Author's note: This is my first story for this site, and I keep running into issues that I didn't expect when I decided to post this, so PLEASE forgive any horrible errors for this chapter. I frequently write original stories, just never ones I'm willing to post. This one, however, I just can't keep to myself. Constructive criticism is welcome if you can also add a bit of praise, but criticism while telling you that you don't like my story is just depressing and unmotivating. Those aren't fun at all, you know.

A better summary: Rylan Shay has been to hell and back when it comes to relationships, and he's got the scars to prove it. No one knows what Rylan has gone through except the manager of his band, who happens to be his older brother. The pain Rylan has suffered is evident in his lyrics, unbeknownst to those who know him best. When Asher Verano, lead guitarist, starts to untangle the web, Rylan is terrified. He doesn't want to be hurt again, he doesn't want anyone to know exactly what happened, and it certainly doesn't help that he's already falling for the one person that already hates him.

Warnings for this chapter: None

Chapter One

Someone had left a door open, most likely attempting to at least try to cool the backstage area down. I don't know how much it was really accomplishing, but I didn't care. I leaned against the doorframe and stared up into the sky. Flashes of lightning continued to light up the sky like fire, the sound of the opening band drowning out the thunder. Rain was crashing to Earth, and I was transfixed. The storm had pulled me in, and I was lost in the magnificent and yet treacherous beauty. I never wanted it to end.

"Rylan, you're on in five." I jumped, seeing a man with a headset on, hand on my shoulder and staring at me to make sure I got the message. I nodded, and he quickly walked away, muttering into his headset. I sighed as I looked back at the storm, mourning the lost moment, before walking over towards the stage.

"I'm so excited!" I glanced up to see Hale, who we called Bubbles because of his carefree personality, jumping up and down in front of me. "Aren't you excited, Ry? I mean, I know I'm excited! There's so many people out there!"

"There are always a lot of people, Bubbles," I said as I draped my arm around his shoulder and kissed his cheek. "Have a good show, okay?" Hale nodded enthusiastically, before running to the curtains to get ready to go on stage. Hale was a sweet kid; I adored him. I had unofficially adopted him as my surrogate brother ever since he joined the band.

"Hale seems excited." I looked up to see Shane, my best friend, standing next to me. He was twirling a drumstick around his fingers, looking bored but anxious at the same time.

"When isn't Hale excited to perform?" I grinned. "Is the opening band using your drums?"

"Yes," Shane nodded. "The ones the kid brought with him were crap. His nicer drums won't fit in their van, so they couldn't bring them. I felt bad, so I told him to use mine and then we wouldn't have as much of a set change."

"How much did you threaten him if he breaks a head?" I asked knowingly. Shane loved his drums as if they were his children, which I suppose they were. It's the same with all of us musicians and our instruments.

"I left it as an empty threat," Shane laughed. I nodded, before taking one last longing look out at the storm. Shane noticed instantly. "Are you alright?" Shane asked, putting his arm around my shoulder.

"I'm fine," I replied, shrugging him off and turning away from the door.

"Rylan, that's a load of bull and you know it," Shane said hotly, and I could feel him glaring at me. I shrugged, and Shane sighed in exasperation. "Fine, whatever, don't talk to me. Just talk to someone, alright? It's not healthy for you to try and keep all your problems inside for nobody to know all the time."

I ignored him as I made my way behind the stage and to the other side. Shane and I have had similar conversations, but he really has no idea what my problem is. Technically, that's my fault. I met Shane when I was seventeen. It was half way through the second semester of my junior year when he transferred to my school. He ended up, ironically enough, having every single class with me.

Unfortunately for me, all my problems had already happened. I had already built up my walls, and Shane had a hell of a time just becoming my friend. He's tried a few times to get me to tell him what happened before we met, but I never have. I don't like thinking about it, and I certainly don't like talking about it.

I shook my head in an attempt to clear my thoughts, before walking behind the stage and to the other side where I would be entering the stage. Shane and Hale always came on at one side of the stage, while Asher and I used another.

I winced as I thought of Asher. I hated having to be around him, mostly because the guy just scared me. He didn't talk to me much, and quite honestly, I had the feeling that he just didn't like me at all. Of course, that brings up the question of why Asher is in the band in the first place.

The summer after my junior year, I started a band with Shane and Hale. Our guitarist had been a guy named Martin who I'd lived next door to for years. When we were discovered, Martin decided to quit the band and go to college. We had to scramble to find a new guitarist, and started searching everywhere.

A month after Martin had quit things hadn't changed much. It wasn't until Shane's family reunion that he heard about Asher, who happened to be working in a guitar shop. Shane called him at the reunion and asked if he'd like to audition, and Asher had agreed. A week later, Asher had become our new guitarist.

We had been eighteen at the time when we walked into the recording studio. Three years later, we were one of the most popular rock bands in the entire world. Everyone loved us, everyone knew us, and we had everything we could possibly want. Well, we had almost everything. There was, and probably always would be if my life continued down the same track, one thing that I wished I could have. Alas, it's just a dream now.

I finally reached the opposite side of the stage and stood by Asher. As usual, my appearance wasn't even acknowledged by him. Asher didn't look at me, but simply continued to watch the opening band. I sighed and stared at my feet. Why did Asher have to make me feel self-conscious? I was always so nervous around Asher. I didn't understand why he hated me so much.

As I looked at Asher, I realized just how different we were. Every member in the band was at least six feet tall, while I fell five inches short of that mark. I'm skinny but lean with bright blue eyes and black hair, which I am forced to let do its own thing. After all, there's certainly nothing I can do with it! My clothes are all skin tight, defeating the purpose of my studded belt I don't even bother to put through the loops on my jeans anyway. My signature choker I never go anywhere without is, in Shane's opinion, more like a collar, and I have bracelets I wear to concerts that match it.

In contrast, Asher and I are physically polar opposites. He's seven inches taller than I am and he's built like a machine, his muscles rippling under his tight shirts with every movement. His blonde hair was always kept relatively short, just long enough to spike it in random directions. His jeans were loose and riddled with holes and tears, and his dark green eyes were like a magnet to anyone that met him. I don't know how many people I've seen get lost in those eyes.

I jumped when I felt a hand on my shoulder, and turned to see the singer from the opening band grinning at me. "We can't wait to see you guys out there," he said. "We're huge fans. It's been such an honor to open for you guys."

"Thanks for warming the fans up for us," I laughed, before giving him a quick, one-armed hug before getting ready to go onto the stage. Some guy from a radio station was out there at the moment giving a speech, but I ignored him. They always said the same thing, after all.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for Rash Reactions!" Asher and I waited until Shane and Hale had made it onto the stage in front of the screaming fans, before making our own way out there. As soon as I stepped onto the stage, it seemed like the volume increased dramatically. I quickly walked over to the microphone and grabbed it from the stand, before glancing back at the rest of the band members to see that they were ready. As always, I shouldn't have worried. They were always ready. This is what we lived for.

"Let's give one more round of applause for that opening band, shall we?" I asked, and the audience cheered once again. I scanned the crowd and I saw that most of our fans were a bunch of kids probably a few years younger than us. I loved this kind of crowd more than the crowds our own age. They always seemed to get more lost in the music than older crowds. "Okay, so just in case you don't know us, on bass we have Hale, behind me on drums is Shane, the big guy with the guitar is Asher, and I'm Rylan. We are Rash Reactions."

As soon as I said our name, Hale jumped into the first song. I guess we were lucky our first song just happened to start with a bass solo.

Song after song I stared out at the crowd, trying to connect with the kids staring up at me. After playing the entirety of our newest album and a few older songs, I knelt down to some random kid in the crowd and took his hand, pulling him over the barrier and up onto the stage. I wasn't worried about him not knowing any of our older songs. The kid was so decked out in our gear from our first few tours that I knew he was an old fan. "What's your name?" I asked him, holding the microphone to him so he could answer.

"I'm Jake," the kid answered, looking at me as if he'd won the lottery. I laughed and put my arm around his shoulders casually.

"So, Jake, for our encore would you like to pick the song?" I asked. Jake grinned, before whispering the title in my ear. I grinned. "Jake, does that particular song have any special meaning to you?" Jake blushed and nodded, and I nodded in understanding. "It does for me too, kid. You picked my theme song," I said, just loud enough so he was the only one to hear. Jake's eyes widened, and I just smiled at him. "You can go back and sit on the drum stand in front of the set if you'd like," I told him, before turning back to the crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen," I began. "This last song is actually rare in a way. We have it on every singles album we've released as a hidden track, and we have it on our website, but other than that, it's never really fit the sound of our albums to actually be placed on one."

By now, anyone who knew us knew exactly what song I was talking about. I could sense the change in the crowd, and I could see the sympathetic looks on some of their faces. I quickly brushed that off. If I dwelled on that too long, I would break down before I could even begin the song.

I didn't realize I'd announced the song or that the guys had started playing, until Hale elbowed me gently in my back as he walked behind me, making it look like he hadn't done it. He'd done it just in time though, because it was my time to come in.

I can hear it in your screams;
The pain is increasing.
Everything is building up,
The dam is releasing.
I want to help you fix this;
You shove me away.
You refuse to let me in;
There is nothing I can say.

I was surprised that it sounded like the whole audience was singing with me. Since this wasn't an extremely popular song due to never being on an actual album, we sometimes got crowds that didn't really know it. This crowd though, was really into it.

When the song was over, I rushed off the stage to change before heading to the area where I could meet the fans. I was the first one out there, and it probably took another half an hour before the other guys joined me. Their enthusiasm for meet-and-greets paled in comparison to mine.

Just before it was time to head back to the bus, I went to one last group of fans. As soon as I did, one of them stepped forward and hugged me. "I'm so glad you sang that last song," the girl said as she hugged me. "It's so heartbreaking. I wish you didn't have to suffer pain like that."

"I'm glad you liked it," I replied, giving her a smile. She shook her head and I knew she saw right through that.

"Pain like that doesn't just go away, and your songs haven't shown any drastic improvements in outlooks on life."

"That's because there haven't been any," I laughed. "My life has remained relatively unchanged ever since I wrote that song."

The kids all gave me sympathetic looks. I just held out my hands, and they handed over stuff for me to sign. I quickly began scribbling my name, my signature as illegible as ever. After I had finally signed everything I gave them all one more hug, before turning to make my way towards the bus so we could go back to the hotel where I could get my well-deserved shower and a nice, soft bed.

"I just don't understand why you're in so much pain." I turned, to see the girl that had hugged me looking at me curiously.

"Nobody understands that," I replied, before heading towards the bus. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. I ended up, curse my luck, bumping into the worst person I could have possibly bumped into.


I stared up at him, wide-eyed, as he glared down at me, before climbing onto the bus. I felt heat rise in my face, much to my horror.

"Your face is all red," Hale laughed, bounding up behind me and poking my cheek. "Were you running?"

"I think he's blushing," Shane said, following Hale closely as he always did. Hale gave Shane a confused look, before Shane just started pushing him onto the bus. "Go on the bus, Hale. I'll be right there, and don't you dare eat those pixy sticks!"

I tried to follow Hale, but Shane grabbed me and pulled me away from the bus. "What are you doing? I'd like to get to the hotel and get a shower, you know," I objected.

"Are you going to be okay rooming with Asher?" Shane asked. I blinked, stunned, before my eyes widened in realization.

"I'm rooming with Asher?"

"Your brother, wonderful manager that he is, wanted his own room so he doesn't have to worry about keeping us up when he calls his new girlfriend. This means instead of Asher getting a room by himself, your brother gets one. Asher is rooming with you now."

I suddenly found my shoes very interesting. Reed, my older brother, was our manager. He always roomed with me, no matter what. The fact that he wanted his own room didn't bother me. The fact that he was leaving me with Asher, however, did.

"Can't I sleep in your room?" I pleaded quietly with Shane.

Shane laughed. "I room with Hale, remember?"

"I'll sleep on the floor!" I replied.

"You're rooming with me; now both of you get on the bus so we can get to the hotel." I whipped around at the sound of a strong, masculine voice behind me. I was horrified to see Asher. Shane was half way to the bus in a flash, and Asher growled when I didn't move. Suddenly my feet left the ground, and I was thrown over Asher's shoulder.

"What are you doing!?" I yelled.

"I'm hot, sweaty, and I'm tired. I want a shower and then I want to go to bed. You are preventing me from that," Asher said angrily, carrying me onto the bus. The second we were on the bus and the door closed, I quickly made it to my designated spot next to a window, hugging my knees to my chest tightly.

I didn't move until we got to the hotel, and even then, I didn't move. I didn't really realize we had stopped, honestly. Imagine my embarrassment when I felt a hand on my shoulder, only to see Asher.

"Come on," he said, holding a hand out to me to help me up. I stood shakily, stiff from being in the same position for such a long time. When I nearly fell, Asher sighed in annoyance before picking me up and carrying me off the bus.

"I can walk," I said quietly, trying to hide how uncomfortable I felt.

"No you can't," Asher replied gruffly. I blushed again, looking down. I felt tears well up behind my eyes. This was too familiar, and that was dangerous. My mind drifted back to the scar on my wrist, and I squeezed my eyes shut, willing the tears back. I know I annoy Asher to no end, and he only puts up with me because he has to. He's never tried to make me feel comfortable around him, or to make me feel like he actually likes me. In fact, there have been times where he's walked out of a room just because I entered it. Asher hated me, I knew it. He held me tighter as he began making his way up the stairs of the hotel, grumbling about long lines for the elevator. Despite the fact that I know he hates me, I couldn't help the fact that I felt so safe in his arms. I had a weakness for really muscular guys; I always had. It had been my downfall before, and that experience had made me swear off relationships forever. Too bad my life was never easy in any aspect.

I was falling for Asher, and that scared the hell out of me.