In Name Only
“So I hit it and bam! Straight in! 8 ball in the corner pocket. Poor sap never knew what hit him,” AJ cackled. “And the look on his face when he had to pay up to that ‘fucking boy band pussy” was priceless. Hell, I would have played him for free just to see that.”
“No you wouldn’t.”
AJ laughed again then leaned over to give Tina a quick peck. “You’re right, babe. I wouldn’t have. Taking his money just made it all so much more satisfying.”
“I still think you are nuts. Shit, that guy must have been twice your size. He was definitely twice your weight.”
“But D, that was the beauty of it. Stupid fuck thought that just because he was bigger he was smarter. Just because he rode in some bike gang instead of wearing makeup and splangy shit on stage, he was more of a man. What an ass! Didn’t clue in for a moment that it takes more of a man to do all that crap than to be someone who never had is sexuality questioned.” AJ took a deep draw on his cigarette. “Guy’d probably go apeshit if he ever read the kind of slash bull I used to read about me. Oh yeah, I reeeeally think I want to hump Brian’s white ass.”
“It’s not a bad ass, you know,” Howie said with a wink, and AJ almost fell off his chair chortling. “Oh yeah, this ‘pussy’ Backstreet Boy would just love to get his hands on it,” he continued in a very drag queen-like voice.
“What you guys laughing about?” Brian asked as he entered the room, frowning when AJ crowed with laughter and tumbled from his seat holding his stomach as tears ran down his face. Tina slapped him on his back when he started to choke.
“Your ass,” she replied with a smile.
“Shit! I knew it,” Brian scowled, turning his head around to look at the body part in question. “These pants make it look too fat, don’t they?”
Howie just grinned. “Looks great to me, Rok. Why don’t you bring it over here so I can get a better look at it though?”
Brian rolled his eyes, suddenly realizing he’d been the butt of a joke, and grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge. “’S’okay. I’ll ask my cuz when he gets here. Y’all are too fucked up.”
“Am not,” Howie pouted. “Todd’s in New York.”
“Augh! TMI!” Tina laughed. She shoved AJ’s head off her lap, and got up. Gave Brian a quick hug then grabbed some juice. “So Bri, how are the kids?”
He sighed happily. “Great. I love having little kids running up to me and calling me daddy. So cool.”
“Yeah, if he’d had that a few years ago - when we were on the road – I don’t think he would have liked it as much though,” AJ grinned.
“What? The way you did? Just how many byblows you got out there now, Bone? Ten? Twenty?”
“Nice try, Rok. I ALWAYS wrapped my 'present' up,” AJ shot back.
“Nah. You just shoot blanks,” Howie commented as he reached for his cell phone. Ignoring the annoyed mutterings of the tattooed one he quickly dialed a number and listened anxiously while the phone went unanswered. “Shit.”
“Still no answer at Kat’s. When the hell is she going to pick up the phone?”
“If the lawyers are as hard on her as they were on me, she could be there forever,” Nick said with a grin as he walked into the room, his arm around Emma.
“Hey! Blondie’s back from his love shack!” AJ rasped as he jumped up from the couch and came over, giving Nick a big hug. “And who might this delightful creature be?” he asked as he bend over and dropped a kiss on the back of Emma’s hand, his eyes looking up at her devilishly over the rim of his sunglasses.
Nick grabbed her hand back, rubbing the spot where AJ had kissed vigorously. “This is Emma and she doesn’t want any of your damn cooties, AJ,” Nick growled just before Brian’s arms enveloped him. He gave Howie a big grin, which the other man returned before offering his hand in introduction to Emma.
Emma chuckled at the various hello’s she had been given, then gave Nick a quick kiss on the cheek before turning back to AJ. “He does get a little jealous. I am a one-cootie girl,” she said with a smirk.
“And that makes Nick the cootie?” Brian laughed.
“Shut up, Rok,” Nick said through clenched teeth, secretly pleased that the others had accepted Emma so easily.
“So this is the chick that had our little Nicky all tied up in knots for the past while,” AJ took a last puff before stubbing out his cigarette. “Good thing he saw you first, baby. I wouldn’t have let you out of my sight for a moment. Ow!” He rubbed the spot on his arm where Tina had slapped him. “Well, I wouldn’t have!”
“Excuse him.” Tina grinned. “He stills thinks he is God’s gift to women. Can’t seem to recognize that he’s just a scrawny guy with too much body ink and no ass to speak of.”
“Yeah, but those abs…” Emma trailed off with a smack of her lips and Tina laughed.
“All done with artful make-up.”
“Ever heard of Milli Vanilli?”
“That wonderful girlfriend?”
“Hell, yeah! It’s the only thing he’s got going for him.” Tina and Emma both cracked up at that. Nick gave them both a tight hug, knowing that the friendship between the two had started and they’d get along well. He turned back to AJ who was looking at them with total disdain.
“I just don’t get chicks,” he muttered.
“Neither do I,” Howie said with a teethy smile. “And I think your ass is just fine.” He batted his eyelids at AJ seductively.
Brian leaned back in his chair. “I dunno, D. It looks kind of fat in those jeans.”
Kevin looked up from his quiet discussion with Leighanne and smiled broadly at Kat.
“Well, they seem to be playing nicely now. Bry put him in his place,” she sighed as she sat down at the table, her hand quickly going over to Kevin’s, clasping it lightly. His other hand moved from the coffee cup to stroke her arm lightly.
Leighanne sighed happily.
“What? It’s just good to see,” she protested when the two looked at her. “It took so damn long for you two to see sense! Brian was about ready to go over there with a two by four and whack some sense in there.”
“Brother Brian and physical violence?” Kat said, placing her left hand over her chest in mock shock.
Leighanne snorted. “I could tell you a thing or two about ‘Brother’ Brian that would convince you he ain’t the altar boy you all think he is.”
“No, Howie’s the altar boy,” Kevin corrected.
Leighanne laughed. “And didn’t he just fulfill that stereotype.”
“Hey! That’s my ex-husband you’re slandering,” Kat cut in. “And girl… Oh my! The things I could tell you…”
“Shame you are sworn to secrecy,” Kevin said with a wink as his hand dipped under the table.
Leighanne ignored the little gasp of delight that Kat gave – she had a feeling she knew where Kevin’s hand had gone. “Oh hell, we’re all sworn to secrecy. That’s what the Backstreet family does for one another. So spill….”
“Uh-hunh,” Kat replied, batting Kevin’s arm away and picking up her cup of tea. “I may need those secrets. I mean what if Kevin’s career goes kaput. Who else can I blackmail but Howie?”
“Damn,” Leighanne leered. “I was hoping to hear some of the good stuff.” She groaned as Kevin moved his chair closer to Kat’s. “I said HEAR, not SEE, Kevin.”
Kevin pouted at her and Leighanne relented. “Oh hell, just kidding. I’m just so damn happy to see you both together. And actually TOGETHER!” She reached across to give them both a quick hug.
“Thanks Leigh,” Kat blushed as she snuggled up to Kevin – whose seat was now right next to hers.
“No prob. So on to the next subject – you told any one else yet?”
Kevin shook his head. “No. We came here first. Were going to tell you and Brian – you know? Family first. But Bri’s not here so you won. I guess we should head over to the studio.”
“Are you sure?”
“What?” Kat looked at Leighanne curiously.
“Look I don’t want to be a doubter or anything, especially after we’ve all been praying for this for so long, but are you two ready? I mean, we’ve all been living through this. If you two break up because you jumped back into it too fast…”
Kat and Kevin exchanged glances. “I dunno Leigh,” Kevin finally replied. “We’ve talked about it. I mean it’s really only been a few days. Hell, none of the others even know she’s here yet. They still think she’s up in Lake George. But, it’s just right. We’ve been fighting it for a long time. I hurt her a lot. Did a lot of damage…”
“WE did a lot of damage to each other,” Kat amended. “It wasn’t just you or just me, Kev. We both managed to fuck this up pretty sufficiently.”
“Hey! No swearing!” Leigh chuckled. “Man, I gotta stop hanging out with kids. But seriously… we all made it worse. We were all so used to living out of each other’s pockets that we just all got involved in the situation.”
“Yeah, that’s what I mean. I mean, I managed to mess stuff up for you and Brian on occasion and vice versa,” Kevin nodded. “But Kat and I made this unholy mess, and you all just got sucked into it and dragged along.”
“Howie did some dragging of his own,” Kat pointed out. “Face it. It was a really bizarre love triangle kind of thing. Lots of screwy things happened. Still – cut it down to its bare roots and the fact remains that I love this man. The only thing about him that I couldn’t handle was the thought that he didn’t love me.” She looked at Kevin with such longing. “I think I could handle anything but that.”
The look in her eyes was mirrored in his. “And I could handle anything but losing you.” They gazed at each other for a moment, then he shook his head. “So you see, Leigh, I don’t think it’s too fast. If anything it’s too slow. We have so much time to catch up on. But we will do it properly, we promise. We took a few days for ourselves with Chris. We are going to take a few days for ourselves without Chris – as soon as we can organize it. The big thing is taking the time with everyone else. I know you say they have been looking for this to happen, however, I am sure they have enough concerns as you do.”
“It’s one thing to hope for it,” Kat broke in. “Its another to deal with it once it’s happened.”
“Yeah,” Leighanne nodded. “Sounds like you have given it a little thought. See? Amazing things happen when you two actually talk!”
Kevin chuckled. “That’s where are problems start, don’t they? We’re both two stubborn fools. Promise if we start acting up again you’ll lock us in a room and not let us out until we see sense?”
Leighanne winked. “Just remember you asked me to do it.”
They were all sitting around the room, chattering away amiably, when AJ turned to Tina and whispered something into her ear. She blushed furiously and nodded.
“Oho. Bone and Tas are up to something,” Nick giggled as he saw the look that the two had exchanged.
“Probably something kinky, knowing them,” Brian threw over his shoulder before turning back to Emma and continuing their conversation.
Tina leaned over and stuck her tongue in his ear quickly. He shrieked and turned to her. “Well, you asked for kinky, Bri.”
“Not me – you two,” he growled as he rubbed his ear.
“Sounded like a request to me, Rok,” Howie piped, and Nick nodded with a mischievous smirk.
“Hey! Focus on me, not his damn ear,” AJ barked. “I got something to tell all of you.”
“Shouldn’t we wait for Kevin?”
AJ snorted. “Dumb fuck can’t be here on time, forget him.”
“Come on,” Howie protested. “He’s looking after Chris.”
“He can get a babysitter,” AJ growled. “Brian does.”
“She’s called my wife, thank you very much,” Brian replied with a superior glare. “She isn’t a babysitter.”
“Oh just tell us, AJ,” Nick put in. “Kev’s not here so just tell us.”
AJ cleared his throat. “There comes a time in everyone’s life when things must change. A time for growth and development. A time to learn new things and to make significant adjustments…”
“Oh stop with the speeches!” Howie grunted. “Just tell us what happened.”
AJ picked up the empty soft drink can of beside him and chucked it at Howie, who batted it away easily. “I am speechifying here, you dumbass. I am allowed to make a speech if I want to.”
“I’m growing old fast, Bone. Don’t make it any worse,” Nick said.
Tina leaned over and whispered in AJ’s ear. He sighed heavily. “Okay. Fine. Seeing as you are all being soooooo understanding I’ll just spit it out.” He took a deep breath. “TinaandIaregettingmarried.”
“What? What did he say?” Brian looked at the others with perplexity.
Howie leaned back and drawled softly. “Sounded like he said he and Tina were getting married.”
Nick looked back and forth at the couple in question, a stunned look on his face. “That’s what I thought I heard too. You’re kidding, right? AJ McLean, bachelor extraordinaire, didn’t just announce he was getting hitched?”
“Holy crap, I think he did!” Brian crowed. He leapt to his feet, throwing himself onto AJ and Tina hugging them both.
“Never thought I’d see the day,” Howie laughed as he pushed Brian off and kissed both AJ and then Tina on the cheek.
Nick just sat there on the floor, his jaw on the floor. “You’re getting hitched?”
“I’m not a damn wagon, boy, and yes I’m marrying this dumb lug,” Tina growled at him.
AJ leaned forward, putting his face right into Nick’s “Ha! Take that, water boy!” He sat back. “Never thought I’d do it, did you? Never thought I’d make an honest man out of myself. Well, I am, so there. Beat that!”
The sound of a throat clearing itself made them all look up. Leaning in the doorway was Kevin, his arms wrapped around Kat as she leaned back against him. Her hands were intertwined with his, and they both had a foolish grin on their faces.
“I think we might be able to beat that,” Kevin grinned, “But I think we’d rather concede the floor to you lovebirds.”