Brendon begs Lou to sing for him, which produces a surprising result. And the prospect of a hotel night causes some drama...
The ringing sound of my brother’s cell phone cut through a burst of raucous laughter.
“Please don’t hate me, please don’t help me. Stop putting me down...” The deep vocals of Charlie Simpson ran out in the sudden silence. The ringing stopped abruptly as Chris pressed a button.
“Who was that?” I asked, raising my head as I scratched Yankee behind his ears.
“No one,” Chris said hurriedly. I didn’t say anything, only raised one of my eyebrows. The phone rang again.
“Stop putting me down, ‘cause I won’t ever understand…”
“‘Stop panicking, stop panicking,’” I sung the next part under my breath. Again, Chris cut the phone off mid-ring. “You know, you may as well answer it. They’ve rung you twice already,” I told my brother. “Who keeps calling anyway?”
There was silence.
“Mom and Dad,” Chris finally said quietly. I felt my insides freeze.
“Well, then keep ignoring them and forget what I said before,” I said stiffly. My older brother groaned as the phone rang again.
“I’m sorry Lou, I have to answer it,” he said to me over the loud thrash of guitars. “They’re just gonna keep calling otherwise.” He sighed. “What?” he snapped as he spoke into the phone. His footsteps passed where I sat on the floor as he walked off. The door to the back lounge shut.
“Okay, Brendon, are you staring at me again?” I turned my head to where the three guys sat.
“Sorry,” he said sheepishly. “But… you sang!” I blushed. I hadn’t been aware of that. “Do it again!” the singer encouraged.
“No, I… I wouldn’t know what to sing,” I said, suddenly going shy.
“Anything,” Jon said, “Even death-metal-screamo-thrash if you want.” I rolled my eyes, a small smile on my face.
“No…” I felt my blush deepen. “I’ve never sung in front of anyone before.”
“Come on, it’s just us,” Brendon said. I snorted.
“Yeah, coming from you in particular, that’s reassuring.”
“Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease?” he whined.
Spencer sighed. “Dude, don’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to,” he said. “Don’t listen to him, Lou.”
“Louie, please?” Brendon pleaded.
“Hey! No childish nicknames!” I frowned.
“Looooooouuuuiiiiiiee,” Brendon said in a sing-song voice. Jon chuckled. “I’m gonna keep on calling you that until you sing for me.” I exhaled loudly as a chorus of “Louie” came from his direction.
“You just never give up, do you?”
“I told you last night we can be pretty stubborn,” I heard Brendon grin. Rolling my eyes, I groaned.
“Alright. Fine! I give in,” I threw up my hands as another wave of “Louie”’ was voiced.
“Yes!” Brendon whooped while Spencer said, “Oh, shut up, Brendon.” I racked my brain for something to sing.
“You could sing Chris’ ringtone if you can’t think of anything,” Jon suggested. “That didn’t sound too bad.”
“What? Palahniuk’s Laughter?” I said. “Pff, I can’t get my voice that deep.”
“Ha!” A laugh from Brendon was bit back.
“What now?” I asked exasperatedly.
“Nothing,” he said innocently while chuckling under his breath. “Ha, ‘Palahniuk’.”
“Yeah, okay, we get it,” Spencer broke in.
Biting my lip, I said, “Okay… I think I’ve got something.”
“Go on then,” Jon urged as they fell silent. I shifted my position on the floor before opening my mouth.
“I’ve spent all of my time on the road,” I sung, my voice quiet but clear. “Sleeping my days away but you should know that I’m reflecting on who I’ve left go; the people I’ve hurt in ways I’ll never know. And I never mean to be hurtful to you – Please don’t hate me. All I can say I did all I could do – Please don’t hate me for this.” I fell silent after the last note. I was met with an empty void of silence, save for Chris’ low talking and the hum of the bus engine.
“I wish you could see our faces, Lou,” Spencer said, sounding amazed.
“Keep going,” Brendon said in a hushed voice.
“No, I don’t think- ” I began shaking my head.
“Keep going, Lou,” Jon repeated. “Sing the next part.”
“I…” I sighed, slipping into the next verse. “I’ve spent all of my nights wide awake, wishing for some kind of poison to take so that my conscious would just take a break; I am so tired of the noise that it makes. I’m guilty enough without hearing it twice – Please don’t hate me. You won’t give it up but it’s all in your eyes – Please don’t hate me for this.” I finished the second chorus, humming the little instrumental tune. “I’ve spent every last second I’ve had counting the minutes and I’m going mad. I’m redefining the words ‘I am sad’; nothing I’ve done ever hurt quite this bad. And I’m sure that I will heal faster than you – Please don’t hate me. I don’t expect you to know what to do – Please don’t hate me. When we’re old men we will not be alone, not be alone anymore. When we’re old men we will not be alone, not be alone anymore.” I held the last note as a loud applause broke out. I blushed.
“Holy shit,” Brendon breathed.
“Wow…” was all Spencer said.
“You need to sing more often,” Jon added. “That was so… beautiful.”
Lowering my head and playing with Yankee’s ruff, I mumbled. “It wasn’t that good.”
“Are you kidding me?” Brendon said in disbelief. “Are you fucking kidding me? Lou, no words can describe your voice. It’s just…”
“Perfect,” I heard Spencer whisper to himself.
My cheeks were on fire. “Can we talk about something else please? I don’t feel comfortable with all this attention.”
“No,” Jon said firmly. “We’re gonna keep telling you how good your voice is until you agree with us.”
“And say you’ll do a duet with me,” Brendon joined in.
I groaned. “Guys, just leave it alone; it’s not that big of a deal.”
“What’s not that big of a deal?” Chris asked as he walked through the bunk section where Ryan was still hidden away.
“Chris! Tell your sister that she is a fucking amazing singer and needs to do a duet with me,” Brendon demanded.
“Uh… what?” Chris sounded confused.
Looking at where his voice had come from, I hurriedly butted in before a band member could say anything else. “What did they want?” I asked my brother, my tone quiet but harsh.
“Don’t worry about it, Lou,” he said.
“But, Chris- ”
“I said don’t worry about it, Lou,” my brother repeated, his tone firm. I hadn’t heard him use that tone of voice with me before, but I could tell when it was time to back off, as much as I hated to. I wanted to know what they had said, even though I wanted nothing to do with them at all. I frowned, but didn’t question Chris any further.
“Look, um, guys?” he continued, now talking to the band. “There’s a stop coming up again in five minutes or so. Uh, not that this hasn’t been great or anything, but I should probably get back to the rest of the roadies.”
“Oh, yeah. Sure,” said Jon, sounding slightly disappointed. I didn’t say anything, my hand still buried in Yankee’s fur as my guide dog dozed off slightly.
Five minutes ended all too quickly, and true to his word, Chris departed the band’s tour bus with nothing more than a, “I’ll see you later, guys.”
I couldn’t help feeling that World War III had started between my parents and sibling.
Much to my relief, Brendon and Jon dropped the subject of my singing. Mainly because they detected my unhappy mood after Chris left without an explanation, and partly because they were excited by the prospect of a hotel night.
“A real bed,” Spencer groaned in expectation. “Not just some shitty mattress.”
“An actual room,” Jon fantasized. He sighed wistfully. I laughed at their eagerness.
“Trust me Lou, when you’ve been on this bus for as long as we have, you’d be excited too,” Brendon told me.
A thought suddenly struck me. “Uh… What- what am I going to do?”
“Duh, you’re coming with us!” Jon said, like I should have already known that.
“What, you honestly didn’t think that we’d leave you here or something?” Spencer said incredulously. I shifted uncomfortably on the back lounge next to Jon. We’d moved there after Chris had left. Brendon sat on the floor, patting Yankee, who whined happily at the attention.
“Well…” I began, not even bothering to finish my sentence.
Brendon snorted. “Has anything we’ve done for you led you to believe that we’d actually do that?”
Embarrassed, I shook my head. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m just so used to being left out and… you know, because of…”
“Lou,” Spencer sighed. “You’ve got to stop thinking of your blindness as a disability.”
“Well, it is, isn’t it?” I shot back.
“For fuck’s sake, you can’t see; it’s not like you have brain damage or are paralysed,” the drummer said. “You can still walk, talk – fuck, you function like a normal human being except for the fact that you can’t see. It’s not like you’re gonna die from it or something.” I was silent, and he sighed. “Look, I’m sorry, but it just pisses me off when you always put yourself down for something you can’t help. I’d get it if it was something you could help, but you can’t. It’s no use worrying or trying to fix it. You just have to live with it.”
“You can’t change 18 years of thinking that way just like that,” I mumbled.
“Well there’s a challenge I’d like to accept,” Spencer said cockily, still annoyed slightly. I pressed my lips together and then parted them, about to say something.
“Okay, guys, give it up and be friends again, yeah?” Jon said. “We’re almost at the hotel, anyway.” I felt the couch sink as Spencer shifted to sit next to me, squeezing my hand in a sign of apology. I squeezed back.
When we arrived at the hotel some twenty minutes later, we were met by Zack. He greeted me warmly in the lobby of the hotel, where I stood holding Brendon’s hand (he’d helped me off the bus and into the building) before going to get the room keys and check in. Brendon, Jon and Spencer talked amongst themselves while Ryan, who hadn’t said a word to me after leaving his bunk, joined in the conversation every now and then, adding a short sentence or a couple of words. I stood silently, Yankee’s leash wrapped around my other hand and shifting my weight every few seconds. I had developed a slight fear of hotels and motels after being left in one by my parents, even though I knew the band would never do that to me. That thought comforted me, at least.
The bodyguard came back after a few minutes. “Okay, you’ll be sharing rooms,” he told the boys, handing out what I assumed were key cards. “Try not to do anything immature or stupid; the hotel manager was very unhappy about having to let Yankee stay, even though he’s a service dog. Lou, you’ll have to share a room with two of the boys; I didn’t think you’d be comfortable with a room to yourself, so you’re just gonna have to make do with this.” I nodded. I didn’t mind sharing. In fact, I was glad. At least this way I wouldn’t trip or knock over anything, and I’d have people to help me navigate the layout of the room.
Zack gave out his room number to the boys if they needed him for something, and then our small group made its way to the elevators, our footsteps ringing out loudly.
“Mommy! Look, a puppy!” I heard a small boy exclaim as people exited an elevator.
“Don’t touch him,” Jon said, but not unkindly. “He’s a very special dog. He’s a guide dog.” I felt the eyes of someone – probably the boy’s mother – on me.
“Is that your sister?” she asked someone as the small boy tried to work out what a guide dog was. Brendon chuckled next to me.
“No. Lou’s a very good friend of ours,” he said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the woman said. “Come on, Samuel,” she told the boy, who followed his mother saying, “Mommy, can I get a doggy? Pleeeeeeeeease?”
“What’s wrong, Lou?” Zack asked. “You look… confused.”
“Why did she ask if I was someone’s sister?” I asked, letting Yankee and Brendon lead me into the elevator. The doors closed and a button was pressed.
“You and Brendon have a similar hair colour,” Zack told me.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean that we look the same,” I said, feeling the elevator move upwards.
“No, but Brendon was holding your hand to help you; she might’ve mistaken that as a sign that you were brother and sister,” Jon clarified. "Why is it bothering you so much?"
"It's not," I said. "Just... curious." The truth was, I had no idea why I’d pursued that line of conversation myself.
The lift came to a stop and the doors opened. There was a squeak.
“Ummm… We’ll just… we’ll just take the next lift,” a teenage girl’s breathless voice said as someone giggled. The doors began to close again, which prompted a hurried yell of, “I love you Ryan!” The rest of the band and Zack chuckled as the elevator moved again.
“Shut up!” Ryan snapped, sounding pissed off.
Finally, the doors opened at the right floor. We all shuffled out, standing in a space where the other elevators were.
“Who are you staying with, Lou?” I raised my head in Spencer’s direction.
“Uh, I don’t mind. Whoever, I guess.”
“Cool!” Brendon said. “You can come with us, then.”
“Us?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Me and Ryan,” he said. I felt my stomach sink slightly. I sighed.
“Fine. As long as you’re not begging me to do a duet with you the entire time,” I agreed. The singer laughed.
“I won’t,” he promised. “Well, I’ll try not to, anyway.”
We started to move again, turning down what I assumed was a hallway. Zack found his room and disappeared, and shortly after that, Jon and Spencer reached and entered their room as well, leaving me with Brendon and Ryan. Finally, we came to our own room. There was the sound of someone putting the key card in the slot, then a click before the door was pushed open.
Yankee led me into the room, his feet padding silently on the carpet. Brendon let go of my hand with a “Whoop!” and I heard someone run and fall onto a bed. The door swung shut behind me, startling me slightly. Someone dumped bags onto the floor.
“Sleeping arrangements!” Brendon said. “Lou, you take this bed here, and Ryan and I- ”
“Fuck no, I am not sharing with you,” Ryan broke in.
“Fine, sleep on the floor then,” Brendon retorted. “Stop PMS-ing. Geez. Anyway, Lou, you take that bed there.”
“Uh… where?” I asked hesitantly.
“Oh! Right… that’s awkward.” Brendon seemed to be trying to make up for the lack of conversation coming from his band mate, who had huffed loudly and stalked off somewhere. “I can’t believe I just said that. Here.” The singer walked over to me and directed me to a large bed. “There. That’s where you’ll sleep.”
“I’m going to find Spencer,” Ryan announced abruptly. The door slammed behind him. Sighing, I sat on the bed.
“He’s still pissed at me, isn’t he?” I said resignedly. Brendon echoed my sigh.
“Yeah,” he said quietly. I fiddled with Yankee’s harness before rubbing my sore wrist lightly.
“I know I should apologise, but it’s kinda hard when he won’t acknowledge my presence.”
“It’s a good thing we’re sharing a room then,” Brendon said, trying to make me feel better.
“Yeah,” I said dully. “Good thing indeed.”
Fightstar - 'Palahniuk's Laughter' (Chris' ringtone)
Yellowcard - 'When We're Old Men' (the song that Lou sings; a beautiful song by an underrated band)
So, I know some of you might be wondering why I’m updating on a Monday instead of a Wednesday (and others just might not care and be happy that I updated earlier), but it’s because I’m going away tomorrow and won’t be coming back ‘till Saturday. (I’m getting my braces off – Yay! :D)
Also, for those of you who read the first part, I updated a second part to ‘Phantoms’ yesterday, so go and read that if you haven’t already.
And lastly, my friend Kaleidoscope_Eyes has a story on here which I’m betaing for her called, “Hospice Isn’t Such a Relaxing Getaway After All.’ It’s a great story, but unfortunately, doesn’t have the readers it should. Feel free to check that out; I’m sure she’d be more than happy if you read it:
For those of you wondering about Lou and Ryan's little argument, I promise that that will be resolved in the next chapter. There is a reason for them having it that will become clear when you read the next chapter. There are certain... feelings that I wanted the characters to discuss.
Don’t forget to rate and review, my wonderful readers!