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Title: "Baby Trouble"--Part One (1/WIP)
"Nicky," Howie called through the closed door of the hotel bathroom, "are you throwing up again? I think we'd better tell Kevin..."
The toilet flushed and shortly after Nick emerged, his face pale and sweating.
"Howie," he said, swiping his mouth with a washcloth, "let it go. I'm fine. Really."
Nick could see Howie was worried. His round brown eyes were squinting and staring into Nick's face.
"Nicky, this is the third day in a row. You must have a bug or something."
Nick gave a short laugh. "Right. A bug that makes me puke in the mornings but let's me gorge by lunch and dinner time? That's a weird version of the flu."
Howie was quiet, watching Nick. Nick pulled off his soiled tee and tossed it aside, reaching for a fresh shirt. He sniffed his armpits before tugging the shirt over his head and smoothing it in place.
"I don't get it, Nick. What do you think's wrong with you?" Nick could see Howie's reflection in the mirror as he used his fingers to 'comb' his hair. Howie was clearly perplexed. (And maybe slightly annoyed.)
Nick turned toward Howie and forced a smile. "It's no biggie, Howie. Don't sweat it. 'kay?"
They headed into the hall, letting the door to the suite snap shut behind them.
"I'm starving," Howie said as they walked toward the elevators. "This hotel is supposedly famous for their omelets."
Nick spun quickly around, yanking his key card free from his pocket as he bolted back toward the door to their shared suite. He swiped the card and lurched through the door, Howie tight on his heels.
Nick barely made it to the bathroom where he fell on his knees and threw up violently into the bowl. He clung to the sides of the toilet and moaned loudly.
Nick felt grateful when Howie handed him a glass of cool tap water. He took a swallow and spat before drinking down several small sips. His mouth was burning from bile and he felt awful.
"You're sick, Nicky," he heard Howie saying. Howie's cool hand was on the back of his neck. Then Howie was gently wiping his mouth and chin with a damp hand towel.
Nick managed to rise and face his friend. "Naw, Howie. Just sick to my stomach. It'll pass. It always does."
Howie's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean 'it always does,' Nick? How long exactly has this been going on?"
Nick moved from the bathroom to sit on the edge of his bed. He sighed and glanced up at a frowning Howie. "It's nothing. Why are you making such a big deal, Howie? Look, with the stuff going on with A.J., the last thing anybody needs right now is to worry about me."
Howie made a dismissive gesture then sat down beside Nick and put an arm around him. "Nicky, A.J. has nothing to do with this. Yes, we're all worried about how much he's been drinking, but that's beside the point. I want to know what's up with you."
Nick waited a moment before answering. He was trying to gather his thoughts. "I did go see a doctor, Howie. But he didn't find anything wrong. I mean, he took blood and everything. No virus or infections. No whacked out blood sugar or whatever. He thought it might be stress or something. I'm just riding it out."
"I'd like a second opinion," Howie said, kneading the back of Nick's neck. It felt so good Nick wished he could purr like a kitten.
"We'd better go, guy," Nick said, forcing himself to his feet. "They'll be waiting down there and we're already late."
Howie shook his head. "I think we need to tell Kevin. I have a hunch he'll be pretty mad if he finds out later, Nicky."
"Look, Howie, he's not going to find out. I'm the only one who knows. Okay, and now you. So unless we tell him, he can't find out. Okay?" Nick was starting to feel exasperated by Howie's 'voice of doom.'
"Okay, Nicky. Whatever you say. But I don't see how you can keep this a secret for long."
Nick snorted. "I've managed to for the whole rehearsal and tour so far," he said, sounding pleased with himself.
Howie gasped. "Are you telling me you've been sick like this since January? Nicky!"
Nick decided it might be wise not to mention he'd been sick since December...
"Never mind. We need to get down to that restaurant now, Howie."
Nick grabbed Howie's hand and yanked him out of the suite and over to the bank of elevators.
"I plan to keep an eye on you, Nicky," Howie said in a firm voice as the elevator doors snapped shut.
"Whatever. Just do it quietly, will ya," Nick shot back, grinning over at Howie.
Nick saw Howie struggle to retain his placid demeanor. He failed and smiled back, showing his overbite.
Nick felt a surge of affection for Howie. They'd been closer than ever since the Black & Blue tour began.
Nick began humming while the elevator descended. He was now feeling happy and peppy and ready to eat. Howie was still smiling at him, but Nick sensed Howie was also studying him.
They approached the restaurant and before they could inquire about the correct table Brian came bounding across the room to hustle them along. Howie rolled his eyes at Nick. He was frequently put out by Brian's antics. For some reason Howie and Brian simply didn't get on all that well. Their personalities were always in conflict. Howie was far more composed and quiet, while Brian was often bubbling over and quite loud.
They sat down with the other guys and several tour members. Howie nodded and smiled at Krystal while Nick grabbed up his menu and began to quickly scan the possibilities.
They all ate a hearty meal (even A.J. managing to eat rather than drink for a change). Nick was buoyant enough during dinner to have laughed loudly many times, while putting away a large quantity of food.
"Better slow down, son," Brian joked, jabbing Nick's stomach, "I swear you're puttin' on pounds even with all the dancin.'"
Nick surprised everyone--including himself--by bursting into tears. He jumped up and dashed out of the restaurant, not slowing until he was outside in the cool night air.
Howie caught up to him just as he halted to catch his breath, sobbing harshly.
"Nicky," Howie called. "Nicky, what's wrong? Brian was teasing you. He didn't mean it."
Nick wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. His nose was running and he felt miserable. "I know," he managed to say, "but it's true. I feel huge."
Howie laughed softly, patting Nick's arm. "I know the feeling. But you look wonderful, Nicky."
And then Howie somehow pulled Nick into the shadows and they were kissing. Nick's tears were gone as quickly as they'd appeared. Like one of those crazy spring showers, Nick thought before his mind began to float away on a romantic wave of affection for Howie D.
"Let's go up to the room," Howie suggested, handing Nick a handkerchief. Nick wiped his eyes and nose and nodded, pocketing the cloth.
"What about the guys?" Nick asked, glancing back toward the restaurant.
"They knew I was going after you. They'll figure it out. Don't worry about it," Howie said, slipping his hand around Nick's big mitt.
Once they'd reached the suite, Nick was feeling more than simple romance. He was suddenly horny as hell--his erection tenting his loose slacks.
"I guess we'd better take care of things," Howie said, grinning down at Nick's crotch. "Let's crawl under the covers and neck for awhile. What do you think?"
It sounded good to Nick. He wanted to come--and then snuggle with Howie. He was pleased not to be alone. It seemed like the perfect thing to do.
"Have you been having a lot of these mood swings, Nicky? I mean, sometimes you seem to go from feisty to sweet pretty quickly."
Nick knew Howie was really saying he had the habit of starting out horny and ending up romantic--and satisfied by far less than actual sex play. Howie was way too polite to phrase it so bluntly.
"I don't know. I guess I've been more moody since I turned 21. It's weird being an adult now. I don't feel like one a lot of the time."
Howie chuckled. "Yeah, well you don't become an adult because you're legal, Nick. I think there's a lot of people over 30 who aren't really adults."
They both giggled and began mouthing against each others necks. It was fun and sexy, but not passionate. Somehow that seemed perfect. Nick's erection was pulsing, but it was a sweet throbbing; it wasn't an insistent feeling.
When they'd played sweetly together for some time, Nick realized he was starting to drift off to sleep. Howie's head was resting on his shoulder and Nick could smell Howie's pleasant and familiar scent--a mixture of musk, spice and expensive face and hair tonics.
"I feel so funny, Howie," Nick whispered.
"Good or bad funny?" Howie asked softly.
"I don't know. Right now it's a good funny, I guess."
Nick felt Howie's hand running through his hair. "It's okay, Nicky. Whatever it is, I'm here. I'll take care of you."
The thought made Nick feel better. Whatever was going on, Nick could count on Howie to be there...
-the end part one--back to top of page-