~ 2 ~
As much as he didn’t want to be, Kevin found himself jealous of Howie as he talked on the phone with his parents that night about how excited he was to see them both. They of course were more than happy to have the extra company.
The next morning, Johnny had pulled Howie into a meeting while they were all packing to leave and just for a moment, Kevin started to have second thoughts. Maybe he would go home and just hang out in his mom’s house. It would be lonely but it would also be quiet and isn’t that what he really wanted, time away and peace and quiet?
“I’m sorry you aren’t getting to go home, Kevin.”
He glanced up to see the sympathetic face of his cousin staring back at him.
“Yeah, me too.”
“You’ll have a great time at Howie’s though!”
Kevin nodded, “Have fun in Hawaii.”
“Maybe you can come with us if you want?”
Kevin had thought about that as well but in all honestly, the Littrells were kind of a boring bunch and as much as he loved Brian, he didn’t really feel like he had all that much in common with his younger cousin. If Harold was going, there wouldn’t even be a second thought but sadly, he wasn’t.
“No, that’s okay. Tell your parents I said hello though.”
Brian nodded just as Nick walked out of his room with nothing more than his backpack. “Where is the rest of your stuff?” He asked his best friend amused.
Nick who had his headphones around his neck at this point, just shrugged, “I managed to fit everything in here.”
“Can’t wait to see how that turns out for you.” Kevin said under his breath which made the blonde roll his eyes and shake his head.
Brian found this exchange to be equally amusing. “I wish I was going to Howie’s just to watch the two of you in action together.”
“It’ll be okay as long as he stays out of my way and stops breaking my stuff!”
“It was an accident.” Kevin grumbled as Nick walked over to Brian and pulled him into a hug.
After their embrace, Brian walked over to his cousin and whispered, “Be nice to him…” in his ear.
Kevin fought back the urge to make a sarcastic comment until he saw the look on Nick’s face as he watched his best friend abandon him. It was almost heartbreaking. Kevin walked over and placed his hand on Nick’s shoulder.
“Are you sure you have everything you need in there because the last thing the Doroughs are going to want to do is take you clothes shopping.” He tried to ask sympathetically as he pointed to Nick’s bulging backpack.
“Jesus Kevin, you’re not the goddamned boss of me!” Nick brushed past his bandmate, “I’m heading down to the lobby.”
“I’m going to take that as a yes then?” He screamed after the teenager, followed by a quieter “So help me God, I’m going to kill that child...”
He shook his head and grabbed his own suitcase just as Howie came out of his meeting with Johnny.
~ * ~
The plan ride was pretty quiet with both Nick and Kevin reeling from the negative thoughts this sudden change of plans brought about. The younger one was once again wearing his headphones as if they were his security blanket, blocking out the rest of the world while also holding a Gameboy in his hands. The older one was just pensively looking out the window and sighing on occasion.
Howie was stuck in between both of the boys not even quite sure which direction to turn. So, instead he had his eyes closed and within minutes was fast asleep. That was always something Kevin was envious of, how easily D was able to fall asleep, like he didn’t have a care in the world. This time around he was wondering if it was an act just to avoid conversation. Howie hadn’t said much once he came out of that room with Johnny.
He was trying to think if there was anything that had happened that would merit a private meeting between the two but nothing came to mind. Then he wondered if maybe Howie had done something that would have gotten his friend into trouble but he highly doubted that as well.
His curiosity got the best of him, “What did Johnny want to talk to you about?” He randomly blurted out to the sleeping man.
He glanced over at Howie, hoping for an answer.
“He’s sleeping, dumbass!” And he got one, just not from the person he was hoping to hear from.
Kevin glared over at Nick who had taken his headphones off as he grabbed the small cup of Coke and bag of peanuts from the stewardess. Kevin declined a beverage but took the bag of nuts as she moved on to the seats in front of them.
“What is your problem?”
Nick shook his head, “Nothing…whatever…”
“Jesus, learn to use your words.” Kevin lowered his voice slightly when he noticed people staring at him. “It’s clear you’re having an issue with me.”
“Now that you’re here, I’m going to be left in the dust.”
Kevin let out a tiny laugh and shook his head, “You’re not serious, really Nick? What are you, twelve?”
Nick pushed his chair back and placed his headphones on his ears, “Whatever…”
“I wish the two of you would stop.” Howie said with his eyes still closed, “You’re giving me a headache and we haven’t even landed yet.”
Nick’s music was so loud that Kevin could hear every word or mumble that was coming out of Kurt Cobain’s mouth. “Sorry, D. Nick just seems to think I’ll be stealing you away while I’m here. It’s clear I’m your favorite.” He tried to say that loud enough so the ‘baby’ could hear but unfortunately the music was a little louder than the sarcasm.
“At this point I’m ready to leave you both in the dust!”
Despite how annoyed he was, Kevin laughed. “Sorry buddy. I promise I’ll stop arguing with the little shit.”
“So…what did Johnny want to talk to you about?”
Howie’s body language changed as he nervously shifted in his seat. “Nothing much, just some stuff I needed to know.”
That answer was far too vague for Kevin, “Like?”
Howie Shrugged and looked over at Nick as if to make sure he wasn’t listening. “Just stuff concerning Nicky, that’s all.”
Kevin nodded; once again glad he didn’t have to deal with all that crap. “Oh, I get it.”
Howie nodded but his body language still remained tense which led Kevin to think there was more to the story. Hopefully he would get the answer after he got a few beers into his friend.
~ * ~
Howie’s Mom and Dad were there to pick the boys up at the airport. The happiness emanating from his friend was so contagious that Kevin even found himself smiling wide at their reunion. Momma D pulled him into a hug “Welcome home sweetheart, we’re so happy to have you here.” She landed a kiss on his cheek.
“Thanks for having us.” He also motioned to Nick who just looked tired and grouchy and of course ungrateful.
She then landed her attention on the young one as she grabbed his chin in her hands and gave him a kiss, “Nicky we love you!”
He smiled at her and gave her a hug. “I love you too! Thanks for letting me stay here.”
Hokie then picked up Nick’s backpack, “Are we ready to go then?” He asked as they all followed Howie’s parents to their minivan.
“How come you take his bag and not mine, Dad?” Howie joked.
“Because clearly it means I like him more than you, son!”
Nick turned around and stuck his tongue out at his friend who rolled his eyes and smiled.
Howie’s mom had her arm wrapped around Nick as they walked ahead. Asking him if he was hungry and what he would like for dinner.
“They make him feel special when he’s here.” D whispered, “It usually helps him forget he’s been dumped by his own family that way.”
“I just hope he appreciates it.”
Howie looked disgusted, “He does.”
~ * ~
By the time they got to the house after stopping for dinner on the way home, Kevin was just about ready to pass out from exhaustion. It was a long flight and all he wanted was a bed to collapse on. Howie brought them up the stairs and opened the door to Pollyanna’s old bedroom. “This is where the two of you will be staying.” He flicked on the lights as Nick pushed his way into the room.
It was small with two double beds. He threw his backpack on the one closest to the window, before throwing himself right afterwards. His feet were dangling off the end which signaled to Kevin his would be doing the same thing. “Sorry you guys have to share but the other guest bedroom is full of John’s crap since he’s in the process of moving.”
“No problem, Howie. This is just fine.”
Kevin pulled his good friend into a hug, “Thanks for letting us stay again.”
“No need to keep thanking me. I love hanging with my bros!” He tried to sound all gangsta when he said it but it just came out geeky dorksta instead.
“Night, Nicky” He said with a wink but there was no reply because he was already asleep. Sneakers still on, jacket still on and backpack lying right next to him. “Guess he was tired.”
Kevin nodded, “Guess so.”
After Howie left, he thought about waking Nick up just so he could get changed and make himself more comfortable but he also knew that might come with flying fists and a confrontation, so he let things be and got himself ready for bed. “This will be interesting.” He said to himself as he lay on the bed which was much too small for him.