Chapter 6: Nerves
My nerves were being tested. I had spent the rest of the night sitting by the phone, waiting for a call from Howie or AJ, to let me know what the hell was going on. That call never came. By six-thirty, I was climbing the walls, so Kristen pressed the phone into my hands and insisted I call them instead. Up until that point, I hadn't even contemplated ringing them myself. But once I did, and received no answer, I was calling them every five minutes. By the time AJ answered his phone, it was seven in the morning and Kristen had booked me a flight to Florida.
When I asked AJ what had happened, he simply said that Nick was sleeping. At that point, I had felt myself relax slightly and was even beginning to regret booking the flight. But then AJ said that it would probably be best if I came down for a visit. That's when my heart stopped. That's when Nick's voice called out to me, pleading with me to come and pick him up. I gave AJ my flight details and started packing.
My nerves were being tested. My flight had been delayed by an hour so Kristen and I sat in the airport cafe waiting for the monitor to flash ‘Boarding' next to my flight number. I told Kristen she didn't have to wait with me, but she stayed anyway, like I knew she would. She tried to make small conversation, but I was distracted. Everywhere I looked, someone was reading a newspaper and it made me curious. Maybe there was something in the paper about Nick. Something that would give me more information than what AJ had given me. A woman at the table next to us had just brought out a tabloid magazine from her bag and my heart stopped as I noticed Nick's face on the top right hand side of the front page. I tried to get a closer look, but felt Kristen's hand take hold of my chin as she forced me eyes up to meet hers.
"Don't do this to yourself," was all she said.
My nerves were being tested. The pilot who was flying this plane must have been a snail in his former life. If I had wanted my trip to take this long, I would have driven to Florida. I tried to stay calm, but ended up making at least five bathroom trips by the time we finally landed. It took another twenty minutes before we could leave the plane and by that time I was in some serious need of a sedative. That was until I walked into the airport and found AJ waiting for me with a big smile on his face. For that moment, all my worries disappeared as I grabbed him into a hug and squeezed. My God did he look amazing. We pulled apart and I held him at arm's length, looking him up and down as if for the first time. And, in truth, it felt like that. I had only seen him a couple of times after he had gotten out of rehab, but just like Howie, I had, for the most part, lost contact with him. In two years a lot could change and AJ was a much healthier and happier version of the one I had seen last. Suddenly I was excited. In all my worry and stress over Nick, I had forgotten that I would be seeing my bandmates for the first time together in two years. It was almost enough to make me teary.
"Don't cry dude," AJ teased, but I could see the tears in his eyes too.
I laughed and boy did it feel good after the night I just had. I slung my arm around his shoulder and together we headed to the baggage pickup area.
"You don't have any hand luggage?" he asked, swinging his head around to survey the area we just left, looking for anything left behind.
"Nah," I said simply. "Just my normal luggage. It's cool if I stay with you?"
AJ nodded. "I've got ten bedrooms. You should have brought Kristen along. She could have taken another one."
We reached the baggage pickup area just in time to see the first lot of luggages make their way around the conveyor belt.
"You do know we're married right?" I said lightly, taking my arm away from his shoulder and studying the luggages, looking for the yellow ribbon Kristen had tied around the luggage handle. That was the only way I was gonna remember which luggage I took with me. "We sleep in the same bed."
By the time the second lot of bags came around, I had calmed from the excitement of seeing AJ and my thoughts returned to Nick.
AJ knew instantly what I was referring to and the happiness that had been evident on his face upon seeing me diminished in that instant.
"I'll tell you when -"
"No," I snapped, suddenly angry. I could not wait any longer. "Tell me now."
AJ shifted uncomfortably. "Not now, not here."
In the corner of my eye I spotted a yellow ribbon. I waited for the conveyor belt to bring the luggage to me so I could concentrate my efforts on staring AJ down.
"Why the hell not?"
"Because there are people around," AJ pointed out, staring pointedly at a young couple standing nearby who had their cameras out and were pointing at us.
I backed down for now. I grabbed my luggage off the conveyor belt and followed AJ as he led the way out of the airport. The Florida sun hit me hard. I had forgotten what the weather was like down here and I balked at the heat. I quickly recovered and followed AJ to his Mercedes. He grabbed my luggage off me, put it in the boot and motioned for me to get in the car.
I slid in the passenger seat while he opened the door to the driver's side. When we were both settled in, I turned to him. "Okay, what's going on?"
"I'm gonna -"
"Cut the crap, AJ," I damn near shouted. I couldn't take another minute.
"PCP," he held up his hands defensively. "He took PCP."
I sat in a dazed state, Nick's voice going through my head: "Kevin, please!"
My nerves were shot.
A/N:Thanks for all the reviews guys! It's great to get some feedback!