"We should do something for the 4th of July. Like when we went to Cocoa Beach." Brian said when he came out of the shower in their hotel room. He'd been thinking about doing something for Nick to prove he was serious about trying to be in a relationship with him, because Nick was skeptical. He still didn't trust him fully and Brian knew it was because of the lingering damage Leighanne had caused. Nick felt like the rug was going to be pulled from under his feet at any moment. Brian hated that he felt like that. He knew he had to do something big to gain his trust.
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. Are you sure?” Nick asked skeptically, playing his Game Boy in the bed. Brian was a little thrown off by the fact Nick had just turned him down, but could he blame him. He knew how much he had hurt Nick and he wanted to show him that he wouldn’t do it again.
“I think we could both use a weekend to ourselves. Besides, I’ve already booked it so you can’t back out.” Brian winked. Nick didn’t say anything, but went back to playing Zelda. They went to bed and the next morning they began the drive to Myrtle Beach in a rental car that Brian got. Nick didn’t say much on the three hour drive to South Carolina from Charlotte. All he could think about was the last time they’d gone on a beach trip together, when they’d gone to Cocoa Beach for a weekend just like this one. Brian had acted so funny then. He’d cornered Brian for acting so odd.
“What is going on with you, Brian?”
“You never seemed to care about me being gay before, so why start now? What’s wrong with you? What’s really wrong with you, because none of this makes any sense. First you tell me to hide it from everyone, then you tell Leighanne that I’m bothering you and obsessed with you, and now you show up at my house wanting to take me away with you for the weekend? What are you getting out of all of this?”
Brian took several deep breaths before he spoke. Nick knew that he was just doing it to not make him more angry, because he could tell Nick was angry.
“No-Nothing. Nothing’s wrong. I am just trying to understand you more, that’s all. If I’m making you uncomfortable, I won’t ask any other questions. We just never have talked about it again since you told me and I was thinking, that’s it.”
Nick nodded, playing with a loose string on the carpet.
“You were thinking about me being gay?”
Nick hadn’t thought much about that conversation again until now, but after knowing everything the last year or so, it suddenly made sense. Brian didn’t know what he was feeling. He was trying to sort things out just like Nick was trying to do and Nick felt bad for expecting Brian to figure it out at the same pace he did.
“You okay, Nick? You’re awfully quiet.” Brian asked him, jarring him out of his thoughts.
“Sorry, I was just thinking about when we went to Cocoa Beach.” Nick smiled nervously.
“Our first kiss.” Brian said, keeping his eyes on the road.
“Why didn’t you just tell me how you felt then?” Nick asked.
"I didn't know how to express it then. I still don't. I mean, I know that I love you...but everything is so confusing for me. I don't want to hurt you, Nick. I just want to be with you." Brian replied as he made the turn into Myrtle Beach towards their hotel.
"I just don't want to be hurt again." Nick said, looking out the window. He didn't say much more during their ride to the hotel on the beach.
"This is a bit nicer than the other hotel." Brian commented, when they got checked in and went to their room. Of course they were making more money than they were a year ago so Brian could afford a bigger hotel room. It was a suite with a king sized bed.
"Wow." Nick said, setting his bag on the bed and touching the blankets. It was the softest bed he'd ever seen.
“So I was thinking tonight we could grab dinner, maybe take a walk down the beach. Something simple?” Brian suggested, tossing his bag down on the floor.
“Okay, sure. I’m hungry.” Nick said.
“You’re always hungry.” Brian laughed. Nick laughed because it was a fact.
The two of them got dressed and they went to a restaurant on the beach that was near their hotel. They sat outside and ate their food, watching the water and listening to the sea gulls. Brian knew the ocean was Nick's favorite place so they had a great time just sitting there and talking. They talked about all kinds of things, Brian’s surgery, Nick’s new house and what he was up to while Brian was recuperating from surgery. Brian was surprised to find that Nick was living on his own because Nick hadn’t even told him that he had left his parents place in Tampa.
“I was just ready for a change, Brian. My family and I just don’t mesh sometimes. It was not a good place for me to be. You know how they are. I can’t be myself there. So I packed up all my stuff and bought a place of my own in the Keys. It’s beautiul there, you should come and see it next time we are in Florida. It’s on the water and I was thinking of buying a boat so I could go fishing and stuff like that. What do you think?” Nick said. He stopped and saw Brian listening intently, just admiring him while he spoke.
“Sorry for rambling.” Nick blushed.
“Don’t be sorry. I would love to see your house and I think you should definitely get a boat.” Brian smiled. Nick smiled back and they continued eating.
“This is really nice, we never get a lot of time to just be ourselves and have time alone.” Nick said as he ate his steak. Brian wished he knew what Nick was thinking but all he could think about was how nervous he was.
"I thought you'd like it. The beach here is really nice too. There's a pier near here, I figured we could go and check it out after we eat." Brian suggested. Nick agreed that was a great idea and they went for a walk down the beach where the pier was. A humongous ferris wheel sat in front of them. This had been Brian's idea the whole time, to take Nick on the ferris wheel as the sun was setting but he was afraid of heights. He could feel his nerves settling in already but took a deep breath and climbed into the basket where he and Nick sat as it climbed higher and higher to the top. Brian tried his best to not look over the edge.
“I’m really surprised you came up here. I know how much you hate heights.” Nick pointed out. The sun was nearing the horizon and the sky was a beautiful mixture of colors, it was a perfect evening weather wise.
“I thought it would be nice to come up here and watch the sunset.”
The two of them looked at each other and Brian leaned in to kiss him. They kissed until they were at the very top of the wheel.
“Thank you for taking me here, Brian. I’m sorry if I sounded like I didn’t want to come, I just am scared.” Nick confessed, taking Brian’s hand in his.
“Don’t apologize. I hurt you before. If I knew then what I know now, and how you had really felt I would never have told you I didn’t need you. I wouldn’t have told you that you have to hide who you are. You don’t. I don’t. The truth is, I do need you. You don’t sugarcoat things for me, and you put me in my place. I need that. I haven’t been the best friend that you’ve been. I just want a chance Nick. I want a chance to show you that I’m serious about being with you and that I love you. I’m not going to hurt you again. I won’t leave you. I mean that.” Brian promised, squeezing Nick’s hand gently with his thumb. Nick kissed him.
“Thank you. I just sometimes wonder if things are too good to be true. I want to be with you too. I don’t want to hide. I want to scream things from the rooftops but you know how people are about this kind of stuff. If we tell people, what happens if that ruins everything? I love you too but I also love performing and I don’t want to ruin it.” Nick said, looking out at the sunset.
“I don’t care what happens. I want to be with you. I don’t want to hide anymore. I spent enough time doing that and so have you.” Brian said, kissing him back. They embraced and kissed again.
“I won’t break your heart, Nick. I promise.”
The Ferris wheel started to go back down for another trip around and Nick sat there, thinking about everything Brian had said. He knew that Kevin supported them and supported him. Would the others? Would anyone? That fear had been constant for months and he’d even talked about it with Lance, who had those same fears he did. Lance said that when he was comfortable with himself and only then would he be ready to come out to everyone else. This was part of the reason he moved out of his parents house, because he was terrified of what they’d say when they knew his secret.
“I’m glad I chose you to tell first.” Nick said softly, kissing Brian gently.
“So when did you decide you were going to tell me? How long did you know you were gay before that?” Brian asked once they were off the Ferris wheel and walking down the beach towards their hotel. They held hands as they walked through the edge of the waves.
“I knew for a little while. I mean, I always felt differently than everyone, like I didn’t fit in. At school before I joined the group I got beat up and picked on for being into theater and acting. I would always leave school early for auditions. The other kids didn’t like that and would bully me. So I got the audition for the band and I got really close to AJ and Howie, and we would hang out at...at Lou’s house. He would play these movies for us.” NIck explained. Brian’s eyes narrowed at the mention of their former manager.
“What happened at Lou’s house?”
“We would watch these movies. It was pornography, but men with other men or women with other women. When I watched them, it stirred up these feelings inside me that I couldn’t ignore. I was attracted to you. I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere. I kept it to myself but at that birthday party Lou threw for me and AJ...I just couldn’t keep it to myself anymore. I was miserable that day. Here all these people were to celebrate my 17th birthday. They were there to celebrate me and none of them even knew the real me, and all I could think about was how I was never going to be like any of them.” Nick said, his eyes watering. Brian thought back to the day that Nick told him his secret and how he told him to hide. He wished he had never done that.
“Lou made you watch those movies? You were only 11.” Brian said.
“There’s a lot of things about Lou that I didn’t tell you. He was not a good person and I’m glad you put it into motion to get rid of him. You saved me, Brian. In more ways than you know. So I am glad I could return the favor. That first night last year when we cuddled in bed together at the hotel, I laid my head on your chest while you slept and it sounded horrible. That was when I realized something was really wrong with you. I put aside my objections to you and Leighanne to try and get you to go to the doctor. Hearing your chest sound like that scared me. It scared me that I might lose you. Without you I’m lost.” Nick replied. He went into more detail, some things he’d held back. Brian’s mouth just fell open, no wonder Nick had been confused about himself and hesitant when they were first together.
“I never knew any of this, Nick. I’m so sorry that I made you feel like you had to continue hiding. I was just so confused when you stirred up the feelings in me that I didn’t know how to deal with any of it. I threw myself into the relationship with Leighanne and into denial because that was all I knew. Then when we were fooling around, I felt nobody would love me if they knew the truth. You helped me see otherwise. I’m sorry.” Brian said. They stopped and kissed as the sun finally dipped below the horizon.
“Thank you for taking me out today. Sometimes I just wish we could be normal and just be together. I’m willing to give it a shot if you are serious about this.” Nick said when they got back to their hotel room and into bed. He kissed him, his thumb resting behind Brian’s ear, rubbing gently at the back of his head. Brian nuzzled into him as they cuddled and kissed.
“I just wanted to show you what things could be like if we were together. I want to be with you, Nick. That’s all. I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore. Having that surgery made me realize how short life is. I missed you. I want you to be mine, all mine.”
“I want to be yours too if you will be mine.” Nick whispered into Brian’s neck. They kissed slowly and laid there together until they fell asleep in each other’s arms, blissfully happy now that everything was out in the open and all the cards were on the table. Nick listened to Brian’s heart and for the first time he heard it as it was supposed to sound. Things were going to be okay, and he slept peacefully for the first time in two months.