his arms.
He gathered up the photographs and put them back in the envelope before taking them to his small safe and locking them away. Angrily he brushed the tears from his cheeks. God had brought his angel into his life seven years ago, but it was God, too, who was breaking his heart by not allowing them to be together. Not that his angel would want him. In seven years of friendship, there had been no indication, not even when he'd reluctantly announced his plans to get married in the fall. 'But then, he doesn't know that you're gay, does he?' he asked himself.
AJ sighed and stopped rehearsing. It was a few days after New Year's and he was preparing for his first solo concert, under the guise of his Johnny NoName persona. The band was taking the month of January off from touring to spend time with family and relax. 1999 had been non-stop and all of them were exhausted. But AJ knew he couldn't stop. If he sat at home for the month all he would do is think about how his life should be, and who he wanted to share it with.
"Yo, AJ you wanna keep going or what?" one of his musicians asked.
AJ shook his head trying to snap out of his bout of self-pity. He turned to look at the band. "Nah, lets take a couple of hours and get something to eat." The band left their instruments and began filing out of the warehouse where they were practicing. AJ grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat from his face before using the towel to dry his wet hair.
As he brought the towel down, he noticed a couple of guys walking through the door and couldn't help but smile. "Hey guys!" he called out and the new arrivals waved as they walked over. AJ sat down on a chair and opened a bottle of water.
"So, Bone, how's it going?" Nick asked.
"Or should we start calling you Johnny now?" Howie asked with a grin. AJ smiled back.
"You know me, I'll answer to almost any name. So what's up?" he asked as he looked at his friends.
Nick grinned. "Would you believe we were bored? We have the month off, but everyone else in our families has to work still."
AJ laughed. "Why do ya think I planned these concerts? You know me, I hate to have nothing to do." AJ picked up his shirt that he'd discarded earlier during the rehearsal. "But aren't you guys busy doing promos and stuff?" All three of them were actually helping out EYC, a new band in the city, but AJ had become busy with this solo concert, leaving Nick and Howie to take care of things.
Howie nodded. "Yeah, but there's only so much to do. We still have too much time on our hands."
Nick jumped in. "Yeah, so we wondered if you wanted to go clubbing with us tomorrow night to celebrate you birthday?"
AJ thought about it for a minute. It was a good idea. It would take his mind off other things. He nodded. "Sounds good. I could use a change of scenery. What time?"
Both Nick and Howie had noticed the sad note in AJ's voice and glanced at each other. "We'll stop by your place about nine, okay?" Howie replied.
AJ agreed. Nick and D left, on their way to do some shopping. Once out of the warehouse they looked at each other again.
"I'm right, you know," Howie said quietly as they walked back to Nick's jeep. "Ever since Brian's announcement, AJ has been working non-stop and anytime he does stop he gets that sad puppy-dog look."
They were in the jeep now and Nick looked over at Howie. He discreetly reached over and picked up his hand. "I don't disagree sweetie, but what can we do? You said we couldn't get involved, in case they find out about us. I know AJ is hurting, but if Brian never admits to himself that he's gay, there's nothing we can do, right?"
Howie smiled sweetly at his blond babe. "How'd you get so smart?" he asked, looking around before leaning forward for a quick kiss.
Nick grinned. "I guess some of your smarts have worn off on me," he said and started the Jeep.
(Back inside the warehouse)
Nick had really grown up in the past year, and AJ was happy for the two of them. Now if only they would confide in him, maybe he would feel comfortable enough to confide in them.
AJ sighed and decided to walk to the nearby variety store for some munchies. The band wouldn't be back for a while and the silence was allowing him to think too much. He had been trying to keep himself so busy that he couldn't think, because thinking, thinking about Brian, hurt too damn much.
Kevin reined back and slowed the horse. He knew he couldn't catch his cousin now and there was no point in injuring the horse trying it. He just wished he knew what was causing Brian so much pain. Ever since he'd announced his engagement to Leighanne, Brian had been sad. Every time Kevin asked what was wrong, Brian would feign innocence and claim he was just tired or had too much to think about.
Kevin rehashed the past month and a half in his mind. Brian had made his announcement at the beginning of December and it was almost the middle of January. Since the very day Brian told the guys his plans, everyone had begun to act strange. Howie and Nick had been acting weird for a while, but then AJ started. Instead of relaxing and travelling during January, which is what AJ had intended to do, the whole Johnny NoName concert thing came up. Now AJ was working the entire month off.
He was disappointed that AJ scrubbed their tentative plans to travel, but he was more concerned about what was really going on. No one in the group had had a problem when AJ told them he was gay three years ago. It didn't make any difference in how they felt about their 'brother'. Now, Kevin had his own suspicions about Howie and Nick. For the past few months on tour, they had bunked together claiming they were working on new material. As far as Kevin knew, no one had found them doing anything other than work, but it was a feeling. Maybe it was the quick glances or simply the tension between them when they were in the same room.
It didn't matter to Kevin if they were involved, but he wished they would confide in him. He hated not knowing. He turned his thoughts back to Brian. Even Kevin had been surprised when Brian said he was getting married. Leighanne was a nice enough woman, and Brian had known her for a long time, but...
Kevin pulled the reins on his horse and followed the trail back to the stables. He knew that until Brian told him what was wrong, he would continue to be in the dark.
Brian ignored the fact that his cousin was riding up behind him. He began to gallop along the trail, leaning down over the mare's neck, urging her to go faster. He wondered, if he went fast enough, if his torment would be left behind.
He felt guilty. He'd asked Leighanne to marry him, hoping to get a response from Alex. Looks of shock, or sadness, a tear even; but nothing. Brian had never been able to read Alex's expressions, which is why he found it so frustrating. And those damned sunglasses AJ wore almost non-stop didn't help.
Brian didn't remember exactly when he realized he loved Alex more than as just a brother. The five had been so close for so long. Brian had taken Nick under his wing initially and they'd become fast friends. Howie and AJ always had a special bond too.
It was his southern Baptist upbringing that had kept Brian with Leighanne. He was supposed to be faithful, find a good wife, marry and have children. That was what he'd always been taught. He did care about Leighanne; she'd been part of his life for so long. But somewhere along the line, Brian had realized he had feelings for men. Initially he had repressed his feelings. But after his heart surgery, he realized that life was too short. He finally admitted to himself that he was at best, bi, at worst, gay.
AJ had already admitted to the guys that he was gay. Everyone had been most afraid of Brian's reaction, because of his background. Brian surprised even himself when he said it didn't matter. AJ was still part of the family, and nothing would change that.
It was sometime after AJ's outing, that Brian began watching him. A smile came to his face as he slowed the mare down. He thought of all of AJ's antics on stage and for the media. His smile grew, as he thought of the real AJ, quiet, thoughtful and smart. AJ loved to just sit and read a good book or watch an Oscar-caliber movie.
Brian suddenly looked down at his watch. Alex would be twenty-two in two days. He wondered if there was anything planned for AJ's birthday. He knew Nick and Howie were still in Orlando, but did that preclude him helping Alex celebrate? Brian grinned to himself and turned the mare to return home.
He would book a flight and go back to Orlando for a few days. Leighanne was away on location for a few days so wouldn't miss him. His decision made, Brian encouraged the mare to go faster.
When he arrived back at the stable he found Kevin just finishing unsaddling his horse.
"Hey, Kev," Brian said, causing Kevin to look up in surprise. "I was thinking about going back to O for a few days. Help Bone celebrate his birthday, ya know."
Kevin looked intently at Brian. He could still see the sadness that had taken control of Brian lately, but it was pushed to the back. He was smiling a genuine smile for a change. Kevin smiled back. "I'm sure AJ would like that," Kevin said honestly.
"Ya wanna come too?" Brian asked as he began removing the saddle from the sweaty mare.
Kevin thought for a minute as he returned his gelding to his stall. Maybe he could find out what was going on with everyone. "Yeah, maybe I will. You can only do so much relaxing and riding, right?"
"Cool," Brian said happily. "I'll go book us a flight as soon as I'm done here."
Kevin walked over to Brian's mare and took the curry brush from his cousin. "I'll finish her up, Bri, you go phone the airline."
Brian found them a flight leaving later that night. They decided not to let the guys know they were coming back, wanting to surprise them instead.
Kevin went home to pack a few things. Most of his belongings were still in their apartment in Orlando. Brian picked him up a couple of hours later and they drove to the airport. They managed to get on their flight unnoticed and take their seats for the short trip to Orlando. They would get in around midnight.