All the Bitter Songs
by Aurette


Munich – Six Months Later

The entire band was on edge. It was their last show of their European tour. It was just supposed to be the UK, but there had been so much interest in the rest of Europe that their manager had extended their tour, ending with Germany.

One last show, then at least a year hiatus on touring. After all, Wendy was due in a month, Nikita and Amy were getting pretty serious, and Eric's new girlfriend had him head over heels. It was weird, the band all in relationships at the same time. Well, that wasn't weird. The weird part was that Ives was in a relationship.

He glanced at the clock on the dressing room table. Only a minute had passed since he'd last checked. He was looking forward to the show, of course. The European fans had proven every bit as awesome as the American and Canadian fans on the early part of the tour.

"Stop drumming everything, Eric!" Kale snapped. Ives had to smile, knowing he wasn't the only one who wanted to get home. Kale had more reason than anyone, really.

Someone knocked on the dressing room door. "There's someone here for you," a German-accented voice filtered in. It was the head of security for the venue, Karl, who had some epic stories of bands that had come through. "She is not on the list, but she says that I should come ask you."

Nikita got up and opened the door. "Who is it?"

Standing next to Karl and utterly dwarfed by him, was Manda.

"Oh my god!" Ives launched himself from his chair and grabbed her in a hug. "What the hell are you doing in Germany? Don't you have classes?"

"It's Valentine's Day," Manda said matter-of-factly. "Besides, I told the professor I had a family emergency. In Munich."

Karl chuckled. "I'd better go through the security check," he said.

"How did you get Karl to even let you this close?" Ives asked, not breaking his hug.

"That was a fib. Nikita knew I was coming and told Karl." Her voice was muffled against his shirt. "I missed you."

Ives didn't want to let go. He heard his bandmates shuffle and walk around. He figured they went into the other dressing room to give the two a private moment. He pulled away finally to look her in the eye. "This has been the hardest tour. The itchies came back in the middle of the nights. But I've been good."

"I know," Manda said, unconcerned. She pulled a flat, square wrapped package from her coat pocket. "This is for you."

He ripped at the brown paper and revealed a CD. It had Manda's photo, and she'd titled the EP "Half empty soul".

"Wow. It's awesome. I can't believe they actually made it into a CD." Ives ripped off the shrink wrap as best he could and pulled out the booklet. The EP had four songs, her two originals including "Mister Brown Eyes", a cover of one of her sister's songs, and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Manda had been signed by an independent label on Christmas Eve, and they'd moved fast to get an EP out to sell online starting on Valentine's Day. Especially since everyone knew that "Mister Brown Eyes" was written for him.

"They knew I wanted it for posterity."

Ives flipped the pages of the booklet, ignoring the beautiful photos of Manda for the time being. He got to the liner notes. Skipping all the technical stuff, he found the acknowledgments.

Thanks to: Angel, for taking care of me and for teaching me everything you know about music
Nikita Otto, for also taking care of me and for your utmost patience
Carmen Cuevo, for your beautiful harmonies
Stan Dalley, for signing me
Eric Lemp, Kale and Wendy Ostero, Unborn Baby Ostero
Loki the cat
Amy Rector
Sylvie, Jordan, Carter, Sue

And Alan Frederick Ives, who'll be irritated that I put his full name into the liner notes but will forgive me anyway. I love you. Never make me save your life again.

"Are you crying?"

"Shut up!" Ives frantically swiped at the tears. "I'm not crying, you're crying."

Manda rolled her eyes. He put down the booklet and pulled her into his arms. "Thank you. For the CD. For coming to Germany. For saving my life."

"You already thanked me for that months ago."

Ives grinned. "That's not what I meant. Now I have to go have Nikita kick me in the face to feel manly again."

Manda punched him, lightly, in the ribs. "You're a dork."

Ives chuckled and kissed her. He pulled away with a gasp. "Oh shit."


"I didn't get you anything!"

Manda blinked and shook her head. "You dick," she said, before kissing him again.

The End

Author's Note: It's been a long, wild ride, but it's finally over. I hope you liked the end. I enjoyed writing it.

In case anyone was curious, I started rewriting 100 Love Letters, finally. I post periodic updates on my tumblr (I can't get the link to work on my profile, but I include my URL). I will not be posting the rewrite on fictionpress. I will probably self-publish it as an ebook.

Thanks to all my readers who stuck with me to the end. You are all awesome.

soli deo gloria