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Chapter Thirteen

“A party,” Zacky repeated. “On Saturday night?”

“Yes,” Lysander confirmed, nodding his head for emphasis. “It’s just a few streets away.”

The whereabouts of the party didn’t bother Zacky in the slightest. It wasn’t getting there or back again that had made the concern shoot through him at the mention of the very word. It was the memories he had, the memories of the numerous parties he himself had attended at the tender age of fifteen. He could remember it like it was yesterday – the drinking, the booming music, the drugs. It didn’t matter who had hosted the party. Somehow, these three things had managed to remain a constant. And looking on now, he could see why his mother had detested his attending them so much. Why she had worried whenever he went to one.

He hated the thought of his son getting caught up in these things. The drinking he could maybe handle, if it was kept to a minimum. But drugs? No. Not after he had seen the damage they could do. It was probably the one thing that he would really put his foot down about. He had been stupid enough to get involved with them at such a young age - he wouldn't let his son go making the same mistakes.

But he had to think about this properly. He and Lysander were two very different people. At fifteen, Zacky had been wild and carefree, taking to the streets with the feeling of being invincible. He’d been one of the cool kids, always out partying and drinking and generally making a nuisance of himself. His son wasn’t like that at all. If anything, they were complete opposites. If he wasn’t at school, Lysander was at home keeping mostly to himself. He didn’t talk back when he was asked to do something, he’d shown no signs of having any troubles at school, and he’d mentioned only one new friend in passing.

He didn’t seem like the kind of kid who would get into drinking and doing drugs. But then, it was the quiet ones you had to watch out for.

Zacky looked across the table to his wife, who had gone on eating her dinner in silence while the father and son had conversed. She was staring down at her peas as she chewed, a vacant expression on her face. Despite this, he knew she had been listening. She was attentive. Zacky cleared his throat.

“Gen? What do you think?”

She looked up at him.

He watched on as she swallowed and then took a few moments to consider her answer. Lysander watched her expectantly, attentive to her every move.

“I think it would be fine,” she said at long last. “As long as he’s home by, say...no later than two.”

“Sounds reasonable,” Zacky admitted almost reluctantly. He hated to admit it, but he had half hoped that Gena would say it was a terrible idea and refuse to let the boy go. “Ly?”

“It sounds great,” the boy said. “Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Gena.”

Zacky nodded and returned his attention to the food in front of him, all the while trying to ignore the thoughts that kept cropping up in his mind. Thoughts of everything that could go wrong at this party. But maybe kids had changed since he’d been at school. And even if they hadn’t, he reminded himself again, Lysander was responsible. He wouldn’t go getting himself into trouble.

When dinner was done and the dishes were well on their way to being clean, Gena settled herself onto the couch to watch a movie and Lysander returned to his bedroom, where he was apparently working on a few different homework assignments. Having no desire to watch 500 Days Of Summer with his wife for what could have been for the hundredth time, Zacky retreated to what he liked to think of as his office.

He found Ichabod in the room, sleeping soundly on the chair that Brian had occupied only a few days earlier. He stoked the dogs head gently as he sat down at his desk, where he decided that he would finally log on to 6dgrz to see what the fans had been saying since his last message had been posted. It wasn’t something that he would usually do – but then, this message wasn’t anything like what they usually posted. There was a burning curiosity within him that made him want to know what people were saying about this, and so he signed in and went in search of the comments.

For the most part, they were what he had expected. People congratulating him on being a father; people saying how sorry they were that this was happening; people sending their well-wishes and praying for Dakota’s safe return. But every so often, he’d come across something he didn’t expect and it would stop him in his tracks.

The first instance of this was when he found a comment bitching at him, pointing out that he mustn’t be an all-that-great father if it took him fifteen years to release that he was one in the first place. The years of being a musician under the watchful eye of the media had helped Zacky to develop a thick skin, but this was a different circumstance. This wasn’t a critic telling him that he was an awful guitarist – this was a fan telling him that he was a horrible father.

He had to grit his teeth and force himself to keep scrolling.

The second instance was when he found a comment from a girl who declared herself to be one of Dakota’s original “fans” from “before all this happened”. It went on to say that she was glad Dakota had finally been recognised by Avenged Sevenfold and that she couldn’t wait to see what it would bring about. He spent little time dwelling on this comment. He had no way of knowing whether this girl was for real or whether she was just attention seeking, and it didn’t matter to him either way.

He’d been about to close down the browser when something had caught his eye.

There was Lysander’s name, clear as day, planted right in the middle of a comment. He went back to read the entire thing – On her profile there’s a picture of her with her twin. I think it said his name was Lysander. Does that make you his father, too? – and his heart sank. Lysander had specifically asked not to be mentioned, but it seemed it hadn’t mattered. The fans, as always, had discovered him regardless.

Ignoring the obvious stupidity of the question, Zacky made a move to delete the comment. But what was the point? It was already several days old and the damage was already done – several comments below this one confirmed it. The word was out and they were just going to have to deal with it as best they could. With a frown, he closed off the comments and went back to the band’s profile page.

He glanced at the ceiling. His son was up there, completely oblivious to the fact that his life had just taken yet another turn. He wasn’t going to like it – of that Zacky was almost certain, so he dreaded the thought of having to tell the boy what had happened.

Tomorrow, he told himself. He would wait until tomorrow to break the news. Lysander deserved at least one more night of peace.

He typed Dakota Vengeance into the search bar and located the girl’s profile. Not surprisingly, her profile had gained thousands of new comments within the days that Zacky’s message had been up – a vast majority of them friendly, he was pleased to see. But he didn’t linger to read these. Instead, he clicked through to the photos that he had failed to look at the last time he had been on her account.

He took his time going through them all. Dakota smiled back at him and most of them, sometimes on her own and sometimes with a few of her friends. At one point he came across a picture of his band, one from the days when Jimmy had still been with them, and the tiniest of smiles made its way across his lips. But then he was clicking through to the next photo – the photo that had revealed his son to the world.

Me and my twin brother, Lysander.

Such a simple caption, but that was all it took. His eyes trailed over the picture, taking in every inch of it slowly and carefully. For the first time, he was able to see his children together – and he hated that it had to be through a photograph. He would much rather have had them together already, but he would take what he could get.

They stood back-to-back as they smiled at the camera. Lysander was taller by several inches, putting Dakota at perhaps five foot four. She had the wider smile and laughter in her eyes. Lysander looked happier, too. It was hard not to notice this. Zacky hoped to see him smile like that himself, perhaps when Dakota made a re-entrance into her brother’s life. Until then, Zacky would do his best.

He saved the picture to his desktop, knowing that it was something he would cherish forever. He had no baby photos of the pair of them, so this was his way of compromising. The first picture he had seen of them together – he would print it and frame it, he decided. Maybe even stick a copy in his wallet.

He had to chuckle to himself. What was he turning into?

He shut the computer down and turned to look to the spacious closet where he kept his guitars and everything that went with them. From this angle, he could only see the stack of amplifiers that he had against the far wall, but he didn’t need to see the room in its entirety for it to call to him.

He retrieved his acoustic guitar from its depths. The instrument, being the first acoustic that he had obtained, was more than likely the oldest thing in the closet, but it was also one of the most loved. It was the instrument that Zacky always chose to pull out when he was just on his own with a little time to himself. It was the instrument that so many riffs had been written on, though very few people knew this.

Having it in his hands now made him feel a little bad.

When something big happened in their lives, the band tended to write about it. When Jimmy had passed, they’d practically worked him into an entire album on top of having a song dedicated to him. When Harmony had been born, Brian had come to them with one of the most heartfelt songs that Zacky had ever heard – one that he couldn’t wait to see the fans’ reactions to once the next album was finally released. Even Matt’s Call of Duty addiction had spawned a song from them, as insignificant as some people may have believed it to be.

And here was Zacky, with the biggest thing ever to have happened to him unfolding with every passing day, and he hadn’t even attempted to write about it.

Dakota had written about him – not in verse, but in prose. Lysander had told him as much. He’d even gone as far as to show him one when he’d managed to locate it online. It hadn’t been much – fifteen hundred words or so detailing a first meeting that had yet to truly pass – but it had brought a smile to Zacky’s face and made him feel guilty all in one shot.

He wanted to write about her, too. But lyrics were not his forte.

He knew what Matt would say to that – try. But he didn’t want to try only to have himself fail, just like he had already failed the girl in every other aspect of her life. Until she was safely under his roof, he would always be a failure when it came to her.

He couldn’t write lyrics. Not yet. But he could always work on a tune. And no sooner had the thought occurred to him were his fingers working their magic. He hummed to himself as he played, the minor chords drifting all around him to form a soft, sad sort of melody. But it wasn’t anything spectacular. It wasn’t something that he considered worthy of such an important task.

He had to wonder at whether he himself was even up to it.

But if he couldn't do it, then who would? The rest of the band would be more than capable, he knew, but this was something personal. This was something that he felt he should be able to do on his own. Or if not on his own, than with the help of somebody who knew the intricacies of the situation as well as he himself did. He would ask Lysander, figuring it was worth a shot even if the boy had never made an indication of having an interest in music. Dakota, on the other hand...

He could imagine her being only too willing to help - and he was ready to let her. He already knew that she had an interest in music and that she was more than just a decent pianist, and he loved knowing that he could help her get somewhere with that. He had those connections. It was probably the single greatest thing he could do for her to make up for the years in which he had failed to be a part of her life.

The thought made him smile.

The rest of the house was silent by the time he surrendered the acoustic and gave in to his body's need to sleep. He shut off the light in his office and began his trek through the darkened house, relishing in the rare moment of peace. It was such an uncommon thing in his life that when it did happen, he had to take a moment just to appreciate it.

Lysander's door was slightly ajar as he made to pass it, so he stuck his head in just to check on the boy. He found him sleeping soundly, physics textbook abandoned on the nightstand and iPod earphones still nestled in his ears. He considered for a moment removing the device and leaving it with the book, but he couldn't bring himself to risk the disturbance of such a peaceful scene. He closed the door over once more and went on his way.

Gena's calm, even breathing was the first thing Zacky heard when he entered the master bedroom. He made a point of stripping down to his boxers in complete silence so as not to wake her, knowing that she would not appreciate being disturbed. It was almost two in the morning - he wouldn't have appreciated it either.

She stirred but did not wake as he slid under the covers beside her and wrapped his arms securely around her midriff. He breathed in the scent of her - lavender from the soap that she used, and something floral in her shampoo that had enjoyed not being able to name. Not knowing exactly what the flower was made it more personal. It made it hers, and it was something that he would use to remember her for the rest of his life - most importantly when he was away on tour.

He absently reached out and brushed her hair away from her closed eyes. The two of them had spent more time together that day while Lysander was at school than they had in a long time, and it had been nice. At first Zacky had been worried that his wife may revert back to her favourite conversation - the one that always inevitably led to their argument about whether or not they should start a family - but he had been pleasantly surprised to find that she didn't. She appeared to have taken his words to heart and was giving him the time that he needed to adjust. He wanted to thank her for it; he made a mental note to do just that.

The week ahead of him was a busy one, though. The band were scheduled to meet up three times before the weekend even hit and he had already dedicated his Wednesday to doing some much needed work on his clothing line. He could always put that off for another week, of course. Gena would always be more important to him than Vengeance University. The fans could wait a little longer for new designs - it wasn't like they knew that they were on the horizon, anyway.

And then there was the inevitable preparing for Dakota that he really needed to start thinking about. He'd been lucky that he already had a spare room set up when he had discovered that Lysander was coming along, but he didn't have a second room at the ready and that bothered him. Truth be told, he was even less prepared for Dakota's arrival than he had been for Lysander's in every way. It didn't matter that his son had already told him what he could expect - the nerves still rose up in him again.

But he shook these thoughts from his mind. It was two in the morning and definitely not the time to be stressing himself out over things that were going to have to wait a few days regardless.

He closed his eyes and willed himself to relax, to let sleep come. Along with Gena's breathing came the sound of the waves on the not-so-distant beach and the cars still driving up and down the never quiet Pacific Coast Highway. These were the sounds that he had grown up around - the sounds that were familiar and comforting to him, as strange as it may have seemed to people.

And so it was these sounds that managed to help him drift off into the land of nod at long last.


I read this here, I read this at Mibba. I'm just obsessed with this story! I love it!
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores
Update! Soon! Please!
I can't help reading this twice. I love it! LOVE IT!!!
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores
I read this on Mibba & I re-read it here! It's really great.
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores
Update soon or i will DIE