This story contains FICTION of a male-male nature. Do not read this if you are:

  1. too young, or
  2. too narrow-minded, or
  3. living in a city/state/country where it is illegal.

Again, this is FICTION. While I have bumped into the BSB here and there in Orlando, I do not make any claims about any of their sexualities.

NOTE: If you have not read 'Forever', I suggest you do so before reading this story.

Equilibrium: Beyond Forever

by: DJ

Chapter 22

I stood there, staring at him, unable to even come up with any words to say. My mind was in a complete and total daze. I was, literally, stunned speechless.

Every nerve, every muscle, every cell in my body was crying out to me to go to him. I could feel the attraction pulling me, as though he were a magnet. I even found myself taking a step, moving to be closer. The power he'd always held over me hadn't diminished with my long absence. If anything, it had grown stronger.

He was as beautiful as ever. His hair was shorter than when I'd last seen it, although it wasn't the spiked look he'd sported when we'd first met. He was clean-shaven for the first time I could remember since we'd met. But, his eyes...

His eyes were a void. There was nothing in them. They were just...empty, completely lacking any feeling that I could see. The heart that I'd been trying to re-open the last few days simply shattered upon seeing those emerald pools reflecting only the cold of the night around us.

I don't know how long we stared at one another. It may have been seconds. It may have been hours. Time seemed to stretch, then slow, then finally just stop as we each studied the other's faces.

There were so many things I wanted to say, so many things I wanted to hear. I had no idea where to begin, which was probably all right as I also had no courage to begin, either. I knew that some of his answers were likely to extinguish the last ray of hope I held that things could work out for us.

Nick cleared his throat next to me, breaking the spell that held Kevin and I. I took a breath, only then realizing that I'd been holding it in. I stared at Kevin a few more seconds before turning to Nick.

"Did you want me to leave you two alone?" he wondered softly, looking over at Kevin, then back to me.

"No," Kev spoke up before I could say anything. His voice was surprisingly calm, a reflection of the emptiness I'd seen in his eyes. I turned to look at him as he continued. "I don't really have anything to say." Then, he turned and stepped back inside, leaving me once again alone with Nick.

"Well," Nick broke the silence again, "that wasn't too bad." I turned back to face the yard, hiding the tears that were starting to slide down my cheeks.

"Speak for yourself," I whispered, choking on the words.

A second later, a strong pair of arms wrapped around me from behind. I immediately turned, putting my arms around him, sinking into the hug before I broke down into sobs. Nick stood there, holding me while I cried.

"Oh, Nicky," I whispered when I finally caught my breath. "What have I done?"

He didn't say anything, just stood there, holding me. I continued to clutch at him, as though he'd suddenly turned into my lifeline. It was only through Nick that I managed to maintain a grip on myself.

"Is there...did Kevin ever find someone else?" Suddenly, I had to know.

"No one like you, Dylan," he replied. I eased away, looking into his eyes.

"But, he did find someone, didn't he," I said it as a statement, not a question, because I knew it to be true. Nick stared a few minutes, then nodded.

"Is it serious?" I wondered.

"Honestly?" I nodded at his question. "I don't think so, at least not for Kevin. I think...I think he's just going through the motions."

"What makes you say that?"

"Because, he's so...so distant, so NOT Kevin," he said, then paused before continuing.

"When he was with you, he was so happy. I mean, when he'd see you walk in the room, his whole personality would just light up. You didn't necessarily see it on his face, but you could see it in his eyes. That look he had when he saw you, or even just thought of you."

I blushed, feeling strangely torn between joy and guilt. Joy that I'd inspired those feelings in Kevin, and guilt that I'd destroyed it by turning my back. Nick must've sensed my feelings because he squeezed my arm slightly.

"He's different with Maya," he continued.

"Wait," I told him. "Maya?" I confirmed the name he'd said with a glance. "Kevin's with a woman?" Nick nodded.

"Actually, I think you know her. She was part of one of the last groups he helped to get signed," he informed me.

"Kismet," I whispered, remembering the name of the girl group that Kevin and Howie had worked with shortly before everything went to hell. Nick nodded again, agreeing with me silently.

"They hooked up a few months ago, just before my tour started."

"I see," I whispered, unsure what to say next.

"They don't see each other much, though," he continued.

"Things worked out for the girls, then?" I speculated. "I'm afraid I've avoided anything, TV or radio, that could've reminded me of you. Part of my brilliant scheme to repress my entire life's worth of memories." I couldn't keep the bitterness at my stupidity from my voice. Nick didn't say anything, just continued with the information he'd been sharing.

"Yeah, Kismet did pretty well, although most of their success was in Europe, not as much here in the U.S. So, they spend a good chunk of time on the road over there, and Kevin spends his on tour with me. Really limits what time they can spend together."

"Kev's on tour with you?" I wondered. He nodded in reply. "When did that happen?"

"About a year ago," he told me. "My keyboard player quit last November. Kevin was," he hesitated, looking me in the eye once more. "Kevin was having a lot of problems. I thought it would do him some good to get back to music again. It took some convincing, but he eventually agreed."

"You sicked his family on him, didn't you?" I guessed.

"I had to," he confirmed with a small smile. "You know how stubborn Kevin can be. The only person outside his immediate family he ever listened to was...well, was you."

"Oh." Another brilliant response on my part.

"That was why I had Tom track you down, you know. Kevin was hitting bottom, and we had to find some way to bring him out of it."

"But, you never contacted me. How did...I mean, if you tracked me down because of him, why didn't you ever contact me?" He sighed, looking away.

"A lot of reasons, Dylan," he replied softly. "Not the least of which was that you were little better off than Kevin was. After Tom filled me in on your life, I knew you wouldn't be able to help." He turned to look at me again. "You were barely holding yourself together. I didn't really think you could've held Kevin together, too."

"No," I admitted. "You're probably right. I wasn't ready to come back, then. It probably would've made things worse, added to my twisted sense of guilt, pushed me even further away."

"Exactly," he agreed. "So, Ann, Jerald, Tim, Brian, and I got together and talked to him. It took a while, but we eventually got him talked into collaborating with me on my new album."

"And, now he's touring with you in support of that," I concluded for him. Nick just nodded. "How's he dealing with the fame again?"

"He's okay," he said. "You know Kev, always the perfectionist, always the professional. He takes a backseat when he can, though. Claims he's just a part of the band, now, and that the spotlight should stay on me. Personally, I think he's just avoiding anything that would remind him of you."

"What do you mean?" I asked, confused how touring with Nick would remind him of me.

"Dylan," he spoke in a voice that told me I was being dense, "you two were together for five years. You were the reason he came out, remember?" I nodded, vaguely understanding where he was going.

"When you disappeared, there were a lot of questions by the press. We never really said anything, just brushed it off as much as we could, both for you and for Kevin. But, that didn't preclude people asking questions. They still try, once in a while, to get him to say what happened between you. He never gives in, though. If worse comes to worse, he just walks out of the interview. But," and here he paused, staring at me, making a point with his eyes, "he NEVER tells what happened."

We fell into silence, then. I was trying to absorb what Nick had told me, trying to understand it objectively without reading too much into Kevin's silence about us.

Was he protecting me, even now, after so long? Did it mean he still cared about me? Perhaps even still loved me?

Or was he just protecting himself? Doing, as Nick had said, anything to avoid reminding himself of me?

It suddenly occurred to me that I was very cold. My sweatshirt was warm, but not warm enough to overcome the frigid temperatures of the evening. But, I didn't want to go inside just yet. I wasn't ready.

"Nick," I broke the silence. "Why is Kevin here? In Kalispell, I mean."

"I'm not sure," he said, his tone emphasizing his confusion. "He's kept in touch with your mom a little bit since you left, although I don't think he's talked to her for a while. With the tour suspended, I would've thought he'd go see Maya." He glanced at me when he said this, but I managed not to flinch at that statement.

"Where was he last night?" Iwondered.

"A hotel," he told me. "He wasn't too comfortable staying here."

"More reminders," I statedsoftly.

"Yes and no," he replied. "It's not just the reminders. Your mom's been pretty vocal with him thetimes they've talked about you."


"Yeah, talking you up to him,telling him not to lose faith, that you'd come back when you were able." He paused here before saying more. "She always knew. It got so I'd just agree with her to make her feel better,"another pause, and a look into my eyes, "but I didn't really believe it, not anymore. I lost faith in you."

"But she never did," I said softly. He shook his head.

"No, she never did," he agreed. "She always knew."

"She always did know me better than I knew myself." I tried to smile, but somehow, it just wouldn't come out. Too much negative energy in the air.

"Better than the rest of us knew you, too," he said, only a trace of bitterness in his tone.

"Nick," I told him as I reached over to squeeze his arm, "I don't even know myself as well as she does, and I have a man on the inside." I tried to smile again, this time succeeding with a small grin. He smiled back, rewarding my effort.

"So," he continued, "Kevin stayed at a hotel to avoid upsetting her. And...and himself."

"I understand," I said. And I did understand. It had to be difficult to be in a place like this. A reminder of the man who left you, who ruined your life.

"I still love him, you know," I said suddenly.

"I know," Nick replied with a small smile. I had to smile, as well, at his tone.

"Yeah, subtlety was never a strong suit for me where Kevin was concerned, was it?" I paused, taking a deep breath. "But, I'll try to tone it down, try to make him more comfortable, especially if Maya will be around for..." I let my voice fade away.

"I don't think she will," Dylan mentioned softly. "They're supposed to be doing a bunch of appearances around France the next few weeks." He stopped, looking up to meet my eyes with a slightly guilty look. "I checked to make sure."

"What'm I gonna do, Nicky?" I whispered the question, looking away to once again stare out over the yard.

"I'm not sure, Dylan," he replied honestly. "I think...I think you should try to get him back."

"Really?" I asked. I was frankly shocked that he would say that, that he would want to see Kevin back with me after what I'd done.

"Dylan, he loves you, even if he won't show it now. And," he smiled here, "it's pretty obvious you're still in love with him."

"But, after everything that's happened, everything I did," my voice faded.

"I know," he said, "and I'm not sayin' it's gonna be easy, or that it's even possible for you two to rebuild anything now. But, I just think it's worth a shot is all. What's the worst that can happen? You can both end up alone and miserable. Doesn't sound all that different, does it?"

I had to admit, he was right. And I wanted Kevin back so very badly. I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I resolved then and there to at least take the chance. After all, as Nick pointed out, I had nothing to lose. And Kevin to gain.

Chapter 23

We walked back inside a few minutes later. The cold finally managed to convince me it was time. I could barely feel my hands, not to mention my ears. Winter in Montana was not really a time for deep, meaningful discussion outdoors.

Kris was in the kitchen when we entered. It looked like she'd been crying, but she made a point of continuing to scrub the counter. Neither Nick nor I made a comment about it, just said a brief hello before continuing past into the living room.

I was surprised to see Kevin there, dozing on the couch. After our brief encounter outside, I'd really expected him to leave. Especially in light of what Nick had told me about the contact he'd had with Mom lately.

I stood just inside the entry to the living room, staring at his sleeping form. Just to see him there, relaxed, comfortable, made my heart constrict. I was happy to see him that way, even if it was only an illusion granted by him being asleep.

I could feel Nick behind me. He was standing to my left as I slowly leaned over to rest my right shoulder against the wall. I didn't bother to look at him. Somehow, I knew he would understand.

"Ya know," I spoke very softly, not wanting to disturb Kevin. "During your farewell tour, when I couldn't sleep, I used to sit up nights and justwatch HIM sleep."

"He was so beautiful to me. I would literally spend hours, counting every breath, every shift, every little twitch that told me he was alive. That told me he was really there, in that bed...with me."

I paused. Nick didn't say anything, although I could still tell he was there by his breathing. I continued to look at Kevin, unable and unwilling to tear my gaze away.

"Those are some of the best memories I have in my entire life. Just laying there, watching my husband sleep, and knowing that, when he woke up, I'd be the first thing he saw. And that his seeing me would make him as happy as I was to be there."

"Those nights were some of the few times I can remember praying strictly to give thanks. Those nights, I never asked God for anything. I only thanked him, over and over, for putting that bus on that rainy road behind my car that day."

Kevin shifted. I fell silent, not wanting to wake him. I knew that he was probably tired. Having me suddenly reappear in his life had to be hard on him, even if he didn't want to admit it. A few seconds later, he settled again.

"How did I ever live without that?" I wondered, more to myself than anyone else, although the words were spoken aloud.

"How did I go to bed at night and not immediately turn to find him?" I felt Nick's hand move to my shoulder and give a gentle squeeze. I didn't shift my gaze from Kevin.

"I should never have come back," I said, so softly now that I wasn't even sure Nick would hear. By the sudden squeeze he placed on my shoulder, I guessed that he had, indeed, heard me. I said only one thing to explain.

"At least, then, I wouldn't have known what I was missing. Now," I paused, finally turning to look into Nick's blue eyes. "Now, I know exactly what I've lost. And, I'll never be able to have it again. This one just might be the end of me, Nicky."

I turned and moved out of the room, then. I walked down the hall, intending on checking on Mom. Just as I passed by the steps, I heard a knock at the door. I detoured downstairs to the entryway and opened the door.

"Dylan?" a rather shocked Lindsay greeted me from the front porch. I held a finger to my lips, indicating we should talk quietly. She gave me a confused look, but she nodded.

"Hi, Lindsay," I said, giving a small smile.

"You came," she said as she stepped in the house and pulled me into a hug.

"Yeah," I agreed. "I did. Thanks to you and Nick."

"Are you back for good?" she wondered. I hesitated before answering.

"I'm not really sure. Dylan's back, but I don't know what exactly that means just yet."

"It means," Nick's voice floated to us as he stepped down the stairs, "that I've...we've got a friend back. And, for right now, that's enough." I gave him a grateful smile.

"How long have you been here?" Lindsay wondered as she stripped out of her winter gear of boots, gloves, and heavy jacket.

"Just since last night," I answered. "I flew in yesterday."

"That would explain why no one was in your office yesterday," she replied.

"You went to my office?" I asked, surprised that she'd made the effort after how I'd treated her.

"Did you really think I wouldn't?" she wondered, giving me a knowing look.

"Actually, yes," I admitted. "I didn't think I deserved it, or was worth the trouble."

"You should've known better," she stated, shaking me a little.

"Perhaps," was all I said.

Nick moved in and gave Lindsay a hug. Kris took Lindsay's coat and other winter paraphernalia and hung them up. Then, we all moved upstairs.

"I'm gonna check on Mom," I said, still speaking softly to avoid waking Kevin in the living room.

I turned and made my way down the hall without waiting for an acknowledgement. I could hear someone following me, but I didn't turn to look. I assumed it was probably Lindsay, wanting to check on Mom.

I eased the door open as quietly as possible, not wanting to disturb her if she was sleeping. I stepped through once the door was open and walked over to the bed.

She was sleeping. She appeared to be resting comfortably, her chest rising and falling slightly with each breath. It occurred to me, suddenly, that she wouldn't be doing that much longer. Somehow, that thought didn't bother me as much as I would've expected.

"She seems peaceful," Lindsay said from just behind me.

"Yeah, she does," I replied.

"It's because of you, you know," she said, placing a hand on my arm.

"What's because of me?" I wondered, unsure what she meant.

"Why she's still here," she replied. "She was waiting for you."

"Why would you think that?" I asked, surprised. "She was the one who told everyone to leave me alone. She knew I wasn't coming back."

"No," she disagreed. "Actually, she's the only one who always knew you WERE coming back. For her, it was just a matter of when. So, she waited for you."

"If you say so," I replied, still skeptical.

"Dylan," she turned me with a pull on my arm, "she should've died weeks ago. The doctors thought she'd be gone before Thanksgiving. But, she held on, one day at a time."

I didn't answer her. I turned back to look at Mom, amazed that she had done that for me. Again, she'd known me better than I knew myself. She'd known how hard it would've been for me to ever come back to my life if she'd died before I saw her again. And, somehow, she'd held on.

"How do you know all of this?" I wondered.

"Nick and I've been in touch for a few weeks, now," she replied. "He was trying to decide whether to try to get you back or not. And, he didn't want to burden everyone else with the decision."

"You mean he was afraid of what their answers would be," I said.

"Maybe," was all she said. "In any case, he called me a while back. Eventually, we decided we had to try."

"I'm glad you did," I whispered. "It's time to start living again. I just wish I knew where to begin."

"You've already started, Dylan, just by being here." she said. "Now, it's just a question of continuing. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time." I gave a wry chuckle at her choice of words.

"It's funny," I said, "that's how I've lived this last year and a half. One day at a time. No future. No past. As much as possible, anyway." I turned a gaze to her.

"Now, you're telling me that, in order to have a life again, I have to do the same thing."

"No, Dylan," she shook her head slightly, "not the same. You've been ignoring life, just...existing from day to day. Now, you've got to live your life, embrace it."

"I wish it were that easy, Linds. But," I paused here, gathering my thoughts.

"Do you know what really brought me back?" I asked. She shook her head in the negative.

"What you said to me, just before you left my office. You told me that eventually I'd realize that I needed to live again. And that no one would be left to welcome me back." She nodded, recalling the words.

"What if it's already too late?" I whispered the question.

"Dylan," she began, using a tone that told me I was being dense again, "look around you. People are already welcoming you back. We want you back in our lives. Me, Nick, your brother."

"Kevin?" I interjected. She didn't answer immediately.

"I don't have an answer for you there, Dylan," she finally admitted. "Your leaving hurt him more than it hurt any of the rest of us."

"He does still love you, son," Mom spoke up next to us. We'd been so wrapped up in our quiet talk that we hadn't noticed her waking up.

"Thanks, Mom," I said, genuinely happy for her words. "But, after seeing him tonight, I'm not so sure."

"Dylan," she replied, her voice weak, "Kevin's like another son to me. And, a mother knows these things. It's going to take time, though, for him to forgive you."

"She's right, Dylan," Lindsay agreed. "Just, give it some time."

I stood there, staring at these two women that I cared so much about. It was good to feel that again, the caring, the love. It'd been a long time.

I wondered, though, how many of their words were truth and how many were simply to protect me from myself. Having seen Kevin, that empty, cold look in his eyes, I truly doubted that he had any desire to try to find `us' again.

The house was silent once again. It was the middle of the night, that time when everyone was asleep, human or pet, child or adult. It was peaceful, still.

I was sitting in Mom's room. As I'd predicted to myself the night before, I was having trouble sleeping. So, I'd decided to come here and watch over Mom. I knew I wouldn't be doing it for much longer. Her voice earlier had been weak, tired. I knew in my heart that she was ready, now, to move on.

I sat there, watching her chest rise, then fall, then experiencing a moment of trepidation, of wonder, before her chest rose once more. I was literally counting the breaths as I used to do with Kevin when I couldn't sleep.

Kevin was, of course, the main reason that I couldn't sleep. Nick had convinced him to stay here tonight. Knowing that I wouldn't sleep anyway, I'd had Kris offer him the futon in her office. I don't know that he knew I'd given it up for him. I hadn't been very sure he'd accept it if he knew it had been mine, which was why I'd gone through Kris.

Somehow, having him in the house, so near I could touch him, and yet so far that a galaxy of distance existed between us, made things just that much more difficult. I sat next to my mother, trying to put my life in perspective.

It was becoming obvious to me that I was not going to go back to the life I'd had. Whether I went back to San Diego permanently or not was still a question, but I wouldn't be giving up on Jeremy, Kris, the kids, Nick, or Lindsay. Somewhere inside, I'd already made that promise to Mom not to sell myself short, not to curse myself to a lonely, desolate life by running away anymore.

Nick and Lindsay had both proven that they cared about me, and that they were willing to give me the chance I needed to become part of their lives again. With Nick on the road, and Lindsay in Austin, I knew it would be difficult to see them. But, it would be worth the effort.

I found myself debating whether or not I wanted to stay employed anymore or not. I'd put more than enough money away recently to quit my job for a while. There was also the money that I'd left behind along with the rest of my life when I'd walked out on Kevin. So, the question of working was more a question of staying busy than of necessity. It was a strange position to be in.

I debated asking Nick if I could go on tour with him. I knew that he'd let me, and that traveling with the group would give the two of us a chance to get close once more. Besides, as hectic and crazy as it could be, touring with him could also be fun. And, I knew that he'd enjoy the company of someone he knew, someone who had a history with him, and someone who wasn't after him for his fame.

Unfortunately, there was Kevin. Somehow, everything in my life always seemed to revolve back to Kevin. Or, perhaps I was just so focused on him, it just appeared that he was the center of it all.

Kevin was on tour with Nick. And, in spite of the assurances of others, I was losing hope that there would ever be any reconciliation between us. If that were the case, I knew that I'd never be able to spend an extended period of time with him. It wouldn't be fair to him, and it wouldn't be fair to myself.

If it was truly over between the two of us, as I now feared it was, then we both deserved closure and a chance to move on with our lives. From what Nick had said, Kevin had already started that with his relationship with Maya. Perhaps, it was time for me to try the dating scene again, as well.

My heart lurched at that thought. I couldn't imagine ever finding anyone like Kevin. In all the guys I'd ever dated, and granted that wasn't a huge number, I'd never met anyone that made me feel like he did. Even now, after being separated for so long, I could still feel him. His presence in the house sang along my nerves, striking a particular spark inside me. I wondered if he felt the same thing or if the distance and time and baggage between us had managed to block out the feeling for him.

"Dylan," Mom whispered, breaking in on my thoughts. I'd been staring so intently at her breathing that I hadn't even seen her eyes open.

"Yes, Mom?" I wondered, speaking softly as I leaned in closer to her.

"You know I love you, right?" she asked. I squeezed her hand gently.

"Yeah, Mom," I answered. "I know. I always have."

"I'm sorry," she said.

"For what?" I asked, surprised.

"All the mistakes I made with you...when you told me you were gay," she told me.

"Everyone makes mistakes, Mom," I replied. "At least you made up for it later."

"I want you to promise me something," she said. I was getting worried, now, at the tone of our conversation.

"Sure," I said, wondering what she meant.

"Well, two things, actually." I just nodded, squeezing her hand again.

"No more running," she said it as firmly as she could manage.

"I promise, Mom," I swore. "From now on, no more running."

"Good," she replied.

"What's the other thing?" I asked.

"Try to get him back," she said. "Try your damnedest to get him back." I nodded, but she wasn't done. "But, don't hold out forever. You deserve to be happy. I think you'll find that with Kevin, but if you can't, then make sure you find someone with whom you can."

I had a few tears sliding down my cheeks now as I thought of her words. It was an easy promise to make, although I knew it wouldn't be nearly as easy to carry out. Getting Kevin back would be hard enough. Admitting it wouldn't work and finding someone else would be infinitely harder. But, I finally nodded and murmured an assent.

"Thank you, Dylan," she said. Her eyes drifted shut, and I thought she was asleep again. A moment later, she surprised me by opening her eyes once more.

"Tell Jeremy and Kris that I love them," she spoke. "Never let the kids forget how much I loved them," she paused for breath, "and how sorry I was that I couldn't stay with them."

"I will, Mom," I told her.

"Ask your friends to sing `Amazing Grace' for me, will you? I always remember how beautifully they did it for your father." I didn't answer, as she didn't seem to be waiting for one.

"Oh, Jeremy," she whispered. Her tone told me that it was her husband she called, and not my brother. I looked into her eyes.

There was a light there that I hadn't seen in a long time. I knew then that, wherever she was at that moment, she was seeing him. My father, the love of her life. A smile crossed her face, one full of love and happiness and joy.

And then, she was gone. The light faded, the smile fell a little, her eyes shut.

I felt a shiver run through me, as though touched by a light caress. Somehow, I knew that she was all right, that, wherever she was, she was with Dad again. And, that she was happy and free of pain. Her soul touched mine, however briefly, and let me know that she was okay.

And I knew, in that moment, that I would be okay, too.

Author's Notes:


I rushed this one through, so if there are errors or problems, well, tough! ;-)

And, I'll have you know, I missed 'The West Wing' tonight just to get this installment ready. The sacrifices I make for y'all are just staggering, aren't they?