So I Need You by Arok
Summary: So I Need You

If you could step into my head
Tell me, would you still know me?
If you woke up in my bed
Tell me would you hold me?
Or would you simply let it lie
Leaving me to wonder why?
I can't get you out of this head
I call mine and I will say
Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: Kevin, Nick
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Slash M/M
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 11 Completed: No Word count: 28876 Read: 4134 Published: 11/30/20 Updated: 12/03/20
Story Notes:
Something completely different that popped into my head this weekend. Spent some time rereading really old fics for inspiration. This will be hugely cliché but I can sure use that reassurance right now. Let me know what you think!

1. Chapter 1 by Arok

2. Chapter 2 by Arok

3. Chapter 3 by Arok

4. Chapter 4 by Arok

5. Chapter 5 by Arok

6. Chapter 6 by Arok

7. Chapter 7 by Arok

8. Chapter 8 by Arok

9. Chapter 9 by Arok

10. Chapter 10 by Arok

11. Chapter 11 by Arok

Chapter 1 by Arok
The pounding was so loud Nick wasn’t sure if it was coming from the door or his head. He rolled over and let out a moan from the pain. Every part of his body hurt. Rolling was not the right thing to do. He took several deep breaths and laid his flushed cheek against the pillow, willing the pounding in his head to lessen. How much had he had to drink last night? He couldn’t even see the night clearly. It was too much energy to try to figure out anything at the moment and Nick didn’t have the resources necessary. He needed to take a piss but the mere thought of moving was so unappealing that he wondered how long he could hold it until his bladder would demand his movement. Several more deep breaths did nothing to alleviate the ache in his kidneys and groaning fiercely, he was able to push himself into a sitting position. As soon as he sat up, the pain in his lower body was almost enough to make him pass out. What the fuck had actually happened to him? He stood on shaky legs and swayed slightly before he was able to grab a hold of the nightstand to steady himself. Each step closer to the bathroom hurt more than the last.

He stumbled into the small room, barely able to flick on the light before the need to pee became overwhelming. Making it finally to the toilet he relieved himself and then shuffled in front of the skin to wash his hands. He gasped softly when he saw his reflection in the mirror. His hair was pushed and pulled into a million different directions. His eyes were red and bloodshot, dried tear tracks decorated his cheeks. He turned to get a washcloth from the side of the sink and caught sight of his back reflected in the mirror. Deep, red scratch marks ran up and down his back. Some looked like they had drawn blood. He turned too sharply, moaning in response to his movements. Seriously, what the fuck had happened. He gripped the sides of the sink as he tried desperately to get his mind to focus. So many images swirled in his mind, none making any sense. He could barely remember yesterday at all, let alone last night.

He wetted the washcloth with warm water and tried his best to wipe the blood from his back, tossing the washcloth on the sink counter when he was through. He filled the sink with cool water and washed his face and brushed his teeth. He knew he needed a real shower, but he also knew that the way he was feeling at that moment there was no way he would be able to stand upright long enough to take one. He opened the toiletry bag he’d unpacked yesterday and dug around until he found a small bottle of Tylenol. Shaking out two tablets, he downed them quickly hoping they would be enough to take the edge off the pain he felt all over. Taking another deep breath he tried to stretch out the kinks in his shoulders, this was a horrible idea. The pain radiating from his backside exploded and he swore he saw stars. Even his ass hurt. What the hell had he done? Had he had sex last night? Now he was even more confused than before

He flipped off the light in the tiny bathroom and stumbled haphazardly back into the bedroom part of the hotel suite. He glanced around the room, trying desperately to find any clue to his evening. He cautiously, to not hurt his ass any more than it already was, perched on the end of the bed. He dropped his head in his hands and began to massage his face, hoping to clear his mind.

What the fuck was that? Startled, he pulled his hands away from his face. There on his left hand was a plain silver band. That hadn’t been there yesterday. He felt his heart quicken as the fear began to spread. What the fuck had he done?

He jumped from the bed, panic settling in as he spun around the bedroom. The pain forgotten as he tore through the bedroom to the main part of the suite. His heart stopped as he entered the living room area. There was no way this could be happening. The minutes seemed to tick by as he stood in the doorway of the suite, staring at the naked form of the man who had tormented him mercilessly for the past fifteen years. The breath left Nick’s lungs as his eyes fell onto the plain silver band adorning the raven haired man’s left hand. It couldn’t be. Nick felt the panic begin to overwhelm him and his breath came and went in short shallow gasps. He quickly turned and fled to the bedroom, slamming the adjoining door behind him.

--

Kevin was having a fantastic dream. He was thoroughly fucking his new conquest, could feel how hot and tight it was to thrust into them unsuspectingly. Loved how it felt to be completely encased in the sweet white heat. He never wanted to open his eyes and come back to reality. He moaned as he shifted in his sleep, his dick hard and rubbing against the blanket, creating a delicious friction. Then a noise, a gasp sound and a slamming door brought him back down to earth. He opened his eyes slowly, blinking several times trying to figure out exactly where he was.

He used his arms to push himself into a sitting position and looked around the room. This wasn’t his room, but it was familiar enough that Kevin figured he was at least in the same hotel. Glancing down he realized he was indeed naked, and very hard. Where in the world was he and what had been that sound? He slammed his eyes closed and counted to ten. Praying he hadn’t slept with some kind of psychotic fan that had been overwhelmed to find the Kevin Richardson in her room in the morning.

He chuckled softly reliving the memory of the last time that had happened. As fun as that tryst had been, he did not want a repeat performance of that this morning. He quickly peered around the room, wondering where the hell his clothing had ended up. Spotting his jeans under the coffee table he stood and crossed the room to them. As he reached down to snatch them up his eyes focused in on a band around his ring finger. He straightened and held his hands out in front of him. Where had that come from? He felt the fear start in his toes and begin to creep up his body. What the fuck had he done?

He felt his heartbeat quicken as he turned to look at the bedroom door. There was no fucking way. This had to be some kind of crazy joke one of the guys thought would be funny to play on him. He nodded to himself, convinced now. It was nothing more than a joke. He just needed to get his clothes and get back to his room. He pulled on his jeans and found his socks easy enough. He spotted his sweater thrown on the kitchen table. He walked over and picked it up. He had just pulled it over his head when his gaze caught a piece of paper that had been lying underneath it. He picked it up and scanned the paper quickly. Kevin stopped cold, he felt the panic return as the bile rose in his throat. He was going to be sick. Spinning around to spot a bathroom off the side of the suite, he let the paper fall to the floor as he made a mad dash to the toilet, making it just in time to empty his stomach.

--

Nick paced his room. He’d run back to the room after finding a very naked bandmate in his room. He dressed quickly and tried to figure out what the fuck he was supposed to do now. Could he just take off and try to forget he’d even seen him? Kevin had to wake up sometime and would know immediately he wasn’t in his own room. How in the hell had they even ended up here? How in the hell had they even ended up in the same place together and where in the fuck had these rings come from? Obviously this was some kind of insane joke. Maybe they had been dared to wear them for some reason. That was plausible. He could totally see AJ daring them to wear matching rings. What he couldn’t see was Kevin going alone with it, especially if it meant he had to match with Nick. He closed his eyes tightly, trying desperately to remember.

He heard noise on the other side of the door and he knew the time was limited until the older man busted in the room and tried to beat his ass. How in the fuck had this happened? Nick tried hard to think about what had happened the night before but every time he had the pain and pounding in his head increased ten fold. And what the fuck had Kevin done to him last night? Had he tried to beat the shit out of him then too? Fuck the shit out of him was more like it.

The memory popped up out of nowhere. At least Nick thought it was a memory. He’d been pressed hard up against the wall as someone thrust into him from behind. Had that been Kevin? How much had they had to drink? His mind was spinning. The panic was threatening to overtake him. He sat gingerly on the floor and tried to pull his head in between his knees, taking several deep breaths to ease the vice grip around his chest. His ragged breathing was just starting to lessen when the door to the bedroom burst open and a very angry Kevin stood in the doorway throwing a piece of paper in his direction.

“What the FUCK is this?” he sneered.

Nick blinked but didn’t respond. He shifted forward on the floor to pick up the piece of paper that had fallen from Kevin’s outstretched hand. His eyes started swimming in front of him as he read the words on the page. The band around his chest was becoming tighter, his breathing couldn’t regulate. He heard a freight train whistle. The last thing he remembered was how green Kevin’s eyes were filled with anger as the world tilted and then went black.

--

Kevin stood dumbfounded as he watched the blonde fall over on the floor. At first he thought it was some kind of melodramatic fit the younger man was throwing. But after a couple of minutes of the blonde not moving, the panic returned. He knelt down and eased the younger man up into a sitting position, noticing for the first time how muscular he'd become. Pushing the thought out of his mind, he placed two fingers against Nick’s neck and sighed with relief when he felt the blonde’s steady pulse beneath his touch. He left the bedroom and entered the bathroom to get a washcloth and glass of water. His eyes landed on the bloody washcloth in the sink. What the fuck was that? Had Nick gotten hurt already this morning? He shook his head, it wasn’t like he fucking cared. He quickly grabbed a different washcloth and a small cup of water and reentered the bedroom. He knelt back down and brushed the washcloth gently across Nick’s head. He watched as the younger man’s eyes fluttered open.

Nick blinked several times before Kevin’s face came into focus. He jerked away from him quickly and shielded his face, knowing any moment the older man’s fists could start flying. “Please don’t hit me.” Nick said softly, pressing his heels into the carpet to propel himself backwards and away from Kevin.

Kevin gawked down at the other man. “I didn’t hit you the first time. You passed out or fainted or whatever melodramatic thing you want to call it. I didn’t fucking touch you.”

Nick stared at the floor, eyes fixed on the paper. “Do you remember anything from yesterday?” he asked softly.

Kevin laughed, a humorless angry laugh. “Well I sure as hell don’t remember marrying your fucking ass.”
Chapter 2 by Arok
Before Nick even had a chance to respond there was a loud banging at the door. Nick groaned as the noise bounced around the room and landed straight between his eyes. The throbbing in his head became intense once again. Kevin turned on his heel and glared through the bedroom doorway to the suite door. Leaving Nick leaning against the bed he stalked across the room and threw open the door. His anger increased as he glared at his three bandmates standing on the other side of the door.

“Nicky and Kevin sitting in a treeeeeeeee…” AJ sang out as he pushed himself into the hotel suite. “Where is he Kevin? Did you kill your husband already?” AJ cackled as he spun around looking for their younger bandmate.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Kevin demanded, gripping the door with his hands.

Brian shook his head at the older man. “Cats out of the bag cus. You sent us all a video of your entire nuptials last night. I’m just praying to god you only sent it to the three of us.”

"I'm pissed we weren't invited to witness it first hand." AJ quipped, still spinning in circles around the room.

Brian and Howie both pushed into the room, momentarily knocking Kevin off balance in the process. He slammed the door behind them and turned to glare. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Does this ring a bell?” Howie asked, producing his phone from his pocket and queuing up a video.

Kevin stood dumbfounded as he watched a very drunk version of himself falling all over the youngest blonde. Sloppily kissing his cheeks and hanging an arm around his neck as they stood in front of the worst imitation of Elvis he had ever seen. He watched in horror as the geriatric Elvis pronounced them husbands and he turned to shove his tongue down the other man’s throat. What the hell had he been on last night?

“So it’s real? It’s not a nightmare?” a soft voice said from across the room.

They all turned to see Nick standing in the doorway of the bedroom, gripping the side of the doorframe. “I’m afraid not Kaos. Looks like you two have really done it this time.”

They all watched in horror as Nick swayed on his feet and then proceeded to crumple to the floor. Brian shot across the room and managed to get to Nick right as he hit the floor, taking Nick's head in his hands to keep him from hitting it against the doorway.

“Here we go again.” Kevin grumbled as he rolled his eyes.

Howie looked at him squarely. “What do you mean again?”

Kevin waved him off and handed back the phone. “He’s already passed out once, before you guys got here.” He said simply.

AJ and Howie turned to look at him, both displaying stares of shock and disgust. “Your husband passes out for the second time in one morning and you're not concerned?” AJ sneered at the older man.

“Oh come on. He’s just faking it for attention. And he’s not my husband so lay off.” Kevin shot back.

Howie shook his head before heading over to help Brian get Nick more comfortable on the floor. “Whether or not you want to admit it or not, You two are married so yes, technically he is your husband. No fucking clue how we’re going to spin this one.”

AJ ignored Kevin's glares and joined the other three men on the floor by the bedroom. “Do you think we should call up a doctor? Passing out twice in one morning doesn’t sound like nothing.”

Howie nodded. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious, but let’s be safe and give the residency doctor a call to have Nicky checked out.”

Kevin huffed from where he sat in the living room. “I’m telling you this is all for show so you won’t give him shit for being too drunk to stop whatever the fuck we did last night.”

“What did you do last night?” Brian shot back. “How did you two even end up in the same bar. I just don’t understand. I thought you were going back to your room.”

Kevin thought for a moment. He honestly couldn’t remember anything after their concert last night. He had no idea what he’d even drank let alone how much and forget whatever sham of a wedding he participated in. None of that was anywhere in his memory. Of course he would have remembered marrying Nick. Wouldn't he?

-

The doctor came and went. Diagnosing Nick with a severe case of dehydration. He wanted to admit him to the hospital for iv fluids to jump start his recovery but Nick had begged and pleaded promising to drink nothing but water and Gatorade around the clock to keep from having to postpone their show or go to the ER. The doctor finally relented when Brian promised he would keep a close eye on the younger man and they would take it easy on him for rehearsal that morning allowing him to maintain most of his strength for the actual show. Nick was very relieved and tried hard to ignore the huffs and rolling eyes from well… his husband.

That was a very weird thought and Nick decided almost immediately that he didn't much care for it. He still couldn't believe it had happened and couldn't wait until they could all sit down and figure out a way out of it. He still hadn't seen the video, refused to watch it when Howie tried to proffer it to him. He'd already passed out twice, he didn't need to throw up too.

He'd skipped rehearsal opting instead to take a nap and try to regain some of his strength. The upside was Kevin had left the suite and Nick could only hope that he would continue to leave him alone until they could call their management team and their lawyer to figure out how to annul the damn thing. Suddenly a terrible thought tore through him. Wasn't there a thing about marriages not being able to be annulled if they were consummated?

Oh God. If the bruises in Nick's wrists and the scratches all over his back not to mention the terrible pain in his ass were any indication, then they had definitely consummated the marriage. Unless there had been someone else Nick had been with earlier that evening. Somehow that one made even less sense to him than sleeping with Kevin. Funnily enough, even after Nick's almost constant stream of conquests over the years he couldn't ever remember a time when the act of sex itself was completely missing from his memory the night before. How come the first time he'd been with Kevin it all just magically erased from his memory? Must be some kind of freaking coping mechanism to keep his nightmares at bay. For the millionth time he wondered what the hell happened the night before. If only he could remember he was sure so many other things would make sense.

-

Kevin went through rehearsal as usual, barely noticing the absence of their fifth member. He was hot, sweaty and very irritable by the time it was over. Sitting against an amp, he dangled his feet off the side of the stage and took several deep breaths, trying to calm his racing heart. They had been going nonstop for hours and he needed to reserve energy if he was going to get through the show that evening. He didn't have the same option to laze around the hotel all day faking sick. He rolled his eyes as his thoughts drifted to Nick. He couldn't believe they all fell for that ridiculous act. Didn't they know by now that Nick would do anything he could to get out of things he didn't feel like doing. They were gullible and he wasn't going to let them make him feel guilty for being able to see through the bull shit. Nick needed to grow up and it was apparently his job to remind the man of that.

Kevin groaned as he felt the air shift around him and Brian plop down beside him. Kevin accepted the bottle of water from his outstretched hand and mumbled a thanks before opening it and downing half of it in one long pull. "You want to talk about it yet?" the blonde asked as he opened his own water to drink.

Kevin shook his head. "Nothing to talk about."

"You don't think a sloppy Vegas wedding, to someone you've sworn to hate, is worth a conversation?" Brian pressed.

Kevin glared at his younger cousin. "It was apparently a drunken mistake. I don't know what to tell you. I can't remember a damn thing. I had to have been pretty fucked up to even be in the same room with him, let alone touch him or for fucks sake marry him."

Brian shook his own head. "What the fuck are we supposed to do now? As far as Howie and I have been able to find out, only the five of us know right now. But apparently they publish this kind of stuff. Marriage records, divorce records. This shit is real Kevin, the wrong nosy person searching online databases will be able to find this shit. Then what are we supposed to do? Regardless of how drunk you think you were or what your intentions were, you've really fucked up this time."

The words Brian was speaking washed over him. The panic began to rise as he jumped to his feet. "Fuck you Brian. I wasn't the only one there last night. I'm not the only one who fucked up. Why don't you go lecture that little bitch who's still in the hotel room sleeping and leave me, the one out here busting my ass, alone."

Brian stood to his feet as well. Instead of lashing back out with anger he just took a good long look at the other man before shaking his head sadly. " You just don't get it do you? I guess if you haven't by now then you never will." With another sad look over his shoulder Brian turned on his heel and left Kevin standing on the stage.

-

Nick awoke with a start. He was so hot, the sheets drenched with sweat as he struggled into a sitting position. Glancing at the clock he realized it was after two. He'd been asleep for several hours and somehow still felt worse than he had when he'd laid down. He blinked a few times until his brain focused in on the pounding noise coming from the front of the suite. Swinging his long legs out of the bed, he carefully got to his feet noting there was still a bit of sway to his stance that was not normally there. How long could one person fight with a hangover? He stumbled his way through the hotel room and to the suite door. He opened it quickly, not even bothering to check the peephole to see who was standing on the other side. He smiled gingerly at his best friend casually leaning against the frame.

"Hey Frick." he said softly before turning and walking back to the couch, allowing the older man entrance to the hotel room.

"How are you feeling, Frack? Have you had anything to drink? You need to keep drinking as much water as possible to make sure you can perform tonight." Brian said softly as he settled into the couch beside his younger friend.

"I just woke up. I did earlier. I need to take some more Tylenol. And to answer your previous question, I feel like garbage." Nick closed his eyes and laid his head back against the cushion of the couch as he squeezed his eyes closed.

Brian let him sit like that for several moments before speaking. "What the hell happened last night?" he questioned softly.

"The hell if I know." came the mumbled reply as Nick ran his hands over his face.

Taking a deep breath Brian answered. "This is bad Nick. We need to set up a meeting with management as soon as possible before this gets out and come up with a plan. According to the research Howie and I've done there's only a few days before the information becomes public record which means it's searchable online. It's a matter of time before a nosy reporter or a fan finds it and then what." Brian watched Nick carefully for a reaction.

Receiving none he gently reached out and placed his hand on Nick's shoulder. "Are you listening to what I'm saying?"

Nick shot off the couch and whirled around to face his supposedly best friend. "Yes I hear you. I am not an idiot. I fully understand how bad this is. In fact I'm pretty sure it's worse than you even realize. So don't come in here harping at me about how bad I screwed up because I can guarantee you it's nothing compared to what I've already been saying to myself all morning."

"What do you mean? How could it get any worse than you married to someone you've not been able to be in the same room with for years?" Brian asked standing to face his younger friend.

Nick stared at Brian for several long moments before gingerly lifting the hem of his t-shirt and pulling it up and over his head. Turning to face the door to let Brian get a good look at his back he closed his eyes tight as he heard the sharp intake of breath from the man behind him.

"I'm pretty sure we slept together."
Chapter 3 by Arok
Brian stood unmoving for several moments, eyes roaming the back of his best friend. There were scratches everywhere. Some deeper than others, some looked like they had been bleeding. He had never seen anything like it before.



"Nick," he started before Nick pulled his shirt down and turned to face him. He held out his wrists for Brian to see, deep angry bruises circled both of them. "What in the hell happened last night."



Nick shook his head before collapsing down in the armchair. "That's what I've been trying to tell you. I can't remember a damn thing. Nothing. I remember the concert or at least bits and pieces of it. After that it's an absolute blank. All I know is I woke up this morning feeling worse than I have ever felt, in pain everywhere, including my ass, and then realized I had some God damn ring on. Then to make matters even worse, I come out of the bedroom and find your God damn cousin completely naked and passed out asleep on the couch. I thought all of that was pretty bad until he came storming into the bedroom, shoving a marriage certificate in my face and yelling at me like all of this is somehow my fault. Everything hurts Brian. This is the last fucking thing I want to deal with right now, especially with him. So yea, I completely understand how badly I fucked up. I just don't know how or why it happened or how to fucking fix it." Nick dropped his head in his hands as he tried to keep the tears from falling. The pain in his head was increasing and he could literally feel it throb through his eyeballs. What the fuck was wrong with him?



Brian knelt down beside him and placed his hands on Nick's knees. "It's going to be okay, Frack. We'll figure out what happened and figure out a way to fix it."



Nick laughed bitterly. "I don't think it's going to be that simple. I'm not sure this is something that can just be quietly undone and swept under the rug. This is going to get loud, and messy, and somehow it's all going to come down on me. Stupid fucking Nick, always managing to fuck up anything he touches."



"I have no idea how or what we can do to fix this, but you're not going to take the brunt of the blame. I'm telling you that right now. This is just as much his fault as it is yours. He will take equal blame here. Now all we have to do is keep you too from killing each other until we get this sorted out."



Nick didn't really believe a word Brian said but it was nice to hear his best friend stand up for him, especially to his own cousin, his own flesh and blood. But Nick knew it didn't make any difference. Whenever it came to the older raven haired man everything was always Nick's fault. He never did anything right and would forever be a consummate screw up. It didn't matter that it took two people to get married or that Kevin seemed to be in charge of most of it if the sounds from the video were any indication. When it all came down to it, Nick had messed up again and Nick and Nick alone would be held responsible. Just like every other time.



It sucked having to be so cynical about it, but after years and years of the same torture, hateful comments, rude assumptions and overall general dislike the other man showed him and him alone, it was hard to think this would turn out any other way. Out of all of the guys he had to go and get married in Vegas to him? This was just another miserable mistake he would grow to regret for the rest of his life.



Looking back Nick couldn't remember a time they had ever gotten along. It seemed like from the minute they had met Kevin had been putting him down or making fun of him. At first Nick had been so intimidated by him he took it, any abuse the older man wanted to throw at him but as he got older, stronger he started fighting back. Never allowing the other man to see just how much his nasty words hurt and then there were the physical altercations. It seemed like they were coming close to fist fights every other day and there were a couple of times Nick was sure Kevin had broken his nose if not given him a concussion. Didn't seem to matter what was said, no amount of begging or pleading from the other guys ever got the older man to lay off of him. He wouldn't lay off or leave the other man alone until he was sure that he had beat Nick down as far as he could get. Literally and figuratively. Nick had tried his best to ignore the biting insults and anger and for the most part it seemed to work. But then there were the times that it seemed like Kevin sought him out, just to be able to fight and argue with him. He could never really understand it. Out of everyone he'd ever met, he only ever seemed to produce anger and outrage from the other man.



How in the world had they ended up married.



Drinking together was one thing. Sleeping together, as insane as that notion was, was a separate thing entirely. But married? None of this made any sense to Nick at all and the longer and harder he tried to understand what had happened, the more the pounding in his head increased. He really needed that Tylenol.



-



An hour later they were all in the hotel conference room. Kevin and Nick were at opposite ends of the table, management on the other side and the three remaining band mates were sparsed out in between them. Nick didn't even dare to look up at anyone in the room. Instead he kept his eyes trained on the table as he drummed his fingers on the table top.



"So it sounds like we've got a bit of a situation on our hands." Alexis, their PR manager said.



Brian nodded. "We're well aware. We are all well versed on what the problem is. What we're trying to do is to figure out how to solve it. So if you have some ideas, a solution, we'd rather discuss that than placing blame and arguing." Brian said level headedly, trying his best to keep this from turning into an all out war where all the blame got thrown on to Nick and Kevin was left unscathed like usual.



Alexis peered at him curiously, but nodded and opened her folder. She proceeded to take out several sheets of paper and laid them out on the table in front of her. "So we've discussed several options and weighted out the pros and cons of each. What I'm prepared to do is give you two options, you decide as a group how you want to proceed and I will begin the work necessary to complete the task. If wanted I will give you the pros and cons we've discussed to help you influence your decision."



Howie nodded and took the papers she offered and passed them around the table. The room was silent for a moment before Kevin shot out of his chair and slammed the paper and his fists down on the conference table. "Over my dead body do we pretend we did this on purpose and act like some kind of faggot couple for the media." he spat out glaring the girl down.



Nick flinched at the words but managed to keep his head down as he continued to study the paper. He blocked the shouting out of his mind as he continued to read. Around him he could hear the angry voices of his friends and bandmates yelling and arguing. He could feel, much less see, Brian already on his feet and an angry finger being jabbed back in Kevin's general direction. Here it was all laid out in black and white. Two options. He'd managed to fuck up his life so royally that an entire team of people only saw two options for him to get out of this mess.



Option one. They could pretend this was planned. Come out to the public with their "love" and play the happy couple for an undetermined amount of time until a divorce would be acceptable to do. Most likely 1-2 years and definitely after the residency was over.



Option two. They could own up to their mistake and deal with the fallout. The problem with that one was their residency had a strict drugs and alcohol policy. So to come out and tell the world they were so fucked up they didn't remember how they had ended up in the same chapel, let alone married to each other, would be disastrous not only for their careers, but for the three others as well.



Nick swallowed hard. No way you looked at this was this an easy decision. He could see how Alexis and the team had come to each conclusion. Could probably even iterate their list of pros and cons without every even looking at her notebook. But the only way that kept the blame, kept the shame and disgrace on his shoulders instead of allowing his mistake to mess up the lives of the other three men who had nothing to do with this, well, that decision was obvious.



Nick cleared his throat and finally looked up to face the other men in the room. He stood and put the paper back down on the table. All eyes in the room turned towards him and the bickering quieted. "Option 1 is the only option I am willing to do. This is my mistake and I will own up to it. I'll play nice in front of the cameras and put on one hell of a show. Tell me what I need to say and how I need to act and I'll do it." Nick said turning to pick up his jacket off the chair he'd laid it on when they entered the room.



With that he turned and walked out of the room closing his eyes as he heard the outrage erupt behind him. He just couldn't stay in that room for one moment longer. He knew there was still a lot to discuss. Having laid down his choice he knew his life was going to get exponentially harder in more ways than one. But he also knew there really wasn't any other choice here. He'd put up with so much anger and bullshit from Kevin for so many years, most of it unwarranted. What was the harm in a little more. He couldn't allow this to tarnish the name they had worked so hard and built for themselves over one drunken night. No matter what it caused him emotionally, he could, and had to do this for the betterment of the group and his friends. It was time that no one else but him be punished for the bad choices he made.



Nick wandered back upstairs to his hotel room. He quickly gathered his things he needed for the show and was back downstairs, backpack in hand in record time. Instead of waiting for the others to join him he decided to hail a cab and make his way to the venue. He needed to get in a better frame of mind before the show started and he knew having time to walk the stage before they started letting people in was exactly what he needed.
Chapter 4 by Arok
“I’m not fucking doing it.” Kevin yelled as soon as NIck had left the room. He glared at the faces around the table and crossed his arms petulantly.

Brian sighed and rolled his eyes. “I don’t really think you have a choice.”

“If I may,” Alexis cut in. “Option 1 is the way we personally would like to proceed. We understand there will be some general discomfort and some embarrassment at first, but the penalty you would have to pay to Planet Hollywood is exponential and that’s not even a guarantee they won’t cancel the residency all together. They take these kinds of clauses in their contracts very seriously. We’re thinking long term here. If they cancelled your contract due to you not being able to uphold your part there could be other producers, deals, other companies no longer willing to work with you. The safest option, for all of your careers, is option 1.”

The seriousness of the situation weighed heavy in the room. Kevin couldn’t believe that one night, one horrific fucking night that he couldn’t even remember could have this big of an impact on his life. How was he supposed to handle this? How was he supposed to pretend to be married, be in love with another man, with Nick? He pressed his palms into his eyes as he tried to get his anger under control. He really didn’t to fucking do this, but it appeared it was really the only option they had. He was more than a little pissed that Nick had managed to connect the dots and land on the obvious answer so much faster than the rest of them had. Seriously, what the fuck was going on. He took another break and finally looked up to face the pleading eyes of the other three men. This really was his mistake. Well, not his entirely. That little blonde fucker had played a role in this too. A voice in his head reminded him that he had been the one leading the charge to the chapel the night before. At least that’s what the video he found on his phone showed. Howie only had part of it. According to the video, the chapel part had been his idea entirely. This however was not something he cared to share with the other men.

Finally he nodded. “Fine. I’ll do it.”

“Can you promise not to kill him?” AJ asked, crossing his arms and glaring at the other man.

Kevin held up his hands in mock defeat. “I never agreed to that. I said I would pretend like we’re married. I can’t promise you we’re not going to argue. Of course, isn’t that what most married couples do anyway? So maybe we’ll actually be pretty good at acting this thing out.” he said with a bitter laugh.

No one else in the room was laughing and instead shot Kevin varying degrees of a hateful stare. Finally Brian spoke. “So what’s this going to look like Alexis? I’m sure you have an outline.”

She nodded and passed out another sheet of paper. “Yes, I do. Kevin and Nick will issue a joint statement outlining their “relationship”. We will say they've been dating for a couple of years and were finally ready to tie the knot. In public you will walk together, hold hands, act like a couple. You’ll be marked down to share a hotel room and as long as we’ve got the floor to ourselves and no one else is the wiser it’s fine for you to switch rooms after the fact as long as one of the other guys is willing to make the change. You will refrain from bad mouthing or criticizing each other in public. Basically you will do everything the opposite of trying to hide a secret relationship. Instead, we’re trying to convince the public there is really one here.”

Howie let out a low whistle. “This is going to be a hell of a couple of years.”

Brian nodded. “We’ve just got to keep them from murdering each other.”

AJ sat quietly reading over the paperwork, refusing to look up and meet anyone’s eyes. “Who’s going to break the news to Nick?”

“I’ll go talk to him when we’re done here.” Brian said.

Alexis nodded and started to get her things together. “We will type up a release and send it over to Kevin and Nick to get their approval and signatures. You should have something by the time the show ends. The quicker we get out in front of this thing the better.”

She stood and shook everyone’s hand and then was gone. The remaining four men stared at each other. “Never did I expect us to have a meeting like this.” Howie said as he got to his feet and headed out the door, AJ right on his heels.

Once the two men were gone, Brian focused his eyes on his older cousin. “What the fuck did you do to him?” he demanded, his eyes flashing with rage.

Kevin looked at him quizzically. “What the hell are you talking about? What did I do to who?”

“Nick.” Brian bit out.

“I didn’t do shit to him. Haven’t you been paying attention to any of this? We got fucked up last night and almost ruined everyone’s lives. I think you can be mad at both of us for that and not just me.” Kevin spat angrily.

Brian stood and advanced on the other man. Leaning down into his face Brian said. “I’m talking about when you fucked him and scratched his back all to hell. Fuck Kevin. His back looks like he got into a fight with a wildcat and his wrists are busied. Did you fucking hold him down and torture him last night? Did you rape him?”

Kevin was shocked. Not only had his cousin never used the F word so many times in the same sentence, but rape? What the fuck. “I didn’t fuck Nick.” Kevin said hotly.

“Well he didn’t look like that when I left him last night and the only one he was with afterwards was you. So think long and hard about what the fuck you did last night, because if I find out you raped him, or did anything else to cause him bodily harm, it won’t matter what fucking contract we have I will fucking end you and I know AJ will be right there beside me to give me a hand so you better figure your shit out and treat him with some decency until we can get the two of you divorced. Do you fucking understand me?” Brian’s normally warm blue eyes were steel grey as he glared down at his cousin.

Kevin couldn’t ever remember seeing Brian so angry. The man was vibrating with it. While Kevin wasn’t one to be talked to his way, he really couldn’t remember what had happened last night and he had a sneaking suspicion that Brian was right, at least about them sleeping together. He prayed it hadn’t gone any further than that. There was no way he could have raped the younger man and not remember it, was there?

“I understand. I will try my best to be on my best behavior brother Brian.” Kevin snapped, not able to answer without another insult to the younger man.

He pushed away from the table and stormed out of the room, not giving the younger man another glance. He didn’t stop to breathe until he was safely locked inside his own hotel room. He took a deep calming breath, realizing this would be the last time he was able to be alone for the foreseeable future. He crossed the room and collapsed on the bed, a bed he had not slept in last night. Had he had sex with Nick? He had woken up naked but he’d been alone on the couch and by the looks of it he’d slept there alone. His mind wandered briefly to the bloody washcloth he had found in Nick’s bathroom. Looking down at his hands he didn’t see anything strange, but he’d also washed his hands several times already that day. Factor in that scratching was something he was prone to during sex and you can basically connect the dots. Why hadn’t Nick said anything to him about his suspicions? Had Nick told Brian he’d raped him? Jesus fucking Christ how had this day ended up in suck a fucking mess. He wondered if he would be moving rooms or if Nick would be moving into his room. He really wasn’t looking forward to this.

-

Brian knocked several times on Nick’s hotel room door but received no response. Using the master key he’d obtained from the bodyguard stationed on their floor he let himself into the room. The quiet enveloped him as he stepped inside and he could tell instantly the younger man had been gone for some time. Checking his phone but having no message he quickly shot one off to the younger man, hoping to pinpoint his location.

Brian took a seat on the armchair to rest for a few moments before getting up to change for the show. It had been one long ass day and Brian worried that even though Kevin had agreed to be civil, that he would be anything but. He thought back to the way the two men had interacted over the years and while he was unable to pinpoint when it had gotten so nasty, he knew that there was so much anger and resentment there that the two being forced into close proximity virtually non stop was light igniting a powder keg and expecting it to fizzle out. This was going to be disastrous and what was worse, Brian knew Nick would be the one taking the brunt of the abuse. He wished he could get Kevin to open up, explain his utter disdain for the younger man so they could all move past whatever it was that still caused so much anger, all these years later. They had all been dealing with their shitty relationship for so many years that it was at the breaking point with everyone, especially doing the residency and being in each other’s pockets night after night. And then the two idiots had to go and do something like this. Brian still couldn’t believe it. He swore he was living an episode of the Twilight Zone.

His phone buzzed and he took it out of his pocket to read the incoming message. Nick was at the venue. Well at least the newlyweds would be separated for a little longer. Pushing himself up off the chair and towards the door, Brain headed back to his own room to change.

--

The elephant in the room was avoided as they dressed and prepared to take the stage. Brian had tried several times, unsuccessfully to get Nick alone so he could explain the terms of their arrangement. But so far it had been fruitless. Finally, five minutes before last call, Brian found Nick backstage drinking a bottle of water.

"How are you feeling?" he asked his younger friend as he placed a protective hand on the larger man's shoulders.

Nick shrugged him off and turned away. "I'll be fine for the show, don't worry."

"I'm not worried about the damn show, I'm worried about my best friend." Brian said a little harsher than he'd originally intended.

Nick sighed and faced him. "I'm still a little shaky, but I'll be alright. What was decided after I left? I'm sorry I just had to get out of there. All the yelling was making my headache worse and I knew no one would listen to me anyway."

No one being Kevin, Brian thought to himself bitterly. Some days he really despised his older cousin. And who could blame Nick? It wasn't like Kevin had ever given him any other emotion but hate. It would be a cold day in hell before the two of them could get along for more than five minutes. It was going to be the best performance of Nick's life.

"We decided to go with your idea. Option 1. You guys are going to have to act like a loving couple in public, share a room, etc all the things a couple does. I'm sorry Kaos. I know how hard this is going to be. I've already talked to Kevin and hopefully he will lay off and try to work through this with us instead of against us but you can never tell with him. I'm here for you. " Brian said, turning Nick to make him look him in the eye.

Nick nodded and took another long drink from his water bottle. Tears pricked at his eyes but he was determined not to let them fall. He could and would get through this, he was strong enough to handle whatever Kevin threw at him. He'd been doing it for years now, what was a couple of more?
Chapter 5 by Arok
The concert went off without a hitch. They were doing the residency show five nights a week and with this being the fourth week into they had the whole thing down pat. Nick was in autopilot for most of the night, singing the lyrics and doing the dance moves he knew by rote. But his heart wasn't in it. Inside he was terrified of what would happen when the show ended. Sure it had been his idea to go along with the crazy scheme of them being in a relationship, but honestly, there really wasn't any other way and he was pretty sure the other guys knew it. AJ kept sending him wounded puppy dog looks every time they passed each other on the stage and as much as Nick appreciated their sympathy and support he was going to go nuts if it didn't stop soon. All he wanted was a hot shower and to sink down into bed. He'd slept like shit the night before and his tired body was threatening to break under the strain of the day and the physical exertion of his performance.

By the time he hit backstage and was able to retrieve his phone and duffle bag he had a winded email from Alexis and the rest of the PR team. Inside was their draft of the press release which he quickly signed off on. Additionally she had sent a list of dos and don't for them to follow as well as their new room arrangements. For now, they would be sharing Kevin's hotel room. Nick's stuff had already been packed up and moved to the other room during the show. He could pick up his new key cards at the front desk. She moves fast. He thought to himself, but they paid for the best so he shouldn't have been surprised by their efficiency.

As long as Kevin signed off on the press release it will be sent out first thing tomorrow morning. After that fact they were to be together in the public eye as much as possible for the first few days. That meant holding hands, hugs, smiles instead of glares at each other. She anticipated there would be magazines that wanted an interview and the team was busy crafting a backstory for them in anticipation of it. Basically they needed to see and be seen looking like the quintessential married couple in love. Instead of the two straight dudes who hated each other. Okay, instead of the one straight dude and the one bisexual dude who know one knew was actually bisexual who hated each other. This was going to be a fucking nightmare, in more ways than one. The only thing that kept Nick moving was the comical thought in his head if Kevin as he too read the rules and regulations of their new joint venture. He could almost picture the other man's head exploding like a volcano knowing Nick was moving into his pristine hotel room. Knowing it would be a matter of time before Nick had it destroyed. He would make a conscious effort to be more tidy, knowing that would be the thing that set Kevin off quicker than anything else.

Stuffing his phone back in his pocket he quickly gathered his bags and headed towards the back entrance. He knew the other guys would shower at the stadium, but if he could get a ride back to the hotel now, perhaps he could get into the room and shower and possibly be safely in bed before Kevin ever got back to the room. He couldn't hide from him and the other guys indefinitely, but at least he'd have a few more hours to himself before reality came crashing down on him.

--

Kevin had just stepped under the shower spray when he swore he heard something in the main part of the hotel room. He waited for several moments to see if he heard anything else, but hearing nothing he shrugged and dunked his head under the spray. The hot water felt wonderful on his tired body as he tried desperately to wash off the filth and stress of the day. He hadn't bothered waiting, hell he hadn't even stopped the moment he got off stage he was out the back door. Brought his show clothes home and everything. He would have to call and have someone from wardrobe come and pick them up for cleaning. It wasn't even until he was in the cab back to the hotel that he'd found and read Alexis's message. Leaning back into the cool cushions of the car seats he allowed himself the moment of stillness to wash over him. What the fuck had he agreed to. How in the world were they going to play happy in love couple to the world. Sure he was a pretty good actor, but this? This was asking him to put in the performance of a lifetime, not only for the public, but also for himself. And therein lies the thing he was most terrified of. Fooling himself.

He took a ragged breath and ran his fingers through his hair before turning down the volume on his phone and finding the video. He played it again for like the hundredth time that day, trying desperately to understand how this had happened. They looked plastered. Hell both of them had this crazy, glazed over look in their eyes that was actually kind of terrifying when you thought about the fact that neither of them could remember a damn thing. If this video didn't exist there was no way Kevin would even begin to believe it had happened, or that he was a willing participant. But there he was, yelling in Nick's face that they should go get married. Nick's eyes turning giant before nodding his head enthusiastically. The next thing visible was Kevin grabbing his hand and dragging him out of the room. The video went dark for several long moments before reappearing. Kevin wondered briefly if he'd filmed the inside of his jacket. Oscar worthy right there folks. Jacket view. Before long both men reappeared on the video a stunned look on Nick's face as Kevin came closer and closer before pressing his lips to the blonde. From the angle Kevin had been holding the phone you could see the moment Kevin's tongue reached out to touch Nick's lips. You could see the resistance, the scared look on the younger man's face before he opened his mouth to speak. Not giving him a chance to respond, Kevin had proceeded to shove his tongue in the other man's mouth, choking and startling the blonde. But the video also showed the way Kevin pushed the man up against the wall, showed the moment Nick submitted to Kevin's will and wrapped his arms around Kevin's neck, falling into the kiss. This was part of the video that hadn't been shared with the others. This extended cut if you will, lived only on Kevin's phone and now played over and over in Kevin's mind. A beautiful train wreck stuck on repeat.

He turned up the heat in the shower, determined to get the visions of the video out of his head. He'd signed off on the press release even though there were a few things he would have changed under ordinary circumstances, but the will to fight had left him for the evening. All he wanted to do was climb into bed and try to pretend morning would never come. Was that too much to ask? The words Brian had spat at him kept echoing in his head and as hard as he tried he couldn't get the idea if raping the younger man out of his head. He tried to convince himself that if Nick had responded to him then, and by the video it seemed like he did, then there was a good chance that he had responded to him later on as well. Kevin was almost sure of it. If they'd had sex, and he wasn't even convinced yet they had, but if so, than it had been consential. At least in their drug and alcohol addled minds at the time.

Kevin finished washing and turned off the shower. He knew his time alone was quickly coming to an end. For the next few months, hell more than a year he would have a little lost shadow again. It struck him then that this wouldn't be that different from the first years they had formed this group, when Nick had been so little and needed the guidance and reassurance that he was right there all the time. Nick had been his shadow then too. Kevin didn't go anywhere without Nick in tow. Perhaps that's when this deadly alliance had all started. When the need to separate himself from the younger man, for his own perseverance had begun. Maybe everything really did eventually come full circle.

He grabbed a towel and dried off before tying it loosely around his waist. He'd left his clothes in the room having made a dash to the shower the moment he'd entered the room. He brushed his hair and teeth and took a good look at himself in the mirror. He could do this, he had no unearthly clue how he would manage or pull this off, but he was determined to try. At this point, what else did he have to lose?

--

Nick threw his bag down on the floor by the closet and took a look around the hotel room. There was only one bed, which meant until they could get a room with two beds Nick would be sleeping on the couch. Just fucking wonderful. Sleeping on a couch with his long frame was only asking for more aches and pains in his already overworked muscles. Perhaps he could call downstairs and request additional blankets, say they spilled something and needed all new bedding and then he could build some kind of pallet of blankets on the floor with the couch cushions. It would be more comfortable than trying to smash his over six foot frame into a five foot at best sofa. He could hear the shower running and knew he had in fact not beaten the other man to the room. Now he would have to face the proverbial music before he was ever able to shower and settle down for the night. He opened the closet doors hoping he could find something to build a bed with. The closet held an extra pillow and another set of sheets. It was better than nothing. He could at least make due until morning. He carried the linen to the living room section of the hotel room and proceeded to take the couch apart. He was just laying out the final sheet when a noise caught his attention.

He felt his mouth go dry as he glanced up to see Kevin emerge from the bathroom, only a towel hanging low on his hips. Nick stared for a moment before quickly looking away to finish his task. Once the bed was done he hurriedly grabbed his duffle bag before locking himself inside the bathroom. Neither man exchanged words and Kevin was left to get dressed in the vacant room. Leaning back against the door of the bathroom, Nick took several deep breaths before pushing himself off the frame and undressing. He only hoped that by the time he was clean and dressed that Kevin would already be asleep so he could slip into his bed unscathed.

--

No such luck on that front. By the time Nick had showered, shaved, brushed his teeth, and even given himself an additional ten minutes to sit and relax in the steamy room only 45 minutes had passed. Somehow without even opening the door, Nick knew Kevin was still awake. He took a deep breath, resigned himself to his fate and opened the door. He didn't even look in the general direction of the bed, instead focusing on his own makeshift bed and making a mad dash to it. He could feel rather than see the older man on the bed but was determined to try to at least get through the evening without a giant blow up. He almost laughed as he imagined the other guys standing on the other side of the hotel room door listening for signs of violence. His smile grew as he reached his bed and read a text from Brian.

Brian : "You still alive in there?"

He sat down on the couch cushion and stretched his long legs out in front of him before answering.

"So far. I just got out of the shower so he's not had any time to come at me yet. We'll see. I just want to go to bed and try to have some peace tonight."

Brian: "If he gets too bad you can sneak over here. We'll have to sneak you back before anyone wakes up, but the door is open."

"Thanks B. If he will just leave me alone so I can sleep then we should be okay."

Brian: "I'm here if you need anything."

Nick smiled at the exchange. It was nice to know that he had a friend, a place to go if it got too bad even if they would have to sneak around. The irony of the situation was not lost on him. Usually couples had to sneak around to be together, he however was in a fucked up situation where he had to sneak around with his best friend to just avoid his fucking husband. This was insane. Him having a husband at all was insane. Why couldn't he have drunkenly married any of the other guys? Hell drunk marrying AJ would have actually been kind of fun. They would have made the most of the two years and could almost imagine the crazy shenanigans they would have gotten into. But instead, he had to marry Kevin, and bring his worst nightmare down around him.

"Why are you sleeping on the floor?"

The question caught him off guard and broke the trace he seemed to have been in, imagining his imprisonment with AJ instead. Nick shook his head slightly to clear his thoughts before turning to focus on the other man. "What?"

Kevin gestured to the makeshift bed as he drew closer. "I said, why are you sleeping on the floor."

Nick stared at him for a moment trying not to come up with a smart ass answer. "I'm too long for the couch. I figured I would get better sleep this way than trying to shove myself into a pretzel to fit on the tiny sofa."

Kevin continued to look at him. "You're not going to fight me for the bed."

Nick shrugged. "It's your room. Sleeping on the bed is not worth the fight. I can sleep right here and actually get some sleep instead of staying up and arguing with you all night about who gets to sleep in the bed."

Demonstrating his point, Nick pulled up the sheet and rolled over onto his side, his back facing Kevin. He could feel the older man's gaze boring holes in his back but he made no effort to engage with him any further. Nick shut his eyes tight and willed the other man to leave him be. Kevin stood there for a few moments longer before walking back to the bedroom and flicking off the lights. Nick breathed a sigh of relief and settled down into the sheets. Yes tomorrow he would definitely need a thicker blanket. Maybe he could even have Brian get one for him as to not draw any undo suspension on them. As he finally willed his body to relax and drift off to sleep he was reminded that though brief, that was the first conversation the two men had shared without argument or insult in years.
Chapter 6 by Arok
Kevin tossed and turned. Even though he was the one who ended up with the bed, he found himself unable to still his body or his mind long enough to get any actual sleep. At first he thought that it was too hot in the room so he kicked off the covers and tried to settle back down. When that didn't work he wondered if he was too cold so he grabbed the covers he'd tossed to the floor only hours earlier. That's his eyes had also landed on the blonde currently curled up on the floor sound asleep. His husband. The words still seemed untrue even just saying them inside his own head. Nick layed tucked into the side of the couch on the pitiful excuse for a bed Kevin had ever seen. He pushed down the sense of guilt he felt and allowed his eyes to roam over the younger man. His blonde hair was sticking out in all directions, his ruby red lips parted and a small snore sounded with every breath. There were deep worry lines creasing his forehead, even in sleep and Kevin willed himself not to let the guilt consume him.

Turning away from the other man he climbed back into the bed and buried his head under the pillows, trying to block at that small, breathy sound. Now that he'd identified it, it was all he could focus on. He was all he could focus on. Kevin squeezed his eyes closed tighter and forced himself to think of something else, anything else.

His mind drifted to this mother. He really needed to call her and explain the situation. He needed her to know what was happening before the news broke. Hell he should have made the call hours before the show but hadn't wanted to face reality yet. His failure to be an adult would result in her being blindsided. He hated that but it was well after two in the morning in Kentucky and he had no desire to give her a middle of the night heart attack, especially when he couldn't be there to deliver the message in person. His brothers needed to be told of course, but he realized they probably wouldn't be phased much by it at all, especially when they knew the back story.

He wondered how Nick's family would take the news. From what he'd been able to piece together over the years, Nick no longer had any semblance of a relationship with most of them, so maybe he wouldn't much be bothered by it on that front. He wondered why he didn't know more about what had transpired. When they had first forged their friendships, Nick's mom and siblings had been around all the time. In fact, Kevin hadn't even known Nick's sister had died until months after the fact, only then finding out the other guys had gone to the funeral and he hadn't even been informed. He couldn't really blame any of them for keeping the news a secret. What did he care anyway? A whole damn lot, but none of that mattered.

He turned over on his back and proceeded to shoot daggers at the ceiling with his eyes. He'd been exhausted all day, looking forward only to the moment he could crawl into bed. But now that he was here, that illustrious desire for sleep he'd felt all day long seemed like a far away dream. They were going to have to do something differently. He couldn't lay awake all night every night feeling guilt because Nick was on the floor. Perhaps they could get a room with full beds or possibly even adjoining rooms to where they could each have their separate space but come and go out of one door. Who needed to know they were using two different rooms? Well planet Hollywood would. They were footing the bill for their lodging and were probably thrilled at the idea of saving the extra fee for Nick's room once they started sharing. Over the course of a year, that could be a nice chunk of change. He signed angrily as he looked at the clock on the bedside table to see that another hour had slid by, bringing them closer to their early morning wake up call and their first public appearance as a couple.

The press release was due to be released at 6am and Alexis wanted them out and about having a romantic breakfast filled with lots of giggles, hand holding and hugs for all to see. They were even supposed to make a verbal announcement during the next night's show. He could almost guarantee now how that would go. The fans would yell, chant for them to kiss and then what? He'd have no other choice than to kiss the blonde in front of God and everyone. How often would this be expected of him? Hand holding and hugs were one thing, but kissing? He was delusional if he thought that little act would be few and far between. After all, they would be one of the biggest, out and together couples since Neil Patrick Harris and his husband. Plus they'd went the extra step and were actually fucking married. At least when Kevin made the decision to fuck up his life, years of careful, deliberate planning, well he went big.

-

Nick woke up with a crick in his neck as the sun streamed in through the slits in between the curtain and the blinds. From his place on the floor he could clearly see the dawn of a new morning. A morning where he had to pretend to be married to a man who only spoke to him with hate and anger. A man who sought out every opportunity to remind Nick what a worthless piece of shit he was. This was going to be a wonderful day. He rolled his eyes and flopped back on the couch cushion. He grabbed for his phone to check the time. It was a little after six. According to the email waiting for him from Alexis, they had breakfast reservations at 8 in the hotel restaurant.

He sighed and sat up. Kevin was sprawled out on the bed, the blankets tangled around his knee and leg, most of them falling precariously to the floor. He looked like he'd had one hell of a night. Nick tried to work out the pain in his neck with no luck. Maybe if he took a hot shower it would ease his tired muscles. What else did he have to do trapped in this hotel room. He turned off the ringer to his phone knowing any moment the press release would hit the media and he didn't want his phone blowing up to wake up Kevin. There was no way he wanted to start this day already with the other man all over him.

He climbed into the shower and turned the spray up as high as it would go. He stood under it for several moments enjoying the scalding hot water cascading down his back. Even though there were still several deep scratches littering his flesh, the water was warm and relaxing. He stood in the peacefulness of the shower for as long as he could before he decided he should save some hot water for the other man. Stepping out he toweled off and dressed for their first official date taking extra care on his hair and overall appearance, knowing the entire point of the whole escapade was to be photographed. Couldn't let the first official photos of him and his new husband represent him as anything less than perfect. He took a moment to catch his breath. Every time he thought of Kevin that way he wanted to cry. He hadn't ever thought much about getting married in the past. Ever since he figured out his sexual proclivities leaned further male than female he hadn't really given it another thought, instead resigning himself to the fate of being alone forever. Now he had a husband, and if it were any other circumstance he would be elated. But why did it have to be him?

Shaking himself from his musings he quickly cleaned up after himself and left the bathroom. Kevin was awake now, sitting up on the bed running his fingers through his long dark hair. Nick caught himself staring and quickly shook himself away from the gaze as he made his way to the couch. He quickly set to work cleaning up the mess he'd made with the cushions not wanting anyone, especially housekeeping to know he'd slept on the floor. By the time he was done and glanced up towards the bed, Kevin was already shut off in the bathroom. Breathing a sigh of relief he flopped down on the newly fixed couch to check his phone.

As expected there were countless text messages, social media mentions, emails and voicemails. Apparently the news had broken. Nick ignored all of them and shut off his phone. There was no way he had the brain capacity to deal with any of it right now. He heard the door unlatch behind him and knew that Kevin was out of the bathroom. He refused to turn around, instead opting to close his eyes and lean back against the couch. He could hear Kevin shuffling around the room as he was undoubtedly getting dressed. Nick forced himself not to turn and kept his eyes closed tightly until he felt the air around him shift. He opened one eye to peer up at the brilliant green eyes staring back at him.

"Are you okay?" the older man asked.

Nick snorted and closed his open eye. "Like you care."

Kevin didn't respond. Just continued to stand in front of him, staring. Nick could feel the eyes of the other man boring into him. After several moments Nick couldn't take it anymore. "What?" he demanded, his eyes flying open.

Kevin flinched and stepped backwards. "I was trying to be nice. I was threatened within an inch of my life to be nice to you, so I'm trying here. So fuck off if you only want to throw attitude."

Nick sighed and bit his tongue. "I'm sorry for snapping. I have a pretty bad crick in my neck from laying on the floor but it will work out. Other than that I'm doing the best I can be in this fucked up situation."

Kevin frowned and then nodded. "I'll be ready to leave for breakfast in fifteen minutes."

Nick nodded and settled back into the couch. He really didn't have much of an appetite, but he also didn't eat much the day before either so he figured he needed to force something down. He jumped slightly as Kevin spoke from the doorway.

"Are you ready?"

Nick nodded and forced himself up off the couch to face the older man. He was struck by how handsome the other man was. If you could get past the anger and rage Kevin put out into the world, the man was downright gorgeous. Nick swallowed hard and willed himself not to react. He followed Kevin to the door. Kevin reached out and took his hand. Nick looked down at their clasped hands and then back up the other man. He swallowed again. He would not think about this. He would not think about how their hands fit together.

"Showtime." Kevin muttered as he kicked open the door and drug Nick out into the hallway.

--

Thankfully the hallway was quiet. They made it to the elevator with no issue and as soon as the door closed Nick breathed a sigh of relief. Not one floor down the bell in the elevator chimed alerting the men it would be stopping in the next floor. Kevin glanced at Nick quickly before reaching out and putting a hand across his shoulders, pulling the other man tightly against him. Nick started to pull away but Kevin held him tightly against his side and refused it let him move. "Don't fight me. We don't know who's getting on. This is supposed to be our big debut, remember." Kevin said harshly.

Nick nodded and resisted the urge to dart to the other side of the elevator. Snuggling up beside Kevin he laid his head on the older man's shoulder at the very moment the doors opened and other people stepped on. The couple gave them a curious look but didn't speak and Nick turned inwardly towards Kevin to hide his face. To anyone looking on it looked like two men in love who were snuggled close early in the morning. To Nick he felt like his body was going to ignite if he had to stay pushed up against the other man for any extended length of time. The floors ticked by in slow motion. Nick tried not to breathe, his senses overloaded by the scent and feel of the other man so close to him.

The elevator dinged again and the doors to the lobby opened. The couple shuffled out in front of them. Kevin followed after them, still clasping Nick's hand. The moment they stepped foot into the lobby the flashbulbs went off. Nick was used to being photographed everywhere he went but he'd never seen anything like this. There were photographers everywhere, cameras flashing and the sound of paparazzi and fans yelling their names was almost deathaning. Nick froze, slightly intemifared. He felt Kevin's hand at the small of his back, ushering him forward. "Just keep walking, it's too dangerous to just stop here." Kevin whispered as he guided Nick through the lobby and towards the entrance of the restaurant. The noise level increased as they made their way through the lobby. Once they reached the restaurant Kevin turned them around to face the crowd. Turning Nick to face him, Kevin pulled the other man close and slid his mouth gently over Nick's. Nick froze but as Kevin pulled him closer, wrapping one hand around the back of Nick's neck, Nick opened his mouth to the kiss. Kevin thrust his tongue in gently and licked the inside of Nick's mouth before pulling away. He turned to smile at the cameras before taking Nick's hand and leading him inside the restaurant.

Nick felt like he was going to combust. If it hadn't been for the gentle prodding of his movements by Kevin, Nick would have still been standing shell shocked outside the restaurant. Nick didn't think he breathed until they were seated alone in the back of the restaurant. Once their orders had been taken and they were left alone at the table, Nick wasn't sure what to say. Hell he couldn't even look at the other man. His mind was a jumble of emotions. He hoped breakfast would be over quickly, but then what? It wasn't like he could hide out in his room or probably even go out on his own. Anyway he looked at this, he was destined to be stuck with this man for quite a while. He just had to figure out how he could handle it.
Chapter 7 by Arok
Kevin leaned back in the chair and surveyed the room around them. Most of the other diners in the back area were focused more on each other or their phones than taking stock of who else was sitting in the small restaurant. He knew that there shouldn't be anyone inside taking their photo or watching them for signs of their relationship, all of that had been orchestrated to happen outside. Alexis and the PR team and hit that one out of the park. By noon photographs of their kiss would be all over the web. He hoped it had appeared believable enough. Hell the moment Nick's mouth had opened beneath his lips, it had worked for him. He fought hard to control the groan that tried to bubble up from the depths of his throat every time he thought about that kiss. Thought about the way Nick had felt pressed up against him in the elevator or the way their hands seemed perfectly suited to slide into one another's at any given time. These were thoughts he tried desperately to keep out of his head, especially in the presence of the other man. He was half afraid the true nature of his feelings would play out across his face for the other man to see. The other half was afraid the need, the desire to have the other man at his will would become too much for him to keep under wraps in this new dynamic they'd found themselves in and he wouldn't be able to stop himself. Had he been unable to stop himself the other night? Is that why Nick was scratched to hell? Had he completely lost control in the company of the other man and done the unthinkable?

The other man was fidgeting in his seat, unable to focus on anything for more than a few seconds. Kevin knew their morning run in with the media had gotten to him. He himself was surprised there had been so many people lined up to catch the first glimpses of Kevin and Nick, the newlyweds instead of just Kevin and Nick, Backstreet Boys. It seemed ludicrous to him that other people should care so much about who he was sleeping with or married to. Or actually in this case who he was not sleeping with, but was indeed married to.

He knew he needed to be the one to reach out, he needed to be the one that set the peace, or at least get the younger man to agree to some semblance of a truce. This had been going on for far too long and now, well, now they were married and they had no choice but to spend the next year and a half pretending to be in love. At the very least they needed to be able to get through meals together without killing each other.

Not to mention their sleeping arrangements. There was no way he was going to let Nick sleep on the floor again. He had no idea what the solution was yet, but he knew the guilt would only lead to more sleepless nights for himself unless they got something figured out. He would have to do some more thinking on that one.

He chuckled softly to himself, drawing the attention of the other blonde. His blue eyes flicked up to meet Kevin's jade green ones.
"What's funny?" he asked softly.

Kevin shook his head with a wave. "I was just thinking that this is the longest we've gone without ripping each other's heads off. If the guys could see us sitting here having a quiet breakfast they'd probably die of shock."

Nick smirked and nodded. "Yeah, I was thinking the same thing earlier. I just didn't want to jinx us."

The table went silent as each man was consumed with eating their meals.

"Nick," Kevin started softly. He looked up from pushing his food around on his plate. "I think we should talk."

Nick's eyebrows raised as he lifted his water glass to his lips to take a drink. "About?"

"This. Us." Kevin said gesturing with his hands. "I think we need to come to some kind of truce. We can't keep fighting and manage to get through the next year. We're going to have to put the past behind us and try to be friendly enough to make this whole charade work."

Nick just stared blankly at him for several minutes. The waitress came and went, clearing their plates and bringing their check. Still Nick stared at him, unmoving. Kevin wasn't sure what to say. He knew Nick had heard him, shit, he was still staring at him, but still no response.

"Nick." he started again.

Nick pushed his chair back and stood. He quickly looked around the room before turning back to the table and Kevin. "I'm not the one who stated any of this. It always started with you. So if you want it to go away, if you want to put it behind us, that you've got to figure exactly what I ever did to make you hate me so much and then you need to come up with a damn good apology for treating me like absolute garbage for fifteen years. " without another word or glance at the older man, Nick turned and left Kevin sitting at the table.

--

Kevin didn't have to think long about when all of this stated. His only regret was it ever went as far as it did. What started out as a simple way to distance the young boy from his growing feelings somehow turned twisted and hateful. Year after year it got worse until it was easier to hate than to allow himself to love. The distance he created between them allowed him space to be able to work and be in close proximity without the primal urge he felt to take over. Of course none of this was anything he could ever tell anyone, so he'd made stupid excuses about being done being the big brother, that he didn't want to have to take care of other people when he was trying so desperately to take care of himself. After the first few months Nick had stated to notice that Kevin was no longer available to come to with problems or nightmares. Kevin never allowed them to be alone in the same room together either. Once Nick had picked up on the fact that Kevin was treating him differently they started fighting all the time. Once Nick started fighting back, and picking fights it got a lot easier to push him away.

And now, now they were married. Forced to be around each other 24/7 for the next year or so. Kevin could already feel those long buried feelings unboxing themselves and spreading. He knew if he wasn't careful this was going to get out of control quickly. His mind and body were still reeling from that kiss. Had he known, had any inkling about how their lips would feel against each other years ago, there would have been no way he could have stopped himself. He was more convinced now than ever that they probably had slept together the other night. That fact alone, made him sick, not because of what they'd done, but because the first time he'd slept with the man he'd wanted, loved, since he was 13 years old was a drunken mistake he couldn't remember.

He finished his breakfast and got up from the table. He wasn't sure where Nick had gone. He wasn't sure he was ready to face him yet either. He wasn't even sure what he would be able to say to the other man. He deserved the truth, after years of this shit he supposed they both did. But it wouldn't be easy and somehow he knew this would end up causing more hostility between them.

Exiting the restaurant he was relieved to see the media circus from before was gone. He quickly made his way to the elevator and was pleased when no one else boarded with him. Glancing at his watch he knew there was quite a bit of time before they had to leave for the arena. Hopefully the room was clear and he could take a nap, but he had a sneaky suspicion that he wouldn’t find an empty hotel room.

--

Nick paced the floor of the hotel room. He was hurt, no scratch that he was pissed. How dare Kevin try to insinuate that this was his fault, that their entire relationship, or lack thereof, was his responsibility. He had been so young when Kevin had turned on him. It was almost overnight the man had gone from someone Nick could depend on to someone who only wanted to cause Nick pain or hurt his feelings. He had spent so much time the first few years crying, running to Brian every single time Kevin said or did something to hurt his feelings. The man could look at him the wrong way and Nick would be a mess for the next several hours. And still he continued his hateful regime, calling him names or even worse ignoring his presence all together. Nothing Nick ever did seemed to change anything. It was like Nick breathing was enough to set the other man off. It was miserable and he hated it. Every break he would go home, ignore the others to give himself time to unwind from the constant fear of being attacked. More than once they had punched each other in the face, and on one instance when Nick was in his early 20s Kevin hit him hard enough to send him to the ER with a concussion.

He flopped down on the bed in frustration and exhaustion. Instantly he realized his mistake. The bedding smelled so strongly of the other man Nick could have sworn he was right there, curled up next to him. His mind immediately drifted back to the moment that morning in the elevator. How it had felt to be pressed so closely, his own lips inches away from his skin. And if that wasn’t enough, as soon as he’d calmed himself down from that little episode, he’d been immediately wrapped up in his embrace with Kevin’s lips on his. The whole thing had been completely overwhelming. If Kevin hadn’t had such a firm grasp on his upper body, he would surely have hit the floor the moment Kevin’s tongue had slipped inside his mouth. It was like nothing Nick had ever experienced before. He had literally seen fireworks in his closed eyes and felt like he was floating on air. What did it matter that the thing he’d wished, hoped and longed for his entire life was only happening because of this horrible situation? The feelings were still there. The whole thing made it hard for Nick to breath.

Nick closed his eyes and pushed himself up on the bed until his head hit the pillows. It felt good to lay down and stretch out after the floor. He buried his face into Kevin’s pillow and inhaled the deep woodsy scent of the other man. What would it hurt to take a nap here, curled up where Kevin had been only hours earlier. Maybe things wouldn’t seem so grim after a nap.
Chapter 8 by Arok
The silence was welcome as Kevin entered the hotel room. The enjoyment was relatively short lived however as he rounded the corner and found the blonde curled up on the side of the bed. He stood against the door frame and watched the other man for several moments. In sleep the other man looked so young, angelic. Those old familiar feelings seemed to bubble up to the surface, threatening to overtake him. He swallowed hard as he watched the air enter and leave the boys lungs. Watched the small smile on his face and his chest rose and fell. The sunlight from the hotel window put streaks of light in his thick blonde locks and Kevin’s fingers itched to touch, to run his fingers through the silken strands.

He stood in a trance unsure of what to do next. He could leave the room and come back in a few hours to try to talk things over with the younger man. He could wake him up now and they could have this out, but they were both exhausted and Kevin had a feeling that option would only make the whole situation worse. The option that made the most sense, at least in his exhausted and physically charged mind, was to climb in next to him and try to at least get a couple of hours of sleep. Then when they were both a little more refreshed, they could talk.

Making the decision quickly Kevin quickly shed his coat and unbuttoned his jeans. Slipping them off until he was clad only in his boxers he slipped in under the blankets beside the other man. He watched the gentle rise and fall of Nick’s back as he breathed. Now that he was this close he had the urge to reach out and draw the other man up against him. He forced his hands to stay at his sides and closed his eyes. He could smell Nick's aftershave and the smell of syrup from their breakfast. Nick smelled heavenly, like a warm gentle hug he'd wanted for so many years and had always been denied. He finally drifted off, thoughts dancing in his mind of what could have been if they had met at different points in their lives.

--

Nick was having the most amazing dream. He was warm and safe, cocooned in the arms of the man he'd been obsessed with for so long he honestly couldn't remember when it had started any longer. The dream was so vivid, he could feel the weight of the other man's arm around his waist, the other hand buried in his hair. It was the most amazing feeling. It made him feel wanted, desired in a way he'd never felt before. He was afraid to open his eyes and lose this sense of purpose the dream provided. In his dream he could roll over and kiss the other man and feel deep inside that the other man wanted him just as much. Needed him just as much. He couldn't keep the smile off his face. Now since they had shared that mind bending kiss that morning he could vividly imagine what waking up with the other man would feel like. He knew if it ever happened for real, there would be no way he would be strong enough to sleep alone ever again. The need for the other man was strong, always had been. He supposed that's why he always lashed out so violently so much more aggressively than with any of the other guys. It was the only way he could get out the passion he felt for the older man. It was healthy by any means, but it was all he had.

As much as he loved this dream and the feelings of comfort it gave him, it was time to wake up and face the afternoon. He needed to check in with Brian and maybe do some sketching to relieve some of the stress he could feel sitting on his shoulders like a leaded weight. He opened his eyes slowly, blinking back the bright sunlight that streamed into the room. This was strange. With his eyes open he still felt the warmth and the weight of the other man. Glancing down, he could see the pale smooth skin of another arm, Kevin's arm wrapped securely around his middle. He desperately wanted to roll over, to face the other man, but was afraid any movement would alert him that he was awake and then what? This moment of bliss would be forgotten and they would go back to yelling and biting insults. Nick didn’t want that, at all. He closed his eyes and tried to convince his body to go to sleep, to drift off and just enjoy the time he got to spend just like this, even if Kevin didn’t realize what he was doing.

His breath caught as he felt Kevin’s arm around his waist tighten and felt his fingers move through his hair. He kept his eyes closed, afraid of what he would see if he opened them. Would Kevin be completely disgusted when he woke up and realized it was him he was wrapped up in? He wouldn’t be able to take that. Kevin had hurt him a lot over the years, but Nick was pretty sure that one would do him in. Kevin’s grip was like the jaws of life now. Nick didn’t think he’d ever been held so tightly to another person before. He tried to keep the butterflies that were taking flight in his tummy settled but it wasn’t working. The smell, the touch, the feel of the other man was starting to have a real effect on his body. That’s all he needed, Kevin to wake up and see Nick pitching a tent, curled up next to him. That one would for sure land Nick back in the emergency room. He started counting backwards from 100 to try to occupy his mind on anything else. Kevin started mumbling, not coherent enough for Nick to understand anything he was saying, but little bits and pieces he tried desperately to put together. Coming up with nothing, he kept his eyes closed and hoped Kevin would wake up soon. The urge to pee was becoming an issue, but he would still prefer to lay here as long as possible.

After a few moments he felt the grip on his waist lessen and the fingers leave his hair. The immediate feeling of cold and loneliness was almost enough to make Nick cry out. This was silly, he was supposed to be asleep and there was no way Kevin even realized what he had done. But why did the feeling of Kevin moving away from him reduce him to tears? He had to get himself together, but how. How was he supposed to do that now that they were married. Nick wondered for the hundredth time how he could have been so stupid. He froze as he felt a finger trace down the outline of his cheek. There was no way Kevin was asleep now. Biting his tongue to keep from moaning, Nick rolled over to face the other man.

--

Kevin blinked as the blue eye he’d been thinking about appeared in front of him. Startled, he pulled back away from the blonde. He has assumed Nick was asleep and allowed himself a moment or two to watch him from a much closer vantage point than normal. When watching hadn’t been enough for him he had gingerly reached a finger out to touch, just to see if Nick’s skin was as soft as it looked. It had been. Kevin longed to touch more, to explore the body of the younger man who had haunted his dreams for so many years. What he hadn't expected was to get caught in his actions and as the younger man stared at him for an explanation, Kevin realized he had none. At least none Nick would be interested in hearing.

“Sorry if I woke you.” Kevin said softly as he tucked his hand underneath his head where it was lying on the bed pillow.

“I was already awake.” Nick said, unable to look away even though he knew he should. Something about the shade of green Kevin’s eyes were at that very moment made him feel like he was in some kind of trance.

“Oh,” Kevin mumbled. “I’m sorry if this is uncomfortable, I was just really tired and I thought I could sleep and get up before you woke up and it wouldn’t be as awkward as it is right now.”

“It’s okay. I don’t mind, really.”

The silence that enveloped them was deafening. Nick could hear the second hand ticking by from the clock on the wall. He felt like he was going to jump out of his skin. There was no way he was going to be able to sit and endure this silence, this awkward tension everyday for the next year. This feeling would tear him apart before Kevin ever got the chance. It was so uncomfortable to be stuck with another person and have no idea who they think or feel or where you stand with them. The entire situation made Nick very uneasy.

“Kevin…”

“Nick…”

They both started at the same time, causing Nick to blush and smile softly.

Kevin started again, “We should talk.”

Nick nodded but said nothing. Kevin sighed. He wasn’t sure they should have this conversation lying in a bed together, but he was desperate to keep the close contact with the other man. The decision was made for him as the other man began to speak and hit him so hard with his words Kevin wasn’t sure he could breath.

“Why do you hate me so much? What did I ever do that was so bad?” Nick said, barely above a whisper. His voice was full of tears and Kevin felt his own heart constrict.

Kevin closed his eyes and willed the tears to cease. How was he ever going to explain this one? “I never hated you, I don’t hate you.” Kevin responded almost inaudible.

Nick shook his head, the heat already rising in his cheeks. “You’re lying. There’s no way you could have treated me like this for so long unless you hated me. I just don’t understand what I ever did to deserve it. Sure, I played some practical jokes and I was immature at times, but fuck Kevin. I’ve racked my brain for years trying to figure out what I ever did to make you despise me and I’ve never been able to figure it out. So yeah, if there’s any way we’re going to get past this, if there’s any chance of this ludicrous plan working, then your going to have to once and for all tell me what the fuck I did.”

The tears were winning and began spilling down the porcelain cheeks of the man in front of him. Nick wasn’t sure what to do. The display of emotion was more than Nick had gotten from the other man before and he wasn’t sure what to do with it. He wanted, more than anything to draw the older man close to him and never let him go, but Nick suspected that wouldn’t get them anywhere and regardless of how painful this was going to be, the thought of finally putting the bullshit to rest and actually being friends with the other man was to important to him. So he would sit here and listen to whatever Kevin had to say. No matter how long it took to get through it.

Kevin continued to lay next to him, but had shifted to where he could bury his face into the plush cushion of the pillow. He allowed the tears to flow, knowing if he continued to try to withhold them, he would never get through this. Finally getting to a point where he felt like he could face the other man, Kevin lifted his face to stare into the most brilliant blue eyes he’d ever seen. The other man took his breath away and Kevin found it difficult to remember where he was in the conversation, what he was supposed to say next. With those blue eyes trained on him all he could think about was pulling the other man close, inhaling his scent and burying his face in Nick’s neck. None of these things were possible. He needed to own up to his mistakes, take it on the chin and try to create some kind of friendship with the other man. Even though friendship was the last thing on his mind at the moment.

“I never hated you. I know it doesn’t make any sense and I know I hurt you and for that I am so very sorry. I hope you can forgive me and we can move on.” Kevin offered as he wiped the stray tears off his face.

Nick glared at him, unable to stop the anger that flooded through him. Kevin was trying to brush everything under the rug, instead of talking, working through whatever had happened to cause their rift. This tension and anger from so many years ago, Nick couldn’t let it go. There was no way he could move on without knowing why. Sure he was stubborn, but how in the world could he prevent this fucking situation from happening again if he didn’t even understand what happened the first time?

“No.” Nick said angrily.

Kevin scrunched up his face confused. “No you can’t forgive me?”

Nick sat up on the bed and glared down at the other man. “No, I can’t. What the fuck am I forgiving you for Kevin, huh? Don’t you get it. I have no fucking clue how this happened or how we got here. So until I can understand, no I can’t forgive you. Try again. This time, how about the truth.”

Kevin sat up as well and tucked his long legs underneath him and ran his fingers through his long hair. He closed his eyes and rubbed his face as he debated on what to say. Nick said he wanted the truth. Kevin wasn’t so sure he did. Kevin wasn’t even sure he could verbalize it for the younger man.

“Okay.” Kevin started. “This is probably going to get a lot worse.”

Nick nodded. “I figured, but it’s the only way for both of us to move on.”

Kevin shook his head noncommittally. He still wasn’t sure, but what other choice did he have at this point. “I never hated you,” he started again.

“You have a funny way of showing it.” Nick quipped, unable to stop the anger from pouring out of him. “Fuck Kevin, you went from being my friend, someone I trusted and counted on to being the one person who could hurt me more than anyone else with just a look. How in the world am I supposed to think you feel anything but hate for me. You treated the other guys great, but me? You treated me like you wished I wasn’t even part of any of this.”

“I loved you. I could never hate you.”

Nick stopped and started at him. Had he heard him correctly? “What do you mean you loved me? I’m pretty sure you don’t treat people you love like you wish they were dead.”

Kevin blanched and looked away. “Yes, I loved you. Too much.”

Nick sat quietly, heart beating a million miles a moment, waiting for the other man to continue. When it was clear Kevin wasn’t going to say anything Nick prodded him again. “How can you sit here and say that to me after the way you’ve treated me for years Kevin. YEARS. Years of my life I spent tiptoeing around you so I didn’t piss you off and now you're going to sit here in front of me and try to tell me it’s because you loved me? Bullshit.”

Kevin jumped from the bed and began pacing the room. Nick watched him but didn’t say anything else. Finally Kevin turned and fixed his wild eyes on the other man. “You were 13 fucking years old. 13 YEARS OLD.” Kevin yelled, startling Nick from his seat in the bed. Nick stared at him, still not understanding, but growing concerned by Kevin’s agitation. The older man continued to pace in front of the bed.

“13 Nick, 13. I wasn’t supposed to feel like that, not for another guy, not for a friend and especially not for a 13 year old boy that was entrusted in my care to make sure he grew up safe and unfucked by this industry we’re in. I couldn’t be anywhere near you without wanting to kiss you or throw you against the nearest hard surface and fuck your brains out. Don’t you understand? It had to be this way baby, it was the only way I could protect you, from everything, including myself.” Kevin dropped to his knees, burying his face in his hand as the tears turned to full blown wails.

Nick sat stunned, trying desperately to catch up. His mind was racing. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever expect that to come out of the other man’s mouth. He wasn’t sure what to do. He needed time to process all of this, but he couldn’t leave Kevin in this state either. Sliding from the bed to the floor, Nick crawled on his knees until he reached the other man. He reached out gently, gripping Kevin by the forearms until he could break his hold. Nick pulled the crying man into his arms, noting how well he fit against him as he crumpled into his lap. Nick shifted until he was sitting on his butt, cradling the bulk of the other man against him. Kevin rested his head against Nick’s chest as he allowed the tears to overcome him. Nick smoothed the hair out of Kevin’s face and then laid his head against the other mans.

They stayed like that, curled together on the floor. Nick's bladder was becoming a bigger issue and as much as he wanted to sit here and hold Kevin all day, he also needed to get away from him. He needed time to think. He needed to try to understand what Kevin had meant, how he had felt all those years ago and how they had gotten to this place.

Nick pulled away gently. Kevin's tears had lessened and he was lying against Nick's chest with his eyes closed. Nick had never seen him so vulnerable. It was a complete shift in how he'd always viewed the other man. It was enduring but also scary. He didn't like having this feeling of power over the older man. He'd always been the submissive one, the one needing cared for, this was all new to him.

"Kev," Nick started.

Kevin pulled away from him and sat up. He wiped his eyes and tried to smile. "I'm sorry Nicky. I'm so sorry for everything."

Nick nodded and took Kevin's hand in his. "I know you are. I just need some time. It's a lot all at once and I need time to process everything. Let me have the rest of the day and we'll talk again after the show. Is that okay?"

Kevin nodded, a small smile forming. "Just tell me that you don't hate me." he asked quietly.

Nick's heart lurched. Hate him? That would never be possible. Even with all the hurt and abuse he'd put up with from the other man over the years, there's no way he could ever hate him. "No, I don't hate you." he shifted his legs out from under Kevin until he could stand on his own. Taking one last glance at the other man he turned. "We'll come back and talk here after the show okay?"

With the nod of confirmation from Kevin, Nick grabbed his duffel bag and entered the bathroom. He didn't let out a breath until he was locked securely inside the bathroom. Only then did he allow the tears to fall.
Chapter 9 by Arok
Nick took his time showering and getting ready to head to the venue. By the time he left the bathroom the other man was already gone. Nick had expected this, but was relieved nonetheless to have the room to himself for at least a little while. He went to find his phone. Finally spotting it on the nightstand he stopped when he noticed a piece of paper tucked underneath it. Picking it up he smiled softly as he read the words.

Nick -

Thanks for listening to me earlier. I know none of what I said makes up for the way I treated you, but you have to believe at the time I didn't feel like I had many options. Hell I was so young myself then, I didn't have all the answers either. I just panicked and did the only logical thing I could think of at the time. I will forever regret that I let the whole thing get so out of hand and I allowed myself to hurt you so many times. All I wanted to do was love you, but knowing that was impossible, pushing you far away from me felt like the only option available. I hate that our relationship got to this point, but if I'm being honest with myself, and finally for the first time with you, I'm not sorry we're in this situation. It's long overdue for us to come together instead of constantly pulling apart. I look forward to talking with you this evening and I hope we can finally move on and start an actual friendship.

-K

He had to admit, after just one conversation he was feeling much better about having to be stuck in this faux marriage with the other man. He tried to ignore the pang he felt reading the bit about rebuilding a friendship. Foolishly he had let his heart leap and his mind go when he'd heard Kevin express himself and say the reason they stopped getting alone had to do with the other man developing feelings for him. The rational part of his brain told him it was ridiculous to think that just because this whole thing started with the other man having feelings for him didn't mean that Kevin still harbored those same feelings. It had been years. They were both different people. But still, he'd allowed his heart to hope. So reading the word friendship felt like his hope balloon had been busted and he had to blink back tears as he tried to get his feelings under control. After years of nothing, he would gladly take whatever Kevin wanted to offer him.

He folded the paper and put it in his wallet, wanting to make sure he kept it safe. Picking up his phone he scrolled through message after message, finally finding the conversation with Brian. Since last night Brian had sent him 19 different messages and with a gasp, Nick realized the kiss from that morning had indeed been photographed and released. Brian had sent a copy with a million exclamation and question marks. Nick knew he was in for the grilling of a lifetime. Instead of even trying to text the other man back he hit the call button and settled into the armchair. Brian picked up on the first ring.

"I was starting to worry he'd murdered you and I would find your mutilated corpse in pieces in the bathroom." Brian blurted out without even a hello.

"Jesus Brian you've got to stop watching those true crime shows before bed. They are fucking with your mind man." Nick said with a laugh.

"I'm sorry for being worried! I haven't heard from either of you since last night even though I've sent like a million messages to you both. What is going on. And that kiss? What the hell possessed him to do that? I watched the video, man the shocked look on your face was priceless." Brian said chuckling.

"There's a video?" Nick felt his voice squeak and rolled his eyes at how ridiculous he sounded. Of course there was a video. The lobby had been filled with close to 50 photographers. One or more of them undoubtedly was recording the whole thing.

Nick cleared his throat and started again. "I'm fine. We're both fine. We had breakfast and then we both took a nap and now he's gone. I'm assuming we'll meet up at the arena."

Nick didn't realize his slip until it was too late. He wasn't ready to explain to anyone they were talking yet. Especially not until the two of them came to some kind of resolution or understanding between them.

"You both took a nap? As in together!?" Brian asked, unable to hid the shock in his voice.

Thinking quickly Nick responded. "No not together. I left the restaurant ahead of him and came back to the room and fell asleep. When I woke up he was asleep. I have no idea how long he'd been out for so yes we both napped but no not together."

This seemed to appease Brian's curiosity. "When are you leaning for the venue? Do you have any more Oscar performances with your husband today?" he said with a laugh.

Nick rolled his eyes. Yep, this was going to get old very quickly. "I planned on leaving in the next ten minutes. Want to ride with me? And to answer your other more invasive question, no not that I am aware of asshole." Nick had to move the phone away from his ear as the older man cackled. They made plans to meet in the lobby in fifteen minutes. Nick quickly checked around the room to make sure he had everything he needed. He was anxious for the concert to be over. He hadn't had much time to think about what he was going to say to the other man, but he was more than eager to get the conversation started.

--

By the time Brian and Nick got to the venue there was very little time to talk. They had to go through warm up exercises, sound check and wardrobe. The first time Nick had gotten a glimpse of the other man had been when they all met on stage for their vocal warm up. Nick felt his heart quicken as soon as he laid eyes on the other man. Kevin shot him a small smile which didn't go unnoticed by Nick. He checked quickly around to make sure no one was focused on him before he smiled back. Kevin saw and his smile few before he quickly looked away. This was the beginning of something. Nick could feel it in his bones. It may only end up being friendship, but if Nick had his way about it, it would end up being so much more.

The pre-show activity flew by in what felt like seconds and before Nick knew what was happening they were onstage. Towards the middle of the show, right before I'll Never Break Your Heart Kevin grabbed his hand backstage and pulled him towards the stage. Nick looked at him quizzically. "What's going on?

"They want us to address the crowd. Make an announcement. Since there was so much buzz this morning they want us to capitalize on it during the show. Are you alright with this."

Nick wasn't expecting this, but it was something they needed to do. He nodded and laced their fingers together, trying to only think about the task at hand and not how it felt to have Kevin's hand in his. They walked out on stage together, the noise level intensifying to a level Nick had never heard before. Suddenly he was nervous. He stumbled a bit, but Kevin was right there to lead him. Once they reached the center of the stage they turned to face the fans. Keeping their fingers laced together, Kevin lifted his mic with his other hand and addressed the crowd. Nick stood beside him trying hard to smile and make it seem like this was the best announcement in the world. In theory, if it had been real Nick knew he would have been a lot more nervous, but as it was, it was still pretend. Nick listened as Kevin reiterated the story the PR team had come up with about how they fell in love and finally decided to marry. Nick was lost in thought wondering how it would have actually felt to live out this story instead of it all being fake. He was brought out of his thoughts by Kevin pulling lightly on their hands. The crowd was louder now and they were yelling, chanting kiss, kiss, kiss over and over. Nick glanced up into Kevin's glowing green eyes and barely had a second to register what was happening before he felt the other man grab him by the back of his head and smash their lips together. He felt his knees buckle and Kevin reacted quickly by slipping his arms around him to keep him upright. He felt Kevin's tongue tracing along his lips and opened his mouth slightly. Kevin took the small opportunity to push his tongue inside, licking and sucking every inch of Nick's mouth. The fans went absolutely insane. Nick could barely hear them from the ringing in his ears. Finally, when he felt like his lungs would explode, he pulled away from the other man. He could feel how flushed his face was and his cock had already started to respond to the kiss and the other man being so close. Kevin gave him a smirk and then pulled away. He thanked the crowd for their love and support before dragging Nick off the side of the stage. The guys met them as soon as they exited with high fives and hugs. Nick avoided Brian's gaze as he quickly changed his clothes for the next set. There would be plenty of time to be interrogated later.

--

The rest of the show seemed to melt away. All Nick could think about was that kiss and how it would feel when they got back to their room to talk. He tried to sneak looks at Kevin the rest of the show but the other man avoided his gaze. Nick felt sick. He was sure the other man felt how aroused he had been earlier and was probably freaked out by it. Here they were on the cusp of being able to have an actual conversation and Nick couldn't keep it in his pants. Well it had stayed in his pants, but had decided it was necessary to make its attention known. He was embarrassed to say the least. He showered backstage before leaving to go back to the hotel. He didn't want to go back to the room without getting cleaned up, having no idea what he would be walking back into. He avoided the rest of the guys, showering quickly and getting his own cab instead of waiting for the bus to take them all back. There was no way he was going to let them all gang up on him asking questions until he and Kevin had a second to even begin to figure out any of the answers.

--

This time NIck was the first one back to the room. He had already showered and he was keyed up from the show and their kiss. He paced the room feeling like an animal trapped in a cage. If Kevin didn’t get there soon he would lose his mind. After pacing for several minutes he decided sitting out on the balcony would help calm his nerves. Deciding the cold night air was exactly what he needed, Nick grabbed a sweatshirt from his duffle bag and stepped outside. It was chilly, probably in the low 40s, but Nick was so worked up the cool air was refreshing instead of freezing. He leaned against the balcony rail and watched the view of the strip. Neon lights and sounds danced across the night sky. He usually didn’t like staying up this high, but there was something magical about staying up so high in a hotel on the strip. It made the rest of the world feel insignificant. He closed his eyes and let the air brush over his flushed skin. He heard a noise behind him and figured Kevin had returned to the room. Nick made no move to turn around, just closed his eyes as he heard the sliding glass door.

“Jeez, it’s chilly out here.” the older man mumbled. NIck heard the sliding glass door again and felt the presence of the other man leave. A second later the door opened again and he felt Kevin come up behind him. Nick glanced to his left and saw Kevin pulling a sweatshirt over his head. He joined Nick standing against the railing. They both stood in silence, both afraid to make the first move or speak too soon.
“I don’t even know what to say.” Kevin admitted quietly, his eyes still focused on the traffic down below.

“I’m not sure either. I should apologize for the role I’ve played in this. I’ve reacted out of anger too many times and said and done a lot of hurtful things to you. I never learned how to deal with hurt feelings and anger in a healthy way so instead I lashed out and got even angrier and I know I’ve hurt you in the past. I am truly sorry for everything I did to make this worse, on both of us.” Nick finally said, turning to face the older man.

At first Kevin didn’t move a muscle. Nick wondered for a moment if the other man had even been listening. Then the light caught his face and Nick could see the silent tears falling slowly down his cheeks. “Kev,” Nick said, gently placing a hand on Kevin’s shoulder. The simple touch was all it took and the raven haired man dissolved into tears. Pushing back off the rail Kevin laid his elbows against the wrought iron and placed his head on the length of his arms as the tears continued to fall. Nick hesitated for only a moment before wrapping his arms around Kevin’s waist and pulling the man into his arms. Kevin fell against him, wrapping Nick tightly against him as he cried. He just kept repeating ‘I’m Sorry’ over and over again. Nick held on tighter, trying his best not to get emotional himself and to keep them both upright.

“Let’s go back inside. I don’t want you catching a cold out here.” Nick said gently, trying to push Kevin towards the hotel room. Kevin nodded and let go of Nick to follow him back inside. Once in the warmth of the room, Nick pulled him down beside him on the couch. “What’s got you so upset?” Nick asked gently once they were settled, facing each other.

Kevin stared at his hands, twirling the simple silver band he wore on his ring finger around. “I just, I’ve loved you for so long, loved you so much, but I couldn’t. There was no way I could ever let you know. So i did a lot of stupid things to protect myself, to protect my heart from it ever getting out and in doing so I tried to convince myself I was protecting you, but that’s not true. In truth I’ve hurt you, over and over again and Nick I knew. Fuck there were times I would go back to my hotel room and cry myself to sleep because i knew i had hurt you with something i said, but I was so determined to make sure you never found out how I felt about you that nothing else mattered but protecting my secret. I’m just so damn sorry. After so much time had passed, after you were legal and at least i couldn’t be arrested for the way I felt about you, fuck by then it was too late. I had spent 5 years pushing you as far away as i could and I figured there was never any way of coming back from it. It was all so much simpler to keep moving on just as we always had instead of doing this, having this conversation and fessing up to all the horrible things I’ve done. I never wanted you to know how I felt. I never wanted you to know how weak I was. It’s been so long. I’ve been battling these feelings for you for so many years, they are just a part of me now. I regret so much that I hurt you and I can only pray that there’s a path forward for us.”

Kevin still continued to look down at his hands. This was fine with Nick, he preferred Kevin not see the tears now streaming down his own features. “I forgive you.” Nick said softly.

Kevin’s head shot up and he stared hard at the blonde. “You do?”
Nick nodded. ‘Yes, Kevin. All I have ever wanted was you in my life. If I have that chance, then the rest of the bullshit doesn’t matter to me. It’s in the past. I want to move forward.”

“I don’t know what to say.” Kevin admitted again.

Nick smiled though his tears. “Seems to be a reoccurring issue for you tonight Kev.” he teased, making the other man smile shyly. “How do you feel now Kevin?” NIck asked suddenly serious.

Kevin furrowed his eyebrows. “What do you mean?”

“I mean how do you feel about me now? You’ve said in the past you loved me and that’s how we ended up here, but what about now Kev? What are you feeling now?” Nick wanted to look into his eyes, wanted to be able to gauge his reaction when he answered, but he was embarrassed for asking the question and he couldn’t change a bad reaction so he kept his eyes securely trained on the floor.

Kevin didn’t answer at first. “I don’t want to mess this all up.” he said softly.

“You won’t. Please just tell me.” Nick glanced up and almost gasped at the look on the other man’s face.

“I love you Nicky. Rest assured I tried, I’ve tried for so many years to get over whatever it was that I feel for you, but it’s only grown stronger, deeper. I love you Nick.”

Nick knew this was one of those pinnacle moments in a person's life. He knew he had to respond very delicately. He didn’t want to scare the older man off, but he also didn’t want to lose the one chance he never thought he’d have with the other man. “I love you too.” he whispered.
Chapter 10 by Arok
The silence went on. Neither man spoke. Blue eyes focused in on green as both men tried to see how the other would react. Nick could feel his heart beat in his chest and wondered if Kevin could hear it from where he sat. The blood was coursing through his veins at an alarming rate and he could tell his blood pressure was elevated again. Kevin continued to gaze at him, unmoving.



"How?" the older man managed to squeak out.



Nick was confused. "How what?" he asked, tilting his head to the side.



"How can you love me? God Nick, I've put you through hell, time and time again. How can you ever forgive me."



The tears were back and Nick sat and watched them fall, unsure of what he could say to make the other man feel better. It was true, Kevin hurt him unlike anyone else in the world had ever had it would since, but Nick also knew that if they could ever put this thing to rest and finally stop running from each other, than the passion and fight they put in to being angry would only be that much more explosive if they were together. Nick was intrigued, terrified and excited for that kind of passion. No amount of anger or heartache had changed the way he felt about Kevin. Even on the worst nights, they were only that bad because Nick knew he was in love with the other man. Now that he knew this fight had started because Kevin felt the same. That was amazing to Nick.



"I told you earlier I forgive you, and I do. Hell we were both kids. I could at any point have come to you and tried to force you to talk to me. But I was also trying to deal with the way I felt about you and I didn't ever want you to know you had such an impact on me. I didn't want you to know how much you affected me. So it was easier on me to push back every time you pushed me away. "



Nick tried to smile at the other man, but he knew Kevin wasn't looking. The man was focused on a spot on the floor as he continued to twirl the wedding band on his hand. Nick wondered what Kevin did for his fidgeting before he got the ring. Right now it seemed like the only thing the other man could focus on. After what felt like an eternity Kevin looked over at him.



"I don't deserve any of it." he said sadly.



"Any of what?" now it was Nick’s turn to be confused.



"You bring nice, your forgiveness, your… your love." Kevin stammered.



Nick reached over and took both of Kevin's hands in his, smiling softly when the other man allowed it to happen and didn't flinch or try to pull away from him. "You don't get to make that call. Fuck Kevin, I've loved you for so many years it just seems like it's always been there. I think the reason the fighting got so bad sometimes was because I loved you so damn much and I was so mad you didn't see it, didn't see me. "



"I always saw you baby," Kevin said huskily, his accent thicker as he struggled with the tears. "I saw you grow up into this gorgeous, caring man. I saw the way you faced down anyone and anything that tried to get in your way, including me. I saw you go after the things you wanted in life with so much passion it was intimidating. But most of all, I watched you grow up, and become your own person, a wonderful person without the influence of anyone. I'm so damn proud of you. I wish I had been a part of it. I wish I had been stronger and able to put my feelings aside so I could have been in your life the way I always wanted and for that and so much more I will be apologizing forever. I don't deserve your love or forgiveness, but I can tell you that I want it. I want it all. I want you. "



This is all it took to release the tears Nick hadn't even been aware he'd been holding back. They rushed down his cheeks, clouding his vision. He didn't see Kevin move closer, he didn't even know what was happening when he felt himself pressed into the other man. He inhaled the distinct smell of Kevin and pushed closer, needing more. He wrapped his arms around the other man's slim waist and buried his face against Kevin's neck. Kevin held him tight, running his hands up and down Nick's back, trying desperately to provide any sort of comfort to the younger man.



Kevin leaned down and kissed the top of the blonde head curling around him. "I'm so sorry." he kept mumbling over and over as he nuzzled the top of the head of the man he loved so much. He hated knowing he was the reason for the tears, the reason this wonderful man had been in pain for so many years. Nick squeezed him tighter before pulling back to peer up into green eyes.



"I don't want to fight anymore." Nick said quietly.



"Oh baby, I don't want to fight either." Kevin said softly before leaning down and placing a kiss against Nick's forehand. Nick's eyes fluttered closed and a soft smile spread across his lips.



"Let's get off this floor. It's not comfortable for either of us." Nick said as he worked to untangle himself from the other man. Nick stood and held out a hand to help Kevin up. "Want to lay down and finish this conversation?"



Kevin nodded and followed Nick to the bedroom part of the hotel room. They kicked off their shoes and climbed on top of the bedspread. Turning to face each other, Kevin reached out and cupped Nick's cheek in his hand. "What now?" he asked quietly.



Nick pushed his cheek into the hand, grateful for the touch, any touch from the other man. "I have absolutely no idea." he answered honestly.



Kevin continued to caress Nick's face before letting his hand drop and intertwine with one of Nick's. Lacing their fingers together Kevin lifted their hands to his lips and placed a soft kiss on each of Nick's knuckles before lowering their hands back to the bed. Keeping them held together he began to rub his thumb on the backside of Nick’s hand in what he hoped was a calming gesture. Nick smiled and gazed up at him under dark lashes. The two men continued to gaze at each other, both finally having the time and freedom to really study the other.



Nick cleared his throat and spoke. "I.. I'd like to see what this is. I'd like to see if we can make something work for real, not just for pretend. That is if you are interested."



Kevin's eyes widened and he squeezed their laced hands. "I would love nothing more." he smiled softly at the blonde, trying not to let the goofy grin he felt coming across his features.



Nick smiled and leaned in just enough to brush his lips gently against the other man's, before pulling back and blushing. Kevin smiled too and licked his lip which had been against Nick's only moments ago.



"I want to keep this just between us, at least for a little bit. There's a lot we have to figure out between the two of us. I have no idea if we can make this work, but I at least want a fighting chance with none of them interfering." Nick pleaded.



Kevin nodded. "Agreed. Let's see if there's something to tell first."



Nick looked at Kevin shyly. "Is it too forward to ask if we can lay here tonight? I really don't want to sleep on the floor again."



Kevin nodded. "I'd already made up my mind that you weren't sleeping down there another night. Well sleep here together."



Nick nodded and smiled. Standing he shed his sweatshirts and pants. Once he was down to his boxers and undershirt he climbed underneath the blankets. Kevin watched his movements before standing and doing the same. Once they were both settled under the blankets Kevin turned to face Nick.



"Would it be alright if I held you? I'd really like to know how it feels to fall asleep with you in my arms." Kevin asked the younger man softly.



Nick blushed and nodded. "I really want that too."



Kevin held up the blanket and Nick shifted closer until his back came in contact with Kevin's chest. Kevin brought his arm down around the other man and pulled him in close. They threaded their legs together and settled back into the pillows. Kevin sighed contentedly and nuzzled the back of Nick's neck. Within seconds the fight had left him and he was sound asleep. Nick laid there for several minutes after, relishing the feeling of the warmth of the other man invading him. He could seriously get used to this. As he drifted off he wondered how wonderful other things with Kevin would feel if snuggling felt like this.



--



They woke up the next morning wrapped in each other’s arms. Kevin moved first, kissing Nick’s exposed shoulder blade and rolling over to grab his phone off of the nightstand. He gawked at the time.



“Holy shit Nick it’s after 11.” Kevin said laughing as he rolled onto this back. “I don’t think I have slept this late since I was a teenager.”



Nick rolled onto his side and snuggled up to Kevin’s side. “Mmm I bet you were a cute teenager though.” he said as he placed a kiss in the middle of Kevin’s chest.



Kevin smiled and wrapped one arm around the blonde, pulling him even closer. “I guess I didn’t realize how tired I was and how it would feel to sleep here with you all night.’



Nick nodded his head, brushing his cheek against the fine hairs decorating the older man’s chest. “It really was the best. I don’t think I woke up once.”



They snuggled together, holding hands and an occasional kiss from Nick to Kevin’s chest or one to the top of Nick’s blonde locks from Kevin. It was quiet, a beautiful quiet full of content and love between the two men. Kevin took Nick’s hand with the hand not pinning him close and threaded and unthreaded their fingers together in a beautiful slow rhythm.



“I could get used to this.” Kevin whispered into the stillness of the room.



“I already am. I never want to move.”



Kevin smiled to himself and squeezed the other man into him. There was so much more he wanted to say, so much more he wanted to do with and to Nick, but everything was fresh and new and Kevin would be damned if he let his emotions, or worse yet, his hormones ruin whatever it was they had going for them. He would wait an eternity to be able to keep Nick, just to be with the other man. He knew they would have to get up, shower and head to the venue soon. It was a rehearsal day which meant they had to be there earlier than normal. They rehearsed twice a week, just to make sure everything kept running smoothly. Normally Kevin enjoyed rehearsal day, but today he hated the fact that it would pull him out of this comforting warm embrace he’d shared all night with the blonde.



“Are you as upset about getting up as I am?” Nick asked softly as he propped himself up on one elbow. He gazed up at Kevin, his thick lashes hiding his eyes.



“You have no idea baby.” Kevin responded, his southern drawl especially thick. “I was thinking how nice it would be to shower together though. Feel like you’re up to it?”



Nick’s eyes light up. “Really Kev?”



Kevin chuckled as he smiled down at the blonde. “I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to. I don’t want to push you too far. We can just shower.”



“Maybe some kisses too?” Nick asked innocently?



Kevin laughed out loud. “Kisses sound very nice.”



An hour later they were finally clean, with chapped lips and big smiles. Nick felt like a teenagaer, giddy with his first crush, which incidentally happened to have been on his raven haired husband. He smiled at the thought. So much history, so many painful memories that he was determined to turn around if the other man would give him the chance. He was just beginning to have the other man for himself, he wasn’t about to let him slip away from him this time. Nick looked at his watch as he fastened it on. “Fuck, we’ve already missed the first bus. The guys are going to freak out if we’re both late for rehearsal.”



Kevin smiled. “Isn’t that my line?”



Nick blushed and looked away. Kevin came closer lifting Nick’s chin to peer into his eyes. “Don’t be shy. I think it’s cute you're concerned about the time.”



“I just don’t want them messing this up for us.” Nick said softly.



Kevin nodded and grabbed one of Nick’s hands. Lifting it to his mouth he placed a kiss on the back of it. “Nothing is going to mess this up. It’s too important to me. I won’t let it, okay?”



Nick nodded and offered a small smile. He grabbed his wallet and duffle bag before heading to the door. “Let’s go old man.”



--



Nick was hot. He could feel the sweat pouring down his back, way more than normal. He took a deep breath, finding it hard to get his lungs to fill correctly. They had only been rehearsing for an hour and felt like he’d been doing the same routine for days. He bent and grabbed his water bottle off of the floor. Trying to breath and take a drink at the same time made him sputter and cough, the water going down the wrong pipe. He coughed a few times and bent over, placing his hands on his bent knees, trying desperately to get his breathing to line out. Nothing seemed to be working. He glanced up around the room. The music was bouncing off the walls, the bass so loud Nick could feel it bouncing off of his chest, or was that just his chest tightening from lack of oxygen? Everyone else was in their own little worlds. Kevin and Brian were talking across the room both wiping off with towels. Howie and AJ were in some kind of chase tickle fight which Nick would have probably joined, if he could breath. He tried again to take a deep breath, but all he could manage was short shallow breaths. Something was wrong. He felt the white hot heat spread through his body, the fear starting in his toes and spreading like wildfire as he tried so hard to get air. He tried to yell, to call out for help, for Kevin, but he couldn’t make a sound. Suddenly his eyes crossed, spider web like lines appeared in his vision and then there was nothing.



--



Kevin wiped his face and tried to listen to whatever it was Brian was droning on about. All he wanted was five minutes alone with Nick, but because they didn’t want anyone to become suspicious and they weren’t required to pretend behind closed doors, Kevin had to keep his distance. He kept one eye unceremoniously trained on the other man as he nodded and smiled, trying to make it look like he was participating in the conversation with his cousin. Something caught Kevin’s attention out of the corner of his eye. He shifted his gaze to the blonde as he watched him take a drink and cough. He smiled lightly to himself, thinking how adorable Nick could be making a mess of himself just by drinking from a water bottle incorrectly. His smile started to falter as he watched a look of panic cross the blondes features. He took two steps away from Brian trying to get closer. He felt everything happen in slow motion. He started yelling Nick’s name the moment he saw his love’s eyes slam shut. He shot off across the room, making it to i'm just before his body crumpled to the floor. He laid Nick out gently, quickly checking for a pulse and finding one, he sighed in momentary relief.



“Somebody call an ambulance.” He barked as he pulled Nick’s upper half into his lap. He pushed the soaked blonde hair off of Nick’s sweaty forehead and tried desperately not to focus on the fact that this was the third time in as many days that Nick had passed out.



Kevin could hear and feel people rushing around him. Brian and AJ dropped to their knees beside him, offering assistance however necessary.



“What the fuck happened?” AJ asked, a panicked look in his brown eyes.



“No clue.” Kevin said with a shaky voice. “I saw him choke on his water but I thought he just drank wrong and then the next moment he was falling.”



“Has he done this again since the other day?” Brian asked, glancing around at the other faces.



Kevin shook his head. “Not since that morning. At least not that I know of. He seemed fine this morning.” Kevin continued to caress Nick’s face, whispering softly to the other man, even though Nick couldn’t hear him. It seemed like hours, but was really only minutes before there was a noise at the side of the stage and two EMTs with a stretcher came close. Lowering it to the floor they brought it alongside Nick. They pushed Kevin and Brian out of the way as they set to work, checking Nick’s vitals and shifting him onto the stretcher.



“Where are you taking him?” Brian asked, fear evident in his voice.



“County hospital. It’s about five miles from here. You can meet him there.”



“I’m going with him.” Kevin demanded pushing forward to walk with them. Brian tried to grab his arm and pull him back.



“I’m sorry sir. Hospital policy states only immediate family can ride in the ambulance.” the EMT said.



“I’m his fucking husband and I’m going with him.” Kevin said forcefully, shaking his cousin off of him. He walked forward and took one of Nick’s limp hands in his. Brian and AJ exchanged looks behind Kevin’s head. Kevin never talked to people that way and neither of them expected him to be so determined to ride in the ambulance.



“Very well, let’s go.”



“We’ll meet you there.’ Brian yelled as he turned to AJ. “Grab his stuff and I’ll find Howie. We can all ride together.” AJ nodded, his eyes wild as he ran to get their stuff. Brian’s heart was hammering in his chest, praying whatever was wrong wasn’t serious.
Chapter 11 by Arok
The ride to the hospital went by in a blur. Kevin tried to stay out of the medics way but refused to let go of Nick's hand and move to the back of the ambulance. They worked around him, getting an iv placed and constantly taking Nick's blood pressure. Kevin couldn't decipher the words they spoke to each other, his eyes and attention focused solely on the man lying on the stretcher before him. The man who still hadn't woken up. Nick's normally tanned golden skin was white and clammy. His hair was matted to one side where he had sweat so much rehearsing. Kevin wanted desperately to reach out and run his fingers through it, to provide some semblance of comfort to the other man but he was too scared to move. They got to the hospital in record time but it still felt like hours to Kevin. He hesitantly released Nick's hand, but not before kissing it gently and laying it back at his side.


The EMT directed Kevin where to stand so they could lift Nick out of the ambulance. He waited in the back until they successfully had the stretcher on the ground and then he clambered out behind them. They moved quickly, Kevin trying desperately to keep up. His feet could only move so fast and the fear he felt was so strong it felt like he himself was having difficulty breathing.


Once inside the emergency room room they were met by a flood of nurses and a doctor. Kevin advised them they would need additional security and was led to the nurses station to begin filling out paperwork. He tried to fight them, tried to push back against the reassuring arm of an elderly nurse but she held him strong, advising him that the best thing he could do for his friend right then was to come with her. Feeling like a bucket of ice water had been thrown on top of him he turned and flared at her.


"He's not my friend, he's my husband."


She gave him a smile and nodded. "All the more reason to come with me. Allow the doctor time and space to work. I'll keep you plenty occupied while you're waiting."


Kevin stood in the hallway watching the swinging doors as they wheeled Nick away from him. He felt the wail bubbling up from the pit of his stomach. If the nurse hadn't been standing there he surely would have hit the floor. She caught him as his knees gave way and gently half drug him down the hallway. Once they reached the nurses station she opened the employee guard rail and pushed him inside. She grabbed an office chair and wheeled it over close enough so she could push him down in it. He fell into it ungracefully. He dropped his head in his hands as the tears continued to fall. She stood beside him, safe and grandmotherly as she rubbed his back. When he could finally catch his breath he looked up at her with the smallest of smiles. Grabbing her hand and squeezing it he shook himself.


"I think I'm okay now. What do you need me to do?"


She nodded and smiled as she busied herself gathering the necessary admitting forms that needed to be signed. She grabbed a clipboard and an ink pen and passed it all to him to begin filling out. Once Kevin was settled she went to work calling the hospital security team to get a protocol started for how to deal with Nick's room and admittance. Kevin tried hard to focus on the paperwork but every time he put the pen to the paper he saw Nick crumpling over and over in his mind. They were just getting started, just getting somewhere together. He couldn't lose him now.


A flurry of noise coming from the front door erupted in the small waiting area. He knew without even looking up the other guys had arrived. In seconds his suspicions were confirmed when they appeared at the nurses station. Taking one look at Kevin, Brian demanded to be let in. The elderly nurse nodded and opened the door allowing Brian to enter. He was beside Kevin in seconds, folding the other man into his arms. A fresh round of tears started and Kevin clung to Brian, afraid to let go of the contact.


"I've got an extra room set up for you guys to convene in there to wait for the doctor. That way you're out of my way and out of everyone's sight. If you'll all follow me."


Kevin stood on shaky legs and followed the nurse and the rest of the guys down the hall, cradling the clipboard of paperwork to his chest as he shuffled along. Once they were alone in the room the nurse turned and smiled. "Doctors in with him now. It should only be a little while longer." she started out the door before turning back and addressing the other men in the room. "Someone else fill out that paperwork for him. He's such a mess at the moment he may end up getting his own room here if he's not careful."


She turned and left the room, leaving a dumbfounded Kevin in her wake. It was true, he was a little ashamed of himself. He was always the one that could keep everything together for everyone and everything moving forward. But right now, without knowing what was wrong with Nick the fear and anxiety were too much for him to handle. He'd never been this scared. Even when he lost his dad, he hadn't known what was happening in enough time to be scared about it. Devastated after the fact sure, but he never went through the terror part. He made a mental note to send something nice to his mother for taking the brunt of that fear and shielding him from it.


He felt the clipboard being pried out of his hands and looked up to see Brian's small smile. He released it and glanced around the room at the other two. Howie looked pensive, arms crossed across his chest as he leaned against the wall and AJ. Well AJ looked down right terrified. He kept pacing quickly from one end of the room to the other, muttering to himself and throwing his hands up every so often. He smiled to himself knowing how Nick would love to know how big of an effect he had on the other members of their group. Nick. All Kevin could think of was how mere hours earlier they'd showered together. Soaping, kissing and exploring parts of each that until that moment had been forbidden to each other. How had this day changed so drastically. They were supposed to perform tonight. Kevin sat up with a start. There was just no way.


"Did someone call management? Tell them we can't perform tonight?" Kevin asked looking up at the others.


They all exchanged looks before Brian spoke. "Not yet, we weren't sure what was going on with Nick yet. There's still tim…"


Kevin cut him off. "Someone better fucking call them. We're not performing tonight. End of discussion."


Howie glanced at the others before pushing himself off the wall. "Kev," he started.


Kevin shot up from the chair, almost knocking Brian to the floor in the process. "I don't give a shit about anything else right now Howard. We're not performing. No matter what the doctor says he's getting rest tonight. We'll play it by ear for tomorrow, but tonight is a done deal. So I would really appreciate it if you would call and tell them Nick's in the FUCKING hospital and there's not going to be a show."


No one spoke. They all glanced at each other before glancing back at Kevin. Eyes were wide and mouths slack. Kevin never canceled anything unless it was a life or death emergency, the show had to go on was always his motto. They had assumed this would be no different. The show wasn't scheduled for several more hours and by that time they could be fine and ready to go. No one could have predicted Kevin's vehement reaction. Howie held up his hands in surrender and then dug his phone out of his pocket. Leaving the room he cast one last wide eyed glance at Brian who merely shrugged his shoulders.


Feeling a little sick from his outburst, Kevin lowered himself back down in the chair and dropped his head in his hands. This waiting was driving him insane. He had to know if Nick was okay. Time seemed to stretch on indefinitely. AJ continued to pace while Brian made quick work of the hospital forms. Howie returned with a nod, letting them all know that management was taking care of the things necessary to cancel their concert. Kevin could care less on that front. How could anyone think of performing after the day they’d had. His own heart was pounding much quicker than it normally did, causing a dull throbbing in his chest. If the doctor didn’t come back soon he was going to come out of his skin.


They all jumped when they heard a noise at the door. They watched as the doctor stepped inside, his face unreadable. Kevin was on his feet in seconds. “How is he? Is he awake?”


The doctor held up his hand and glanced down at the chart he was holding. “Who is Mr. Carter’s next of kin?”


Kevin stepped forward. “I am, I’m his husband. Please tell me what’s going on.”


The doctor looked at Kevin curiously before sliding his gaze over to the other men standing beside him. Brian gave a slight nod in agreement. He sighed and folded his arms. ‘Mr Carter is resting. He did wake up a little while ago. “


“What’s the matter with him? Why did he pass out again?” Kevin asked, the panic high in his voice.


The doctor looked up at him curiously. “How many times has he fainted?”


“This would be the third time in a few days.” Brain said stepping up and placing a hand on Kevin’s arm.


The doctor frowned and glanced back down at the chart. Kevin felt his heart lurch. Suddenly he couldn’t wait one more second to know what was going on. “What’s going on?” he asked again, a little more forcefully this time.


The doctor gave him a look of impatience but cleared his throat and responded. “Mr. Carter was brought in severely dehydrated. The level of dehydration is what caused him to pass out. In giving him IVs to try to rouse him we took some blood. The lab results came back a little while ago and Mr. Carter is severely anemic. I believe his anemia is what is causing these fainting spells. The IV fluids weren’t enough to wake him on their own so we had to give him a blood transfusion. He woke briefly but has been asleep for some time now. He will be fine, but he needs to start an iron supplement right away and make an appointment with his own doctor. Anemia is nothing to mess with and it needs to be tested regularly.”


Kevin felt a weight leave his shoulders. Nick was going to be okay. Anemia was something they could deal with. He was thankful it wasn’t something more serious. He wanted to hug this doctor. But first, he wanted to see Nick. Touch him, kiss him, look into those beautiful crystal blue eyes. His thoughts were interrupted by AJ clearing his throat.


“I have a confession to make.”


All eyes turned towards him. Kevin looked at him curiously. This was not the time or place for whatever nonsense AJ wanted to talk about right then. Especially not while they were with the doctor. AJ refused to meet their eyes, hands shoved deep in his jeans pocket as he toed a spot of dirt on the hospital room floor.


“Three nights ago I spiked Nick’s drink with ecstasy.. The next morning is when the first episode of passing out happened.”


Kevin felt his heart thud in his chest as a rage like he’d never experienced before spread through his veins. “You did WHAT?” he boomed, taking two steps toward the smaller man. Brain shot out and stood in front of him, blocking his past.


“Stop Kev. Take a deep breath.” Brain said as he placed a hand on Kevin’s chest.


“You’d better move Brian or I’ll kill you too once I’m done with him.” Kevin snarled, gesturing to AJ. AJ’s eyes were wide as he stared down Kevin. Knowing he would most definitely deserve whatever the other man threw at him he tried to stand his ground.


The doctor shook his head, obviously over their theatrics. “To answer your question, yes. The drug more than likely contributed to dehydrating Mr. Carter too much too quickly. However, had he not had these fainting spells it's uncertain how soon the anemia would have been discovered and that is the most important thing. We have to get the iron levels in his blood lined out before it can cause further damage. But please, don’t go around drugging anymore of your friends. Now Mr…” the doctor gestured to Kevin.


“Richardson. It’s Kevin Richardson.” Kevin said momentarily forgetting the need to kill his younger band mate.


“Very well, if you’d like to come with me, I will show you to Mr. Carter’s room. Like I’ve said he is still asleep and we expect him to wake on his own.” With that, the doctor held the door open for Kevin and led him out of the room.


--


AJ knew he was in for it the moment the hotel door closed. Before he knew what happened he was slammed backwards against the wall, Brian’s hand around his throat.


“What the FUCK were you thinking?” Brian spit out, his blue eyes wild in fury.


Brian never said fuck. AJ slunk down further on the wall. He’d known he’d messed up and knew he had to face the consequences. “I’m sorry. I..I. was trying to get them to talk. I thought if I could get them both loose and leave them with each other maybe they could work this shit out. I’m tired of dealing with it. It’s been years of this bull shit. I had no fucking idea they would go and get hitched. How was I supposed to see that one coming.”


The pressure on his neck grew more intense and he squeezed his eyes shut thinking at any moment Brian would haul back and punch him right in the face. “You’re not supposed to fucking drug your friends for starters.” Brian pushed AJ’s thoar back against the wall before releasing him completely.


“I need to be away from you right now before I do some serious harm to that pretty face of yours.” Brian walked to the door and with a glare over his shoulder he slammed it.


--


Kevin wasn’t sure what to expect when he stepped inside Nick’s room. He’d heard the words the doctor had said, IV, blood transfusion, still asleep, but seeing his beautiful husband stretched out on the bed with tubes and wires going every which way made his stomach lurch. He quickly grabbed the hard plastic visitor chair and drug it over to Nick’s bedside. Perching down in it he gingerly picked up one of Nick’s still hands. He felt cold and clammy at the same time. He raised the hand to his lips and gently kissed the back of it. He wanted nothing more than to scoop the other man into his arms and run away with him, never letting another soul near enough to touch, let alone hurt him. He was furious, no scratch that, he was whatever came after furious with AJ. He’d spiked their drinks, gotten them both so high they were out of their minds and let their inhibitions take over and then he’d left them to their own devices. He tried to listen to the doctor and convince himself this truly was a blessing in disguise otherwise they would have found Nick’s blood issue, but at the same time he wanted to rip off AJ’s head. He was conflicted and scared and all he wanted was for Nick to open his eyes so he knew they would be okay. Sitting in the chair was too far. He needed to be closer. He stood and examined the bed before moving Nick’s arm and the nurse’s call button. Carving out a small area for himself he perched on Nick’s bed up by his chest, as close as he was going to get in Nick’s current state. He began softly stroking his hair. Brushing the golden strands off that beautiful face he loves so much. When that wasn’t enough he began to palm Nick’s cheek, loving the feeling of the soft flesh beneath his fingers. He traced the line of his jaw and ran his fingertips across those plush wonderful lips. He didn’t even think about how it would look, just dropped his head lower, brushing his lips across Nick’s still ones.


“Come on baby, wake up for me. Show me those beautiful blue eyes of yours.”


Still nothing. Kevin tried not to let it dissuade him. He shifted again so she could lay his head on Nick’s chest, calming only slightly when he could hear the soft lub dub of Nick’s heart beating beneath him. He began whispering words of love to the blonde. Telling him all the places he’d like to take him and all the things he wanted to do. He told Nick stories about how many times he’d fallen in love with him over the years and how he couldn’t wait to spend the rest of his life with him. He chattered on, afraid if he stopped he’d be left with nothing but the beeping machines and silence of the room. Just when he felt his eyes drifting and thought he’d said everything he could, he felt slim fingers brush through his hair. It was the most magical feeling Kevin had ever felt. He startled slightly and shifted carefully as to not disturb or hurt Nick in any way. Turning his eyes finally landed on those beautiful blue orbs he loved so much..


“You’re awake.” he said softly, his voice breaking.


“You’re here.” Nick said just as soft. He coughed a couple of times and Kevin reached for the water cup and helped him take a drink before settling it back down on the nightstand.


“Of course I’m here baby. I wouldn’t be anywhere else.” Kevin leaned down and brushed his lips against Nick’s again, sighing contentedly when Nick kissed him back, just as sweet.


“They are going to talk if they find you in here like this.” Nick whispered as Kevin rested his forehead against the blondes.


“So? I need you. I need to know you’re okay. I’ve never been that scared, Nicky. I caught you right before you hit the floor and I swear I screamed so loud that if they weren't talking before they are now. I’ve been kind of a basket case since we got here.” Kevin said sheepishly.


Nick offered up a small smile. “I’m okay baby. Just please, don’t leave me here okay. Will you stay with me?”


Kevin could deny him nothing. He shifted his mouth forward and brushed his lips against Nick’s. “They will have to pry me away from you baby.”
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