I was out to lunch with Samantha and Dustin celebrating the fact that we’d just aced our midterms.
“Yes, bitches!” Dustin cheered as we all clicked out iced teas together. “I knew studying with y’all would help me pass my classes!”
“That, and Ms. SmartyPants over here finally nailed an internship!”
I checked my phone as I let out a sigh of relief, knowing I’d finally managed to secure an internship. After the one from last summer fell through, I felt like no one would take a chance on me after being displayed on social media as a drunk, irresponsible college kid. “I’m just so glad that the whole thing is over with.”
“I mean, it was a given,” Dustin rolled his eyes. “How are you going to be on the Dean’s Honor Roll and not be allowed to work in a research lab?”
“And yet,” Sam shook her head disapprovingly. “Such bullshit.”
I laughed half heartedly as I checked my phone for the 15th time since we had arrived at the diner.
“What’s up, baby girl, d’you and hubsters get into a fight or something.”
I looked up from my phone, “oh, uh, no. We-” I decided it might not be the best idea to explain Nick’s dilemmas since they weren’t mine to share. “We’re fine.”
I’d been up late with Nick last night after he finished a concert. To say that he was distraught would be an understatement. He kept talking about how the band wasn’t coming together the way they should have. He looped through Kevin’s unwillingness to cooperate and Joe’s inability to perform to his standards. Kept saying over and over again that he was done and he didn’t want to do it anymore. I worried for him. At the end of the night he hung up with the promise that it was over and he wouldn't continue with the band anymore.
“That’s a lie if I’ve ever heard one,” Dustin called me out. “You’ve been doing this every 20 seconds.”
He imitated the constant phone checking by turning on the screen on his phone. His face was one of instant shock. “What the fuck!”
“What happened?” The concern in Sam’s voice was clear as day.
“The Jonas Brothers broke up?”
Both Dustin and Sam turned to look at me with a look of shock on their faces. I didn't know what to say.
“V, did you know about this?”
I felt like a deer caught in headlights, I didn’t know what to say. “Uh, I-uh…” I shook my head, “I’m sorry, I need to make a call.”
I walked out of the diner into the busy New York streets as I searched through my call list. I tried to call Nick only to find out his phone was off. I sighed before opening up safari and searching for any sort of information.
I hid in my room searching through twitter for any and all mentions of the Jonas Brothers. There were a lot of devastated tweets about how they felt blindsided. Some tweets about how they were glad it was finally over and a small but growing percentage of tweets searching for a culprit.
It was around 10:30 and I was deep into the web of Jonas Brothers Fan Pages and Comment sections all still trying to pinpoint what could have led to such a disastrous end. I was reading a comment that really seemed more like a thesis than a regular post discussing how issues began when they went back on tour and how strange it was that this tour was the one in which they were accompanied by a stranger.
A stranger? I thought back to the tour trying to figure out who would have been declared the stranger when I realized it was me. They talked about how I was a poisonous figure who pulled them apart and ruined their dynamic. I saw a comment talking about the time I got sick in a parking lot. Another talking about how Nick had been manipulated by me. How I’d corrupted him.That I was probably getting him into ‘god knows what.’ How I had compromised his integrity.
I was pulled out of my research when I heard a knock at the door. I closed the tabs and jumped out of bed before opening the door. Nick stood before me, dressed in dark jeans with a white t-shirt and a pair of dark sunglasses.
“Hey, Ness. Can I come in?”
I stood aside for him to walk past me into my bedroom. He walked into my dark room and looked around, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Uh, no- you didn’t.”
“I got on the first available flight. I just wanted to hide out for a while. I can’t say I’m really in the mood for interviews or talking to Joe or Kevin or anyone right now.”
We sat in the back of a little diner waiting for our food while Nick seemed incapable of keeping his leg from bouncing. I thought to ask him about today’s events but given that he’d made it clear he wasn’t interested in talking about it, I thought it best to avoid the subject.
“So, how was the flight?”
Nick’s eyes that seemed to zoom around the entire diner almost as if in anticipation of someone or something, finally found mine, “uh, you know. It was the same as any other flight. Long, just- I don’t know. Not anything special.”
I nodded, sensing his unease and too afraid to say anything else. His eyes continued to analyze the space around us before they flashed back in my direction. “I’m sorry, that was…” He shook his head. “That was bad. I didn’t mean to be such a jerk, I just-” He sighed, “I’m really sorry, Ness.”
I nodded, “I understand.”
He sighed, “It’s just, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Joe and Kev, they were blindsided and then all the sites and-”
I shook my head, “you don’t have to tell me, it’s okay.”
He reached a hand out to me as his eyes began to glass over. I took it as he squeezed my hand tightly. His eyes were glued to mine for a moment as they glazed over and the red rings around his eyes became more prominent.
“Thank you,” he let out in a strained voice before clearing his throat.
We made it back to my studio apartment around midnight where we laid in bed. Nick rested his head on my stomach and wrapped his arms around me tightly while I ran my fingers through his hair.
“We’re brothers, it’s not supposed to be like this.” I could feel his breath piercing through my shirt in the dark cold room as he spoke. “I don’t understand why they couldn’t just get it right. I worked so hard and I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. Like no matter what I did I was pulling dead weight.” His tears began to seep through my shirt onto my abdomen.
“I feel like I hate them. I’m so mad at them for what they did. They just thought it was all a joke and left me to carry the load. I hate my brothers, it’s not supposed to be like that. I’m just so fucking tired, Ness.”
I kissed the top of his head knowing that nothing I could say would make this go away.
“Why couldn’t they see how hard I was trying? Why wouldn’t they help me?”
I held Nick throughout the night while the pendulum in his mind swung between hurt and angry.
The next morning, I woke up just after 4 to find Nick sitting at my desk scrolling through his phone. I forced my eyes to open as I sat up in bed. “Nick?”
He looked up from his phone, “hey, didn’t mean to wake you.”
“How long have you been up?”
He shook his head, “I couldn’t really sleep.”
I crawled over to the edge of the bed to be face to face with him. “Why don’t you come to bed?”
He shook his head while his eyes were glued to his phone, “I’ll go in a minute.”
“Hey, take a break.”
He didn’t look up, or even react.
“You said you were tired. Let’s get some sleep. You can take on all of this with a fresh perspective.”
He nodded but didn’t actually move. I rested a hand on his lap to capture his attention before he finally looked up. “Nick, I’m tired. Please come to bed with me?”
He put his phone down before following me into bed. He laid beside me and I made sure to use him as my pillow to ensure he wouldn’t go anywhere.
He wrapped an arm around me while my fingers grazed his abs through his shirt. I was on the brink of sleep when I heard him sigh and kiss the top of my head, “thank you, Ness.”
We woke up again around noon, Nick was in a minutely better state. In that he was no longer sleep deprived, but he was still completely decomposed.
“Good morning,” I let out horsley.
“Good morning,” he groaned.
“How are you feeling?”
He squeezed me as he pulled me closer to him. “I don’t want to get out of bed today.”
I couldn’t help the smile that consumed my face as he nuzzled his face into the crook of my neck.
He shook his head and the slightly stubble of his unshaved face tickled my skin. “Not at all.”
“Not even for food?” I giggled.
He was silent for a minute and I wondered if he had heard me, “We can get food delivered.”
I pulled away slightly to see his pleading eyes staring up at me. He wasn’t well, that much was clear. In the time that I’d known him, I’d never seen Nick actually take a day off like this.
While my therapists have both assured me that when depression sets in, the best course of action is action itself, perhaps grief was deserving of a little more sympathy. “Would you maybe want to watch a movie?”
He smiled up at me, grateful that I was agreeing to his terms. “You are the best partner in crime I have ever had.”
Nick and I spent the weekend holed up in my tiny studio apartment while the world passed us by. Unfortunately, Nick had to fly back to LA and face the music come Monday and I was alone again.
As soon as he left my studio, I was back online searching through deep tunnels for any new information or developments. I was not disappointed. A fraction of the crowd was hyper focused, and convinced that I was to blame for the separation of the band. I spent an unhealthy amount of time fixated on the messages watching them roll in across several platforms before shrinking into a dark corner of my room and trying not to cry while self-doubt and extreme guilt washed over me.