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As it neared Brian’s birthday, Brian got increasingly anxious because he was still cheating on Leighanne and hadn’t made his decision yet. Going over the pros and cons for the last week since he and Nick had sex didn’t make things any easier, especially knowing that Nick possibly had strong feelings for him just as Leighanne did. Recording in New York for the new album was going well and he loved what he did, it was just everything else was weighing him down. Many nights he couldn’t sleep and was thankful he had Nick to talk to. They lay together in bed after their recording sessions talking until they couldn’t keep their eyes open anymore. Brian wished he was as comfortable with himself as Nick was and often wondered how he did it.

Oh, how wrong he was.

Nick didn’t say much during these discussions, he just let Brian vent about everything and kept his own problems to himself because he didn’t want to burden him with any more anxiety. He was happy that Brian had never questioned where Nick saw movies of gay people having sex, because he knew he’d freak out when he found out. AJ and Howie knew though. Not that Nick was gay, but the movies. The three of them had watched many movies at Lou’s house including lesbian porn and gay porn. Something about the gay porn had stirred some thoughts up in Nick and later he realized he was not like the others. It wouldn’t be until later that he discovered he was gay. Even Howie stared at the girls making out with wide eyes because none of them had seen anything like that before. Lou assured them that this all was normal behavior and told them not to tell anyone what they’d seen. They all agreed, and everything went on as usual...well except for Nick being curious. He’d asked questions when the other boys weren’t around because he was so curious. His curiosity lead to discovery and pursuing his feelings for his best friend. He was even more thrilled to find out that Brian had his own secret waiting to be discovered.

While Nick appeared comfortable with himself to Brian, he was in fact anything but. Every time he was home he would be reminded by his parents how he could never come out to them because they would not accept him, or at least he knew his father wouldn’t. His dad was not the loving father type, he had an anger problem. He was an alcoholic and often yelled at his mother, or the children. His mom was not much better, but she tried to take the kids to their auditions and manage Aaron’s career when she wasn’t being an alcoholic herself. His siblings would often beg him to stay home because their parents were civil when Nick was around. When he wasn’t there they’d fight over money, or the kids. Nick hoped that when the group hit the big time he could buy his family a big house and they’d never have to fight over money. His home was very dysfunctional and he would give anything to have a family like Brian did. Brian’s parents seemed so much nicer and understanding even though Brian himself had said how religious they were. So Nick would often convince Brian it was okay to tell someone that he too felt different even though he wouldn’t. Somehow he felt that if either of them could do it, it would be him. It was kind of stupid but he hoped that if he saw Brian be okay with himself he would be able to do it too.

“Nick, are you all right?”

Nick was surprised to see Brian awake.

“Um...yeah. I was just thinking.” Nick said, shifting and making himself more comfortable.

“Anything you want to talk about? I’m sorry I was kind of a motormouth tonight. I didn’t ask you if you wanted to talk too.” Brian apologized, nuzzling his head into Nick’s chest where they slept. Nick smiled down at him, playing with his hair. Since they started fooling around they were sleeping in one bed, often waking up to one spooning the other, cuddling until the sun came up. The two of them had gotten very comfortable and Nick liked having that comfort available to him every night. He almost preferred this more than being intimate with Brian, and Brian seemed to enjoy it just as much. Not that the sex was bad...but this was pretty good too.

“Nothing important. Go back to sleep. I know you are tired.” Nick whispered with a smile to reassure him. Brian looked at him skeptically before closing his eyes. Nick moved his hand down, tracing down to the the small of Brian’s back with his thumb until he could tell he fell back asleep. As he listened to his heartbeat he could hear that it was irregular and it was even more real to him that Brian was about to have the surgery to fix the hole in his heart. He knew Brian was worried about the surgery so he decided not to tell him anything that would upset him more. Listening to him snore softly, it wasn’t until dawn that Nick allowed himself to finally rest.

“You all right, Nick? You look so tired.”


Nick didn't realize he’d fallen asleep sitting up at the restaurant where the guys were all having breakfast that morning.

“Oh, I’m okay Kevin.”

“You don’t look like you’re okay to me.” Kevin said, raising an eyebrow. Nick ignored him and finished his food as the others were talking. Nobody else brought it up again and it was just fine with him.

That night when their recording session was done, Nick was headed up the elevator to the floor where their rooms were when Kevin held the door open and smiled.

“I’m coming up. Do you mind?”

Nick didn’t say anything, he just nodded and Kevin stepped on. It was just the two of them alone and for a minute, nobody said anything. Nick felt so anxious about lying to Kevin because he wasn’t fine at all.


Kevin turned to him, raising an eyebrow at the sudden sound of Nick’s voice.

“Can I talk to you?” Nick asked wearily. Kevin smiled as the elevator reached their floor, putting his arm around Nick’s shoulders and leading him to his room at the end of the hall. He closed the door behind them and Nick sat on the bed, sighing.

“What’s bothering you?”

"You won't ever tell anyone but me about your secret. You're a hypocrite."

Brian's voice came and went, Nick shook it off. He had to talk to someone.

"You can talk to me about anything." Kevin smiled.

Nick sighed again, running a hand through his hair because he was nervous. Kevin didn’t know everything. How was he going to explain the situation when most of it revolved around him and Brian being together?

“It’s hard to explain...I don’t know where to begin.” Nick said as Kevin sat down next to him and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing him to reassure him everything was fine.

“You can tell me anything, Nick. I promise.” Kevin repeated.


Remembering back to when he told Brian his secret, Nick decided not to make Kevin do a pinky promise. He knew Kevin wouldn’t understand so he decided to just come out with it, but it was hard for him. Nick had not told anyone but Brian...how was his cousin going to react when Brian had told him to hide it from everyone?

“I guess it all started with Lou…” Nick began, starting one of the hardest conversations of his entire life.

Nick told Kevin everything...even some things he never told Brian. How it had all started when he joined the group and for the first time in his life he felt comfortable with other men. He told Kevin about Lou’s movies, about things Lou said to him in private. Things that would have made Brian very angry if he found out during the lawsuit. He told him everything, except the biggest detail of it all, that he was in love with Brian.

Nobody was going to know that secret until he was ready to tell Brian how he felt about him.

“Well? What do you think I should do?” Nick asked after a long pause. Kevin didn’t say anything for a long time, he just seemed like he was thinking about everything.

“So you and Brian have been...um- together?”

Nick nodded.

“This is some problem,” Kevin chuckled.

Nick started playing with the hem on his t shirt, feeling anxious as he continued.

“I mean, I had to mention it because it’s part of my problem. I’m sorry you had to find out this way about your cousin. I don’t want to say he is gay because he doesn’t even know yet and it’s not my place to out him. That was not my intention, and I’m sorry if I’m freaking you out, we can pretend I didn’t say anything and just act like it didn’t happen if you want to.” Nick said quickly, blushing even harder. Kevin could tell he was getting upset and he raised a hand for him to stop.

“No, it’s fine. Nick. I never want you to be ashamed of who you are. I want you to know that I am proud of you for being so brave and telling me. I’m going to help you.”

Nick blinked at him in surprise, not expecting this type of response after how Brian had reacted. Kevin put his arms around him and hugged him, it felt like a weight lifted off of him to tell another person his secret.

It felt even better that Kevin accepted him. At least that was a start.

Now all he had to do was figure out the situation with Brian and everything would go back to normal again.