Chapter 39 – The Fatherly Advice

Brittany shifted uncomfortably in her chair as she waited for the meeting to begin.

She was back in LA, sitting in Nick’s lawyer’s office. She looked around the room. There wasn’t much to it – just some certificates on the walls and a few pictures. It was fairly standard – but of course the only thing making Brittany uncomfortable was the purpose of the meeting.

Signing the papers to make the house officially hers would mean that Nick was actually gone. Though she’d been dealing with that for the past week – the fact that she was about to put ink to paper to give away his possessions made it seem all the more real.

She felt like she was going to throw up, and jumped slightly when the door opened.

“Sorry I’m late,” Kevin said as he walked in and sat down beside Brittany. She looked up at him and gave him a small smile. She’d never quite known how to act around Kevin. He’d never been anything but nice to her – though the stories Nick had told about him made her weary.

Still, it wasn’t much of a shock to her that he was a the executor to Nick’s will. Though Nick had his complaints about their past, he’d always made it clear that Kevin was someone he’d looked up to.

“It’s okay,” Jason smiled warmly, looking at the two of them as he opened up the file sitting on his desk.

It was strange. The meeting didn’t last long at all, and Brittany wasn’t quite sure how she felt about that. On one hand, this wasn’t exactly a place she wanted to stay for a long period of time. She just wanted to go back to her condo and not think about the events of the day – or the events leading up to it, for that matter.

On the other hand, as she read the words on the papers and signed her name, she felt an overwhelming sense of grief. Nick was gone and all that was left of his life was just a thirty minute meeting to legally give her his house and whatever money he had left to her.

She sighed to herself as she looked out the window while Kevin and Jason went over some other legalities. She knew she probably should have been listening, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to do so. They could take care of it. She didn’t care about all of the legal stuff – she just wanted her friend back.

Of course, that wasn’t going to happen. There was nothing she could do to change anything that had happened, no matter how much she went over everything in her mind.

“Thanks, Brittany,” Jason said, standing up to shake her hand.

“Oh,” she said, snapping back to reality. “Yeah, thanks.”

“Kevin,” he said with a nod, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Kevin just nodded at him as he and Brittany left the room. The two of them walked down the hall and stepped into the elevator in silence. Brittany shoved the papers into her purse and sighed again, looking up at the ceiling.

“How’re you doing?” Kevin asked her.

She shrugged. She didn’t really know what to say to him, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to open up to him. She didn’t even really know how she was doing. When she was around Niall and the others, it was easy for her to let herself feel better and focus on them.

But when she was by herself or in a situation like this, all she felt was empty. She didn’t want to leave Nick behind, and yet, she knew she had to.

“I don’t know,” she answered honestly. “Sometimes I feel okay, and other times…like now, I just feel…”

“Lost?” Kevin asked, nodding his head, as if he knew. Likely because he was feeling very much the same way.

“Yeah,” Brittany whispered.

Kevin sighed as the two of them stepped out of the elevator and left the building. “Do you want to go get something to eat?”

Brittany looked up at him. She wasn’t quite sure she did – because she didn’t know what she was going to have to say to Kevin. But she remembered Niall telling her that perhaps talking to one of Nick’s friends would help, and this was likely going to be her only chance. “Yeah, okay.”

Kevin led her towards a small restaurant a few blocks away from the law offices. They were seated out on the patio, and once they’d ordered their lunch, there was an awkward silence.

Luckily, filling awkward silences was Kevin’s speciality.

“You know,” he said, taking a sip of his water and eyeing Brittany. “Nick was like my little brother.”

Brittany just looked at him. She was unsure as to where he was going with this so she just listened. She had to fight back a slight smirk though – Nick had told her in the past about Kevin’s need to tell everyone his life story. She never thought she’d be the one on the other end of any of his helpful advice.

“I mean, the other fellas were all like my little brothers, but Nick was the most, because he was the youngest. He used to cling to me, especially when we were first starting out and I always found him so annoying.” Kevin smiled fondly at the memories. “I watched him grow up, and sometimes I felt like I was more of a parent to him than his own parents were.”

Brittany nodded her head slightly. She was sure Kevin was right about that. Nick’s family life was nothing to brag. Their shared lack of an overly functional family was definitely something that they’d been able to bond over.

“There were times when I thought he was never going to get his shit together.”

“Yeah,” Brittany said, feeling as though she should say something. “He told me he went through a really hard time when he was like, twenty.”

Kevin nodded. “Yeah, it was a lot longer than when he was just twenty. He was a mess and depressed for a really long time. He didn’t start to turn it around until he got diagnosed with those heart problems. But he did. He did his own solo stuff, he had his own record label, and I was really proud of him for that.”

“I’m sure he knew,” Brittany said assuredly.

Kevin nodded. “He knew. I told him I was proud of him. I just felt like… he was never really happy. Even though he accomplished so many things. Like he was never really content, as much as he always said he was. And I hope that now he has that peace he never had.”

Brittany nodded and felt a lump rise in her throat. Nick did like to act as though he was perfectly happy and content with his life. That he’d overcome so many obstacles and that he was untouchable. But she knew that he still had issues underneath the surface, even if he never talked about them.

She hoped that Kevin was right – that he finally had his peace.

“I think you were good for him though,” Kevin continued, giving her a reassuring look. “He was so lost after him and Lauren broke up. And I know that the two of you weren’t together or anything, but he always spoke so highly of you. I was sort of sceptical at first,” he laughed a bit, but then continued. “Because you were so much younger than him. But Nick was always kinda young at heart, and the two of you made a good pair.”

“Apparently he didn’t think so,” Brittany blurted out before she had the time to second guess herself. “Because he left me this weird letter,” she muttered. She felt awkward talking about this with Kevin, but if she didn’t ask now, she feared she’d never get the answers she needed.

Kevin raised his eyebrow a little. “What?”

Brittany dug through her purse to find Nick’s letter that she’d been carrying around ever since she’d found it. “Look,” she said, handing it to Kevin. “I found this in his safe.”

Still looking confused, Kevin took the letter from Brittany and read it over. She watched him impatiently, and when he was done he handed the piece of paper back to her.

“This isn’t that bad,” Kevin sighed, looking at her. “Although I wish he would have told someone he was feeling that sick.”

“Me too,” Brittany whispered, not knowing what else to say. “I don’t know why he would have thought I wouldn’t be sad if he died.”

Kevin frowned a little. “Well… Nick was kind of like that. He had a lot of self doubt and insecurities that he projected onto other people.”

Brittany nodded, trying to absorb what Kevin was saying. “He told me after his heart attack that he thought I was just going to leave and go back to New York and basically ditch him for Niall. But I never would have done that. Even if he was still alive when we got back together I never would have ditched him. He was like family to me. I don’t understand how he didn’t know that.”

Kevin shook his head and looked at her sympathetically. “It’s not just you. He was like that with everyone. Him and Brian hardly talked for years after him and Leighanne got married. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, he just had this fear of people leaving him.”

Brittany listened to him intently as he continued.

“He wrote in the letter to you that you should get back together with your ex-boyfriend. Him saying that he doesn’t know if you’re sad was probably just him thinking about you two getting back together and then his fear that you would completely forget about him, regardless of if he was still alive or not. Him saying that to you doesn’t mean that he didn’t know how much you meant to him. In his own twisted Nick way, it means that he valued the friendship that you had.”

Brittany nodded, looking down at the table. Though Kevin’s words were reassuring to her, she still felt lost and empty. For the thousandth time since he’d died, she wished she could just talk to Nick one last time. “Thank you,” she said, feeling quite a bit better now that Kevin had explained the hidden meaning behind Nick’s words. These were all things that she knew about his personality, but she found it difficult to connect when she was in so much pain over losing him.

“You’re going to be okay without him, right?” Kevin asked her slowly.

Brittany considered that for a moment. Yes, she was going to be okay. She had her career just as she’d wanted, and she was back with Niall, and by extension, she’d be able to see Danielle and Liam more often. In the sense that she wasn’t going to be all by herself without Nick, she would certainly be okay.

But none of those people would ever replace Nick for her, and she didn’t quite want them to. She almost felt as though her two lives were separate, but her time with Nick allowed her to grow up and change enough so she could go back to where she felt she belonged.

“Yeah,” she said, smiling a little. “I’m going to be okay.”


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