Against The Rocks by RamonaFoREVer

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“Okay, we’re good for today, Shads. Pack it up, guys.”

 

“We’re good?” Matt asked, confirming through the window with a thumbs up.

 

Brian gave him a nod and he slipped his headphones off. He rolled his shoulders and brought a hand up to his throat, massaging it gently as though that would help. Recording was often intense and punishing, and today was no different. He made his way through the swinging door to join the others at the mixing desk.

 

“Fucking killed it, brother,” Zacky grinned, slapping a hand against his back. Matt gave him an appreciative nod as the guitarist turned to his counterpart, “We’re up tomorrow right? Got your solo down?”

 

Brian smirked, “Always.”

 

“Good to know,” Zach replied, snickering at Brian laidback approach. The lead guitarist’s work always appeared to be effortless, but Zach knew, as did the rest of the band, that he put countless hours practice into it.

 

“I’m sure Heidi will give your precious hands a massage in preparation,” Johnny added, dodging a playful fist.

 

Brian raised an eyebrow as he failed to land his punch, “Not as much as Lily will need to massage your ego after you watch me smash it, lowly bassist.”

 

“Hey,” Johnny cut in with a laugh, “I’m an important and fundamental member of this band.”

 

“Will you lot keep it moving towards the door? Some of us want to go home,” Jimmy teased, shepherding the light-hearted brawl towards the exit.

 

Zacky snorted, “I’m sure the comforts of Ramen and The Real Housewives of OC are calling your name.”

 

“At least I’m not going home to my mom,” Jimmy quipped back, shoving him out the door.

 

“You leave Debz and her broken leg out of this,” Matt laughed, shaking his head at the banter. He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket and slipped it out, the name pulling the corner of his lips into a smile.

 

If there was anything in life to be thankful for, it was this. The members of Avenged Sevenfold simply clicked into place with each other, like a lock and key or a jigsaw. There was very little missing from their musical family at this point and very little from their personal lives also, except one needling thing.

 

Brian and Heidi were sailing through calm waters as usual, Matt seemed to have landed on his feet in the recent months, Zacky was enjoying the attention of many different women, and Jimmy was… well, Jimmy was Jimmy, but the remaining (and shortest) member wasn’t quite having such an easy go of it.

 

As he dropped himself heavily into the driver’s seat of his prized ‘65 Skylark - which he’d been heavily dedicated to restoring (and definitely not using as an excuse to avoid his wife) - he let out a long sigh. Going home was not something he currently enjoyed. He waved to his bandmates as they passed by in their cars one by one, all thrilled to be heading home.

 

Once he was alone in the parking lot, his hand wandered over to the glove compartment and hovered, uncertain of his commitment to his plan. He’d never been an impulsive person, and yet lately he found himself saying ‘Fuck it’ more and more often. This moment was precisely one of those.

 

“Fuck it,” he muttered, tugging at the handle.

 

The door opened willingly and he shoved his hand into the darkness, fumbling about until his finger closed around the small rectangular box. He slid it out into the fading daylight and turned it over in his hands, contemplating whether this would be worth the hassle.

 

“She’s gonna kill me for it,” he mumbled to himself as he opened the pack. “Might as well die happy.”

 

He brought a forbidden cigarette to his lips and, without further hesitation, sparked it. He pulled on it deeply, letting out a sigh of relief as the nicotine gave him a little rush of satisfaction. There would be an argument upon returning home for sure. The same old argument that had been running back and forth for nearly eighteen months now. How much longer could their marriage last with the pair of them armed with an emotion pickaxe each and diligently hacking away at the foundations? He loved Lily, he truly did. They’d been together for as long as Brian and Heidi had, but while Brian and Heidi seemed constantly enamoured with one another, he and Lily hadn’t felt further apart. His cigarette couldn’t outlast his brooding so he lit another, despite the trouble it would cause.

 

 

 

 

 

It became evident as soon as he meekly entered his kitchen that Lily could smell what he’d hoped she wouldn’t. She’d always had the nose of a bloodhound when it came to cigarettes – something that had once been comical, but now was an irritating trait.

 

“You’ve been smoking,” she accused abruptly, not even bothering to turn from the potatoes she was peeling.

 

Johnny sighed, briefly considering trying to lie his way out of it, but she’d know. She could read him like a book. “I had one,” he shrugged, conveniently omitting the two that had followed it. He watched her stiffen and the peeler she’d been using hit the surface of the counter a little harder than it needed to. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled, wincing in anticipation.

 

“You’re sorry?” she asked coldly, shaking her head. She finally turned, her face contorted with anger. “You’re sorry?

 

“Lil, can we not do this?”

 

She scoffed, “You know, I can’t believe you sometimes, Johnny.”

 

“Oh, here we fucking go,” he spat back, rolling his eyes. “God forbid I have one tiny cigarette. You’re not even pregnant yet.”

 

“And I never fucking will be if you carry on,” the brunette yelled, slamming her hand down. “Didn’t I tell you that it lowers your sperm count?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he groaned.

 

“And how the fuck will we ever get approved for IVF if you’re smoking? You selfish asshole.”

 

“Maybe we shouldn’t be having IVF anyway because you’re fucking crazy right now,” he retorted.

 

Lily’s mouth dropped for a second before her whole face scrunched with offence, “Maybe I wouldn’t be ‘crazy’ if you weren’t doing this shit! Maybe I’d be pregnant like we fucking planned.”

 

Johnny threw his hand up in exasperation, and before he knew it, words that he didn’t intend to say were falling from his lips. “Well maybe I don’t want you to be pregnant when you’re like this.”

 

“What?” she breathed, taken aback.

 

Despite having the same old argument on repeat, being tired of coming home to fights and Lily being constantly on edge, he instantly regretted losing his temper. He’d known Lily was dreaming about babies long before he brought it up, and though she’d been dropping hints, she’d waited so patiently for him to broach the subject. At first it had been a fun endeavour; after all, who doesn’t like having sex? But as the months passed with nothing to show for their efforts, enthusiasm became impatience, which became frustration, and then it all boiled down to this point right now. Lily was, for lack of a better word, obsessed. He could understand it to an extent - he was disappointed too – but he also found it harder and harder to remember what a life that didn’t revolve around ovulation and prenatal vitamins was like.

 

“You don’t want to have a baby with me?” she asked quietly, genuinely heartbroken at the concept. The fiery, raging whirlwind that had been stood before him had instantly diminished into defeated woman.

 

He hid his face in his hands as he tried to string together the right words. “Of course I want to have a baby with you, Lil,” he reassured her, “but I can’t deal with the way we are at the moment.”

 

Her dark eyes lowered until her gaze was fixed awkwardly on the floor.

 

“Trying for a baby is supposed to be fun,” he continued hesitantly, approaching her slowly. “When did we start timing shit and eating pineapple every fucking day? And all it’s doing is making us fight anyway. Why don’t we just… take a break for a bit?”

 

Lily didn’t answer. She kept her stare trained on the tiles, but he caught the twitch at the corner of her lips. It meant that tears weren’t far off.

 

“I’m not saying I don’t want kids,” he added hastily, “because you know I do just as much as you do. Fuck, though, I don’t even want to come home anymore, let alone have sex on command the exact second some stupid app on your phone says so.”

 

She looked up sharply as though his words had thrown themselves against her cheek in a stinging blow. As her brows scrunched downwards defiantly, he got the feeling he’d chosen the wrong words entirely.

 

“I’m sorry that one of us is taking this seriously,” she snapped sarcastically. “You know what, Johnny? I’m done with this conversation. You can sleep on the couch tonight.”

 

She stormed out of the kitchen, leaving Johnny standing redundantly in the doorway. He resisted the urge to shout more words of argument after her, even though he desperately wanted to. He wanted to run after her, shake her and ask her if she realised how crazy this all was. He wanted to try and make her see that fighting the second he walked through the door or banishing him to sleep on the couch over another negative pregnancy test was insanity. She’d gone though, leaving only a cloud of red mist in her presence, so he resigned himself to his fate for the night and slouched off towards the sofa.  

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny cracked his eyes open and instantly squeezed them shut tightly. He’d forgotten to close the curtains the night before and the sunlight was pouring into the room through the naked windows in a blinding fashion, only serving to make his had pound even more than it already was. He’d been up late, tossing and turning as he worked over his and Lily’s latest to-do. It shouldn’t have caught him by surprise, with it being such a common occurrence, but it still hurt, each time more than the last. How many times could two people have the same argument over and over? He’d never contemplate leaving her, he loved her far too much for that and he knew (or hoped) that this was temporary, but some mornings he woke and found himself longing for a simple life.

 

His senses gradually became aware of the sounds and scents of breakfast sizzling away in the kitchen. He pulled himself upright, despite his head’s protest, and wondered if Lily had forgiven him. He reluctantly padded across the carpet of the hallway to their small kitchen where the delicious smells were originating from and peeked around the doorway. Lily was stood at the cooker, frying up bacon of all things; the very thing she’d banned not so long ago on account of it supposedly decreasing their chances of conceiving. He entered the kitchen gingerly, approaching her from behind and hesitantly slipping his arms around her waist. When she leaned back into him, he relaxed.

 

“Hey,” he greeted her gently. “What’s with the forbidden food of the gods making a reappearance?”

 

She set down spatula and turned to face him, reaching her arms up and entwining them around his neck, “I thought you might like some.” There was a hint of sadness in her voice as she turned her attention back to the bacon that was spitting away in the skillet, “I’ve been thinking about what you said last night. Maybe you’re right.”

 

Johnny frowned, leaning in to rest his head on her shoulder, “Right about what?”

 

She went quiet for a moment, reluctant to say the words out loud. “We should just take a break from all this baby stuff,” she finally relented, shrinking a little as he recoiled in confusion.

 

“Lil, I was just angry when I said-”

 

“No, Johnny,” she cut him off sharply, shaking her head. “That’s exactly it. You got angry, I got angry. We never used to have arguments - not real ones anyway - and now all we ever do is fight. It would be stupid to bring a baby into this mess anyhow, so… you’re right. Let’s just go back to being us, John.”

 

He swallowed, “Lily, we don’t have to do this.”

 

“Yes, we do. I do. I need a break from the stress. Let’s eat bacon for breakfast. Let’s have a bottle of wine in the evening and then fall into bed together and have fun, just like we used to. Let’s sneak off to the bathroom at parties or come home early from dinner dates because we just can’t wait.” She turned once more, this time her affection seeming more sincere as she pulled him close with flushed cheeks, “Let’s be those people that can’t keep our hands off each other again.”

 

“That sounds like a plan. You know… we could start right now,” he grinned, raising an eyebrow.

 

Her lip twitched, “We could.”

 

Her playful smile gave him all the confirmation he needed, and he flipped the cooker switch off and threw her over his shoulder with ease, her delighted giggle spurring him on as he made for the bedroom.

 



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