© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 22: Turn around
Kat rushed into the police station; Brian and AJ were all ready there, arranging his release. Brian saw her and came over, giving her a hug. "He's okay. Just angry and embarrassed. We'll figure out what to do, don't worry."
"So much for that," she thought as Kevin stormed in, heading directly for her.
"Jesus! I thought you were supposed to be around to protect us against this sort of stuff," he said scornfully.
"Kevin!" AJ was surprised by his vehemence.
"She's not his babysitter. It was an accident," Brian said, coming to her defense.
Kat ignored both of them and concentrated on the big man. "Damn you Kevin. I am there for him. 24-7. I do whatever I can to protect him, to protect all of you. I'm putting my whole life into this. You can't blame me."
"Some protector you are," he sneered. "He got arrested! The media are all ready out there. We're screwed. We're all screwed."
Nick came charging in. "Fuck, how did this happen? Have you seen the circus outside? I think even CNN is here."
Kevin was about to say something, but AJ jumped in before he got a chance. "I know you are still pissed about what happened to you, but if you say this is Kat's fault, I'll..."
Brian sighed as he watched Kevin and AJ argue, and turned to Nick, explaining quickly what had occurred.
The four were quibbling amongst themselves and didn't see her slip away. She went out to the front of the station, and said loudly and clearly, "I have a statement to make."
The TV cameras and microphones swiveled in her direction, and then converged on her. The loud clamour of the press drew the four's attention.
"What the hell is she doing now?" Kevin said angrily as he saw her standing there, alone, in front of the media scrum.
"Shh," Brian said as he tried to hear what Kat was saying.
"So, Mrs. Dorough, your husband was arrested in a gay bar?" one reporter yelled.
"It would be hard for me to deny it at this point," Kat said calmly.
"So Howie D is gay?" another yelled.
"I didn't say that," Kat replied.
"Then what was he doing..."
"Howie didn't know it was a gay bar. He was just out looking for a place to have a drink. It was a simple mistake."
"You're saying that your husband was just at the wrong place at the wrong time?"
"Does he go out drinking by himself often?"
"My husband is not a drunk," Kat spat. "He just... we needed some time apart for a little while."
"So you'd been fighting?"
"We just had a lot on our minds and..." She stopped, and turned away, pretending to be ashamed.
"She's doing good," AJ said.
"They're eating out of her hand," Brian agreed quietly.
Kat looked back at the media group. "I really don't think this is relevant. I have answered your questions about this incident. That is all."
"You can't just leave us with this," a reporter shouted.
"Are you two getting a divorce?" another yelled.
"I wish," Kevin muttered and was rewarded by Brian elbowing him hard in the stomach.
"We are not getting a divorce," Kat said bitingly. "I am sorry. I really don't want to talk about this without discussing it with Howie first."
"You have to give us the real story, Kat," a female reporter said, false sincerity dripping from her voice.
"We are going to run with the gay story otherwise," another put in.
Kat stood quietly amidst the clamour.
"We better get her out of there," AJ said stepping forward.
"No. I'll do it. Get Howie," Brian shouldered his way past the others.
He had almost reached her side when Kat provided her answer.
"We can't have children," she said quietly.
The room went silent.
Kat continued to talk, eyes focussed on the floor. "We found out today. We've been trying, but it turns out I can't have them. We knew there was a chance - I am older than he is after all. But it hurt so much to find out."
Tears were starting to spill down her face. She didn't need to fake this. She and Howie COULDN'T have kids, but not for the reasons she was giving.
"I want so much to bear his children. Lots of them. With his beautiful smile, but..." She was sobbing heavily now as Brian wrapped his arms around her.
"Holy shit," Nick said. "She just made the whole thing her fault."
"Good acting. Look at those fake tears," Kevin said, trying hard to cover how affected he was by the scene in front of him.
"Those aren't fake, Kevin," AJ said confidently. "Whatever relationship those two have, Kat loves Howie very much."
"Yes. She does."
They turned to see a haggard Howie behind them, staring at Kat.
He pushed his way through. Brian stepped back when he saw him and Howie gathered the sobbing woman in his arms.
"Hey, hey. I'm here. It's okay," she said as he soothed her weeping.
"Howie?" Kat asked as blinked back tears.
"I'm here, sweetheart."
"You're okay? I was so worried."
"I'm okay," he pulled her into a tight hug. Then, "why did you do it, Kat? Why did you say that?"
"Two birds with one stone," she whispered back. "They don't think you are gay, just an upset husband. And it'll stop all those ridiculous questions about why I'm not pregnant yet."
He stroked her hair back, and kissed her lightly. "Thank you."
A flash from a lightbulb woke the two to the fact that they were still in front of a crowd.
"Is it true, Howie?" someone yelled.
Howie cleared his throat. "No more questions, please. My wife and I are going home now."
He turned Kat around, still holding her tightly. Brian fell in on her other side and the three pushed their way through the mass of flashing bulbs to where AJ, Nick and Kevin stood. AJ and Nick both gave her a hug and a thank you. Kevin just stood there. Still stunned by the way she had turned it around. By her selfless act to protect Howie.
She glanced over at him, surprised by the look of concern and surprise on his face, but unable to resist one last jab.
"24-7, Kevin. What have you done for him lately?"
The doorbell rang and Kat brushed away her tears. She glanced quickly in the mirror, checking to see if her loss of composure would be noticeable, before opening the door.
Kevin stood there.
"Howie's not here," she said bluntly.
"I'm not here to see him. I'm here to see you."
"I am busy Kevin. I don't have time for you right now."
"Please Kat, I just want to talk."
She sighed. "Kevin, you and I can't talk without fighting and I am really not in the mood. Goodbye." She tried to shut the door but his hand stopped it.
"Just five minutes. No fighting. I promise."
"Go away, Kevin."
"Please, Kat," He looked at her intently. "Have you been crying?"
"What business is it of yours?" she said belligerently.
"Kevin, go away. Please. Howie will be back in a few hours. I'll tell him to call you."
"Tell me what's wrong," he said softly.
His tone caught her off balance and she answered before she realized it. "Nothing. I just talked to my family. That's all."
"Is someone sick? Are they okay?" he asked sympathetically.
She laughed shortly. "They're fine. They were worried about me. They heard the TV reports. Big news worldwide." She held her hands up as if showing what was on a marquee. "'Backstreet Wife Barren.' What a joke," she said bitterly.
He stepped forward and wrapped his long arms around her, hugging her. This new, gentle Kevin surprised her and she couldn't keep the tears back.
"You should have heard my mother. So consoling. Gods, she was pitying me. The whole damn world pities me, and all for the wrong reasons," she sobbed in to his chest.
He pushed the door shut with his elbow, then picked her up and carried her to the couch in the living room where he continued to stroke her hair, her back, trying to sooth her.
"I hate lying to them, I hate having to tell them my marriage is anything other than a sham. They're my family, dammit. I can't even tell them the truth."
"Shh, its okay," he said, holding her close, kissing her forehead, smelling the light fruit scent of her shampoo.
"Do you know what management said? They suggested Howie leave me and find a more "amenable" wife. If only they knew," she sobbed.
"They are idiots. Ignore them, you are all that matters," Kevin replied, stroking her back.
Kat calmed down slowly then realized where she was and whom she was with. She pushed herself away and looked at him wide-eyed.
"Why are you being nice to me?" she asked warily.
He smiled. "Because I am an idiot."
She frowned quickly. "I am not going to argue with that, but you are not making any sense."
"Truth time, hunh?" he sighed. "I've had it in for you since the beginning. "He ignored her muttered "no kidding," and continued. "You were the one person other than Howie who knew about my... my episode. I could trust him, but when he thrust you into the middle I was scared and lashed out at the only target I could find. You."
"I never said anything about it," she said honestly, aware that Brian knew but not willing to reveal Brian's deductions.
"I know. You kept my secret shame quiet and you had no reason to. You keep Howie's secrets and even make yourself look bad to protect him. Like you did yesterday." He shook his head in wonder. "How do you do it, Kat?"
She smiled. "Its not too hard. Howie does love me, and I love him. There's just a small part of each other we can't share."
"But why do you keep our secrets? BSB secrets?"
She shrugged. "I promised I would," she said, as if it were no big deal.
He marveled at that. "You protect me and I've given you every reason to speak out."
She shrugged again.
"Brian is nuts about you. AJ comes to you for advice." He chuckled, "Nick wants more than advice." Kat blushed. "Howie can't say enough good things about you. I'm the only idiot who couldn't see."
Kat watched him silently. Was this just a trick? He seemed so sincere. She had to answer truthfully. "I don't know whether to trust you or not, Kevin."
"I've never given you any reason to," he agreed.
He looked at her tearstained face. "Come on. Go wash your face and come for a drive with me."
"Where are we going?" she asked warily.
"To the beach I think."
"Howie'll come looking for me. You can't just dump the body."
He laughed and pulled her off of the couch.
"Look, I have these four buddies, who mean the world to me. They are all crazy about this great girl. I've been a stubborn ass. But I'd really like to get to know her."