© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 64: Songs
Howie stared at the empty room, trying hard to remember what it had looked like before. Had the desk been over there or over a little closer to the window? And dammit, why was he starting to forget those little things? She’d only been gone six weeks…
He could only handle looking in here. CJ’s empty room made him cry. And Kat’s bedroom…
"Come home, Kat. Please come home," he whispered to the bare room.
Telling his folks had been a lot easier than he thought. They had been shocked of course. But they knew him too well, had known that he had been holding something back for a long time. It was almost like a sigh of relief when he finally spilled out the whole story to them. He got the expected questions: how long have you known? Are you happy like this? You aren’t sick or anything… you’ve been careful? Did you really ever try with Kat? That was the one truth he wouldn’t answer directly. He told them that he loved her so much, that she had stood by him through all of it. Had supported his decision and loved him unstintingly, if not physically. She had been the one who had told him to be who he was, not who he felt he should be.
They had been angry… but less over his being gay and more over CJ not being the grandson they had so wanted. Telling them who CJ’s father was had calmed them a lot. They adored Kevin, and could see why Kat would turn to him. He wasn’t as good as their Howie, but if he couldn’t… then Kevin was the next best thing.
He made it clear to them that Kat wasn’t to be blamed for any of this. He had been the one to make the situation so difficult that she had taken this step. After all, she never blamed them: hadn’t she let them have some time with CJ before they’d left? They had to agree that some of the cryptic remarks that she had made when she had picked CJ up from their house now made sense… but divorce?
He chuckled. That was what had been most upsetting for them. Their youngest son was a homosexual? That’s fine. Their "grandchild" was someone else’s son? They could live with that. He was getting a divorce? NO! Don’t do that!
As if he had any choice in the matter.
He’d tried to stop it. He’d had his lawyer fight it, and had even gone down to Kat’s lawyer’s office, begging for some help. Her lawyer had been steely-eyed and refused to answer any questions. She had handed him yet another of Kat’s letters and left him to read it. In it, Kat had told him that this really was what she wanted. It was the best thing for all of them. That she had followed the prenuptial agreement to the letter and he had no reason for denying her this. If he tried to use CJ, she would provide DNA evidence to prove that he wasn’t Howie’s son, and that he had no rights whatsoever regarding him. And that nothing he could do, not even refusing to sign the divorce papers, would change her mind or make her come back. It was over. Please let her go.
The steely-eyed lawyer had shown some humanity as she handed him some tissues to wipe his eyes after reading it. She told him that she had been surprised when Kat had come in. She’d even tried to talk her out of it. But Kat had said that it was over and that was that. And that Howie would sign the divorce papers without much fight. She had also made it clear that there was no way that the lawyer could contact her. She would find out through the media, and collect the final papers from the county court.
Howie still hadn’t signed the papers. He had them with him. But he couldn’t sign them. He couldn’t let go. Not without trying to talk to her. Somehow…
He’d hired a private investigator. Who had gotten nothing. There had been nothing more to be got from the lawyer. Her family, what little was left of it (Her parents had died during his last tour? Why had she never told him?), could tell him nothing. They’d still thought she was with him.
He’d tried her agent. Todd had been shocked, had called Howie personally when he received the letter from Kat telling him that she was leaving. He was more than willing to tell the PI everything he could to help Howie. But really, he had little. He could have stopped payments on Kat’s royalty cheques… But Howie couldn’t let that happen. He didn’t want her to come home that way. And he was afraid that it would just make her angrier.
He’d hurt her so badly.
He sat down on one of the deck chairs, looking at the pool, imaging her doing lengths. He should have listened to her… When she’d said no… He’d been so determined… He hadn’t listened… What kind of man was he? He gulped back a sob. The missing her, and CJ, was bad, but the guilt was eating him away.
He was almost tempted to tell Kevin what had happened. Kevin’d kill him, and then all the pain would be over. But he couldn’t do that. It would hurt Kevin even more, and seeing him the way he was right now…
He hadn’t told Kevin that he’d told this family the whole truth about CJ. That Kevin was free to tell his family all about him. He’d let Brian know, and hoped that the message would get through.
Kevin still couldn’t handle seeing him.
Couldn’t handle seeing the slightest thing that reminded him of Kat.
AJ’d brought him some Chinese food one night and unknowingly got it from a restaurant that Kevin and Kat had been to together. AJ had retreated quickly and the food was probably still congealed on the wall where Kevin had thrown it.
Howie looked across at the other house. He longed to go over, to hold Kevin and cry his heart out alongside his friend. They were both mourning the same person. It would make sense. But he knew he couldn’t do it. The drapes were still all closed, but Kevin was there. He rarely left the house. For the same reason that Howie rarely left his… what if she came back and he wasn’t there?
The phone rang and he shot out of his chair… Could it really be?
He almost pulled the phone out of the wall in his haste to get to it. "Hello?"
"Howie? It’s Todd. Look, can you get here? Fast?" he asked briskly.
Howie replied with a questioning look, "yes, but…"
"Good. Be here by 5 p.m. You have six hours."
"Look, you want to talk to Kat? This is the best I could do. I left her a message at the last email address she gave me. I told her that we needed to clear up one last point with Random House or they were going to reneg on closing the contract. I got her to agree to an online chat on the subject, but only at a time when she said she would be there. Its this or nothing."
Howie cheered. "I could kiss you! I’m on my way. Bye"
Had he really heard Todd mutter, "I wish you would," before he’d hung up the phone?
It felt weird to be back in New York after the last time.
Probably why Kevin had refused to leave the hotel.
Howie had called Brian first to tell him what was up and within half an hour Brian was on his doorstep, with Kevin in the car. Kevin still couldn’t come to the door. He was afraid to. He couldn’t even look down the hallway. The hallway where he had stood and started the process of becoming friends with her… where he had stood and shouted at her after finding out she was pregnant… that he had rushed down when he’d discovered that the baby was his… that (don’t tell Howie) they’d made love in a few times when they couldn’t wait to be with each other… It held too many memories.
Howie didn’t mind; he knew how fragile Kevin was.
How had they gone from being so angry at him that they wouldn’t even speak to him to walking on eggshells around him for fear he would fall apart? Whatever, it had happened. Maybe because Howie was dealing with it better. Because he had his family around for support. Kevin still couldn’t even say her name.
They had arrived well in front of their deadline and quickly found a hotel room. NOT in the same hotel they had stayed in last time. Kevin had been listless when they got there, dropping the bag that Howie was sure Brian had had to pack for him and going to sit on the bed. He turned on the TV and aimlessly flipped through the channels. Once. Twice. Three times.
He finally said something. "I am not leaving here. You’ll have to tell me what she says. I can’t…" He brushed the hair back from his face, revealing the dark circles under his eyes and sunken cheekbones. "I couldn’t handle it if she said she wasn’t coming home… And I need to be alone."
Brian had offered to stay with him, but Kevin told him to go too.
So here they were in Todd’s office, both nervously pacing back and forth, waiting for her to log on. It would be funny if you thought about it. This was how they’d met…
"Here she is," Todd said, sitting up quickly. Brian and Howie both rushed over to see what had happened on the screen.
KitKat: I’m here. What is going on Todd?
The three men looked at each other. Then Todd cleared his throat. "I better get the business out of the way first. She may never speak to me again after this."
LitAgent: Random House wants to know when you are going to do the signing tour.
KitKat: No! No tour.
LitAgent: Kat… you can’t…
KitKat: I mean it Todd, no tour. I refuse to be out in public. I can't handle it. They don’t need me. They have all the damn publicity they want without me. I can read the papers too.
The story had made all the major media outlets. Once again gossip about the Backstreet Boys was outpacing publicity about the album.
LitAgent: They say that is not enough. They want at least some talk shows….
KitKat: Tell them to go to hell. There isn't a talk show in existence that would agree to ONLY discuss the book and we both know it. There is nothing in the contract that says that I have to. I won’t do it.
LitAgent: They may try and cut back on the royalty spread.
KitKat: Let them try. You wrote that contract, Todd. You know they are dead in the water if they try. They’d lose. And between the two of us we could make them look like real shits for trying. Sure they would get some more publicity, but not enough for it to be worth it.
There was a pause.
KitKat: You know all this, Todd. You didn’t need to talk to me.
Brian nudged Todd out of the way and typed quickly.
LitAgent: I was worried about you. I wanted to make sure you were okay.
KitKat: I am as fine as I can be.
LitAgent: And CJ?
KitKat: He’s fine
KitKat: You bastard.
KitKat: You could barely even remember his name last time we talked, now it just rolls out no problem? What's going on?
LitAgent: Kat, I’m sorry about this. Its Brian. We had to talk to you somehow.
KitKat: Go to hell, Brian. And Todd…
LitAgent: Kat, please, its me. Its Howie. Please talk to me.
Kitkat: What for? You never listen
LitAgent: I am so sorry about that. I was trying… Damn it I am sorry
Todd nudged Brian. "What happened?" he whispered.
Brian shook his head, realizing that Nick had been right in his suspicions. "Sorry, private stuff."
Todd sighed, then nodded. "Call me back when it is safe. If she is still speaking to me."
Brian nodded and watched him walk from the room. "A good man," he thought. Then he sat down in a chair on the other side of the desk and let Howie type in peace.
KitKat: Big deal. How could you, Howie? How could you do that to me?
LitAgent: I wasn’t thinking. I was so desparate. I… he hurt you so bad and I wanted to make it right.
KitKat: Major backfire.
LitAgent: Kat, please come home. I need you. Kevin needs you. He’s devastated. He won’t eat, can’t sleep. All he does is think about you.
KitKat: Kevin doesn’t love me anymore.
LitAgent: That’s not true! He was angry. He could never mean that.
KitKat: He meant it.
LitAgent: No, he didn’t. You don’t know. You don’t know how he is acting.
KitKat: Lucky Kevin. Finally gets that starring role in his own movie that he has wanted for all this time. "Acting" is right.
LitAgent: Kat that is not true. He is devastated. God, if you won’t believe me about him, think about me. I miss you so much.
KitKat: Yeah, I know how that goes.
LitAgent: Not like that. I promise that will never happen again. You were right. You are always right. I am gay.
KitKat: Always right am I? So Kevin doesn’t love me
LitAgent: You're twisting my words! That is the one thing you are wrong on.
LitAgent: I told my parents.
KitKat: How did they take it?
LitAgent: Upset, but getting over it. See? You told me and I was so afraid… They love me anyway that I am. They don’t care. They aren’t even upset about CJ. They just want you to come home.
KitKat: I told you.
LitAgent: And you were right. Please come home. We all miss you so much.
KitKat: You miss CJ. He’s the only one you want back.
LitAgent: That’s not true! Have I asked about him? No… It is you I want back.
KitKat; You did too
LitAgent: That was Brian. Not me. I want him back, yes. I want to be able to tell him that I am going to be the best Uncle Howie he is ever going to have. But I want you back too. I miss you. No one else could ever understand me that way you do.
KitKat: I don’t understand you Howie. Not at all. You lied to me in the worst possible way.
LitAgent: I will be sorry for that forever. Please, please forgive me. I miss you so much. I need your friendship. And I need you to come home for Kevin. He needs you.
KitKat: Have you signed the divorce papers?
The sudden change of subject made him hesitate.
KitKat: Sign them.
LitAgent: I will if you come home.
KitKat: Home is where the heart is, Howie. And CJ is with me. He is the only one who loves me. Sign the papers. This farce is over.
LitAgent: Please. I’ll sign them. I’ll sign them right now.
He pulled them out of his back pocket, gesturing Brian to come around the desk.
LitAgent: I’m signing them. Brian is right here. He is witnessing it. Now, please come home
LitAgent: Its Brian. He’s done it.
KitKat: Do you really think I would fall for that? Do you really think I would trust you now?
Howie looked down at the papers, now signed and complete. He had agreed to the divorce. It was there in black and white. And it hadn’t helped at all. he gave a short sob.
LitAgent: Please they are signed. I will submit them immediately. You can get verification within a week, I’m sure. Just please promise you’ll come home then.
KitKat: I can’t do that, Howie, Brian, whoever you are. I don’t have a home to go to anymore.
LitAgent: You do. Our house, or even better Kevin’s. He's left it waiting for, exactly the way you left it. He is keeping it like a shrine. It just needs you…
KitKat: Kevin doesn’t love me anymore.
LitAgent: He does, Kat. If only you knew how much…
KitKat: He told me he didn’t.
LitAgent: He was angry. Now he is so sad. He loves you so much. He misses you terribly.
KitKat: It is CJ he misses, not me.
LitAgent: Its Brian again. Its you he cries himself to sleep thinking about every night. Not CJ
There was no response on the other end. A minute passed.
KitKat: If only you knew how much I wished that were true. But I can’t believe it. Not from the way he was acting before, not after what he said.
LitAgent: Please. Just talk to him. One moment on the phone with him and you’ll know I am telling the truth.
KitKat: I have to go. I can't do this... This discussion is over. And it is NOT going to happen again.
LitAgent: NO! Please don’t go! Please! Give me something, anything I can tell Kevin.
KitKat: Kim Stockwood’s first album, Bonavista. Fifth track. That’s how I know that he doesn’t love me anymore.
KitKat: And tell Todd that if he ever pulls a stunt like this again he is no longer my agent.
LitAgent: Kat! Please
****** KitKat is no longer available ********
"No! Kat come back," Howie shouted at the screen, then dropped his head into his hands and started to weep. Brian just stood there in shock, rubbing Howie’s shoulder and trying to comfort him.
They’d failed. How was he going to tell Kevin?
Todd peeked in. "Is it okay?"
Brian shook his head. "She’s logged off."
"Can we print this out?" Brian nodded to the computer.
"Yeah. I think so." Todd came over and read the last few lines. Blanching when he saw her message to him, he quickly cut the text, pasted it into a document and then sent it to the printer. "That’s the only way I know how…" He shrugged at Brian. Then glanced at Howie. "What else can I do to help?"
"Get me a copy of that album," Howie replied raggedly, looking up. "That one she mentioned."
Todd nodded and called his assistant in, giving her $50 and sending her to the record shop up the street.
Howie had regained his composure by the time she had returned. He thanked her graciously and was about to open the wrapper, when Brian stopped him.
"That is between Kat and Kevin."
Howie acquiesced and gave him the CD. Brian turned it over, paled as he read the title of the fifth song, then slipped it into his jacket. He turned to Todd.
"We better go now. Thanks for all your help."
Todd smiled. "Whatever I can do to help, I’ll do."
Howie shook his head. "We’ve all ready gotten you in enough trouble."
Todd fixed him straight in the eye, and repeated his statement.
Kevin was in the same position he had been when they returned. He looked up hopefully when they entered, but that faded once he saw their faces.
"Tell me," he said gruffly.
Brian handed him the printout, which he grabbed frantically. He read it through then sobbed a little.
"She doesn’t believe…"
"I’m so sorry, Kevin," Howie whispered.
Kevin looked at him and nodded. Howie’d tried. He could read that. "And the song she mentioned."
Brian handed him the CD. Kevin didn’t even look at it. He just ripped off the cover and stuck it in the stereo, and clicked on to the 5th song. The somber sad strings of the guitar should have warned them.
"This bed’s like an ocean
We’re on two separate shores
I’m sailing my ship, you’re sailing yours
We’re drifting further and further apart
So if you’re gonna be here
And not give me your heart
I’d rather be lonely alone
Cause it hurts more to be here
Without all the love we’ve known
I think it’d be easier if I go
I’d rather be lonely alone
Half of you is with me
And half of you is not
You knew how to love me
I guess you forgot
Even when you’re with me
I’m all by myself
Cause when we’re together
You’re somewhere else
I’d rather be lonely alone
Cause it hurts more to be here
Without all the love we’ve known
I think it’d be easier if I go
I’d rather be lonely alone"
Kevin had stood stockstill while the song played. But now he reacted: he collapsed.
Brian jumped quickly to his side, then looked up at Howie. "Call an ambulance. I don’t think he’s breathing."
(THANKS DANI!!!! THIS IS SO COOL)