She closed her eyes in a dream...or maybe it was a memory.
There, in an empty room in Warner Bros studios, Lily lay on an overstuffed black leather couch.
Her ipod has stopped playing long ago, and had left her to her thoughts...to slow, gentle breathing...to the past.
Memories floated through a vast ocean; an ocean with no waves...no sharks to speak of...only a blank, calm, turquoise void.
She breathed in through her nose deeply, a content smile spreading across her face as she turned to snuggle deeper into the plush couch.
Slowly, her thoughts wandered, taking her to places she hadn’t been in so long.
Her heart started to beat faster, cheeks began to flush, eyelashes fluttering at the thought of a stage.
The hot, bright lights shining down on her..flickering from blue to purple..yellow to green;
Flashing on and off in a flurry of movement.
Sweat running ever so slowly down her forehead, causing her shockingly pale hair to cling to her face...her back...before she brushed it away in a breath.
And she would run across the stage, jump on the speakers, fall to her knees...only to see bruises appear a day later.
And...she remembered the eyes of a young girl, ribs pressed against the metal barrier; the crowd pushing and pulling behind her as her hands wrapped around the steel bar.
The pure shock; excitement in her face as Lily’s eyes caught her own...it was something she had never seen before...
And at first it had been bars, lounges and clubs.
It had been a couple kids.
Sore throats and fucked up equipment in the back of Mr. Hunter’s van, leftover from the 70's.
It was a running joke back then that Will was conceived in the backseat.
Then there came merchandise.
A handful of faithful kids handing out flyers.
Lingering around after shows...beat up converse and homemade t-shirts.
Lyrics scrawled across their arms in permanent marker.
And then...there came Matt.
“I’m gonna make YOU famous.” he had said one hot summer night, packed into a booth in a sleazy 24-hour diner.
He prodded Lily’s shoulder with his index finger, making promises she wasn’t so sure he could keep.
‘You’re gonna be on the cover of Alternative Press by the time I’m done with you, believe me.’
She pressed Will’s foot underneath the table....
After a while, the lounges sold out...the clubs couldn’t take more than 200 people.
The crowds got bigger.
Lily had screamed the first time she heard their song on the radio.
Fuck...she had called her mom.
Her mom who had always given her the negative..instead of the positive.
Give her the worst possible scenario for everything.
‘If this thing doesn’t work out, you’ve got nothing, Lily. I’m saying this because I love you. Go back to school, for Christ’s sake’
And Will had turned up the volume, sitting in silence moments afterward...a grin on his face.
Ryan wasn’t such a prick then.
Maybe the scene got to him.
And Adam was the same.
It’s funny how they all respected him so much...when really...he was just a kid...like the rest of them.
Then...they started getting the calls.
“We’ve got options.” Matt had said that night, an empty, plastic cup of water beside him.
Will dragged a limp, greasy french fry through a smear of ketchup,
“Options are good.”
Lily laughed nervously, her trembling hands tucked between her thighs.
She was a few years younger then; Living off pencil eyeliner, cheap hair straighteners and cherry chapstick.
The scars had just healed...a thin layer of protection was all she had from the world... from losing it again
Her mind was just starting to function after a few months of being clean.
Her hands still shook.
And that night, as Matt began to list off major record labels..all eager to sign the band...
her hands trembled.
Her feet dug into the worn, stained carpet, concealed by the table.
“Come on, Lil.” Will had said, elbowing her as he placed another fry into his mouth.
His eyes were always so calm...so sure of himself.
She thought he had it all...
And then they played a couple arenas...opening act for the latest cookie-cutter trend.
Warped Tour seemed like a million years ago...
she met them.
In that diner...sitting at that table.
So unsuspecting and unaware of what would be.
Oh god, they were so young and alive.
Lily’s heart twisted.
The memories pressed against her chest...scratched at the inside of her throat.
When they were all friends....
When they would drink until they puked...and laugh about it.
When Lily would fall asleep between them...use intoxication as an excuse to rest her head against Gerard’s shoulder.
When...in the parking lot late one night, Gerard grabbed her hand and pulled her into the shadows, taking the moment to wrap his arms around her...bury his head in her neck...the smell of whiskey filling her head...
‘I really like you, Lily. I really fuckin’ do. You’re a doll. A fuckin’ doll.’
And they laughed so much more....
A single tear crawled out of her eye, glistening against her snow-white skin.
She’d give anything to have those days back.
“Wake up, Lil.”
Lily opened her eyes to see Will hovering above her, his caramel colored eyes pulling her from the thick, purple fog of memories.
“We’re late for the meeting.” he urged, holding out his hand eagerly.
Options are good
Lily pulled her headphones off, sitting up as she ran her fingers through her hair.
“Sorry, I just drifted off.” she mumbled, standing up straight.
“Yeah well, tell that to Matt.” Will sighed, arms crossed impatiently.
Lily smiled...a distant smile,
“You know, Will, I love you.” she said rather pointedly as she made her way down the hall, setting a brisk pace for the two of them.
Will raised an eyebrow,
“Well thank you....I...love you too..” he said slowly, obviously cautious.
Matt glared at Lily as she entered the large, sparsely decorated conference room, gesturing at the clock on the wall as she briskly took a seat next to Adam.
“Hi Aaron, sorry I’m late.” Lily said, grinning broadly,
“I fell asleep on one of the couches downstairs.” she admitted, brushing her hair out of her face as she caught her breath,
“Too comfortable.” she smiled, “I think I might have to get one for my house.” she joked rather awkwardly.
A minute earlier, she and Will had ran down the hallway; skidding to a stop in front of the door.
Her heart was still beating rather quickly beneath her cotton t-shirt.
“No problem at all, Lily. I know about those couches.” he grinned, revealing a set of perfect, straight white teeth,
“But uh..” he frowned at a small pile of papers in front of him,
“Let’s get down to business, shall we?”
The next 20 minutes were dedicated to a myriad of subjects, but mostly the release of Saint Lily’s new album, including track listings, album artwork, singles, upcoming tv appearances, album promotions and launch parties.
“So,” Aaron began, “We’re all set with radio, MTV is just waiting for our ok, we all agree with the album cover, and we’re all on the same page with dates and what not.”
Everyone nodded blankly.
“Great.” he sighed, ruffling through the stack of papers in front of them.
Aaron’s glanced around the table, eyebrow raised,
“Where’s Ryan?” he asked, eyes wide with realization.
Will’s body began to tense, stiffen upon the mention of his name.
“Ah,” Matt began, “He had to fly back to Chicago, he’s got some family stuff going on.” he said dismissively.
“Oh, I see. But he’ll be back by the release concert, won’t he?”
Matt smiled and nodded, a fake, tense smile on his face,
“Of course. Yeah.”
“Super.” Aaron sighed, staring back down at the table, thumbing through the pages in front of him.
Matt took this time to take in a deep breath, staring at the table with wide, unsure eyes.
The truth was, no one knew if Ryan would be coming back.
After he had gotten kicked out of the studio, he had never come back.
And frankly, no one had tried to call him, save for Matt.
Lily had filled Matt in on the situation earlier, telling him briefly about what had happened in the studio.
Ryan’s absence would be rather obvious, and it was better he knew sooner than later.
Plus, Matt hated being out of the loop...and he WAS their manager.
“You know,” Matt had said, adjusting his sunglasses, “I always kind of knew...in the back of my head.” he mumbled, “But I don’t give a fuck.”
He stared at the vending machine blankly before pushing the keypad,
“There are hundreds of closet queers in this business.”
He said dismissively, bending down to retrieve a package of peanut m&m’s,
“I probably manage a couple more.”
He tore the package open with a sigh before popping a chocolate confection into his mouth,
“I’ll give him a call.” he mumbled, chewing slowly.
But Matt wasn’t the only one calling.
Will was already making phone calls to old friends from Chicago, along with acquaintances he had made throughout the business, seeing if anyone knew how to play bass.
He was more than eager to replace Ryan and his ‘fucked up hair’.
“Seriously.” Will had said, “My fuckin’ 12 year old brother can play Ryan’s bass lines. Shit.”
But despite all of their efforts, Ryan was not back...and Will had yet to find a replacement through the contact list on his cell phone.
And here Matt was, the next day, lying with a smile.
But Lily didn’t blame him.
“So...” Aaron mumbled, looking up at them with a small smile,
Will jumped in his seat, sitting up a bit straighter,
“Y-yeah?” he replied, not sure what Aaron had to say to him.
“I listened to the whole album today...and let me tell you..” he grinned,
“Your playing has made leaps and bounds.”
Will laughed nervously,
“Oh, thanks-“ he began, only to be cut off.
“I’ve been contacted by a couple people..and there is a high demand for Mr. William Hunter.” Aaron said with a smile,
“Looks like you’ve become very...VERY popular.” he said, staring at some figures on a piece of paper.
Will raised an eyebrow.
“And here at Reprise, we like to deliver. And the next thing I was going to talk about was merch. And...looks like a lot of young girls want t-shirts...OFFICIAL t-shirts...with YOUR face on them.”
Will laughed, cheeks turning a shade of red.
Aaron was one of the few people that made Will nervous...and visibly so.
“So,” Aaron continued, “We were wondering if you would be interested.”
Will’s eyes widened for a moment, before turning back to normal.
His hand rested on his chin thoughtfully, his eyes locked on the deep, rich wood of the table.
“If I would be interesting in having a merch deal? Or?”
“I know that this band has issues with certain types of marketing...” he began, taking a glance at Lily,
“But we think it’d be great for the band if we got some faces out there.” he said with a nod and a smile,
“And who better than the lead guitarist.”
Lily smirked, staring at a flushed face Will, who had turned a shade of raspberry,
“Yeah Will, who BETTER than you?” she teased.
“I can think of one person.” Aaron replied almost instantly, eyes locked on Lily with a small smirk.
“Yeah.” Matt agreed with a nod.
Lily laughed quietly, letting out a small sigh that trailed off into silence.
“Remind me again,” Matt began, staring up at the ceiling, “Why you’re so against promoting your own band?” he asked, giving Lily a curt smile.
Of course he’s doing this in front of Aaron. Lily thought, lips shut tightly as she calculated the proper response.
Before she could speak, Aaron added on to Matt’s statement,
“Not all merchandise is negative, Lily.” he said gently, “No one is going to look at you differently.”
“It’s just...” she began, rubbing her arm, “I don’t think that putting my face on messenger bags and wall scrolls is going to...” she paused, looking up at Aaron, “support our band’s image.”
She swallowed before continuing,
“I think it’d break everything we’ve built...selling cheesy merch to hook every 12 year old girl in the country. I mean...” she shrugged, “It’s not really our style.”
She took a breath, tracing the patterns on the wooden table,
“I mean, we say we’re about music...but it’d look otherwise.”
“I just don’t want us to look like No Doubt, ok?” she blurted.
“What the fuck?”
Lily glared, causing him to raise his hands in defeat,
“They kept on pushing Gwen, putting her in the front...and then the rest of the band didn’t get any credit, even though everyone knows her voice was doctored to hell in the studio..” Lily added on a sidenote.
“And plus,” she added, raising her finger,
“In case you guys haven’t noticed, I’m already getting a lot of shit for the way I look. The color of my hair...” she trailed off,
“So..with that said...I think that MY image is at stake here, along with the whole band. People already criticize me..saying I don’t write my own songs, that you guys put the band together in a studio, that it’s all an act for the label.”
She pressed her finger to the table,
“I could end up looking like some bubble-gum pop star made in a test tube in Warner Bros studios. Stupid and meaningless...just there to make money for the label and nothing more. A poster girl...they’d all think they’re right about me...”
She trailed off,
“And then...THEN...our credibility would disappear.”
She looked up with a frown,
“Do you get it?”
Aaron sighed, pushing the papers away from him,
“I understand what you’re saying.”
“I sure as hell don’t.” Will mumbled under his breath.
“As for credibility, I don’t think the band has anything at stake.” Aaron leaned forward slightly,
“Anyone that knows anything about this band knows where you guys came from. And I think you’ve done more than enough to prove you’re not a...test tube creation.” he said with a small, tired grin,
“You’ve fought us every step of the way for independence..that’s for sure.”
“This band has been backed up by some of the best in the business, Peter Travers loves you for God’s sake.”
“And if this album doesn’t prove how amazing you are, especially vocally, we all know lyrically, then I don’t know what will. Any negative thing any magazine or...online blog has said will be wiped away completely when they hear this.” Aaron said, holding up a copy of their new album.
Matt nodded, relieved he was finally receiving back-up.
He had been fighting Lily on this very topic for years.
“If we do this..” Aaron began slowly, “the right way...it can do wonders.”
His words left silence.
Adam took a breath, rubbing his face with his large, strong hands.
Will sat with a frown on his face, slouching slightly.
Matt nodded in agreement.
And Lily stared at the table blankly, arms crossed.
“This isn’t a solo project.” she said quietly, staring up at Aaron,
“I either do this with them.” she said, gesturing to her bandmates,
“Or not at all.”
“I want group shots.” she raised a finger,
“And if I get a t-shirt with just MY face on it,” she said, pointing at her chest,
“I want Adam and Will to get one too.”
“Everybody gets a t-shirt!” Will exclaimed, throwing his arms in the air in mock enthusiasm.
Adam chuckled, a small smile on his face...his eyes twinkling as he looked at his feet.
“Because.” Lily continued over Will, “This band is more than just Lily....ok?”
She said gently, staring at Aaron.
“I’m not gonna go Gwen Stefani on you guys.” she said with a smile, looking from Adam to Will.
Matt had rested his head on the table, hiding his face in his arms in what Lily took to be a moment of relief.
“Alright then.” Aaron grinned,
Lily smiled, nodding in agreement as Will pumped his fist in the air.
Adam gave Lily a small smile,
“...Thanks. I...” he paused, “That really meant a lot.”
“Yeah.” Lily smiled, “Of course.”
Aaron scribbled on a piece of paper,
“So, I’m just gonna pass this around.” he said, extending Adam a piece of paper,
“It’s our merchandise agreement. Just..everyone sign at the bottom.” he said as Adam scrawled his name in ballpoint,
“And when Ryan gets back, he can sign too.”
Lily’s stomach dropped; she had almost forgot about him.
Will gave her a sideway glance, raising his eyebrow as he signed the form.
“This is gonna be SO sick.” he whispered, elbowing Lily gently.
Lily nodded with a smile..but there was something else on her mind,
“Aaron,” she said, gently,
“There’s...one more thing I want to talk about.”
Aaron smiled, nodding for her to continue.
“Well,” Lily began, “We were talking about image, and it reminded me of our first single off the new album...”
She paused to see if he was following her.
“You...” Matt laughed, “You want to change the single.”
He looked like Lily was driving him insane; eyes wide, vein throbbing on his temple.
Lily winced, nodding slowly.
“Lily.” Aaron began, tapping the table with a ballpoint pen,
“We already have the music video. MTV just needs our ok.”
Lily remembered the video shoot well.
Summer in L.A.
A small studio with tons of people emitting their own heat....causing the climate to resemble a rainforest in South America.
Large metal fans tried desperately to spread fresh air, but to no avail.
And Lily was wearing a frilly, poofy, pink dress adorned with beads, sequins, glitter, and a corset.
Not to mention she was wearing what seemed like 10 pounds of hair extensions, equipped with a tiara and waterproof makeup.
“Yeahbut,” Lily interjected, “I think it’d be better for the band if we chose a different one because...” Lily lowered her voice, “Let’s face it...” she frowned,
“It’s kind of like every-other popular song right now. It’s got the same guitar, no offense Will, and it’s too bubbly and...kind of...” she paused, “Stupid.”
“I CAN SAY THAT BECAUSE I WROTE IT.” she blurted quickly, hands up in defense.
“I say...that..” she began slowly, glancing around the table,
“if we want to break away from the crowd, per usual, that we choose a different song. We’re all about having our own identity..and sound...and we want to come back with a bam..a kick in the face.”
“Confetti.” Will supported.
“/Memories/.” Lily stated plainly.
Matt somehow began to choke on his own saliva.
“That’s a ballsy choice.” Will laughed, running a hand through his hair.
“I think it’s a good choice.” Adam admitted, hands folded in his lap.
His eyes seem to have lasers built into them.
“You /would/.” Will sighed, shaking his head as he stared at Adam.
Adam’s support meant the world, seeing as Aaron considered him to be very reputable.
Maybe it was his strong and silent persona...
Lily’s choice of a single was a risky one.
Given, Memories was catchy, but it was completely different from anything they had ever done.
The vocals and guitar were seemingly from scratch.
Both Lily and Will took this song as an opportunity to showcase their new abilities; Will with his solos, Lily with her range.
“Well...” Aaron began slowly,
“I agree that it’s an amazing song...but...” he paused,
“We don’t have a video.” he said, holding out his hands.
Matt cleared his throat,
“I can call Webb and get that cleared up.”
Lily’s jaw almost dropped.
Matt seemingly never supported her.
Aaron nodded, a small, closed smile on his face,
“Well, Lily, “ he began slowly, “you compromised for us...we compromise for you. I’ll give you two weeks to do the video.”
Lily smiled, she felt like she was bursting bright, white light.
“Thank you, thank you thank you!” she exclaimed.
“Thank /you/” Aaron replied, standing up and collecting his papers,
“The album is amazing.”
A minute later, Aaron closed the door behind him, leaving them alone.
“Ok, CRAZY, what the HELL was that?!” Matt hissed, palm hitting the table with a loud thud.
“Hey, I-“ Lily began.
“Hey,” Will interjected, “I get my own t-shirt.” he said, putting his hand behind his head,
“I don’t give a fuck.” he sighed.
“Yeah!” Lily exclaimed,
“I thought you’d be happy I gave in to merch.” she said to a very stressed Matt.
“Great. Just great.” Matt said, standing up, cell phone in hand,
“Now if you’ll excuse me...your majesty...” he said, giving Lily a sweeping bow,
“I’ve got to call Marc Webb.”
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