Sequel: If Only Until Morning

Pictures on Silence

Chapter 11

I was dreaming that Heath Ledger and I went to school together and both got detention for being late; a very good dream, I must admit. And we were sitting on the desk of the teacher, who had, for some reason, left us to our own devices, and leaning closer and closer into each other...

When a blinding light attempted to tear its way into my eyelids.

I groaned and, turning onto my back, flung an arm over my closed eyes.

"Music to my ears," a male voice laughed, but of course in my current state, I couldn't convene enough brainpower to distinguish whose it was.

"When I open my eyes," I muttered throatily, "There had better not be an attractive boy standing over me."

"Oh, don't worry." I lifted my arm and squinted at the harsh lights and shadows. "There's two." I groaned again and rolled over, burying my head into the pillow.

"Come on, Sleeping Beauty," urged the first voice, which I could at last tack ownership onto Matt.

I pointed somewhere over my shoulder. "You must be mistaken. Sleeping Beauty's over there."

Matt and Brendon, I decided, laughed. "I'll be sure to tell Ryan you said that," Brendon promised. Ugh, please don't, I thought, though I couldn't be sure I didn't say it aloud. "You really have to get up."

"Why?" I demanded, still not turning over.

"Because we said so," Matt countered and took a hold of my blankets, "And we're having a dual band meeting. Now get up!"

A massive chill swept through me, and I curled into a ball in an attempt to preserve some body heat. One of them whistled. Oh, Jesus. Don't look at me. "Wait, whose boxers are those? Are those mine?"

"No, Matt," I sighed, finally rolling over and being explicitly careful on adjusting my tank top before sitting up. "They're Jesse's."

"But that's definitely my grey beater you're wearing," Matt pointed out. I put a hand to my sternum. No one should be ogled first thing in the morning.

"Do I want to ask?" Brendon questioned.

I shot him a vague glare. "I stole them, so get your mind out of the gutter." I yawned loudly. "So why am I awake?"

"Band meeting." Brendon pulled me up suddenly by my arms and, upon standing, I fell into Matt, who caught me, probably quite pleased with himself.

I shoved him away and rubbed my eye. "Can I at least make myself decent first? It's bad enough you two saw me like this."

"Why? You look like your usual hot self," Matt said, waving it off. "Only half awake." He smirked and peeked downward. So I punched him on the arm. "Ow, jeez. Fine, just make it quick; everyone's probably asleep again."

I picked up one of my bags from the floor beside my bunk. "What time is it anyway?"

"Eight. Run!" Matt fled into the front room, with Brendon close behind him. I rolled my eyes and trundled off to the bathroom. I washed my face, waking myself up a little, hazily brushed my teeth, and stumbled into a pair of Sean's old plaid pyjama pants. Yes, I stole clothes from my band mates, but only because it was opportune at the time and they didn't care if they never got them back.

I shuffled back into the main section of the bus, where everyone was sitting or standing, and plopped down on the couch next to a very sleepy-looking, tousle-haired Ryan; his head limply rolled onto my shoulder at the shift of the couch and I automatically laid my head on his and shut my eyes. Force of habit.

"So let's hear it before Sleeping Beauty here falls asleep again," Spencer suggested amidst a yawn.

"Screw you, Spencer," Ryan mumbled. I smiled dimly.

"From the way you two are," Matt said, "I don't think it's Spencer you want to be screwing."

"Seriously," Jon laughed.

"Fuck you both," I muttered softly.

"Okay, but me first; I can't stand sloppy seconds."

Sean intervened, as always. "Sundance, would ye stop bein' a twat for two minutes, please?" I opened one eye to see Matt sulking on the table and closed it again, smirking. "So, as some of you know, we're in Sonoma and--"

"How'd we all get here?" Spencer asked.

"Jesse drove the van," Sean explained, "Which is why 'e's the only one allowed t'sleep righ' now. Ryan!" Ryan started, making me start as well, but shifted back onto my shoulder. "But we're 'ere, and the venue's only a few miles away."

"The sound check starts at five," Jon informed, sipping a Starbucks he got from somewhere. "So we have all day to do stuff."

"'Stuff'" meaning what, exactly?" I asked cynically. "I have friends who go to college here; there's fuck-all to do."

"Well, that's why we make our own fun," Brendon said.

"Right now, I'd like to make back to bed," Spencer declared. "And I'm sure at least Ryan would second that motion."

In response, Ryan moved his head against my shoulder. "You're the most comfortable person ever," he mumbled. I exhaled a laugh. People told me that all the time.

"Really? Let me try." Then the weight of another person bounced onto the couch and he took occupation of my other shoulder. "My God, you're right!" Brendon said, much too loudly. I winced.

"By Jove!" Matt exclaimed.

"Holy Robert Lewis Stephenson, Batman!" Jon cried out.

Everyone, except Ryan, dissolved into laughter. Taking a deep breath, I melted into the couch. Mmmmm... he smells so good... I thought. Thank God for not having telepathic acquaintances.

"Okay, you both need to get off of me," I decided, now fully awake. "I want to take a shower and put on a face."

"You smell nice," Ryan observed, still obviously not listening to the conversation.

I stiffened and laughed awkwardly. "Oo-kay, so I guess I don't need a shower." The guys all laughed, even though I could feel the blood rushing to my face.

No longer caring about the people leaning on me, I kicked myself off the couch, and after a second, two groans sounded. I looked back and cracked up at Ryan and Brendon both rubbing their heads. "You guys need to work on your reflexes, really," I chided lightly before going to change.

After twenty minutes, everyone except Matt was finally dressed, mostly awake, and outside in the cool morning. I played Slaps with Jesse to pass the time. "Rock, paper, scissors," we chanted, shaking our fists and choosing. My paper beat his rock.

"Dammit!" he complained. "That's four in a row." I grinned and slapped his left hand, which I gripped with my own. Jesse yanked it away and clenched a fist, groaning and whining.

"What the hell are you two doing?" Jon asked, laughing.

"Playing Slaps," I answered with an innocent smile. "Want to play?"

Jon looked at Jesse, who was still gritting his teeth and shaking his hand, and shook his head. "I'll pass." I smiled and everyone turned when the bus door shut and Matt emerged, hair sufficiently styled.

"Finally, Christ," Sean said as we started walking. "You take more time than Angie does. We're just going to get coffee; who're you going to 'ave to impress?"

"Everyone," Matt answered smugly. Walking beside Brendon, I rolled my eyes.

We wandered around the town for a while, looking for coffee to unzombify the not-so awake members of our party and generally screwing around. After that we got bored, so we played tag in a park, singing and shouting at the top of our lungs. Then that got lame so we went to lunch. Oh, the stressful life of musicianship.

Somehow fitting all eight of us into a booth, we browsed through the menus and decided on our food. I leaned on my fist and looked around at the other patrons, when I spotted a group coming in and my eyes widened.

Spencer, sitting directly across from me, gave me strange look as I sunk lower on the leather seat. "What's up, Angie? You look like you just saw your insane ex-boyfriend."

"Not quite, but you're close," I informed him, trying to appear invisible. "Somebody hide me." Jesse snatched the hat from Ryan's head and jammed it onto mine. "Thank you." I stealthily absorbed myself in my menu and didn't look up as the group walked by to be seated.

"What was that?" Brendon asked, looking back at the group.

"This guy I had a thing for freshman year," I muttered.

"A major thing," Matt put in. I shot him a glare. "I still don't see why it's so awkward for you. He probably doesn't even remember it."

I rolled my eyes. "Thanks," I said sarcastically. "I'm just an awkward person, I suppose. Especially in that department."

"But you're in a band with three guys," Jon said. "You'd think you'd be used to being around guys."

Realising this conversation was painting me into an uncomfortable corner, I sat up straighter and diverted it. "Since you seem so keen on talking about love lives, how about all of you, hmm?"

None of them said anything and otherwise avoided the question. I smirked. Crisis diverted. "I'm spoken for," Spencer declared, taking a sip of water. Or not.

"Likewise," Jesse stated. I winked at him and he grinned, nudging my shoulder.

"Wait, are you going out with her?" Brendon asked him, pointing at me. I hid my silent laughter behind my hand. Jesse shook his head. "Oh. Okay." He turned to me. "So are you single?"

"Why?" I asked suspiciously.

Brendon shrugged. "Just wondering." I furrowed my eyebrows absently and didn't answer, and luckily just as he was about to ask again, the waiter came for our orders. Bullet dodged: he didn't bring it up again.

Ryan remained noticeably silent during this conversation. He twirled the ice in his cup around with a straw and wore a sad expression. I instantly felt guilt. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything, I thought. Poor guy. I wonder what's up.

Unfortunately, one of the girls from the avoidant group came up to me in the bathroom. "Oh, you're that girl Tom was talking about," she said, coming up beside me to wash her hands. I smiled briefly. "What's your name again?"

"Angie," I stated, ripping off a paper towel and drying my hands.

"Neato." She had to be twenty. No one that age, or any age above seven, should say 'neato'. "I really like your hair. Is it natural?" I nodded, trying be polite. "Awesome."

Awkward pause.

"Thanks. Well, I have to go. Nice talking to you." And then I got the hell out of there. I didn't even argue when Matt insisted on paying my part of the bill. I just wanted out as soon as possible.

I raised an eyebrow at Jon, who was shaking his head at me and smiling. He looked pointedly at Brendon and I frowned. Realising what he meant, I raised an eyebrow at him warningly. Still smiling, he zipped his lips.

There is a reason for psychic people like me.