He always does this to me.
I tried to impress him constantly, and he never noticed. It was always like this. I screwed myself over repeatedly just to get his attention, and his soft chocolate eyes always flicked back to his melting blue-green ones. It just never worked.
I always put my arm on his shoulder in pictures, palm flesh against the front of his shoulder. Does he do anything? He puts his arm around his waist. I scamper around, confusing people, until I end up standing next to him in shoots. What does he do? He puts an arm around Matt, linking his pinky with him. I walk to his side of the stage. He walks to his side of the stage. It’s a never-ending battle, trying to get fucking Brian Haner’s attention when all he can look at is his precious Zacky Baker.
But, oh, like always, there’s those few occurrences that give me hope.
Before we started working on the fourth album, he and I always had this chemistry onstage. Of course, it was never anything like what he and Zack had, but it was there nonetheless. We would crack jokes, laugh at each other, talk constantly, make faces, and just have fun. He used to get real close to my face sometimes and just glare at me, the smile in his eyes, and it would take my breath away. I think I stumbled on a note twice because of that.
It was magical. He would pass me in a particularly boring part for him and just stand there, talking away. We’d be chatting back and forth, laughing at each other, both flawlessly playing until a solo would be on the verge and he’d suddenly light up.
‘Later, man,’ he would always hiss before fast-walking over to meet Zack halfway.
They would smile at each other, beaming, and they’d step up in sync onto the lighted box. They would press their sweaty shoulders together, arms sliding against one another as they moved into a solo, and they looked perfect. Brian never let anyone else do that with him. Whenever Matt tried to lean on him, he’d move away. Whenever I’d do it, he’d stay for a second and then go over to Zack, grinning and saying things to him no one else would ever hear.
Then there was that time onstage that he was just in utter euphoria the entire time, skipping around and smirking and making all of us laugh at him. Zack was the same way. He came over to me halfway through the show for our routine chat, full rows of teeth gleaming.
‘Hey, Johnny!’ he exclaims heartily, nudging me with his shoulder.
‘Hey, man, you sure are exuberant tonight.’
‘Dontcha know it,’ he murmurs, leaning forward with that great smile and my heart flutters, a small smile breaking out onto my own lips.
‘Ooh, solo time. I’ll see you later, kid.’
He nudges me one more time, waves to Zack, and hurries over, laughing. It wasn’t until later that night that I was steered away from the bunkroom and told they’d finally caved. They? I didn’t get it.
The last time I ever tried to get Brian’s attention was a feeble attempt. I knew something was going on between him and Zack, but I wouldn’t let myself believe it until I saw it for my own eyes. The they made sense now, but I still denied it.
We had just left The Sauce studio and were taking a few quick band shoots, and I made sure I was not only standing next to him, I was leaning on him and had my arm on his shoulder again. It’s a good few pictures, productive, and I feel quite happy as he walks out talking to me, teasing nevertheless, but still talking. He’s ignoring Zack. That’s good.
‘Hey, baby,’ a sudden voice coos and I falter in the middle of a sentence as I watch Zack stop next to Brian, sliding his fingers through my love’s own hand.
‘Hey, angel,’ Brian replies, dipping his chin and kissing Zack right on the mouth, something they’ve never done.
They kiss on the cheek all the time and they’re always snuggly, but they never hold hands or kiss on the mouth.
‘We’re not doing anything tonight, so d’you wanna go out to dinner? I found this really cute restaurant that I think you’d like,’ Zack continues, smiling brilliantly up at Brian.
‘Sounds lovely. Ooh, cameras.’
They separate, Zack dropping back to Matt and Brian turning back to me.
‘You okay, kid?’ he queries, nudging me.
I just nod and don my sunglasses. I can’t let him see the hurt he’s inflicting.
Every single shoot and show after that is different. There’s no arm-on-the-shoulder. There’s no excited chatter. There’s no running around and demanding quietly to be next to Brian. There’s no anything. It’s just an empty space, a hole left in my heart as I watch him and Zack fall faster and harder and deeper in love. All the stringing along, all the cuteness… it never meant anything. Ever.
He always does this to me.