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.
Before this chapter starts, I'd like to take a moment to thank those of you who have taken the time to express their appreciation of the story to me. Your comments have been uniformly kind, and have made writing this much easier. I'd also like to thank my beta readers for their help and encouragement. Please feel free to send me any comments you may have.
Nick rolled over. Again. It was no use--these stupid bunks on this damn bus were just too small. They had been comfortable a few years ago, but now there was just no room for him to stretch out. He hated it when they had to sleep on the bus.
They'd been driving for a couple of hours now, and Nick was the only one still awake. He sighed, and got up. There was no way he was going to be able to sleep here. He pulled on some sweatpants, a t-shirt, and got up and went to the back of the bus. He flopped down on the couch, and just lay there for a few minutes.
Here it was the middle of the night, and he was alone. Again. He was exhausted from the show, and mad at the world. And he couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep. It just wasn't fair.
Nick had faced the facts a few years ago, and admitted to himself that he was gay. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't find any girls that he wanted to go out with, let alone snuggle up in bed with. He really had tried, but it just didn't work.
The problem with being gay was the rest of the world. He'd gone through this a thousand times in his head, and no matter how many times he went through it, there just wasn't any way out.
Obviously, being publicly gay would spell the instant end to his career. That part was simple. After all, the vast majority of his fans were young girls, with childish fantasies of someday becoming Mrs. Nick Carter. If they ever learned that he wasn't interested, they'd drop him for someone else. This was made very clear by their management--the only acceptable answer to the proverbial question "Do you have a girlfriend" was basically "No, I'm too busy, although I'd like one". It was all designed to feed the fantasy.
He was also pretty sure that his parents wouldn't understand--not that that really mattered much. He rarely saw them, and hadn't really been close to them in years. Writing off his parents and family wasn't a big deal. Well, except for Aaron--that would be hard. He was pretty sure he'd be able to keep in touch with Aaron, even if his parents forbade it. He was sure Aaron would want to continue to talk with him.
What worried Nick more than anything else was the reaction of the other guys. The guys were his real family, his real friends. Without them or their support, he'd be really alone.
He'd known Howie and AJ for a long time now, and their view of homosexuals wasn't pretty. They continually made jokes and referred to gays as 'queers', 'homos' or 'fairies'. They were polite to musicians who were 'out', but behind their backs...well, Nick didn't want his friends to say things like that about him. No, Nick was certain they wouldn't understand.
Kevin was a mystery. In many ways, he'd become the surrogate father that Nick had needed in the last few years. Kevin always watched out for them. Actually, he watched out for Nick even more than the other guys. Nick often disagreed with how Kevin wanted to do things, but that didn't mean that he didn't like Kevin. He actually really respected him. Brian said that their problem was that Kevin and Nick were just too alike. Nick really didn't know how Kevin would react--he rarely could predict Kevin's reactions. Nick had decided that the risk in talking to Kevin was just too great.
Brian was the hardest. Brian had been the friend that Nick had needed. He'd always been there to help as he grew up on the road. It was Brian who gave him strength when he needed it, and Brian who he could share things with. The problem was, Brian was also deeply religious. There was no doubt what the Southern Baptists thought about homosexuals. It had been hard to face, but Nick was certain that if it came down to a choice, he'd lose to Brian's church.
So, he'd kept who he really was hidden, putting on a show for everyone. He'd even managed to convince himself that he could be happy jerking off in the shower now and then, and pretending. Always pretending.
Then he'd met Matt. His carefully crafted world, the balance, the tightrope that was his life wasn't stable any longer. He had to face facts--beating off in the shower alone just wasn't enough anymore. Nick had lusted after Matt for years, watching him on TV, and dreaming of meeting him. Actually meeting Matt had blown all that away.
Matt was just not at all what he expected--he was much, much more. He was even more attractive physically in person than Nick had ever imagined. But more important than that: Matt was kind, gentle, funny and smart. He was more than Nick had ever dreamed of. They'd had less than a week to get to know each other, but Nick thought they'd really managed to make a real connection.
Nick had no way of knowing whether Matt felt the same way--he simply had no experience with such things. He could hope, but what if he was wrong? What would he do then?
If there was a solution, Nick couldn't see it. If he said something to Matt, came on to Matt, or told Matt how he felt--well, if Matt didn't respond, that would be horrible. He'd lose Matt, along with everything else. He'd be totally alone, cut off from Matt, his career, friends and family. How could he ever take that risk?
It seemed that the only smart thing to do, is to go on, playing the
game, never letting anyone inside. It was just so damn hard. And lonely.
It was so damn lonely.
"Morning honey. You slept late today."
Matt looked at his mom, as he entered the kitchen. "Yeah" he said with a sigh.
"Did you and Joey have a good time last night?"
Matt nodded. He got the box of cereal out of the cupboard, and filled a bowl. He found a big mug, and filled it with coffee.
"You're awfully quiet this morning. Is something wrong?" his mom asked.
Matt picked up the cereal, and his coffee. "No, I'm okay. I've just got a ton of schoolwork to do." He walked out of the kitchen, and returned to his room. He put the cereal down on his desk, and took a sip of coffee. Then he sat down in the chair, and looked at the books that were waiting for him.
Somehow, he just didn't want to do anything. He took a spoonful of
cereal, then pushed it away. He wasn't even hungry. Maybe playing one of
the CDs? No, that would be worse. Work--that was the solution. That would
keep him occupied, and his mind focused. He forced himself to pick up his
biology text, and start working.
"Dinner Matt" his mom called. Matt hadn't realized that it was so late. He looked at the soggy, disgusting mass in the cereal bowl as it sat there, untouched. He really wasn't hungry. And this looked totally disgusting. Well, at least he'd gotten some work done.
Matt sighed, and slowly stood up. He picked up the cereal bowl, and the empty coffee mug, and made his way to the kitchen. After emptying the bowl into the garbage disposal, he put it and the mug into the dishwasher. His mom watched him and said, "What's wrong Matt? Aren't you feeling well?"
Matt looked up. "I'm okay. I'm just not hungry."
"Then you really must be sick. You're always hungry." She felt Matt's forehead, and said, "You don't have a fever. Come on, and try to eat some dinner at least."
Matt allowed himself to be led into the dining room, and took his seat. Once he had a couple of bites of his dinner, he realized that he really was hungry. He mechanically ate the rest of what was on his plate, lost in his own thoughts. When he was finished, he got up and took his plate into the kitchen. Then he returned to his bedroom, and closed the door.
He wondered when he'd hear from Nick. It was too bad that Nick didn't have a cell phone he could call him on. He wondered what Nick was doing now. They were probably getting settled into some hotel now, after traveling most of the night.
Enough. Matt was surprised at how depressed he felt. Work was the
answer--he still had lots of homework left, and that seemed to make the
time pass. He returned to his desk, and resumed his work.
Matt always hated Mondays--he had classes all day long. That was the price he paid for working all day on Thursday and Friday. He had to squeeze a week's worth of classes into only two days, instead of a week like most people.
It had been one of those days when nothing ever seems to go right. Traffic this morning had been heavy enough that he was a bit late for his first class. He'd left the house this morning without the paper that was due today--fortunately, the professor said he'd allow Matt to fax it to him tonight. He discovered that another paper was due a week earlier than he'd thought. And the lectures seemed to be uniformly dry and boring today.
He'd even had a couple of girls ask for an autograph. That always annoyed him, because he had to put on a professional face, and be nice. They made it worse by delaying him enough that he was late for his next lecture. Late enough that he missed the unannounced quiz the professor had given the class.
Now, here he was, sitting on the highway, getting nowhere. It was raining, and somebody had done something stupid. Someone could always be counted upon to do something stupid. The result was that the highway was totally blocked. It was just what he didn't need today.
He inched along the highway, and finally came to an exit. He had only a vague idea where the exit went, but it had to be better than here. He left the highway, and proceeded to wind his way through back streets until he finally made it home. Five minutes after the deadline for faxing his paper.
He parked the car, and ran into the house. Of course, the rain had decided that it was the right time to pour, so he got completely soaked. He went directly into his room and started to fax the paper. He could only hope that the professor would understand. He stood there shivering, watching the fax machine intently, to make sure it didn't eat his paper. Somehow, after everything else that happened today, he wasn't prepared to trust this machine.
"Matt? Why are you standing there, dripping all over?" Right on cue, his Mom had arrived to see what was going on. Matt just wasn't in the mood to talk with her right now. Definitely, he was not in the mood for this.
Matt sighed. "It's been a bad day. If you'll leave me alone, I'll get changed and clean up this mess."
"Well, you don't have to take it out on me." She paused. Matt ignored her. "You've had a number of phone calls today. Joey wants you to call. You've had three calls from the studio--apparently they want you to go in tomorrow for some interviews. You've had calls from three different magazines, wanting to arrange interviews. And 'Entertainment Tonight' wants an interview."
Matt sighed. "That's all I need."
"The messages are all on your desk. Your dinner is in the fridge."
"You're welcome dear." She left, closing the door behind her.
This was all Nick's fault. It was Nick that dragged him onstage. It was Nick that brought him to the attention of the fans.
Somehow, as much as he hated this sudden attention, it was hard to be angry with Nick. Despite everything else today.
The fax machine had finished, and hadn't even tried to eat a page. Matt stripped out of his wet clothes, then cleaned up the water all over the floor. The wet clothes went into a pile for the moment--he'd put them into the wash in a few minutes. Right now, he needed a warm shower.
He walked into the bathroom, and stood there shivering as he waited for the water to get warm. He adjusted the temperature, so it was as hot as he could stand it, and then he entered the water. He stood there for a minute until he had warmed up a bit, then turned the temperature down a bit. He felt the tension slowly drain away under the warm spray of water.
When he felt almost human again, he turned the water off. He dried off, and found some clean clothes to wear. The prospect of dinner just wasn't appealing at the moment. He knew his mom would be there, wanting to know what happened today. He'd phone Joey. That would be much better than contending with the inevitable questions.
He went over to the desk, and sat down. Picking up the phone, he dialed Joey's number and waited while it rang.
"Hello" Joey said.
"Matt? You sound like you've had a bad day. Did you get caught in that mess on the highway?"
"Yeah. That was just the last thing to go wrong today. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to get out of bed in the morning."
"I know how you feel. Hey, maybe this will cheer you up. Are you doing anything tomorrow night?"
"No. There are a bunch of requests for interviews, but I think I'm going to ignore them."
Joey laughed. "That's the spirit. Make them beg!"
Matt giggled. "Well, not exactly. I just don't have the time right now."
"Well, would you like to come over for dinner tomorrow night? Nothing fancy--just the two of us. I thought I could throw on a couple of steaks, and we'd just hang out for the evening."
"That would be wonderful" Matt said.
"Great. Give me a call tomorrow when you're on your way, and I'll start the steaks."
"Thanks bro. I'll call you tomorrow."
"Okay. I'll see you then."
Matt hung up the phone. Well, that was the first good thing that had happened today. He wondered what had prompted this--it had been a very long time since the last time he'd spent an evening alone with Joey.
He got up, gathered the wet clothes, and left his room. He went into the laundry room, and started a wash. From there, he went into the kitchen. He really wasn't surprised to find that his mom had heated up his dinner, and set a place at the counter for him to eat. He was surprised however, that she wasn't there, full of questions. Maybe she'd gotten the hint earlier.
When Matt had finished the reheated meal, he cleaned up and returned to his room. He looked over the messages. Sure enough, there were three teen magazines wanting interviews. Well, those he'd ignore tonight. 'Entertainment Tonight' was big league--maybe he should do that one. Well, he couldn't call them at this hour.
The three messages from the studio were all from Trish in the producer's office. Nobody would be there at this hour. The last message said that a reporter would be at the studio at noon tomorrow to talk with him. They knew he had classes on Tuesdays! There was no way he could make an interview tomorrow. Well, he'd better remind them. He called the number, and got the expected voice mail system. He left a message telling Trish that he would not be available at noon tomorrow. If they wanted an interview, they'd have to wait until he came in on Wednesday afternoon.
Well, that was that. He'd had it--he was going to bed. Maybe tomorrow
would be better. He got undressed for bed, and then he put on the 'A Night
with the Backstreet Boys' video. He sat in bed, and watched the video
again. Watching the show, listening to the music, and watching the guys
had the desired effect. He felt himself growing calmer. When the video
ended, he turned it off, rolled over and went to sleep.
Tuesday was indeed a better day for Matt. He hadn't had any trouble at college today--no fans, and no missed assignments. He'd been able to get through the lectures without too much trouble. He'd even managed to find time to return the calls from yesterday. He'd turned down all of the requests for interviews, including ET. They'd wanted a full on-camera interview, and he just didn't want to be bothered. It wasn't like he wanted any additional publicity.
It was days like yesterday that he was glad he'd never given the number to his cell phone out to anyone. Remembering his phone, he took it out and checked to make sure it was on, and that the ringer was on. He'd done that a few times today, but he just couldn't help himself. He didn't want to miss it if Nick called. Once again, he wished he had a number for Nick.
On his way out to the car, he called Joey and told him that he was just leaving school. Matt had been looking forward to dinner with Joey all day long.
Traffic wasn't too bad tonight--or maybe it was just his better mood. Regardless, he arrived at Joey's apartment right on time. Joey opened the door almost as soon as Matt knocked.
"Hi bro. Come on in."
"Hi Joey" Matt said. He entered the apartment, and closed the door. "Boy, that smells good."
"Thanks. Everything is ready. Grab a plate, and we'll eat while we watch TV."
"Why? Is something special on?"
"Yeah, I'm going to be on ET tonight." Joey looked really pleased. Matt felt guilty--here he was avoiding the press, while Joey needed more exposure for his music.
They settled on the couch, and ate while waiting for the segment to come on. They were surprised to see a promo appear for Boy Meet's World. Apparently the cameras had recorded Nick's encounter with the fans. They actually had a close up on Nick's face when that fan had recognized him. The fan's screams were plainly audible, chanting "Nick Nick Nick", even over Matt's uncontrollable laughter. Then a voice over was heard "Only three weeks until Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys appears with Mathew Lawrence on Boy Meets World. Don't miss it!"
Joey laughed. "Look at you--the big star now!" Joey teased. "When did you start getting top billing?"
Matt was laughing, remembering Nick's face. "They're obviously just trying to pull in a bigger share, and capitalize on Nick's appearance."
Just then, ET started up again. The screen showed a shot of the Backstreet Boys. To introduce the interview, the reporter talked about the Backstreet Boys concert on Saturday night. Then came the interview with Joey, which was pretty short. It was the standard stuff--they asked Joey what he was doing now, how he'd gotten together with the Backstreet Boys, and they even played a bit of Joey's video. It would certainly help CD sales.
When Joey's interview finished, the reporter came back on, and said, "The other surprise at the Backstreet Boys concert on Saturday, was the appearance of Mathew Lawrence." The screen showed a still from Boy Meets World. "Mathew sang a duet with Nick Carter. From all accounts, the performance was amazing. We've been trying to talk with Mathew, but have been unable to catch him. We'll update this story when we can."
Joey laughed, and turned the TV off. "They're going to hound you now!"
Matt sighed. "I wish they'd all just leave me alone. You should have seen all of the interview requests I got yesterday! There were three magazines, ET and a bunch of messages from the studio. I really don't want this."
Joey looked at Matt for a minute, and then he got up and went over to the stereo. "Here, listen to this." Joey started a tape playing. It started off with a crowd cheering loudly, and then the music started. Matt recognized the opening music to 'Heaven in your Eyes'.
"Where did you get this?" Matt asked.
On the tape, Nick started to sing. Joey motioned to Matt to listen.
Joey turned the tape off again when the crowd started cheering at the end of the song. Matt just sat there. Finally, he looked up at Joey and said, "That was amazing." Joey nodded. "I've never heard anything like that."
Joey said, "Neither have I. Your voice seems somehow to blend perfectly with Nick's." Joey paused, then said, "If you and Nick recorded that song, it'd blow everything else off the charts."
Joey wasn't prepared for the look of panic on Matt's face.
"That was the single most terrifying moment in my entire life" Matt said. "I don't ever want to get anywhere close to a stage like that again."
"Really? I'm surprised--it's not that different than lots of other jobs you've had."
"It is completely different." There was no trace of humor in Matt's voice. He was deadly serious. "There's no second take if you mess up. On the show, there's always someone else on stage with you. I really like doing movies the best, because there's no audience and you can always do it again. The audience makes me nervous on Boy Meets World, and there are only 200 of them! Standing in front of thousands of screaming fans, without any safety net is not something I ever want to do again."
"I'm sorry. I didn't realize. If I had, I'd have stopped Nick at the concert. Did you tell Nick how you feel? He seems like he'd drag you onstage again if he could."
"Yeah, I told him and Brian after the show. I hope he understood."
"Somehow Matt, I don't think you have to worry about that. I'd be really surprised if Nick tried to hurt you. It's just not his style."
"Which reminds me. Kevin says that Nick is being a huge grouch at the moment." Joey laughed. "Maybe you should talk to him and see what's wrong."
"I can't--I don't have a number for him" Matt said. "When did you talk with Kevin?"
"Oh, he called tonight just before you did. He was checking to see if that tape had arrived yet."
"So, that's where you got it."
"Yeah. Kevin asked one of the technicians to record my performance. He recorded your song too, so Kevin sent them both to me."
"Do you know where they are now?"
"Sorry. All I know is that they were somewhere on the road when Kevin called." Joey saw the look of disappointment on Matt's face, and said, "Don't worry--I'm sure Nick will call soon."
"I hope so. It's weird not having him to talk to."
Joey nodded. After a moment, he said "In some ways, Nick is the reason I invited you for dinner tonight."
Matt looked up. "Huh? I don't understand."
"Well, when we had dinner at Mom and Dad's, I had a few minutes to talk with Nick while you went and made coffee." Matt nodded, remembering. "Nick said that you told him that I was the closest friend you had. I was sort of surprised, but when I thought about it, I can understand why you'd say that. You've never had any real opportunity to have a friend. You've been working steadily since you were so small. Anyway, that got me thinking. Then I remembered what you said at dinner."
Matt said "What? I didn't say anything much at dinner."
"You told Nick that he should call Aaron. I think you told him that Aaron needed him."
"Oh." The pieces were all there. Matt put them together. "Look Joey, I didn't mean..."
"It's okay Matt. I thought about it, and you were right. I've been tied up in myself, and didn't think about you. I should have. I've always envied your relationship with Andy. Now, I think I understand why you pay so much attention to him."
Matt didn't quite know what to say. Joey was right--he did make an effort with Andy, because he knew all too well how he felt when Joey ignored him.
"I guess, well..." Joey stopped and took a deep breath. "I guess I'd like to get to know you better. And Andy. Maybe next time we can all get together."
"That sounds like a great idea Joey. I'm sure Andy will be ecstatic."
After a few awkward minutes of silence, they started to talk. Small
talk, about inconsequential things. Nothing terribly important. But it was
Brian was fed up. They'd been in this stupid bus for three days straight. They'd left LA after the concert on Sunday night. They'd arrived somewhere about an hour before they had to perform. Then it was back into the bus to sleep again. Again, they drove most of the day only to arrive for another concert. It was the same thing today--a third night in the bus, and another concert tonight. If they got there in time. From the looks of things, they were going to be late.
At one time, this type of schedule had been pretty routine. It was fairly rare for them to do this type of traveling for any extended time anymore, but early in their career they'd spent a lot of time on the bus. Of course, that had been in Europe where there was always some sort of town wherever you stopped. Or Canada, where they had often driven long distances between stops.
It hadn't ever really bothered him before. Then again, the bus had never been too small for Nick before. Honestly, he wasn't sure if the bus was at fault. Somehow, anyplace would have been too small to be cooped up with Nick at the moment.
Ever since they'd left LA, Nick had been withdrawn. Any attempt to engage him in a conversation, no matter how trivial, was met with smart remarks or silence. He refused to practice, or do anything resembling work. He also refused to play Nintendo, eat with anyone, or even sit in the same room as anyone.
Everyone's nerves were worn thin. Of course, he fell to him to find and fix the problem. No, that wasn't fair--Kevin would try if Brian asked. Brian knew better than that. If Kevin and Nick got together at the moment, only one would walk out alive. Those two were trouble at the best of times. Normally, they could work things through. Now, he doubted that Nick would give an inch, which just wouldn't work with Kevin.
All Brian knew was that if things didn't get better quickly, Nick was going to get tossed out the window. And the way he felt right now, he'd probably help.
Gathering up his courage, Brian got up and walked back to the kitchen area at the back of the bus. He knew that this was where Nick had to be, since he was refusing to use his bunk, and everyone else was up front. Sure enough, there was Nick, sitting in a chair, staring at the wall.
What would work best? After a moment's thought, he decided he'd try a non-confrontational approach. If he confronted Nick they would probably fight. That wasn't going to help.
"Nick?" he said quietly. "What's wrong? Can't you talk to me about it?"
Nick looked up. There was anger in his face. Brian could see him trying to control it. In all the years they'd known each other, Nick had never tried to hurt him. Today, Brian wasn't sure that wasn't going to change. Nick looked down. Brian followed his gaze--his fists were clenched so hard his knuckles were white.
Okay, there was only one other option. Someone else.
"Okay, I can see you don't want to talk with me about it. Is there someone else? Can I get AJ, or Howie?" No response. "Kevin?"
Maybe... "Have you talked to Matt?" To his surprise, Nick shook his head. This was the first answer he'd gotten.
Why hadn't he called Matt? From the amount of time Nick and Matt had spent together, he'd have thought Nick would have at called him at least once by now.
"Here, take my phone. Call him. Maybe he can help, if we can't."
Brian held out his phone. After a long moment, Nick took it.
"I'll leave you alone. We've got about an hour before we arrive. You've got time."
Brian stood up and started to leave. As he got to the door, he turned
and said, "If you need me, I'll be here." Brian left, and closed
the door. He started towards the front of the bus. He sure hoped that Matt
could fix this.
Nick stared at the phone in his hands. Did he dare? There was nothing on earth that he wanted to do more than talk to Matt. However, he knew his emotional control was shot right now. He'd spent all of his time since he'd gotten on this stupid bus thinking. Just thinking. And tying himself up in emotional knots.
Could he call Matt, and maintain his control? Could he keep the longing out of his voice?
Nick struggled with himself. He reviewed once again the reasons why he had to maintain the game. Again, he didn't find any new solutions. Then he thought through what had just happened with Brian. To his surprise, he had found he was ready to strike out at Brian--the one person who'd always been there for him. He just wanted the rest of the world feel the same pain he did.
This wasn't getting him anywhere. If he continued like this, he'd lose his temper the next time someone came through that door. He had to find another solution.
Maybe if he talked with Matt. It didn't have to be anything serious--just talking would be enough. It had to be. He could maintain his composure. He had to. There was no choice. Cutting himself off from Matt's friendship was killing him. He could talk with him. Just talk.
Okay, here goes. Concentrate. Deep breath. Now dial.
"Nick? Is that you?"
Oh. He'd missed that voice. How he'd missed that voice. "Hi Matt. Yeah, it's me." Did Matt really sound happy to hear from him? Did he dare hope?
"I want a phone number. Now."
"You heard me. I'm sick and tired of waiting for you to call. You never gave me a phone number. And you're obviously too dumb to call by yourself."
"Oh." Matt wanted to talk to him! Oh, my god--Matt wanted to talk to him!
"Nick? You still there?"
"Sorry. You just caught me off guard. Sorry, I forgot that you couldn't reach me."
"No excuses, just give me the number."
"Well, I don't have my own phone. There just didn't seem to be a reason. Maybe Brian won't mind--I'm using his phone now. Here, let me give you Brian's number."
"Okay, I guess that's a start."
"I'll go and get my own phone. As soon as I can make them stop this damn bus."
Matt laughed. "So, the bus is getting to you?" That was all
that was needed. The next thing Nick knew, the bus was stopping, and Brian
was carefully (very carefully) knocking on the door. Maybe he'd let Brian
live this time.
Matt hung up the phone. Finally! That stupid jerk had finally called. Well, at least he had a number now.
Nick had sounded really down when he called, but he sounded almost cheerful when he hung up. Clearly, Nick needed to talk with him too.
Wait a minute. Nick needed him. Wow.
Matt thought about that for a minute. He lost his train of thought as he heard his name called. He looked up, and saw Will looking at him.
"Off in dreamland?" Will asked.
"Sorry. I didn't hear you come in." Matt was in one of the trailers on the set. He'd spent most of the afternoon doing interviews--at the producer's insistence. It seemed they'd decided to cash in on Matt's sudden popularity. Fortunately, the last reporter has left just before Nick called.
"I just wanted to see whether you wanted to go out tonight. I think Danielle, Rider and maybe Ben are coming."
This wasn't the first time Will had tried to get Matt to go out with them. Clubbing just wasn't Matt's idea of fun. "Not really. Thanks for asking." Matt said.
"Okay, it's your loss" Will said. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Maybe it was as easy as Nick said it was. Just as Will was leaving, Matt said, "Hang on a minute Will." Gathering his courage, Matt looked at Will. "Going to a club doesn't really appeal to me. Can I buy you dinner instead?"
Will smiled. "Sure, that would be great. I'll go and tell them that I'll meet up with them later."
So, Nick was right. It really wasn't too hard to make the first move. Maybe he could become friends with Will too. This business of keeping to himself was getting too hard.
Dinner wasn't anything special. Matt wasn't really surprised to discover that he didn't hit it off with Will the way he had with Nick. But, even though it was different, it was nice. They had lots of things in common, and the shared experiences on the show made conversation easy.
When he was driving home, Matt considered the changes he'd been through
in the last week. He'd gone from having a big brother as his best friend
(sort of anyway), to having three people he could honestly call a friend.
Each was different. Will was funny. Joey was awkward, but somehow he
didn't think that would last. Nick was comfortable. It felt good.
Things settled down after the lines of communication were reopened. Nick got his own phone, and guarded the number jealously. He even had the bill sent to him directly, so that the business office had no idea that he even had a phone. They were the worst--if they found out the number, you might just as well post it on the internet.
Matt and Nick adopted a new routine, and they talked every day. It was never discussed, it just happened. Every night, after a concert, or just before bed, one of them called the other. They often talked about nothing more important than how the day had gone, but they never skipped a night. Sometimes, Nick woke Matt up after a concert, but Matt was just as often just lying in bed, waiting for the concert to end. This changed when the tour took Nick to the east coast, with Nick staying up late waiting for Matt to get home from the studio or school.
Matt found himself planning that night's phone call during the day. Whenever something happened during the day, he made a mental note to tell Nick about it. He'd had dinner with Will again, and had enjoyed himself. Matt and Andy had gone over to Joey's twice. Once for dinner, and once just because it was Saturday. It was fun. And he'd talked with Joey on the phone a couple of times each week. That was good too. He hadn't ever felt this close to Joey. The awkwardness that had been there that first night had disappeared. It was also cool that Joey was keeping in touch with Kevin. There was even talk about Joey joining the guys on tour as an opening act. That would be great for Joey.
The only thing that worried Matt was that dream. It just kept coming back. No amount of concentrating on his work seemed to help. At least once a week, that dream returned. The dream was always the same, always ending the same way.
The daily contact with Matt was what Nick craved. Brian joked with him that all he talked about was Matt anymore. That had worried Nick at first--was his control slipping? However, nothing came of it, so he decided that Brian was just being Brian. He was more careful with the other guys, but things were going well. He was actually surprised, but just knowing he could talk with Matt about most things was enough. Nick knew he'd fallen totally for Matt, but that was just a dream. Having Matt as a friend was enough. Really.
Nick worried a bit about how Brian felt. Brian must have figured out that Matt had taken his place as his best friend. They'd never talked about it, but he knew that Brian knew. Still, Matt wasn't here with him, and Brian was. He liked hanging out with Brian. Nick thought he probably would have been a bit jealous if he'd been in Brian's position. Brian didn't seem bothered though, which was nice.
It had been about three weeks since they'd left LA. They were in Montreal now, having just finished the third of three concerts. Tomorrow, they were on their way to Toronto. Nick got to the hotel after the concert, exhausted as usual. It was late, but he knew that Matt would still be at the studio. It was too early to call. A three-hour time difference was such a hassle.
Nick watched TV while waiting for Brian to have a shower and get ready for bed. When the bathroom was free, he went in and had a shower himself. When he got back into the room, he found Brian already asleep with the lights on. Brian was just too nice sometimes. Nick made sure he had his phone, then slipped into his bed and turned out the light. He'd just relax here for a few minutes until Matt called.
He woke when he heard the cell phone ring. It only took him a moment to answer it. "Hi Matt."
"Hey Nick. Did I wake you?"
"Yeah, but it's okay. Hang on, let me go into the bathroom, so I don't wake up Brian." When Nick had gotten into the bathroom, he closed the door and turned on the light. He blinked a few times from the sudden bright light, then sat down on the edge of the bathtub. "So, what's new?"
The next thing Nick knew, Matt said, "I think I better let you get to sleep. You sound beat."
"But, you just called."
"Yeah, I just called half an hour ago."
"Oh. Has it been that long?"
"Yeah. Go back to bed. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
"Okay. Good night Matt. I love you."
Nick was suddenly wide-awake. Had he actually said that? On no! Nick panicked. He hung up the phone, without waiting for, or hearing any response. What had he done?