© Kat Morgan 1999/2000

In Name Only

Chapter 35: Resolutions

(Thanks to Tee for helping me with this chapter!)

Howie sighed and looked down at Katís sleeping face. It had taken her hours to tell him even part of the story. She kept breaking down.

He brushed the hair off her face, looking at her tearstained face and puffy eyes. Dammit, how could he not have known? Not seen it all before?

Kat stirred in his arms, then looked up at him, sleepily.

"Hi," he smiled.

"Hi." She glanced around, realizing where she was -- lying on her bed, wrapped in his arms. "Iím surprised youíre still here."

He frowned. "Why wouldnít I be?"

"You must hate me," she said sadly.

"Hey," he turned her face to his. "I could never hate you."

She smiled sadly, then grimaced. "Howie, I have to get up."

"Why?"

"I have to go to the bathroom."

He shot up. "Youíre okay? Youíre not sick?"

She laughed gently. "Iím fine. Weíre fine. But I have this little person standing on my bladder and I really need to get up." She got up, shivering a little as she left the warmth of his arms.

In the bathroom she discovered a new skill; how to pee and throw up at the same time. "Damn, I thought the morning sickness was over," she thought as she lay her aching head on the cool porcelain of the sink. The phone rang and she jerked suddenly, which set off another twist of bile from her stomach. Howieíd have to get it.

It took a little while for her to pull herself back together and head downstairs. Howie was in the kitchen.

"Tea?"

"Please."

He handed her a cup. "Itís peppermint. I did some research: itís supposed to help with the nausea."

She smiled. "Thanks. Who was on the phone?" she asked, knowing who she wanted it to be, then flushing.

Howie saw her reaction and turned around so she couldnít see his face. He cleared his throat. "AJ. Heís coming over."

Kat was silent. Sheíd chased Brian away a few days ago and still didnít want to see anyone. But now was not the time to impose anything on Howie.

"I suppose you donít want to see him," Howie said, reading her mind.

"Stop doing that. You always know what Iím thinking."

He turned back to her. "No, Kat. No, I donít."

She looked down, ashamed. "Iím so sorry, D."

"Did you even think of my feelings? Even once?" he asked abruptly.

"All the time," she said quietly.

"Didnít stop you, though did it?"

She was silent.

"I suppose itís my fault. I mean our agreement was that you could see someone. I just thought youíd warn me before you did. God, it hurt so much when you told me that youíd had an affair. It shouldnít have, but it did. And for it to have been with Kevin... Kevin, shit!" he swore, anger rising. He turned and threw his cup into the sink were it shattered.

Kat flinched, taking a step back.

"How long, Kat?"

She muttered something under her breath.

"Louder. How long?" he asked angrily.

"Seven months."

"Jesus! You two have been fucking behind my back for that long?"

Kat recoiled from the anger in his voice.

"Stop doing that. Iím not going to hit you."

"Iíd deserve it."

He took a step forward, then another and before she could move away he was holding her tightly in his arms. She couldnít help it, she just started sobbing. "I didnít know how to tell you, D. Iíve tried so many times. For months. I promised him I wouldnít, but I was going to tell you anyway. I didnít want you to find out like this."

"Shh. Itís okay," he stroked her back, trying to quiet the sobs.

"No, itís not. Not anymore. Not now," she said as tears continued to trickle down her face.

He tried to stay angry -- hell, he was angry -- but it was impossible to stay that way. She was too heartbroken "Damn. What are we going to do?" he sighed as he held her, kissing her forehead.

She wiped her face and pushed herself away from him. It took her a moment to regain her composure. "What I asked for before. Let me go. Let me get away from here. I canít take this, D. I canít take the hurt in your eyes," she said bluntly.

"And in his?"

Kat shook her head. "Iím never going to see him again. I canít. I wont. Please just let me go."

Howie was about to answer when the doorbell rang. He swore, then went to answer it. Kat wiped her face, poured herself some more tea, and picked up the mug shards from the sink.

AJ was stunned when he walked into the kitchen. Brian had warned him that Kat looked like hell, but it was still shocking to see. Her hair hung in dull strands and her face was gaunt and pale. Even her eyes seemed to have lost their lustre, and the dark circles underneath them didnít help. He glanced quickly at Howie, then gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Hey, Kat."

"Bone. Youíre looking good," she said politely.

"Uumm. Yeah."

She chuckled, a little spark of her old self. "AJ at a loss for words. I must look worse than I thought." She turned to Howie. "Iím going upstairs."

"No. Iím sorry Kat. I have to tell you something. AJ, show her."

AJ pulled a stack of newspapers from behind his back, handing them wordlessly to her. It was all there. Photos of Howie and her leaving the doctorís office. And stories about how the "barren Backstreet wife" wasnít anymore.

"When did these come out?" she asked shakily.

"This morning. Itís all over the news too," AJ replied.

She looked up at Howie. "I begged you."

"KatÖ"

"I begged you to let me go. Why didnít you let me, Howie?" she asked.

"PleaseÖ"

She ignored his interruption. "It would have been so easy. Just say it wasnít working. We could have gotten a divorce quickly, and I could have gotten out of here before all this came out."

"Kat, come on. HowieÖ"

"Shut up AJ. You donít know what youíre talking about." Kat continued to look at Howie. "Why didnít you let me go?"

Howie shrugged uncomfortably. "When I said this may be my only chance to have a child I meant it. Nothing changes that." He looked away, then back at her. "And you need someone to look after you."

She looked back at the papers. "Well, I am leaving now."

"No!" "You canít!" She wasnít sure which man said which; they had both shouted at the same time.

"Kat, you canít. The storyís out now. We have to stick it out," Howie pleaded, grabbing her hand.

"Bullshit. Iíll just tell everyone its not yours. Thatís true. Theyíll hate me but who cares. You can play the poor suffering cuckold for a few weeks and then itíll be over," she replied calmly.

"Kat, youíre not in any condition to leaveÖ" AJ said.

"I am perfectly fine."

Howie was about to answer, but AJ beat him to it. "You are not. Look at you. You look like shit."

"Thanks, Bone."

"Heís right," Howie agreed. "Look at you, Kat. Youíve been weak and listless since we confirmed your pregnancy. Youíve hardly eaten, slept in the past few weeks. And sinceÖ" he glanced at AJ. "All youíve done for days is cry."

"I can take care of myself," she said stubbornly She turned away from them, getting up quickly. The world spun and started to go dark, but she caught herself as she stumbled.

"Yeah? What was that?" he asked concerned.

"Drop it, Howie. I just got up too quickly," she said crossly. "It was just a head rush."

"No, it wasnít. It was starvation and depression. You are killing yourself with this," he said, helping her sit down again. He turned to AJ. "Sorry, Bone. But could you leave? I need to talk to Kat privately."

"Sure thing. Iím around if you need me." He looked at Kat one last time before heading out the door. "Donít let her leave, D."

"Kat, you have to stop this. You arenít leaving me."

"Howie. I slept with your ex-lover. I am carrying his child. And don't try and tell me that you are over him because Iíd know youíre lying."

Howie felt a surge of anger again, but it passed quickly. "Youíre right. Iíll always love Kevin, but Iím not what he wants. I never have been. Judging from that display earlier, Iíd say you are what he wants."

She laughed harshly. "You heard him yesterday. He hates me even more than you do."

"I donít hat you, and heís just angry. When you tell himÖ"

"NO!" This time when she stood up it wasnít just because of the sudden movement. She fainted.

When she opened her eyes again so was back in her room, on her bed. "I told you that you needed looking after," Howie said, draping a cold cloth over her forehead.

"I donít need ĎI told you soís,í" she grumbled.

"What you need is food and sleep. And as little stress as can be." He sighed. "Look, Kat, I can understand why you want to leave. But I really donít want you to."

"IÖ"

"Listen to me. I love you. And I need you. I couldnít even think of life without you. And if this baby is part of that package, Iíll take it. It wonít be too hard. I told you I wanted kids, and I would love to raise yours. Okay, this does make it harder. But we can manage."

"How can we, Howie? What Iíve done isÖ"

"Understandable. I donít like it. But then I never liked the thought of anyone coming between us. I never really prepared myself for the idea of having to share you." He sighed. "I just went on my merry way, taking you for granted. And it hurts."

"But KevinÖ"

"Iíve always loves Kevin; how can I blame you for feeling the same way?"

Kat was stunned. He couldnít forgive her that easily?

"You think Iím some kind of freak for letting this go?"

"Stop reading my mind, D. Itís annoying."

He chuckled. "Glad Iíve still got some of that ability."

"Youíll have to share, you know?"

"Yeah," he thought dismally.

"I mean babies are a pretty big disruption. They take a lot of time," she continued.

He stared at her. "Youíll stay? You wonít go away."

She nodded and he pulled her close.

"Howie? I have one condition." She laughed, trying to push him away, to stop him from kissing her all over the face in his excitement.

"What?"

"This is YOUR child," she said firmly. "Kevin is not allowed to know heís the father."

Chapter 36