Running Up That Hill – Day 18

“Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky are like shooting stars?
I could really use a wish right now.”

-B.o.B/Hayley Williams ‘Airplanes’

Leighanne and I left for LA the next morning. There was no reason to delay our flight, we didn’t have much to do at home anyway. Besides, I was anxious to get to California and get the meeting over with.

Not that us getting there any earlier made it so that the meeting would come and go any faster, but it made me feel a little less nervous. It’s funny how the mind works sometimes.

I leaned my head up against the window of the plane and peered outside. It had been raining when we’d left, but now all I could see was a blue sky and the clouds underneath us. It was kind of nice, but at the same time the way I was feeling was just the opposite. There would be nothing to do with blue skies once we landed in LA.

I looked over at Leighanne as she slept beside me. She’d always been such an effortless flyer. Me? Not so much. I’d gotten used to it over the years but it still wasn’t my favourite way to travel, that’s for sure.

After one layover and another short flight, we finally made it to LA. Leighanne was all smiles as we walked through the airport.

I wished I could have slept on the flight too.

“Come on, love, cheer up,” she said brightly. “I know you’re nervous, but once you see the other guys you’ll see that there’s really nothing to worry about.”

I nodded and tried to be appreciative of her advice. The truth was, as much as I wanted her to be right, I didn’t think she was going to be.

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I dreaded the record company meeting. Every time I pictured it I just felt angry and trapped. It always ended the same way, with me getting angry, Kevin trying to calm me down, and me eventually telling him that I didn’t think I wanted to be in the group anymore.

I didn’t dare say that out loud to anyone. Leighanne would probably cry and tell me that I was just feeling frustrated. Maybe that’s all it was, I didn’t know. Maybe I’d just created all these problems in my head when there really were none, but I didn’t think that was the case. It wasn’t like me to do something like that. I was usually able to think through situations like these pretty clearly.

That was mostly why I kept it to myself. I didn’t know what I was thinking or even if it was how I truly felt. I’d just have to wait until I saw the others to know that.

The cab ride to Kevin’s place was mostly silent. Well, on my end anyway. Leighanne kept babbling on about all the shops she wanted to visit while we were in LA. I was only half listening as I stared out the window. I couldn’t care less about the designer clothes she wanted to buy or the shoes that went with them.

Eventually we made it to our destination. Of course as soon as we got there Kristin and Leighanne ran off to do their own thing, whatever that was. Like I said, I wasn’t too concerned about her upcoming shopping spree.

“Hey,” Kevin said as we sat down in the living room. “Did you have a good flight?”

I shrugged. “The usual. It actually took off on time,” I joked.

Kevin laughed a little. “Shocking.”

I nodded. “So… are we going to be meeting up with Howie and Nick this evening to get everything sorted out for the meeting tomorrow?”

I noticed Kevin shift uncomfortably in his seat. I didn’t blame him – I didn’t want to talk about the meeting either. “I don’t know when Nick’s getting here,” he said.

I nodded again. “Well, I hope it’s before tomorrow,” I laughed. “You know how that kid likes to sleep in and miss flights.”

Kevin just shook his head. “Yeah,” he said quickly. “Let’s go to Howie’s place. He’s waiting for us.”

I shrugged and followed Kevin out the door. He was acting weird, and it wasn’t making me feel any more secure about our future as a group. If anything, it was making me feel worse.

~~~

“I’ve really gotta go,” Leigh said as she was halfway out my front door. “Brian and Kevin are going to be here any second.”

“So?” I asked, pulling her in for another kiss. “It’s not like you haven’t met them before.”

She laughed and shook her head. “You guys have work stuff to do. I don’t want to be in your way.”

“You wouldn’t be in the way, we’re probably not even going to do work.” It was true, we’d probably talk about the meeting for a bit and then sit around doing nothing.

She pouted a little bit, and I took that opportunity to kiss her again. Unfortunately that nice romantic moment was cut short by the blaring car horn outside my gate. Leave it to Kevin and Brian to act like complete asses. I thought they were supposed to be the mature ones!

I rolled my eyes and let them in the gate. “Hey guys,” I said once they got out of the car. “You know there is an intercom.”

“We know,” Kevin grinned a little. “But we didn’t think you’d hear it.”

He was right, I probably wouldn’t have.

“Hey Leigh,” Brian said lightly, and then looked over at me. He was wearing a goofy smile on his face.

“Hey guys,” Leigh said, blushing a little. “I was just leaving actually. Have fun,” she winked as she walked off towards her car.

“Bye,” I said quickly as I watched her go. After she drove off I turned to Kevin and Brian. “I hate you guys.”

They ignored what I said. “I didn’t know you were dating Leigh,” Brian said instead.

“Yeah,” I shrugged. “Ever since we’ve been on the break, pretty much.”

It actually felt a lot longer than that. It was weird to think about the fact that we’d only been home for about two weeks.

“So, any word from Nick?” Kevin asked once we were back inside.

Oops, I had kind of forgotten about that. I mean, not completely. I’d just been so preoccupied with Leigh that I hadn’t even thought about giving Nick a call. It was probably a good thing anyway, I was sure he needed some time to cool down.

“I haven’t called him yet,” I said.

“What’s going on with Nick?” Brian asked, looking and Kevin and I with a confused expression. I figured Kevin would have filled him in by now, but I guess he hadn’t really wanted to talk about it.

“Nick’s been busy,” I said quickly.

Kevin sighed. “Nick’s acting like an entitled rock star who’s going to get himself killed if he’s not careful.”

Well, I guess Kevin’s explanation worked too.

“What?” Brian asked, looking even more confused than he had before. “Are you sure? I mean, I haven’t heard from him at all.”

“Exactly,” Kevin said. “It’s been impossible to get ahold of him, and the only reason we did is because he left his phone with some girl he’d slept with. He called Howie to let him know that he got it back and the girl wouldn’t call us.”

Brian didn’t say anything, he just looked at Kevin, waiting for him to continue. I was hoping to avoid this whole conversation, but I guess that was just a pipe dream. Part of me had really thought that Nick was going to show up at my place that morning and everything would be fine.

He didn’t. But there was still time. The meeting wasn’t until tomorrow. For all we knew he could have been on a plane at that very moment.

~~~

I glared at Chris as he slept on my couch. I couldn’t be that angry with him. After all he had brought my car back to my place. And he didn’t even trash my place that much. He also didn’t bring anyone there with him, so at least he was respecting the no uninvited guests rule now.

He still needed to learn the don’t steal Nick’s car rule, but not knowing that one was better than crazy chicks knowing where I lived!

I looked at the clock in the kitchen. It was still early in the afternoon. If I really wanted to I could probably catch a flight and make it to LA at a reasonable time.

Too bad I didn’t really want to. Fucking Kevin. I was still fuming from everything he’d said to me the day before. I get that Kevin was old and married and that fun in his life had ended. He was probably jealous that I could still go out and hit on chicks and he had to be at home with his wife forever.

I mean, his wife was hot and all, but still.

I hated Kevin’s judgemental attitude towards me. He always had to act like he was my great protector. It was like every time I screwed up he felt like he screwed up in making me not be a screw up.

Well, every time I thought about the meeting I just wanted to kick his ass.

I knew that me trying to kick his ass would result in nothing good, like me getting my ass kicked instead. So I just stayed home. The meeting was going to be boring anyway. All Jive was going to say was that the greatest hits album was happening and that was that.

Of course the other fellas would have none of that. My cell phone rang shortly after I’d turned on my Nintendo. It was Howie.

I had no problem with Howie, other than the fact that he’d let Kevin use his phone to bitch me out. “Hey,” I said, balancing the phone on my shoulder while I stomped on koopas. I pretended they were Kevin.

“Hey,” he said. “Are you going to be coming out to LA.”

“I already told Kevin, no.”

He sighed. I wondered if Kevin was with him. Brian was probably there too. Knowing them they’d probably had some long ass discussion and Brian was all disappointed in me. I didn’t give a shit, though. Brian was always disappointed in somebody.

Howie didn’t even pry about the meeting. “Okay then. What about when we go visit AJ on Sunday? Are you coming to that? I’m sure he’d really like to see you.”

I didn’t want to see AJ at all. I mean, not that I wasn’t thinking about him, I was. I swear I was. But seeing him in that rehab place didn’t sit well with me. It made me feel kinda sick just thinking about it. I didn’t want to go there. I’d much rather just see him when we were out on tour again and doing our regular Backstreet stuff.

“I don’t think so, D.”

He didn’t say anything back.

“I just would rather see him after it’s all over,” I continued, so I didn’t look like such an ass.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come out to LA?” Howie asked. See, this is why talking to Howie is way better than talking to Kevin. He doesn’t give lectures and shit. He just listens and acts nice.

“Is Kevin there?”

“Yes, Nick.” I could almost hear him roll his eyes over the phone. It was kind of a stupid question, I guess. Obviously Kevin was there.

“Then forget it. I’d rather stay here and do my own thing than be judged by him all weekend. You can tell him I said that too.” I didn’t care how immature I sounded, I was still annoyed with Kevin.

He just sighed. “Okay, Nick. If you change your mind we’ll be here.”

Not fucking likely.

~~~

“He’s not coming,” Howie said as he re-entered his living room after talking on the phone with Nick. “He’s still mad at you.”

I sighed heavily. Nick was trying every last bit of my patience. “Was I really that hard on him?”

Howie shook his head. “No, but he really thinks you were. I also think that he knows he’s being a brat and doesn’t want to admit it to anyone.”

He was probably right about that, Nick didn’t even like to admit when he was wrong. Even more than that, he didn’t like to admit that I was right. “Yeah, I guess so.”

I looked over at Brian. He looked like he was deep in thought. I felt kind of sorry for him. I remembered when we we first starting out and how close he and Nick used to be. Now they were so different it was getting harder and harder to remember why they had ever been best friends.

I know that’s a really horrible thing to say, but it’s true. They just grew apart and neither one of them wanted to admit it to the other. Their lives were so opposite from each others.

“What do you think, Bri?” I asked him.

“I don’t even know what to think,” he said, rubbing his eyes out of frustration. “He’s never acted like this before. I mean, not this bad. And it’s not like he’s never been home from being on tour before.”

I shook my head. I knew that Nick was upset about AJ, and I knew that he didn’t even like being at home. Having to suddenly cut the tour short couldn’t have been easy for him. “I just don’t know what to do anymore, I tried my best.”

“Guys,” Howie interrupted us. “I think we should focus on talking about the meeting and not worry about Nick for now. Let him go through whatever he needs to go through, we’ll deal with the record company. Our whole united front plan isn’t really going to work out anyway.”

Brian and I exchanged a look. Howie was right about that, we couldn’t blame Nick for the whole plan falling apart.

“So are we going to agree to it when they bring up the greatest hits thing?” Brian asked.

I shook my head. “I guess we don’t really have a choice.”

“It still seems like kind of a career limiting move,” Howie said. “But I do think that we can come back from it. Our fans have stuck with us through a lot.”

The three of us sat there in the most thick silence I’d felt in a while. It felt like we were admitting defeat and waving goodbye to the last of our career. We were tired and we were burnt out, but I still wasn’t sure we were ready to let go.

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