Part of Me

Note: Response to Jain's Now or Never challenge -- very short due to severe lack of time, for which I apologize. Inspired by "Who Needs the World" (probably my favorite track from the CD), which for some reason has always made me think of Howie... Pop it in and enjoy! 🙂
Dedication: For bg -- see, I wrote your kink! *g*

Howie had always been a part of Nick's life.

At least it seemed that way to Nick as he lay in bed in yet another anonymous hotel room, much like any other one Nick had inhabited in the last ten years. Only now he was on his own, without the other guys down the hall. And Nick missed them, every one of them, no matter how sick they had been of each other from time to time.

But he found that he missed Howie most of all.


When Nick had been twelve, Howie had been the pillar of their little singing group, the one that made Nick feel that all of this might actually work out. It was not that they were particularly close, but Nick had always known that Howie would be there for him in a way neither AJ (whose self-confidence impressed Nick but also kept him at a distance) nor Sam or Charlie (who weren't in the group long enough for Nick to overcome his shyness) were able to.

One year later, with the group complete, Howie was Nick's confidante, the one Nick could come to with things he was too embarrassed to talk about with his mom, too shy to talk about with Kevin (whose maturity still intimidated Nick at this point), things he deemed too childish for AJ and too unimportant for Brian (on whom he desperately wanted to make a good impression).

As his friendship with Brian had grown, Howie had faded a bit into the background, but he had always been there, laughing his high-pitched laugh and keeping the peace between them in a manner that Nick couldn't help but admire, even if he teased him endlessly and played countless pranks on him. Howie was simply the perfect victim and his anger never as frightening as Kevin's nor his retaliations as dangerous as AJ's -- but one serious look from those big brown eyes, and Nick had calmed down and gone along with whatever Howie deemed best.

Their lives had changed drastically in the next years. Some things had turned out to be better than Nick's wildest childhood dreams of fame and success, some worse than Nick's deepest fear. But Howie had always been there, a steady presence in Nick's life, there when he was celebrating and happy just as much as when he was angry and frustrated and lonely.

Then had come a change in their relationship neither one of them had anticipated.

Nick still wasn't sure who had started it, but a fact was that sometime during Black and Blue, as Brian's and Kevin's marriages and AJ's slow drift away from them had effected the dynamics in the group more and more, Nick and Howie started sleeping with each other.

At first it had been only sleeping, side by side, Nick anchoring himself in the familiar presence of Howie's warm body and the sound of his funny breathing pattern (breath in, hold, breath out with a unique mix of sigh and queek, repeat at wish). Slowly they had drifted towards each other in their sleep, until Nick woke up one morning, twined around Howie like a human pretzel, hands beneath Howie's shirt, nose in Howie's sweet-smelling hair. It had been surprisingly comfortable, and Howie had assured him that he liked having his own life-size hot water bottle to keep him warm. So they had gone on sleeping together, never really talking about it.

Until one night, after hours of hard clubbing and hard liquor (both fighting a guilty conscience because of AJ), they had gotten into bed -- Nick on the right, Howie on the left side of the hotel bed -- and Nick, confronted with the closeness of Howie, his smile in the dark room, hadn't stopped to think and instead simply kissed Howie.

Nick was pretty sure he had intended for it to be a short kiss goodnight, but instead it had become a kiss full of hunger and passion that had caught Nick by surprise. There had been much that surprised him that night, most of all that there hadn't been any regrets.

There had not been one single moment when Nick had felt afraid that this might mess up his friendship with Howie, not even afterwards, when they were lying in their familiar tangle of limbs (only naked) and Nick had listened to Howie whisper "I love you, Nicky" before falling asleep instantly.

Nick had lain awake a while longer, pondering this new development and what it might mean. When he had finally closed his eyes, it had been with the certainty that this was a Good Thing, that no matter what life would bring for them, this was worth everything. From now on, Howie would not just be a part of Nick's life, he would be a part of Nick himself.


More than a year later Nick yawned and turned on his side, his hand ghosting over the left side of the big, empty bed. Tomorrow Howie would be lying there again, and this hotel room would be everything Nick needed. Smiling into the darkness, Nick went back to sleep.

I have all I need inside of this room
Who needs the world when I got you