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Brian and I were sitting outback of the recording studio while AJ was taping when I told him about Amie's visit - our fight, and the news about Claire. Brian's eyes had darkened, brightened, and then set ablaze with excitement as the story progressed, and now he was sitting on the top of the old, dilapitated picnic table that the recording company kept around for God-knows-what reason, his hands palm-down on his knees, practically shaking with excitement.

"Holy crow, Frack!" he'd exclaimed when I'd gotten to the end, the part where Claire was maybe a Time Watcher, too. "Holy crow!" He rubbed his palms on his knees, and beamed at me, "Dude I've got goosebumps right now." He held out his arm.

I laughed. "You're such a dumbass, 'Rok," I smiled at him appreciatively. "If I ever told AJ or Howie this story, they'd make fun of me 'til the cows came home... Especially AJ."

Brian laughed, "Yeah. But who cares, dude? I mean, this is awesome. How excited are you?"

"I'm trying not to get my hopes up too impossibly high, actually," I admitted, "Which, by the way, you're really helping with." I pushed his shoulder playfully. He smirked. "I mean, Amie said it was only a possibility. There's no way to know for certain until I find her."

Brian grinned, "But it's such a cool idea anyways!"

I nodded, "I want it to be true so bad. Claire is... she's a part of me, and... I've never been happy without her. Even before I had her, I always felt like part of me was kind of void. I thought it was because I kept losing everything. I've never had a home longer than 17 years, never had a family or friends or anything longer than that. Until Claire."

Brian ruffed my hair - which I don't particularly like, but it's Brian, so I didn't complain. "Well, Romeo, we gotta figure out how you're gonna track her down then, don't we?"

"Yeah. I mean, I have like what now, six months approximately, right? There's only like six billion people in the world, I should be able to find her, right?" I laughed sarcastically. "Oh and I gotta track her down while I'm touring and doing promo work for the album...."

Brian laughed. "Well, the album promo may actually help you. I mean we're gonna be all over the news for a couple days, and there'll be tons of places to find out exactly where we are and stuff, so if Claire is looking for you, you'll be relatively easy to track down."

"Yeah, if I'm not in frickin' Japan or something," I answered, frowning.

"Release week is in New York," Brian reminded me. "Plus we have a couple Jingle Balls and the New Years Eve thing."

I nodded.

"So what happens if you don't find her before your birthday?" Brian asked suddenly.

Dammit, I thought. I'd slipped that part of the problem in by accident, having meant to leave it out. The last thing I'd wanted to do was draw Brian's attention to my impending change. As of yet, he had not yet made the connection between the 17 year cycle, my current age, and what my upcoming birthday meant and I'd liked it that way. It kept him from worrying and being all Brian-like.

"Complications," I answered slowly.

Brian thought about it, then said, "Oh." Then, after a longer pause, a more empathetic, "Oh." He looked at me, his eyebrows knit together. "But if you turn 13..." his voice faded, and he just looked at me with those crystal blue eyes of his for a long moment. Then he looked away, and we fell into a thick cut-it-with-a-jack-hammer silence.

The metal door leading into the studio opened and AJ stuck his head out. "What the fuck man, you guys are hard to track down." He opened the door the rest of the way and leaned against the door jamb, holding the door with his foot. "We were looking all over the place for you two."

"Bri needed to get some air," I said, standing up, hoping AJ wouldn't notice the sick look on Brian's face. This is exactly why I didn't wanna tell you, B, I thought, shooting a glance at him.

AJ looked at Brian, "Crap, 'Rok, you look like shit man."

"I don't feel really too good," Brian mumbled. He got up and slipped past AJ into the hallway and I could hear him thumping up the stairs to the studio.

AJ glanced over his shoulder as Brian retreated, then looked at me. "Oookay, then. Is he sick?"

"Probably," I answered, "He was uh fighting it, that's why we came out here."

"He better not fuckin' ralph before he gets to the bathroom," AJ commented, his nose scrunched up.

I laughed. AJ had the most unique vocabulary at times... "I'm sure he won't toss the cookies before he gets in there..." I snickered.

"Hurl," he said.

Our conversation was very quickly turning the way of a couple of four year olds seeing who could say the dirtiest word. "Barf," I said.

"Blow chunks," he grinned.

Time to play the V-card, I thought. "Vomit." I knew AJ hated the word.

"UGH!" AJ turned away from me, "Jesus, you win Carter, you sick fuck."

I laughed, "Why does 'vomit' bug you when none of those other way-more-disgusting terms don't?"

AJ shuddered, "I dunno man! It's freaky. Like the word sounds exactly like it does when ya do it... Ugh." He shook his arms, hands, and head violently, as though getting the word off his skin, then grinned. "You're up next in the booth, by the way."

"Sweet," I said. I'd been looking forward to getting into the booth... We were recording one of the last pieces we needed for the album already. Even though we'd only been in the studio a couple weeks, most of the material had been taped off and on throughout the last tour - something that I was thankful for, because it made for a quick release, which I would have no problem getting done before my birthday. I would even have time to enjoy the promotional work.

I clapped my arm around AJ's shoulder and we goofed off, dancing on our way up the stairs to the studio.