‹ Prequel: Union


The Passage Of Time

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet." - William Shakespeare

Rose cocked her head into the cool water wading in the sink of her master bathroom. Her just-applied eye makeup ran in black streams, colliding with the ocean.

In the mornings, she was alone, like a flower solitudes at night by closing its petals. Her skin was soft, cleansed and moist. The towel on the rack behind her sat undisturbed as it had since she'd placed it there proceeding afternoon laundry the day before.

Whenever it began to rain outside, she crept back into her bedroom and opened the window so the sound of nature's shower could be heard pelting the tree-covered hills. The air was so fresh, it was so familiar to her. It was like nothing she'd ever smell anywhere else in the world, except right then, right there in the house where her family dwelled.

The air was exceptionally warm, humid even. It was May after all, summer had started in early February in Oakland. Rose was three months pregnant and quite comfortable in her skin by this time. Her belly dawned a small bump, but in else regard she was her usual self. She loved to be a mother, she loved to be a wife and she most certainly loved to be loved.

Being pregnant again was going to give her lots of the positive attention she so eagerly had craved from her spouse all the time he'd been recording his band's new album, all the time he'd been locked away.

Rose caressed her towel over the back of her shoulders and wiped below her jawline. She propped herself up in front of a mirror in the bedroom and opened a drawer in the mahogany desk she now sat at. Her stride was normal, she did things like she did any day of the week. Rose sat quietly with herself, she could see Tre's reflection in the mirror as he had sprawled himself across their bed, laying on one side of his face whilst letting out resonate snores. She shook her head and smiled to herself about how deviantly attractive he was even when asleep.

It didn't matter if you couldn't see the beauty of his eyes, you knew he was the love of your life.

The respectably-aged woman picked up an mascara vile off the desk in front of her, but she couldn't allow her stare off of him. If she should miss one breath of his it would be like she'd missed out on knowing him altogether. Every aspect of his life she could be involved in or experience kept her content and that's what made her different from all others before her.

Rose was a Priscilla and Tre was an Elvis. She loved him, he loved her, but they each had their own secrets and regrets.

Sitting at the desk quietly, Rose let her hand raise to her face with the mascara brush. She pulled the outer corner of her left eye down so that the pink below her eyeball was exposed. The vile fell from her grasp, landing somewhere. She wasn't thinking of anything in particular, only the meaning of the person she tried to make herself become when she caked on all the makeup.

Lots of women had done it; Adrienne had been known to really lay on the mascara in her time.

She looked at herself in the mirror. She couldn't see herself clear enough, so she stepped up and lent into her reflection. Her long raven hair grazed the mirror as the pale skin on her forehead pressed firmly above where her long nails left scratches on the glass. She began to apply it quite delicately along the line of her bottom and upper lashes. Her eyes suddenly began to pop in that strange eighties New Wave - Gary Newman way.

She looked at herself innumerably; she saw further into the mirror.

"That makeup looks horrible on you!"

Rose dropped the tiny brush and looked over her shoulder via the mirror with a swift upward jerk of her head. Her blood had started to course in a terrible rhythm. She knew that voice, it was an insult from the worst kind of person, in her mind.

"Mom!" she gasped.

For the first time in almost ten years, Rose had thought of her mother in a more intricate way from the dwelling in the back of her mind. She sat down and she became quite suddenly overwhelmed.

When she sat there, she was quiet more. She didn't look in the mirror; she was staring at the floor in deepest of thought. She grew distracted from the dripping of the rain, the resonate snoring of her husband or even the now sounding San Francisco foghorn. In fact, everything might as well have stopped for her. She was simply her, a twenty-something full grown woman, living a happy life and could do as she pleased.

Tre woke up. It was mid to late morning and he was planning on just getting up, grabbing a coffee and living his life like he day everyday. But then, he had a reoccurring memory, that today wasn't the same as every other day. The drummer sniffled gently as the wet air hit his sinuses and he slowly began to sit, propping himself up on his hands and looking over at the closet door eight feet from his bedside. The door was open, there was a black suit hanging on a cloth-covered hanger reading Dior Homme.

He flinched his nose and squinted his eyes, slowly letting them search the large bedroom for any sign of his wife. There were lace and whites all over the floor, trailing from the closet to the master bathroom and over to the mahogany vanity mirror in the corner. He raised his head, widened his gaze and stared through his eyelashes in a groggy mindless way. His head felt tired, his body felt like he'd been drumming too much lately. He would enjoy some rest, but not even this rainy day would warrant him it.

"Mornin'," he murmured, letting his gaze meet his wife's surprised looking eyes as she looked up and at him via the mirror. She pursed her lips at him and began to rub excess mascara from under her eyes with a single slip of tissue. It broke on her face in dark dry bits. Her hand adjusted her bra strap, her hair dripped with light moisture and commingled with her smeared eye makeup.

"Morning," she replied, sitting up from the mahogany vanity table with hardly any sort of expression. She flipped her hair back and came over to sit on the end of the bed, towel still draped over her shoulders. She was herself but wasn't. She was in question, everything seemed to happen in patterns for her but she wouldn't allow herself to elaborate on it.

Tre stared at her, he wasn't gawking he was observing. "What are you thinking about?" he asked her and rested his back up against the headboard, he had a peculiar smile on his face that quickly faded as soon as Rose began to speak.

"My mom," she said blatantly.

"You-Your mom?" Tre questioned. He looked down, he was almost sure she couldn't have been thinking of that, it was too long ago.

"No," Rose said at the level of a whisper. "It's just this whole funeral thing, I feel weird that my mom's not coming."

"Why's that weird?" Tre inquired and rightfully. After almost ten years since the older woman had been around Oakland, Tre hadn't ever brought the subject up ever. And until now, hadn't realized how uncomfortable it made him to talk about it. He got out of bed quickly and began to search erratically through his closet as though he didn't already know that'd he'd be wearing the black Dior Homme suit to Mrs. Armstrong's funeral.

"She's her sister, Frank," Rose replied rolling her eyes in subtle disdain for how he'd obviously hadn't thought of that. "I just feel weird, not letting her know even."

Tre shrugged his shoulders and sighed in reply. He wanted to say it'd be okay, calling her, telling her and never having the woman immediately involved in their lives. But he was fearful and he didn't want it to happen at all, amongst remembering how much Rose's mother opposed her being with him. If he could remember right, that's the reason she had grown so infuriated and left her daughter to the care of her family in the first place.

"What do you think I should do?" Rose said, looking down at herself clueless. The mere thought of coming face to face with her mother scared her more than death itself, but the idea also brought a feeling of excitement.

"Nothing," Tre answered. He started towards the bathroom his bare feet scuffled the carpet. When he was there, his steps turned to mere quiet taps against the cold linoleum floor. He left the bathroom door only partially closed in his wake.

"What?" the younger kin of Green Day's singer quirked as she turned her stance towards the bathroom door. "Nothing...what is that supposed to mean?" The raven-haired beauty crossed her arms across her chest and raised her head in a confounded manner.

"It means don't tell her," Tre called through the bathroom door.

Rose heard the plug pulled from the bathroom sink, the tap began to run. She bit her lip, was her husband offering her his advice or was he telling her what to do? She would very much like to know, she thought. Before she gave it two seconds more of thought in silence, she bombarded the bathroom and lent up into the sink counter where her husband was preparing his face with shaving cream. She had startled him, but she just looked at him in the mirror again and shook her head.

"I wasn't going to call her, I was going to have someone else call her," Rose said suddenly. Her husband began to shave his muzzle and he just shrugged his shoulders again as though he weren't sure what to say to her. She shook her head all the more and began to walk out of the bathroom. "I'll have my cousin David phone her, I don't particularly want to ask you know who...for any favours right now."

"Rose," Tre said and he turned the tap off. He wasn't trying to impose, but he felt it his duty to be protective over his wife. Talking with or eventually seeing her mother would not be good for her mental health or his nerves, he thought. She had kept walking and he gravely wanted to talk with her still, so he grabbed her arm back without much thought.

Rose stopped, she turned back to look down at the white cream over her top arm and quickly glance up at the face of her husband. "What are you doing?" she asked him, slightly confounded again by his gesture.

"I-I just don't...I don't want you telling her," Tre said suddenly, realizing how much it truly sounded as though he cared.

"Why Frank?" Rose asked, lowering her eyebrows.

"Because, I don't want you to get hurt," Tre answered her blatantly, he was so sincere he could have made himself cry.

Rose had been in a tense stance and her husband still held her arm tightly in his grasp, but that was only half of her thoughts. "Someone has to...someone has to tell her," Rose said suddenly.

"No," Tre replied, "I love you too much."

"Frank, let go of my arm," Rose said firmly.

Tre complied, he let her go and the couple stared at one another for quite a few moments in silence. The drummer was the first to initiate a tender hug when the time came and he got a positive response from the woman he loved. She wasn't mad at him after all.

"I love you too," Rose hushed, burying her face in his shoulders to avoid the mucky mess of his face. She couldn't quite believe she had caved so easily, but she knew their love went beyond the bedroom. If he thought she was in danger, he'd step up to the plate just as she would for him.

"Today's going to be a hard day anyways. And I'm sorry, please forgive me for loving you too much," Tre caroled suddenly. "I just want you to be happy, that's all I want."

"It's okay Frank," she whispered. "I don't blame you...I don't blame you..."

* * *

The afternoon was delicate for Rose, in the sense that the wind breezing off the bay and across the moor of Oakland Cemetery created a perfect flowing-curtain-effect to her shin-length little black dress. She was derelict at the loss of her aunt, yet in the company of all the family she could ever ask for.

A priestess renounced the death vows as Ollie Armstrong was sent to the afterlife through a burial plot next to her late husband, Andrew Armstrong. Down the way from them, Ollie's innocent child nephew Michael, whom had been lost so long after he, yet so shortly before she.

Rose reminisced on standing here with her then fiancée, this very field in the wee months of 2006. Her son had been lost, and she was then, forever more in his debt. Why had the years crept by so remorselessly? Why was she beginning to feel the climax of her life to be nothing but a waterfall that would do nothing but keep pounding down into the rocks below, unstoppable and again, remorseless? She bit her lip, the petals of red roses of decoration being ripped from their fertile green stems before her eyes, and overpowering the salty smoggy air with their bittersweetness.

She could hear her cousin's gentle weep echoing in her ears.

She could feel her spouse's grazing touch on the small of her back.

She could see the intent stare of the man she knew not whether to label her friend or otherwise.

Mike had become bold about his feelings, amongst showing himself to not entirely be an emotionless macho robot. He had been abrupt to her once again about his feelings for her after having revealed to the lot that he was single once again.

The women seemed to fly in and out of his life so frequently. If it wasn't the girl that dumped him at eighteen for her religion, it was his ex-wife Anastasia, followed by Brittney, followed by April and then the latter, Holly.

Rose had a special place in Mike's heart, the poor little rosebud from the East Coast town that never seemed to be divulged openly. She was someone who had leaned on him when in dire need of emotional support.

Mike didn't mind shedding a few tears here and there on this occasion either. He was amongst friends, his band, children and the woman he loved. What he wanted could see to it the end of his band, something he truly omitted as a factor that could come true if his advances towards his friend's wife were to grow out of hand.

The Germanic Roses Tour was at a countdown of only three days, and then they would be sailing the roads and skies of the world again. Each of them, living in hotels, greeting fans and playing on the stage.

All of them, together.

Mike and Rose exchanged glances so secretly, sending each other telepathic messages through expression. Rose bit her lip and scrunched her nose, whilst Mike raised his eyebrows and blinked simultaneously.

The message was: This existence is no existence at all, because you poison my mind.

"...to rest in peace. Amen," the priestess said calmly, turning to eye the youngest of the Armstrong children, standing his ground with puffy red eyes, brought on by a day of tear shedding.

Mike briefly turned from Rose to Billie; he had been examining Tre's chemistry with his wife for any possible mishap he could use as a plea bargain to recapture Rose's heart when the time came again.

The man who had known Mrs. Armstrong since the ripe age of ten, mourned her death like Billie Joe Armstrong -- his eternal surrogate brother.

Something set him unsteady, whether it be the upcoming tour or just subconsciously knowing that something was going to hit soon and it was going to hit hard, all in the sense of involving Rose and the contemplative success of his band.

His wife had comforted him as much as she possibly could; she'd been doing it the whole week. Billie cried in short murmurs, putting strain on his thyroid while his siblings' comforting expressions shining on him could only look like the children of a dead royal. Properly, they only thought of their mother's life and what they as her offspring were to accomplish in their own lives, left behind only another speckle of life to walk the planet, Earth. Billie Joe knew by this time what his mission in life was, and for him it had always been his children and music.

Everything was going to happen at once now, Billie knew. He looked over at Rose, the pivotal woman who always seemed to be thrown into the midst of all things Green Day. She was Tre's wife, his cousin and beloved friend. She had been with Mike at a time and ever since, Billie Joe could see that things had become awkward. For Rose, who tried to ignore Mike, for Mike who tried to ignore Tre and for Tre who was simply suspicious, but nonetheless uninformed.

The frontman blinked as his family and mother's friends started away from the non-grassed burial plot to all depart for the reception dinner being held at his home in the Claremont Hills of Berkeley, California.

He nodded slowly and gazed up into the sun that had found itself a window to peek through in the clouds. It blinded him and he blinked instantaneously as a couple of hands came to rest upon each of his two shoulders.

"Yes?" Billie said in a raspy tone. He looked down upon the plot that Ollie's casket had now been lowered into and the shovels of the grave diggers, shoveling in a fast-paced manner whilst he stood there watching with a pain in his throat.

"It's okay Billie," said Mike, accenting his voice in introduction so that his shorter friend knew exactly who was speaking.

"I'm fine," Billie replied, "I just need to go for a walk."

Mike nodded slowly and he turned his eyes over to who held their hand on Billie's opposite shoulder. He looked with a coercing gaze into the eyes of a certain drummer who stared back at him as though he were puzzled by the emotional distance they seemed to be from each other lately.

"It's fine Tre, Billie just needs to talk to me and he'll be fine," Mike said, making it blatantly obvious he was shoeing Tre away. The drummer stared back at him and the bassist had predetermined he was going to say something light-heartedly sarcastic.

"Excuse me?" Tre said, opening his eyes with a serious alertness.

Mike stood up straighter. "Well you know, Bill and I have always been such good friends..." Mike replied and he allowed himself to trail off.

"Mike!" Billie called alarmed, "that's uncalled for."

"No Billie, this just confirms what I already think about Mike," Tre hissed carelessly. "Well I don't care. Billie, this is a bad day for you and I'm here for you all the way." Tre clamped his hand tighter to Billie's shoulder and he grinned. "Mike, have a little respect."

I..." Mike stuttered shamefully, his face dropping as he looked at his two friends in embarrassment, "...I'm sorry."

"Hey, I have some news that'll lighten the mood," Tre started up again and his face lit up just at the very thought of it. He turned back to eye his wife and he gestured his head with a deviant stare.

Rose looked at Tre if for only a second before she started to make her way over to three attractive middle-aged men, leaving her daughter behind to be watched carefully by other family.

"Hi honey," Tre greeted her as she stepped to the foot of Ollie's burial plot.

"Hey Rose..." Billie murmured as though it were incoherent. He looked at Rose with clouded blind eyes; he'd barely been around her for some months now.

"Hi Billie, how are you holding up?" Rose inquired, raising her lips enough to show a look of sympathy.

"I'm alright," the dark-haired man replied as he turned to Tre in remembrance of the fact that the drummer had said news. "So what were you going to say?" Billie Joe raised his eyebrows and cocked his head amidst trying to act interested.

"Well actually, me and Rose both have something we want to tell you," Tre answered slowly.

"We're having a baby," Rose came out very quickly, taking note at how fast Mike threw his head up in reaction. Her hubby didn't feel any need to keep the news secret, even though she secretly would have liked to from Mike.

Billie started to look more aware and his eyelids met his under eyes as his cheeks raised with a large smile. "Oh my god, really?" he shrieked out.

"Yeah," Tre replied subtly, smiling as he glanced at his wife but feeling his face fall warily when he noticed she seemed mildly impish or nervous.

"Good for you guys!" Billie exclaimed.

"Thanks," Tre quirked with a proud fatherly sort of grin on his face, "we're very happy about it."

* * *

Everyone was at Billie's house because he was quite obviously growing into the family's stronghold due to financial reasons. Their Granddad they had heard news of him passing on sometime whilst working in the Orient a few years before, no one in the family had been what they might call properly informed.

The family kept declining than growing again. Billie's mother had died and now Rose was having another baby. Things always seemed to work that way, Billie thought as he sat in the corner quietly with himself. Things were going to be different from now on, amongst his eldest brother taking over the house where his mother had resided in Emeryville. He was leaving the dirty work to him, for he was only the youngest and by far the busiest of all his siblings.

He had a round the world trip to embark on in only three days after all. He had people to see, places to go and things to do. Regardless of whether or not his mother had died, a job was a job and somehow he knew this was going to be the most important part of his career, possibly ever.

The doorbell went off in the front foyer, Billie ignored it but someone didn't. Their was some sort of low music playing in the background, Billie ignored it. Billie ignored everything, the only thing he knew he couldn't ignore was his wife and he told himself that that's why she had decided to sit down next to him like she did right then.

"Hey honey," Adie whisper only a little louder than the music. "You okay?"

Billie Joe nodded and began to bite the nail on his ring finger. "Yeah, I just want to go to bed and think. I need to sleep on a few things."

Adrienne nodded her head very slowly. "Okay," she said understandingly, "want me to help you upstairs?"

Billie shook his head, "No, it's okay baby. I can find my own way," he insisted.

Adrienne nodded again, understanding once again. She remained in her seat, her husband stood up and began to saunter out of the room. She watched him, but he stopped and turned back to look into her charismatic dark brown eyes.

"Thank them for coming," Billie said unlike Green Day's prude frontman and he continued on his way out towards the kitchen where he'd take the stairs upstairs. Adrienne nodded, but he didn't wait for her.

When he had left, Adrienne just looked about the room. Billie's family were here. Everyone looked so much different than they had only ten years before. Her sons were grown, her husband's siblings were all getting up past middle age, their mother was dead and she herself was now forty-five. She shuddered at the passage of time.

It didn't seem too fair, she thought.

When she had observed the room ten times over it seemed, from Mike with his son at the punch bowl to Rose with her daughter sitting on the living room couch, without Tre, she realized she hadn't seen him in some minutes now and she began to wonder why.

Tre came out from the foyer, her confusions were answered. He looked low, like he'd just been in a fight and was now trying to hide the fact that it'd happen. His eyelids gazed down, his eyes were obviously on the floor.

Rose watched her husband step back into the room, she held her daughter tightly against her side. The drummer she'd been married to for close to the past eight years wouldn't look at her. Her eyes squinted, there was no understanding. She couldn't see why he was the way he was, but when he came closer to her the room gained one more person. Rose stood from her seat, leaving her daughter Michelle behind her in the wake. Her heart began to race, her eyes grew wide and some family continued to converse like they hadn't taken notice.

Tre came to her side finally and he looked at her. He took her arm, he wanted to sit her down oh did he ever, but she wouldn't.

"Rose, not here," Tre said suddenly. He held her arm like he had that morning, like he knew what was best for her. He quite noticed she hadn't said a word, she hadn't even flinched at his powerful gesture.

Mike looked up from the punch bowl, his son continued to chatter but he suddenly found himself astray from all things. Rose was staring boldly into the corrupt green eyes of a gray-haired woman. He hadn't heard her speak a word and wasn't sure if she would so much time was going by, or so it felt.

"You..." the woman said, she began to look around the room at everyone. The mothers, the fathers, nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and even uncles of this family. "No one told me..." she blurted out

Adrienne had stood up from her seat like Rose had, she too was in just as much shock as all else.

The woman was looking at everyone, everyone until her gaze stopped upon a tiny woman standing in front of the chesterfield next to who she remembered to be Green Day's drummer. She squinted her eyes and slowly began to bring herself closer.

Rose looked down and closed her eyes tightly. "Mother, you will stay away from us!" she called out in a very powerful way.

The woman stopped, she was who she was and there was no hiding it. Rose's mother had found her way to Billie's house only one hour after her sister's funeral.

It didn't seem to make sense.

"Why did no one tell me my sister had passed away?" the woman of her late sixties spat out.

"No one wanted you here, Sher," Adrienne spoke up suddenly, feeling rightfully shocked she had done so. She scratched her forearm nervously, secretly beginning to wish the stronghold of her family would come down and resolve everything.

Sher bit her lip, signs of her young dark hair seeped through the predominant gray. She wasn't quite sure what to say, but was quite taken aback by how much older Rose had gotten. Seeing her daughter firsthand made her realize the passage of time.

It didn't seem feasible, she thought.

"Rose, you've changed," the elder woman quirked suddenly.

Rose looked up at her mother but quickly turned her head aside to look into her husband's deep blue eyes; he freed her arm and gently hugged her from the side. "I can't deal with this," she muttered, "not today." She was feeling something inside, it was a type of emotion but she couldn't so easily say it was sadness or even anger. The whole day had just made her crazy.

She had ended up putting mascara on that morning, lots of it, it was her way of mourning, showing her creativity and accepting the title Rock Star Wife.

"I came back for more than one reason," Sher added and she seemed so vigilant about her words.

"What's that?" Rose inquired, holding onto her husband like she considered him her stronghold.

"I'm mourning my sister," Sher said and she began to weep gently, "but I thought the time was ripe to let you know why I did what I did. I have to let you know. I just have to."

"You don't have to explain anything to me," Rose said calmly, very much in control of herself. "I want to thank you for what you did. If it weren't for your actions, I wouldn't be with my husband now, I wouldn't have my daughter...I'd probably be dead." She looked down, remembering how her coma had mislead her perception of reality. "I know that now..."

"Dead because of me?" Sher asked, raising her eyebrows and pursing her lips like her sister Ollie and her son Billie had sometimes been known to do.

Rose nodded. "You were killing me...and I don't care anymore," the raven-haired beauty told her mother like she should have so many years before. The moments now were a venting system, it was doing her well, she thought.

"Can I speak with you?" Sher asked her daughter pleadingly.

"I don't think..."

"Please! Please Rose, my daughter," the gray-haired woman begged. "Please let me tell you..."

Rose turned to her husband, he was expressionless whilst looking at her, but when turned to said mother, his eyes gawked as though he were looking at the scum of the earth. He didn't know how else to feel, she could tell; he was actually quite scared for her.

Sher came closer, her eyes traveled the floor, inching past her daughter's feet and up on the chesterfield where she could only see the legs of a little girl. Her eyes adverted to look at Tre, the man she'd known for some years - just from general knowledge of her nephew's band -- had married her daughter. She couldn't say anything to him, she was fearful he'd send her away in protection of his wife.

"Talk to me?" she asked her.

Rose was quiet, she looked at her husband as though she wanted him to make the decision for her, like she wanted him to answer her mother and either say everything was fine or send her mother away. She wanted his support, the decision that came from his boundaries of what made him comfortable and uncomfortable when it came to her wellbeing.

Rose wanted solitude, to close her petals and not open them again until a new morn had risen.