Did you read "Sunday Afternoon"? go read it. Wanna know who Ryan ran after? Read this one.
Like the sun was in my eyes
And now I’m running blind
When I had the chance to escape the venue, I didn’t think about it twice. It was like something pulled me out of there, an unknown power that dragged me under the excuse of having a moment of peace. And Hobo followed, excited about this ride she wasn’t used to.
The sun was shining with an open invite to do a normal thing. Walk your dog, like any other person would.
The park was small and I could see some kids playing in a nearby playground. My brain was trying to figure out if I had been here before. I shrugged it off, touring made you see things and places over and over again, leaving nothing but a blur of colors that blended all in the same thing. I lied on the grass, looking at the sky, enjoying the solitude for a while. This I wasn’t used to… and it felt good.
I could hear Hobo barking around me, probably chasing a butterfly or some other insect that caught her attention. She was certainly enjoying the sudden freedom as much as I was.
That’s when a little boy came.
The kid couldn’t be more than a couple of years old and it took him 3 seconds to start playing and rolling on the grass with Hobo. It made me smile. It was too cute not to smile at that sight, both wrestling and biting each other, the little kid even attempting to bark. I walked to them and knelt by their side, Hobo immediately jumping to lick my face and the kid standing in front of me.
When I looked at him it was almost like looking at a mirror, with a few mistakes. His nose was pointier and his eyes were a lighter shade of brown, but other than that, we looked so much alike it was surreal.
“What’s your name?” I asked him. He didn’t answer and just stared.
“Shane!” I heard a yell that made the kid run. I turned and saw him jump into the arms of a woman, whose face I couldn’t see as the sun was blinding me.
“Mommy, it’s a liddle dog an-and it lick…” The kid told her, making barking and licking sounds. I stood up from the ground as he spoke. “Can we has one?”
“We’ll see.” She said and her face became clearer. “I’m sorry if he was bothering--”
She looked straight at me and stopped talking. I would have too if I was talking, cause my breath got caught in my throat. I looked at her and the kid again. The nose and the eyes were the same. And all of the sudden every memory I had fought to lock inside for almost 3 years came back as fresh as if it happened 2 days ago.
“Ariana?” I asked hesitantly.
“Ryan! Hi…” She said obviously surprised. “H-how are you?”
“I’m-- fine. It’s been a long time.” I stared at her. I couldn’t do anything else, really. Didn’t know what to say, how to act. Too many questions, too many explanations, too much time waiting… waiting for what? The thoughts jumbled in my head as she let the kid on the floor again, Hobo jumped on him making him giggle. “Your kid?”
“Yeah, his name is Shane.”
Another awkward moment of silence and the question burning the tip of my tongue slipped out. “How old is he?” I held my breath, my brain working overtime. He couldn’t… could he? There was little chance, but… it would be too much of a coincidence.
Ariana also held her breath before answering, like she could read my mind. Just like before, working that something of her on me. The same something that had me haunted since I met her.
“He’ll be 2 next month.”
I felt my stomach twist at her words and I became a little dizzy. The sun was in my eyes again.
“Mommy?” I heard Shane say and I saw him pull Ariana’s leg. “Can we has one?” He said with a pout and Ariana snapped back to reality.
“I’m sorry, honey, we can’t.” She said, kneeling down.
“You can play with her if you want.” I heard myself say, but I wasn’t even thinking.
“Yours?” Ariana asked and I nodded.
“And who are you?” Shane asked, looking at me with his brown orbs.
“He’s uncle Ryan.” Ariana answered him. “And this puppy is his, so we can’t have her.”
“But he say I can play wid her.” Shane smiled and barked at Hobo. Both rolling on the grass again.
“Let him play, Ari.”
I was captured by that stare
Now I'm shattered, but I don't care
And the people walking by don't have a clue
A while of small talk, avoiding all kind of questions and comments about our first and only encounter, was enough to pretend those years we didn’t have contact didn’t exist at all. But it was getting late and I still had a show to play.
“It seems I have to get going…” I said and Ariana sighed.
“You don’t wanna keep your fangirls waiting.” She said with a half smile. I smiled as well, biting my lip. The most stupid and ridiculous idea had come to mind, so silly that I couldn’t even find the words to voice it.
“You’re not coming?” I asked, feeling a little dumb. Ariana shook her head. “It’s okay…” Yeah, why should she come anyways?
I could think in a million reasons why I wanted her to be there, why I would’ve loved to have her there, to have her wanting to see me, but it was stupid. Why would she feel anything similar to what I was feeling?
“Couldn’t get tickets, really.” She said and for some reason my heart started pounding. “As you can see, I have to give priority to other things when it comes to money.”
My breath got caught in my throat for the second time that afternoon, looking at Shane. If I was right, then I should have shared that responsibility.
“Can I walk you home?” I asked her, not really knowing why, but I guess it was the day of doing normal things. Ariana looked at me with a hint of amusement in her eyes.
Her house was only a couple of blocks away from the park. It was small, but cute, and I loved the fact that her front yard was covered in roses.
“Okay, Shane. Say goodbye to Hobo.” The little kid pouted and gave Hobo a small pat on the head.
“Bye, puppy.” Hobo licked his hand and he giggled. “Bye, u’cle Wyan.”
I watched him run inside the house, waving at him, and sighed. “Can you come tonight?” Ariana watched me for a moment. “Don’t worry about tickets or anything, I can get Zack to let you in…”
“I’d like that.” She smiled. “I’ll have to get a babysitter for Shane though.”
I smiled and nodded. “Do you need-- anything?” I was going to say ‘money’, but seeing how she reacted the last time I made a similar offer, I chose not to. Ariana shook her head.
“We’ll be fine.” She smiled again. “So… I guess I’ll see you later?”
“Sure. Just, call me when you get there.” I gave her my phone number and stood there again, staring like an idiot. The question burning in my throat.
“Okay, bye then…” She said, walking backwards and closing the gate.
“Ari.” I called when she was getting to the door and she turned. “Is he?” The question burst out on its own and I held my breath for the longest 3 seconds in the history of the universe.
“Yeah.” She gulped. “He is.”
I nodded and she got inside the house. How should I feel? Angry? Sad? Happy? Scared? I didn’t know, but it seemed I was feeling everything at the same time. As I walked back to the venue, avoiding all the people that could recognize me and paging Zack to come get me, everything inside my head started peeling off like a fruit. Suddenly, it didn’t matter that Ariana kept it to herself, it didn’t matter that I happened to find out by mere coincidence, it didn’t matter if this wasn’t a coincidence at all. The reasons, the time, the waiting… those things didn’t matter and I would have time to figure it all out.
Right now, there’s only one thing that matters.
I have a son.
How come I was the last to know
Took the stage then you stole the show
Another unsuspecting Sunday afternoon
The show was on and Ariana was there. I saw her when she got here, a little before the set started. I didn’t have time to greet her as someone I didn’t stop to look at was pulling me to the stage and for the next hour and a half I tried really hard to focus on what I was doing instead of staring at her. I don’t think I succeeded, as Brendon kept cracking jokes about me and Jon threatened with dumping his beer on my head unless I got back from wherever I was off. Little did he know my brain was only a few steps from the stage…
I couldn’t see the time to get out of there.
Ariana caught the ride back to the hotel with us, Brendon vaguely recognized her, but I think it was better that way. Less explaining to do… even if it had been a while since the last time I picked up a groupie after a show. Ever since I accepted the fact that every girl I took back with me would inevitably be compared to the woman sitting now beside me, I had stopped. It didn’t feel like a release anymore, it was torture.
“What do you wanna do?” I asked her once we reunited in the lobby.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re the rock star.” She said with a smile.
I took her hand and led her out for dinner and then back to the hotel bar for a drink or two. Ariana cleverly avoided my questions, subtly changing the subject every time we got close to discussing Shane or our previous encounter. I let her get away with it till I couldn’t take it anymore, these questions needed answers. Something gave me away though, cause Ariana looked at me and half smiled.
“Have I told you, you think too loud?”
“I think you’ve mentioned it.” I said looking at her intently for a moment. I took her silence as a chance to ask. “When you found out about Shane-- what-- why didn’t you… I don’t know… tell me?”
“How? It wasn’t like I could pick up the phone and say: ‘Oh, hi, Ryan. I’m the girl from two months ago and I just wanted to let you know I’m pregnant.’ That would’ve been convincing.” She said rolling her eyes, sarcasm dripping in every syllable.
“I would’ve believed you.” I said quietly. She stared at me blankly.
“But I didn’t know that. I was just a groupie and after your girlfriend found us, you ran after her.” She sipped her drink making a pause. “As far as I was concerned, I would never see you again and you’d never find out about Shane. I have to admit, I didn’t expect for you to even remember my name after two months.”
I looked down, playing with the straw. “Probably not… But… there was something different about that night…” I admitted, feeling really silly for a moment, like an awkward teenager trying to tell a girl how much I like her.
“I agree on that. That night was far too-- much, not to be something else.” She looked down as well, biting her lip. “That’s why I wasn’t really surprised when I found out I was pregnant.”
I knew exactly what she meant, so I nodded, stealing glances at her, my face way too much red for me to look up. She got a kid and I got three years of restless nights, empty sex and one hell of a craving.
“I know you may believe I’m lying, but… I haven’t been able to… stop thinking about you.” I confessed, picking on my nails and looking everywhere but her. “I could still remember your name after three months. And a lot of other things too…”
“Hmm… yeah, it was kind of a surprise when you recognized me today. I didn’t expect it, really. I was about to play it off like I was a fan, until you did.”
Ariana sipped her drink empty as I looked at her. Her cheeks were red and my face was burning. Maybe I wasn’t the only one feeling like I was being sucked up back into elementary school. Slow and shaky, I reached out for her hand and covered it with mine.
“I mean it, Ari. I haven’t stopped thinking about you. I might have ran after my now ex girlfriend, but only to break up with her a week later cause I may have said your name while… you know…”
Ariana chuckled, guess it was funny. Hey, I thought it was funny! Only not when it actually happened.
“What do you take me for, Ryan Ross? I’m not a gullible teen girl.” She said biting her lip. I smirked.
“If I tell you I still remember the birth mark you have on the back of your left thigh, would you take me seriously?”
She looked at me obviously surprised. “I think I would.”
After Saturday, my life is changed
In a moment it was rearranged
Strange how easy it is letting go
The taste of her kisses and the smoothness of her skin were exactly as I remembered. Soft, pale and warm, shivering under my hands. I was amazed I could still remember how to draw goosebumps out of her body, then I realized I never learned… everything was always out of instinct. The same instinct that made me escape this afternoon and led me to that park.
Half of our clothes were on the floor already. I heard her gasp while I slid the strap of her bra down her shoulder, kissing it in the process. Her small hands fumbled with my belt, getting them undone in a flash, pants meeting her skirt in a pile on the floor, which soon received her bra on top.
I kissed her hard and deep, linking her hands with mine and locking them above her head. The kissed trailed down her jaw and neck, my hips crashing hers only a few layers of clothing in between. As I dragged the kisses lower to her chest, I tangled my fingers in the lace of her panties, sliding them down where she could kick them off and, kneeling on the bed, I admired my work.
“Are you gonna sit there and stare?” Ariana said with a smirk. I didn’t move.
“You have no idea how much I missed this…” I muttered still staring. Her body wasn’t what it was 3 years ago, as it was now marked by the pregnancy. But that just made it, her, more beautiful. “No idea…” I whispered, hovering over her and freeing myself from my shorts, kissing her hard.
My hands reinvented her body that night. The mass of feelings I was experiencing were so familiar, so natural… the growls in her throat, her nails on my back, her legs on my hips.
And I couldn’t get enough.
Making her come time after time after time wasn’t enough.
Sex wasn’t enough.
Another one night stand wasn’t enough.
Her panting faded out and I felt her breath slow down against the skin of my shoulder. Arms wrapped around her, I kissed her softly again. Time was running out on us and I knew I had to take her home.
“Ari?” I sad nudging her head with my nose.
I sighed. I really didn’t want her to go. “We’re leaving early tomorrow.” Ariana sat up and looked at me, leaning down to kiss me before speaking.
“Take me home then.”
I nodded and held her close, reluctant to move… to lose her again. Trying to enjoy the every minute I was allowed to have with her.
How could I tell her that this felt like home to me?
This sweet relief
Is this the end or only the beginning?
The van parked right in front of her house, where she would stay and I would leave. But I would take something with me.
“Ari?” I said holding her hand tight before she scurried off. “I--” I gulped, how could I even begin to explain?
She stared at me. “No.” I looked at her, she was reading my mind again.
“I can’t leave this time. I just can’t-- I won’t leave without some way to find you.” I said refusing to let go of her hand. Her free hand was gripping the gate.
“Ryan, what is it that you want?”
“Told you… I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since…” I sighed and rubbed my face. “I know it’s kind of hard to believe, but--”
She looked up with a fake smile. “You need to go.”
Didn’t she get it? Didn’t she believe me? I bit my lip hard, fisting my hands in frustration. “No.” I said shaking my head, still refusing to let her go.
“No! I don’t wanna leave again and not hear from you till some kind of mystic coincidence has us meet in the middle of nowhere!” I said in the verge of despair.
“Ryan, this would never work-”
“We don’t know that…”
“I do. Look at us! We barely know each other.”
“I want to! I want to know you! If you let me…” I gripped her hand in mine. “I wanna know you and I want you to know me and I wanna be there for you… and Shane.”
“We can--” She started, trying to lift that from my shoulders, but I wasn’t going to let her. Not this time.
“I don’t care. I don’t do it because I feel obligated, I’m doing it because I want to! It’s that so hard to accept?” Ariana didn’t answer, so I kept going. “I realize we didn’t meet under the best circumstances, but you said it yourself: that night was too much not to be something else. And I want that something to be more than just Shane.”
I was gripping both of her hands now, looking at her while she lowered her head and bit her lip. I had another million things to say, but I chose to wait for her to talk.
“I don’t know, Ryan.” She said barely above a whisper.
“What are you afraid of, Ari?” I said pulling her close and cupping her face.
“Lots of things…”
“Look, I can’t promise you that it will work. But we can try…” I lifted her chin up, making her look at me. “Please… don’t leave me hanging for another 3 years…”
I stared at her as she stared back, looking into my eyes, looking for reassurance, which I tried to transmit her solely through a gaze. She never answered, not verbally at least. All she did after that stare was to kiss me, slow and tender and deep… my brain melted and I felt my legs turn into jelly. Back to elementary again.
“Taking that as an okay…” I said breathlessly.
“Shane’s birthday is in 3 weeks. I’d like it if you could come.”
Last night I saw the fireworks
The kind of pain that never hurts
The one you hate to love was made for you
Another unsuspecting sunday afternoon