While Kevin was driving around town looking for the perfect present he was taken in by the sounds of Christmas in the city around him. He missed Kentucky snow, not that they ever got that much but still, he missed the way snow made everything a little more Christmassy. Palm trees and Christmas didn’t go well together.
He tried to shake his feelings of being homesick off to the side and focus instead on the guys. He felt so guilty for breaking down in front of them when they probably needed him to be at his strongest and instead, he failed them.
He felt so bad that his cousin and Nick had to be so far away from home for the holidays, and he was sad for himself too.
But now was not a time for being sad and thinking of home, now was a time to think about making the best of it. Just like his dad always said, just make the best of it Kevin…no matter what, there will never be a situation so bad that you should just throw in the towel. You take lemons that life gives you and you make lemonade. Kevin sighed as he wondered if that’s how his father thought when he was given the news of his cancer.
Why no one chose to tell him how bad his father’s condition was is beyond him. It had all hit him so fast, hearing about how sick his father was and then finding out that he was going to die.
He stopped at a red light and placed his head on the steering wheel. Would he ever stop hurting? It hadn’t been that long since his father’s death. In fact he often had to stop himself from calling his father to tell him about some of the things that were happening in his life.
It used to be so natural to call home with news of how things were going in Florida. He always asked to speak to dad first. It never even bothered his mother, in fact she laughed it off, “Hang on let me get who you really want to talk to” She would say before handing the phone over to his father.
He could talk his father’s ear off about things, from politics, to the environment. They talked about everything and anything. Most importantly Kevin would consult him on his life and career moves. His father never once steered him in the wrong direction.
When he stormed into the apartment earlier today, he actually had to stop himself from picking up that phone and calling his father. That hurt more than anything else.
Someone honking behind him brought Kevin back to the here and now, the time when dad was now spoken only in past tense.
He felt bad for not sharing his feelings with his band mates more often. Brian knew the entire situation of course, but the others only knew his father had died from cancer. It hurt that none of them had never really asked. In fact the only one that did was ironically enough Nick on a whim one day while waiting to get into a make up chair before a photo shoot. He asked a very odd question, “What did your father smell like?” Kevin had looked over at Nick and at first looked disgusted and then intrigued. Afraid that the teenager was ready to crack some kind of senseless joke about smelling like decaying bones or something. He felt bad that he assumed Nick would go there but at the time he really didn’t know Nick all that well.
“Why the hell are you asking me that?” Kevin had asked very defensively, ready to fight if the need arose.
“I was just wondering…because my dad smells like Coast…you know that soap?”
“My dad wasn’t a big fan of aftershave so he kind of smelled like moth balls”
That brought about a laugh from Nick and a smile from Brian who was sitting in the next chair over getting his hair done.
“Yes Nick mothballs”
“Weird” Kevin smiled as the kid wrestled to keep himself from stirring around too much.
“Why did you bring that up anyway?” Kevin had asked him after a long silence and a few annoyed grunts from the make up artist.
Nick shrugged, “I guess I just miss that smell”
Kevin put his head down and looked at his feet, “Yeah I guess I do too”
And that was the end of that conversation.
Sitting in the car on the way to the store he remembered it was most likely because Nick had gone for a week without seeing his father. He got to go home and smell Coast, but Kevin didn’t. No more mothballs.
He shook off the memory and continued onto his destination before the stores closed down.
Meanwhile back at the apartment Nick and Brian sat together on the floor of the kitchen opening the box of goodies that Brian’s mother sent from home.
“Wow I almost want to stay here and eat with you guys…almost” Howie kidded as he saw Brian pull out a huge tin full of Christmas cookies and homemade fudge. Nick took no time in opening the tin and grabbing a piece and then handing the tin off to Howie who also happily stuffed a piece of fudge into his mouth.
“Are we sure that Kev is really coming back?”
“Nick for the zillionth time yes, he’ll be back”
“I mean he could have just said he was coming back to throw us off”
“He’ll be back”
“And then by the time we realized it he would be halfway over the border”
Brian laughed, “He’s coming back and what border are you talking about? You suck at geography”
Nick placed a butter cookie in his mouth, “God Rok your mom is an awesome baker!”
“Yeah I know but this is also Aunt Anne’s doing”
“Do you eat like this all the time?”
“Only the holidays”
“My mother never bakes…well real cookies anyway. We did the whole Pillsbury cookie dough thing”
“But I thought your mom was a great cook Nicky?”
“She is, but she has NO patience”
“My mom is an awesome cook” Howie added and then stood up, “Which reminds me I need to be heading off. I promised her I’d be there before dark. Are you guys going be okay before Kevin gets back?”
Nick rolled his eyes knowing full well that Howie was directing that question at him, “Please D we have gone over this, and I don’t need a babysitter”
“Yeah and I’m here Howie…have a great time at home. Give Mama D a huge hug from me”
“Hey!” Nick said realizing that Brian inadvertently dissed him, “You don’t have to be my babysitter either!”
“Oh relax Nick and have another piece of fudge”
“Yay for fudge” Nick said grabbing another piece and running into the living room.
“You sure you guys will be okay?” Howie asked when Nick was on the couch watching TV.
“Yeah D, Kevin will be back soon and then we’ll eat”
“I feel bad leaving you here”
“Don’t….we have each other… now go!”
Howie wrapped Brian in a hug and then walked over and pat Nick’s shoulder, “Be good and Merry Christmas!”
“Yeah same to you D” Nick said turning around and smiling at Howie. “Nicky you have chocolate all over your face”
“I know” He turned back around and stared at the TV.
“Well okay as long as you know I guess…bye guys”
“Later Howie!” Brian said as their friend walked out the door and home for the holiday. Brian picked up the cooler from the same delivery package his mother sent, the cooler containing the meal she had made for the three of them. Baked ham, sweet potatoes and string beans with bacon as well as his Aunt Anne’s killer biscuits and gravy and placed it in the fridge before joining his friend on the couch.
Brian smiled at Nick as he sat seeming enthralled at what he was watching, an old black and white version of A Christmas Carol.
“When do you think Kevin will be here?”
And as if on cue, Kevin walked in the door causing both guys to turn around and stare at him from the couch. “More presents?” He asked pointing towards the huge box that lie on its side opened while Styrofoam peanuts poured out of it.
“Not quite, more like food”
“Cool” He said placing his bag on the table and walking over to join the gang in the living room.
“Howie left?” Brian nodded.
He sat down and saw the cookie tin and box of fudge and once again became sad thinking of home. “Are my mom’s snicker doodles in there?” Brian nodded as Nick handed the tin over to Kevin.
“Cool” He took one out and held it in his hand for a moment, remembering the smell of the house when his mom would bake for Christmas. His brothers all mad because Kevin was allowed to lick the bowl while they weren’t.
“You okay?” Kevin looked over at Nick whose face was still covered in chocolate, “Yeah I’m okay”
“What about you lil man? Are you okay?” He shrugged, “I’ll be better when I find out what you got in the bag over there”
“Very subtle Nick…very subtle”
“Why don’t you go get it and bring it over here” Kevin said winking at the blonde who happily hopped up and over the couch to get the bag.
“You sure you’re okay?” Kevin looked over at his cousin and nodded, “Just hard this time of year that’s all” Maybe his blow up had something to do with that as well? It made him feel better thinking that way.
When Nick returned with the bag he hopped in-between the Kentucky cousins and Kevin smiled, secretly relieved that on top of not being home he didn’t have to deal with a Nick Carter bad mood.
“You didn’t have to buy us anything Kevin”
“Yeah I know Brian but I wanted to…so…” He grabbed the bag out of Nick’s hand and handed Brian a gift wrapped box. He then did the same to Nick, “Go on….open it”
They both looked at Kevin and then each other, smiling like five year olds as they tore open their boxes only to find…an empty box.
Kevin couldn’t help but giggle when he saw the expression on their faces, “Uh…wow Kevin this is really….um…nice?” Brian said squinting his eyes to show how confused he was.
“Yeah Kevin I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t given me this…box” He laughed at Nick who was sucking at hiding his disappointment.
“I know it seems like an empty box”
“Are there like some magic beans in here or something?” Both Kevin and Nick cracked up at Brian as he said that like a whee little elf, “Magic beans to make us rich rich rich?”
“I swear you are just not right in the head Brian”
“At least when Brian gives boxes he actually puts stuff in them” Kevin rolled his eyes and once again smiled.
“Okay look, this box is a place where you are going to hold your dreams as they begin to come true”
“Huh?” Both boys said in unison.
It had sounded so much better in Kevin’s head then when he was sitting there trying to explain it to the guys now. “It’s a dream box, when I was little…my dad gave us all one of these and he said that we should keep it under our beds as a reminder that one day our dreams would come true. A dream box…see?”
“That’s nice Kevin” Brian said looking into his box and trying to stick his head in it.
“I just thought… you know since this first audition didn’t really pan out for us that we can keep our dream boxes ready under our beds to remind us that our dreams will eventually come true”
“I like that” Nick said looking in his box and then closing the lid, “Because our dreams will come true”
“Good attitude lil man”
“Thanks Kevin” Brian said giving his cousin a huge hug and Nick followed by jumping on top of Brian.
“Okay off already!” Kevin pushed them off and both boys fell to the floor. “Kev, I can’t wait until you give AJ and Howie their empty boxes…I’m going to take a picture of AJ’s face”
Nick suddenly hopped off the floor, “Oooh I got you something too”
“Uh huh” He said winking at Brian as he walked into the bedroom.
“It’s not a bag of flaming poop is it Bri?”
“No cousin besides after Nick just about set our apartment on fire you think I’d let him do that? It’s cold poop of course”
“You’re such a smart ass”
Nick walked in with a gift bag, “When I saw these I thought of you” He said handing the bag over to Kevin who was kind of scared to open it.
“It’s nothing much because well…I’m broke but…” He shrugged as Kevin opened up the bag and pulled out a box of mothballs. He felt himself instantly tearing up, the last thing he wanted to do.
Such a thoughtful gift from such an unlikely source.
“I don’t know what to say kiddo” He finally was able to get out after a few seconds, “This is the most thoughtful gift ever”
Kevin grabbed Nick into a hug, “Thank you” He whispered and then looked over at his cousin who looked like he was tearing up.
“So…who wants dinner?” Kevin asked standing up and wiping away a stray tear, damn those things for showing through!
“As long as it’s my mama’s cooking and not yours than I do!!”
“Brian have I mentioned what a smartass you are?”
“Oooh I’m telling…Kevin said ass!” Nick belly laughed and walked over to the kitchen with Brian as Kevin lagged behind once more looking over at the mothballs and taking a deep breath. Trying to remember what his father looked like on Christmas Eve just before a huge family dinner.
Sorry about the delay on this one. I hope some of you are still reading?