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.
Matt drained the last of his lukewarm coffee, made a face, and then put the cup back on his tray. Airplane coffee was always so horrible--why did he ever ask for it?
Well, that was the end of the meager lunch they were serving. It was hardly enough to quiet his hunger, but today he really didn't care. He was on his way to spend three whole days with Nick! They'd be together in just a few more hours.
He sat back in his seat, and wished that the steward would come and take the tray away. They might be in first class, but there never seemed to be enough room. And since the person behind him was still eating, he couldn't even put his seat back a bit and get comfortable.
Face it. Airplanes weren't Matt's favorite place to be. He didn't fear them like Nick did, but once the initial excitement of takeoff was over it was mostly boring. Too tight seats, stale recycled air, bad food--it all teamed up to make the whole experience something to be avoided.
Not that he wanted to avoid seeing Nick! That was the last thing he wanted. These last couple of weeks had gone by so slowly. It had been just fifteen days ago when Nick had flown back for the final few concerts of their tour. That was just after the disastrous coming out to their parents.
Well, at least they were back in contact with Andy. It was hard on him to have to lie to their parents all the time, but they all agreed that they wouldn't let anything separate them. Andy was the one who was running the risk--if their father found out he was talking with them, he'd really be in trouble. Yet, Andy was prepared to accept that risk. As he'd explained it, the worst that their father could do would be to kick him out. Andy would have liked that--he'd be able to be with Matt and Joey then.
Matt had told Andy that he could tell Mom that he talked with them, and Andy had done that. But they'd also made it clear to him--if their father ever found out, he shouldn't expect any help from Mom. She'd be hard pressed to cross their father. So, it was the best for everyone involved if he never found out about it. While they couldn't expect active help from Mom, she'd turn a blind eye if needed. That was enough.
Matt and Joey had gotten Andy a cell phone. They were careful to make sure Andy knew that it was just for him to call them on--they'd never call him. They showed him how to turn the ringer off completely, so even if someone called a wrong number, it wouldn't ring. That allowed Andy to call them every night. Actually seeing him was harder to manage, but they were all ready to do whatever was needed to make that possible.
It would have just been so much easier if their father had behaved like a civilized person, instead of like a stupid control freak. Matt realized now that he'd always known his father was capable of this type of thing. He'd just never seen it in action before.
"How long until we arrive?" Joey said.
"What?" Matt looked at Joey, confused for a moment. He'd been so lost in thought that he'd forgotten where he was.
"How long until we arrive?"
"Oh." Matt looked at his watch, and felt a flush of pleasure again. He looked at the time and did a quick calculation in his head, before he answered Joey. "About two more hours I think."
"Thanks" Joey said. He looked up and saw that the steward was in the aisle collecting the lunch trays. That was good--he could use the room. When the steward got close enough, Joey stacked Matt's tray on top of his, and handed them to the steward. He got a nice smile in response.
Joey watched as the steward turned and walked back up the aisle, balancing a number of trays in his arms. He was actually pretty cute, especially from behind. Those pants looked just a bit snug. They showed off his butt rather nicely.
The steward moved out of sight, and Joey turned to look at Matt. He looked like he was lost in thought again--he was staring at his watch. Joey smiled. Matt had told him how Nick had given him that watch on their last night together in Toronto. It was obviously very important to Matt.
Matt's thoughts were indeed centered on the watch, and that last night with Nick. It had been perfect. Nick had been so excited when he gave him the watch to unwrap. Matt was so surprised by the gift. Beyond the watch itself, which was a very generous gift indeed, there was what was written on the back. Nick had had the words "My Hero" inscribed there.
Matt still didn't feel he deserved those words from Nick. Sure he'd helped him, but he knew he'd also been helping himself. Just like Joey had told him before he left for Toronto, he had discovered that by helping Nick, he'd really wound up helping himself. He'd been so wrapped up until he'd finally been forced to admit he was gay. It wasn't until Nick had come into his life, that he'd really started living. Everything that had ever happened to him before that first day he'd met Nick at that photo shoot--well, it just was from another person's life. It was unreal somehow.
No, his life had started that day at the photographers. That night at Tony's Place. That week in LA when he'd managed to spend a few days with Nick. That was his real birth. That was when he discovered the joy of being with someone else.
Matt's fingers moved over the watch face. It was a habit he'd gotten into whenever he was thinking about Nick. He needed the feel of the watch--the heavy metal band, the flat, smooth face. Somehow, just touching it brought back that night with Nick.
That night they'd confessed their real love. It had been so hard to do. He'd struggled to find the words to tell Nick how he really felt. He had wanted to tell Nick how much he needed him, how much he wanted to know that Nick felt the same way. But the words just wouldn't come--it had been Nick who'd finally said it. That had been so perfect.
Then Nick had arrived when he was at his worst. Matt didn't even think Nick had thought about what he was doing--he'd just jumped on the first plane. He'd come when he needed him the most. Without being asked, Nick had just arrived. Even when Matt had clung to Nick and begged him never to leave him, Nick hadn't faltered. He was ready to give up everything to be with Matt.
That had made all the difference. Matt had known on some level that Nick felt that way, but his actions proved it. Nick had forgotten his fear of flying, abandoned the tour, and rushed to his side when he needed him. He'd even tried to throw his career away for him.
What had he ever done to deserve someone like Nick?
Well, tonight, he would try his best to prove to Nick how he felt. It had taken most of the last two weeks, but he finally had something to give Nick. Ever since Nick had given him the watch, he'd been trying to think of something he could give Nick in return. When Nick had arrived after the disaster with their parents, he'd gotten a sudden inspiration. It had taken them almost two weeks to create it. Joey had seemed to think it was okay when they had gone to pick it up.
Now Matt just wasn't sure anymore. What if Nick didn't like it? What if he thought it was silly, or not good enough?
Matt looked at Joey, and said, "What if he doesn't like it? What if he think it's silly, or it's..."
"It's perfect Matt. Stop worrying. I'm sure Nick will love it."
"Yeah. He'll love it. He'd love a stick of gum if you gave it to him. Don't worry."
Joey watched as Matt smiled, and sat back. He was stroking that watch again, probably thinking about Nick.
Joey sat back in his chair, and closed his eyes. At times it hurt to see Matt when he thought about Nick. It must be so nice to have someone like Nick--someone to really love. Joey was just so tired of being alone. He'd lived his life alone.
It would be so nice to have someone special, someone he could rely on. Someone he could expose his fears and weaknesses to without being afraid that he'd be abandoned. He was just so tired of being strong all the time. He needed someone to lean on, someone to trust. Somehow, he knew that just by having someone he knew he could rely on, he'd be stronger. Together they'd be unbreakable. He wanted a partner. Someone who he could be equal with. Someone he could support when they needed it, and would support him when he needed it.
A lover. A friend.
Did he dare hope? It seemed unlikely somehow. He really didn't know. He'd never been any good at figuring out other people.
Still, Kevin was a good friend. That was part of what he wanted. Probably the most important part actually, but just a part nonetheless. Matt had taught him the value of friendship. Matt's relationship with Nick was based a great deal on their friendship. That was where it started, and that was where it was based. Sure, they were passionate for each other, but they were friends first.
They trusted each other. They had what Joey had only dreamed of. They were truly in love. Destined to be together.
Joey had had some friends in his life, but he'd never felt for them what he felt for Kevin. Did he dare hope Kevin felt the same way? Was it really possible that he could find his true love in the same place his brother had? It seemed so unlikely. Yet, Joey knew he had to find out.
He would tell Kevin how he felt. Somehow, he just couldn't imagine Kevin rejecting him. Even if Kevin didn't love him, Joey didn't think Kevin would run away either. They'd still be friends. It might be awkward, but they'd still be friends.
Joey opened his eyes at the sound of someone talking on the PA system. Oh, the movie was going to start. Well, he didn't care. He'd seen it already--it wasn't worth watching the first time.
Joey looked over at Matt, and he just had to smile. Matt was obviously still thinking about Nick. He was still fingering the watch. Then Joey saw proof positive. Matt's jeans didn't leave much to the imagination.
"Thinking of tonight?" Joey teased.
"What? Why do you..."
Joey glanced at Matt's crotch again, and it was pretty clear that Matt understood his meaning. Joey chuckled as Matt start to blush. Just then, the main lights in the cabin were turned off, and the movie started to flicker on the screens.
Matt gave Joey a playful punch, and said, "You're not supposed to notice that."
"Well, it is pretty obvious." Joey chuckled.
"I guess" Matt said. "Joey, can I ask you something?
Matt had gotten serious suddenly. He'd also lowered his voice, so it was hard to hear him. Joey leaned closer, and nodded.
"What does it feel like...well..." Matt paused for a moment. He seemed to gather his courage before he asked, "What does it feel like to have someone inside you?"
Inside you? What? Oh. Joey could feel his face start to grow warm. Why would Matt want to know that? He pushed aside the memory Matt's question brought up.
"Haven't you guys..." Joey said.
"Not yet" Matt said. "I thought maybe tonight..."
"Do you still have those condoms?" Condoms were important. Joey had to suppress another memory that suddenly loomed in his mind.
"Yeah. I'll make sure Nick uses them, even though I know he's safe." Matt had seen something strange in Joey's face. He seemed to be guarding something.
"Nick? You mean, you want him to..." The memory was stronger this time. It was harder to push it away.
Matt nodded. He was sure he'd seen something in Joey's expression this time. He was guarded, closed off from him. It wasn't until he saw Joey do this that he realized how open Joey had been with him recently. It was a strange feeling seeing him like this. Matt was surprised to discover that it even hurt a bit. There was something Joey didn't want to tell him.
Matt reached over and took Joey's hand. He saw the look of surprise in Joey's face. Joey quickly looked around to see if anyone had noticed, but everyone was busy watching the movie. It was unlikely anyone would see them.
"What is it Joey?" Matt's voice was soft, gentle.
Could he tell him? What would he think? It was so painful, even after all this time. He didn't even want to think about it.
He felt Matt's eyes on him, and felt his hand gripping his. Could he tell him? Would Matt help? It was so hard...
Maybe it would be easier if he told him. If not Matt, who could he ever tell? If he ever found someone special, he knew he'd have to deal with this. He couldn't be really open without talking about this. He didn't want to keep it to himself any longer. Matt might help.
"It...it was a long time ago." Joey's voice was barely more than a whisper. It might be a long time ago, but he remembered every detail as if it were just yesterday.
"He was a guest star on Blossom." The image flashed into his mind. He looked so perfect standing there the first time he'd met him on the set. Something had passed between them when he'd shaken his hand. It had left him stunned, shocked.
"I was only 17." He still remembered the date, how he'd felt, how...
"When I was introduced to him on the set, I felt something. I guess I was pretty transparent, because he must have seen it too. I remember standing there staring. He looked..." So perfect. Even now, he haunted his thoughts.
"I knew I was gay then, but I'd never been with anyone. I was afraid I guess..." Afraid, uncertain what he wanted, what to do with another guy.
Joey shook himself, and shifted in his seat a bit. He glanced at Matt. The look in his eyes reassured him like nothing else ever had. Matt would understand. He took a deep breath, and tried to make sense out of it.
"I messed up my lines so many times in the scene we had together, we were really late finishing that night. Maybe I was just trying to prolong my time with him."
"He came to my dressing room later." He remembered it so well. He'd been alone in his dressing room, trying to compose himself so he could drive home. He was so confused, so messed up. Nobody had ever affected him like this before. It was so strange.
"He didn't knock, he just walked in." Like he owned the place. He walked in and took control.
"He walked up to me and pulled me to him..." There hadn't been any affection in his eyes, only lust. Joey hadn't known it at the time, but he'd seen it since. He'd wanted to kiss him so badly. It just wasn't...
"He pulled my pants down, and grabbed me..." Joey felt a tear roll down his face. He'd tried so hard to forget this. To forget how he'd made him feel.
"He hurt me..." The words were barely audible.
Matt tightened his grip on Joey's hand. "It's okay Joey. You're safe now."
Joey had almost forgotten that Matt was there. He was so tied up in his memories. He looked at Matt and saw the concern in his eyes. Joey managed a weak smile. It was so nice to have Matt here. He didn't realize how much he needed this.
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want."
"No, I think I have to." Joey swallowed. "I have to tell someone. It's just difficult."
"There's no rush," Matt said.
Joey tried to smile. How to say it? How could he tell Matt? He knew he wanted to--more than anything, he wanted to tell Matt this. But, this was even worse than coming out to Matt. This was just so painful. It had changed his whole life.
"I guess I wasn't ready for him." Not even close. He really didn't know what he'd wanted. To be held, kissed maybe. But that wasn't what happened.
"It hurt when he pushed himself into me." Joey had to stifle a sob at the memory. He hadn't been gentle.
"He raped you." Matt's voice was quiet, but had a real force to it.
"No...I wanted him, but..." Joey couldn't look at Matt any longer. He closed his eyes. He couldn't see the look of disgust that must be on Matt's face. He couldn't bear that.
"That doesn't matter Joey. It's not your fault. He forced himself on you."
Matt couldn't believe it. The first time Joey was with someone, he'd been raped! It was just too hard to imagine. How could he do something like that to Joey! Nobody deserved that, least of all Joey.
Then he looked at Joey's face again. The tears were very apparent now. It was a wonder he hadn't broken right down and cried. He was amazed at the strength that Joey must have to be able to deal with this for such a long time.
"You've never told anyone, have you?"
Joey shook his head. "I...I just couldn't. I was so ashamed of myself..."
"It wasn't your fault."
Oh, but it was. He'd wanted it. He knew that. Would Matt understand?
"That's not the worst part." Joey forced himself to look at Matt. He had to be strong and tell him the worst part. He'd never be able to tell anyone if he didn't tell Matt now. He took a deep breath, and tried to summon some strength.
"I wanted it. I wanted him to. I just wasn't ready..."
"You mean, your body responded?" Matt asked.
Joey slowly nodded. He remembered the feeling, the hot breath on his back as he thrust into him. The pain had gone after a while, and it felt good. His climax had been explosive.
It was later that the fear had set in.
"He...he didn't use a condom." Joey's voice broke as he said it. He'd been so terrified. He hadn't known what to do. He couldn't talk to anyone, didn't know where to turn.
"Oh Joey" Matt said. "That must have been horrible. You must have been terrified!"
Joey nodded. Those months had been terrible.
Matt thought for a moment. Would Joey mind if he asked...
"I got tested a year ago" Joey volunteered. "I'm negative."
Joey managed a weak smile. It was only after he'd left home, after he'd tried to build a life alone for himself that he'd been able to get the courage up to get tested.
Matt sat quietly in thought. Joey had been 17. That was when...
"That was when you started working out," Matt said. It wasn't a question. Matt remembered.
Joey nodded. He'd known that he could have stopped him, but he wanted to make himself stronger. So he didn't have to be afraid. It had helped him regain his confidence.
"That was also what made you strong" Matt said. "I don't mean physically strong. You have more strength to deal with problems than anyone I've ever known. Look at how you helped me, and how you helped Nick. That experience has made you strong."
"What? I'm not..."
"Yes you are Joey. You've kept this to yourself for so long, always being the strong one. Even when we got kicked out, you were strong. It was only when Nick talked to you that you allowed yourself to start to deal with it. Nick told me that--he was amazed at how strong you were, and how hard it was for you to lean on someone else."
Joey thought about that. Was Matt right?
"You don't always have to be strong Joey. You can lean on me. I'll always be there if you need me. And Nick will be there too. You can rely on us."
That was what Nick had said!
A sense of relief filled Joey. He'd told Matt, and he hadn't pulled away! His deepest, darkest secret, and Matt hadn't flinched.
Joey couldn't help himself. He had to smile. It was just too much.
Nick was halfway to the door before Brian even realized someone had knocked. He watched as Nick ran over to the door. Nick had been so excited the last couple of days. Ever since their conversation that night about asking Matt to marry him.
That conversation had marked a real change in Nick--or maybe it was just a real change in the way he saw Nick. Brian recognized now how much Nick had changed since he'd met Matt. He'd seen some of the changes before--he certainly had noticed when Matt had become such a good friend initially. But, somehow he'd expected things to return to normal after Matt had gone back to LA.
Well, maybe not exactly normal--Nick was gay after all, and he'd been through a lot. But, he really had expected the old Nick to show through too. It had taken him a while to recognize what Kevin had seemed to have picked up immediately--Nick had grown up. That had become clear when he'd thought about Nick and Matt getting married.
It was still sort of a strange concept for Brian. Men just didn't get married to each other. But, Nick and Matt weren't just anyone either. It was hard to reconcile some of his feelings with the church's views. Maybe it was just the business he was in, but he just didn't think it was sinful for men to love each other. He'd seen enough gay people during his career that he didn't have any fear of them. They were just ordinary people, trying to live out their lives the best way they knew how. Nick and Matt were so much in love, it was obvious to him that they should be together.
AJ and Howie walked into the room, followed by Nick. He looked so disappointed.
"They'll be here soon Nick" Brian said. "Don't worry."
Nick collapsed into the chair. "I know. It's just..."
"It'll be nice to see Matt and Joey again," AJ said.
Howie turned and walked out into the kitchen. Brian watched him go, and sighed. He just was still uncomfortable whenever Matt was mentioned. He hoped that Kevin would remind Howie to behave tonight. They didn't need him to stir up trouble. Not when Nick had such plans for tonight.
"You know, it's strange," Nick said. "I'm really looking forward to seeing Joey."
That was just too unexpected--Brian and AJ burst into laughter.
"What?" Nick looked confused.
"As if you're waiting to see Joey" AJ teased. "It's Matt you're waiting for."
"Of course I want to see Matt. But, Joey was so sad when I was in LA. I think he was in worse shape than Matt was. I'd really like to get to know him better, and spend some time with him."
"Oh" Brian said. "It must have been hard for Joey to support Matt against his parents. And to be thrown out of the family along with Matt--well, that must have been quite a shock."
Years of keeping his thoughts secret were all that kept Nick from blurting out Joey's secret. It had really surprised him how hard it was not to talk about Joey with the guys. He'd thought he was done with keeping secrets, but it seemed there were some he had to keep. Maybe Joey would tell the guys tonight. That would make things easier all around.
"Joey really needs our support right now" Kevin said, as he walked into the room.
"He does." Nick said forcefully. "I told him that we were all his family now. He needs to know he has people he can count on."
"He does" Brian said. "We'll all do whatever we can for him. For his sake, as well as for you and Matt."
"You don't have to remind us." AJ smiled at Nick. "We talked about it before. Joey and Matt are family, just like all of us are family."
"Thanks guys" Nick said. "I guess I'm just nervous. They should be here by now. I wish we could have met them at the airport like we'd planned. I know Howie didn't mean to mess up today, but..."
"They'll be here any moment now, Nick" Kevin said. "Don't worry. The driver will drop them off here, and take their stuff over to the hotel to check in for them. Dinner should be here shortly after they are. I checked, and there's no major traffic trouble. Their plane landed on time too."
"Did they take my stuff over too?"
Kevin laughed. "Yeah Nick, they've got your bag. Stop worrying. It'll all work out. We will have to spend sometime in the studio tomorrow, since we didn't get anything done today. But, we'll let you sleep in. I bet you'll be tired in the morning."
Nick giggled, as he felt his face start to grow warm. He looked around, and found everyone else was watching him with big smiles on their faces. Nick suddenly realized that he really did have something very special. AJ, Brian and Kevin all really cared. They even approved of Matt. That was just so cool.
Nick watched as Howie appeared from the kitchen. He had a glass in one hand, as he walked over and sat on the couch beside AJ. Had it really been an accident?
Nick felt guilty at that thought. Howie wouldn't have deliberately destroyed all of their work today. It must have been an accident, as he'd said it was. It had hurt Howie as much as it had everyone else. They'd lost a day's work, and been forced to meet Matt and Joey here instead of at the airport like they'd planned. There just wasn't any reason why Howie would do that.
Still, Howie had deliberately brought Matt onto that interview back in Toronto, which had caused Matt to go home a day early. Was Howie doing it again, now that Matt was going to be back? This was the first time Matt was back with them since that first time.
No, Howie wouldn't do that. He still remembered what Matt had told him before. Howie wouldn't do something like this deliberately. No, it must have been an accident. He shouldn't think about Howie that way. It was an accident.
Nick heard the knock on the door, and felt another rush of adrenaline as he ran toward the door. That must be them! He pulled the door open, and sure enough, there was Matt. And Joey.
Nick suddenly felt awkward, as he stepped aside to let them into the apartment. He could hear the guys coming up behind him. Matt and Joey stepped inside, and Nick found he couldn't look at them. He closed the door.
Matt watched Nick close the door, then pulled him into his arms. They were finally here! Matt sighed as he felt Nick's arms go around him. This is where he belonged. In Nick's arms. Matt looked up, and found Nick's lips. He gently kissed him. Matt moved one hand up, and held Nick's head, pushing his fingers into Nick's hair. The feel of Nick in his arms was what he'd dreamed of. He was here with him, finally.
When the kiss ended, Nick felt alive. Matt was here. He smiled at Matt, and lifted him off the ground for a moment. Then he spotted Joey, standing there talking with the guys. He released Matt, and went over to Joey.
Nick hugged Joey like he'd just hugged Matt. He lifted him off the ground a couple of inches, and said, "I'm so glad you're here."
Joey was surprised by this sudden display. He saw Matt watching him with a smile, and knew this was right. He hugged Nick back. When Nick had released him, he smiled at him and said "With a welcome like that, I'll come along more often."
"It is good to see you" Kevin said. He hesitated for a moment, and then he hugged Joey too. "It's been too long."
Kevin's embrace was what Joey had dreamed of. He was caught off guard, but managed to regain his composure quickly, and returned the hug. When the hug had ended, Joey said, "I'm glad to see you guys too."
They all moved into the living room of the apartment, talking among themselves. Clearly everyone was glad to see both Joey and Matt.
Joey did notice that Howie seemed to be avoiding Matt and Nick. However, Howie seemed to be happy enough to see him. Joey and the guys all arranged themselves into various chairs, or on the couch. Joey laughed as he watched Nick and Matt trying to squeeze themselves into an armchair. There was a bit of a wrestling match as they determined who'd wind up sitting on whose lap. Somehow it was Nick that wound up on Matt's lap. Matt was just beaming as he held Nick. Joey had to smile. Somehow they just looked right together.
Joey soon lost track of what Matt and Nick were doing. For some reason, the rest of the guys all seemed to be anxious to talk with him. He wasn't quite sure why, but he found himself relaxing with them. They were so open, so comfortable with each other, he just couldn't help but feel at home when he talked with them.
When dinner arrived, it disappeared rather quickly. There was a funny moment as the guys forced Matt and Nick to serve themselves last. Apparently Matt's appetite was well known here. Nick's appetite seemed to be a match for Matt's. Still, they all had lots to eat. Joey found himself eating more than he had recently. He was hungry he discovered. After his conversation on the plane with Matt, and the welcome here, he felt strangely comfortable.
After the food was gone, Joey tried to help Kevin clean up the mess, but Brian wouldn't let him. Joey wound up talking with AJ and Howie as Brian and Kevin gathered up the little bit of remaining food, and tidied up. A few minutes later, Brian arrived with a fresh pot of coffee, much to Matt's delight.
"Coffee! How'd you know Brian?" Matt said.
"Well, you seemed to go through a lot of it when we were all in Toronto. So, I asked Nick today, and he thought you'd like some after dinner."
Joey looked at Matt, and giggled to himself. He remembered what Matt had told him about Nick falling asleep on him.
Nick heard Joey, and looked over to find Joey watching him and Matt. Nick felt himself flushing as he realized that Matt must have told Joey.
Matt got up from where he was sitting in Nick's lap, and he poured two cups of coffee. He handed them to Nick, before he returned to his place in Nick's lap. They looked a bit precarious there, balancing two coffee mugs, but they managed.
Joey got himself a cup of coffee too, as did the rest of the guys. Kevin and Brian returned, and sat down with them.
Joey felt so comfortable with the guys. He was surprised at himself. He'd only met most of them that one time they'd done that concert in LA, but they were obviously trying to make him feel like he belonged. As he sipped his coffee, he decided this was a good time to bring up a subject that they'd probably all been trying to avoid.
"Nick, thank you for coming out to LA when we needed you" Joey said. "That really helped."
Nick smiled. "I was happy to do it Joey. It gave us some time to talk, which was great."
"Yeah, that was nice" Joey said. "Listen, I'd like to tell you all something. I assume that Nick told you what happened with our parents?"
Everyone nodded or made some sound that showed they knew the story.
"Well, I asked Nick to keep one thing from you." Joey paused for a moment, uncertain of whether to continue. He looked at Nick and Matt, and found them both watching. They seemed to be encouraging him.
"Matt and I were both thrown out of the family for the same reason. You see, I'm gay too." Joey suddenly didn't know where to look. Did he dare look at anyone?
There was silence for a moment, before Kevin said, "I'm sure that was really hard to say Joey. It doesn't matter to us though. You're still family here."
"Yeah, Joey." Brian said. "If we can put up with Nick here, well we can put up with anything."
"Hey!" Nick said. He looked quite indignant as everyone started to giggle. After a moment, he joined in.
Matt jumped up and went over to his jacket. Everyone watched him, as he returned with a small brightly wrapped present. He glanced quickly at Joey for encouragement. Then he handed the package to Nick.
"I wanted to get you something. I hope you like it."
"You didn't have to get me anything."
"No, but I wanted to." Matt said. "Open it."
Nick looked at the package, and started to search for the tape. He started to carefully remove the tape, without ripping the paper.
"Just tear the paper off!" Matt said. He sounded exasperated.
Nick giggled, and quickly tore the paper off. Inside it, he found a box. Lifting the lid from the box, he suddenly gasped. With trembling hands, he reached inside and lifted the chain from the box.
"I hope you like it. I had to have it specially made. I wasn't sure whether..."
Matt's words were cut off, as Nick suddenly jumped to his feet and hugged him. Then they kissed.
"Aw you guys, get a room!" AJ said.
Nick started to giggle, which ended the kiss. He looked at AJ and stuck out his tongue at him. AJ responded in kind, and they all started to laugh.
When they'd calmed down, Brian said "What is it?"
Well, that prompted Nick to show everyone the necklace Matt had given him. There was a golden angel holding a single diamond attached to a heavy gold chain. Given the size and weight of the necklace, it had to be worth a lot of money. The diamond wasn't small either.
Matt watched Nick as he showed the necklace to everyone. Then he looked over at Joey, who was busy smiling at him. "See, I told you he'd like it" Joey said.
"Of course I like it!" Nick said. "But, why an angel Matt?"
Matt looked down. "Well, it's sort of silly, but, well..." He paused for a moment, and looked at Nick. "When we were in bed..."
AJ coughed loudly, and everyone giggled again. Matt just stood there, and looked at Nick. It was clear to Nick that Matt wasn't sure how to say it.
"It's okay Matt" Nick said, as he hugged him. "You don't have to tell me now with these bozos in the room. We can wait until later."
Matt was uncertain, and looked to Joey. Joey nodded at him.
"It's okay" Matt took a deep breath. "Remember the morning you were in LA with me? Well, when we were in bed after you called Kevin, the sunlight on your hair made me think of an angel. You looked so perfect lying there beside me. I felt like you were my guardian angel. You'd come all that way to rescue me. I just wanted you to know how much that meant to me."
There was silence for a moment, before Nick said, "Well, I'm no angel. I was just doing what I had to."
"Just like I was doing what I had to when I came to you in Toronto. Then you engraved those words on the watch..."
"Well, you are my hero" Nick said.
Brian felt uncomfortable--like he was seeing a moment that should have been private. He wasn't sure whether to make a joke (after all, Nick was hardly an angel), or to cry. The emotion in the room was just too much.
He looked quickly at the rest of the guys to see how this was affecting them, but his eyes stopped on Howie. He was sitting there, obviously very uncomfortable. Damn it, why couldn't Howie see how right this was? Matt and Nick were supposed to be together--that was just so obvious.
"Matt, I'd like to ask you something important." Nick said.
Brian felt a surge of adrenaline. Nick was going to do it now! Here, in front of everyone, instead of in private like they'd talked about. He obviously hadn't seen Howie.
Nick knelt on one knee, in front of Matt. He looked up at Matt, and said, "I know this is probably stupid..." He paused and took a deep breath. He was trembling, and his voice quivered as he said, "Will you marry me?"
Matt was stunned. Marry Nick? He'd never thought he'd get married! The word conjured up images of a wife, kids, a white picket fence and all that. He could never do that!
But, to be together with Nick would be so wonderful, so perfect. Abby and Maitland had done that. They'd pledged their love for each other, and told the world they were committed to each other. That would be perfect. To have Nick forever.
Matt's thoughts were a jumble. Ideas flew past before he could think them through. He felt his knees give way, and he fell back into the chair. Marry Nick?
Matt suddenly realized he hadn't said anything. He saw Nick in front of him, his eyes downcast, as he looked at the floor. He hadn't said anything!
"Oh Nick, of course I'll marry you!" Matt said. Nick looked up, a hopeful expression on his face. Matt reached out and pulled Nick into his arms. "Of course, I'll marry you. I want to be with you forever."
Brian let out the breath he didn't know he was holding. For a moment there, he'd thought Matt was going to say no. But that was over--they looked so happy now. He turned to look at the other guys. Everyone looked like they weren't sure what to do either. But there was no teasing in AJ's eyes as he watched them. Kevin had a big smile on his face, and Joey looked as happy as he could be.
Howie's expression was strange though. He looked like he wasn't with them even, like he'd spaced out or something. Maybe he was just blocking it all out. Or, maybe now he'd finally realized how right it was for Matt and Nick to be together.
Brian suddenly felt like he had to do something, and jumped up. Everyone else jumped up as well, and they all started congratulating the guys. Joey looked like he already had things half planned, as he started talking about the how they could do this. Kevin jumped in and started adding to Joey's comments. It was pretty clear that between the two of them, they'd arrange everything.
Brian left the group and went into the refrigerator. He's known Nick was planning this, so he'd bought a bottle of the best champagne he could find for the occasion. He filled a tray with seven glasses, and the bottle, and returned to the living room.
Kevin saw him coming and Brian let him open the bottle. Champagne was tricky stuff to open. Kevin poured seven glasses, and handed them out to everyone. That's when they discovered that Howie was no longer there.
"Where's Howie?" Kevin said.
"He was just here," AJ said.
What was going on with Howie now? Brian couldn't figure him out. Why couldn't he see how precious a thing Nick had with Matt? What was his problem anyway?
"Well, it's his loss" Kevin said. He lifted his glass. "To the best couple I know. To Matt and Nick--may you be happy together forever!"
There was a chorus of agreements, as they all emptied their glasses.
As everyone milled around, chatting and drinking champagne, Matt was still trying to figure it all out. He just couldn't figure out what to think. Married! He'd never considered that possibility. It would be so perfect if they could do that! To be with Nick forever was his biggest dream. Was it possible?
Joey startled Matt with a hug. "Why are you still here?" Joey whispered.
Matt looked at him. "What?" Matt smiled. "Oh."
"Go on. Take him back to the hotel."
"Okay." Matt was suddenly excited. Tonight was a night Nick would remember! Then he suddenly remembered Joey, and their conversation today on the plane. "Are you okay? Are you sure you don't want me to stay?"
Joey smiled. "I'll be okay. Just remember--take it slow and use a condom."
Matt gave Joey a big hug. "I love you Joey."
"I love you too Matt." Joey held Matt for a moment longer, before he released him. "Go on."
Matt gave him a big smile. He looked around for Nick and found him talking to Brian and Kevin. He went over and took Nick's hand and stood beside him for a moment. He pulled Nick down and whispered into his ear. Nick smiled.