Note: This is blatantly inspired by Numbers, a Kevin/AJ fic by the wonderful Lucy. She gave me permission to use her idea as inspiration and I tried very hard to make it different. Info about what happened when were taken from http://www.backstreet.net.
Beta: Thanks go to the lovely Gray - all mistakes left are totally mine!

When Howie met AJ for the first time he was not particularly impressed by him and most certainly did not find him attractive. He was just a kid after all, barely older than that Carter boy that always came to all the auditions and who didn't look a day older than 8, even if Howie knew that he was older and had been in the circuit for a long time.

Also AJ was snarky and had a big mouth, swore like a sailor and acted altogether too old for his age. And he was so thin - it made Howie want to ask his mother for some home made soup to feed the young boy. No, altogether Howie really was not impressed by AJ.

That was, of course, only until he saw him perform. Then he couldn't help but admit that AJ was in a class of his own, with a stage presence that only the Carter boy had a chance of achieving as well. Howie knew then that this boy would go far and he kept an eye out for him at every audition.


About a year later Howie knew both AJ and Nick a lot better, as they met almost weekly at some casting call or the other. And much to his surprise he got along really well with both of them, although Nick was still such a child whenever he had the chance to act like one. AJ on the other hand was pretty mature, once one got past his attitude and defensiveness. Growing up the way he had had made him able to fend for himself and not take any bullshit from anyone.

While he had the urge to protect and look out for Nicky, Howie found himself forgetting that AJ was five years his junior and treating him like an equal.

So when AJ showed up one day at an audition waving an ad for a New Kids style band asking Howie if he wanted to go there as well, Howie said yes. Already he found it difficult to say no to the excited light in AJ's brown eyes and when AJ hugged him after the audition, saying "You absolutely rocked the house, D - they fucking loved you!", a familiar burn settled in the pit of Howie's stomach.

For the first time he had to remind himself that this was just a boy and that having those kind of thoughts about him was just sick.

This would become a mantra of sorts for him in years to come, even if he didn't know it then. All he knew was that someone that age should not be allowed to be that sexy. There was just something wrong with that, especially after getting to know AJ a bit better and realizing that it was not just a stage act, that AJ really was self-confident and comfortable in his body. And then there was that voice, already raspy and sounding altogether too much like sex.


Working with AJ turned out to be an amazing experience. They just clicked, their voices blending together and their bodies moving in harmony - and surprisingly enough the same was true for young Nick. The three of them just knew that this was the way it was supposed to be - and when both Charlie and Sam left the group there was no question that they wanted to have a say in choosing their replacements.

Howie was the oldest, but it was often AJ who had the guts to stand up to Lou and insist that they were allowed to take part in important decisions. Nick was too young to have a lot of business sense, he was in it because singing and performing were his life, so Howie and AJ spent a lot of time together, trying to figure out what to do.

When Kevin joined them, and a bit later Brian, they knew that they were complete and could actually start working, a bond had already formed between Howie and AJ. Regardless of the fact that Howie and Kevin would have seemed to be better matched as friends, AJ remained closest to Howie.

Howie enjoyed spending time with him, listening to him, laughing with him - and he tried not to think about the sexy swagger that had appeared in his walk all of a sudden and about the fact that AJ had the cutest pout imaginable. He simply refused to have those kind of feelings for a 15 year old boy! He might be gay, but he certainly was not a pedophiliac!


When they signed their first record deal and flew over to Europe to record their first single Howie began to see AJ's age blinking in bright pink neon signs over his head.

AJ was 16 now and since his mom was not with them so often he usually went out to party with Kevin and Howie. He knew that Howie couldn't really say no to him and that Howie's promise to keep an eye on AJ would get Kevin to agree, and he used that knowledge shamelessly.
Howie cursed his weakness when it came to his friend - but seeing him dance and flirt with girls at least 5 years his senior, wrapping them around his little finger with ease, made Howie's throat go dry and was the cause for many quick sessions of jacking off, eyes squeezed shut and conscience guilty.

The worst, however, was definitely the night AJ sidled up to him in a smoky bar, smiling at him with that irresistible grin, and whispered loudly into his ear. At first Howie couldn't take in what he said because the feeling of AJ's hot breath against his ear, his warm hand on his back and the slight smell of beer (Kevin wouldn't allow him anything stronger) made concentrating difficult. Only when he cast his mind back and listened more attentively could Howie make out the words "D, would you mind sleeping in Kev's room tonight..." and the significant look over to a pretty girl Howie had noticed around AJ quite a lot lately.

Oh. Howie suddenly felt his knees go weak as he realized what this meant. AJ had a girlfriend and wanted to use his - their - room to have sex with her tonight. AJ. Sex. With a girl.
Howie thought of things to say, but all he could do was nod dumbly, which earned him a grateful smile and a quick hug. "Thanks, D - I knew I could count on you!" And with a wink AJ had disappeared, leaving Howie standing at the bar alone, feeling as if he was drowning in quicksand.

AJ was old enough to have sex. AJ would have sex tonight. Did that mean Howie was now allowed to have sexual thoughts about him?
Or maybe even that he could try to talk to AJ about his feelings? But no, AJ was having sex with a girl, meaning that he was straight and thus off limits for Howie. Plus, he was still damn young!

16. He was only 16 - a lot could happen and maybe AJ having sex with a girl didn't necessarily mean that he was straight. But whatever it meant, it was definitely not Howie's place to introduce AJ to the idea of broadening his sexual horizons. Because 16 was still too damn young and AJ was his best friend.

Lying in Kevin's room, listening to his friend's deep breath Howie stared into the darkness, trying very hard not to think of what AJ was doing right now. Arching against that girl's body, moaning her name, thrusting deep inside her, his eyes burning with passion...

No, Howie was most definitely not thinking about that and he was also not letting his hands wander over his body, imagining that they were AJ's until he couldn't hold back anymore and came with a quiet shudder.

The rest of the night was very uncomfortable for Howie.


Their first single wasn't a hit in America and they were all disappointed. But thinking of how successful bands like theirs were in Europe they didn't give up hope, instead they concentrated on practicing their singing and dancing.

Since they were in the US and Denise was around a lot, AJ couldn't go out with them so often, but Howie spent long nights talking to him, soaking up AJ's optimism and never ending confidence in his own abilities and that of the group. Those sentiments were infectious and so was AJ's certainty that their success was only a matter of time and Howie found himself getting more and more attracted to his best friend, not just because he was sex on legs but mostly because of his personality.

He knew that he was treading dangerous ground, that he was walking a thin line between brotherly affection and hotly burning love and was in danger of falling any moment.

Shit, who was he trying to kid? He had fallen quite some time ago, fallen deep and hard in love with AJ.

Howie was a quiet man, always trying to be in control of a situation, content to stay in the background and see that things were running smoothly. But his feelings for AJ were the one thing in his life he couldn't control - after all, he'd been trying very hard to do just that for years now and all that had happened was that a shallow attraction had turned into something a lot more passionate and true.

He knew of AJ's flaws and that their personalities were completely different - but he loved him still, with the strength, endurance and passion that were essential parts of him. Howie knew those character traits were an important part of what had enabled him to get where he was - but sometimes he wished he could just move on, find someone else and regard AJ as nothing more than a dear friend and brother.

Then came Howie's birthday, his 22nd, making the age difference between himself and AJ's 17 even more obvious. Smiling mysteriously AJ insisted that they'd do something special, he refused to tell him what it was he had in mind, only told Howie to keep the Saturday after his birthday free.

When Saturday evening arrived AJ showed up at Howie's door step. Howie couldn't help but gasp when he saw the black leather pants and sheer grey tank top AJ wore. AJ simply smirked, obviously satisfied with Howie's reaction, and hugged Howie tightly.

"Happy birthday again, man! And now hurry and dress up - we're going out!"

"Well, I'd never have guessed that!" Howie shot back and yelped in surprise when AJ smacked him lightly on his butt.

"Smartass! Now get going and put something a bit tighter over that sexy ass of yours - we don't have all night!"

Howie was completely confused but also strangely elated - AJ seemed to be flirting with him, teasing him deliberately. And while Howie was trying to find something appropriately sexy AJ insisted on launching on his bed, commenting on everything Howie pulled out of his wardrobe. After a while AJ lost patience and hunted through Howie's closet himself, making everything a big mess - but Howie didn't mind, he had decided to stop thinking and worrying so much and simply let AJ do whatever he had planned for tonight.

When AJ emerged it was with a pair of white pants that hugged Howie's ass perfectly and a white tank top. He waved away Howie's protests that he couldn't possibly leave the house like that with a casual: "Where we're going no one will think twice about it, don't worry!"

In the end it was after 11 when they finally left the house and AJ drove them to a familiar part of town. Howie began to have some ideas about where they were going by then and swallowed hard before asking: "Aje, don't tell me we're going to Le Prince?!"

AJ just shot him an amused look: "I knew you'd've been here before!"

With that he parked the car and got out, leaving Howie no choice but to follow him. The queue before the club was quite long, but AJ simply walked past it, grabbing Howie's hand and pulling him with him.

He walked up to the bouncer, who smiled when he saw them approaching and greeted AJ with a grin: "So that's the lucky one, aye?" And before Howie could make any sense of this they were already inside the best gay club in town.

The music was fast and the crowd was already pumped up, men grinding against each other, kissing and touching without inhibitions. Howie suddenly realized that AJ was still holding his hand and tried to break free, but AJ would have none of that and pulled him to the dance floor. What was going on here?

"Aje?" Howie had to scream into AJ's ear to make himself heard. "Why are we here?"

AJ grinned, but even in the flickering light Howie could see something like doubt pass over his face. "Well, I told you - I wanted to make this birthday special for you. And since you don't get the chance to live that side of your life often, I thought that coming here would be cool."

Howie couldn't help but smile when he thought about AJ trying to think of something special for him and relaxed a bit. That was all AJ needed and suddenly Howie found himself pulled flush to AJ's lean body and moving to the sexual rhythm of the music. Their bodies were rubbing against each other and suddenly Howie knew how all the girls AJ had seduced over the years had felt.

"What?!" he looked at AJ with wide eyes, willing his body not to react to AJ's closeness but unable and unwilling to break out of the circle of arms that wrapped around his middle and held him tight.

AJ grinned and moved his leg between Howie's, leaving no doubt about the fact that AJ was enjoying their dance a lot. His husky whisper was hot in Howie's ear and Howie felt shivers running down his spine. "Well, I've been here before and just thought that here I could finally do what I've dreamed of doing for so many nights when we were out dancing!"

Howie couldn't believe his ears. AJ. In a gay club. Dreaming about dancing with him. Actually dancing with him. Was he imagining things? But before he could get his wits together AJ's mouth was suddenly on his neck and a kiss was placed against his hot skin almost reverently. That one kiss sent tingles all over Howie's body and he melted against AJ, tangling his hands in his short hair.

He had lost all ability to speak or think coherently, he was probably in shock - otherwise he couldn't explain what he did next... He pulled AJ gently away from his neck meeting his questioning gaze before closing the small gap between them to do what he had guiltily dreamed of doing for years. He kissed AJ. He kissed him and it was just as he had always imagined it - sweet and salty, light as a feather and heavy enough to let him drown, full of passion and tenderness... Kissing AJ was everything at once and Howie knew that he never wanted to stop.

But hadn't there been a reason why he hadn't already done this a long time ago? Howie tried to remember but was simply not able to at the moment, not with AJ's hand roaming his back, cupping his ass, his tongue in his mouth doing incredible things to him, and his hard cock rubbing against AJ's leg while he felt AJ's own hardness against his thigh.

The moment seemed to stretch out like a rubber band and last forever and yet it was not nearly long enough.

They broke apart, panting not just from lack of oxygen but also from the sheer overwhelming intensity of that single kiss.

Naturally, or so Howie thought, it was AJ who found his voice first. "Wow!", was all he managed though and Howie felt very relieved that he was not the only one overwhelmed. Howie nodded and smiled, still trying to process what had just happened.

He had kissed AJ. And AJ had kissed him back. And AJ was only 17.

Oh. Right. Now Howie remembered the reason why he had never kissed AJ before.

AJ, who was looking at him, eyes shining brightly with happiness. AJ, who had obviously wanted something like this to happen for quite a while. AJ, his AJ...

All at once Howie knew that he couldn't tell AJ that this kiss had been a mistake - but he could also not take him home now and do what he knew they both wanted.

Placing a soft kiss on AJ's swollen lips Howie put some distance between them. Taking his hand he led him outside to the car and sat beside him on the hood. AJ avoided looking at him and Howie knew that he was afraid of what Howie would say now. To ease his fear Howie scooted closer to him and wrapped an arm around him, feeling him relax against his shoulder.

"Thank you for tonight, Aje..." he finally said softly. "I don't think I'd have had the guts to do this and I'm glad you did." Howie could literally feel AJ waiting for what he was going to say next and almost instinctively he rubbed soothing circles on AJ's arm. "I've been dreaming of this, too, Aje - for so long..."

Howie paused and took a deep breath to say the next words, wanting nothing more than to forget all about them and take AJ as his own right now.

"But we're going to have to wait some more."

"How long?" AJ asked simply. Howie was glad that he didn't have to explain his reasons, because he was not sure he could, not at this point.

"Until you're eighteen", he answered, his voice apologetic.

But AJ didn't start an argument, didn't tell him that this was ridiculous, that he wouldn't be any different in four and a half months.

"Okay, I can do that. I've waited for two years, I can wait some more", was AJ's only reaction.

Two years. AJ had wanted him for two whole years. Howie had to use every bit of self control he possessed not to tell him that this was all bullshit.


After that night things remained mostly the same - they practiced every day with the others, they talked for hours, they laughed together. The only difference was that now Howie noticed AJ watching him and could watch him in return.

All at once things became different, though, when 'We've Got It Goin' On' became a hit in Europe, specially in Germany, and Lou sent them overseas to tour and promote as if it was going out of fashion. They were suddenly stars, fans were screaming for them, their names were all over the press and their single was playing on the radio. It was exciting and rewarding and a lot of hard work.

When they learned that their single had made gold Howie and AJ broke their agreement for the only time. That night, after celebrating with the others and several bottles of champagne they shared not only a room but a bed, holding each other and whispering that this was only the beginning, that things would get even better from now on.
Long after midnight AJ looked at Howie and suddenly the air between seemed to crackle. AJ's voice was husky and rendered Howie completely helpless: "I know it's not January yet, but I just have to do this now..." And he leaned down and kissed Howie, who couldn't help but respond, slipping his tongue into AJ's warm, wet mouth and pulling his hard body closer.

They moved against each other, hard cocks rubbing against legs and stomachs, hands moving frantically, trying to touch as much skin as possible in that one stolen moment. It was Howie who shuddered first and moaned AJ's name - for the first time with AJ actually present. AJ followed shortly after and they snuggled close, ignoring the wetness and stickiness of their pants.

"Well, if it's always going to be like that with you, D, I can just say that I can't wait for January!" AJ murmured dryly and Howie didn't know if he should laugh or kiss him silly. With soft regrets he chose the former, pulling a blanket over them.

Not even three more months...


If his feelings for AJ had dominated his life when he had thought that they were unrequited, the knowledge that AJ felt the same for him made Howie positively giddy.
He was grateful for their hectic schedule as they toured England. It drained all of them and left him with no energy to do anything more with AJ than hold him when they were lucky enough to share a room.

The others naturally noticed that something had changed, but true to their resolution to wait until AJ's eighteenth birthday they both refused to tell them anything. They'd know soon enough.

But as impatient as Howie was for January 9 to arrive, he knew that his decision had been right. They both needed time to come to terms with the new situation and with what it would mean for their lives.
They spent Christmas break in America with their families and Howie used the opportunity to soak up the love and support of his parents and sibling. He knew that he and AJ would have to hide - and he needed the reassurance that his family would be there for them. They had known about his sexuality for years, but so far they had never been confronted with a steady boyfriend, as Howie's few encounters had been short and casual.

Even if the break was only a few days Howie found himself missing AJ already - his voice, his laughter, his optimism, even his cursing. He really had it bad, he decided, when he found himself staring at the press photos, his finger caressing AJ's face...


On AJ's birthday, in some anonymous town in Germany, Howie was terribly nervous. Was this really the right time? Was he right in pursuing his feelings? Would AJ maybe change his mind?

He didn't have a chance to get him alone all day, there were always people around, congratulating and teasing AJ about finally being a man. Howie's heart caught in his throat when he heard AJ's standard reply: "I've been a man for about five months already..." People laughed and thought that he was talking about having sex for the first time - but Howie knew better.

In the evening it took Howie some time to gather his courage before he knocked on AJ's door. Because of his birthday AJ had gotten the single this night and since Kristin was in town Kevin would definitely not miss Howie.

Finally AJ opened the door and smiled relieved at Howie: "I was afraid you wouldn't come anymore! I've been waiting for you."

"I'm here now", Howie said softly and closed the door behind him, gathering AJ in his arms and pressing a tender kiss to his lips. He felt AJ's arms wrap around him and pull him over to the bed. They tumbled on top of it in a graceless heap of arms and legs, causing them both to giggle uncontrollably as a result of strung nerves and excitement.

When they had recovered AJ looked up at Howie earnestly and Howie could feel the love radiating off him in waves.

"I've been waiting for you..." AJ repeated his earlier words, his voice was again husky and still as sexy as the first time Howie had noticed it.

"So have I..." Howie replied and they kissed once more, a kiss sweet like chocolate and hot like a summer day.


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