This was it.
Time to finish this.
End the farce that had become her life.
She'd drifted along for too long, letting life happen to her not the other way around. First with her parents, then fiancé, then at With It and with Parker and her crew, then with the Boys, and now with Nick and his attempts to play vengeful God to Howie's unrepentant sinner. But enough was enough.
She supposed she could keep this game going a little longer but things with Nick… to say they had deteriorated would be putting it mildly. Can't handle being in the same room together would be closer to accurate.
She knew that a lot of it was her fault. And a lot his. But most was that they had gotten themselves into a situation that they couldn't control. And now it was time to get out.
Kat choked back a sob as she finished tucking the last of her extra clothes in the brown box. She'd take it down to the post office as soon as she made one more pass through the house, to make sure there wasn't anything else that needed to be sent on. The rest of her things, the stuff she'd need immediately, would go in her suitcases. The boxes could get to where she was going whenever.
It was hard walking through the house. Each room had a memory or two. Some good, some bad, but all special in their own way. God, she wished it didn't have to end like this. But there was no other way. She hoped that Leighanne would forgive her for her failure. That she'd find some other way to get through this. To marry her Brian and be happy like Kat knew they would be. Once they got past this.
She even hoped that Howie would get his head on straight. She would have liked to have been the one to smack some sense into him, but now… Honestly, she felt more sorry for him that anything. Where had her fear of him gone? Where had all that terror gone? It had fallen away because of all the other things she'd experienced in the last few months. She still thought he'd gone too far with his erratic behaviour, but knew the others had noticed now and would force him to fix it. They'd done that with AJ and it had all turned out good. As for his weird sex thing with Miriam… how much was him and how much was her? Face it: Miriam was a heartless bitch who was using Howie. She'd always thought that. Somewhere in there Miriam was more than a little responsible for the way Howie'd change.
She still suspected that Howie was behind Nick's accident. However, even Jay said there was no way of finding out for certain. Sure, the police may have been able to find a fingerprint or something from the piece of the rope that he still had, but contacting them was out of the question. Backstreet business was taken care of by Backstreet folk.
She tried hard not to think about Nick though it was damn near impossible. What could she say to him that she hadn't yelled at him? The things she'd said… God! How awful could she have been? All the wonderful things he'd said to her she'd twisted and used against him. He'd done the same to her, she knew, but it was still unforgivable for her to have done that. How had love gone so horribly wrong?
She still loved him. Was still in love with him. Even when she was telling him was a shit she thought he was she knew that she didn't believe it. What she had really wanted to tell him how much she wanted him, needed him, wasn't sure how she could live without him.
She wondered if he was thinking the same thing…
And here she was, back in front of the boxes and suitcases. She sighed, angrily wiping away the tears that had started sliding down her cheeks. "Stop being a baby, Kat," she chastised herself, as she picked up the boxes. "You made this decision now suck it up and live with it."
"If you play that same verse one more time I am going to break that guitar over your head."
"Gee thanks, Kev. I'll have to remember that the next time you are trying to figure out the bridge for some song. You can go over and over and over for hours. Freaking annoying," Nick growled back.
"What crawled up your ass and died?"
"Fuck you too."
Kevin's voice dropped to one of concern. "Seriously. What's wrong? You've been a real dick to be around lately."
"I don't want to talk about it," Nick replied petulantly.
Kevin sighed. "Fine. Whatever. Let me know before it starts decomposing." He picked up his newspaper and restarted working on the crossword.
"What decomposes?" Nick snapped.
"Whatever crawled up your ass and died," Kevin replied, scratching a word down in the puzzle.
Nick snorted and started playing again. Kevin cleared his voice loudly and Nick realized he'd started playing the verse again. "Sorry," he muttered sheepishly.
"Upset cause they cancelled Buffy?"
"Cause Aaron's away?"
"My fucking Mom! Every time she knows I got a break coming she takes him out on the road again. Jesus! But no."
"Well, the Bucs won the Superbowl so it can't be them."
"Just do your crossword and leave me alone."
"What is a seven letter word for someone you work with?"
Nick thought for a moment then shrugged.
"Don't worry I got it: dumbass. How about a ten-letter word for someone who is a pain in the neck? Oh, I got that one too. Nick Carter."
"Hardy har har."
"So you gonna tell me or what?"
Nick sighed. Then in a quiet voice, "I think she's gonna leave me."
Kevin blinked. "Jeanne?"
"No, the Tooth Fairy, you fuck. Of course, Jeanne."
He knew they had been fighting a bit. Things had been tense between Nick and her before the tour ended, but Kevin had put that down to just 'get this damn tour over with already" nerves. "What's happening?"
"What isn't happening?" Nick moaned, leaning forward and leaning his head on the top of the guitar. "All we do is fight." He flashed a quick smile at Kevin. "Okay so we also make up lots and that is great too."
"Yeah, but I mean its like all we do is yell at each other and then have hot sex. I like the last part; it's the first part that is driving me nuts."
"What you arguing about?'
Nick was silent. He didn't know how to answer that one. There was so much they were arguing about. And too much they weren't. And, frankly, neither of them were things he could tell Kevin about. "Stuff."
"Gee, that helps, Nick. Care to be more specific?"
"I…" Nick sighed. "I sort of can't. Let's just say its more my fault than hers."
"You cheating on her?"
"Umm, how's your temper?"
Nick sighed. "Look, Kev. I knew you are trying to help, but it ain't any of those things. I mean I know my track record on those hasn't been good. But none of them are a problem. Mostly we just yell at each other, you know? I…" he flushed. "I almost hit her once, but I didn't. 'Sides, she'd deck me if I tried. She's a lot stronger than she looks." Nick smiled softly as he thought about her.
Kevin noted that smile and leaned forward. "So it looks like whatever is causing you guys trouble it isn't that you don't love each other."
"Hell, no. That's about the only thing that's been, like, keeping us going, you know?" It just… She… I… we sort of got her into this thing and now I can't figure out how to get us out."
"Is it something I should be worried about?"
"Jesus!" Nick erupted. "Is that all you fucking care about? Whether this'll hurt that damned Backstreet Boys? Thanks very fucking much, Kevin!"
"Hey! That's not what I meant." Kevin went over to Nick, giving the younger man a hug - something that Nick tried to shrug off at first. "Come on, Nick. You know that you are more important to me that the whole Backstreet thing."
"Sha… yeah right."
"Seriously, man. I'm just… I'm worried that whatever it is that's upsetting you is more than you can handle." Nick tried to wrestle out of Kevin's arms. "Not that way, dumbass. I'm not saying that you can't handle it. I'm just trying to find out if I can help. Like help more than just listening."
Nick deflated, leaning against Kevin. "I really wish you could, Kev. Jeanne and I… we just… I think she thinks that the only way to fix stuff is to leave me. And I honestly… I can't think of any other way of it too. Unless something else happens really soon. Like right now. And it ain't gonna."
"Wish you could be more specific, bro."
"Thanks man. But I can't. I just gotta figure this out. And I gotta hope she gives me just a little bit more time to do that. I just don't think she will, you know?"
"Oh! Group hug! I love those!" AJ said as he came into the room. He stretched his arms around Kevin and Nick. "We gonna do a group smooch too, 'cause you know I'm up for that too."
Kevin laughed, pushing AJ away. AJ promptly grabbed Nick. "Pucker up sweetheart!"
"Get off me, you freak!" Nick giggled. "God only knows where that mouth's been."
"Yeah, and somehow I think there are only so many germs Listerine can cure," Howie quipped as he pulled up a chair. He ignored the finger that AJ shot at him. "Where's Rok?"
"On his way. He was going to pick up some stuff from the studio before he came over."
"Think he'd grab a pizza too?"
Howie snorted. "Want one, call for it yourself, Blondie."
"I want a Hawaiian," AJ chirped.
"Get your own, baldy," Nick retorted, mimicking Howie's voice.
"Come on; you're already calling." Nick shot him the finger and walked out of the room, calling in his order on his cell phone. "Hey, come back here! Nick… Nick…" AJ chased after him.
Kevin shook his head, looking at Howie. "Kids."
Howie chuckled, watching the two men goofing around in the hallway - AJ trying to yell his order in Nick's phone, Nick batting him away. He kept remembering what he'd overheard before entering the room. Nick and Jeanne were on the outs and she'd gotten him mixed up in something she shouldn't have. Not good. Maybe it was something he should take a look into. Just to make sure Nicky was okay. Someone had to look out for the Boys, after all…