Worry Rock

The Fool Whose Stable Soul's Gone Bad

---Ashlynn's POV---

That's what year it is now, officially. As of a few days ago. As of a few weeks ago, I'm out of my mom's house and into a spiffy new apartment with Charlie. As of a few hours ago, Charlie isn't here anymore. She just said something about needing to be alone for a little while and packed up enough stuff for a few days and left. Jakob's worried about her.
"Why would she need to leave? She can come to me about anything."
He's so cute when he's like this. He really cares about her. I wonder if he'd be this way if I had left. "Well she said she needed to be alone. She's probably just stressed."
"About what? The tour's over. We have as long as we want in the studio. We're not even stuck in a creative rut anymore." He runs his hand through his mop of brown hair nervously. "She always comes to me when something's bothering her. I don't get it."
I touch his hand comfortingly, ignoring the tingle that goes up my arm when I do so. "Everybody needs to be alone sometimes, Jake."
He sighs, looking down. "Yeah, I guess you're right."
"As always. Now, are you going to teach me yet?"
Jake grins. He's been giving me bass lessons for a few weeks now. It's really simple, especially since I can already play guitar... sort of. Most of the reason for this is because I just like being near him. I'm not telling anyone that though. "Alright. Gimme that rift I showed you the other day."

---Charlie's POV---

Now it seems I can't keep my mind above you
My brain drifts back to better days we've been through
Like sitting on blacktop of the school grounds
The love I witched about I finally found

That's all I wanted. To be alone. Lately, everyone's been hounding me constantly- or at least, it feels that way. Technically, they've been around me just as much as always. The only difference is that now, I don't want them to be.
That's my problem. I don't know how I feel anymore. I haven't known for nearly a year. Joey and I have been friends since I was born, but now, it feels like everything's changed.


I was three years old, with little light shaded pigtails on either side of my head, a pair of tiny jeans, and a Winnie the Pooh t-shirt.
He was six, with dark hair, a skateboarding t-shirt, and finger paint stained jeans.
"No, it's mine!" I yelled, trying to tug my favorite doll - yes, doll - from a little girl who had once lived down the street from me. The girl wasn't little to me though. To me, the girl was huge, all the way up to second grade and taller even than my big brother at his colossal age of eight. And this girl was trying to take my very favorite toy.
"Come and get it!" she said, holding it high over my head as my pudgy little three year old fingers tried to reach up to pull it back. She laughed in a way that reminded me of the bad guys on all those Disney movies and TV shows I watched, and I jumped up trying to grab the doll.
"Hey, give it back!" said my knight in shining armor, that brave six year old boy with the dark hair, who was definitely smaller than the girl. He walked up to her, trying to stand up tall. "It's hers."
All this time, neither of us were supposed to be out. I had snuck out while Jakob and Connor were playing video games, not knowing until now that Joey had followed me. But I was thankful for it.
"Make me!" said the girl, now turning to Joey. I took the opportunity to grab the doll from her hand, and Joey took my hand roughly and started running with me as quickly as my little legs could carry me back to his house. I know she didn't follow us, because she'd have caught us easily with her long legs, but I did hear her yelling. I also saw a few objects whirring past us until we were out of range. We didn't stop running until we reached the front porch, where we stood and panted together, having just escaped from what we thought would be certain death.

*End Flashback*

Two little kids, looking out for each other. That's what we used to be. Why is it so different now?

---Ashlynn's POV---

"I really don't know why you want me to help you. You've got the hang of it," assured Jakob to me with that award winning smile. If someone hasn't literally given him an award for that smile, they had better give it soon, because nobody in the world can make me feel this way just by smiling. That's enough cause for reward, isn't it?
I return the smile, giving my own lame excuse for wanting to be here with him. "Thanks, but I'm not as good as you yet, am I?"
"Oh, well if that's your goal, you should quit now, cuz honey, I am the best."
I know he's joking, but I find myself completely agreeing with him anyway. "Oh, I know you are, Jakey," I laugh.
"But no, really, you are good. And in some ways, you're better than me." I give him a questioning look. Better than him? Am I the one in an uberly successful band? Am I the one who can create a bass rift just as well as a certain Mike Dirnt can? Am I the one with the happy relationship? With the gorgeous brown eyes and heart-melting smile?
Scratch that last sentence.
"You're a lot better than me with words, y'know? I'm horrible at getting that kind of stuff on paper. The bass, yeah, but writing songs is kind of hard for me."
I smile. "Yeah, I know what you mean."
"Hey, um, can you help me with something?"
Help him? He wants me to help him with a song? And here I was thinking he has enough genius for the both of us. "Um, sure."
He bites his lip and digs into his pocket, producing a crumpled and folded up sheet of paper. "I wrote this about me and Jenny," he tells me. "It's meant to be acoustic, and I have all of that worked out, but the words... I just can't get them straight."
I read over the song silently... and wow. I really didn't know things were going this bad for him.
As if he can read my thoughts, he says, "It's not always like that. Usually, it's pretty good between us. She just... she doesn't know how hard I'm trying. She thinks I skip out on too much time I could have with her to be at band practice or recording or just hanging out." He cradles his head in his hand as if it would clear his mind of those memories of fights with his girlfriend. "I really love her, Ash."
I ignore the little pang I feel inside at that statement. That bitch doesn't know how good she has it. Most musicians who love their band as much as Jakob does would dump her ass, but now here's one of the few who will actually put forth the effort to try, and it's not enough for her? When Jakob Danger Armstrong will work this hard to be with you, you can't just push him away.
I pull Jake into a comforting hug, which he gladly returns. "I just... I don't know what to do."
"Jakob... are you crying?"
He pulls away, wiping his eye a little. "I'm sorry... it's just, I can never choose between her and the band. I mean, I've been with the band way longer. Charlie, my whole life. But then it's like, the thought of not choosing her just... I can't."
I pull Jakob back into our hug, and he leans against me, seeming to be grateful for the gesture. I rub his back comfortingly. "It's okay, Jake... she'll come around. And if she doesn't, I'll personally go all Black Hawk on her ass, okay?"
I hear a muffled laugh from where his face is buried in my shoulder, and he hugs me a little tighter before letting go. "Can you talk to her?"
I'm a little taken aback by that. He wants me to talk to his girlfriend? I don't even like his girlfriend. Well, I've never told him that, but I really don't like her. She takes advantage of Jakob. She gets him to do things he hates to do and tries to pull him away from his friends. I don't say this because I'm his friend, and it strains equally on my time with him. I say this because I think she needs to wake the fuck up and realize that when your boyfriend is in a band, he is going to actually spend time with his bandmates, and you have no right to try to come between them. That's why Billie and Adie have been together for so long. She knows the rules.
"Jake... I..."
"Please? Normally, I'd ask Charlie, but she's not here right now. I just don't know what to do..."
Okay, he's giving me the face. Dammit! I can't say no to that face.
I sigh. "Okay, Jake. I'll try."
There goes that smile again. "Thanks, Ashtray." He looks back down at the sheet of paper in my hand then back to my face. "So do you want to hear the song, and then maybe you can help me with the lyrics?"
I nod, as always willing to do whatever I can to help him. "Sure."
We spent the next half hour with an acoustic guitar, a pencil, and that crumpled sheet of paper, perfecting a song together, as if we had been meant to do it for our entire lives.

*The Next Day*

---Charlie's POV---

Okay, so day two in a dingy motel, secluded with some clothes and my most prized possession, Red. I pluck the strings of the guitar experimentally, leaning against the headboard. I can hear the yelling of two little kids from the room next door to me, barely distinguishable into words due to the paneling in the walls, but there nonetheless.
I didn't have to stay here. I can easily afford somewhere better. Somewhere with room service and a big swimming pool with a fountain. I just didn't want that. I wanted to stay here because I've never stayed at a hotel this bad before. It sounds strange, but I want to know what it feels like. When you spend your entire life basically being raised by Billie Joe Armstrong, you get taken care of, to say the least. This means that while my dad was only middle class and often had some financial struggles, I've led a very privileged life. It also means that I've never known what it felt like to really be a part of the majority of the human civilization. Basically, I haven't felt what it's like to be poor.
So now, sitting here in this peice of crap motel with the screaming of little kids next door and the sound of a train running down some nearby track, with traffic along the streets near here and the sound of the cleaning trolley creaking down the concrete aisle along the outside of the building to which my door opens, I feel more solitary than I ever have. It's a good feeling. It's that feeling you get after years of being ridiculed for the way you dress or act, and then one day you decide to just pretend to be normal. Finally, you blend in with the crowd and aren't hounded about your clothes or behavior everywhere you go. You don't want this permanently, because you still like to let out who you really are, but it's a nice lapse of attention that you need sometimes. That's what I feel. Alone and not alone at the same time. It's a good feeling.
Now, for the reason I came here: Joey. Joseph Marciano Armstrong. The one who's been on my mind almost non-stop since he first told me he loves me, even when I try my hardest to forget him. He's a problem. But at the same time, he's a problem that I would rather have than not. Complicated relationship or not, Joey's someone who's stuck by me my whole life, and I do love him, whether or not it's in a friendly way.
Well, now I really do have a problem. I don’t even know how to go about doing this. Reminiscing about when we were little kids doesn’t help anything. And while it’s nice to appreciate this rare solitary feeling, that doesn’t help either. I’ve been thinking about this for so long. So now that I really have a chance to get it straight, how do I? I think I need some help with this.
I pick up my cell phone from the nightstand and turn it on to see that I have some missed calls and voicemail messages. Probably all from Jakob worrying about me and asking when I’m coming back. I search through the phone memory until I find the number I’m looking for and press the Talk button.
Ring... ring… ring…
“Come on, pick up,” I mutter as if it helps.
Apparently, it does, because I hear the voice of my older brother just one ring later. “Hey, kiddo, long time no talk!”
“Hi, Connor. How are you?”
“Pretty good… But Lyra won’t be back until Friday! I miss her.” We both laugh. Connor was always a bit clingy to his girlfriend of the moment. Not to the point of stalking, but in a way that he was just more happy being with them than not. Of course, he and Lyra have stuck together for quite a while now, so I don’t blame him.
“Aww, well aren’t you adorable then?”
“Shut up… so what’s up with you? I thought you’d be really busy recording the new album and stuff this week.”
“Change of plans… I kind of needed a break,” I tell him truthfully.
“Charlie, you never need a break from your guitar… it’s like an extension of you. What’s wrong?” he asks, and I can hear my brother’s concern over the phone. I really miss him right now. There is quite a big disadvantage to having your brother move halfway across the country from you. He always promised me he’d come back. I hope it’s soon.
I sigh. “I’m just… really confused about some stuff right now.”
“Well, come on, tell your big brother about it now. What’s up?”
I hesitate for a moment, wondering how I should go about asking this. “Connor… how do you know when you’re in love?” I tap my fingers on the strings on the neck of my old guitar nervously. I rarely talk about these things. You know, love. My own confusion. Joey. It’s all uncomfortable for me. But if anyone can help me, it’s Connor.
He’s silent for a moment. “Um.. Carlie, who is it?”
“I… it’s… Joey.” I say the last part so quietly, I’m not sure he could even hear it.
“Wait, did you just say Joey? I thought you broke up with him. Are you saying that you love him now?”
“No, Connor, that’s why I’m calling you. I don’t know! I’ve been trying to figure this out for almost a year, and I just fucking can’t. I’m so confused. Just… I want to know how to figure it out. Please. Help me. Just tell me how to know.”
He’s silent for a few moments, and I can’t help but hug my guitar for comfort. Funny how an inanimate object can mean so much to me. “Okay… you want to know how to know if you’re in love?”
“Yes!” I tell him, exasperated. Well of course I want to know, you dumbfuck.
“Stop thinking.”
That’s it? Just stop thinking? What the hell kind of advice is that? “Connor, I-”
“You nothing. You wanted to know how to know, and that’s it. Carlie, I know you. You’ve been sitting there brooding about this and fighting with yourself for nearly a year now because you think too much. The problem is, love isn’t supposed to have a thought process. It’s just a feeling. Stop blocking it with your thoughts, and just face it head on.”
Dammit, I hate when he’s right. I have been brooding about this. I have been blocking everything out. But is blocking out your thoughts really that simple?
“Con, I… I don’t know if I can.”
“You can. If you want to figure this out, you’ll have to.”
“Well… Connor, I’m kind of scared. To love him, you know… I never thought of him that way before. It’s like he was always one of those things for me that I never thought would change, and now all of a sudden, he has..”
“I don’t think you’re afraid of loving him.”
“What are you talking about? I just admitted I am.”
“You’re not afraid of loving him. What scares you is that you want to. You’re afraid of change, Carlie. You always have been.”
You know, he’s right. I think I was always afraid of big changes. Things were so good the way they were. Change can make things turn for the worse. Maybe what I’m really scared of is something bad happening between Joey and I. A fight… falling out… all those bad things that can happen to couples. I don’t know what I would do if I lost Joey.
I hear him sigh over the phone. “Okay, Charlie. I need to leave now, alright? You just try that, and call me back later when you’ve figured it out, okay?”
I nod, though I know he can’t see me. “Alright… thanks, Connor. I love you.”
“I love you too, Carlie. Bye.”

But now it's gone, and I take the blame.
So there's nothing I can do but take the pain.

---Ashlynn’s POV---

I can’t believe I’m doing this. Talking to Jenny for Jakob. How did he talk me into this? Damn his heart melting smile and gorgeous brown eyes with their ability to manipulate me into anything. Damn him. Shit, I can’t even damn him. I like him too much. Fuck.
“What are you doing here? Jakob’s not here…”
What am I doing here? I’m talking to you so that you’ll stop being a psycho bitch and let your boyfriend actually be happy. That’s what I’m doing here.
“I know. I actually came to talk to you.”
She looks confused, still standing in the doorway and blocking my way in. “About what?”
Now, she gives me this look. This condescending look that says "I don't like you, but Jakob does, and so I'm stuck having to tolerate your shit." Bitch.
She sighs. "Fine." She steps aside, allowing me to walk in and sit on the arm of the sofa. "What about Jake?"
I hesitate before starting. What exactly am I supposed to say? 'Hey, you need to quit being a bitch to your boyfriend so suck it up and deal with his job?'
"He... Jen, he really loves you."
She looks away from me leaning on the wall. "I- I know, Ash. I love him too."
"You sure have a weird way of showing it..."
She looks at me fiercely now. "What's that supposed to mean?”
Damn. I pissed her off. I didn’t want to do that. Jakob asked me to talk to her, not yell at her. “I just mean… well, Jen, he really is trying. It hurts him when you keep pushing him like this.”
Hm, that sounded pretty good. Okay, yes, better.
“Well what do you expect, Ashlynn? He’s hardly ever around anymore. I’m his girlfriend. Shouldn’t he be able to sacrifice just a little time with his friends to be with me? What’s the point of even being with him if he’s never around?”
Now that pisses me off. How fucking selfish. Never around? He’s always around. He skips out on being with his friends constantly to be with you. We understand, so why don’t you?
“He does make sacrifices. He comes home early constantly when he could just stay out with us till 2:00 in the morning. He cancels days of practice to be with you. Just…” I sigh. Play nice, Ashtray. “He does try, Jenny. He loves you. I think he just wants his efforts to be a little appreciated…”
“So what am I supposed to do?”
“You can go to practice with him if you want to be around him so bad. And just let up a little. It’s not like he’s purposely neglecting you.”
“I… I think you should go now.” Her tone doesn’t actually sound mad now. More like she wants to be alone to think. I nod and stand from my spot. “I’m sorry, just… I don’t want to lose him.”
I somewhat attempt to force a smile. I don’t think it came out very well. “I know…” I wouldn’t either.
Woah, what’s happening now? She’s hugging me? I return her hug, feeling thoroughly uncomfortable. Why do people always hug me? Am I really that good a hugger? Well, apparently so since everybody always wants to hug me. It gets ridiculous after a while.
She pulls away after a moment. "Thanks, Ash. What you said just now... I think I really needed to hear that. You..." She sighs. "You're right. Maybe I'm just not used to having a boyfriend like him."
Well, who is? He's only the most sweet, amazing, gorgeous... Shut up, brain, dammit.
"Yeah... well, I'll see you later then..."
She nods. "Okay... bye, Ash."

---Charlie's POV---

Talk about a fucking epiphany.
I'm serious, I just had a light-shining-from-above-with-a-hallelujah-chorus moment. Maybe not in a literal sense, but you get the picture. I have had a sudden revelation, all due to the wonderful, genius advice of my amazing older brother. But now I have a new problem. The question is no longer "How do you know if you're in love?" Now, it's "What do you do when you're in love and already told him no?"
That's right. I love him. I love Joseph Marciano Armstrong, and oh, god, it feels so good. But what do I do now? I already told him I don't love him. Stupid move. Now, I'm stuck. I mean, I have to tell him, but what if he doesn't beleive me? What if he thinks I'm playing with his heart and gets more hurt? What if he doesn't love me anymore? What if he already hates me for avoiding him the last few weeks? What if...
What if he loves me back?
That is too amazing of a chance to pass up. But what am I supposed to say to him? "Hey, Joe, sorry about the whole keeping you on edge and totally breaking your heart thing, but I've changed my mind and I do love you so take me back?"
I look down at the guitar in my hands and realize I'm playing a new rythm on it. Something so different from my usual thrashing. It's more mellow. Sort of like just by listening to the guitar, you know it's going to be a song about a sad, Romeo-and-Juliet love. You can tell just by the pace, by the slow, soothingly heartbreaking melody that it could end up making you burst into tears when the words come to you, either out of memories of past loves or the melancholy nature of a current one. Even if you haven't been in love, it may have an effect on you. Because maybe it's also about hurt. That feeling, at least, is universal.

Now I dwell on what you remind me of
A sweet young girl who sacrificed her love
As for me... I am blind without a cause
And now I reazlied what I have lost

I hear my phone emit a little jingle telling me I have voicemail. To answer or not to answer? I don't really want to listen to eveybody whine about how I'm not there at the moment.
But maybe Joey called.
I pick the phone up and dial the voicemail number, putting it on speakerphone and setting it down to continue this melody. I'd hate to forget it. It's really good.
First there's Jakob, as I suspected, freaking out about my leaving. Billie next, telling me I can always talk to him or Adie about anything. Jakob again. Mick being obnoxious and no doubt bored. The sound of somebody hanging up right after the beep which was probably Jakob again. And finally...
"Hey, Char, it's Joe." Joey! Now, what is he calling about? Probably worried about me leaving like the rest of his family. Maybe telling me he still loves me... but let's not get ahead of ourselves here. "Um, just calling to, y'know, see how you're doing... I heard you suddenly went away, and we're all kind of worried about you over here." I knew it! "Oh, and I had something else to tell you too." Huh? "Remember how you told me a few weeks ago I should try to find a new girlfriend?" Oh no. I do not like where this is going. "Well, I met somebody... her name's Brittney, and she's really nice. I'd like to introduce you to her when you get back, so just, um, come back soon... I'll talk to you later."

It was something real that I could have had.
Now I play the fool whose stable soul's gone bad.

I'm sure you've never been literally hit by a train before, but if you've ever really wished for it, that might come close to how I feel right now. Like a thousand meter train just slammed straight into me at full speed, knocking my heart clear out of my chest. I look down at my good old guitar, my best friend, as I pluck the strings in the same old sad melody that I'm realizing I've been playing out most of my life. The feeling, not the literal rythm. From the time I was younger, when Dad started hitting me. Later, when I had my heart broken for the first time... and the second... and the third... this past year where I've been aching to find out how I feel, when Warren keeps going out drinking and not coming back until the next morning with that horrible temper, when Jakob comes to me, a nervous wreck after a little spat with his girlfriend. But more than ever, now. When I just lost my chance to be with the man I love, all due to my own stupidity and lack of decision making skills.
I am such a fucking loser.

Tell me the words I might have said
That's pumping pressure deep inside my head
Was it bad enough to be too late?
Just tell me the words I might have ate
The words I might have ate
The words I might have ate

*Three Days Later*

I just came back home yesterday, back to my life in the spotlight, but now with a brand new secret that's eating away at me. I can't tell anyone. Anyone would make me tell Joey, or worse, tell him themselves. And far be it from me to fuck up everyone else's happiness.
I look around my room now. There are picture frames on the walls, mixed in with my posters. Till yesterday, I didn't want to put those pictures up. Sketches, paintings, drawings, photographs, all things Joey has given me over time, and now they hang around me on my walls. It used to hurt too much to look at them, but now, they just make me feel closer to him. That tiny comfort is enough for me.
I hear Ashlynn in the other room, blasting her music as always. And it's the same song that's been running so appropriately through my head the last few days.

But now it's gone and I take the blame
So there's nothing I can do but take the pain

Words I Might Have Ate... sometimes, I really beleive Billie had psychic powers. Because right now, that song describes exactly who I am. A fool whose stable soul's gone bad.