Running Up That Hill – Day 26

Do you worry that you’re not liked
How long till you break
You’re happy ’cause you smile
But how much can you fake

-Our Lady Peace ‘Superman’s Dead’

If there’s one thing I hate in life, it’s being woken up by my God damn phone ringing.

I mean, I hate it any time, but I especially hate it after a long night of drinking and clubbing. I made it back to Howie’s place at some crazy hour, and he was already asleep, which was probably good because I didn’t need a lecture from him. Not that Howie gave as bad of lectures as Kevin did, but still. I just didn’t want to deal with him.

Where was I? Oh right, my phone was ringing.

I reached over to the little table where I’d dumped my phone, wallet and keys before falling into bed. “Mmrph?” I didn’t even look at the caller ID.

“Dude!” It was my brother, and he was way too happy for this early in the morning. At least, it felt early. I had no idea what time it actually was. “You don’t have an excuse now, you have to come do the Teen Choice Awards with me!”

What was he talking about? “Huh?”

“The Teen Choice Awards. Remember, I asked you if you could perform with me? You said no because you’d be on tour, but now you won’t be, so you can’t get out of it! I won’t have to use a backing track anymore!”

What the hell? He had asked me about that months ago, and I remembered telling him I couldn’t because I was on tour. “When is it again?”

“August 12th,” he said, and his voice was way too excited. I loved my brother, but I was tired and I just wanted to go back to sleep and not deal with him.

“Uh…” I thought for a minute. What day was it? August 3rd. And we were going back out on the road on a few days. “Sorry, our break is going to be over by then.” I wasn’t that sorry, though.

But Aaron still sounded really determined. It was weird. “No it isn’t. Mom said that she saw on TRL yesterday that the dates got pushed back again. You’re not going back out until the 24th. So you can come!”

I’m not even going to get into the fact that my mother watched TRL religiously. “Carson’s wrong,” I said. Why did Carson always make up shit? He was the biggest rumour spreader of them all! That was a weird one though. Why would he say that?

“But it was Kevin who said it…”

What? That made even less sense. “Huh?”

“Yeah,” Aaron said, and he sounded really confused. “Kevin called yesterday and said AJ wasn’t ready yet so you guys were pushing back a couple weeks.” He paused for a second. “How did you not know?”

Yeah, how did I not know? “Uh okay… I gotta go.”

“So you’ll perform with me at the awards right?” I swear to God that kid only thinks about himself.

“Yeah whatever,” I said, and then hung up on him. I couldn’t care less about the fucking Teen Choice Awards. Kevin called into TRL and let them know the tour had been postponed? AJ wasn’t ready? What the fuck was going on, and how the hell did TRL and Carson Fucking Daly find out before I did?

I grabbed my stuff off the nightstand and shoved it in my pockets. Luckily, I was still wearing my clothes from the night before, so I didn’t need to waste any time getting dressed before I went downstairs to find Howie.

~~~

“You got something you wanna tell me?”

Nick nearly gave me a heart attack as he came thundering onto my back porch. I’d been sitting there, enjoying the morning, once again going over how I was going to let him know what was going on.

I guess I didn’t really have to worry about it anymore.

“Um,” I said dumbly. He looked livid. For someone who had come back probably around four in the morning, he sure seemed to be awake and alert.

“I knew it, you knew about this!” he shouted.

“Calm down, Nicky,” I said, taking a deep breath. You could tell he was really angry, because he didn’t say anything about the fact that I’d called him “Nicky.”

“No!” he exclaimed. “Fuck no. I can’t believe you guys did this. Did all of you know? Of course you did. Hey what’s the point in telling Nick anything? He’s so fucking stupid that he won’t notice when we don’t go back on tour in five days! There’s no point in telling him. Why’s he even in the group again?!” he ranted, flailing his arms everywhere, as if to prove his point. Nick got really animated when he was angry. He also started talking about himself in the third person, apparently.

“I was going to tell you,” I said, trying to keep my cool as Nick flipped out. “I just couldn’t find the right time.”

“That’s bullshit Howie,” he spat. “That’s fucking bullshit and you know it.”

He was right, it was bullshit. I’d had plenty of opportunities to tell him, and hadn’t. I doubted he was going to listen to reason, though. “Nick, look-”

“Fuck off,” he cut me off, storming back into the house.

I sighed and followed him. “Where are you going?” I asked, shaking my head.

“To pay Kevin a little visit,” he said, putting his shoes on.

“Wait,” I said quickly. “I’ll go with you.”

“No you fucking won’t,” he replied through gritted teeth. “I don’t want to see any of you right now.”

I thought about pointing out to him that he clearly wanted to see Kevin, since he was going over there, but I decided against it. Nick left in a huff, slamming the door behind him.

I sighed and went to call Kevin. Of course, the one time he didn’t pick up his phone would be the one time it was completely urgent. “Hey Kev,” I said, leaving a message on his answering machine. “Nick found out about the tour…he heard you were on TRL. He’s on his way to your place right now, and he’s pissed.”

~~~

As soon as I heard Howie’s message, I planted myself in my living room and waited for Nick’s arrival. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with him, and if Howie wasn’t able to talk him down, I knew he was probably livid.

I could handle angry Nick, I just didn’t want to.

I was sort of annoyed with Howie for not telling Nick as soon as they got to his place that the tour was postponed and letting him find out from the TRL call. He probably could have managed that better. I did feel sort of bad for lying to him, but it was completely necessary. Nick had just been making a mess of himself down in Florida. And if it came down to it, I intended to tell him that in no uncertain terms.

My intercom went off and I sighed, getting up from the couch. “Hello?”

“Let me in. I know Howie probably called to warn you. Let me tell you Kevin-”

I took my hand off the listen button and buzzed him in. There was no point in hearing him rant over the intercom, it wouldn’t accomplish anything.

Moments later, he appeared at my door, and I let him in. “What the fuck, dude?” he asked angrily when he set foot inside.

“How’d you find out?” I asked him.

“My fucking brother!” he shouted. “Do you know how embarrassing that is? That my brother knew before I did, and he assumed that I knew, and I looked totally stupid by not knowing what he was talking about when he talked about our own tour?!”

“Sorry, Nick,” I said sincerely, hoping that would calm him down.

“Like hell you’re fucking sorry,” he spat, glaring at me. He didn’t even bother taking his shoes off, and we were just standing in my front hall. I guess he wasn’t planning on staying long.

I sighed. “Howie was supposed to tell you.” I would have felt bad for blaming Howie, but in this case it was the truth.

“When?” Nick asked. “When was he planning on telling me? You had to have known yesterday so you could schedule that call.” He paused for a minute and I waited for him to continue. “Oh, right, sorry, you all think I’m stupid and that I can’t figure shit like that out.”

“We don’t think you’re stupid, Nick.”

“Then why did no one think it was important to tell me that we weren’t going back on tour?!”

I rubbed my eyes with my thumb and forefinger. I wondered if Nick was more upset about the fact that we’d postponed the tour again, or that we hadn’t told him. I had a feeling it was actually the former, and he was just re-directing his anger at us. “We are going back on tour. Just a couple weeks later than we planned.”

“Why?” Nick asked, calming down a little, but still looking pissed as hell. “And don’t give me the same bullshit answer you gave Carson Daly. Tell me the truth… for once.” He added a dramatic glare at the end.

If I hadn’t been so frustrated with him and the entire situation, I probably would have laughed. “AJ’s going to a transitional care facility after he’s out of rehab.”

“But I thought he was doing better…” Nick mumbled, looking down at the ground. That guy has more mood swings than anyone I’ve ever known.

“He is,” I said, resisting the urge to add that he would have known that had he come with us to visit him. “He just needs more time to make sure he doesn’t slip back into the same old bad habits.”

Nick sighed and put his hands in his pockets.

“You okay, buddy?”

He shrugged. “Whatever. Guess I’ll see you in a couple weeks.”

He turned around and walked out the door, and honestly, I didn’t stop him. I just let him go off and figure out what he needed to figure out. He was here, he was staying with Howie, and hopefully, he was going to be fine.

Because I didn’t need to deal with anymore drama.

~~~

Howie’s really predictable. He and Nick had gotten into an argument, Nick had stormed off to Kevin (which was also really predictable), and what did Howie do?

Call me, of course. Under normal circumstances, he’d probably call AJ, but since he couldn’t do that, I was all he had. He hated it when any of us fought and always tried to make up for it by hanging out or calling one of the other members of the group. Whoever wasn’t involved in the fight.

“You probably should have told him,” I said, shaking my head a little as I stood in my kitchen talking on the phone. “I understand why you didn’t, he was acting childish at home and needed to be brought to LA, and I’m sure he didn’t give you the opportunity, because I bet he was partying it up in LA as soon as he got there.”

“I had opportunities. I just knew he’d be upset.”

“He’ll get over it, he always gets over it. He doesn’t stay mad for very long, especially at you.” For some reason, Nick usually forgave Howie the easiest. Whenever he decided he was mad at me, it seemed like he’d be mad for weeks. He also always seemed to be sort of mad at Kevin, no matter what. And either he or AJ were best buds, or mortal enemies.

So yeah, if anyone was in a good position to piss Nick off and actually get forgiven, it was Howie.

“Yeah, I don’t know why that is.”

“I don’t know why either,” I laughed. I really didn’t. Why was I so different in Nick’s eyes than Howie? I understood it with Kevin, because Kevin was always acting like a father figure to him and Nick needed to rebel. And with AJ, they were so close in age that they fought like brothers. But Nick and I used to be best friends. Since we’d grown apart a little, he’d acted distant and hostile towards me.

“I guess you’re right, thanks Brian.”

It was weird for me to be having this conversation with Howie, because I used to be the one who Nick forgave really easily. Actually, I used to be the person that Nick never got mad at. I didn’t know entirely what had changed between the two of us. I guess we’d just grown up, gone our separate ways, grown apart, as some friends do.

Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t just drift apart and nod awkwardly if we ran into each other on the street. We were stuck with each other because of the group. I didn’t know how long we’d be stuck together, but it was probably going to be for a while yet. I was sure Jive wouldn’t be letting us go anytime soon.

I shook my head a little. Five years ago, I never would have thought it would have been possible I’d have drifted apart from Nick. Now, I didn’t feel like I knew him at all. Or the person that I did know, I didn’t like at all.

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