Love, Save the Empty

chapter three.

The Harley rumbled along PCH, with Brian sitting firmly in the seat while the little girl that claimed to be his daughter, Audrey, sat in his lap. His chest was pressed to her back, his arms locking her in so she didn't fall off. In her arms she held her doll, "Bridgett" he believed she had told him her name was when they were stuck at a red light.

He could see the many mixed looks he was getting from the surrounding cars. A few soccer moms were glaring at him, not approving of his way of transportation, while a few others gushed and told him how adorable he looked with his daughter. Brian simply nodded and kept driving, but his mind was on this whole 'daughter' thing.

If Audrey really was his, and Nina had been pregnant ... he had nine years to make up for in just four weeks. He didn't know how he was going to do it, but... he was trying to figure out if he was going to do it at all. Audrey had to know where her mom was and how Brian could get in contact with him. The last thing he needed was a kid at the moment. The guys and him were working on an album, Matt and Val were getting serious.

Not to mention that Brian already had that little black velvet box sitting in his sock drawer, waiting to be placed on Michelle's finger-

Oh fuck! Michelle!

Brian swerved slightly on the road, causing Audrey to jump and squeak, pressing herself closer to his chest. Brian caught himself and straightened back out, taking in a few deep breaths. Oh god, Michelle, Brian thought to himself as he pulled up to the last red light before he came to the studio. What was she going to think about all this?

Sure, Michelle wanted kids, but would she want a kid that wasn't hers? Hell no. He was crazy for even thinking that. Michelle was going to have a shit fit as soon as she came back from New York. Brian was starting to begin to not looking forward to that day now.

The studio was a thick brick building, with graffiti on the alleyway side, and was connected to an abandoned office building on the other. A large, bright 'for lease' sign sat in the front window, but the sun had made the colors fade. It would be hard to read unless you were at a certain distance.

Brian directs his motorcycle down the alleyway, his aviators shielding his eyes from the direct sunlight coming from the east. Audrey complains to herself, covering her eyes with her hand. There are four cars that Brian finds familiar, and the others he can only slightly place. There's a spot between Matt and Jimmy's cars that he has always claimed as his, and pulls into the parking spot. The two large SUVs block the sun and put a shadow over his black Harley to keep the leather from heating up and cracking.

He climbs off the bike, helping Audrey off also before taking his helmet from her and placing it back under the seat. She's ruffling her hand in her hair, and what has become flat from the weight of the helmet is instantly puffed up into volumized hair. Brian, slightly taken back by Audrey's lack of helmet hair, runs a hand through his own hair once taking the bandanna off. His bangs are hanging in his eyes, but he simply pulls them back and away.

For now, his hair is just going to have to stay there until he can spike it up. Brian rubs at his nose, feeling an itch tingle in the back of it, and he remotely comes to the thought that he still hasn't changed his nose ring. The hoop is thin in his calloused fingers. He's already got a small diamond stud sitting in his room somewhere. He needs to change it soon, or else Val will have his ass for wearing a hoop in his nose to her wedding.

Brian starts his trek to inside of the building, leaving it up to Audrey if she wants to follow her not. He knows she'll have to sprint to keep up to him now and Brian isn't slowing down. One of the double doors opens and comes Zacky, talking onto the phone pressed between his ear and shoulder, and his two hands hold a cigarette and a lighter. It's Marlboro; that's the only cigarette any of the guys can stand to taste.

Zacky is talking through the corner of his mouth as he speaks into the phone, before putting his lighter in his pocket, grabs the phone with one hand and holds the cigarette straight with two fingers from his other hand. His cheeks hollow out as he listens to the person on the other side. Somewhere between taking his first huff to blowing out, Zacky looked up to see Brian walking from his bike. He waves, and Brian returns it non-too-happily, causing Zacky to mumble something to the person on the other side about 'hold on a second'.

"Hey, Syn, what's up?" Zacky asks as Brian passed him and walks into the building. Brian simply jabs his thumb over his shoulder, not speaking a word. Zacky's eyes fall from Brian's expressionless face and to the little nine year old with golden blonde hair and hazel eyes, clutching a doll to her chest she follows Brian like a little duckling.

Zacky stares wide eyes, lips falling apart as he watches her walk behind Brian, being pulled back into the world when Gena starts screaming into his ear if he's listening to her. He stomps out the cigarette and tells his girlfriend he will call her back in a little while. He's not going to miss the guys' faces when Brian walks in with her ...

Just who the fuck is she?

Zacky follows behind them, but keeps his distance as he takes in the fact that Synyster Gates of the metal band Avenged Sevenfold, has a little blonde-haired, bright eyed, doll-holding kid following him around like a puppy. It didn't make any sense, unless -

"Well, no shit," Zacky says with a smirk once he figures it out. He's smart, he can find the clues within just small things, and this small interaction just screamed I got a kid and didn't know it. Out of all of them, it was Synyster. Zacky thought it would be Jimmy before Brian - guess not.

There's talking going on in the lounge room that's being taken up by the Avenged guys. Brian is met with the familiar faces of Matt, Johnny, Val, Jimmy, and the Berry Twins. Then there's Mudrock and his Fred and all the other producers and techies they need. Jimmy looks up from his taunting of Johnny and grins, feeling unexplainably smug about the whole situation that Brian has been thrust into.

"Hey, Syn," the Reverend greets his best friend, no longer paying attention to the one they call 'short shit'. Brian flashes him a quick glorious view of his middle finger, but puts it away before Audrey can see the notion. Just because Brian doesn't want her to be his daughter, doesn't mean he's going to corrupt her. She definitely doesn't need that.

Matt, Val and Johnny greet Brian the same way as Jimmy does, but the conversation Matt was about to start is rudely interrupted by the sight of a scared, nervous nine year old.

"Ugh... Brian," Matt starts, but Brian simply grabs his Schecter and locks himself in the tracking booth. It's sound proof, the microphone is off, and the only thing heard is the slight vibration of the amp and the sound coming from it beat against the walls of the booth. Brian's fingers moved quickly across the fretboard as he tried to get his head around the fact that everything pointed to Nina being pregnant when they split and him now meeting the little girl of that outcome.

Audrey stands wide eyed, looking back and forth at the silent group of adults surrounding her in the recording room. Jimmy is the first to speak.

"Hey, Mini Gates!" The Rev says, giving a small wave before fixing his glasses as they slip down his nose.

Audrey looks up at the giant of a man for a moment before a smile pulls at her lips. She's kind voiced, and the familiar voice eases her slightly, but she's still in a new place. Audrey is used to the people of Palm Beach, Florida; not Huntington Beach, California. This is a completely new world to her. The water doesn't smell the same, the sun doesn't hang in the same place in the sky. The clouds are thick, and fluffy, or not there at all. This is a completely different dimension to the one that Audrey grew up in, and if everything went right, she knew she was going to have to get used to it.

This new world might become her new home.

"Hi," she says softly, trying to remember his name. He told her, but she had been paying attention to other things. The only one she felt remotely comfortable being with was Brian, her dad, and then Jimmy, but only slightly in his case. Her father didn't feel any comfort in being around the little girl, but Jimmy felt like this was his calling to make everything work.

Everything had to work out perfectly.

"Um, Jimmy, right?" she says, and Jimmy nods, twirling his drumsticks between his fingers out of habit.

Val gets up, walking over and sitting on the coffee table that's sitting in front of where Audrey stands. She smiles, brushing her dark brown hair from her eyes.

"Hey, sweetie. I'm Val. What's your name?"

"Audrey," she says softly, tightening the grip on her doll. The little toy is the only comfort she has at the moment. Val smiles, flashing her fresh white teeth at the little girl. This eases Audrey's nerves, and she smiles back, but the hold on her doll is still tight.

"That's a pretty name. What's your doll's name?" Val says, trying to get the girl to speak a bit more and learn just exactly where she came from.

"Her name's Bridgett," Audrey says, and Val nods. Matt gets up too, sitting down beside Val on the coffee table. Zacky stands back at the door, running a hand through his hair. Johnny... Johnny isn't sure of what to do, so he continues to sit quietly on the couch. Mudrock and Fred are whispering feverishly and quickly to each other at the recording counter. Brian is still playing in the booth, no where close to coming out.

"That's pretty too," Val says softly, grabbing her hair and pulling it over one shoulder as she tries to get comfortable. She has to be patient with the nine year old. "Do you mind if I ask you some questions?"

Audrey shrugs, but her posture loosens up. Good.

"How old are you?"

"My turned nine in February," Val nods again, looking over at Jimmy to see him grinning like an idiot. They share a birthday month.

"Where do you live?"

"Palm Beach, Florida," Audrey replies, and Val nods again.

"Who do you live with?"

"My mom. We used to live with my aunt, but she died a year ago."

Val frowned. "I'm sorry about that, hunny. Where's your mom, though?"

"On a plane."

Val, and Matt, were both taken back. A plane? "Why is she on a plane?"

"She's on her way to Spain to see about my sick grandpa. It was last minute and she couldn't take me with her."

"So... she just dropped you off in California with a stranger?" Val asks, not understanding where any of this is going. Audrey shakes her head.

"No, not a stranger. My father."

There's dead silence in the recording studio. Mudrock and Fred have stopped whispering. Brian has stopped his playing. There's only the soft breathing of Audrey heard.

"Your... what?" Matt asks, his deep voice surprising Audrey before she swallows a dry lump in her throat. She's not the only nervous one.

"My father. Brian dated my mom before I was born."

"Who's your mom?" Zacky asks, walking up from behind her and falling into the computer chair off to the side. Audrey smiles at the mention of her mom.

"Nina Pierce."

There is so much understanding in those simple two words, the simple name of a person from the past that they thought was gone forever. But no, here she was, in the form of a nine year old with golden hair and bright hazel eyes, with the Haner nose and high cheek bones. She was going to break so many hearts ...

"You're Nina's daughter," Val states, a large smile falling onto her lips. "You mom and I were great friends in high school."

"Really?" Audrey says suddenly, stepping forward and looking at Val with hopeful eyes. "What was she like? She won't tell me anything about how she was before I was born."

Val laughs, easing her hand into Matt's, squeezing it softly to ease both of their nerves. "Nina was a little spitfire. She knew how to put everyone into place, but she was as sweet as can be without getting a sugar rush. Mad crazy on a guitar, but easy on the ears when she sang."

Audrey continues to smile, and it looks like it grows. "Yeah. She used to me all the time," she says, but then catches herself. "I mean... she still does sing to me, but she's had a few colds lately and can't like she used to."

None of them caught catch the correction, but they can tell Audrey is uneasy now.

"So, how long are you gonna be in Cali, Mini Gates?" Jimmy asks, sitting up from his slouched position on the couch.

"A month," she squeaks before gasping and pulling out a large touch screen-cellular phone from her pocket. "Oh no! I forgot to call and sign in!" she says, groaning softly. Matt and Val share a pair of frowns.

"What's wrong, sweetie? What did you forget to sign in for?"

Audrey sighs and puts the large phone back into her small pocket. "I go to a magnet school, so we're out for October. This month I was supposed to be going to a ballet school in Los Angles. I forgot to call them and sign in. I got on a plane late last night and just got here this morning. Then I went to, uh, Brian's and didn't think about calling to sign in. I was supposed to call by nine."

Val nods and reaches over to pat her shoulder. It eases Audrey again. "Don't worry. We'll go by there tomorrow and tell them some things came up. I'll make sure you can get into your dance school."

Audrey grins, and it brightens Val's heart. Soon, the whole room is grinning, but then the door to the recording booth is opened and Brian walks out with his guitar in his hand. He puts it back on the stand and falls onto an empty couch cushion. All eyes are on him. The guys harden up.

"Gates, we gotta talk," Matt says, making it final. Val takes this as her chance to get Audrey out of there.

"Audrey, sweetie, are you hungry? How about we got get some lunch and talk some more?"

Audrey nods and offers her hand for Val to take. Val smiles before taking it in her hand and giving a quick kiss to Matt. The two females are out of the studio in seconds before the guys start firing off questions about the little surprise that showed up on Brian's door step this morning.
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thank you all for those who have commented, subscribed, and rec'ed! you've all made me a very happy girl. :)

well, another chapter out. I hope you enjoy! some things are about to go down, so get ready. more questions will be answered soon... do you have any specific questions? ask in a comment and either I can answer them in a message and tell you it will be answered later on!

thank you, again. xoxo. aquarius.