“Hey, look who it is!” Howie exclaimed, walking up to him and giving him a high five. Brian looked thin still, pale but not the way he looked in the hospital bed. Nick sat on the stage, his legs dangling off the side as he observed.
“Hey, D. I missed you guys so much. You should have come to visit.” Brian said, not making eye contact with anybody. He was looking over at Nick in the corner, feeling nervous. Nick looked good, almost the same as he did the last time they’d seen each other in the recording studio when they had that fight.
“Oh, I actually thought about it. I called your phone but Leighanne said you were resting so I didn’t want to bother you.” Howie explained.
“I’m sorry she told you that. I’m coming to find there was a lot she was keeping from me while I was home and recovering. I’m so sorry, Howie.”
“No, you don’t need to apologize to us. All we wanted was for you to get better. Nick was the one who worried the most, I think. He wouldn’t stop talking about you.” Kevin interrupted. Brian stole another glance at Nick, who was desperately trying not to look like he was staring at him. He laughed at how stubborn Nick was. He was not good at hiding and lying at all.
“I also blame my girlfriend for a lot of it. I am really sorry.” Brian said again. Kevin hugged him and leaned in to whisper in his ear.
“Nick’s really nervous about seeing you so I would hold off for a little bit.”
Brian nodded. He knew why Nick was so nervous.
“I noticed Leighanne isn’t here with you. Did she decide not to come?” AJ asked.
“No, she didn’t come with me.” Brian said, deciding to not tell anyone they’d broken up for now until he told Nick. He just needed to get Nick alone and away from the others so they could talk but he knew that would not be easy. Nick didn’t say more than one or two words to him during their rehearsal, which Brian was frustrated and sad about. They took things easy at first because nobody knew how Brian was going to respond to their dance steps or singing again, having had the surgery and been out of things for two months.
“Are you okay? Do you need a break?” Kevin asked when he saw him looking a little winded.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just need some water.” Brian said, wiping some sweat out of his eyes. He had been working up to today while at home, using a treadmill and even walking or practicing at home in addition to his therapy that he was doing. He wanted to prove to himself that he was ready to resume the tour. He wanted to go back on the road and perform more than anything. He knew he couldn’t rush things and had to take them day by day and it was even harder when he did most of it on his own. Once Leighanne had left, he was able to simply focus on healing and making himself better. That was one of the reasons he had not contacted Nick right away or tried to reach out to him, he needed some time to himself to figure himself out. In that time after his girlfriend left, he’d done some self discovering.
After the guys were finished rehearsing, everyone was getting ready to call it a night. They ended up stopping a little early because Brian felt a little winded and Johnny was a bit concerned in pushing Brian too hard because he wanted him to be able to go on tour. Brian almost wanted to laugh at this considering Johnny and Lou had objected to his surgery twice and the third time he had argued with them until they let him have the two months to rest and recuperate. Brian saw Nick outside, looking at his phone and decided to corner him.
Nick looked at him for a moment, pocketed his phone and started to walk away. The hotel everybody was staying at was across the street, so Brian decided to follow him.
“Hey.” Nick said softly.
Brian was put off by how stiff and withdrawn he was. Like he was afraid.
“How are you?”
“Okay. How are you?” Nick said, his hands in his pockets. He was walking a little faster, his face turning slightly pink.
“Doing a lot better, it’s good to be back. I missed you.” Brian replied. Things were getting awkward very quickly.
“You missed me? What does your girlfriend think about that?” Nick asked without thinking. He suddenly blushed and then apologized. Brian decided it was a good time as any to tell Nick the good news. Nick had started to walk away again, obviously annoyed.
“We broke up, Nick.” Brian called after him.
Nick stopped dead in his tracks and turned around to look at Brian. A clap of thunder alerted them that it was about to rain but neither of them rushed to get inside the hotel, they just continued talking.
“We broke up. I dumped her. I- er- well I told her to leave. I ended it.” Brian said, looking at the ground. Rain drops were starting to fall around them and it thundered again. Nick stood there and stared at Brian, trying to process the information that was just given to him. He stood there in the rain, blinking. His heart was doing somersaults. Brian had finally gotten rid of Leighanne. He’d had to have read the letter, the only question now was did he read all of it? Did he read the last line? Nick’s head was swimming.
"I-" Nick said, but Brian held up his hand.
“I read your letter, Nick. I read everything you said, and I- I’m sorry.” Brian confessed. His heart was beating fast. Nick didn't say anything.
“I’m sorry for what I said at the recording studio. I’m sorry I made you feel like you weren’t normal and you were trying to push something on me. That was wrong. I’m sorry that I listened to that- well, I’m sorry I listened to HER. You were right, Nick. You were right about everything and I should have listened to you. I’m sorry I didn’t sooner. You were right about me. I was in denial-“
“Brian, I’m sorry-“
The thunder crashed again but the two of them didn’t move, water running down their faces. They were face to face now. Nick was about to start apologizing for the hospital and then for not trying to get in touch with him afterwards. He knew he had nothing to apologize for but he felt guilty anyway. He felt guilty for spending time with Lance as well. After the hospital he had tried to date Lance but they realized that it wouldn’t work because of their schedules and came to a mutual understanding. Nick was happy they could remain friends. So he had spent the last two months figuring himself out and coming to terms with a lot of things. He’d bought a house in Florida and was spending some much needed alone time there.
“No, Nick. You don’t have to apologize for anything. I was the stupid one. I was an idiot. I was….I was so in denial and desperate to be something that I wasn’t that I pushed you away. You are the best thing that ever happened to me, Nick. You saved my life by telling me that I should get that surgery. You saved me. I can’t thank you enough for what you did. I love you, Nick.”
“You love me?” Nick asked. They were both soaking wet.
Brian nodded. “That’s what I’ve been missing. I was missing you.”
Nick stayed quiet, he just leaned in and kissed him, as the sky opened up around them. The rain was wet and cold but neither of them cared. They finally decided to go inside and Nick let Brian into his hotel room to dry off. They took off their wet clothes and let them hang near the radiator to dry. Nick had given Brian a shirt to wear, although it was big on him.
“So why didn’t you come back to the hospital, Nick? I know in your letter you said she kept you from seeing me.” Brian asked, while Nick brought them both some hot tea.
“That’s not everything, Brian. It was so much over the last few weeks, since your birthday. I don’t know how to begin to explain it.” Nick said. Leighane’s voice echoed in his head and he flinched briefly.
STAY AWAY FROM HIM OR I WILL TAKE AWAY EVERYTHING YOU LOVE.
“It’s okay, she can’t do anything to you. Please tell me. I found out she was lying about a lot of things. I want to know the truth.” Brian begged. He put a hand on Nick’s knee to reassure him because Brian could tell Nick looked nervous.
“She, well….she brought me into the coffee shop near the hotel we were staying at while we recorded around your birthday. She said that she saw us kissing. She then told me that if she caught me being like that with you again, she’d tell our management about us and that I’m gay. She told me it’s my fault you were cheating on her. That I pushed my abnormality onto you, so I pushed you away and tried to keep things professional between us. What I did to try and break away wasn’t enough. When we were in France and I was away from you, all I could think about was you. So I came up with this crazy idea to come see you. The first time I went to see you in the hospital, I didn’t get to because Leighanne tried to have security remove me. The second time, I brought that letter to give to you and I tried to see you. I looked at you in the bed, and you looked so small and helpless that I panicked and left. I ran into Leighanne in the hallway again. She had me banned from the hospital so I couldn’t go back. ” Nick explained after taking a deep breath.
“Why didn’t you tell me that she threatened you, Nick? I would have left her. I don’t care what happens, she had no right talking to you the way she did. I’m so sorry.”
“I didn’t care about her threats after a while. That fight we had, I felt so horrible after what you said that it was all I could think about. In France I tried to listen to your voice message, but I couldn’t get through it. I started to cry. I cried because I was scared to death that I would never see you again. Being without you scares me and that also scares me. I ran. I was being a coward. So I went to see you because I couldn’t be afraid anymore. I flew from France and even that wasn’t enough. I left that letter in hopes that you would read it. Hearing you say you love me just amazes me. I never thought I would hear anyone say that.” Nick smiled through tears. Brian realized how much he and Nick really had been going through the same thing without knowing it. The two of them came together and kissed again, as if time had not gone by since the last time they were together.
“Can we really do this?” Nick whispered as they moved to the bed, laying there for a while and talking. The two of them felt
“Nick, I want to try. I love you.”
Brian kissed him and Nick returned it, staring into his eyes. It was still storming outside and they could hear the rain against the window of the room.
“I love you too.” Nick breathed into Brian’s lips as he went in again.
“You love me?”
Nick nodded, his thumb behind Brian’s ear as he kissed him. Their kisses got deeper and deeper. They spent a good part of the night getting reacquainted before falling asleep next to each other. Nick listened to Brian’s heart beat and smiled because it sounded normal again.
For the first time in a few months, both of them were happy.