Howie walked around his party making sure everyone was having a good time, that they had drinks, that they were enjoying the food. It was his own party and he felt he had to play host. Nick and AJ had convinced him that he should have a zero out party the day after he zeroed out. He didn't put up much of a fight and planning it helped him keep his mind off of Anna.
He made his way into the kitchen in search of something alcoholic to drink. The party was draining him, too many people around when he really wanted to curl up in bed and be alone.
“Nick I still can't believe you did that,” He heard Brian's voice coming from nearby. Howie turned until he Brian, Stephanie and Nick dates standing nearby. He moved towards them, standing somewhat on the outside, wanting to listen in, but not really be a part of their conversation.
“Well, it happened Brian,” Nick spoke.
“You got yourself hitched in Vegas of all places.” Brian jabbed at his friend.
“Brian, I think it's kind of romantic,” Stephanie nuzzled closer to Brian.
“And you decided to stay married?” Brian asked confused. “You've only known her for what, six months at the most?”
Nick shrugged, “We thought we'd at least stay together until we meet her mother and then we'll go from there. Besides, I think I ...” Nick mumbled the rest of the sentence so Howie was unable to hear what he said.
“You what Nick?” unable to keep quiet, Howie interjected.
“I think I might be falling in love with her,” He replied shoving Howie slightly to the side.
“I think it's great,” Howie said smiling at his friend. He was really happy for Nick but he couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for himself. The woman he really loved was gone from his life.
The conversation moved to basketball and Howie took it as is cue to move around the party more. He said “hi” to several people as he wandered by, finally finding AJ tucked into a corner with Karin sitting next to him. Her fingers were running around his wrist, the wrist the timer was removed from.
“What are you two up to?” He asked as he approached.
“We are planning out what I should get tattooed around the scars on my wrist,” AJ smiled up at Howie then back at Karin.
“Can you believe Nick is staying married?” Kevin's voice came up from behind Howie.
“I was just over there, he thinks he's falling in love,” Howie added in Nick's defense.
“It's not a bad thing, just unexpected for him,” AJ piped up. “I'm just glad Trina and Nick aren't hanging all over each other like Brian and Stephanie. Seriously, get a room.” He laughed winking at Karin.
Howie stood with his friends a little longer as they discussed tattoo ideas for AJ's wrist. Howie watched the chatter and started feeling down. He turned and looked at everyone at the party. Everyone was enjoying themselves, everyone but him. He sighed and made his way through the room and up the stairs into his bedroom. Maybe he would just lie down for a little while.
He moved into his room and sat on his bed, dropping his head into his hands. Pushing Anna out of his life by insisting on the damn timer was the worst thing he'd ever done.
Howie looked up as he heard clattering in the bathroom. “Hello,” He called out. “Who's there?”
“Howie?” a voice called back. “It's me, I just came to get the rest of my stuff. I didn't want to interrupt the party so I just came up here,” Anna spoke from the restroom.
“Not much of a party for me,” He called out, laying himself on the bed. Just what he needed to complete his night. Anna at his zero out party.
“Howie,” her voice started again. “I've been doing a lot of thinking lately,” she was talking to him but remained in the bathroom. “I realized a lot of things though getting a timer, I realized how much I loved you. How unfair I was comparing you to my ex-boyfriend. You are two completely different people and I didn't realize what a good thing I had with you until you were gone. I've missed you.” a few more objects sounded as if they were thrown into a bag before she continued. “I wish we could start over.” She said.
“Me too,” Howie replied softly, not even sure if she heard him or not. He continued to lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. “Why can't we?” He asked. Really why couldn't they start over. Who cared if he timed out, his friends were proof that you could have relationships with people that your timer did not match up with.
“I wish we could, but...” She paused, Howie thought he heard a few sobs escape her. “I zeroed out,” she cried out. Now he could tell she was crying.
Howie bolted straight up and off the bed. “You zeroed out?” He questioned. “When?”
“Last night,” she whispered.
Howie moved quickly to the bathroom, seeing her sitting on the floor a bag open around her with things thrown inside, mostly her make-up.
She glanced up at him and then it happened. That magical beeping noise emanating from both of their timers signaling they'd found their one true love. Howie moved to Anna and pulled her off of the floor wrapping his arms around her.
He pressed his lips to hers hard, months of being unable to kiss her filled his one kiss. “Anna,” He whispered. “I love you,” he said and kissed her again.
“Howie this is too much to ask for, is it real?” She smiled.
“Who cares if it was only a ringing in our ears, this was the right time for us.” He tilted her chin towards his face again and kissed her, never happier in his life.