"Nick," he started before Nick pulled his shirt down and turned to face him. He held out his wrists for Brian to see, deep angry bruises circled both of them. "What in the hell happened last night."
Nick shook his head before collapsing down in the armchair. "That's what I've been trying to tell you. I can't remember a damn thing. Nothing. I remember the concert or at least bits and pieces of it. After that it's an absolute blank. All I know is I woke up this morning feeling worse than I have ever felt, in pain everywhere, including my ass, and then realized I had some God damn ring on. Then to make matters even worse, I come out of the bedroom and find your God damn cousin completely naked and passed out asleep on the couch. I thought all of that was pretty bad until he came storming into the bedroom, shoving a marriage certificate in my face and yelling at me like all of this is somehow my fault. Everything hurts Brian. This is the last fucking thing I want to deal with right now, especially with him. So yea, I completely understand how badly I fucked up. I just don't know how or why it happened or how to fucking fix it." Nick dropped his head in his hands as he tried to keep the tears from falling. The pain in his head was increasing and he could literally feel it throb through his eyeballs. What the fuck was wrong with him?
Brian knelt down beside him and placed his hands on Nick's knees. "It's going to be okay, Frack. We'll figure out what happened and figure out a way to fix it."
Nick laughed bitterly. "I don't think it's going to be that simple. I'm not sure this is something that can just be quietly undone and swept under the rug. This is going to get loud, and messy, and somehow it's all going to come down on me. Stupid fucking Nick, always managing to fuck up anything he touches."
"I have no idea how or what we can do to fix this, but you're not going to take the brunt of the blame. I'm telling you that right now. This is just as much his fault as it is yours. He will take equal blame here. Now all we have to do is keep you too from killing each other until we get this sorted out."
Nick didn't really believe a word Brian said but it was nice to hear his best friend stand up for him, especially to his own cousin, his own flesh and blood. But Nick knew it didn't make any difference. Whenever it came to the older raven haired man everything was always Nick's fault. He never did anything right and would forever be a consummate screw up. It didn't matter that it took two people to get married or that Kevin seemed to be in charge of most of it if the sounds from the video were any indication. When it all came down to it, Nick had messed up again and Nick and Nick alone would be held responsible. Just like every other time.
It sucked having to be so cynical about it, but after years and years of the same torture, hateful comments, rude assumptions and overall general dislike the other man showed him and him alone, it was hard to think this would turn out any other way. Out of all of the guys he had to go and get married in Vegas to him? This was just another miserable mistake he would grow to regret for the rest of his life.
Looking back Nick couldn't remember a time they had ever gotten along. It seemed like from the minute they had met Kevin had been putting him down or making fun of him. At first Nick had been so intimidated by him he took it, any abuse the older man wanted to throw at him but as he got older, stronger he started fighting back. Never allowing the other man to see just how much his nasty words hurt and then there were the physical altercations. It seemed like they were coming close to fist fights every other day and there were a couple of times Nick was sure Kevin had broken his nose if not given him a concussion. Didn't seem to matter what was said, no amount of begging or pleading from the other guys ever got the older man to lay off of him. He wouldn't lay off or leave the other man alone until he was sure that he had beat Nick down as far as he could get. Literally and figuratively. Nick had tried his best to ignore the biting insults and anger and for the most part it seemed to work. But then there were the times that it seemed like Kevin sought him out, just to be able to fight and argue with him. He could never really understand it. Out of everyone he'd ever met, he only ever seemed to produce anger and outrage from the other man.
How in the world had they ended up married.
Drinking together was one thing. Sleeping together, as insane as that notion was, was a separate thing entirely. But married? None of this made any sense to Nick at all and the longer and harder he tried to understand what had happened, the more the pounding in his head increased. He really needed that Tylenol.
An hour later they were all in the hotel conference room. Kevin and Nick were at opposite ends of the table, management on the other side and the three remaining band mates were sparsed out in between them. Nick didn't even dare to look up at anyone in the room. Instead he kept his eyes trained on the table as he drummed his fingers on the table top.
"So it sounds like we've got a bit of a situation on our hands." Alexis, their PR manager said.
Brian nodded. "We're well aware. We are all well versed on what the problem is. What we're trying to do is to figure out how to solve it. So if you have some ideas, a solution, we'd rather discuss that than placing blame and arguing." Brian said level headedly, trying his best to keep this from turning into an all out war where all the blame got thrown on to Nick and Kevin was left unscathed like usual.
Alexis peered at him curiously, but nodded and opened her folder. She proceeded to take out several sheets of paper and laid them out on the table in front of her. "So we've discussed several options and weighted out the pros and cons of each. What I'm prepared to do is give you two options, you decide as a group how you want to proceed and I will begin the work necessary to complete the task. If wanted I will give you the pros and cons we've discussed to help you influence your decision."
Howie nodded and took the papers she offered and passed them around the table. The room was silent for a moment before Kevin shot out of his chair and slammed the paper and his fists down on the conference table. "Over my dead body do we pretend we did this on purpose and act like some kind of faggot couple for the media." he spat out glaring the girl down.
Nick flinched at the words but managed to keep his head down as he continued to study the paper. He blocked the shouting out of his mind as he continued to read. Around him he could hear the angry voices of his friends and bandmates yelling and arguing. He could feel, much less see, Brian already on his feet and an angry finger being jabbed back in Kevin's general direction. Here it was all laid out in black and white. Two options. He'd managed to fuck up his life so royally that an entire team of people only saw two options for him to get out of this mess.
Option one. They could pretend this was planned. Come out to the public with their "love" and play the happy couple for an undetermined amount of time until a divorce would be acceptable to do. Most likely 1-2 years and definitely after the residency was over.
Option two. They could own up to their mistake and deal with the fallout. The problem with that one was their residency had a strict drugs and alcohol policy. So to come out and tell the world they were so fucked up they didn't remember how they had ended up in the same chapel, let alone married to each other, would be disastrous not only for their careers, but for the three others as well.
Nick swallowed hard. No way you looked at this was this an easy decision. He could see how Alexis and the team had come to each conclusion. Could probably even iterate their list of pros and cons without every even looking at her notebook. But the only way that kept the blame, kept the shame and disgrace on his shoulders instead of allowing his mistake to mess up the lives of the other three men who had nothing to do with this, well, that decision was obvious.
Nick cleared his throat and finally looked up to face the other men in the room. He stood and put the paper back down on the table. All eyes in the room turned towards him and the bickering quieted. "Option 1 is the only option I am willing to do. This is my mistake and I will own up to it. I'll play nice in front of the cameras and put on one hell of a show. Tell me what I need to say and how I need to act and I'll do it." Nick said turning to pick up his jacket off the chair he'd laid it on when they entered the room.
With that he turned and walked out of the room closing his eyes as he heard the outrage erupt behind him. He just couldn't stay in that room for one moment longer. He knew there was still a lot to discuss. Having laid down his choice he knew his life was going to get exponentially harder in more ways than one. But he also knew there really wasn't any other choice here. He'd put up with so much anger and bullshit from Kevin for so many years, most of it unwarranted. What was the harm in a little more. He couldn't allow this to tarnish the name they had worked so hard and built for themselves over one drunken night. No matter what it caused him emotionally, he could, and had to do this for the betterment of the group and his friends. It was time that no one else but him be punished for the bad choices he made.
Nick wandered back upstairs to his hotel room. He quickly gathered his things he needed for the show and was back downstairs, backpack in hand in record time. Instead of waiting for the others to join him he decided to hail a cab and make his way to the venue. He needed to get in a better frame of mind before the show started and he knew having time to walk the stage before they started letting people in was exactly what he needed.