© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 59: Long day into night
© Kat Morgan
Kevin raised his hand to rewind the tape one more time and Kat finally broke from her dazed stance.
"No!" she shouted as she jumped in front of the television, switching it off. "No, Kevin. No more. I am going to let you do this to yourself."
His hand dropped to his lap, as if the remote was too heavy for him to hold, and his eyes fastened on the floor. Finally he said bitterly, "I suppose that you are going to tell me it was all on accident. That CJ didn’t know what he was saying?"
"That’s supposed to make it all better?!"
"No, Kevin, it doesn’t. It was a terrible thing to have happen." She knelt next to his chair and tried to take his hand, but he shook it off and reached for the bottle of Jack Daniel’s. She swore and grabbed it away from him. He tried to take it back but she jumped up and put the bottle on the table next to the television. Not a far walk, however, she was familiar with Kevin’s moods. He wouldn’t move from that chair until he was ready to. She just hoped that it would take a while.
"I can walk that far, you know," he said sarcastically.
"You want it. You walk."
And he did, glaring at her as he took another long swig.
This was going to be very, very bad.
"Now I suppose you are going to tell me that at last it’s better that he said it to Howie and not to me," he accused.
"Stop putting words in my mouth," she sighed and sat down on the corner of the bed, looking up at him. "I wish he had said it to you."
That stopped him for a moment then he sneered, "that would have ruined your precious status quo."
"We could have weathered it."
"’Weathered it’?" he mimicked her voice. "No. What we would have had to do is laugh it off as a young child joking around with his uncle." He slammed the bottle down on the table, splashing some on his hand. "Shit! How can you be so goddamned calm? My son just called another man Daddy! On national television!"
"Kevin…" she started but he was in high tirade.
"Dammit, my son, MY son, doesn’t even know who his father is!"
Kat couldn’t answer that. It was true. They had all worked hard to hide that from CJ. To stop him from saying something – well, something like he had – at an inopportune moment.
But CJ wasn’t supposed to think that Howie was his father.
"Kevin…" she started again.
He grabbed the bottle from the table and turned to her. "When Kat? When are we gong to tell him the truth? When he’s 20? 40? 50? On my death bed?"
"No! Soon! Soon, I promise, Kevin."
"I am tired of your promises," he said harshly. He took another swig from the bottle. "They are always empty."
Kat’s heart fell.
He walked to the window his back turned to her.
"It was always Howie, wasn’t it?" he said quietly. "From the very beginning. You always loved him. More than me. More than any of us."
"Everything you have ever done is for him. You always protect him. Even from me." He rubbed his face, trying to wipe away some of the frustration. "Even from himself."
"That’s not true! I love Howie, yes. But you… I love you so much I ache with it."
"Ache? So that’s what I am? A pain?" he accused.
"Kevin, no! No, that’s not what I meant. You are twisting my words."
"Then explain it to me. Explain to me, Kat. Explain how, since the moment we met all you’ve done is protect Howie. From the press, from his friends, his family. And when we got together you protected him from knowing about it." He turned back to her, green eyes blazing. "He’s having affairs right, left and centre and you’re so afraid of hurting his feelings that you refuse to tell him about us."
He drew a breath, but continued before Kat could say anything.
"I asked you to tell him and you ‘didn’t want to hurt him.’ I asked you to leave him, to be with me. But you were afraid of how it would affect him. I asked you to marry me, and you said you couldn’t because it would look bad for Howie. I loved you so much but it is always Howie, Howie, Howie!" His voice was getting louder, more belligerent.
"No! Kat, please! Dammit, you were pregnant! Pregnant with my son! And who do you tell? Not me! Not the father! No, you tell Howie. And you tell him the father is out of the picture. And that he can consider CJ his son."
Kat lashed back. "You’d left me! You’d walked out and left me! I was going to agree to everything, everything, you’d asked of me. I was going to leave him. To be with you. But you were too busy with that whore in your bed!"
"I never touched her. You know that!"
"Do I? I only have your word for it."
He rocked back, stunned that there was still a small part of her that doubted him. Then he glared at her.
"And I only have your word that nothing has ever happened between Howie and you," he replied.
Kat paled. "I’ve never…" she started but he turned away from her.
He stared out the window. "So what happens when I find out that I’m going to be a father? You’ve already made plans with Howie. I’m left to be involved only when possible. To stand by the sidelines."
"You were never in the sidelines. You were part of it all!"
"Gee, and I guess that was me in all those media stories about the first Backstreet baby."
"Did you hear what you just said? ‘Backstreet baby’, Kevin. BACKSTREET! CJ was never my son or yours. He’s always been The Backstreet Baby. Public property. I’ve never tried to shut you out. I’ve worked hard to make sure you had as big a part in his life as possible. But everything we’ve ever done has been geared to keeping his life as private as we can."
"And how long is that going to go on? You said just until he was born. Then just until Bryleigh was born. Then the pressure’d be off. It has been two years since then! Two years of being the doting ‘uncle’ to my own son. Two years of him calling me Kevvy and not Daddy! And now…"
"That was an accident. He wasn’t supposed to…"
"He called Howie Daddy! How was he supposed to know better? We never told him!"
"We, Kevin. It was ‘we.’ We made that decision as a group."
And when does ‘we’ stop? ‘Let Howie break the news to his family. We owe him that much’ you said. But he won’t do it. And you keep making excuses for him."
"Do you want them to find out from the tabloids? You know what that kind of attention is like. Backstreet Boy gay; Son not even his. News at 11!"
"I want my son! I want my son to know who his father is! I want my son to know his grandmother and his real uncles. I want to tell him about his grandfather. I want to be a part of his life, not an afterthought."
"Afterthought? I’m the one who is the afterthought. You keep forgetting about me."
He turned away and took a small gulp from the bottle, but she grabbed his arm spinning him back to face her.
"What about me? All this time CJ hasn’t had a chance to learn about me. About my family. I’ve spend all this time trying to make sure that you and Howie get to spend time with CJ and left everything about me out of his upbringing. And you’re wrong. All I’ve done for the last few years has been geared to protecting him. Not Howie. CJ is the most important one. I’ve done everything I could to make sure he is safe."
"Sure, blame the kid," Kevin muttered.
"I am not blaming him! Dammit, in every scenario I get left out. Howie’s afraid of losing CJ – not of losing me. You want CJ – no mention of me. You two are always wrangling about who gets CJ and complaining to me about it. I have to play fence to the two of you. And for months, years, not one of you has said anything about wanting me." She brushed the hair out of her face, trying to calm her shaking hands. "Everyone, especially me, is so damned concerned about CJ that we are all losing each other in the equation. You tell me how to fix it because I don’t know anymore!"
"I want my son!"
"I want him too. But I want you too."
That stopped her. "W-what?"
"I said tough. I want CJ. I don’t want you. You did all of this. It’s your fault he’s going around calling the wrong man Daddy. I don’t want you anywhere around me."
Kat could feel the blood draining from her face. It was a curious feeling. She’d never felt anything like it before. It was painless, but painful at the same time. But it was still better than what her hears had heard.
"Didn’t you hear me? Wasn’t I clear enough?" He moved quickly, putting the bottle down and then striding forward, gripping her arms tightly, his face leaning into hers. Then he yelled it loud enough to echo through the room.
"I don’t want you. I don’t love you. You mean nothing to me. I don’t want you in my life. I want CJ, but not you. I don’t love you!"
It was a good thing that he was holding her up or Kat would have fainted. She took a ragged breath. That didn’t help. His face was still too close and she could smell the mixture of liquor, anger and that scent that was all Kevin’s own.
She stepped back, shaking off his hands. And tried to take another breath, but it seemed to catch in her throat. She turned and left from the room, moving into the hallway. Past the others, all of them, who stood in shocked silence.
They’d heard it all. How could they not?
She nodded at the door to Brian’s room and he jumped, then scurried forward opening it.
"Kat…" he started but she ignored him and brushed past, going over to the bed.
CJ slept all curled up, one arm draped over Bryleigh. Kat gently picked him up and he stirred. "Momma?" he asked sleepily.
"It’s okay baby. Go back to sleep," she whispered.
She carried the child back across the hall, past the still aghast onlookers, and put down on Kevin’s bed. Kevin still stood by the window. Gaping at her as she walked back into the room.
She tucked CJ under the covers, then took the bottle out of Kevin’s limp hand. She poured it out in the bathroom sink and threw out the bottle. She picked up his toothbrush and tube of toothpaste and offered them to him, glancing at CJ’s slumbering form, trying to tell him with her eyes that she didn’t want his alcohol-soaked breath near her son.
Kevin stared stupidly at them.
Finally she flung them at him angrily, then stalked from the room, slamming the door.
Past the stupefied faces again.
Into the room she had been sharing with CJ.
She hadn’t said a word about Kevin’s pronouncement.
What was the use?
All the words had been spoken.