“Oli, stop licking me.”
Hayley had been sleeping peacefully, her body tucked in the hotel’s clean white sheets while Oli’s arms were wrapped around her waist. Last thing she remembered from the night before was her fiancé resting his head against her chest as he held her, so happy to be in her arms after weeks of separation. As delighted as they were to be with each other again, they were also exhausted. She had been travelling with Fall Out Boy and New Politics all over the United States while he had been all over Europe performing in various festivals such as the Download Festival. When they reached their room, they had only been able to remove their clothes (except their undergarments) before knocking out on the bed the moment they lay in it. That wasn’t what they necessarily planned to, but it happened and they didn’t mind since they needed a good night's rest.
But then Hayley was awakened from her slumber by the feeling of something wet against her face. A tongue, to be exact and she scrunched up her face at the feeling of it running over her cheek and eventually her forehead. That’s when she finally opened her eyes and found herself face to face not with Oli, but a shaggy brown-haired goldendoodle puppy better known as Alf. She giggled softly and pet him behind his ear, remembering that she had recently brought her new dog to keep her company on tour.
Alf was a surprise from Oli, who had decided to buy him for Hayley when he visited her in Los Angeles about a month ago. They had passed by a pet shop where many dogs were up for adoption. Of course, she wanted to take a look at them and ended up falling in love with one of the puppies, not wanting to leave him. Seeing how much fun she had playing with it, he decided to secretly return later and make it officially hers. She deserved to have a dog she could call her own and it would be nice to get Oskar a friend. Though he hadn’t met Oskar yet, Oli knew they’d get along seeing that Alf had already become best friends with Jeremy’s dog, Cowboy.
When Alf was done sniffing and licking Hayley’s hand, he turned to start licking Oli which woke him up as well. No longer were they half asleep thanks to the furball being completely hyper and wanting attention so early in the morning.
“Alright, I’m up, I’m up,” Oli murmured, releasing his hold of Hayley so he could also pet Alf. He then looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “You thought I was licking you? Since when do I ever wake you up by licking you?”
Hayley smirked and sat up. “Well, there was that one time where you had the great idea of going under the covers and surprising me by-”
“I meant waking you up by licking your face,” Oli interrupted, knowing exactly what she was talking about. He really needed to word his sentences carefully. “Not even eight in the morning and you’re saying things like that.”
“I get it from the best.” She shrugged and he rolled his eyes, chuckling. True, he was usually the one to make those kind of remarks and it was always funny to see her doing it, too. This was one of the many things he adored about her.
“Yeah, you do,” he mused, sitting up as well and leaning in toward her. “Good morning, beautiful.”
When he attempted to get even closer, she pulled away. “No, don’t. I just got a bunch of doggy kisses and you don’t want your lips on this face after that.”
“I don’t care,” he retorted. His lips met hers and she was enjoying the sensation too much to pull away this time. She ran her fingers through his soft dark hair and then held the nape of his neck when they parted. “As long as it’s your face, then I’m kissing it. Besides, he gave me doggy kisses, too.”
They both looked down to see that Alf had managed to squeeze in between them, curling up into a ball and looking up at them with his tongue sticking out.
She took a strand of Oli’s hair and started twirling it around her finger. “He’s more giddy than he usually is today. Probably because we’re both here.”
“Or maybe he’s just really happy that the awards show is tonight,” he pointed out with a laugh.
“Ah, yes. The awards show that decided to put us against each other,” she joked.
The reason why Hayley and Oli were currently reunited in the first place was because they were in Cleveland, where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was. That’s where the first ever Alternative Press Music Awards was taking place and both of their bands had been nominated in a number of categories. Most of these had them, as Hayley said, “against” each other and they kept humorously stating that until the awards show their relationship was “fraternizing with the enemy”. Though they were actually looking forward to the show more than finding out who the winners were going to be.
Other than Paramore and Bring Me the Horizon, a lot of bands that they were great friends with were also attending. Among these bands were Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, Twenty One Pilots, Pierce the Veil, and plenty of others they had toured with and met in the past. That’s really what they cared more about since they hadn’t seen some of these bands in months and even years. It was going to be great for them to catch up with old friends and all hang out as if it were some sort of high school reunion. They already got to do that with some of them during rehearsals the day before, but a lot more bands were coming.
“You excited for the awards show, sweetie?” she said as she began rubbing his stomach. Alf got the hint and lay flat on his back to give her better access.
Oli joined in on spoiling him, doing the same thing as Hayley. “It’s too bad I couldn’t bring Oskar. He would’ve had so much fun playing with us yesterday.”
“You mean at rehearsal?” She smiled, knowing very well that she and Oli were way more interested in playing with Alf than preparing for the show. “We were already so distracted with just this little guy right here. If Oskar was with us, I can’t imagine how that’d be. Even though, I also want him here.”
“Oskar’s waiting to meet him,” he told her. “He might be a little territorial at first, but I can tell they’re gonna be best mates once they get used to each other.”
“I’m sure they will,” she agreed. “Look at how well he’s getting along with Cowboy. Once he and Oskar come face to face, they’re gonna be best buds and brothers.”
He leaned against the headboard and grinned, thinking about when that will possibly happen. Just the two of them at home while spending time with their two dogs. That’s why he had such a great time the other day during rehearsal. Even though Lee and Jordan had to practically drag Oli away from her so they could practice their performance while Taylor and Jeremy kept having to get Hayley’s attention, they sat down on the grassy field with Alf as if it was one of their days off. Like nobody was around and it was just a normal day. Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen at the moment since they had a lot of gigs ahead of them but they were surely going to get more days like that.
For now, he was going to make the most of the day, especially considering her tour was resuming tomorrow so he didn’t want to waste it dwelling on the fact that she was going to be away from him for the rest of the summer. It was a big night for the both of them and they were going to be surrounded by all their friends, so he couldn’t complain.
He reached over to place his hand over hers and she looked up at him, the wide grin still on his face. “What’s with the smile?”
“Oh, just happy that I get to kill the next few hours with you before we have to head to the show,” he replied. “What else do you want to do today besides dress up and face a shitload of cameras while we walk the red carpet?”
“Definitely want to start the day with getting something to eat,” she decided. “I’m starving.”
Oli nodded. “Okay, then breakfast it is. Should I ask the others if they want to eat with us?”
“Yeah,” Hayley said. “Also, Taylor told me that when he and Noelle were exploring yesterday morning they passed by this diner that they wanted to check out. Maybe we can all go there.”
He got out of bed and walked around to her side. “Sounds good. But I hope you know that before we can do that, we’ve got other business to take care of.”
She tilted her head as she looked up at him. “What?”
In response, he bent down and slid an arm under her knees while the other slipped under her back, lifting her up off the bed. She shrieked a little, which alarmed Alf and made him start jumping and barking as Oli began carrying her away to the bathroom. She just laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck, shaking her head at the smug look on his face. His arms had gained quite a bit of muscle in the past few months and ever since she pointed this out, this added to his confidence which caused him to show off how strong he was now by picking her up more often when he got the chance. She had to admit, when he first started carrying her like that years ago, he would kind of stumble. Nowadays, he had no trouble at all and she certainly didn’t mind this change.
“Before breakfast,” he began, stopping in front of the doorway that led them into the bathroom. “We’re taking a shower. Don’t want to be looking filthy when we arrive on the red carpet, do we?”
“I don’t know if I should take one with you,” she teased. “You might end up using all my shampoo and I need that to keep my hair nice and blue.”
Oli chuckled. “I promise I won’t. All I want to do is make up for what I couldn’t give you last night and make sure our day together is amazing.”
Hayley nuzzled into his neck and kissed it, then whispered into his ear, “Our day’s already amazing.”
And he silently agreed with this statement, his heart rapidly beating as she continued to plant kisses all over his face. About two weeks prior was their anniversary, which marked five years since they kissed on stage at Warped Tour in front of everyone, where they set in stone that they were finally together. Many people had doubts about how their relationship could ever work, what with her shining optimism and cheerfulness paired with his cynical outlook and wild behavior. But they ignored all the insults and unnecessary concerns that others tried to throw at them, proving people wrong by showing just how much they completed each other. Throughout the years, they had overcome obstacles and helped change each other for the better, further showing the world that opposites do attract and that love between two different individuals was possible.
To that day, he still had that same love for her as that boy he was in 2009. His heart still fluttered when she told him she loved him and he still had to catch himself when his knees went weak at the sight of her smile. Why those feelings had never went away or faded after five years, he didn’t know. All he knew was that being with Hayley was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to him and it made him so fucking happy that she was one day going to be his wife.
And it made him even more happy that they both believed that for their little family consisting of them and their two dogs, they wanted to finally have a child.
“So how about that shower?”
“We’re both in need of one.”
That was all he needed to hear. Right away, he used his foot to push open the door that was slightly ajar and proceeded to carry her inside.
Oli was waiting for her in the lobby.
He and the rest of his band were waiting patiently for Paramore to meet up with them before they all headed out to the awards show. They weren’t really in a rush to get over there, as they had plenty of time before it started. They also understood that it would take the others some time to get ready, considering Hayley, Kat, and Noelle were getting their hair and makeup done while also dealing with the task of getting little Bliss ready. Unless that was Jeremy’s job.
As he waited, he checked his phone to see that he got a text from Josh, who was informing him that You Me at Six were already on their way there. He just smiled at the text, thinking back to a few days ago when his friend told him that he was going to be attending despite telling Hayley weeks before that they weren’t. To be fair, Josh honestly thought he wasn’t going to be able to make it due to how busy his schedule seemed, but seeing that his band didn’t have any shows going on at the moment, they wanted to come and support all their friends.
“Though I’m smart enough to have not voted,” Josh had jokingly added, wise enough to be aware that half of the nominees were people he was well acquainted with and how being given one choice per category must be extremely hard for most people who were fans of almost all the bands.
While he was looking down at his device and typing down a reply, Tom had sat down next to him. His younger sibling gave him a nudge, causing him to see what he wanted.
“Are they coming down yet?” Tom whined. “Because it seems like we’ve been sitting here for hours. Years, even.”
Oli sighed. “We haven’t even been waiting here that long and you have to remember, it’s gonna take the girls a little longer to get ready.”
Tom just scoffed and slumped down in the seat. “By the time they’re gonna be done, the show’s most likely gonna be over. I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that. I’ve got a date who looks great and he doesn’t take forever to look nice. Just look at him, Oli. Isn’t he gorgeous?”
His younger brother lifted a hand and gestured to where a certain ginger was sitting, tapping his fingers on the arm of his chair and looking in the direction of the front desk. This was none other than Lee, the lead guitarist of the band and now Tom’s boyfriend. They had been together for a little over a year, even though it had been pretty obvious to everyone that they were into each other long before that. Oli had seen this since day one when he first introduced Tom to Lee when the band first started out.
Out of all his bandmates, Tom had always been drawn to Lee. He talked to him the most with Lee being extremely comfortable conversing with him, which said a lot considering Lee was usually so quiet. If that didn’t make it obvious, there was also the fact that whenever Tom took pictures of the band during shows, most of the time his camera was focused on Lee. Those two also seemed to feel like they had to be in the same place together. One of them would go to the bathroom, the store, backstage, anywhere and the other would follow. Then there was the look they gave each other while they talked; that wide-eyed lovestruck and in-their-own-little-world look where neither of them acknowledged anyone around them and blinking was almost nonexistent. Oli and Hayley knew that look more than anyone else. They had shared the exact same look many times.
After a few subtle attempts to get them together, such as leaving them alone on the tour bus or in a room, Hayley decided that they had to do something about it because it didn’t look like Tom and Lee were going to make any moves any time soon. So during the Soundwave festival, Hayley and Oli confronted the two and helped them finally stop hiding their feelings. It took some time, but it eventually ended with Tom giving Lee a kiss while everyone was glad that was taken care of. Oli had been wanting them to find happiness and now they couldn’t keep their hands off each other.
Hearing his name, Lee sat up straight and looked over at them. “What are you lads saying about me?”
“How fabulous you look.” Tom winked and Lee’s eyes darted to the ground, his cheeks turning red.
“You’re just saying that,” Lee muttered.
“No, don’t be ridiculous,” Tom said. “You look great and if we didn’t have to go to this event, you know I’d be all over-”
Oli groaned and put a hand over his brother’s mouth. “Seriously, I don’t want to be around to hear this right now. Just...go back over there and say all your weird stuff at a distance away from my ears. It’ll make you stop whining about waiting anyway, so go.”
With that, Tom started laughing and made his way to Lee so they could continue with their PDA or whatever. As long as it wasn’t near him, he was fine and thankfully with perfect timing, Paramore had come downstairs.
He stood up, his jaw dropping and those hazel eyes of his lighting up when he took one look at her. Hayley wearing a dress on special occasions was such a godsend to him and sure, he had witnessed her all dolled up before but taking her profession into account, these moments weren’t frequent. Didn’t really help that each time this happened, she always made herself look even more stunning than the last and what she was wearing right now was breathtaking enough to make him clutch his chest, not sure if he could take seeing such a beautiful woman without fainting.
For the days leading up to the APMAS, she had been playing show after show wearing nothing but a multi-colored crop top, customized boxing shorts, fishnets, and white and black converse. He had seen pictures of her and even then still believed her to be gorgeous, but she put her stage outfit aside this time.
When she walked into that lobby, she was wearing a black A-line dress with a front cutout that revealed her flat stomach. There were pockets with slanted zippers on the front and he bet she liked this addition since one of her main problems with dresses was that she didn’t have a place to put her phone. The dress was at a length that showed off her slender legs along with the wonderful artwork that was imprinted on her skin—that cross tattoo ironically gaining an eyeful from him. Her bright blue hair was wavy and parted to the side, styled nice and pretty so that her heart-shaped face got attention. The makeup she wore was simple; just eyeliner and mascara that was effective enough to compliment her green eyes. To complete her attire and giving her classy look an edgy touch, she wore green zombie pumps.
Oli met her halfway, immediately encircling his arms around her waist the second he reached her. “All I can say is...you look amazing.”
Hayley pecked him on the cheek and stepped back to look over him, placing her hands on his shoulders. Smiling to herself, she fixed the collar of his black blazer and ran her fingertips down the sleeves before embracing him again. He had on his favorite red flannel and she inhaled the familiar scent of his cologne that the shirt provided. Not only was it his favorite, but hers as well. She absolutely loved it when he wore it, finding him extremely attractive in plaid and it didn’t need to be said that she had also worn it. That was one of the reasons why he liked it so much. This particular garment was something she usually stole from him and wrapped around herself at his place the morning after sex, which made him feel...many things and affectionately call it his “lucky shirt”. No wonder he was wearing it and she was satisfied with this choice.
“You look amazing yourself,” she replied. “This shirt, huh? I hope you understand how much I appreciate this.”
“It’s my lucky shirt and I thought it’d give me a better chance of winning,” Oli teased.
She tapped him on the nose. “You, sir, do not need any luck at all. I just know you’ll win something.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then I’m giving you my own personal award tonight when this is over and done with.”
Having heard that, they both heard a groan of disgust coming from Tom, who was covering his ears.
“How come it’s okay when you two say that kind of stuff but when I say it, I get shut down?” he complained.
“Because I prefer to hear it from the woman I’m gonna marry instead of the guy that I share a mother with,” Oli countered. “The last thing I want is to hear my brother talk about what he plans to do in the bedroom.”
Before Tom could retaliate, Taylor cleared his throat to remind them they had somewhere to be. “Sorry to interrupt since I know you guys are in the middle of a really deep conversation and all, but can we go now?”
Noelle, Taylor’s girlfriend, couldn’t help but giggle at his sarcasm. She linked her arm with his and grinned at them. “Yeah, we should head out now. We’re all here, we’re all ready to go, so there’s no point in just standing around, right?”
“Right,” Hayley agreed, letting her hand slip into Oli’s. “We’ve been waiting to go to this for months. Don’t want to waste our time here.”
So Oli and Tom decided not to continue with their bickering. Instead, Tom just put his arm around Lee while the rest of the guys got up from the couches. Kat was able to calm Bliss so she could push her baby girl on the stroller with no trouble while Jeremy stood by her side. Minutes later, they all made their way out the lobby and got into the vehicles that were going to escort them to the Hall of Fame.
It didn’t take that long for them to get there, as they had left at a reasonable time before the traffic got hectic. Hayley was already getting anxious the moment she spotted their destination outside the window. She was practically bouncing in her seat and pointed to the triangular-shaped building attached to a large tower, letting Oli know that they had arrived.
As soon as they got out, they were already spotted by people screaming and cheering behind the barriers of the red carpet. Many had pulled out their phones, taking tons of photos to capture these two bands so that they could update all social media that they made it there. With her hand still in his, Hayley put on her shades and waved at all the fans calling her name as she and Oli kept walking.
This was the first time they had ever walked the red carpet together and it might have not sounded like a big deal to most people, but they felt like it was and were doing their best to hide how much they were enjoying this. It was honestly a lot of fun and they found themselves doing all sorts of things, such as take a few pictures with some fans at the barriers. They were also met with various photographers wanting to take their picture. Oli’s friend, the well-known band photographer Adam Elmakias being one of them and Lyndsey Byrnes, another well-known photographer that was close to Hayley, being another.
Having all those cameras in their faces were a bit overwhelming and there were a couple of times where they had posed a bit awkwardly, but it wasn’t all that bad. They were able to catch their breath once more guests arrived, making the photographers start taking pictures of other people. And because Hayley felt like it, she got out her phone and took a selfie with Oli for her Twitter. With all these photos, they needed some silly ones, too.
Hayley then looked past Oli and grinned widely when she saw You Me at Six. She rushed over to Josh, spreading her arms wide and greeted him with a hug.
“Joshie, you made it!” she exclaimed. “It’s so nice to see you. I haven’t seen you since we were in Australia.”
“I know, it feels like it’s been forever. It’s great to see you, Hayles, ” Josh enthused. He let go of her and the moment she was free, Max took the opportunity to attack her with a hug of his own.
While she was saying “hi” to the others, Josh put an arm around Oli. “Hey, mate.”
“Hey,” Oli said. “Long time no see, Josh. How have you been?”
It’s also been a while since he’s seen his best friend, even longer than when Hayley saw him and he liked how this event really was like a reunion of some sorts. It was bringing so many people together, which they were all grateful for since they didn’t know when they’d be with each other again.
“I’ve been doing great,” he replied. “We’re on a break from touring for a few days and then it’s back to playing shows. In a few weeks we’re going to be doing Reading and Leeds.”
“Yeah, I heard.” Oli smiled. “Paramore’s going to be there, too. Hayley told me that they’re co-headlining.”
“They are,” Josh confirmed. “With Queens of the Stone Age, at that. It’s going to be awesome. But enough about me, what about you two? You guys going to get married soon or what?”
“We haven’t set a date yet,” he answered. “But we’re really hoping to have it happen sometime next year.”
Josh hummed. “Ah, I see. Anyway, how are you two feeling about tonight? If I do recall, you’re against each other for Best Vocalist.”
Hayley was close enough to hear him and joined in on the conversation. “And we’re against each other for Song of the Year and Album of the Year and Artist of the Year. AP’s messing with us.”
“Rest assured, I’m not taking any sides.” Josh chuckled, putting his hands out in front of him. “I’m just here to watch it all go down.”
“Well, whoever wins,” Hayley said as she cupped Oli’s cheek. “You know I’ll still love you.”
Oli placed his hand over hers. “I’ll always love you.”
The three of them turned around to where the voice was coming from and saw that it came from Alex Gaskarth from All Time Low. Hayley was the first to start waving at him and didn’t hesitate to make her way over there. Now Alex was someone she definitely hadn’t seen in a long time; the last time being one or two years ago. She saw that he was still with Meg Frampton, who was by his side and holding his hand. Hayley remembered meeting her ages ago when they first started dating, learning all about the story of how she and Alex met and fell in love which culminated in him writing a song for her. It warmed Hayley’s heart to see that they had managed to still be together all these years.
She pulled both of them into a hug. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s you guys.”
Alex laughed. “Hey, Hayley. It’s been so long, hasn’t it?”
“It’s been way too long,” she said and turned to Meg. “Hi, Meg! I’m really happy to see you, too.”
“I know, the last time I remember seeing you was what, Warped Tour all those years ago? We need to catch up!” Meg rejoiced.
“So what have you been up lately?” Alex asked.
“Oh, still touring with Fall Out Boy,” Hayley told him. “I’m sure you probably know about that already from Pete. And you?”
By this time, Oli and Josh had came over to greet Alex and Meg. Alex simply nodded at them and smiled before responding. “We haven’t been touring this summer, but we’ve been working on some new music lately. Besides that, a lot of amazing things have happened to Meg and I.”
Oli couldn’t help but be the one to cut in this time. “Really? Like what?”
“For one.” Alex pulled Meg closer to him. “We got engaged a few months ago.”
“Wow, congratulations,” Hayley gave them hugs once more.
“We could say the same thing to you and Oli,” Alex said. “We heard that you guys are also engaged. Congrats to you both.”
“But an engagement’s not the only thing they have to tell you guys,” Josh informed them. He was lucky enough to have been told the other good news since he and Alex were pretty close.
“Josh is right,” Meg giggled. “Besides Alex giving me a ring, we also found out that I’m pregnant.”
Both Hayley and Oli’s eyes widened, then they both had huge grins on their faces. Hayley squealed a bit and embraced Meg yet again.
“That’s the best news anyone could ever get,” Hayley said. “How far along are you?”
“I’m about three months.” Meg put a hand on her stomach. Hayley looked down and just noticed that she had a small bump. “The doctor told me that I’m due in January. We haven’t found out the gender yet, but we’re both hoping for a boy.”
Hayley and Oli exchanged glances, both smiling at the subject being discussed. It was unbelievable how much had changed with not only them, but other people, too. This showed that not only were they reuniting with their old friends, but they were also being reminded that everyone was growing up and doing things they never imagined doing years ago. Alex, who admitted to walking around the tour bus or backstage full on nude and Meg, who used to have this game during tour where she’d give guys pick-up lines while on the highway, were soon going to be married and were going to be parents. It made them so happy to see all this happening to their friends and they hoped that one day they would be expecting that, too.
“That sounds wonderful,” Oli said. “I can already tell that guys are gonna be great parents.”
“A mini Alex,” Hayley mused. “Can you imagine that? But really, whether you have a boy or a girl, they’re going to turn out adorable and I can’t wait to meet them when they’re born.”
“After all, we’re already an experienced uncle and auntie,” Oli joked. “We’ve already babysat Bliss for Jeremy and Kat a couple of times.”
“Don’t forget, there’s also Uncle Josh here,” Josh added.
Alex and Meg laughed, but were touched. Of course they wanted all their friends to meet their future child because all of them were basically family in a way and they were such a joy to be around, so why wouldn’t they want their baby to be surrounded by such loving people?
Just as Alex opened his mouth and was about to say something, he heard his name being called in the distance and he knew it was coming from behind him, the voice getting louder and more clear each time. He didn’t even get a chance to turn around when he felt a hand on his shoulder and in a matter of seconds, he was looking at nothing else but Jack Barakat’s face.
“Alex! Alex!” he panted. “Dude, guess who Tay and I ran into like just a few minutes ago.”
Beside Jack and holding onto his arm was Tay Jardine of We Are the In Crowd, who Hayley remembered from the last time she saw Jack. It was also a pleasure to see that he was still with the girl he was so lovestruck for. Before Tay, Hayley was aware of the kind of person Jack was. He was the typical “ladykiller”, always bringing girls on the bus and into his hotel room until Tay came along and made him trip all over her. He was so head over heels, tongue tied and honest because Tay was extremely sweet and fun. She was the perfect match for him, making the others go so far as to consider her like a female version of Jack. Hayley had a great time getting to know her and straight up told Jack that yes, she was a keeper. He couldn’t agree more.
“There’s a lot of possible guesses to that.” Alex smirked. “But because you and I seem to share the same brain, I’m guessing once and I’ll probably be right. Was it Joan Jett?”
Jack pat his shoulder. “You see, this is why you’re my best friend. But yeah, we passed by her.”
“Passed by her?” Tay scoffed. “More like followed her and dragged me along while you kept asking me if you should go talk to her. Then when you finally got around to doing it, you tripped and bumped into her which caused you to have a freak out-”
“You know, I’m trying to make us sound cool here.” Jack pouted. “And you’re not helping.”
“Anyway,” Tay continued. “He freaked out but she was totally cool about it. We talked for a little and finally got a picture with her.”
“Aw, you got a picture with her?” Meg tilted her head. “You guys should’ve told me. I want a picture with her, too, you know.”
“We were going to get you, but it looks like you and Alex are busy talking to Hayley and Oli anyw-” Jack stopped talking when he turned his head and realized who was standing alongside his bandmate. “Holy shit, Hayley and Oli. You guys are here!”
They didn’t even have time to react to Jack not noticing them because as soon as he was aware of their presence, Jack glomped Oli and pulled Hayley in to join them. She laughed despite her voice being muffled because she was pressed up against Jack’s chest and since Tay was equally ecstatic, she was also added to the group hug.
Jack also caught sight of Josh and sure enough, Josh felt a hand tug on his arm to get him to join in, too. As fun (and smothering) as it looked, Alex and Meg took a step back and just watched the others have their moment. There was enough people in the group hug anyway.
“Awesome seeing all my favorite people in one place,” Jack said once he let go everyone and let them breathe. “Isn’t this great? Us all being here together on the red carpet after a million years of not seeing each other because we’ve all been scattered around the world. But for real, why’d it take ‘em so long to set up this awards show?”
“I don’t know, but I wish they did it sooner,” Hayley replied. “I missed all of you. I’m probably gonna be saying this all night, but it’s great to see you, Jack. You too, Tay.”
Tay gave her a hug. “You have no idea how excited I was when I found out your band was going to be here.”
“She wouldn’t stop talking about it for the last few weeks,” Jack whispered to Hayley, but Tay still heard him and he ended up receiving a smack on the arm from her. “What, it’s true!”
Oli chuckled. “If it makes you feel better, Hayley was being a total fangirl when she found out that All Time Low was performing tonight.”
“Don’t make me bring up how you looked like you were going to have a boner when Josh called us up to tell us he was coming,” she retorted and turned to everyone else, who were failing to suppress their laughter. Even Josh. “It makes me wonder if those two are going to be the ones marrying each other.”
That’s when Josh’s laughing stopped. “Whoa, I can’t help it that Oli’s so drawn to my good looks. That’s his problem, not mine. I’m in a happy committed relationship with Abigail and 100% monogamous.”
Oli rolled his eyes. “I just hope none of the fans heard that. They’re not in earshot, but you never know since nothing gets past them. They’ll probably go nuts hearing that my own fiancée apparently believes in Franksykes, too.”
“I think you should just stay away from all those fan fiction sites,” Hayley giggled and ran her hands through his hair before kissing his temple. “Those are the same sites that think Taylor and I should hook up.”
“Okay, we get it.” Alex smirked. “It’s pretty obvious we’re all being huge dorky fangirls and fanboys tonight. Who isn’t? We’re gonna embrace that and have a good time with each other.”
“Alex is right,” Meg agreed. “Who knows when we’ll all be able to be together like this again? Let’s make more memories. I say we should all take pictures so that years later we can look back at this.”
“Good idea, Meg.” Josh nodded and reached into his pocket to take out his phone. He handed it to Jack and then squeezed himself in between Hayley and Oli, putting his arms around their shoulders. “Might as well do the pictures now. Let’s start with a picture of me and my two best friends.”
“More like Oli and his two lovers,” Jack said under his breath, his lips curving into a grin.
“I heard that, Jack.”
“You heard nothing. Now say ‘cheese’ unless you want to look like a derp in this pic.”
He held the phone up and turned it sideways to get all of them in the shot. They all flashed big smiles and when it looked like they were ready, Jack counted to three and took the picture. He took a few more just in case, as it was some sort of rule to take more than one since not everyone was always completely satisfied the first time. When he gave the phone back to Josh, he immediately browsed through the photos to see if he liked any of them. Hayley and Oli were behind him, peering over his shoulders to see which ones they liked themselves. To their surprised, the three of them liked every picture Jack took.
“First momento of the night and we look good” Josh looked up from his phone. “Thanks, Jack.”
Jack smiled. “Yeah, no problem. Hope your phone’s fully charged, though, because with all that’s going on you’re going to be taking a lot of pictures. I think I already took like a shit ton of photos and we haven’t even sat down yet.”
Hayley then pulled on Oli’s arm. “That reminds me, we should start finding our seats now since the show’s almost going to start. We can take more pictures once that’s taken care of.”
“We were about to do that, too,” Alex said. “Hey, we might even be sitting near each other.”
Oli grabbed Hayley’s hand and began walking again. “Alright, so let’s all find our seats then. I bet we’ll probably even end up seeing more people when we head over there.”
The proceeded to walk toward the end of the red carpet with the others following them, heading toward the stage where all sorts of things were waiting to happen.
As if the red carpet wasn’t crowded enough, it was even more crowded where all the tables were. Hayley made sure to stay close to Oli so they wouldn’t be separated, as they somehow managed to lose Josh, Alex, and Meg. Jack and Tay were able to stay near them, only for them to run off after seeing another one of their idols in the distance. Hayley didn’t know who, but it must’ve been somebody important since those two disappeared right before she could even turn around to face them.
Oli just tried to maneuver through all the guests, keeping Hayley close while they both looked in different directions for their bands. Fortunately, they heard Tom call them from afar and after politely asking some people to let them walk through, they made it to the two tables where everyone was sitting. Or at least where some of them were sitting, seeing that only Tom, Lee, and Vegan were at one table while Jeremy and Kat were with Bliss at the table right next to them. There was so much that they could do while they were there, so it wasn’t a surprise that the others were missing.
“Hey, there you guys are.” Jeremy was holding Bliss while Kat was getting out the ear muffs she had for her daughter to protect her hearing. Bliss had been wearing them during Paramore’s shows and they knew she’d also need them for tonight since there was soon going to be a number of loud (yet incredible) performances and hundreds of people screaming. “Where have you two been?”
“Oh, we were with All Time Low and Josh,” Hayley told him. “I don’t really know where they went since it was a little hectic over there, but we were talking to them. We found out that Alex and Meg are-”
“Engaged and going to have a baby,” Kat finished, flashing a smile at them. “Jeremy and I just finished talking to them. They’re sitting not too far away from us over there.”
She pointed to her right and they looked in that direction, spotting Alex and Meg sitting down at their table that was about ten or fifteen feet away. Sitting with them was Zack Merrick, Rian Dawson, and Cassadee Pope. The five of them were all conversing and while that going on, Cass looked over at them and waved at Hayley.
Hayley smiled and waved back, making a note to definitely catch up with Cass since she was one of the first girls she had gotten close to other than her sisters. This, of course, was before Kat and Noelle came along. Back then a lot of ignorant people felt the need to compare Hayley and Cass just because they were both in female-fronted bands despite Paramore and Hey Monday being two very different bands. That didn’t stop Hayley from becoming great friends with Cass and they enjoyed each other’s music. It was going to be a lot of fun talking to her and see how she and Rian were doing.
Oli pulled out one of the chairs for Hayley so she could sit down then took the seat next to her. As he sat, he let his eyes wander to observe all the people around them. When he and Hayley were making their way to their table they didn’t really get the chance to notice just how many people in the crowd they were familiar with. About half of the people in the surrounding tables were either bands they’ve toured with or met through mutual friends.
Near All Time Low were New Found Glory, one of the many bands they’ve encountered on Warped Tour. The guitarist, Chad Gilbert, used to have feelings for Hayley and had once asked her out but she simply wanted to be just friends. At the time she thought it was because she still wasn’t ready to get back into dating, but looking back she came to realize that it’s always been Oli she wanted and she knew it wasn’t right to lead Chad on and give him some false hope. Chad had accepted the truth and they remained good friends to that day. He even eventually found someone for himself.
Standing with Chad was Vic Fuentes, whose band was settled beside All Time Low—a prediction Oli had correctly made. He and Hayley had been able to chat with Vic the day before during rehearsal and caught up with him. Turned out Pierce the Veil and Sleeping With Sirens were touring together soon, an announcement they were going to make at the awards show. Vic’s girlfriend, Jenna McDougall, unfortunately couldn’t make it that night but she was at least there with him in spirit. While he and the others were a little disappointed they wouldn’t be able to strike up a conversation with Tonight Alive, they didn’t let that bum them out too much.
Oli’s eyes then darted to two other good friends passing by his table. They were none other than Jonathan Craig and Craig Owens, walking hand in hand toward Vic which made sense considering they were all in that supergroup together. The previous night Vic proudly stated that he was even the one responsible for hooking them up and while Oli rolled his eyes at that, he really had no room to talk when it came to playing matchmaker. Tom and Lee were right there to remind him, too. Jonny and Craig turned to briefly wave at him before he focused his attention back to Hayley.
With Bliss now in her lap, Hayley was talking to Taylor and Noelle across the table. Apparently, they had gotten back from whatever they were doing while Oli was busy people-watching.
“...That sounds really fun! I’ll make sure to check that out later,” Hayley was saying. She turned to Oli. “Did you hear that? Taylor just told me there’s a photobooth and even Twitter mirrors backstage where you can take selfies.”
“Photobooth, huh?” Oli said. “Yeah, when we get the chance let’s do it. Gotta make more memories every chance we get, right?”
Hayley smiled at him and opened her mouth to speak, only for Bliss to bounce excitedly and stretch her arms out at the sight of Oli. He looked down at her and chuckled before reaching out so Hayley could hand her over to him. “Looks like the fairy princess wants your attention.”
“I got her.” Oli grinned at Bliss as he took her from Hayley. “You ready for the show, Bliss? Uncle Oli’s going to perform later and I hope you like it.”
“She’ll love it,” Hayley assured him. “Her first time seeing you on stage and it’s going to be a blast. Ain’t she the luckiest baby in the world.”
Jeremy got up from his seat and took Kat’s hand. “Hey, can you guys watch her for a few minutes? Kat and I are going to walk around since it looks like it’ll be a while until this thing starts.”
“Yeah, of course,” Oli replied. Besides, it didn’t look like Bliss wasn’t bothered by her parents wanting to do their own thing for a bit. She was already occupied at the moment, wrapping her tiny hands around Oli’s finger as if it were another one of her toys. “You two deserve a break to hang out with everyone and all that. Hayles and I will be fine. We love entertaining her.”
“Don’t forget, she has to put these on soon,” Kat reminded them, handing over Bliss’ ear muffs over to Hayley.
“Got it.” Hayley gave her a thumbs up and then waved. “Now go, you two enjoy yourselves.”
Their friends finally left the table and even Taylor and Noelle had ran off (again) over to where Twenty One Pilots were sitting. It’s not like one could really blame everyone for being all over the place since so many things were going on at once. Hayley and Oli knew they weren’t going to be stuck in their seats the whole night. And that’s not just because Bring Me the Horizon were performing and Paramore were presenting. These next few hours were going to be something, that’s for sure.
But for the time being, it was just the two of them at their table sitting down with Bliss. Oli held her high up in the air and made all kinds of goofy faces which no doubt made her giggle uncontrollably. Since first meeting Bliss, she had always taken a liking to him and not once cried when he held her. Though he wasn’t exactly nervous when he carried her for the first time, a small part of him still believed that she wouldn’t like him; possibly even be afraid of him. Oli ended up being proven wrong pretty quickly in that aspect. Instead of crying for her parents to take her away from this man she wasn’t familiar with, she gave him a wide toothless grin and lightly touched his cheek. Her parents had named her appropriately. Bliss certainly wasbliss.
And she was what finally pushed Oli to want to start a family with Hayley.
“I need you to hold her still for a sec,” Hayley said, scooting closer to them with the ear muffs in her hands. “Have to put these on her now. Jeremy said the show might not start for a while, but I saw the orchestra getting on stage and setting up so he might be wrong.”
Oli shifted in his seat and turned to Hayley, allowing Bliss to sit on his lap while Hayley put the ear muffs on and adjusted them so she was comfortable with them on her head. Having these on didn’t phase her at all and she returned to her bubbly self as soon as Hayley was done fixing them.
“There,” Oli held her up high again and she continued to giggle like crazy. “Now you’re all set to rock out for the night and experience the coolest event you’ve ever been to.”
“The coolest event she’s ever been to so far,” Hayley added. She kept her chair close to his so they could both do every possible thing to make Bliss content while they waited.
It was almost eight, yet the sun was still up as if it were still the afternoon. She kind of wondered why they thought to have this whole ceremony outside. Not that she didn’t like it because the weather was beautiful and not to the point of being unbearable, but when it came to the sound and organization, it seemed more practical to have this indoors. She couldn’t complain, though. It wasn’t something that could ruin anyone’s night. After so many years, there was finally a night to celebrate all the bands that deserved some much needed recognition since the VMAs gradually included less artists of the alternative rock genre (or really rock in general) each year.
“That’s still pretty damn cute.”
Another voice pulled her out of her thoughts and she turned to who had decided to speak to her and Oli. The voice belonged to Mark Hoppus from Blink-182, who happened to notice them while he was passing through all of the tables. What made him decide to stop and talk to them out of all the people there—especially since his good friends All Time Low and Fall Out Boy were around—they weren’t exactly sure, but it probably had something to do with Bliss.
In response to the puzzled looks they shot him, he simply gestured to the big pink ear muffs that Bliss was sporting. “I was talking about those. Not too long after my son was born, my wife and I got those for him so she could take him to my shows. Nowadays his motto is if it’s too loud, you’re too old. He’s definitely my son.”
They both laughed at his words before Oli extended a hand to introduce himself. However, he didn’t really need to as Mark just shook his hand and told them that he already knew who they were. Sure, he never met them but obviously he had heard of them before. Not to mention he was the host of the awards show, so why wouldn’t he know who they were?
Mark smirked as he went on. “Most people think parents shouldn’t bring their kids to places like this, but you’re never too old or too young to be exposed to something as great as music, you know? That’s awesome that you two are here with your daughter. You’re doing parenting right.”
As flattering as that was, the only thing that Hayley and Oli heard was that Mark assumed Bliss was their daughter. They were a little surprised by this and stifled some laughter, though it was an honest mistake and knew they had to explain that to him. This was going to be a pretty amusing conversation.
Hayley decided to take the lead. “Oh, she’s not ours. She’s Jeremy and Kat’s daughter.”
“We’re just watching over her for them,” Oli explained. “Sorry for making you think that.”
Mark put a hand up. He was slightly embarrassed but like them, he thought it was pretty funny and chuckled at his little mix up. “No, I’m sorry. It’s just that the way you two were interacting with her...you guys just really have a way with kids, huh?”
“We love taking care of her,” Hayley told him. “We’ve done it before and she’s basically sunshine and rainbows in the form of a baby. Oli and I have always loved kids.”
“It clearly shows.” Mark nodded. “If you ever have kids of your own, they’ll be in good hands.”
Oli put his free arm around Hayley. “We’re really hoping to have a kid of our own one day. We’ve been trying and we really believe we’re ready for this.”
“I’m sure it’ll happen soon,” he said before looking down at his watch. “Well, it looks like it’s almost showtime. I need to head over to the stage before they send out a search party or something. Anyway, it was nice talking to you two. Also, good luck to the both of you.”
“See you later, Mark.” Oli waved goodbye and Hayley did the same as Mark walked away. He faced Hayley and cocked his head to the side. “Look at that. Already parents and haven’t even had a baby yet.”
Hayley let out a slight laugh, but by the sound of her voice he knew it wasn’t really a genuine one. A weak smile crossed her features and it went away so quickly that if he had blinked he would’ve missed it. She turned away from him, letting her eyes fall to the ground. Something had definitely came to her mind, leading him to guess that whatever he or Mark said had bothered her for some reason.
“Hey.” His voice was low and he took his arm off of her to reach down and squeeze her hand. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
After a few minutes of silence, she finally allowed her eyes to meet his once more. It worried him that she made zero attempts to hide the fact that her mood had changed.
“What you said...I know you didn’t mean to, but it kinda hit hard,” she confessed. “You’re right, we haven’t had a child yet and what if we actually can’t have one? What if there’s something wrong with me?”
His eyes widened and he gaped at her, his heart sinking at all the doubt and insecurity she had about this. “Hayles, I want you to look me in the eyes and listen to me. There’s nothing wrong with you. Nothing at all.”
“But we’ve been trying for months,” she retorted. “And I still can’t get pregnant. How can you say there’s nothing wrong with me when I clearly can’t give you what you want, Oli?”
Hayley’s eyes were beginning to water and seeing how distressed she was caused a pang in Oli’s stomach. She was worrying so much that she was disappointing him when he was feeling the exact opposite. How could Hayley Williams, the most beautiful and loving woman to ever enter his life, disappoint him?
Oli pulled the stroller that was nearby closer to them and set Bliss down in it. That’s when he slowly lifted his hand to tilt her chin up so she could look up at him. “Give me what I want? Don’t ever think that you’re not good enough just because you can’t get pregnant. As much as I’d love to have a kid, I didn’t get together with you or propose to you just so that could happen. I want to marry you because I love you more than anything.”
She was speechless and bit her lip as a single tear slid down her cheek. Oli simply wiped it away, then gently held her face in his hands.
“You think you’re not giving me what I want,” he said softly. “But in reality, you’ve given me the best years of my life. You’ve helped me see the beauty in things I once looked at with disgust. I used to wake up in the morning and want to die until you brought life into me again. I believed there was nothing in this world for me until you came along and made me a better person. All I want is you, Hayley. So you think you’re not good enough? You are everything.”
Hayley laughed a little, but only because she was trying to hide that she was crying. What he told her meant so much and she honestly didn’t think he could be more amazing than he already was, but he did it once again. Placing her hands over his, she pressed her forehead to his and smiled.
“I love you,” she whispered.
“I love you, too.”
This was the man she was going to marry.
Oh, how blessed she was.
She leaned in for her lips to meet his, feeling his arms wrap around her and all her fears and worries fade away. But the kiss and the sensation it provided along with his touch were still there, surrounding her to let her know that with him, she was safe. She was happy and not a thing in the world could ever make her let go of that.
...Except maybe Bliss.
Their little moment came to a halt at hearing her making sounds that were basically her way of demanding them to return to spoiling her. They both looked down to see her raising her hands above her head while she kicked her legs in her stroller, expecting one of them to pick her up from this baby contraption that she couldn’t escape from.
This time Hayley decided to be the one to get her. She wiped below her eyes where a few remaining tears were, then unbuckled Bliss and took her out of the stroller. Seeing that she was once again the center of attention, she stopped kicking and grinned which earned her a kiss on the top of her head from the both of them.
“Don’t worry, Bliss,” Oli said. “We love you, too.”
“We couldn’t possibly forget about you, cutie,” Hayley gushed.
Another interruption occurred, but it was the sound of CM Punk, one of the hosts for the red carpet, speaking into a microphone. He was informing everyone that the ceremony was about to begin. Everybody that was hanging out around the table area began heading to their seats and the orchestra was getting ready to play. Hayley and Oli shared looks of glee and their energy matched the same energy Bliss had. The Alternative Press Awards were finally starting.
As more people were sitting and more fans were gathering around the stage, there was less chatter and it was even close to being quiet. There were still a few voices heard among the crowd, but everyone else stood there in anticipation. Eventually, Hayley noticed the conductor of the orchestra ready to lead them and before they knew it, the orchestra began playing.
It took them a few minutes, but after listening closely Oli realized they were playing a medley of songs he knew. More specifically, it was a medley of all the songs that had been nominated for Song of the Year. He looked over and saw Hayley’s eyes light up at hearing “Still Into You” and he had to admit, it was cool hearing their little rendition of “Shadow Moses”, too.
“This is so cool,” she mused, but then looked around. “Where are the guys? They’re missing out.”
“They’ll be here. It’s only been a few minutes anyway,” Oli said. Then again, he noticed that some of his bandmates were also still absent.
Tom and Lee had disappeared from the table (three guesses to why they ran off), leaving Vegan the only one to watch over their stuff. Before he began contemplating if he should go look for them, the rest of them had come back. Though Tom and Lee were still gone, which once again wasn’t all that surprising and he immediately pushed those two out of his thoughts, focusing on the stage again instead.
“It’s about time this thing started,” Nicholls muttered, leaning back in his seat. “I was beginning to wonder if it was even going to happen today.”
“Fortunately, it is because we didn’t dress nice for nothing.” Jordan folded his arms across his chest and glanced at the two empty seats next to him. “Where did those lads go off to?”
Nicholls scoffed. “Where do you think?”
Jordan just looked at Oli, who shook his head. “You know what, I think it’s better that we don’t know.”
“Wherever they are, they better be back by the time we have to perform.” Oli sighed as he checked the time. “We’re going to have to be on stage soon and if our lead guitarist isn’t back when that happens, I might have to kill my brother.”
“Did you guys happen to see Taylor and Jeremy on your way here?” Hayley asked Jordan. He and Nicholls both responded with “no”, but she looked past them and saw Taylor and Noelle coming back. Noelle was giggling about something and held a hand over her mouth so she wasn’t too loud while Taylor held her other hand. As they walked back to their seats, Taylor looked over his shoulder to see that Brendon Urie was singing on stage. He was currently opening the show with some Frank Sinatra songs.
With their fingers still intertwined, Taylor and Noelle sat down. Hayley just looked at her bandmate across the table, raising an eyebrow that indicated she was waiting for him to tell her where he was.
“Sorry,” he said. “We were sitting with Twenty One Pilots for a bit. Tyler and Josh are so psyched about playing today.”
At the mention of their good friends and former touring buddies, Hayley grinned and leaned forward with Bliss. She didn’t get a chance to talk to them and wanted to know how they’ve been for the past few months. She had only seen them from a distance earlier that day on the red carpet, happy that they both brought along their girlfriends, Jenna and Debby, too. Since they were also apart of Fueled By Ramen, Noelle had worked with them on many occasions which led her to become great friends with them as well.
“I’m glad we’re the ones who are going to be presenting them,” Hayley enthused. “I want to at least talk with them a little and that gives me an excuse to do it.”
“I can’t wait to finally experience seeing them live,” Oli admitted with a chuckle. “You told me they do some crazy shit and looks like I’m going to witness that today.”
“You are.” Noelle nodded, then propped her elbow on the table before resting her chin in her hand. “They have great energy and end up doing things that are just so crazy, they’re awesome.”
“Of course, you know I’m also excited to see you on stage, too,” Hayley reminded him, kissing his cheek. “Too bad I can’t present you, too.”
“Or you could just host this whole thing,” he joked. “That’d be pretty interesting.”
She rolled her eyes. “Right. I’d do a horrible job and you know it.”
They all stopped talking for the moment to watch Brendon continue with his performance. If there was anyone that could cover Frank Sinatra so flawlessly, it was Brendon and Hayley cheered for her friend as he wowed the crowd with his charisma. His voice sounded great per usual and when he ended the first song with a high note, the crowd screamed to let him know that he killed it. Before he went on to do the next song, he greeted everyone just the way they all expected him to.
“How the fuck are you guys doing? I don’t think I can say that word, but fuck it.”
During the second song, Tom and Lee finally came back and it seemed they had tried to rush back because they were out of breath when they reached their seats. Oli decided not to comment on their disheveled appearances and was just thankful that he no longer had to worry about where they were. They came just in time for one of the stage managers telling them that they all had to head to the stage to prepare for their performance soon, as they were going on after Mark did his introduction. The band got up and Oli gave Hayley a quick kiss before they all began following the stage manager out the area.
While their friends headed out to perform, Hayley, Taylor, and Noelle proceeded to watch Brendon wow the crowd with his stage presence. Just as he was finishing up, Jeremy and Kat had returned. Seeing the familiar faces of her parents, Bliss spread her arms wide so her mother could quickly take her from Hayley as soon as she sat down.
“Sorry we didn’t come back when it started,” Kat said. “Was she any trouble?”
She handed her daughter over to Jeremy so she could bend down and open up Bliss’ baby bag. While they came back to watch the show, their main reason for returning was because it was time to feed Bliss again and they did not want her to be cranky at this time. Kat got out the bottle, removed the plastic cap that prevented it from spilling, and handed it to Jeremy.
“No, not at all,” Hayley answered. “We had fun with her like always and she’s just been sitting here enjoying everything.”
As Jeremy fed Bliss, he looked over at them. “So what did we miss? Anything crazy or important?”
“Well, you guys just missed Brendon singing some Frank Sinatra,” Hayley informed him. “And if you haven’t noticed, the guys just left because they’re going to perform after Mark Hoppus does his whole thing introduction thing. Also, he came by our table and thought Oli and I were the parents of your baby.”
“Really?” Kat laughed. “Jeremy and I actually joked about that when we left you two with her. That’s pretty funny that it really happened.”
Jeremy also laughed. “Did you guys play along? ‘Cause I’d totally play along if I were you.”
“Nah, we just told him the truth,” Hayley replied. “He was embarrassed a little, but then he went on to say how good we were with kids and that we’d be pretty good parents.”
“And he’s right,” Jeremy said. “You and Oli are good with Bliss, so I see how Mark would think she was yours.”
“You two are going to be wonderful parents,” Kat agreed. “I can’t wait for the day we get another Parababy.”
“Or Horizon baby,” Hayley pointed out with a giggle. “Since it’s not just us that are gonna have another addition to the family.”
Taylor, who was listening, sat up straight and snapped his fingers. “A Parahorizon baby. That’s what we could call them when they’re born.”
“You’re pretty proud of yourself for thinking of that one, huh?” Noelle smirked.
“You’re damn right I am.” Taylor grinned.
“A Parahorizon baby,” Hayley repeated quietly to herself, finding the term quite amusing. She smiled at Taylor and nodded. “Yeah, I like that. Thanks for thinking of that, T.”
After Mark did his whole introduction, apparently Ice T and Body Count were next to come up on the stage so they could cover some important “rules” for the APMAs. What came next was a lot of swearing from Ice T and a lot of people laughing at some of the rules, which included such crazy things like how people who weren’t moshing or jumping to the performances would get shot. He also said people whose acceptance speeches were too long would also get shot and people who couldn’t make it to the awards would have their award thrown into the lake if they won.
That went by quickly and Hayley was practically on the edge of her seat, ready to watch Bring Me the Horizon’s performance that seemed to take an eternity to happen. The crowd was quiet for several minutes with only a few voices loud enough to be heard as the conductor of the orchestra was shuffling through her music sheets. When she found what the orchestra was supposed to play, they got their instruments ready and all that was left was the band.
Eventually, one of the backdrops that were on the stage rose up and once it was lifted, the band was revealed to be behind it. The crowd began screaming at seeing who it was and Hayley found herself standing up to cheer with them. Oli took a couple of steps forward and raised his mic in the air.
“We’re Bring Me the Horizon!” he yelled. “And we hope you’re having a fucking amazing time at the APMAs. Now I want to see you all fucking move.”
And with that, the band began playing “Shadow Moses”. There were quite a lot of people in the audience who were fans because Hayley could hear hundreds of voices singing along while they began moving like Oli wanted them to. He walked up the catwalk and bent down to be closer to the people reaching out to him. He grabbed one of the hands and turned to look past the crowd so he could lock eyes with Hayley. When he spotted her, she formed a heart with her hands and held them up in the air for him to see, causing a smile to cross his features.
For the performance, he had changed out of his flannel and blazer, wearing one of his muscle tees instead. Though the flannel will always be her favorite, she really couldn’t complain about this either. Not when those arms were showing.
The only thing that bothered her, however, was how the sound was. This made her once again wonder why the show didn’t take place indoors because the acoustics would’ve been far better. It was hard for her to hear him at times due to the mic not working so well and she wished that wasn’t the case. Nevertheless, she stayed on the positive side and was just grateful that she was there to see them do what they did best, especially for this occasion.
Tom had moved to Oli’s seat to be next to her since he didn’t really want to be alone at the other table. He had also noticed the sound problems and muttered to Hayley, “They really should’ve had this thing inside.”
“I know, right?” she said, the volume of her voice slightly raising when it became evident that she wasn’t the only one with this thought. “I mean, you’d think they’d have it indoors so the sound could be better.”
He just shrugged and turned to the stage again. “Hopefully they know better now and fix that for next year.”
“I’m sure they know now,” Hayley told him. “If you and I noticed it, then a lot of other people probably notice it.”
“Notice what?” Taylor asked, having overheard the conversation.
“That the sound’s not really the best,” Hayley answered.
Taylor and Noelle looked at each other. They couldn’t agree more and Taylor just shook his head and laughed. “Oh, yeah. It most certainly is not. It’s not really bad, but it could be better.”
Hayley sighed and returned to watching the band awe the crowd once more with their next song, which was “Sleepwalking”. She chose to just ignore all the technical difficulties and blew a kiss to Oli when he winked at her along with his infamous smirk. If only she weren’t so far from the stage and could actually be up close like she usually was when it came to watching them. Hell, some shows she was even on stage with them whenever they performed the tracks that required female vocals. But since the stage wasn’t exactly made for her to just watch from the side and she was well aware being up front in the crowd wasn’t an option (nor was it really a smart one), she reminded herself that it didn’t matter. She wasn’t really that far and it was just that she wasn’t used to it.
Distance never stopped her from loving him before, so why would it stop her now? The performance still blew her away. It was a shame it couldn’t be longer.
She looked over at Bliss to see how she was doing and saw that her little niece was extremely content. Her smile still hadn’t faded away and because she had just been fed, she wasn’t as antsy. Basically, she was still in a good mood, she was still awake, and she seemed to be having a blast seeing her uncle setting the bar high for all the performances to come. Oli was going to be happy to hear that she was liking it.
They finished the song and it marked the end of their performance, so they all stood together in front of Nicholls’ drum set and bowed before exiting the stage. The backdrop that had been raised was lowered and back to its proper place. All the while, the crowd was definitely awake after experiencing that and were full of excitement, ready for what else the ceremony had in store for them. But first, there was going to be a commercial break before they started officially announcing winners.
Hayley took the time to check her phone again since she hadn’t really looked at it since sitting down. She checked her Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, grinning at all the pictures of them at the awards show that were posted. Some of them were candid; one of them being a picture of her and Oli walking hand in hand when they first got there while another one had her talking to a few fans behind the barriers. Others had posted the pictures they took at the photobooth and Twitter mirrors with Taylor and Noelle being among them.
She was trying her best to conserve her phone’s battery, but there were so many photos being uploaded every minute her eyes were glued to her screen for a few minutes. She was so caught up in all the social media that she jumped a little when she felt two hands on her shoulders. Looking up, she found that the hands belonged to Oli, with the rest of the band also there and taking their seats.
Oli raised an eyebrow and that smirk of his appeared. “Missed me?”
He was back in his flannel, but kept his blazer off and instead had it slung over his shoulder. His cologne was mixed with the smell of sweat, but she didn’t say anything about that and got out her seat to embrace him.
“You were incredible.” Hayley pushed his bangs out of his face and quickly pressed her lips to his. “Everybody loved it, even the people who didn’t seem to be familiar with your music.”
“I was kinda worried about that,” he admitted.
“Well, it was great,” she rejoiced. “And I knew you guys would get the crowd hyped. When has that not happened?”
“Yeah, your performance was awesome.” Jeremy looked down at Bliss. “Your little fan here thought it was awesome, too.”
“She was dancing and everything,” Kat added.
“I’m glad you all enjoyed watching us,” Oli said, taking his seat back from Tom. “We had a lot of fun doing that. It was even already fun when we were rehearsing yesterday.”
When he was able to relax again, a few of their friends came to table to compliment the band on their performance. Josh had reappeared after being M.I.A. for a while and sat down with them, wanting to be with them when the commercial break ended.
Hayley tilted her head. “Where have you been, Josh? We lost you like an hour ago.”
“I was trying to look for you guys,” he began. “But so many people wanted to say hi to me and I got sidetracked. Then the band and I ended up being caught up in a whole bunch of group photos.”
“I know, I saw them.” Hayley held up her phone. “By the way, send me the one of you, me, and Oli. I want to post that, too.”
Josh chuckled. “Alright, I’ll do it later. I promise. So you guys ready? We’re going to finally see who the winners are. Aren’t you guys excited?”
“You know, it’s weird. For the months leading up to this I was beyond excited,” Oli responded. “But today I haven’t really been thinking about the actual awards since we got here.“
“Same here,” Hayley confessed. “A few weeks ago Jeremy and I even made a video asking people to vote for us because we were so excited and wanted to win. But now? I’m having too much fun with everyone and don’t really care if I win anything or not.”
“I kind of understand,” Josh said. “Having us all gathered here made me realize how connected we all are. Like we’re not just a whole bunch of bands in the same place. We’re a whole bunch of friends happy to see each other and that kind of erased the whole competitive side of this.”
Hayley put a hand on his shoulder and smiled at him. “Words of wisdom from our lovely Joshua Franceschi, everyone.”
“Very funny.” Josh laughed and rolled his eyes.
“But really, that’s pretty much it.” Oli nodded. “About almost every person I’ve seen today is a friend of mine and I think all of them deserve to win. I really do.”
“Looks like we’re going to find out who the first winner of the night is.” Josh pointed over to the stage, seeing that someone was walking up the steps and toward the mic. “Commercial break’s over.”
The chatter that was going on among everyone had reduced once more when they saw that the break had ended. Up on the stage were Craig Owens and Tyler Carter, ready to present the Best Vocalist award.
Craig was the first to speak into the mic. “When writing about bands, the editors at Alternative Press use the word ‘vocalist’ when describing any band’s front person.”
He stepped away to allow Tyler to say his part. “And that’s just because when you think of a vocalist, you think about people who think outside the box; who could scream, rap, yell, sing,anything they can think of to break the boundaries. All the nominees of this category can do at least one of those things. Maybe even two or three. So let’s see who it is.”
“Everybody knows I can do two of those things,” Hayley whispered to Oli. “Singing and yelling.”
“And we all know how good a rapper I am,” Oli whispered back.
They started laughing and both put a hand over their mouths to keep from being too loud. Taylor had to tell them to be quiet, as he was trying to hear since there was a possibility that Hayley or Oli could win this.
Jokes aside, the whole aspect of this award was one of the many things that they liked about Alternative Press. They acknowledged not only singers, but anyone who used their voice to express themselves through music. A number of people in the past had asked Hayley why she enjoyed Oli’s music because in their minds, they didn’t consider it “real music” and they couldn’t comprehend how she could like something that was “just meaningless screaming”.
They obviously didn’t understand that she felt every emotion he conveyed each time he opened his mouth and how deeply affected she always was by the words he wrote. She praised him for being able to scream because that wasn’t something easy to do. She sure as hell knew she couldn’t scream like him and he was talented for that. For once, it was amazing to finally have an awards show that understood that there was more to a vocalist than just the ability to sing.
After the big screen finished showing all the nominees, everybody looked back at Craig and Tyler who were just looking around as if they didn’t know what to do with themselves.
“I’m not sure if I’m supposed to have an envelope or if it’s just gonna be right there.” Craig pointed to the nearby steps that led up to the stage. He then held his hands up, holding the nonexistent envelope with the tip of his fingers. “Does someone wanna...the envelope, please? Or a big drum roll.”
He and Tyler looked to their left, looking to see if anybody was going to come up and give them what they needed because people were waiting. Sure, it was funny to see these two guys awkwardly standing there but the audience came there to see if the votes they submitted pulled through and helped their idols win.
Then it appeared that the wait was over because someone walked up to the stage and handed Craig a white envelope.
“Oh, look! The envelope.” His eyes lit up and he reached out to take it. “There it is.”
People started clapping and cheering a bit when he began opening the enveloped, which apparently took some time to open because he was practically ripping it. Meanwhile, Tyler was next to him and unable to stay still.
“Oh, God,” Tyler said into the mic. “I’m nervous.”
They laughed at how eager he looked, but the anticipation was killing them. Craig managed to get the envelope open and pulled out a small card that was the size of a business card. He then took a deep breath.
“And the Best Vocalist award presented by Victory Records goes to...” He paused and faced the crowd. “This isn’t the real envelope, guys. Psyyych...can I get the envelope, please?”
Nicholls crossed his arms and scoffed, looking back at the group. “I knew that wasn’t the envelope. It was too small and award show envelopes are usually fancier.”
“Hmm, you got a point,” Lee muttered. “I sort of sensed something odd about it.”
“So where’s the real one?” Tom cocked his head to the side.
Right on cue, Craig pointed to a guy running up to them and yelled. “Yay, the envelope! I guess they had to make it awkward. A first time for everything.”
Everybody screamed again and could easily tell that this was the real envelope as it was a red one and much bigger. The man who brought it up also handed Craig the trophy, which was a sculpture of a skull designed microphone; the perfect kind of symbol to represent Alternative Press. This time, Tyler was the one with the envelope and he looked over at Craig as he held it up.
“I guess it was my destiny to present the award, Craig,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
“Do it, it’s okay.” Craig just shrugged and smiled. He didn’t mind at all because hey, he was holding the trophy after all. Or he was holding the first “skully”, as that was the more appropriate and official term for it. “The first skully ever right here in my hands. This is amazing. This is a big big statement for underground music and I’m really really proud to be able to be apart of this.”
Tyler opened the envelope (it was easier to open this one) and grabbed the mic. “Are you guys ready for this right now?”
They shouted and cheered in response, but Craig wasn’t fully convinced. He yelled at them, “I can’t hear you. Are you ready?”
More people screamed and this time they were much louder to give them the message that they had waited long enough and just wanted to hear who the winner was already. Hayley slipped her hand into Oli’s and laced her fingers through his. They gazed at one another, sharing a look that meant they wished each other the best of luck and whoever ended up winning, they were going to be happy regardless.
“Okay, shut the fuck up!” Tyler shouted. Everyone got quiet and as soon as he got their attention again, he told them what they wanted to hear. “The Best Vocalist goes to Brendon Urie from Panic! At the Disco!”
Hayley gasped and her mouth formed into a wide grin. She and Oli stopped holding hands for the moment so they could clap for their friend. They agreed that Brendon definitely deserved it and his performance earlier certainly proved it. Hayley always admired how versatile his voice could be and Oli was impressed numerous times by how high he usually went.
Everyone watched as Brendon ran up to the stage, absolutely ecstatic that he happened to be the first one to get the first ever skully and be titled AP’s Best Vocalist of 2014. With a drink in his hand, he ran to the mic and after the skully was handed to him, he held it in the air for all to see. He then went on to make a memorable acceptance speech. It was a short one, having just the right amount of sweet by thanking the fans and some humor, ending it by stating exactly what he planned to do with his trophy: use it as another toilet paper roll.
Hayley shook her head, giggling at that statement. “The first ever trophy and he’s using it for that. Why am I not surprised?”
“Because it’s so typical Brendon.” Oli pointed out. He leaned in closer to her and lowered his voice. “And you wanna know a secret?”
“A secret?” She repeated with a raised eyebrow. “Why yes, tell me this secret.”
“No offense to Brendon,” he said. “But you’ll always be the best vocalist to me.”
She turned away from him, her cheeks heating up. “Of course you think I’m the best. In my eyes, you’re my best vocalist. Brendon’s really talented and he worked really hard to get where he’s at. I’m happy he won.”
Oli leaned even closer and lay his head on her shoulder. “Yeah, I am, too. He’s a great singer and all...but his voice didn’t make me fall in love and want to marry him.”
Hayley smirked and looked down at him. “For a guy who’s in a metalcore band, you’re really cheesy, you know that?”
“Probably because I’ve been dating you all these years.”
Cheesy or not, she didn’t deny she loved what he said and in her opinion that was so much better than winning a trophy. Despite not winning the title of best vocalist for Alternative Press, her voice would always be Oli’s favorite and he was never going to let her or anyone forget that. And if Oli believed that, then she was all good.
The awards show continued with many great bands presenting and many great bands giving killer performances. After Brendon got his award, Tay came on stage with Telle Smith from The World Alive and Andy Leo from Crown the Empire to announce the winner of Best Live Band. Tay had the envelope in her hands already and because she wasn’t wearing heels, she had a little trouble speaking into the microphone due to being too short to reach it. Telle actually had to tilt it for her so she could talk.
“This isn’t fair!” she had said, standing on the tip of her toes to be heard.
“I feel her pain,” Hayley empathized. She and Tay were about the same height, so she knew that when it was her turn to present, she was going to have the same problem. Then again, she was wearing heels so she had a bit of an advantage.
Pierce the Veil ended up winning it and like all the categories, it was such a tough decision to make but they earned it. Shortly after they made their acceptance speech and left the stage, Matty Mullins from Memphis May Fire to present another performance. Sleeping With Sirens took the stage and Machine Gun Kelly ended up joining them for the second song.
The next award was Best Breakthrough Band, which was presented by Ryan Key and Sean Mackin of Yellowcard to the winners, Crown the Empire. Eventually, it finally came to the Best Bassist award. Jeremy had been nominated along with so many other good friends of theirs that made it so damn hard for anyone to choose. Not only was Jeremy nominated, but so was Zack, Pete, and Jaime. Kat and Bliss both gave Jeremy a few good luck kisses as they eagerly awaited for the winner. The skully ultimately ended up going to Jaime, and because of how close everyone was with each other, they all congratulated him and cheered him on as he received his trophy.
Winning really didn’t matter to anyone. It was a bonus and an honor, of course, but being apart of it all was enough to make any of them happy.
Next, Asking Alexandria performed a cover of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like The Wolf” and then their own song after that. During this, Hayley and Oli were out of their seats again because they were being interviewed by CM Punk and Juliet Simms on the red carpet. Since this was going on in the middle of the show, the area wasn’t full of people at this point so it was much easier for them to converse without having to raise their voices.
They were both asked how it felt to actually be there and what was going through their minds, to which Oli commented that the first thing that came to his mind were the sandwiches. Hayley rolled her eyes, but then went on tell them that she and her band were going to present Twenty One Pilots later on. When the interview was done, they didn’t feel like heading back to their table so tried to see what other things they could do to pass the time.
“Let’s try looking for that photo booth that Taylor was talking about,” Oli suggested, grabbing her hand and increasing the pace of his footsteps.
“Okay, try not to go too fast,” Hayley reminded him. “I can only go so far in these heels.”
He stopped and turned to her, letting go of her hand. She was right, he didn’t want to make her run because she wasn’t one who wore heels all the time and he would never forgive himself if he ended up making her fall. Why was he trying to rush anyway? They probably still had time until they had to come back. Or did they?
“Fine, I got a better idea then.” He bent down. “Get on.”
She just stood there. “What are you doing?”
Oli rolled his eyes and sighed, though a smile was on his face. “You said you can only go so far in heels and knowing you, you’re gonna smack me in the head if I make you run all over the place so I’m giving you a piggyback ride to the photo booth.”
“I swear, you spoil me too much,” she murmured.
“So you getting on?” he asked, still bent down. “I just might change my mind if you take too long to decide...”
“Alright,” she laughed. “I’m getting on, Mr. Show-Off.”
She went behind him and draped her arms over his shoulders, wrapping them around him as he stood up and held her legs. They proceeded to look for the photo booth, slightly wishing they had bothered to ask Taylor or Noelle where it was but they found it sooner than they thought.
Nobody else was around and the booth was free for them to use. The moment Oli set her down, Hayley pushed the curtain of the booth aside and pulled Oli in. He sat down on the seat that was provided for them, but despite there being enough room for her to sit, she chose his lap to do that. They had a total of four pictures to take and made sure that each one got sillier than the previous one. The exception was their last photo, which ended with her lips on his cheek and him simply smiling at the camera.
Just then, the curtain opened and they turned to see Tom standing there. “I’ve been looking for you guys and for a second I thought you ran off to have sex in here or something.”
They both glared at him and Hayley couldn’t help but comment on that. “Yeah, right. As if we’d actually do that in here.”
“If you really knew us, you’d know that we’d obviously do it in place that has way more room for positions,” Oli added and they both high-fived each other (with straight faces to boot) while Tom made a look of disgust.
Tom groaned and covered his ears. “That joke backfired, forget I said anything.”
“But really, why were you looking for us?” Oli asked.
“Because they’re about to announce who won Best International Band,” Tom said. “I thought you’d at least want to be around if you end up winning.”
“Ooh, they are?” Hayley got off Oli. “Quick, let’s head back. I have a good feeling about this one. I just know you’re gonna win it.”
“Are you saying that because you really do have a feeling or are you just saying that to get my hopes up?”
“Shh, don’t ask any questions. Let’s just get there before they say it.”
Bring Me the Horizon had been nominated for Best International Band, the one category that didn’t put his band against Hayley’s. She kept telling him how confident she was about them winning because she had looked at the other bands and stated that they had a high chance. Of course, with her being his girlfriend and all, it was hard for him to be certain that she sincerely meant it but he was still going to be positive about it.
They got out the booth and he grabbed their photos that had printed out before facing her. “Do you want another piggyback ride?”
She giggled. “I was totally fine with walking, but since you asked then yes, I’d love that.”
He carried her all the way back to the tables and when they got there, Pierce the Veil were back on stage. This time instead of receiving an award, they were presenting it and Hayley, Oli, and Tom had gotten there at just the right time.
“And the Best International Band presented by Zepeda Brothers Productions is...” Jaime opened the envelope, prompting the others to look over his shoulder.
Tony, who had the skully, stepped forward and announced, “Bring Me the Horizon!”
Oli’s eyes widened while Hayley squealed and practically jumped out of her seat. He and the band sat there for a moment in disbelief, exchanging looks that said Did we really hear that right? When it finally sunk in that yes, they were actually the winners, their astonishment turned into joy and they all got out of their seats to head toward the stage.
They were met with hugs from Pierce the Veil and Tony handed Oli the skully, who was nearly speechless that he was really holding it. This trophy was theirs and it was all thanks to the fans for believing in them and supporting them every step of the way. It meant so much to him and he wanted to thank each and every one of them. He took a deep breath and regained his composure, finally ready to speak.
“Hello,” he said over the orchestra playing, to which he paused so they could finish. When they stopped he looked down at the skully again. “I don’t know what to fucking say right now. This is cool!”
Hayley grinned at his attempts at downplaying his happiness. She saw the twinkle in his eye and knew he was probably popping champagne and doing backflips in his mind. He had a right to celebrate and she was obviously going to be smug about how she totally called it that he’d win something.
“And I’m well aware that Ice T will batter me for taking so long,” he continued. “So I’m just gonna say thank you to everyone that voted, thank you to Epitaph, thank you to our management, and obviously the rest of the fucking band who have always been by my side. Thank you very much.”
The crowd applauded as they exited the stage and the show was on another commercial break before the next performance. Hayley managed to resist the urge to leap into Oli’s arms when he came back, but she still ran over to him to envelop him in a hug.
“I didn’t want to say it, but I’m saying it,” she said. “I told you so. You won an award and I called it.”
“Honestly, I’m too stoked right now to even make a comeback.” He laughed and kissed her.
“Congrats, mate. ” Josh patted him on the back and then moved aside so others from the surrounding tables could also congratulate the band.
They hadn’t noticed at first, but many people were trying to talk to them to the point where he kept getting numerous hugs, handshakes, and tons of people saying that the band earned it and how cool it was that they won. Because there was a commercial break happening, there more people around since they didn’t have to worry if they were being distracting or noisy.
When Oli turned to speak to Hayley again, he realized that she was no longer by his side and had somehow separated from him in the midst of all his socializing. He looked around for her, wondering where she had went while hoping he’d be able to spot her in the crowd. She had blue hair, how hard would she be to find? Fortunately, he saw her walking with Jeremy and Taylor toward the stage and she had called out to him to tell him why.
“The break’s almost over and we’re presenting next,” she explained. “I’ll be back in a bit.”
She waved to him one last time before heading with the guys to the back of the stage to wish Twenty One Pilots good luck. Oli watched her walk off until she was out of sight and then felt a tap on the shoulder from yet another friend who wished to converse with him.
Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph were about to step onto the stage before Paramore caught them. Or to be specific, before Hayley ran over to them to tackle them with hugs.
“Oh, what’s up, Hayley?” Tyler looked down at her and reciprocated the hug. “Glad to finally see you again.
“Too bad we don’t have much time to catch up.” Josh began putting the earbuds of his monitor on. “But we’re honored to have you guys doing the introduction for us.”
“I’ll come find you two afterwards” she promised. “So what songs are you doing?”
“Yeah, are we allowed to know?” Jeremy asked with a smirk. “And if not, can you tell us anyway?”
“Alright, since you guys are our friends we’ll tell you the first song,” Tyler said. “But we’re still keeping the second one a surprise, got it?”
When they nodded in agreement, Josh leaned in. “We’re doing ‘Car Radio’ first.”
Hayley clapped her hands together and the three of them gave big grins.
“Dude, no way!” Taylor rejoiced. “Noelle’s going to love it, that’s one of her favorites. I’m like even more excited now.”
Before the others could express their excitement, one of the stage managers informed them at the break was over. “Twenty One Pilots, it’s time for you guys to head on the stage.”
The man then looked at Paramore. “As for you guys, you’re up to present.”
“Okay, but can you do us one little favor?” Taylor got his phone out of his pocket and handed it to him. “Can you take a picture of all of us?”
One would expect the man to be irritated, but instead he took the phone and smiled, telling them to get closer before he took the photo. It only took a few seconds, so it wasn’t like this was doing any harm.
After the picture, Tyler and Josh headed off in one direction while Hayley, Jeremy, and Taylor went the other. Before they ascended up those steps of the stage, they heard Mark’s intro for them.
“You can see them all summer long on tour co-headlining with Fall Out Boy and I think they’re nominated in every single category here tonight. Please give a big Cleveland welcome to Paramore!”
Hayley went up the steps first and waved at all the cheering fans as the orchestra once again played their version of Paramore’s song. As soon as she and the guys got closer to the mic, she made sure her voice was loud and clear. “Hi!”
Everyone either responded with hellos as well or screamed and she went on to grab the mic. When she had slipped away from Oli earlier, she changed into another pair of heels that were more comfortable and slightly higher. These were lace up heeled boots that were black just like her dress and she had switched to these to make sure she reached the mic. Another reason was that while she wanted to be more comfortable, she still wanted to feel tall. Though that still didn’t make her taller than Oli, no matter what heels she wore.
She looked at all the people before her, all of them gazing up at her in awe. Some of them had come all the way here to support Paramore and were extremely excited to finally see them on stage.
“Hi, guys. How are you feeling?” She still had to tilt the mic in order to speak into it, but not as much as Tay had to. “You look wonderful tonight.”
From her tone, it was a genuine statement and Oli leaned back in his seat and smiled. Hayley said she’d suck as a host, but seeing that she was already charming the crowd despite only saying a few words suggested otherwise. Taking a step back, she then let Jeremy and Taylor take over.
“When we started out, we first, um, cut our teeth playing shows anywhere we could. From tiny stages to, you know, flatbed trucks,” Jeremy began, emphasising that last part. “So, uh, took a long time to get where we are today.”
There was so much truth in his words. It was something every single band there could relate to. Whether it were the up and coming bands like Echosmith or the big legends like Joan Jett, being in a band was a hardworking and rewarding experience. Oli chuckled at what Jeremy said because of how accurate he was. Paramore had been a band for ten years and Bring Me the Horizon had also been playing shows in all kinds of places for a decade. They worked really fucking hard for years and it was all worth it.
Taylor continued from where Jeremy left off. “That very same work ethic is evident in our labelmates, Twenty One Pilots who, like Alternative Press, are from Ohio—it’s a great state—and have built themselves into an international sensation.”
“Yeah, so, uh, why don’t you show us how it’s done boys?” Hayley raised her voice, getting ready to hype up the crowd for the performance to come. She raised her arm and gestured behind her. “From Columbus, Ohio...Twenty One Pilots!”
The audience went crazy as the backdrop came up, revealing Tyler at a piano and Josh on drums. They both had on masks, a usual trademark that their fanbase immediately recognized and expected. On the other hand, the people who weren’t fans were a little bit confused but intrigued at the same time. Oli remembered Hayley and Josh explaining this to him, having gained quite a bit of knowledge of this band courtesy of You Me at Six and Paramore touring with them. He had listened to a majority of their songs and had a number of tracks that caught his interest, even. The thing was that he hadn’t properly met them yet and had to see one of their shows. Lucky for him, the latter was happening that very moment.
In fact, when Tyler played those first few chords on the piano, he knew what the song was and so did Noelle. She made that clear by clapping and bouncing in her seat.
“I was hoping they’d play this one!” she enthused. “I’m so glad they are. This is amazing.”
“I’m guessing this is your favorite?” Oli mused.
“Oh, yeah.” Noelle nodded and put her hands in her lap. “I play this a million times in the car almost every day. Just ask Taylor.”
“Ask me what?”
Taylor had appeared behind her, along with Jeremy and Hayley. They all sat back down and adjusted their seats so that they could watch Tyler get almost the whole crowd to rap with him. A lot of fans had definitely come to see them.
“I was just telling Oli how I’m pretty much obsessed with this song,” she told him. “But anyway, you were great up there.”
“Yeah, you sounded so professional,” Oli said.
“Me? I sounded professional?” Taylor repeated. “Didn’t you guys hear my voice shaking?”
“Hey, quit talking yourself down,” Noelle said. “If your voice was shaking, I didn’t notice it at all. I actually want you guys up there to present some more.”
“If I was in charge of this thing, I’d make Hayley be the host,” Oli teased and he turned to her. In return, she put her hand over his face and rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on! You’re saying you’d suck at it but the way you acted on stage made that hard to believe.”
She smiled, but ignored the flattery and put a finger to his lips. “Maybe next year. Just keep enjoying the show.”
On stage, Tyler had moved away from the piano to make good use of the stage by running up and down the catwalks. Oli noticed how great of a performer her was, watching him get the entire audience to raise their hands in the air and jump with him. He was very interactive with the people and Oli liked it when artists made sure to form a special connection with the people who enjoyed their music.
When Tyler got back to his piano, he didn’t go back to playing it. Instead, he stood up on top of it and encouraged everyone at this point to jump even higher and go nuts. The song had reached its climax and out came Michael Bohn from Issues to join them. He was also wearing the same mask as them and eventually he jumped off the platform he was standing on. Tyler followed and jumped off the piano, the both of them headbanging in unison. Soon, Michael finished his part and left the stage, leaving Tyler to sit back down at his piano and sing the last stanza.
After this performance, Oli definitely understood why so many people loved seeing them live and he felt lucky to experience it after only hearing from others what they were like. Hayley saw how impressed he looked and tried to keep herself from giggling because while he already liked it, there were so many things he had yet to see from Tyler and Josh. She wondered if they were going to end up doing things for the next song, but if they weren’t, she was going to make plans to go to a show of there’s in the future and bring Oli. That way he got the full experience.
Tyler took off his mask (as did Josh) and bowed to the orchestra as a way to thank them before lifting his mic on the piano.
“Give it up for Michael from Issues,” he said and the audience whistled and screamed until he put a hand up, waiting for them to quiet down so he could talk again.
“I’mma let you finish.” he then pointed to Josh. “But Josh Dun’s the best drummer.”
Their fans screamed even louder while a few others laughed, Hayley and Oli included. Josh really was a talented drummer and it was nice to see that AP nominated him for that category.
“And here we were thinking Alex was going to pull a Kanye,” Hayley muttered, referring to a picture Alex posted on Instagram a few days prior where he stated he might end up dressing like Kanye West for the ceremony.
“He probably was, but Tyler beat him to it,” Oli joked.
Josh immediately went into the next song and this time, Hayley was the one to get all excited like Noelle had. She didn’t know what it was going to be and it was revealed that they were playing “Guns for Hands” which was her favorite. That explains why they didn’t want to tell her. Or maybe they wouldn’t have told her regardless, but whatever. This awards show just kept getting better and better.
And Oli was very much aware of her love for this song. After all, she liked to play this in the car and when she was in the shower and pretty much any other time she felt like putting it on. She shamelessly started singing along and this prompted Noelle to do the same. He shared a look with Taylor; this wasn’t the first time those two had done this.
Hayley saw that look and shrugged. “You guys know you love our fangirl moments. Don’t act like you don’t.”
“Hey, we never said we didn’t like it,” Taylor retorted, though his tone was light-hearted. “You two are crazy.”
“But cute,” Oli added.
Noelle giggled. “Nice save there, Oli.”
“I meant you guys were crazy in a good way,” Taylor elaborated. “If you guys weren’t crazy, then I don’t know what I’d do.”
Oli smirked. “Now that was a nice save.”
“It wasn’t a save, I was being serious!”
“It’s okay Taylor. I’m sure Noelle still loves you.”
“But I wasn’t-”
That’s when Hayley put a hand up to keep him from continuing with the conversation. She had looked past him and pointed to the stage so they could all witness what was going on at the moment: Tyler had walked off the stage so he could start climbing the truss and everyone below him were screaming either because they were waiting for him to do his regular concert shenanigans or scared out of their minds that he’d hurt himself.
He was climbing all the way to the top and Oli would be lying if he said he wasn’t also staring up at Tyler with wide eyes. It wasn’t like he was only a few feet off the ground. He was up highand stood up there fearlessly as he rapped without stuttering or his voice wavering.
“Holy shit,” Oli breathed.
Hayley reacted to this stunt differently. Compared to Oli, she was wearing that grin of hers and it only grew wider when she caught him staring in wonder. She let out a slight laugh and when his eyes darted to her, the look on her face clearly said that this was normal behavior on Tyler’s part.
Oli looked back to watch Tyler climbing down to return to the stage while Hayley went on to explain the nature of a Twenty One Pilots gig. “You’ve just witnessed one of the many insane things that happen at their shows.”
“What other insane things do they do?” he asked.
“You’re about to find out,” Jeremy replied. “Look at what Josh is about to do.”
He had been so busy paying attention to Tyler that he didn’t notice that Josh’s drum set was no longer on that big platform. Instead, it was on a much smaller platform but what really struck him was that this platform was being carried by the audience. There were really people underneath Josh to hold him up as he played his drum solo, finishing up the song in the coolest way possible. If Oli wasn’t already impressed before, he was now. Noelle definitely wasn’t exaggerating when she told him they did crazy things when they were on stage.
That concluded their set and Josh threw his drumsticks to the crowd as they showed their appreciation of the performance through applause and cheers.
Hayley turned to Oli. “So what did you think?”
“That was badass,” he admitted. And he didn’t tell her yet, but he for sure wanted to go to an actual show with Hayley one day.
It was getting darker by this time, the sun almost gone while the stage lights started turning on. Along with the sun, there was less of a light breeze and the wind was starting to pick up. It was inevitable thanks to them being near the water and Hayley hugged herself as she rubbed her arms. It wasn’t that cold, just windier and she was only making sure she wasn’t getting any goosebumps.
She got out of her chair along with Oli and Josh to hang out at All Time Low’s table. Even with them being near each other, they hadn’t talked to them since the red carpet and their phones were still alive for them to take more photos.
Meanwhile, Jason Butler of letlive., Anthony Raneri of Bayside, and Chris DeMakes of Less Than Jake were about to present the Artist Philanthropic Award. All Time Low just so happened to be nominated for this and to their surprise, they ended up winning it, too. They went up to claim their award while Hayley, Oli, and Josh stayed at the table to sit with Meg, Tay, and Cassadee. Apparently, All Time Low’s performance was happened right after the award for Best Guitarist, which was next. So after they were done with the acceptance speech, they had to head backstage. This gave Hayley the chance to finally catch up with Cass and give her a big hug that was long overdue.
It was certainly an honor to win that award and Alex went on to thank the fans for their vote, but also pointed out how important it was that artists were helping out organizations. Despite AP only able to pick one winner, any band that was standing for something were also winners.
And Mark had the perfect follow up. “I need to have this microphone burned because Alex’s mouth was just all over it.”
Every Time I Die came up to present and accept the award for Best Guitarist since the winner, Phil Manansala from Of Mice and Men, wasn’t there. He was the first winner who wasn’t present and Oli joked that he was lucky that Ice T didn’t end up throwing the skully in the lake like he said he would.
They reached another commercial break and Oli offered to get the others drinks while they waited. Josh went with him to help, leaving the girls to talk.
“So how are you, Cass?” Hayley turned to her. “The last time I saw you was when you were onThe Voice and that was only through the television. The guys and I even made a guest appearance on that show, but it wasn’t even your season.”
She remembered when Paramore was first asked to be a guest on the show. The first time they unfortunately couldn’t make it because they were working in the studio and already had tour dates scheduled. It sucked because that was when Cass was actually competing. Even when they actually appeared on show, it was kind of last minute.
Cass couldn’t resist laughing. “I know, it’s crazy how we haven’t seen each other in so long. Especially since we both live in LA now.”
“But I understand,” Hayley said. “You’ve been so busy with all your touring and your album. Rian’s told me how well it’s been going for you and I just want to say I’m happy you’re still making music.”
“Thanks, that means a lot.” Cass smiled. “There’s still been a lot of mixed reactions to me being solo.”
“Man, screw the haters,” Tay cut in, having heard the whole conversation. “You’re doing what you wanna do and you’re happy to be doing it.”
“If they don’t like that, that’s their problem,” Meg said. She empathized with Cass, knowing what it was like to deal with people who didn’t approve of making a choice that wasn’t in the fans’ favor. When Meg decided she wanted to focus more on jewelry (while still making music with her bandmate Nick) and Dia did her own thing, there were a lot of complaints.
“I never let them try to kill my happiness,” Cass assured them. She went back to facing Hayley. “But enough with what I’m doing. I know that you are on tour with Fall Out Boy. How’s that been going?”
“Oh, it’s been so much fun,” Hayley told her. “The Monumentour’s been a blast and it’s honestly made this summer great. What makes it even greater is that I’m hanging out with you guys right now.”
“You sound like Alex.” Meg smirked. “This morning he was saying how excited he was to be seeing our old friends. In his words, he said that this awards show is the second greatest thing happening this year.”
Hayley tilted her head, slightly curious. “What’s the first?”
“Me getting pregnant.”
“I’d say the exact same thing if I were him,” Hayley confessed. “You two are having a baby! Have you guys been getting ready for this yet?”
“Dia got us a few books,” Meg answered. “Besides that, Alex and I thought a little about names.”
Tay leaned in closer. “Whoa, wait, I didn’t know this. You guys thought of names already? What are they?”
“For a girl, we’re thinking of naming her Maya,” Meg replied. “As for a boy, we still haven’t thought of a name we really like.”
“At least you’re thinking about it,” Hayley said. “I haven’t even thought about names.”
“Why would you be thinking about...” That’s when Meg, Tay, and Cass gaped at her once they were hit with the realization.
Hayley just stared at them, remembering that she hadn’t mentioned her future plans to them yet. “Oops, I didn’t get around to tell you guys that, did I? Before you assume anything, I’m notpregnant, but I’m hoping to make that happen.”
Cass nearly screamed and put both her hands over her mouth to muffle the sound so people wouldn’t give her weird looks. She gave Hayley another tight hug and all of them couldn’t believe what they heard.
“The last time we hung out, you were trying to decide what color you wanted to dye your hair,” Cass went on. “And now you’re telling me you’ve decided you want to have a baby?”
“It’s unbelievable, I know.” Hayley moved a strand of her hair behind her ear and crossed her legs. “It seems hard for people to see it since it’s me and Oli, but we want this. Ever since we first held Bliss and connected with her, we realized deep down how we’ve always wanted this.”
Meg put a hand on her shoulder. “I don’t think it’s hard to see that. You and Oli are both strong and devoted and have big hearts. I saw the way you guys were with Bliss over there and it’s obvious you guys are ready for this. I have a good feeling it’ll happen soon.”
Her words were very touching and Hayley smiled at her while secretly trying not to get emotional again. If she ended up crying, her makeup could get smudged and she didn’t want all these people around her to worry if she was alright.
“You better let us know when it happens,” Tay reminded her. “I’m going to be around for Meg’s baby and I want to be around for yours, too.”
“The minute I find out, I’ll call you guys right away,” Hayley promised, fully intending to keep her word.
Oli and Josh came back with the drinks, a majority of them being just water. Tay had asked for a soda while Josh got himself a beer. As the commercial break ended, they raised their cups and made a small toast to the APMAs and All Time Low’s performance. Hayley went into fangirl mode again as this was the first performance (not counting Oli’s) that she expressed excitement for. Meg had informed them that Alex stated the band was doing a lot more than just playing one of their songs, but she didn’t tell them what it was. It wasn’t because she didn’t want to; it was just that not even Meg herself knew and neither did Tay or Cass.
Mayday Parade were up to present and they probably gave the best intro, cleverly referencing all of All Time Low’s albums in their speech.
“Since their formation eleven years ago,” Derek Sanders began. “This next band have been in the party scene and they’ve done some dirty work. But don’t panic, it’s nothing personal. In fact, it’s so wrong, it’s right.”
At hearing all the familiar albums mentioned, the awaiting fans were back to screaming loudly. Alex Garcia then took over to get things going. “Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for pop punk’s fortunate sons...All Time Low.”
The applause increased when the backdrop on the right was lifted up slowly, the band waiting to be exposed to the crowd. When they came into view, Alex immediately began strumming his guitar and kicked off with a very well-known intro.
I got your picture I’m coming with you. Dear Maria, count me in
There’s a story at the bottom of this bottle and I’m the pen...
However, that wasn’t the song they were playing. As soon as Alex finished singing those lyrics, the rest of the band joined in and they were playing another song. Though it also sounded familiar, it wasn’t one of their tracks. Hayley tried to remember whose song it was because she swore it was one she had heard a while ago. The answer was on the tip of her tongue, but she didn’t even get to make a guess because the name she had been trying to think of had gotten on stage.
It was Ryan from Yellowcard, walking up the catwalk with his own mic and seeing him had triggered a memory within her that helped her distinguish the song that she had been trying so hard to remember. It was “Lights and Sounds” being performed and all the nostalgia from the track had made her feel like she was seventeen all over again. Along with Ryan was Sean, obviously there playing his violin since it just wouldn’t be a Yellowcard song without it.
“Go Jack!” Tay cheered, standing up while Jack got more energetic by the minute. Out of everyone on that stage, he was the craziest and it was as if he was running a marathon. He was running all the way to the other side of the stage and back, headbanging as he continued to play every note without faltering. Tay then started laughing as he moved in circles, impressed that he didn’t make himself dizzy. She had witnessed that happening once.
When Ryan finished belting out the last lyric, the band transitioned to another song Hayley knew. This time, it was easier for her to remember and she instantly knew the song they had started playing was New Found Glory’s “All Downhill From Here”. Yeah, she was definitely feeling like a teenager again.
Ryan and Sean left the stage so that Jordan Pundik and Chad Gilbert could take their place. Everybody watching were out of their seats and that even included the orchestra. They were fans, too, after all and how were they supposed to act so professional when they were teenagers and this show was so interactive and fun? They were apart of this just as much as everybody else was.
“So this is the surprise he wouldn’t tell me,” Meg said, amusement in her voice as she watched Alex and Jordan harmonize. And she was glad that she didn’t push him any further to tell her because it was a cool surprise that she was relieved she didn’t spoil.
Meanwhile, Chad was dancing with the orchestra’s conductor which earned laughs from Hayley and Oli. Cass and Tay also joined in on the laughter when they saw that even at an awards show, Jack still managed to get a bra thrown at him on stage. At the moment, he was wearing it on his head and kept it like that for the remainder of the song. This entire performance was insane in the most awesome way and in Hayley’s opinion, it was totally worth the wait. Her fangirling wasn’t in vain.
They had one more song to do and everybody there knew exactly what song was left. As soon as Jack played those first few notes of “A Love Like War”, the audience made as much noise as they could to indicate that they were ready to sing along. Jordan and Chad were off the stage to make way for the next guest appearance, who was none other than Vic. Anybody who knew the song were aware that he was obviously going to come out and some had been practically waiting for this song to be played since the set started.
Vic walked out and joined Alex after he finished the first verse, ready to follow with the chorus. So many people were singing with him at this point that the crowd’s voices were louder than both Vic and Alex. This even included bands at the tables, with Hayley, Meg, Tay, Cass, Josh, and even Oli singing the words, too.
At the end of the performance, the members of New Found Glory and Yellowcard rejoined them to take a bow, but not before giving each other hugs first. Alex then happily announced into the mic, “I like a lot of those guys very much.”
The ceremony was still far from being over, but so far everything was incredible. From all the nominees and the performances to Mark’s hosting and how the whole atmosphere was just so positive, Hayley and Oli had no doubt that this was the best awards show they had ever been to.
Though it had taken a long time for Alternative Press to get their own awards show, they were really just happy that it was happening at all.
The rest of the show got even better as the night went on. When the All Time Low left the stage and the backdrop was back in its proper place, CM Punk was taking a break from the red carpet interviews so he could present the Vanguard Award to Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins. After saying what he was supposed to say, he then gave his very own personal speech about why Billy deserved the award, starting by claiming him as a “fucking god”—a claim that all people believed was a fact.
Billy’s speech was just as inspirational as he is, emphasising how important it was that Alternative Press and all the bands there were influencing them to keep going above and beyond because life is not about playing it safe to please other people.
Pierce the Veil had won yet another award, this time Mike winning Best Drummer. As he accepted the skully and thanked the fans, Oli noticed Vic proudly watching his younger brother. It was great that he was being recognized for something he put so much heart into.
Laura Jane Grace gave a heartwarming speech for Joan Jett before presenting the AP Icon Award to her. She told a story of when she wrote in her diary while on Warped Tour in 2006, raving about how she met Joan and went on to praise this woman for proving she was a musician and hero who rocked out with the boys. And she really was a hero that truly inspired others that girls could also be in this music scene. Hayley, Tay, Meg, Cass, all of them had looked up to Joan and gained the confidence from her actions.
Joan was in her fifties, but still looked badass and beautiful than ever in her silver biker jacket and latex leggings (Hayley definitely had to give her props for wearing those during this season). She was humble and grateful, showing the audience that she was like one of them with a crumpled paper in her hand that contained the speech she had prepared. She made a few light hearted jokes about her age to give people a few laughs and then their laughs turned to “aww”s when she mentioned both her parents who have passed, thanking them for giving her nothing but encouraging words since her birth. This Icon award was made for her and she deserved to be the first one to receive it.
Next, the award for Most Dedicated Fans went to Black Veil Brides and Andy Biersack decided that he shouldn’t be the one to keep the skully. Since it was an award based around their fanbase, he chose someone in the audience to give the trophy to. The lucky fan ended up being a girl with red and purple hair in the front row. Jack commented that she was probably the true winner for tonight, gaining the best souvenir that she could treasure for the rest of her life.
The third award to be given to another known icon in the rock world was the Guitar Legend Award for Slash. Joe Perry from Aerosmith was the one to present it to him and it was quite fitting to see one guitar legend give to another. Like Joan, he was extremely humble about it and he didn’t know what to say, so he kept his speech short but of course it was still a good speech.
Despite Josh leaving to get back to You Me at Six, Hayley and Oli had stayed at All Time Low’s table even when the guys had returned from their performance. Interestingly enough, at this point they were about to announce the winner for Song of the Year. All three of their bands had been nominated and the only thing they had said about it was that they wished each other the best of luck. In the end, All Time Low ended up winning and Vic came up with them, hitching a ride on Zack’s back to the stage.
In between all the awards presented, there were performances from Body Count, Machine Gun Kelly, A Day to Remember, and The Misfits. Because the sun was no longer in the air, Hayley wished she had brought a jacket because it had gotten cold. That was mostly her fault, however, thanks to living in Los Angeles for quite some time. It was always warm where she lived and she had forgotten that the east coast’s climate wasn’t as hot, even if it was summer.
They were back at their own table and Oli saw her shiver in the corner of his eye. He put an arm around her, keeping quiet about the goosebumps he felt and instead made sure she was alright. “Are you cold? Do you need a jacket?”
“I’m fine,” she told him. But even she knew that her false assurance wasn’t convincing and Oli wasn’t having any of it. “Okay, yeah, I’m a little cold. Still, even though I need a jacket, it’s not like you can really get me one.”
“You can wear mine,” he offered. “I’m wearing my flannel anyway so it’s not like I’ll get cold if I give it to you.”
He was just about to take his blazer off when she put a hand to his chest to stop him. “Wait. I think they just said that the next award is Album of the Year.”
They stood up and the rest of Paramore and Bring Me the Horizon followed, wanting to make sure they were close to the stage if either of them ended up being the winner. We Came As Romans were presenting and when they opened the red envelope, Hayley held tightly onto Oli due to how anxious she was to hear the result and to keep warm. Oli wasn’t so above it all, though. He held his breath and could feel his heart beating rapidly.
“And the Album of the Year presented by Journey’s goes to...drumroll please...”
Since Hayley was pressed against him, she could feel his heart, too. Either that or it was her own heart. She wasn’t sure, but they needed to stop building up the suspense with these dramatic pauses because this was too much.
“Sempiternal, Bring Me the Horizon!”
Oli didn’t get a chance to react because Hayley had pulled him in for a quick kiss and right after she pulled away, his band started pushing him up the steps of the stage. He was handed his second skully and paused in front of the crowd to capture the moment. It finally sunk in that he and the band, the album they had worked hard on in isolation and crafted with experimentation had actually won. His reaction to this win was more personal than the earlier one and he didn’t plan on saying any of the stuff he ended up mentioning, but the words just poured out.
“Right,” he began. “I wanna say something that I never thought I’d actually talk about. Before we wrote Sempiternal, I was a fucking drug addict. I was addicted to a drug called Ketamine. I was on it for years and I was fucked off my head. And, um, my band wanted to kill me, my parents wanted to kill me, my fucking brother wanted to kill me, everyone wanted to kill me.”
His eyes met Hayley’s when he said that last part. Her eyes had widened at him mentioning his drug addiction to everyone, something so surprising that his band and even Tom were taken aback by it. Some fans were aware of the issues he had with drugs in the past, but nobody thought to consider him talking about it at this moment.
Hayley’s mind flashed back to the first year of their relationship; the year where his addiction had reached its peak. Their relationship had been tested numerous times during that period, with her realizing how serious the problem was becoming and him seeing before his eyes just how this was affecting her and everyone he cared about. They had a few fights, some ending in him leaving the place or one of them sleeping on the couch, regretting the hurtful words exchanged but too stubborn to apologize for them. He started to think she’d give up on him, maybe leave him for somebody who had their shit together far better than he did. But she had never even let that horrible thought cross her mind, wanting only to help him get better and save him from all this self-destruction.
And he did escape those negative and suicidal thoughts that nearly consumed him. It wasn’t just her that helped him recover. It was also his family, the band, Jeremy, Taylor, and most importantly himself. He wanted to put an end to this, having gained the revelation that nothing and nobody was stopping him from doing so. In addition to the fans and his loved ones saving him, he was also the hero.
“They wanted to fucking take me to hell, but they didn’t,” Oli went on. “They stood by me, they supported me through all that shit, and we wrote Sempiternal because of it. And no one fucking knows this, but I went to rehab for a month and through that time—as well as my fucking band and my family—you guys were sending me letters. You had no fucking idea I was in rehab, but you were sending me letters, you were sending me texts, you were sending me fucking emails. And when I got out of rehab, I didn’t want to fucking scream anymore. I wanted to sing it from the fucking rooftops and it’s all thanks to you, so thank you very much.”
Tears rose to her eyes as she looked up at him. He deserved this award more than anyone and that included herself. You did it, Oli.
When he reached Hayley again, she was wiping the tears away. Though it wasn’t helping her in any way, she started doing that weird gesture where she appeared to be “fanning” her tears away or something like that. The point was she knew she looked ridiculous doing it, but despite all that Oli was still concerned for her.
“Wait, why are you crying?” He handed Tom his trophy so he could hold both her hands. “Was it something I said?”
She laughed at his reaction and lifted her arms to hold the sides of his face. “Yes, you idiot. Your stupid amazing speech made me cry and I loved it.”
The worry lines on his face faded as his lips curved into a smile, a small relieved laugh escaping his lips. “I swear, Hayles...”
Hayley cut him off, putting her index finger to his mouth before replacing it with her own lips. She gripped tightly onto his flannel’s collar, making sure she was as close to him as possible. He let his hand slowly run down the curve of her back and wrapped his arms around her to retain the comforting and familiar sensation of her touch, also remembering that she was still cold and needed his warmth. When they parted, their foreheads were still pressed together and their eyes locked once more.
“I’m so proud of you,” she whispered.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts did a performance with Slash, Laura Jane Grace, and Billy Crooked followed by the presentation of the last award of the night: Artist of the Year. This category, of course, had the most nominees and all of them were great bands with Paramore and Bring Me the Horizon also being apart of the list. The band who ended up coming out on top was Fall Out Boy and afterwards, they were the ones who closed out the ceremony with a performance of “The Phoenix”.
The awards show was finally over. A majority of the audience were just trying to get out of there to avoid getting stuck in the crowd while others stayed behind in hopes of being able to talk to some of the artists. It was past midnight and there was an after-party going on inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so all the bands were getting out of the table area to head over to the building to do more socializing and drinking.
Hayley had given up on wearing heels, so she switched to her Docs and was wearing Oli’s blazer. He had taken it off and put it over her shoulders, fixing the problem of her shivering. Both of their phones were still alive and filled with a lot of new photos and videos, but running low on battery. Jeremy and Kat didn’t stay and headed back to the hotel since Bliss had fallen asleep and it was way past her bedtime. Honestly, Hayley and Oli were about to do the same, but at least wanted to stay for a little bit to talk with the others.
Oli was introduced to Twenty One Pilots for the first time and complimented them on their performance, especially on their antics toward the end of their set. Meg and Alex were still around, too, and she had let Alex in on the news of Hayley and Oli trying to start a family. He didn’t find that hard to believe either and wished them the best, then said something about keeping it a secret from Jack from now on. It was a weird thing to say, but then he mentioned something about Jack and a sack of flour.
They didn’t ask them to elaborate on that.
After hanging out with a few more bands, another short interview, and some champagne, they had headed back outside to walk near the lake. It was the first time they had been able to be alone together since that morning when they woke up. Oli’s arm was around her and they were both looking at the lake, the moon’s light reflecting on the water. They didn’t have to worry about carrying their stuff as all of it had been put away on the limo they arrived in.
“What a night, huh?” he asked. “This whole thing turned out better than I expected. I already had high expectations for it before we came here, but the actual show definitely surpassed my expectations.”
As they continued to walk, Hayley leaned on his shoulder. “I had fun. Seeing everyone really took me back and to see how far we’ve all come, watching our friends win awards...it’s incredible. I’m really happy for everyone. Especially you.. You won two awards tonight.”
“You should’ve won something.”
“Oh, it’s okay.”
He looked at her. “I still think you deserved something. I mean, you’ve lost two band members and still managed to make a fucking amazing album, you’ve been touring for the past two years, you hosted a fucking cruise. All of these accomplishments and you didn’t get anything. If I had a say in all this, I’d give you all the awards.”
She giggled and stopped walking. Fully facing him, she placed her hands on his shoulders. “That’s really sweet of you and, yeah, it would’ve been cool to get one of those trophies but all the people who won truly deserved those awards. Bands like mine are mainstream enough to be recognized by MTV and all those other awards shows. But shows like this one acknowledge the other bands that deserve a chance. Bands like yours. And I’m very happy that I lost to you. Having you is way better and that’s all that matters.”
“Yeah, you sure picked a winner, Hayles,” he joked.
She raised an eyebrow at the sarcasm, but not really seeing her statement or his remark as a joke. “Yeah, I really did. I look at you and all we’ve been through—the media, your drug addiction, Josh and Zac leaving. All of the things we thought we couldn’t take but overcame them together and I realize that I picked a real winner.”
It was getting late and they were both tired. Their feet were hurting from walking around all day and the increasing wind and decline in temperature was making them both shiver, especially since they had stopped. Hayley buried her face into his chest and Oli gently stroked her hair before kissing the top of her head. He always loved the words she spoke to him, thankful that she was always there to remind him how good of a person he really was. He came close to forgetting a few times, but never completely because of her.
“I always knew that I also picked a real winner,” Oli said. He let go of her so he could reach for something underneath his shirt, prompting her to wonder what he had been hiding from her. “That’s why you still deserve something. Not a skully, maybe, but I hope this is worth just as much.”
He had to unbutton the bottom of his flannel to reach whatever he was trying to get. Eventually, he pulled out what looked like a photo print and it was surprisingly not bent or crumpled. He handed it to her and she brought the picture closer to her face to make out what it was. Not wanting to leave too many fingerprints on it, she held it carefully with her fingertips. When she finally saw what the photo was, she gasped and was so shocked by it that she almost dropped it.
It was a picture of her and Oli, but not a recent one. It was an older one, taken years ago as she still had long hair and Oli’s was a little longer as well. They weren’t posed for the picture either and instead it was captured when they weren’t aware of a camera being on them. His hands were on her waist while hers were slung around his neck, the both of them looking at each other with smiles that indicated they were laughing about something. But then she took notice of where they were in the photo and immediately recognized their surroundings. They were on stage at the Time Warner Cable Amphitheater. This picture was taken on July 9, 2009. The day they got together.
“H-how did you...” she stammered, looking up at his grinning face when she couldn’t find the words to say.
“I called Kevin Lyman, one of the founders of Warped Tour and asked them if they could help me find some pictures from that day so they could make it into a print,” he explained. “Turns out there were a few of them, but this was my favorite. He had it ready for me and gave it to me during the ceremony when you weren’t around.”
“How come I’ve never seen this before?” she asked. “Like on the internet or magazines?”
Oli smirked. “I met the photographer, too. They meant to ask us for permission to post it online but never got around to it, which is why it never went public. I finally gave them it and here it is. Since we didn’t get to spend our anniversary together a couple of weeks ago and the added bonus that we’re both in Cleveland, which just so happens to be the same city where our relationship began, I wanted to give you this as a late present.”
How many times was he going to make her cry? While these were all moments where she shed joyful tears, that didn’t mean they didn’t have the chance of smearing her makeup.
“So do you like it?” Oli leaned toward her, twiddling his thumbs while anticipating her response.
“I just need a moment,” Hayley murmured. “I just want to stop for a second to remember everything that’s happening right now because I want to remember how...perfect everything is.”
For the first time that night, some tears fell from Oli’s eyes, too. Out of all the things that had happened in the past twenty-four hours, this was the event brought it all together in one perfect moment that neither of them wanted to leave their minds. So he could wait with her. He could wait with her for as long as she wanted.
She blinked a few times and looked back at the photo before throwing her arms around him, crashing her lips into his. They let the kiss last longer than usual since it was apart of the perfect moment they wanted to embed within them for the rest of their lives. After giving Oli a few more pecks all over his face, Hayley pulled away from him.
“This means so much more to me than any award,” she finally told him. “Thank you. I love it and I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he said. “Now how about we get a cab and head back to the hotel? I want our last few hours together to be amazing before we have to say goodbye in the morning. I’ll even carry you if that’s what you want.”
“Sounds like a plan.” She nodded and right away, he lifted her off the ground with ease and proceeded walking to the streets. Hayley leaned on his shoulder as he walked, softly singing to him so they wouldn’t be in total silence.
Five years together and they had both created the happiness for themselves that they had been trying to find. The memories of Oli speaking of suicide and self-loathing had faded and turned into words of him embracing positivity and love. Hayley’s insecurities and shyness had transformed into confidence and perseverance that could push through any shit that got in her way. Together, they had gotten all the things they deserved and felt like they could stop at nothing when they were by each other’s side. Like Meg had said, they were both strong, full of devotion, and ready for anything. Soon they were going to be married and hopefully Hayley would get pregnant soon so their family could finally start.
And eventually, after trying for so long...she did.
In fact, it ended up happening that very night.