© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 51: Arrivals
What Terry hadnít told Howie was that the only flight he could get him on was a charter. Stuck with a bunch of Florida-bound holidaymakers, most of who were as old as his grandparents, and not likely to recognize him.
And Terry only mentioned that he wasnít coming with him when he shoved Howie into Customs.
So here he was. A Backstreet Boy. Travelling alone on a charter airline. Trying desperately to get back to his wife. Who was giving birth to another manís child. Another man who just happened to be one of his best friends. And a former lover.
The absurdity of it all would have made him laugh if he wasnít so jumpy.
Fortunately the flight was far from full and the flight attendants, who had recognized him, managed to create a bit of room around him. Sure the seats were on the squishy side, but at least he could stretch out a little.
Not that he noticed much. He spent almost all of the flight on the phone.
Katís contractions were coming closer together now; heíd started timing them, and he was also having sympathy pains. He had waved away the in-flight meal with a greenish-tinge to his face. He wouldnít have been able to keep anything down if he had eaten.
"Sweetheart, if I could get the plane to fly any faster I would. Weíre almost there."
"I need you, Howie."
Those four words caused him physical pain. She sounded so lost, so frightened. And he couldnít be there to hold her. After all the times sheíd been there for himÖ
Kevin was equally frantic. He was also begging Howie to get there. And Howie was sure he could hear tears in the other manís voice.
"I canít help her," Kevin whispered desperately the one time they got to speak alone. "The woman I love is being torn apart by something we created, and I canít help her. I canít take the pain away. I swore I would never hurt her and she is in so much pain."
"Kevin, itís natural. This probably isnít any worse than it always is. It just feels like more because its Kat."
"If itís always like this itís a wonder anyone gets born," Kevin moaned.
"Iím told that afterwards few people remember the pain," Howie tried to reassure him.
"Yeah? Well I doubt Iíll be able to play the piano for a few weeks after what sheís put my hands through."
"I doubt she will be able to play the piano either."
There was silence on the other end of the phone.
"Kat doesnít play piano, D."
Howie sighed. "I know, Kev. It was supposed to be a joke."
Kevin must be really freaked out if he hadnít picked up on that.
"Kev? Is it really that bad?"
He sighed. "I donít know, D. I just hate to see her in pain."
The plane was almost in Orlando; about 45 minutes out, when the phone batteries died. The low battery gauge must have been beeping, but he hadnít even noticed it. One minute he was calming Kat after another contraction. The next it was just static. Then nothing.
"Damn! Damn! Damn!" he groaned, tears streaming down his face.
"Mr. Dorough? Are you okay?" the flight attendant leaned over worriedly.
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Get me another phone? No, itís okay. When do we get to Orlando?"
"Not long now. Weíll begin our descent in about 15 minutes."
He did a quick calculation in his head. Another hour, if he was lucky, until he could get to the hospital. Shit.
"Howie? Howie? Please donít leave me!" Kat begged as the phone gave out.
"What happened?" Kevin asked worriedly.
"Phone. Dead." Kat sobbed.
"Baby, Iím here," he said holding her tightly.
"I know Kev," she sobbed, clutching him as he kissed her brow. "Kev," she whispered. "I love you."
"I love you too."
"Please donít be angry with me if Iím mean to you. It just hurts."
"I know, love. Iíd take it all away if I could."
"No." she said firmly. "No, then I wouldnít have your son to love as much as I love you. I just wish heíd worry up and get here," she grimaced.
The doctor came in, hovering over her, checking things in her usual invasive way. She nodded to the nurse, and soon Kat was being wheeled into a delivery room and Kevin was being outfitted with a gown and mask.
"Itís not fair," she wailed. "Howie should be here."
Kevin felt a flash of jealousy. All day sheíd been asking for Howie. It was his baby not Howieís. Then he calmed. However much Kat loved him, she also loved Howie. In a different way. Kevin knew that better than anyone. And she had depended on Howie longer than she had on him. And Howie had kept her going through those terrible months when they had been apart. And if it hadnít been for Howie he would never have known about the baby. Have never have known how much Kat loved him. Hell, if it hadnít been for Howie he wouldnít have been able to survive after Suzanne. And if it hadnít been for Howie he would never have met Kat.
Howie was their guardian angel.
Damn where was he?
AJ paced back and forth in the hotel room. Why the hell hadnít he heard anything? The phone on the bedside table rang and he dove across the bed, knocking it off the table and then grabbing the receiver. "Hello?"
"B-rok," he sighed.
"You havenít heard anything either?"
"No, man. I donít even know if Howieís made it to Orlando yet."
"Leighanne says that they took Kat into the delivery room."
"Is she there? At the hospital? I canít find Tina."
"They are both there. I called her as soon as we heard and she grabbed Tina on the way."
"Nice of her to call me," AJ pouted.
"Hey, nice of you to call us! Finding out in the middle of a press conferenceÖ"
"How do you think Howie found out? Look, Bri, Iím sorry. If I was thinking I would haveÖ"
"Hey, Mike Tyson!"
"Oh shut up. I get enough of that from Rok."
"I gotta ask, NickyÖ What was it like when he went down? I mean when you knew youíd got him?"
"Can we please talk about something else?" Nick whined.
"Just teasing you, man. Sounds like you two have more news than I do."
"Yeah, well, Leighanne has her phone there, and this is the first time Iíve been able to get Brian off the line with her. It all kind of died down a little once they took Kat into delivery."
"I wish I was there."
"Donít we all," Nickís voice dropped. "Leigh said that Kat was in a lot of pain. I think sheís really scared now too."
"Tell her not to worry. Thereís always some pain, but its all better in the end. I am sure that Katíll tell her the same thing when itís all over," AJ reassured the younger man.
"Iíll tell her. Actually, you should. Call her on the cell. Let them know how to get a hold of you."
"I will. Now get off the phone so I can call!"
"Push, Kat. Its time to push."
"Iím too tired," she moaned, looking to Kevin for support.
"You can do it, sweetheart," he smiled back.
"Iím not strong enough."
"You are the strongest person I know. You can do this," he replied, squeezing her hand.
Kat pushed as hard as she could, straining arduously. Kevin stroked her back, trying to reassure her as she bore down.
"Remember when we first met?" Kevin asked as she gasped for breath after her exertion.
"This isnít really the time for remembrances, Kevin," she gasped, her voice ragged.
"You took out that picture of me and tore it up in front of me." He leaned forward, whispering in her ear. "I bet right now you wish youíd just broken the whole frame over my head."
Kat started to chuckle tiredly.
"Thatís my girl," he said, wiping the sweat off her face.
"I love you, Kevin. You are everything to me," she told him.
"Hey, enough of that. I might get jealous."
The two turned to see a pair of deep brown eyes smiling at them over a hospital mask.
"Howie," Kat sighed.
"Thanks for holding on long enough for me to get here. Now can we please get this kid born?"
"Better do as your husband says, Kat," Kevinís voice rumbled as he tried to hold back tears of relief.
"Ten fingers and ten toes," Kevin was absolutely glowing, and the others could hear it through the phone. The hospital had helped them set up a conference call so that Brian, AJ and Nick could all be on the line for the announcement.
"Howís Kat?" Brian asked
"Exhausted. Happy itís over. And she gets upset if they try and take the baby away for even a minute."
Leighanne chuckled. "She almost decked a nurse who came in to try and take the baby to the nursery."
"She must get that from you, Nick," Tina smirked.
"Youíre never gonna let me live that down are you?" Nick groaned.
"Best thing you ever did for me, bro," Kevin reminded him. "Wait hereís Howie."
"Sheís finally asleep. And soís our son, Kev," Howie said.
Kevin nodded; looking away as tears started to trickle down his face again.
"Letís hope the kid sleeps as much as Kevin does," AJ joked.
"Well, he certainly has his lungs," Howie noted. "When are you guys gonna get back here and meet the newest Backstreet member?"
"Iím going to be in tomorrow morning," AJ said. "All interviews have been cancelled. Apparently something one of the others in the group did managed to grab us all the media coverage we are going to need for a while."
"Kat did it all herself," Kevin said. "We were just here to help her."
"Yeah, well, weíll be able to see mother and child tomorrow afternoon," Brian said. "It takes a little longer to get there from this side of the country. And I think we just missed the last flight out east."
Nick nodded. "Markís arranged for the limo to take us straight to the hospital."
"Good. Kat is asking for all of you," Howie smiled.
It was quiet when she woke. She was still in agony, but it was fading. It faded even faster when she thought about it. She had a son. And he was so beautiful.
Where was he?
A nurse walked in, carrying a bundle that was making awkward squeaking noises. "Oh good. You are awake. I was afraid I was going to have toÖ Someone is hungry."
Kat looked down in wonder at the baby that stared up at her. A tuft of black hair, and bright eyes. Then he opened his mouth and let out a wail. Definitely hungry.
Howie found her still holding the baby tight when he came in a few minutes later. Tears were streaming down her face.
"Babe? Whatís wrong?"
"Oh Howie. They got it wrong. How could they get it wrong?"
"What? Kat? Whatís wrong?" He sat down next to her, looking anxiously at her.
She indicated the nametag on the babyís wrist. "I told them. Itís Christopher Howard Jerald. They got it wrong."
Howie laughed in relief. "No they didnít. I told them it should be that way." He glanced down at the nametag. "Jerald should be there before Howard. Itís Kevinís son," she started to protest but he ignored it. "And he was the one to get you here in time. You couldnít have gotten through this without him. I only got here for the happy ending. My nameís where itís supposed to be."
She looked at him in surprise. "HowieÖ Do you know how much I love you?"
"I know, Kat."
"Do you know how much I love you?"
Howie turned. "I know that too, Kevin."Chapter 52