Sequel: If Only Until Morning

Pictures on Silence

Chapter 29

I yawned and opened my eyes lazily to find myself lying on Brendon's couch with a blanket over me. Ryan lay asleep on the floor under another blanket. After a few minutes, I realised I hadn't moved or taken my eyes off him, so I sat up and shifted through my suitcase, which lay next to my feet.

"Morning, guys," I greeted, walking into the kitchen. Bren and Jon sat at the kitchen table, eating waffles. They greeted me in return as I grabbed a glass form the cabinet and filled it with water, and then again after I swigged it down.

"Your flight leaves at one," Brendon said, tossing the ticket into the middle of the table. "And there are more waffles in the freezer if you want."

I nodded, gulping down water and pulling out a frozen waffle. "You really didn't have to buy me a plane ticket," I said. "I told you how much I hate people spending money on me." He shrugged, smiling, knowing quite well; I rolled my eyes and put the empty glass on the counter. "I cannot express how grateful I am to all of you for everything."

"Sure you can," Jon said. "Say 'Thank you, here's my phone number so you can call me whenever you like'."

I laughed, leaning against the counter. "I'll be sure to program it into all your phones later."

Brendon grinned at me chewing my frozen breakfast. "I already have it," he informed us cleverly, waving his phone. "I stole it from Matt before he left."

"Petty larceny," I scoffed, shaking my head and chewing. "Ignominy does not suit you, Brendon."

The two looked at each other. "Using big words only means you're compensating for other things," Jon said, disgruntled.

I raised an eyebrow, smirking. "Considering Ryan's lyrics, I'd say--"

"I resent that unfinished and completely untrue sentence," Ryan interrupted, shuffling into the room. The three of us laughed as he sat down. "I can prove it to you, if you want."

"No thanks," I said lightly. "I just ate." He glared at me as Brendon and Jon laughed.

Winning an argument about carrying your own luggage is harder when you're chasing after the four guys you're trying to convince. When I finally caught up to them by the check-in, I sat down on my suitcase and made a face. "I'm not completely useless, you know," I said, tossing my white scarf over my shoulder. "I can carry a few bags."

"It's our job as gentlemen," Spencer said smugly. I propped my chin up with my hand and grumbled about the Civil Rights Movement and my foremothers being incredibly disappointed with me. "Don't the guys you know do the same?"

I shook my head, moving up in the line. The guys followed me on the outside of the rope. "You mean they don't, like, hold doors and pull out chairs for you and stuff?" Bren asked.

"Psh, no," I said, giving him a weird look. "The guys I hang out with consider me one of their species. Only with boobs and more common sense."

Eventually I got to the front of the line and slid my ticket across the desk to the woman in uniform. I dragged my bags onto the weight-checker as she typed in something on the computer. "Oh," she said. I looked up. "I'm sorry, but it appears your flight as been delayed. 248 for SFO doesn't leave for another three hours." She smiled sympathetically as she handed me back my ticket and began to move my bags onto the conveyor belt.

I stared at her a minute before smiling. "That's alright. Thank you." I walked around to the guys, who stood waiting for me. Jon asked me curiously what was up, and I grinned at him. "My flight doesn't leave for another three hours. So you're not rid of me just yet."

The five of us ran amuck in the airport for about an hour and a half before someone asked us to either go to our gate or leave. Stupid security. Can't a body enjoy their airport experience in peace?

Anyway, as we sat in the terminal, chatting and watching people, I was digging in the bottom of my carry-on and found a bottle of midnight blue nail polish.

"I was wondering where this went," I commented. "Guess Matt didn't steal it after all." They laughed mildly. Shaking the bottle, I turned and smiled sweetly. "Hey, Ryan..."

"Yeah?" he asked, looking over. His brown eyes moved to the bottle of varnish and he sighed. "Fine." Grinning, I slipped out of the uncomfortable plastic chair and situated myself in front of him on the floor. Ryan stayed pretty still for a guy forcibly having his nails painted, and I kept spacing out from the conversation as I looked so closely at his hands. Definitely guitarists hands, rough with calluses on his long fingers. Might have been the fumes though.

Soon enough boarding for my flight was called and I stood before the four of them with my bag. "You guys are really amazing," I said sincerely. "I honestly still can't believe all of this happened." I smiled, embarrassed. "But thanks... for everything. If it were anyone in the world that came to that show at Slim's, I'm glad it was you guys."

"Oh stop, you're going to make Jon cry," Spencer joked.

I laughed and started with hugs down the line. Jon said he'd email me pictures once he got them done, and I assured him I'd do the same. Spencer said he'd miss playing video games with me, even though I beat him most of the time; I laughed and told him playing Guitar Hero wouldn't be the same without him.
"Call us when you get home," Brendon ordered me, mid-hug. I promised I would the minute I got in the door. When he let go, I moved down to Ryan and wrapped my arms around his neck.

"Hell, call when you get off the plane." I laughed along with him and hugged him tighter. "You're going to be great," Ryan whispered to me.

I let him go, eyes prickling with tears. Unwinding it, I tossed my scarf around his neck; Ryan took off his hat and put it on my head. "I'll be getting this back next time," I swore, moving towards the plane. Grinning at all of them, I waved. "Bye, guys!"

"See ya, Angie!" they all called back.

The second I sat down in my seat-- in first class, that generous jerk Brendon-- I tapped out a text message and sent it to their phones. Yeah, I already missed them. Call me an obsessive romantic.
I listened to Alkaline Trio and read throughout the whole flight, ignoring the rest of the world. Stuck between a suit constantly tapping and checking his techno-gizmos and a bottle blonde drinking cosmopolitans, I think I made a good decision with the Chicago trio.

The first thing I heard when I stepped off the plane into the terminal was someone yell, "Penelope!" And then I got tackled by four overly affectionate guys. But I had to laugh, even though I could hardly breathe. "I missed you guys, too."

Once they let me get up, I gave Aromi, Matt, Jesse, and Sean all tight hugs. I slipped the picture I took of Brendon and Ryan sleeping out of a pocket in my bag and handed it to Aero; for a minute he looked confused, but then he saw what it was and nearly cracked my ribs.

"I love you!" he squealed, spinning me around. The band was laughing, and I felt at home, even if I was standing in the middle of an airport with strangers staring at my little group like we all had partridges nesting on our heads.

"So fill us in," Aero said as we walked to baggage claim. "All the dirty details." I rolled my eyes, but was still too ecstatic not to smile.

"You must have done something outrageously out of character," Matt said, slinging his arm around my shoulder.

"Yes," I said putting on a straight face. "I spent the week having threesomes with Jon and Brendon and giving Spence blow jobs while he played Guitar Hero."

"Aww, no action for Ryan?" The four of them laughed. I glanced up at Matt and finally cracked a smile. "We missed you, kid."

"I know." I grinned, slipping my hand through Sean's arm. "I did do one interesting thing, though. Except I don't really remember most of it."

Sean looked down at me. "Y'know 'ow I feel 'bout you drinking," he said disapprovingly. I smiled apologetically, and he sighed. "But yeh went to an acid house and got airlocked. What's the damage?"

"A headache the size of Alaska the next morning," I replied, shaking my head in remembrance. "For some reason, I attempted to out-drink Jon. I think I danced with all of them." I looked up in thought. "And I may or may not have hit on Brendon." Sean shook his head, concealing a smile, and kissed the side of my head.

We stopped at the revolving conveyor belt and waited for my luggage, watching Matt jump over Jesse every time he came around on it and laughing when he made a misstep and collapsed on top of him. Aromi and Sean picked up my stuff and I made no noise to stop them, which surprised them. "Brainwash much?" Jesse asked when I jumped on his back.

"Holy shit!" Matt exclaimed, grabbing one of my hands around Trill's neck. "She has French nails!" He walked backwards before us, giving me a suspicious stare. "Your toes had better not be pink or I'll... I'm gonna... "He drifted off, thinking. After a minute of everyone watching him expectantly, he shrugged. "I don't remember what I was going to threaten you with."

"Don' worry, I'm sure it was something sexual," Sean consoled, patting him on the shoulder, "Which means yeh just saved yourself a bruise." The rest of us laughed.

"So, um, where are my parents?" I asked, climbing into Jesse's van. I'd wondered, since none of my family accompanied the guys when I showed up.

"Your dad called and asked me to pick you up," Aero explained, sitting next to me. "He said something came up suddenly. And I figured the guys would want to come along." I nodded, a little disappointed. He sent me a sympathetic smile and leaned his head on mine.

I opened my front door and called, "Hello in the house!" The guys followed me in and filed into the family room. Dragging my stuff to my room, I noticed how quiet the place was, so I searched for people.

Only to find nobody and a note on the whiteboard. Angie, it read in my step mom's handwriting, Your father and I went out to dinner with some coworkers. Danielle's at my parents' and your brothers went to Adalae's. Their phones are on. I stared at the whiteboard for a moments, then took a deep breath and joined the guys.

Dropping into the old brown armchair, I ran my eyes distantly over the table covered in clutter. "What's the matter?" Sean asked from the couch.

"No one's here," I said weakly. The guys looked at each other. "I'm gone for two weeks and none of them are here to greet me or pick me up when I come back." Tears formed in my eyes, which I kept open to hold them back. I coughed roughly. "Why should I expect anything else? It's not like I wanted a welcome home or anything."

Matt knelt next to my seat and put his arms around me, making me instantly dissolve into a disgusting, whimpering mess. I buried my face in his chest and continued sniffling and crushing out tears, but amidst all this self-pity, all I could think of was Ryan and his family and how much worse he had it than I did. So I told myself to suck it up and stop crying.

"You want to come hang out at my house?" Matt offered kindly.

I nodded, annoyed at myself. "You didn't finish the album without me, did you?" I asked, looking into his green eyes.

Matt smiled. "Your dedication is inspiring, dollface." As we walked back down to Jesse's van, I decided it didn't matter that my family had all gone out, because leaving my new friends and hanging out with my boys was more than enough love for one day. Wouldn't want me to explode or anything, right?