He was at that age where people asked nonstop if he had a girlfriend. Well, he had been at that age for a few years now, but the question seemed to pop up more and more as they had become more famous.
Nick’s answer was always that practiced shy grin, head shake, and a sheepish, “No.”
“Haven’t found the one just yet, huh?” The interviewers would always prod.
“Nope not yet. Waiting for that special one.” Nick always hoped that would be the last question on that topic, but sometimes interviewers prodded even further with questions like, “What kind of qualities do you best like in a girl?” which was easy- a sense of humor, confidence, being themselves, were things that could apply to any gender. The harder question to answer was when it came to his preferences for a girl’s looks— if he answered “muscular” and “tall,” eyebrows definitely would be raised and more questions asked. Instead, he tried to think of what the other guys’ girlfriends were like and described them.
Nick was tired of it. Every day he became more and more frustrated with the fact that he couldn’t talk about guys the same way AJ, Kevin, and Brian talked about girls. Howie would chime in occasionally, but he was generally a more private person. Nick was never really sure what Howie wanted, or if he wanted anything. Howie was just Howie.
Nick also wanted to try dating guys, but how could he if he couldn’t even talk about guys with his best friends? It wasn’t fair.
At the same time, Nick knew he had an image to maintain for the group. Being a part of a boyband predictably came with throngs of screaming girls who apparently all wanted to date you. If the girls knew you weren’t interested in them, not one of them, then that would definitely cause problems.
Nick silently debated about who he could talk to about his problem. Kevin was quickly crossed off the list because Nick thought he would just get lectured on how careful he would have to be and how it could hurt the group. Brian was a maybe—they were best friends, after all – but Nick didn’t know if Brian would be as immediately as accepting as AJ or Howie. Howie could give good advice, but Nick thought AJ might be the better choice of the two. After all, AJ always talked about his wild sexual encounters, and even described to them in too-much detail (at least for Brian and Kevin. Nick had been very turned on at the idea) about a casual hand-job he’d received by another guy at a club one time while they made out in the bathroom. Apparently it had been “fun” and “no big deal.”
AJ it was, then. Nick padded quietly down to his room and knocked.
AJ answered the door in pajama bottoms and sunglasses, although Nick would have bet AJ put the sunglasses on just to answer the door.
“Hey, man. What’s up?” He held the door open and peered over the glasses.
“Uh, nothing.” Nick shuffled his feet.
AJ raised his eyebrows. “Nothing?”
“Well, I mean…can I come in? I need to talk to somebody about something.” Nick looked at him hopefully.
“Shit, dawg, this sounds serious. Yeah, come on in.”
AJ grabbed a Coke from the mini-fridge and tossed it to Nick who just rolled it back and forth in his hands.
AJ took a long drink from his own can and settled into the chair. “So….what did you want to talk about?”
“Uh, well,” he ran a hand through his hair, “Ok, I don’t want you to hate me and I don’t know how to say this…”
“Dude, just say it. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s fine. Unless you killed someone.” AJ looked concerned, “you didn’t kill anyone, did you?”
“Dude, no. I didn’t kill anyone.” Nick sighed. “I think I’m…kind of…gay.”
AJ’s eyes widened in surprise but he quickly recovered, trying to appear casual and unaffected. He sensed Nick’s nervousness as he waited for AJ’s response.
“Really? That’s cool.” Nick squinted his eyes, not sure if AJ was being serious or not.
“Are you messing with me?”
“No!” AJ moved from his chair to sit next to Nick. “And just ‘kinda gay’ or like, really gay?” AJ smirked and bumped Nick’s shoulder, trying to lighten the situation.
Nick laughed a little. “Probably, like, really gay.”
“So not interested in the ladies at all?”
“Hell, that’s great! More ladies for me then.” Nick was really smiling now.
“So…How long have you known?”
Nick shrugged. He’d known his whole 18 years of life, probably. “Always, I guess.”
The few sexual encounters Nick had included making out, and receiving a fumbling handjob and an equally awkward blowjob from one of his short-term girlfriends. Nick quickly broke up with her after that, claiming they just didn’t have anything in common and he hadn’t dated a girl since. Or dated anyone, for that matter.
“Well, Nick. I’m happy for you. Are you like, seeing anyone? A hot guy caught your eye? I’d totally understand if you were interested in me, you know. I’m irresistible!” AJ flexed what arm muscles he had. Nick shoved him.
“Dude, thanks, but you are so not my type. And no, I’m not dating anyone.”
“Well, now I know why you hate that question from interviewers so much.”
AJ lay next to Nick, staring at the ceiling, thinking. “Shit, can you imagine how all the girls would react if they knew that teen-heartthrob Nick Carter just wanted the dick?”
Nick scrunched his face. “It sounds gross when you say it like that.”
He turned his head to face Nick. “But it’s true, isn’t it?”
Nick looked back at AJ. “Oh it’s totally true.”
They stared at each other for a few seconds before breaking into fits of laughter. When their laughter stopped a few minutes later, Nick turned to face AJ once more. “Thanks, man.”
“For what? I should be thanking you for telling me. I'm glad you can come to me with this stuff. You haven’t told the other guys yet, have you?”
Nick shook his head.
“Well, don’t worry about it. I'll be there for you when the time comes." Nick smiled, grateful. "So, have you ever kissed a guy? Cause you know I’m here if you need to practice… Ouch!” AJ supposed he’d earned that punch in the shoulder.
Nick’s smile faltered, “No, I haven’t kissed a guy, thank you very much. Man, I don’t even know how to go about dating a guy. Or even flirting with a guy!” Nick fell back onto the bed with a big huff.
“Well, I can help you if you want,” Nick was about to protest, “No, I’m serious. I know lots of gay guys. I even have my own gay experience to go off of! You know, that one time I got a—”
Nick cut him off, “Yeah, yeah, we all know about your shining gay moment where you got a handjob in the bathroom. Don’t look so smug.” He couldn’t help but grin back at AJ. He knew he’d made the right choice in talking to the so-called bad boy of the group.
“But seriously, I can go to clubs and stuff with you. Show you how to dress and talk to guys and all that. It’s different than talking to girls, but it’s not that difficult. I can be your wing-man.”
“Really? You’d go to a gay club with me?” They were leaning on their elbows, facing one another. Nick had been waiting for years to chat like this about guys.
“I’d do anything to help a brother get laid!” Nick rolled his eyes. “Plus, I might be able to get a little man-action myself,” and he wiggled his hips.
“You’re such a perv, Aje.”
“I know. That’s why you like me.”
“That’s true.” Nick smiled, feeling like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.