"Oh, crap." AJ moaned over the rail of the balcony of the hotel where the reception had been held. Howie leaned over it with him. "I think I'm gonna puke."
"Shut up. Don't talk about it, maybe it won't happen!" Howie moaned.
"Fuck, what made us think we could do this?" AJ groaned.
"I have no idea." Howie sighed. He turned back into the dispersing crowd and ended up sliding down to the balcony floor. He gave AJ's pant let a tug. "Come here."
AJ turned around and slid down next to him. AJ saw Howie look at his watch.
"What time is it?" AJ asked.
"I think its 4."
"Oh, crap. This is gonna hurt bad tomorrow."
"It is tomorrow."
"Oh crap. That's right."
"What do you think they're doing?" Howie muttered quietly.
"I don't want to think about it." AJ cringed.
"Ew, me either. If I was sober, I'd probably be doing it too." With that, they both broke out laughing.
"Where the hell is Leah anyway?" AJ asked.
"I don't know. Upstairs, I think. We got a room." Howie slurred.
"Why don't you go. . ." and AJ made some obscene gestures.
"I would if I could walk." Howie announced.
"Shit, look at that!" AJ yelled, pointing behind some planter.
"SH! Goddamn it, AJ!" Howie moaned, holding his head.
AJ crawled over and got his found treasure. Someone had stashed a nearly full bottle of champagne. Howie waved him off.
"No, no, wait!" AJ said, crawling back and plopping himself next to Howie. "We forgot to do something."
Howie just screwed up his face at him. AJ raised the bottle.
"To Amanda." He announced. He took a big swig. Howie took the bottle.
"To Amanda." He said, taking his own swig.
"Pain in the ass bitch!" AJ announced, after taking the bottle back.
"AJ, don't talk like that about her! She's dead." Howie declared.
"Oh, let's face it. She used to drive me crazy! I don't know why Lexie turned out so freakin' normal. God! Look at her parents!" AJ stammered.
"Hey, hey! I raised her, you dumb-ass!" Howie said, wrestling the bottle from AJ.
"Thank god for Howie Dorough! Fuck, you saved my ass again, you dumb-ass!" AJ laughed.
"Shut up, you freak!" Howie said, taking another drink.
"You know, we should go up there!" AJ said.
"What?! No, no! The last think I want to see is Nick naked with my daughter!" Howie said, waving his hand frantically.
"God, he's such a little fucker! He always was!" AJ said, trying to get to his feet. "He always got the pretty girls! Ewww, Nicky. . . blah, blah, blah! Look at him! He's freakin' 44 years old and he's still freakin' getting the girls! He's practically old!"
"He's still younger than your sorry ass!" Howie laughed at AJ's meager attempts to get up.
"Hey, I'm still younger than your sorry ass!" AJ said, pointedly to Howie. "And I won a Grammy! Fucking five of them! Him!? Ha! He hasn't won one stinking one! He's such a loser! We shouldn't have let her marry him!"
"Well you know how it is. Fate, destiny. . ." Howie said, waving his hand around. "And all that bullshit."
With that, AJ gave up his attempts to stand and fell right down, laughing. "We are a bunch of hypocrites, you know that?"
"Naw, we're happy for them. We're just not happy for us." Howie sighed. AJ fell quiet. He took the bottle from Howie.
"To Amanda." He sighed heavily. "May she rest in peace. . .may I find another one like her."
"You want another one like her?!"
"Yeah, I need another 'pain-in the ass bitch'." He smirked, drinking from the bottle. "I need one who isn't gonna take my shit."
"Or any of your money."
"Yeah, that too." He nodded, taking another drink. Howie took the bottle from AJ. "Or my Grammies. I want those too."
"Keep your Grammies, AJ." Howie said. "Here's to Amanda. Sorry we were such assholes." Howie took another drink. AJ took the bottle from him.
"Yeah, sorry, babe." He muttered, taking another drink.
They were silent for a long time, then they finally abandoned the bottle and wobbly got to their feet. All the guests were gone as they made their way across the ballroom, past the staff. Howie stopped before they were out all the way and picked up the hat CJ had worn in the wedding. He held the small thing in his hand.
"She's a cutie, huh?" AJ smiled softly. "She's lucky to have Nick as her Dad."
Howie only nodded in response to his comment. He knew what AJ meant.
"Lexie is lucky to have Nick." Howie said quietly.
"So are we." AJ whispered.
His eyes met Howie's and he knew what Howie meant. They were lucky to have each other. They were more than family, they were Backstreet Family. They were Brian, Kevin, Howie, AJ and Nick. After all these years, nothing had changed that.
Not distance, not time.
Just like they had all promised.