Running Up That Hill – Day 2

“I’ll find repose in new ways
Though I haven’t slept in two days
‘Cause cold nostalgia chills me to the bone”

– Owl City ‘Vanilla Twilight’

New York was a bit of a blur. As soon as we got there we were whisked to MTV to do TRL and from there we did more interviews. By the time we were done with the press it was nearly 8pm. Brian and Leighanne were on a flight home to Atlanta that night but Nick, Kevin and I had opted to stay in New York for the night.

The next morning I woke up feeling rather odd. It wasn’t the same feeling as a regular day off. A day off was seen as a blessing. This just felt empty. I didn’t know what was coming and there was no work the next day to look forward to.

I looked out the window. We weren’t in the classiest hotel, but it wasn’t a dive either. I think it was a Holiday Inn. I debated ordering room service and just relaxing in my room until my flight home that afternoon. Instead I thought better of it. From what I’d seen, there was a pretty good buffet in the hotel and I intended to make the most of it.

After having a quick shower and getting dressed I headed down to the buffet. Much to my surprise, Kevin was already sitting at a table by himself.

“Morning.” I said, sitting down before going to get a plate.

“Morning.” Kevin replied. The waitress came by and filled the mug next to me with coffee. Oh coffee, how I adore thee. “Did you sleep well?”

I shrugged. Yesterday had been weird all around. “Yeah, well enough. You?”

Kevin shrugged too. “Yeah, decently. It’ll be nice to go home and relax for a little bit.”

I couldn’t agree more with that. At least if I was at home I could try to forget any of this was happening and attempt to stay out of the public eye. I didn’t think it would work very well, but at least I could try. “No kidding.”

There was a bit of an awkward silence after that. Neither of us really knew what to say. Should we talk about regular everyday things, should we bring up the topic of AJ and how he might be doing? Should I suggest to Kevin that someone go check on Nick and make sure the poor kid didn’t hang himself?

In the end none of those seemed like great ideas, and I’m sure Kevin was thinking the same thing. “The buffet looks pretty good.” I offered.

Kevin looked down at the empty plate in front of it. “Yeah, it is.” He said, and I could tell he was relieved. The buffet was a safe topic of conversation. “I’m going to go up for round two.”

“I’ll join you.” Without missing a beat the two of us were walking over to the array of food. I was sure that was all I needed to clear my mind.

~~~

I woke up the next morning with my head pounding. Sitting up, I scaled the hotel room. I’d definitely managed to clean out my mini bar. Kevin would kick my ass if he knew I was drinking in my room alone.

In my defense, I hadn’t really meant to. After all the drama of appearing on TRL, crying on national television, and Brian ditching us faster than we could say “bye”, I just wanted the day to be over. But of course there was no way I was going to be able to fall asleep. Not after tossing and turning for what seemed like hours. Finally I gave up feeling sorry for myself and decided to have a drink, you know, to calm my nerves.

Somehow one drink had turned into most of the mini bar. God dammit, that was going to be an expensive tab. But at least I’d been able to fall asleep.

And yeah, I get how ironic it is that I was drinking to forget about the fact that one of my best friends was just dragged off to rehab for being an alcoholic.

I glanced over at the clock. To my surprise, it was still pretty early. Only around ten. I guess the Captain Morgan didn’t knock me out as well as I’d hoped. Damn you, Captain! Oh well, at least this way I could make it in time for the breakfast buffet. I love breakfast buffets. I also hadn’t eaten anything the day before so I was starving.

After a quick shower I threw on some clothes along with a hat and sunglasses. The last thing I wanted were shrieking girls while I was trying to enjoy my eggs.

Of course not everyone thinks like I do. There were Kevin and Howie, sitting at a table looking the same as they always did. Though, no one screams for them anyway. I debated for a second going to sit at another table, but I knew that was a bad idea. Even if the fans couldn’t recognize my clever disguise, the two of them really could.

“Morning fellas.” I said, sitting down at their table and interrupting the discussion they were having about the quality of the cheese used in the omelets. Really, guys?

“Morning, Nick.” Kevin replied, glancing at my head. “What’s with the hat?”

“Fans.” I said, as if it were obvious. “Obviously you didn’t take them into consideration.”

For once Kevin actually nodded in agreement. “You’re right.”

“No one’s bugged us yet.” Howie pointed out, and I raised my eyebrows. That’s because the two of you were sitting here like old men chatting about eggs, Howie.

“Well whatever, I’m keeping my hat on.” I said as I got up to check out the buffet. Fresh cinnamon buns? Hell yes!

~~~

Howie and I exchanged a look as Nick took off to fill up a plate. He was definitely acting strange. A complete one-eighty from how he’d been the day before. It worried me a little, usually Nick would stay in a bad mood for a couple of days, especially over something that was deeply upsetting him.

The hat threw me off too. Usually Nick had to be forced into wearing some kind of disguise. As much as he didn’t like to admit it, I knew he liked the attention from the fans. The fact that he was acting like he was in such a good mood and overly concerned about the fans suggested to me that he wasn’t feeling as great as he was acting.

Either that, or he had something to hide.

As quick as he’d left, Nick was soon back with a plate full of food. “Did you guys even notice the desserts?” He asked, taking a bite of some sort of apple danish thing.

“I had one earlier.” I replied, taking a sip of my coffee. It was bitter, but it was better than nothing. “What time is your flight home?”

He paused, and thought for a moment. “Five, I think.” He mumbled and then quickly went back to devouring his food.

The rest of our breakfast was eaten in silence. Nick was no longer chatty, and was completely focused on his danishes.

After breakfast, we rode the elevator back up to our rooms and prepared to check out. I was excited to get back home to my wife, but the worry still lingered. I didn’t think it was going to go away any time soon. I was still worried about AJ and hoped he was doing well in rehab. I was worried about Nick and how he was coping with everything. Hell, I was worried about myself for worrying so damn much!

“Hey Nick?” I piped up quickly. Howie’s room was on a different floor so it was just Nick and I left in the hallway.

He pulled his room key out of his pocket, but didn’t open the door. “Yeah?”

“Are you doing okay with everything?” Subtle wasn’t something I did very well. I also didn’t have a lot of time to beat around the bush.

He fiddled with the key in his hands. “Fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Sighing, he leaned his arm up against the door. “Yes Kevin. Everything is peachy.”

I didn’t want to be intrusive, but I also didn’t want him to hide away from everyone. Nick had a tendency to do that when he was upset. “You know that we’re all here for each other. I’m only a phone call away.”

He just nodded and looked down at the ground. “I know.” Looking up at me, I could almost see tears in his eyes again. Poor guy. “I’m just looking forward to going home and forgetting about all of this for a while.”

I couldn’t agree with that more.

~~~

Thank God for our fans. That was all I could think about as I scrolled through yet another message board thread about supporting AJ in rehab. None of them seemed to care about the fact that the tour was postponed, well, there was the odd one, but for the most part everyone was very supportive.

I looked at the clock in the corner of the screen. It was just after 10. Leigh was probably going to be up any minute. I, on the other hand had not been able to sleep. After tossing and turning for about an hour I’d given up and went to waste some time on the computer. Which is how I ended up on the message boards.

I tell you, you can waste a lot of time there if you let yourself.

I contemplated calling Kevin to see how things were going in New York. I felt guilty for leaving in such a hurry, but there wasn’t really much else for me to do there. I also hadn’t realized that Kevin, Howie and Nick were staying in the city for another night. It must have looked like I was blowing them off, which wasn’t the case at all.

I decided against calling Kevin after all. He might have still been asleep and even if he wasn’t I was sure he had things under control over there. He and Howie would probably have breakfast and Nick would probably sleep until noon and nearly miss his flight home.

I chuckled to myself at that thought. Nick weren’t as close as we once were but I still thought his antics were funny. There were times I missed just being a goofball right along with him.

“Morning.” Leighanne cut into my thoughts as she entered the computer room. “How long have you been up?”

“Since one.” I said sheepishly.

She turned around to glance at the clock and then back to me. “Since one last night?” She asked in disbelief.

No, Leigh. Since one two nights ago. Actually nevermind the implied sarcasm there. That was probably close to the truth. “Yeah.” I replied, not wanting to get into the specifics with her.

She leaned down beside me and gave me a hug. “This is really hard on you, isn’t it?” She asked with her arms still wrapped around me.

I just nodded. I don’t know why I was so hesitant to talk with her about this. After all, she’s my wife. Aren’t I supposed to let her be there for me?

After a few seconds of silence I guess she noticed what was on the computer screen. I really should have closed the window. “LiveDaily? Brian, why are you reading that stuff?” She raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t know. I just wanted to see what the fans thought.” I have a right to know!

“Is this what you were up all night doing?” She asked knowingly.

“Maybe.”

She just laughed. “Isn’t the lurking Nick’s thing?” She said as she walked out of the room.

Usually it was, but I could be just as computer savvy as Nick! Well…that’s probably not true. But it’s not that hard to read a message board! I would never go to the lengths that Nick did and make fake accounts or anything like that, but it was fun to read the posts. It was also reassuring and it did make me feel a little better about everything.

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