Sequel: Black and White
Status: complete;;


chapter seventeen;;

Alan’s words echoed deafeningly in the silence. My breath caught in my chest, and I stared at him with wide eyes. From the corner of my eye, I saw Louis blanch and turn his face to the floor; Niall’s grip on my hand tightened. Pain was written so clearly all over Alan’s face, and it was obvious that he hated even thinking of breaking up the band. The band had been the one thing we’d all worked so hard on, the only thing none of us would ever let fall to the wayside. We had all put so much effort and love and care into the music. But I knew it would kill him to go on without Jem. Everything had been the twins’ ideas: name, style, basis, everything. They’d spent months searching for a bassist and even more time writing songs they were certain wouldn’t get them very far. They were too stubborn to give up, and my acceptance into CI had solidified their hopes for our success. For Alan to keep the band going would be torturous, at best, on him without his brother there to share in it.

As much as the band meant to me, and it meant everything to me, I couldn’t do that to him. I couldn’t condone him breaking his own heart over and over as we played shows with someone who wasn’t Jem singing the songs we poured our lives into. I averted my gaze to Brett, and he caught my eye and gave a quick dip of his chin; he knew what I was thinking and was on the same page. My chin wobbled as I released Niall’s hand and crossed the room to sit on Alan’s lap. I hugged him tightly, wished I could turn back time as his tears dampened my skin.

Niall curled around me that night once we’d gone to bed, his fingers immediately coming up to play with the ends of my hair. That afternoon had been tense, heartbreaking, agonising, but we’d finally cleared the air and come to a decision. Alan had left after the discussion was over, and I’d wanted to chase after him, stop him from leaving, but I hadn’t. I let him go. With a sigh, I grabbed my phone and couldn’t even dredge up a smile at the photo I had set as my wallpaper ー the one I’d taken of Niall asleep. He hadn’t been impressed that I had the photo, claiming it was an awful picture, but he hadn’t fought too hard about it. I opened the Twitter app and listened to Niall breathing as I brought up TwitLonger.

CIOfficialx: After a long, difficult discussion this afternoon, Brett, Alan, and I made a very hard, painful decision: Complete Irrationality will not be continuing. The decision was not made in haste, nor was it made lightly. CI has meant literally everything- EVERYthing - to us since we started out on this journey almost 4 years ago. YOU have meant everything to us. Each and every one of you helped push us forward, you heard us play and demanded more, you gave us the motivation to keep going when we wanted to give up, and you all made our dreams come true. And it hurts so bad to know that this choice may be seen as us letting you down. This was something none of us saw coming. Not one of us ever dreamed we’d see an end to this band, this family. Unfortunately, without Jem, the end has come all too soon. The decision to disband CI is, what we feel, the right decision. It would never be CI without Jem. But we had a terrific time giving you guys our hearts in the form of our songs. I wonder why it is always the most important choices that are the hardest and hurt the most…

We are sorry for letting you down. We’re sorry to all those wonderful fans we haven’t had the chance to meet yet. We’re sorry to every one of you for not being able to keep going. But as I said, CI is no longer the same without Jem, and we hope that you can understand that. Please make no mistake: This journey with you guys has been, to say the least, amazing. It never would have happened without you. Words will never be able to describe or explain how much we love you for your loyalty, your dedication, your undying love.

We love you guys, from the bottom of our hearts.
Love, Erin.

My finger trembled as I pressed the post button. It was an uncertainty as to how the fans would react to the news; even our management didn’t know our plans, but they would in the morning. I tossed my phone onto the nightstand and rolled over to face Niall. I buried my face into his skin, trying to ignore the way my heart ached so fiercely in my chest. Complete Irrationality was no more ー I had known it was more than a mere possibility since the day of the wreck. It had essentially died and been buried along with Jem. I had just been in denial, hadn’t wanted to lose that last connection to Jem. Goosebumps erupted along my flesh as Niall trailed his fingers lightly over my back and bare shoulders.

“Are you all right?”

“I guess. Just… didn’t want this to ever happen. Jem wasn’t supposed to die. We were supposed to still be rockin’ out in our eighties ‘cause we don’t know how to quit.”

“That would’ve been a sight,” he murmured with a quiet laugh, and I nodded with a giggle.



“When do you guys have to go?”

He sighed and answered after a long moment, “Three days. You can come, ya know. I mean, if you want to.”

I leaned back and peered up at him through the dark. “Is Niall Horan nervous?”

“I might be.”

“I’ll, I’ll think about it.”

His lips were soft against my forehead, and I settled back down into him as he began to sing quietly to me. His warmth, heartbeat, and voice pushed me rather swiftly into sleep; the last words I heard were If I let you know I’m here for you, maybe you’ll love yourself like I love you.


The tweet had generated hundreds of thousands of replies, nearly two million retweets, and one very irate conference call from our managed by five o’clock the next day. Thankfully, the fans had understood for the most part; there were still quite a few ー over a quarter of the replies ー who demanded more of an explanation, a better apology, us to change our minds… everything short of us serving our heads to them on silver platters. I’d just logged out of the app after scrolling through the responses, not even bothering to make any other tweets. I avoided my own personal Twitter as a whole; it was proven long ago that the fans had less compunction about sending hate-filled messages to my personal account than they did sending it to the band.

Management, on the other hand, was beyond angry at the fact that we’d made a decision of that magnitude and posted it on a public forum without letting them have a say. They tried claiming “breach of contract”, but I’d hung up at that point, leaving Alan and Brett to handle the tirade. I was sure that they weren’t angry about the fact the band broke up; they’d always understood when we came to them with whatever issues we had. This latest decision caught them by surprise, and they were trying to find a way of figuring everything out.

I’d practically shoved Niall out of the house that morning so he could hang out with his friends and enjoy some time away from me, though he hadn’t been happy about it. He had kept asking me why it was such a big deal, was he bothering me, why was it a big deal if he’d exclusively spent his time with me? Thankfully, he’d run out of steam after only about half an hour and left reluctantly, leaving me with a kiss on the cheek and a promise that he’d be back.

That meant I was home alone for most of the day. My mom had come home during the phone call with our management, and I spent almost an hour calming her down. She kept saying “How dare they be such a big bag of ducks!” and “Oh, I don’t look good in orange, orange is not my colour…” I’d barely managed to keep my smiling under control at her quoting Supernatural and talking herself out of committing murder.

She was still grumbling under her breath when I set a plate in front of her at the table. Even as she stabbed at her lasagne, her muttering could be heard; I tossed a crumpled napkin at her, and she glanced up at me with wide eyes. She grinned sheepishly and quieted down in regards to the phone call. I had just cleared the table when the doorbell rang. My mother shooed me away, going back to scooping ice cream from the carton into bowls. My face split with a smile when I saw her sneaking a handful of chocolate chips into her mouth. All amusement that I felt drained instantly once I opened the door.

“What the fuck.”


“So let me get this straight,” I seethed, balling my hands into fists to prevent myself from lashing out. “You walked out on us, left Mom to work two damn jobs to support us, never bothered to write or call to see how we were doing. Yet you expect to be able to waltz right in and for us to forgive you and pretend like nothing ever happened?”

Patrick sighed and ran long fingers ー the ones I’d inherited ー through his salt-and-pepper hair. “No, I don’t expect you to pretend that nothing happened. But I want the chance to explain.”

“Explain what? How and why you cheated on Mom when she tried for years to give you another child, and you decided a family wasn’t what you wanted after all?” I ignored the protesting from him and the indecipherable noises my mother was making. “How you took off and deserted us when I was only five? How, even after you figured out you didn’t want us, you immediately found someone else, not even waiting to tell my mother you were through with the marriage, and ー oops! ー knocked her up? Which part do you want to explain, Patrick?”

“Erin, pleaseー”

My mother’s hand was firm on my shoulder, and I resisted the urge to shake her off by the skin of my teeth. My anger toward my father might have taken over my mind, but I certainly wasn’t going to take it out on the woman who had never hurt me. I threw up my hands and shook my head.

“No. Just no. Leave. My life was fine before you showed up again. Like usual, your presence is fucking it all up.”

“You’re going to let her talk to me like this?” he shot at my mother, and she snorted from behind me.

“She’s an adult. I have no say in what she says or does. Secondly, you deserve it. She was a child. She’s had plenty of years to figure out how she feels, and I think she’s more than earned the right to get it out.”

“Oh, Hell, I thought we got over this already!”

My eyes narrowed as I stared at Patrick; I turned on my heel to look at my mom. “‘Got over this already’? When would the two of you have gotten ‘over this’?”

“Your mom and I have been talking on the phone for the past couple of weeks.”

My heartbeat pounded in my ears, and black spots danced at the edge of my vision. I slowly turned on my heel and stared at my mother. There was a tightness around her eyes; her mouth opened as if to say something, but nothing came out.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I whispered, eyes stinging at the tears. I stepped away from her when her hand came up to rest on my shoulder, and her face fell.

“You had enough to worry about with Jem and the band.”

“What happened with Jem?”

“Oh, don’t act like you give a damn,” I spat in Patrick’s direction. “I’m… I’m done with this conversation.”

Dark had begun settling as I stepped outside. Streetlamps flickered on, leaving golden-orange circles of light on the sidewalks. The heat of the day still enveloped the city, not lessened in the slightest by the fact that the sun had set. I scrubbed a hand over my face, let autopilot take over as I made my way through all the familiar shortcuts. Though I hadn’t been on the paths for years, they were still easy to navigate, as known to me as my own reflection. The fence rattled as I climbed, and I launched myself over the top, landing roughly in the hard dirt on the other side.

The trees stood tall and black against the deep blue-grey of the twilight sky; as soon as I entered the woods, the sound of cars on the freeway disappeared, and all I could hear were the sound of nighttime insects and the last calls of birds before they settled in for the night. The darkness was comforting, and I breathed in the rich earthy scent while I slipped between tree trunks and stepped carefully over roots. Then, there it was: the hideout I’d made with Amber when we were barely eight-years-old.

The first time I had ever come to this spot alone, I was nine and had just had a fight with my babysitter. That night had been what my mom and I considered one of my “bad times”. The therapist I was seeing at the time said it was me acting out about the lack of paternal influence in my life, but my mother believed it was me being unable to process things properly. She’d gone out for a shift at one of her jobs, leaving me with a teen that lived down the street, and the sitter, whose name I couldn’t remember now, had refused to let me even call my mom to say goodnight. She demanded that I go away and stop bothering her, so I did. Of course, I’d taken her literally and packed my school bag with Bun-bun, a pillow, and some crayons and a notebook, and left the house. The fence hadn’t been set up ten years ago, so sneaking into the woods had been simple, uncomplicated. Explaining why I had run away from at ten o’clock at night to my mother and the cops… not so much.

I pushed aside the thick wall of dangling limbs and slipped into the circle of trees. The woven walls of pliable twigs that Amber and I had made to serve as walls still stood securely, though they now gave off the sweet smell of decay. I settled in comfortably on the dirt floor, crossing my legs under me, and stared up at the sky through the canopy.

My mind was still reeling from what I’d learned. How could my mom have been talking to Patrick for so long without telling me? How could he think it would be so easy to come back into our lives without repercussions? I sighed and swiped away the tear that had escaped. I’d always prayed as a little girl to have my daddy back. I guess those prayers finally came true. I just wasn’t so sure that was what I wanted any more.