Blissful Tears - Howie and Nick

by Kenitra

Other Stories by Me!

(All under boy-bands)

First Anniversary

Millennium Love

Fates Reason

Ice Storm

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.

This separate chapter is not essential to the main story of Blissful Tears, but gives more background about a relationship readers may be interested in!

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!

Disclaimer: Oh, do I have to do this again?
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's fiction folks!

If you have any comments about this story, please email me at I try to respond to every single email I get!

As always, thank you for reading!

Howie and Nick

(Mid 1997)

Howie stared at Nick across the room. Nick was talking to some fans and laughing. 'Damn, when did he grow up?' Howie wondered. His gaze took in Nick's straight, light blond hair. 'He needs a haircut,' Howie thought absently. Then his gaze wandered to Nick sparkling, bright blue eyes, along his face and down to those full, pouty lips. Howie forced himself to look away when he felt his body responding. 'What the hell are you thinking, Howie?' he asked himself. He sighed and stood up. There were only a few fans left in the room, and their focus was on Brian and Nick. Deciding he wouldn't be missed, Howie silently slipped out the side door and headed for the elevator. Once inside, he pressed the button for the top floor. From there, he walked down the hall to the stairwell and up the one flight of stairs to the roof.

After wandering around for a few minutes, he found some fire escape stairs to sit on and gaze out over the city. He liked Barcelona, but he wasn't really paying attention to the scenery. His thoughts were focused on his young friend. Nick had just turned seventeen a few months earlier. Howie smiled to himself as he thought about the past few months. Nick had grown nearly an inch in each of those months. He was almost as tall as Kevin. The guys had taken to calling him the human weed among other nicknames. He constantly had to buy new clothes for himself and his growth spurts were creating a nightmare for the wardrobe people.

Howie wasn't sure why he hadn't noticed how Nick had begun to mature, at least in his looks, before today. He still acted like a kid most of the time, but Howie knew how hard things had been. Howie pictured Nick in his mind and once again felt his body respond. At some point Nick had grown from a kid to a man and Howie had just noticed. He sighed, knowing that he could not do anything about his feelings. Nick was his brother, and that was all.

Howie became lost in his thoughts. Suddenly, a new sound brought him out of his reverie. He glanced around the rooftop, trying to locate the source of the sound. Climbing down the stairs, he walked around until he saw someone sitting in the corner of the roof, crying.

As he slowly approached, Howie realized it was Nick. Nick was sobbing loudly, his head down on his knees. Howie thought his heart would break. He had no idea what could have made Nick so upset, so suddenly, but he had to help.

Howie walked to Nick and sat down beside the boy, pulling him into his arms. Nick gasped at the sudden contact and looked up in a panic, not aware anyone else was on the roof.

"Howie?" he asked uncertainly, trying to blink the tears out of his eyes.

"Hey kiddo," Howie said softly. Nick slumped against Howie and allowed his tears to resume falling. Howie held Nick and gently stroked his back, whispering to him. "Shhh, Nick, its okay. It can't be that bad...tell me what's wrong, Nick....please."

Nick finally stopped crying and sat up, leaning back against the brick and closing his eyes. He absently wiped the tear streaks from his face. Howie sat beside him quietly for a minute.

"Nick," Howie began gently, "I've known you for almost forever. You know you can tell me anything, and it won't change things between us."

Nick opened his eyes and rolled his head to look at Howie. He was shaking slightly and his lips were trembling. "Promise?" he asked, almost begging.

Howie smiled tenderly and nodded. "I promise Nick."

Nick took a deep, shaky breath. "I...I'm...I'm confused."

Howie never took his eyes from Nick. "What are you confused about?" he asked softly.

Nick's eyes began to fill with tears again as the shaking increased. Howie put his arm tightly around Nick's shoulders and squeezed, encouraging Nick to continue. "," the last word was almost a whisper. Howie inhaled sharply and Nick winced.

Howie realized what he'd done and relaxed, keeping his arm securely around Nick's shoulders. "So, you're not sure if you like girls or guys, or both?" Howie summarized. Nick just nodded. Howie gently grabbed Nick's chin and turned his head so they could look at each other. "Okay. Tell me."

Nick was a little surprised by Howie's response. But slowly, he began to tell Howie how he'd started to notice some guys, some fans in the audience at first. Then he started looking at guys on the street, and in the crew. Girls just didn't seem to interest him the same anymore. Not that he'd gotten very far with any girl, he was too afraid of being used to trust any of them. But he found himself looking more at the male fans than the female fans recently. Nick blushed as he told Howie about dreaming about guys and making out with them.

"Does this mean I'm gay, Howie?" Nick asked sadly. Howie wasn't sure how to respond.

"Well, maybe. But you could be bi, or you may just be curious Nick," Howie tried to comfort Nick. He was pretty sure Nick was gay, but Nick would have to discover that for himself. "Nick, you haven't had a normal childhood or even teenage life, not like most teenagers. You've seen things and experienced things that most people your age don't experience until later in life, if ever. I'm not saying you're crazy, because we already know that," Howie added with a smile and Nick grinned. Howie gave Nick a hug. "All I'm saying is that your life has been a little strange and you have to figure out your sexuality yourself, but there is no rush. It's not something you have to know by tomorrow." Howie stood up and offered Nick a hand. They began to walk towards the door. Howie stopped Nick before they reached it. "Listen Nick, if you want to ...investigate...your curiosity, let me know. I'll help you, but you have to be careful. Not just because of the band and our image, but because there's a lot of crap out there and I don't want you to get hurt. Okay?" Howie's brown eyes stared intently at Nick.

Nick nodded and pulled Howie into a hug. "Thanks D. for listening...and for not judging me." A frown crossed Nick's face. "Um...the others..."

"They don't have to know a thing, Nick," Howie said and Nick smiled again.

"Thanks," he said and pulled open the door.

(Mid 1999)

"Come on D," Nick pleaded, pulling on Howie's arm. "You know you want to. When was the last time you had some real fun?" Nick had been thinking about Howie a lot lately and wanted to spend some time with him. They had never discussed Howie's sexuality in any of their frequent talks. Nick just assumed Howie was straight. He'd had a number of girlfriends over the years and he always seemed really happy with them. Howie had just broken up with his last girlfriend a couple of weeks earlier. Nick tried to convince himself he just wanted to make Howie feel better. In reality, he was afraid he was falling for his friend and wasn't sure how to deal with it.

Howie stared up at his young friend. Nick had stopped growing when he reached 6' 2", and had finally started filling out his lanky frame. Sometimes Howie found it difficult to look at Nick, his intense blue eyes, his open, sweet smile. It would wrench at Howie's heart, and remind him of his long buried feelings for his bandmate. It was almost two years earlier that Howie had noticed Nick was a grown man. Then he couldn't get Nick out of his mind. Despite a number of girlfriends whom he did care about, somehow, Nick remained the center of his heart. Yet, he never thought about making a move on Nick. Nick was still young, and discovering himself. He needed Howie as a friend, a confidant, not as a lover.

Howie looked at Nick's large, yet gentle hands pulling on his arm and sighed. 'Why not, Howie?' he asked himself. Any chance to spend time with Nick was a blessing. Howie pushed himself to his feet. "Okay, Nicky, you win!" Howie said with a small grin.

"Yippy!" Nick shouted with a silly giggle. "Roller coasters here we come!"

Howie had to laugh at Nick's childlike enthusiasm. He knew Nick would always be a kid at heart, and his excitement was contagious. He picked up the phone and left a message at the front desk for Kevin. Kevin was in meetings today, A.J. was visiting some friends and Brian was meeting up with his girlfriend Leighanne. There was nothing else for he and Nick to do, so Disney was a good idea.

Howie grabbed his wallet and cell phone. He followed Nick out the door and to the elevator. Howie picked up the keys to a rental car at the front desk. They talked about nothing in particular as they made the twenty-five minute drive. Hats and glasses in place (and not looking too out of place for the hot, sunny day), they made it through the front gate without incident. The older man at the ticket booth didn't even look up at the two men.

"Okay Blondie, where to?" Howie asked with a grin as he looked at Nick. He knew Nick had been to amusement parks around the world, but he never tired of them. He would let Nick lead the way.

Nick gave Howie a wicked smile. "Where else? The roller coasters!" Nick grabbed Howie's arm and began to lead him through the growing crowds. Howie let himself be dragged, enjoying the feel of Nick's hand on his arm.

Nick made sure he had a tight grip on Howie. He was ecstatic that Howie had agreed to come with him. He realized he would have been happy going anywhere with Howie, just to be with Howie. But the fact that Howie had agreed to come to the park made him happier. He knew Howie didn't really like rides that much but had agreed anyway.

Nick led them to one of the biggest roller coasters and got in line for the very front seat. He glanced at Howie. Howie was looking around nervously.

Nick leaned forward. "You okay D?" Nick asked in concern. "You don't have to do it if you don't want to. I'll ride by myself."

Howie smiled weakly at Nick and shook his head. "No, that's okay Nicky. I agreed to do it and I won't go back on my word." He grinned then. "Course, I can't promise I won't throw up all over you!"

Nick giggled. "And you know exactly what will happen if you do." Howie did. Nick had a weak stomach for some things and if Howie did throw up, he knew Nick would do the same.

Howie held up his hands in truce. "Okay, Okay, no throwing up. I promise." Howie glanced over Nick shoulder and noticed a couple of girls watching them. 'Shit,' he swore to himself. Had they already been spotted?

Their turn to get on the coaster, finally arrived. They climbed into their seats and the bar locked them in. Howie glanced at Nick and saw the wild, excited grin on his face. He couldn't help but smile, despite how he was feeling. Nick looked at Howie and could see the uncertain expression. As the ride began to move, Nick discreetly reached beside him and found Howie's hand. He grabbed it and gave it a squeeze. Howie smiled gratefully at Nick, then forgot about everything as they reached the top of the rail and began a sudden rapid descent.

At first, he honestly thought he was going to lose his breakfast. He held tightly to the lap bar with one hand, and squeezed tightly to Nick's hand. The coaster reached the bottom and began to climb again, this time on an angle as the rails began to curve into a double loop. Howie squeezed his eyes shut, not wanting to see where they were going. Less than two minutes later, the ride was over. The cart slowly pulled back in to allow the riders off. Howie sighed loudly; they had survived.

Nick laughed at Howie's relieved expression. "See, that wasn't so bad, was it?" Nick asked.

Howie grinned and shook his head. "Nicky, ask me in about an hour, when I find my stomach again," Howie whined.

Nick laughed and grabbed Howie's arm again. "Come on, old man, we've only just started."

Howie sighed and walked quickly behind Nick, as they snaked their way to another roller coaster. Again, Nick took them to the front line. Howie noticed the same girls from the previous ride standing back a couple of rows, watching them again.

"Nick," Howie said quietly. Nick looked at Howie. "I think we've been made. I noticed a couple of girls watching us on the last ride, and they're a few rows away again."

Nick knew better than to look around. He sighed. "Well, we'll make a quick exit from this ride and go grab something to eat. Maybe we can lose them," he said hopefully. Howie knew how much Nick hated not being able to go out in public without being mobbed. It was worse for Nick and Brian than the others.

Howie once again grasped tightly to Nick's hand as the ride began. He wasn't as frightened as he'd been at first. In fact, he started to find it exhilarating. But he also enjoyed holding Nick's hand, so he pretended to be afraid.

As the ride ended, Nick and Howie quickly climbed out and ran down the ramp, darting through the crowds of people. They finally stopped as they reached a small outdoor café. They were laughing and giggling like teenagers as they grabbed a table and sat down. Lunch was uneventful, but as they were leaving the restaurant, both men heard a murmur run through the crowd.

Both of them turned around and saw a group of about thirty teenage girls walking towards them. One of the girls at the front stopped suddenly and stared at the two men. Howie and Nick looked at each other and began to run, just as the girl screamed.


Howie felt the surge of panic run through Nick as they began to dash through the crowd. Nick knew the park better than Howie, so Howie simply followed his friend, as they ran down a path and past different buildings.

Nick began to slow, waiting for Howie to catch up. By this time, both were giggling. He grabbed Howie's hand and pulled him around behind one of the unopened booths. The grass was slippery and Howie stumbled, falling to the ground.

Nick had a strong hold on Howie's hand so as Howie fell, Nick was pulled down too, on top of Howie. Nick's piercing blue eyes, met Howie's intense brown eyes. Nick stopped laughing as he gazed into Howie's soul. Without thinking about it, Nick suddenly leaned forward and kissed Howie. As their lips met, Nick felt like someone had removed a blindfold from his eyes, from his heart. It felt so right.

Howie watched as Nick leaned forward, and he closed his eyes. His heart's desire was suddenly kissing him and he knew nothing would ever be the same again. Howie savored the soft texture of Nick's lips for the duration of the short kiss. When the lips moved away, Howie opened his eyes.

As reality quickly returned, Nick pulled back. He had to apologize to Howie. Before he could open his mouth, Howie grabbed the back of Nick's head and pulled his face down until their lips met again.

Howie wanted the kiss to last forever, but he remembered where they were. It wasn't the right place for things to continue. Reluctantly he pushed Nick back.

Nick sighed as their lips separated and he stared at Howie. 'What just happened?' he wondered.

Howie struggled to his feet and reached down to pull Nick up. "I think we should go back to the hotel, Nicky," Howie said quietly.

Nick was completely confused and agreed. He followed Howie as they found the closest exit and made their way to the rental car.

Neither man spoke as Howie drove quickly back to their hotel.

Howie was wondering if Nick could possibly feel something, more than friendship for him. It was his greatest hope, but also his biggest fear. He was afraid how the others would react. They all knew AJ was gay, but if Howie admitted to being bi and Nick came out too, would it be too much?

Nick was lost in a maze of thoughts. He knew he'd been feeling something for Howie but had been afraid to admit it to himself. He hated the girls Howie dated; he was jealous of the time they spent with Howie. But Howie had never shown interest in a guy before, had he? Nick thought about the kiss they'd just had. He was sure Howie was responding, but what did that mean?

They reached the hotel and quickly walked over to the elevators. Still not a word was spoken. Howie walked quickly down the hall to his hotel room. Nick was right behind him. Thankfully, the other guys were still out and didn't hear the footsteps. Howie opened the door and allowed Nick to walk past before closing and locking the door. Nick walked into the middle of the room and turned to look at Howie.

Howie set his keys on the table and walked over to Nick, looking up at the young man. He had to know how Nick felt. "So, was that just an accident, or was it something more, Nick?" Howie asked softly.

Nick tried to avoid looking at Howie, but found he couldn't avoid that intense, direct gaze. "I think it was something more D," Nick whispered, unsure how Howie would react. Howie just continued to look at Nick and Nick realized he had to say more. "I've...I guess I've been watching you lately...I mean you've really helped me figure things out in my life...but, I realized a while ago that I feel more for you than just friends." Nick sighed. "I hated seeing you date those girls. Every time you smile at me, my heart feels like its going to burst. I love to just listen to you talk, and sing. I...I think I'm in love with you D," Nick finished in a whisper and looked at the floor, having finally admitted his feelings to himself for the first time. Howie was such a good friend, Nick was afraid he would lose that friendship by telling him.

Howie's heart swelled. It had been difficult, the past two years, to remain simply a friend to Nick, but now...

Howie reached up and used his fingers to lift Nick's face so he could see those beautiful baby blue eyes. He allowed his hand to caress Nick's cheek, smiling as Nick closed his eyes and shivered. He took Nick's face between his hands and pulled it down to his. "I know I'm in love with you Nick," Howie admitted softly before their lips touched.

Nick was stunned by the words Howie said. He wrapped his arms around the smaller man and held him tightly as their lips began to investigate. 'Howie loves me?' Nick asked himself. But...

Nick forced himself to pull back and meet Howie's eyes. " love me?" Nick asked uncertainly.

Howie smiled tenderly at Nick's confusion. He took Nick by the hand and led him to one of the chairs in the room. He gently pushed Nick down, then dragged the other chair so he was sitting directly in front of his love.

Howie softly stroked Nick's cheek. "Yes, Nicky, I love you. I have for a long time," Howie admitted.

"'re straight!" Nick blurted out.

Howie smiled and shook his head. "No. I'm bi, Nick. I've just dated girls because of the band and our image."

Nick tentatively reached out and ran his fingers through Howie's dark hair. "How long..."

Nick didn't finish his sentence but Howie knew what he was asking. Howie sighed and sat back in the chair. "Nick, do you remember Barcelona?" Nick nodded, remembering that was when he first told Howie he might be gay. "While we were there, I just looked at you one day and realized you were all grown up. You were beautiful; you are beautiful. I realized I was having some rather 'non-brotherly' thoughts about you," Howie admitted.

Nick could see the truth in Howie's face. He shook his head. "Why didn't you say something?" he asked softly.

Howie smiled gently. "Nicky. You were just coming to terms with being gay. You were confused and afraid. I knew you needed a friend more than you needed a boyfriend. I didn't want to confuse you more."

Nick nodded in understanding. Howie was right. Nick didn't feel comfortable confiding in any of the other guys, despite the closeness of all five. But that was two years ago. Nick knew himself now, and they were both free.

Nick allowed a grin to spread across his face. He pulled Howie out of his chair, and onto his lap. Howie giggled softly. "So now what?" Nick asked softly.

Howie lost his grin as he stared into Nick's sparkling eyes. He leaned forward and touched his lips gently to Nick's. "Now we do this..." Howie whispered as he moved his lips down to Nick's throat. "...and this..." He continued to trail kisses along Nick throat and collarbone, eliciting soft moans from Nick.

Nick was in heaven. Howie's soft lips were sending shivers through his body as they found the tender flesh of his neck and throat. When he couldn't stand it any longer, Nick grabbed Howie's head and pulled him up so their lips could meet again.

A while later, they separated. Both were flushed and their lips were slightly swollen. Nick stared into Howie's brown eyes, still a little bewildered.

"I can't believe this," Nick said softly as he tentatively ran his fingers down Howie's cheek. "I...I love you D," he whispered. A grin spread across his face. "Wow! It feels amazing to actually say those words. I love you Howard Dorough. I think I have for a while, but was afraid of how you would react." Nick grabbed Howie's face between his hands and began covering it with kisses. "I love you...I love you...I love you."

Howie began to giggle and soon Nick joined in. Howie wrapped his arms around Nick's neck and hugged him tightly. "And I love you Nicholas Carter," he whispered into Nick's ear. He pulled back so he could see Nick's clear blue eyes. "I love you with my entire heart and soul Nick," Howie said intently. "I have dreamt about holding you like this for so long, I can hardly believe it."

Nick was surprised when he saw the tears in Howie's eyes. Nick softly kissed each eyelid. He gently pushed Howie off his lap, and stood up. Nick led Howie to the bed and the two lay down; each holding the other tightly.

"I never want to let you go, Nicky," Howie murmured.

"Good. Then don't," Nick said softly.

They remained quiet for a while, simply enjoying the company. Nick finally broke the silence. "D, what are we going to tell the others?"

Howie pulled his head off Nick's chest so he could look into the incredible blue eyes. "I don't know Nick. Do you want to tell them?" Howie asked, watching Nick's reaction closely.

Nick quickly shook his head then paused. He sighed. "I...I want to D, but I don't think we should," he finally said.

"Why?" Howie asked, curious about Nick's thinking.

"We're right in the middle of the tour D. I know AJ would be okay, and maybe even Kevin, but..." Nick didn't finish his sentence; he didn't need to. They both knew Brian would probably have a problem, maybe not with them being gay/bi, because he did accept AJ, but the relationship would be another story.

They didn't need an internal feud while they were touring. Howie sighed and rolled onto his back. Nick frowned and quickly rolled to his side so he could look at Howie. "You're not angry are you?" Nick asked hesitantly.

Howie shook his head and softly stroked Nick's cheek. "No dear. I just hate that you're right," he said ruefully. "So how are we going to handle this?"

Nick stared at Howie for a moment then a bright smile spread across his face. "Wanna write some songs with me?" he asked.

Howie looked at Nick in confusion. Nick explained. "Cause if we want to write together, it might be easier if we roomed together for the rest of the tour. Ya know, that way," Nick rolled over until he was straddling Howie, "we can have access to each other," Nick leaned down and nibbled gently on Howie's ear, " I mean, each other's ideas, for lyrics, that is." Nick's mouth moved from Howie's ear, along his jaw until he found Howie's delectable lips.

Howie wrapped his arms around Nick's back and pulled him close. "Sounds like a plan," he whispered.