© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 4: A picture is worth a thousand words.
Even the little camera couldnít disguise the streak of fear that crossed the taller manís face and Kat could almost hear the swear words that poured off his mouth. Kat could see the look of concern on Howieís face as he quickly turned the camera off.
KitKat: D, Its okay! I wonít tell! D, please!
KitKat: Itís okay, really
KitKat: D! Please
The computer chimed and the connection was severed. It was too late. He was gone. Shit. She could care less about what she had seen. About what it implied about him, them. Sheíd just lost her best friend and that was all that mattered. Gods, it hurt. She sat in front of her computer for hours, camera still on, hoping that he would come back. Every time she stepped away, to grab something quickly from the kitchen or to go to the bathroom, sheíd put a sign in front of the camera saying that she was sorry. Still no answer. It was after midnight when she had to give up. Work tomorrow, and she had to be somewhat alert.
It didnít work. She was grumpy, having cried herself to sleep, and was still suffering the next day. So what if he was gay? So what if Kevin was? The things he had said about Kevin started to make sense, but it wasnít important. It was him that she cared about. His mind, his humour. Gods, gone in one brief second all because she couldnít keep her eyes shut. Dammit.
Okay, her childish romantic dreams about him and her together were over, but she had never really cared that much about sex. Who was she kidding? Sex did matter a great deal, but she had been without a man in her life for more than three years now. That didnít look like it was going to change anytime soon, and she was used to it. His friendship had helped so much, with that and all the others things she was dealing with. He was her friend, the one who meant the most to her. And she had lost him.
The speaker on her phone sounded, and she was shaken out of her reverie. "Yes, Helen? Time for us to go for lunch?"
"Umm, no." The receptionistís nervousness was coming through the phone. "Were you expecting someone? There is a gentleman here to see you."
Kat frowned. "No. No one. Iíll be right there."
Kat walked down the hallway quickly, entering the reception area. She could see why Helen had been concerned. The man standing there looked like he bench-pressed cars for kicks. He was shaved bald, wearing a tight black T-shirt, which only emphasized his thick powerful arms. He had a huge tattoo on his upper left arms, something with skulls and flames. Certainly not someone you would expect to bump into in an office environment. And no one she had ever met before.
"Can I help you?" she asked politely.
"Katherine. Kat is a nickname."
He grunted. "Mr. Dorough and Mr. Richardson are waiting for you downstairs."
"Who?" Kat squeaked.
"Messrs. Dorough and Richardson. Downstairs. Come on."
A man of few words. Kat turned to Helen, face flushed. "Donít worry. I know about this. Iíll just get my purse. I think lunch is off."
Helen nodded, still intimidated by the mountain. Kat told him to hold on and sprinted up the hall to grab her purse and jacket. She followed him down the elevator, glad to see that the effect he had on Helen was also one he had on others, as the few people in the small car tried to move as far away from him as possible. Kat didnít mind. My head was spinning. He was actually here? She was actually going to meet him face to face. Oh gods, what had the mountain said? Kevin was there too? She had only seen him for a split second last night, but she was sure that if he was there too it was not going to go well.
The bodyguard took her around the corner to where a stretch limousine was parked, then opened the door for her to enter. Howie and Kevin were sitting across from her, on opposite sides of the large back seat. Howie was as beautiful as she had thought he was. Hair pulled back, brown eyes sparkling, a half-smile on his face. He even flashed her a wink. Kevin, on the other hand, looked like the perfect matinee villain. Handsome and unapproachable. His emerald eyes flashed with anger and the look on his face would have turned Medusa to stone. Kat swallowed, gulping back her fear.
"Hi, Howie," she said shyly, ignoring the other man.
"KitKat, we meet at last," he smiled. He leaned forward, about to take her hand, but Kevin restrained him.
"About what you saw.." he said harshly.
"Thatís why you are here? I wonít tell," Kat said quickly.
"Kevin, Howie," she said looking back and forth between the two men. "I donít care about that. Itís your private lives. Why would I tell?"
"It is rather damaging," Howie said quietly.
"Come on, D. I thought we knew each other better than that."
"I think we do, Kat, but you have to understand..."
"Understand what? You two are lovers. Big Deal. All I care about is if this means Iíve lost my best friend."
"Do you know what this could do to us? To the group? To our reputations?" Kevin asked rudely.
"If anyone has any sense itíd do nothing," Kat replied angrily, then sighed. "But you are right. If word got out it could hurt. Only no one is going to hear anything from me."
"Awfully big story for a writer to sit on," Kevin sneered.
"I write fiction not fact," Kat bit back.
"So you are going to spill it." Kevin accused.
"Dammit. What do you want from me? An affidavit saying Iíll stay quiet? Fine, you got it. Pull a lawyer in here and Iíll sign anything," she turned back to Howie. "Just please, D. Donít stop talking to me."
"Kat, I am sorry. This is hard for us," Howie said sympathetically.
"Youíre gay. Big deal."
"I am not gay!" Kevin protested. "Iím..."
Howie cut him off before he could finish. "I am."
"Howie!" Kevin shouted. "For god sake, she could..."
"I trust Kat," Howie said, cutting him off again. She smiled her thanks, holding out her hand and then giving his a squeeze when he clasped his to hers.
"Kevin, I donít know you. But I do know Howie, even if not in person until now. I would never do anything to hurt him in any way. If he wants me to keep quiet about this, I will. His friendship is more important to me than any titillation I could get out of this," Kat said quietly, sincerely, hoping that the big man would listen.
He turned away, angrily, refusing to look at her or Howie.
Howie cleared his throat. "Umm. Kat? There is something else we need."
"Does your computer record the video that comes in?"
"It can do that?" Kat was surprised.
Kevin snorted derisively. He was starting to seriously get on her nerves. She had promised, and promises were something she held sacred.
"No, Kevin, I didnít know if they could. As Howie can tell you I am new to that technology,." she said snidely.
Howie could feel the antipathy level in the car rising at a dangerous speed. "Guys, please..."
Kat turned to him, a look of annoyance on her face, which quickly disappeared as she looked into his concerned eyes. "You better tell your driver to start the car," she said.
"Iím going to show Petulant Boy over there that I am serious. We are going to my apartment and you can search my hard drive for as long as you want. If anything did record you are welcome to it."
"Kat, you donít have to," Howie said.
"Yes, I do." "Yes she does." the two said at the same time.
"I guess itís decided then," Kat said and turned to the privacy window behind her, knocked on it and gave instructions to get to here house to the mountain driving the car.
The trip was held in silence. Kevin continued to glower at her, and Howie looked uncomfortable at being stuck between an angry lover and a woman who he had spent so much time with, without ever truly meeting. Katís eyes were a deeper brown than he had realized, though tired looking, and the dark bags under her eyes didnít help. Her hair was pulled back in a harsh bun, and the work clothes she wore were attractive, though clearly not of the highest quality. She had style, but not the money to really benefit from it. He wondered what she would look like if she were wearing clothes by one of the designers he favoured. She would look beautiful, he was sure. She looked very uncomfortable, not just in the clothes. He missed the woman who used to curl up in front of her computer in a ragged t-shirt, smile and make his cares go away. But he had gotten her into this mess...
He glanced at Kevin. He loved the man so much, was still surprised that Kevin had come to him. He had spent years working alongside him, loving him, praying for a chance to show him how much he cared. He knew that this was just a fling for Kevin. An experiment, a reaction to his painful breakup with Suzanne. That bitch had sucked his emotions dry, then ruthlessly shamed him in front of his friends. Kevin was a very private person and to have that happen...well, he had turned his back on the female population. He had turned to Howie in a weak moment, and Howie, desperately in love with him, couldnít say no. Their affair had been going on for a short while, and Howie knew that it would never last. But until then he was going to give Kevin everything he had to give. Even it if hurt his friendship with Kat.
Kevin was terrified. He was all ready starting to regret his affair with Howie. He wasnít gay, and despite the comfort and pleasure Howie gave him, he was uncomfortable with what he was doing. Having someone else know about his weakness was unthinkable. Especially a woman. He hadnít had a lot of luck with them, and the last one, Suzanne, had convinced him that none could be trusted. And this woman... he looked at her medium length auburn hair. She had a kind face, small laughter lines present around her dark eyes. Her lips were full, not pouty but still compelling. And the way she had stood up to him... Would she really keep quiet? He had no reason to trust her. He wasnít going to start now.
Kat was thinking, of all the ridiculous things, that she hadnít vacuumed the apartment or washed the dishes this morning. She chuckled to herself. Yep, even after all these years alone, Momís rules of hospitality still held firm. She glanced at the two men across from her. Kevin was gorgeous, the BSB she had always found most attractive. But the man she had met was a jerk, and she would be glad to get away from him. Howie, on the other hand, was everything she had believed and more. He kept throwing her quick smiles, and she hoped that despite this they could still be friends. She loved his wit and insights. He had opened her eyes to movies, books, and things she hadnít thought she would find interesting. He had been her rock through some of the crappy things that had happened to her over the past few months. Nothing earthshattering, just the occasional bouts of self-loathing that hit her hard from time to time. His messages were the bright sparks in her day. Gods, please donít let this friendship be over.
The limo pulled up in front of her apartment and she climbed quickly out. She was about to ask them to wait while she cleaned things up quickly, but the look on Kevinís face told her that if she did that he would storm in anyway, convinced she would trying to hide something. "Itís a mess. I wasnít expecting people, so no comments please," she said as she turned the key in the door.
"Where is the computer?" Kevin asked brusquely. Kat pointed down the hall and he brushed past her. Howie, sensing a chance, turned Kat and said, "its great to finally meet you," and gave her a quick hug before following his lover. Kat blinked back tears and entered her spare room. Kevin was turning in the computer, while Howie was looking at the movie posters and autographs she had on her wall.
"John Sayles? You met John Sayles?" he said excitedly as his eyes traveled across the frames.
"Yeah," she smiled. He was here for the Film Festival a few years ago. Wonderful man. Did you see this one?" she pointed to another frame. "Michael Moore."
"Roger and Me? The Big One? Heís a legend! Omigod! Is that Kevin Spaceyís?"
Kat sighed, "my hero. He was so nice. A lot shyer than I would have thought. He is such a brilliant actor and director. I got Gary Oldman, too. We didnít talk, but meeting him was incredible."
The chirps and beeps from her computer made her turn around. "Password?" Kevin demanded and she shouldered him out of the way in order to enter it. "The files are all there under the camera folder. If there is anything there you are welcome to it."
"Is this an original?" Howie said pointing to the Star Wars poster she had framed. "Iíd seen it before; behind you when we chatted."
"I think so. I got it from a poster store down on Yonge. I got those there too," she said pointing to the movie stills from Kenneth Branaghís Henry V, and two John Cusack movies that hung on the wall behind her computer. Howie moved over to look at those, and the other autographs she had hanging there.
"And these?" he said with a grin, pointing to the two frames that hung low on the wall. They were separate pictures of he and Kevin, ones that she had pulled from a fan magazine. Howie looking pensive in the one, and Kevin with a half-smile on his face. Kevin, the real one, looked startled to see them, though they had been in front of his face the whole time.
She cleared her throat. "Those are pictures of my favorite Backstreet Boys," she said as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and that she wasnít speaking to the live versions.
"There is nothing on here, D," Kevin said as he stood, then pulled the picture of himself off the wall. He looked at it for a second. "Iím one of your favourites?"
He laughed harshly. "You have this hanging around and you still claim you wouldnít say anything?"
That was enough. She reached over and took the frame from him. Without breaking eye contact, she opened the back and removed the picture from it. "Fuck you, Kevin Richardson," she said slowly and deliberately as she tore it to shreds.