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Rise & Rise Again

bring him back or take me with him.

With the jetlag from the thirteen hour plane ride, barely halfway through the drive to the hotel I was about to pass out from exhaustion. Mike, however, was taking it upon himself to keep me up against my will by a consistent poke to the cheek with his long, pointed index finger. They’re calloused from years of drumming and breaking fingers. Along with Mike, Jaime and Tony are singing commercial theme songs for fast food restaurants, causing the catchy phrases to embed themselves in my memory. Wonderful.

“…and then the idiot back there continued to play even with a busted knee. Jumping, running around like a pollo with his head cut off. Blood is going everywhere on the stage. I can see our manager freaking out as he holds back running up and pulling Tony off stage and-“

“And then the set finally ended and you spent the rest of the night in the Phoenix ER. Such a fun interview that was,” I finish off for Vic, my eyes still closed as I am much too tired to keep them open. Mike keeps poking my cheek. I hear Nick laughing, along with the rest of the guys, as I finish off the rest of the story of Tony’s busted knee from one eventful day at Warp Tour back in 2009. I hold back from biting at Mike's finger.

Finally, I feel another finger join Mike's jabbing and force myself to look at who it is.

"Tony, stop," I whine, holding out the end of the word. With my eyes closed again, I pout, cheeks puffing out, as they continue to poke and prod and annoy me enough to keep me awake. The plane ride was mentally exhausting, causing my body to be exhausted and want sleep even though I had another twelve hours before I could actually go to sleep. The least they could have given me was a power nap.

"No! Stay awake! We're almost at the venue."

My eyes pop open.

"The venue? I thought we were going to the hotel first?"

Tony grins at me, causing his cheekbone to make his anti-eyebrow piercing to move. "Well, we have sound check at two, just to make sure everything's tuned for the show on Saturday. It's almost one and traffic is really bad today. We wouldn't make it back in time if we stopped by your hotel."

"Vic!" I whine, lulling my head over to the other side, staring at the back of Vic's hat, blowing at his long hair and the back of his neck. He cringes slightly. "Take me to a bed!"

"There's a couch in our dressing room, Zoe. You can use that."

"But I want a bed!"

I curl up my body, wrapping my arms around my body as if I'm cold. Mike and Tony reach out to stretch me back out but I bite at their hands in warning. They have plenty of past still-healing bruises from where I have gone through with my word and bitten them until I was snatched away. Not to mention my head hurts still, my ears are pounding from the change in air pressure, and I have not seen a bottle of pain pills since before I got to the airport in Los Angeles.

I don't get a response. Because of the silence and no more poking, I doze off slightly, resting my head on the cushion of the bench seat. I'm not asleep for long before I'm shaken away and stretched out from my curled position.

"No, more sleep," I try to sway whoever has awoken me, but I'm not given a reply and am simply picked up from the seat. Tall, warm, and muscular - Mike. He's done this once before, when I was too drunk to stand. I can hear Nick somewhere in the background, talking to someone about where we could set up our equipment for the interviews Brad had set up with the bands that were going to be there. Nick had the list of our prospective interviewees somewhere in the camera bag. I stuffed it in there before we boarded the plane.

The sudden ache of queasiness takes over my stomach at the thought of being thousands upon thousands of feet in the air with nothing but a flying, metal, death trap keeping me suspended up over nothing but deep, dark, blue ocean that rages and crashes and is fair to no one. I've hated water, too. I can't stand the ocean - unless it's clear enough for me to see my feet. I remember all the times Au- he would drag me out on a surfboard, and I would cling to him the whole time. The adrenaline and rush of it all was thrilling, but as soon as we were back on shore, I made sure to give him a tough whaling.

I feel the slight moment of Mike walking before I'm turned slightly and lowered onto a soft, cushioned surface. Couch. Vic and Jaime and Tony are talking back and forth in the background, getting ready to be called up to sound check for their show in two days, before I hear one of them (probably Vic) yell for Mike to stop flirting with one of the stage hands. My body goes tense. If it wasn't Mike carrying me then...

"I've missed you, Zoe."

He knows I'm awake and takes advantage of it by making himself known to me. His hand, calloused from years and years of baseball and guitar playing, brushes my hair from my face before he softly kisses my cheek. It's warm, and feels me with good feelings of all happy memories, before I'm cold once again as he leaves. I begin to curl up again, hoping to disappear into the fabric of the couch.

I don't dare open my eyes to watch Austin walk away, because I'm certain I would have ran after him.


"Alright, Zoe. You ready?"

I shake out my arms, roll my shoulders and pop my neck, getting the kinks in it out from my awkward sleepless-nap. Beside me, the boys of All Time Low laugh and joke about my pre-show warm up. They do jumping jacks and squat thrusts. I do stretches to reduce my stress level. I've been having to control my anxiety since the incident earlier with being carried by... Him.

A few more moments of stretches and rolls, and I'm ready for Nick to start rolling.

I bring my microphone, wrapped in glittering purple tape, to my lips with my usual Zoe X smile, and look straight into the camera lenses like I've done hundreds of times before.

"This is Zoe X here with the guys of All Time Low signing in at SoundWave Tour 2013! You're watching Storm TV!"

Nick nods and takes a moment to pause the tape before I turn to the guys and nod at them. Nick points, and the camera starts rolling again.

"Alright, guys. Go ahead and introduce yourselves."

Alex lifts the microphone I had given him in the beginning and talks. "I'm Alex. I sing and play guitar."

He passes it over.

"I'm Jack," there's a pause as he tries to hold back an unreasonable laugh, "and I do backup and guitar too."

The microphone is passed once more. "I'm Rian, the man on the cans."

I now see why Jack was laughing, and can't help but give my own. Nick has a smile on his face.

"Alright, guys, I'm going to start with some random questions. You ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be," Jack replies, causing my smile to stick.

"Lightsabers or Bat-a-rang?"

"Lightsaber," they all chime in together, causing a small fit of laughter to go through the five of us. I shake my head at their antics before going to the next question.

"How many pairs of shoes do you own?"

Jack is instantly using his fingers to count them out, while Alex steals the microphone from Rian.

"I have exactly twenty-three."

I stare at him in shock. "Holy hell. I have, like, five pairs!"

Rian steals the microphone back, glaring at his band mate before answering. "Two halves."

These guys are crazy.

"Two halves?"

Rian lifts his feet up into the screen, making me almost fall out of my chair laughing. Sure enough, his right foot has a dirty black converse while the other is wearing a bright blue Vans. Jack leans over toward my microphone and says into it:

"I have seven."

I look at him. "It took you that long to count out seven pairs?"

Jack grins. "You didn't let me finish." He leans forward again. "I meant to say sevenhundred."

"Gay," Nick coughs, making Alex and Rian fall into fits of laughter as I shake my head again, hiding my smile with the back of my hand. Jack shrugs, nonchalant on the comment.

I clear my throat and straighten my back. "Next question." Looking back down at my list, I try to find another good one, enjoying the responses I'm getting out of these guys. "If you were to go to Hogwarts, which house would you be in?"

"Slytherin," Alex replies immediately, flashing a wink to the camera. Jack grabs the microphone from him.

"Gryffindor, so I can get all the ladies."

Rian steals the microphone from him, and with a grin, says, "Hogwarts is stupid. I'm going to fucking Pigfarts."

I almost fall out of my chair from the reference that I'm sure only I understood from Rian.

I could get used to these guys.

A good twenty minutes later, Nick is packing up our camera and I'm giving a goodbye and a thank you to the guys of All Time Low. We got more than we needed from the interview, so I knew Brad would be pleased that I was the little overachiever I usually am and got the job done.

"You should come get drinks with us tonight. PTV and Paramore are hanging too."

Nick takes them up on the offer easily, but I hesitate. Stupid meds...

"Sorry, guys, can't. I'm not much of a drinker."

"Bullshit! That spitfire can out drink me anyday!"

Asshole. Son of a bitch. Cunt licker. Mother fucker. Dickwad. Those are the only words I can find to describe one Alan Ashby.

"Then it's settled! Drinks tonight!"

The guys leave, shutting the door to the small room behind them as it is only Nick, Alan and me left. Nick is too distracted by making sure our tape is safe and secure to notice the tight ball my fist turns into and the fire flaring up in my eyes. I've always not liked Alan. He was either never drunk enough or too drunk, to handle.

"Hey, Kitty-Zo. Had your pussy petted lately?"

I lunge forward to whale on him, not in the mood to put up with his mouth. Nick yells in surprise when we both go crashing to the ground. My blood starts to race through my veins as my anxiety starts to outweigh the adrenaline. I was never good at confronting others, or keeping a good control on my anger when it came to people like Alan, but it was worse now after that faithful day in September. Ever since the depression hit, my nerves were always shot, and nothing I could take or do would calm me.

"Dog shit!" I yell in his face, thrusting my fist down into his face before two pairs of hands grab at me and pull me back. Tony and Tino are yelling for me to calm down, to take a breather, but all I see his red - the red of Alan's hair and the red of his bloody nose. I've had enough of him. I've had enough of everyone. I've had enough of this world and I just want it to end.

I want it all to end.

I'm pulled from the room, staring angrily at the surprised, sore looking Alan who watches me be dragged out. Half way down the hall I finally stop fighting Tony and Tino, and start to breathe in through my nose and exhale through my mouth.

The therapist said that would help, but my heart rate was too high and I needed to get to my meds. Where was Vic with the keys to the SUV when you needed him?

Bright, burning white sun stings my eyes as I'm pulled into it, cutting off my field of vision for a good ten seconds until I'm pushed against the side of the SUV.

"What the hell, Zoe? What has gotten into you? Calm the fuck down!"

Tino was always my voice of reason when I was stuck around Alan for copious amounts of time. I lost it, and I never lose control over myself. The tension of this tour had finally made me snap and Alan happened to be the first punching bag I could find. I needed to get to a gym, or a butcher shop and hit something. That was the only way I could calm down, my meds were out of the question now.

I needed to exhaust myself into I truly passed out from lack of energy to keep hitting something. I haven't been to the gym in weeks and that's why I was so tense - there was nothing for me to get the tension out with. I had it balled up on the inside, waiting to burst. Technically, it was my own fault that I snapped, but Alan just happened to be at the wrong place at the right time.

Tino says something to Tony, and the guitarist nods before crossing his arms and staring at me hard. He's disappointed. I can understand; I'm disappointed in myself. I was much better at control but- but not lately. Things seemed to finally be sinking in and taking their true impact on my mental state.

"You need anything?" Tony asks me, keeping his voice soft. I wince, knowing he wants to yell at me just like Tino did.

"I'd really like a punching bag right about now," I tell him, but Tony frowns and shakes his head at my request. I had a feeling.

"...and then she just starts punching the daylights out of Alan and-"

"Is she okay?"

I tense, feeling my spine straighten and bow back as I strain my neck to look over Tony's shoulder. Of course Tino would go get Austin; I shouldn't be as surprised as I am.

"As far as I know, she doesn't have any physical injuries, but I don't know about mentally-"

"I can hear you, Valentino!" I shout, keeping my arms crossed over my chest so not to start throwing punches again. Both musicians look up, and my knees go weak from Austin looking at me like they've done so many times before. You never forget your first love. "Now unless you want to be my next victim, I suggest you getting me to the nearest gym and letting me release some steam!" I try not to stumble and trip over my words, but my voice cracks in the middle before I find the strength to keep going.

Austin looks from Tino to Tony and back to Tino before giving them one of his signature Carlile smiles and nodding his head. "I'll take it from here." Tony and Tino leave with bits of hesitation. I can see Nick lugging our equipment out the door, with Vic behind him carrying our sound bag. Both look up, and Vic is surprised to see me talking to Austin. Technically, I haven't said a word to him.

"C'mon, Zoe." He grabs for my wrist, pulling me off the SUV but I pull my hand back.

"Where are you taking me?" I ask, my voice quivering slightly. He looks at me, and I can't tell what expression he's trying to wear.

"You said you needed a gym, right? There's one down the street."

Reluctant. Hesitant. Cautious. Uncertain.

I don't say anything, nor do I let him touch me, but I follow without a single word. My blood pressure stays high, but more from being so close to him after so long, than my impending anger and frustration.


this is perfect. <3

christinaannxo christinaannxo

Just read the whole story in 2 hours cx its 12:30 in the morning and totally worth it xp

Aw! The nusery scene was sad :( but I can't wait for the marriage scene next!

amazing update! your writing is crazy! specially in this chapter! ;) ;)

taxigerm taxigerm

Oh hot damn. This chapter is fabulous Dahling. :3

WhiskeyPrincess WhiskeyPrincess