It had been a frustrating few days. Two of the buses had flats and having someone else invade what little personal space the Boys got while on tour didn't help. Something AJ ate didn't agree with him and having to run to the bathroom every few minutes didn't make him very happy. While Kevin was a little less stressed after his one-night stand he was still wound tight.
And Howie'd cornered Jeanne, once again trying to 'get to know her better' as he put it, which only made her anxious. With their current state of unease around each other that just made Nick even more edgy.
So after a particularly tense concert Brian finally blew.
"Alright! That is IT! You all are pissing me off!"
"Geez, Brian, chill."
"Shut up, Bone. You all are acting like spoiled children."
"And you aren't, cuz?" Kevin growled.
"At least I wasn't trying to trip Nick. Yeah, I saw that, Kev. And Howie, what the fuck were you doing? Trying to throw AJ and I off-key with that wack speeding up and slowing down shit."
"The whole world doesn't revolve around your ass, Rok," Howie spat back. "My earpiece was for shit: I wasn't trying anything."
"Oh?" Nick cut in. "And what was that damn butt-wiggling you kept doing in front of me? Looking for another flight off the stage?"
"Listen here, you little shit…"
"D! Shut up!" Brian thundered. "You see? We are all pissed off at each other."
"At least I wasn't screwing up my dance steps," Nick muttered as he glared at Brian.
"I heard that. If you'd stay in your spot you…" Brian stopped and swore again. "Fuck, now you got me doing it."
"Language, cuz," Kevin sneered.
"You want language? How about shut the fuck up, you asshole? Is that good?" Brian retorted.
"Going to hell now, Rok," Howie taunted.
"You first Mr. 'Sweet" and innocent one. For a guy who can't seem to get an acting gig you sure have all the fans fooled, D," Nick barked.
"Listen here, Blondie…"
"Howie! Shut up!" Brian roared. "Shit! You guys are all assholes. Get over yourselves."
"I mean it, AJ. We are all pissed at each other and that concert was proof of it. You think people aren't going to notice us trying to kill each other on stage? Most of our fans are young but they aren't stupid."
Howie snickered. "Oh yeah? You met some of them? I swear, some of the older ones are more deluded than the young ones. "Mature" fan club, my ass."
"Doesn't stop you from taking their money and trying to fuck them," AJ pointed out.
Brian broke in before Howie launched himself at the younger man. "Exactly. None of us can stand each other's more selfish behaviours. If I hear Nick go on about how he "loves all his fans" and then watch him only talk to the ones with the biggest racks one more time, I'm gonna kick his ass."
"Collecting numbers again, Nick? Thought you had a girlfriend," Kevin derided.
"Couldn't tell from the way you keep drooling on her," Nick snapped.
Brian took a deep breath. "We are getting off topic. Look, we are about ready to kill each other, okay? Me as well as the rest of you."
"So what should we do, oh all-important one?" Howie said as he rubbed a towel through his hair.
Brian shrugged. "Bug out." He looked at Kevin. "That thing tomorrow night at the nightclub? Do we have to be there?"
Kevin nodded. "Yeah. Sponsor shit."
"So fine. From now until whenever we have to be there I don't want to see hide no hair of any of you. Aje, go bowling or shopping or whatever. Just do it without any of us. Kevin, go hiking or biking or whatever. Just don't blow out another knee. Hug a tree. Hug a tree-hugger. Just get lost and blow off some steam."
"We have a basketball game tomorrow, Rok," Nick reminded him.
"It's just for fun," he shrugged. "So one of us cancels. No big deal. There must be some water nearby - go boating or swimming or surfing."
"Or drowning," AJ muttered.
"Fuck you, too, Bone," Nick retorted, though not with as much venom as he would have done a few minutes before.
"Whatever. Just get out of each other's face," Brian said.
"Sounds good." AJ shoved his sweaty shirt in the laundry bag, grabbed a beater out of his bag, pulled it over his head and then picked up his bag. "So I'm out of here and I'll see all you losers tomorrow night."
Kevin rolled his eyes as the younger man exited the room. "What the dumbass said. Later." He walked out of the change room, turning in the opposite direction that the other man had.
Brian groaned and shook his head. "I need a drink."
"Glad to oblige," Howie said pulling a flask out of his bag and chucking it at Brian. "So Rok, you gonna tell me what to do or am I allowed to figure that out for myself."
Brian caught the flack and took a long draught. He coughed at the harshness of the liquor, his eyes watering. "What the hell is that stuff?"
Howie smirked. "Best tequila out there."
"That wasn't a worm in there that was a rattlesnake. Shit," Brian swore as he wiped his eyes.
"Tequila doesn't have a worm - that's mescal. And if you can't handle it pitch it back over."
Brian glared at him and took another pull before throwing it back. "Do whatever the hell you want. Get a haircut. A manicure. I don't give a damn. Just get out of my face." He turned his back, picking up the other's dirty clothes and dropping them in the basket in the corner so that their wardrobe team could get them cleaned and ready for their next performance. He ignored the stomping behind him, just as he did the slamming of the change room door.
"You gotta death wish, Rok?" Nick said as he walked out the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist. "I don't know what you said to D, but he looked like he was about to pound you."
"The guy's an ass. Talk about little Napoleon."
Nick chuckled at the allusion. "Yeah, but he's been working out. He could probably take you now."
Thinking that this might be a good opportunity to drop some hints about Howie's fixation, Nick continued. "He's been really weird for a while now. Working out and shit. Cozying up to our women. What the fuck is he on, you think?"
Brian frowned as he turned back to Nick. He giggled as Nick swore at his socks that were wet from the floor. "Dude, you're supposed to put your socks on after your jeans. That way you just pull on your shoes and tada! They're dry."
"I can dress myself, asshole."
"You think? And what do you mean 'what's he on?' You think Howie's on drugs?"
Nick's head shot up in surprise. "Never thought of that." He thought for a moment. "It's possible. I mean he is acting like a fool." He shook his head. "Nah, I mean, like, he's been weird. Annoying. Fucked up. More lately, you know? Ah, just being a jerk. And he did look like he wanted to pound you. Can't ever remember him doing that before."
"Yeah, that's more your thing."
Nick flushed. "Shut up, Rok. I'm not doing that anymore. 'Sides this isn't about me."
"Maybe it should be." Brian said. "Look, I know we haven't been close a lot recently, but you're acting nuts too. That shit with you and Kev. And with AJ a little while ago. You and Jeanne fighting again?"
Nick sighed. "Sorta. Come on, when the heck have I ever gotten along with my women?"
"You've been better with this one than the others. I dunno; it's like she gets you. The real you. The wacked-up, fruit loop, bounce all-over you. The freaky…"
"Gee, thank Bri. Way to make me feel good," Nick grunted through the t-shirt he was pulling over his head. "Yeah, well we get along good. Just not, like, all the time."
Brian grinned. "Better stay away from her until tomorrow night too. She's probably sick to death of your face too."
Nick plastered a smile on his face, trying not to show his confusion about what was happening between he and Kat. "She's going anyway. Mich told her about this funky new age spa place across town. She's doing the whole thing; massage, facial, palm-reading shit." He shook his hand. "I do not get that stuff."
"Me neither. But chicks do, and it makes them happy." Brian winked. "I like it when they are happy. Makes Leigh more interested in making me happy, if you know what I mean."
"Gross! Do not want to hear about it," Nick laughed. He grabbed his bag and headed to the door. "Think the others are gone by now?" Brian nodded. "Good. Then so am I. Later, Rok. See you tomorrow night. Oh, and hey, sorry about that thing. I was being pissy so I took it out on you. We'll all feel better later."
Brian nodded, not really sure what Nick was referring to until he stuck his foot in his running shoe. The gushy feel of shampoo saturated his foot, and overflowed the shoe.
"Nick! You asshole!"