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Author's Chapter Notes:
short chapter, though there is some foreshadowing going on here....

have I said too much now?
Indecisively, I let my hand hover over the table. My brow furrowed as I picked up a tuna sandwich, thought about it, and then put it back.

“Nick, for crying out loud, would you just pick?” Howie squeaked next to me.

“This is going to be my entire lunch for today, I have to make it count,” I replied in all seriousness. Howard narrowed his eyes; then shook his head, grabbing the bacon and eggs sandwich from the top.

I wanted that.

I watch him leave before I grabbed the tuna sandwich again. I did like fish, I contemplated. AJ popped up beside me so fast, I almost jumped and squealed. His gigantic grin was taunting and his face got a little closer to mine. I looked at him, wondering what he wanted.

“What?” I sighed eventually.

“Look at that,” he said, turning and pointing at the table to our right.

I squinted; then scoffed, “Is he actually calling his wife?”



“Because we’re making him strip.”

“And he needs permission?” I asked, almost choking on the tuna sandwich from held in laughter.

“Nah. I think he just wants to complain.”

What a wuss.

I slowly got closer to Brian’s table. His eyes shot in my direction and he hung up the phone before I could snatch it from his hand. He carefully put it in his pocket and folded his hands on the table. “Gentlemen,” he greeted slowly.

“Are we in the clear?” AJ asked, a laugh intertwining with his voice.

“I’m not going to do it,” Brian stated calmly.

“We’ve talked about this, haven’t we?” I replied in an amused tone, knowing he had no choice.

“I still don’t see the point,” Brian argued.

“I’mma do it,” AJ drawled.

“Good for you.”

I sighed, “You know the song, you know the concept, don’t crawl back now.”

“The concept didn’t say I had to take off my shirt,” Brian grumbled.

“Yes it did.”

“Fine, you take it off then.”

“That wouldn’t make sense; I didn’t have surgery,” I replied patiently. I knew Brian was fairly prudish. I often wondered if he ever even took his clothes off at all. Maybe he showered with his shorts and t-shirt on?

I don’t actually really remember when I last saw him without at least a tank top on. The funny thing was; he didn’t always used to be so squeamish. It was only after that surgery that he became much more prude. If it was up to him, there would be always something covering that scar from view. I don’t think he ever showed it to public. I know I totally would. I’d only seen quick glimpses of it in dressing rooms, but I knew it was quite impressive.

“Like anybody’s gonna grasp onto the concept,” Brian mumbled dejectedly, “They’ll just think we’re desperately trying to be young.”

“Aren’t we?” Howie piped in behind me.

“Totally,” AJ laughed, stirring his coffee passionately. “It’ll be a total shock to everybody.”

“Kevin’s almost done with his take,” Howie mused, slipping passed me and AJ and sitting down at the table. “Who’s next?”

“Brian,” I smiled, seeing Brian pale a little bit further.

He groaned, “Why? Why do I let myself be objectified?”

“You’ve been objectified your whole life, get over it,” Howie simply said. Brian shot him a look of indignation. I didn’t really understand what he was so afraid of. Out of the five of us, he was definitely in the best shape. I knew he didn’t necessarily spend much more time at the gym than me, but he just had that athletic build that I envied so much. He could eat practically anything too and wouldn’t get flabby at all. It was so unfair. He just always had it all, didn’t he?

Brian got up slowly and my smile fell all of a sudden when I noticed him falter a little. I swallowed, looking around to see if anyone else saw it or if I was maybe imagining things. Nobody seemed to have noticed and an uneasy feeling settled in my stomach. I walked up to Brian as he grumblingly pulled off his over shirt in front of the green screen. “Are you okay?” I asked quietly.

He looked at me with confused eyes, “Yeah...” he drawled, like he didn’t know what I was talking about, “You here to gawk at me?”

I smiled, deciding not to press the issue further; I had probably imagined the whole thing anyway. “Of course!” I grinned at his disapproving look, pushing the issue to the back of my mind. I remember being overly concerned fifteen years earlier when he came back on the road with us after his surgery. I must have asked him if he was alright every five minutes. It had steadily driven both of us insane.

“Great,” Brian mumbled, scoffing as he pulled off the black t-shirt now as well.

“Your nipples are shiny,” I pointed out, looking at him challengingly. I tried not to stare at the seven inch scar running down his chest. I imagined him being split open, doctors cutting through bone and tissue to get to his heart and I shuddered. It was not a thing I like to be reminded of.

Brian grumbled something in annoyance; then stared impatiently at the camera, “Let’s just do this quickly, alright?”

“Are you going to keep that shirt in your hands the entire time?” I asked, pointing at the black shirt he still held in his hand.


“Alright then.”

The music started and Brian did his thing. He barely let the annoyance slip through in his performance, although I could see him gripping the t-shirt tightly every now and then and smiled. Afterwards, he muttered something about them better having what they needed, because he was not going to do it over.

“Nice,” I congratulated him, slapping a hand on his shoulder.

“Thanks,” he said, without looking at me.