Warning: This is a fictional story, describing erotic relations between
consenting adult men. If this makes you uncomfortable, or if it is illegal for you to read
something like this, then go find something else to do.
The following story is entirely a work of fiction, and is not intended to imply anything about any real people. All of the characters in the story are fictional, and must not be confused with any real people. The characters in this story may have the same names as some real people, but the characters are in no way supposed to actually represent any real people.
Permission is hereby granted for this story to be distributed solely by the Nifty Archive: http://www.nifty.org/. You may of course keep a copy for your own use, but you may not redistribute it.
I have said this before, but it really bears repeating. I really would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to tell me how much they have enjoyed the story. It means a lot to me to know you're enjoying it.
I would also like to say publicly (such as it is) that a number of people are very special to me. They know who they are, and I won't name them here. Their support and love have kept me going through some very hard times. I hope I've been able to give back at least a small portion of their love to them. I really wouldn't be here without them.
Okay, enough sappiness. I'd love to hear from you if you've got any comments. On with the chapter.
The sunlight on his face woke Nick. He slowly became aware of the warmth on his side. It took a moment before he realized it was Matt. Matt was here. Nick wrapped his arm across Matt's back. It was really him. He was here.
The initial joy that Nick felt disappeared as he remembered. He was here in LA with Matt because Matt's parents had thrown them out. Matt and Joey had told them they were gay, and their parents had thrown them out of the family.
They'd actually thrown them out.
Nick's hand gently caressed Matt's back. He was really here. It wasn't a dream, or a nightmare. Matt was real. His weight as he pressed against him was real.
Nick lay there, holding Matt. He shifted a bit, so he could see Matt's face. He looked so beautiful now, lying there asleep. Matt had been in so much pain last night.
Nick knew that pain all too well. He'd lived that for three horrible days, before Matt had come and rescued him. He'd been so afraid that everyone he cared about would turn away from him. Nick didn't know whether the fear of it happening was worse than actually having it happen.
It had actually happened to Matt and Joey.
Nick did know what he'd have done if his fears had proven true. What he'd almost done on the balcony before Brian caught him. He wouldn't still be here. It was only the strength of Matt's love that had allowed him to survive. Without Matt's strength, Nick knew he'd have simply given up. He knew he couldn't have borne the pain without Matt.
Nick knew how important Matt's family was to him. Joey was important. Andy was important. Would Matt be strong enough to go on without them? At least Joey was still here.
Matt had been so afraid last night. He'd clung to Nick, right from the moment he'd first arrived. Nick remembered that horrible feeling that had caused him to cling to Matt that first day. He'd been terrified when he'd woken up alone in the bed. For a horrible time, he had thought it was a dream. He'd woken up crying because he thought he was alone.
That first night, when Matt had been looking for the shampoo, he'd been afraid that Matt had left him. He couldn't bear the possibility that Matt had left. Fortunately, Matt had come quickly when he'd called. He still remembered the wonderful relief he'd felt when Matt had come back.
Last night, Matt had made him promise. Nick had promised to never leave him. Matt had been so desperate. He had needed him to promise. He had needed someone to rely on. Someone to build his life around. Someone to trust.
Nick knew that feeling all too well. He doubted he'd ever forget that feeling.
But, he was supposed to return to the tour tonight. He had a plane to catch, a concert to give tonight. How could he leave Matt when he was like this? After he'd promised, how could he leave?
Could he stay? What would happen then? There were only a few dates left on the tour. Maybe they could cut it off early. It would be expensive, but they could do it. Or, they could just explain his absence. But, there was so much else to do. The new CD wasn't finished. There was the upcoming world tour--they'd have to rehearse, then they'd be on tour for a long time.
How could he do that? What would happen with them? What would happen to Matt?
Nick knew then, what he'd known last night. Nothing was more important. It was right. Matt needed him. He couldn't let Matt down. No, he wouldn't let Matt down. Even if that meant letting the guys down, he wouldn't do that to Matt.
Nick looked at Matt's handsome face, as he lay sleeping. He'd gladly give everything up for him. There was no doubt. Everything he'd ever done had only one purpose--to bring him to Matt.
Nick turned, and looked at the night table. There, as he'd expected, was Matt's cell phone. It was resting there, waiting for their next conversation.
Carefully, so as not to disturb Matt, Nick reached for the phone. He was afraid that the sun on Matt's face when he got up would wake him. He watched Matt for a moment, to make sure he was still asleep. Then he dialed the number.
It rang a few times, and then Kevin picked it up and said hello.
"Hi Kevin" Nick whispered.
"Nick? Why are you so quiet?"
"I don't want to wake Matt. Listen, I'm not coming back today."
"I won't leave Matt."
"But Nick, we've got more shows. And...well, you know how much is ahead of us."
"I can't leave him Kevin. I promised. I guess..." Nick took a deep breath. "What I'm saying is that I'm leaving the group."
"You're what? But that'll..."
Nick was shocked when Matt suddenly took the phone out of his hands.
Matt sat up a bit, and looked at Nick. He put the phone to his ear. "Kevin? It's Matt. Is Nick supposed to fly back today?"
"Okay. Don't worry. Nick will be on that flight. I'll make sure of that."
Matt would make sure he was on that flight. Matt was determined. Matt's expression left no doubt in Nick's mind.
"Are you sure Matt? We could probably get along without him for another day if..."
"No, it'll be okay Kevin. He'll be on the flight. We'll talk to you later."
"Uh, okay. Bye Matt." Kevin hung up the phone. He sat back in the chair and looked at Brian.
"What was that all about?" Brian said. They were in Kevin's room, having lunch. AJ and Howie were off somewhere. Without Nick around, Brian had spent most of the day with Kevin.
"That was Nick. It sounds like Matt is really in a bad way. Nick told me he wasn't coming back today, then he told me that he was quitting the band."
"What? Nick is quitting? He can't do that..."
"Let me finish." Kevin interrupted. "Then Matt came on the phone and told me that he'd get Nick onto the plane today."
"Oh." Brian was silent for a moment. "Nick really said he was quitting?"
"Yeah." Kevin sighed. "It sounds like they need to figure out a few
Matt handed the phone back to Nick, who replaced it on the night table. Then Matt lay back down, resting his head on Nick's chest. He pressed his body against Nick's side, snuggling up close.
Nick wrapped his arms around Matt. He pulled the covers up a bit as well. It was a bit chilly in the room, despite the sun. Nick gently caressed Matt's back, trying his best to comfort him. He really didn't know why Matt had done that. He was happy to stay with him. Matt really needed him. That much was clear. Why wouldn't Matt allow him to stay?
But, somehow, Nick knew that Matt didn't want to explain right now. He knew that Matt just needed to be held. So, Nick held him.
They lay there for a long time. After a while, Matt moved up, so that his head was beside Nick on the pillow. Matt looked into Nick's eyes for a long moment. "I'm sorry," he said.
Before Nick could reply, Matt brought his hand up, and rested it gently against Nick's face. Slowly, his fingers started caressing Nick's cheek. His fingers traced the slight stubble on Nick's cheek. The sun streaming in lit Nick's head from behind. The sun lit up Nick's hair, as if he were surrounded by a halo. He was so perfect. His angel.
"I shouldn't have asked you to promise last night. I don't want you to quit the group. I just needed..."
"You needed to know I love you. I do. With everything I have. Nothing is more important to me than you are."
Matt smiled. "Thank you."
"I will quit the band if that's what it takes. I don't mind really. You need me now, and..."
"I don't want you to quit. That's not a decision we should make quickly. If you quit now, because of my parents..."
Nick could see the pain suddenly return to Matt's eyes. Tears were starting to form. Nick quickly reached up, and put his hand on Matt's face. "It's okay Matt. You have me. Always. And Joey..."
"Oh. Is Joey okay?"
Nick was surprised at how quickly Matt's expression changed when he thought about Joey. Clearly Matt was concerned about him.
"I don't know. We can go and check on him if you want."
"In a minute." Matt said. He started stroking Nick's hair. That hair that was like solid sunshine. "Thank you. You flew all the way here to be with me. I know you don't like to fly. You didn't need to do that for me."
Nick smiled. "I didn't mind. I wanted to be here with you. To make sure you're okay. I don't know what I'd do without you Matt. I had to make sure you're okay."
Nick could feel tears threatening. How would he survive without Matt? If something were to happen to him, what would he do? And, there was something else.
"Matt, I'm sorry. I told you to tell your parents. I thought they'd be okay..."
Nick's next words were stopped when Matt suddenly kissed him. Nick closed his eyes, as
he felt Matt's weight pressing against him, his hand caressing his hair. Nick forgot what
he was thinking, as he savored the sensations that Matt's presence produced.
Maitland looked up as she heard Nick and Matt come into the room. She was sitting here in the kitchen with Joey. She smiled at them as they came in, holding hands like a couple of schoolboys.
"Hi Maitland, Joey" Nick said.
Joey looked up and gave them a weak smile. He stood up, and started over towards the refrigerator. "You must be hungry. I'll make you something to eat."
Nick watched Joey as he walked over to the fridge. It was pretty obvious that he hadn't gotten much sleep last night. He looked exhausted.
Matt walked over to Joey and gave him a big hug. "Are you okay?" Matt asked.
"Yeah" Joey said. It came out almost as a sigh. After a moment, Joey released Matt, and stood back a bit.
The pain that Joey was going through was too much for Nick. He'd just been through this with Matt. He remembered how Matt had needed to know he wasn't alone--just as Nick had needed Matt so desperately. Joey needed to know he wasn't alone either. He seemed to be trying to mask the pain by keeping busy. That was what Matt had done for years.
Nick couldn't let Joey try to avoid how he was feeling. That wouldn't work. Nick felt he had to do something. He couldn't let Joey hide from it like this. Matt was okay now, but he'd also come to help Joey. And he hadn't even had a moment to talk to him.
Joey opened the fridge, and took out some eggs and milk. He crossed the kitchen, and put them on the counter. As he turned, Nick walked over and gathered Joey into a hug.
Matt smiled as he watched Nick and Joey. Joey looked uncomfortable, like he was afraid he'd get caught or something. Matt almost laughed at the sight. Instead, Matt went and got the bread. He'd make French Toast for breakfast. He'd just let Nick work on Joey.
"It's okay Joey" Nick said. "You're not alone. You've got Matt. You've got me, and Maitland, Abby and the guys. We all love you Joey. We're your family now. You're not alone."
Nick felt Joey suddenly relax, and start to accept and return the hug. He'd been so stiff before. Joey wrapped his arms around Nick, and hung on.
Nick held him for a long time. He watched Matt, as he made breakfast. But, mostly he just held Joey. Nick was surprised that Joey wasn't crying. To be rejected like this by his family would be really hard.
"You know, you guys are really in the way," Matt said.
Nick looked at Matt. He was standing there watching them and smiling. Nick smiled at Matt. He shifted his grip on Joey, and started to lead him away. "Come on Joey. Letís you and I go and talk."
Matt watched as Nick led Joey down the hall into the living room. He knew what would happen now--Nick would talk to Joey, and coax him to talk it all through. Nick would know how to deal with Joey.
As Matt turned back towards the kitchen, he found Maitland watching him.
"Heís something special, isnít he?" Maitland said.
Matt smiled. "Yeah, he is. You know what he did this morning? I couldn't believe it."
"Nick called Kevin this morning, and quit the band. He was going to quit and stay with me."
"Really? Just like that?"
"Yeah. I had to stop him. As much as I'd like to be with him all the time, I just couldn't let him quit. If he's going to leave the group, I want it to be a decision we think through. We can't do something like that on the spur of the moment."
"You're right. That's the sort of thing you could wind up regretting for a long time. Still, it's amazing that Nick would try to quit."
"That's for sure. He's really special."
"Are you okay now?"
Matt nodded. "I'll be okay. Hey, where's Abby?"
"Oh, she had to go to work. I thought I'd better stay here. I tried to talk to Joey, but I guess I just didn't know what to say."
"I'm sure Nick will make him feel better. Did you and Joey eat? I'm going to make some French Toast."
"That sounds like a good idea." Maitland said. "Joey just sort of picked at his food earlier. When does Nick have to fly out again?"
"Later today." Matt sighed. "I wish he could stay longer, but, well, you know how busy he is. He's got another concert tonight. Can you drive us to the airport? I'm not sure I'll be able to drive after dropping him off. And Joey..."
"Of course. We'll have to use your car though--Abby took ours."
"Sure. And maybe on the way back, we can do a bit of shopping. I want to get something special for Nick."
Maitland laughed. "I'm always game to go shopping. Do you know what you want to get him?"
"I've got an idea, but I doubt we'd be able to find it. I think I'll have to get
it specially made."
When they got into the living room, Nick gently steered Joey onto the couch. Once he was seated, Nick sat down beside him, and gave him another hug. Joey stiffened up again.
"We do love you. You know that, don't you?"
Joey didn't do anything for a moment. Then he slowly nodded and relaxed again. He returned the hug.
"I know it really hurts. Did Matt tell you about me? Did he tell you how close I came to killing myself?"
"Yeah, he did." Joey's voice was quiet.
"I was so sure that I was all alone in the world. I was so certain that Matt, Brian, Kevin and the guys would all hate me. I just couldn't bear the thought that I was all alone. I didn't want to be alone all my life."
"Well, you're not alone. You'll never be alone. You'll always have Matt, me and everyone."
Joey tightened his grip on Nick, and held on for a long time. Nick held him and made soothing noises as he felt Joey quietly sob. After a few minutes, Joey's sobs quieted down, and he slowly broke his hold on Nick.
Joey sat back a bit and looked at Nick. He gave him a small smile, and said "Thanks."
"You know, you don't have to be strong all the time," Nick said. "You're allowed to let us look after you. Sometimes it helps to let it out."
"I guess." Joey sighed. "Can I tell you something?"
"I never told Matt this, but before you came along I was trying to distance myself from the family."
"Why would you do that?"
"Well, it was so hard." Joey paused, collecting his thoughts. "I couldn't tell anyone how I felt. I wasn't comfortable coming out to the family, and I couldn't really talk to them. It was just easier to pull away."
"Oh. Yeah, I guess I can see that. I used to be closer to Brian, but I couldn't talk to him when Matt came into my life. It got so I couldn't really talk to him about anything."
"That's right. Because there was this whole thing I couldn't talk about, it was hard to talk about anything. I thought maybe if I pulled away from the family, I'd be happier. Then Matt suddenly wanted to be real friends. It was hard, but I just couldn't turn him down."
"He really needed you. He was so tightly wrapped up in himself. I don't think he knew how to have a friend really."
"I guess." Joey smiled. "You really are good for him, you know that?"
"No, it's Matt that's good for me. I don't know how I'd have gotten through it without him."
"That's the way it's supposed to be. You support each other."
"I guess we do" Nick said.
"I wish I had someone special." Joey sighed.
"Matt told me what happened with Alex on your date. I guess you'll just have to keep trying."
"Alex made me uncomfortable for some reason. We didn't seem to have anything in common. It was so hard to talk to him." Joey paused for a moment. "I used to go on dates just for the sex. Matt says I'll never meet someone special that way. I think he's right. He says that it's your friendship that makes you guys so close. You were friends first."
"He's probably right. Even before I told Matt how I felt, he was my best friend. I knew I was in love with him almost as soon as I first saw him. I just never thought he'd love me too."
"Well, he really does" Joey said. "You do know that?"
"Yeah, I do. It took me a while to believe it, but I know now. I just wish we could be together. It's so hard when we're so far away from each other all the time."
"When do you have to go back?"
"In a couple of hours." Nick sighed. "We've got a few more concerts to give, then we're heading to New York city to finish up the new CD. We're running out of time. It's March already, and it hits the stores in May."
"How long are you in New York?"
"Just a couple of weeks. Hey..." Nick sat up. "Maybe you and Matt could come out for a few days. I know Kevin would be happy to see you."
"And you'd like some time with Matt" Joey laughed.
"Well, yeah." Nick giggled.
"Do the guys know that I'm gay? Did you tell them?"
"No. Matt and I thought it would be better if you told them. I'll tell them though if you want. I know they will still be happy to see you."
"I'd rather you didn't tell them. I think I should tell Kevin myself. But, aren't they going to wonder why I got kicked out too?"
"Maybe I could tell them that you walked out with Matt. They know you're close--wouldn't your Dad have kicked you out if you'd stuck with Matt?"
"That's true. I guess that makes sense."
"Will you come out to meet us in New York? I'd really like you to come with Matt."
"Wouldn't you rather just have Matt?"
"No, I'd like you to come too. I'd like to get to know you better. After all, you're my boyfriend's brother. You're important to both of us. Besides, Kevin would like to see you."
Joey smiled. "It would be fun."
"Then it's settled. Kevin will be happy to hear you're coming out."
As he walked by Joey's room, Matt looked in. Joey was there, working. Ever since Nick had left a couple of days ago, Joey had been working all the time.
Matt knew how Joey composed, and worked on his music. He did most of it on the computer. The software he had allowed him to build the song, create the arrangement and record the vocals. He could do almost everything right there on his computer.It had struck him as strange the first couple of times he'd heard Joey singing without any music. Joey said that he preferred to use the headphones.
Matt figured that the headphones also allowed Joey to block out the other sounds in the apartment. He also knew Joey was working so that he could block out the pain of having their parents reject them. Matt was actually quite surprised at how much better he felt now. Sure, he missed having his parents and Andy, but he knew he'd be okay too. He knew he had Nick. He knew he had Joey. And Maitland, Abby, Kevin, Brian and AJ. He had good friends. Friends who'd stick with him. Friends he could count on.
Friends had become his family.
Matt wondered whether he should go in and see if Joey was doing any better. Joey had been so strong when it had first happened. He was still struggling with it all. Maybe holding it all in had just made it worse for him. Or, maybe it was just easier for Matt because he had Nick. Nick had made Joey feel better when they'd talked, but Joey was still struggling.
No, he'd just let Joey work. Joey would have to deal with it in his own way. All Matt could really do was offer his support.
It would be so much easier if they could talk to Andy. They were both worried about him. When Matt had called Andy the next day, his father had picked up the phone. He'd been told never to talk to Andy, and never to call the house again. It had been quite a shock. Clearly, Andy was being prevented from calling them too.
Matt walked down the hall, and back into his own room. Well, maybe Joey had the right idea. He had finals coming up soon. There was lots of work he should do. He pulled out his books, and started in.
It was hours later when the sound of the phone ringing startled Matt. He glanced at the clock and was surprised to discover that it was almost three already. He'd gotten a lot done, but he was surprised that the time had passed so quickly. Joey was probably still working, and he wouldn't hear the phone. He could let the machine get it, but somehow, it was time to get up anyway.
Matt got up and went into the living room to get the phone. He stretched as he picked it up and said hello.
The voice was familiar, but sounded strange. "Yes. Who's this?" Matt said.
There was a strange sound on the phone. Was that a sob?
"Andy? Is that you buddy?"
There was another sob on the phone. Then, Andy said "Yeah."
"What's wrong buddy?"
There was another pause before Andy said, "Can I come and see you?"
"Of course you can! Where are you? I'll get Joey and we'll be right there."
"I'm at school." Andy sounded a bit better now, almost hopeful.
"We'll be right there Andy. Five minutes, tops. Okay?"
"Okay." Andy hung up the phone.
Matt quickly hung up the phone, and ran into Joey's room. He went right over to Joey, and pulled the headphones off.
"What? What's wrong Matt?" Joey said.
"Andy just called. I told him we'd be right over to see him. Come on!"
Joey's face lit up. Suddenly, the old Joey was there. The big brother who'd always taken charge when needed. The friend he could count on.
Together, they hurried down to the garage. Joey's truck was closer than Matt's car, so Joey drove. They were quickly out of the garage, and on their way to the school. As Matt had told Andy, it was less than five minutes before they pulled up at the school. There were a lot of kids around, and various cars as people arrived to pick up the kids.
Matt spotted Andy standing alone under a tree. Matt pointed him out to Joey, who stopped the truck nearby. Andy was clearly watching for them, and ran over to the truck. Matt barely managed to have the door open before Andy threw himself into his arms.
Andy held Matt for a moment, and then he hugged Joey. They sort of all wound up tangled together. Andy clearly didn't want to let go. The tears that had been there when he was on the phone were gone now. He was so happy to see them.
Andy looked at Matt and said, "Why didn't you call? You said you would."
"Oh buddy, I tried." Matt sighed. "Dad picked up the phone, and he wouldn't let me talk to you."
"He won't let me talk to you either. He told me you weren't my brothers anymore. I'm not supposed to see you."
"We're always brothers Andy" Joey said. "Always."
"I know" Andy said. "What happened? Why is Dad so mad?"
"He didn't tell you?" Matt said.
Andy shook his head.
"Oh. Maybe we should go somewhere else Joey. We can't just stay here in the street."
"You're not going to tell me either?" Andy said.
Joey laughed. "Of course we will. Just not here. How about we get something to eat. Are you hungry?"
"Yeah!" Andy and Matt both said.
Joey laughed, and looked behind him to make sure no cars were coming. It didn't take long before they were at the restaurant drive-thru. Joey knew this was one of Andy's favorite places to eat. And somehow, it seemed to make sense to eat in the truck. That way nobody could interrupt them. Or overhear them for that matter.
Andy surprised Matt on the ride over. He was always quick to give them a hug before, but on the ride, he just clung to Matt the whole time. He pulled away when they got into the parking lot, and Joey ordered the food.
They picked up the food, and then Joey parked the truck in a corner of the parking lot. He passed out everyone's food, and they ate happily in silence for a little while. Both Andy and Matt looked like they hadn't eaten in days. After the first bite, Joey suddenly realized how little he'd eaten in the last few days. He knew he'd been upset, but he hadn't realized he wasn't eating. Maybe Matt and Andy were hungry for similar reasons.
"Aren't you going to be in trouble?" Matt said. "What's Mom going to think? She'll be expecting you home..."
"Nope" Andy said. "I told her I was going over to Billy's today after school. I arranged it with Billy too, so he'll know what to say."
Joey laughed. "You little sneak."
Andy giggled. "I wanted to see you. I knew Mom wouldn't let me if she knew."
"How is Mom doing?" Matt asked.
Andy's smile disappeared. "She's sad all the time. She won't talk to me much. Whenever I try to give her a hug or something, she pushes me away, and finds something to do."
Andy looked at Joey, and then he looked at Matt. Both appeared to be lost in thought.
"Can't you tell me what happened? Maybe we can do something so we'll all be together again. Then Mom wouldn't cry all the time, and Dad wouldn't be so cold."
"Andy, there's no way to fix it" Joey said.
"What? There's got to be a way. Matt, there's got to be something you can do..."
"I'm sorry Andy." Matt said. "I don't know what we can do. Dad just shut us out when we told him. He cut us out of the family Andy."
Matt could see the confusion on Andy's face. Clearly, he didn't understand. Matt thought for a moment. It was time to tell Andy the whole story. He deserved to know. Matt glanced at Joey briefly. He seemed to be lost in thought.
"Andy, let me tell you what happened. Then maybe you'll understand."
Andy focused on Matt.
"After I helped you get ready for bed on Sunday, Joey and I went to talk to Mom and Dad. You remember how Dad has been so upset because I went off to Toronto and wouldn't tell him why?"
"Is that why he was like that?" Andy said.
"Yeah. He didn't like it when I wouldn't tell him why I went. Anyway, I finally told him on Sunday. Joey and I talked about it, and we decided it was time to tell them. We were going to tell you the next time we saw you."
"Tell me what?"
"Well, I went to Toronto because Nick needed me. You see, he said something to me on the phone, and he was really upset about it. After I talked it over with Joey, I knew I had to go and see Nick. You see, Nick is my boyfriend. We're in love."
"Oh. So, you're gay?"
"Yeah, we're both gay Andy" Joey said.
"So? Why is Dad upset?"
Matt looked at Joey and giggled. "See? I told you it wouldn't bother him."
"You were right" Joey said. He turned to look at Andy. "We told Mom and Dad that we're gay, and Dad couldn't handle it. That's why he cut us out of the family. Mom asked him not to, but he did it anyway. You know how he gets sometimes."
"But, that's stupid. Why would he be upset? Lots of people are gay. What difference does it make?"
Matt sighed. "I wish everyone felt that way Andy. Unfortunately, many people don't. Nick and I have to keep it a secret, because it would ruin Nick's career if anyone found out. It might make my career harder too."
Andy was quiet for a minute. Matt and Joey just watched him think it all through. It was probably a shock. It was a lot to adjust to all at once.
"So, if I were to tell Dad that I'm gay too, he'd kick me out?" Andy sounded hopeful.
Matt laughed. "Don't do that just yet, okay? You're a bit young to know."
Joey suddenly remembered how he'd felt at that age. "Are you gay Andy? Do you think you are?"
Andy slowly shook his head, and looked down.
"It's okay Andy" Matt said. "We still love you--even if you do like girls."
They all laughed.
Brian looked up as Nick came back into the room. "How's Matt?"
Nick glanced at him quickly, and then turned away. He turned the light in the bathroom off, and made his way over to his bed. Brian smiled as he watched Nick get into bed. Nick was wearing his briefs, something that he'd never done until he'd gotten together with Matt.
They'd shared hotel rooms for years, but now Nick was always so careful with him. Ever since that day when he'd gone to the room Nick and Matt were sharing, Nick was always so careful to make sure Brian never saw him naked. He even changed in the bathroom now. And, while he'd always slept in the nude before, now Nick always wore briefs, and sometimes a t-shirt to bed.
Brian wasn't sure whether Nick was being so modest for him, or because he was just nervous. Certainly, knowing that Nick was gay made a difference, but he'd never expected this reaction from him. Nick had even tried to get his own room, rather than sharing with Brian. The only reason they were still sharing a room was that he'd insisted. He thought Nick was actually happy that he'd insisted, but it was hard to know.
"Brian, I'm worried" Nick said.
The sound of Nick's voice broke Brian's train of thought. It took him a moment before he remembered what he'd asked. Brian looked over at Nick, and saw him sitting in the bed, watching him.
"Matt was so desperate the night I arrived. He clung to me like he never wanted to let me go, and made me promise. I guess he really needed me to say it, because he was much better after that."
"Was that when you called Kevin?" Brian asked.
"What?" Nick looked puzzled.
"I'm not sure I understand. Why don't you start from the beginning? What happened when you got there?"
"Oh." Nick thought for a moment. "Well, when I got to the apartment with Abby, Matt was sitting in a chair. He didn't even look up when I came into the apartment. Then when I said his name, he jumped into my arms and just cried."
"He must have been really hurting" Brian said.
"Yeah, he was. When we went to bed, he just clung to me. Then he suddenly asked me to promise never to leave him. He was so desperate. It was so hard to see him like that."
"So, you promised?"
"Sure I did. Matt is more important to me than anything. If he needs me, then I'll go. He's more important than anything."
"That's why you called Kevin and quit the band?"
"Yeah, but that was the next morning. I woke up before Matt did, so I called Kevin. After I'd promised Matt, there was no way I could just come back. But I must have woken Matt up. He took the phone from me and told Kevin I'd be on the plane."
"Why did he do that? I mean, I'm glad you're here, but..."
"Well, he didn't want us to make a quick decision like that. We really didn't talk about it much. He started, but then, well, we got a bit carried away..."
Brian giggled nervously. He could feel himself blushing a bit. Why did he always react this way?
"Brian, I don't know what to do. I love him so much, it hurts when we're so far away."
Brian thought for a moment. "Do you really want to quit the band?"
There was silence for a minute, as Nick considered his answer. "No, not really I guess. I'd miss you guys too much, and I really love singing."
"Don't you think Matt knows that?"
"I guess. But, I don't want to be away from him all the time."
"I'm sorry Nick, but I don't know how you can avoid that. While you're with the band, and Matt is acting, you'll just always be in different places."
"I know." Nick sighed. He sat there, looking down at the bed for a long time.
Brian watched Nick. He seemed to be struggling with something. He wished he could give Nick some answers, but there weren't any. He was surprised when Nick suddenly turned to look at him. He could see tears in Nick's eyes.
"This is probably stupid. I just don't know..." Nick's voice trailed off.
"What?" Brian said softly.
"Is it dumb for me to ask Matt to marry me?"
Brian was surprised. He'd never thought about that. He knew that Nick and Matt were really in love, but he'd never really thought about what that meant. Sure they wanted to be together, but to get married?
"He'd probably think I was being dumb." Nick said. "We can't manage to spent more than a few days together, with our careers going in different directions. And we'd have to keep it a big secret. It's a stupid idea."
What was marriage anyway? It was a way for the couple to tell the world and each other how they felt. It was a way of affirming their feelings. Brian knew that Nick wouldn't be happy without Matt. They couldn't tell the world, but they could tell those who were most important.
"No, it isn't." Brian said. "You love him, and he loves you. He needs you, and can't bear the thought that you'd leave him. That's why he asked you to promise. Ask him."
"Really? It's not stupid?"
"No, it's not stupid. You want to be together. Tell him that. Ask him."