Fast forward about three months from the last time I talked to Aubree. I was at home, at the apartment I still technically shared with Calum. But we were both rarely there at the same time. Brandi stayed with me most of the time, and Cal was usually with Natalie. We'd just finished up rehearsals for our latest tour and were headed out to hit the road the next day. I was trying to get my shit together because I hadn't packed yet. One would think that I'd be pretty good at packing with as much practice as I'd had, but I was no better then than I was a few years prior. It didn't help that I was aggravated because Brandi was being a bitch.
She walked past me on the way to the bathroom and commented, "Why do you have to make such a mess when you pack?"
"I always clean it up, don't I?" I mean, seriously. I was more or less a neat freak, and she knew that.
I noticed that she rolled her eyes when she answered, "Whatever," and shut the door. She was such a damn teenager sometimes.
"Yeah, whatever," I said under my breath.
One would also think that my impending departure for God knows how many months would have had some kind of affect on Brandi, other than bitching. She hadn't once told me she was going to miss me. As a matter of fact, she hadn't even told me she loved me in quite a while. But to think about it, neither had I. And I wasn't going to miss her, either.
I was pretty sure I had everything together, except the last minute stuff like my toothbrush and phone charger. I sat a reminder on my phone with a list of items I needed to grab in the morning on my way out, and sat down on the bed, thinking about what was ahead of me.
No matter how much I prepared, it was never enough. Traveling more months of the year than not is both the greatest and most exhausting experience. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. I've had my moments when I just didn't think I could continue. But I hung in there because it's what I live for. There was a different feel to it that time, though. I guess because instead of just living day to day, I thought so much about what would be happening in a few months. We had to reschedule a few weeks worth of shows because of the baby's due date. I felt real shitty having to change dates around like that. The fans didn't know the reason why at the time, but I knew they'd find out soon enough. 5SOS members can't keep secrets very long. Like, some of our fans need to pursue a career in private investigation, no lie.
For some reason, I found myself thinking of Aubree, and how she didn't want my fanbase to know about her. I went along with it for as long as she wanted, though. And when she finally agreed to let me show her off to the world, I was so proud to have her by my side, even though it only happened a couple of times. As a matter of fact, we were only together a little over two months after that. It was so difficult to think about her. I constantly wondered how she was doing. And of course I wondered if she was with another man. Just thinking about it actually felt like there was a giant fist squeezing my heart.
I felt the bed move as Brandi got in it behind me and she turned off the light, leaving me in the dark without even asking if I needed it on. She didn't say goodnight or even acknowledge that I was there. But that was fine. I didn't feel like talking to her anyway. To be perfectly honest, I thought how it would be a relief to leave home for a while. Maybe some time apart would help us communicate better. Or maybe not. I really didn't even care.
My bag was far heavier than I liked for it to be as I picked it up from the end of the bed and set it by the door, ready to begin it's journey in just a few hours. A couple of those stops would be fairly close to Aubree. So many times I wanted to ask her if she'd be going to any of our shows, and if she wanted to meet up. But seeing as she told me that we shouldn't contact each other again, I left her alone. That was one of the many sacrifices I made when I said I'd stay by Brandi's side because of the baby.
A fucking baby, man. What in the world was I going to do with a baby? My mum said I'd figure it out along the way, just like all first time parents do. It was weird, but I actually already loved the little guy or girl. I'd known for a while that I'd like to have children one day. I just didn't think it would be so soon. I never was real sure how Brandi got pregnant. We were always careful, but shit happens, I guess. I was determined to turn it into a good thing, though. I was going to be the dad I never had. My stepdad was cool, but I was determined to be even better. I knew it was going to be tough with my job and all, but like Mum said, I'd figure it out.
I wished Brandi would have been a little more excited about it. I understood that it wasn't planned, and she was worried about her modeling career. I tried to point out that there's a need for pregnant models, too, for magazines and advertisements. But she said it was the aftermath that she was dreading, like she wouldn't have a perfect body afterwards. I reminded her that even with her "perfect" body, her pictures still got photoshopped. Once, I thought she was going to slap me when I made the mistake of telling her that she could buy another perfect body, just like she did before. I still secretly laugh about the appalled look on her face. She was pissed at me for days over that. But really, she was so tiny, not showing at all, and she was a good four months along. Probably because she never ate, which pissed me off. But she didn't seem to care that I was concerned about the baby getting what it needed. I even had to remind her to take her prenatal vitamins. I knew pretty much nothing about pregnancy, but hell, I knew the baby needed nutrition.
She was scheduled for an ultrasound the following week, and I hated that I wasn't going to get to see it. The doctor said that if the baby was cooperative, we'd get to know the sex. I had no preference. I just wanted him or her to be healthy. I didn't know if Brandi was hoping for a boy or girl because she wouldn't talk about it. It was almost like the whole pregnancy was a taboo subject that we weren't allowed to speak of on most days. I thought she was going through some kind of depression because of it, but she wouldn't let me try to help her. I got really sick and tired of walking on eggshells all the time, but I did whatever it took to keep the peace. She didn't need to be stressed right then. I could only hope that with a little more time, she'd accept that it was really happening no matter what, and at least try be civil to me. I no longer cared about having any kind of romantic relationship with her, I just wanted to get along and be able to raise our kid together.
I was awake long before my alarm was set to go off. After failing to go back to sleep, I went ahead and got up and showered. Then, as quietly as I could manage, I proceeded to clean up the mess I'd made while packing. I didn't want to give Brandi a reason to fuss at me again. Then I had some Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast while scrolling through Twitter. The same old shit was there, so I closed the app and waited for a text from our driver.
Finally it came, and I was ready to leave. I peeked into the bedroom and saw that Brandi had the covers pulled up over her head. I took that as a hint that she didn't want to be bothered, and headed out without telling her goodbye. I was already bracing myself to get yelled at later because of it. But I would have gotten yelled at for bothering her, too. I took one last look into the dark apartment and said, "Good riddance."
As dumb as it was, I felt the burning formation of tears, which I managed to keep at bay. I may not have been in love with Brandi, and hardly even cared about her sometimes. But I hated that she obviously resented me, especially after all that I gave up for her. Despite everything, I tried my very best to be a good boyfriend, and she didn't care. I hated the whole situation. But I made my bed and I had to lie in it.
Cal, Mike, and Luke were already in the car. None of us are morning people, so we all looked grumpy and didn't even greet each other. As a matter of fact, other than Luke's intermittent snoring, there wasn't a sound made until we got to the airport. I was always extremely envious of that boy's ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime.
I wasn't surprised at all when there was a crowd waiting for us at the airport. I used to wonder how fans found out our flight details, until Aubree told me. She said sometimes it's just easy to narrow down, but there's a way to confirm flights that some of the more dedicated fans have figured out. I keep thinking how great it would be if we could just have our own private plane, but we're nowhere near that rich yet. Probably never will be.
And, shit, I was thinking about Aubree once again. Not a day went by since I met her that I hadn't thought of her. I also thought about Little Ashton and Molly Wolly a lot. I loved those kids like my own. It was always a blast when I was around them. They were so funny, and smart, and lovable. They had a great example to learn from. I couldn't even imagine Brandi as a mother. I hoped those maternal instincts, or whatever they're called, would kick in when the baby was born. I didn't think she'd be a bad mum by any means. It was just hard to imagine her putting someone else's needs before her own. Anyway...
We made our way through the crowd with the help of security, but some of the girls still managing to get close enough to take a selfie. I pretended I didn't mind and tried to give convincing smiles as they shoved their phones in my face. Honestly, I guess I didn't really mind that much anymore. I'd pretty much gotten used to it by then. I just wished they'd calm the fuck down. Like, seriously, if they're crushing on a dude at school and he walks by them, do they scream? In a perfect world, I'd love to be able to stop and talk to everyone, if they have some self control. But we're always on the go. Either we're on a time restriction, or it's a day off, and I try to be as normal as possible on those days. I don't mind stopping for a quick chat on my off days, but the picture taking thing is annoying as fuck. And God forbid you turn them down, because they'll drag your name through the mud.
I still remember that night Aubree and I met. She and Traci stopped us outside our hotel. I was trying to ignore the few fans that were there, but when I heard Traci say she didn't want a photo, and asked for a hug instead, I thought to myself What the fuck? Is this chick serious? Then Aubree did the same. I think that's why I remember it, because it had never happened before. Calum kept on about Traci offering to buy him a drink. I'll never forget how pissed he was that he didn't take her up on her offer.
We were at dinner looking at the menus and he said, "Fuck. Did you see her? I could have at least told her that I'd meet her back at the hotel. But, no. I had to say some dumb shit like 'I'm not old enough.' Seriously? Now I'm gonna be alone all night, wanking off to some lame ass porno or some shit." The rest of us had a good laugh at his expense.
Then, when we passed Traci and Aubree on the way back to the hotel, I wondered why he didn't stop if he was so bent out of shape about it, but I didn't ask. It all worked out in the end, though, for both of us.
God, how I wished I could go back and do things differently. Not anything from that first night. Well, except maybe that whole naked Michael incident. But then again, that kind of worked out perfectly, because if Michael had been clothed, and his usual charming self, I have no doubt he could have sweet talked Aubree right into his bed.
It's easy to look back and see why certain things happened the way they did. But I never did have an answer for why Aubree and I weren't meant to be, because it sure felt like we are. My love for her hadn't faded one bit, and I swear on anyone's life that I would have married her in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. I never even entertained the idea of marriage or children until I fell in love with Aubree. It was all I wanted. But I'd blown my chance.
A/N: Not the most exciting chapter, I know. But it picks up in the next one, I pinky swear. ❤