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Rise & Rise Again

loose lips sink ships so I'll keep silent.

Mike woke me up by jumping on my bed and, consequently, me also. I had been bundled under a cocoon of blankets, trying to make up for the lack of warmth that I had been used to for almost two years. Even in Australia I felt colder than usual.

"Whiskey Hands, you got two seconds to get off me or you won't have hands to jack off with," I grumble to him from under a blanket, my voice a little lower and harsher from the weight he puts on my back. He laughs, rolling off my back, but doesn't go away. I open my eyes to find his face just an inch from me. He's grinning, biting at his lower lip ring, and there's a certain twinkle in his eye. Mike is never like that, at all, unless-

"We're going to see koalas, Zo-zo! Koalas!"

I groan, closing my eyes, and continue to lay there hoping sleep will come back. After last night's partying, it took me no time to crawl into bed and go to sleep.

"Haven't you already seen them?"

He gasps, surprised at my not-so-happy tone about koalas and instantly starts to move his fingers over my ribs. I squirm, trying to get away from his hands or pull the blanket around me tighter, but it's a fruitless attempt as he continues.

"What was that, Zoe? You wanna see the koalas too?"

"Nick!" I shout, trying to find help from my camera guy and get this hunk of lanky man off of me. "Nick! Help!"

"Nope, Nicky-boy can't hear you, Zoe. He's getting ready to see the koalas. You wanna see the koalas too, right?"

This man was going to kill me, that was something I was positive of.

"Yes, Mike, yes! I want to see the koalas!" His fingers stop and pull away from my skin. I take in a few deep breaths, letting my heart rate slowly fall back to normal. Mike rolls off me and onto the other side of the bed, grinning cheekily. "Ass-wipe," I mumbled just loud enough for him to hear before throwing my cocoon of blankets off and onto the floor.

"Heard that!" he sings in a too-high pitched voice. I cringe, but can't help the lazy grin that pulls at my cheeks. "Now go take a shower, Zoe. You smell like shit."

Mike jumps up and just barely misses the pillow being thrown at his head. He's gone before I can grab for another. Next time he won't be so lucky.

I follow Mike's words, but grumble to myself that I don't smell that bad. I can't help that Nick is cold-blooded and wouldn't turn on the air conditioner during the night so I didn't make a sweat shadow - thank god Mike left before he could see it. Even though I wasn't particularly fond of animals, other than the lovely Echo and Ben that Austin had during out time together, I would put up with the little trip of them going to see the koalas and kangaroos.Again.

To most I seemed to have a light skip in my step as I walked out of my hotel room and down the hall to the elevator where Tony and Jaime were waiting for the next lift down to the lobby. To everyone else that knew me, they knew my medicine was finally kicking in like it should. I had a small pill box in my pocket for when I would need to take my lunch-time dose since I didn't know when we were going to be coming back to the hotel, and I also had my dinner-dose just in case. Tomorrow would be the first show of SoundWave and the excitement was obviously shown in the way the guys couldn't stop smiling and fidgeting their fingers as if they were about to start playing.

Watching them with their pre-show jitters always brought a smile to my face, no matter how shitty I was feeling. They looked like a quad of little teenagers, excited about going to their very first Metallica concert. Sometimes, they even got me to feel the jitters because of how they acted:

Mike had a habit of smoking more cigarettes than should be humanly possible, when he couldn't get his hands on a good joint, the day before the start of a tour. Jaime was extra hyper, which is usually never good, and had a habit of causing a mess of things. Tony was extra smiley; he was never the talkative one of the four and would stay that way, but everything made him smile - and he liked to fiddle with the little braid he had over his right shoulder. And then Vic was a mess - he was usually lost in his own thoughts trying to remember set lists and lyrics and guitar chords when he was supposed to be having fun.

At every corner we turned they all hoped for a fan, or a group of fans, that would see them in passing and run over for photos and autographs. That was the guys' favorite part of tour, other than actually playing shows - they loved meeting fans.

Nick chose not to go to the animal sanctuary and decided on spending the day with the few other interviewers from the States talking about cameras and sound equipment. I was stuck with the Pierce guys, alone, now. Wonderful.

"Mike, get off me!" I scold at the manchild, trying to push him off me as Vic drove the SUV from yesterday down the busy Australian road. Jaime was laughing at us from the front seat, giving commentary to Vic, while Tony watched from behind us.

"But I'm excited to see the koalas!"

"That doesn't mean you can suffocate me!"

The weight his lanky body was putting on me suddenly doubled, causing the air to be knocked out of my chest. I wheezed for breath, trying to find what caused the extra weight and-

"Fuck, Hime, get off me!" Mike yells, and I suddenly see Jaime's spiking hair and his sunglasses fall into the floorboards. I know how to take care of this.

Freeing my arms to slither them in just the right positions, I pinch of if their thighs, getting a squeal, a yell, a thud of a head against the ceiling of the car, and Vic telling us all to shut up and sit down before he got pulled over by some Australian cop.

In the end, we finally made it to the right street of the animal sanctuary without getting pulled over and Vic didn't get his first Australian traffic ticket - yet, at least. There were a few other vans and SUVs already parked along the road just before the main parking lot came in view. Plenty of other bands that had not already done the tourist trap event were hurrying to get a ticket and meet the native animals of Australian. I just wanted to go back to sleep, but Mike and the rest of the guys had other plans.

We waited in line, the guys playing on their phones as I leaned against the railing, waiting for our turn. Our motley crew of five moved through the line slowly. We soon realized that we weren't very well versed in the art of counting Australian money and it took even longer for our tickets to be paid for. Once in, however, the guys were acting like a bunch of little kids again. I took it upon myself to keep an eye on them as I quickly sent a text to Nick.

I only looked away for a second...

When I looked back up, I found myself alone, standing in front of the park map. None of the guys were in sight. Dickwads.

With a quick sigh, I grab one of the little paper maps and started the circle around the sanctuary by myself. I would find the guys sooner or later by the mess they left behind.

Each exhibit was interesting, showing me something new that I hadn't seen or learned before. An hour had passed quickly and I was barely half way through the park, with still no sign of the guys and a stomach growling for food. The closest food vendor would have to do because I needed to take my medicine before the guys found me from whatever mess I left behind.

"The, uh, Kangaroo Karrot Salad?" I said uneasy to the Australian woman. She smirked and gave a short chuckle.

"Yeah, the names are awkward..."

Trading my money for the plastic container of food, I gave her a smile before turning to go look for a bench or table. I was met with something worse (or better?).


I smile happily at Tino as he rushes over to hug me. The only two times we've seen each other since December was when he pulled me off of Alan and when he was wasted at the bar, yesterday. Phil, Aaron, Austin and Alan were in a group behind him. They all were watching me.

"Hey, Tino," I greeted him, engulfed in his hug as I hold onto my lunch the best I can. Looking over Tino's shoulder, Phil and Aaron smile and wave. I cannot tell Austin's expression from his dark sunglasses and poker face. I liked his new hair cut, it fit him well. And then Alan's nose was still swollen and bruised, but not as bad as yesterday.

"Are you here alone? Where's camera boy?"

I smiled, taking a step back. "Nick is with the other crews. I came with the Pierce guys but we were here for a second and they ran off without me." Tino and I share a laugh, my hand somehow finds its way to fiddle with the ring and chain around my neck. I know Tino sees, but I don't stop because I feel comfortable feeling the cool metal between my fingers.

"How long have you guys been here?" I ask, shifting from foot to foot as the rest of Mice come walking over.

"Not long, maybe half an hour." Tino shrugs, but he can't stop smiling. "We were about to grab something to eat and then go to the koala park. You want to tag along?"

Hesitation. Should I? There's Austin and Alan. Austin, my ex-fiance and love of my life nad the man that I was supposed to have a child with. Alan, the douchebag ginger that couldn't filter what he said when around me and even thinking about him got my blood pumping. Should I really? Hesitation.

"Sure," I answer with a tight smile, nodding to farther show my agreement. Tino grins, grabs my hand and starts pulling me in the direction I had been going. Phil and Aaron are on either side of us as Austin and Alan stay behind. We get to a small cafe and the Australian heat has ruined my already crappy, expensive salad. I toss it in a nearby trash bin before getting in line beside Tino and Phil. Aaron is talking to Alan about something to do with guitars and amps, but Austin stands along behind all of us. I turn to look at him, and even with his sunglasses on, I know he's looking back at me.

I gave him a small smile, almost too small to really notice, but he smiles back, breaking through the blank expression he wore when I first saw him. I turn back around, just as Tino steps forward to order his sandwich and drink from the bored looking teen. After he pays, I take his spot and smile at the boy before ordering the same.

As I dig in my pocket for what cash I have left over, a tattooed hand pays for me. Love is inked across his knuckles in flowy cursive. I look up at Austin, his six foot-four towering over my five foot-seven. I forgot just how much taller than me he was.

"No, Austin," I tell him, about to snatch the bill away but it's too late, the teen boy is already gathering his change. Rolling my eyes, but thankful for him, I mutter a small thank you and side step over to Tino so to wait for food. One by one everyone orders and waits at the pick up window. Tino, Phil and I have already claimed a table for the six of us. I sit between Tino and Aaron, after he sits down. Phil, Austin, and Alan sit on the other side. Before we even start to eat, Austin gets up quickly and goes back over to the window to gather a stack of napkins.

Phil happily announces to me that him and his girlfriend are now engaged.

"What have you been up to, Zoe?" Aaron asks just before he takes a bite of his burger. I stare down at my sandwich, not feeling very hungry, before I realize I have to take my medicine. Pulling the little case out of my pocket, I tilt the opening over my hand and shake all the pills out. They stare at me, knowingly.

"I've been staying with my sister doing odd jobs around Storm HQ. This is the first actual job since Warped Tour and your guys' headliner last fall."

Just at the mention of the US tour beings silence to us all. Contractions. Traffic. Blood. Nurses. Silence. Tilting my head back, I pop the pulls into my mouth one after the other, swallowing them each with a gulp from my water bottle.

"What are those for?" Phil asks, breaking the silence. My heart aches as I tell them.

"Depression, anxiety and appetite. I lost a lot of weight at the beginning of the year from not eating. I've put most of it back on, though."

No more questions are asked as Austin comes back. He notices how all the guys are as quiet as me before starting up small talk with Aaron. Other than that, we eat in silence. I catch Austin's gaze a few times but he looks away once I've caught him. We finish quickly and head to the koalas.

We pass by other tourists, taking quick pictures of a few animals and a small couplet of teens run up for a quick autograph. I can't help but smile at the look on the guy's faces. I change my mind -- the Pierce guys can't beat the Mice men at how much they care about their fans, but they are a very close second. Staying back, I stay out of the small moment and watch as they talk briefly. There's a tap on my shoulder.

I turn and look at the little teen beside me.

"Are you Zoe?"

I nod, confused.

"Where's the baby?"

My throat closes up suddenly. My fists clench. I stare at the girl, pain obviously on my face. She frowns, and asks again.

"Where's your baby? You were pregnant last summer, weren't you?"

Warped Tour. Pregnant. The bus. The heat. Back pains. Swollen ankles. Pregnant. Baby.



I hear Austin's voice but I can't see anything but the little girl in front of me. Natural dark brown hair... deep brown eyes... freckles caused by spending days in the sun... slight dimples imprinted in her cheeks...

Julia. That's how I saw Julia looking at that age.


I'm shaken from the trance - the little girl is gone. It was like she was never there. Was she there at all or did I jut imagine her?

"Zoe, what are you crying? What's wrong?"

I look at Austin. He's taken off his sunglasses, looking at me worried, with his hands lightly placed on my shoulders to keep me balanced. He is a blurred image as I look through the tears caught on my eyelashes. She wasn't really there...

"She's gone, Austin," I say, my words choking in my throat. "Julia's gone."

His usually-happy eyes are suddenly falling - the usual sparkle was gone from his brown eyes. Even after all this time, it was only now that I realized that I would never get to see my baby girl grow up. I wouldn't paint her toe nails, or watch her father sing her to sleep, or take her to her first concert. I wouldn't be that mom that all the others were jealous of - I wouldn't be that mom that would try to talk her daughter out of her first tattoo.

"She's gone," I say one last time, falling forward against Austin.

And now, I'm gone.


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