Lou hangs out with the band backstage before the night's show, and experiences and very 'eventful' Meet-and-Greet.
“You know…” Brendon began, sitting himself down on the stage next to me. “You and Ben would make a cute couple.”
I was sitting cross-legged on the stage, tuning one of Ryan’s guitars. (“Pleeeeease Lou?” he’d begged. I’d frowned. “Get Chris to do it; he’s the guitar tech after all.” “Yeah, but it kinda says something when he gets his own guitars tuned by you,” he’d pointed out. “No.” “Pleeeeeease Lou? You did a good job last time.” “Fine.”)
“He’s tall and handsome, and you’re small and pretty, and I think,” Brendon continued, mindless of the fact that I wasn’t paying him much attention, “that once you get to know him, your personalities would compliment each other very well.”
I paused in the midst of plucking a string. “You don’t even know him; how the hell do you know what he’s like?”
“It’s a feeling,” Brendon said defensively. “Besides, he was totally into you.” I rolled my eyes, refocusing on humming notes and turning tuning pegs. “So you two could make a great couple! Don’t you think, Spencer?”
“Hmm?” the drummer asked, and I heard him walk onto the stage.
“Lou and Ben,” his band mate explained. “Don’t you think they’d make a cute couple?”
There was a disinterested noise from Spencer. “Ehh… Whatever. Why don’t you just drop the subject? It’s getting annoying.”
I sighed, letting my hands fall away from the instrument. “Ryan!” I called out, signaling that I was done. Slipping the strap of the guitar over my head, I held on to the neck and pushed myself up off the ground. Brendon stood too, helping me keep my balance. Loud footsteps rung out.
“Thanks Lou,” Ryan said appreciatively, gently taking his guitar out of my hand and walking away.
“Brendon, we need to run some checks with your mic,” a male voice called out.
“Okay.” The frontman moved off, leaving me standing by myself for the second time that day.
“You look a little lost, Lou,” Jon called to me. I spun in the direction of his voice.
“Oh, uh… I don’t know what to do next,” I admitted. He walked closer.
“Come hang out with me and Spencer back stage then. You can keep us from getting bored.” He grabbed my hand and directed me through the mess of cables and cords onstage until we were walking comfortably through the hallway that led to the backstage lounge. I stopped suddenly.
“Yeah?” Jon stopped too, and I felt his gaze.
“Can I talk to you about something?”
“Sure.” His answer was open and friendly. I sighed, not knowing how to start.
“Look, last night when I… when I jokingly called you ‘Dad’…”
“It’s fine, Lou. Don’t worry about it. I wasn’t offended or anything,” Jon reassured me, gently squeezing my hand.
“It’s just… these past few days, you’ve really been there for me as a fatherly figure, and even though I meant it as a joke…” I tried to explain.
“Hey.” I tensed, surprised when I was pulled into a warm hug. I relaxed after a few seconds and put my arms around the older boy (man, really), returning the hug. Jon pulled back slightly to tell me, “I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll be your pretend dad if you be my pretend daughter.” I chuckled, feeling my cheeks stretch widely from my smile.
“Done,” I said. A thought suddenly struck me. “Wait a second… who’s the mother?”
“You know what?’ Jon dropped his voice to a whisper. “My best guess would be Ryan, but don’t tell him I said that.” Throwing back my head, I laughed loudly.
“What’s going on? I heard my name being mentioned…” Ryan’s footsteps echoed as he walked towards us. Jon snorted, trying to stifle his giggles.
“N-nothing,” he said innocently. I couldn’t keep the grin off my face.
“What are you two planning?” Ryan asked suspiciously.
“Planning? We weren’t planning anything. We were…” I broke off, looking to Jon for help.
“Discussing,” he said smoothly.
“Yes,” I nodded vigorously. “Discussing.”
“Okaaaaaay,” Ryan said slowly. “I still don’t believe you, but whatever.” He started walking away, then paused. “Hey Lou? Thanks for tuning my guitar again; I really appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome,” I said. “Mom,” I added under my breath, so only Jon heard. It sent him into fits of giggles which were infectious, and soon, I had joined in too.
“You guys are strange,” Ryan announced, before leaving us standing there in the hallway, supporting each other as we laughed so hard our sides hurt.
“So what’s up with you?” I asked Spencer as I plopped down beside him on the couch in the backstage lounge a few minutes after Jon and I had recovered from our giggle fit.
“Hmm?” He sounded confused.
I shrugged. “You just seem a little off this morning. Ever since you met Ben, actually.” I frowned. “Do you not like him or something?” That would explain his rudeness to the other guy.
“No, it’s just- you know…” Spencer began lamely. “‘Stranger Danger’. You were left alone with a stranger, and something could have happened to you. I was just looking out for you.”
I felt myself smile as I gently bumped shoulders with the other boy. “Aww… that was nice of you.”
“That’s Spencer,” Brendon butted in. I gave a start. I hadn’t heard him enter the room. “Always being nice. You know who else seemed nice? Ben. He seemed like a really nice- ”
“Brendon,” I interrupted, slightly confused as to why Spencer had tensed when Ben’s name was mentioned. “If you think the guy’s so good, why don’t you go and seduce him or whatever. I barely know him and okay, he was nice, I’ll admit that, but I don’t think anything would or could happen between us. So, no – I won’t call him. Now will you get off my back about it please?” My confusion was deepened further when I sensed Spencer relax when I said I wouldn’t call Ben.
“For the love of God, Brendon,” Jon broke in from somewhere across the room, “let it go. Focus on your own non-existent love life instead of playing with somebody else’s.” I hoped that Jon could see the grateful smile that decorated my face.
“Hey,” Brendon began in between mouthfuls of something, “my love life is not ‘non-existent’.”
Jon snorted. “Says the single guy to the dude who’s going steady.”
Spencer sighed beside me. “Here we go again,” he muttered.
“Huh?” I asked.
“Believe me, arguments between those two about some absurd topic are less rare than you think,” the drummer said, leaning over slightly to whisper in my ear.
“Excuse me,” Brendon was saying, “I’m the frontman of a famous band; I could have any girl I wanted.”
“Please, we all know that bass players are the sexiest people in bands.” Jon gave a short laugh.
“But everyone goes for the frontman,” defended Brendon. “They always get the most attention.”
“And frontmen and singers,” Ryan remarked as he walked in, “would be nothing without words written for them by lyricists.”
“What? You’re not- you’re not even in this argument,” Brendon told him.
“Am now.” I imagined Ryan accompanying his words with a shrug.
“What do you think, Spencer?” Jon asked suddenly. “Bass players, frontmen, or lyricists? Which one’s better?”
Spencer echoed his earlier sigh. “Drummers bang harder,” he offered with an air of indifference. His comment was greeted by laughs and I rolled my eyes with a slight smile on my face.
“That may be so, but guitarists can finger- ” Ryan began.
“Hey! I do not need to hear the end of that sentence! Go and have your sexual innuendo discussion somewhere else and leave me out of it,” I said, cutting Ryan off. There was more laughter.
“What can you say, Lou?” I heard Jon grin. “Guys at our age are hormonal.” I snorted and rolled my eyes again, feigning annoyance.
“Yeah, well, try to keep the testosterone level to a minimum for my sake.”
It was quiet for a moment before Brendon broke the silence.
“Hey, you know, pianists would be good at fingering too,” Brendon added as an afterthought cheekily.
“Oh, yeah. Good point,” Ryan mused.
Leaning over to Spencer and sighing, I asked quietly, “Is it always like this?”
He chuckled. “Don’t worry Lou. You wait. Soon they’ll be talking about something ridiculous like unicorns, or God knows what else.”
“Unicorns?” I repeated doubtfully.
“Well, you know what I mean,” he grinned. “Okay, maybe not to the extent of unicorns, but something stupid like that.” We both laughed. Spencer’s hand accidentally brushed against my own, and I bit my lip to stop a grin from taking over my face. For some inexplicable reason, I liked the feeling I got when Spencer held my hand.
I liked it a lot.
I sighed to myself later that afternoon as I sat on the floor in a corner of the lounge, idly scratching Yankee’s stomach while singing softly to myself.
“Keep all the lights off, and I’ll try to kill our pastime just to find your heart. Please don’t ignore me, or I’ll just fall asleep and wake up when you’re gone…”
The band had moved into the next room, where Zack was currently over-seeing a Meet-and-Greet with fans before the show. And from the sounds of it through the closed door, most – if not all – of the fans were female.
Someone sat down next to me.
“How’s it going?” Chris asked. I shrugged.
“Fine, I guess.”
“Cool.” We sat in a comfortable silence.
“Chris, what did M- what did they want when they called yesterday?” I had to ask. I was just bursting to find out even though I wasn’t at all eager to ever see (well, you know what I mean) them again.
My big brother sighed. “Look, I told you not to worry about it, okay? I’m taking care of it; it’s all under control.” I frowned. What was under control?
I had just opened my mouth to ask that question when I was cut off.
“Hey Chris!” Zack called suddenly through the door to the next room, “Brendon wants you to bring Lou here for a moment.”
Someone walked past where we were sitting and broke into song. “Hey Chris, you were our only friend…”
“Ha ha, Tony,” Chris said dryly. To Zack, he said, “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea…”
“Just to the doorway,” Zack promised. “She doesn’t have to come into the room.”
“She is right here, you know,” I told them. “And she would like to know what’s going on.”
Chris sighed again and I felt him push himself up into a standing position. Yankee climbed to his feet too as I was pulled up off the floor, wincing as my bad wrist strained slightly under Chris’ grip. It wasn’t as bad as it had been, but it still hurt if I put pressure on it.
Yankee shoved his head under my other hand, which dangled by my side, and my fingers scurried backwards to wrap themselves around his collar. Chris’ arm slipped around my waist just as Zack said to me, “Brendon wants you to come to the doorway, Lou.”
“Uh oh,” I muttered as I started walking forward. “What’s he done now?”
“Huh?” Chris was confused.
“Don’t worry.” I shook my head, intending to tell my brother about Brendon’s match-making attempts later.
The hum and chatter of voices got louder and louder the closer we got to the doorway. I could almost feel the excitement and nervousness of the fans who had yet to meet the band, and overheard numerous snippets of conversations that went something like:
“He is soooo fucking hot!”
“Do you think he’s single?”
“Maybe, if I try to act like, really cool, he’ll notice me and ask me out!”
“Should I ask for a photo of me kissing his cheek?”
“Quick – there he is! Is my makeup okay?”
The room was buzzing with energy, and I was glad that I was just going to stand in the doorway. Reaching Zack, I heard a small cry of, “Oooh! Look at the cute dog!” I blushed and lowered my face, suddenly feeling embarrassed and out of place when I felt people begin to stare openly.
“Omigosh, she’s blind!” a girl squawked loudly. Another one snorted.
“Probably just a whore that’s kept backstage. Who else would want someone who’s blind?”
My hated eyes that had now become the topic on everyone’s lips began to fill with liquid as Chris’ arm tightened around my waist. The sound of a chair scraping on concrete echoed as I turned to escape back into the lounge area.
“Spencer, sit down,” I heard Ryan hiss softly as my brother’s arm stopped me from going anywhere.
“I know, but sit down,” was the quiet reply as I became aware of the absence of the presence of Zack.
“Excuse me,” I heard him say smoothly from across the room, “I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Lou is a good friend of the band, and I will not tolerate such things said about her. So please, if you’ll just move toward the exit…”
“What?” the girl asked in disbelief. “You’re not serious?!”
“Very. Now, miss please – you’re going to have to leave,” the bodyguard repeated a little more forcefully, his tone deadly serious.
I bit my lip to try to keep my sobs in as I pressed my face to Chris’ chest. Who would want someone who’s blind? The girl’s words kept repeating in my mind over and over as security was called and she was removed from the room. The sentence was like a dull blade that was being stabbed into my chest deeper and deeper, delivering unto me a slow and painful death by words. I barely noticed the noise in the room return to normal.
Who would want someone who’s blind?
It seemed like just when I was being coaxed out of my shell, something happened to make me scurry back inside and start building those walls again.
Those eyes just creep me out; I can’t fucking stand it. Who would want someone who’s blind?
The words began to mix and morph into the ones I’d heard my parents utter, and I felt a tear leak from my eye and cascade down my cheek. I was slowly coming apart at the seams – all the stitches I’d used to patch myself up and carry on were starting to unravel and there was nothing I could do about it.
I didn’t even hear his footsteps.
“L-Lou? Are you okay?” he hesitantly asked. My head snapped up.
“Lou, who’s this?” Chris asked cautiously, his muscles coiled and tense. My mouth felt dry. What had Brendon done?
“Chris,” I said shakily, trying to compose myself somewhat, “this- this is Ben.”
It's a cliff hanger, I know, I'm sorry. And some of you are going to hate me for bringing Ben back, but I swear he goes away (and never comes back) in the next chapter. Promise.
The song Lou sings to herself is 'Amethyst' by Fightstar.
On another note, thanks so much for all the support with 'Phantoms' - the second part went green aswell and I am so tremendously happy, you have no idea!
Please don't forget to rate and review! Especially rate - I get some amazing reviews from you guys, but hardly any rating points on the chapters.