Of Love and Time by Purpura Lipstick
Summary:

Technology has moved past internet dating, now you can simply have a clock-like device installed in your arm that will give you an actual countdown until you meet your one true love.

How will this love timer affect each of their lives?

~Complete~


Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: AJ, Brian, Howie, Nick
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 22 Completed: Yes Word count: 27644 Read: 37895 Published: 08/29/10 Updated: 08/30/11

1. Chapter 1: Nick by Purpura Lipstick

2. Chapter 2: AJ by Purpura Lipstick

3. Chapter 3: Howie by Purpura Lipstick

4. Chapter 4: Nick by Purpura Lipstick

5. Chapter 5: Brian by Purpura Lipstick

6. Chapter 6: Howie by Purpura Lipstick

7. Chapter 7: AJ by Purpura Lipstick

8. Chapter 8: Brian by Purpura Lipstick

9. Chapter 9: Nick by Purpura Lipstick

10. Chapter 10: AJ by Purpura Lipstick

11. Chapter 11: Howie by Purpura Lipstick

12. Chapter 12: Brian by Purpura Lipstick

13. Chapter 13: Nick by Purpura Lipstick

14. Chapter 14: Howie by Purpura Lipstick

15. Chapter 15: A.J. by Purpura Lipstick

16. Chapter 16: Nick by Purpura Lipstick

17. Chapter 17: Brian by Purpura Lipstick

18. Chapter 18: AJ by Purpura Lipstick

19. Chapter 19: Brian by Purpura Lipstick

20. Chapter 20: Nick by Purpura Lipstick

21. Chapter 21: AJ by Purpura Lipstick

22. Chapter 22: Howie by Purpura Lipstick

Chapter 1: Nick by Purpura Lipstick
Author's Notes:
Inspired by the movie Timer.
Nick


Nick looked down at the device implanted on his wrist, his timer, the screen still showing dashes where numbers should be displayed. It still amazed him that he was convinced to get a timer implanted, what amazed him still is the stories he'd seen about how it actually worked. People brought together by the timer were seemingly matched well. The timer was only a decade old, so it had not quite stood a long test of time, but in this day and age where marriages were lasting five years or less, those brought together with the time were becoming long term couples. The news still had stories of the first couple brought together by the timer to show that they were still together, they were still in love.

The timer was a small LED display that was literally implanted into your wrist, as soon as it was attached the display would come to life with a countdown that was how long until you would meet your one true love. AJ took Nick with him when he got his implanted and while he was there, the sales rep and AJ both convinced Nick that he should get an implant. AJ's timer immediately lit up with 1145 days 9 hrs 39 min. Nick remembers gawking at the timer lighting up instantly like that, he admitted now that he was a little excited to get his implanted after that.

The pain of the implant was a bit more than Nick anticipated, but it was over quickly. He watched his timer expecting to see the numbers light up on his screen at any time, but when only the dashes remained he could hear a disappointed sound come from the woman who had completed the implantation.

“What?” Nick asked her.

“Well it's not anything to be worried about. You have to remember that since the timers are relatively new, not everyone has one. Your display has not lit up because either your true love has not been implanted yet, or ...” She didn't finish her statement but Nick guessed the next word out of her mouth would have been “dead”.

Now, Nick could kick himself for letting AJ drag him to that place. No, that wasn't it, deep down Nick knew he was really upset with the fact that AJ's timer continued to tick down daily and Nick's timer had still not even lit up.

“What's eating at you?” Trina, the waitress, asked him while setting down his plate of food. AJ and some new girl were ignoring Nick and talking only to each other.

“Nothin', just waiting for my food.” He responded forcing a smile. His issues with his timer were really of no concern to the woman who was merely serving him his food. “Hey guys, food.” he shouted to the others so they would notice and move their arms making it easier for the server to place their food in front of them.

“This looks great,” the girl, Nick believed her name was Sara, said. She rubbed her hands together and picked up her silverware deciding what item on her plate to stick her fork into first.

Nick shook his head and ate his food in silence, watching the two eat and chat and giggle together.

“AJ, I wish you wouldn't bring me along on your dates in the future.” Nick told his friend later that evening after they dropped Sara off at her place.

“Sorry man, she really did have a friend that was supposed to go with us so you wouldn't be alone.” AJ shrugged his shoulders and let himself into Nick's condo, then into his fridge, then into his soda.

“Why are you dating her anyway, your timer isn't anywhere near close to zeroing out.” Nick threw himself on the couch and grabbed the soda AJ held out to him.

“Her time zeros out in about a week, she wanted to have some flings before she was with her one and only for the rest of her life.” AJ winked at his friend and popped the top of his drink, guzzling half of it before he spoke again. “Just because I know when I will meet her doesn't mean I can't have fun along the way.”

Nick knew that one of the reasons AJ got the timer implanted was to know that he didn't mess up the relationship with his one true love by treating her as a one night stand. Now, with the timer AJ could meet all the girls he wanted, have his fun and know that he wasn't pushing aside the one girl that would make him happy the rest of his life.

Surprisingly, Nick found himself avoiding girls with timers and focusing only on girls who did not have one. It was a challenge to him to find the girl who was still timer-less and get to know her, ultimately convincing her to get a timer. He wasn't sure why it affected him so much, he wasn't any worse off than if he didn't have the timer at all.

He sat staring at the image on the screen, sipping his soda but not really paying attention to anything he was doing.

“Nick, stop worrying about it man. One day your timer will just go off and then you can stop worrying and just have fun, like me.” He tossed his can into the recycle and moved towards the door.

“See ya, AJ.” Nick muttered still staring at the flashing screen.
Chapter 2: AJ by Purpura Lipstick
A.J.


As he let the door close behind him, AJ shook his head at his friend. He didn't understand what his friend was doing, what his friend was going through. The timer was nothing but an aid to help you know when a girl was or was not the one. “Enjoy the ladies safe in the knowledge that you are screwing your future relationship.” He told Nick when they were sitting in the waiting room waiting to get their implants. It was a decent reason, enough to convince him then to go through with getting the implant.

1029 days 14 hrs 06 min showed on his timer, sixteen weeks ago his timer was activated. His mind momentarily flitted over the thought about what his “one” was doing at that moment as he was driving home. He shook his head of the thought as his phone rang showing Sara's name on the screen.

“Hey girl.” He answered, hoping a cop wasn't around, his hands free device was tucked away in his glove compartment.

“Do you want to finish our date?” Her voice sounded sultry. She continued to talk about how she wanted to finish the date with him and legal or not, he did a u-turn and found his way back to the girl's apartment.

“That was fun,” her voice floated up from the pillow next to him. She moved to throw her arm over his chest in an attempt to cuddle but he was out of the bed before her arm could even touch down. “You aren't staying,” Sara pouted as she watched AJ pull his pants on.

“I have an early morning.” His often used excuse flowed out of his mouth with ease.

“I have an alarm.” She pointed at the clock his hat had been covering only a moment before.

“Sorry babe, I need to get going.” He leaned down and kissed her and then quickly made his escape. From the look that girl was giving him, he knew that she wished their timers were counting down to each other. Most of the girls he had his flings with could not grasp the one-night-stand concept very well and it was starting to frustrate him.

The next morning he woke for his 'early morning' and made his way to the salon to get his mani/pedi appointment.

“Hey AJ, how are you doing this morning?” Karin, smiled widely at him from her make-up station as he took his seat.

“Fabulous as always my fair lady.” He caught the crimson creep on to her cheeks as he complimented her. “When am I going to be able to convince you to go out with me one night after your shift?” He asked his usual question.

Her cheeks blushed brighter and she busied herself straightening her area preparing for her appointments to begin arriving. AJ laughed at himself, he knew she would never agree to go with him, so he kept asking. Besides, he made a point not to go out with anyone from his favorite salon. No need to break one of their hearts and have to find a new place, if he did hang out with them it was usually a group 'date' that lead no where.

“AJ.” Karin called to him as he stood to leave. “That new liner I wanted to show you came in this morning.” She motioned him to her counter and pulled open her drawer.
“The one that can last through torrential downpours so it shouldn't run on my face during shows?” He smirked at the girl, he loved how a simple smile could crimson her cheeks.

He was looking at the one she gave him, applying it under his eye to test it out. “Did I tell you, I am going to be the head make-up artist for a new magazine?” She asked him coyly.

“I remember you talking about that client of yours that was starting a magazine. So she is taking you away from all of this,” He motioned around the place, “I suppose.”

“Next Friday is my last day.” Her grin was from ear to ear. AJ wondered why she was so happy until the next words that fell from her mouth. “I guess we can finally have that night out you are always asking me about now.”

The words escaped him, he never thought she actually wanted to go. “How come you never went out with us as a group before, if you wanted to hang out?” His question was legitimate. She never went with them as a group, and he made sure to ask every time.

Now, it was her turn to smirk at him. “I didn't want anyone else around.” She whispered so only he could hear, no trace of blush in her cheeks. “So how about it, since I won't be working here anymore?”

“What?” he questioned. He never told anyone about his unspoken rule of not dating anyone from there.

Karin only smirked as she moved to greet her next appointment, leaving AJ a bit flabbergasted. He put the eyeliner down on the counter, catching a glimpse of a piece of paper Karin had placed in front of him with her number on it, the time she got off of work that evening and where she wanted to meet up with him later. He took the paper in his hand and smirked to himself. He would meet her later, who knew what other surprises were in for him then.

AJ showed up at the appointed time and sat at the bar waiting for Karin to show. He watched all the couples at the tables and wondered how many of them were doing what he did, flitting around from one person to the next until their timers counted down to their true love. Then he started to wonder how many of them were with their true loves, how many of them had zeroed out clocks and would never have to wonder again if the person across from them was a perfect fit with them.

He originally got the timer to ensure that he wasn't meeting 'the one' when he was meeting girls and hooking up, now he was wondering what he would do when he met the one girl he was to be with the rest of his life, the one person who would satisfy him in every aspect of life.

“Deep in thought?” Karin's voice brought him back from his thoughts.

“Thinking of lyrics for a new song.” He lied.

“Maybe later you can sing a bit of that song for me.” Karin winked at him and took a seat next to him. “I put our name in for a table, it will only be a couple of minutes he said, unless you want to pull your famous card and get us seated now.” She laughed, amused at her own statement. AJ found her laughter amusing and grinned broadly. Maybe this date would end well after all.

“So, should I make small talk and ask you what you do for a living?” She winked as she accepted her drink from the server after being seated minutes before.

“I don't think you know this about me, but I make music.” He played along.

“Oh? Anything I might have heard?” She sipped her drink, determined to have a good time.

AJ shook his head caught in the moment unable to reply. Karin kept going, “Oh, is it the kind of music that is mostly underground? Lots of riots, lots of police breaking up fights?” The twinkle in Karin's eyes amused AJ, the conversation flowed so naturally with her and the blushing girl from the salon seemed almost non-existent outside of work.

“Riots, yes. Police, sometimes.” He laughed.

“Ooooh, scandalous.” Karin played with the stir stick in her drink, taking a small sip through it before continuing. She dropped the straw and reached her hand over, touching AJ's arm playfully. She moved closer to him, as if prepared to spill a secret. “Tell me, would my mother disapprove of your music?” She teased. “Because, if so, get me ten copies.”

AJ threw his head back laughing heartily along with Karin's melodic laughter. Playing along with the “first date” conversation, AJ decided to take his turn. “What do you do for a living?”

“You wouldn't know this about me, but I work for the riot police.” She winked and took another sip of her drink, pouting when she realized her glass was now empty.

“Any perks to that job?” AJ asked signaling the waiter to come to their table, he interrupted the conversation briefly to re-order Karin another Shirley Temple and a Coke for himself.

“Perhaps I will show you later.” Karin picked up the conversation when it left off.

“Really?” He raised his eyebrows. The food they ordered when they sat at their table arrived and their drinks shortly after.

Karin talked the remainder of the dinner about her new opportunity at the magazine and all the ideas she had that she hoped to implement. She even spoke of a possible move to London.

“That would be a shame.” AJ told her when she talked of moving.

“Why's that?”

“I just met you.” Now it was his turn to reach across the table and place his hand on her arm, the slight pressure from the timer on his wrist even more apparent tonight.
Chapter 3: Howie by Purpura Lipstick
Howie


“Howie, man, this girl, there was just something about her.” Howie listened to his friend ramble about the date he'd been on the night before.

“That's great man, but isn't your timer still counting down?” Howie himself did not have a timer yet, but he was intrigued with the wrist devices that would tell you when you found your one true love. “I thought you still had over three years.”

“I do,” AJ's voice sounded sullen on the other side of the phone. “It's just, this girl, Howie, she's not like some of the other girl's I've met.” Howie nodded even though AJ could not see him. “She's smart and knows how to have a good time. We are going to British Invasion karaoke tonight.”

“Jay that's great, but.” Howie didn't want to bring his friend down, but he knew his next comment would. “She's not your one. Your timer hasn't zeroed out.”

“I don't care about that right now.” He could his friend throwing something in frustration.

“It's your life Jay and I will be your friend no matter what you do. You like her, go for it.” Howie replied and they said their good-byes and got off the phone. He jammed his phone in his pocket as he flipped through the brochure on the counter, the brochure to get a timer implanted.

“What are you looking at?” Anna's voice startled Howie, he quickly shoved the brochure under stacks of bills and junk mail.

“Nothing babe,” He turned and wrapped his arms around her waist. “You smell like lavender.” He brought her closer and took a deep breath taking in the scent of her hair.

“I thought I would try a new scent. I love cherry blossom, but I needed a change.” She moaned quietly as Howie kissed her neck below her ear, moving her dark brown hair out of the way.

“I like it.” He let his hands roam over her body, kissing her neck and face gently.

“Not that I don't love the attention,” Anna pushed Howie away smiling. “but I have a meeting at work I can't miss.” He nodded and watched her finish her preparations around the kitchen, grabbing a nutri-grain bar, a cup of coffee and her satchel knocking off the pile of mail in the process. “Oh shit.” she cursed and bent down to pick up the papers.

“Let me do that,” Howie rushed to her side and started grabbing the mail from her hands. “You have that meeting, remember, I am not rushing off.” He kissed her head and continued to clean up.

“Howie?”

“Mmmm?” Howie murmured, concentrating on getting everything off the floor.

“What's this?” She held out the timer brochure, the one item Howie had been trying desperately to pick up and keep hidden from her.

“I don't know.” He played innocent.

“It looks like a pamphlet for those psychos who insert timers in your wrist.” She stood, coffee down, hands on her hips. “What is this doing here?”

“Babe, I know how you feel about those things. I am sure that was left here from when AJ or Nick were preparing to get their implants.” He lied. He hated lying to Anna but she didn't need to know the truth, not yet at least.

Anna moved towards the trash can and using her heeled foot, pressed the pedal down and tossed it. “There, now it's where it belongs, in the trash.” She moved back to the counter, grabbed her coffee and kissed Howie before turning to leave. “I love you, Howie.”

When he heard the car drive out of the garage and away from the house, Howie released the breath he was holding and re-opened the trash can digging the leaflet. He moved into the living room and threw himself on the couch. He re-opened the paperwork and stared again at the handwriting inside. He thanked heaven Anna hadn't opened it when she found it, inside, in neat handwriting was the notation “Howard Dorough 1:00 pm August 27 Implantation.”

It was something Anna disapproved of, but he wanted them both to get implanted. He and Anna had a chance meeting at an after party, her friend had an extra ticket due to her friend dropping out. Anna was nice enough to go along when her friend begged her, she told him later that she was a fan of the songs she heard but that she hadn't heard many. Howie saw her sitting at a table sipping her drink.

“Designated purse babysitter.” Anna had told him when she asked. They struck up a conversation that night and, even though they were soon surrounded by the owners of the purses, they had enjoyed themselves thoroughly. He left with her number, she expressed her doubts he would call but gave it to him anyway. He called the next morning and set up a date for the following Saturday.

It wasn't long before the financial adviser and Howie decided to become exclusive and then shortly after, they moved in together. AJ thought he was crazy, Brian was happy for him and Nick, well Nick really had no opinion, he had been fighting his own demons then.

When AJ and Nick got their timers implanted, Howie thought nothing of it. It wasn't until he heard the story of the couple who were having marriage problems and decided to get the timer to help them decide if they should end their marriage. They zeroed out almost immediately and the next time they saw each other, the alarm that let you know you'd met your one was sounding.

Being the romantic that he was, Howie started gathering the information to get the timers for Anna and himself. The only relationship issue they were having was Anna's avoidance of marriage. Howie had asked her last Christmas and she told him she wasn't ready for that step, yet. He knew that when the timers went off for them, she would change her mind and agree to marry him. He wanted nothing more than to live the rest of his life with her.

When he casually brought up the devices over dinner one evening, Anna went off on a tirade about technology deciding who to love. “First internet dating and now these.” She expressed an extreme disapproval about the implants, but Howie was still determined it was his only way to prove his ultimate love for her, to prove there was no other girl for him but her.

He dropped his head into his hands. Two weeks, that was all the time he had to convince Anna getting implanted was the right step for their relationship. Two weeks until he would know for sure if Anna was his one true love he hoped, no, she knew she was.
Chapter 4: Nick by Purpura Lipstick
Nick


“Aw c'mon Brian,” Nick circled his arms around the area of the court. “boundaries.” Nick watched as his friend dribbled the basketball around the outside of the court, under the hoop shooting for an easy two points.

“Isn't that called the older, considerably shorter, better looking player's area?” Brian joked and passed the ball back to Nick.

“You are only five years older than me.” Nick argued back. “That's really no excuse.”

“Five years does a lot to your body, you'd be surprised.” Brian held onto the ball and walked to the side of the court, to the bench, where his water bottle waited for him. After first squirting some water into his mouth, Brian wet down his hair before taking a seat on the bench.

Nick moved to the bench, wiping the sweat from his face with the bottom of his t-shirt, grabbed his own water and opened his mouth randomly spraying himself with the water with the hopes that some would enter his mouth. Throwing his water down, Nick reached for the ball from Brian motioning for him to toss him the ball. “I want to shoot some more baskets before calling it a night.”

Brian instinctively jerked the ball away from Nick. “Horse?” He asked.

“Sure.”

The two friends moved back to the court, Nick watched as Brian lined himself up for his first shot. Standing at half-court, he turned around backwards and threw it from between his legs towards the basket. Nick balked when the ball swooshed through the hoop. “Been practicing that one much?” He laughed taking the ball and lining himself up for the shot.

Brian chuckled as Nick missed the first shot. “H to you,” He played as if Nick threw the ball at him too hard and the wind was knocked out of him.

“Have you talked to Howie lately?” Nick asked Brian as he watched Brian take a relatively easy shot. Brian easily sunk his shot.

“Yah, he’s still talking about getting implanted, he’s convinced he will be able to talk Anna into going along with it.” Brian tossed the ball to Nick so he could make his shot, which he did just as easily. “I can’t see this ending well for him.”

Nick nodded. “He is romanticizing the power of these things.” He held up his wrist showing his still inactive timer. “He loves her, she loves him, and they are good together. Why not leave it alone?”

“She turned him down again.” Brian remarked solemnly.

“Again? Did she give a different explanation?” Nick did a small whoop for joy at Brian’s miss, it meant it was his turn to set the shot, ‘he’s going down now’ he thought.

“Howie didn't say.” Brian attempted the shot Nick just made but missed wide. “So how is your love life?”

“Non-existent. It's getting harder to find girls who don't have the timer already.” Nick dribbled the ball to his next position on the court to shoot from, the top of the three point line from the opposite side of the court.

“So what about dating girls who have timers. There's no rule when you get the timer that prohibits you from dating a girl just because she's not your 'one' is there?” Brian cringed as Nick's shot hit the rim but bounced through the hoop instead of shooting towards the side of the court like he hoped.

“No, no rule. The girls with timers are either not interested in dating, why get their hearts broken when they know when they will meet their true love. Or they are only interested in sleeping with you and, though it pains me to say this, I am sick of that kind of relationship.”

Brian missed the shot again and was subjected to Nick calling him a 'HO' for the next minute. “You need to do something Nick, you can't just sit around and wait for your timer to go off, don't romanticize the power of that thing.” Brian winked at his friend and moved to the bench to sit and watch as Nick chose his next spot from the court to shoot from.

They were silent, except for taunts, until they finished their game. As self-predicted, Nick won the game. “Sometimes I feel like a slacker,” Brian mused to himself as he watched the courts fill with boys and girls come to play after school.

“Why?”

“I feel like I should be doing more.” Brian shrugged his shoulders.

“You record music, you preform and promote. What more should you be doing?”

Brian could only shrug his shoulders, then he turned back to his friend. “So are you going to ask some girl out, timer or not?”

Now it was Nick's turn to shrug. “I don't know man. I'd like to be with a girl, to have someone to cuddle with while watching a movie, to hold in bed. It would be nice.” He glanced side long at his friend and saw his face about to burst out in laughter.

“When did you get so sappy?” Brian shoved his friend towards the edge of the bench.

“Don't you dare tell AJ what I just said.”

Brian shook his head, he wouldn't betray Nick's confidence like that.

“It would be nice, but what's the point? I can understand why some girls refuse to date once they get a timer and the clock starts counting down. Why waste your time and energy one someone else when you can focus on other things and still know you will not be alone.”

“Hogwash!” Brian shouted back. “Don't let how women think dictate how you think. I bet if you ask, there will be girls, timer or not, who will go out with you just for the pleasure of your company.” Brian looped his arm around his friend's neck.

“Well they have to smell better that's for sure.” Nick shoved Brian's arm off his shoulders. “Speaking of dating again...” Nick trailed off, his friend's face got stern as he spoke those five words.

“We aren't talking about me.” Brian turned back towards the courts, avoiding Nick's gaze.

“Brian, it's been two years.”

“I said we aren't talking about me!” Brian yelled and stood up, grabbing his ball and water bottle, he stormed off the court.

Nick was left sitting there opened-mouthed as his friend got in his car and drove off. “Shit!” He cursed loudly causing a few kids to stop playing and look his way. “That guy was my ride.” He pointed to Brian's car, now speeding away from the courts.
Chapter 5: Brian by Purpura Lipstick
Brian


Brian drove like a madman, anxious to get home. His face, hot with anger over Nick bringing the topic of dating his way. It was true that it had been two years since his wife, Sandra, died tragically in a car accident. He blamed himself, still blamed himself for her death. He'd forgotten something he needed at the recording studio at home, such an inane object that he couldn't even remember what it was he asked her to go back for. Her car was broadsided by someone who thought they could do whatever they want and run a red light. She died on the way to the hospital.

They'd been together for only five years, but Brian felt he had known her all of his life. They connected mentally, spiritually and physically. He never thought it possible to be in love so completely. After her death he shut down almost completely, shut himself away in their home and watched her favorite movies.

Howie, Kevin, Nick and AJ would all take turns sitting with him, making sure he ate something during the days.

Brian looked at a clock and noticed he needed to get ready, he had a recording time scheduled and he needed to be there. He quickly tore off his clothes and headed into the bathroom turning the shower on full steam. He threw his face under the hot water and tried to wash away the memories now bubbling to the surface.

Her smile, her laughter, the way her blond hair smelled after her shower. The secret smile she gave him when she wanted to make love, the clothes scattered on the floor the next morning. Even the things he that annoyed him when she was living, he missed those little things now. Her bra hanging on the door knob of the bathroom, her make up scattered all around her sink, her habit of letting the dishes sit in the sink until the following evening.

Brian finished his shower and glanced at his reflection in the mirror, his eyes were red and swollen from crying. “Get it together Brian. You have people to see, don't let them know you've been crying for her again. It's been two years, perhaps it is time to move on.” Wrapping the towel around his waist he entered the bedroom to get dressed.

It was only a few minutes later he emerged fully dressed, his hair still only slightly damp from the shower, the only decent thing about it's constant thinning.

He got in the car and looked in the backseat. Nick's gym bag was still in his car. Brian chuckled a bit when he realized he'd left his friend at the court with no way home. He pulled out his bluetooth and shoved it in his ear. “Call Nick,” he demanded of his phone.

“Hey Nick,” Brian started.

“Brian, you do realize you left me at the courts today, you were my ride.” Nick immediately expressed.

“Yes, I know, it's why I was calling actually. I'm sorry I left you there.”

“You gonna reimburse me the cab fare.”

Brian balked at this request. “I guess...”

Nick's laughter cut him off. “I'm joking Brian. I understand you were upset, I pushed buttons you weren't ready to have pushed yet. It's all good.”
“You on your way to the studio?” Nick asked.

“Yes.”

“Well, I am running a bit behind so tell the others I'll be there soon.”

“I'll explain.”

He arrived shortly after hanging up with Nick. “Hello Brian,” a female voice called out to him as he entered the studio.

“Hi...” He trailed off, unable to recall the young woman's name.

“Stephanie.” She smiled as she filled in the blanks for him. “We met last week, I assist Mr. Mitchell.”

Brian nodded, feigning that he recalled meeting her. “Right.” He answered and moved towards the door to lead to the studios, but she was faster.

She held her hand on the door. “I am glad I got to see you today.” She said with a warm smile that Brian recognized instantly. She was attracted to him. Any other day, he might flirt a little back, but after his walk down memory lane, he just wasn't feeling up to it.

“Thanks,” He mumbled and waited for her to either open the door or step aside.

She stepped closer to him, her hand lightly on his arm. “What would you like to drink, Mr. Littrell?” She was being business, but there was an undertone to her voice that gave him goosebumps.

“I'm fine.” He half-smiled back.

“If you need anything, anything at all, you just let me know.” She was close now, close enough for him to catch a hint of peach in her perfume.

“I'll remember that.” He nodded and walked through the now open door.

“I hope you will.” She called after him.

Once Brian was safely away, he glanced back through the glass door he just came through. Stephanie was no where to be seen.

Was this God's way of telling he that he agreed with Brian's realization that it was time to move on, a girl practically throwing herself at him? Brian had to admit, he liked it, he liked knowing that the opposite sex still found him attractive.

He entered the studio and greeted Howie, AJ, and the producers. “Nick will be a bit late, it's my fault though.” He smiled at the guys, hoping none of them could tell he'd been crying.

No one took any special notice of him as they continued to discuss the songs and how they sounded best. They were all into the conversation by the time Nick arrived on the arm of Stephanie herself. “I found this pretty little thing outside practically begging to come in here and ask us if we needed beverages.”
They all asked for drinks and Stephanie, grinning from ear to ear at Brian, soon left with promises of being back shortly.

Nick dropped on to the couch next to Brian and leaned in close. “That girl has got it bad for you man.”

Brian looked at his friend shocked. “Did she...”

“She didn't tell me directly, but she told me you had arrived, but didn't mention Howie or AJ. She asked if I knew if 'you' wanted anything to drink or needed anything at all. Doesn't take a degree to figure it out.”

Brian sighed. He was not up for discussions about dating with Nick, again. He sat staring at his fingers, not really listening to anything that was being said. His eyes moved around, noticing three of the five people in the room had timers on their wrists. Love definitely had different definitions than it had a few short years ago.

It was then Stephanie came back into the room carrying a tray with their drinks. She passed them out, lingering a bit longer at Brian. Brian could feel Nick's foot kicking him as an 'I told you so' not that Brian needed telling, he could feel the heat from her gaze.

“Ask her...” Nick muttered under his breath.

Brian smiled warmly up at Stephanie as she left the room. Was it time again? Was he really ready to re-enter the dating world with all it's games? In retaliation, Nick was throwing something across the room at AJ, the timer on his wrist caught his eyes. Was that really the solution?
Chapter 6: Howie by Purpura Lipstick
Howie



He sat on the couch waiting for Anna to come home. Tonight was the night he was going to broach the subject of the Timer and his appointment.

The dining table was adorned with lit candles; the food sat served on the plates, just like the movies He made a simple lemon pepper chicken and roasted vegetables along with garlic mashed potatoes. Anna wasn’t a huge fan of the potatoes, but Howie had wanted them with the meal, the plate didn’t seem complete without them.

He heard the door rattle as Anna opened the door and let out a small gasp of surprise when she saw the table. “Howie?” she questioned. He could see her face turning a pale pink.

Dropping her purse on the hall table and slipping her shoes off by the stairs, Anna moved to where Howie sat and took seat on his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned down placing a soft, warm kiss on his lips. “You are the sweetest guy.”

He ran his hand up and down her back, massaging it slightly, he hoped she would remember that sentiment later.

“How did you do this all with your recording schedule?” Her fingers were now combing through his hair, a feeling that almost always put him in the mood.

“I just said I had something important to do tonight.” He kissed her softly and held her tight. He hoped this worked. He wanted to prove his love, prove that they were meant to be together so that she would finally consent to be his wife.

“I'm starving,” The words came from Anna as she stood and moved towards the table. “Let's eat before this gets cold.”

Howie watched as Anna cut into her chicken and tried her vegetables. He took a few bites himself, but his nerves were on edge and he was sure he would have a hard time keeping the food down if he ate too much.

When she was almost done, Howie could no longer hold out. “Anna, I want to put a proposition your way.”

She dropped her fork, her face a little surprised. “Please, Howie, not again.” She started. “You've asked me ...”

“No,” he interrupted. “I am not going to ask you to marry me again. I know you are unsure, that you've been hurt badly before.” He moved his chair closer and took her hand in his. “I want to prove to you that I am the one you are meant to be with.”

“Howie, I love you. I know you have a good heart, just give me a little more time.” she leaned in and kissed him softly.

“But, there is a way for me to prove that we are meant to be now.” He moved his plate aside, her face full of confusion until he pulled out the brochure to get implanted with a timer. “I know how you think you feel about these, but please hear me out.”
“Howie! No!” Anna pulled her hand away from his.

“Anna, listen. I know you are my one and only, my true love. I want to prove it to you so you can finally know for yourself. So you can push any doubts from your mind, so you know that we can be man and wife and will be for the rest of our lives. I've made us an appointment for the twenty-seventh of August, please just go with me to hear them out if nothing else.” Howie attempted to grab a hold of her hand again, but she kept it from him.

“Howie you listen. Those....those things are unnatural.”

“They work off of your own body chemicals, your own hormones. How is that unnatural?”

“People are supposed to get to know each other, get to understand one another and deciding to make a commitment together and work on their lives together.”

“I am not talking about everyone else Anna. I am talking about you and me. We know each other, we understand one another. I've asked you to marry me and you've turned me down, twice. This is how I want to prove to you that we are meant to be.”

“If you really loved me and thought we were meant to be, you would wait until I was ready. You know what I went through with Brad. You know how he treated me, how he abused me. The memories of that are not just going to disappear because a wonderful man enters my life. I know that it's not completely fair to you, but we moved in quickly and I need to slow things down to get a better grip on everything.” Anna pushed back her chair and stood, moving towards the stairs. Howie stepped in front of her stopping her in her tracks, he pulled her in and kissed her passionately. She pulled away.

“I can't do this, Howie. I am starting to think that you don't know me as well as you think you do.” She pushed him aside and moved upstairs. He heard the bedroom door close. Defeated he dropped to the couch and put his head in his hands.

It was a mere thirty minutes later when Anna re-emerged from the bedroom carrying a large suitcase and two garment bags thrown over her shoulders. Howie stood up to help her. “What's going on?” Howie asked, fighting tears from forming.

“I just need to get away to think things through Howie. I called my friend Beth, I am going to stay with her for a little while. I love you.” She said while opening the door. She struggled with the bags and Howie couldn't help me, he grabbed the garment bags from her and carried them to her car.

“Anna....” he started but she was climbing into the drivers seat and started the car.

When she was a distance away, Howie turned back towards the house. “Shit!” He hoped he had not lost the best thing to happen to him for years.
Chapter 7: AJ by Purpura Lipstick
AJ


“So you haven't told me any more about this magazine you are working on, and the possible move to London.” AJ asked while they rode to the karaoke club together. He had so much fun the last time they went that he jumped at the chance to go with Karin again. This time they were dressed as retro pinups. Karin dressed as Rosie the Riveter, make-up done in the forty's style, red bandana over her curly brown hair. She borrowed a blue dress shirt from him, and he had to admit she liked how his shirt looked on her and hoped that he would get to see her only in that shirt later.

This would be AJ and Karin's fourth date, though they had an intense make out session they had not moved further than that. AJ hoped tonight would be the night.

“Well as of right now I am working with the editor on getting the magazine off the ground. I did the make-up for a runway show this past weekend and we talked about me getting to hire an entire team for another one. It's so exciting to be in on something from the ground floor.” She grinned at him and placed her hand on his thigh. “I love your outfit,” she laughed.

AJ was wearing a shirt that looked like it was a retro poster. A man was dressed as a fisherman with his thumb up. Across the top it said 'Fishing' and across the bottom it stated 'the way to a man's heart is through his fly.' She leaned in and planted her lips on his, pressing firmly.

“Maybe later we can see how well this one fits you too.” AJ whispered after she pulled away.

“Perhaps.” She winked at him as she sat back in her seat.

“What are you going to sing tonight?” He asked playing with a stray curl from under her bandana. He blew on the hair slightly, encouraged when he noticed the goosebumps appear on her collar.

“I was thinking Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy for my first song, but I don't know if I will be able to sing another tonight.”

“Why is that?” His finger had trailed from her curl and was now tracing her jawline.

She smiled at him and reached for the door handle. “We're here.”

“You little minx.” He muttered to himself as he watched her get out of the cab and wait for him on the sidewalk. He exited and slid his arms around her waist to walk into the club together.

AJ watched Karin as she smiled as others song renditions of many different songs. Karin explained to him that the theme applied more to the dress than the songs sung that night. “When are you getting up there?” He probed.

“After you.” She laughed. “You will have no chance of getting out of it tonight.”

With a smirk of his own, AJ stood when the the microphone emptied and marched to the stage. This is for my saucy 'lil minx.” He winked in Karin's direction, taking note of the blonde behind her waving at him.

Karin laughed when she realized the song he was singing from the deepening of his voice and the first few lines.
“Hello baby, yeah, this is the Big Bopper speaking. Oh you sweet thing. Do I what...Will I what....Oh baby, you know what I like.” He broke into Chantilly Lace gyrating and winking his way around the audience.

“That was awesome,” Karin kissed him when he returned to the table.

“Your turn.” AJ smacked Karin's ass as she walked towards the stage. He watched her move towards the stage only to be beaten out by another singer. Instead of heading back to the table, she waited her turn, a line formed deciding what songs to sing, AJ had inspired more people to join in the singing.

AJ decided to get a drink while waiting for Karin to get on the stage. He moved towards the bar and barked out his order and waited for the bartender to finish serving the person next to him.

“That was fantastic.” a soft voice said in his ear as he waited.

AJ turned to face the blonde that had waved to him while he was on stage. “Hey, thanks.” He said and turned back to the bar.

He felt the girl's fingers brush his arm. “You got me hot.” She whispered directly into his ear.

AJ perked up at this, and turned back to the girl taking in her appearance. She appeared to be no more than twenty-five, her sleek body dressed for a night out, blond hair cascading past her shoulders. “What brings you out tonight?” He asked, ignoring the drinks now placed in front of him at the bar.

“It's my zero out bash.” She held up her wrist, the timer showing a mere one hour and thirty minutes to go, exactly the time until midnight. “Tomorrow I meet my one and only, I am out for a wild night out. I see you have a timer, you aren't out for a zero out bash either are you?”

He held up his timer, 1015 days, 1 hour and 30 min. showed on the display. “Nope.”

The girl's smile widened. “Perfect.” Her entire hand was running the length of AJ's arm now, the light touch on his skin was enticing. “I want you to be my final fling before I find my true love, if that's acceptable to you.” Her voice was almost a purr in his ear.

Karin's voice singing into the microphone grabbed AJ's attention away from the blonde. “I'm flattered, but I am here with someone.” He waved his hand towards the stage, grabbed the drinks and started to head back to the table.

“I will be here until closing if you change your mind.” She squeezed his arm one last time and turned back to her group.

AJ made it to his table in time to watch Karin preform the song she said she would, receiving a huge response from the patrons watching.

“Fantastic,” AJ held her tight when she returned to the table. “Are you ready to head out of here?” He nuzzled her neck, the curl escaping from under her bandana was turning him on tonight and he wanted desperately to be alone with Karin.

“If you'd like.” She grabbed her stuff and his arm and pulled him towards the exit.

AJ caught a quick glimpse of the blonde that flirted with him earlier, she pouted and waved sadly to him as he went out the door with another woman.

The entire drive back to Karin's place was hot and heavy, AJ was sure the cab driver would need to get home and take a cold shower after dropping them off. They reached her door and AJ moved to join her inside. “Coming up?” She pulled him closer and kissed him deeply. “I want to show you something.”

Excited about what it was Karin was going to show him, AJ followed her like a puppy up the stairs to her apartment. When they reached her door, she couldn't unlock the door fast enough. As soon as they entered he was enveloping Karin and placing kisses all over her face and neck. Karin laughed and pushed him away, “Just a second.”

She moved towards the table and held out a magazine for him. “Unless it has an article on how to be a better lover I am not in the mood for reading.” In two quick steps he was holding her tightly again.

“AJ, this is the magazine I work for now.” She put it between her face and his lips. “I wanted you to see it before it hits stores next week.”

Humoring her, he took the magazine from her and flipped through it. “Nice.” He muttered and tossed it back on the table. “Is that the 'only' reason you asked me up tonight?”

“I am going to New York in two days.” She blurted out.

“What?” He stepped back and looked at her. “For good?”

She shook her head, “No, only for a training course in using different techniques in applying make up.”

“How long?” He couldn't believe it, she was leaving, right as he was getting to know her.

“Two months.”

“Two months to learn how to apply make-up? Couldn't you take a class here?” He wanted her close, he wanted to be back in her arms, he wanted to be in her bed right now, not discussing make-up classes in New York.

“The one I need is only offered there. I wanted to tell you earlier, but I didn't want to ruin your night.”

'Too late,' he thought. “Karin, I am going to head out.” AJ opened the door and started down the stairs.

“I was hoping you'd visit.” She called out after him but he was already out the front door and hailing a cab.

He dropped his head into his hands as the cab drove towards his place. He didn't understand why it upset him this much that she was going to be gone. He wasn't looking for a serious relationship. Sure she was fun to be around, but he wasn't looking for a serious relationship. There would be enough of that when his timer zeroed out.

“Zeroed out.” He muttered.

“What was that?” the cab driver asked.

AJ asked the cab driver to switch directions, practically jumping out of the cab when he arrived. He ran back into the club and scoured the room. He spotted her dancing with a group of girl friends on the floor.

“Hi.” He said after walking up to her. She stopped and smiled at him. Taking her hand in his they moved towards the exit and out into the night together.
Chapter 8: Brian by Purpura Lipstick
Author's Notes:
Sorry it took so long and is so short. Nick is next.
Brian


Brian sat outside the studio unsure if he should exit his car and enter. He was early, the other guys had all texted they were on their way after he had arrived. He had two choices. He could sit in the car waiting for the others to arrive and then go in with them, or he could go in now and be at Stephanie’s mercy.

He decided to sit in the car and wait. He watched the people going into and leaving the building. A few would glance his way but none gave a second look at him. He turned the radio on to give him a form of company as he waited. It turned out to be a bad decision.

Sandra’s favorite song “Iris” from the Goo Goo Dolls blared from the radio. Unwilling to let a rush of new memories flood through him, he pulled the keys from the ignition and practically ran inside the building. ‘Please,’ he prayed as he moved towards the doors. ‘God help me be strong enough to love Sandra but move on from the sadness.’

“Brian, how are you?” Stephanie’s voice caught his ear as soon as he walked inside the building. Why did she always seem to be at the front desk when he arrived?

“How are you?” He replied amiably.

“I’m great.”

“I thought you were Mr. Mitchell’s assistant. What are you doing at the front desk?”

“I am covering for Josie. She needed a quick break so I told her I would watch things up here.” Her movement was quick, but Brian was sure she winked at him.

“You have a session today?” Her voice said question but there was something in her face that led Brian to believe that she knew they had a session today and probably was covering for her friend just to talk to him when he arrived.

“Yup and I arrived way earlier than the other guys. Would I be able to head back now?” He was leaning on the reception desk towards Stephanie.

“I could let you back, if...” She paused and smiled warmly at Brian.

“If...?”

“Come with me to have a drink when you are through for the evening.” Stephanie grinned broadly.

Brian was tempted to tell her that he would take a rain check when Nick's comments and his own brief prayer flashed into his mind. “I'd like that.” He muttered.

“I understand if … wait did you say you'd come?” Her voice was astonished.

“Yah, I'd like to join you.”

“Okay,” She blushed. “I have friends coming too so if you want to bring the guys too, that'd be cool.”

“I'll let them know.” He smiled warmly at Stephanie. The first really warm smile he had given her since first meeting her. Her face turned a darker shade of crimson as she told him that he could go back to wait for the others.

Brian sat in the studio with a technician going over some of the previous sessions recordings when the other guys arrived. He watched as they took their seats talking about some thing or another, Brian hadn't paid attention to the conversation.

“Hey Bri, you look distracted.” Nick finally noticed him.

“I did it Nick.” He smiled at his friend. “I agreed to meet Stephanie for after we finish here.”

AJ, Nick, and Howie all turned to look at him and offer their congratulations. It was at this moment that an extreme feeling of guilt washed over him. He tried to hide it but from Nick's expression he could tell that it was apparent what he was feeling. When the other guys turned away to start working on another song, Nick moved his chair closer to Brian.

“Brian, she would want you to be happy.” Nick said, playfully punching Brian's arm. “You are doing the right thing.”

“Why do I feel guilty about it then?” He was asking the question more to himself then to Nick, but Nick answered.

“It's because of the man you are. You loved her with all your heart and you are afraid that if you give someone else even a part of your heart that you are lessening your love for Sandra.” Nick's words and soft tones made Brian think he'd been watching too many episodes of Oprah lately.

“Come with me.” Brian blurted out. “She said I could invite a guys and it would be easier for me if you were there.”

“You got it bro.” Nick grinned.

“Who knows, maybe you will find a girl tonight too.” Brian smacked Nick back. He was feeling somewhat better. He caught his friend look at his wrist before mumbling “yah sure.”

“Promise me Nick, if I go through this tonight and have fun, promise me you will go out with someone to dinner at least.”

“Are we going to work today?” AJ called out to them.
Brian held up his finger. “Nick?”

“I Promise Brian.”
Chapter 9: Nick by Purpura Lipstick
Nick


“Nick if this goes sour, I'm going to ask you about the Lakers.” Brian had pulled Nick aside before they entered the club.

“Brian we haven't even gone inside yet.” Nick held in the chuckle he could feel attempting to escape. His friend's eyes darted back and forth, a sure sign of his nervousness. “You will be fine Brian,”

“I know I am going to sound like a broken record, but I feel guilty.” Brian attempted to start walking in the other direction, Nick grabbed his arm and pulled him back towards the building and inside.

“Think of it as meeting a fan at some event if that will help you get the courage to sit down with her.” Nick could see Brian's face relax more before he nodded. He must have taken the advice as he walked with his usual demeanor over to the table where Stephanie and a couple of girls sat waiting for them.

Nick moved to the table and watched as Brian said 'hello' and introduced himself to the other two girls sitting at the table. Nick nodded and smiled to the girls and sat down, he barely heard the names Brianna and Melanie before he took his seat and started looking around for a server so he could order a drink.

After the drinks were ordered, Nick tried to join in the conversation Stephanie and Brian were having but the pounding music was making it hard to hear what was being said. They appeared to be enjoying themselves as they continued to move closer and leaned into each other to converse. Nick smiled at his friend, happy that he was having a good time.

“So Nick” One of the girls, possibly Brianna, spoke up. “I see you have a timer. How long do you have until your clock zeros out?”

Nick glanced down at his wrist and pulled his jacket down to ensure it covered. “I don't like to think about it, it doesn't rule my life.” He lied.

Brianna turned to the other girl and started chatting about their timers. Apparently, Melanie just got her timer implanted earlier that day and her timer only had a few short months until she met her one, Brianna was excited that she had less then a week left. Relieved when his drink arrived, Nick immediately ordered another and quickly downed his first. The night was set to be a long one.

*****

Nick rubbed his eyes, his head pounding only slightly still from the night before. The slightly cool summer day was a unusual but pleasant as he sat outside finishing his lunch. Brian and Stephanie had thoroughly enjoyed themselves the night before and even made a date to have dinner over the weekend. Before Nick left, Brian pulled him aside and reminded him of his promise. He was not looking forward to fulfilling his promise, but he promised and after years of broken promises, he wanted to be stick with them

“Can I get you anything else?” the waitress asked him. Nick looked up and for the first time realized it was the same server, Trina, that waited on him the last time he was here with AJ and his fling of the moment.

He looked at Trina, she was fairly attractive, slight build, dressed in sleeveless shirt and jeans with her copper brown hair pulled back in a messy ponytail.

“So...?” She questioned again.

“Sorry about that.” Nick replied. “I am done, but I have another question.” He watched as she picked up his plate and waited for him to continue.

“I was wondering what time you get off of work.” He spoke quickly and then chugged the remainder of his water. 'Smooth Carter.' He admonished himself.

“I just started my shift actually, I work a double through dinner.” She replied filling his water glass. “My shift ends at ten tonight.” She shrugged.

“Want to grab a drink after you finish? My treat.” He smiled, hoping it didn't look forced.

“Sure, sounds nice.” She smiled. “Just don't tell my co-workers, technically I am not supposed to date the customers.” She pulled his check out of her apron and placed it on the table. “Meet me in front of the restaurant around ten and you can choose the place.”

Nick watched her as she walked away, relieved that the hard part was over. He glanced at his watch, only nine more hours until he needed to be back to pick Trina up. Nick thew down his money to pay the bill, ensuring a decent tip and made his way to his car.

“Wait,” He said to himself as he got in. “She doesn't even know my name, why did she agree to this?” Nick slapped his head before turning his car on.

He returned that evening with fifteen minutes to spare. He sat outside the restaurant and waited. He didn't wait long for her to run out of the restaurant and look around. He got out of his car and waved to her, opening the passenger side door for her. “Hi,” he stuttered when she approached him. “Are you ready to go?”

“Sure” She said looking around before she got in his car.

They drove in silence and were quiet until after they sat at their table and ordered their drinks.

“So, I really gotta know, what made you go out with me?” Nick asked.

Trina looked around, she was still clutching her purse wringing the straps. “To be honest, I just did not want to go home after work. My ex-boyfriend was moving his stuff out today and I didn't want to go home with the possibility of him still moving stuff out.” She shrugged. “Sorry to mislead you.”

Nick laughed at her response. “I'm sorry, I'm not laughing at your explanation. I only asked you because I promised a friend I would get over this whole timer thing and try going on date.” He smiled and noticed that Trina relaxed more, enough that she stopped clutching her purse so tightly. “Do you even know my name?”

Trina nodded, “You are that Backstreet Boy that dated Paris.”

Nick dropped his head into his hands. “I will never escape that.” He laughed. “My name is Nick, you can call me that, that Backstreet Boy that dated Paris might get a little long to continue calling me.”

It was Trina's turn to laugh this time. “I'm sorry. So you have a timer?”

Nick cringed at this question. “I do.”

“I do too,” She flashed her wrist at him. “I have like three years left, my ex, he zeroes out tomorrow.”

“Ah” Nick said understanding why she really didn't want to go home.

“There's more to it than that....” she assured him but did not elaborate any further.

Nick gave Trina his signature smirk “Well let's just both have some drinks and forget about why we both agreed to hang out tonight.”

“Agreed.” Trina smiled warmly and held up her glass towards him taking a sip after they tapped their glasses together.
Chapter 10: AJ by Purpura Lipstick
Author's Notes:

Sorry, I fell off the face of the planet I know.

AJ already decided that he would not be sleeping with the woman sitting across from him. He met her the night before at some club or another he’d been to and she convinced him to meet her for dinner, so here he was. She was attractive and he would have made her dreams come true, literally, if she hadn’t admitted what a huge fan of The Backstreet Boys she was. It wasn’t even so much that she was a fan; he’d slept with plenty of the willing girls, it was her insistence to rehash his life story back to him. Common decency kept him from getting up and leaving, he, after all, had an image to uphold and his biggest fan could become his worst nightmare.

Dinner had finished more than thirty minutes ago, yet this woman was still talking. He nodded as if he was listening, but his eyes scanned the room to find any reason to end this torture. His eyes passed over one couple and he had to do a double take. A woman caught his attention. From what he saw of her, she looked like it could be Karin.

Jealously began to flare inside of him when he noticed she was sitting with another man. ‘Wait,’ he told himself. ‘Karin is out of state.’ The thought put him at ease, the woman could not be Karin, she was not back, she did not shove off calling him and she was not on a date. The way the couple interacted, especially how the woman carried herself, made AJ yearn for Karin to be back.

“AJ, did you hear me?” The woman practically screeched at him bringing his attention back to the moment.

“Look, Chelsea…” AJ began to stammer some form of an apology.

“My name is Kasey,”

“….Kasey.” He continued. “You seem really nice, but I should be heading home soon. I have a big day tomorrow. You know a tour to prepare for and everything.”

“I thought that we were going to… you know.” she slid her hand across the table and placed it softly on AJ’s, her fingers running up and down the skin of his hand.

“Sorry but, not happening,” He said bluntly pulling his hand away.

Kasey continued to try to persuade him to take her back with him to his place. ‘She’d probably steal a bunch of my underwear, keep one for herself and sell the remaining on e-bay.’ He thought to himself as he signaled for the check.

Finally catching the hint that nothing was going to happen, Kasey stood, grabbed her purse and practically flew out the door.  With her gone, AJ let out a deep breath and started to enjoy his drink. He threw some money on the table and was ready to leave when a noise from across the room caught his ear.  It was her laughter, her distinctive laugh.  His head whipped around to the table he watched earlier, and unable to ignore his curiosity he stormed over.

“Karin?” He questioned when he got closer and the woman morphed from someone who looked like Karin, to Karin. She turned, it was Karin.

“AJ.” She shouted and stood enveloping him one of her warm hugs. “I’m so glad to see you; I have so much to tell you about.”

“Karin, I thought you were going to be gone for two months. What are you doing here,” he questioned quickly adding “with a date?”

“Well he’s really not…” Karin started to respond.

“Dragging multiple guys along, are we the only two or are there more we don’t know about? I didn’t think you were that kind of girl.” His voice held a hint of contempt as he spoke. “At least I know where I stand now.”

“AJ?” a female voice from behind had all pairs of eyes watching now. “I called a taxi but it would be hours, can you just take me home?” Kasey asked.

Karin laughed out loud at the situation in front of her. “You are jealous?” She laughed. She didn’t wait for him to formulate an answer. “Last I checked we never agreed to be exclusive, a point in fact you obviously knew about as you enjoyed your date.” Karin waved her fingertips at the girl standing behind AJ. “And not that you deserve much of an explanation with that attitude, but this is Trevor, a friend from that same class I attended which, by the way, ended early due to the instructor having a family emergency.”

“Karin, I..” AJ started to speak but Karin didn’t wait for an answer, she was already walking out of the restaurant.

Her friend Trevor stood and started to follow Karin, stopping briefly in front of AJ. “You wanna come to my place to vent some more?” He gently placed his hand on AJ’s shoulder and winked at him. “See ya around.”

“AJ?” Kasey was still standing there waiting for his answer. He didn’t acknowledge her, he didn’t answer her, he walked out and sat in his car going over what just happened in his head. What had he said, what had he done? He couldn't understand why the thought of Karin out with another man upset him that much. She had a point, he was on a date, they weren't exclusive so why was it bothering him so much.

His eyes flicked to the device on his wrist: 971 days 2 hours 26 minutes. She wasn't his one, he knew that. His public display meant it was time to step back, stop hanging out with Karin. After all, didn't he get the timer so that he could have fun before settling down?

With these new thoughts charging through him, AJ turned his car towards the closest club he could think of. The night was still young.

Chapter 11: Howie by Purpura Lipstick
Howie

'Now if there's a smile on my face,
It's only there trying to fool the public'


Howie sang the lyrics in his head as he grinned in the direction of the camera holding his arm tight around the fan who requested the picture. He hoped, for the fan's sake, that his picture would come across as genuine. He hugged the girl tightly before another girl took her place. He continue acting as if nothing was wrong as the stream of fans continue through the meet and greet. He was desperately hoping that it would be over soon. He needed ample time to hype himself up to put on the show for the crowd of thousands during the concert that night.

It had been almost two full months since Anna had walked out on him after the fight about getting implanted. He tried calling her several times the first few days, after receiving no answer, his calls trickled to one or two a day, but he still reached out to her daily. Once he even managed to get her sister on the phone, he'd borrowed AJ's phone that day. He could still recall the ringing in his ears after she spewed the several hateful words over the line. He noticed now, AJ kept his phone out of sight, come to think of it, he hadn't seen Brian or Nick's phones lying around either.

When the concert finally came to an end, Howie rushed to the backstage area and crashed on the couch. He closed his eyes willing himself to sleep even if for the tiniest moment. “Howie?” He rolled over and looked up to see Anna walking towards him. He then, immediately, jumped up and in a few quick steps was enveloping his love in his arms.

“What are you doing here?” He asked, still holding her tight.

“I wanted to see you.” She pulled back from him and smiled. “I don't have long though, Alice is right outside waiting for me.”

“Anna, I am so sorry that I tried to push the timer issue. I realize now that you aren't ready for a lifetime commitment, but I also know that I would rather have you in my life on your terms then not have you at all.” He moved in to kiss her and was pleasantly surprised when she let him.

“Anna!” an impatient voice called form outside.

“I should go.” She moved to start walking away.

“Anna.” Howie grabbed her arm, pulling her back into his arms. “Can we please meet for dinner?”

He could feel her head moving and sighed with relief when he heard the mumbled “yes” come. “Call me tomorrow after you rest up from tonight.” She touched his face and smiled softly before leaving the room.

He was smiling, actually grinning like a dope, by the time the other guys entered the room. “I just saw Anna in the hall,” Brian said. “With that smile, things are good?”

Howie sat back down and put his arms behind his head, “I think they might just be.”

* * * * *

Howie sat at the table, his leg shaking as he waited for Anna. He felt like it was his first date with her again. Nervously he drank water and spilled some down the front of his shirt. He almost knocked the bread on the floor as he grabbed his napkin to attempt to blot dry the water spot. He gnawed on some bread as he waited, glancing again at his watch.

'It's only been thirty minutes,' he thought to himself as he thanked the waiter for refilling his water glass. He quickly scrolled through his calendar on his phone to make sure he had the right day, time and location. It was possible he was so excited after their two hour long conversation the night before that he remembered incorrectly. He had the correct information in his calender. He glanced towards the door as he saw it open, a well-dressed couple walked in and moved to the maitre d.

Thirty minutes soon turned into an hour, an hour turned into two hours. Howie would have waited longer if the restaurant was not pushing for him to leave so they could open his table up to customers ordering food.

Outside he pulled his phone back out and stared at it. Should he call Anna? No, he did not want to let her know how long he waited. Instead, he dialed AJ.

“Hey Howie, I thought you were on a date with Anna tonight.” AJ sounded confused when Howie said 'hello'.

“Well we were supposed to meet up two hours ago, I waited; she was a no show.” Howie admitted as his car was brought around. “I'm not ready to go home, if I go there all I will do is mope and I've had enough moping.” His admission caught him by surprise. Perhaps this was what needed to happen so he could get over Anna. “You wanna go to a couple of clubs?”

They agreed to meet up and it wasn't long before both guys, drinks in hand were scoping out the women who appeared unattached. It had been a long time since Howie had been out dancing with any one other then Anna. He forgot how much he enjoyed dancing and learning the moves of each new partner. When he'd had enough dancing he managed to snake a table, ordering round upon round of drinks.

“Anna doesn't know what she's missin” Howie stammered, determined not to come across as drunk as he felt.

“At least you didn't find your girl with another man.” AJ shouted over the music.

“You had a girl?” Howie asked confused. How long had he been in his depression?

“She's said she'd be gone a few weeks and then, BAM, I find her out to dinner with another guy.” AJ said ignoring his friend's question.

“Who are you talking about?” Howie asked, still confused.

“Karin!” He shouted back as if his friend should know.

“I didn't know she was your girl. I thought you two were just hanging out.” Howie took another drink and looked cross-eyed at the glasses in front of him revealing just how much he had had to drink. “Besides were you still seeing other girls while you were hanging out with her anyway?”

This was obviously not what AJ wanted to hear. He stood up angrily. “I'm gonna get some air.” he stated before leaving the table.

Howie went to the bar and closed out his tab before finding AJ outside. “Man, I didn't mean to upset you.” He spoke while holding himself up against the wall. He didn't feel so hot; maybe those last few shots were not such a good idea after all.

“Yah well...” AJ started. “...What are we talking about me for anyway? We came out tonight to forget about your troubles. “ He looped his arm around Howie's shoulders and helped him walk down the street a ways.

“You know man? Howie asked. “I just want to find the one woman who will love me no matter what, for ever and ever.”

“I understand that.” AJ shot back.

“I know,” Howie's face beamed with his new idea. “If I get one of those timer things implanted, I would know who was the right girl for me.” He couldn't stop himself from speaking those words, the booze had taken control of all his verbal functions and what was more, his brain was in agreement with the words. “Let's find a place and do it.” He grabbed hold of AJ and hugged him.

It took them a lot less time than they thought to find an all night timer parlor. It reminded Howie of one of those slightly shady tattoo Parlors that stayed open all night to cater to the drunken clientele that stumbled out of bars and clubs with an abundance of new found courage.

The lady behind the desk was filing her cherry red nails and snapping her gum when they walked in. She didn't even look up when he asked if he could get an implant done that very moment.

“Fill out the forms and sign below.” She didn't even look up when she spoke and sat with her hand out waiting as if they were inconveniencing her nail filing time. He pulled his credit card out of his wallet and slapped it in her hand. He then signed his name to the bottom of the agreement paperwork. “Right this way.” The woman actually stood to take Howie to the back room where the procedure would occur after he signed his name to the bottom of his credit card receipt.

“Lay there.” She pointed one of her long nails towards the chair. He sat down and lay back with his arms resting on the armrests staring at the ceiling above him. He doing the right thing, right? He wanted to find love and part of him still believed that when he got implanted his screen would show nothing, like Nick's, because Anna did not have an implant. It would mean something right?

The piercing pain in his left arm brought him out of this thoughts. His immediate reaction was to pull his arm up and away, holding it tightly. “Done.” The woman smacked her gum and put the implanter down and moved back to the front of the shop where he could hear her talking with AJ.

He held his arm willing himself to look down at the screen. It was going to be blank, he just knew it. He sighed and forced himself to get it over with. A single tear rolled down his cheek as he saw the display: 57 days 0 hours 8 minutes.
Chapter 12: Brian by Purpura Lipstick
""My Darling Brian,

If you are reading this then I have moved from this world and am now living with Our Lord in Heaven. You are probably wondering how I’ve sent this letter from Heaven, of course I haven’t. I am writing this as you wait in the hallway for me to finish discussing my will with our lawyer. This letter should reach you a couple of years after I am gone.

Do you remember the day we met? I’ve been on some good Church retreats, but that one will always be my favorite, even if you were there only by accident. I never thought it was an accident. Our Lord knew what he was doing when you made that wrong exit. My life was infinitely better for it. All our dreams together may not have come true, but you already fulfilled many of my dreams.

You made my life so happy, I could not have asked for a better husband and friend. I want you to be happy with the rest of your life and I want you to do whatever that is to be happy. Please do not shut yourself away from the world. I want you to love again. As hard as that is for me to write those words I cannot be selfish with your love after I am gone.

Do not be sad for me as I am surely basking in God’s love. I will forever watch over you as you move on in your life and I look forward to the day we are reunited in Heaven.

Love,
Sandra""

Brian sat on his couch, tears rolling down down his cheeks. The letter caught him by surprise, his lawyer called him in that morning but would not talk to him, over the phone, what it was concerning. The lawyer handed him the envelope with Sandra's writing on it, Brian looked at the older man perplexed. He was told it was the final stipulation in Sandra's will, to deliver that letter a couple of years after she died. It was all he came in for, to receive the letter. After he handed it over, the lawyer let him sit in the office, gathering himself for the drive home.

It took a call from Nick before he would actually open the letter to read after he arrived home. Nick convinced him that he needed to read her final words to him. “It might help you move on with your life.” Nick added before he got off the phone.

Brian was unsure what to do now. He was being told by his dead wife to move on, to love again, but now that he'd actually read her words telling her this he no longer felt that he needed love. Who was he kidding, he hadn't felt like falling in love again before her letter.

Thoughts of falling in love again brought his mind almost immediately to Stephanie. He had enjoyed his night out with her, he hardly noticed Nick leaving early. Stephanie took his phone before they'd left and put her phone number in his contacts, she asked if she could have his number. He hesitated long enough that she knew he wasn't going to give it to her. “Don't worry about it Brian, call me when you are ready.” Were her final words before they said their good-nights.

He'd scrolled through the numbers in his phone to hers a few times since that night. He wanted to call her again but for some reason he kept clearing the number instead of hitting send. He avoided the topic with Nick, instead he found out Nick asked a random girl out and actually had fun. Whenever he was around him or the other guys he focused on their issues to keep them off of the topic of Stephanie.

Now, sitting with Sandra's letter still in his hands he picked up his phone wanting to talk to someone, anyone. He started to call Nick, but he realized he did not want to talk about Sandra with Nick or any of the guys. He scrolled further coming across Stephanie's phone number again. Taking a deep breath he hit send and listened to the phone ring.

“Hello?” Stephanie answered.

“Stephanie, this is Brian. How are you?” He felt awkward attempting to make small talk. He didn't really care about how she was, he wanted her to meet him so he could pour out what he was feeling about Sandra.

“I'm doing well. How are you? It's great to hear from you.” She replied.

“I was hoping you would meet me for a cup of coffee in an hour. I really need someone to talk to.” Brian sighed hoping she wasn't busy.

He could hear Stephanie's steady breathing on the other end, deciding whether or not she would give him a chance. He couldn't blame her if she said 'no' he hadn't spoken to her in the weeks following their night out.

“Meet me in thirty minutes at the Starbucks near the studio.” her response was quick and Brian could only guess that the click of the phone was her way of not backing out of agreeing to meet him, or to give him a chance to change his mind either.

He didn't have much time to get ready, he didn't really need it anyway. He wasn't considering this a date, he needed an ear and he hoped that Stephanie didn't mind being that ear. It took him the allotted thirty minutes to reach the Starbucks. He could see Stephanie sitting at a table sipping some form of frothy beverage immersed in a book. Her dirty-blond hair fell over her face, he watched as her hand reached up, grabbing the hair that had fallen down and started to twirl the loose strands. She was dressed simply, she wasn't at work or dressed up for a night out, did he expect her to get dressed up to meet with him for coffee?

“Excuse me,” an older man said behind him. Realizing he was blocking the door, Brian moved out of the way holding the door for the older gentleman to enter. Taking a deep breath he followed the man in and made his way to the table Stephanie waited at.

“Hi,” He said as he took a seat across from her. “Thanks for meeting me.”

She closed her book and pushed it aside, pulling her drink closer. “I, honestly, wasn't sure if you would really show up.”

“I've been unfair to you,” He reached across and put his hand on hers. “Truth is, I do like you, and it scares me.”

“Because of your wife?” She asked, only receiving a nod in response. “Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?”

He shrugged and looked at her face, finally looked at her. Her features were soft and feminine, her eyes were shocking green. Once he looked into her eyes he had a hard time remembering what he wanted to talk about with her. “She wrote me a letter,” He decided to jump right in and tell her. “Before, at the lawyers. She knew then I would not be able to adjust to life without her. It was how she was. I thought I had left her death behind me, this letter proved to me that I hadn't really.” He couldn't hold her gaze anymore, he had to look somewhere, anywhere but her face.

“Brian, nobody expected you to move on and forget about her. They, we, just want you to be happy again.” Stephanie moved her chair around so she was next to him. Without words she pulled him into a hug and letting him release his tears for his wife. He didn't care that he was in public, it felt good to finally be held, able to release the pent up emotion.

“Thank you,” He muttered wiping his eyes. Their faces close now, he could smell a soft scent of rose petals on her. Before he could stop himself, his lips brushed hers. Realizing what he'd done, he pulled back quickly. “I'm sorry.” He muttered as he stood and left the Starbucks.
Chapter 13: Nick by Purpura Lipstick
Nick


“So you kissed her and just left her there?” Nick could not believe what his friend just told him. “After you cried your eyes out over a letter from Sandra?” He passed the basketball to Brian who started to dribble it in place. “When did you become such a chick?”

Brian forcibly passed the ball back to Nick and jogged up under the basket. “I don't know what was going on in my head?”

“Did you call her, you know apologize?” Nick asked as he lobbed the ball at the basket.

Brian rebounded the ball and then made an easy shot from underneath. Nick took his silence as a 'no'. Nick stood as he watched Brian make several shots in silence; he knew the subject should be dropped. “Call her.”

Brian shrugged and started to wander towards the benches. “I will.” It was a statement of finality. Nick knew if he said anything more he would risk being abandoned at the courts again, even though he drove this time.

Nick took a few more shots at the basket before he spoke again. “I am getting together with Trina again after her shift ends.” He spoke nonchalantly hoping Brian would leave it casual and not make a big deal about it. After the crap he just gave him about Stephanie, he doubted it.

“What's this?” Carter found someone worthy of more than one date?” Brian asked before taking a drink of water.

Nick passed the ball back to him when he got back out on the court. “She has a timer,” he stated as if that was all there was to say regarding the matter of dating.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“She'll leave me as soon as she gets closer to zeroing out so she can be ready for her 'one'. Can't really date someone whose heart isn't in it.” Nick shrugged.

Whose heart wouldn't be in it Nick? Hers or yours? You don't exactly sound like you even want to give it a chance. You dwell too much on this whole timer thing.” Brian started to dribble around the court.

“Like you should talk,” Nick mumbled. “Did you hear about Howie?” He asked Brian, deflecting the conversation to another of their friend's issues.

“I just hope he doesn't get an infection from that timer parlor.” Brian cringed. “I do feel bad that he broke his own heart by doing it thought.”

Nick nodded in agreement. “We should get this game started,” Nick said as he noticed darker clouds moving in. “Before it rains.”

* * * * *

Nick leaned against the bars of the inside gate watching all the people enter. He pulled his ball cap further down on his face as he scanned their faces looking for Trina. He pulled out his cell phone to check the time. It was now forty-five minutes after they were supposed to meet and he was about to head out the exit when he saw the tiny blond girl jogging towards him.

“Nick,” She called out to him. “I am so sorry about being late. I would have called but I realized after I got in the car that I forgot to charge my battery and I didn't have my car charger. My piece of shit car stalled on me about ten minutes away. I finally got it started and made it here, doubt it will start up again so I can leave.” She held her hand out to him. “Are you ready to get this day underway finally?”

Nick found himself taking her hand and moving further in the park. “You aren't upset are you?” Trina asked when five minutes passed without a word from him.

“No, of course not.” It was not a complete lie, but not completely true either. He was not used to waiting for a girl. It'd been a while since he'd been on date, since his timer was implanted they were fewer and fewer, but most girls he went out with were eager to meet him and usually arrived before him. Maybe that was his problem, he thought briefly. He wasn't taking the time to meet someone with or without a timer that would treat him like a regular guy. Now, pleased with Trina's tardiness, Nick squeezed her hand and smiled at her.

“So what do you want to do first?” She asked him as she looked around at all the different rides. “Roller coaster, water ride, drop to your doom ride?” She looked up at him waiting for his answer.

“Let's get in line for the coaster,” He pulled her towards the line and only balked slightly when the sign said 'the wait from this point is one hour'.

“We can go somewhere else,” Trina must have seen his face.

“No, we are good here.” He squeezed her hand again before he started to feel like there were eyes on him. He tried to pull his ball cap down further, but it was to no avail.

“You ARE Nick Carter,” one of the girls standing in front of him started. “I can't believe my luck. I was just telling my friend that it would be awesome to run into you while I was out here visiting, and then, here you are.”

Nick realized how much the girl's voice carried when he saw other people turn their heads to see who she was talking to. “Keep your voice down,” He said. “Please.”

“Can I get a picture?” She asked, already moving people aside to reach Nick.

Nick looked at Trina who only smiled at him and moved away so that she would not be anywhere near the picture. “Sure,” He said. He really hoped this wouldn't happen all day, he wanted to spend a fun day with Trina. He stood still smiling a half smile for the camera.

“Thank you,” the girl squealed as she hugged Nick tightly. She moved back to her spot in line and continued to look back at him smiling from time to time.

“I'm sorry about that,” he said as they moved up in line.

Trina shook her head. “Please, I knew something like this would happen when we were out.” Even though she said she was cool with it, he noticed that some of the playfulness they had the first time they went out was gone.

Nick pulled her close to him so he could whisper to her. “Hey, I like spending time with you, I really hope this doesn't put a damper on things.”

“Nick, it's cool, really.” She patted his arm and shuffled forward with the line.

“Is this your girlfriend?” The girl in front of them was turned back facing them again. “When did you start dating her, I thought you were single. When I heard that your timer hadn't started yet, I've been saving my money so I can get implanted.” She beamed at Nick, he believe he could see every one of her teeth as she smiled at him.

“But we've already met.” Nick added, pointing out that the time told you when you met your one true love, if he already met her, she couldn't be it right?

“I heard of a couple that were dating, broke up, got timers, zeroed out and when their timers went off it was the next time they saw each other. They just weren't ready when they first were together.” The girl was now batting her eyelashes at him.

“Well, maybe then.” He smiled back.

“Are you dating her?” The fan asked again. “Because I noticed she has a timer and it's counting down. She's not the one for you, you know so you shouldn't be wasting your time.”

Nick's temper was beginning to grow, he was finding it hard to be amicable to this girl. Trina seemed to sense this about him and jumped in.

“No worries girl, we are just friends. We hang out commiserating over the troubles our timers bring.” The line moved forward slightly but Trina did not move, instead she grabbed Nick's hand. “Let's go somewhere else.”

“Thanks,” Nick said when they were walking away from the ride, the girl, thankfully did not follow. Her friend probably made her continue to wait.

“I only told her the truth,” Trina shrugged and started looking around for another ride.
Chapter 14: Howie by Purpura Lipstick

Howie

The sun started to creep through the cracks in the blinds as he lay in bed fully awake. He rolled to his side and looked at the clock. His alarm was not set to awaken him for another two hours, but it was no use to try to sleep. Howie hadn't slept very well the weeks following his drunken night, waking the next morning to find he got himself implanted. He looked down at his wrist with the timer and groaned as he watched the timer tick away the seconds.

 

“Stupid, stupid, estupido.” He said out loud to himself. How was he going to prove to Anna that they were meant to be as the timer counted down until he would meet his one true love? AJ was no comfort when he talked of his regrets the morning after he'd been implanted He couldn't see Nick sympathizing with him and Brian would only admonish him for insisting on the implant in the first place and pushing Anna away.

 

Since he wasn't going to get any sleep anyway, Howie decided to get up and start his day. He rolled out of the bed and ran his hand through hair. He made his way into the bathroom and started running the water for a shower. He peeled off his underwear and stood in the shower as the water went from cold to warm to hot.

 

Thirty minutes later he was drying off and browsing through his clothes trying to decide what to wear for the day. The smell of coffee wafted up into his room. The smell started to wake him and he picked up her pace a little. “Coffee?” He questioned while pulling his shirt on. He didn't remember setting the timer on the clock to start brewing today. The smell of churrizo began to waft upstairs, now he knew there was no timer to start cooking breakfast. Curiosity getting the better of him, he wandered downstairs.

 

Before he turned into the kitchen he could hear Usher's 'More' playing quietly. He turned into the kitchen and stood back and watched as Anna stood over the stove cooking. Her hips moving to the beat of the song. How he'd missed watching her dancing around as she made breakfast or cleaned.

 

“That's a sight I have missed,” Howie broke the silence, he noticed Anna jump a few inches before turning to face Howie.

 

“Howie,” She smiled, holding the spatula. “How long have you been standing there?”

 

“Just a couple of minutes,” He moved closer and making sure he used his timer-less arm he took the spatula from her. “I'll take it from here.” He kissed her cheek lightly and finished up the breakfast.

 

He placed the plates on the island and stood across from her. He kept his arm with the timer down. “To what do I owe this visit?” He sprinkled hot sauce over his eggs and churrizo before spearing a piece and putting it in his mouth.

 

He watched Anna play with her food, moving it around her plate. “Anna?” He questioned. He knew something was up.

 

“I feel so bad for standing you up the other night. I wanted to be there, but my sister nagged at me and I gave in to her and didn't show.” She reached her arm across and placed her hand on Howie's.

 

“So would you like to have dinner tonight to talk?” Even with the timer on his arm ticking away, he still wanted to work things out with Anna. He still felt he wanted to be with her the rest of his life. He'd heard of people getting the timers removed. He would do that before meeting her for dinner.

 

She bit her lip and continued talking. “There is more.” She looked down at her plate of food. “I was rash, it was crazy, it was stupid...” Her eyes filled with tears as she spoke.

 

“Anna?” he moved closer to her and started to put his arms around her, but before he could she thrust her arm in front of him. He now knew what she was talking about. His eyes widened as saw the timer ticking down the time until Anna meets her one true love.

 

“I was drunk, my sister, she was trying to get me to get over you and she drug me to this place and I got implanted.” tears were flowing from her eyes now. “I...”

 

Howie cupped her head in his hands and looked her straight in the eye. “Anna, I love you and I always will. I don't care that you have a timer on your wrist. I still believe we are meant to be.”

 

“But how, you thought if we got them you and I would zero out and it would prove we are meant to be and now...” She started to pull her head away turning her eyes to see the timer on Howie's wrist. “Oh God, you have one too.” She pulled away and grabbed her purse. “I should go. I knew this was a bad idea. You've moved on and I should too.”

 

“Anna please,” Howie called after her as she opened the door. Howie followed her to her car. “I don't care about this,” he lifted his wrist again. “It can be removed. I have felt lost without you the last few months.”

 

His words fell on no ears as Anna sped down the driveway and down the street. “Shit!” He yelled running his hands through his hair and turning back to the house.

Chapter 15: A.J. by Purpura Lipstick

AJ

AJ knew he should be supportive; Howie had called him and asked if they could get together.  He’d seen Anna again that morning and things had not gone well.   Now he was going on and on how he regretted his decision to get a timer, how he should have listened to her the first time she objected and just let it be. 

Howie was his friend but he couldn’t help but look around the room, looking for something, anything more interesting than the conversation at this table.

“Howie, listen,” AJ said, unable to take the conversation any longer.  “She left, you both have timers, and you both know when you will meet your one. Don’t you only have a little over a month left?  I say you live up being single as long as you can.” 

He watched his friend shake his head. “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea to go out with you.  You are still mooning over Karin being out with another guy, which, by the way, wasn’t even a date.  Grow some balls and call the girl.”

AJ sighed as Howie stood and left the bar.  His friend was right; he’d been completely off his game since his last encounter with Karin.   He’d try to just forget about her, there were plenty of other willing girls out there that would spend their final night of freedom with him.  He didn’t need someone who would get hot and heavy one minute, then push him away the next.   

Something had changed though; he seemed to be pickier about the girls he brought home.  The few that he had gone back to their place or brought back to his always reminded him of Karin. 

He took out his phone and looked at his list of numbers, scrolling through the names. He could call Brian; he might give the same advice as Howie though.  Plus, something in him had changed and he and that girl Stephanie seemed to be getting closer.   AJ hated to interrupt their evening, if they were together, and he bet they would be, Brian needed to be with someone now.

He scrolled past Karin’s number and settled on Nick’s.   “Hey Nick,” He shouted into the phone when he answered.  It seemed to be really loud in this bar now.

“AJ, man, it’s late. Why are you calling?”  Nick responded.

 “What?  I can’t hear you.”  Was Nick whispering? 

“I’m trying to be polite and let my friend sleep.”   Nick sounded irritated as he spoke to AJ.

“You have a girl over?”  AJ chuckled; perhaps the boy was finally taking his advice.  “Did she time out?”

“Jay, listen.  We didn’t sleep together, she’s in the spare room sleeping.  She had a run in with her ex-boyfriend tonight and needed a place to crash that didn’t remind her of him.  I let her stay here, that’s it.  She’s a friend.”  Nick asserted.

AJ heard the words but didn’t believe them.  This was Nick Carter he was talking to.  Before timers were even being issued he had women lining up to be with him and no woman would sleep under his room that wasn’t sharing a bed with him.    “Okay, man, if you say so,”  AJ laughed.

“I’m gonna go, I want to get to sleep too,” Nick said.

“Yes, sleep, got it.” AJ continued to laugh.  It wasn’t until he heard utter silence on the other end that he realized Nick had hung up on him.  “Shit!”

He started flipping his phone through his hands, finally taking out a cigarette and sticking it in his mouth. Due to anti-smoking laws he would have to wait to get a dose of nicotine but he felt a little relief just having the cigarette hanging off his lip. 

He watched as a young girl got her drinks from the bar, her eyes catching his.  She smiled at him, and was he imagining it, or did she lick her lips? She had several drinks that she was probably taking back to friends, he decided he would be a gentleman now,  it would surely pay off in the end.  He needed a good screw to forget about the evening and Karin.

“Hello,” He said after sauntering over to her.  “Can I help you carry those?” 

The red-headed girl nodded, her cheeks bright red.  She continued to smile at him as she led him back to the table she was sharing with several other friends.  

“You having a party?” He asked the girl.  

He could see her cheeks turn a brighter shade of red, if that was possible. She nodded again.  Would she ever speak to him, if not she would turn out to be one quiet fuck. 

“My friend is leaving the country for work.”  The girl answered when as they were a few feet away. 

So she could speak.  AJ smiled at her, he didn’t really want to hang out with a large group of people he didn’t know, but he was sure it wouldn’t be hard to convince this girl to go to a quiet table somewhere after a short while.

When they reached the table, AJ stopped a few feet away, hesitating to move forward.  He could see her, Karin sitting between a bunch of friends a few multi-colored bags being shoved in front of her.  She was the friend going away?

“Lori, about time you brought those drinks back,” Karin’s voice carried over everything else in the room.  AJ only heard her. 

He had to strain to hear what Lori was saying back to her friend but it sounded like, “I found someone you should have invited.  You can hate me all you want,” 

Karin looked up and around after her friend spoke, her eyes settling on AJ.   Instead of the look of disgust he thought he might get, she hopped from her stool and walked over to him, taking the drinks from his hands.  “Thanks for helping.  Lori said she brought you over here.”

So the red-head had an ulterior motive when she caught his eye.  He chuckled, it wasn’t like he didn’t have one when he went over to her.  

“C’mon over,” Karin said walking back to the table.  Once all the drinks were down, she enveloped AJ in hug.  The tension and annoyance he’d felt earlier in the evening melted away.

He found an empty spot and took a seat.  He watched as Karin and her friends continued their going away party for her.  He stayed fairly quiet, only speaking to Lori when she appeared to get enough guts to speak to him.   After awhile everyone but Lori, Karin and himself cleared out.  

Lori looked between AJ and Karin.  “I am going to take these bags to the car.  Don’t take too long, I hate to sound selfish but I work tomorrow and I have to get my kid up early to get him to school first. “

AJ watched as Lori exited the bar, then turned to face Karin, her eyes on him.   “So when do you leave? And where are you going?”

She smiled, “That’s right you didn’t get to hear the news.  I got that job I wanted with the magazine.  It will have me in London for two years at least.”

“Wow, congrats!” He was genuinely happy for Karin, even if his heart had just dropped into his feet.  “Listen, Karin, I’m sorry about that day.  I shouldn’t have flown off the handle.  I was completely in the wrong and I know that now.” 

He could feel her hand on his arm.  “I could have put aside my pride and called you too.   I’ve never handled jealously well, whether it was coming from me or directed at me.  I had prepared myself when I agreed to start hanging out with you.  I knew you were, are, a player.   I honestly thought I was a friend with occasional, minor benefits.”  She laughed and he lightened up, laughing along with her.

“You are one of my best friends, Karin.” He stepped closer to her, wrapping his arms around her waist.  He leaned in and placed his lips on hers, he could feel her lean into him returning his kiss. 

Karin eventually pulled away, “AJ, I can’t just be friends with you anymore.  I realized it that day when that girl came in behind you.  I couldn’t stand that you were jealous and that I felt the same way.   But I also can’t stand that after I was gone, you went back to picking up girls.  I can’t give my heart to someone who could get bored and find someone new, someone who wants a last minute fling before they meet their one.” 

“Karin, I was never bored with you,”

She shook her head, “But when I wasn’t around you got bored.  I can’t be around you all the time to keep you interested in me.”  She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.   “I wish you the best and hope you are happy when you finally find your one.”  She hugged him one last time and turned, leaving the bar, leaving him standing there watching her go.

It was at that exact moment, AJ realized, he didn’t want to be with anyone else but her, ever again and she was leaving him. 

Chapter 16: Nick by Purpura Lipstick

Nick

Nick was driving Trina back to her place after she spent the night.  He told her what AJ assumed about the two of them and she laughed.  Nick felt a little hurt at her laughing over the idea of them sleeping together.  He couldn’t say it hadn’t crossed his mind but Trina seemed to be more interested in a friend more than anything.

“Yah, that would be crazy. It’s obvious we weren’t meant for each other,” He laughed and held up the wrist with the timer on it.

Trina shrugged at his comment.  Then he remembered from their first night out together she said she didn’t really believe in the timers.  Then why did she still have one? 

“Did you ever tell me why you still had a timer if you didn’t believe in them?” He asked again, smiling so she could see he was only after friendly conversation.

“I’ve heard the scars they leave when they are removed are ghastly.  I’d rather have something on my wrist then walk around with the scars.  I know it sounds vain.  How about you? Yours isn’t counting down anything, why don’t you get yours removed?”  She asked, a little trace of venom in her voice.  She probably didn’t appreciate him asking.

Nick had thought about this often.  He should get it removed, it was the cause of too many issues for him lately.  People might look at him differently if he didn’t have a timer versus his timer simply not counting down.   But if he did, he’d have the scars too and then there would be a whole new can of worms for people to pester him about.   Honestly, he was afraid to get it removed.  What if he never met the one because he removed it?

“Same reason, I guess,” he said.  It wasn’t an all out lie, it was only part of the reason.

They sat silent for a few more minutes, unsure where to go with the conversation.  Finally, uncomfortable with the silence, Nick started to talk about anything.

“Did I tell you about what happened to Howie? It would be sort of funny if I didn’t consider him like a brother to me. “ 

Trina nodded.  “He’s the one that got drunk and implanted one night? And recently found out that his girlfriend did the same thing?  Why do they care about it? It’s just a number, if they really love each other they should be together.”

“She wasn’t accepting his proposals, he loved her and wanted to prove they were meant to be.” Nick defended his friend.

“Backfired big time,” Trina added.  “I don’t think it wasn’t a romantic gesture, Murphy’s law is all.”

Nick silently agreed.  He hated to see Howie in such pain over losing Anna.  He’d always thought they were a great couple and envied what they had, hoping to one day have the same thing.  Turns out, the relationship was full of holes that were kept hidden until recently.

He turned into her apartment parking lot and began to, slowly, drive to her apartment building.

“Shit!” She exclaimed loudly.  “What the hell is he doing here?”  She questioned practically jumping out of the car and running towards her apartment. 

Parking quickly as he could, Nick jumped out and followed her inside.   He would never have been able to find her apartment,  having been there only one other time, if she hadn’t left the door open. Her screams echoing through the complex.

“What the hell are you doing here? You moved out!” she yelled.  Nick knew from how she reacted in the car that her ex-boyfriend was here.  The man who she’d run into the night before causing her not to want to go home, was now in her home.  

“Babe, I miss you.” He could hear a male voice pleading. 

“You left me, remember? After proclaiming your indifference to your timer, it didn’t matter to you, you turn around and leave me when you zero out!”  she yelled back.

Nick wandered calmly through the apartment finding the feuding duo in the bedroom, the ex still lying in bed.   He stood in the doorway, ready to help Trina if she needed it. Right now she appeared to have everything under control.

“You need to leave!” She threw his clothes to him and turned to leave. Seeing Nick in the doorway, she let him wrap his arms around her and steer her out of the room.

“Who the hell is that?” The male voice called out after them.  Shortly later, the shirtless man made his appearance in the living room.

“Dude, calm down, I’m just a friend.” Nick offered the angered male.  Hearing the claim of friendship seemed to calm him a bit and he turned his attention back to Trina.

“It was a mistake Trina, I never should have left you,” he took Trina’s hand and held it to his heart. “You are my everything.  I love you.”  He moved in closer, in what Nick assumed was an attempt to kiss her. She shoved him away.  Nick smirked to himself.

“What about your ‘one’?”  She asked, indifference on her face.

The man shrugged, “She wants to meet you.”

Trina pulled her hand away and slapped his face.  “I am not going to join in some twisted fantasy of yours. Get out, and give me your damn key.” She held her hand out to him waiting for the key.  He shrugged smugly and put the key in her palm. 

“Your loss,” He made a kissy noise at her and turned to leave, stopping to face Nick.  “She’s a fantastic fuck!” he shot his thumb towards Trina.  Before he could stop himself, Nick’s fist collided with the man’s face.  The later grasping his nose in pain as he left the apartment.

“Ow,” Nick grabbed his fist.  Seconds later Trina was handing him a cloth with a bag of ice wrapped inside. 

“You didn’t have to do that.  He’s an ass.” 

“Well, I couldn’t help it.” He chuckled and covered his fist with the ice.

They sat next to each other on the couch, Nick covering his fist with the ice, Trina running her fingers through his hair.  “Thank you,” She mumbled.

“Trina, I can’t believe that was the asshole you were upset about leaving when we first met.”

“Yah, well he changed.  He really was a nice guy when we first met. We got implanted together.  We had the same thoughts your friend Howie had.  We wanted to show how committed we were to each other.  When our timers didn’t sync, well he changed.  I stuck it out with him, hoping it was just a phase.”  She shrugged. 

Nick wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled him close to her.  “Just because timers don’t match is no reason to turn into the world’s biggest chump.”  He kissed the top of her head.  She turned her face towards his, kissing his jaw line, resting on his lips. 

Nick was the one to pull away, “Trina, not that I didn’t enjoy that kiss, but you just had a confrontation with your ex.  You probably aren’t thinking straight.” 

She nodded.  “I’m sorry.” 

“Don’t apologize, I liked it.  If something more is to be between us, I want it to happen when my fist isn’t throbbing from punching your ex-boyfriend.”  He pulled her close, holding her as she let out a few sobs. 

Wiping her eyes she stood and faced him.  “I am going to make sure he didn’t take anything.  You can find your way out?”  She asked, giving him no time to answer, she was already in her bedroom with the door closed. 

Nick put the bag of ice in the sink and sighed as he walked out the door.  His drive home was solemn.  He wanted to do something to cheer her up, she needed to be cheered up.  Smiling to himself, he thought of the perfect idea. She was going to love it.

 

 

Chapter 17: Brian by Purpura Lipstick

Brian

The television was the only source of light in the room as Brian and Stephanie sat watching a movie.  They sat should to shoulder, Brian forever contemplating if he should put his hand on her knee.   He decided against it. 

“Enjoying the movie?” He asked. 

 Stephanie nodded, “Yes, are you?”

“I am,” Brian replied.  ‘Brian, this is lame, do something.’  He could hear Nick’s voice in his head, he beat it back.  Brian wanted to take his time to get to know Stephanie.  They’d hung out several times, but she still seemed very guarded.

As the credits began to roll, Brian turned towards Stephanie.  He was determined to learn more about this woman’s past.  “Stephanie, I’m glad you listened to my problems that day.  And I’m really glad you agreed to meet with me again even after seeing me as a blubbering fool.”  He laughed and watched her face break into a smile. 

“Brian, I can’t fault you for that.  Getting a letter from the grave must be very heart wrenching.”   Her eyes looked sad, but her smile remained implanted on her face.

He turned off the movie and turned to the news.  A new serial killer had popped up killing people with timers about to zero out and the news was reporting on him.  Brian breathed a sigh of relief when it was confirmed the killer had been caught.

“That’s just horrible,” Stephanie commented, “Kills them right before they find true love.”

 “Made me glad I didn’t have a timer and now I don’t really care to get one.”  He shrugged and looked towards Stephanie, hoping she would talk about her feelings.

“I think I still want to get one.  Serial killers show up all the time killing specific people.  I wouldn’t let it stop me.  I almost have enough money saved to finally get one.”  She smiled at Brian.

“So you definitely are getting a timer?” Brian asked.

She picked up her soda and took a drink before answering.  “Yes, the world is so uncertain now I’d like something that I can be sure of, and I don’t need a broken heart again.” 

Brian felt a little down, he’d hoped Stephanie would feel the same way about timers as he did.  “Who broke your heart?” 

Stephanie shook her head.  “I don’t like to talk about it much.”  Brian moved closer and put his hand on her knee, encouraging her to continue.

“I’ll tell you,” she said with finality.  “I also lost someone dear to me in a car accident.  It was a little more than a year ago; I loved him with all my heart.”   Her eyes got teary but she held up her hand when Brian moved closer to her to comfort her. 

“I was packing his stuff a few months before you agreed to hang out with me and I stumbled across a little velvet box and inside was a ring.  He was going to propose,” The tears were falling freely now and she had no objections when Brian moved closer taking her in his arms.

When her sobs subsided she moved away from Brian and grabbed a tissue. 

“This is why you want a timer?” He asked.  

She nodded, wiping her eyes with the tissue.

He wanted to yell at her that the timer would not solve all uncertainties, that life still had curveballs.  Just because you had a timer attached to your arm telling you when you would meet your one true love, something could still go wrong and that person could die, before or after you’d met.  He calmly said, “You know a timer won’t prevent accidents.”

“No, but it will keep me from dating a bunch of losers to find the next right one,” She smiled, her eyes still red and puffy from crying. 

“Can I ask then, why did you want to go out with me? Why start hanging out with me if you are only going to get a timer and then either string me along or run off waiting for love?”  Brian was feeling a mix of heartbreak and anger.  Why would anyone start something they had no intention of seeing out?

“I like you Brian, I have since I started working for Mr. Mitchell.   I wanted to spend time with you.  I would love it if you were my one, but the chances of that, admit it they are slim.  You are a Backstreet Boy and I’m an assistant to a music executive and a fan.  Frankly, I’m shocked every time you call me.” 

 “The chances are slim? Yet here we are.”  Brian stood and began pacing. 

 “I’m sorry if you are hurt, I set my mind to get one before I met you.”  Stephanie shrugged and attempted to stop Brian from pacing.  He shrugged off her hand and moved further away.

 “I need time to think,” He said. 

 Stephanie moved closer to him again.  “Brian, I love hanging out with you.  Please don’t let this ruin our friendship.”  She tried to hug him good-bye but when he moved away again she grabbed her purse and left.

Chapter 18: AJ by Purpura Lipstick

AJ

AJ stood in the line at the ticket counter for check in watching for anyone watching him.  He didn’t mind when fans came up to him, but he did not want to be mobbed in the airport.  He approached the counter and started pull out the information he knew would be needed. 

“Name, destination and ID please” the woman behind the counter asked without looking up from her monitor.

“Alexander Mclean, Heathrow airport,” He replied and handed her his passport.  He could hear her fingers tapping the keys quickly as he waited for her to print off his boarding pass.   

“Any bags today?” She asked; still busy typing on the keyboard.

“Just the one carry on.”  He said as he pulled on the strap for his one bag with a couple changes of clothing.  Though he hoped he would have reason to have more, he wasn’t sure how warm his reception would be.

After waiting for another few minutes listening to the attendant tap away on the keyboard she pulled out his boarding pass and placed in an envelope. 

“Keep your passport out as they will need to see it at security.  Have a nice day and enjoy your flight.” She said looking up and for the first time laying eyes on him.  Her smiled brightened when she saw him, but she maintained her composure. 

He made his way through security fairly easy.  He’d made sure to pack any and all of his usual metal accessories in his bag before reaching the airport and since he’s scaled down on the amount of crazy hairdos he only had a small bottle of shampoo to separate out.

He arrived at the terminal and took a seat, pulling out his phone and opening his Words with Friends application.  He noticed that it was his move for his games against Brian and Kevin.  Howie hadn’t played yet, and Nick probably wouldn’t answer his challenge.   He laughed at the score between him and Kevin he was so far behind the older man that it was almost pointless for him to continue.  He messed around with his letters and finally came up with a word, put it on the board and hit submit.   He replied to Brian’s game too before boarding was called.

AJ waited his turn to board and handed his ticket to the airline attendant.  He found his seat in first class and pulled out his book, he’d decided to re-read the Harry Potter series and was currently on Order of the Phoenix , and his IPod before stowing his bag in the overhead compartment. 

AJ settled in for his flight to London, he’d planned an overnight flight so when he arrived in London, he will have at least, hopefully, slept for a little bit.

He watched out the window as the plan took off, he watched the skies for a brief while and then decided to read his book.  Before he knew it, the lady next to him was waking him up, they’d arrived.  He looked down at his book, he was on the same page he opened it to when he decided to read.

He grabbed all his stuff and made his way off the plan, through customs at the airport and out onto the streets of London.   He pulled out the piece of paper with the address where Karin was living.  He didn’t know how he’d managed, but he’d been able to find out the number for that Lori girl from the other night from a former co-worker of Karin’s, then he managed to get the address from her.  It didn’t take much convincing so he wondered if Lori was rooting for him to go out and visit.

After a crazy drive through the streets of the city in the cab he’d arrived at the location. 

“Here’s hoping she doesn’t just toss me back out,” AJ said out loud.  The cabbie hearing this grunted thinking he was talking to him. 

“Want me to wait?” the guy asked.

AJ shook his head and paid the guy, standing in front of the building.  Showing up for a visit had sounded like a great idea in his head, as he bought the ticket, as he boarded the plane, as he hailed the taxi, but now as he stood in front of the building he was having second thoughts.

It had only taken him a split decision to visit Karin in London.  He decided he wanted, no needed to see her and let her know that he wanted to only see her, to only be with her.  His palms were sweating as he rang the apartment given to him by Lori.

“Hello?” A voice answered.  Could that be Karin, her voice sounded different over the intercom.

“Hi,” He managed to stutter out.

“Who is this?” the voice asked back.

“I was wondering if Karin was home,” he said loudly enough for the person to hear.

“Who’s asking?”  The voice sounded slightly irritated now.

“AJ Mclean,” He answered.  No response came back to him.  “Hello?” he questioned.  He was sure the intercom had been disconnected.  He moved towards the street to look up, maybe the person was trying to see if he was full of shit.   He saw a girl hanging out the window, he waved and smiled.  He watched as she ducked back inside, the next thing he heard was the buzzer releasing the door lock.

He pulled open the door and made his way up the stairs to apartment 4E.  The door was open before he got there. 

“Karin talked about knowing you but I didn’t believe her,” the girl who buzzed him up started talking.  “She might not be too happy I let you in, but I’m happy I let you in.”  She winked at AJ and moved aside so he could enter.

“She’s in the shower right now, she’s gonna flip when she sees you.” The girl laughed and moved to the kitchen.  “Can I get you anything to drink?”    

“Water,” he mumbled realizing how dry his mouth was feeling.  He was nervous Karin really would flip when he saw her.    

It was only a minute later before Karin came out of the bathroom, drying her hair with a towel.  “Marcie, who are you talking to out here?”  She looked up to see AJ sitting on the couch.  “Oh,” she stammered.

Before she could move, AJ was standing next to her.  “Can we talk,” He wanted to get it out before she could say anything.

“Why are you here?” She asked.

“I had to see you, more than that, I had to speak with you.  After the last time we spoke you made me realize that I’ve been a damn fool.  You really are my best friend Karin and I want to be with you.  All those other girls were only good for one thing.  I always enjoyed my time with you more, always.” He accepted the glass from Marcie and chugged the water.

“I told you, I can’t always be around to make sure you are having fun,” Karin responded glaring at Marcie who was just standing there watching the scene.  Marcie must have got the hint because she grabbed her jacket and her keys and said “toodle-loo” before walking out the door.

“I know what you said, but I’m saying I only want to be with you.  I don’t care about those other girls, I can’t stand not being around you.  I compare every girl I see now to you.”  AJ took a hold of her hand.  “Please tell me you will give me a chance to prove this to you.”

Karin hesitated.  “How do I know you won’t wander? All you have been doing is wander from bed to bed, spending your time with girls who have zeroed out or are about to zero out.”  She turned his wrist upwards so that the timer screen was apparent.  “You still have this.”

“Karin,” AJ started but she held her finger to his lips.

“You have shown me nothing to prove that you can be faithful to me.  I cannot be with someone I have to worry about sleeping around, I just won’t be that girl.”

AJ nodded like a sad puppy.  He’d failed. 

“Are you staying in London? Maybe we can grab some dinner tonight and talk more,” She smiled giving him some hope.

He nodded and they agreed on dinner and then he decided he needed to leave to check in and get situated and ready.  “Oh before I go,” AJ stood in the door.  “Howie wanted me to ask you if you would come home for his zero out bash.”  AJ laughed.  “He’s throwing a party for friends and family after he zeros out, I don’t know why, maybe so he wouldn’t be alone when he finds his girl and it’s not Anna.” AJ shrugged.

“I would love to come, when is it?” Karin asked.

“I’ll have to get you the date, I can’t keep track of his timer.”  AJ smiled before heading back out to the street.  He hailed a cab and pulled out his phone.  It was seven o’clock in London which meant it was  eleven o’clock where Nick was, he should be awake. 

He dialed the number as he got in the cab, giving the cabbie his destination.  “Hey Nick, I know what I’m going to do when I get back.”

“What?” Nick asked.

“I am going to get my timer removed.  It would be a perfect way to show Karin I mean what I say.”  AJ was excited with his idea.  He thought it was brilliant.

“Dude, do you know the scars that thing leaves behind?”

“Nick, c’mon, this is me you are talking to.  I’ll just get some sweet tattoo around them and make them look like the shit.”  AJ laughed.

“Do what you think is best, why did you call me?” Nick sounded a little irritated.

“I just had to share. Also can you get me the name and number of a place that removes them so I can set up the appointment for when I get home.  I want to have it removed when Karin shows up for Howie’s party.”   AJ finished up his call with Nick and leaned back in the cab smiling to himself.  He glanced down at his timer and smiled.  “Hasta la Vista timer.”

Chapter 19: Brian by Purpura Lipstick

 Brian

Brian sat tapping his foot impatiently as the phone rang. He hoped the person on the other end picked up, he really needed to talk. He was confused about some things and needed some advise.

As the voicemail recording started, Brian hung up and ran his hands through his hair. He thought about how long he should wait before trying the number again. He was just beginning to dial the phone number again when his phone started ringing from the exact person he was trying to call.

“Hello,” Brian sighed with relief as he answered the phone.

“Sorry Cuz, but the lil one needed a new diaper,” Kevin's voice sounded tired as it came over the phone. “I just reached my phone when it stopped ringing. What did you need?”

“If you are busy, I can call back,” Brian felt guilty. He didn't want to intrude on his cousin's life, he knew how busy it was lately even though he left the group.

“Brian, you sound like you need to talk, so talk I can make time for you. So talk,” Kevin commanded.

Brian couldn't help but smile at his words and his tone. “It's about Stephanie,” he could almost see his cousin grinning over the phone. Next to Nick, Kevin had been the one pushing him the most to start seeing women again. He, of course, had told Kevin all about her when he first started spending more time with her.

“How are things going with her?” Brian could hear the baby in the background speaking in his own baby language. He tried not to let his mind dwell on his last conversation about having kids with Sandra.

“That's what I wanted to talk about. We talked about timers the other day. She's determined to get one. She thinks it will help her avoid heartache in the future. She also experienced the sudden loss of a loved one. I tried to convince her that the timers won't save you from that kind of heartbreak but she wouldn't listen. I think it might be over with her.” Brian flipped on the television, muted it, and began to go through the channels looking for a sporting event of any kind.

“Have you told her your feelings about them?”

“I told her I didn't want to get one,” he answered finally finding a college basketball game.

“Have you asked her not to get one?” Kevin asked sounding as if it was the easiest thing. He didn't have to worry about dating, he found his love without a timer and now they had a child.

“So what, I'm just supposed to say 'Stephanie we've only really just met and the only move I've really made against you was a wet kiss when I bawled my eyes out about my dead wife but I really think we have something and maybe you shouldn't get a timer.'” Brian rolled his eyes, glad his cousin was over the phone and couldn't see him.

“Don't be a dick Brian,” Kevin reprimanded. “Of course you aren't going to say it like that. Maybe she feels something for you too. You haven't made it clear to her that you are in to her I gather from that little speech? You need to let her know you have feelings for her and ask her if she could maybe put off getting a timer to see how things go with the two of you.” Brian could now hear the chatter from the baby closer to the phone, Kevin must have picked him up.

“Just ask her not to?” Brian scoffed. He'd like to admit to himself that he'd though of that, but truthfully he didn't think he actually said those words to her.

“It can't hurt to ask you know. What's the worst that can happen? She says no and you are right back where you are now.”

Brian kept quiet, there really wasn't anything to reply to, he knew Kevin was right and ther was no point in arguing with the older man.

“Listen, I'd love to talk more, and if you feel you need to I will stay on the phone, but I need to get this lil guy down for bed. It's my night to give him a bath and put him to bed,” Kevin was now making noises back to his son, Brian could hear them. He didn't want to keep him on the phone any longer.

“Okay, you have a good night then Kevin.”

“Brian, just ask her okay?” And with that the two men said their 'good-nights' and got off the phone.

The next day Brian called Stephanie up and asked if she wanted to meet him for some miniature golf. He wasn't sure why he suggested golfing to have the conversation he wanted to have, maybe he was afraid that if he suggested somewhere more intimate she would be suspicious of what he wanted to talk about.

She was already twirling a club in one hand while holding another club in the other waiting for him as he walked into the park. She smiled and handed him the longer of the two and a dark blue ball. She pulled out a pink ball for herself and grabbed his hand, pulling him to the first hole of the course.

“I love miniature golf,” She said as she placed her ball on the green turf lining up her shot.

Brian stood back and watched grinning ear to ear, he too loved miniature golf, but rarely got to actually play.

“Oh nice try,” he called out as her ball skipped over the first hole and landed just off to the side. “I can see I will have my work cut out for me to win.”

He lined up his own shot and easily sunk it on the first ball. “Yes!” he cried out. He never got a hole in one, but he was not about to let Stephanie know that. “Easy peasy,” he laughed.

The two continued on for another couple of holes before Brian decided he needed to get what he wanted to ask her done with before he lost his nerve and they finished the course, parting ways.

“Stephanie, I wanted to talk to you more about what we discussed the other night,” he started seeing her shoulders slump slightly before she hit the ball down the course.

“I told you how I felt,” She went to move to where her ball sat but Brian grabbed her arm and pulled her back to the sidewalk and into his embrace. He pulled her closer and kissed her. This kiss had no tears, and it was firm. He wanted to know that he really did care for her.

“I like you too, Stephanie. I've felt for a while now that there could be more between us, that I'd like there to be more between us. Your talk about the timer crushed me, if you wanted a timer then maybe you didn't feel the same?” Brian's eyes held her gaze willing her to answer how he hoped she would.

“Brian,” she breathed out his name and leaned in to him, her forehead resting on his. “How I've longed to hear you say that.” She moved in and pressed her lips to his, he easily returned her kiss.

“Then why all the talk about a timer?” He couldn't help it, he had to know.

“I didn't know how you felt. I thought you were only hanging out with me as an ear to listen when you needed to talk about something you couldn't talk with one of the guys about. It broke my heart to be around you thinking I was only a surrogate, a cheap version of Sandra. I hoped you felt the way I did, but didn't want to chance it any more,” She shook her head.

“Sandra would never come here with me and play miniature golf. She wouldn't stay up all night and watch all of the Star Wars movies in order either,” He laughed remembering their marathon night. “I loved her, but you are definitely not a surrogate, you are not a cheap version of anyone, you are special and I want to get to know better.” He kissed her again, both of them laughing when they heard a kid nearby telling his mom about the people being gross and kissing.

“Don't get the timer,” he breathed out before releasing her. “It will be nothing like knowing for sure, but I can guarantee it will probably be more fun.” He smiled.

“I can't wait to find out if we are meant to be, without the timer.” Stephanie playfully punched him as she went back to her ball and easily hit it in. “Par!” she yelled out.

End Notes:

And that's all she wrote for Brian!

Chapter 20: Nick by Purpura Lipstick

Nick

It had been a couple of weeks since that day at Trina's apartment. Nick pulled into a vacant visitor spot and turned his car off. He hoped that Trina would agree to the trip he'd planned. They'd spoken on the phone so rarely since the last time he was here.

He knocked on the door to her place and listened as her footsteps got closer. The footsteps paused at the door and he knew she was looking out the peep hole so he put on his biggest, goofiest grins.

“Trina, I got something awesome planned. I know you don't work the next few days, please say you'll come.” Nick now stuck his lower lip out and pouted. He heard the locks being undone and the door knob turned, but the door was not pulled open.

He cautiously pushed open the door to find the apartment dark. “Trina?” He wandered in further and found her sitting on the far end of the couch. “What are you doing?” He asked as he flipped on the light switch.

“Just got up,” she shrugged.

“Trina?” He sat next to her.

She shook her head and turned towards Nick. “I suppose it's nothing, what did you have in mind?” She asked smiling in her usual manner.

Nick pulled out an envelope, opening it to show two tickets leaving for Las Vegas later that night. “What do you think?”

“Sure, sounds fun,” She moved to her bedroom and looked back at Nick. “I'll just pack for the night?” She asked and smiled as Nick nodded.

The two arrived and checked into the hotel and threw their bags down on the bed. “What now?” Trina asked, hands on hips watching Nick.

Nick looked around and shrugged, he moved around the room checking the place out. Since he hadn't booked a hotel room prior to their arrival they'd ended up in one of last suites, it was expensive, but Nick didn't care. He wanted to show Trina a good time, help her forget the dick of an ex-boyfriend.

“Well, we could go down to the tables?” Nick suggested.

The next thing he knew sunlight was streaming in through the windows shining right into his eyes. He rubbed his eyes with his fingers and sat up. He looked down realizing that the only thing covering him was the sheet off the bed, his underwear was lying strewn across the nearby chair, he stood and quickly swiped them off the chair and quickly put them on.

He turned to face the bed, “Shit.” He cursed to himself as he saw Trina laying in the bed he just exited, just as naked as he was. He tried to recall the night before. They got in the room and agreed to go downstairs to gamble. He remembered a few drinks, winning some, losing some. There were more drinks. He seemed to recall a lot of kissing but other than that, his mind was blank as to how they ended up in the same bed, naked. Not that he minded that much, he had wanted to sleep with Trina for awhile now.

“Trina!” He called out. She rolled her head the opposite way and groaned.

He moved over to the other side of the bed and crouched down next to the bed. “Trina..” he called softly this time.

He watched as her eyes blinked open and she smiled at him, noticing he had no shirt on. “Mmm, have you always looked that sexy without your shirt?”

“I could ask you the same,” Nick laughed.

“What?” She asked as she looked down at herself. “Shit. How did this happen?” She asked pulling the covers closer to her neck.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” He ran his hands through his hair, sunlight glinting off of something on his hand. “What the fuck?” He asked as he brought his hand back down staring at titanium band on the ring finger of his left hand.

“Gimme your hand,” he demanded Trina.

“Why?” she asked, tentatively giving him her hand.

“No the other hand,” He said after she put out her right hand. She pulled her left hand out from under the sheets and looked down. “What the...?” She asked sitting straight up, letting the sheet fall then quickly pulling it back up to cover herself.

Nick looked down at the band on her left ring finger, three diamonds set in the middle. “Shit,” he mumbled to himself and stood up searching for his wallet. He found it thrown on the bar top in the sitting room, where many empty bottles of alcohol could be found. He flipped it open and rummaged through the cash he found looking for anything that might help give him a clue as to what happened.

He found two receipts in his wallet, his drunk self was at least responsible enough to keep the receipts somewhere he'd be able to find them. He looked at the one for the jewelry store and cringed. They were wearing them, he knew he bought them, what did he expect that one to show him.

Nick hesitated looking at the other receipt. Trina, with a tank top and shorts on, joined him in the room. “What's that?” She asked him.

He shrugged. “It's a receipt for something, I'm afraid to look at it.”
“Let me,” She took the paper from him and unfolded it several times before it was full size. “Fuck, it's not a receipt,” She tossed the paper in front of him. Nick looked down and saw a marriage license with both of their names complete with the officiant and two witnesses.

Nick dropped his head into his hands and rested his elbows on the counter top. “This is not good,” he mumbled into his hands.

He could feel Trina's hands on his shoulders, her lips brushing against his back. “We can return the rings and get an annulment. We wouldn't be the first couple to do something like this I'm sure.” The sound of her ring clattered on the counter below him.

He picked it up and held it in his fingers. “You are right, we can just undo this,” he smiled at her. Nick grabbed his phone and started looking through the directory searching for anywhere they could annul.

“Hello?” Trina disrupted his thoughts as she answered her phone. “Mom?” She questioned. “What, slow down, I told you what? You want to what?” Trina looked over at Nick, mouth gaped open. “Yes, yes, we'll make plans,” She said and then got off of the phone.

“Well apparently I called my mother and told her the good news last night.” Trina rolled her eyes. “She can't wait to meet you,”

“You are going to tell her right?” Nick asked.

Trina nodded and looked away from Nick.

“What's that look for? You know we can't stay married. I like you and all Trina, but marriage?” He laughed playing with the rings in his hand.

“I know, it's just, she's always wanted to see me married and …” she stopped

“Then wait a little while and then tell her, say it didn't work out. No need to tell her it was a Vegas wedding.” He sat in a chair nearby and put his hand on her arm to comfort her.

“She knows,” she huffed. “She mentioned it on the phone just now.”

Nick looked around the room and managed to find his pants. He pulled them on as Trina sat in the chair looking perplexed.

“Nick,” she started. “I can't do this to her just yet. I can't tell her I'm married one minute and then tell her it didn't work out not even a day later.” She sighed.

Nick bit his lip looking at the woman sitting in the chair and knew what he was going to say, knew it was something that could bite him in the ass big time, something he was going to take shit for from the guys. “Why don't we stay married?” He asked.

Trina looked up at him shocked. “What? Why would you suggest that?” She asked standing and moving next to him.

“Let's try this, how about we meet your mom within the next couple of weeks the happy married couple, then we can get the marriage annulled.” Nick shrugged. “You can tell her what you want, that I ran off, that I'm a complete dick, whatever you like.” He had no idea why he was suggesting this. It would be just as easy for Trina to tell her mom these things without meeting him.

“You would do that for me,” Trina's face lit up as she moved closer still.

“Sure,” he shrugged. “If the press already has this story it would look better if I tried,” he smiled.

“So, you are only doing this for press?” Trina asked, a look of disappointment crossing her face.

“No, not just press,” He pulled her closer to him, wrapping his arms tightly around her. He leaned down and whispered in her ear, “I'd get to see you naked every day,”

“Hey... I'll have you know...” She started to speak but was cut off as Nick kissed her shutting her up. He liked the way her lips felt and dammit if he wasn't going to enjoy the time they spent as a married couple.

End Notes:

Okay, that was a little random, but I think a fun way to end Nick's story. :-D Hope you enjoyed it.

Chapter 21: AJ by Purpura Lipstick

 

He stood patiently waiting in the baggage claim area for Karin to arrive. AJ hated how he couldn't meet her at the gate anymore; he couldn't wait to see her and to show her his timer-less arm. He knew it would hurt to get it removed but he didn't know how much. The closest pain he could compare it to was ripping a fingernail off, neither experience he cared to go through ever again.

He glanced down at the raw, puckered skin that was all that remained indicating he had a timer. He gently ran a ringer over the wounds and smiled to himself. It was nice not to have to think about having a clock hanging over your head.

“AJ,” Karin called out bringing him back to the moment. He smiled and walked; he refused to run, no matter how excited he was, over to her and pulled her into a one armed hug. “I missed you,” He said smiling. He would have loved to kiss her to welcome her home, but he was not sure how she would receive it.

“Yah, I missed you too,” She smiled at him and held him tighter.

He wanted to show her his wrist, but he wanted to wait until they were alone. He would wait until they were in the car on the way back to his place where he insisted she stayed during her time. He refused to let her pay for a hotel when he had plenty of rooms at his place she could choose from. He hoped that she would choose from. He hoped that she would choose his room after he divulged his information.

“So how long did you decide to stay?” AJ asked as they moved towards the roundabouts for the baggage watching all the bags fall from the chute and rotate around.

“I thought I'd visit some of the my friends who haven't seen me since the going away party. I know it hasn't been quite two months, but I miss those bitches,” she laughed. “I'll be here for the week. Are you sure it's okay I stay here with you for that long? I'm sure I can stay with another friend or even my parents.”

AJ shook his head. He knew she really didn't want to stay with her parents and her friends, even though they would take her in, they didn't have the same amount of room as he did. “No, I insist you stay with me.”

She nodded and reached for her suitcase, hefting off the carousel and dragging it towards the door. AJ tried to take her bag from her but she swatted his hand away. They stood silent waiting for the valet to bring AJ's car up; Karin let him lift her bag into the trunk before taking her seat on the passenger side.

“AJ I really appreciate you picking me up and letting me stay with you.” Karin placed her hand on his as they drove.

'Do it AJ,' his mind shouted to him. 'Tell her,' it shouted again. “Karin,” he started realizing he should tell her, there wouldn't be a better time. Howie's party was that night. “I,” he started but was unable to find the words; instead he flipped his wrist over and showed her scars.

“What's this?” She asked. He sivered slightly as he felt her fingertips run across his scars. “Is this where your timer was?”

“Yes,” he nodded as extra emphasis.

“You removed it?” She questioned, still running her fingers along the inside of his wrist.

“I told you I only wanted to be with you. You wanted proof. I removed the timer; I don't care about meeting the one. As far as I'm concerned, I've met her.” He turned briefly to smile at her then turned his attention back to the road.

Karin moved her hand back into her lap and stared straight ahead. AJ wished he could be in her head to know what she was thinking; instead he had to ask her.

“What are you thinking about?” The smile still plastered to his face. He was sure that this would be proof enough for Karin.

“AJ...” she breathed. “It's a great gesture, really it is, but it's not enough.”

“What do you mean?” The smiled now gone from his face, he felt a need to pull out a cigarette.

“Did you have flings with girls before the timer?” she asked.

He nodded in reply, unsure where she was going with this.

“If you had flings before the timer, what promise is there for me that you won't continue to have flings now even with no timer?” She looked him in the eye for the brief second he glanced her direction before looking back to the road.

“I don't understand what you want from me then?” it was the last words spoken to each other for another few hours. They reached AJ's house where she chose a guest bedroom and got herself ready for Howie's party. AJ freshened himself up and waited for her to finish getting ready. He wished, now, that she was staying somewhere else. He didn't know if he could stand seeing her the entire time she was here and knowing that she would still not give herself to him.

She exited the room and stood in front of AJ waiting for him to stand. “I'm ready,” she said so that he would finally stand.

“You look nice,” he said as he held the car door open for her.

“Thank you,” she grinned at him before sitting into the car.

They entered Howie's house and Karin immediately went off to a group of girls that were near the drinks, AJ recognized them from some other get together they had.

“Hey Jay,” a familiar voice called out to him.

AJ turned around and smiled as he saw Kevin walking towards him his hand outstretched to great him. “How's it going Kevin?”

“Good, good. Working on getting acting gigs.” The older man smiled. “How about you? I hear you got your timer removed.”

AJ nodded and started to tell Kevin all about Karin and his attempt to show her he wanted to be serious. It didn't take long for AJ to notice several girls standing around the two, girls he wasn't sure he recognized. How did they get into Howie's party? They must have come with friends that were invited.

“AJ,” One girl purred his name. He could feel her arms entwine around his waist. He moved her arms off of him and continued talking to Kevin.

“AJ,” she purred again, wrapping her arms around tighter and kissing his arm.

AJ could see Kevin's look of amusement as this girl continued to through herself at him.

“Look hun,” He took her arms off of him again and turned to face the girl. She had obviously had too much to drink. She was attractive and a couple of months ago he might have ended up in bed with her, but tonight she just looked like a drunk girl who needed to go home. “I'm flattered, really, but I'm not here for any other reason but to have a good time with my friends.”

The girl pouted at him, “But I was hoping...” She started.

AJ shook his head. “You better go elsewhere then.” He turned back to Kevin and continued to tell him about Karin, his trip to London and getting his timer removed.

It wasn't long before AJ felt another set of arms wrap around his waist. “Look, I said I wasn't interested,” He said turning to face Karin. “Karin?” He asked.

“I saw you with that girl, that was a gesture,” She said as she pulled his face closer to hers kissing him.

End Notes:

one more left...

Chapter 22: Howie by Purpura Lipstick

 

Howie walked around his party making sure everyone was having a good time, that they had drinks, that they were enjoying the food. It was his own party and he felt he had to play host. Nick and AJ had convinced him that he should have a zero out party the day after he zeroed out. He didn't put up much of a fight and planning it helped him keep his mind off of Anna.

He made his way into the kitchen in search of something alcoholic to drink. The party was draining him, too many people around when he really wanted to curl up in bed and be alone.

“Nick I still can't believe you did that,” He heard Brian's voice coming from nearby. Howie turned until he Brian, Stephanie and Nick dates standing nearby. He moved towards them, standing somewhat on the outside, wanting to listen in, but not really be a part of their conversation.

“Well, it happened Brian,” Nick spoke.

“You got yourself hitched in Vegas of all places.” Brian jabbed at his friend.

“Brian, I think it's kind of romantic,” Stephanie nuzzled closer to Brian.

“And you decided to stay married?” Brian asked confused. “You've only known her for what, six months at the most?”

Nick shrugged, “We thought we'd at least stay together until we meet her mother and then we'll go from there. Besides, I think I ...” Nick mumbled the rest of the sentence so Howie was unable to hear what he said.

“You what Nick?” unable to keep quiet, Howie interjected.

“I think I might be falling in love with her,” He replied shoving Howie slightly to the side.

“I think it's great,” Howie said smiling at his friend. He was really happy for Nick but he couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for himself. The woman he really loved was gone from his life.

The conversation moved to basketball and Howie took it as is cue to move around the party more. He said “hi” to several people as he wandered by, finally finding AJ tucked into a corner with Karin sitting next to him. Her fingers were running around his wrist, the wrist the timer was removed from.

“What are you two up to?” He asked as he approached.

“We are planning out what I should get tattooed around the scars on my wrist,” AJ smiled up at Howie then back at Karin.

“Can you believe Nick is staying married?” Kevin's voice came up from behind Howie.

“I was just over there, he thinks he's falling in love,” Howie added in Nick's defense.

“It's not a bad thing, just unexpected for him,” AJ piped up. “I'm just glad Trina and Nick aren't hanging all over each other like Brian and Stephanie. Seriously, get a room.” He laughed winking at Karin.

Howie stood with his friends a little longer as they discussed tattoo ideas for AJ's wrist. Howie watched the chatter and started feeling down. He turned and looked at everyone at the party. Everyone was enjoying themselves, everyone but him. He sighed and made his way through the room and up the stairs into his bedroom. Maybe he would just lie down for a little while.

He moved into his room and sat on his bed, dropping his head into his hands. Pushing Anna out of his life by insisting on the damn timer was the worst thing he'd ever done.

Howie looked up as he heard clattering in the bathroom. “Hello,” He called out. “Who's there?”

“Howie?” a voice called back. “It's me, I just came to get the rest of my stuff. I didn't want to interrupt the party so I just came up here,” Anna spoke from the restroom.

“Not much of a party for me,” He called out, laying himself on the bed. Just what he needed to complete his night. Anna at his zero out party.

“Howie,” her voice started again. “I've been doing a lot of thinking lately,” she was talking to him but remained in the bathroom. “I realized a lot of things though getting a timer, I realized how much I loved you. How unfair I was comparing you to my ex-boyfriend. You are two completely different people and I didn't realize what a good thing I had with you until you were gone. I've missed you.” a few more objects sounded as if they were thrown into a bag before she continued. “I wish we could start over.” She said.

“Me too,” Howie replied softly, not even sure if she heard him or not. He continued to lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. “Why can't we?” He asked. Really why couldn't they start over. Who cared if he timed out, his friends were proof that you could have relationships with people that your timer did not match up with.

“I wish we could, but...” She paused, Howie thought he heard a few sobs escape her. “I zeroed out,” she cried out. Now he could tell she was crying.

Howie bolted straight up and off the bed. “You zeroed out?” He questioned. “When?”

“Last night,” she whispered.

Howie moved quickly to the bathroom, seeing her sitting on the floor a bag open around her with things thrown inside, mostly her make-up.

She glanced up at him and then it happened. That magical beeping noise emanating from both of their timers signaling they'd found their one true love. Howie moved to Anna and pulled her off of the floor wrapping his arms around her.

He pressed his lips to hers hard, months of being unable to kiss her filled his one kiss. “Anna,” He whispered. “I love you,” he said and kissed her again.

“Howie this is too much to ask for, is it real?” She smiled.

“Who cares if it was only a ringing in our ears, this was the right time for us.” He tilted her chin towards his face again and kissed her, never happier in his life.

End Notes:

Done, hope you enjoyed.

This story archived at http://absolutechaos.net/viewstory.php?sid=10253