Where do Jon and Brendon take her? Lou comes clean to the boys, and gets a surprising reaction from Spencer.
I raised my head from where it was resting on Jon’s shoulder, hearing Brendon splash ahead through puddles. There was a soft thunk, and I heard the slight squeak of door hinges. My body was jolted as I felt Jon walk up steps, going slowly so he wouldn’t trip or fall. Footsteps jumped up behind us, and the door closed, telling me that Brendon was bringing up the rear. I shivered as warmth immediately flooded my body. My clothes were soaked through and droplets of water plopped softly onto my face, falling from my hair. Jon carefully lowered me, setting my feet on the ground. I swayed and stumbled, my weak and shaky legs not supporting me. I felt an arm wrap around my waist, hearing Brendon speak as he steadied me. “Woah,” he said. “Careful.”
“Jon? Brendon?” Ryan’s muffled voice asked. A heavy thump of feet came from in front of me as I clutched at Brendon’s shirt for support. A door was slid back and I heard Ryan, and most likely Spencer (the footsteps were too heavy to belong to just one person) enter… wherever we were.
“Lou! You’re okay,” Spencer said, coming to help Brendon stabilize me while I felt Jon brush past, murmuring something about finding dry clothes. I gave a weak grin.
“I guess you could say that,” I said. Beneath me, I felt the floor vibrate and rumble as an engine roared to life. I stumbled again, losing my balance as we began to move. “What…?” I began.
“Welcome to our tour bus,” I heard Brendon chuckle. “Our humble abode for the past couple of weeks and for many yet to come.” Tour bus? I shook my head.
“No, I shouldn’t be here. You guys are on tour and-”
“Chris approves,” Ryan broke in. “It was our idea, anyway; when I called him to let him know you’d been found, he agreed and said it was a good plan.” I stiffened visibly at the mention of my brother. Tears pricked my eyes and I bit my lip as I thought back to our earlier conversation in the hotel’s apartment. Someone sighed.
“What-” started Brendon, but he was cut off when Jon reappeared and spoke.
“I found some dry clothes for you to change into, Lou,” he said. I nodded, letting Spencer and Brendon lead me carefully towards their band mate. Jon’s fingers closed gently around my hand as he took over helping me shuffle forward. After a while, we stopped and he stretched out my arm, making my finger tips brush lightly against fabric that had been placed on… a soft mattress, maybe. A bunk? My other hand gripped a wooden frame tightly to enable me to stand by myself. Jon let go of me. “You can change in here, he said. “I hope the clothes fit. If they don’t, just let me know. I’m sure that between the lot of us there’ll be something that will fit you.” I thanked him appreciatively and he left, shutting the door to the area we had just come from to give me privacy.
Sitting down on the bunk that the clothes were placed on, I took off my shoes and socks, dropping them onto the floor. I kicked off my wet jeans with slight difficulty, adding them to the pile. My right hand patted the blankets beside me until I found a pair of what seemed like sweatpants. They were a little too big, to I pulled the ties around the waist tighter before knotting them in a clumsy bow. Standing up, I unzipped my hoodie and pulled my t-shirt over my head, hissing softly as my bare skin came into contact with the cool air. Though it was summer, it was one of those weird days where it was abnormally cold, making you revert back to sweaters and warm clothes.
I felt around in front of me, finding a t-shirt-shaped object and used my fingers to work out which way it went by locating the tag on the neck. I slipped the cool fabric over my head, recognizing the smell that I had come to associate with Ryan. The last item of clothing that had been put out for me was a warm hoodie. Picking it up, I paused, Spencer’s scent attacking my nostrils. On an impulse, I raised the material to my face and breathed in deeply. For some reason, smelling Spencer’s hoodie (in a totally non-creepy way) helped me relax slightly. I was safe now; I knew the guys would look after me. But that didn’t stop me from pining for Yankee.
Hunger stabbed a knife into my stomach as I shoved my arms through the sleeves and fumbled with the zip. The bus rounded a corner and I lost my balance, tumbling to the ground. “Fuck!” I cried. “Fuck, fuck, shit!”
There was a patter of footsteps. “Are you alright, Lou?” Ryan asked, concerned.
“Ouch,” was all I said in reply, sitting up and rubbing my head. I heard the door open and felt Ryan kneel down beside me as I tried once again to do up the zip. “Here,” he said, using his hands to remove my own. “Let me do it.” I sat still, letting him do up the hoodie.
“Thanks,” I muttered, rubbing my head again. A headache was beginning to pound and my stomach unceremoniously let out a loud rumble. I blushed.
“Come on, let’s get you something to eat,” Ryan said simply and he pulled me to my feet. I was guided back into the area, and someone helped me slide onto a couch next to them. I could feel a table in front of me, so I rested my elbows on the surface, keeping my head down.
“Those clothes fit okay?” Jon asked.
“Yeah. Thanks,” I said. I wriggled my bare toes. “The only thing is… you wouldn’t happen to, um, have a spare pair of socks I could borrow, would you?”
“’Course,” he said, and I heard him stand and walk off. Someone was rummaging through cupboards, the sound making me turn my head.
“Brendon,” Ryan sighed, “have you been into the fridge again?”
“Hey,” Brendon complained loudly from opposite me, “I’m not the only person on this bus, you know. Why do you have to blame me?”
“Because,” Jon answered, pressing a rolled-up pair of socks into my hand, “you’re the one we catch hanging around the fridge and cupboards most of the time.”
I voiced my thanks as the singer ‘humphed’ loudly, pulling the large socks onto my smaller feet. Ryan sighed again. “Sorry Lou,” he told me apologetically. “Cereal’s the best I can offer you at this point in time.”
“Cereal’s fine,” I replied as my stomach let out another indignant noise, demanding food.
“Can I ask what happened?” Spencer asked me, making me realise it was him who was seated next to me. “I don’t want to pry, but I mean, all we know is that Chris called and asked if we’d help him look for you ‘cause you’d run off without Yankee. He seemed pretty upset.”
I exhaled loudly. Loosely, I rubbed the run of my wrists; from the discomfort I received, I gathered that there were still bruises from when my father had handled me roughly. Looking up as Ryan set a bowl and spoon on the table with a clunk, I gave him a sad, blank smile in return. Picking up the spoon, I took a mouthful and almost moaned with pleasure. I’d never thought that cereal could have tasted so fucking good.
Running a hand through the tangles in my hair, I swivelled in my seat a little bit so that I was addressing Spencer. “If… if I tell you, do you promise you won’t get mad or pissed off at me?” I asked cautiously. I could imagine the wheels turning in his head, working to grind out an answer.
“Lou,” he started.
I cut him off. “Do you promise?”
“Lou, where is this going?” Brendon asked, staring to sound worried.
I closed my eyes tight before opening them again. “Just… you’re the only friends I’ve ever had – apart from Yankee – and I don’t want to lose that friendship because I fucked up somehow.” Worry began to unfurl in my gut, like a sleeping dragon that had been awoken. I didn’t find it strange when without missing a beat, Spencer replied with, “I promise.”
I took another spoonful of cereal, but it had lost its taste. Regardless of my loss of appetite, I continued to eat, too afraid of the consequences that would come in to play if I stopped. Setting my spoon down in the now empty bowl, I absent-mindedly returned my hand to its previous position of circling my wrist. I directed my words at Spencer again. “Do you remember when we first met, and you asked me whether I minded being blind?”
I could practically hear his frown. “Yeah. But what does that have to do with today?”
“Everything,” was my answer. Ducking my head, I gnawed on my bottom lip. “When… when I…” Swallowing, I licked my suddenly dry lips. “Spencer, when I told you that I didn’t mind being blind… I was lying.”
Confusion radiated out of all four of the musicians in waves so strong, I felt like I was drowning.
“Why?” was the only thing that was uttered, voiced by Jon.
“You wouldn’t - you wouldn’t understand,” I whispered.
“Try us,” Ryan said softly, “We might understand more than you think.” There was something in his voice that made me believe him.
I took a shaky breath. “I… I was scared that you would think less of me if you knew what really happened, and I was just starting to enjoy the fact that you welcomed me easily and made me feel… important. Wanted. Like I belonged somewhere.” I paused briefly before adding, “And I didn’t think that any of you would understand what I was going through. Add that to the fact that I didn’t think that I would see you ever again after that day…”
No one knew what to say. I turned to the drummer beside me. “Ask me again. Ask me if being blind bothers me.”
“Lou,” he pleaded.
“Do it.” My voice was harsh and loud, which was unlike me, but a lot of things had happened recently and I was not the girl I used to be.
His tone was soft and cautious. “Does being blind bother you?’
I answered by giving a harsh bark of laughter. “Fuck yes. Would you like it if there was something that made you stand out from everyone else, even though you couldn’t help being the way you were? That made you feel totally defenceless, because you had to constantly rely on the people around you? Until a few days ago, I’d never been out in public with just Yankee to guide me. Mom or Chris or Dad would have to come with me, and then I would get treated like a fucking invalid. Like I’m not just blind, but dumb and deaf as well. I hated it. It made me feel worthless, like everything would be so much easier and everyone would be better off if I was dead.”
“Don’t you dare think that, Lou,” Brendon said quietly. “You’re not worthless.”
I shook my head, unable to stop a stray tear escaping and sliding down my face. Spencer gently brushed it away with his thumb. “My parents would agree with me,” I said in a hollow voice. “I was hated because of something I couldn’t do anything about! They were so disappointed in me, that I wasn’t like Chris, that I couldn’t see. And don’t say that deep down they loved me, because they sure as hell didn’t,” I said as someone went to interrupt me. “They talked about me all the time, forgetting I had sharp hearing and could pick up every word. They loathed me; they wanted to fucking send me away when I became fully blind. I creeped them out with my eyes and the way I stare at everything with a fucking blank look on my face.” My voice was rising and my language had worsened – a sure sign that I was upset.
“Chris didn’t know that I was destroying our family,” I continued, staring downwards. “We had an unspoken agreement that he wouldn’t ever find out. We were such good actors.” Bitterness crept into my tone, like vines wrapping themselves around a tree. “He would have never found out, either, if it wasn’t for the little snag in their ‘plan.’”
“What plan?” Ryan asked, sounding like he dreaded hearing the answer.
I snorted. “Three days ago, I was bundled into a car with a suitcase and Yankee and told we were going for a ‘family holiday.’ We got to the hotel that night and darling Mommy and Daddy made an excuse about going out and getting food, conveniently ‘forgetting’ to come back to the hotel. I was left to fucking starve on my own with Yankee. I would still be there, too, if it wasn’t for Chris.”
Someone sighed heavily into the silence. I’m guessing that no one really knew what to say to my little confession. Spencer’s hand found mine, squeezing them gently in a show of comfort.
“I’m sorry, Lou,” Jon told me sincerely.
Shaking my head, I said to him, “Don’t be; it’s not your fault.”
“I - ” Brendon said, getting cut off by the ringing of a cell phone. There was a slight pause.
“It’s Chris,” Ryan said. He went off to answer it and we could hear his muffled voice over the low thrum of the engine. I seemed to collapse in on myself, curling up as best I could on the seat with the table in front of me. Tucking my chin onto my chest, I caught a strong wave of Spencer’s scent as my nose was brought closer to the fabric of his hoodie. Again, I felt the same feeling of calmness ad safety as I did when I had put it on.
Footsteps announced Ryan was back. “Uh, Lou?” he asked cautiously. “Um, do you want to talk to your brother?”
I shook my head, the thought of speaking to Chris bringing on a flood of tears. Spencer let go of my hand as I began to sob, and I thought that the act of me suddenly breaking down had repulsed him in some way. I soon realised otherwise when I felt him carefully wrap an arm around my body and pull me into his own. He held me tenderly, rocking me back and forth in a smooth, soothing motion as I cried for the life I would never have.
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Also, if you like my stuff, check out the P!AtD oneshot I posted the other day entitled 'Phantoms.' It's one of my favourite things I've written so far, so it may interest you.