The breeze feels nice against my sunned body. I can smell the salt in the air from the ocean that’s only a few feet away. The sun is setting, but the glow is bright off the Australian coast. I can feel the warm sand beneath my feet, tickling me at the same time. Its nice here. Far away from pain or anger. Just peace. Its not something I’ve felt in a very long time.
“Too bad you have to go back to New York in a few days” Michael says, sitting next to me. We’re sitting shoulder to shoulder. Well, sort of. More like shoulder to arm. He’s way too tall even sitting down. Next to him, I almost look like a thirteen-year-old. It should be annoying, but it’s not. I sigh and nod my head, not bothering to say anything.
We sit in silence for a while longer, until it gets completely dark and the breeze is no longer a simple breath of cool air. Goosebumps gather on my arms, making me shiver slightly. Michael seems to notice and starts to shrug off his flannel, but I wave it off.
“Please, don’t bother” I say, smiling. He looks at me as if to say, you sure? and I nod. He shrugs and scoots a little closer so that he can wrap his arm around my shoulder. When I give him a look, he simply laughs.
“What, you never said anything about this!” He says, still chuckling. I smile to myself and look down at my toes curling into the powder at my feet. It feels so weird to be at a beach in a completely different country. You would think all beaches are the same, but surprisingly, no. Australia’s beaches are so much calmer. Then again, the beaches Michael has been taking me to are private more often than not. And the beaches here are a lot cleaner.
Looking up at him, his gaze is towards the sea lapping on the beach. The water is black as his hair, with strokes of silver running through it. It was as if someone was rushing a painting and grew careless. But, it’s beautiful all the same. He catches me looking at him and I look away in embarrassment. I didn’t mean to stare.
“You okay?” he asks. I nod and look down again. I don’t know why I’m so shy suddenly. He seems to read my embarrassment and lifts my chin up so that I’m looking at him. His face is something I can’t exactly read.
“What is it?” I ask, heart pounding out of nowhere. I can’t with this flustered feeling.
“You… are acting really weird” he says, amused. I roll my eyes, removing myself from his grasp. I hate myself for feeling like this. It was so easy before. What happened?
“You’re hallucinating. I’m fine. Its probably all that hair dye that’s finally getting to your head.” I say, poking his temple. He looks at me with mock surprise, making me giggle. I hop off the bench and run towards the water. When I reach the water and it splashes against my ankles, I squeal. Its freezing!
“Well, what did you expect? Jacuzzi water?” Michael calls from the bench. I flip him off, making him laugh out loud.
“You know what? Yes. I was expecting warm water. Its freaking Australia for christ’s sake!” I call back. He stands up, letting his long legs carry him to where I am standing. My heart pounds. I don’t know what to do, but I can’t be in this situation anymore. I don’t want to feel this way. That’s why when he gets close enough, I don’t know why, but I splash him and run. I leave him sputtering and looking at me confused.
“What the hell was that for?” he yells from down the beach.
“Being a prick, that’s what!” I yell, looking at him then gazing out towards the water. The breeze comes and moves my hair across my face. I have to move it behind my ear so that it doesn’t get in my face anymore. Why do I kinda believe myself? I mean, he’s been nothing but awesome and nice the whole time we’ve hung out. There’s nothing prickish about him, unless you count his sense of humor, but he’s hilarious. I don’t mind it at all. However, thinking about him like that makes my stomach twinge.
Ah, right. That’s why he’s a prick, because he’s making you feel something you don’t want to feel. But is that really his fault?
Of course, it’s not his fault. That doesn’t mean he’s not to blame. I shouldn’t feel this way. I’ll only get hurt in the end. Its better to just be friends. Pretend friends at that, since no one actually likes me. My feelings don’t matter, they never have. That way, when I leave, I’m not hurting as much.
I’m so wrapped up in my thoughts, I don’t notice when Michael is standing right behind me. His hands reach down and grab my own, lacing our fingers again. Bending down, he whispers in my ear.
“Why do you keep running away from me?” He asks. I pull away from him and look him in the eye. If I’m going to lie, I might as well do it well.
“I am not running away. I’m just-”
“Bullshit” his eyes narrow, as if he’s looking right through me. I don’t even have the time to come up with anything to say to him.
“Wh-” He leans down and kisses me, full on. I completely melt when he wraps his arms around me. My mind goes completely blank as I clutch onto him for dear life. HIs lips are soft and taste like salt from when I splashed him in the face. Then, I realize what’s going on. This shouldn’t be happening. I push against him- as much as I don’t want to- and finally, I am able to separate our lips, breathing hard. We stare at each other before I sigh and lean my head against his chest.
“I’m sorry, Mikey. I… can’t” I say in a small voice. I feel his arms tense around me.
“Why not?” He asks after a moment. I look up at him, gathering all of my courage. I sigh before I begin talking.
“Because this shouldn’t happen. You shouldn’t want this. I can, but that’s because I can handle it and control myself. I can throw my feelings away. No one has to get hurt.” I say. He backs away from me and looks at me incredulously.
“What the hell are you talking about?” He asks. I find the courage to look him in the eyes and tell him.
“Someone is going to get hurt. Most likely, it will be me, because you can find someone better than me. Which, by the way, you will. Everyone else has. Why should you be the exception?” I ask, maybe a little harsher than I should have. His gaze never wavers, however.
“Who did this to you?” He asks, just barely above a whisper. Shaking, I reach for my wrist where all of the bracelets are. One by one I take them off, letting them fall to my feet atop the moonlit sand. Michael tries to ask what I’m doing, but I shush him. Finally, I reach my watch. The last barrier between us and the truth. Slowly, I unclasp the links and let it fall to my feet as well. My feet feel like they are moving through sludge as I walk up to him and hold out my bare wrist for him to see.
“I did” I say, simply. When he sees the pale, thin, jagged line across my wrist, his face turns from shocked to pure devastation.
“Wh- why? When? B- but-” I cut him off. He looks like he’s about to hyperventilate.
“Its a tattoo. A reminder. I never actually did it. It represents me and my past. It reminds me that I wished I had done it. Its a permanent scar that I keep hidden to represent all the other people in my situation that didn’t make it out alive. I have a really dark past that's constantly on my mind. Always. I am severely depressed, with an extra helping of PTSD. You don’t need that, and I don’t need…” I can’t finish the sentence. no matter what I say, he is going to be hurt. “Its not worth it. I’m not worth it.”
I don’t know what else to say. No one should get hurt. Not me, and especially not him. I walk back to pick up my bracelets and watch, tears burning my eyes. I don’t want to do this, with my body fighting back more than normal. But I have to do this, otherwise it will end terribly. Turning back around, I find that Michael is teary eyed. He is wringing his hands, as if he’s nervous about something.
“I’m sorry. I’m protecting myself and you. No one is gonna be hurt this way.” I whisper to him.
“You have no idea what you’re saying” He says, sniffling. I step back in surprise at the harshness of his voice.
One by one, he rips off his bracelets until there is nothing left but bare skin. At least that’s what I thought before he holds his wrist up. There, lit up in the moonlight is a pale scar that looks very real.
“You think you’re the only one?” He asks. “Look at me! I survived too. Is that not enough for you? I figured one cut was enough, that I would come to my senses and get better, but I didnt. I kept on doing it, desperate to hide the fact that I wanted to not be here anymore. But, I survived and I got better. I can help you. Whatever you’re feeling, whoever hurt you will go away. I promise. I survived too.”
By the time he’s finished, I’m crying full on, covering my mouth in surprise.
“Mikey…” Is all I can say. The harshness melts away from his face as he makes his way towards me. His arms wrap around me and holds me close to his chest, once again. I’m shaking and crying at the same time, trying to process everything, but I can’t. He cut himself. He did it and he’s okay. He’s better than me. I will always think about doing it and maybe even regret it.
“I know.” his voice is shaky. “But it gets better. I know you’re thinking I’m still better than you and I shouldn’t have you. But it is so far from the truth. I let myself go. You never did. You held on and gave yourself a reminder that you are hurting and you have scars of your own, but you have moved on with your life. I took the short way out. You didn’t. I may be better now, but not completely and I never understood why. Then I met you and I understood.”
I step away from him in horror. No. No, no, no, no. The frustration building up within me bubbles over into anger.
“You. Can’t. You don’t understand! I am not good enough! I’m half-freaking-crazy and people can’t handle me. Once they hear about me, they run. I am not pretty, I’m short tempered, I’m stubborn, anxious, depressed, sometimes really energetic for no reason, and just an overall mess! When are you going to get it through your thick skull that I am not and never will be good enough for you!” I yell, voice getting louder the more I talk. His eyes are wide. I cover my mouth.
“I- I’m sorry. See what I mean? I can’t… we… I’m sorry. I have to go” I say, gathering my stuff and walking to the road.
“Wait! Please, let’s just talk about this. Please.” he says, walking towards me slowly. For a second, I want to say yes, but I think better of it. If I stay, there’s no doubt I will be hurt in the end. I just walk backwards, shaking my head.
“I… I can’t Mikey. I’m sorry” I say softly. I turn and run out of the beach, catching a cab before I can break down. I tell the driver to drive to my hotel and try to calm myself down. The driver looks in the rearview mirror, worry filling his eyes.
“You alright miss?” he asks. I smile and wipe my eyes, nodding.
"I’m fine. Please, don’t worry about me.” I say. I don’t want people worrying about my problems. Apparently, the driver thinks otherwise.
“You know, I saw that boy behind you as you got in the car. Looked just as heartbroken.” When I give him a look, he just shrugs. “I’m just saying”
“Please” I say tiredly. He just sighs and keeps driving. Finally, we reach my hotel and I make sure to rush inside. I don’t want to be seen. Lord knows people have seen me with Michael and they’re wondering who the hell I am.
The night is torture. All I am able to do is toss and turn. My mind a jumble of thoughts and feelings. I am too hot, then I’m too cold. Its no use trying to sleep. I roll out of bed and throw on my robe. The only way I can find some sort of solace at this point is if I stay on the balcony and look up at the stars. They are so much clearer here than in New York. I’m going to miss them. I remember seeing them completely with Michael the first time we hung out. It was beautiful. I felt like a little kid again living upstate, camping with friends. I was also the night me and Mikey really connected for the first time. Annnd the knife twists.
I miss him already and I haven’t even left yet. My flight isn’t for another three days. I was planning on spending it looking around Australia… with Michael. I can’t do that now, because I screwed up. Although I did it on purpose to make sure no one got hurt, I can’t help but feel like I regret the decision. I mentally smack myself. I did the right thing. I know I did.
Looked just as heartbroken…. The thought smacks me in the head. Stupid cab driver. He has no clue what he’s saying. But, part of me actually thinks he is right. Did I break his heart? No, I couldn’t have. There’s no way. I might have hurt his feelings, but he’ll get over it.
Before I know it, the sun is rising and I haven’t gotten any sleep. It’s fine though. I don’t plan on going anywhere today. There’s no point. I’ll go out tomorrow. I spend the day in my hotel room, watching television and ordering up. By the time lunch rolls around, I literally cannot stay in my room anymore. I have to get out. I’m far from claustrophobic, but after a while, you get a bit of cabin fever. I had taken a nap during some movie earlier so I feel a little more refreshed.
Grabbing a towel and a book, I throw on some shorts and a tank. I make my way to the pool downstairs and lay on one of the lounge chairs. The sun is out, but I don’t feel it much. I still make sure to put on my sunscreen, since I’m pasty as hell.
As I read, I feel like I am reading, but I am not absorbing the words. All I can think about is Michael. He wanted to talk about it but I didn’t. I know I screwed up on purpose, but I can’t help but feel miserable. I just can’t be with him. Its not worth any of this.
Later on, I am able to go upstairs to get something to eat and watch television. The whole time, I try to reason with myself why it would be so much better to go on my laptop and change my plane ticket for as soon as possible. Like, tonight. As I think, I pack my bags and open my laptop, going to my airline website. I sit in front of the laptop for about an hour.
There is no reason as to why I shouldn’t leave. I’m cutting it off with Michael. The boys probably want nothing to do with me. Its not worth it. Screw it.
I set up everything I need in order to change my flight for that night at midnight, but before I can click the Submit button, a loud knock sounds on my door. Reluctant to get up, I toss my laptop on to the bed, and pad over to the door. Looking through the peephole, I don’t see anything besides a hand waving and some blonde hair. When I open the door, I am faced with three solemn faces.
Calum, Luke, and Ashton are standing in front of me, arms crossed. My jaw drops as they push past me into my room. I close the door and follow them inside.
“Hey, I don’t mean to sound rude, but what are you doing here?” I say, with open arms. They are looking around my room and see that I am all packed. Luke points to my suitcase and looks at me with a nonchalant expression.
“Going somewhere?” he asks. Calum and Ashton top walking around and look at me, waiting for my answer. I look towards my computer, still open on the bed. Ash looks in the same direction as my gaze, and lifts his eyebrows. He walks over and picks it up, squinting at the screen.
“Direct flight to JFK airport in New York at nine. One way.” he looks up at us before he continues. “but she hasn’t bought the ticket yet.”
“So, this is what you’re going to do?” Luke asks. “You’re going to run away?”
“I’m not running away. I am protecting myself. I’m protecting him!” I say, angry.
“What the fuck are you protecting him from? What possessed you and made you think that the best way to protect him is by breaking his heart?” Calum cries out, making me flinch. Ashton pushes him back and gives him a look, telling him to cool it.
“You don’t get it. I understand that you’re here for him as his best friends, but I can assure you that this is what’s best for him. One way or another, one of us is going to get hurt.” I reply, sitting on the edge of the bed. Ashton looks at me, eyes softening. He walks over and crouches in front of me, looking into my eyes.
“I don’t know what happened to you in the past or who hurt you, and frankly, I don’t care. Michael Clifford is nothing like those assholes. I would know because he’s practically my brother. I also know that ever since he got back from being with you, he’s locked himself in his room, only coming out to eat and use the bathroom. He’s… he’s been looking at his scar as if…” Ash drops his head and sniffles. When he looks back at me, he doesn’t even need to finish his sentence, because I already know.
He hasn’t…” My voice cracks as it trails off. He shakes his head, and sniffles.
“No. But, Jay, I’m worried. He is in love with you. He has it bad, and you walking off like you did, not turning back? You broke his heart. Shattered it” He says, harshness leaking into his voice. I don’t blame him. He has the right. Before I can say anything, he hands me my laptop and an envelope from his back pocket. I look up in confusion. Luke speaks up.
“We’re not going to try to stop you from buying that ticket, but we have a show tonight. In the envelope is your last chance. A ticket. If you change your mind, come to the concert and trust me, we’ll know if you leave early or don’t come at all, we will know- we have security that will pick you up after the show and bring you backstage.” He says, eyeing me.
“And if you don’t come- and I’m very serious about this- if you don’t show up, I don’t want you to ever get in contact with him again. I want you to stay away from him completely, and don’t even think that even ten years will be enough to heal him. You will stay away from Michael. I am going to make sure of it.” Calum says, with a hard stare. His voice is full of acid. I am not surprised. Not one bit.
“In the end, its up to you. You’re the one who has to decide” Luke says, walking towards the door. The other two follow suit. Ashton turns around before they leave.
“Please prove me wrong and come tonight.” He says, softly. I look up at him.
“Do you think I will?” I ask. He hesitates before speaking again.
"No, I don’t. I think you’re way too deep into your own mind drowning in your misery to the point where there’s no chance for you. You really don’t realize how much he loves you. He has loved you for years. So, prove me wrong.” and with that and one more glance from Luke and Calum, they’re gone, gently closing the door on their way out.
I don’t know how I am supposed to feel at this point. I feel numb. I feel like I am screaming for help but no one is coming. I spend the next hour and a half just staring at my computer screen and the ticket Ashton gave me.
I think back to all the time I spent with Michael when I got here. We met a couple years ago at a game store, before he got big. I still knew who he was because I had seen him in the videos on YouTube. I liked the band but the guys themselves were better. Every time they would come to New York after that, we would meet up for lunch or hang out for a bit. We became quite close over the years. I still find it surprising that after all this time, no one knows who I am. But it’s for the better, I guess.
There’s no way I can show up tonight. If I do, I’ll get hurt. I know it’s selfish, but too many people have left me for me to be able to stay. This time, I’m the one who will leave.
I click submit to finish the transaction for my ticket. A small pop-up with the cheery “Your ticket has been purchased! Thank you for flying with us!” brightens up the screen. Slowly, I close my laptop and push it to the side. This is what I’m doing. It’s for the best. But, I can’t help curling into fetal position and crying. I cry for what seems like hours. At some point, I look up and see that it has gotten darker and the sun is starting to set. the clock says its almost six. I need to finish getting ready for the flight ahead.
I quickly hop into the shower and let the hot water pour all over me. For some reason, I can’t feel it, no matter how hot I put the water. When I’m done, I step out, feeling more tired than I did before. My skin looks red from the heat. I throw on some jeans and a t-shirt without caring about what I actually put on. by the time I’m done, it’s almost time for me to leave for the airport. I call down to the desk so that they can call a cab for me and finish packing. When I head downstairs, I find that the cab is waiting in front and get in.
The ride to the airport is long and quiet. The sky is darkening and the traffic is starting to slow us down. I look at my phone and groan. Of course I had to stay an hour and a half away from the airport. I was supposed to leave from inside Sydney, that’s why. I tap the drivers shoulder.
“Excuse me, with this traffic, how long is it going to take to get to the airport? My flights at nine, so I’m worried.” I say. He looks at me in the rearview mirror. Something about him seems familiar.
“Sorry miss, can’t tell. The traffic is spotty here.” He says, looking away. I sigh and sit back, looking out the window. It looks like it is about to rain.
“Everything alright, miss?” he asks, looking into the mirror again.
“Yeah, I’m fine, thanks. Please, don’t worry about me.” I smile gently in his direction. We sit in silence for a while, slowly moving through the traffic. I hate this traffic. It is making me think about Michael.
“Um, excuse me, but I was wondering if you could tell me where I can find this game?” I ask the tall boy with blonde hair, pointing at the name of it on my phone. He is facing away from me and looking at the wall of games intently. When he hears my voice, his head whips around and I am faced with piercing green eyes. I try really hard to make it so that my jaw doesn’t drop.
“Sorry, I don’t work here. I’’m looking for games too” he says, thick Australian accent spilling from his lips. I try not to let a stupid grin settle onto my face. I can’t believe I am standing in front of a YouTuber for the first time in my life. Oh my god.
I notice that he glances at my phone, that’s still facing him and his eyes narrow in concentration.
“Hm, that’s funny.” he mumbles, “you don’t seem like the type to play Mass Killer III.”
He looks up and notices the frown on my face and his eyes widen in realization.
“U-Uh, I didn’t mean it like that. I-I’m sorry. What I meant was that, erm…” He can’t come up with a save. I can’t help but giggle at his apology.
“It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. I was actually looking for this for my brother. He’s in love with the series, and I figured this would be a good birthday present.” I reply. Relief washes over his face.
We stand in an awkward silence for a moment when he looks at something passed my shoulder and his eyes brighten up. Reaching behind me, he gets a little too close for comfort, but I don’t really mind. He… he smells nice. I can see some stubble growing in on his cheek.
I almost kick myself.
This is so creepy! Why are you sniffing him? My mind shouts at me.
I can’t help it.
Finally, he leans back and smiles, two cases in his hand. He hands me one. It’s the game I was looking for and he seems to have the same one. He waves it in the air.
“I was looking for this too.” He says, smirking. I smile back at him.
“Thank you so much! Ugh, I thought I was never gonna find this. See, my brother’s birthday is tomorrow…” I trail off, scratching the back of my neck, embarrassed. He only chuckles and shakes his head. We head over to the cashier to pay for our games and head out onto the street.
“Well, since I helped you out so much, do you mind if we… I don’t know, get a coffee or something? I really want to walk around and check out the city since I’m only here for a bit.” He asks, making my eyes widen. His eyes widen as well.
“I-I mean, not like a date or anything, I actually really need a tour guide and I- um” I cut him off by laughing.
“I know what you mean. Besides, I would have had to turn you down if it was a date. My boyfriend really wouldn’t really appreciate it, you know?” I say, making his eyes grow as wide as saucers. I can’t help breaking out into a grin before I laugh out loud.
“Just kidding. Thats for the comment about gaming earlier. Besides, who’d wanna date this?” I say, waving my hand over myself and laughing. He cocks his head to the side and I look at him questioningly.
“Nothing, nothing. So, um, do you mind if I got your number so that we could maybe meet the day after tomorrow or something? Cuz, it’s your brother’s birthday and all tomorrow. I’m holding you to this.” he says, smiling.
I pull out a pen from my bag and hold out my hand. He gives me his hand, and I quickly scribble my number down on the palm of his hand.
“There, you go! See you soon!” I say, finished writing. He looks down and smirks before he looks at my retreating figure.
“Wait! I didn’t catch your name!” He says. He sticks his hand out for me to shake. I hold it in my own and can’t help but feel that it’s soft with smaller calluses on his fingers. Probably from playing guitar so much.
“Jay,” I say smiling back at him.
“Michael Clifford. Love your band, by the way. Huge fan” I say, backing away and walking down the street, leaving him shocked behind me.
A few minutes later, my phone vibrates in my pocket and I look to see that I have a text from an unknown number.
Glad to know you like the band. Tonight around seven? Game store? ;)
I smirk to my phone, excited to be hanging out with one of my favorite YouTubers and type a quick reply after saving his number.
I don’t know. Why don’t you wait and see? ;p*
“Miss, I’m sorry to interrupt but we are at the airport.” I look outside, feeling my heart break even more when I notice he’s right. I get out and get help from the driver with my things. When he gets a good look at me, his eyes widen.
“You’re the girl from the other night. The one who left that boy at the beach” He says, shocked. My eyes widen as I realize what he means.
“You’re that nosy cabdriver!” I accuse, pointing at him. He takes a step back.
“Woah now, I’m not nosy. I was just observing. And I observed that you both looked heartbroken. If it hurt so much, then why did you leave?” he demands. Now it’s my turn to take a step back.
“You don’t know anything” I spit.
“You sure about that? Fine then, go. Run away.” He says, dismissing me, hopping back into the car. I gather my bags and start to walk towards the entrance of the airport.
“Oi, miss!” I hear him call. Rolling my eyes, I turn around.
“What now?” I ask, frustrated.
“Not sure what happened between you two or why you’re really running, but I can tell you one thing. That kid? I saw him as we were driving away. He just looked… empty. Blank. He just stumbled as if he was stabbed and sat on the ground, head in his hands. Like he just... died before his time.” He says. I don’t realize the tears until they reach my lips and I can taste the salt.
“Why are you telling me this?” I ask, feeling like I can’t breathe. He looks me right in the eyes.
“Because, you don’t have to leave. You can go back to him.” he says. I let out a choked sob.
“I.. can’t. It’s too late. I’m too late. I’m sorry.” I say, running inside with my bags. I look up and find that I have a half hour until boarding time. I rush through customs and security, and by the time I get through the whole thing, I have ten minutes. My gate is at the end of the terminal. I am not going to make it. There’s no way. I pick up speed.
“Attention passengers, last call for the flight to New York gate change. It is now at gate 43. We apologize for any inconvenience.” The announcer says. I stop in my tracks. Gate 43? That’s the complete opposite direction. I run as fast as I can to the gate.
I feel the sweat pouring down the back of my neck as I run to the gate at full speed. I get a few dirty looks as I run past people who are in my way. I am so close, the number getting bigger and bigger as I run. There are still people walking in the gate. Finally, I make it to the gate, breathing hard. I get an apologetic smile from the attendant as she checks my ticket. I nod and walk down the hall.
Everything seems to move in slow motion. The hall feels long and people pass me as if I wasn’t even there. I get to the actual plane and walk in, looking around. There are people everywhere. Somewhere, a child starts to whine. A couple is right in front of me, holding hands and being lovey dovey. I put my head down and push past them, quickly finding my seat. Luckily, its by the window. I open it and look out. It is starting to get dark. Lights are starting to light up the sky. The two red spotlights in the sky make my heart jump to my throat.
Its the stadium they’re playing at tonight. I look down at my watch. The show is going to start any minute now. My chest starts to feel tight and my stomach knots up, like I’m a kid again, doing something wrong and I don’t want to get into trouble. I look in my purse and find the envelope that Ashton gave me. I look inside to find the ticket, with my name written on the bottom. Thats when I notice the little arrow on the bottom. I flip the ticket over and hold back a sob.
The first time we met was the best day of my life. Give me another to remember. Please, say you love me back.
I look back out the window, eyes wide and heart pounding. He wants me to stay. This is wrong. I shouldn’t leave. I can’t. I stand up, right as they’re about to close the door.
“Wait! Don’t close the door!” I say, feel pounding to the front of the plane. The flight attendants try to stop me.
“Please, miss, take your seat.” One of them says. I push past them and push the door back open, running out. Everything is blurry. I can’t see anything but the exit. I push past everyone, heart pounding and lungs screaming for me to stop.
But I don’t. I keep running until I’m outside. I run up to a cab driver.
“Please, sir, I need to get-”
“Sorry, miss, I’m off duty” He says, driving off. Three other cabs, the same response.
“Shit!” I yell out in frustration.
“I’ll take you” A familiar voice says above me. I look up to see my favorite cab driver. I stand up and hug him as tight as possible.
“Thank you” I whisper into his chest.
“No problem. Now, where do we go?” He asks. I look up at him, smiling.
“We have a concert to crash.”
The whole drive, my leg is bouncing. So, when we get to the stadium, I practically fall out of the car.
“Wait, this guys a…” The driver, Jacob, trails off. “My kid loves this band. I actually think she’s here tonight” He sounds shocked.
“Yeah, people don’t really know about this. Look..” I trail off, looking at him. “Thank you. Thank you for helping me to see how wrong I was.”
He smiles softly my way.
“I know love when I see it. And you two got it. Just don’t mess it up this time, got it?” He says, kidding. I smile and hug him before running to the gate where the boys enter on the side of the stadium. I spot a security guard.
“Please, sir, I need to get into the stadium. I have to see the boys” I say to him. He smirks and nods his head.
“A lot of fans say that, miss, but I’m afraid I can’t let you in.” He responds. I realize he doesn’t know who I am.
“Look, I’m not a fan, but I know who the guys are personally. Get one of the personal security, they know me.” I plead with him.
“Sure, miss” He says, turning away. He’s not going to believe me. I sigh. I need to get into the stadium. But, how? I look up to see the fence is a chain link. Looking around to make sure no one is there. I start to climb. I wince when the fence shakes and makes a sound, but no one comes. Finally I make it to the other side, jumping down and wiping my hands on my jeans. I peep around the corner and notice two security guards standing and talking. They’re next to the entrance I need to get into. Michael took me here when he was showing me around.
“Oi! What do you think you’re doing?”Someone says behind me. Its the guard from earlier.
I break into a run towards the two guards, feet pounding the pavement.
I just noticed how much running I’m doing today. But I keep going.
A pair of arms wrap around my torso, picking me up. I kick and scream for them to let me go.
“Please, let me go! I need to get in there! You don’t understand! I love him. God, please, I love him! Let me go!” I cry out. I feel myself breaking down and the tears are forming in my eyes, threatening to spill over. Suddenly I notice a trail of smoke lifting into air and Calum coming into my vision.
The only time I thank the lord for his smoking habit.
“Calum! Calum, please tell them you know me! Tell them you know who I am! Calum!” I scream at the top of my lungs. I keep wiggling as they drag me away.
“Let. Me. Go!” I kick the guy and he hisses, letting me go. I make a run for it. Calum is looking confused as to what is happening, but realizes once he sees who is running at him like a batshit crazy lady. The guard catches up to me again and puts a death lock around me. I’m sobbing as he’s holding me and facing Calum, who’s slowly walking over.
“Sorry sir, but this lady here needs to be arrested. She’s trespassing and frankly, I think she's a little crazy” He says, making me fight the urge to show him what crazy really looks like. Instead, I look right at Calum, who has a strange look on his face. I muster all of my energy and courage to look him in the eyes and pour my heart out to him.
“Calum. Please. I was so, so wrong. I see it now. I love him. I have for years Calum. I couldn’t leave. I don’t care if he never forgives me, just let me see him, one. More. Time. Please” I say through clenched teeth, fighting the flowing tears, leaving paint splatter marks on my tshirt. He looks at the guard behind me and then back into my eyes.
“Let her go.” He says softly.
“I said, let her go. I know her. She’s with me.”
“But, the rules-”
“Don’t fucking apply to this situation, since I know her. Now, let her go. I’ll take care of the whole trespassing situation.” He says, sternly. The guard behind me sighs and releases his vise-like grip on me. My feet hit the floor and I stumbled, almost falling before I am wrapped in Calum’s strong arms. I wrap my arms around him tightly, and feel his hand reach my hair, stroking it as I cry into his shoulder.
“I knew you’d come. I’m sorry I left you like that, but I needed to see what was really in your head.” He whispers. I pull away, sniffling.
“Thank you.” I say, hugging him again. We let go and he pulls me into the back door.
“Lucky I hadn’t changed into my stage clothes yet, otherwise I would’ve had to explain why I look like I have a huge stain on my shirt. Em would kill me.” He says, chuckling. I smile a little, tired, but relieved. We reach an empty room and he walks me over to a couch to sit after making sure the door is closed.
“Why don’t you stick here for a bit? I’m gonna get Luke and Ash. They’re gonna be happy you’re here.” He says.
“What about Michael?” I ask. He looks down at his hands and bites his lip.
“Jay, I… Not yet.” he says softly.
“Why not?” I say a little louder. He looks at me and something, anger, flashes in his eyes. But it leaves just as quickly as it comes.
“Because, Jay. He can’t have this type of emotion running through his mind right now. We’re on in twenty. If he goes on stage after seeing you, it won’t be good. Trust me. And besides… let him take his anger out on the guitar instead of you. Let him have a clear head when he sees you.” He says, taking my hands. I sigh. He’s right.
“And… there’s something else you should know…” He looks nervous. “You need to stay for the whole thing, no matter how much it hurts or how much you feel like he hates you, because he doesn’t. But he’s in pain and he needs to do this.”
“Do what exactly?” I ask, hesitant. He’s about to open his mouth when we hear a voice.
“Calum! Where the fuck are you mate?” Someone calls from the hall. “Come on, we have shit to do, we’re on in fifteen!”
We look at each other in horror.
Shit. My heart starts to pound. He quickly shoves me into a nearby closet just as Michael opens the door.
I hold my breath as he walks into the room.
“Cal, what the fuck? You getting one off before the show or something?” Michael asks shrugging. I look through the slits in the door. His hair. He changed it again. It’s blonde.
He looks amazing.
“Nothing mate, I just needed a minute.” Calum snaps.
“Geeze, fine. Wait, what’s with your shirt?” Michael asks and I curse. Calum hears and bangs on the door while faking a cough. Through the slits in the door, I can see a confused look on Michael’s face.
“Sorry, just a cough I’ve had lately. Um, I kinda had a bird shit on me earlier so I had to wash my shirt.” Calum lies smoother than a baby’s ass. Michael shakes his head and laughs.
“I heard its good luck if you get shit on by a bird. Maybe if it shit on your face, you’d have some luck getting your looks under control” He jokes, making me snort. A bang resonates again and he fake coughs. Shit. I was too loud.
“Sorry bro, but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to take your pack. Its obviously affecting you. Hand it over.” Michael holds out his hand. Calum sighs and digs in his pocket for his pack of cigarettes and lighter.
“The shit I do for you” he says clearly enough for me to hear. But Michael thinks that Calums talking to him. I guess he is, but I hear the message loud and clear.
“Come on, Cal, you know its bad for you anyway.” Michael says frowning a little.
No, don’t frown. Please, no.
“Whatever. Let’s go.” Calum says, pulling Michael out of the room. He pulls himself out of Calum’s grasp.
“What is with you? You’re acting really weird.” Michael asks.
“Look, you’re the one who wanted to get the fuck out of here, so let’s go.” He says, pulling his phone out and typing while he leaves. Michael sighs and walks out after him.
And then my phone dings. It fucking dings. I hold my breath as I fumble with my phone. Of course, it’s from Calum.
“Hey, Cal, did you hear that?” I peer through the slits and push myself against the back of the closet. He’s. Right. Fucking. In. Front. Of. The. Door.
“Hey what are you doing?” Calum comes rushing in. Michael turns around.
“I thought I heard… Never mind” He says, face falling. Oh, yeah, the tone is the one I only use for the guys.
“Hey man, what’s up?” Calum comes over. Michael lowers his head.
“...I miss her…” He whispers enough for the both of us to hear. Calum flushes and scratches the back of his neck. My heart breaks.
No, it is pulverized into little grains of sand.
“Man, I’m sorry. I wish I could help, but I can’t” He says sheepishly. Michael sniffles and lifts his head, plastering a smile on his face.
“Nah, it’s fine. I’ll get over it. Come on.” He says, walking out of the room, closing the door, and going down the hall. Calum looks toward the closet and mouths I’m sorry. Then, he walks out. I wait about five minutes before opening the door and stepping out. It seems safe enough. I plop down on the couch and sigh, taking my phone out of my pocket.
“I miss you too, Mikey” I whisper before checking my text.
I let Ashton and Luke know that you’re here. I told them to tell Dave to bring you backstage when we’re on. Remember what I said. Don’t worry.
Not even five minutes later, the door bursts open and I jump in fear, thinking its someone else.
In Ashton’s arms. I look up to see him smiling down at me
“Thank you for proving me wrong.” He says into my hair. I hug him just as tightly. Someone clears their throat behind us. I let go and see Luke smiling behind us. I rush over to hug him.
“Glad you’re back.” He says simply. I nod, getting emotional. We let go and I look at the both of them.
“Look, I’m sorry. I get it now. I will never hurt him again. I… I love him. So much it hurts to breathe without him. I made a mistake and I don’t care if I am never forgiven, I just wanted to see him one more time. Then, I’ll go. It’s up to him completely. But I will never give up on him.” I say with a shaking voice. Ashton smiles brightly and hugs me again.
“Don’t worry. I have a feeling you’re already forgiven.” he says. I look up at him.
“What do you mean?” I ask. He shrugs.
“Just a feeling I have.” He says. I shrug it off as they say their goodbyes and walk out.
Twenty minutes later, the door opens and Dave walks in with a smirk. I rush over to him to hug him.
“Looks like you caused quite a mess earlier, kid” He says, hugging me back.
“What can I say, I was desperate.” I say, smirking. He chuckles and pats my head, leading me backstage where Hey Violet are hanging out. They spring up and gather around me when I walk in.
“Oh my god, you’re back!” Nia says, hugging me. I smile and hug her back. I was always closest with her. “Mike’s been a mess for the past day and a half” she says, letting me go. I hug everyone else, and hear the screams of the crowd from where I’m standing.
“How’s everybody doing tonight?” I hear Luke shout to the crowd, making them go nuts. I move so that I can clearly see the stage. I’m right behind Calum, who turns around and notices me. He gives a quick thumbs up before addressing the crowd. I look towards Michael who is smiling brightly.
“Alright, let’s blow the fucking roof off this place! Let’s go!” Ashton says into the mic, beginning one hell of a show.
I contemplate what Calum was talking about earlier, with me thinking Michael hates me, and not leaving no matter how much it hurts.
And then I find out what he is talking about.
“Alright, everyone, so, there’s been a change of plans.” Michael says into the microphone towards the end of the show. “I have a question. How many people here have had their hearts broken?”
The crowd roars in response.
“Well, I know we said we weren’t going to perform this song anymore, but I’ve noticed that there’s a hell of a lot of broken hearts here tonight, so, here’s Wrapped Around Your Finger” he says. Calum quickly looks at me as they start to play and nods his head.
Tears prick my eyes as I remember the conversation Michael and I had about that song.
“You know, Wrapped Around Your Finger is really sad, but beautiful at the same time” I say as we’re eating lunch in the city.
“Well, it’s a song about heartbreak.” He snorts in response, eating a fry. I smack his arm.
“Obviously, idiot… Have you ever been heartbroken?” I ask. He looks at me for a moment.
“No, can’t say I have” He responds. “How about you?”
I put my head down, thinking.
“Well, there was this one boy in the seventh grade who had a girlfriend. I had the hugest crush on him, but he didn’t see me that way. I was pretty upset.” I say, smirking. He rolls his eyes.
“So, that’s it? He asks, pulling his hand through his pink hair. I nod, giggling. He chuckles a bit too.
“You know, if you ever feel heartbroken, just let me know so I know who to kill.” I say, patting his arm. He looks at me and back down at his lap, shaking his head and smiling a little.
“Trust me, no one can break my heart, so you’re good.” He looks back up at me, and I can’t help but feel a tugging sensation in my gut. I shrug it off as the food. “But, if anyone breaks your heart, you call me and I will be on my way with video games and pizza and ice cream and a baseball bat.” he continues. I raise an eyebrow.
“Baseball bat?” I ask.
“To bash the dicks head in, obviously.” he says, completely serious before taking a sip of his coke. I laugh out loud, getting weird looks from the people eating around us. Michael and I look at each other and laugh even louder.
Once we calm down, my stomach hurts, but in the good way. I put my hand on his forearm, still giggling a little.
“How about this, Mike. How about whenever some girl breaks your heart, you just sing Wrapped Around Your Finger, but instead of the regular line, say ‘wrapped around your motherfucking finger’.” I say. “Then, once I see it, I’ll call you from wherever I am, no matter the time. I don't care."
“But I already do that” he argues. I shrug and look him right in the eyes.
“If you are really in pain. If you really feel the emotion, I’ll know. I always will” I say, hand grasping his, squeezing gently. He just smiles and nods.
The song starts and I swear to god, I break down right there. Everyone looks at me worried. I push them away. My feet stay rooted to the ground.
I’m in pain. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. I feel it everywhere. They sound amazing, and I see people start to sing along, making the emotion that much more dangerous. Luke goes through his part, and now it’s Michael’s turn again. I try to tune it out as best as I can, but I still hear it.
Wrapped around your MOTHERFUCKING finger
He practically screams it out in agony. Pure, unadulterated, agony. I drop to my knees, holding my head in my hands. I can’t do it. I can’t. I’m sobbing my heart out.
Suddenly, someone is standing over me. I look up to see Calum standing there, worry in his eyes.
“I...I” I cant speak. He gently smiles and helps me up, hugging me.
“You got this” he says in my ear before running out on stage to continue the song. I look back out to see Michael giving Calum a weird look. He just shrugs.
Finally, the song is over and I can breathe again.
“Alright, this is the last song of the night, you guys. This is She Looks So Perfect, thank you for coming out, we love you!” Luke says into the mic. “Goodnight!”
And with that the song starts and ends, my heart beating faster and faster every passing moment. They take their final bows and start to walk back stage when Ashton stops and runs back to the mic.
“Wait! Everybody, stop packing up. I have something I almost forgot to do. Michael, stand right here.” Ashton instructs. A confused murmur passes through the entire place. After a bit of a struggle, Michael finally stands where he’s told.
“What are you doing?” He asks. Ash holds up his hand and goes through his phone while speaking into the mic.
“You know, Michael here has a problem, and we’re going to fix it. You see, I feel like any girl who can put this much feeling into her voice as the girl on this recording, that’s the girl for him” He hits play and puts the mic up to the speaker. A voice rings out to the entire place.
Look, I’m sorry. I get it now. I will never hurt him again. I… I love him. So much it hurts to breathe without him. I made a mistake and I don’t care if I am never forgiven, I just wanted to see him one more time. Then, I’ll go. It’s up to him completely. But I will never give up on him.
Michael freezes and shock gasps sound in the crowd. I step forward, completely shocked. Michael looks around and finds me, my eyes, making my breath hitch. He walks towards me, completely unfazed by the fact that there's a crowd of screaming girls around. Looks like I don’t care either, because I take another step forward onto the stage. Then another and another, until I’m running onto the stage and into his arms.
His lips crash to mine as he picks me up. I’ve never felt more alive. Us, sharing our oxygen, our life force. My other half. My life support. The one who had me wrapped around his goddamn motherfucking finger. And I didn’t care.
All around us, The crowd erupts into applause and shouts of joy. Cheers surround us. Ashton, Luke, and Calum run up to us with Casey, Nia, and the others, wrapping us into a huge group hug. But all I feel are Michael’s arms. The safest place on the planet.
Pulling apart, I look him in the eyes.
"Mikey, I'm so sorry. I never wanted-"
"Shut up, I forgave you the moment I heard your voice on that recording. I love you Jay. Nothing is gonna change that" he says, giving me the smile I've been falling for over the years.
"I love you Michael. I should have said it sooner, but I love you. I will never hurt you again."
And I never did.
“So, is this goodbye?” I ask, tears in my eyes. I look up into his piercing green ones. He nods, looking away, shame on his face clear as day.
“I’m sorry. But, I just can’t do this anymore.” He looks back at me, smirk creeping on his face. Finally, he breaks out into his booming laugh. I can't help but laugh too, smacking him on the chest.
“Aw come on you guys!” The director steps forward. “That was such a good shot! Now, we have to start again.” he complains.
“Oh stop, it was only the third go!” Michael says, smirking.
“And we only have two days to shoot!” The director points out. We’re currently shooting the music video for Jet Black Heart, their new single, off their new album. The concept of the video is the guys breaking up with their girlfriends and then going back to them one way or another. Wonder where that came from. Luke came up with the idea to bring their actual girlfriends for the video.
We’re currently in the middle of Michael and I’s breakup scene. And it’s not working out because he keeps laughing. Or he makes me laugh. I kiss him on the cheek before straightening his coat.
“Okay, let’s just get this done, okay? We only have a couple of lines, so this should be easy. Besides, its fucking cold out and I want to go inside to snuggle.” I say, looking up at him and pouting a little. He whips his head around to the director.
“Let’s get this done, my girlfriend’s cold” He calls to him. The director rolls his eyes. But I still get butterflies hearing him call me his girlfriend.
The whole fiasco was three months ago. After the show, we went back to the hotel to talk, just the two of us. We opened up a lot to each other. At first it was awkward trying to explain what the hell happened to the people of the work. Naturally, when you have one of those cliche run and kiss scenes, people are a little disoriented, to say the least. But surprisingly, I was accepted pretty well.
We finished our scene two takes later.
We switch places with Ashton and his girlfriend and head into the little tent/hub area. Once we are inside, I automatically feel better. Mike holds me close to warm me up faster.
“That was fun” I say, leaning into him. He nods and smile, but stays quiet. I look up at him.
“Whats wrong?” I ask. He looks down at me.
“It was fun, but I never wanna go through that. I’m not gonna lose you again.” he says sadly. I sigh.
“Its not gonna happen Mikey. Never. You and me? We’re solid. I love you and you love me.” I say, looking him in the eyes. He bends his head down to kiss me before pulling away.
“Besides, I don’t want to climb any fences and kick the shit out of someone just to get to you” He says chuckling. I groan.
“You’re never gonna let that go, are you?” I ask, sighing.
“Never. But then again, I’m never gonna let you go either.” he says, looking into my eyes. "But, seriously, you could've called someone instead of going through all that."
I shrug, making his arms tighten around me. Smiling, I know that I will always feel safe with Michael, and I will always love him.
Hey you guys! Sorry my editing is shit, but I hope you like it. I based this one shot off of the song, Wrapped Around Your Finger. Anyways, Enjoy! Its only a One Shot, so...