This story is a work of fiction and is not intended to imply anything about the sexuality of any actual person or persons. This story should only be read by those of legal age who do not have an objection to homosexual relations between consenting adults. My apologies for taking so long to get this chapter out. I've been very busy the past few months but I hope to get back to more frequent releases. Once again, I am grateful to those of you who have expressed your encouragement to me. Special thanks go to Luckylou and R C for their patience and assistance to me in this effort. Please direct any commentary to firstname.lastname@example.org
The next morning when Howie got up and headed downstairs for breakfast he was surprised to find that everyone else except Alex and Aaron were already there. It was a little later than he usually got up, but still it was very odd for Nick and Brian for instance to actually beat him to the table. Usually those two spent the morning enjoying each other's company before coming down. As he paused on the stairs, the guys noticed and greeted him.
"Geez, D, you're the last straggler this morning." Kevin said.
"Hey, its not my fault" Howie said. "What the hell are the lovebirds doing up so early? What's the matter guys, is the honeymoon over or something?"
The guys all laughed.
"Nah, we just figured we'd get a decent start on the day for once" Brian said. "Besides, a man can only stand so much sex, you know?" Brian managed to keep a straight face even after Nick whacked him on the shoulder.
"Uh-oh, Nick, you're must be slacking off." Kevin said. "Better work harder or you'll lose him."
Howie found himself mentally grimacing, though he laughed along with the others. Nick and Brian were inseparable, everyone knew that. Howie had resigned himself to the fact that he would never have a chance with Nick, but he couldn't deny that he still felt a powerful attraction for the younger man. He cared too much about both of his friends to ever try anything, but it was almost painful at times. Howie sat at the table and tried to lose himself in the morning paper for a few minutes.
The other guys didn't take much notice except for AJ, who looked sadly at Howie. He'd guessed the truth a long time ago, but knew that there was nothing he could do for his friend beyond being there if Howie ever wanted to talk about it.
They all talked quietly and ate breakfast for a while. Eventually Howie's mood lifted a little, and he looked up from the paper.
"Say, where are Alex and Aaron?" Howie said. "I didn't see Alex on the couch - did he have to leave or something?" The idea was more distressing to him than Howie expected. He'd been looking forward to getting to know Alex.
Brian looked at Nick briefly and then back at the questioning faces of the other guys. "No, he ended up sharing the other room with Aaron." Brian said. "I'm guessing they are both still asleep."
"Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me. Alex was very tired and Aaron was pretty shaken up yesterday." Nick said.
"You've got a point, Nick." Kevin said. He looked at the clock on the kitchen wall. "Still, maybe we should go see if they are up yet. It's getting on and I'm sure that Alex wouldn't want to sleep the day away."
Howie stood up rather abruptly. "I'll go check on them. Be right back."
Kevin noticed an odd look on AJ's face. Howie walked quickly toward the stairs. "Is something wrong, with Howie AJ?" Kevin asked.
"Na, Kev, nothing at all." AJ said. He picked up Howie's discarded paper and started to read through it. Kevin shrugged and turned back to his breakfast.
Howie climbed the stairs and went to the door of Brian's room. He was about to knock before he paused. Instead, he quietly turned the knob and eased the door open. Peeking inside for a moment, he saw that both Alex and Aaron were still in the bed. Howie glanced over his shoulder, to ensure he wasn't being watched. Then he slipped into the room and eased the door shut.
As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he looked at the large bed, his eyes lingering in particular on Alex's sleeping form. Alex was dressed in only a pair of white briefs and was only partially covered by the light blanket on the bed. One arm was draped around Aaron, who lay pressed closely against Alex. Aaron's head rested on one side of Alex's chiseled chest, and one of his arms was in turn lying across the young man's bare torso.
Howie smiled as he realized that Aaron was snoring lightly. The boy was wearing briefs and an oversized BSB t-shirt. Both guys looked peaceful and content. Howie's smile broadened as he glanced down Alex's smooth form. The white briefs looked to be a size or two too large for Alex. The elastic looked snug on his waist, but the leg holes were rather large. Though the briefs appeared slightly baggy at first, a second glance confirmed the outline of something rather large beneath. Alex's hips were shifted just enough so that Howie could see something of the fine sights within the briefs, both front and rear. Howie stared, lost in fascination until he noticed that Aaron was stirring. Howie jerked his eyes away from Alex's pelvis as the young boy sat up and rubbed his eyes.
"Howie? Hi, what's up?" Aaron yawned and stretched.
Howie grinned and stepped forward to scoop Aaron up in a hug. "The guys sent me to get you two lazy dudes up, kid." He stepped away from the bed and whirled around a bit, drawing immediate giggles from the drowsy boy.
"Hey, no fair! I don't grab you out of bed." Aaron said with a huge smile. He climbed around onto Howie's shoulders. This was a common thing, the boy just loved getting rides from the guys.
"Geez, what's a guy got to do to get some peace and quiet around here?" Alex had sat up in bed and grumbled good-naturedly at the laughing pair. He clambered out of bed and adjusted his briefs for a moment.
"If you want to hang with us, blondie, you have to stay on your feet." Howie said, laughing as Aaron kicked his chest lightly with his heels. "Seriously, though, we're all down getting breakfast if you want to join us."
"Sounds cool." Alex said. "Let me grab a shower and I'll be down shortly."
Aaron scampered off Howie's shoulders and ran over to hug Alex, who knelt down and put his arms around the boy. He stood up again after a moment, and pushed Aaron's hair back from his face with a hand. The boy giggled and ran out the door, thumping loudly down the stairs.
"Ok, I'll go tell the guys. You know where everything is, right?" Howie said.
"Yeah, thanks." Alex said. He turned and moved over to start rummaging through the clothing bags on the floor next to the bed. Howie moved to leave the room but looked over his shoulder in time to see Alex bending over to slip out of his briefs. Howie caught his breath. Alex's exposed bottom was slightly pale, smooth and flawless. His soft thick organ hung visibly between his powerful legs.
Howie hurried out of the room, feeling his own organ growing hard rapidly. He nearly ran down the hall to the room where he was staying, locking the door behind him. Quickly stripping his jeans and briefs off, Howie lay down on the bed and began to stroke himself rapidly. His mind raced with images of Alex's body under his hands, of penetrating that incredible ass and claiming it as his own. Howie was soon gasping and thrusting his hips into the air as he reached an incredibly intense climax. He felt as though he was floating in scalding heat, as he slowly came down. Several minutes later, he was still breathing heavily. Pulling off his cum-stained shirt, he wiped himself off and put on some clean clothes.
Howie went back downstairs to find Aaron happily seated at the table with the other guys. Shortly afterward, Alex came down, casually dressed and obviously fresh from the shower. He pulled up a chair next to Aaron and started getting some breakfast. Howie had to fight to keep from staring at him, but managed to occupy himself with the conversation after a while.
"So, Alex, did you manage to get some sleep?" Brian said.
"Yeah, actually, I slept through most of the night." Alex said. "I guess I was more tired than I thought."
"I thought you only slept for an hour?" AJ said.
"Normally, yes, that's right." Alex said. "Sometimes, though, I'll go a bit longer if I'm really tired. It doesn't happened very often. Anyway, I'm feeling a lot better." He reached out and messed Aaron's hair up, trigger another fit of giggles from the boy.
They talked some more about the day ahead. Alex agreed to show the guys some of his exercises and they had in turn agreed to show him some of their dance moves.
"After all, if you're gonna have the girls screaming for you, you need the right moves." Nick said.
"Right moves, huh?" Alex said. "Well, wouldn't you like to be able to show these off when they tear your shirt off?" He lifted his shirt, displaying his washboard abs. Howie focused very hard on controlling his expression but it was Kevin who surprised everyone by reaching over and feeling Alex's exposed midriff.
"That's great, man." Kevin said. "I work out myself, but I'm not at your level yet. Looks like you've got a good balance between muscle definition and proportion."
"Yeah, you don't look like those gumby bodybuilders, but you're solid." AJ said. "Just tell me that you've found a way of getting there without crunches."
Alex made something of a face. "Sorry, AJ, I'm afraid I got 'em the hard way just like everyone else. There are some variations to make the exercise more effective, but its still crunch all you can. What you eat is important too, of course. I've picked up some tips from trainers over the years, maybe that can help too. I bet its hard to eat right when you're on tour, right?"
Kevin looked a bit abashed. "Yeah. I know we need to watch that, but things just get sort of crazy sometimes on tour. Everything is in such a hurry when we are doing shows every day somewhere new. It's too easy sometimes to get take-out or whatever. I try to look out for things like that, but sometimes it just gets out of hand."
"Hey, don't be hard on yourself, cuz." Brian said. "It's not like we make it easy either."
"You guys are doing pretty well these days. You might want to think about getting someone to come on tour and take care of meals and stuff. My parents used to do that sort of thing, though my father was actually a pretty good cook." Alex said. "Brian's right though, you shouldn't feel bad about it. I've certainly eaten my share of hotel and restaurant food, and then some. I guess the habits I got into from training for the games have stuck with me."
They continued to talk and were interrupted a few minutes later by the doorbell. Nick got up and went to the door, returning a minute later with a large sealed package which he set on the table in front Alex.
"This is apparently for you." Nick said.
"Ah, its probably just papers from the corporation, sometimes they use air mail instead of email for involved business stuff." Alex picked up the package and opened it. Taking out a thick bundle of papers, he set them back down on the table and begin to flip through them.
"So what's it all about?" Kevin said.
Alex smiled. "It's good news. Imperial is starting a series of buyouts of other companies - my doing. The first one was successful. Imperial now owns Viacom."
"Viacom? Geez, that's a huge multimedia corporation, isn't it?" Kevin said.
"Yep. All of Paramount's holdings and more. For example, Imperial now holds ownership of MTV." Alex said. "It's going to be important to have those kinds of media connections for my plans to work. There will be several other acquisitions over the next few months, expanding Imperial's influence into several new areas."
There were a few seconds of awkward silence at the table. The other guys were a bit taken back by the scale of what Alex was talking about.
"Isn't all that going to cause a big stir in the media?" AJ asked.
"Oh yes, it's going to freak a lot of people out." Alex said. "Imperial was very big but also very conservative previously, but that's all changing now. That's not all bad, though, I do need to get everyone's attention to make things work, and this will help."
"What other companies are on the hit list?" Brian said.
"I'm not really sure, a team of guys in Imperial are working on putting together a list of ones that we can go after. So far Viacom is the only fixed target, though I think Boeing might be next."
"Wow, you're really shelling out major dough here." Nick said. "What's this big plan, anyway?"
"Yeah, Alex, what are you up to with all this stuff?" Howie said.
Alex leaned back in his chair and stretched. "Well, if I'm going to change the world, lead by example, and all that good stuff, I need to have everyone's attention. I'm going to become as high profile as I can manage, and do my best to be a positive example to everyone. Also, though, its going to take a lot of money and influence to make things happen. My parents have left me the tools to do what needs to be done, and I'm going to run with it. I'm going to do recording again, and also television, radio, and film too if I can manage it. I'm going to turn Imperial and myself into household names. Once that's done, I think I'll be able to get some positive things done."
"Dude, they're gonna be all over you." AJ said. "Everyone is going to either want a piece of you or their gonna try to tear you down."
"He's right, Alex." Kevin said. "People are going to go nuts when you start to make this stuff happen. They'll dig up every piece of dirt on you they can find - believe me we know all about that."
"I don't doubt it for a second." Alex said. "It's going to be a rough ride - a lot of people are really going to hate me. But it's still the best way to get the job done. Celebrities have real power to influence society. They are one of the few groups who do. My parents understood that, and they were famous in a way even though they tried to avoid the media as much as possible."
"Alex, it sounds like they understood that being in the public eye as much as we are can really kill your personal life. Are you sure this is what you want?" Brian said.
"Yes, Alex, do you want girls screaming at you wherever you go and ripping at your clothes?" Nick said. "It will happen if you go forward with this - you're too pretty for it not to."
"No shit." Howie said under his breath.
"What was that, D?" Kevin said, as the other guys looked over at Howie.
"Nothing, just agreeing with Nick." Howie said, glancing away from the stern look AJ was giving him.
Alex looked curiously at Howie for a moment, and then looked back at Nick and smiled. "Oh, they'll be some complications, but I'm not worrying about girls screaming at me."
"Geez, Alex, c'mon, you look like you walked out of one of Calvin Klein's wet dreams." Brian said. "You are going to have the girls drooling over you."
"And the guys too." Howie said quietly, looking away again when he noticed that Nick this time was watching him intently. Nick's eyes were so beautiful.
Alex was blushing openly at this point. "Damn, Brian, don't hold back, tell me what you REALLY think."
Brian blushed in turn and they all laughed.
"Seriously, though, the girls aren't going to be a problem." Alex said. "I'm going to come out."
The other guys fell silent for a long moment.
"Alex, are you sure you want to do that?" Nick said, very quietly.
Brian stepped over and put an arm around Nick, saying nothing. Howie turned away from the couple and sat back down. He reached out a put his hand on top of Alex's hesitantly.
"It's been really hard on them, Alex, but you know that." Howie said. "But they've dealt with keeping the secret because we all know how many ignorant and intolerant people there are out there. You'll be exposing yourself to a lot of abuse if you go through with this."
Aaron made his way around the table quietly and climbed into Alex's lap to give him a hug. Alex held Aaron with his free arm, and moved to hold Howie's hand in his own.
"I know, I know. It means a lot to me that you all care, and I know that you know more about being in the spotlight than I do. Coming out is an important part of the plan, for a couple of reasons. First, if I am going to be a positive role model, then my coming out might help all the intolerance. This whole thing is about bringing understanding, about opening doors. Second, even if I didn't want it getting out, I'd never be able to keep it a secret, not with all the attention I'm talking about. So, why not look it in the face from day 1, and move from there."
Alex looked around the room.
"Of course, it goes without saying that I would never tell anyone about Nick and Brian."
"We know that, Alex, we trust you." Brian said.
Nick shook his head and laughed. "You know, you are still going to get girls who think they can 'help' you."
"Well, people are always going to make up their own minds, and see what they want to see, I guess." Alex said. "They'll be enough of me to go around, at least for looking at."
"Oh, gonna be another pinup boy, huh?" AJ said.
"Well, like Ru Paul says, 'you'd better work it'" Alex said. He started playfully flexing his arms, laughing freely.
"Speaking of which, we'd better get to work if we're going to show him some of our moves." AJ said.
They all got up and went into the living room. A few minutes later, they had pushed back the future and were dancing around the floor to some of their songs. The guys were all in good shape, though Kevin and AJ were clearly in the best shape. Alex's years of athletic training served him well, and he picked the moves up fairly quickly. He started to adapt some of the acrobatic moves he knew and added in some steps from the few folk dances that he knew. The other guys were good sports and allowed him to take the lead. After about an hour, they were all lying on the floor and panting from the exertion. The other guys had done well, though only Aaron was flexible enough for some of the arch and flip moves that Alex tried toward the end.
After a minute, Alex pushed off the floor in a hand spring to his feet.
"Show off." Kevin said. The other guys laughed while trying to catch their breath.
"Hey, remember, I've been training steadily most of my life ." Alex said. He moved over and tweaked Nick's side. "Like I said before, too much junk food, Mr. Carter."
Nick twitched at the ticklish touch and bowled Alex over the rolling into him, then pinned him down. "Oh yeah, Mr. Muscles? Who's the wise guy now?" Nick yelped as Alex benched him effortlessly. "Uh, guys, can you give me a hand here?"
Brian and Aaron clambered over and turned into a laughing mass as they struggled to hold Alex down. Eventually, Kevin and AJ came over and broke things up.
"Hey you guys, knock it off, someone might think that you're gay or something." Kevin said as they pulled the guys to their feet.
"Well, I'm not, anyway." Aaron said, folding his arms and trying not to laugh. He fell into giggles again when Nick snatched him from behind and spun him around the room for a bit.
When they had all settled back down, Alex began to show them the various exercises that he had picked up over the years from various athletic sources. Kevin and AJ in particular were familiar already with many of them, though Alex had improved on some of the things they knew.
"Well, I think that's about enough for today." Alex said. "Not a good idea to overdo it, and we all look pretty whacked."
It was true, between the dancing and Alex's exercises, they were all covered in sweat. Except for Aaron, who ran on that boundless energy that all children have.
"Too right, man." AJ said. "I feel like I've just been through a concert. I need to get cleaned off."
The other guys made similar comments, and they worked out turns for the use of the house's two showers. As it worked out, Alex was one of the first two to shower, and Howie was in line behind him. Howie got his robe and waited patiently outside the bathroom, unable to think of much other than how Alex's body would feel under the warm water of the shower. He adjusted his robe was trying to think safer thoughts when he heard Alex calling from inside the bathroom.
"Hey, is someone out there? I forget to get a washcloth, can someone bring me one?" Alex said. "Hello? The door isn't locked or anything."
Howie found himself blushing deeply, but went ahead and pushed the door open. Stepping through thick clouds of steam, he entered the bathroom and opened the small linen closet inside. Taking a washcloth from the closet, he turned to the shower.
"Alex, it's Howie - I've got your washcloth." Howie said.
Alex's hand appeared over the shower door and Howie handed him the washcloth.
"Thanks, Howie." Alex said.
"No problem, I'll leave you do it." Howie said.
"That's ok, just have a seat." Alex said. "I'll be out in just a minute and it'll be your turn next."
Howie shrugged and sat down on the toilet seat. "So, what did you think of the dance moves?"
"Pretty cool stuff, do you guys do your own choreography?" Alex said.
"Not really, we have someone who does that for us, though we all get input on it." Howie said.
"Have you ever had moves suggested that everyone couldn't keep up with?" Alex said.
"Not really, we've got a pretty good idea where everyone is, and we have worked a lot to improve our performance. It's as important to keep the moves simple enough that we can synchronize and still have the breath to sing." Howie said.
Alex turned off the water and emerged, taking a towel and beginning to dry himself off. "Yeah, I can see where that would be important, especially if you don't want to end up lip-synching your songs in concert."
Howie mumbled something in reply, he was engrossed in the proximity of Alex's naked body. He could have reached out and touched Alex easily. For a moment in his mind he imagined that he did, his hand caressing the delicious smoothness, thrilling to the firmness of muscle beneath the silky wet skin. The moment passed, leaving Howie tingling all over. He struggled to arrange his robe while Alex was looking away.
"What was that?" Alex said, emerging from the towel with which he started drying his body. He turned to face Howie, who jerked his eyes up to avoid staring at Alex's crotch.
"I was just agreeing with you." Howie said. "We've done it before, I won't deny that, but only when someone is having voice problems. Sometimes you get sick on the road, you know."
"I'm sure - you guys really should take better care of yourselves on tour." Alex said, wrapping the towel around his waist. "I'd have guys taking care of food, and nutrition and all that kind of thing if it were me. Making sure you get enough rest and so on. Remember, its work. You guys have the resources now, you should make sure that all you have to worry about is performing when you're on tour."
Howie came back to his senses, now that the temptations of Alex's body were a bit lessened. "Well, we do some of that. It just dates back from when we weren't getting anything out of it. Kevin's told you about that, I know."
"Yeah, but that will never happen again. You guys are really hot, and I'm sure that you'll be set for life if you play your money smart." Alex said.
Howie grinned. "Not to worry. We've all got investments and financial planning. Kevin saw to that as part of our new contracts. We aren't running out and buying new cars every week or anything."
Alex smiled and stepped over to put a hand on Howie's shoulder. "I'm glad to hear it. I've heard all kinds of stories about celebs blowing their money, I'm glad that isn't going to happen with you guys."
Howie had tensed up when Alex touched him, fearing that his hardening organ would pop out of the robe in front of his friend. Alex kneaded the stiff shoulder lightly.
"Say, you are really tensed up there - must be the work out, huh?" Alex said.
Howie managed to nod but didn't trust himself to speak.
"We'll have to see how the other guys are doing after we all get cleaned up." Alex said. "Do you guys have a physical therapist or someone who does massages?"
"There's a doctor who travels with the group to deal with injuries, but only for that." Howie said.
"That's good to have, but you guys should have someone to help you with stretching and massage, or learn the techniques so you can help each other. I bet it would make the tour a lot easier on you." Alex said.
"I think Kevin knows a little about stretching and cramps, but its not something we talk about a lot. We all stretch before a show, but that's it." Howie said. He moaned as Alex's hand began to manipulate his shoulder, drawing a crackle from the tense muscles there.
"Well, again, physical therapy is something that you learn a lot about as an athlete." Alex said. "Maybe I can show you guys some things that would help. If you think the others would be cool with touching each other? I mean, some guys aren't comfortable with it, and that's cool."
"Well, Nick and Brian do it all the time." Howie said with a laugh. "I'm sure the other guys wouldn't mind, we've all had muscle pulls and cramps before."
Alex's eyes were a cool intense blue as he looked into Howie's own eyes. "What about you, would you mind being touched?"
"No, That would be okay." Howie whispered.
Alex's hand slid gently up to Howie's neck and he leaned forward slightly.
They both were startled when AJ came walking in. "Hey, is there a convention in here? I need to use the toilet guys."
"I'm done, and Howie is just waiting on the shower, so it's all yours, AJ" Alex said. He then walked briskly out of the bathroom and down the hall to the room that he and Aaron were sharing.
Howie got off the toilet and closed the bathroom door.
"So, what was up with that?" AJ said.
"With what?" Howie said.
"You know what I mean." AJ said. "It looked to me like Alex was about to kiss you - or was there something in your eye? Something that also gave you a boner?"
Howie blushed and started to get flustered. "Nothing happened, ok? Why are you interrogating me like this?"
"Hey D, relax." AJ said. "I'm not trying to give you a hard time. It was pretty clear that Alex was about to make the first move, not you. Does he know that you're interested?"
Howie rubbed his eyes. "I don't know - maybe."
"Look, you know I'd never tell anyone, even the other guys unless you said it was ok." AJ said. "Nick and Brian trust him with their secret. Talk to him, see if there's something there. He won't betray you, either way."
"What if he's not interested?" Howie said rather anxiously.
"Well, like I said, it looked like he was about to do something when I came in - besides, wouldn't it better to know, one way or the other, than to step around it like you've been doing since he got here?" AJ said.
"I guess so." Howie said. "I'll think about it." He disrobed and slipped into the shower.
"Good luck D. I hope it works out." AJ used the bathroom and then left.
"Me too." Howie murmured from within the shower. He turned on the water and leaned back against the shower wall. With the image of the naked Alex fresh in his mind, Howie very rapidly stroked himself to another intense climax.
Inside his room, Alex picked through his clothes and got dressed quickly. He didn't know what to make of that moment with Howie. It certainly looked like things were warming up between them. He couldn't take a chance on misreading that though. He had after all been told that the rest of the guys were straight. Maybe Howie was just trying to be nice, to make Alex feel welcome. He had been given to understand that Howie was typically the last of the group to warm to strangers. He would just have to wait and see what happened.
They all regrouped in the living room after getting cleaned up, and Alex spent some time talking about massage and other physical therapy techniques. As with the exercises, the more athletic members of the group already knew some things about the subject, but none of them had Alex's range of familiarity. They also spoke about the upcoming tour and about singing. Alex shared with the some of the various international folk songs that were going to be appearing on his new album, and in turn they let him in on some of their new material.
"So, Alex, are you going to go on tour at some point?" Kevin said.
"Very likely, though I haven't worked out the details yet." Alex said. "Part of it I guess is that I want to see how well I'm received by the public before setting that kind of thing up. After all, if I flop, there won't be a need for a tour."
"I really don't see that happening." Brian said.
"Yeah, you've got a great look and a great sound." Nick said. "I'm sure you'll be a hit."
The other guys murmured their agreement, causing Alex to blush slightly.
"Thanks, guys, that really means a lot to me coming from you." Alex said. "Touring though - that's going to be quite an experience the first time over. I'll be surrounded by people helping out of course, but it's still going to be very different from anything I've done before."
"Why don't you come on tour with us?" Howie said.
There were several long moments of silence as everyone turned to look at Howie.
"Hey, guys, c'mon." Howie said. "It would be a good experience for him, and he could be a great help to us, with all the stuff he knows about staying in shape and physical therapy."
Alex and Kevin both started to talk at the same time.
"Go ahead, Kevin." Alex said.
"No, you first." Kevin said.
"Ok. Howie, I really appreciate that you'd want me along." Alex said. "But I'm sure it can't be as simple as that. I mean, I'm sure you guys have a lot of plans made and all. I wouldn't want to get in the way or anything. Besides, there's another point that needs to be made. I'm going to be coming out publicly in the next few months. You know I'd never betray Brian and Nick to anyone, but I'm going to be under a big microscope after things go public. You know how that works - every part of my life is going to be scrutiny, and everyone I'm close to as well."
"I appreciate what you are saying, Alex." Kevin said. "I know that wasn't easy to say - and believe me I know where you're coming from. We've all had to accept what it means to our personal privacy to be in the public eye. Howie's makes some good points too - you'd be a big help to us and it would be a way of showing you what the touring experience is like. Putting all that aside for the moment, I have a question for you - would you like to come on tour with us?"
Alex paused, feeling the eyes of everyone on him. "Yes, yes I think I would. I've really enjoyed the time I've been able to spend with you guys so far. I don't know how much help I'd be, but yeah I'd like to go with you." He looked down. "Listen, I have some work to do. Why don't I go and let you guys discuss this privately? I don't want to put any pressure on anyone."
"Maybe that would be a good idea." Kevin said. "We'll catch up with you later."
Alex excused himself and left the room. After he was gone, Kevin cleared his throat and looked around the room at the other guys.
"Well, any comments?" Kevin said.
"I for one think that it's a good idea." Brian said. "It would be great having him along."
"I agree with Brian." Nick said. "Alex made a good point though. Once he comes out, he is really going to be under scrutiny. I don't have a problem with that, but it could mean more hassle for all of us."
"C'mon, guys, we can handle it." Howie said. "Maybe having him along will keep us from going nuts like we always seem to do."
Kevin nodded. "All good points. AJ, you haven't said a word about this - what do you think?"
AJ sat quietly for a moment, looking around the table. This was a very awkward moment. He didn't want to say the things that he was thinking. He knew that it could cause some pain. But, he also knew that he couldn't let this pass without saying something.
"I think that it's an interesting idea." AJ said slowly. "He's a great guy and it would be fun having him along. But, there's more to it than that, isn't there, Howie?"
Howie looked over at AJ, beginning to look worried. "AJ, I just think it would be cool to have him along..."
AJ held up a hand. "I'm sorry, D. You're my best friend and you know that I don't want to hurt you. But, the other guys have the right to know the truth, especially given what Alex told us about his own plans."
Howie looked at AJ and then around at the other guys in almost a panic.
"I can't talk about this - I just can't." Howie said. He then got up and left the room quickly.
AJ looked around at the other guys and sighed. "He's - interested in Alex." AJ said.
There was another long moment of silence.
"Howie's gay?" Nick said. "No way, you're kidding right?"
"I think he's actually bisexual, but yeah, I'm serious." AJ said. "That doesn't mean that I think having Alex along is a bad idea, but we all needed to know that there was an extra potential complication."
Kevin looked at his hands for a moment. "I've thought that maybe he might be, but I wasn't sure."
"AJ, why didn't he tell us?" Brian said. "How could he not know that we'd understand and be there for him after everything we've been through together?"
"I'm not sure. I guess he was just used to hiding it." AJ said hesitantly. "He didn't even tell me, I sort of found out."
"We need to show him that it's going to be ok." Nick said. "I should go to him."
"No, Nick, I should go to him." AJ said quickly. "I'm the closest to him. Besides, he'll be angry at me for telling and I want to work that out with him." Though he couldn't tell the others, AJ knew that Howie's long-standing secret attraction to Nick would only make things worse at this point. "I'll go to him, but I think we should give him some time to himself first - it might help him to sort things out."
"Alright, AJ" Kevin said. "You know him the best. Let us know if we can help."
"Yeah, he needs to know that we're all here for him." Brian said.
Alex spent several minutes catching up on current events from the corporation. Things seemed to be going pretty well. He had thought about making some preliminary arrangements in case the guys decided together to invite him along on the tour, but didn't want to get his hopes up. He knew that they liked him, but also that they had to look out for themselves as well. He'd be disappointed if they decided not to invite him, but it wouldn't change how he felt about them. He glanced up as he heard the bedroom door push open. It was Howie, looking very distressed.
"Howie, what is it?" Alex said. He stood and walked over to Howie. "Did they say no? Look, it's ok if they..."
Howie suddenly stepped forward and pulled Alex into a deep kiss. Alex's head spun as he felt Howie's tongue in his mouth and Howie's strong hands roaming freely over his body. When the kiss finally came to an end, Howie moved to kiss and nuzzle Alex's neck. Alex felt Howie's hands slipping beneath his shirt and loosening his belt.
"Oh boy." Alex said.