The words sounded strange and foreign coming from his mouth, like it was playing in slow motion. After he spoke, Nick waited for her to freak out. He waited for her to start yelling and blaming him, but she said nothing.
Nick watched her face, her eyes were focused on his as she kind of froze up. She was quiet for some time and then started laughing which startled Nick out of his thoughts.
“I-I’m sorry, but what is so funny?” Nick stammered in confusion when she laughed at him.
“It’s just so ridiculous. Cheating on me with you? Brian wouldn’t cheat on me. He’s not like that. Besides, for him to cheat on me with you would mean that he is gay….he’s not gay. You’re not gay. This is a joke to me.” Leighanne said, giggling and shaking her head. Nick sat there, blinking at her in surprise.
“It would be funny if I was making this up, but I’m not. Brian’s been cheating on you and I’ve been helping him. I tried to tell him to tell you and be honest with you-“
“Stop. Just stop. I’ve heard enough. It’s bad enough that Brian won’t tell me what is going on with him and now you’re helping him to make up lies?What is really going on, Nick?” Leighanne demanded, interrupting him.
“I’m telling you the truth. Brian has been hiding this from you for months. I came out to him last year on my birthday and we’ve been fooling around…”
Leighanne looked as if she was going to breathe fire but she took a breath as if she were trying to compose herself. She put up a hand to signal Nick to stop talking.
“Nick, is all of this because you think I’m taking him away from you? Is that it? Because Brian said he thought you were jealous of me. I’m not here to steal him from you. You are his best friend. This obsession you have for him is just not healthy.”
“Excuse me? Obsession?” Nick asked, gaping at her.
"Isn’t that why you made up this ridiculous story? You are trying to get me to leave him to keep your friendship, but trust me...I’m not here to take him from you.” Leighanne snapped. Nick went from being confused to being angry. He wanted to do the right thing but now he wondered if it was right after all.
“That’s not it at all. I am trying to do the right thing here and be honest with you. Brian has been hiding things from you. He’s been cheating on you. If you don’t want to believe me, that’s up to you. I am telling you because you’re my friend and I don’t like lying to you anymore. I hope you have a safe trip to wherever you are going in the morning.” Nick said after they continued to argue for a few minutes. He let Leighanne out into the hallway and they said goodbye before shutting the door behind her.
“That could have gone better.” Nick muttered to himself, laying back on the bed to collect his thoughts.
Brian was getting ready for bed when he decided that maybe he should go to at least talk to Nick and try to work something out between them. He hated having Nick angry at him. He hated going to bed upset. It was then he decided he had to go.
"Where are you going?" Howie asked when he noticed Brian heading for the door.
"I just...need to go for a walk."
Howie chuckled as the door closed, he knew exactly where he was going.
Brian half walked and half ran down the hall to Nick’s room, his heart pounding because he was anxious. Nick was so angry before, would he even talk to him now? Would he just slam the door in his face again?
Nick sat up in bed when he heard knocking at the door again. It came again, louder this time.
“Nick? It’s Brian. I want to talk to you. Please….”
Nick’s heart skipped a beat, should he answer? He felt horrible after blabbing to Leighanne Brian’s secret. He felt guilty because he’d betrayed him even though he deserved it.
Knocking came again, louder still.
Nick finally got up and went to the door after fixing his hair because he was nervous.
“What do you want?”
“Listen, Nick. About earlier. I wanted to talk to you.” Brian said, rubbing the back of his head with his hand. He wasn’t expecting Nick to be so cold, but little did he know that Nick almost smiled. Brian was always bad at two things. Lying and apologizing when he was wrong. He hated being wrong even when it was shown to him flat out, he was just stubborn.
“Okay, so talk.” Nick told him flatly. He was trying to act like he was still angry because Brian needed to learn his lesson. His expression didn’t change.
“I should have told you my girlfriend was coming to town for my birthday. It’s just, she kind of surprised me at the last minute. I knew like the day before or something like that. I had lots of time to tell you. I just didn’t know how to. I fucked up, Nick. I know that. I spent the night with her because we didn’t want to wake you up. You were sleeping when we came back from getting coffee so we decided it would be better to let you sleep.” Brian explained.
“After that I went to her room and we made love, or tried to but all I could think about was you...how I hurt you. I made a mistake Nick. I have been so wrapped up in everything and in myself that I didn’t consider your feelings. I know you and I have been fooling around but that’s just what it is right now. I’m still figuring things out, just like you are-“
“No, Brian. You are not just like me. I know who I am. I am gay. I know what I want. You do not. You keep playing with her and playing with me like this is some kind of game. Is that what I am to you, a game? I’m not a toy, Brian. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t hurt her, she’s my friend and she trusts me. You said downstairs that I meant nothing to you. So was everything the last few months a lie? Or were you lying to her about your feelings like you were to me?”
“I don’t know. I love her…” Brian said finally, but the words sounded so odd coming from his mouth that he didn’t even believe them.
The truth was, he didn’t think so but Nick didn’t need to know that small detail. He knew he wasn’t in love with his girlfriend the way she was with him. There was attraction but that was all, as it became evident when he couldn’t get into sex with her. He wasn’t attracted to her beyond looks. However, with Nick it was so much more. When he was away from Nick there was a yearning within himself that he couldn’t explain. Even now he drank in his scent and tried to resist the urge to press his lips on Nick’s.
“So that’s it then, you’ve finally made up your mind? You are choosing her? I mean that is what you said downstairs in front of Kevin. That’s what you just told me. You love her.” Nick demanded, crossing his arms. Brian wanted to throw up from anxiety alone. His stomach was churning and his heart was beating out of his chest. He had to restrain himself from holding his chest because he was distressed and uncomfortable, Nick would only worry. He didn’t want that. Not now.
“Nick, I was put on the spot. You know I didn’t mean any of that. Of course you are important to me.”
Nick glared at him, his eyes still crossed.
"Look. You made your decision. This isn't about you and me and what we were doing. I don't expect you and I to be together because we both know that won't happen. However, you need to be honest with yourself. Whether you like it or not, you have feelings for both of us and you need to figure it out. You need to be honest with Leighanne, because honestly she deserves better." he snapped. Brian nodded, he hated that Nick was absolutely right. He was just so conflicted.
"I'm sorry, Nick. I just feel so lost right now and I am trying to navigate this. I don't know how it's so easy for you. This isn't easy for me. You need to understand that."
"I do understand. Believe me. It wasn't easy for me….but this isn't about me. She doesn't leave until morning. You need to go and talk to her, you owe her that.” Nick said. He knew Brian would be angry when he found out he told her about them fooling around, but he didn’t care. She deserved to know the truth even if it ended up with himself being miserable.
Brian nodded again. He didn't want to have this conversation with Leighanne right before she went home. He wanted to give her time to react and process everything. He also wasn't about to break up with her because he did care for her, even though he didn't love her.
"Thanks for talking to me."
"I wasn't going to, you know. I'm still mad at you, but I am also worried about you. I don't want you to feel like I am abandoning you. I'm not. I just need you to figure things out." Nick replied. His face softened a little and he smiled slightly. Brian smiled back at him and they hugged. Nick leaned down and kissed him, not thinking to check if anyone was in the hallway.
"Would it be completely out of line to tell you that you're really sexy when you're angry? The way you threw me out was kind of…hot." Brian chuckled softly into his ear. Nick's ears turned pink and he smiled.
"I hate you."
“No, you don’t. You could never.” Brian teased. Nick knew he was trying to distract him so he brought the attenton back to the subject.
“Are you going to talk to her, then?”
“Absolutely. So, would you mind if I brought my stuff back over and gave Howie his extra bed back?” Brian asked hopefully.
“Sure. Howie needs the room for his hair products anyway. He has to organize them by brand name and what he uses it for.”
They stood there for a moment, laughing.
“No more lying. Please. I don’t like being mad at you.” Nick begged as he kissed him.
Nick rolled his eyes and kissed Brian again, smiling before heading back into the room and closing the door. Brian smiled as well, turning to go to Howie’s room for his bags. He knew Nick was still mad at him but he was ready to start making things right. Talking to Leighanne could wait. There was no sense in upsetting her right before her flight home, now was there?
The next morning, Nick went downstairs to get an extra room key to give to Brian now that he was back to sharing a room again. He whistled as he waited at the desk.
“Nick, I didn’t expect to see you down here this morning.”
NIck almost jumped when he heard Leighanne’s voice.
“Oh, are you checking out?”
“Yes, my flight is in a couple hours so I’m off to the airport. Join me for a coffee real quick?” Leighanne offered. She smiled at him warmly but her eyes were like ice. He’d never seen her act unfriendly towards him since the time he walked in on her and Brian in the hotel room in LA. Nick didn’t see any harm in having a coffee with her, after all they were friends. Weren’t they?
The two of them got their coffees and sat down, sipping at them silently for a few minutes.
“Nick, I had some time to think about what you said to me yesterday and I’m sorry I snapped at you the way I did. You were just trying to be honest with me, weren’t you?”
Nick blinked at her.
“Now it’s my turn to be honest. I saw you and Brian in the hallway, I was on my way to your room to discuss what we talked about and to ask your advice but it’s clear to me that this is your fault.” Leighanne said softly, staring him down. Nick shifted in his chair uncomfortably.
“My fault? What have I done?”
“You have poisoned his mind and you’re trying to steal him from me.”
Nick almost spit out his drink in her face at the accusation. After all he had been doing to make sure Brian was honest and that Brian told her the truth, he was to blame? Poisoned his mind?
“Excuse me? Leigh, I’m not trying to steal him. A person can’t be stolen unless they allow themselves to be stolen. I’ve done nothing. This was all his decision. I never once pressured him to do anything he didn’t want to do.” Nick explained. He wondered where she was going with this conversation.
“Now the question is what to do with the information that you have given me. You have told me that not only you are gay, but so is Brian and you’re basically having a secret fling together. I’m sure that your management would love to hear about this. Maybe even the media if I gave them an interview-“
Nick’s eyes went wide and he shook his head.
“No, please….you can’t…” he whispered urgently. He was about to start hyperventilating.
"This is your fault and you need to fix it. You're going to ruin his career and yours because you are being so selfish. Either you take care of it and stop putting ideas into his head, or I make a phone call…and trust me. You don't want me to do that."
Nick opened his mouth to speak but he closed it and took a breath to calm himself instead. This was not how it should have gone. This was not what he wanted to happen. Leighanne had shown him her true colors.
"I don't care if you are working together but you're going to pull away from him and stop making him think. You're going to stop talking to him about your abnormality. if I hear about or see anything like I saw in the hallway last night again, you will regret it. Do I make myself clear?"
“Nobody will ever accept you, surely you know that? It’s wrong. Men loving men is not normal.”
Nick nodded slowly, his face red because he was trying not to cry. He couldn't say anything because at this point he knew he fucked himself over.
"What about Brian. Did he ever talk to you? He said he was going to talk to you, I told him he needed to." he asked slowly.
"Don't put this on him. He is confused right now and you are not helping. Leave him alone. He was fine until you started putting ideas in his head. Now, I have to catch my flight. Have a nice trip to Italy, and remember our little chat."
Nick got the answer without her telling him. Brian had lied to him again. He was heartbroken.
With that, she picked up her suitcase and headed out of the coffee shop into the street. Nick sat at the table with his coffee going cold and thinking. He thought about how Brian was upstairs asleep in his bed, and how he was now going to have to act like nothing had happened just now. He felt sick to his stomach as he threw away his coffee and took the key cards up to the room. He didn’t want to ruin the group with his selfishness. He knew what he had to do next and he didn’t like it, but it was the only way. It was the only way things could possibly normal again.