Amanda laughed and poked him in the arm. "Please don't change your mind-mind-mind-mind-mind... That's all I know."
Brian had been quiet most of the ride over from the hotel, just listening to Nick and Amanda's banter, which was extremely keyed-up today. Or maybe it just seemed worse since every time she opened her mouth it annoyed the crap out of Brian. They were in ridiculously good moods, though, and Amanda had tried desperately to get Brian to join in with their goofing off the entire time he'd been driving.
"I'm trying to drive," he'd snapped at one point, "So unless you wanna be on the news for having a car wreck, just torture Nick for awhile and let me concentrate, okay? Jeez."
"Turn it back on B!" Nick whined, fiddling with the Hummer's stereo buttons, even though it was off. "C'mon, just finish the song at least.."
Brian turned the key and got out, "I'll wait out here." He slammed the door. The irony of the song's lyrics with Amanda in the car was a little too much for him. Phony bitch, he thought, leaning against the grill of the Hummer.
Amanda looked after Brian as Nick turned the stereo back on and the song started over. She frowned, suddenly not in the mood for the song anymore, and reached forward and turned the stereo off. She looked at Nick. "See? I told you. I don't think he's feeling good," she pointed at Brian, who was coughing.
"Nah," Nick answered, "He's just nervous 'cos of the plane and the jumping and stuff." He turned the stereo back up.
Amanda reached forward and turned it back off. "Nick, he's not just nervous. Look at him... Plus, how cranky is he today?"
Nick shrugged, "He was up and down all night, I heard him... he probably didn't sleep good."
"Or he was sick again and didn't tell you," she said.
Nick rolled his eyes and turned the stereo back up. "Are you ready for the plane?" he asked, snickering and changing the subject.
"No," Amanda said, half laughing. She was still too worried about Brian to worry too much about the plane, though. He'd been acting so strange ever since they'd left Boulder. He'd barely said a word to her since the fight on the bus, and ever since they'd gotten to Omaha he'd just gotten quieter and quieter, until now he was even being angry with Nick. Amanda could handle him being pissed off at her, that sucked but it wasn't as devastating as it was that he would take out his anger on Nick.
The only thing Amanda could think of that was making Brian act like this was depression. Of course it would be natural for Brian to be depressed, given his situation, but it would only weaken him, and destroy what little time he had left.
Nick sighed. Amanda wasn't playing with him anymore, she was too preoccupied thinking about Brian, and the Eenie Meenie song was no fun if you were the only one singing it. "Manda?" he asked, when she didn't respond - still frowning in concern at Brian - Nick climbed out of the Hummer, opened her door, poked her in the arm, and said, "C'mon, let's go jump out a plane."
Amanda climbed out and Nick galloped around the car to where Brian was standing, still coughing. "Briiiiiiiian," Nick called out in an annoying voice. He jumped at Brian's side and hugged his arm, "We're gonna jump out a plane, are you scared?"
Brian turned and spit a pretty good sized wad of phlegm and blood onto the ground. Nick didn't notice this - but Amanda did. Brian wiped his mouth and said in a voice that sounded raw from all the coughing, "You're way too excited about jumping out of a plane, dude."
Amanda frowned at the crap Brian had spit out on the ground, and he caught her eye. They locked; a stare down ensued.
"Dude I kinda hope that Tobias asshole's here today," Nick said, looking around, oblivious to Amanda and Brian's stare down growing in intensity right beside him. "The fans would go nuts over some pictures of us skydiving, huh?"
"Oh... I'm sure there'll be someone here from the press," Brian replied pointedly, not breaking his stare into Amanda's eyes. "Aren't you, Amanda?"
He knows. The thought went through her mind like fire and she blinked in surprise with the realization, losing the stare down. Brian smirked, pleased with himself, and turned toward the door. Nick bounded after him. Amanda just stood there, dumbfounded. How the hell did he find out? she wondered.
The two boys were already in the hangar. She scurried to keep up with them, catching the door just before it slammed behind Nick. She trotted along with their longer strides. She had to talk to Brian alone. As soon as possible. She had to at least try to explain herself to him, hopefully before he told Nick.
Plus, she needed to explain to them that she'd changed.
When Amanda had first started the assignment, she'd seen nothing wrong with using Nick for the story. She'd been a total bitch. She'd been going out with that asshole Toby, whose true colors had shown in the woods in Boulder, when he'd hurt her wrist. He was always doing things to hurt her - not enough to be abusive, but enough that added together it was too much. She'd made many mistakes, been so desperate to make her father happy that she'd been ready to do just about anything - jump through any hoop he set for her - in the hopes that he'd give a fuck. But he never would, she knew that now.
One thing was certain, life was going to be extremely different after she got back to Los Angeles after this trip. She had already decided that she was going straight to her father and quitting Pop Stuff Online - assuming he didn't fire her first for not getting the story to him. She didn't care if she ended up in a cardboard box on the streets with a city-issued blanket... she wasn't going to betray the Boys anymore than she already had.
Brian had to understand that.
Or at least she had to tell him.
While she was thinking all this, the trio had been greeted by three built-looking pro tandem jump instructors - Josh, Larry, and Mesa. They were going to be accompanying Nick, Brian and Amanda on their jumps since it was their first time skydiving. A fourth guy, Jennings, was going to be filming the jump from the ground.
"The video's probably going to be on MTV before the night's over," Brian said, glancing at Amanda.
Nick laughed, "Probably."
Amanda frowned. Yeah, I definitely need to talk to him about this as soon as possible... get the confrontation over with.
She just hadn't expected that moment to come at 13,000 feet.