Brian sighed and rolled his eyes. “I don’t really think you have a choice.”
“If I may,” Alexis cut in. “Option 1 is the way we personally would like to proceed. We understand there will be some general discomfort and some embarrassment at first, but the penalty you would have to pay to Planet Hollywood is exponential and that’s not even a guarantee they won’t cancel the residency all together. They take these kinds of clauses in their contracts very seriously. We’re thinking long term here. If they cancelled your contract due to you not being able to uphold your part there could be other producers, deals, other companies no longer willing to work with you. The safest option, for all of your careers, is option 1.”
The seriousness of the situation weighed heavy in the room. Kevin couldn’t believe that one night, one horrific fucking night that he couldn’t even remember could have this big of an impact on his life. How was he supposed to handle this? How was he supposed to pretend to be married, be in love with another man, with Nick? He pressed his palms into his eyes as he tried to get his anger under control. He really didn’t to fucking do this, but it appeared it was really the only option they had. He was more than a little pissed that Nick had managed to connect the dots and land on the obvious answer so much faster than the rest of them had. Seriously, what the fuck was going on. He took another break and finally looked up to face the pleading eyes of the other three men. This really was his mistake. Well, not his entirely. That little blonde fucker had played a role in this too. A voice in his head reminded him that he had been the one leading the charge to the chapel the night before. At least that’s what the video he found on his phone showed. Howie only had part of it. According to the video, the chapel part had been his idea entirely. This however was not something he cared to share with the other men.
Finally he nodded. “Fine. I’ll do it.”
“Can you promise not to kill him?” AJ asked, crossing his arms and glaring at the other man.
Kevin held up his hands in mock defeat. “I never agreed to that. I said I would pretend like we’re married. I can’t promise you we’re not going to argue. Of course, isn’t that what most married couples do anyway? So maybe we’ll actually be pretty good at acting this thing out.” he said with a bitter laugh.
No one else in the room was laughing and instead shot Kevin varying degrees of a hateful stare. Finally Brian spoke. “So what’s this going to look like Alexis? I’m sure you have an outline.”
She nodded and passed out another sheet of paper. “Yes, I do. Kevin and Nick will issue a joint statement outlining their “relationship”. We will say they've been dating for a couple of years and were finally ready to tie the knot. In public you will walk together, hold hands, act like a couple. You’ll be marked down to share a hotel room and as long as we’ve got the floor to ourselves and no one else is the wiser it’s fine for you to switch rooms after the fact as long as one of the other guys is willing to make the change. You will refrain from bad mouthing or criticizing each other in public. Basically you will do everything the opposite of trying to hide a secret relationship. Instead, we’re trying to convince the public there is really one here.”
Howie let out a low whistle. “This is going to be a hell of a couple of years.”
Brian nodded. “We’ve just got to keep them from murdering each other.”
AJ sat quietly reading over the paperwork, refusing to look up and meet anyone’s eyes. “Who’s going to break the news to Nick?”
“I’ll go talk to him when we’re done here.” Brian said.
Alexis nodded and started to get her things together. “We will type up a release and send it over to Kevin and Nick to get their approval and signatures. You should have something by the time the show ends. The quicker we get out in front of this thing the better.”
She stood and shook everyone’s hand and then was gone. The remaining four men stared at each other. “Never did I expect us to have a meeting like this.” Howie said as he got to his feet and headed out the door, AJ right on his heels.
Once the two men were gone, Brian focused his eyes on his older cousin. “What the fuck did you do to him?” he demanded, his eyes flashing with rage.
Kevin looked at him quizzically. “What the hell are you talking about? What did I do to who?”
“Nick.” Brian bit out.
“I didn’t do shit to him. Haven’t you been paying attention to any of this? We got fucked up last night and almost ruined everyone’s lives. I think you can be mad at both of us for that and not just me.” Kevin spat angrily.
Brian stood and advanced on the other man. Leaning down into his face Brian said. “I’m talking about when you fucked him and scratched his back all to hell. Fuck Kevin. His back looks like he got into a fight with a wildcat and his wrists are busied. Did you fucking hold him down and torture him last night? Did you rape him?”
Kevin was shocked. Not only had his cousin never used the F word so many times in the same sentence, but rape? What the fuck. “I didn’t fuck Nick.” Kevin said hotly.
“Well he didn’t look like that when I left him last night and the only one he was with afterwards was you. So think long and hard about what the fuck you did last night, because if I find out you raped him, or did anything else to cause him bodily harm, it won’t matter what fucking contract we have I will fucking end you and I know AJ will be right there beside me to give me a hand so you better figure your shit out and treat him with some decency until we can get the two of you divorced. Do you fucking understand me?” Brian’s normally warm blue eyes were steel grey as he glared down at his cousin.
Kevin couldn’t ever remember seeing Brian so angry. The man was vibrating with it. While Kevin wasn’t one to be talked to his way, he really couldn’t remember what had happened last night and he had a sneaking suspicion that Brian was right, at least about them sleeping together. He prayed it hadn’t gone any further than that. There was no way he could have raped the younger man and not remember it, was there?
“I understand. I will try my best to be on my best behavior brother Brian.” Kevin snapped, not able to answer without another insult to the younger man.
He pushed away from the table and stormed out of the room, not giving the younger man another glance. He didn’t stop to breathe until he was safely locked inside his own hotel room. He took a deep calming breath, realizing this would be the last time he was able to be alone for the foreseeable future. He crossed the room and collapsed on the bed, a bed he had not slept in last night. Had he had sex with Nick? He had woken up naked but he’d been alone on the couch and by the looks of it he’d slept there alone. His mind wandered briefly to the bloody washcloth he had found in Nick’s bathroom. Looking down at his hands he didn’t see anything strange, but he’d also washed his hands several times already that day. Factor in that scratching was something he was prone to during sex and you can basically connect the dots. Why hadn’t Nick said anything to him about his suspicions? Had Nick told Brian he’d raped him? Jesus fucking Christ how had this day ended up in suck a fucking mess. He wondered if he would be moving rooms or if Nick would be moving into his room. He really wasn’t looking forward to this.
Brian knocked several times on Nick’s hotel room door but received no response. Using the master key he’d obtained from the bodyguard stationed on their floor he let himself into the room. The quiet enveloped him as he stepped inside and he could tell instantly the younger man had been gone for some time. Checking his phone but having no message he quickly shot one off to the younger man, hoping to pinpoint his location.
Brian took a seat on the armchair to rest for a few moments before getting up to change for the show. It had been one long ass day and Brian worried that even though Kevin had agreed to be civil, that he would be anything but. He thought back to the way the two men had interacted over the years and while he was unable to pinpoint when it had gotten so nasty, he knew that there was so much anger and resentment there that the two being forced into close proximity virtually non stop was light igniting a powder keg and expecting it to fizzle out. This was going to be disastrous and what was worse, Brian knew Nick would be the one taking the brunt of the abuse. He wished he could get Kevin to open up, explain his utter disdain for the younger man so they could all move past whatever it was that still caused so much anger, all these years later. They had all been dealing with their shitty relationship for so many years that it was at the breaking point with everyone, especially doing the residency and being in each other’s pockets night after night. And then the two idiots had to go and do something like this. Brian still couldn’t believe it. He swore he was living an episode of the Twilight Zone.
His phone buzzed and he took it out of his pocket to read the incoming message. Nick was at the venue. Well at least the newlyweds would be separated for a little longer. Pushing himself up off the chair and towards the door, Brain headed back to his own room to change.
The elephant in the room was avoided as they dressed and prepared to take the stage. Brian had tried several times, unsuccessfully to get Nick alone so he could explain the terms of their arrangement. But so far it had been fruitless. Finally, five minutes before last call, Brian found Nick backstage drinking a bottle of water.
"How are you feeling?" he asked his younger friend as he placed a protective hand on the larger man's shoulders.
Nick shrugged him off and turned away. "I'll be fine for the show, don't worry."
"I'm not worried about the damn show, I'm worried about my best friend." Brian said a little harsher than he'd originally intended.
Nick sighed and faced him. "I'm still a little shaky, but I'll be alright. What was decided after I left? I'm sorry I just had to get out of there. All the yelling was making my headache worse and I knew no one would listen to me anyway."
No one being Kevin, Brian thought to himself bitterly. Some days he really despised his older cousin. And who could blame Nick? It wasn't like Kevin had ever given him any other emotion but hate. It would be a cold day in hell before the two of them could get along for more than five minutes. It was going to be the best performance of Nick's life.
"We decided to go with your idea. Option 1. You guys are going to have to act like a loving couple in public, share a room, etc all the things a couple does. I'm sorry Kaos. I know how hard this is going to be. I've already talked to Kevin and hopefully he will lay off and try to work through this with us instead of against us but you can never tell with him. I'm here for you. " Brian said, turning Nick to make him look him in the eye.
Nick nodded and took another long drink from his water bottle. Tears pricked at his eyes but he was determined not to let them fall. He could and would get through this, he was strong enough to handle whatever Kevin threw at him. He'd been doing it for years now, what was a couple of more?