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With shaky hands Nick carefully tore the top off the padded envelope and upended the contents onto the counter. A cd case and note clattered out on to the counter top. Nick knew what it was immediately without even having to reach for it and turn it over. Suddenly he felt even worse than he did before. This was the song Kevin had been working on so tirelessly the whole time Nick had been in Vegas. This was their song. Written by Nick and recorded and mixed by Kevin. The fact that he’d finished and been so excited about it that he’d had to overnight it to Nick brought tears to his eyes.

And then Nick had been preoccupied and delayed spending what should have been a joyous moment with his lover, to deal with the mess of his friend, made him feel even smaller. Kevin’s feelings must have been so incredibly hurt when he'd called so excitedly and discovered Brian there in the apartment. Nick knew how pissed he would be if their positions were reversed and he cursed Brian and himself for causing his lover any pain.

Wasting no more time, Nick quickly found the cd player in the living room and slid the disk inside. All at once he was surrounded by the deep, husky voice of his finance. He sank down onto the couch to listen, curling his legs up underneath him to get comfortable. The song was beautiful, even more so than he had anticipated it being. He felt so proud of the older man he thought he would burst. Hearing Kevin sing the words he had penned touched him so deeply that he didn’t even register the tears falling down his cheeks until the droplets landed on his clasped hands. He had to call Kevin. He had to tell Kevin how much him recording the song meant to him. They had to talk about this and set things right.


Kevin refreshed the tracking information on his phone every five minutes to track the deliveries he'd sent out. He had locked himself in the studio again so he could be free to talk without the boys overhearing him. He also tried to keep a close eye on the clock, not wanting a repeat performance of losing track of time with with the kids again this week. According to the app the first one, the one to the producer would be delivered by the end of the day and the second, the one to Nick would be delivered within the hour. He was excited for both men to hear the finished product, but was overjoyed at the prospect of Nick hearing it from start to finish for the first time. Nick knew that he'd been working on it, but he had no idea to what extent or how close it was to being completely finished. Kevin had worked on it tirelessly and then when he felt like it was good enough, he'd reached out to a producer for a second opinion. He smiled as he remembered the conversation.


"Is this JC?" he'd asked clumsily, more nervous than he really should have been.

"It is. Who's this?" the unfamiliar voice in the other side of the line responded.

"It's Kevin Richardson. I have a proposition for you and I didn't know if you maybe had some time to talk." Kevin had said.

The name had been given to him after talking about the idea of a solo record over with Howie. At first Kevin had laughed, thinking the idea of calling him up out of the blue was ridiculous, but the more he and Howie spoke the more it made sense. JC was an incredible producer, and one who had intimate knowledge of what they had all been through and when he really stopped to think about it, he was the perfect person to reach out to. Howie had passed on the number and now all Kevin had to do was convince JC to work with him.

"So Carter wrote the song and you want to record and release it?" JC asked, trying to understand.

"Yes. I've actually already done some vocal work on it. I just need someone to give me the direction and help mix it. I've also done the piano arrangement." Kevin explained.

"Congratulations on that by the way. I had heard you guys released a statement. I was going to get in touch to wish you both the best but I figured you were being bombarded so I decided to wait until I spoke to one or both of you." JC broke off the topic to explain.

"Thank you. Actually we're engaged. We're getting married once his divorce and custody arrangements have been settled."

"You sound happy man. Happier than I've ever remembered hearing you. " JC said softly.

Kevin smiled despite the fact that JC couldn't see him over the phone. "I've never been happier. He brings out the best in me. That's where I got the push to do this. Knowing he believes in me, believes in my ability to do this, it's enough for me to give it a try."

They had hung up shortly after that, Kevin promising to send over the music and lyrics as well as everything else he'd done so far on the song for JC to look over. An hour later JC had called back even more excited than when they'd talked the first time.

"This song is beautiful Kev. Nick wrote this?" JC questioned.

Kevin beamed. "Yes. It was my Christmas present. He did a fucking amazing job on it. I didn't change a thing."

JC was impressed. "I'm really excited about what we can do with this. Give me a couple of days and then we'll get started."

They talked several more times while Kevin was in Kentucky. He'd done so much work in preparation that the real work he needed JC for went quickly and before he knew it the song was mixed and finished. He'd sent final copies to both Nick and JC and was waiting rather impatiently for his lover to hear it.

He refreshed again and cheered when the screen changed from Out for Delivery to Delivered. He checked the time and realized it had been scanned more than twenty-five minutes ago. Why hadn't Nick called yet? He gave it another five minutes and when Nick still hadn't called he punched in the familiar number and settled on the piano bench as it dialed.

"Hey," Nick said softly, his voice sounded strange to Kevin's ears, but he chose to ignore it in his excitement.

"What did you think?" the question popped out before he could even think about it. He'd been waiting for this moment for so long. He'd poured his heart and soul into this song and Nick's opinion on it mattered more than anything.

"Think about what?" the other man said, confused.

"I got a notification that you signed for the package. Did you not open it yet?" Kevin asked, his voice taking on a teasing tone.

Out of all the sceneries Kevin had envisioned when he sent the cd, he was not expecting this one.

"There's someone here." Nick's voice said quietly.

"Who's there?" Kevin questioned, his voice hitching before he could stop it. His stomach started doing flip flops and he knew whatever came out of Nick's mouth next wouldn't be good.


A million thoughts ran rapidly though his mind and he took a deep breath to keep himself from over reacting.
"Why is he there, Nick?" Kevin tried to keep his voice even, to keep his anger repressed, but he was afraid he was doing a pretty shitty job of that.

"I have no idea." Nick said with a sigh. "He just showed up right after the package arrived and I haven't had any time to do anything about either."

"Call me back when you do." Kevin said and pressed the end button on the phone. He knew it wasn't the most mature thing he could have done but he also knew if he had kept trying to talk to Nick then his initial anger would take over and they would both end up saying things they didn't mean. It was easier to take a break, a little bit to calm down, before they spoke again.

Kevin stared at the phone in his hands and tried to keep his temper under control. He wasn't sure which one he was madder at, but knew Nick hadn't really done anything for him to be angry at. He was just concerned that Brian was there and slightly suspicious of the reasons behind his visit. They hadn't left things on good terms and he was curious why now all of a sudden he would show up at Nick's when he wasn't there with him. Why hadn't he even tried to call Kevin?

What was supposed to be a fun afternoon was quickly becoming anything but. He got up from the bench and crossed to the bookcase where he kept the bottle of whisky. Grabbing a tumbler from the display he poured himself a glass before settling into the couch. He nursed his drink as his mind swam with possibilities and fears.

It was an hour later when his cellphone chirped and he sighed with relief when Nick's name came across the display. Not even thinking twice he hit the button to pick up the call.

"I loved it. It's amazing. You are fucking amazing. Baby, you sound so incredible. Thank you for recording it." His lover's voice filled his ear, saying all the things he'd been waiting so selfishly for.

"Thank you. That means a lot to me, the song means a lot to me Nicky." Kevin admitted.

"I'm so fucking sorry." Nick managed to get out, his voice cracking with tears.

Kevin's pulse quickened and his heart began hammering in his chest. "What are you sorry for?" he was trying to prepare himself for bad news, but he could barely breathe over the lump growing in his throat.

"For not opening it earlier. For not telling him to fuck off the moment he stepped inside the apartment so I could open it and see what was inside. Everything happened all at once and it just slipped my mind and in doing so I made you wait. I'm so sorry." Nick said.

"Did something happen, with Brian?" Kevin asked the question he wasn't sure he wanted the answer to.

"God no." Nick said quickly. "He basically just wanted to know if there has ever been a chance for us, if I'd ever felt that way for him. I told him truthfully no, there's never been anyone else for me but you, not really. I mean Lauren is a whole other thing, but even with her, I never felt the way I feel for you for her. You've always been the one who's had my heart. "

"You don't know how badly I needed to hear that. And you have nothing to be sorry for. You didn't know he was coming. The whole thing was just bad timing." Kevin said softly.

"Probably about as much as I needed to say it. I love you Kevin. No one, nothing else will ever change that." Nick said quietly.

The words sent a shiver down Kevin's spine and suddenly he had to be there. He had to see him, touch him. Maybe Kristin would agree to take the boys a little earlier this week. It was worth a shot. Ordinarily he would never cut his time with them short for anything, but the need to see Nick was growing stronger. There was no way he would make it until Saturday. He'd have to talk to Kristin and check flights. But maybe he could get there by Thursday at the latest. His heart skipped at the prospect. He really needed to be there. The pull was so strong, like nothing he'd ever experienced before. He wasn't sure if it was his insecurities or the song being done, but something was pulling him to Vegas. Now all he had to do was to talk to Kristin.