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Chapter 8: Anger

I stepped out of the shower and dried myself off. Wrapping the towel around my midsection, I opened the bathroom door and escaped its humidity. I entered the bedroom and walked around the broken lamp and the huge yellow stain on the carpet. I briskly strode over to the other side of the room where Howie had left my suitcases, grabbed one and dragged it to the bed. Opening it up, I grabbed the first piece of clothing I put my hands on.

When I was sure everything was on the right way, I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes, a headache forming. I was in so much trouble. I'd done the inevitable and fucked up massively - I mean more massively than normal. And that would have been fine if AJ and Howie didn't know. Who wants to bet they've told Kevin? AJ has the biggest mouth of anyone I've ever met and Howie was always on his phone, he probably let it slip. I remember telling them not to tell Kevin. I don't remember much, but I remember that.

And why the fuck do they care anyway? Howie acted all brotherly and caring when he came in. What a load of bullshit! If he really cared, where was he when all hell broke loose three months ago? And AJ? Are you serious? I don't think I've heard a word from him since he got out of rehab. I mean, I invited him to my house-warming party and he flat out refused. He lives five fucking blocks away from me and he can't come down? Here's an idea AJ, go fuck yourself.

They practically wanted nothing to do with me for the past two years and now all of a sudden it's hunky-dory, apple pie, we are family, Brady Bunch lovin' good times?

I was so angry, I could literally feel the anger build in my chest like a bubble about to burst. But I also felt so much despair. Everything in my life was so fucking wrong. My life was one huge mess. I was one huge mess.

Speaking of messes, what the hell happened last night? I can't remember anything past taking the ecstasy. I tried to remember, but the harder I tried, the more my head hurt. And not only did my head hurt, but so did my whole body. The shower did me good, granted. For one, I washed out the dried blood that had been stuck to my hair (what was up with that by the way?) and the hot water stilled my shakes. But my muscles felt all tense and strained, like I'd run a marathon. Which is weird, because I never run.

I got off the bed and went to sit beside the other two suitcases. I went through them both until I found what I was looking for: my notepad. Lately, I had taken to writing songs whenever I got into a mood. The kind of songs I wanted to write. Not the kind people tell me to write.

I flipped open the notepad just as my stomach gave a huge ass rumble. I was hungry. Remembering Howie had promised food, I chucked the notepad back into the suitcase and stood up. First thing's first: food and Tylenol.

I opened the bedroom door and walked out into the hallway. The staircase was only a few metres away from the bedroom so I couldn't get lost. I stopped at the top of the stairs and surveyed the wall along the staircase.

Yeah, this was definitely AJ's house. Who else do I know would put medieval church antiques on their walls? A large crucifix hung close to the landing. Now, I'm pretty sure AJ's not religious, so my guess is, he's going for the gothic look. To me, it is only acceptable to dress your house in Goth on Halloween. It's not Halloween.

As I walked down the stairs, I studied the other decorations he had put up. There were shields, crossed swords, little metal cut outs of dragons, and - dear God - more gargoyles. I reached the landing and found myself in the living room. It had been a long time since I had visited AJ's house, but I knew that the doorway that lead out of the living room lead into the kitchen. That's where I would find Howie and hopefully some food.

I strode in, hoping to appear confident. I didn't want any of them to know how fucked up my life really was at the moment. I was already trying to come up with explanations for the ‘For Sale' sign and the empty house AJ had obviously told Howie about. I needed to appear in control. My confidence vanished at the sight that greeted me from the kitchen however. Howie was there sitting at the table, a nervous look on his face. And he was holding something. Was that - that was my cell! What the hell Howie? First AJ breaks into my house, now Howie steals my cell? But that issue, one which I was most definitely going to address later, was put on the backburner when my real fear was realised: Kevin was sitting next to Howie, a pissed off look on his face. Oh, and AJ was there too.

Fuck! Kevin was here. In Florida. In AJ's house. In AJ's kitchen. Staring right at me. I'm in soooo much trouble. Who the fuck told him to come down anyway? I'm going to kill Howie. And AJ. But mostly Howie, because I asked him not tell Kevin and he did anyway. Sweet D my ass. Stealth D more like.

That anger I was talking about before resurged in me tenfold and I glared at the three of them once my initial shock had faded. There was that anger again, but there was also panic. What the hell was I going to do? What was I going to say?

"Look, it's Sleeping Beauty," AJ tried to ease the tension. I hated him for it.

I needed a distraction. I didn't want to deal with this. Not now, not ever. I would have turned around and marched right back upstairs, but I didn't want to seem like a coward. I noticed a plate on the kitchen counter and went to investigate, hoping that by ignoring them, they would take the hint and go away. Kevin could fuck off back to New York, Howie could quit the caring act, and AJ - well AJ I could use. I needed a place to stay and I was willing to suck it up for a couple of days until I got my shit sorted. What? That's not being mean or anything. That's being smart. Besides, he deserves it.

I was a bit disappointed to find that the plate contained a half-made sandwich. Figures. I heard the scraping of wood on tile. Someone had stood up and my guess was that it was Kevin. He liked standing up when he was about to yell. You can't be intimidating when you're sitting really. Although if anyone could pull it off, it would be Kevin.

My heart started to beat a little too fast for my liking. He was standing opposite me now, on the other side of the counter. I could feel his stare on me. I waited for him to say something.

A minute passed and I could feel my anxiety elevate as he stood there silently, staring at me. Fuck! Why was he just standing there? Why wasn't he saying anything? Why won't he speak to me? Why do I care?

I didn't have a choice. I tore my eyes away from the sandwich and looked him in the eyes. It was an intense couple of seconds as we both just looked at each other. I held my breath and I could feel Howie and AJ do the same.

Finally, he broke the silence. "What were you thinking Nick?" His voice was low, dangerously low.

I looked away again. I felt cornered, panicked. Suddenly, I was finding it difficult to swallow and something was building up in my chest, making it hard for me to breathe. I needed out.

I began to head for the door. I needed to get back to that bedroom, nice and secure. No Kevin, no Howie, no AJ. Just me and my notepad. And that broken lamp.

I felt Kevin's hand wrap around my wrist and he yanked me back. I was too tense for this shit. I lost my cool.

"Why are you here?" I shouted angrily, twisting my wrist so he was forced to let go. It felt good to shout. It was as if, with that one outburst, my nerves returned to normal. It was as though the louder I shouted, the more all the hurt, anger, and anxiety flew out of my body. I didn't want to stop shouting, and so, without waiting for a reply from Kevin, I walked towards Howie. He had stood up by this time, and I stopped mere millimetres away from him, trying to intimidate him. "I told you not to call him!" I felt betrayed by him, and I wanted him to know it.

Howie seemed unfazed by my behaviour, meeting my eyes with a sereneness that only he could possess. I suppose he has seen my tantrums enough times now that they've almost become boring for him.

"I didn't call him," he said calmly.

I wanted to call him out on his bullshit. I don't know why I was so convinced it was Howie that called Kevin. Maybe it was because I had asked him specifically not to say anything. Whatever the reason, I saw red when he denied it and I balled my fist. I saw AJ move closer to us in the corner of my eye, but it was Kevin who pulled me away.

"Dammit Nick," Kevin shouted, pushing me into his vacated chair. "You rang me!"

I stared at him dumbly. "That's crap!" I shouted. I wanted to get up from the chair, but suddenly I couldn't find the energy I needed.

Kevin's face was turning a light shade of red and his green eyes flared. See, this is why I didn't want to look right at him. It's like looking directly at the sun. He'll blind you.

"No, what's crap is you taking PCP and ringing me up in the middle of the fucking night!" I did what now? "Why am I here?" whoa, he was pissed. "Because when I get a phone call from you in the middle of the night, crying and asking me to come pick you up, I get on the next fucking plane to Florida to make sure you haven't landed yourself in the fucking hospital!"

Gee, sorry I asked.

Kevin's rage subdued my own, so I sat there, letting him scream, because I was too scared at that moment to answer back.

"Do you know what that shit does to you Nick? It fucks you up! Seriously Nick, what the fuck were you thinking? Were you thinking?"

I thought this was pretty hypocritical. It's not like Kevin hadn't done drugs before. I know he's done weed and I'm pretty sure he's taken at least one ecstasy pill in his day.

"How stupid can you be Nick?" Kevin was on a rampage, and yet again my intelligence was put on trial. "PCP can kill you!"

There was that PCP talk again. "I didn't take PCP," I said it a little too teenagey-like. "I took ecstasy!"

"Your drug dealer told me you took Angel Dust," AJ said from behind Kevin.

I nodded and looked at Kevin triumphantly. "See," I said, a little smug, my fear fading when I thought I'd won. "I told you!"

Kevin looked like he was severely constipated. I would have suggested that he go visit the bathroom but then AJ spoke up again.

"Nick," he sounded uncertain and a little nervous. "Angel Dust isn't ecstasy, it's PCP."

I stared at him in confusion, and then slowly shifted my eyes back onto Kevin. "No, it was ecstasy," I insisted, scared again.

AJ sighed and Howie bent his head, shaking it is slowly. Kevin's eyes had a different look in them now, no less angry, but different.

"How did you take it?" AJ asked.

I thought back to last night and the dealer. He had said that he had Angel Dust he needed to sell out by the end of the night. I told him I'd take twenty dollars worth. He was pissed that I didn't take more but sold it to me anyway.

"I smoked it with some weed," I admitted, a little embarrassed. "He said that he laced the weed with Angel Dust."

"Since when does anyone lace weed with ecstasy?" Kevin all but exploded. "Ecstasy is taken in tablet form Nick. God, how do you not know this?"

I swallowed a few times, suddenly doubting myself. I was 100 percent sure that I had taken ecstasy. When the guy said ‘Angel Dust', I thought that was just another type of ecstasy. Like, it had a more powerful concentration of some chemical. But now that I think about it, there was no way ecstasy could do what it did to me. Even now I could still feel the effects of it. I was pretty sure it would have been out of my system by now, especially since the dealer told me that I had taken a ‘pussy' amount.

Now I was terrified. What the hell had I done to myself? I didn't mean to take PCP. Oh shit, what the hell was going to happen to me? Kevin was right, that shit did fuck you up. I've heard stories.

My mind raced with all the possible things that could be happening to my body right now. Was the drug eating away at my brain? Would I wake up tomorrow thinking that the government was spying on me through the air-conditioning vents? I felt my head become woozy and I put a hand up to it.

"How did you not know what Angel Dust is?" Kevin was still screaming at me. I just wanted him to stop so I could think, so I could figure out what to do now that my body had PCP in it. "Nick!"

My nerves were already shot to hell and Kevin was just making it worse. I think Howie could see that because he put a hand on Kevin's shoulder, probably to calm him down. But no one was putting their hand on my shoulder.

"I'm not a fucking drug expert Kevin!" I screamed, startling myself and jumping from my seat. My head was still woozy but I managed to stay upright. I felt pressure build up in my body and panic overwhelmed me. "I'm not AJ!"

If I had been in a calmer state, I might have noticed the hurt look on AJ's face or the horror on Howie's.

"I thought I was taking ecstasy!" I insisted, my hand now in my hair, gripping it tightly. I scratched absentmindedly at the scabs on my scalp and there were tears on my face now. There was way too much adrenaline in my body.

That constipated look was back on Kevin's face. "Is that meant to make me feel better?"

I didn't know what to say so I turned to AJ who was now sitting back down and looking glumly at the table.

"I didn't know okay! I didn't know!" Oh my God, my heart was going to explode from my chest.

"What were you expecting?" Kevin snarled. He reached over to the table and picked up a newspaper that had been lying there. Until he had picked it up, I hadn't even noticed it. He unfolded it and shoved the front page under my nose. I stared in horror at the picture that met me.

It was me. I was leaning against a dumpster, looking up at the camera. I looked terrible. I was definitely crying in that picture. Shit.

I snatched the newspaper off Kevin to get a closer look. Probably not my best idea since it only reaffirmed my belief that I was a total fuck up. I couldn't stop staring at myself in the picture. It made the fucking front cover! And the headline read ‘Backstreet Boy found in the back streets, drunk". Wow, who writes this shit? At least they said drunk. I could handle that.

"Well?" Kevin was in my face again and I looked up from the paper.

I tried to remain calm. This was not looking good for me at all.

"What were you expecting Nick?"

I backed away from him, needing my personal space. "I wanted to have a good time!" Was that such a bad thing? "I wanted to have fun! Remember fun, Kevin?"

"And you need to take PCP to have fun?"

"Holy shit Kevin! I thought it was ecstasy!" I was shouting, looking to Howie for support. Don't know why. "If I had known what it was and that it would make me cry like a little girl, I wouldn't have taken the damn thing! I just wanted to have a good time for once!" I threw the paper back on the table in a dramatic display and it flew right into AJ's face. I hadn't meant that to happen, but I was a little happy to see him jump.

"What's going on Nick?" Howie's voice was so soft and calming.

"Nothing," I pleaded.

"You said ‘have a good time for once'. What's with that?"

Oh crap. I slipped up and now Kevin was looking at me differently. That's it, I needed to end this. I needed out.

"Has this got something to do with your mum?" Howie held up my cell phone which I had forgotten about in all this drama.

"You're going through my phone now too?" I was furious. "Who the fuck said you could do that?"

I made a grab for the cell but Howie jumped back out of my reach. Kevin, probably noticing the murderous look in my eyes, stepped between us.

"And what's with the ‘For Sale' sign on your house?" AJ stood up from the table again, apparently finding a new reason to jump out of his woe-is-me slump.

"Give me my phone!" I howled. I wondered how I was still up and standing. My heart was still playing drums against my chest and my head was in so much pain, there was no way I could handle another minute of this.

"Answer the questions Nicky," Howie said, still so calm. Damn him.

"I sold the house, big deal!" I screamed, stars dancing in my eyes. "I'm talking to my mum again, alright? Who else do I have to talk to?" I was struggling. I felt like I was going to faint. "You?" I pointed at AJ. "Five fucking blocks, AJ!" I reeled. I needed to get upstairs and back into bed. I needed to lie down and try and get my breathing under control. I needed to figure out why my heart was beating so damn loud and fast and why I felt like I was about to puke my lungs out. "Give me my phone!"

Howie strode past Kevin and handed me the phone. I was so relieved and dizzy that all I could do was grab it and stumble out of the kitchen. It was a nightmare walking back up those steps, but I finally got to bed. As I lay down, I swore at myself. I forgot to ask for Tylenol.


A/N: So I'm going overseas for three weeks and this will be my last update until I get back. Hope you all enjoy it.