Early the next morning, sunlight streaming into Katie's window woke her up. She groaned and looked at the clock: 5:47. Thanks to A.J. she'd only gotten about four hours of sleep last night. A.J.... Katie turned over in bed and jumped about a foot when she saw him lying there next to her. She quickly sat up and nudged him until he opened his eyes.
"Wha-huh?" he moaned as he woke up.
"Is that a new word? Wha-huh?" Katie asked sarcastically.
"Ohhh, hey," A.J. said, smiling to see her there.
She uneasily returned the smile, grabbed her bathrobe from over a chair, and got out of bed before he could try anything. She quickly picked his clothes up from the floor and threw them at him. "Get dressed."
"What?" he asked in surprise.
"Those are clothes. Put them on," Katie explained impatiently.
"Because you have to get back to your room without anyone seeing you or else Kevin is going to kill me. No, I take that back, he's going to kill you. So get dressed."
"Oh, right," A.J. said, laughing as he got out of bed and went into the bathroom to get changed.
Katie quickly turned and looked out the window so that she wouldn't see anything.
A minute later, he was out of the bathroom and fully clothed. "So about what happened last night—"
"You have exactly five minutes before you have to get up officially, so I recommend that you get out of here, because Kevin always gets up early," Katie interrupted, glad for an excuse to blow him off.
"Look, do you want to be brutally murdered by my older brother? Because if you do, feel free to stay right there," Katie said.
"O-Okay," A.J. agreed, starting slowly towards the door.
Katie rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Could you possibly be any slower?" she asked rhetorically, pushing him the rest of the way out of the room.
He grinned. "So, later, can we—"
Katie slammed the door in his face.
A.J. was taken aback by this reaction for a second, but figured that she just needed some time to think things through. He, on the other hand, knew exactly what was happening, because it was what had been happening for a month or two now in his dreams. A.J. did a little dance step as he walked down the hall to his room. Thank goodness Kevin was sharing rooms with Howie tonight, or else he would have a lot of explaining to do—no, a lot of lying to do.
Back in the room, Katie couldn't stop pacing back and forth. She was afraid that if she stopped moving, she might go crazy. She couldn't believe what had happened last night. It had been so weird. A.J. was almost like Kevin's brother, which made him almost like her brother... Katie grimaced and shook that thought out of her head. No, no, A.J. was not like her brother. She was just confused because he was such an old and close friend. Six years, she thought. Six years, almost seven, I've known him. Katie collapsed onto the other of the two beds in her room, the one which she and A.J. hadn't slept in. She didn't know what was going to happen now, if A.J. really liked her that way or if he just got carried away, if he would want a relationship or if he didn't want to get tied down. Who am I kidding, this is A.J. McLean, she reminded herself. He probably will have found someone new by tonight. She considered this for a second. But what if I don't want him to?
Just then the phone rang and someone knocked on her door simultaneously, and she started for the second time that morning. "Just a second!" she called to the person outside her door. She picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"This is your wake-up call."
"Okay, thank you." She hung up the phone and went to the door to see a fully dressed Kevin waiting for her.
"Hey, sweets," Kevin said, kissing the top of her head. "Can I come in?"
She pretended to yawn. "Okay," she agreed, stepping aside. He walked into the room and his eyebrows shot up when he saw the state of one of the beds.
"What's this?" he asked quizzically.
"This. It looks like two people slept here," he said, pointing to the comforter's state of disarray. "You and Ben didn't..."
"Ew, no!" Katie replied indignantly. "I told you, I dumped him!"
"I don't know, Kev," Katie moaned, rubbing her eyes sleepily so that he couldn't see that she was lying. She hated lying to Kevin. He had done everything for her within his power, and a little more besides, after their father died, and she felt like the least she could do was tell him the truth.
"Sorry," he apologized quickly. "I'm just—"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know," Katie finished. "You're just looking out for me." She smiled warmly at her big brother, praying that her eyes did not reflect what she was feeling.
"You're okay, right?" he asked, sensing some uneasiness on her part.
"Of course," she said.
"Okay, just making sure," he said, smiling at his little sister.
She smiled and went to hug him. "Thanks, Kev," she murmured.
Katie shrugged. "Everything. I was just thinking that ever since...well, you know...if it hadn't been for you, then..." She trailed off, her green eyes filling up quickly with tears.
"You don't have to thank me. I just did what I had to," Kevin said, holding her a little more tightly.
She shook her head. "No, Kevvy, you did so much more..."
He smiled down at her. "Sweets, it was worth it."
Katie smiled back and glanced at the clock. "Oh damn, I have to get dressed," she muttered. "And spare me the lecture about bad language," she added, grinning.
"All right, we'll save that for later when you get mad at me like you do every day and tell me to go do Linz's job," Kevin decided.
"To go do Linz's job?" she asked, raising an eyebrow in confusion.
"To go fuck myself," he said in a stage whisper.
"Kevin Scott Richardson!" Katie yelled severely. "In this hotel room, we do not tolerate that kind of language! Get out!"
Kevin pouted meekly.
"No seriously, leave, 'cause I have to get dressed," Katie said calmly.
"Okay, sis," Kevin agreed. "See you later."
Katie got up and went with him to the door. He left, and she closed and locked it behind him. She smiled. How she had gotten such a good brother was completely beyond her. Kevin was so amazingly selfless, always stopping whatever he was doing at the time if she so much as asked for help...and sometimes even if she didn't. Katie knew now from experience that too much of a good thing wasn't pleasant. His overprotective nature was very sweet, but it could get a little out of hand, like with Brett...
No, no, no! she told herself. The incidence with
Brett was only one little thing. And Kevin had been right, it
had ended up being for her own good, it had just hurt at the
time. And besides that, her only brother had been almost
perfect to her. She didn't want to focus on that one over-
the-edge act on his part when there were so many good
things that he had done. But she couldn't help it. It was like
when twenty people told her that she did a great job at a
show, and then one person told her that she sucked, and
then that person had her convinced that his opinion was
true. Katie groaned softly as she got some clothes out of
her suitcase and started to change. All of this thinking
can't be good, she thought. I should do what A.J. says, I
should just let things happen. But she somehow knew
that doing that just wasn't possible.