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Rise & Rise Again

give me a reason to connect the spaces between us.

I stare at the dirty red leather, panting for a quick breath. Sweat rolls down the side of my face, down my neck, and wets the collar of my tank top. There are eyes on me, waiting for my next move. I wasn't much of a fighter, but the anxiety was still in my veins and I couldn't stop the impatient hop on the balls of my feet. Back and forth, back and forth.

The eyes kept watching me, waiting to see if I would continue or finally stop after this last hour and a half of torment against the thick, red leather. My fists tightened in the gloves and I went at another round of hitting the bag. I had no idea what I was doing - I wasn't really trained in boxing, other than the few moves my trainer showed me before I just stopped showing up for sessions. He looked too much like Austin and anything to do with Austin had been cut from my life very quickly.

Yet here I was, standing barely ten feet from him, wanting nothing more than to just erase the last year of my life and start over.

Click. Rewind. Erase. Start Over. Click. Play.

But it wasn't that easy, and it never will be that easy.


My body tenses when I hear his voice, feel his hand on my shoulder... He's close to me, and that simple warm touch makes my heart beat a few times faster. I realize that I've been standing there for longer than usual. He thinks I'm crazy. He thinks I've lost my fucking mind and I need to be put in a loony bin. He thinks I'm some pill-popping murderer. I am. I'm all those things and I will gladly admit to it because-

"Zoe, you're bleeding."

I look at the dent in the bag where I've been pounding my fists and notice a darker, liquid red running down the leather. Austin grabs at my hands and pulls them toward his face. Two of my knuckles have the skin split and the other hand is nothing but a bruised and battered mess. I stare at them, trying to feel the pain and soreness that I know I should be feeling, but it's just a dull throb in the back of my consciousness. I'll feel it later, though, I know I will.

"C'mon. They should have some first aid at the front desk."

He holds my wrist gingerly in his large, calloused hand and pulls me away from the punching bag. The others in the gym stare at us as we walk by. My head is down, staring at where his hand holds my wrist; where his hand connects to his wrist; where my wrist connects with the rest of my broken and battered body.

By tomorrow morning, I'll be as good as new, though.

Austin pulls me to a plastic chair and tells me to sit. He walks over to the front counter, asking for a first aid kit from the guy behind the desk. A few minutes later, Austin comes back. He sits beside me, rifling through the white box before pulling out what he needs. Opening the package of the alcohol pads, he takes my hand with the split knuckles and begins to wipe them off. As soon as the alcohol soaks into the wounds, I make a sound of surprise and snatch my hand back. He looks up at me, trying his best to keep down the smile he always has on his face.

"Zoe, I-"

"Why are you doing this?" I interrupt him, trying to figure out why exactly he's paying any attention to me. I left him. I murdered our child. It was my fault, my fault, all my fucking fault. I ruined what years and years of being together had made. I ruined a friendship, a marriage, a life.

He frowns, no longer finding the want to smile. I always hated it when he frowned. His face was meant for smiling - not frowning.

"Doing what?"

I huff in frustration. "This! Helping me! Cleaning my bloody knuckles from not keeping control of my anger and-"

He covers my mouth with his hand. I look down at the ink on his wrist, and notice something that wasn't there a few months ago. I keep quiet. Austin slowly takes his hand off my mouth and takes my hand back. I wince when the alcohol touches the other cut, but don't speak or snatch my hand away again. -and everything else that I've done to ruin your life.

"I care about you Zoe," he says after a few moments of silence between us; he continues to clean my hand. I can't stop staring at his wrist, though. Not quite sure of what to think or say, I stay quiet because that's the only thing I can do. "We hit a rough patch. Things got tense and harder than usual. Even though you didn't give us a chance to work it out-"

"Work what out, Austin!" I yell, suddenly, my anger flaring again. Anxiety bubbles in my blood, pumping my heart faster and my veins expand to push the blood faster. He looks at me, keeping his face stoic. I want to punch something, again. I won't punch him, though. I've caused him enough harm. My knuckles start to bleed again. "There's nothing to work out! Julia was a fucking stillborn - nothing is going to be the same between us after losing a child! I left before either of us could be more hurt!"

More eyes are staring at us. Whispers. Questions. Strange faces in a strange place with strange surroundings. Still born? Losing a child? These Americans are crazy.

Crazy. That's how I felt right now.

Austin doesn't say anything; all he does is take my hand and spread some ointment over the split skin before covering my knuckles with cotton gauze and standing up. Suddenly, I don't want to live with myself anymore. I yelled at him for wanting to help me. I'm a horrible person. My anger is gone, and the anxiety has cooled down to a normal heart beat. But those damned eyes are still staring at us.

He says nothing as he reaches around the back of his neck and unclasps the small silver chain he has hanging around his neck. Pulling the rest of it out from underneath his shirt, Austin puts it in his hand, and balls up his fist. Kneeling in front of me, he takes my bandaged hand and places the necklace in my hand before curling my fingers over the metal.

"I've missed you, Zoe."

Kissing my forehead, something he has always done even when we were kids, Austin stands back up and leaves me sitting there in that hard plastic chair in that strange gym surrounded by strange, foreign people. I'm left with my thoughts, but all they revolve around is what he put in my hand. It's round, and warm from being pressed to his skin. My hands get clammy from trying to figure out what it is. I'm lost on an idea, but secretly I know what it is.

I open my hand slightly only to close it back, tighter than before. Slowly, in that hard plastic chair in the middle of some Australian gym lobby, I break down. The guy behind the desk runs over when I collapse to the floor in a fit of tears on my hands and knees. After all that he kept it. I'm glad he did, but I still can't forgive myself. I've ruined his life - how can he forgive me? He deserves so much better than me. He always has and always will.

The guy ends up using my cell phone to call Nick and barely ten minutes later I have all ofPierce the Veil running into the gym looking for me. I'm quiet, sitting in the floor in front of the hard plastic chair, staring at the sapphire and diamond engagement ring that I had worn for almost six months last year. My fingers rub over the small, smooth gems, smiling as I realize that they're our birthstones - mine, his and Julia's; two sapphires and a diamond.

Inscribed on the inside was the date that we were supposed to get married - February 14th, 2013. A week ago, today.

Oh life and its ironic pain.


"Did you take your medicine?"

"Yes, Mike."

"All of it?"

"Yes, Mike."

"Do I need to count the pills to make sure you di-"

"Yes, mother, I took them all! See! Nothing under my tongue."

The tall, lanky drummer looks at me, unconvinced, but finally lets me by and out of my hotel room. Nick is waiting down the hall at the elevator with Vic and Tony and Jaime. Mike and I reach them just as the elevator dings and the sliding door parts to let us in the small box of suspended metal. I get in my little corner, Mike right beside me, and wrap my arms around myself. This is my usual routine when in an elevator, no matter where I am. Mike wraps his arms around my shoulders and keeps me close to him.

I can feel Nick's eyes on me, but he doesn't say anything. The ride only takes around thirty seconds, but it's twenty-nine seconds too long. Once the doors are open, I'm freeing myself of Mike's arms and running out. I'm the first into the lobby. I stand ten feet away from the doors, watching as the boys take their time walking out, continuing their casual conversation of how the sound check went, or something about the twenty interviews they had from now until the SoundWave Tour was over.

As I wait, my fingers become bored and somehow find their way to playing with the small ring on the silver chain I wear around my neck. I can't take it off, and I wouldn't dare do such a thing. It's a daily reminder of the pain that I still go through, and will continue to go through because I've lost Julia and Austin and my life.

It's just plain, ol' Zoe X.

"What's that?" Nick asks, pointing to the ring and chain as I continue to subconsciously play with it. My fingers stop before I shove the jewelry away and turn to walk.

"Nothing," is my reply. Nick doesn't ask anymore, and the guys don't need to; they know what it is.

"So, Zo-zo," Jaime greets me, walking up and slinging his arm around my shoulders, catching me off guard at how quickly he does it.

"Yeah, Hime?"

"You haven't told us when you wanted our interview. I mean, we've got plenty set up with other interviewers, but not yours. Wanna go ahead and get it over with?"

I laugh and shake my head, scooting away from his arm. "We're about to go to a bar. You want to do an interview at a bar?"

"Why not? You'll get some funny footage," Tony tries to reason with me. I look from him to Mike, smirking when I know what he means by 'funny footage'. I've seen them all drunk enough to know I would have hours and hours of footage on them to give to Brad. I look over at Nick, asking for his opinion, but he simply shrugs.

"Well, I guess you better go get your camera, Nick."

The guys start grinning and talking back and forth as we wait in the front lobby for Nick. He's only gone for five minutes before we pile back into the SUV from earlier and Vic begins to drive through the busy late-evening streets of Brisbane, Australia. The drive to the club doesn't take too long. Vic let's us out at the door and goes around the corner to park. We stand outside the doors, waiting for him to come back. Meanwhile, Jaime and Tony go back and forth about what drink they want first, before eyeing a pack of skimpy girls that walk in before us. Mike and I stand quietly side by side, watching for Vic. Nick already went inside, with the excuse of needing to piss.

Vic, taking his precious time, finally shows back up and we go inside the bar, instantly covered in cigarette smoke and the smell of hard alcohol. The bass of some song throbs through chests before we tune it out like we do at every concert and go find a table that will fit all six of us. However, we're surprised when a certain Hayley Williams waves us over to a large booth and tables pulled close by for other bands to sit at.

I greet past bands I'm familiar with, and laugh as I watch Jack and Alex of All Time Low do something stupid in front of someone's camera phone.

"Zoe!" I hear being shouted at me. I look up, trying to place the muffled voice with a face, and smile when I see Tino pushing past a few people to get to me.


We had not been reunited on the best of terms earlier, seeing as he was the one that had to pull me away from Alan with the help of Tony. He hugs me, and I hug him back, before we spout out 'sorry's and 'how have you been's. Behind him, sitting in a chair, I can see Alan nursing a bruised cheek and a swollen nose. Aaron and Phil are taking shots together. And then there's Austin. He's watching me, a ghost of a smile on his face as he watches me. Suddenly, I remember the chain and the ring. I can't help the subconscious grab at it, and his eyes follow my hand. He knows, because it's not a secret that I want everything to be right again, but it never will be.

It's then that I realize I'm going to have to interview Of Mice & Men. I'm going to be in a small room, with only Nick to hold me back, with Austin Carlile and Alan Ashby.

Dear God, help us all.


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