© Kat Morgan 1999/2000

In Name Only

Chapter 21: Life goes on

"Am I allowed to know what you said to Kevin?" Howie asked as the two were cuddled up in front of the TV watching a movie."

"Nope."

"Come on, Kat. I have some inkling," he insisted.

"Howie, a lot of what I said wasnít pretty. I agreed to keep your secrets when I got into this. Now Iím keeping his too."

"And you donít like that," he sighed, wrapping his arms around her a little tighter.

"Well, it would be nice if he could be polite about it," she chuckled. She turned her head, trying to look at Howieís face. "D? When we got into this marriage we thought it would only be for one thing. Now it seems to be spiraling out of control."

"We are in a lot deeper than we expected," he agreed.

"Any regrets?"

He leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Not one. You?"

She snuggled deeper into his arms. "No," she sighed happily.

"Actually, I do have one regret."

Kat felt a shot of fear go through her. After all this time she was still scared that heíd turn to her and say enough was enough. She was always waiting for the other shoe to dropÖwould it now?

"Whatís that?" she asked warily.

"I wish I could love you the way you deserve to be loved," he said simply.

She turned over to face him, heaving a sigh of relief as she moved. "You do, Howie. If this is about sex, forget it. Thatís not necessary. You do more for me than any man ever has. You give me strength and support. Friendship and love. Thatís what I need. Thatís much better than a roll on the hay any day."

"But you deserve moreÖ"

"I donít want more," she replied.

He was silent for a moment. "Maybe you should start seeing Nick."

Kat was dumbfounded.

"Heís a great guy and heíd care for you," Howie continued.

"Stop right there before you say anything more."

"ButÖ"

"Stop Howie. We had this conversation before. Donít start organizing my life for me." She frowned. "Besides, a few weeks ago you were livid at the thought of me and Nick."

"Heís still interested in you. Iím sure of that."

Kat didnít reply. Nick was. Heíd called her a couple of times while she was in New York. Just to say hi, heís told her. He hadnít dropped any hints about the two of them getting together Ė just that he missed her. Sheíd gotten his message anyway.

"Maybe he is," she finally said. "But I am not going to be rushed in to a relationship just because he wants one or you think I deserve one."

"Weíve been married for almost a year. You havenít seen anyone that I know of in that time."

"Stop fishing, Howie."

"I just want you to be happy."

"I am. Now, stop it and watch the movie."

"I am sorry. I just donít want to lose you."

She cuddled up to him, giving him a quick hug. "You wonít. Everything will be okay."

"Yeah," he sighed happily. "As long as you love me."

"Oh my gods!" she exclaimed as she shot up and looked at him, with a little grin on her face. "What a great title for a song."

He started to laugh. "Oh shut up, you."

"No. I liked the other title better," she giggled, then shrieked as he started to tickle her.

"Look out Everybody!" she gasped between bouts of laughter. "Backstreetís Back!"

"Yeah and I Want It That Way," he replied before collapsing in a heap of laughter as she turned the tables on him and tickled him.

When the two could stop laughing, Kat looked at him and batted her eyelashes, saying, "has any one ever told you that you have the most beautiful Spanish Eyes?"

He groaned. "Oh, Quit Playing Games," he replied as he hit her with a cushion from the sofa. A pillow fight ensued and the two quoted song titles at each other (BSB and others), for a while before falling asleep, secure in each otherís arms, in front of a TV that continued to play a long forgotten movie.

Their high spirits continued the next day. Howie had to leave early to get to the studio, but Kat arrived there shortly after, brining breakfast from McDonaldís. This, naturally had AJ hopping up and down with joy. Howie was in the studio, listening to some playbacks and hadnít heard her come in, until she poked her head in and yelled, "Hey! Mr. DJ! Keep Playing That Song!"

He jumped up and started chasing her around the room, much to the surprise of AJ and Brian. Even Nick was caught off guard when he walked into a room filled with laughter and was almost bowled over by Kat trying to escape Howieís tickles. Brian and AJ had figured out he game by now and were trying to have a "normal" conversation using nothing but song titles. Nick joined in; more to cover the surge of jealousy he felt when Howie finally caught Kat and the two collapsed together on the couch.

"Well, this is a much better mood than we had yesterday," Kevin noted when he showed up.

"Donít look at me," AJ said. "Itís Katís fault. Sheís The One."

Brian groaned loudly.

"Ha! You used that one all ready, Bone," Howie called from the sofa where he lay, spooning Kat. "You lose two points."

"How you doing today, Train?" Nick asked after he stuck his tongue out at a protesting AJ.

"Better, I think. We have a brief press conference scheduled for one p.m."

"And what are you going to say?" Kat asked.

He glanced at her. "Iím going to follow your advice and deny it and move on," he replied calmly. Very good considering how much he hated to admit that her suggestion had been sound. He waited for her to say "I told you so" or something to that effect, but she just nodded and turned to AJ.

"Any food left in the bags or did you bogart all the hash browns?"

"Wasnít me Ė B-rok ate them all."

"Did not!" Brian protested, smiling at Kat, thanking her for not dwelling on Kevin.

She returned his grin. She had said all she was going to say to Kevin yesterday. Time to let it go.

"I didnít get any," Nick put in.

"I think youíll have to go get more, Kat," Howie said.

"Why, Howie," she smirked. "You know Iíd go Anywhere For You."

Brian, AJ and Nick all threw empty food cartons at them, shouting, "no fair" and "he fed you that line" or "boo."

Howie laughed and batted the flying debris away, then nudged Kat and she got up, letting him sit up. "Letís get some work done."

"What the hell are you guys doing?" Kevin asked Nick as they headed down the hall.

"Itís a simple game, Train," Nick said mock-seriously. "Let me explain it to you. I think youíll be able to get it."

Kat gave Howie a quick kiss and sent him after the others. She picked up the garbage and about to leave when Kevin appeared in the doorway. "Kat? About the press conferenceÖ."

"Yes, Kevin?"

"Donít Want You Back."

 

Howie sighed as he put aside the papers. "Well the one good thing about celebrities Ė there are enough of them doing stupid things that controversies pass quickly."

Kat glanced down, reading the headlines. It had been over two weeks now and the Kevin scandal had moved by quickly. Charlie Sheen had been caught with a prostitute. Again. And a new starlet had gotten involved with a much older, very married actor. Howie was right; no mention of them.

"Good. Maybe now heíll stop being such a grouch."

"He has been better," Howie noted. "You two still knock heads but not as badly as you used to."

"Thatís because you arenít there to see it," Kat thought. She and Kevin had almost come to blows the other day, when he had walked in on Nick asking her out for a dinner date. Sheíd all ready said no and sent the other man on his way, when Kevin started to storm at her about leading Nick on. Sheíd thought that giving him the affidavit would clear things up, but obviously her attempt at friendship hadnít worked.

"I suppose," she replied politely.

The phone rang before Howie could interrogate further. "Yeah, sheís right here." He handed her the phone. "Itís Bone."

"Hi AJ."

"Hey. What are you up to?"

"Right now? Not much."

"Can you come over? Say in an hour or so? Iím at the studio."

"Sure. Whatís up?"

"I need advice."

"Okay, AJ. Iíll be there."

She hung up and turned to Howie. "Think we can get the grocery shopping done in under an hour? AJ wants to talk about something."

"Donít worry. Iíll do it. I want to spend some time with Mamma D today any way."

She pulled up in front of the studio, surprised by how quiet it was.

"AJ?"

"Down here, Kat," he yelled back and she headed down the hall to the mixing booth. He was sitting there, a headphone held to one ear. He looked, well, normal. Just wearing a taupe wifebeater and black jeans. A hat, a confection of zebra stripes and cheetah spots was over on the table, a pair of sunglasses beside it. Even being around him as much as she had over the past year it was always a surprise to see AJ without his trademark shades.

"You have such great eyes. Why do you always cover them?" The question that she had wanted to ask for ages popped out before she could stop it.

"Flatterer," he teased.

"Just asking."

"Part of my mysterious persona," he replied. "Besides it drives the ladies wild when they do get a quick glimpse underneath."

Kat laughed, " trust you to find a way to get extra flirting points."

"Iím not that much of a tease, am I?"

"Usually Iíd assure you that you are, but for some reason your tone makes me think itíd be the wrong answer right now. Whatís up, AJ?"

He sighed. "Tina."

Kat frowned. Sheíd thought that everything was going fine between the two. And said so.

"They are. I just get a feeling that its time to make some sort of gesture."

"Youíve told her how you fell about her?"

"Often. And donít get me wrong; our love life is great."

Kat started to laugh. "Oh my gods! The Bonedaddy blushes!"

"Oh stop," he mumbled, going a deeper crimson.

"Iíve just never seen it before. So what do you need me for?"

"I wrote her a song."

"Wow," was all Kat could say.

"Sappy, hunh?"

"I think itís very romantic," she assured him.

"I wanted to get your advice on it. I mean youíre a girl, soÖ"

"You noticed!" she gasped dramatically.

"Hey, this is embarrassing enough," he muttered.

"Sorry. Just teasing. Can I see it?"

He handed her a sheaf of papers. And sat there fidgeting nervously as she read through it.

When she finished reading she sat back for a moment.

"Well?"

"Its so beautiful, AJ. Sheíll love it," Kat smiled.

He let out his breath Ė Kat was sure he hadnít even realized that he was holding it.

"Whatís the music like?"

"Oh yeah. I forgot you canít read music. Itís soft and slow. A ballad."

"Good," Kat replied. "Not that Iíd think youíd put these words to a fast tempo, but I just wanted to be sure."

"Itís not too much?" he asked nervously.

"What did you want to say with it?"

"What it says, I guess. That I love her and want to be with her." He sighed, "but I am not ready for the big commitment yet. How do I say I want to be with you always, but I donít want to get married yet?"

She held up the papers. "I think you found the way. AJ, youíre right. You arenít ready for that yet. There is nothing wrong with that Ė youíre young. Donít rush it. But it is great that you want to show her how much you care."

"Thanks."

"You going to put it on the next album?"

He shrugged. "I donít know. That depends on a lot of things. And I want to give it to her now."

"Sing it for me," Kat said, handing him back the papers.

He cleared his throat and began to sing Ė his words distinct and the emotion clear in his voice. He was just finishing the first verse when Kat heard a piano joining in and turned quickly. Kevin was sitting there, providing accompaniment. How long had he been there? Not long, she was sure. Even AJ was surprised to see him, though he kept on singing.

She turned her attention back to him, hanging on his words. "Wow," she said again when he was done.

AJ blushed, then turned to Kevin. "Youíre early. I thought you werenít coming in to lay down the piano tracks until later." AJ looked at Kat. "Kevinís helping me with the music."

"I wanted to work on it. Iím not satisfied with the bridge here," he said pointing to the score. Kat sat back, and let the two of them work, enjoying the opportunity to see them in their milieu. Kevin really was a good pianist; he seemed to come alive at the keyboard. And AJ got more and more confident about his "project" with each passing chord change.

"I like that part," Kat said as Kevin played another chorus. He looked at her, startled, having forgotten she was there. "Why not put it here, at the beginning?" He tried it. Not bad Ė she had a good ear.

"And AJ? What about changing this line here to something like this?" she scribbled down a line and he read it over.

"Not bad," he said, then sang it.

"Hmmm," Kat said after hearing it. "Sounded better your way."

"Maybe, but if I put this here and move this over to here," he scribbled furiously then showed Kevin who made a few notations and changes to his copy of the music. The two men worked on it some more.

"How are you going to give it to her?" Kat asked when they had paused for a break.

AJ shrugged. "Just give her a copy of the tape."

She groaned. "Men! No sense of romance."

"Youíre the one married to a gay man," AJ pointed out, then tensed as he realized that he might have insulted both Howie and her.

"Yes, a ROMANTIC gay man."

"Come on," Kevin cut in. "All that stuff you two do is for show."

"Some of it is," she agreed. "But we arenít always in public. Howie and I have a good friendship and we get romantic with each other quite often."

AJ looked her curiously. "You two never talk about your relationship much."

She shrugged. "Heís gay. Iím straight. But we are both affectionate people. Thereís romance, just no sex."

"Weird," AJ said.

"I guess youíre both getting it elsewhere," Kevin said snidely, but shut up when AJ gave him a dirty look.

"So what do you suggest?" AJ asked.

Kat thought about it for a minute. "Make two versions. One with you singing, one just instrumental. Then cook her Ė or order in Ė a candlelit dinner. Pop the instrumental in after dinner and sing it to her." She grinned. "Keep the vocal version there just in case you donít get a chance to finish singing it."

"I like that," AJ mused, and even Kevin nodded approval.

"Well, thatís my suggestion. Iíve got to go. Iíll leave you two music superstars to work on it." She gave AJ a kiss on the cheek. "Beautiful song, Bone. Good luck." She nodded to Kevin and left quickly, and didnít notice that both men watched her go with thoughtful expressions on their faces.

Chapter 22