One shot…two shots…three shots…floor!
Ashley Purdy laughed raucously as his friends fell around him, unable to hold their liquor. Some spat out the smooth yet fierce liquid, others simply choked or wretched, but the omega of their pack actually did end up on the floor, leading to everyone joining in the contagious sound.
Ashley, at just fifteen years, was the unchallenged alpha. He had everything you needed to be a good leader: style, suave sophistication, the ability to get served seven years under the legal limit and the skills to get any girl he even glanced at (though holding onto one, now that was a different matter entirely). He was like some amazing living stereotype, the true American Dream. That is, besides the fact jocks had never been his biggest fan club; but Ashley was muscled under his biker leathers and First Nations cheekbones, and even if he hadn't been, no one wants a Cubin heel rammed into their eye.
Tonight, not only was Ashley king of the world, he was also king of shots. Not even grown men well into their drinking careers could put up with just as much liver damage as Ashley's games were insisting they inflicted. As he laughed at the triumph of the crowd falling prey to his games, he flicked his long starburst of shining black hair behind his shoulder. His warm brown eyes, sparkling even in the smoky light, were both visible for a moment, and girls actually swooned when they caught sight of his cocky white smile.
Tonight, like every night, he was coming out on top. It hadn't always been so easy, he'd fought hard for this, so he savoured every moment, knowing all too well his fifteen minutes of fame wouldn't last forever. Tonight though, he was god.
Ashley did a one eighty to identify the person who was talking, cat-like reflexes slower than normal due to excessive amount of alcohol, but nowhere near as impaired as those of the light weights around him. A guy stood behind him, perhaps a few years his elder, though slightly shorter and a little stockier. Ashley had seen him at that bar a couple of times, but they'd never spoken; an oversight what with their obviously similar tastes. The newcomer had a shoulder length shock of black hair, shorter than Ashley's and falling around his pale face in which two misty blue irises pierced into the souls of all those around from their black rimmed confines. He was wearing leathers over a black band shirt, the name of which was blocked out by his half-closed jacket. Ashley sized him up, brain automatically trying to work out how much of a challenge this one would be. There was a calm air around him that made him think not very.
"You're Ashley Purdy, right?" the stranger was saying.
"That's right," Ashley confirmed, before smirking. "And you're the soon to be defeated challenger?"
"You're half right," he smiled. "Bring it on lady boy." He flicked one of the gold hoops Ashley wore in his lobes.
Ashley growled and his friends felt the tension rise and knew this was going to be a match to watch; Ashley hated people pointing out his feminine side. He didn't do anything to hide it, but he'd spent years trying to prove he was a force to be reckoned with; not that women were inferior, they just didn't matter to Ashley. Ashley wanted to matter. He wanted men to accept him.
"Someone get shots!" he barked and the omega scurried off obey.
The whole bar was soon watching the contest. The two black-haired underage heavy weights had gone round after round, they'd lost count, but it was well over ten by this point. Never had shots seemed more like an Olympic sport, even those working had stopped serving anything but whiskey for the two boys so they too could watch this contest of wills. Ashley was slowing down and his friends and admirers were gathered round him to try and keep him on his feet. The challenger had fewer fans but he hardly needed them; his feet were firmly planted and he showed barely any signs of intoxication.
Then, the unthinkable happened- Ashley choked. His body said no, he spat out the amber liquid and fell to his knees trying not to wretch as everyone around cheered or groaned. Money was exchanged, whispers and glances were passed, and the new king of shots finished his last drop before smiling and offering a hand to Ashley.
Ashley glanced at it, and then swatted it away angrily; this older man had stolen his limelight, his fame, and his loyal subjects and now he sought to humiliate him further by making him appear weak. Ashley forced himself to his feet, using nothing but the edge of the bar and then tottered over to a table in the corner. His original group of friends followed in his wake, worried about what an angry Purdy would be like while this wasted. The victor watched him go, sadness in his blue eyes, before he was swept off by the large crowd of his turncoat supporters, cheering his accomplishment.
It was much later. None of Ashley's friends were left. They'd gone home hours passed, and tried to bring him with them, but he's snapped and swore and lashed out and they'd given him the finger and abandoned him to his fate, even the little underdog. It didn't matter much to Ashley at the moment however; he could barely remember their names.
He was nursing a beer, and had been for awhile now. It was his third since his defeat, but he'd released putting in more alcohol wasn't making his wounds smart any less, so this one was lasting. The bar was almost empty, only one person was left serving and they'd have to close up soon or it might turn into a lock in. Not that he'd complain to that; going home was never an enjoyable experience, and being in this state would make it a hundred times worse.
A blurry shape with blue eyes sat down in front of him. "Ashley, are you ok?"
He recognised the voice, vaguely. It was male. That sucked. It should be female. One of those blonde whores twice his age that loved to take him in this state and make him forget everything. Males mattered too much to him. In his drunken state, the way those thoughts correlated was "fuck off you have a cock!"
The blur had a confused pause before saying slowly "and…you'd like me to not have one?"
"Nooooo," Ashley groaned, frustrated this stupid fuzzy blob in his line of sight wasn't getting it. "You need to have a pussy."
"You want me to be a girl then?" it asked.
"No, but you should be," he sighed. "That way it doesn't matter."
"Ok," the shape seemed to have given up on understanding his drunken ramblings. It moved away and Ashley leaned back in the bench seat, grateful to be alone again- that was, until he felt hands lifting him up by his armpits and half-carrying out of the building.
"Nuuuh, lemme go!" he whined.
The shape said nothing, just kept supporting him as they made their way through the door. Cold air smacked Ashley in the face and sobered him slightly. Moonlight shone down and illuminated his helper and he was finally able to make out the face of the man who had humiliated him all those hours ago. That just added insult to injury. Ashley tried to tear away and as he did he tumbled towards the rough tarmac. At the last moment strong arms grabbed him and pulled him away from a face-crunching end to the night. "Watch yourself," gentle lips murmured.
Ashley's eyes were too blurry to watch anything, but his ears could follow the pleasing sound those lips made. He clambered up the short body as though it was Mount Everest and when he reached the summit he planted the victory flag of his tongue into the mouth with such the enchanting voice.
The kiss was sloppy, and wet. There were far too many teeth involved and it tasted entirely too much of whiskey, but Ashley loved it and from his partner's reactions the feeling was entirely mutual.
A shred of sobriety floated across his fuzzy mind and he realised exactly what he was doing. He shoved the man back. Ashley fucking Purdy did not kiss guys! He was not a goddamn faggot! Why wouldn't they all just leave him the fuck alone?! He bolted. The startled King of Shots watched him go.
The next morning one of them remembered nothing.
It's been awhile, eighteen year old Ashley Purdy thought as he pushed open the door of the small town bar. He'd taken off after his sixteenth birthday and had been enjoying the glitzy lights of the city-or so he'd been telling people anyway. Crack dens couldn't really afford any sorts of lights most of the time, and never glitzy. Not that Ashley was on crack, he was smarter than to touch that shit, but what places like that lacked in lighting they often made up for in whiskey.
But he'd recently heard his aunt had died and he'd always liked that aunt, so he was back in his two-horse hometown for a couple of days. Maybe longer if he could find a way that didn't involve his parents.
Rather than dealing with his family though, he'd decided to go and waste some time in the place that was once his palace. It didn't look much different when he stepped inside; perhaps cleaner, with more light streaming in windows newly cleared of grime, and a new, younger bartender stood behind the wood top which was no longer so sticky, but besides that it was the same. People looked up and watched his progress across the room. Some he recognised, others were strangers, but it didn't matter, even if any did recognise him they probably wouldn't bother to chat, he knew his friends were all off at other matters, school finals and jobs, real things. The people who were wasting their lives in here didn't want anyone to remember them, even if it was just some runaway kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Ashley knew that's how he felt anyway.
"ID?" was the answering request he got to his order of Seagram's 7. He wasn't commonly asked for it, even though he was still three years under the legal limit, but he did have a fake just in case the need arose. It got a suspicious glance, but he was served all the same. As he poured the fiery sweetness down his scratchy throat, he felt a presence beside him.
Turning he saw a man he vaguely recognised sitting beside him, watching him. A faint smile played in his blue eyes, but there was no trace of it on his pale lips. He couldn't have been much older than Ashley, though he was probably legal, but he gave the impression he had wisdom beyond his years.
"Ashley Purdy, right?" he asked slowly, gesturing with a lazy point of a glass.
"And you are…?" he raised an eyebrow, not completely comfortable with the situation.
"You can call my Jinxx," the stranger shrugged. "Everyone does."
"I'm not everyone," Ashley muttered, but nodded to show he wouldn't need any further information in titles.
"No, you're not," Jinxx agreed. "Do you mind if I sit with you?"
Ashley shrugged and spread his arm out invitingly. "Knock yourself out."
Jinxx sat down with his empty glass and poured himself another from the bottle Ashley had made them leave. He closed his eyes as he drank, but after that he continued to watch the younger man beside him. The hairs along Ashley's spine stood on end. Who was this creep? What did he want from him? He began to be glad there were people in the bar; he'd met rapists before, he knew their looks well enough, no matter how well hidden. He got ready to deal with this when…
"Oh god, sorry," the weird guy laughed, breaking his eye contact. "I'm creeping you out, aren't I?"
Ashley was never one to admit he was easily fazed, but he was relaxed now that the guy seemed more normal and there was alcohol back inside him. "Just a little bit," he said with a small smile.
"Sorry," Jinxx groaned, the laughter still playing on his face and in the back of his throat. "I was just trying to decide something?"
"What? If you don't mind me asking."
"Well," Jinxx said, "the last time we met…nah, forget it."
Ashley didn't press further, just got back to his drinking. The last time we met was not something he wanted to get into. That just led to all sorts of trouble. He was just back in town to say goodbye to a loved one, he didn't want pulled into memories of stuff he'd done when he was a stupid kid. Most likely he'd gone to a party at this guy's house, slept with his girlfriend, thrown up in his garden, knocked over his fridge and then slept in his doghouse. Well no. He'd done that at someone else's party, it wasn't the sort of set of events that happened twice to one guy. He hoped.
After an awkward silence, in which Jinxx got back to staring at him, Ashley cleared his throat and said "well look, I'm sorry for whatever it was I did last time. I don't really remember you; the last time I was in town…well I was drunk. Constantly. For about two years. And now I have no money, so I can't pay for any damage I may have caused. So yeah. Sorry." It sounded lame to even him and while they guy looked as though Ashley could take him easily, looks could be deceiving. He got up to leave.
"Wait!" Jinxx grabbed his arm tightly.
"Let go of me," Ashley growled.
"Sorry," Jinxx let go immediately. "Sorry, I just… I want to talk to you. But…look, come with me." He didn't touch Ashley again, but he somehow seemed to pull the tanned boy along with him into a back corner of the bar where no one could see them.
"What are you playing at?" Ashley hissed, starting to panic.
"Oh shit I'm terrible at this…" Jinxx groaned, massaging his temples. "Look, you gave me something last time I saw you and I…I just want to return it."
"Then why-" but before Ashley could utter another sound, Jinxx had fastened his soft lips onto his and was kissing him.
The kiss was warm and it brought back a lot of memories. It was far more skilled and tasted far nicer than it had last time. Jinxx's lips weren't big, but they were full and smooth. Ashley's brain was telling him to break it off, that someone would see, that he was not fucking queer, but his body wouldn't let him. It kissed back, pushing itself as close to the familiar stranger as it could get, savouring every second. His tongue pushed fiercely into Jinxx's mouth, which admitted him easy access.
Eventually, before the kiss led to anything more advanced, Jinxx broke it off. His face was flushed and his misty eyes had cleared slightly. Ashley was panting.
"I…you…beat me at shots," was the lamest after-kiss comment that had ever been uttered.
"Yeah…" a blush crept up that pale neck. "You were wasted beforehand though…"
The two stood there are little longer, watching each other. Neither was sure where to go from here, or even if they wanted to go anywhere. Here was pretty nice.
"Jinxx! Get that cute butt back here!" twenty year old Ashley Purdy screamed as he chased his boyfriend along the shining white sand, not letting his bare feet rest on it long enough to be burned. The sun was blazing overhead, yet it was a Monday in October, so they had the little stretch of beach almost completely to themselves. They had been cuddling on a blanket, watching the waves lap in and out…until Jinxx had dropped a passing crab into Ashley's fluffy hair. Now Jinxx ran for his life as he died laughing.
The two hadn't started going out as soon as they'd kissed by the toilet in the bar, but they'd decided they both liked the kiss enough to try it again…and again…and again. Now they'd been together for just over two years and neither had any intention of not making it to three.
It had been a very good thing for Ashley. He'd finally come to terms with his sexuality, something he'd tried to hide and had therefore been plagued with all through his teenage life. He'd started treating women better too because of this, so had a great deal more friends, along with a group of male friends who didn't have their clique based entirely on pack hierarchy. He had learned he didn't need to try and be the best at everything to be liked and that who he was was perfectly fine. He liked himself. And he loved Jinxx.
Jinxx never really talked about his life before Ashley, because he never really thought about it. What did it matter now? He'd always been open about his sexuality and that hadn't ever been easy on him. Now, at twenty-three, he didn't care anymore. Ashley was all that mattered.
He felt a sudden weight on his back and the two young men went down, sprawling on the shore, sending up a sand storm around them, screaming and laughing, and, unbeknown to them, rolling towards the water.
The splash came as a shock to the both of them and they broke away, shouting from the surprise of the hit of cold salt water, the temperature of which really had not been affected by the last burst of summer.
They stared at each other for a second, before bursting into laughter once more at the stunned expressions that had taken over both their faces. Ashley paddled over to Jinxx and pulled himself on top of him, his favourite place to be, even while waves washed over him. He locked his lips onto those he loved so much and slipped his tongue easily into its eagerly awaiting receptacle. He ran his fingers through the black hair which was starting to grow out before locking them in and pulling. Jinxx's hands found the end of Ashley's tank top and weaselled their way under it, exploring the creases and curves of the flat pack muscles, tracing the 'OUTLAW' tattoo which he knew off by heart now.
They stayed like that for who knows how long, kissing and feeling and being comfortable in each other's personal space. Eventually however, the tide began to come in, and one huge wave washed straight over their heads, the cold surprising them enough that they finally broke apart.
"You're all wet," Ashley giggled as he remembered they were both still sitting in the ocean.
"And whose fault is that?" Jinxx rolled his eyes and gave the younger boy a playful shove which sent him tumbling backwards into the salty brine. He stood up and offered his boyfriend a hand. Together, they trudged up the beach to where they'd left their blanket, holding hands, shivering but smiling. Seeing they were now truly alone on the sand, they shucked their clothes and wrapped up in a spare blanket before continuing where they'd left off.
It was dark the next time they surfaced for air. They lay on the sand and looked up at the stars, which were clearer than you could ever hope to see this close the city. Ashley was resting his head in the crook of Jinxx's arm and Jinxx stroked the younger man's hair soothingly, even though the caked in salt water could not have made it pleasant to touch. It was a beautiful night and one to be shared, and both were eternally grateful that they had someone to share it with.
"Jinxxy?" Ashley whispered using the pet name he only ever called his boyfriend by when they were alone.
"Yeah Ashy?" Jinxx asked, using his own back, half teasingly.
"I love you," he whispered, rolling over so he could bury his head in his boyfriend and breathe in his scent.
"I love you too, baby," Jinxx murmured, kissing Ashley's head and holding him close.
Soon, Ashley had drifted off. Jinxx moved him carefully so he could put his pants back on and pack up all their things besides the blanket he used to wrap his beautiful boy up in snug and warm. He carried Ashley back to the car and belted him in, before returning back for their possessions.
On the drive back home, Jinxx thought only about how he was the luckiest man alive.
Ashley dreamed about the day, the best of his life.
A month or so after Ashley's twenty-third birthday the two sat watching a movie in the living room, just a cosy night in. Jinxx had been acting odd and stand-offish for a couple of weeks, but Ashley put it down to the fact a couple of members of his band had been arguing with him and threatening to leave. Ashley had been in the same position before, so understood it could be quite stressful and definitely not a good mood setter.
Ashley himself had never been happier. He had a beautiful boyfriend, a comfortable sized apartment just out of town, a group of amazing friends and a steady job teaching bass. In July, it would be his and Jinxx's seventh anniversary and he already had plans to pop the question. He snuggled more into his beloved's arms, staring at the flashing images on the TV screen, but not concentrating on them, instead thinking of an expanding future with the man he was in love with. Engagement, wedding, adoption maybe, or a surrogate mother to donate eggs, old age…he couldn't wait for any of it, mostly because it was year upon year more with Jinxx.
The older man sat up suddenly, causing Ashley to fall away from him. He walked over to the TV and turned it off, throwing them both into darkness. Ashley wasn't sure what was coming next, but he knew what he hoped was.
He was proved wrong when Jinxx flicked the lights on and then just stood awkwardly by the switch, chewing his bottom lip nervously.
"Jinxxy, are you ok?" Ashley asked, starting to get nervous. What was going on?
"Ashley, I need to talk to you about something," Jinxx sighed. "I'm…not sure how to say it though…"
Ashley smiled reassuringly at his lover. "Just say whatever you need to say sweetie, it'll be ok."
Jinxx's heart broke at that and he almost didn't go on. But he had to.
"Ashley…I…I think we should…Ashley I'm breaking up with you." His voice was shaky, as though he were close to tears. He blurted it out so fast he wasn't even sure Ashley had heard him. And he gave no signs that he had. He just sat and stared at him, face an expressionless mask.
Eventually, after minutes of silence and staring, Jinxx couldn't take it so he just blathered on. "I'm so sorry Ashley, but I've met someone else. I…It was love at first sight…that sounds so corny and false, but it's true, I can't help how I feel, I don't want to hurt you, so I'm telling you the truth. I love you but…I can't stop thinking about her! I met her weeks ago and I tried to make these feelings go away, but I just can't. I don't want to lie to you; I'm not that sort of-"
Ashley cut him off, "She?"
Jinxx bit his lip harder, drawing blood, and nodded. "I'm sorry." He hung his head.
Ashley's world was spinning. Almost seven years. Seven. Fucking. Years. And that was trumped by some little tart and 'love at first sight'?! Jinxx couldn't be doing this, it must be some cruel practical joke, he'd slap him for it when he revealed the truth, this was not funny.
"I'll go," Jinxx whispered, turning to walk out of the room.
"No," Ashley stopped him. "This is your house, so I should leave, right? You'll need some place to move her in, won't you?"
"Ashley," his voice was breaking. His voice had no right to break. "Don't do this."
"Do what?" Ashley snapped. "All I'm doing is helping you out Jinxxy. I'm not crying or screaming or slapping you, or pleading with your or kissing you or…or anything that I want to be doing. I'm not reminding you we've been dating for six and a half years, or telling you I was already trying to pick out an engagement ring for you, or that minutes before you broke my heart I was imagining growing old with you. You have such timing, have I ever told you that?" Sick, humourless laughter bubbled at the back of his throat.
"Ashley, I don't want to do this!" Jinxx sobbed. "But I'm in love with her! It wouldn't be fair to leave you hanging any longer."
"No, you know what's not fair?" Ashley yelled. "Breaking up with you long term boyfriend for some whore you only just met! Being 'in love' with someone you barely know! I'm in love with you Jinxx! I'm in love with you!"
Jinxx moved his hand as though to slap him, but Ashley was too fast. He grabbed his wrist and then sent a right hook straight into one of those misty blue eyes he loved so much. That he hoped he'd never have to see again.
Before Jinxx could react, Ashley ran weeping into their bedroom and locked the door. A moment later there was pounding and shouting and pleading coming from the other side of it, but Ashley had already grabbed a large backpack from the closet and was stuffing in all of his possessions. He accidentally grabbed one of Jinxx's t-shirts. He paused with it in his hand for a second, before shoving it too into the quickly filling confines of the bag; he wasn't strong enough to leave without a keepsake. Finally, placing his toothbrush on the top (after 'accidentally' dropping Jinxx's in the toilet) he zipped the backpack closed and barged from the room, brushing past his ex and knocking him to one side as he swung the heavy bag onto his shoulder. Jinxx was saying stuff, yelling things after him, but he didn't listen. He strode out the door.
He kept his composure all the way down the hallway, through the elevator ride, out the front of the apartment building and across the street to where his car was parked. He started the engine and drove off at full speed away from his home. It was only hours of driving later that he broke down.
He pulled over to the side of the road and began to sob. He had lost his true love and now he had nowhere to go. All the friends he had, he had through Jinxx, they'd probably known about this girl of his dreams for a while now. And they hadn't told Ashley. He didn't want to see them.
Tonight was not the time to make any decisions. He crawled into the backseat and pulled Jinxx's t-shirt out from the backpack. It smelled heavily of its owner, so much it overwhelmed Ashley, though that wasn't particularly hard in his condition. He wrapped himself around the shirt as though in an embrace and began to sob chest-wracking, heart-wrenching sobs that rocked his body to sleep.
Three years later, Ashley, now a mature twenty-six year old, was over Jinxx. Sort of…maybe…not really. He liked to pretend he was though and he was getting pretty good at it. Sure, he slept around even more than he had as a teen, and was getting a reputation for being the bane of any pretty girl with blonde hair and large breasts, but he had adopted that as just another one of his charming bad boy flaws. He was now living in the middle of town, near the area he had run away to in his youth, but he lived in a proper apartment, though far dingier and smaller than the one he had shared with his ex-boyfriend. The crowd he'd fallen in with were more like that he'd had as a kid too and he was back to fiercely denying who he was. But almost three years of practise had dulled the pain that caused.
Besides all this, Ashley guessed he was happy. There was a lot missing from his life, but he could fill that easily with sex and alcohol. It had worked fine for teenage Ashley.
Now though, like it or not, he was older and arguably wiser. He wanted a purpose. And he thought that maybe he'd found one.
He'd contacted Andrew Biersack a week or so previously, in answer to an ad he'd seen asking if anyone wanted to join a band. Ashley had been in bands before and had found they were both fun and distracting. He doubted Biersack's little project would go far, but he was up for the entertainment, and drinking, that would most likely ensue.
Today, he was going to a café to meet Andrew Biersack for the first time. He was curious as to what he'd find.
Entering the café, it wasn't hard to spot the guy he was obviously looking for, though he was a little taken aback. They'd spoken on the phone, and Andrew had one of the deepest monotones Ashley had come across. He'd been expecting some gruff, butch guy into Scandinavian death metal.
Biersack looked like a twelve year old girl. He was stick thin, so much so that under his tight fitting cardigan he appeared to have curves. He had long black hair and wore black makeup, along with jeans almost as skinny as he was. And he couldn't have been out of his teens; it probably wasn't even legal for him to be out without an adult. All hope vanished from Ashley's mind; this was just some sunset stripper's kid chancing his arm. Still, he didn't want to disappoint the brat, plus he'd just been spotted.
He walked over, trying to put a smile on his face. Biersack stood up to shake his hand, which caused Ashley even more shock. This twelve year old with the chain-smoker's voice towered over him, he was definitely over six foot. He was a patchwork of contrasting factors. Ashley decided to hear him out, because at this rate he couldn't be more surprised if the kid wanted to start the next Blood on the Dance Floor.
"Ashley Purdy I take it?" the kid started in his deep voice. "We talked on the phone. Call me Andy."
"Alright then Andy," Ashley smiled, trying to humour him and sitting down. "So, you were saying something about a band?"
Andy nodded. "My band. Black Veil Brides."
"Cool name," Ashley nodded back.
"It comes from Roman Catholicism," Andy stated. "I'm an atheist personally, but I was raised in that belief system. When a nun marries into the church, she wears a black veil and there is a type of wedding ceremony, and she is referred to as a black veil bride. In becoming a nun, one gives up everything for the devotion to their faith, their freedom to indulge in life, and I admire that. In contrast, rock and roll is all about hedonism and the cardinal pleasures of life. However in a way, musicians too give up everything for their music. Therefore, Black Veil Brides."
Ashley once again found himself stunned. Never had he heard so much thought put into just a band name. Christ, these days you could steal characters from The Simpsons for your name and no one would bat an eyelid.
"That's an interesting concept," he said finally. "But what about the music side of things?"
"I founded the band back in 2006, and we have material out virally, only…" here Andy looked a bit awkward. "I find myself short some members…as in, all of them, bar myself."
Ashley laughed out loud at that. "You're definitely cut out for the rock world kid. The diva side anyway."
Andy didn't give any sign that he was amused or insulted. "I've convinced Hot Topic to sell our t-shirts, and am in the middle of producing our first music video with a couple of friends who offered to help out."
Ashley did a double take and choked. Andy passed him a bottle of water, which he took a grateful sip of before excusing himself to go buy a drink.
A video? Merch sales? The kid didn't even have a proper band yet it didn't seem to be affecting the Black Veil Brides! Ashley chuckled to himself again and looked over to little Andy Biersack, who was tapping at his phone. The kid was a lot cuter now Ashley knew there was a brain behind those big baby blues. Yeah, he'd noticed his eyes. How could you not? They jumped out at everyone he even glanced at. And so what if he thought the mismatched, gangly boy was cute? It was hardly legal. And he was straight. Yeah…straight…
Taking his coffee, he sat back down across from Andy. "How old are you kid?" he asked nonchalantly, taking a sip of the bitter liquid and deciding it needed sugar.
"Eighteen," Andy said. "So don't call me kid."
"Kid," Ashley stared him down, meeting his icy glare. "I'm twenty-six. I have done nothing with my life except screw it up over and over. You sell merchandise and make videos for a band that technically does not exist. By all rights, I should kill you and steal your life." He took another drink and enjoyed the fearful expression that flitted for a second across Biersack's calm exterior. "But I have a feeling you're some sort of chosen one and if I was in charge things would probably crash and burn. So I have a proposition for you. I've been in bands before, so I know people. I could probably find you some actual members. Additionally, I've been around the block, I know a lot about music, and I'm a dab hand at bass. You may be some sort of marketing genius, but I have experience. For example, you're trying for the whole KISS, Mötley Crϋe stage persona aren't you? We can do better than this, we can make it huge. Image is very important, if we exploit it, we can rule the rock scene. So, what do you say?"
Andy was quiet for a minute and looked down at the table, thinking. Then he looked up, and grinned so widely that his lip ring fell about it the piercing hole it rested in. "When can you start?"
"Right now, if you like," Ashley grinned right back. "Me and you kid, we can rule the world."
"No," Andy shook his head. "Me, you and the Outcasts; we can set the world on fire."
Ashley nodded, understanding at once. This wasn't just a look Andy was putting on, the big hair and makeup. It was who he was and he was probably tired of getting shit for it, Ashley had been there himself, although he had muscles to fight for himself, he wasn't even sure tiny Andy had sinew. This was his way of fighting back, for everyone in his position. In a snap decision, Ashley decided to do something idiotic.
"Hey Andy, do you want to do dinner Friday night?"
"To talk about Black Veil Brides?" Andy looked blank.
"Well I'm sure that'll be on the conversation menu, but no, I was thinking…you know…just to have dinner."
"Oh," Andy murmured. A blush crept into his icy white cheeks and for a moment Ashley was terrified he'd wrecked this too, before it had even started. Then, Andy took him back by saying, "I'd love to Ashley."
Ashley reached across and took his hand gently. "I look forward to it then."
"Asshole!" Andy yelled at the laptop, before slamming the lid shut.
"Don't take it out on the computer, it's not the expensive machine's fault Pan's king of the douches," Ashley sighed.
Andy huffed, then sighed and walked over to the couch to curl up in Ashley lap. The elder rubbed calming circles into his back and whispered soothing words as the younger buried his head in the nape of his neck.
A couple months later saw Black Veil Brides with more than one member, but down a guitarist. They'd been down two until they'd recently found young Jake Pitts to replace Chris Hollywood. Jake had offered to get them a replacement for Pan too, and was out getting said replacement right now, but Pan was still leaving his mark all over the band. The rumours he was starting were driving Andy to the end of his tether. The only thing that could make him feel better was the growing cult status of his brain child and his burgeoning relationship with one Ashley Purdy.
"Sickening," their drummer Sandra laughed from the corner, where she'd been beating at her set absentmindedly until recently. Andy stuck his tongue out at her and cuddled more into Ashley.
Ashley himself liked the boy a lot. He was young, but adorable once you got past the cold business man exterior. He cared desperately for his friends and his fans and his band and was wise beyond his years…in some ways. He'd grown up in suburban Ohio, which was not good training for the big city. Ashley kept him away from harm as much as he could. He in no way wrapped his young boyfriend up in cotton wool; he was all for people making their own mistakes, but not ones that could ruin his life or destroy anything he'd built.
As for memories of Jinxx…they were still there, but they were fading. They no longer hurt as much. Thinking of Andy could often shoo them away. And he was being true to his own identity again, which meant everything hurt a little less.
Jake jogged back into the practise area, which was just a little rented bunker in the middle of town, but they had all decorated to look pretty freaking awesome. Instruments lay everywhere and framed posters and records from all their inspirations lined the walls. They'd even dragged in an old, over stuffed couch and a thick, musty, carpet.
"Guys!" he announced, breathless. "I got him! My friend! Our new guitarist!"
Sandra pretended to be surprised and gasped. "No, that's not what you were out doing was it? Oh it's Christmas come early!"
Jake rolled his eyes and didn't dignify that with a response.
"Where is he then?" Andy asked. "Please tell me he's not invisible, that doesn't really fit in with the image we're going for."
"He's outside, I'll go get him," Jake said, poking his head round the door and called "Oi! Get your butt in here before they stop believing I'm useful!"
The new guitarist strode in and stopped, staring. The bottom fell out of Ashley's stomach.
It was Jinxx.
"Oh my god…" Jinxx muttered, staring in shock at the ex he hadn't seen since he'd stormed out their apartment.
Ashley did nothing, just buried his head in his hands and moaned.
The three other occupants of the room looked betwixt the two with puzzled expressions on their faces.
"Do you guys know each other?" Andy asked his, eyes full of questions as he addressed Ashley.
"Something like that," Jinxx replied first, his voice still low.
"None of you mind if we…have a chat, do you?" Ashley asked the room at large. Everyone gave them a confused go-ahead and the two walked out of the room.
They stared at each other, not sure where to begin. Eventually, Jinxx said "this isn't going to be awkward, is it?"
Ashley shrugged. "I'm more worried about it dragging up the past to be honest."
"Oh…" Jinxx studied his shoes as he shuffled on the spot, no entirely sure what to do with that.
Ashley was in half a mind to tell this guy to get stuffed and get the hell out of his life, before walking back into the practise room without him and making up some cockamamie story about how Jinxx was a bad egg and had screwed everyone over in the last band he'd been in, or something, but he knew he and Jake must be on good terms so he'd see right through that; plus there was Andy. He didn't want to ruin the chances of getting a highly skilled guitar player, for highly skilled Jinxx was, into his little baby's band just because three years ago the same guitarist had broken his heart. He was with Andy now, and he was happy with Andy. He refused to let Jinxx get to him in anyway. And if that meant working with him for the foreseeable future, then that was what he'd do. Plus, with BVB's track record at keeping remembers, there was every chance this newest recruit would be gone within a week. That is, if he was even in at all; for all he knew, Andy or Sandra would take a disliking to him. He wasn't even a member yet.
Ashley sighed. His mind was rambling and his ex was staring at him expectantly. "Look, go in there and show them how good you are; we could use a player like you."
"You mean that?" Jinxx asked, sounding amazed.
"Yes," Ashley sighed again, then stuck out his hand. "Let bygones be bygones?"
Jinxx grinned and shook the outstretched him. "Agreed."
He went to walk back into the others, when he noticed the other man wasn't moving, just staring off into space. "Ashley? You coming?"
"Are you still with her?" he blurted out.
Jinxx was slightly taken aback, but not really surprised he'd asked that question. "Yeah, we're still together." He paused, the decided he was fully within his rights to ask. "Are you…?"
"I'm with Andy," Ashley replied quickly.
"Oh." The fact the boy had been sitting his lap when he first entered the room should've been his first clue, but it hadn't really registered what with the shock of just seeing Ashley. "Ok. That's…nice I guess…should we go back in?"
Ashley grimaced. "In a second, I'll catch you up."
Jinxx paused, feeling he should say something else, but then just walked on in.
Ashley sighed for a third time, feeling he was doing that far too much. He buried his head in his hands and sank to his haunches. This was definitely going to turn out well.
Sammi Doll looked beautiful as she walked up the aisle, everything about her made up perfectly. Jinxx stood beside his brother, the perfect groom, tuxedo in place, eyes flooding with tears of happiness. The priest began to speak and vows were exchanged and twenty-eight year old Ashley Purdy zoned out.
Working with Jinxx these past two years hadn't been easy, but he'd managed. They'd even started rebuilding their friendship and he was always charming and kind to Sammi, who was, even it wasn't really her fault, the source of all his plight.
But their wedding…this was too much. This was like having his heart broken all over again.
Andy, hardly recognisable as the self-serving brat from the coffee shop, leant over to the man who was forgetting he was still his boyfriend and whispered "doesn't she look beautiful?"
Ashley nodded, not completely paying attention. "Yeah he does."
Andy looked Ashley in annoyance for a second, then just sighed and turned away. What was the point? He understood this must be hurting Ashley, in his shoes he'd feel terrible, but he and Jinxx had been separated nearly seven years. Surely after that long, he should mean just as much to his Outlaw? He crossed his arms and frowned. Apparently not.
The happy couple kissed under the altar and Sammi threw her bouquet. There was a clamour of hands to reach for it, but it handed right in Andy's lap. His cheeks flooded with colour as he clasped the bunch of flowers. Everyone around laughed and cat-called and elbowed Ashley suggestively; he paid no attention however and Andy's little bit of happiness was put out.
Picture Me Broken, who had offered to play for the wedding, what with being very good friends of both Sammi and Jinxx, particularly Dante, began playing Forevermore as Sammi and Jinxx descended back down the aisle to start the reception. Ashley bolted to the bar to start drinking away his pain, because it had always worked a treat before. Some people sighed or shook their heads, but no one stopped him. Andy reluctantly went and sat with him, even though he wanted to see the couple's first dance and then take a spin on the floor himself, because making an ass of yourself dancing was a wedding tradition, but even if Ashley was going to be a pain in the butt today, never let it be said Andy Biersack mistreated his lovers.
Later, after Ashley had been dragged away from the bar, he turned to his boyfriend and said "I need to talk to you."
Andy nodded, hoping, though doubting it, for some sort of apology for his behaviour. They wandered off away from the celebrations. The wedding had been held outside, so it wasn't hard to sneak off somewhere more private where their voices wouldn't carry.
"What is it Ashy?"
Ashley frowned. The kid used that nickname far more than was really necessary. There was cute, and then there was annoying. "Andy, I'm sorry, but…this isn't working." It was far less hard to break up with Andy than it had seemed for Jinxx to break up with him. Maybe Jinxx had put on a show though, because he didn't want to hurt Ashley more than he had to. Ashley really didn't care.
Andy was staring at him, saying nothing. "What do you mean?" he asked, his voice breaking. His blue eyes said he knew exactly what Ashley meant.
"I'm breaking up with you," Ashley moaned, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. "I'm not over Jinxx. There's no point pretending I love you anymore. I thought I did, but I don't. You were cute and a distraction. I'm in love with Jinxx."
Andy slapped him. Ashley hadn't expected that one. He gaped. Andy had tears spilling rapidly from his sparkling blue eyes, but besides that nothing about his composure was sad. He was furious.
"You're a totally asshole, Ashley Purdy," he snarled. "I love you! And now you tell me I mean nothing to you? That I was a distraction? A three year distraction?!" Now his sobs were coming into his voice, making him sound hysterical, which he probably was, though he was still making sense. "He's married! Jinxx is married, he just got married, did you not see that? Did you not notice it happening? You were in the front row!"
"I know he's married," Ashley said in a monotone. "That doesn't mean I can't love him though. And it doesn't stop me hurting you."
"If you didn't want to hurt me," Andy snapped, "then you wouldn't have told me I was a distraction. Fuck you!" He screamed in frustration, before running off.
Ashley sighed, wanting to feel worse than he did. But all he was feeling was an odd sense of déjà vu.
When he left the confines of the trees, the first thing he saw was Andy. Sammi and Jinxx had specifically picked an area where there was a fountain, and that was where the young man was, weeping into Jake's embrace while CC stood protectively by his shoulder. The guitarist and drummer glared at him as soon as he was spotted, murder in their gaze.
The second thing he saw was Jinxx, walking towards him with a deadly fury in his gait, expression matching that of their band mates. He didn't say a word, just grabbed Ashley and dragged him back off into the private confines of the tree cover.
"What the hell are you playing at Purdy?!" he yelled as soon as they were hearing distance away.
"I couldn't lie to him anymore," Ashley said without expression. "Sound familiar?"
He was certain Jinxx would hit him then and he screwed up his eyes to wait for the pain. But it never came. He opened an eye cautiously to see Jinxx just looking at him, with nothing but disappointment left in his misty blue eyes which Ashley loved so much.
"You broke his heart," he sighed. "Not only did you do that, you caused a massive scene on my wedding day. I could kill you, you know that?"
"But you won't?" Ashley whispered.
Jinxx paused, and then shook his head. "No. God knows why! But no."
Some sort of madness seized him then and without thinking, he grabbed the groom and kissed him like they used to kiss, in the bar, on the beach, in those six and half beautiful years.
As usual, those soft lips parted easily and danced just as he remembered. Their hands tangled in each other's hair and for a few beautiful moments they were lost in what could have been. This kiss could've been an everyday affair, this day could've been their day, they could've been together forever, Andy and Sammi could've never existed in their lives.
Then Jinxx shoved Ashley off of him. "What are you doing?!" he yelled.
Ashley tried to answer, but stopped short when he heard a small noise coming from a few feet behind them. They both looked at the same time.
Andy stood there, looking like some animal caught in headlights. Ashley didn't know how much he'd seen, but he could hazard a good guess. He ran off.
"Oh shit," Jinxx swore under his breath, before he ran off yelling the singer's name.
Ashley just lay back in the leaf-covered grass, gazing up at the twilight. He watched the stars come out and took in how much he'd fucked everything up so easily. He guessed you could never really escape your roots: once a screw up, always a screw up.
Ashley lay on the sofa in his apartment. Not the house he shared with Andy, the old tiny downtown one, caked with dirt and a true haven for vermin. He kept it because it was a safe place to take buxom blondes when the craving set in. Old habits die hard. Andy really had never been enough for him.
He was taking constant sips from the whiskey bottle he held in his hand. He felt, after fucking up not only his life, but Jinxx's, Sammi's, Andy's and pretty much destroying Black Veil Brides, that he deserved a stiff, stiff drink. Then again, when did he not think that?
He still worse his shirt and dress pants, but his shoes were on either side of the room, his jacket was hanging precariously out the window and his tie was draped over the doorknob in some kind of bitter joke that had amused him at the time. Still, the half a suit he wore served as the sore reminder that he knew he well deserved.
After that fiasco of a wedding, he doubted anyone wanted to see him again, which is why it came as a surprise to him when there was a knock at the door. He supposed it might be an old whore of his, though why any of them would come back was a mystery. They weren't looking for any more of a relationship with him than he was with them, probably most just wanted a place to share their sex addiction and their STDs. He should probably get himself checked one of these days…and tell Andy to do the same.
The knocking got more persistent, so he sighed and went to open it.
Jinxx stood outside.
Ashley rubbed his blurry eyes and stared. "What're you doing here?"
"Well," Jinxx said. "Your ex-boyfriend told my new wife about that kiss. So she is not very happy at me right now. I'm…really not sure where we stand. It's for her to decide though. I hope she does quickly, I want to know whether we're actually going to Rome tomorrow morning or not."
"God Jinxx, I'm sorry," Ashley sighed.
"Save it Purdy, that's not why I'm here." He barged in and sat down on the unkempt bed. "This is disgusting, you know that?"
"How did you know about here?" Ashley asked, rubbing the back of his head as he stood awkwardly in the doorway.
"We all know," Jinxx rolled his eyes. "You're not exactly subtle. We all love Andy though, he's just a kid underneath it all really, and we didn't want to see him hurt. Seems we may have failed, but at least we tried."
Ashley tried to look sorry, but he couldn't muster it. "Why are you here?" he asked instead.
Jinxx looked awkward. "Well…I…think I may have made a mistake."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean," he sighed, "when I gave up my boyfriend of almost seven years for a girl I barely knew. That was…a dick move in all honesty."
"Yeah it was," Ashley agreed. "Where's this going?"
Jinxx chewed at his lip and gestured for Ashley to sit down, which he did. "That kiss earlier," he said slowly. "I…I miss that."
"I don't think I need to say that I do too."
"No…do…do you think we could maybe…"
Before he even finished, Ashley was kissing him again. It was much like all their other kisses, but they both agreed later that it was the best they'd ever shared.
"Are you sure?" Ashley asked in a breathy voice when they finally broke apart.
"Yes," Jinxx whispered, and then pulled him back down.