I tried my absolute best to take my mind off of Tony. The last thing I wanted was to give him the pleasure of ruining my whole year. I felt like such a fucking idiot. How did I not recognize him? Aside from all the new tattoos, he looked exactly the same as he did in high school. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn't thought about him in so long. I was just another notch in his bedpost and he was just another stupid mistake of mine.
"Are you okay, Aspen?" Mia asked quietly, dragging me out of my suffocating thoughts.
I shrugged as I flipped through the pages on my clipboard. "To the front," I said loud enough to carry all the way to the back of the bus.
Without another word needed, the band quickly collected on the couch surrounding the front of the bus. Some looked groggy like they had just woken up, others looked like they hadn't slept in days. I leaned back against the kitchenette counter.
"Gavin, Jean, and Nolan..." I read off of the paper, "you guys have an interview with AP at their tent at three o'clock. Make sure to be twenty minutes early and on your best behavior." The boys nodded in understanding.
"Iris, you have an interview with Girls that Rock at four twenty. Just like I told the guys, be there twenty minutes early." As expected, Iris nodded.
"And last but not least, Tristan, you're filming a guitar lesson with Guitar World at two thirty. You're going to be meeting the guys in the mess hall at two ten. Got it?"
"Aye aye, cap'n," he saluted me cheesily.
"You guys go on at six on the Van's stage. As I always ask of you... please show up twenty-five minutes before showtime to ensure a smooth and casualty free performance. Am I understood?"
A chorus of different responses sounded before everyone dispersed to return to whatever it was that they were doing before. I sucked in a deep breath, allowing my eyes to fall shut for a few seconds before checking off beside all of their schedules for the day. This was my way of reminding myself that I let everyone know about the things they were supposed to attend.
"Time to trade spots with Nia," I mumbled, more so to myself, before grabbing a bottle of water out of the mini fridge and exiting the air conditioned bus. A groan sounded in my throat as I drug myself towards the main grounds, eyes scanning the merch tents to find the one that belonged to Up @ Night.
It was in the same spot as always, in between the Of Mice & Men tent and the Pierce the Veil tent, two bands I knew absolutely nothing about.
I found it pretty funny, my lack of knowledge on the whole band thing. Before Tristan had expressed his interest in pursuing alternative music, I had never even delved into the genre. As a student of nuclear medicine... it wasn't like I had time for music anyways.
Even now that I worked closely with bands, I still didn't have much time to check out the other bands. I was either babysitting the band or making sure everyone was doing precisely what they were hired to do. Which they usually weren't, more often than not.
"You're released!" I exclaimed, placing my bottled water on the table and then slamming my hands dramatically. Nia practically shot up, eyes wide, embarrassed that I had caught her in the midst of falling asleep. She scratched at the back of her neck, walking around the table to exit before grabbing the clipboard from me.
"Oh, Aspen, you're my lifesaver!" Nia chewed on the inside of her cheek as she leaned into me. "The girls have been extra wild with their questions today. They tried to ask if Tristan and Gavin care about age and just..." She pressed her fingers against her temple. "It's been a mess, I was trying my best not to be mean."
I couldn't help but laugh, delicate fingers covering my mouth as I walked around the table to sit down underneath the tent. "I just agree with anything said by fans. It sells the fantasy and makes us more money."
Nia nodded, "I'll try to remember that."
I waved goodbye to her and leaned back in my seat, not having to wait too long for the first fan to approach. She was a teenage fan, bright blue hair, and wide eyes as they wandered along the table's set up. I smiled lightly, "you look a little overwhelmed right now."
She flinched, almost startled that I had spoken to her. "You're Tristan's older sister..."
"I sure am." I said with a grin.
"It must be amazing. He's so talented."
"He also forgets to flush the toilet and always leaves the seat up," her face turned beet red, "we all have our faults."
She pointed at one of the many shirts Nia had folded neatly on the table. The first shirt Up @ Night had ever produced. A set of deep blue eyes with dark bags underneath them and the words 'Up @ Night' slithering through them. "What size, honey?" I questioned, getting up to lean over the boxes.
"A small, but uh-"
I paused, "yes?"
"Do they shrink in the wash?"
I shook my head. "We use the good kind of t-shirts. You won't have to worry about squeezing on a youth large after one wash."
I heard a group of guys laugh out loud at my words in the next tent over, temptation to glance over was at an all time high but instead, I just fished through the box for a size small. I handed the shirt over to the fan and she gave me the fifteen dollars, dropping a couple bucks in the tip jar. "Enjoy your day, okay?" I told her genuinely as cradled the shirt against her chest. I expected her to bounce away once the shirt was in her possession but instead she stood awkwardly at the side of the tent.
"Need anything else?"
She nodded eagerly. "Can I have a picture?"
Regardless of how many times people asked, taking pictures with fans of my brother's band wasn't something I was entirely used to. "Of course," I walked around the table and took the phone from her outstretched hand.
"Hey, tattoo guy. C'mere."
One of the guys that was seated underneath the Of Mice & Men tent, clearly the most tattooed, pointed at himself before coming out and over to me. I handed him the girl's phone, "please take a picture of us."
He gave me a curt nod and I quickly wrapped my arm around the girl's shoulder, putting on the widest smile I could possibly muster. After the familiar iPhone flash reached my eyes, I retracted my arm, watching as the girl forced out a quick 'I love you' at the tattoo'd male, and scampered away in the opposite direction.
I held my hand out to him, "haven't seen you around yet. I'm Aspen."
He smiled, entirely too charming, and shook my hand. "I'm Austin, I know who you are though, Nolan and I are buddies."
I raised an eyebrow in his direction, to which he quickly shook his head, hands waving defensively. "No, not buddies like that... we're good friends."
I laughed, "just making sure! Nolan told me he was staying away from romance this Warped. Last year's tour didn't end well."
"Trust me, I know all about it." He leaned against one of the tent's poles, his smile only growing bigger. "What I don't know all about is... you. Wanna know something funny?"
I shook my head, mischievous smile plastered on my mouth. "No, not really."
He rolled his eyes playfully. "Anyways, most of the people on this tour talk, it's like high school all over again. We know almost everyone except for the newbies, of course. But no one knows much about you except that you're the 'bitch in charge', not my words, Jean said that."
"Good, I like it that way. I want the attention solely on Tristan and the band. I'm more about the behind the scenes work. I'm around to solidify my job as his annoying older sister. He can't ever get rid of me."
Austin chuckled, shoulders shaking and corners of his eyes crinkling, he played with the hair on the back of his neck before opening his mouth to say something. Only to get caught off by someone approaching him from behind, he waved excitedly, leaning over to greet the other equally tattoo'd male.
The smile I wore on my face immediately dropped when I recognized that it was Tony, once again... back to ruin my life... again...
"Hey, Ton, this is Aspen, have you guys me-"
I cut him off quickly, hand held up in annoyance, "yeah, we've met."
I cleared my throat, "anyways, I gotta get back to working and shit. Nice to meet you, Austin. Hope I catch you around often." I gave him a friendly pat on his arm and turned back to the band's tent, not sparing a single glance in Tony's direction.
I felt like a fucking idiot. Allowing something that took place so long ago to have such a negative effect on my mood. I should've been over it by now. I should've dealt with the pain when it first happened instead of pretending like it never happened. I should've never went up into Allison's room with Tony... but I was young and naive. It was a lesson learned well.
I crossed my arms over my chest, staring straight ahead, probably looking as if someone shit in my cereal. Out of curiosity, I glanced to the side watching as crowds of teens surrounded the Of Mice & Men and Pierce the Veil tent. In the midst of the horde I could faintly make out Austin and Tony, basking in the attention they were receiving. It wasn't until someone approached my table that I snapped out of it, pursing my lips as Tristan plopped down on the lawn chair placed next to mine.
"How's it going, sis?"
I grimaced, "peachy fucking keen."
"Yikes, who pissed you off?"
I pointed faintly at Tony to which Tristan just laughed. "Tony? What he do to you?"
I grit my teeth and played with the hem of my shirt, sighing as I leaned my head back against my chair. "I sort of used to date him."
That made Tristan's body tense as he leaned closer to me curiously.
I didn't want to delve any further than that but I knew it wasn't something I could push past. Not with Tristan.
"Remember that year I fell really behind in school? When I couldn't sleep? Couldn't eat?" My vision was slowly drawn to his distant figure. "That was him."
Tristan scoffed, leaning back in his seat. "Motherfucker..." He shook his head, chuckling in absolute disbelief. "What a small world..."
"Small fucking world." I replied, tucking some of my hair behind my ears.
"Want me and the guys to jump him?" He asked, the smirk on his face revealing that he wasn't quite joking about it.
I shook my head, "nah, fuck him. I'm over it."
"And I thought he was a cool guy. We used to jam together a lot."
I cocked an eyebrow at him, "he in that Pierce the Veil band or something?"
Tristan nodded. "Yeah."
"I'm glad he made himself into someone worth knowing. He wasn't shit when we were younger. He was that kind of guy that hung around parties, got high and blackout drunk, passed out, and then did it all over the next day."
But I still loved him. That much I couldn't say out loud. Chewing on my thumbnail as I fell victim to my almost impeccable memory. We dated for no more than two months but I felt so much in that short amount of time. There was no doubt in my mind that he was my first love. I was just a simple girl who spent all of her time with her head in the books. The party where I met him was the first I ever attended.
That party changed absolutely everything for me.
"That shit must have really fucked you up, Aspen."
Tristan pointed at my face, "you were staring off into the distance with this hurt expression on your face. Shit almost made me cry for a second."
I rolled my eyes and pretended to throw something at him, causing his body to flinch in reaction.
He got up suddenly, cracking his knuckles as he exited the tent. I stood up, "Tristan... where are you going?"
"To beat his ass, duh." He responded with a small wink, speed-walking towards the Pierce the Veil tent.
I plopped back down onto the chair, rubbing at my temples. "When the hell is that kid going to grow up," I grumbled to myself.