What If I Can't Forget You?

What's So Good About Picking Up The Pieces?

Pitbull blasted through the speakers as Regan turned the volume up on the radio. We both shouted the lyrics, “I know you want me, you know I want ya!” and danced in our seats. I felt like I was seventeen again, driving to a concert with my best friend. Of course we were showing up late. Why stand in line to get in the door to see opening bands we didn’t care about? We always managed to get up to the front and center anyway.

I was on my way to see Mayday Parade play at Skully’s. Regan surprised me with tickets for my birthday. I had no idea who else was playing, but it was Mayday, so it really didn’t matter to me. I hadn’t seen the guys in over a year, so getting to talk to them later would be nice. Regan and I could catch up with them after.

I pulled into the lot not far from the venue and put the car into park. Regan and I finished the rest of the song, belting words out and moving our bodies even more now that I wasn’t driving. I’m pretty sure the car was shaking and we looked awkward as hell, but who cares? We were two girls out to enjoy the night.

I shoved my hands in my hoodie pockets and through the parking lot, past a few buildings and the band lot. January’s cold wind nipped at any exposed skin until we rounded the venue and made it to the door. I could feel the heat as the door swung open and a large man with an event staff shirt on greeted us. “Hey Drew,” Regan and I waved to the security guard, handing him our tickets and getting out hands stamped in one swift movement. He smiled at us, nodding as we went by. We frequently went to shows at Skully’s, so we knew most of the guys that worked there.

The next band’s crew was still setting up, so we headed to the bar. “Jack, think you could get us some water?” Regan flashed the bartender a smile, turning on her charm. We went to high school with Jack, and he’s always had a crush on her. They’d been close, but she didn’t feel the same. He was more like a brother to her, so the crush tended to work to her advantage.

“Yeah, sure. It’s on me.” Jack attempted to hide his smile, getting us each a bottle of water; no charge. I twisted the cap off and took a sip, trying to figure out the band name on the drum set on stage. “I can’t believe you actually showed up tonight, Emily.” I raised my eyebrows.

“Why? I love Mayday Parade. I wouldn’t miss them for anything.”

“No,” Jack looked at me like I was crazy. I returned the look. “You mean, you don’t know who’s about to play?”

“Uh…” I looked at Regan and she only looked away like she was hiding something. “Regan, am I missing something here or…?” Instead of giving me an answer, she grabbed my wrist and tugged me toward the pit.

Once we reached the wall of people, she stopped. Regan didn’t really like pushing through people, so it was my turn to take the lead. We never have, and never will stand in the back at a concert. It doesn’t matter who the band is, we just have to be in the front to see and experience everything. I grabbed her hand, and our fingers locked our palms together so we wouldn’t be torn apart. I weaved us between people, nudging my shoulder between arms to make space. When people wouldn’t move, I’d look back at Regan and nod, giving her the signal to duck down so we could move under their arms. Nothing kept me from the spot I wanted.

Front and center, that’s where I always liked to be; I liked being able to see everything. Regan still held onto my hand. She suddenly seemed uneasy about being in the front. “Are you okay?” I tore my eyes from the drum set to look at her. “You seem a bit off right now.” She nodded, planting a smile on her face. I didn’t believe her, but I looked back at the drum set. “Do you know who is about to play?” I squinted my eyes, trying to see, but it the lights were dimmed too low.

The girls around us started screaming before she could give me and answer and four figures had taken their places on the stage. I looked over at Regan again. She was staring up at the stage, biting her lip, but her grip on my hand loosened when she noticed me looking at her. She gave me a half smile and looked ahead once again. “We are Pierce the Veil!” Then it was my turn to tighten my hand around hers.

The lights came up, and Caraphernelia started. There they were, just as energetic on stage as the last time I saw them. The crowd responded the same way they did the last time I was at one of their shows. They were all jumping and shouting lyrics out while I stood front and center, frozen to the spot. I bit my lip, suddenly not wanting to be here. These guys were like family to me, family I haven’t seen or spoken to in ages. I looked over at Regan, hoping that she would tell me to stay or take me home, but she had let go of me and was getting into the music. She glanced my way, giving me a sympathetic smile and mouthing a ‘sorry’.

I managed to look up at Vic after a few songs, who met my eyes. I bit my lip when he gave me a confused look, but then a smile spread across his face. The knot in my stomach loosened slightly. He was still looking at me, keeping my attention. He saw the tension in my eyes, and as long as it’s been, he could still read me. “Come on, you know the words.” He shouted to the crowd, but I knew it was directed at me. Loosen up, get into it. That’s what you’re supposed to do at a concert. That’s what I always did at their concerts. Everyone around me had been shouting the words back to Vic, but he shouted again. “I can’t hear you!” I joined in, enjoying the music like I used to, in person with my best friend.

Every now and then, I’d sneak glances at the guitarist that wasn’t center stage. A glance was all I could manage. As much as it stung to even get a glimpse of him, as much as I’d get a twinge of something in the pit of my stomach, it was just as hard looking away and getting lost in the music again. As much it hurt, I swear my heart stopped when his eyes caught mine with the last glance I’d given him, just like his guitar riff stopped for about seven seconds when he spotted me.

Jaime shot him a look, and then turned his attention to me at the end of the song. A smile spread across his face, interrupting Vic and yelling into the mic, “Hi Emily!” He waved enthusiastically like an excited child while my face burned in embarrassment. He hasn’t changed one bit, always trying to bring unnecessary attention. I waved back and decided that I wouldn’t sneak any more glances at Tony.

Once they’d finished their set, Mayday Parade did their sound check, and before long I was lost in their music. I took in every lyric, every movement of every sound. Every song tugged at my heart, tugged at the knot that re-formed in my stomach. They told tales of love, mistakes, running away, and coming back again; the story of my life sung by another old friend.

Regan and I headed to the bar after the set was over. We figured we chat up Jack a bit and get a drink or two before going out back with the bands. Fans wouldn’t let us get to them anyway. Plus, I could use something to calm my nerves. I hadn’t seen or talked to the guys in so long, especially him. I shouldn’t have been nervous about things at all since I’ve been through this more times than I’d like to count. I was nervous anyway, just like all the times before.

“How are you taking it?” Regan mused.

“Excuse me?” I might have started getting a buzz.

“Seeing Tony again. I know things didn’t end well last time.”

“Oh. They never do, I suppose.” I shrugged. That probably didn’t make sense or answer her question. I didn’t really know the answer anyway. Score one for Tony. He was always great at scoring. I shook that last thought out of my head.

I tapped on the bar’s counter top, wondering why it bothered me. It’d been so long. We had been over for a while, long before either one of us really accepted it. After all of it, I felt like we made a ton of mistakes we wouldn’t learn from. Fuck you, Mayday Parade.

“Why are we here again?” I groaned, running my fingers through my hair.

“W-well I know you like Mayday. And I thought you’d…” She stopped talking when I looked at her. I didn’t buy it. “I just—”

“Long time, no see,” Derek cut her off, leaning his folded arms on the bar top. “Where have you been?”

“Kept busy, I guess. Miss us?” I slid my empty bottle to Jack.

“Kind of. It’s less exciting without you girls in the crowd. It’s nice seeing familiar faces at shows.” I saw his smirk from the corner of my eye. I blushed slightly, glad I wasn’t directly facing him. It’s been a while since I’ve noticed someone look at me that way. Attraction, want, desire; maybe they weren’t the right kind, but hey, like I said it’s been a while. A girl enjoys that attention sometimes. All I could manage was an upturned corner of my mouth, a small smile.

“Hey. You should come out back. Visit the rest of the guys. I’m sure they miss you. We’ll chill on the bus where it’s warmer.” I looked at Regan, who looked more than willing to see them all again. Derek’s arm casually wrapped around my waist, guiding me to the back of the venue and out through the back door that was beside the stage. With Mayday Parade’s bus in sight I was only slightly aware of the RV we passed on the way to the bus and the group of girls surrounding the band that occupied it.

I didn’t know these guys as more than friendly faces, acquaintances from a past tour, but we got acquainted pretty quickly. We caught up, we hugged, we laughed, and we passed around a drink or two. I had to keep passing up when I remembered that I was the one driving home. Derek’s hand brushed my arm every time he’d reach for another shot, and he’d switch the glass to the other hand to put that arm around my shoulders. Every time.

We played a round of poker, despite how close we had to all sit together. Derek’s knee kept bumping into mine, kept brushing it. I glanced at him, only to receive a smirk. Part of me was ready to leave, ready to get away from this situation, but the liquor they’d gotten me to drink had warmed me, loosened me up. So I’d lean into him, drawn to his blue eyes. I just wanted a closer look at the color, but I couldn’t reach them quite yet.

Movement again, everyone shuffled spots and broke my attention to Derek. Get up, move to another spot. Of course Derek was by my side, following me. It’s been a while since I’ve had someone right beside me, always beside me, someone that was always there. I missed that; I missed him. I bit my lip, looking around the front room of the bus. It wasn’t just the alcohol swimming through my system anymore, and I wanted him out; I wanted to forget. I reached out for a shot going by, wanting to wash whatever I was feeling out of my system. Then I turned to Derek, who smirked at me again. I’d get my closer look this time.

“Par-tay!” More guys piled on to the bus, causing Derek to break our little trance. He nodded to them, raised a glass in the air as to welcome them. He didn’t look too pleased, but the moment I noticed his displeasure, it was gone and his focus was on me again. I smiled. I wanted to be the center of his attention. His blue eyes stared back into mine, egging me on when he’d take a glance down to my lips. So close.

“Emily?”I sobered fast. I froze. I moved my eyes, looked away from Derek, down at my lap. I blinked back the tears that formed at the sound of his voice. I tried to ignore how my heart started racing and the fact that I actually felt ashamed of almost kissing Derek.

“Emily what the hell? Seriously?” His voice was closer and Derek moved to get up, telling him something. To back off, maybe? I closed my eyes at the sting. My eyes stung, holding back the tears. I wasn’t going to let him see that after all this time, he still had that effect on me. My heart stung, all the memories of us flooded my mind. The sting of his voice, the sting of the hurt in his voice. Did I do that? Sting. Guilt.

I bit my lip, knowing that despite Derek trying to keep him away he would still get to me. “Emily, tell me you didn’t.” I opened my eyes and there he was, sitting in the same spot Derek had just been in. I could hear the anger in his voice. I could hear the jealousy and the pain. I remember feeling the same way, telling him the same thing he said to me so many times. I’d repeat what he always told me.

“We didn’t do anything.” I told the truth, though. I stared at my hands. “Why do you care, Tony?” I bit my lip again.

“Why wouldn’t I care? You’re my girl.” Possession, but I wasn’t his anymore. It was always the same.

“No, Tony. I’m not. We broke up.” Sting of pain. Anger. When would he learn?

“You came back, though. You came back to me. And you didn’t do anything with Derek, right? You wouldn’t do that to me.”

“I didn’t come here for you.” My voice rose. “We broke up. You hurt me. You always did.” My voice cracked, but it didn’t lower.

“I wouldn’t hurt you, ever. I never did anything!” Now he was shouting, on the defense.

“You cheated on me, Tony!” Words stung. “Every fucking time.” My eyes started to water again, but I bit down on my lip to fight them back.

“Emily…Emily I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. Just please, give me another chance.” I was still angry. I wanted to push him away and get the hell off this bus. He stepped closer, wrapping his arms around me, pulling me into him and the feeling ebbed.

He was so warm, so familiar. I leaned my head into his chest, taking him in. I missed him; I missed this. I missed being in his arms. I missed his voice, missed his scent. I even missed his stupid jedi braid. “I miss you, Emily.” I missed how he always knew what to say.

“I miss you, too.” I looked up, my chin pressed against his chest. He stared down at me, brown eyes. He lifted one of his arms to wipe a stray tear from my cheek. Tears? Was I going to give in again?

“I love you, Emily.” A soft smile with those words warmed me again, my heart fluttered, but there was still the knot in my stomach. Ignore it. He leaned his head down, bringing his face closer to mine. His warm breath coaxed my lips closer to his.

“I love you, Tony.” I breathed back before his lips met mine. His lips were soft on mine, and I was in his arms. He tasted bittersweet. It was all too familiar. The knot in my stomach twisted when he pulled away. When would I learn? I can’t do this, not again.

“Tony, I love you, but I can’t.” I bit my lip as his arms loosened around me. “I can’t do this again.”

“Again? Em, what are you talking about? I told you, I won’t hurt you. I’m all yours.” Hurt. Anger. Sting.

“Every time we’ve gone through this, it just repeats itself. You make the same promise. You make the same mistake.” My voice rose. “We break up, and I’m weak when it comes to you.” I took a step back, away from him. Distance. I wrapped my arms around myself, support myself. “I just come running back even when I don’t mean to. I don’t want this anymore. I don’t want to keep making this mistake.”

“Emily—” Tony started, but I wasn’t going to let him lure me back in. Not this time.

“No. I can’t. Tony, I can’t.” I looked around, suddenly realizing everyone else. They were watching us make a scene. I didn’t want to be a scene with Tony again. That’s all we ever did. We fought, we broke up, we got made up; it was a never-ending drama for everyone to witness.

“I’m sorry.” I muttered this, conscious of everyone else in the room. I looked over at Derek, embarrassed, “I’m sorry.”

Tony reached for my arm, and I stepped back more. I couldn’t bring myself to lift my eyes to his. Instead, I looked at the rest of his band. I forced myself to give them a smile, a nod, they’ve meant a lot to me, too.

I couldn’t bring myself to speak anymore. Tears threatened to break through. I turned and walked away, off the bus, and out of the lot. I turned the corner, facing the side street alley, and pushed my back against the fence. The cold air stung, but in some odd way it was comforting. I let the tears fall, wiping them away with my sleeve every few seconds until I heard footsteps rounding the corner. Regan.

She pulled my into a hug. “I’m sorry Emily. I didn’t think it’d end up like this.” I shrugged.

“It’s fine, Regan.” I gave her a half smile. “I had to deal with it sometime.” She put her arm around my shoulder.

“Come on, Emily, let’s go home.”
♠ ♠ ♠
this is kind of a spin-off of a dream i had.
it took me two weeks, if not longer, to write it.
i hope you enjoy it, and please leave feedback.
thanks (: