Chapter Twenty

~*One Last Breath*~

Kale watched Tiergan and Trista go feeling a little amused and a little sad at the same time. He'd been a bit flippant when he told Trista he would get over her, like it was nothing. The truth was, he was just trying to relieve some of her burden when he'd said that. He still liked her, he wished he still had her, but listening to that song he knew that Tiergan liked her even more than he did. He never would have thought that Tiergan would be smitten enough to write a song for a girl. It made him smile a little bit. He felt like he was doing the right thing by letting Trista go. She and Tiergan were great together. They were probably perfect together. He was feeling generous enough to wish them good luck.

Raye found him sitting by the bar shortly after Tiergan's song ended, with Chris in tow. "Holy crap!" she gasped, "Did you hear that? Tiergan wrote her a fucking song!"

"Did you know he was going to do that?" Chris added.

Kale shook his head, "I was as shocked as the rest of you."

"Sneaky bastard," Raye growled, "Did you hear what he said about you in that?"

Kale laughed at her expression, "Yeah, I did." Then he added, jokingly, "Some friend. I'll have to talk to him about that one."

Raye looked uncertain, but Chris was smiling. "Tiergan is turning into a romantic!"

That made Kale laugh out loud, though not just because Tiergan had managed to write the most un-romantic love song he'd ever heard. He'd called Trista an idiot at least five times. But he knew that the song was honest. Tiergan wasn't the type to be gushy and sentimental. That he'd gotten up there and done that at all spoke volumes.

"You think he'll be back in time for our next set?" Chris wondered.

"He'd better be!" Raye griped. "I'll go out there and choke him if he's not."

Chris laughed and started to pull her away, "Come on, Raye, lets get a drink before we're needed again."

"Fine," she grumbled. Kale watched them go, feeling a little like he was going crazy. He probably shouldn't be able to laugh about it, but what else could he do?

"So that guy stole your girl?" A voice suddenly asked from behind him. Kale turned and met the eyes of what was probably the smallest girl he had ever seen. If she was even five feet tall he would be surprised. Her hair was platinum blonde and cut in a jagged bob at her chin. Her eyes were big and so vibrant blue she had to be wearing contacts, and they were lined with thick black eyeliner and blue eyeshadow. It took Kale a moment to decide she was real, and by then he had forgotten her question.

"What?" He leaned in a little closer so he could hear her reply.

"I said," she responded, tapping her foot impatiently, "Did that guy steal your girl? The one who was singing a minute ago?"

"Yeah, I guess he did." Kale shrugged.

"You should have hit him," the girl said seriously.

Kale managed a smirk at that, "I did,"

"Why's he still able to sing, then?"

Kale had no idea what to make of this conversation. He stared at the girl, trying to figure out what her deal was. Was she flirting with him, or did she just have strong opinions about friends stealing their friends' girlfriends?

"Well, never mind," the girl sighed. "You're in the band, right? I've seen you guys a few times. You're not bad."

"Thanks," Kale replied uncertainly. Was she a fan, then? He didn't have time to ask, though, because the girl was looking over her shoulder at something across the bar.

"Crap," the girl growled suddenly, turning towards the bar and ducking. She brought her hand up to cover her face and it could not have been more obvious that she was trying to avoid someone. Kale glanced back and saw a guy with a ten inch tall, green mohawk weaving determinedly through the crowd towards her.

"You know that guy?" Kale asked even as she tried to hide her face.

"You could say that."

"You want me to get rid of him?" The girl quite obviously did not want to talk to this guy, and Kale didn't like the look of him. The stiffness of his shoulders and the way his mouth was set into a firm line made Kale believe that he was intending to start trouble.

"Oh God," the girl actually rolled her eyes at him, even while ducking her head and trying to avoid the gaze of mohawk-guy. "Don't tell me you're one of those 'knight-in-shining-armour' types. I don't need rescuing, okay?"

"Okay, fine." Kale shrugged, standing up. "He's already seen you though."

She swore under her breath.

"See you later." Kale turned and headed back towards the stage. Their next set would be starting again in a few minutes anyway.

"What!" the girl protested, "You're actually leaving? Some knight you are! Come back here!"

Kale glanced over his shoulder, not really intending on going back no matter what she said. He wasn't really in the mood to play hero anyway. He mostly just wanted to get through this set and go home, not get himself involved in any more drama. But when he looked, mohawk-guy had grabbed the tiny girl by the shoulder and jerked her around violently. The girl stumbled from the bar stool, yet still brought her chin up to stare mohawk-guy in the eye as best as she could. Kale couldn't hear what they were saying, but mohawk-guy was obviously yelling at her and poking his finger into her chest.

Kale sighed and turned back towards them. It seemed like he would not be able to get any peace tonight. He cracked his knuckles and prepared to get himself into another fight. On the bright side, maybe it would get his mind off Trista for while.

Raye looked up as there was a commotion from by the bar. She was sitting with Chris by the stage, drinking from her water bottle and enjoying the feel of Chris' arm around her waist. She was really starting to like having Chris' attention. It had been a little strange, at first. After all, Chris had been her friend for years and she'd never caught on that he'd liked her, but it was starting to become normal. She even regretted calling his attention to whatever was going on by the bar, but she was certain she recognized her brother at the centre of it. From the looks of things, Kale was in the middle of a heated argument with a guy with a green mohawk. They hadn't come to blows yet, but Raye could tell from the strain on Kale's face that it wouldn't be long before it did.

"Holy crap, what is he doing?" Raye growled, batting Chris away as he tried to nuzzle her neck. She eyed the bouncers that were quickly moving in to break up the fight before anything happened. "He's going to get himself kicked out!"

That caught Chris' attention. He pulled away from her and squinted through the crowd as well, standing on the edge of the stage to try and see over the gathering. "Looks like there might be a girl involved." He informed her.

"Of course there is," Raye rolled her eyes. Her brother, always playing the hero and yet somehow never managing to hold on to the girl. She doubted this one would be any different. Still, maybe it was a good sign that Kale really was getting over what had happened with Trista and Tiergan.

The crowd suddenly surged out as the guy with the mohawk swung a punch at Kale's face. The bouncers had been too late to stop anything. Raye saw the motion of Kale retaliating, but he was quickly pulled back when the bouncers finally made it.

"Well shit," Chris scowled, "Looks like he's getting kicked out."

"Fuck!" Raye kicked the edge of the stage in frustration. "Now what do we do?"

Chris shrugged, "I'm sure they'll let him back in. That other guy obviously started it."

Raye was not so sure. She felt very, very annoyed. They still had another set to play and their bass played had just gotten himself kicked out of the club over something that was almost certainly stupid. She looked back at Chris and sighed. She wanted to stay back with Chris, but she needed to do what she could about Kale. "Come on," she sighed, "Let's go see what we can do."

The cool air was a welcome change to the stuffiness of the club. She took a deep breath and enjoyed the openness of the space. It was nice to not feel like she had a thousand sets of eyes on her back. Tiergan still had her hand, and he led her around the building to a relatively quiet corner. There were still others outside, getting some fresh air or smoking, but they weren't paying any attention to them.

"So..." Tiergan started.

"So," Trista agreed, not knowing what exactly she could say.

"Have I told you how cute you look today?" Tiergan asked, stepping a little closer to her.

Trista couldn't even meet his eyes. "N-no..."

"Well, you look good." He moved even closer. His hands were snaking around her waist, his face leaning in so close that she could feel his breath on her face. Trista felt a moment of panic sweep over her.

"Tiegran," she breathed, putting her hands over his and pushing them away. "Wait,"

Tiergan's allowed his hands to be pushed away, but he didn't step back. His expression was completely unreadable.

"I'm sorry, I just... I don't kno-"

"Stop." Tiergan snapped. Trista stopped. "You listened to the song, right? You heard the lyrics?"

Trista couldn't speak, so she just nodded.

"Then you know how I feel, and you know I don't want to hear 'I don't know' as an answer."

Trista chewed her lip uncertainly, still unable to look him in the eyes. Her heart was pounding in her chest.

"Trista," Tiergan's voice sounded almost far away, "I know I screwed up a lot. I made a lot of mistakes, I hurt Kale, and this whole mess is pretty much all my fault. I know you're the one who's suffering for it, so I probably don't deserve to be asking this of you, but I really want to kiss you right now and I'd really like for you to say it's okay."

Finally Trista looked up at him, and she saw something in his eyes she hadn't been expecting there: fear. He'd bared his heart to her, and now he was terrified of being rejected. Again. Trista's mind was racing, thinking of all the reasons why it was a stupid, impossible idea to fall for Tiergan. How would Kale feel about it? Or Raye? Or Meg and Bryant? What about all the people at school? What kind of rumours would they start?

And then she remembered what Tiergan had been trying to tell her. It was time to stop thinking about what everyone else wanted and think about herself a little. Her eyes lingered on Tiergan's lips, on the cloud of fog that escaped from them every time he breathed. He was pulling at his lip ring again with his teeth. He seemed to do that a lot when he was nervous, or his mind was wandering. How did she feel about Tiergan? All she could come up with right then was that she found his lips very distracting, and she really wanted to kiss him, too. People might not approve, but so what? Didn't she deserve to have a little say in her own life for a change?

"Okay," she said finally, voice barely above a whisper.

That was all Tiergan needed to hear. He was pressed up against her in an instant, his hands on her hips, pulling her closer. His lips found hers and collided against them hungrily. His lip ring was frigidly cold, but Trista didn't care. Her whole body started to feel warm and tingly, and suddenly the pounding of her heart was more exciting than uncomfortable.

Tiergan's hands slid up her back and one tangled in her hair. Trista didn't even care that he was messing it up. She put her own arms around his neck and let herself go. Tiergan's tongue touched her lips and she opened her mouth for him, pressing herself even closer against his body. She found herself thinking that maybe Tiergan wasn't so bad. After all, it wasn't every guy who would write a song for her and sing it in the middle of a crowded club at the risk of totally embarrassing himself. And it wasn't every guy who could kiss like that. It had to be the lip ring.

When Tiergan finally pulled back, Trista found herself flustered and a little wobbly. Tiergan was looking at her with a big stupid grin on his face.

"So I was right, then," he said.

"What?" Trista asked, wondering what he was talking about. "Right about what?"

"You do like me, too."

Trista was astounded by his confidence, but she found she couldn't get mad at him for sounding so arrogant. Not after she'd seen the fear in his face. Instead she laughed. "Yeah, I guess I do," she said, and pulled him down for another kiss. Tiergan happily obliged. Trista didn't even feel the cold. She could have spent all night there, kissing him, and might have, if not for the commotion that suddenly interrupted them.

"You can't do this!" Raye's voice snapped angrily, "We have to go back up in five minutes! We need him!"

Trista and Tiergan pulled apart and peeked around the corner so they could get a view of what was happening just outside the main entrance to the club. A small cluster of people were standing outside, including all the members of Nowhere, a bouncer, a guy with a green mohawk and a tiny blonde. Raye was staring furiously at the bouncer, with Chris behind her looking sheepish. Kale, if anything, looked completely unaffected by his situation.

"Those are the rules," the bouncer answered Raye firmly. "You fight, you leave. No exceptions."

"Come on! You guys stopped them before anything really happened! And this asshole was the one who started it!" She swung her hand towards the mohawk-guy.

The mohawk-guy scowled at her, "Mind your own business, bitch. This guy was moving in on my girlfriend."

"I am not your girlfriend anymore!" The little blonde snapped back at him, "Get it through your thick skull: we're over."

"Come on, Cadence," mohawk-guy whined, changing his tone completely. "Give me another chance."


The mohawk-guy moved towards her and Kale stepped in between them. The bouncer looked a little overwhelmed, but he stepped in, too. "Look, none of you three are getting back in there." He pointed to Kale, mohawk-guy, and Cadence.

"What! What did I do?" Cadence complained, stomping her foot.

"You kicked me," the bouncer said matter-of-factually, "so now you're out."

The whole group erupted into furious shouting once again. Trista couldn't really make any of it out.

"Well, this could be a problem," Tiergan sighed, stepping out from around the corner to join the fray. Trista followed timidly a few feet behind him. Chris was the first to see them and jogged over to fill them in.

"Kale got himself into a fight. The bouncers don't want to let him back in."

"And I'm sure Raye is not helping." Tiergan rolled his eyes. He did his best to keep his voice calm and approached the bouncer.

"Come on, Vince," Tiergan said, referring to the bouncer by name, "You know Kale by now. He's not a troublemaker. Surely you can let him back in, just to finish the set?"

Kale glanced over at them. His eyes fell on Trista and swept over her, though his face gave away nothing of what he was feeling. Trista blushed when she realized what she must have looked like. She'd just been making out with Tiergan seconds earlier, and her face was still flushed and her hair all mussed up. She turned her gaze away.

"Forget it, Tier," Kale said coolly. He looked over at mohawk-guy, who looked angry enough to try and punch Kale again right there. "You guys can do the songs without a bass, can't you? I think it's best if I give Cadence here a ride home, anyway." He nodded at the small blonde girl, who fumed at his words.

"I do not need to be escorted home like a child. I only live a few blocks from here."

Kale ignored her, "Sorry guys," he shrugged, "But Vince is right. I let that argument escalate into a fight, so it's only fair that I'm kicked out."

Tiergan obviously did not like hearing that, but there was plainly no arguing with him. "Fine," Tiergan said, "We'll finish without you. Chris, you think you can play bass?"

Chris scowled and started arguing with Tiergan about who would have to take over the role of playing bass, if anyone.

"Raye, don't forget to bring my bass back out when you're done." Kale said to his sister.

She nodded, "Fine, but don't leave me stranded here."

"Chris will give you a ride if I do," Kale said as he turned towards the parking lot. "Come on, my car is over here," he said to the petite blonde, Cadence.

"I told you that I don't need a ride!" But she followed him anyway.

"If you're worried, my sister can vouch for me." Kale and the girl continued arguing as they headed for the parking lot. Trista felt a little relieved as she watched them. It seemed like Kale was just fine. She probably didn't need to worry about him anymore. It was just like he'd said. He was perfectly capable of getting over her and moving on. It was probably arrogant of her to assume that he'd remain hung up on what had happened.

"Dammit!" Raye swore, breaking into Trista's thoughts. "We've been abandoned by out bassist."

Tiergan shrugged, "It's not like we've never played one short before. We'll be fine." He turned back to Trista and said, "Come on, you must be cold out here."

She was getting cold, she realized. She hurried up to Tiergan's side and let him put an arm around her shoulders. Raye raised an eyebrow at them and Chris smirked, but neither of them said anything. It would take some getting used to, her being with Tiergan, but she could tell her friends would be fine with it. Even Kale. She glanced back and saw him with the blonde girl he had apparently been kicked out of the club for defending, and even thought she saw a bit of a smile on his lips. Yes, Kale would definitely be okay.

Chris and Raye went ahead of them, Chris teasing her while Raye pretended to be annoyed and smacked his hands away when he tried to pinch her bottom. They laughed and joked and as they stepped back inside Trista saw Chris catch Raye up in a kiss. She felt a burst of happiness for her friend. Chris and Raye were great together, and Raye had seemed happier – more carefree – since they had gotten together. She wasn't hiding things or snapping at her friends anymore when they just wanted to help her. Trista had been wishing for Raye's happiness even more than her own, and it was a huge weight off her shoulders not to have to worry about her friend getting hurt anymore.

And then there was Tiergan. His arm felt heavy and warm against her shoulders and she leaned into him, smiling a little to herself. Tiergan wasn't at all what she'd originally thought him to be. He'd started out as a scary punk with a pet tarantula who tortured her at every opportunity. If someone had told her four months ago that she would end up feeling the way she did about him now, she would have laughed in their face. Now it was hard to believe she'd ever hated him at all. He'd never admit it, and he tried to hide it, but he cared a lot about his friends. He found little ways to protect them and then shrugged it off like it was no big deal. He let them make their own mistakes and accepted them for what they were. He accepted her for what she was as well. Issues and all. She felt warm and safe with him next to her.

"What are you smiling about?" Tiergan asked suddenly, looking down at her.

"Just thinking," Trista replied with a blush.

"Yeah? About what?"

"I was thinking that everything is going to work out just fine."

Tiergan smiled, "Yeah, I think so too." And then he leaned in and kissed her. Yep, Trista thought to herself with a little thrill, Everything is just fine.


Author's Note: What's that? It's the end? NO WAY!

I cannot tell you how happy I am to see this completed. It was a long time coming, but I hope everyone is satisfied with the ending. If you're not, feel free to let me know. It's always possible to make touch-ups. Hmm, I don't have much else to say, except THANK YOU to everyone who has stuck with this story from the beginning. Your reviews are what kept me coming back to this again and again, even through writer's block and all that.

I don't intend to write a sequel to this. It's up to all of you to imagine what Trista, Tiergan and all the rest of them get up to after this.

Thanks again, everyone!

Much love,