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Title: "Baby Trouble"--Part Two (2/WIP)
The tour wasn't going well. They weren't quite 'on' the way they needed to be. No one wanted to point a finger of blame--but A.J.'s constant drinking and substance abuse was certainly part of the problem...
Kevin seemed to be trying to follow A.J. every place he went. He frequently rode on A.J.'s bus. Brian was considerably more quiet than usual and spent even more time with his wife Leighanne.
A.J. seemed anxious to avoid the guys. He began booking his room in separate hotels. He was close with his bodyguard and some of the tour guys, but deliberately evasive with his fellow Backstreeters...
Meanwhile, Nick could feel Howie's eyes on him much of the time. He knew Howie was looking out for him.
After a particularly dismal concert performance, Nick and Howie headed together toward Howie's suite (their bodyguards following discreetly behind them).
Once in the room (their bodyguards situated in the outside hallway), Nick threw himself down on the sofa, feeling dejected and tired.
"How's your morning sickness?" Howie asked him, moving to sit on the arm of the sofa while reaching down to rub Nick's neck.
The question struck some cord. Nick sat up quickly and turned to face Howie.
"Morning sickness. Geez, Howie, that's exactly what it's like!"
Howie looked into Nick's excited face with a puzzled expression. "What?" he asked in his soft voice.
"It's like I have morning sickness," Nick's voice was pleased. "I remember what Mom was like when she was carrying the twins," he added, taking one of Howie's hands in his. "You're the youngest in your family, so you don't know what I mean, I suppose."
"What are you saying, Nick?" Howie's voice was plainly confused.
Nick laughed. This seemed like finally finding a solution--and he felt elated.
"I've got morning sickness! It makes sense. You know how I've thrown up in the mornings and been weird about certain foods. But then later I could eat like a horse.
"And then the mood swings and all. And being so emotional. I mean, yeah, I'm a guy who cries, but now I seem to cry at the drop of a hat. You know it's true."
Howie was staring a Nick. Nick paused and watched Howie--waiting for a response. Howie finally gave a grudging nod.
"And I've been so fat. Or felt like I was fat. Kind of sluggish some of the time. Mom was like that with all the kids, I guess. But I remember it best with Aaron and Angel."
"Calm down, Nick. I'm following every word," Howie said, reaching out and patting Nick's arm.
Nick laughed again. "It's fine. Go ahead and humor me. I know what I'm talking about here."
"You're talking about being pregnant, Nick. And unless you know something I don't, that's not possible."
Nick felt smug. "Actually, Howie, it is. As a matter of fact, I do know something you don't know. Something I've never much talked about. Something only Brian really knows."
Howie's eyes widened. "Which is?"
"Okay, so normally I'm kinda quiet about this. So don't tell anybody else. I don't think even Brian thinks about it now."
"Nick." Howie's tone held a warning.
"I'm getting to it. Cool your jets." Nick couldn't keep the delight from his voice.
He paused and cleared his throat, staring into Howie's warm brown eyes. "I... um... am kinda weird down there," he said, glancing at his zipper.
"Weird? Weird how?" Howie asked pointedly.
"I guess I was born with this like 'condition' or something. I mean, as a kid Mom and Dad were all over me to keep it private and all. I mean, you know I've got a dick," he said, again glancing at his crotch, "but I've... um... also got like a woman's box. Sorta, anyway."
Howie's expression was incredulous. "You're kidding me."
"Nope. They kinda decided it didn't matter, seeing as the opening is like really small or whatever. Most people have no idea it's there. I don't even know exactly where it is unless I go hunting around. Which mostly I don't." Nick grimaced. "Why touch it if you don't have to? You know what I mean."
"No. I don't know what you mean. I thought if somebody was born kind of between genders that they did surgery or something to fix it."
Nick felt indignant. "Whatta ya mean, 'between genders'? I'm a guy, Howie."
Howie giggled. "I'm well aware of that, Nick."
Nick couldn't help giggling in response. "Yeah, I guess that's true."
"All I mean is, I know it happens that some people are born with the physical signs of both genders. It's just not usual to leave it with both... well..." Howie's tone was plainly uncomfortable.
"Yeah, well I guess the 'rents didn't want to have them do a surgery on a little kid. And the doctors kind of kept track of how things were going with my hormonal levels and everything. They've never had to give me anything to make me get body hair and all that."
"But there's no way you could have a functional..." Howie's voice trailed off.
"Yeah, well I haven't been testing it out, if that's what you mean."
For some reason that struck them both as hysterically funny. They burst into laughter and began rolling around together on the sofa.
When they'd finally calmed, Nick sat up and wiped tears of mirth from his eyes while facing Howie. "Don't you think that's it though, Howie? It would make sense."
"Nick, wouldn't a doctor check for that?"
"Well, I haven't seen any of my usual doctors. You know, the ones who know about it. And I guess it's not that obvious or anything unless you're looking for it. And they don't run pregnancy tests on guys when they take blood samples, after all."
"Wouldn't a physical examination show it? Or x-rays or whatever?"
Nick sighed. "The doctor I went to checked me over, but he wasn't looking for that. And he didn't do x-rays. I described how I felt and he took blood. I think he was looking for exhaustion or stress--or maybe he was thinking drugs or something, for all I know."
"Did he check your prostate?"
"Yeah. I guess it's fine. The exam felt like hell as always."
Howie's expression was curious. "Can't he feel it when he puts his finger in your rectum for that?"
Nick shrugged. "How would I know? I'm not a doctor."
"You're taking this really well, Nick, if you're actually pregnant."
Nick sat for a moment, considering Howie's words.
"Yeah, I guess I am. I was just so relieved to come up with a reason, Howie. I didn't like the idea that it was stress or whatever. Like I was going crazy or something."
"Nick, stress isn't 'going crazy.' And I'm glad you're so pleased to have something you see as an explanation. But I don't know how realistic it is. Women don't just get pregnant. Little girls can't get pregnant, I mean. Damn it."
Nick could see Howie was embarrassed and doing his best to hide it. "Hey, it's okay, Howie." He suddenly felt a strong need to make Howie feel better. He wrapped an arm around Howie's shoulders.
"Nicky, a girl has to start having periods. That's when she's fertile. You don't even know if you've got working ovaries."
Nick shot Howie a triumphant glance. "Don't I?"
Howie groaned loudly. "God, I don't know if I'm ready to hear this," he muttered.
Nick was nodding and Howie glanced down. Nick could see Howie was gathering himself before looking up again.
"Okay, I'm braced. Tell me," Howie directed.
"Sometimes I kinda have periods. That's how Brian knows about it. The first time it happened," Nick paused and shook his head, remembering, "I was pretty freaked out. I guess I was 13 then. Bri helped me. You know?"
"No, I don't know," Howie said, exasperated. "How the hell would I, Nicky?"
Nick gave a nervous giggle. "Well, you have to wear stuff when you bleed. You know about that."
Howie nodded, clearly speechless.
"Well, that first time we weren't sure what was up. So Bri got a towel and we debated finding Kevin and telling him. But then I realized what it had to be and I told Brian. He went out somewhere and got me... well Kotex. You pin them inside your shorts and they like catch all the bleeding. It's pretty clever, really."
Howie dropped his head into his hands.
"Howie, it's not as bad as it sounds. I don't like bleed every month or anything. It's really irregular. It only happens sometimes. And it doesn't last all that long or anything."
Howie sat up straight and put a hand on each of Nick's shoulders. "Nick, this is crazy. What are we going to do if you are pregnant?"
"Do? Whatta ya mean do? We'll finish our concert tour up and then I guess I'll have to take some time off. Boy, that'll be a bitch to work in, won't it?" Nick asked, suddenly worried.
Howie sighed. "We need to figure out how long you've been... this way. How far along you might be, I guess. We need to get you to a doctor and find out if we're being ridiculous to even think like this."
Nick nodded. He felt grateful to Howie for appearing ready to take charge of the situation.
"Okay. Whatever you say, Howie," Nick said, smiling into Howie's face.
"And we need to tell the guys," Howie added. "Though I've got no idea what we're going to say."
Nick shook his head. "Let's wait, okay? I mean, at least until after I go to the doctor. What if this is stupid? I mean, I'd never live it down. Bri would tease me for the rest of my life."
"I suppose that's true. I don't want to be hasty or to panic." Howie removed one hand from Nick's shoulder and pressed it to his forehead. "Not panic. Right."
"If it's true do you think we can keep it quiet? I mean, I'll be some kind of freak of science. They'll all want to study me or something."
"God, that's true. Maybe we'd be better off not seeing a doctor. I just don't know." Howie got up and started to pace.
"I'll die if this makes the news, Howie. I don't mind having a baby, but I want to keep it secret."
Howie sat in a chair opposite Nick and leaned forward. "Okay, let's start out by getting one of those home pregnancy tests tomorrow and using it. Then we'll get some information on pregnancies from magazines and books. Maybe off the internet. We should be able to find out if this is for real pretty easily."
Nick nodded enthusiastically. "Cool. I'm for that, Howie."
"But if this looks possible we'll need a doctor in the mix at some point, Nicky. I'm not taking any risks here. Women still die in childbirth sometimes. And I'm not about to try and deliver a baby by myself."
"Yeah, die. There can be all kinds of complications, Nick."
"I guess I don't know that much about it."
"Neither do I, unfortunately. I didn't think I'd ever need to, really."
"Do you think I'm going to start showing more?"
Howie studied Nick. "Take off your clothes and let me really look at you," he instructed.
Nick rose and quickly complied, tossing his clothing to the floor. He stopped at his boxers, but Howie gestured and he finally kicked free of those, as well.
Howie was staring at him. Nick could feel himself blushing.
"Well?" he prompted.
"I don't really notice anything, Nick. You know, one of my friends told me she'd never showed at all with her baby. She didn't even wear maternity clothes during her pregnancy. So maybe you're not going to really show."
Nick put both hands on his protruding stomach. "Well, it's not like I'm not fat," he said.
"How long do you think, Nick? Since January, right?"
Nick sighed. "Probably more like December."
"Then you're not all that far along."
"I don't know. What's far along? How would I know?"
This made them giggle together.
"Yeah, I guess that's a dumb question. Well, it's probably around four months. I don't think that's all that long, Nicky."
"Okay. Whatever you say, Howie."
Howie went into the bathroom and returned with a terrycloth robe that he handed to Nick.
They were both quiet as Nick slipped on the robe and tied it gently across his middle.
"Um... who do you think the father is?"
Nick glanced down into Howie's eyes. "Don't you already know who, Howie?" Nick said softly.
Howie wrapped both arms around Nick and gently hugged him. "Yeah. I figured." He slipped a hand inside Nick's robe and gently rubbed the skin of Nick's stomach.
"This is crazy," Howie said, continuing to rub.
"Yeah. I guess. But it wouldn't be bad, would it?" Nick suddenly felt a strong need to hear Howie's answer.
"No, it wouldn't be a bad thing at all, Nicky. New life is a wonderful, miraculous thing."
Nick sighed a sigh of relief. "I'm glad you're cool with it."
"Isn't this where you should call me 'Daddy' or something?" Howie asked.
Nick giggled. "I guess. But don't you start calling me 'Mommy.'"
Howie released Nick and adjusted the robe around him. Then he took Nick's hand and led him off toward the bedroom.
"I think you need some sleep," he said, gesturing toward the bed.
"Only if you'll snuggle me," Nick replied, slipping off the robe and climbing naked under the sheets.
"It's a deal."
-the end part two--back to top of page-