011. red

It takes Nick forty minutes to convince the woman at the front desk that he switched rooms with Kevin and needs an extra key. He has a feeling that by the time he gets upstairs to finish the fourth item on his list, everyone else will already be finished with the damn scavenger hunt. Fucking AJ. He slides the key into the door, waits for the green light, and walks into Kevin's hotel room.

"Um," Kevin says, when he looks up at the open door and sees Nick walking toward him. "Hello, Nick."

Nick starts. "Kristin. When did you get here?"

Kristin looks at her watch and then grins up at Nick. "We got back here about twenty minutes ago.

"Nice," Nick says. He approaches the table where Kristin and Kevin are sitting with take out containers around them. Nick grabs an extra chair and sits down, setting his paper face down on the table.

"Welcome back," he says to Kris and leans over, his chair balancing on two legs so that he can give her a one-armed hug. "Staying long this time?"

Kristin opens her mouth to speak but Kevin cuts her off.

"What are you doing here, Nick?" His massive eyebrows are high on his forehead.

"Oh," Nick starts. "Right. Sorry. I'm on a schedule."

Kevin nods and the eyebrows go even higher as he waves a hand for Nick to continue.

Nick reaches for Kevin's fork, evading Kevin's hand as it tries to swat him away, and steals a bite of Kevin's mashed potatoes. "Can I kiss you?" he asks, as soon as his mouth is clear of potato.

"What?" Kevin asks.

Kristin looks up from her dinner. "Sure," she says with a smirk. "Go ahead."

"We're sort of in the middle of eating here," Kevin points out, gesturing toward his plate. Nick shrugs. Okay, so Kristin just got there. But it's not like they're really eating. It's take out. They didn't cook it and they're not in a restaurant so therefore Nick can't possibly be interrupting some romantic evening for two or something. The lights are on and everything.

"So I can kiss you after you finish?" Nick asks.

"Yes," Kristin says. Nick grins across the table at her.

Kevin frowns at him and says "Where did you get the key to my room."

"You gave it to me."

"I think I'd remember," Kevin says, not buying that for a second.

"Johnny gave me his copy. You know, for emergencies."

Kevin's just sitting there looking at him, clearly not buying that bullshit either.

"For emergencies," Kevin repeats.

"I'm on a quest to beat Brian. Marcus, and Drew. It's an emergency."

"Beat them at what?" Kristin asks, interested now.

Nick picks up the paper and shows it to her. "It's a scavenger hunt."

Kristin scans the list. "Does everyone have to kiss Kevin?" she asks, clearly amused. Kevin looks suddenly frightened.

"Nah. AJ made all of the lists and they're all different. No one else has to do this bullshit. The thing's rigged."

Kristin points at number 3. "You did not do this to Howie."

Nick claps a hand over the paper, covering up the tasks. "Don't show him!" Nick pulls his stash out of the pocket of his sweatshirt, and then pulls the sweatshirt off over his head too. He sets the stash on the table. So far it contains an empty tube of toothpaste, Howie's hair gel, the nametag of a really nice hotel maid named Sylvia and the keys to Brian's tourbus.

Kevin is eyeing the toothpaste and hair gel and making that face, the one that Nick knows means he's thinking he should call Howie and make sure he's not tied to a chair and covered in feathers or something. Which he isn't. This time. He clears his throat. "You're not kissing me. Go back and tell Brian that he won." He turns to Kristin. "See? This is why making the house in Kentucky year round is a good idea."

"Because that will save you on tour how?"

"He has a house key too," Kevin points out.

"For emergencies," Nick clarifies. "Just in case you go off the deep end or something and we have to come save Kristin." He grabs a roll. They're still warm.

"Kentucky," Kevin says again. "They're too close."

"So you can have your mother walking in at all hours and trying to organize everything and your brother harassing us to go to church with the family every week? And the rest of your family hinting for children at every other word. Honey, Nick just wants one kiss."

"She has a point," Nick says, trying super hard to sound as agreeable as possible.

"Shut up."

Nick takes a bite of the roll and lets them bicker a few seconds longer.

"Can I at least talk to you in the bathroom for a minute?" Nick asks, finally, interrupting Kevin's suggestion of moving back to Florida.


"I just need to ask you a question. Then I'll leave. I swear."

"I don't believe you," Kevin says, but he stands from the table anyway. "If I'm not back in five minutes, please come and save me."

"If you're not back in five minutes, I'm coming to watch," Kristin says, smiling sweetly up at Kevin.

"She's weird, you know that, right?" Nick says once they're in the bathroom. Nick tries to shut the door but Kevin grabs his arm and leaves it open.

Kevin sighs. "You're the master of weird, so I guess you'd know."


"What did you need to talk about?" Kevin asks, tapping impatiently on the counter.

"Do you have a camera on you?" Nick asks.


"I have to get a picture of this to win."

"That's what you wanted to talk about?"

"I just thought you'd be more comfortable in the privacy of the bathroom."

"You know how you just accused my wife of being weird?"

"Come on. I have to beat Marcus and Drew. They're being asses. They think they've got it in the bag. Brian's going to win because he's Brian, but I've gotta beat Marcus and Drew."

"Shouldn't you at least get me drunk first?"

"Kevin." Nick takes a step closer. Kevin's standing against the bathroom sink counter and has nowhere to go.

Kevin looks back toward the room and says "This is weird."

"She says it's okay."

"That's because she knows I won't like it."

Nick rolls his eyes. "Thanks."

Kevin visibly tries to relax and then says "All right. Come here. Let's just do this so that you can leave me in peace with my wife."

"Really?" Nick asks, stopping. He actually thought he might have to spend all evening getting Kevin trashed. Kevin's way easier than Nick would have guessed.

"Come on," Kevin says. "Hurry up. Food's getting cold."

"You're so romantic," Nick grumbles, but he takes a step closer anyway. Kevin closes the next two steps and then Kevin's lips are against Nick's and Nick closes his eyes. Kevin's lips are softer than they look and the mustache tickles Nick's skin. Kevin's hand slides up along the back of Nick's neck and into Nick's hair, pulling him closer. Nick keeps his hands at his sides, grips at the cloth of his t-shirt to keep them from wandering, but Kevin's having none of that and his hand leaves Nick's hair, travels down Nick's arm, caressing Nick's wrist and places Nick's hand on Kevin's waist while Kevin's tongue licks into Nick's mouth just a little before retreating. Kevin kisses small soft kisses across Nick's bottom lip. Nick's breathing is shallow and his hand is on Kevin's chest and holy shit, Kevin's even closer now, his hip pressed right up against Nick.

Nick is not aroused by this. He's not. His hand is not moving down Kevin's chest on his way to Kevin's ass. He will not touch Kevin's ass. He won't. Whoa. Okay, okay, that's Kevin's hand, that's Kevin's hand on Nick's butt, pulling Nick closer as he moves a little against Nick's thigh. Screw it. If Kevin's going there, then so is Nick. Thighs. He'll stick to Kevin's thighs. No ass touching from his side. None.

Fucking AJ and his stupid idea of a joke. This is so messed up, and Nick would say so if he wasn't so busy groping and being groped by Kevin of all people.

"I'm not," Kevin says, pausing to kiss Nick again, "enjoying this."

"God," Nick says, or moans really, because those are Kevin's teeth now, Kevin's mouth on his neck. "I hope not." Lies. All lies at this point.

Nick catches himself grinding just a little against Kevin's hip. He catches himself, but is he doing anything to stop it? Hell, no. Instead he turns his head to reclaim Kevin's lips and Kevin jumps all over that, humming a little and tasting Nick and there's a little nibbling going on and God, Kristin is one lucky woman. Nick closes his eyes. AJ is so paying for his therapy after this.

Kevin's hand is on Nick's hip now. Just a little closer, Nick thinks. Closer. He's about to shift again, guide Kevin's hand a little because it's not like it isn't exactly what Kevin's thinking, he just needs a little positive reinforcement, and god, Nick is all for giving Kevin some positive reinforcement right now. He's about to, about to, and then there's a flash of light and Kevin jumps and his hand is gone and his mouth, his fucking mouth (so much therapy) is gone, and Nick opens his eyes to see Kristin standing there with her camera and a sly smirk.

She looks at her watch. "It's been six and a half minutes, boys. Going for Seven Minutes in Heaven?"

Nick looks at the floor for a second and tries to catch his breath. Kevin clears his throat.

Kristin holds up the camera. "I saw on the list that you needed a picture."

"Thanks," Nick says, and then looks, finally, at Kevin. "And um, thanks, man."

Kevin clears his throat again and pats Nick's shoulder. "You better fucking win this thing."

"Yeah," Nick agrees, awkwardly.

"And delete that picture as soon as AJ sees it. Don't pass it around the room. I'm not kidding."

"Consider it deleted," Nick agrees. He wipes a hand across his mouth. Kristin is still smirking at them.

"I'll just, um." Nick points to the door. Kristin steps aside and makes a sweeping motion for him to pass. Nick nods and shoves his hands in his pockets. "Right. I've gotta get back. It's timed."

Kevin catches Nick's eye then, holds it, and his look is all kinds of scary. His voice is firm when he finally opens his mouth. "We never speak of this."

Nick nods and tries not to laugh. "Got it." He moves to step out of the bathroom and his ankle twists a little and he nearly collides with Kristin. "Right. Sorry. Have a great night, guys." And then he's grabbing his sweatshirt and his loot and he's out.

He does laugh a little as soon as he's back out in the hallway gripping the digital camera, but it's a nervous laugh, not quite the laugh of "haha, Kevin needs more therapy than me" as it was originally intended.

Nick nods to Raul, standing a little further down the hall like a sentry, and then leans against the wall to look at the picture that Kristin took.

"Jesus," Nick breathes as soon as the picture shows up on the screen. The photo looks like a fucking porn shot. Nick has Kevin backed up against the sink, one hand high on the back of Kevin's thigh and there's Kevin's hand, inching way too fucking slowly toward the front of Nick's jeans. Nick's eyes are closed and his mouth is open and even Kevin's pointy-ass nose looks sexy in the photo. Nick's going to have to think twice before he deletes it. Kevin will never know the difference if he just deposits it on his laptop before giving the camera back to Kris.

Marcus and Drew are already in AJ's room when Nick finally shows up.

"You're finished?" AJ asks, his mouth dropping open before he can catch himself. He looks down at his watch and then back up to Nick. "You have not finished."

Nick tosses the digital camera over to AJ along with the empty tube of toothpaste, Kevin's room key, Howie's hair gel, Sylvia's nametag and the keys to Brian's tourbus.

"Holy shit," AJ says. "I can't believe you did it! I can't believe he let you do that! Holy shit. Kevin, man. His hand. Your face!"

Nick hopes he's not too too red. He doesn't dare look at Marcus and Drew. He doesn't want to know what they think. He's so busy not looking at them that he doesn't catch AJ passing them the camera until it's too late.

"Shit," Drew says. "That's fucked up." He's laughing, the bastard.

"You're paying for my therapy," Nick says, pointing at AJ.

"Oh, come on, man," AJ snorts. "I saw the picture. You can't tell me you didn't enjoy that."

"He certainly looks like he's enjoying it," Marcus concurs, turning the camera sideways. Nick snatches it from his hand.

"I promised Kev you guys wouldn't see it."

"Won't get back to him," Marcus shrugs. "Part of the job description, right?"

Nick eyes them. "Yeah, right."

AJ pulls out his wallet. "I can't believe you did that for a measly five hundred, man. I thought you'd quit after you got Howie with the toothpaste."

"I would have done that for free," Nick says, holding his hand out for the cash. "Anyway, it wasn't the money. Did I beat Brian? Where is he?"

As if on cue, Brian walks into the room, holding his paper in front of him, along with what looks like Nick's Backstreet pendant, a pair of crusty looking socks, Leighanne's bra, a room key and a sour expression.

"What?" Nick asks, grabbing his pendant from Brian's outstretched hand. "You finish?"

"Almost," Brian says, grimly.

"I beat you?" Nick asks. "Seriously."

Brian gives Nick an odd look and then hands Nick his list. Nick unfolds it to look at what AJ's written. The fourth thing on the list looks a lot like the fourth thing on Nick's list.

"Convince AJ to make out with you. Take a picture?" Nick reads and then cracks up and passes the sheet to Drew.

"You rigged this thing, man," Brian accuses, pointing at AJ.

AJ rolls his eyes. "Nick, show him the camera."

Nick hands the camera to Brian. Brian looks at it, squints a little, glances over at Nick then back at the camera one last time.

"That is so messed up," Brian mumbles as he hands the camera back to Nick.

"Giving up?" Nick asks.

Brian makes a face and his ears are already starting to turn a lovely shade of pink. Despite the blushing, Brian is nothing if not resolved. "Heck, no. AJ, get your butt over here. Nick, you better be ready to take that picture. Come on."