They checked the bar with no sign of Andy. Christian knew full well they wouldn’t see him there, but he had to do this for Andy. Right?
Ashley was frantically texting Andy. ‘Andy, where are you? I’m so sorry. I love you so much. Please come back to me. I’ll never hurt you again.’
Christian looked over Ashley’s shoulder, reading the text. “Dude, whaddaya mean you love him?”
Ashley blushed hard. He put his phone down, sighed, then looked to his brother. “Like…like a real love. Like how a guy loves a girl…”
“Ohhh.” CC ran a hand through his hair. “So uh…how long has this been going on?”
“For a while but…that doesn’t matter. What matters is we need to get him back.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes. Ashley was lost in thought over the fact he might never see his lover and best friend ever again. Christian…well he just wanted to tell Ashley everything.
“Ash, listen,” CC started. “I’m sorry but…I lied earlier. I know where Andy is…”
Ashley’s eyes instantly filled with rage, then concern. “Where is he?!”
“In my room, under my be-hey!” Ashley grabbed Christian’s arm and dragged him upstairs to the hotel room.
Frantically – so Ashley wouldn’t kill him slowly and painfully – Christian quickly unlocked the door with his key card. When it opened, Ashley went straight for the bed, and looked under it.
“Andy, I’m so so-…” Ashley slowly looked back up to meet CC’s eyes. “Where is he, Christian.” His voice was demanding, demeaning, and downright horrifying.
Christian’s mind flew into a panic. “I swear, he was under the bed! Now…well now who knows?”
“He has to be somewhere!” Ashley began flinging open doors: Cabinets, shower curtains, closets, even the fridge was checked in his panic. “M-maybe he went back to our room? Or to Jinxx’s?” Holding back tears and more frantic than normal, Ashley ran next door to his room, checking everything, but only finding Andy’s unanswered cellphone. He repeated the process in a very-freaked-out Jinxx and Jake’s room, with his three brothers watching him like he was deranged.
“Uhm…Ash?” CC asked, confused.
“What?!” Ashley glared at him, sending a shiver down the drummer’s spine.
“H-he can’t have gone too far. Let’s just go check the city.”
Ashley took a few deep breaths to calm down, then nodded his agreement. He and Christian went down to the lobby, then out the front doors.
What they didn’t realize was Andy was closer than they could have imagined.
Ashley and Christian split up, with Ashley taking the north and east sides of the town, and Christian taking the south and west sides. Both agreed to call the other if they found Andy.
Christian worried about his two brothers, Andy and Ashley. They were both passionate people. If Andy was really as upset as Ashley said he was, then he may not even be in the same city. Chances were slim to none that they’d find the singer unless he wanted to be found. CC also knew that Ashley was passionate about being with Andy. As far as CC was concerned, they would be searching for Andy for days.
Ashley was practically running through the city. He was taking every corner, running into every store that was still open, and even knocked over a few people. He lost precious time helping them back up and apologizing but “My damn brother left me and his phone behind!”
It was late enough when the two lovers had fought. Now, it was past midnight, and streetlamps were the only light in the city. Honestly, Ashley was afraid. Not of the dark, but of what could happen to Andy from being in it. Muggers, jackasses with drugs and guns. Anyone just looking to take advantage of an angry runaway. The band had haters. If anyone recognized him and saw him without a bodyguard or his brothers, someone might try to-
Ashley shook his head and ignored the thought. But, as time went on with no sign of Andy anywhere – and no word from the drummer, either – Ashley was beginning to lose hope.
He turned down an alley and slumped to the ground. He pulled his knees up to his chest, laid his head between his knees, and started crying uncontrollably.
“G-god Andy,” he said through the tears, “I…I was horrible to you a-and now you’re b-being horrible to me. I-I’m sorry and I’ll n-never hurt you again. Ever.” He grabbed his hair in fistfuls and started to tug on them – a comfort instinct he used to help him stop crying.
Over his tears, he heard footsteps come towards him. He looked up, and saw Christian standing there in the darkness, the streetlamp behind him hiding his face in a dark shadow. Ashley stood and hugged his brother hard.
“Christian, please tell me you found him,” Ashley begged.
“No.” Ashley thought his voice sounded deeper, but he couldn’t tell for sure.
“Then…then why are you here?”
“Because. I am him.” Ashley looked confused as Christian continued, “You look horrible, Ashes. Makeup running and everything.” Christian began stroking his cheek gently, drying his tears.
Ashley was lost; more so than he was when he found out Andy had left him for the streets. Then, he saw the shimmer of those bright blue eyes. They weren’t Christian’s wood-grain brown, no. These were an icy, piercing blue that he’d loved so much.
“Andy…” He nuzzled his face into his lover’s chest. “Andy, why do you look like CC?”
“Because I wanted to get away without getting seen. I mean, it’s not much different, and I’m not a good CC look-alike, but it worked on you.” Andy chuckled and Ashley shuddered at the deep vibration he felt in Andy’s chest from the laugh.
“Hear what you said? About you being horrible and you’ll never hurt me again?”
“Yes. And you’d better mean it. Because,” Andy lightly placed a finger under Ashley’s chin and lifted his face to look at him. His eyes made the bassist shudder once more under his gaze. “Because, dearest Ashes, I love you, and I want to be with you. So don’t fuck it up again.”
Ashley nodded furiously and, before he knew it, Andy was kissing him slowly and lovingly. There was a spark there Ashley had never noticed before. It wasn’t the usual lust feeling, or the puppy-love, childhood ‘I love you’ feeling you got for a crush. No, this…this was something more. Something he’d never dared to let himself feel before.
Something he’d never dare to let himself forget.
Andy and Ashley met up with Christian and headed back to their rooms. Andy returned the clothes and got back his own, then spent over an hour fighting to scrub the warpaint off himself.
When the paint left was only faint grey shadows of the original dark tear-like lines, Andy joined his lover on the bed.
For the first time, there was no sex, there were no fights, and there was hardly even a kiss.
Andy held his brother in his arms, running his fingers through the silky black hair. Ashley fell asleep first; the feeling of the fingers through his hair lulled him into the dream world. Andy lay there and twirled Ashley’s hair gently around his fingers.
Before finally falling asleep, he muttered four words.
“I love you, Ashes…”