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Now that Leighanne was out of the picture for the remaining dates of the Backstreet Boys European Tour, Nick found that Brian seemed to cling to him more than ever after his doctor’s visit. Brian had found out that something was most definitely wrong and had to go for more tests when he could, to find out exactly what the problem was and how they would go about correcting it. Brian decided to wait until they were back in the states so he could see a doctor he could understand better. Nick kept an eye on him the whole while, which Brian didn’t seem to mind.

“So have you scheduled your surgery yet?” Kevin asked when they were all in the back of the tour bus, watching some movie on the TV back there. Brian gave Kevin a look as if he wanted him to stop talking, but Kevin shrugged like he didn’t care.

“Surgery?” Nick asked. Brian looked at the floor, he hadn’t really been discussing anything that was going on with his heart since he’d seen that doctor in Germany.

“They found another hole in my heart, Nick. That’s why I’ve been having the chest pain. When I had surgery to correct my heart murmur when I was younger...they didn’t see there was more damage and it’s been eating away at my heart. I have to have open heart surgery to fix it or it’s only going to get worse.”

Brian decided to call the others into the back of the bus so they could all talk together because he felt that they needed to hear what was going on.

Howie and AJ walked in and sat down as Brian was mentioning the surgery, the bus shaking slightly from the highway.

“When are you getting the surgery done? We are in the middle of a tour.” Kevin said, throwing Brian off guard. His own cousin seemed like he was more worried about the tour, which upset him but he stayed quiet.

“I tried to schedule it for the end of this year, but we don’t have any time where I could do it so I told them I would have to reschedule it another time. I don’t know when it will be, but it has to get done, guys. If I don’t have this surgery I could die or get so sick that I cannot even perform. Either way, it’s going to affect the tour.” Brian said softly. The whole time he talked everyone was pretty quiet, avoiding eye contact with one another.

“Did you tell Leighanne?” Howie asked. Brian looked at the floor because he hadn’t talked to her since the day she left other than a very awkward phone conversation, where they tried to discuss what was to happen to their relationship but she had to go and he didn’t get to finish what he wanted to say.

“She doesn’t know but I figured when we get back to the states I can see her,”

After talking to everyone, only Nick and Brian were left alone to finish the movie in the back of the bus, laying on the couch and watching the screen with the lights off.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were getting the surgery?” Nick asked suddenly, grabbing the bag of popcorn off Brian’s lap and taking a handful.

“I’m sorry, Nick. It’s nothing personal.” Brian lied, although the real reason he didn’t tell Nick was because he wanted to tell everyone at the same time. Heart surgery was such a big subject and he felt it was better to tell all of them because it would impact the group. He’d already rescheduled the surgery once and had to postpone it again because of the tour that never seemed to end. They’d been touring non stop for a few years with very short breaks, and it was starting to wear down on everybody. Brian wondered how long they’d be able to keep doing it.

“It’s okay, I just thought we were best friends and we could tell each other anything.” Nick whispered, leaning back into the couch cushion.

“We can.”

“Well, you’ve been hiding stuff from me and I’ve been completely honest with you. I told you my biggest secret, I thought that meant something.” Nick said, taking some more popcorn. Brian felt terrible about this because Nick was totally right. He’d been pushing their friendship away because he was afraid, because his pride took over and the lie he was living made him so uncomfortable. Nick had never made any advances on him and he knew that.

“It does, I’m sorry, I just felt weird about the whole….well...you know. I don’t want you to think that I don’t accept who you are. I do. I just didn’t know how to deal with it. I mean, why did you tell me on your birthday out of everyone? I know we were alone together but you didn’t have to. You could have kept it to yourself and made something up about being upset.” Brian said.

Nick laughed and sat up, brushing his hair out of his face.

“You’re right. I could have, but I trust you. You’re my best friend, Brian. I just felt like I had to tell someone. I mean...it’s very confusing for me too but this is who I am. I’m not going to like….start making out with you or Howie or something.”

Brian almost wished Nick would make out with him and he shook it away, feeling anxious. He knew these feelings were not natural and he had to sort them out before he acted on them again.

“Right. Well...I’m glad that you told me, I guess. I just don’t want you to ever think that I hate you.”

Nick smiled at him, a genuine smile for the first time in a while. They’d been going through ups and downs but at the end of the day they were friends and it felt good to talk about things.

“I don’t think you hate me. I just felt like I freaked you out or something. I felt like I scared you. I don’t want to ever make you uncomfortable...if I do you can tell me. I won’t force anything on you that you don’t want. Like that kiss. I am sorry for pestering you about it.” Nick said quietly, making sure the others weren’t around to hear it. Nobody knew about the kiss and he wanted to keep it their secret, even if he knew Brian wasn’t ready to admit who he was just yet.

“No, I just have a lot of stuff going on. It’s not you. Besides, I was proving a point with that kiss, it really didn’t mean anything.” Brian lied. Nick was lying close to him on the couch, and he wanted to be next to him. His head started to hurt and he felt confused. How was he going to figure all of this out?

Only time would tell.