© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 40: Time to talk
Howie groaned when he saw Kevin’s car in the driveway. "I suppose it was too much to hope for," he thought, not looking forward to seeing the two of them together. He acknowledged it intellectually, but to actually see it for himself, and to know what it meant… He wasn’t sure how he’d handle it.
Just the thought of it the night before he driven him to extremes he hadn’t realized he’d had in him.
He’d stayed at the studio for a few hours, just shrugging off Brian’s querying look about what had caused him to blow up at Kevin. Then he’d gone out. Looking for peace. Looking for comfort. Looking for forgetfulness.
He hadn’t found it. In any of the three men he’d slept with.
He still couldn’t believe he’d done it. Just walked into a bar and walked out again about half an hour later with a man on his arm. A couple of hours of mindless sex, then off to another bar and another man. The third time he hadn’t even been looking. But an opportunity had presented itself and he’d gone with it. If he couldn’t find oblivion in flesh, maybe in exhaustion…
Even that hadn’t worked.
Now he was home. Home. Where his wife was inside with the man she loved. The man he still cared about deeply. They were probably together right now. Kat with Kevin inside her crying out his name, Kevin whispering to her all the words Howie had so longed to hear.
Howie blinked back tears. He had to be strong. He was the one who broke down and told Kevin. It had been a spur of the moment decision, but he had to face up to it. Kat was still his wife, no matter what. He could still use that. And everyone thought the child was his. He’d use that too. Kevin was too obsessed with protecting his private life to come out and tell the truth about the whole situation. He’d use that obsession to…
What was he thinking?!
He sighed. He’d have to face it. He’d lost everything. Kevin’d take Kat away. And, of course, the baby. He’d lose his best friend, and his one chance at having a child.
He climbed out the car and walked to the front door. He stood there stupidly for a moment, realizing that he’d given Kevin his key. He’d have to ring his own doorbell to get into his own house. Damn Kevin! Damn himself. Dammit Howie, why couldn’t you keep your big mouth shut?
He raised his hand to ring the bell when the door swung open and Kat threw herself into his arms. Okay, not the reaction he’d expected.
"Where have you been? I’ve been so worried! I called everyone. Brian said you were still at the studio when he left, but there was no answer there. Where were you, D?" Kat asked, the anxiety clear on her face.
"I…" he started, but the look of love and concern on her face broke him, and the tears he’d been holding in started to trickle down his face.
"Oh Howie, sweetie," she said, pulling him into her arms. "Please don’t cry. You’ll make me cry and you know how emotional I am right now. We’d end up drowning."
He grinned tightly at her attempt to make him laugh. "I’ll try."
Kat led him into the living room, pulling him down next to her on the couch. "Where were you?"
"I needed to think."
"I understand," Kat replied, and Howie flushed, knowing she’d guessed if not where he was, at least what he’d been doing. "I just wish you’d called. I hated not knowing if you were okay."
He sighed. "Okay? No, I’m not okay." He was silent for a moment, then leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, his hand bowed down. "I’ve lost you now, haven’t I?"
The despair was so thick in his voice it hurt Kat to hear it. "D! Never. You could never lose me. I love you, you know that."
"But you love him more."
Kat was stunned. Realizing it was true, but to hear it from Howie…
"I understand. Really I do. I mean who else would know what its like to love Kevin that much?" he laughed humourlessly. "I just wasn’t prepared for it. I just opened my big mouth and…"
"Gave me the biggest gift that anyone has ever given me before," Kat finished for him. "You did, D. You know that. Whether it was the baby or the lies I’d told you or whatever, the situation was killing me. I could never have told him. I was too afraid even to see him. If you hadn’t…"
"I broke my promise to you."
"And I broke far more than that when this relationship with Kevin started. I broke your trust. I broke so many promises I’d made to you. Don’t ask me for forgiveness, because it’s me who should be asking you for it."
Howie smiled. "What is it about that man?"
Kat smiled back. "I wish I knew. I hated him for so long. Next thing I know I’m…."
"I wish I could hate him."
"No you don’t. But you do wish you didn’t still love him."
"Yeah." Howie agreed quietly.
"He’s in the kitchen. He wanted to talk to you."
"Is that why he’s here? I saw his car outside."
"Yes, well. He was here with me. Waiting for you."
"Where did he sleep last night?"
Kat looked at him sadly. "I won’t lie to you anymore, D. I think you know where."
Howie sighed. "I don’t know if I’m ready for this."
Kat gave him a hug and Howie clung to her, afraid to let go. Afraid of what could happen next. She seemed to cling to him just as firmly.
When they finally let go, she smiled and took his hand, leading him down the hallway to the kitchen.
It sparkled more than it had when Howie’d bought the place. Kevin had obviously been working his nervousness out using a sponge and cleaning solutions. He was still doing it.
Seeing Kevin’s anxiety made Howie feel a bit better and he chuckled. "Better leave some of that countertop there, Kev."
Kevin spun around. "I didn’t hear you. I mean I heard you come in, just not here. I mean… I thought you were still talking," he stuttered.
"You were kind of busy trying to scrub holes in my kitchen. What? I don’t keep it clean enough for you?"
"Relax Kevin, He’s teasing you."
"Awww, come on Kat. Let me have my fun," Howie whined, smiling at her.
She chuckled and kissed him on the cheek, then brushed past him taking the sponge away from the other man. She was trying to be discreet but Howie saw her give Kevin’s hand a quick squeeze. She nudged him forward, going to the kettle behind him and filling it with water. "I’m making tea. Maybe you two should chat."
Howie looked at the big man. He was still wearing the same clothes as the previous day, though they were somewhat wrinkled, but it was as if a different man was inside them. Kevin’s eyes were clear, the dark circles under them fading. He stood straighter, not hunched and defensive as before. His face had lost that pinched look. He was worried, eyeing Howie warily, but the bitter, angry man was gone. Overnight, he’d returned to himself.
Damn. Kevin had it bad.
Not that he couldn’t have told from the way his face lit up whenever he looked at Kat. It fairly shone from his face. Howie remembered this look. He’s seen it on Kevin’s face before a few months ago, but never put it together. He’d remembered thinking, at the time, that he’d never, in all his years around him, seen Kevin so alive. Now he knew why.
He cleared his throat timidly, "yeah, I guess we better." He turned and walked back to the living room, knowing that Kevin was following him, trying to figure out what he was going to say.
Kat boiled the water and steeped her tea. Fighting so hard not to go down the hall and listen in. They had to do this alone for now. She flinched as she heard raised voices, but the walls filtered out enough that she was unable to hear who was shouting. Maybe if I just… No! They had to talk. They had a lot to get through. They always had. This was a discussion they hadn’t had since they’d broken up. Sure it had started a little, back when Howie came out to the Boys, but it had never been completed. Men! Never willing to discuss this sort of stuff. Ignore it long enough and it’d go away. Yeah, right.
She needed something to do. She was afraid to go upstairs, to be too far away. She looked at the kitchen. Well, it didn’t need cleaning now, so that was out of the question. Maybe she could cook something. Or bake something.
There was movement in her womb. "Listen you, you had breakfast only a little while ago. You don’t need anymore food. You’ll make me fatter than I all ready am," she reprimanded Junior, knowing she’d lose this argument anyway.
She sighed and started pulling things out of the fridge and cupboards.
A loaf of lemon bread in the oven, a pot of beef stew simmering on the pot and a batch of cookies lying waiting on the cookie sheets. And they still hadn’t come back.
She’d crept down the hallway a while back, offering them something to drink. They’d accepted, but the loaded silence that hung in the room told her to get out quickly.
And they were still down there.
How long does a conversation take? There wasn’t even a woman in there with them! How long can two men talk? Kat giggled at herself. Well, that was a chauvinistic thing to think. Or was that misogynist? She wasn’t sure. It made both sexes sound bad.
"Kat?" Howie’s voice called her out of her internal discussion.
"We could use a refill. And your presence."
"Be right there." Kat opened the oven. Yep, the bread was about done. She removed it, putting it on the wire rack, putting the cookies into the oven and turning down the stewpot.
She entered the living room cautiously. "Hi."
"You look like you were expecting a dead body," Howie chuckled.
She grinned back at him. Both he and Kevin looked almost relaxed. "Maybe some blood stains on the floor, but no body." She sat in the only available spot, on the couch with Kevin. She resisted the urge to lean back in his arms. Not until she found out how the wind was blowing.
Kevin sniffed. "You’ve been cooking."
"Yeah, that is one of the good things about this nesting thing. I get lots of home-cooked food," Howie said, patting his stomach. "You think all this is sympathy weight gain?"
"Hush you," Kat teased him. "You’re the one who always comes up with suggestions of what to make."
"Yeah." He smiled, but this time it didn’t reach his eyes. "Look, Kevin and I have worked out a lot, but we kind of need your input."
She took a deep breath. "Okay."
Kevin leaned forward. "What’s happened between Howie and I… Well, we’ve talked it out as much as we can. It’s going to take a while. And yes, almost all of it is my fault. You were right; what Suzanne did to me I did to him. I didn’t realize most of it, but I knew enough."
"You seem to have had a strange effect on him. He actually admitted to being in the wrong," Howie smiled at him.
"Stop teasing, Howie," Kat said.
"Yeah," Kevin agreed, grimacing a little.
"Sorry. Nervous habit. The problem now is, well, you."
Kevin grinned. "I think you’re having an strange effect on her."
The three shared a nervous laugh.
"So, if you two were talking about me, what did you say?"