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Chapter Seven

Brian had some of the best ideas.

When he brought it up, Zacky immediately felt stupid. It was such an obvious thing that he was kicking himself for not having thought of it himself. It didn't matter how much Brian reminded him that his mind had obviously been elsewhere, that he'd had more important things to be dealing with in recent days. He still whole-heartedly believed that it should have been the first thing to come to mind when his son had come to him asking for help.

"Why don't you get the fans involved?"

They were everywhere - every country, every major city and every place in between. They had hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans that read their online updates, that latched on to news about the band. Something like this - the opportunity to help find a missing girl who was the long lost daughter of one of their favourite guitarists - was just the sort of thing their fans would be good at.

Why hadn't they done this earlier?

That was how Zacky found himself at the computer, a Microsoft Word document open in front of him and his hands poised over the keyboard. When it came to communicating with the fans, he and Matt were always the ones left to do the writing. Everybody knew they were the best at it. Zacky in particular had a way with his words and yet, when it was most important that he get his message out, he found himself at a complete loss. Where was he supposed to start? How was he supposed to ask his fans for help in finding a girl that even he didn't know the look of? How was he supposed to tell him that he was suddenly the father of two fifteen-year-olds?

"Maybe she has a FaceSpace page or whatever," Brian suggested. He had his chair turned backwards, his arms slung over the back-rest of it. "You can get pictures off that, right?"

It was worth a shot, Zacky agreed.

Facebook had started fading out of popularity in late 2013 when the girl would only have been thirteen herself, so he doubted that she would have a page there. Still he logged into the band's account and checked, only to discover that he had been right. There was no Dakota Maverick listed that fit the profile he was searching for. He navigated instead to the site that had taken over the social networking universe after Zuckerburg's child had faded out.

6dgrz had crept up out of the shadows and taken the world by surprise. In just a few short months of its official release, it had become the favourite networking site of just about everybody that Zacky knew. Of course, there were still those last lingering loyal MySpace users, but those were mostly people in their mid-twenties. Once again he logged into the band's page and pulled up a search. He typed in Dakota Maverick, hit enter, and waited.

The search came up empty.

"Maybe you're not spelling it right," Brian said, though even he sounded doubtful. "Maybe lose the k on Maverick?"

"What are you doing?"

Both men turned at the sound of the voice. There in the doorway, golden hair framed in the warm afternoon light that filtered down the hall, stood Lysander. Zacky glanced at the clock - how hadn't he noticed that school had been out? - and then looked back at his son. He cleared his throat.

"We were looking for your sister," he replied simply.

Lysander made his way across the room tentatively. He stood at Zacky's side, looking over his shoulder to see what was on the computer screen. A tiny smile lifted up the corners of his lips as he read the name in the search bar.

"Close," he mused, "but not quite."

He took the keyboard from Zacky and made his corrections quickly before hitting the search key. Zacky couldn't help a smile of his own when he saw what had been changed. The name in the search bar now read Dakota Vengeance.

Up popped a profile.

"And there you go," Lysander said. He put a hand on the back of Zacky's chair to steady himself. "That's her."

Zacky clicked through to the profile.

He was met with the face of a bright-eyed, dark haired girl. His first impression was that this couldn't be her. In his mind, she had looked just like her brother - blonde haired and blue eyed, tall and athletic. And while this girl most definitely had the same steel blue eyes as his son, her hair was a dark shade of brown and she looked so fragile that all thoughts of athleticism flew out the window. But the more he stared, the more he knew it to be the truth. This was Lysander's sister. This was Dakota. They had the same lips, the same nose, the same facial structure.

So this was his daughter.

"Synyster Gates, right?" Lysander was saying. "I'm Lysander."

"It's good to finally meet you," Brian replied, shaking the boy's hand just as Matt had done. "Call me Brian. Gates is my alter-ego."

Zacky left them to make their own introductions. He knew he probably should have been the one to do it, but as soon as Dakota's picture had appeared on the computer screen he found that he simply couldn't think straight. He would have liked to say that had he passed her on the street he would have looked twice at her, but that wasn't the truth. She looked a lot like most of the girls that Zacky would see at his shows, so much so that he wouldn't have been surprised if he'd seen her before and looked right by her. He felt guilty for it, even though he knew it wasn't entirely his fault. If he had known he had a daughter out there, chances are he would have looked harder.

But even then, would he have noticed her?

When he finally managed to tear his eyes away from the photograph, the first thing that he noticed was that there were videos posted to her profile. He clicked through to the newest one - posted just over three months ago - and hit play without a second thought. He felt rather than saw his son grab a chair and sit down beside him. All eyes were focused on the screen.

Up came Dakota, so busy tying her long hair back that she didn't seem to notice that the camera was even rolling. Those were always the greatest moments, Zacky knew - the moments when people didn't need to worry about what people would think of them, the moments of solitude spent between friends and family, out of the public eye.

She was sitting at a piano. Her fingers met the keys lightly the moment that she was done with her hair, giving them a few experimental strokes before she turned and looked to some point just above the camera.

"All right. I'm ready when you are."

"It's already rolling," came Lysander's response from somewhere off-screen. He chuckled at the dark look that she gave him for it. "Just get on with it, huh?"

Dakota shot the camera a quick smile before she turned back to her instrument. At once she was playing, and then a moment later singing, and Zacky found himself paying attention somehow even more than he had been before. He didn't recognise the song (the caption under the video declared it to be "Amelia" by Tonight Alive) but he didn't need to know the song to recognise a decent musician when he heard one. Her playing was flawless - whether from hours of practice or a natural talent, he couldn't be sure - and her singing was good enough that he couldn't have complained if he'd wanted to. But, it occurred to him, as her father he might be biased.

He looked to Brian. The older man's eyes were still fixed on the screen, his lips parted ever s slightly. It wasn't until the song had ended and the camera had stopped rolling that he finally turned to his friend.

"Kid's got talent," he said. Then, turning to Lysander, he asked, "Lessons?"

"Piano lessons since she was five," the boy confirmed. "None for the singing, though." He gave a little chuckle. "She'd die if she knew you two had watched that. She always wanted you to see."

"I just wish we'd seen it earlier," Zacky admitted. "I would have liked to surprise her with a little comment."

He went back to her main profile page, his eyes once again landing on her photograph. She smiled back at him.

"Y'know," Lysander started, "if you wanted to know about my sister, all you had to do was ask. I can tell you a whole lot more than any Internet profile can."

"Actually, we were looking for pictures more than anything," Zacky replied. "Brian had the idea to ask the fans for help in finding her, but we needed a photo so people would know what she looks like."

Lysander looked between the two men, and Zacky wasn't quite sure what to make of the boy's expression. Was it disbelief? Surprise? Doubt? Zacky felt almost hurt at the thought.

"You'd really do that?" Lysander asked. "I mean...getting your fans involved, that might end in you having to tell them who she is to you."


"So...are you really ready for them to know?"

Zacky hadn't even considered it. Although he had never intentionally considered keeping it from the fans, he had never entertained the thought of telling them, either. But now that he was, he found he wasn't bothered by it in the slightest. Telling the fans about an addition to the family was always a welcomed thing, and this time would be no different.

"Of course I am," he replied at once. But then, it wasn't only his decision to make, was it? He quickly added, "As long as yourself and your sister would be okay with it, of course."

"Dakota would be fine with it," Lysander said confidently, "but I'd prefer if you didn't mention me. At least not yet. I'm not ready for the sorts of responses that could bring."

Zacky nodded. If Lysander wasn't ready for the world to know about him, Zacky wasn't about to force it upon him. He knew all too well what it was like to have so much unwanted attention. It wasn't something he was about to put his son through if he wasn't prepared for it.

He turned back to the computer and pulled up the Word document once again. The blank page stared back at him, the little blinking cursor mocking him. He had thought knowing what Dakota looked like would make his job here a whole lot easier, but Lysander had complicated it by pointing out that this was bigger than just asking for help - this was informing the entire fan base that he had suddenly, unexpectedly become a father.

He thought back to Brian and Michelle's announcement. It had been short and simple: Brian and Michelle are pleased to announce the arrival of their daughter, Harmony Jean Haner. But things weren't going to be that simple for him. There was no birth to report. Instead, there was a positive paternity test and a lot of hard work done by his lawyer. But those weren't things the fans needed to know. He sighed in frustration.

"Just write whatever feels right," were Brian's words of wisdom. He gave the younger man's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "We're right here if you need a hand."

Zacky gave him a small smile of thanks. He looked between his two companions - the friend he had known since high school and the son he had never expected - ad knew that with their support, he could get this done. He lowered his fingers to the keyboard and began to write.

It is with great joy and even greater sadness that I write to you today, he began, and ask for the help that only you as a Family can provide in this time of great need.

He paused in his writing. Brian gave him a nod - all the convincing that he needed to know that so far he was fine. He took a deep breath and went on.

Recently I learned that I am a father to fifteen-year-old Dakota Maverick.

Her picture would come then, he decided, so that everybody would know her face. He made a note of this before he continued.

That's the good news. The bad news is that Dakota has been missing for several weeks now, feared taken from her home in Columbus, Wisconsin.

"Do you know what she was wearing?" Zacky asked his son. "The day that she went missing?"

"Black skinny jeans, grey Converse sneakers and an Avenged Sevenfold jacket," the boy replied at once. Even Brian had to raise an eyebrow at the speed with which the boy had responded. Lysander shrugged. "It's what she always wears. Besides, do you really think I'm going to forget the last things I saw her in?"

Brian had no response to that.

Zacky opened up the band's official site and navigated his way to the merchandise store. It hadn't changed much in terms of layout over the years, getting nothing more than a new header and colour scheme to match the cover of Fictional Reality. From there he moved to the outerwear section.

"Any of these?" he asked Lysander, gesturing to the hoodies that filled the screen. It was a long shot, he knew. There was more merchandise out there now than the band could ever keep track of, so he was already starting to doubt that he would get a positive answer when Lysander pointed and said, "That one."

He saved the image to his hard drive.

She was last seen wearing grey Converse sneakers, dark skinny jeans and the following hoodie.

He made note of the fact that he would post the image there, so that there wasn't a doubt in anybody's mind about which item of clothing he was referring to.

This is a link to her account on 6dgrz, he added upon impulse. He would grab the link in a moment. Please familiarise yourselves with her looks and her voice to better aid us in our search.

If you have any information concerning her whereabouts or you happen to see her in your part of the world, please notify your local police and have them contact the Columbus Police Department A.S.A.P. Knowing that it was the right thing to do, without hesitation he added, I am offering a generous reward for her safe return.

He read over everything that he had written, but couldn't help feeling that it was unfinished. His hands lingered over the keyboard once again, but he drew a blank.

"We in Avenged Sevenfold look forward to meeting her," Brian said easily, "and welcoming her to the family."

Zacky added it to the end of the message.

And that was that. It was done. Finished. Ready to be posted to every social networking site that they were on, and then shared around like wildfire by all the fans who cared.

He opened up every site that they were going to need - their official site, 6dgrz, even the dying Facebook - and configured the post until it was suitable for each one. When the images and the hyperlink were set for each one, he posted them all - and watched as the comments immediately started piling in, one after the other.

"Wow," Lysander said, clearly noticing the same thing. "They don't waste time."

"The first fifteen or so will just say things like 'first' and 'I love you'," Brian told him. "But give it a few minutes and you'll get the more heartfelt ones." He glanced at his watch before adding, "I should really get going. But I'll see ya soon, Zee." He nodded in farewell to Lysander before adding, "It was nice meeting you, kid."

"You, too," Lysander said. "Thanks for the idea. I appreciate it."

"Not a problem. You two kids have fun."

Zacky waved, and Brian was gone. For a minute the father and son simply sat there, watching the number of comments grow larger and larger. It was something that Zacky was used to, but he could only imagine what was going through his son's mind.

"You wanna read some of them?" he asked the boy.

Lysander seemed to think about it for a moment, but then he shook his head. Zacky didn't blame him in the slightest. Truth be told, he wasn't sure that he was ready to read what the fans were saying either. Although he knew what to expect - the good, the bad and the just plain pointless - there was still a huge unknown factor to the writings. This wasn't something you saw posted every day. These wouldn't be your typical comments.

"I should get started on my homework."

Lysander stood, slinging his schoolbag over his shoulder as he went. Zacky watched as the boy put his chair right back where he had got it from. He paused then, and Zacky could almost see the words on the tip of the boy's tongue. He raised an eyebrow.

"What you just did," Lysander said slowly, choosing his words carefully. "It's more than I expected. And I know there aren't enough words, but..." He licked his lips, hesitating for a moment before finishing with, "Thanks...Dad."

The word lingered in the air between them. It was the first time that Lysander had addressed him by the title. It sounded foreign to his ears, like a nickname that had come about without meaning, but he couldn't deny that it made him feel warm inside. And most importantly, it made him feel like he was doing his job right.

"We'll find her," he said in response, and this time he felt confident in saying it. "We'll find her, kid. It's just a matter of time."

"I know," Lysander said.

And for the first time since their meeting, Zacky truly believed it.


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