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Kevin wondered why Nick was calling a meeting because he usually didn’t, but drove down to their management’s offices in LA after he got the phone call anyway. Luckily he didn’t live very far from there. It was 2002 and anything could happen, there were rumors amongst the guys that Nick was planning to go solo but nobody had really discussed it with Nick himself. He was kind of hush hush when it came to that because he’d been approached by management in the past to do solo music and had declined then. 

“So do any of you know what’s going on?” Kevin asked when he got to the conference room and saw Brian, Howie and AJ sitting at the table. They were all quiet. 

“Not a clue.” Brian said. He didn’t look too happy, whatever it was. 

“You don’t think he’s quitting or something, do you?” Howie wondered, drinking his coffee he had in front of him. 

“Hmm, I hadn’t considered that. Why would he quit the group, though? He was the one angry when he thought that AJ was leaving. No, I don’t think that’s what he is doing.” Kevin said. 

“Yeah, I don’t think so either.” AJ agreed thoughtfully. The four of them stopped talking when Nick walked in with their managers and greeted everyone before they all sat at the table. Nick folded his hands in front of him and was quiet, not smiling or anything so Kevin took that as the situation was a serious matter and didn’t question it anymore. 

“So what is this all about?” Brian asked right away before anyone even started talking. Judging by his tone he was not pleased. 

“We are getting to that, Brian-“ 

“Johnny, we are no longer with you, so I don’t see a need for you to be at this meeting in the first place. I was just told to come here. Nick, what is this about? Why the big production? Why didn’t you just talk to us? Johnny and these guys are not with us anymore.” Brian snapped. Kevin gave him a look but shrugged because he just didn’t know what else to say. Everyone knew that Brian didn’t like Johnny since all the stuff with Lou and Trans Continental Records went down, and he wasn’t happy when they stayed with The Firm, Johnny’s company. It wasn’t a secret that Brian didn’t trust him either. Everyone was confused as to why Johnny was even there. They were in the process of hiring new management and had parted ways with Johnny very recently. 

It surprised everyone when Nick spoke because up until then he wouldn’t even look anyone in the eyes. He stood up and took a shaky breath before addressing the room as if he were very nervous. 

“We have ended things with Johnny as a group, and this is true. However, I called the meeting because I wanted to discuss something with all of you. I have stayed on with The Firm on my own as a solo artist.” 

Nobody said anything, but you could certainly feel the tension in the room after Nick sat back down. Kevin watched to see if Brian would speak up but he was intently staring down at the table, his chest heaving a little bit as if he was trying to calm down his temper. Kevin could see that Brian was about to burst. The room was silent. 

“The reason Nick brought all of us here together is because he wanted to let you know what was going on and he didn’t want to blindside anyone when he started to record the album in March.” Johnny said.

“March? I thought we were tossing around ideas for the next album.” Howie asked, not able to stay quiet anymore. 

“We can still work on the new album ideas too. I just wanted to touch base and talk to you guys before we made any group decisions. I’m going to be recording in Stockholm so I won’t be in the country for a little bit and I didn’t want to just go and not say anything. You guys are my brothers and I want you to be a part of this too.” Nick smiled, looking towards the others across the table for support but nobody spoke up. AJ was texting on his phone and Howie had gone back to paying attention to his coffee. Brian was busy stewing and it appeared he was trying to burn a hole into the conference table with his eyes. 

“I appreciate that you talked to us.” Kevin offered, smiling back. 

“That’s great you’re recording in Sweden, Nick.” Howie said even though it looked like he wasn’t paying attention. 

“Yeah, I am working with some pretty cool people-“ Nick started before he was cut off. 

“So you are staying with Johnny even though we all talked about how bad it was when they were managing us, Nick? Are you fucking stupid?” Brian blurted out. All eyes were back on him again. Kevin tugged on Brian’s arm to get him to sit back down but Brian pushed him away. He whispered for him to back off, but it got ignored. 

“I’m stupid? What are you talking about?” Nick asked, blinking at him. 

“You know exactly what I’m talking about, Nick. You’re leaving us after you got all pissy when AJ threatened to walk!” Brian shouted. Everyone looked at AJ but he just shrugged. Nick was becoming more frustrated. 

“They offered me a contract and I took it. The record company wants to work with me on a solo album, I felt it’s the right time to do it. I’m not leaving the band. Just doing my own thing for a little bit. That’s why I wanted to talk to you guys, because like I said- you’re my family.” Nick said as calmly as he could. His face was starting to turn red and Kevin knew a fight was brewing. 

“Family? You went behind our fucking backs and signed with Johnny, Nick. I’m supposed to overlook that?” Brian shot back. Nick stood up, his face getting red. 

“That’s not what happened, Brian. I’m not going anywhere. If you would just listen-“ he started, raising his voice. 

“I’ve heard enough.” Brian said, before walking out of the room and slamming the door behind him. Nick slammed his hand down on the table, holding his temple in frustration. 

"So fucking stupid." Nick muttered. 

“I don’t understand why he’s so pissed.” AJ shrugged, going back to his phone. Kevin ended up excusing himself and went to look for Brian, who was waiting for the elevator. He still looked angry. 

“Did he send you out here after me?” Brian asked, his hands in his pockets. 

“No, but I wanted to see if you were okay. Why does him doing solo music upset you so much? He said he’s not leaving the group.” 

“You wouldn’t understand, Kevin. It’s not even the solo music. I just think he’s making a mistake staying with Johnny after he helped me sue him and Lou. He knows what they’re like and he’s letting them manage his solo stuff.” 

“I see. I still think that you’re being a little hard on him.” Kevin said. 

“You're siding with him? I’m just looking out for him.” Brian protested. They got in the elevator and went downstairs. 

“Well, he’s not a kid anymore. Sometimes I forget that too, but he’s an adult now and we need to be supportive of his decisions even if we think he’s making a mistake. He has to learn.” Kevin pointed out, and Brian nodded silently. 

"So do you think he's making a mistake?" Brian asked finally. 

"I don't think it's a good idea, but you and I both know telling him he can't do something only makes him want to try more." Kevin said with a small laugh. Brian laughed and nodded again. 

Kevin left with Brian and gave him a ride to his hotel where he was staying because he didn’t live in LA. 

“You going to be okay, Brian?” Kevin asked. Brian nodded, but he still seemed a little upset. 

“I don't know…maybe. I am just kind of steamed right now. Thanks for listening.” Brian said before getting out of the car. Kevin watched as he walked away, hoping that their talk helped and would steer Brian away from the anger he had towards Nick. He would have a talk with Nick later just to see if he was okay too. Kevin could understand why Nick wanted to venture out on his own, he often confided in him how he was getting tired of being the cute boybander and being stuck in a box. Kevin sometimes wished he could do something on his own too, but now it wasn’t in the cards for him. 

One day it would be.