AJ can't stop chewing on his thumbnail, long after he's drawn blood and it won't stop stinging. His cigarette is left in the ashtray, smoke drifting up and wafting away in the crisp Arizona wind. On the other end of the phone there's clinking classes and loud music.

"I just-" Nick's voice on the other end is gruff, and AJ hears people in the background, lots of people. Laughter. "I've got some stuff going on and it's - I can't really bail on it right now, you know?"

"Fine," AJ says. His room overlooks a huge green park. Lots of trees. Calm. Serenity. His fingers itch.

He doesn't ask about Howie. He's not sure he can process it right now.

"So," Nick says, his voice almost drowned out by the noise behind him, "I guess I'm gonna go. I'll see you soon."

"Sure." AJ shrugs, feels stupid when he realizes no one's going to see it. He runs a hand through his newly blonde hair, opens his mouth, "I-"

He stops abruptly and shuts the cellphone off. Everything's quiet on his balcony. AJ sighs and worries his thumbnail again. Brian and Kevin will be here tomorrow.


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