"Brian we really need to get ready…" Nick laughed between kisses. They'd already been interrupted once by AJ coming into the bathroom.
"Hold this until later, then." Brian whispered as he kissed him again. Nick laughed as the door knob to the dressing room made noise, startling them.
"Just the two I wanted to see. Am I interrupting anything, boys?" he said, looking at them angrily. Both of their faces were bright red because they’d been caught.
“It’s not what it looks like…” Brian started, but their manager put a hand up.
“Save the bullshit, Littrell. how stupid do you think I am? Sit down.”
"Please let us explain-“ Nick interrupted, his face redder still.
“Let me say what I need to say first.”
"Our offices got a call this morning from your ex girlfriend. She had some interesting information to share with us." Johnny replied. Brian exchanged looks with Nick because they’d both been dreading this since Brian dumped Leighanne two months ago.
Nick felt as if he were going to throw up, like he had gotten punched in the stomach. He knew what had happened already.
“Johnny, let us explain…” Nick started again but their manager didn’t want to hear any of it. He was angry. Usually Johnny had been the calmer of their two managers, but now that Lou was out of the picture most of the responsibility had fallen onto Johnny. He’d become mean over the last few months since BSB had started the lawsuit against Trans Continental Records. When Lou was fired they had taken Johnny as their manager but now Nick and Brian were seeing that this was a huge mistake.
“Judging by the looks on your faces and what I just saw, I would say her information is true. How long were you planning on keeping this a secret? Do you know what this could do to your careers right now?” Johnny shouted. Nick looked as if he were near tears and it only angered Brian.
“We don’t care about that. We want to be together. I broke up with Leighanne because she was using me. Nick helped me to see that. I love him. I don’t care what you do to me. Fire me if you want to. I’m gay, Johnny. I’m gay, and that’s not about to change.” Brian shouted, getting in Johnny’s face.
“Brian, remember what the doctor said about stress…” Nick whispered, pulling Brian’s arm gently to seperate them. Brian tugged it back.
“Not now, Nick. He needs to hear this. I told you the same thing, I’m done hiding. This is us. This is who we are. If he doesn’t like who we are, then he can manage another band.” Brian snapped. Nick realized that Brian was right. He needed to stop hiding too.
“Don’t you have anything to say, Carter?” Johnny asked.
“I am gay. I love Brian, he loves me and we don’t care what you think about it. Take it or leave it.” Nick said sternly, taking Brian’s hand in his.
Johnny raised his eyebrows.
“Okay, gentlemen...so what do you propose we do about this situation? You dumped that woman and she’s going to expose everything if we don’t act on it right now. Your secret is about to leak out. She didn’t just tell us. She’s going to press. They’ve been trying to contact us for statements all day.”
“So you’re blaming all of this on me?” Brian scoffed.
“Brian, we are gonna have to tell everyone eventually anyway. It might as well be now.” NIck reasoned, to Brian and Johnny Wright’s surprise.
Nick knew this day would come as well. He knew that eventually everyone would find out his secret. He knew that they would discover his relationship with Brian so the natural thing to do right now was not to hide, but face it.
“You’re right, Nick. So how are we going to do it?”
“We could announce it on television, or do an article for a magazine and sell the exclusives. Have a photoshoot. We could go on a radio show, whatever you decide you want to do. I just need an answer after the show, right now you gotta go.” Johnny said, leaving them to finish getting ready. The other guys joined them and the two of them were pretty quiet.
“Is everything okay?” Kevin asked, noticing the awkward silence before they did their pre show prayers.
“Johnny told us that Leighanne is threatening to tell the press about Nick and I. She made calls to our management like she said she was going to do. So Johnny wants Nick and I to make some kind of statement to the press before this gets blown out of proportion.” Brian explained. Nick looked at his feet, hating himself for causing all of this. If he’d only kept his mouth shut and not told her anything, she never would have threatened them. None of this would be happening. Sure, he wouldn’t have Brian but his career wouldn’t be in jeopardy. Nick couldn’t help feeling guilty.
“I’m so sorry, you guys. I’ve ruined everything.” Nick said, holding back tears.
“Nick, none of us blame you for this. Don’t get upset. Please.” Brian begged, giving his hand a squeeze.
“It’s just, if I hadn’t told her you were cheating on her….if I had just kept quiet-“
“I already told you that isn’t important. She would have found out anyway if you told her or not. I was the one who dragged you into it. I led her on and I cheated on her. I should have just been honest from the beginning. This is my fault. Not anyone else’s.”
"Brian, I think we should do the interview. I know you're worried about what people will think. I'm scared too. I'm scared to death people will judge us."
“Are you kidding? I’m terrified. If I could just barely be able to admit it to you, and even these guys- how am I going to do it on live television? Maybe we should just do the magazine.” Brian said thoughtfully. Nick agreed that the magazine interview was probably a better way for both of them and their anxiety because even Nick agreed that he could never go on live television and come out to everyone like that. At least with an interview it was one on one and people could read and just judge for themselves. So after the concert that night, Nick and Brian talked to Johnny and told him that they wanted to set up the interview with People magazine. They did a photoshoot and took several pictures together. It was the first time they’d really kissed in front of anyone for a picture and Brian was nervous, but Nick helped him get through it. Brian was really thankful to have Nick there because Nick understood all of the emotions he was going through with coming out publicly. Having someone going through the same thing made it more bearable.
One afternoon while the boys were on the road, Nick was looking at some magazines when he spotted the People magazine cover with him and Brian on it. They’d used the picture of them on the boat in Argentina that he’d given them to use, with the title This Is Us on the cover. He ran up to the cashier and paid for his sodas and the magazine before running back to the bus shouting for Brian. He was surprised that the cashier didn’t say anything to him or recognize him.
“BRIAN, WHERE ARE YOU?!”
“Geez. Where is the fire, Nick?” Brian laughed, poking his head out from the bunk area.
“Did you get me a Coke?” AJ asked from the couch.
“Of course I did, but never mind that! We made the cover!” Nick shouted, waving the magazine in his face. Brian dropped what he was holding and ran over to see it, the two of them flipping through pages of their pictures from the shoot.
“How is everyone going to react when they read this? What if they don’t like us anymore? Then what?” Nick wondered.
“Then that’s their problem. I love you. I don’t care what anyone thinks about it.” Brian said, kissing him on the cheek. Nick kissed him back.
“I love you too.”
“Whatever happens, we will get through it together.” Brian promised, and they kissed again. Nick looked at Brian and smiled.
“Together.” NIck repeated, sighing because he was so happy.
As the months passed, things got even better for the Backstreet Boys. The lawsuit Brian had started earlier in the year ended up settling and they split with Lou, Donna and Johnny Wright. They decided to find new management and take some time to work on a new album while figuring out what direction they wanted to go for the next record. On New Year’s Eve they found themselves in Orlando, where they began...to film a concert special because it was their Homecoming. When the filming was done they decided to wind down at their hotel and not have a huge party to ring in 1999.
“Hey guys, it’s almost midnight!” Howie said, noticing nobody was paying attention to the television set. Brian was sitting on the couch in Nick’s lap, Kevin had already fallen asleep and AJ was pouring himself a glass of champagne to get ready to welcome the new year.
“So what is your new year’s resolution, Nick?” Brian asked, looking up into Nick’s eyes. Nick laughed, his hair falling in his face.
“I don’t have one. I just never pictured we would be like this a year later, after how last new year’s went. I thought we would never be together and I’d have to hide who I was from everyone for the rest of my life. It’s just been crazy the last few months. Things are exactly how I want them to be. I have you. I have the group. We have success. There’s literally nothing else I could want.” Nick replied.
“That’s so sweet, I’m going to get a cavity.” AJ said as he rolled his eyes.
“You’re just jealous because I have a cute boyfriend and you are a loser.” Nick teased, sticking out his tongue. Brian laughed.
“I don’t have a resolution either, Nick. Everything is perfect. I have my health, and I have everything I could want right here in front of me. I love you.” Brian said, and the countdown to midnight began. Nick leaned in to kiss Brian in the first few minutes of 1999, feeling like there was no better way to start the new year than with his boyfriend and his best friends. It had been a crazy time these last two years and Nick was happy that things had turned out the way they did. He no longer had to be afraid and could be who he was without caring what anyone thought.
NIck smiled as he looked around the room and closed his eyes, feeling completely content.
He and Brian would ring in the new year on their own once they got back to their room and Nick couldn’t think of a better way to spend it.