They all sat around the table eating pizza. For some reason AJ was still at the apartment, “Don’t you have a home to go to kid?” Kevin joked as he picked a piece of pepperoni off the top and plopped it into his mouth.
“He’s like the annoying neighbor in every sitcom ever invented. You know the one who comes over and never leaves”
“Shut up B!” AJ took a swing at Brian and accidentally knocked his can of Coke over.
“Dammit guys! Be careful I’m not paying to have a rug replaced”
“Chill Kev I’m handling it” Brian got up and threw some paper towels on the mess.
“Besides that’s not me it’s him that is never going to leave” AJ pointed his finger over at Nick who had already managed to leave the table and set up his video games in the living room.
Kevin looked at the half eaten piece of pizza where Nick was sitting, “Hey is that all you plan on eating Nick?” He nodded while shooting at aliens.
“AJ seriously you know we love you man but you should probably get going home. You want me to drop you there?” Howie asked standing up and throwing away his plate.
“I thought maybe I could sleep over to. You know have like a little BSB slumber party” He made his hand limp which made the guys laugh, “you are not right kid you know that?”
“Gosh Kevin you hurt my feelings. Okay then I guess I will leave. I know when I’m not wanted”
“No actually I don’t think you do know that” AJ stuck his middle finger up at Kevin.
Once Howie left to bring AJ home, Brian immediately left the table to join Nick on the couch to play video games.
With every beep and pop of a laser gun Kevin became more and more agitated. “You know once I am done cleaning your messes I am in charge of the TV!”
“I say Brian and besides it’s MY television”
“Okay whatever dude” Nick just stayed quiet and continued to play the game like it had grabbed a hold of him and sucked him in.
Once done with the dishes Kevin did as promised walking over and turning off the game right in the middle of a round. “What the hell!” Nick shouted suddenly coming to life.
“Sorry boys but playtime is over” He had to admit it gave him a little satisfaction to see the look of annoyance in Nick’s as well as Brian’s eyes.
“This sucks!” Nick grumbled throwing his game controller to the floor and storming out of the room and into the bathroom.
“Was that really necessary?” Now Kevin felt guilty a little bit, why oh why did these guys always make him feel guilty. “Brian he needs to understand that there are some rules here and that I am in charge”
“You mean that you are a jerk who likes to boss us around? I am SO telling aunt Anne!”
“Oh please Brian tattletaling went out with the first grade”
They sat in silence, happily as far as Kevin was concerned. He liked his quiet time when he could get it. They so seldom had any free time that when they had a night off after rehearsing like crazy all day he enjoyed flipping channels and blocking everyone out.
Relaxing was a very important ritual in Kevin Richardson’s day. He tended to stress out about everything and the only way he would be able to sleep was to take these few moments to himself and let the day slip away.
Finally Howie’s return broke the silence, “Wow it’s really library quiet in here”
Brian mumbled something under his breath which Kevin chose to ignore. “Hey D”
“Where’s our roomie?”
Kevin took the remote in his hand and flipped from one news program to the next. This time there as a woman giving the forecast while holding an umbrella. “He’s in the bathroom, he’s been in there forever. Maybe he decided to flush himself down the toilet”
“Was there a problem or something?” Kevin sighed isn’t there always one with him?”
“Kev, that’s not fair” Brian turned to Howie, “We were playing video games when Napoleon over here decided to just shut us down”
“Yeah Kev he’s a nasty dictator”
“I know who Napoleon is I’m not stupid Brian, I’m just surprised that you know who he is” Finally the bathroom door opened and Nick harrumphed back into the living room and sat on the floor.
“What took you so long?” Brian asked smiling at his friend.
Nick just shrugged and blankly watched the TV.
”Okay look, I’m sorry for just shutting off the game but this is my quiet time”
“Whatever” Nick looked over at Kevin then, “So watching the news about a bunch of people killing each other is your idea of relaxing? God no wonder why you are always so tense”
“It’s better then actually practicing killing people on some stupid video game” Well it happened. The kid wasn’t even there for a full day and already they were fighting.
“Hey guys I have an idea…let’s play cards or something” Howie stood up to go get a deck of cards.
Kevin handed the remote to Brian, well more like flung it at him, “Actually I am going to bed”
“It’s not even ten o’clock yet Kev”
“I am in a mood and need to sleep it off”
“I know someone who’ll be sleeping for a LONG time then” Nick mocked under his breath. Kevin heard but chose to ignore and turned to go into his bedroom. He didn’t even have that as his own space. He never in his life had to share a bedroom let alone with two people. Being the baby in his family had benefits, one of which was a room of his own.
Just another huge change for him. Kevin shut the door wanting more than anything to lock it but realizing he couldn’t really do that he just laid on the bed and sighed. A faint knock on the door was heard a few minutes later, “Who is it?”
“It’s me” He sat up and watched as Brian came into the room, “We were just wondering where Nick is going to sleep”
Kevin laid back down, “I don’t care… anywhere but my bed”
“The couch is comfy I was thinking of letting him sleep on there. There isn’t enough room on my bed for the both of us and this floor is too uncomfortable”
“Yeah whatever” Kevin was only half listening, his mind drifting to telling his Mom that he was going to miss Christmas.
“Kev, you know you could be a little nicer to him. He doesn’t want to be here anymore then you want him to be”
“Look I have nothing against Nick I’m just tired and crabby”
“Well then go to bed and wake up in a better mood’ Brian shut the door leaving Kevin alone with his thoughts once more.
He sometimes regretted making that phone call to his cousin. What would have happened if he never did? Brian would most likely be living a normal life at home with his family. He would most likely be on his way to college. When he thought about all the time he spent agonizing over his decision to be a part of the group and then how little time he had actually allowed his cousin to make the very same decision. It seemed unfair.
He turned on his side and groaned when he saw how close he was to Howie’s bed. They barely had any room in this place to breathe. He didn’t want to live with Howie at the beginning. He liked his small tiny apartment just the way it was.
“Lou thinks it would be a good idea. You know just another way for you to get to know each other”
Kevin watched as one of the people who was now in charge of his career paced in front of him. “Besides, you probably can do with saving some money on rent. I mean eventually you won’t have to worry about it at all and I know Lou is going to offer to pay if you guys move in together”
“I like Howie, but I enjoy having a place of my own. I mean When I leave rehearsals I at least have this place left that isn’t Backstreet boys related”
“You don’t have to marry him Kevin. You can have your life and he can have his but you’ll just be roomies” Everyone at this company must have gotten there badges in persuasion because he found himself agreeing even though deep down inside he wasn’t pleased. Especially after he saw the place they would call home. He and Howie went apartment hunting with Jeff one of the Trans con people when they finally found this place. Upstairs from a bicycle shop. When it was bare it looked huge. The front door opened into a huge kitchen then off to the side there was one big bedroom.
“There’s only one bedroom here” Howie said sounding disappointed by it.
“Yeah but it’s so big you guys can easily have your own space”
“I guess no bringing girls over then” Howie half laughed at his own joke.
They walked out of the bedroom and down to the end of the kitchen where there was a beautiful bathroom. Large and still Kevin’s favorite place to be in the entire place.
The living room was adjoined to the kitchen with the only division being the sudden introduction of carpet. “What do you think?” Howie asked whispering into Kevin’s ear.
“It seems nice enough and it’s only temporary right?” Howie nodded.
“We’ll take it then” He said confidently shaking Jeff’s hand and sealing the deal on their current living place. They had no idea that less then two months after that they would have a third person living with them.
Kevin opened his eyes temporarily disoriented by where he was. The sound of snoring next to him followed by the hum of the fridge in the kitchen signaled that maybe he had fallen asleep after all. He rolled over and once again closed his eyes.
“Take that alien scum!” He quickly opened them again just to see if maybe he heard right.
There were a few clicks and then some bangs as the living room filled with laughter. He got up and sighed as he made his way into the living room. There he saw Nick sitting in his pajamas on the floor playing video games and eating “Peanut butter?”
Nick quickly turned around at the sound of his older friend’s voice. “Yeah I was a little hungry”
“So you are just eating peanut butter with a spoon?” Nick nodded as if that was the dumbest question he had ever heard.
“It’s the only thing I was able to find”
“You know you wouldn’t have been hungry if you had eaten dinner”
“I wasn’t hungry for pizza”
“But you were for…oh never mind. What are you doing?” Nick pressed pause, “Playing this cool game Space Invaders. It’s like ancient but a lot of fun”
“It’s not THAT ancient I used to play that all the time on my Atari”
“On your what?” Kevin smiled, “Not important. The thing is it’s 4 in the morning”
“I couldn’t sleep”
“Well do you mind keeping it down so that I can sleep?” Nick’s mood changed suddenly and he frowned, “Yeah…okay…sure thing. Sorry”
Kevin turned to go back to the bedroom when he stopped and sighed not really wanting to ask but feeling like he should, “Nick is there something bothering you?”
Once again he placed his game on pause, “No I’m just not tired yet”
“Kevin did you know that your apartment is really noisy?” Just then the humming of the fridge started again. “Oh yeah that. I guess we’re used to it”
“I’m hearing a lot of weird sounds and stuff. Kind of makes me not want to go to sleep”
“Are you scared or something?” Nick rolled his eyes, “pffft what do you think I am a baby?”
“No I didn’t say that…” now Kevin went and sat down on the sofa to the side of the teen who was still sitting on the floor. “I just know that sometimes when I am in a new place and it’s making noises it can be kind of scary that’s all”
Now Nick went and sat beside his friend, “Yeah to be honest I’m kind of freaked out by it” Kevin smiled.
“Nick how about you sleep in my bed and I’ll take the couch? This way we can maybe both get some sleep tonight?” Nick looked over to his older friend and smiled, “you sure?” Kevin wanted to say no but he didn't, “Yeah I’m sure, but don’t get too comfortable in there. This is a one night deal!”
Nick jumped up and hugged Kevin, “thanks man!” Then he was off to bed while Kevin just sat in amazement at himself. The one thing he said shouldn’t happen had.
“Okay Kevin might as well get some sleep” He said to himself turning off the TV and lying down only to hold his head up in disgust, “Oh gross!” He said as he reached down on the couch and felt a gob of peanut butter. “Why me?” He stood up and went to go clean up the mess quickly peaking in at his bed to see an already dead to the world Nick Carter sleeping there. “Sometimes I’m just too nice” He mumbled as he walked over to the couch, cleaned it off and finally went back to sleep.