The few moments following Howie's arrival were slow-motion for Brian. Kevin walked out of the kitchen, saying 'hi' to Howie. Then he introduced Jason, and 'his boyfriend Aaron.' Howie's jaw dropped open, and he turned and walked out of the door.
Kevin turned and looked curiously at Brian for a moment, and then it hit him. He looked apologetically at Jason and Aaron.
"Man, that's okay. You didn't think. We all have our brilliant moments." Some tiny bit of the ambient tension was relaxed with Aaron's joke. Kevin stared at the floor in a moment of seeming introspection.
"I think I'll go and see if I can find him. All he needs is talked to." AJ formed a human wall at the door.
"No, I'll go. I can talk to him without being authoritative." Kevin nodded assent, then moved quickly into the kitchen, almost relieved, as AJ left. Brian scratched his head for a second.
"Well, one disaster out of five probable... not terrible." Nick rolled his eyes and Jason sat back, sighing heavily.
AJ found Howie in the elevator, apparently coming back up from the lobby.
"Are you okay?"
"I was trying to leave... Then I realized that I wouldn't make it five feet past the army of girls camped outside."
"Listen, man... About Aaron and Jason..."
"Yeah, I know. They're gay."
"No, well, not really. At least, I don't think so. That blonde... screams bi."
"Bi! Bi-sexual!" Howie and AJ looked around to hall to assure themselves that noone had heard AJ. A bellboy walked by, pushing a cart, and nodded greetings, then moved on. They both remained silent.
"Speaking of screaming..."
"Shut up. Anyway, as I was saying... I know it may prove hard to deal with, but I know these people..."
"Know them?" Howie interjected, curiously.
"Well, I mean these type of people."
"What type of people?"
"Do I have to spell EVERYTHING out for you?!? Members of the alternative sexualities!" They, once more, looked about to make sure noone had heard.
"They're not the type of people you think. Just because they are gay..."
"I thought you said one of them was bi."
"Gay, bi, whatever! What I mean to say is that they're not going to jumb all over you or anything just because they're attracted to you..."
"They're attracted to me?"
"No! I don't know! They could be! Who knows! What I mean is that just because they can be doesn't mean they are and if they are doesn't mean they're going to jumps your bones or anything!!!" The same bellboy once more walked by, this time in the opposing direction, but gave them a sidelong, quizzical glance. AJ put his head in his hands.
"I should have just let Kevin come talk to you."
"Can we go back to the room, now. I'm hungry." AJ shaped his hands as if he were going to strangle Howie, then fell half over, dispirited.
"I suppose. They're probably worrying what's taking so long."
"What is taking so long?"
"Me talking to... Never mind!" AJ turned towards the room and began walking, Howie following not far behind.
Brian went into the kitchen to find Kevin banging his head on the wall... lightly.
"I feel like such an idiot. I've never had less tact than just now."
"It's okay... I'm sure everything is fine. It just hit Howie hard. Everything does, you know that. He should be back in a minute. Besides, I know he'll never make it past the girls outside, and I have the key to the service elevator." Brian smiled a devil's smile, holding up a tiny, silver key.
"That's right, he won't get more than six floors from here and he'll realize the same."
Aaron and Jason had just began yawning in the room aside. First Jason, then Aaron, then Nick as the contagion spread. Sleep? No. Boredom filled the air after the parting tension had begun to leave. Howie and AJ walked in, and were instantly hit by the thickness of it. They sat down on the couch. Aaron and Jason both sat in a large chair, still managing to make it look like there wasn't room for two in it. Nick had fallen back onto the bed, counting the waves on the ceiling. Noone bothered to greet AJ and Howie as they came back in. Kevin yawned as he entered the room, passing the infection to Howie, and thus to AJ. Brian broke the spell when he yelled from the kitchen.
"Hey! Maybe we should go get some movies or something. Maybe some food? I think there're a few good things I'd like to see." He walked into the room to find everyone as close to sleep without coma as they could get, only newly roused by his abrupt yell.
"Hey, Howie, you okay?"
"Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh..." Howie yawned wide. He had, for the moment, forgotten both his prior shock and his present existence. Brian looked around for Lethargians, then broke himself from the cartoon.
"I'm going out for some movies. Who wants to come with me?" Aaron picked himself from under Jason, leaving his love sleeping in the large chair. AJ pulled himself off the couch. Kevin shook his head, 'no,' then closed his eyes. Howie sat up as if an alarm had went off in his head.
"I'm getting food! Where's the hotel's kitchen?" Nick sprang up at the mention of food. Brian gave them quick directions, then grabbed his coat and departed, Aaron and AJ in tow. Brian took a complex long-cut to the underground garage, where a rental had been awaiting use for five days-he hadn't touched the thing since he'd arrived. AJ climbed into the large SUV and laid down in the back seat, succombing to the catnap that called him. Aaron shrugged at Brian, then pulled himself up into the passenger seat.
"No one will notice you, will they?"
"Well, I hope not. If they do, the meter here reads a max of 120 miles per hour..." Aaron vaguely wondered if he should be concerned, but then dismissed the idea.
"You don't have to break speed limits often, do you?"
"No, normally we're in a van surrounded by fans. It's more like a moving tank. We've got a large wedge on the front of it to push people out of the way..." Aaron looked at him, wide-eyed.
"'Gullible' is written on the ceiling."
"And 'kiss me' is written on my ass." Aaron retorted sternly.
"Really?" Brian stared at him dumbfounded, then broke into laughter. AJ grumbled from the back seat.
"Drive is gonna be tattooed to yours in a minute." And so Brian took off, wandering how he was gonna find a Wal-Mart in a city like New Orleans.