The identity of the person who assaulted Lou is revealed, and feelings, thoughts and behaviour are unravelled and seen for what they really are.
Yes, I also apologise for the super-long wait, but I've just had a lot of stuff on, like homework (it's getting to the end of the school year here in Australia, and all the bloody teachers want everything handed in at the same time -.-), my birthday coming up at the end of the week, my annual dance concert this weekend and also, exams the week after that. Anybody willing to swap lives for a few weeks? XD
So! Back into the thick of things, we are. One person was actually spot on with the guessing of who assaulted (I don't know; couldn't think of a better word) Lou, which was surprising. That person gets... cupcakes? hugs? I don't know. Here, have this chapter instead! It's more of a fillerish one, I think, but a lot of things happen in it that are crucial to the story. So without further ado, here it is....
I woke to the sound of stumbling feet, shutting doors and retching some time in what I estimated to be the morning. Frowning, I rolled over and yawned, stretching out in Spencer’s bunk before smiling to myself sleepily. The noise of someone vomiting reaches my ears and I wrinkled my nose, rolling out of the bunk and setting my feet down on the cold floor carefully. Grabbing on to the wooden frame of the bunk, for support, I held on tightly as the bus suddenly swayed, regaining my footing after stumbling gently. I waited until I’d stabilised myself before walking to the door to the kitchen and front lounge area, trailing my fingers along the mattress of Spencer’s bunk. I opened the door silently, taking care to be quiet because I couldn’t hear the sounds of anyone else moving about. Slipping through a small gap, I shut the door behind me as silently as I could before turning and groping my way to a couch.
I sat there for a while, stroking Yankee, who had jumped up beside me and was resting his large head on my lap, when I heard the soft scraping of the door opening, my head immediately turning to face the direction of the noise.
“Lou!” I heard Spencer gasp softly in surprise. “I didn’t think that you’d be up this early, I- shit!” He turned and the door opened and closed quickly, his feet carrying him away hurriedly. Scrunching my face up in a frown, my stomach twisted slightly as I got the horrible feeling that I’d done something wrong. I was still pondering that fact when the door opened again nearly straight away and the air is punctuated by a loud yawn, followed by Ryan saying, “So you’re the reason why Spencer made a hasty retreat to the back lounge while looking incredibly flustered and wearing only his boxers, huh?”
My mouth dropped open slightly. “What? But I- ” I’m stopped by a sudden thought. Biting my lip and feeling my cheeks heat slightly, I said, “He does know that I’m blind, right?”
“I know,” Ryan replied, “but you’re still a girl.” He started rummaging through cupboards. “So how are you? I mean, after last night.”
“Oh,” I said, catching his meaning. “I’m, I’m okay, I think. I sure as hell won’t be going to any parties anytime soon, and I know that I would like to avoid places with a lot of people and strangers, but I… I guess I’m alright. Well, as alright as I can be after something like that.”
“Vicky was shitting herself when she found me last night,” Ryan told me, still looking through the cupboards. I heard him setting things down on the table. “She was as white as a ghost, and all she said was, ‘Lou.’ That was all she had to say, really.”
We were quiet, and I could hear the person in the bathroom vomiting again.
“Who was it?” I asked. “I just- I know you know who it was. Who was he?”
I nearly thought that Ryan wouldn’t answer me. “He’s the frontman of one of the bands that was there last night,” he said finally. “His name’s William Beckett. Normally he’s an okay guy who becomes a loud and happy drunk, but after way too many drinks he becomes a totally different person. One who’s been known to do similar things to what almost happened to you.” My insides froze. “But you don’t have to worry about him anymore,” he continued. “Greta and Vicky tore him apart last night after he stumbled back in from the hallway. I’ve never actually seen Greta angry before – it was… interesting. Vicky was so upset that she actually punched him; she had to be held back from attacking him, and even Pete had a go at him.” Ryan sighed. “The party kinda turned sour after that, and that was when I grabbed Jon and Brendon and left.”
“I didn’t get to say goodbye to Vicky and Greta,” I said softly in realisation.
“I’m sure they understand,” Ryan offered. “Especially after what happened.”
“Yeah, but,” I said, “I still feel like I should have thanked them, at least.”
The door opened again.
“Ah, Spencer. Got some clothes on this time I see,” I heard Ryan grin.
“Shut up,” Spencer muttered, sounding embarrassed.
“I can’t see, you know,” I reminded him as I heard him sit down.
“You’re a girl,” he retorted awkwardly, “it doesn’t matter, it’s the concept of the situation.”
The door opened for the fourth time with a loud groan accompanying it. Someone walked in slowly, and I wrinkled my nose as I caught the smell of vomit. Yankee made a sound and jumped down from the couch.
“Good morning,” Ryan said loudly, and I wondered why he was talking like that.
There was another moan. “Don’t be a fucking asshole, Ross,” Brendon mumbled, sitting himself down, but there was no real bite behind his words.
A glass or something similar was set down on the table. “Here,” Ryan said. “Drink this.”
Gulping echoed around the room. “Thanks,” Brendon whispered as he set the object back down on the table.
“What’s going on?” I asked, not sure.
“Brendon here,” explained Spencer, “is hung over from drinking too much last night.”
“Could you maybe not talk so loud?” Brendon complained softly. “I’ve got a fucking jackhammer
pounding into my head, and you’re not doing anything to help.”
“It’s your own fault,” Ryan told him.
“Piss off,” came Brendon’s half-hearted reply. “Hey,” he added as an afterthought, “what happened to you two last night, huh? You didn’t come home with us.”
“You remember that?” Ryan sounded dubious.
“Well, I remember that, anyway,” Brendon said defensively. “So, where’d you go?”
There was silence, I didn’t say anything, and I didn’t know if Spencer and Ryan were going to say anything about William and what had happened. Someone sighed, long and drawn out.
“I brought Lou back here earlier,” Spencer said eventually.
“Why? What happened?” Brendon kept questioning, and there was a part of me that just wanted to tell him to shut up and stop asking so many questions, but I didn’t.
There was more silence.
“William Beckett happened,” Ryan said reluctantly, and I looked away, lowering my head to stare unseeingly at the material of the empty seat next to me.
“What?!” Brendon’s voice didn’t rise above the level of a whisper, but he still managed to pack so much shock and disbelief into it that it made me flinch. “He fucking didn’t… Did he?”
It seemed like he was directing the question at me as much as Spencer and Ryan, but I let them answer. I just wanted to forget about it as much as I could. It was just another thing to add to the list of shitty things that had happened to me in my life that I wanted to never think about again.
“No, thank God,” I Spencer answered. “Lou managed to get away and was found again by Greta and Vicky, who came and got Ryan and I.”
Brendon let his breath out in a whoosh. “What the fuck was he thinking?” I heard him ask, his voice still low but filled with anger. “Shit, the next time I see him again- ”
“Don’t worry,” Ryan broke in. “Greta, Vicky and Pete got to him first. Patrick and Butcher had to hold Vicky back from attacking him, although that didn’t stop her from probably giving him a black eye.”
Brendon whistled. “I’m sorry Lou,” he said sympathetically. The empty seat beside me sank with someone’s weight and I didn’t put up a fight as Brendon slipped his hand into mine, giving it a gentle squeeze. “I want you to know Lou,” Brendon began, but I never found out what exactly he wanted to tell me, because his hand suddenly left mine and he leapt up from the couch and raced past me. A door banged closed and the sound of vomiting followed. A few seconds later the door to the bunks opened.
“Morning,” Jon said amiably as he shuffled in. Ryan and Spencer said their replies and I just offered a small smile, turning my head to where I thought that he was. Yankee jumped up next to me again, taking Brendon’s vacant spot and I patted his head automatically, my hands needing something to do. “You okay, Lou?” Jon asked, noticing that I hadn’t said anything.
I shrugged as he sat next to me. “Yeah, I guess,” I offered.
“A little shaken up by last night still?” he commented, and I swung my head to face him, frowning slightly.
“How did you…?”
“It takes a lot more to get me drunk than it does Brendon,” Jon told me. “I was still relatively sober when everyone let loose on William, and it wasn’t too hard to work out what had happened.” I felt him echo my shrug from earlier. “Plus, Ryan told me that Spencer had taken you back to the bus earlier. And with William involved… you know, I guessed what he’d done, or tried to do.”
I twisted my lips, unsure of how to respond. “Yeah, well…” I said weakly.
Jon wrapped his arms around me and I let myself relax as he pulled me to his chest. “I’m sorry Lou,” he whispered. “I thought you would be okay; we would have never taken you if we’d thought that something like this would happen.”
I gave a small smile as I hugged him back gently. “I don’t blame you guys. It wasn’t your fault. If anything, I blame myself for going with him.”
“Don’t you dare,” Spence said firmly from across us. “That bastard can be charming when he wants to, and he could have you in the palm of his hand if he really tried and there’d be nothing you could do about it.”
“And besides,” Ryan said, “you didn’t go with him willingly; at least you realised that something didn’t feel right and acted on that feeling. Plenty of people would have just gone alone with him.”
I ducked my head, trying to hide my face in Jon’s t-shirt. They were trying to make me feel better, I knew, but I still felt like it was my fault. My fault for being blind and dependent on others, my fault for letting him drag me away, my fault for not having any control.
“And from what I heard,” Jon added, “it wasn’t your fault that you lost Vicky in the crowd. There were a lot of people in the crowd, and I even lost a few people I was talking to a couple of times.”
“Stop trying to make me feel better,” I mumbled, a small smile on my face despite the fact that it wasn’t particularly working. It was more the act that made me smile; how they were all standing up for me and how worked up and protective they were getting. It was comforting to know that the four guys cared for me and that I could depend on them, although I didn’t really like to advertise the last fact; I wanted to be as independent as I could, and having to rely people just made me more aware of my disability.
“Is it working?” Spencer smiled. I sighed, feeling a lot of tension from last night drain away from me as I did so, all my bitter thoughts flowing out of my head and body with that one large expulsion of breath. And I did feel better afterward.
“Yeah,” I admitted, lifting my head and shifting my position on the couch. Jon let go of me, but still held onto one of my hands. There was a groan, and Brendon shuffled back into the room.
“I hate you Jon Walker,” he whined as he sat down. Jon chuckled.
“What’d I do?” he asked good-naturedly.
“How are you not hungover?” Brendon inquired, rather jealously, I thought.
“Because I wasn’t drunk last night,” Jon replied, and someone laughed softly.
“When you stop vomiting every five seconds,” Spencer said, “get dressed. We gotta get to the venue for soundcheck, remember?”
“Aw, shit,” Brendon moaned.
“Your fault,” Ryan reminded him again, and a shrug would not have been amiss with his words.
“Whatever,” came the muttered reply.
Scrunching up my face, I asked anxiously, “Will there be crowds?”
“We don’t know,” Jon replied honestly. “But we can get Zack to accompany us there, if it would make you feel better?”
“Please?” I asked hesitantly.
“I’ll call him,” Ryan said decisively, moving off to make the call.
“I, um, I have something I need to do,” Spencer said, and he exited the room too.
“Okay,” Brendon said a few seconds after he’d gone, “I’m hungover, and even with a raging headache I can tell something’s up with Spence.”
I felt Jon shrug next to me as I turned my attention back to Yankee, who whined happily. I’d felt like I’d neglected him recently, and resolved to change that.
“I dunno,” Jon said. “Maybe. Did you notice anything, Lou?”
I felt myself blush as their gazes fell upon me. I bit my lip, willing it to disappear.
“Lou…?” I heard Jon ask, his tone of voice suggesting he knew that something was up.
“Um,” I said, pulling my hand out of his to scratch the back of my neck. I knew there was no way I could lie. “Um, well it, it might be either because he kissed me or because I was sitting here when he walked in with his boxers on?”
“What?” Brendon’s voice, rough and husky, rose interestedly, and I kicked myself mentally.
“Uhhhh…” I said sheepishly.
“Wait wait wait, back up there,” Jon said. “I’m still stuck on the ‘he kissed me’ part.”
“It was hardly anything!” I said defensively, shy all of a sudden. “Last night, just… He was so nice and caring and I was a mess – it was just a barely-there touch of the lips to my forehead before I went to bed last night; it was after he asked me if I wanted to hang out with him around Las Vegas when we get there. I…” My voice trailed off as I relived the moment, the feel, and I ducked my head so that they hopefully wouldn’t see my face, which I was sure was completely red.
Brendon giggled softly. “Lou,” he sighed. “Oh dear, our poor Louie’s in over her head, isn’t she?” he mused, directing his words to Jon, who only chuckled again, the sound a low rumbling.
“Don’t make fun of me,” I said, my breath hitching and my eyes prickling as I suddenly felt rejection sweep over me.
“No, Lou, no – we weren’t making fun of you at all,” Jon said comfortingly, smoothing hair back from my face. “Brendon was just stating that- you don’t know, do you?”
“Obviously not,” I muttered under my breath, still not completely mollified. “And don’t call me ‘Louie’.”
“Lou,” Jon said, sounding like he was smiling, “Lou, Spencer wasn’t asking you to hang out when we get to Vegas.”
I frowned. “But, that’s what he said. I don’t understand.”
“Lou,” Brendon broke in, his tone warm despite the fact that it still seemed slightly condescending to me, “Spencer was asking you out.”
My eyes widened. “Oh,” I breathed. “Like, like as in… as in a date?”
Brendon laughed softly, then groaned. “Ouch,” he complained. Jon bumped my shoulder gently, and Yankee twitched under my now-still hands.
“Yes,” he said. “Out as in a date.” I couldn’t stop the smile that slowly spread across my face, though I tried to retain it.
“Does… does that mean that he… he likes me?” I asked, still new to the whole idea. But it sort of made sense, looking back. He’d always been there for me, comforting me and making sure I was okay… and there was the whole Ben episode, and the time that he’d seemed different when Ryan had taught me that riff, back when we’d first met… Had he been jealous? Was that why he’d been so aloof and distant?
“Yes,” Jon said. “It’s sort of obvious, really, when you think about it.”
“And sad,” Brendon added. “I mean, he’d give you like, these looks sometimes, and even a blind person could see it.” There was a choking sound. “I’m sorry, Lou,” he hastily apologised. I waved it off, still too caught up in the thoughts running through my head to bother about the slip. “Hey! If you started dating Spencer, then you’ll be like, family!” Brendon seemed to have gotten over his hangover pretty quickly. My stomach twisted at the ‘family’ comment. I’d pretty much lost one… and now, it seemed like I was gaining one. I knew which one I’d rather have, frankly. There was no competition in my mind.
“I thought you might have maybe figured something out, what with the whole Ben-thing,” Jon admitted, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“He was… was he jealous?” I asked, wanting to confirm my theory.
“Yeah,” Brendon said, cementing it. My heart fluttered slightly. “He’s got it bad, I reckon.”
“What about you?” Jon asked casually.
“Huh?” My head flew up, and I stared into space, shocked slightly at the question.
“Do you lliiiiiikkke him?” Brendon asked, obviously feeling better enough to make his voice sing-song.
“I, I,” I stammered, feeling my face flushing again. I tried not smile again, embarrassed. Did I like Spencer back? I… I think I did.
“You do!” Brendon exclaimed softly.
“You do what?” Ryan inquired, coming back into the room having clearly finished his phone call to their bodyguard.
“Nothing,” I said quickly, sliding a look onto my face that I hoped Brendon and Jon interpreted to mean Don’t you dare.
“Oh, come on,” Brendon urged. “Dude – he’s his best friend!”
“No,” I said firmly, glaring at the space opposite me where I thought he was.
“Is this about Spencer liking you?” Ryan queried nonchalantly. “’Cause I already know about that.”
“What?!” I gaped, sitting up a little straighter. “You mean… you, you all knew, and I had no idea?”
“Pretty much,” Brendon said. “We all worked it out at some stage.”
“No offense, Lou, but you haven’t exactly had any experience in this area, remember,” Jon reminded me gently.
“And you like him too,” Ryan told me.
“Huh- you…” I was flabbergasted, speechless once again. “I- I- ”
“There’s no use denying it,” Brendon said smugly. I really wanted to hit him right about now.
“I’d been suspecting it for a while, but it only got confirmed last night,” Ryan said, directing his words to me. “When you asked for him after escaping from William, and just the way you reacted to his presence – how having him there made you feel safe, and like you were okay.” I flopped back on the couch, the conversation overwhelming me.
“Hey, dude,” Brendon spoke to Ryan excitedly, “he asked her out!”
“So he finally grew some balls, eh?” the other commented. “I wondered when that would happen.”
“Yeah,” Brendon continued, “he asked her if she wanted to hang out with him on one of our days off when we get to Vegas!” I sighed. Well, really, was there anything else that was going to get blurted out?
“Thanks for that, Brendon,” I muttered.
“Hey,” Ryan said reassuringly. “Don’t be embarrassed. Besides, you couldn’t do much better than Spencer, so he’ll take care of you. He’s good at doing that, and I speak from past experience.”
“Yeah, but…” I stopped and shook my head.
“But?” Jon prompted.
I rolled my eyes. “I’m, I’m blind. What if… what if he doesn’t like that?” The others laughed, and once again, I felt slightly hurt. “It’s not funny,” I said hotly.
“Lou,” Jon admonished. “He already knows that. He likes you regardless of whether you have your sight or not. D’you think he would have asked you out if it did?”
Alright, I admit that he had me there.
I picked at the hem of my pyjama t-shirt. “I just- I dunno,” I muttered. “I guess it still bothers me though, despite what the other person thinks.”
“That’s okay, though,” Ryan said. “We can work on that self-confidence of yours.”
“By the time we’re finished with you,” Brendon grinned, “you won’t care about not being able to see.” I rolled my eyes.
“I’m not some sort of science-project,” I remarked wryly, twisting the side of my mouth.
“No,” Jon agreed, “you’re not. But like Ryan said, you know, we can help you to build up your self-esteem and stuff. Help you feel better about yourself.”
“I’m sure Spencer would love to help,” Brendon added slyly. I snorted.
“You guys aren’t going to drop this, are you?” I asked, scared of the answer.
“Nope!” Brendon said as chirpily as he could, popping the ‘p’.
“Think of us like… your own fairy godmothers,” Jon said thoughtfully.
“Except for the fact that we are not women,” Ryan said.
“Fairy god-fathers,” Brendon remarked. “Although if any one of us three is gonna be a woman, it’s Ross over there.”
“The fuck?” Ryan asked lazily, sounding like as much as he wanted to retort with a smart-ass comment, he couldn’t be bothered picking an argument.
“Yeah, you wear makeup,” Brendon informed him.
“But,” Ryan countered, “so you do.”
“How ’bout we just stick with fairy god-fathers, huh?” I broke in, not wanting to listen to their half-hearted argument.
Ryan sighed. “Can we drop off the ‘fairy’?” he asked. “That doesn’t sound very masculine.”
“No,” Brendon said stubbornly. “Think of it like we’re in some Disney film and Lou’s the princess and Spencer’s the prince and it’s our job to make them fall in love.” My gut clenched at the words ‘fall in love’. Liking Spencer I could deal with, but love? That sounded… scary, to put it bluntly.
There was another loud sigh. “I never really liked Disney,” Ryan said.
“Too bad,” Brendon told him, his tone of voice suggesting that there was no room for disagreement. “We’re gonna be the best fairy god-fathers you’ve ever had, Lou!”
Yeah, I thought hesitantly, slightly anxious, good luck with that, ’cause it’s gonna take a shitload of magic to sort out the crap in my life.
But, hey. At least there was one good thing about the conversation, I told myself. I now knew that Spencer liked me.
And I liked him back.
I'll try my best to get back into the every 2nd Wednesday routine, but I can't promise anything at the moment. I will try, though.
Not much more to go, I'm afraid, before this story is finished. I'm not sure on the total number of chapters, but I do know that this story will end shortly after the Loucer Vegas Date. Yes, that required capitals. It's been a long time coming, and fully deserves it! XD
Please don't forget to rate and review! It always makes my day to see your comments and thoughts about the direction of the story or what happened in the chapter, and also by rating. Both methods are just as good as each other.
On one last and final note - OVER 2000 READS, YOU GUYS! Excuse my happiness, but to me, that's a fucking lot. And it still seems that the most read chapter of this story is number 5.2 - ... Tacks for Snacks. Hmmm... Anyway. That's it from me for now, but I promise that I will try and get the next chapter out soon! That counts for something, right?