Back at the hotel, Frank, Gerard, and Ray wanted to go out. Frank was standing in Braelyn’s doorway. “Braeeeeeeee please come out with us. It’ll be fun!”
“I’m exhausted Frankie,” Braelyn said, her voice muffled by the pillow she had covering her face.
Braelyn sighed and pulled the pillow off her face. “Only if I can leave when I want.”
“Yay!!!!” Frank said. He bounded over to the bed and kissed her forehead. “Twenty minutes?”
“Fine.” Braelyn said sitting up. Frank ran out of the room. Braelyn went to Chelsea’s room and knocked on the door. Chelsea opened it. “You goin out tonight?”
Chelsea smiled, “Ya it sounds like fun. Are you going?”
“For a little bit. Frankie said twenty minutes.”
“I’ll be ready.”
Braelyn continued walking down the hall to Mikey’s open door. He was sitting up in bed, still fully clothed, his television on. “Hey Mikey. Can I come in?”
“Ya, of course.”
She went to sit on his bed. “Are you going on this grand adventure?”
“I guess it would be fun, but I don’t want to be out super late,” he said, sighing. “I just want to be done being sick, but Frankie’s bugging me to go. I guess Bob’s going too, so he said I can’t be the only one left behind.”
“I don’t want to be out late, either,” Braelyn sympathized. “But if you go, we could leave after an hour? That way I don’t have to walk back alone?”
Mikey smiled and nodded. “Sure. Sounds good.”
“You’re the best!” Braelyn leaned over and hugged him. She pulled away and asked, “What are you watching?”
“I dunno. Cartoons or something?”
“Oooo fun. Can I watch too?”
“Aren’t you gonna go get ready?”
Braelyn gasped over dramatically. “Michael I-don’t-know-your-middle-name Way. Are you saying I don’t look good enough to be seen with you in public?!”
Mikey’s face turned red as he rushed to say, “No! No no, that’s not what I meant.”
“You just usually do that whole ‘change your hair, makeup, and clothes’ thing before we go out-“
Braelyn laughed. “Don’t worry about it. I was kidding. I’m feeling a bit lazy tonight.”
Mikey had recovered from his panic. “You’re mean sometimes.”
Braelyn fell back onto Mikey’s pillows as she said, “Oh yes I know.”
“No guilt. I’m beginning to think you’re evil.”
“Only a little.”
Mikey laughed. They settled back to watch tv until Frank called for them. They all left the hotel and wandered the French Quarter for a bit. They had gone to a couple of bars when Braelyn decided she was done, finally too exhausted to care about who was buying the next drink or what song was playing. She and Mikey left and arrived back to the hotel a few minutes later.
Mikey claimed the first shower, taking advantage of Braelyn’s delayed responses. She stuck her tongue out at him as he pushed passed her and rushed down the hall. Braelyn used the time to call Addi. When she didn’t answer, Braelyn called the Rover. Gemma answered the break room phone and talked to Braelyn for a few minutes before passing her off to someone else. By the time Mikey had gotten out of the shower, Braelyn had talked to everyone in the bar, including a couple of the regulars, and was now talking about Addi’s birthday party with Marissa. Mikey knocked on the open door frame of Braelyn’s room when he was done. She wrapped up a few details with Marissa before saying her goodbyes.
Braelyn took a rather long shower. She left her hair damp when she put on her pajama shorts and an old t-shirt. She then went to Mikey’s room.
“Are you feeling better?” She asked as she launched herself onto his bed.
“Ya, actually. Whatever Dr. Thompson gave me seems to have knocked it out.”
“Are you excited to play Dallas? It’s coming up in a few days.”
Braelyn’s face broke out into a grin. “Ya. All my friends are coming. Tom and Marissa are closing down the Rover for the night. And it’s Addi’s birthday.”
“On the day of the show?”
“Ummm I’m pretty sure it’s the day that Topher said we were playing the Rover, so the next night.”
“That’s cool. She’ll dig that, right?”
“Ya. She’ll love it.”
Braelyn was sitting against Mikey’s headboard and she now had the remote to his television. Mikey asked, “I thought you were tired?”
“I am, but it’s weird to be going to bed at one thirty.” She looked over at him, “I can go to my room though, if you want to sleep. Sorry, I didn’t even ask.” She moved to get up.
“Nah, stay. I’ve been sleeping for like the last two days. I’m gonna be up for a while.”
Braelyn smiled and settled back onto Mikey’s bed. She began flipping channels. They chose Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Braelyn sang along to the rap and chattered on throughout the show about the plot, the bad clothes, and Frank’s crush on Chelsea, content with Mikey’s minimal responses. Soon after the second episode started, Braelyn’s commentary fell silent. Mikey looked over to see the girl fast asleep. He chuckled to himself. He let her sleep for the rest of the episode before he tried to wake her up.
“Braelyn,” he said, softly, touching her shoulder. “It’s time to go to bed.” The girl barely stirred. Mikey sighed and said, wryly, “I see this is becoming a trend.” He picked her up and carried her to her own bed. He pulled the comforter over her, turned off the lights, and closed the door. He went back to his own room and promptly fell asleep.
Topher came in to wake Braelyn up around eight. “I know you’re going to be pouty and upset with me,” he started. “But I forgot to tell you that you and Gerard have an interview this morning.”
“Topherrrrrrrrrr,” she whined, shoving off her comforter.
“I’m sorry. It’s in an hour, down the street, then we’re probably going to go from there to the meet and greet. Then we get on the bus and head to Houston.”
“So not only are you waking me up early, you’re also making me look cute before I leave?” she grumbled.
“That’s the gist of it,” Topher said with an evil grin.
“Fine. Give me forty-five minutes.” Topher nodded and left the room. Braelyn shouted after him, “Can I please have a Dr. Pepper? I’m gonna need some extra caffeine today!”
Topher said he would get her one and Braelyn began to roam her room, packing and getting ready at the same time. As she promised, forty-five minutes later, Braelyn was packed and cute, in her denim mini and an orange tank top with rope sandals on. Topher had her leave her bag in the living room of the suite and they went to go get Gerard. They walked to the radio station, taking advantage of the good weather. In the lobby of the station, a PA appeared with coffee for Gerard and a Dr. Pepper for Braelyn.
The interview was similar to the one they did in Atlanta a few days before. This host did ask them some questions that fans called in and asked. They asked Gerard things like who his biggest inspiration was and when My Chemical Romance was going to make another album. Then it was Braelyn’s turn.
“Marie, thanks for calling in,” the radio host said. “What’s your question for Braelyn?”
“Um. Hi. So my question is who are you?”
The atmosphere in the studio was automatically filled with tension. Braelyn just laughed. “Good question, Marie. It’s Marie isn’t it?” Braelyn asked.
“Ya. I’m Marie.”
“I’m really nobody. I’m just a really lucky girl who was in the right place at the right time. I’ve been given this incredible opportunity to travel and perform and I’ve made some crazy awesome friends so far and I’ve gotten to do amazing things. I’m really thankful for this chance. I know a lot of people have the same question you do, Marie. Who is this girl? Well I hope people’s curiosity will make them come out to shows and find out.”
“Thank you, Marie,” the host switched the line. “Sara, do you have a question for Braelyn?”
“Oh my gosh, I love your stuff, or at least what I’ve been able to find on the internet.”
“Aw thanks Sara.”
“Do you have plans to record an album soon?” The excited girl on the line asked.
“Oh,” Braelyn said, surprised. She looked to Gerard who looked to Topher. “Um-“
Gerard jumped in, “Braelyn doesn’t have plans right now to record, but she’s on her way to big things, and an album will follow soon.”
Braelyn had recovered a bit from her shock and added, “And until I get that all figured out, I’m trying to keep adding to the stuff on my website.”
“That’s awesome. Thanks!”
“Thank you, Sara!” Braelyn replied.
There were a couple more questions. Then the host said, “Time for one more question for Miss Braelyn. Kassie, go ahead.”
“So I want to know, which one of the members of the band are you hooking up with?” There was some venom in her voice.
Someone gasped. Braelyn’s eyes widen, but she couldn’t stop a laugh from escaping her lips. Gerard looked at her, smirk on his face. Very seriously, Braelyn answered, “All of them.”
“What?!” the girl shrieked into the phone.
Gerard and Braelyn started laughing uncontrollably. Once the others in the studio realized the joke, they joined in to. Braelyn took a couple of deep breaths to stop her giggle fit so she could speak.
“I’m not ‘hooking up’ with any of them.”
“You’re a liar,” the caller said, quickly continuing, “you’re not any good so the only reason you could be on this tour is because you’re fu-“
“Alright,” the host said, “Kassie is done. And that’s our interview. So let’s say goodbye to Gerard and Braelyn.”
“Thanks for having us,” Gerard said, looking to Braelyn, urging her to also say goodbye.
Braelyn was struggling to form words, but not from laughter this time. After a few seconds she managed, “Thank you.”
The host sent the show to a commercial break. “I am so sorry, Ms. Porter. The callers are supposed to be vetted better.”
Braelyn was just staring into her lap and nodding.
“I think we’re gonna go,” Topher said, coming into the studio.
“Thank you for coming by, sincerely. I enjoyed it,” the host said, ushering them into the elevator.
“No problem,” Gerard said, but he clearly wasn’t paying attention. He was worried about his friend. He slid his arm around her shoulders as the doors to the elevator slid shut.
“Braelyn, I’m really sorry about that,” Topher said.
“It’s ok,” Braelyn said looking up. “It happens.”
“It’s fine. Really.”
The doors opened to the lobby. Topher led them outside and into a waiting car. They drove to the place where the meet and greet was. The others and the bus were already there. Braelyn and Gerard were sat at the table with the others immediately because the event was about to start. Frank was sitting next to Braelyn as usual.
He leaned over and whispered as the doors opened. “We heard the interview. I’m-“
“Oh my God! Frank! I love you!!!!!!!”
Fangirl hysteria ensued. There were so many of them. It was crazy. The first person to come see Braelyn was Riley. She avoided the gigantic mob in front of the boys and came to see her.
“Hi, Braelyn,” she said shyly. “I’m Riley. From yesterday?”
“Of course I remember you! Riley Jenkins,” Braelyn broke into a grin. “How are you?”
“Awesome. I’m so excited to be here. You were so good last night!”
“Aw thanks sweetheart. So, if I remember right, you’re a big fan of the boys right?”
“Well come with me, we’ll go say hi.” Braelyn held out an open hand to her. She brought Riley around the tables. Braelyn had her wait a couple of yards behind the tables and then she went and tapped Frank on the shoulder. “Mr. Ireo, I need to talk with you really quickly.”
Frank looked up, confused, then realization dawned on him. He finished his signature and said, “Of course.” To the crowd, he said, “Sorry guys, I’ll be right back. I promise!”
They groaned as Frank walked away with Braelyn. “Frankie! This is my new friend, Riley. I met her yesterday. She’s a big fan of y’all’s.”
“Hi Riley!” Frank hugged her. “It’s awesome to meet you!”
“It’s awesome to meet you too!” Riley replied breathlessly. When he released her, she asked, “Do you think you could sign something for me?”
Braelyn let them talk for a while, then Frankie had to go back to the other fans. Braelyn introduced Riley to the others one by one. Riley was so excited to meet all of them. After Gerard left them, Riley threw her arms around Braelyn.
“Thank you so much!”
“No problem sweetheart. It was wonderful meeting you.”
“You too! This whole weekend was incredible,” Riley gushed.
“We should keep in touch,” Braelyn suggested, pulling out a sharpie from her pocket and taking Riley’s hand. “This is my email. Drop me a line or something. And I’ll let you know when I’m gonna be around here again. Sound good?”
“Sounds awesome.” Riley looked up at her eyes shining. “Thanks.”
“No problem sweetie.” Topher called her name. There was a line of people in front of where she was supposed to be sitting. “I have to go before Topher gets all pissy. But I’m so happy I got to see you again, and email me soon, ok?”
“Sure, Braelyn. I’ll talk to you soon.”
Braelyn pulled the younger girl into another hug. As Riley left the event, Braelyn went to her seat at the table. She signed some things and posed for a couple of pictures. Then a girl came up to her.
“I heard your radio interview this morning.” There wasn’t any excitement or joy in her voice. “I agree with that Kassie girl, you must be fucking one of them.”
“Ya!” Someone behind her shouted. “You suck!”
“I saw you take Bob away from everyone, saying you needed to ‘talk to him,’” another said using air quotes.
“She did that with Frankie too!” Another yelled.
Braelyn was panicking now. The girls grew louder, hurling insults at her. Braelyn just shrank back against her chair. Finally, Topher noticed. He tried to quiet them down, and when his words didn’t work, he called in security, who cleared everyone out. While this was happening, Chelsea was trying to get Braelyn to move, to go out to the bus. Frankie joined in the struggle. But Braelyn couldn’t make herself move. She was shaking with fear. It wasn’t until everyone cleared out that Chelsea could get her to move. Chelsea shooed the boys away and took Braelyn back to the bus.
“Are you alright, hun? I heard the interview this morning. They’re bringing the crazy extra hard today huh?” Chelsea asked as she walked the shaking girl outside, her arm around her.
All Braelyn could do was nod.
They reached the bus. Chelsea asked, “Can I do anything for you?”
Braelyn shook her head no and said in a small voice said, “I think I’m just going to go to bed.”
“Ok hun. I’ll tell the boys they can come to the bus then?”
Braelyn nodded as she pulled her bag out and got out her pajamas. Chelsea left and Braelyn changed and crawled into her bunk. She pulled the curtains, plugged in her iPod earphones and ignored the sounds of the others on the bus and waited for the bus to start moving. All she wanted to do was cry, but, at this point on the tour, she knew they boys would be back to check on her. She didn’t want to cry in front of them.
She was right. It wasn’t more than five minutes after the bus pulled out of the parking lot before Frank pulled back her curtain. Braelyn was going to cry if she had to talk, so she pretended to be asleep. Gerard came back next. Again Braelyn pretended to be asleep. A little while later, she heard movement in the bunkroom again.
No one opened her curtain, but Mikey’s voice came through it. “Hey Braelyn, I told them I was going to sleep, so you shouldn’t have to worry about them sneaking back here anymore. So I’m going to plug in my music and read until I fall asleep and I’ll stop bothering you.”
Braelyn heard him climb into his bunk. After a few more moments, Braelyn broke down. She cried hard, but not for very long. Once her tears stopped, Braelyn laid there breathing deeply.
“So now that that’s over, you want to talk about it?” Mikey’s voice came from beneath her.
Braelyn couldn’t help but laugh. She popped her head out of her bunk and hung over the edge. “Spy!”
“Only a little,” he said smiling. More seriously, he said, “And that’s happened to us before. Maybe not fans accusing us of sleeping with each other, but there have been angry mobs shouting at us about encouraging kids to kill themselves with our lyrics. I know it was rough on me. Is there anything I can do?”
“I think I’m ok. It’s just a shock is all. I didn’t realize there was that much h-hate.” Tears started falling again.
Mikey stood up and helped Braelyn back into her bunk. He stood on the side of his own bed so he was at eye-level with her. “You know it’s all misplaced, right?” He reached up and wiped the tears from her face. “They’re all just jealous. They want to be here with us.”
“What if they’re right?” She asked, now hiccupping. “What if I suck and I’m not good enough to play with you guys?”
“That’s what you’re worried about? Not being good enough?”
Braelyn looked over at him. “Of course. I knew coming into this that girls would be jealous. You guys are a big deal. But even if I was…involved with one of you, who’s business is that by my own? No, the jealous girl stuff I could handle.” She paused and looked back down at her lap. “It’s terrifying to play for people who might not like my stuff. Until today, I kinda forgot about other people’s reactions. I haven’t been reading reviews or anything.”
“Tour’s kind of like a bubble. We live in our own little world,” Mikey replied. “As for you not being good enough,” he tilted her chin up so she was looking at him, “That’s ridiculous. You’re-” She was looking straight at him. He lost his nerve and dropped both his hands from her face and his eyes to the ground. “You’re a great performer. Don’t worry about them.”
Braelyn sniffed and wiped her face. “Thanks Mikey.”
“No problem.” He stepped down from his perch and got back into his own bed, his mind going a million miles a minute. He had meant to tell her she was phenomenal. That her sets were awesome. That those girls had no idea what they were talking about. But when she had looked back at him, her eyes wide with hurt and pain, so honest, he couldn’t find the words.
Above him, Braelyn had turned on her side, closing her eyes, knowing she needed some sleep.
A/N: So ya. Let me know how you like it! Hearts, Corri