Chapter 12 – The Media Frenzy

Part II – Maybe This Christmas
December 2014

“I hate my life,” Nick muttered to himself, putting his head in his hands as he sat at the desk in the LA studio he and Brittany had been working in. “I hate my life, I hate my life…”

Brittany hardly noticed his distraught state as she swung open the door to the studio. “Hey,” she said, setting down a plastic bag. “I got us frozen yogurt. I know we’re not supposed to have any dairy, but I figured it was okay since we’re not really doing much anyway. Sorry they didn’t have chocolate though, so I got you-” she stopped mid-sentence, looking at him.

He had since moved from his near-fetal position, and was now sitting with his arms crossed over his chest, glowering at her.

“Uh, what’s wrong?” she asked, plopping herself down on one of the stools and opening up her container of frozen yogurt.

“Brittany,” he said through gritted teeth. “What’s Sugarscape?”

Brittany widened her eyes, taken aback by his question. “You were on my iPad!” she accused.

“Yeah,” he said, still very obviously annoyed and upset. “Because I wanted to double check my flight times and didn’t want to turn on my computer. But that doesn’t matter because I was met with the lovely surprise of The Best of Brick!”

Brittany bit her lip to keep from laughing at how enraged he was. “Relax Nick, it’s just a gossip website. They post snarky stuff. It’s all just a joke.”

But he didn’t think it was funny at all. “I don’t understand… what’s Brick? And why is this an article about you and I and every single picture of us, including some that I think are photoshopped, because I’m pretty sure that I didn’t know you when I was twenty-one, and that you were like, ten.”

“Eight, actually,” Brittany corrected him, and Nick just glared at her. “And uh… Brick’s our ship name.”

“Come again?”

“Our ship name,” she repeated, as if that would help.

“I’m not following you.”

Brittany rolled her eyes. “It’s not a big deal, Nick, it’s just the label fans use for us when they talk about us…together…in a relationship…”

Nick’s eyes grew wide and he took a deep breath. “What?” he asked. “And why, why do they think we’re dating? I understand that there was some speculation after the cruise, but why now?”

Brittany rolled her eyes. Speculation was putting it mildly. Rumours had been flying all over the internet about the two of them before they’d even stepped off the boat.

“Yeah…” Brittany trailed off, averting his gaze. “Maybe it’s because some people said they were pretty sure we were dating? I don’t know.”

Nick continued to glare at her, waiting for her to finish. That was the problem with Brittany – she never told the whole story, and it always had to be forced out of her.

“I don’t know,” Brittany shrugged, acting as though she was completely oblivious, when in reality, she really wasn’t. “Maybe someone did a twitcam talking about One Direction’s next album-”

“What’s a twitcam?”

Brittany furrowed her eyebrows. “Really, Nick?”

“No, I just thought I’d interrupt this fascinating story to ask you a question I already knew the answer to for no reason,” he said, rolling his eyes and giving her a look. “What’s a twitcam?” he repeated.

She sighed. “It’s like a live streaming webcam chat thing. Over twitter. Anyway, maybe someone did a twitcam, and maybe someone asked him if he still ever thought about me…”

Nick felt his blood pressure rise with every word. “Who? Why? Who would ask him that, and why do you know about it?”

“Uh…” Brittany said, looking down at the ground. “Well, you know, I just happened to be on twitter at the same time as he was, and he said he was doing a twitcam…so I watched it, and I was curious, so I asked…” she muttered, knowing Nick was going to lose his mind.

“You?!” he asked incredulously. “It was you? Why? Brittany!” he groaned, throwing his hands over his face.

She shrugged. “Don’t worry, he didn’t know it was me. I just wanted to know. And evidently, the only comment he had was that you and I were ‘Probably shackin’ up,’” she imitated him with a slight laugh.

Nick slid his hands down back into his lap as he looked at Brittany with annoyance. “Okay. One, that was a terrible imitation, given that you dated him for two years. Two, you need to fix it.”

“What?” Brittany asked him, giving him a look. “There’s no way I can fix it! I can’t help what he thinks. I guess that he doesn’t know me as well as I thought he did, because-”

“Brittany,” Nick cut her off, not caring to hear her ramble on. “Fix it.”

“The Sugarscape article isn’t that bad, Nick,” she said, rolling her eyes. “They’ve written so many worse things about me before.”

“Really?” Nick said in annoyance. “You don’t think that Horan vs. Carter – Which Blonde Boybander Should Brittany Choose? isn’t that bad?!”

Brittany had to stifle a giggle at how annoyed Nick was getting over all of this. He wasn’t usually one to care what the fans or media thought of him. “Well if I had to choose, I’d probably choose Carter,” she smirked slightly, leaning over to him.

But Nick pulled away from her and hopped off of his chair. “Really?! Would you, Brittany? Because it’s not my twitcams that you’re watching!”

“Well up until five minutes ago you didn’t know what a twitcam was,” Brittany pointed out, keeping her cool while Nick flipped out.

“That’s not the point,” Nick said still pacing around the studio. “The point is that I can’t have people saying this shit about me. We’re about to go on our Farewell Tour next month. Farewell Tour, Brittany. I don’t need a bunch of stupid little One Direction fans hating me and fucking that up. It’s not just your career or his career you’re screwing with, it’s mine. And I’ve had this career before either of you were born, so you go fix it.”

“Well what do you expect me to do, Nick?!” Brittany asked him, getting exasperated.

“I don’t know!” Nick blew up. “Call him, get him to do a twitcam and say he’s really happy being single and that you guys grew apart. I don’t give a shit. You fix it and sort it out because I swear to fuck Brittany, the last thing I need is for the world to be One Direction versus Backstreet Boys. We won’t win. You do something about it, because otherwise I’m going to fly to London myself and punch him.”

Brittany rolled her eyes, but she knew Nick was right. “Ugh, fine,” she said, grabbing her iPad and frozen yogurt and moving to leave the studio. “But just so you know, doing that probably wouldn’t solve your tabloid problem.”

***

Brittany traced the pattern on her bed as she sat in her condo later that evening. She had no clue how she was going to even begin to fix this. She wasn’t even sure exactly what needed fixing or why Nick was so upset in the first place.

She knew she shouldn’t have watched the twitcam. But she hadn’t been able to resit. She had never unfollowed Niall on twitter, and when she’d seen he was going to be doing a twitcam, curiosity got the better of her, and she’d decided to watch it.

She told herself that it had nothing to do with the fact that Christmas was in three days and that she was going to have to spend it alone now that she was without him.

She scrolled through the Sugarscape articles Nick evidently had such a problem with. None of them were particularly mean, they were just very tongue-in-cheek. She sighed, thinking that was maybe what Nick didn’t get. He always liked to pride himself in staying away from such negativity, but there was nothing wrong with having a little fun.

Besides, she really didn’t think that these articles were going to actually impact his extremely important Backstreet Boys Farewell Tour. No one who would be interested in going to that was going to suddenly decide to hate him on account of a couple jokes on a gossip site, right?

Brittany actually had no idea. Sometimes, the things Nick said completely eluded her, and this was the worst of one of those times.

Twitter, tumblr and gossip sites had been all over the two of them a few months earlier, right after she’d gone on the cruise. There had been speculation about them before they’d even gotten off the boat. All because Niall had replied to a couple of fans on twitter confirming that yes, their relationship had ended.

She rolled her eyes just thinking about it, but she couldn’t be too upset. After all, she supposed it was fitting payback for when she’d told fans their relationship had started without consulting him.

She shook her head and picked up her phone. Calling Niall himself wouldn’t do her any good. She didn’t really want to talk to him – she didn’t even know what she would say. So instead, she called Danielle, who would at least listen to her gripes if nothing else.

“Well hello,” came her friend’s familiar laugh from the other end.

“Yeah, hi,” Brittany said with a sigh, glancing down at her iPad once again. “Seen Sugarscape?”

Danielle just laughed. “Of course I have. How is the other half of Brick, anyway?”

“Really pissed off,” Brittany admitted. “He doesn’t think the articles are funny at all, and he wants me to fix it.”

Danielle was silent for a minute. “Well, maybe if you hadn’t prodded Niall to talk about you…”

“I didn’t,” she lied.

“Okay Britt,” Danielle said sarcastically. “Don’t forget that he knows what your fake twitter account is.”

“No he doesn’t,” Brittany protested, though she wasn’t even sure why.

“Oh, so it’s not NiallsPrincess0617?” She asked knowingly.

“Shut up.”

“Why do you even still use that one?” Danielle asked her with a giggle.

Brittany shuffled her feet. She didn’t know. She’d just been bored and wanted to see what their stupid fandom had been up to. Turns out… the same as usual. A whole lot of nothing. And it wasn’t even interesting to her anymore because she was no longer a part of it. “I dunno, I was bored.”

“Uh huh,” Danielle said, not quite buying it. “Well, either way, you know he was pretty pissed off about all of that but I’m sure he’ll get over it soon. He has a new girlfriend now and-”

“What?” Brittany interrupted her.

“Yeah,” Danielle said softly. “I thought you knew that.”

“No,” Brittany said shortly, feeling increasingly more annoyed. She didn’t know anything about that, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to. “I didn’t know that.”

“Oh, well he does.”

Brittany bit her lip and tried not to let this extremely unimportant news bother her. “Okay, well maybe you can tell him to share that with the world so that Sugarscape stops pitting him and Nick against each other, because it’s making Nick really mad for some reason that I actually don’t get.”

“Just tell Nick that it’ll probably come out soon, and then the world will go back to not paying attention to him.”

“I’m sure he’ll love that,” Brittany said sarcastically, but she couldn’t help smiling a little. Danielle was probably right.

“It might make him feel a little better,” Danielle said passively. “But anyway, what have you been up to besides that? I feel like it’s been ages since we’ve talked.”

Brittany shrugged. She hadn’t been up to much, really. She and Nick had nearly finished her album and she was set to go on tour the next year, just as he was. She pouted a little thinking about that. She’d gotten so used to seeing Nick nearly every day that it was going to be weird not see him for such a long time. “I dunno, working on the album, going out on tour. The usual stuff. What about you?”

“Oh you know, a lot of the same. The boys actually have a decent amount of time off for Christmas, so that’ll be nice. What’re you going for Christmas?” Danielle asked cautiously.

Brittany tried not to let it show how much she wasn’t looking forward to Christmas. The last couple of years she’d spent the holidays with Niall and his family in Ireland, and now she didn’t really know what she was going to do. “I don’t know, I guess I’ll just hang around LA.”

“Not going home to Texas?”

“Nah.”

There was an awkward silence that hung in the air after that. Brittany didn’t feel like filling it, not really having much else to say. The entire conversation had been somewhat of a downer for her.

“Well, I guess I should let you go Britt,” Danielle said quietly. “If I don’t talk to you before, have a good Christmas.”

“Thanks Dani,” Brittany said before hanging up. “You too. Talk to you soon.”

She tossed her phone onto her comforter beside her and looked up at the ceiling. Despite that it was designed to have the opposite effect, Christmas always tended to remind her of what she didn’t have.

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