A surprise visit, a fight, and Jon Walker being Jon Walker - really, who doesn't love that? XD
*And just so you guys know, I have no knowledge about Panic!'s tour dates for this tour; I'm just making shit up and twisting it to suit the story, so don't turn around and say, "But they didn't go to Vegas after LA!", okay? :)
Brendon sat next to me on the couch with a bounce. I turned to face him with a frown on my face, hearing the rest of the band enter the backstage room, returning from their soundcheck. I opened my mouth to ask what had him in a such a good mood, but he only placed his mouth near my ear and sung quietly, “Spencer and Lou, sittin’ in a tree. Kay Eye Ess Ess Eye En Gee,” as a loud laugh from Spencer rang out. I flushed.
“Shut up,” I hissed. He only chuckled and moved on to the next part of the song. I flung out my arm, hitting his chest with a thump and hearing the air escape from his lungs with an “Oompf!”.
“Ouch,” he whined. “Lou, that hurt!”
I frowned again. “Well, maybe you shouldn’t sing things like that!”
“Sing things like what?” Jon enquired casually.
“Childish ditties that everyone knows and no one likes,” I said, praying that Brendon wouldn’t see fit to elaborate.
There was a snort. “He always does that,” Spencer said. A fridge opened with a hiss. Someone flopped on the other side of me with a sigh.
“Yes, Spencer,” Jon called, and he raised his arm beside me and caught something. I flinched.
Jon’s previous sigh was echoed with a long, drawn out expulsion of air. “I can’t wait to get home tonight,” Ryan said.
Spencer chuckled. “You said the same thing about getting out of Vegas.”
“Yeah, well,” Ryan defended, “it’s more the prospect of an actual bed, and the fact that the floor beneath us isn’t always vibrating and moving, y’know?”
“Lucky bastards,” Jon interjected good naturedly. “You get to be home before I do.” He took a drink of whatever it was that had been thrown at him. “I miss my cats,” he mourned.
“Oh, you poor thing.” A grin echoed my sarcastic words. Jon hit my shoulder.
“Well, I’m not able to take my pets everywhere I go,” he told me. “Unlike some people I know.”
“Whatever,” my grin widened. “You’re just jealous ‘cause I got an awesome dog like Yankee and you have boring cats.”
“Cats are not boring!” Jon exclaimed.
“Oh, now you’ve done it,” I heard Spencer mutter under his breath.
“In fact,” Jon was saying, “cats are actually quite- ”
“Jon!” Ryan interrupted. “Just let it go.”
Jon huffed beside me, and I bumped our shoulders together. His large hand found mine, giving it a squeeze before letting it go, letting me know he was only joking.
“Speaking of which,” Brendon said, “where is Yankee?”
I shrugged. “Chris and the techs wanted to play Frisbee with him or something. Besides, he probably needed some exercise after being cooped up for a long period of time.”
“I can exercise him for you! Like, at gas stations and stuff; I can take him for runs,” Brendon offered. “I don’t mind, I like Yankee. He’s a good dog.”
I gave him a look. “And elope with my dog? I don’t think so.”
“Aww, Louie,” he whined, wrapping his arms around my shoulders and leaning closer to me.
I made an attempt to shove him off. “Don’t call me Louie,” I told him, pushing at his arms. “You’re only making me say no even more by calling me that.”
“I’ll sing the song again,” Brendon threatened in a lilting voice.
I froze. “Don’t you dare.”
“Spencer and Lou,” he began to whisper. “Sittin’ in a tree. Kay Eye- ”
I felt the boy in question stiffen as my head jerked up at the sound of the newcomer’s voice.
“Oh,” Brendon said, his voice falling slightly and his persona changing completely. “Hi, Mom. Dad.”
There were a few murmured greetings from the rest of the band. Whether or not they were acknowledged with actions, I don’t know; no words were spoken in return.
“Is that your girlfriend?” a deep male voice asked; Brendon’s father.
I realised that Brendon still had his arms around me. I squirmed out of his grip as he let them fall. “No,” he said, shuffling away from me slightly. “No, Lou’s – "
“Oh, she’s blind,” I heard his mother gasp, and a wave of heat swept over me. I was sure my face was flushed deeply. A stunned silence swept over the room.
“Excuse me,” Spencer started, his voice as sharp as a blade and as cold as ice.
I stood up. “Um,” I stuttered quietly into the silence, “I should- I should go find Chris and get Yankee back.”
“I’ll come with you,” Spencer said immediately, moving over to take my hand as I shuffled forward a few steps.
I shook my head. “No, I’ll, I’ll.”
“Lou.” Spencer’s voice was quiet as he lead me through the room with gentle tugs of his hand, “I’m coming with you.”
I swallowed. “Fine,” I said, as we left the room and I heard Brendon snap at his parents, “You have no right to be rude or disrespectful to Lou. You’ve treated me badly enough, and you will not do the same to my friend…”
I ducked my head, tears stinging my eyelids as his words washed over me. It gave me butterflies in my stomach to think that he was sticking up for me, but I felt bad that he and his parents were fighting.
“Spencer,” I heard Ryan call softly from behind us. “Wait for us.” We stopped, and I listened as a pair of footsteps hurried over the linoleum floor of the backstage area. We walked in silence for a while, and then a door was pushed open, a cool breeze blowing on my face and the warm sun beating down on my body. I could hear male voices calling and the barks of Yankee in the background.
“Man, I feel bad for bailing on Brendon,” Jon said, sounding apologetic.
“Don’t be,” Ryan said. “He wouldn’t have wanted us to stick around for the inevitable explosion between the three of them. It would have embarrassed him. There are some things… ” His voice trailed off. “There are some things that you just don’t want your friends seeing, no matter how good of a friend they are.”
I could literally feel steam rising from Spencer’s body, but I didn’t say anything about it. No one did.
“Why were they here, instead of seeing him back in Vegas?” I wondered aloud.
“Home show’s sold out,” Ryan told me. “Couldn’t get tickets.”
“But he would have let them backstage, right?” I asked.
There was silence.
“Think of it like this, Lou,” Jon said. “After what your parents have done to you, would you have let them backstage if you were playing a concert?” My silence answered for me. “Exactly. It’s the same principle.”
The voices and barks grew louder as we rounded a corner. Claws clacked on the ground as we got closer, and then all of a sudden Yankee bounded over to me. A loud clatter sounded as he dripped something, and I paused, letting go of Spencer’s hand to bend down and scratch his ears. “Hey boy,” I whispered when he licked my palm. I smiled gently, running my hand over his sleek body.
One of the guys leaned down and picked up what Yankee had dropped. “Eew,” Jon complained, “it’s all slobbery!” I laughed.
“Throw it!” I heard one of the techs yell. I felt Yankee’s muscles stiffen under my hands, a sure sign that his eyes were locked with the Frisbee that Jon held.
“Ready, boy?” Jon asked. “Fetch!”
Yankee took off, flying out from underneath my hand in a whoosh. His claws made loud sounds against the blacktop that covered the parking lot and there was a slight silence, which I took to mean he’d jumped for the plastic disk. He must have caught it, because there was loud cheering from the techs.
I glanced up, startled by Chris’s noiseless approach. “Hey,” I said back.
“No Brendon?” he asked the band.
I felt Spencer shrug next to me. “He um, had some catching up to do with his parents,” he said vaguely.
“Oh,” my brother said. “Well… you guys wanna join in?” There was a murmured agreement from both Jon and Ryan, but I could feel Spencer looking at me, almost like he didn’t know if I’d be okay with him leaving.
“I’ll be fine,” I told him. “You go have fun or whatever.”
“Are you sure?” he asked me. I gave a tentative smile.
“Yes, I’m sure. Now go and throw a Frisbee to my dog.”
“Okay,” he sighed before moving off.
I stood there with Chris, neither of us saying anything. “D’you wanna sit down?” he asked, finally breaking the silence between us. I nodded, and he took my hand. “C’mon,” he said. He gently lead me forward, and soon he was placing my hand on a bench of some sort. I sat down tentatively, stretching my legs out in front of me and tipping my head back to catch the warm rays of sun as I leaned back on my hands.
“You’re staring,” I said flatly after a while, my eyes closed.
“Have you ever,” my brother began before cutting himself off with a sigh.
“Why does everyone sigh so much these days?” I wondered aloud. There was an amused noise from Chris. When he didn’t say anything further, I prompted, “Have I ever…?”
After a few seconds hesitation, he finally continued. “Have you ever found out something that you can’t ever forget, like, no matter how hard you try, and how hard you wish, you know you’ll never be able to erase the knowledge?”
I sat up. “Not really,” I answered, frowning slightly.
“It’s like, after you’ve found out that one thing – such a trivial tiny little thing – everything you’ve done in the past, everything that’s happened to you is a lie.” Chris wasn’t normally so deep, and together with his cool, collected manner, it was starting to scare me.
“What,” I said quietly, “what have you found out?”
Chris laced his fingers with mine. “I can’t tell you,” he replied. “It’s- it’s not your burden to bear.”
“Then why the fuck are we having this conversation if you’re not gonna tell me?” I asked him. “If you’re not going to share this God-awful bit of information that’s burning your brain, why bring it up with me in the first place?”
Chris didn’t say anything, and finally, it clicked.
“It’s about me, isn’t it?” I said eventually. “You’ve learnt something horrible about me, and now you’re going to keep it to yourself, and it’s going to slowly eat you away… Was it something that Mom and Dad said?” Beside me, he flinched. “It is, isn’t it? When are you going to realise that everything that comes out of their mouth is a lie, and that they’re not worth listening to?”
“Because this time, they’re telling the truth,” he said. “I’ve seen the proof with my own eyes, and fuck, I wish I hadn’t.”
“Then fucking tell me what you’re talking about,” I hissed. “Don’t just dangle a lure with bait in front of me and expect me not to bite.”
“I can’t, Lou,” Chris said sadly. “It would break you.”
“Oh, and like Mom and Dad haven’t already broken me?” I snapped back sarcastically. “Do you think I can’t handle this? I’m not fucking fragile, y’know!”
“I don’t want to fight with you, Lou,” Chris told me, sounding regretful. “Not again.”
“Well too bad,” I retorted. “All siblings fight, whether you like it or not, so deal with it.”
“Lou,” Chris whispered, the pain evident in his voice.
I stood up. “I’m not a baby, Chris, and I refuse to be treated like one.”
He grabbed my wrist, and I gasped, feeling his fingers tighten over the bruised skin from where I’d been grabbed days earlier by the security guard Cassie and I had had a run in with. “Lou,” he started. “Shit, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean…”
“Let go.” My voice was a deadly monotone, flat and completely devoid of all emotion. “Chris, let me go.”
His fingers fell reluctantly from my skin. The noise from the game of Frisbee was previously muted in my ears during my conversation with my brother, but upon standing up, it’s like an immediate volume switch had been flicked on, and I could hear the loud barks, yells, and laughs clearly. I let out a sharp, piercing whistle. Yankee came racing over to me, knowing that the whistle meant I wanted him for ‘work’. He slipped his head under my hand, and I felt for his collar. I started walking, Yankee tugging me to the left to avoid an unknown something. Chris called out for me and I ignored him, turning my head to face the crowd of now-silent techs when I heard Jon call out tentatively, “Lou?”
“I’m fine,” I said in return, hating the way my voice broke slightly on the last syllable. “I just- I just need…” Fuck, I didn’t know what I needed.
“C’mon,” he said, and he walked over to me. “We’ll go for a walk. You want Yankee’s leash and harness, or…?”
“I don’t care,” I mumbled. “I just need to clear my head.” His hand found mine.
“I’ll,” I heard Spencer say, but Jon must have shot him a look, because he fell silent and didn’t say anything else.
“We’ll just stop quickly and get his leash, okay?” Jon said kindly. “I’ll just be back in a second.” He let go of my hand and I stood there dumbly with my hand on Yankee’s collar as Jon opened the bus door and jumped up inside. He was back shortly, clipping the leash onto the metal ring that hung from Yankee’s collar and wrapping the leash around my hand. I adjusted my grip on it, releasing my grip on his collar as I did so. Jon’s hand found mine again and we set off, leaving the car park and turning down a street. I could hear the cars pass us as we walked along in silence. I didn’t say anything, and Jon didn’t press for details either, for which I was grateful.
Fuck, was the only thing running through my mind. I’d fought with Chris again. I didn’t like fighting with him, especially these days, when he was the only real family I had left. Apart from the band, and Brendon had insisted that I start thinking of them like my adopted family. And it was true, they had started to become like brothers to me, with the exception of Spencer. Because Spencer had become something more – my first crush, my first friend, and he’d given me my first kiss, despite it being on the forehead. Hey, I was still counting it.
I was enveloped by the sounds and smells of the city, trying to focus on anything else besides the thoughts whirling through my head. I knew that the longer I left things unsolved with my brother, the worse they would get, but at the moment I really didn’t want to talk to him. What was the point, especially if he couldn’t talk to me?
“Do you ever wish that your head would just shut up? Like, that there’s an ‘off’ switch for your thoughts that enables you to just stop thinking?” I said suddenly, startling Jon.
“Sometimes,” he said. There’s more muteness from both of us.
Then I said, “I fought with Chris again.”
“I know,” Jon admitted. “I could see you getting agitated over there.”
“He knows something,” I told him. “Something about me, but he’s not telling me what it is.”
“Maybe it’s for the best?” Jon suggested. “He’s your big brother; maybe he’s just trying to
“But I don’t need or want protecting,” I muttered under my breath.
“Like it or not, Lou, there’s still some things that you don’t know about the world. Perhaps he’s just trying to, I don’t know… cotton-wool the reality for you or something.”
I gave a small chuckle, and I felt slightly better. “You’ve been hanging around Ryan too much.”
Jon laughed too. “Yeah, maybe I have.”
Yankee promptly sat down, a sign that we’d reached a crossing. Jon and I both stopped, and soon there’s the beep-beep-beep sound that told us to cross. Yankee started off again, and Jon commented, “He’s smart, that dog.”
I smiled proudly. “He really is, isn’t he? I trust him so much and I always feel safer with him around, because I know that he’d do anything to protect me. A few years ago when we were at a park; this guy approached me when my… my mom was on the phone talking, and I don’t know, I think he might have thought that I was easy prey to abduct or something. Yankee just started growling and barking really loudly, and snarling at the guy. He scared him off and saved me.” I sighed fondly at the memory, leaning down to stroke Yankee’s body. He sneezed, and I chuckled. “Of course, he’s totally bi-polar too. The minute you take his harness off, depending on whether he’s had plenty of exercise, he just goes crazy, begging to be played with.”
“Kinda like Brendon,” Jon mused, and he succeeded in getting a laugh to spill from my lips.
“Do you wanna know something?” I said. “I’m scared. I mean, my whole life I’ve lived in one house, and that’s fine because I can navigate around it by myself, and I don’t need anyone to help me, but… Now, I can’t ever go back there again. I don’t have a home anymore. I don’t know where I’m gonna go after your tour finishes. Chris will go back to the apartment he shares with his college friends who won’t want a fucking blind girl around, you guys will go back to your homes, and I’ll…” I hadn’t even realised I’d started to cry until Jon stopped us and gently swiped my tears away with his thumb. Yankee whined, sensing I was unhappy. “I don’t have anywhere to go,” I whispered. “I’m literally homeless. And I’m going to be by myself and I hate being so dependent on other people, but whatever happens to me, wherever I end up, I’m going to need someone to help me around. Even if it’s the street.” I gave a shaky laugh when Jon pulled me into a hug. “Maybe I’ll meet some nice hobo who’ll help me. If he doesn’t steal all my stuff and leave me for dead in an alley way first.”
“Don’t talk like that,” Jon whispered to me, resting his chin on my head as my shoulders shook. “Don’t even think things like that. You are not going to end up on the street, and you’re not going to be by yourself. Do you think that we’d let something like that happen to you after all this time you’ve spent with us? Lou, you’re practically family to us now; you’ve become our little sister. You can come with one of us – I mean, I’ll take you if no one else can; Cassie will just love having you around. And besides,” he added, “if Spencer doesn’t call dibs on you first, I’d be surprised.” My shoulders shook with something other than sobs for a few seconds. I pulled back gently.
“But what,” I said, raising my face to glance up at where his face was, “what if I get underfoot? What if you guys get sick of having me around, of having to take me places and look after me the whole time?”
Jon sighed, and I detected a small hint of exasperation. “If we can live with you on a small, cramped bus for God knows how long, I think we’ll be okay, don’t you? And we’d never get sick of having you around. You’re like,” he paused, wondering how to phrase the next sentence. “You’re one of us now. We’re not letting you go that easily. Who else is gonna tune Ryan’s guitars perfectly for him?” he joked. “He’ll bitch and moan if someone else does it.”
I smiled, feeling better, and took a deep breath to compose myself. My eyes felt itchy with the tears that had fallen. “Are you always this good at making people feel better?” I asked Jon.
“’Course I am,” I heard him grin. “I’m Jon Walker, aren’t I?”
I laughed, louder than all the previous times. “I guess so.”
“Come on,” he said, slipping his arm around my shoulders. “We’d better get back before I get accused of trying to kidnap you by Spencer and before Ryan blows a gasket about not getting on stage in time and Zack gives birth to kittens because he’s freaking out and thinks we’ve been taken for ransom by hard core fan girls.”
Okay, so I know that this story is going to be over soon-ish, but I was pondering the idea of writing a sequel. I'm sort of um-ing and ah-ing about it, leaning more towards the side of actually writing one. I'd just like to know what you guys think about that? I mean, I do have a possible plot, but really, this one's up to you. So what do you think: Yes or no to a sequel? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a review. :)
Also, don't forget to leave a review for this chapter's events, either. And y'know, rate it too. ;) That always inspires a girl to write more, haha.
Next chapter is already written, so that will be posted next week, instead of in two weeks.