“So what are we doing for New Year’s Eve this year, fellas?” AJ asked as they came out of their bus to go into the arena in Montreal to do rehearsals.
“I dunno. Maybe we should stay in this year.” Nick suggested, not feeling like partying. Thanksgiving and Christmas had been pretty uneventful so he was a bit burnt on holidays, especially because he’d tried to get in touch with Mandy and failed horribly. It was then that Nick decided that he couldn’t fake a relationship and wondered how Brian was doing so well at it, but supposed that Brian was still in denial so it was easier for him. Even if Mandy had wanted him back he couldn’t do that to her or himself. She deserved someone that loved her, just as Leighanne.
“Leighanne is going to be in town so we are probably looking to do something.” Brian said, looking forward to seeing his girlfriend for New Year’s.
“So is Kristin.” Kevin chimed in.
“So where does that leave me, AJ and Nick...because we don’t have girlfriends.” Howie asked with a chuckle.
“Have a threesome?” AJ joked, elbowing Nick who held back a scowl. He fake laughed and then coughed because he was uncomfortable.
“Maybe we could just have a night at the hotel and watch the ball drop on TV...order in some pizza and just hang out.”
Nick genuinely liked this idea, but he didn’t want to have to watch Brian slobber on his girlfriend at midnight. Secretly he wished he could be the one kissing him and nobody else would be there, just the two of them alone on some rooftop or another romantic place. He started to daydream and then noticed everyone staring at him.
“You’re zoning out, Nick. I asked what you thought of staying in this year.” Kevin asked.
Nick started to blush. “I don’t care, I’d rather stay in anyway. I’m not old enough to go out.”
“That’s ‘cause you’re still a baby.” AJ teased, ruffling his hair. Nick hated being called the baby and scowled as everyone laughed.
“You’re still a baby too. You’re not 21.”
“I’m still older than you.”
“That means you’ll become an old man before me.” Nick said bluntly, which seemed to irritate AJ and he thoroughly enjoyed his expression afterwards.
“Okay so we are all staying in then.”
“Does that mean I can drink?” AJ asked, and everyone rolled their eyes at him, all shouting at the same time.
“Shut up AJ!”
The guys had a show on New Year’s Eve so they planned to go back to the hotel afterwards, and only Kevin’s girlfriend ended up making it because she was on the road with the guys already. Leighanne’s flight from LA got canceled and she couldn’t come so Brian was in a poor mood all evening, yet he put on a smile for the crowd at the concert. Secretly Nick was very happy she couldn’t make it but he felt bad for Brian. He also hoped somehow they would end up alone but knew that wouldn’t be possible with how much Brian was in denial. It was then that it also hit Nick that he was about to be 18. It had been almost a whole year since he had confessed his secret to Brian, only to be told hiding it was the best thing to do. Nick wanted to tell everyone. He wanted to be honest with his friends and family but if they all acted the way Brian did, he didn’t want that. Nick knew that it was best kept to himself but he also didn’t want to be alone for the rest of his life. Hiding who he wanted to be was slowly eating away at him and he knew it but there was nothing he could do.
He suddenly wished that he could just go to bed and ignore the start of the new year.
“You okay?” Brian asked, noticing how distant he was.
“I’m fine.” Nick lied with a smile. Yes, smiling to hide how he was feeling would work. Nobody ever seemed to question it anymore, he could easily fool them into thinking he was happy but the truth was he could sometimes feel like he was drowning. Brian’s words echoed in his head sometimes.
“Don’t tell anyone, they won’t accept you. Pretend you’re normal.”
Pretending he was straight was easy, pretending he didn’t love Brian was the hardest part. Nick had finally started to find the place where he belonged but then when he realized he was gay, it was snatched from him. He never felt more alone in his life, because he had nobody to talk to about these feelings. He had almost opened up to Lou, in one of the private meetings they had at his house once. Lou had made him feel very uncomfortable and he left, but he didn’t tell anybody about that experience. Something about Lou had made him uneasy and when Brian started poking holes in their trust in their manager, it really made Nick think back to that night. Was it normal for their manager to offer shoulder massages or let them watch pornography in his house, especially when he was a minor? It was during these pornography viewings Nick started to wonder if he liked boys more than girls. He had started to explore and found that he did get attracted to men, including figuring out his feelings for Brian went beyond simple friendship or brotherhood.
So many questions had come up and Nick stayed silent because he didn’t want people to freak out on him or start asking questions. He was afraid if anyone knew he would get in trouble, or the band would lose their record deal, that everything could get taken away.
Too many questions made him nervous. He was afraid if they kept asking he would have to tell them his secret. For now, it was better if just him and Brian knew.
Later on that night, the guys were all at the hotel room minus Kevin. Kevin said he wanted some alone time with Kristin so it was just the four younger members of BSB, and some liquor along with pizza and whatever junk food they managed to get back to the room. Nick was quiet most of the time, just watching whatever music act was playing on Dick Clark.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Brian asked again, looking at him skeptically. Nick once again put his smile on and reassured him he was just tired. At some point he managed to sneak away, and onto the roof of the hotel to look at the stars. He just wanted to be alone and think, away from all the noise from the others. It was very cold out but he didn’t mind, as he had a heavy coat and his hat on as he stood outside on the snowy rooftop in Canada, wishing he didn’t have to hide away. He wanted to shout from the rooftop how he felt and who he was.
“I thought I might find you up here. It’s freezing, Frack. Why don’t you come inside?” Brian’s voice said suddenly, startling him. Nick wiped his eyes and put on another smile.
“I just needed some air, that’s all.”
“Are you crying?” Brian asked, surprised to see tears in his eyes. It was like Nick’s birthday all over again, when he cried in front of him.
“What is with...what’s with all the questions?” Nick asked, trying to hide that he was clearly upset.
“Come on, I’m not stupid.”
“I don’t know about that. You seem to be acting pretty dumb lately so you had me wondering.” Nick half chuckled, wiping his eyes and shivering.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Brian asked, stunned that Nick was calling him stupid although he had to admit he was once again right.
“I’ll be fine. I was just thinking, that’s all..thinking about the last year.”
“It’s been a great year for the group, why are you sad?”
Nick had to laugh again, shivering because he was starting to get cold.
“Sure, for the band it’s been great, but not for me. Remember when I told you my secret?” Nick whispered.
“Yes, Nick...if this is because I told you to pretend that you were not gay...I’m sorry for telling you that. I shouldn’t have said that. I was an asshole for saying it. If you’re gay I support you. I told you that in Cocoa Beach. But don’t get this romantic idea in your head that I’m going to leave Leighanne for you and fall in love with you. You are gay but I’m….I’m…”
Nick stared at him, waiting for him to finish but he didn’t for a long time. He raised an eyebrow at him and Brian blinked.
“That’s not what I’m thinking about, but since you brought it up...there is no if. I’m gay. I am gay whether people know it or not. Actually. I might be bisexual but I lean more towards men. Women do not interest me. That is why I broke up with Mandy. That’s why I’ve felt like I don’t belong anywhere. I don’t fit in. Probably never will.” Nick said as he began to follow Brian back into the hotel where it was warm. They went down the stairs and a hallway towards the elevator to go to the room where everybody was watching TV.
“You don’t need to stand out, Nick. You’re fine the way you are.” Brian protested, hitting the button for the elevator.
“Don’t start that shit, dude. You said it yourself. It’s not normal. Nobody is going to love somebody like me.”
“That’s not true.”
Brian ignored the voice in his head as they boarded the elevator.
“I’ve accepted it. I pretty much accepted it back when we kissed. If you don’t even feel anything towards me…”
“Nick, I promise you. You’re only 17...you have your whole life to find love like I’ve found with Leighanne. There is someone for you.”
Nick rolled his eyes as the voice in Brian’s head persisted and prodded to make him act on his feelings. Once again, he pushed them away and hid them. His stomach was doing backflips as he kept suppressing his feelings.
You’re looking at him.
Don’t even go there...after all the pushing away you did, he won’t want you now. He’s starting to give up on love. You need to show him he’s wrong.
As the elevator dinged towards their destination, Brian had a fleeting thought that since they were alone together and he had a strong desire to kiss Nick then and there, he should kiss him and get it over with. He wrestled with this for a few moments and finally decided he would go for it, but he held back because the elevator reached the floor they were on. He suddenly had a crazy idea.
When the elevator door opened, Nick moved to get off but to his surprise the door closed again. He turned to see Brian hitting the close button and hitting a random floor number. Brian smiled sneakily at him and then the next thing he knew…Brian had pushed him up against the side of the elevator wall, his lips engulfing Nick’s in a fiery passion.
“What…” Nick barely gasped between breaths as Brian kissed him. He returned it, not caring what anyone thought. Was this really happening?
It was definitely an interesting night.