© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 50: Stupid questions
Howie gazed out across the room. It was very familiar – scores of reporters and fans asking the same questions over and over. Yes, they were working on the new album. No, they didn’t have a firm release date. Yes, they were going to tour sometime after it was released. Yes, he was anxious about impending fatherhood. No, he didn’t want to do much touring once the baby arrived and he was sure Brian felt the same way.
And no, he was not going to answer that ridiculous boxers or briefs question.
And then there was the inevitable questions about the other three’s love lives. Thank god he’d was no longer fending off those ones. He leaned back in his chair as AJ went through it: Yes, he was seeing someone. No, he didn’t want to go into details.
Out of the corner of his eye, Howie noticed Terry, who was running the security detail for he and AJ, give a little start and then reach down to the cellphone at his side. He’d had it on vibrate again, Howie smirked inwardly. He was going to have to tease the big man about that later. His attention was drawn back by a question directed to him about his songwriting.
Now it was AJ’s time to lean back. He marveled at Howie’s calm and composed answers, and wished that he got more questions like that. Ones that focused on the music and not on the cutesy who’s-dating-whom crap. Howie’d been helpful with that. Whenever it got too much he’d start asking AJ questions about music, turning the conversation back to where he was more comfortable. AJ had to give his buddy major props for that.
Especially when he was silently freaking out about all this Kat and Kevin stuff. AJ knew that Howie and Kat talked for hours every night, and that really helped the other man. But he also knew that during the days Howie knew she was with Kevin. And that hurt. AJ really couldn’t figure out that relationship. Howie loved her. Loved Kevin. But couldn’t, or wouldn’t, physically love her. And so she ended up with Kevin. Which scared the hell out of Howie. Which Kat knew and tried to reassure him about, because as much as she loved Kevin, she did love Howie. Though Howie was gay, and, hell, who knew, was probably more attracted to Kevin than to Kat. AJ shook himself. Nyah. Howie and Kevin? Not in this lifetime.
Still it was a frigging soap opera, and he didn’t know how the three of them managed. Maybe it would have been better if Kat had left when she found out she was pregnant… No, that would have made things worse. And AJ really couldn’t think about life with out Kat around. Thank god this thing with Nick had cleared up…
He looked at Terry, who was arguing quietly with whomever was on the phone. Damn, he wanted out of here. He wanted to talk to Tina. The press tour was almost over and while he had been keen on it at the outset, he was tired now. And he wanted to be with his girl, not talk about his girl with a bunch of strangers. He wanted to be recording, not talking about doing it.
There was an audible burst of noise from Terry’s cellphone and the man’s head jerked back quickly. A shocked look come over his face as he stared at the phone. Several of the reporters nearby shot him dirty looks, but the burly man ignored them as he tried to discreetly move around to the back of the stage, then tapped Howie on the shoulder.
"It’s for you," he whispered.
"I’m kind of busy," Howie replied.
"Answer the phone, D," was Terry’s gruff response as he shoved the phone into his hand. Howie stared at him for a second, then wrapped up his answer before putting the phone to his ear.
"Kevin? What’s up? I’m kind of in the middle…"
"Can you get back here? Now?" There was a thread of panic in Kevin’s voice.
"What’s the matter?"
"Kat’s water broke. She’s going into labor."
"Holy shit…" Howie pulled the phone away from his ear and turned to Terry. "Get me on the next flight to Orlando. Now!"
The other man nodded: he’d been sure that was going to be the response, and then scurried from the room.
The room was getting quieter now as people overheard Howie’s order. AJ leapt into the breach, firing questions back to the crowd as well as answering them, trying to buy Howie some time to deal with whatever was going on. His curiosity was killing him as much as it was everyone else in the room, but…
"Kev? What happened? Is she okay?"
"She’s fine. A little scared. We both are. She’s been asking for you. You have to get here, man."
"Let me talk to her."
"Just a sec…"
"Howie?" Kat’s voice was as shaky as Kevin’s had been.
"Kat? Are you okay?"
She groaned. "That’s a stupid question to ask me right now, Howie."
"I realized that as soon as I said it, honey. I’m right here for you."
"No. I want you here. Really here. I want you with me. Please." The pleading tone in her voice troubled him.
"I’m going to get there as soon as I can. Kev’s there; he can take care of you for me until I get there, can’t he?" Howie was trying as hard as he could to be reassuring.
Kat snorted. "He’s useless. He freaked out when my water broke. Now he keeps telling me to breathe. I know how to breathe."
Howie chuckled. "Give him a break, Kat. This is his first childbirth."
"Hello? His first? Why not worry about the one who has to do all the work? It’s her first too, you know." Her voice dropped to a ragged whisper. "It hurts, Howie. Its supposed to be some wonderful miracle, but to me it just feels like my insides are being ripped out."
"Did the doctor…"
"Apparently this is normal. They just pat me on the head and say that every mother feels the same way right around now. And then they tell me to breathe through the contractions. Everybody’s telling me to how to breathe." Her voice had an uncharacteristic whine to it.
"I promise I won’t."
Kat smiled. She could feel him smiling too on the other end of the phone, and it calmed her more than she realized. "Don’t laugh at me, Howie," she chided him. Then seriously, "I need you here, D. This wasn’t supposed to happen without you here. I need… oh shit…"
He could hear the phone drop among the bedsheets and her groans of pain as a contraction ripped through her. In the background he could hear Kevin trying to calm her, just as he was doing the same.
"Oh shut up, Richardson. This is all your fault. Don’t you ever come near me again," Kat’s voice was muffled as she spoke through clenched teeth.
"You tell him, Kat," Howie chuckled. He looked up frantically, searching for Terry, but there was still no sign of the other man.
"Kat? Listen to me…. Kat? Are you there?" He could hear some shuffling on the other tend, then her pain-tinged voice.
"Sweetie, I’m on my way. I’m not going to tell you how to breathe. Just promise you’ll keep on breathing." She chuckled achingly. "You have to get through the pain, baby. Try not to kill Kevin," he lowered his voice, "though you can be a little rough on him if you like." Again she chuckled. Good. He was getting her to calm down. "Try and think of something good. Like, umm, remember when we were in Hawaii? That beach you loved so much?"
"With all the flowers and those cool fish?"
He smiled. There was less anxiety in her voice. "That’s the one sweetheart. Think about that, and how this is all like waves. It’ll be bad a bit, but it’ll all be good in the end."
"And I can’t kill Kevin?"
"Not right now, baby. Later. He did get you to the hospital. He’s not totally useless."
She laughed. "I know. I just need you here, Howie."
"I’m working on that. I’ll get there as quickly as I can." He looked up as Terry tapped his shoulder. The big man nodded. "Kat, Terry’s got me a flight. I’ll be there soon. Try and hold on."
"I don’t want to. I want this monster out of me as soon as possible." Howie could hear Kevin muttering something, then Kat broke in again. "Oh yeah? Well, you try squeezing a whole other person out of your body and see how it feels." She was obviously not talking to him, Howie thought as he grinned.
"Baby, I have to go. I have a plane to catch."
She was begging. Kat never begged. Okay, so sometimes jokingly, but not like this…
"Let me talk to Kevin…"
"Howie? When are you getting here?" Kevin’s distraught voice came through.
Howie glanced at Terry. "When?"
"Flight’s in an hour. We need to leave now," was the brusque response.
"About 3 or 4 hours."
"Hey, it’s not my fault. I’m getting there as quickly as I can."
"I know. It’s just…"
"It’s okay, Kev. Don’t let her yell at you too much."
Kevin chuckled warily.
"Thanks man. Thanks for getting her to the hospital."
"I love her, D."
"I do too."
There was a moment of silence, then Howie said "look after her. I’ll be there as quickly as I can."
"Hurry, D. Our son seems to be kind of anxious to make an appearance, and we need you here."
"I will." Howie disconnected the call. "our son." Kevin had said that "our son" needed him. He turned around, a foolish grin on his face. Everyone in the room, AJ included, was looking at him expectantly.
"Umm. I have to go. AJ’ll take care of you..."
"Kat?" AJ asked worriedly.
Howie nodded. "She’s gone into labor. Kevin took her to the hospital. We’re having a baby."
AJ leapt up and gave him a big hug, then a small push. "Well? Get going! Your wife needs you."
Howie looked flustered, stunned. "My stuff… at the hotel… And the interviews…"
"I can handle all of that," AJ replied. "Just go, you big fool!"
Howie nodded, and Terry grabbed his arm. Howie turned to the room, realizing that there were people there. "I’m having a baby," he said with a dazed expression on his face.
There was a shocked silence, then the room erupted in cheers as Terry pulled the still reeling Howie through the congratulatory crowd and out to the waiting car.Chapter 51