Alice seems to like it here; she’s warmed up to Ben a lot too. She had just come back from school when Ben told me he’d seen a poster of Killing the Phoenix touring in South Carolina just a little away from Cameron; he said he wanted to go, I said he wasn’t going alone, in case Luca saw him. He said he’s stick to the back of the crowd, I told him I didn’t want him to go alone... we had a small argument; I confessed I still liked Luca.
He sighed, exasperated, flopping on the sofa; I had sent Alice upstairs a while ago, now I felt really bad. I grabbed my coat; I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t want to say anything. I was putting it on when Ben reminded me the gig’s not till nine. I told him I’ll be back. “I think.”
"Where are you going?" He asked, it was innocent enough but I didn’t have an answer.
"Somewhere, anywhere," I shrugged.
"I don't feel right for deceiving you. I can't stay here; I can't face having to argue with you."
"No, well it would have been easier to let me in on that little fact before."
"I don't want to! I want to rise from the ashes. I want to move on!"
"So why are you insisting on coming to the gig with me, when you know you'll see him again?"
"Because if he sees you, he'll have some questions, questions you can't answer."
"Then I'll make sure he can't see me."
"No, I want to go... I can't let go."
He sighed and stood up, wrapping me in his arms. "I know it's hard. I'm sorry I over reacted."
"I'll go get ready. We'll need to set off soon." I murmured, breaking away from him.
I got a shower, got dressed and made sure Alice was dressed too. The whole time I had to bite back tears. “Come on, we should go.” I whispered to Ben, Alice grasping my hand. Ben took her other hand and smiled.
"You driving, or am I?"
"I'll drive if you want."
"I don't mind, that's why I asked." I laughed.
"Auntie, can I sit on your knee?"
I nodded, "looks like you're driving then." He repeated another “sure,” before we all got into the car. We looked like a happy family, a little young, but a happy family. We just didn’t feel it. I decided to say nothing on the way there; the tension was rather thick anyway. I didn’t want to make it worse, and surprisingly, although it was eight o’clock, she was wide awake. Huh.
When we got there I picked Alice up and she leant against me as we paid for our tickets. My heart skipped a beat as we stood amongst the crowd. The screams got louder as “Cancer” walked on stage and I shifted uneasily on my feet. Alice loved it though, she drunk in the energy of the crowd, she seemed to love the music too. He waved and grinned and introduced the band before beginning to play. Ben took my hand comfortingly, though he craned his neck to see around the person in front of him. I shifted slightly as Alice wriggled on my shoulders.
I had put Alice down, my shoulders beginning to ache. “I wanna go see the band!” She cried over the hollers of fans and I only realised what she said when it was too late. She had broken out of my grasp and entwining herself with the crowd. “Alice, no, come back here!” I called as I chased after her, ignoring as people whined at me for pushing them.
But I was pushing against a tide, the crowd was moving in all directions and I was just pushing toward it. “Alice!” I cried as we neared the middle of the crowd. I could just see a flash of pink in front of me as I persisted through the mass of people. I had lost count of how many times I had fallen over and into others.
As she reached the stage, the song ended and Luca looked down to see her and smiled, offering a hand down to help her up onto the stage. Alice took it with a squeal and I halted, gazing up at Luca. I breathed a sigh of relief, putting a hand on my chest as if it would stop my heart from thudding in my chest.
He pulled her up and crouched down beside her, "what's your name, beautiful?" he asked, holding the microphone so she could talk into it.
"My name's Alice." She grinned, gazing at Luca in awe.
"You're not here alone, are you, Alice?"
"Nope," She shook her head furiously, her golden locks cascading around her face, almost covering her deep green eyes. "I'm here with my Auntie Gemme." As she said my name I froze.
"Auntie Gemme?" he asked, trying to keep his voice light.
"Yeah, she's really cool. She has these odd eyes; ones a sapphire and ones an eme...eme...emwald. I think they're pretty." Alice grinned and I sighed, my eyes frozen on the stage, in fact, all of me was frozen to the spot.
"I'm sure they're gorgeous," he forced a smile and looked out over the audience, his eyes meeting mine for a second before looking back at Alice. "C'mon, let's get you back to Auntie Gemme, eh?" he put the mic on its stand and laid his guitar down on the stage, stepping down into the audience, reaching to pick her up. She smiled and nodded, her arms wrapping round his neck as I took a hesitant step forward.
He disappeared in the crowd for a moment, before pushing his way through, holding Alice in one arm, supporting her with telekinesis, the other reaching out to the fans around him. Letting her down, he glanced up at me as he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before running back through the crowd.
"Thank you!" I called after him, my arms instantly around her. "Don't you ever run off like that again?" I cried, squeezing her close. She placed her hand on my cheek. "Don't cry." She whispered... I never even noticed till she said it, her soft fingers wiping away the first tear that spilled over my cheek.
“This song," Luca's voice boomed out of the amps again as he adjusted the strap on his guitar, "goes out to a phoenix I used to know. It's a new song; you guys are the first to hear it. It's called Ashes."
"Phoenix..." I whispered as she clung to me, I looked up at him, tears still over my cheeks, but now for a different reason. "I'll never do it again Gemme." She whispered and I placed a hand on the back of her head. "It's okay sweet."
Luca closed his eyes and began to sing, occasionally opening his eyes, once or twice looking at me. "Together in that sunset, and that sunset burnt you bad. All that's left are ashes and still you're sat there. Are you waiting, are you waiting? Are you hoping, are you hoping? What are you hoping?"
Alice looked at me and smiled, "can we meet him again? Can we? I want to say thank you. Please?" She begged, "Umm, of course." I nodded after a while.
"What are you still hoping for?" the last notes rang out and as the people around us clapped and cheered, it was clear that the only two people in the room that understood the song were him and me. I smiled in reaction to the song, but I was asking myself the same question. “Ben, please, go home. We’ll be home soon. Then we’ll have to talk. Please.” I whispered to him with my head and I felt him nod and leave. I’m hoping, it’s not over yet between us. I sighed and Alice asked to go back on my shoulders. I nodded, obliging. Is it, Luca? Is it over?