BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Chapter 10

October 22th, 2016
Munich, Germany
Heart of fire - Black Veil Brides

Feeling the sweat running down his temples, back, and entire body, Søren followed the guys backstage. It was close to one in the morning, but he still felt full of energy.

After getting rid of all the gear, the crew started packing, preparing everything to be sent back home. Boxes, cables, and music cases were all over the floor. The place was dim-lit and looked like a garage after a natural disaster, but he loved that frantic atmosphere.

He had been swimming in uncomfortable numbness for the last two weeks. Some kind of haze where all he was able to do was complain about everything like a cranky old man, watching what Alex ate, drank, or smoked, following his every move since they arrived in Germany, worrying about their future as a band as he tried to keep his own demons at bay.

Søren was exhausted but, even with a disastrous past biting his ass again, he felt blessed. Being there, in his element, made him feel alive, like he could finally breathe after a long time underwater.

“That was amazing, guys!” The raspy voice of his friend said from behind them as they were walking down the corridor.

Søren couldn’t hide the smile. “Hey, As!” Søren exclaimed as they all turned. “Could Hilde cover for you at work?”

“Yeah. I couldn’t miss the concert! It’s been a while since the last time I saw you playing.” Her dark red lips curled up as she walked towards him, pale green eyes glowing with enthusiasm.

“I’m sweating like a pig,” he warned her as she was about to hug him.

“Oh, yeah! Can smell it from here,” she said as she stepped back, crinkling her nose.

“Thank you” He chuckled.

“Aw! You came to see me?” Ian quipped.

“You wished,” Astrid retorted.

“Ah! My heart!” the guitar player put both hands over his chest, faking being hurt.

“Shut up!” She rolled her eyes but couldn’t hide her smile.

“Are you coming to the party?” Jørn asked her, wiping the sweat from his forehead, white t-shirt stuck to his skin.

“And see how your fans flutter around you like needy bitches?” She flashed them a smug grin. “Can’t miss that show!”

“We might meet someone else tonight,” Ian wiggled his eyebrows and elbowed Søren, who ended up snorting.

“Who?” Astrid asked, crossing her arms, a wrinkle showing between her eyebrows.

“The woman that customized that old guitar for Søren,” Alex replied.

“Oh.”

Søren didn’t know if that was good or bad; after so many years he knew she didn’t like any outsiders coming into their group. Many people had left her behind, creating a sense of insecurity and fear in her that made her think everyone had ill intentions and wanted to use her friends for their own interests. She had always been the protective one, never doubting to punch someone in the face for them, but she was also wary and suspicious. She even had a hard time accepting Ian and Jørn at the beginning, and with women it was even worse—Ian’s wife and Hilde being the only exceptions.

“We’re going to shower so we can go,” Søren said as he pushed Ian towards the dressing room. “Be right back!”

“Hm… So handsy! Is this some kind of invitation?” the Irish said with a lewd tone.

“You know you don’t need any kind of invitation, Sweetcheeks.” Søren put his arm around his shoulder, wiggling his eyebrows at him. “If I don’t get a good fuck tonight, prepare the Vaseline.”

“Oh, I like the sound of that!”

They were both very straight and comfortable with their sexuality, that’s why they didn’t care what others thought when they joked like that. Besides, it was hilarious watching people’s confused faces when they fake-flirted. It was also the best way to get rid of annoying groupies—except for those times when they still wanted to screw them.

Together.

That wasn’t happening.

As much as they respected and supported the LGTBQ community, there was no way they would get in bed with another cock. Okay, maybe they would if the situation was too lurid to ignore—it had happened before—but for sure not with each other, that would be like incest or some sick shit like that.

“You’re so disgusting!” Alex shouted as he walked past them.

“Aw! Are you jealous?” Ian cried as he followed him into the room. “You know I have enough for both of you!”

“Hell no!” the bassist yelled as he showed him the middle finger.

“Leave the kid alone!” Jørn chuckled as he entered the room and saw Ian groping Alex’s ass, making Søren laugh when he elbowed him in the ribs.

“I’m not a fucking kid!” He retorted. He wasn’t but he was the youngest.

“Oh, you are… But I can help you turn into a man,” Ian mocked him.

“This is called harassment!” Alex groaned, not able to hold the laughter anymore as he was trying to get away from Ian with the towel around his waist.

Søren watched them running towards the showers as he was undressing. Maybe it was the positive vibes after the concert that gave them a sense of touching the surface with their fingertips after having hit rock-bottom, but feeling the air after drowning for so long was pure bliss.


The moment they stepped into the club his eyes scanned the place. With the adrenaline running through his veins when they walked backstage Søren couldn’t focus on anything, the thrilling sensation taking over everything. But once he calmed down, all he wanted was to find Leah. When their eyes locked during the concert, his entire body set aflame, awakening a need he hadn’t experienced in… forever and wanted to feel it again.

There were two areas with backlit black metal counter bars, people gathering around. A dance floor in the middle, already packed. The red and purple lights were enough to see where he was going but not so much to distinguish people’s faces if they were more than a few feet away.

Dark flooring, high ceilings, metallic columns, and details. Pounding music flooding the space. It looked industrial and fancy at the same time.

Members from the different bands that had played in the festival, fans that had bought the golden ticket, photographers, the press, a couple of famous producers. But none of them were the person Søren was hoping to see there.

“Looking for the hottie?” Ian asked as he approached him, a beer already in his hand.

“What?”

“Stop playing dumb. We all know what you want to do to her.”

“That’s not why I’m looking for her.”

“Uh-huh… That’s why you invited her.”

“Who do you think I am?”

“Fornicator?” Ian laughed, making Søren roll his eyes. “I’m just messing with you but be honest... Given the chance, you wouldn’t bang her?” He looked at him narrowing his eyes, a smug smile on his face.

“Yes. No! Fuck you! She’s hot, but she’s less receptive than a fucking lettuce.”

Ian burst out laughing.

“What?”

“That’s why you’re so keen on finding her, to see her under a different light and confirm if she’s really immune to you.”

“Whatever.”

Søren knew she wasn’t immune to him. She had deceived him at first the day they met, but once her walls had crumbled down, he saw she was nervous. She stammered and blushed a couple of times. He even caught her staring. However, she didn’t drop to her knees. Collected, cold, and sarcastic, she wouldn’t easily give in, no matter who he was or how he looked. And he did love a challenge.

“Here you have your alcohol-free beer,” Astrid said as he handed him his beer bottle. “I don’t know how you can drink that donkey piss knowing you won’t get drunk at all.”

“First of all, I like beer and this is the only thing I can drink that won’t make me hyperactive, vomit, or feel like a damn five-year-old boy drinking lemonade from the neighbor’s stand. Second, you’re judging like that shit’s much better.” He pointed to her drink, chuckling.

Vodka and lemon. It smelled like cologne to him. After spending years drowning his neurons, and torturing his liver with distilled spirits he couldn’t stand their smell now.

“Whatever.” She giggled.

“How are my chunks?”

“They’re good, they’re good. To be honest I almost didn’t come so I could stay with them. They’re so adorable.”

“I know,” he proudly stated.

“Anyway… Did you hear anything else from him?”

As she asked that question, Søren tensed. She was the only one he had told about the call he got from the hospital where his father was. She could act like a brat sometimes, but she was also like an eighty-year-old woman on the inside and usually gave good advice.

“Don’t want to talk about that right now,” Søren simply said. If there was a topic that could ruin the mood, was that one.

“Okay… Sorry.”

“How was your trip?” Jørn asked her when he, Ian, and Alex joined them.

“Good. I fell asleep right away.” She took a sip from her drink. “How was Mikael’s meeting?”

“Interesting.” Alex smirked.

“They seemed to be very interested in us, enough to study their offer and make it better,” Jørn told her.

“That’s great!” Astrid beamed. She was aware of how important that was for them after having to put up with their gloomy asses during the last year. “For the new opportunities!”

“Cheers!” Alex raised his glass and drank.

Søren glanced at him with a scowl when the distinctive smell of Whiskey flowed from his cup. It had been years since he had a drop, but there was no doubt.

Alex wasn’t locked anymore, but he was still in rehab, he wasn’t even halfway through his treatment and, although his problems were with other types of drugs, alcohol was supposed to be banned too. What was he playing at?

Scoffing and clenching his jaw, Søren looked to the other side. He wasn’t his mother and didn’t want to make a scene in a place like that and ruin the night for everyone. Alex was an adult capable of taking his own decisions, even if they were wrong.

“Oh my God!” a girl squealed.

“Can we take a picture with you?” her friend asked in a high-pitched voice.

“Well… It’s business time!” Ian sang as he approached them. “Hello, ladies!”

Søren looked at Jørn and smiled in defeat. As tiring as that was, it was part of their job. Besides, talking to the fans that had paid a ridiculous amount of money for the black tickets, listening to their nervous blabbering and their silly jokes always lightened his mood whether he wanted or not.

At the beginning of their career that was all he cared about. He was addicted to the compliments and unhealthy devotion, the obsession that made him feel he was someone. While he was on stage, sharing a musical experience with a large group of people, he didn’t think about anything, he was able to drown his demons out. But after that, he went back to the dressing room and all he had left was an ephemeral sensation of pride and loneliness.

Quitting drugs and alcohol, helped him realize that they had to be happy with people liking them, it was fun, but he couldn’t live or die by the praise. He had to like himself or he would get swallowed by the nothingness following him everywhere.

They took a few pictures with a group of girls in their early twenties. Then, chatted with them for a while. Hearing them say how they loved their music and especially their song called Vacuity made him want to call their parents. That song talked about how alcohol and drugs can mess up one’s life. How some people walk their lives without trusting or loving anyone. One-night stands, sex with strangers you wouldn’t recognize the morning after, blackouts, and the emptiness all that made one feel.

Thank the Gods, Ian barged in just in time to stop him from snapping—that wouldn’t have been pretty. Putting his arm over his shoulders the Irish almost forced him to smile as they listened as they went on telling him about how they would love to find someone like that and put his pieces back together.

Later, he spent some time talking with a couple. They had met at one of their concerts and their love for their music brought them together soon after that. Søren couldn’t help but smile. He wasn’t a softie but a cute story was a cute story. Right?

As the night went on, everything calmed a little and they were finally able to go up to the VIP area. Ian was talking to the members of another band while Jørn and Søren were leaning on the glass railing, doing some small talk. Astrid and Alex were sharing a couch, engrossed in what seemed like a heated conversation—they weren’t yelling but their frowns told him they sure were having some sort of quarrel.

Søren rolled his eyes and sighed. He was about to approach them but then, Jørn patted on his shoulder. “She’s over there.” He motioned with his head.

It was dark but the light coming from inside the bar made it easier for him to see her. Leah was relaxed, joking with two of the men he had seen in the magazine’s picture, enjoying her night out. He liked seeing her like that.

He studied her from top to bottom. Her outfit wasn’t too revealing, but it was tight enough to show her perfectly sculpted curves. Tight, ripped jeans combined with a sexy long-sleeve top. Hair tied in a high ponytail, giving him some kinky ideas. He tilted his head, completely zoned in on her. There was something about her that demanded attention, almost commanded it, and he couldn’t take his eyes off of her.

“You should invite them over here,” Jørn commented with a funny tone of voice as Søren probably had a ridiculous expression on his face.

After hesitating for a second, he nodded. “Okay, be right back.”

Walking down the metal stairs, he realized Leah wasn’t with her friends anymore. And they looked kind of... Angry?

Søren followed their gaze and saw her walking away, right behind a man he hadn’t seen before. He couldn’t be a boyfriend or they wouldn’t be that tense… With nothing to lose, and curious about what was going on, he decided to go after them.

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