a side project?
Haley groaned and rolled over in bed. Her head was pounding, and she couldn’t remember what happened last night, but it couldn’t have been good. She opened her eyes a crack and looked around, at least she was in her own room. She threw the blankets up over her head to block out the light when she heard footsteps come into the room. “Someone needs to turn off the sun.” she croaked out.
“I would, but that’s not in my job description.” She heard Patrick’s voice laugh. She peeked her head out of the blanket to check.
“What are you doing here…what did we do last night?” she gasped.
“Don’t worry.” He sat down on the end of the bed and Hemmingway jumped up, snuggling in next to her. “You called Bill, wasted, in the middle of the night and told him you needed his help. He called Pete all panicked, and we all rushed over here and found you passed out in the hallway. Bill got on the first flight out here, and everyone else just went to pick him up at the airport. I stayed here in case you woke up and needed anything.”
“Oh, ok.” She nodded slowly.
“There’s some aspirin on the table there for you.” She turned to where he pointed and swallowed the pills, gulping down the glass of water. “Do you want anything else? What kind of hangover food do you like?”
“Bacon. I think I’m just going to take a shower though.” She started to get out of bed, but stopped to check that she was, in fact clothed. Someone, she assumed Pete, had changed her into her pajamas, which consisted of a very old The Academy Is… shirt and gym shorts.
Haley headed downstairs after her shower feeling almost human again. She found Patrick in the kitchen with a heaping plate of bacon. “I didn’t know how much you’d want, and I know you can eat a lot, so I just made the whole pack.” He handed her the plate.
“Sweet! I’m totally going to eat all of it.” She smiled, sitting down at the counter. “You want some?” she said, shoving the first piece in her mouth as Patrick sat down next to her.
“No thanks.” He shook his head. Just then the door burst open and Bill rushed in followed closely by Pete, Joe and Andy.
“Oh my god. Are you ok? You had me so scared.” Bill scooped her up in a big bear hug.
“I’m fine. I just…can we talk?” she glanced at the other people in the room.
“Let’s give them some privacy.” Patrick said, ushering everyone into the next room.
“Do you want me to…” Pete lingered in the door, shuffling his feet.
“She needs her brother right now, man.” Andy placed his hand on his shoulder, guiding him out the door. Bill sat down next to Haley, once everyone was out of the room.
“So, what happened? I heard you’re off the wagon.” He asked, concerned.
“It’s alcohol this time. I haven’t started with any of the pills.”
“Was it the fashion show? I knew that was a bad idea.”
“No, it was before that. Seeing all the girls again was really what made me realize I had a problem.”
“Do you have any idea what started it?” he squeezed her hand, and her tears started flowing.
“It’s this job. I mean, I love designing but I don’t know what I’m doing with the business side of things. And going to an office every day, working 9 to 5, I never wanted that kind of job. You know? With a routine. I hate knowing what to expect, every moment of every day.”
“Do you think it’s making you depressed?”
“Yes. And that’s making me drink. I need help.” She sniffed.
“I’ll do whatever I can to get you better.” He hugged her, wiping her tears away.
“Don’t send me back to that hospital.”
“No, that place tried to change you.”
“They made me go blond.” She smiled.
“Yeah, what’s this about?” he flicked her hair.
“I don’t know, but I have about an inch of red roots and it looks seriously bizarre.” She laughed. “You know…you didn’t have to fly all the way out here.”
“You have no idea. When you called me last night, it felt like the night you cut your wrists all over again. I thought I was going to have to go visit you in the morgue.” He averted his eyes.
“Don’t tell Mom…” she said quietly. “She’ll try to make me come home, and I actually like it here.”
“I can tell.” Bill nodded.
“I think I’m falling in love with Pete.” She blushed.
“That’s great. As long as you never give me any details. He is, technically, my boss.” He shuddered, laughing and pointed out the door. Haley turned just as four heads whipped behind the corner.
“You guys can come out now.” She called, and they all filed back in. Caught red-handed.
A month later:
Haley started seeing a therapist twice a week, and going to AA meetings. She gradually cut her hours down at the office, and started working from home, so that now she only stopped by for about an hour a day, and when they absolutely needed her for something. She had temporarily moved out of Pete’s house and was staying with Heidi Klum and her family in Santa Monica. Her therapist thought it would be best to remove her from any temptation. Especially since Pete was recording, and would be at the studio so much, leaving her alone. Pete still met her for lunch almost every day, and stopped by to hang out. They actually did more stuff together, rather than just watching TV, now that they didn’t live with each other. Haley pulled her car into Pete’s driveway and rang the doorbell. She heard scuffling inside and Hemmingway barking and finally the door opened, revealing a yawning and shirtless Pete. “Hey.” He led her in, pecking her cheek. “What happened to your key?”
“I forgot it.” She shrugged. “What were you doing? You took a long time to answer the door.” She smoothed down his rumpled hair.
“Sorry, I was asleep.” He yawned.
“But it’s only 8:00.” She giggled.
“We were at the studio really late last night, and I didn’t get a lot of sleep. So, what’s the surprise visit for?” he led her into the living room and sat down on the couch, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.
“Heidi and Seal went to some benefit thing. It was either come over here or baby sit.” She made a face, running her hand down his bare chest.
“Well, I’m glad I’m such a top priority.” He leaned over and kissed her deeply.
“Well, I guess you can’t be TOO tired.” She giggled and nibbled at his neck.
They were lying on the couch, watching TV a couple hours later. “I should probably go soon.” Haley leaned up to look at the clock. “I don’t want to.” She snuggled in closer to Pete’s body.
“When do you think you’ll be ready to go back to work?” he asked casually, rubbing her back.
“My therapist says I’m actually making excellent progress, and I should be ok to go back full time next week or the week after. Right in time to get the line ready to go into stores.”
“That’s great. There was actually something I wanted to talk to you about.” He smiled, sitting up.
“Well, I actually had a motive for bringing you with me to Vegas. You see, Panic is starting a new tour soon and needs costumes. I wanted you to come so they could meet you and see some of your designs.”
“You want me to design their tour wardrobe?” she looked at him, confused.
“Actually they do. I only suggested it, they decided.”
“But what about the line? It’s going to be in stores soon.”
“Baby, trust me. Once it’s in stores, your work’s over until you start next season’s line.”
“Ok. I mean, I’ll have to talk to my bosses from Heatherette. I don’t know what my contract says about this kind of stuff.”
“You can put the company’s name on it if you have to.”
“Ok, I’ll go in right after my therapy appointment in the morning to see what I have to do.” She said, getting up from the couch. “Until then, I should go before Heidi thinks I’m dead on the side of the road somewhere.”
“You should totally do it!” Tim gasped from his perch on Haley’s desk.
“I know, imagine how good the publicity will be! They mention our name in one interview on MTV, and thousands of people will hear about us.” Kimmy added.
“What did the Heatherette guys say?”
“They pretty much said as long as we still get the line out in time, to do whatever I want.” Haley shrugged.
“So are you going to do it? We could all help pick up the slack.” Tim bounced.
“They’re coming in tomorrow to get measured and look at some designs.” Haley smiled. “Which means…”
“We have to come up with some designs! I’ll go get my sketch pads.” Kimmy skipped off. “I’M GONNA BE FAMOUS!”
“So, who’s going to tell Ali they’re coming?” Tim glanced over at her desk.
“It’s all you, big guy.” Haley clapped him on the shoulder and shoved him off in that direction. She heard distinctive shrieking coming from her corner a few minutes later that continued most of the morning. After doing some Internet research on the kinds of things the band usually wore on stage, Haley and Kimmy spent the rest of the day doing sketches of similar outfits, completely regular jeans and tee shirts outfits, and everything in between. They finally decided they had a good enough sample and headed home for the night.
Pete brought the band by the next afternoon and Haley quickly ushered them into her office before Ali could notice and freak out. “Hey guys, how’s it going? You know Kimmy, and this is my assistant Tim.” Haley sat down at her desk, as Tim brought extra chairs in for everyone.
“Thanks for agreeing to do this, it must be really busy for you right now.” Spencer said.
“It’s no problem, plus it’s a great opportunity for us as a new company.” Kimmy nodded.
“Pete was telling us how cool your designs turned out, and we were really excited to work with someone who would talk to us like people instead of a paycheck.” Ryan smiled.
“Yeah, when we were all in Vegas, it really felt like something clicked.” Brendon smirked and leaned on the edge of the desk.
“Dude, quit hitting on my girlfriend!” Pete smacked him on the back of the head, making everyone laugh.
“Well on that note, should we get started?” Haley pulled out the stack of sketches from the day before. “These are really rough, since we didn’t have a whole lot of warning.” She gave Pete a look and passed the stack around.
“We weren’t sure what you were looking for, so we took the kind of things you’ve worn in the past, sort of Victorian inspired, and what we’ve seen you wear off stage, and we have a whole spectrum in between.” Kimmy explained.
“I like this one.” Jon pulled a sheet out of the stack. “It looks like George Washington meets the Rolling Stones.” It was a dark green jacket with gold around the collar with a loose white shirt, black pants and tall boots.
“I like that one too. I was sort of going for Marie Antoinette, but it came out more Pirates of the Caribbean.”
“The idea we had was not to totally go in a different direction from what we’ve been wearing, but to kind of update it a little, so it’s not so costume-y and theatrical.” Ryan said, flipping through the drawings.
“That’s what we were going for also with a lot of these. Add some classic rock touches, like the kinds of stuff the Stones and Zeppelin wore in the 70’s.” Kimmy nodded.
“Exactly.” Brendon agreed.
“You know, there’s a blond girl that’s been pacing in front of the door for the past five minutes?” Spencer pointed out.
“That’s Ali.” Haley sighed. “You can come in now. Tim I thought you were on the lookout.” She called out the door as Ali scurried in hyperventilating.
“Oh my god, I am SUCH a big fan! This is so awesome! Can I get your autographs?” she squealed. They all signed the first thing she grabbed, which happened to be a Chinese takeout menu, before Tim managed to drag her away.
“Sorry about that, she’s out resident groupie.”
“It’s cool, we love to meet our fans.” Jon shrugged.
“How come she doesn’t do that when I come in anymore?” Pete pouted.
“She’s used to you by now. Maybe you should get a life and stop hanging around here so much.”
“Ooh, burn!” Ryan laughed. They picked out a few designs that they especially liked, and each band member gave suggestions about what they wanted. Kimmy measured them all and got their sizes, and they were free to go.
“So, we’ll work up some more exact sketches, with what we talked about today and I’ll email them to you guys in the next week or so.” Haley said, leading them out to the elevator.
“Sounds cool. Bye Ali!” Brendon waved at her peering over the top of her cubicle. She giggled uncontrollably in response.
“I’ll see you tonight. I love you.” Pete said kissing Haley sweetly, eliciting a chorus of ‘aww’s from the group. “Shut up you bunch of girls!”
“Hey, I’m not the one who wears makeup.” Jon pointed out.
“He does have a point.” Haley giggled as the elevator arrived and they all climbed on.
“You’re supposed to be on my side.” Pete glared, joking as the door shut. Haley turned around to go back to her office and saw Ali still leaning on the top of her cubicle, her face red and with a goofy grin.
“Ali, you have to remember to breathe. They’re most likely going to come back again some time.” Haley laughed.
“They signed my menu. Right over top of the egg rolls.” She giggled, holding up the piece of paper.