Sequel: If Only Until Morning

Pictures on Silence

Chapter 42


When I woke up, I had the uncanny feeling that something was wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. I looked at myself in the mirror: nothing, except that I should probably shave. Eh, fuck that.

I searched around the house for everyone and asked if they were okay. Nope, everyone was fine. I asked my mother if she knew of any relatives who were sick. She shook her head, kind of confused, and asked if I was feeling alright. I called up the band, but all three of them were either out or fine. I even called Spencer in New York.

"Nope, everything's cool over here," he said. "Well," he lowered his voice, "except Ryan's new girlfriend. Don't tell him I said anything, but she's totally getting on everyone's nerves with all her girly, peppy bullshit. Dude, he's so blind; he has no idea what he's giving up." I didn't know what Spencer meant by that, but it sounded like nothing was going awry.

"Well, shit," I said, surprised, standing in my kitchen.

So I spent most of my day sitting in the downstairs on the party floor, playing Playstation and trying to get rid of my weird sense of foreboding. Around two o'clock, my phone buzzed across the table on which I had my feet propped; it was Penelope. "Sup, baby?" I greeted, holding the phone up with my shoulder.

"Can I please come up and use your drum set?" she asked quietly.

I blinked and put my feet on the ground. She sounded depressed but was trying to cover it. "Sure, Pen. Whatever you want." She thanked me and hung up. That shocked me more than anything; Angie always said goodbye, no matter what. However, I shrugged and decided to see what was up when she got there.

Penelope barely mumbled a hello before heading straight into the sound booth, where I'd left my drums since we came back from tour. I stared after her for a full minute before remembering I was playing still; her eyes were red and her face was all ashen, meaning she'd been crying in the car.

I gave up on playing video games after a while and thought maybe I should wait for Pen to finish. And I gave up on that after ten minutes and went up to the gym. I have an incredibly short attention sometimes. When I came down drying my hair from a shower more than an hour later, I discovered she was still in the booth and had the equipment running. I stood outside the window, watching her pound away at the drums. She was rocking out something fierce, hair flying everywhere, which was strange because she only knew how to play because I taught her.

She stopped suddenly, bent over holding her head. Quickly stopping recording, I rushed in and helped her, shaking, to the couch. Pen clung to my bare shoulder, crying silently and shaking her head. I put my around her and rocked back and forth; despite her maturity of a 27-year-old philosophy major, Angie had to be treated like a little child sometimes, and usually that fell unto me. I winced when her nails dug into my back.

"What's the matter?" I asked gently when she calmed down a little.

Biting her lip, Angie brushed away the tears on her cheeks and on my chest. She didn't look up at me but rearranged herself closer, with one arm around my middle. "What makes me so undateable, Mattie?" she mumbled into my shoulder.

Mattie. Only my mom called me that, and not since I was four. Pen had called me it a few times before, after the first time we got her a little tipsy; I also had a secret boozy petname for her. "You're not, Rhiannon Banannon," I replied, moving her hair out of her face. "What makes you think you are?"

She shrugged helplessly. "Lyle and I broke up." I became confused; she kept saying she had no attraction to Lyle whatsoever. I brought that up and asked why she was so sad. Pen shook her head, hair falling back into her face. "It's not that... it's just..." She gave a little whimper and shut her eyes.

After a few more minutes of silence, something occurred to me. I looked at her: staring miserably through the wall, occasionally shaking her head at something she thought or forcing away more tears. Why didn't I make the connection before? I wondered to myself.

"This has something to do with Ryan's new girlfriend, doesn't it?" Angie looked up at me with watery green and red eyes. Lips trembling, she nodded ever so slightly, and I leaned my head on hers. "Oh, babe."

"I don't even know why I'm like this," she whimpered. "Ryan deserves a nice girl after everything he's been through. Why aren't I happy for him, Mattie?"

"It's called jealousy, sweetheart," I explained, softly stroking her hair.

She smiled up at me briefly, but it dissolved into a frown. "Why should I be jealous? She probably deserves something fantastic, too." Angie bit her lower lip again. "I want something good." She laughed humourlessly. "Lyle wasn't good. He wouldn't even fucking kiss me. What kind of guy goes out with a girl for a month and doesn't kiss her?"

I stared at her, thinking. I brushed my thumb across her palely freckled cheekbone. "The really stupid kind," I said quietly. She smiled sadly like she always did when I complimented her but didn't want to argue. I made a subconscious decision and pressed my lips lightly against hers. She froze, unsure how to react.Damn sexy lips.

Angie swallowed and wet her mouth, staring at me like a frightened doe. "Why did you do that?" she asked in a whisper.

"Because I've been wanting to for a while." I pushed a piece of hair behind her ear; she was trembling. "And you ought to know what it's like... and no matter what you think, you are beyond good enough." I grinned at her. "I wasn't kidding when I told Sean I was disappointed you were joining the band, because that meant I couldn't ask you out."

She laughed mildly, blushing. I wasn't making it up, either; I had a serious crush on Angie when I first met her. Not that I'd ever admit that to anyone but myself. Maybe once one or both of us were married.
We sat for a while holding each other comfortingly on my incredibly comfortable couch. I liked how she felt in my arms, and I liked how she hadn't told me to put on a shirt yet. "Matt?" she whispered against my shoulder.

"Yeah, Ange?" I murmured back, not moving at the risk of losing cosiness.

Slowly Angie moved her head and looked at me. I blinked silently, waiting for whatever she was about to say. She wet her lips again. "Kiss me again."

I complied slowly. With parted lips, she kissed uneasily and unsure of herself, moving a quivering hand to my neck. I massaged her lips with my own, flicking my tongue against the inside her mouth. Although still feeling awkward, she opened her mouth wider and ran her tongue the inside of my upper lip. There we go, pretty girl, I praised mentally, deepening the kiss and leaning against her. Just go with what feels right.

Pretty soon things had gone farther than the innocent demonstration I'd intended. I'd somehow leaned so much that I ended up on top of her, revelling in what an amazing kisser she was while she dragged her nails lightly my chest.

I came to my senses when her breathe rattled in my ear at the subtle bite I took at her neck. I sat up and put a hand to my forehead; my heart was racing. Angie scooted up against the arm of the couch. She tossed her hair back and I caught the tiny smile that played on her features. We caught each other's eye and laughed awkwardly.

"I don't think we should tell Sean or Jesse about this," I said, running a hand through my hair.

She laughed breathlessly. "Or Aromi," she agreed. I joined her in laughter. We looked at each other and slowly stopped. I wasn't sure what to say; I'd never made out with my best female friend who I used to have a crush on before. It raised the question: what happens now?

"So," she said conversationally.

"So," I repeated, before blurting out, "You're the best kisser I've ever had." She flushed and looked down, smiling that awkward smile. I was suddenly very aware of my lack of shirt; clearing my throat, I picked up a pillow and hugged it against me. Angie must have noticed this because she laughed and retrieved one from the other room. When my head reappeared from the darkness of my Iron Maiden shirt, she put her arms around my neck in a hug.

"I love you, Mattie," she told me. "You know that, right?"

"Of course," I replied, hugging her back. "I love you, too, Rhiannon Banannon." Angie laughed, and I realised how weird it felt to say that. I love you, too. I never told any of my ex-girlfriends that I loved them, and here I was saying it to my band mate and completely meaning it.

Angie grinned sideways when she let me go. "You want to hear something weird?" I cocked my head at her and ruffled my hair. She laughed and stood up, straightening her shirt. "Never mind."


"No, it's stupid."

"How many stupid things have I said since we met?" I asked pointedly.

Pen smirked at the floor. Glancing up at me, she admitted, "The reason I made that agreement with you-- I won't leave the band if you don't get your lip pierced?-- I did because I thought it'd be weird to make out with a guy with a lip ring, and I wanted to leave the option open if the band didn't work out."

She shrugged, smiling innocently, and started up the stairs. I sat for a long time, just staring off into space, replaying the afternoon in my head, before I decided that I needed to play some mind-numbing video games and turn my brain off.
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