“Oh yeah, things are great.” Brian said wistfully when they closed the van door and headed down the road into traffic. He was happy that he and Nick were on speaking terms again, but he didn’t like that Nick kept his distance. He still wanted to fool around but Nick was not having it whatsoever. Brian was in touch with Leighanne again as well so it seemed that things were back to how they used to be for everybody.
“That’s great because it would be so awkward on stage, wouldn’t it ? I mean, if you weren’t speaking.” Howie said. Brian frowned because their personal lives had never gotten in the way of them performing before, why would they now?
“Do you think things are different when we aren’t speaking on stage? I didn’t notice anything. I only noticed it when we weren’t performing.”
“Well, Nick didn’t seem himself when he was upset. Sometimes it translates to his performances. It’s not hard to notice. I’m just glad things won’t be awkward anymore.” Howie shrugged.
Brian thought about this the whole way back to the hotel, and when he got there he called out Nick to tell him that he brought him food. Nick had been in the shower.
“How did you know that I was hungry?” Nick laughed, drying his hair because he’d just showered. Brian took his scent in as he walked in from the bathroom in nothing but a white tank top and his boxers, he smelled of fresh soap. Brian hurriedly looked down and mumbled something, blushing as Nick walked past. Nick pretended he didn’t notice.
“I just had a hunch. Got you a couple burgers.” Brian offered, showing him the bag. Nick grabbed a burger because he was hungry.
“Score. We can eat and watch some TV. AJ showed me how to fix it so we get free cable.”
“Nick, we are in Europe. I don’t think that is going to work on this TV.” Brian laughed.
“It should work with all of them. Aren’t all of them the same anyway? I can totally do it. Watch.” Nick said, grabbing a cheeseburger and starting to shove it in his mouth while he messed with the television.
“I don’t think this is such a good idea.”
“If AJ can do it, I can do it. I’m just as smart as he is.”
"I didn't say you weren't." Brian chuckled.
Brian watched Nick jump back from the television suddenly and the cheeseburger fell to the floor. The TV shut off and Nick stood up, wiping his hands on his boxers.
“SHIT. Okay….well that didn’t go so well.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes. I think so. I just got shocked a bit.” Nick said casually.
“Obviously, Mr. Wizard. Are you trying to kill yourself?” Brian said, cracking up laughing and throwing a fry at Nick, who laughed as well. He threw it back.
“No. Well, not tonight anyway.”
“So now we don’t have a TV and Johnny is probably gonna yell at us because you broke it and got ketchup on the rug. You dropped your burger too.”
“I can fix that.”
Nick picked up the burger, still half in the wrapper that had fallen on the floor and started to continue eating it while Brian made a disgusted face. He then used the wrapper to clean the ketchup off the floor and threw it in the garbage can near the desk.
“What, there’s a five second rule.” Nick reasoned. They laughed again and continued to eat. Brian wondered how he ever found Nick sexy to begin with, because some of his habits were disgusting.
“Why do I like you again?” Brian laughed.
“Because I am awesome, and you’re a dork.” Nick said with a mouth full of cheeseburger. Brian smiled at him because he sounded just like the old Nick again.
“Excuse you, but I’m not a dork. Take that back.” Brian protested, shoving Nick playfully.
It was suddenly like old times because Nick shoved him back, the two of them laughing until they both were on the floor, wrestling with each other just like they used to do. Like they used to do before everything got in the way. They rolled around for a while like this, laughing until Brian was on top of Nick pinning him and they stopped. Nick looked into Brian’s eyes as he hovered over him, almost wishing that he’d kiss him. For a second, it seemed like Brian was going to.
“Uh…um-” Nick said slowly. His ears turned pink.
“Sorry,“ Brian blushed. He helped Nick off the floor and silently cursed himself. He and Nick were supposed to be distancing themselves and he was already letting his head get in the way. Resisting Nick was going to be harder than he thought it would be. He thought that he was doing a good job of doing it so far, but every so often they would have moments like tonight that ended up being so very awkward. The attraction was definitely still there.
“It’s okay, I know you didn’t mean anything by it. We were just screwing around.” Nick chuckled before he continued eating his food. Either he was very good at acting like he was oblivious or Brian could have sworn that Nick wanted to kiss him. Either way, he pushed those thoughts to the side and kept quiet about it.
“Sure.” Brian said, looking at the floor.
Not long after Ireland the Backstreet Boys were doing their European Tour, along with a very special taped show in Germany. Everyone was excited about the show because it was an all acoustic show, minus the lights and microphones and such they were using. It was very low key and all of the boys were into the performance.
“This is going to be so freaking cool.” AJ remarked when they walked into wardrobe that night. Their outfits were dark colors, suede coats and dress shirts with slacks.
Brian almost spit out the water he was drinking when Nick walked in after getting hair and makeup done. His hair fell around his face and looked so soft that Brian wanted nothing more than to run his hands through it. He looked totally different from the dork he was hanging out with a few nights ago that nearly electrocuted himself on a television set. He looked like a completely different person when he was dressed up.
“Brian, are you feeling okay?” Howie asked. Brian shook off the fact that he was trying to undress Nick with his eyes and coughed.
“Yeah, I’m...uh- I’m fine.”
Nick couldn’t help but stare back at Brian, all the feelings he had been pushing away these past few weeks came rushing back the second he saw him in his clothes too. Even during their performances he kept subtly looking over at Brian, simply admiring him. He caught Brian looking at him a few times from the other side of the stage.
"That was a great show, guys." Kevin said backstage afterwards. They were all headed for the bus in a hurry because they were off to Norway that night.
"Yeah, great show." Brian agreed, still thinking of Nick. They got on the bus and picked at some food that one of the roadies had gotten for the crew but nobody was really hungry, just tired. Most of the other guys went to bed right away. Brian looked around for Nick and happened to find him in the back of the bus on the couch, looking out the window.
"There you are."
Nick looked up in surprise as if he'd been deep in thought about something.
"Everybody else went to bed. You alright?" Brian asked.
"I didn't feel like sleeping yet." he confessed, smiling. There was a sketch pad with some drawings on the couch next to him and colored pencils. Sometimes Nick liked to draw or write to pass the time on the bus when he wasn't playing video games.
"Mind if I sit with you? I'm not tired either." Brian asked and Nick nodded. They sat in silence for a while as the bus began to move.
"You looked really good tonight." Nick blurted out suddenly, blushing. Brian smiled.
"So did you."
More awkward silence.
"Nick, I miss you. I miss how we were. Doesn't part of you miss it too?" Brian asked. Nick looked away, thinking and Brian knew what he was thinking. He was clearly missing things too but putting on a front about it.
"We can't be together, you know that. You can't have everything." Nick said hesitantly, running a hand through his hair and sighing. He missed Brian too and wanted nothing more to kiss him right now. Brian wanted to kiss him too because he looked so sexy. He could tell Nick wanted to as well.
Brian hated that Nick was right. He couldn't have everything, no matter how much he wanted to. He would eventually have to choose. He didn't say anything.
Nick looked away for a second, licking his lips because he was nervous. He sat still again and then moved closer to Brian on the couch before slowly kissing him, his thumb resting just under Brian's ear.
"Nick?" he whispered.
Nick broke away, blushing.
"I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. You just look so good right now…"
Brian didn't say anything and kissed him back. Neither of them were worried about anyone finding them in the back of the bus because most of the guys had gone to bed. They kissed for a long time. Brian ran his hand through Nick's hair and it was just as soft and silky as he had imagined it would be.
"I missed you, Nick. I missed just sitting here like this with you."
"I missed you too," Nick whispered into Brian's chest when they sat there, cuddling. He knew they shouldn't be doing this but his heart had gotten the best of him tonight. Where this would take them, he didn't know. All Nick knew was right now, they were happy.
He hoped that it would last, but he had no idea how wrong he would be.