Red hair falling across green eyes – that's what he thinks about on nights like these. The bus is quiet, the bunk is small. He would give anything to be curled up in the front seat of his prized red car, arm around his prized girl, staring up at a magnificent display of stars in the night sky. Instead, he has to be content with a handful of plastic glow-in-the-dark stickers stuck haphazardly to the metal frame of the bunk ahead. It isn't much, but you take what you can get on the road. It gets lonely a lot.
He hasn't seen her in seven years, not since her high school graduation and he won a small recording contract in the Battle of the Bands contest in the city. She still doesn't know that he showed up that day, watching from the hood of his car in the parking lot across from the football field. He knows that she looked for him in the stands, getting up on her tiptoes to search the rows of people for his bright blue eyes and too-long brown hair. He doesn't know if she cried when she couldn't find him. He didn't want to know.
His band is big these days, doing better than he could have ever imagined back in high school. He's seen six continents, dozens of countries, more cities than he could ever count. From Bangkok to Paris, New York to Sydney, legions of adoring fans know his name, his birthday, his inspirations and every word to every song. But they don't know him, not really. He doesn't think that anyone does most days, at least not anymore. He only has a couple people around him from the old days. Tino is still there, his best friend and brother to the end. He's the only one who he can talk about her with; he's the only one who understands.
There are whole albums out there about her now, an entire discography dedicated to her careful smile and penetrating gaze. He has stacks and stacks of notebooks stashed at his studio, at his apartment, in the bus full of material about her. She inspires him now, years after he quit really knowing her. There is no shortage of words that he could write in her honor. She is his muse and he often wonders if she even knows it. She probably still thinks that damn song is about his stupid car. He never bothered to tell her the truth.
He calls New York home these days, though he's never there for more than a few weeks at a time. It's mostly so that he can record or sleep for a few days between tours or see Shane when he comes to visit with his two little girls. His oversized apartment is mostly empty, decorated by some middle-aged woman he never bothered to meet. He sent a check, she sent furniture – it was the perfect kind of relationship for him. He keeps a photograph of her in his bedside table. It's the only finite relic in his life that proves she exists. It's only thing he let himself hold onto.
Sometimes he lets himself think about how she ended up. He wonders where she went to college and what she is doing for a living and where she calls home and who she lives there with. He isn't sure if he wants to know if she found love, a marriage, children and a home. He prefers to think of her more often as he knew her, so hopeful and full of adoration for him. There's a lot to be said about being adored.
But most of the time, he tries to pretend that Angela doesn't exist. The only thing that he knows about her is that she majored in art history, a rare fact that Rayanne let slip once when she came to visit them on tour. Tino and her still mess around sometimes, but the wayward blonde is careful to never mention Angela when he's around. He's not sure if it's for his sake or hers, but he appreciates it nonetheless. The less he knows, the better off they all are. He's always one plane ride away from trying to win her back, and everyone knows that has the potential to cause her world to explode.
She did write to him once, a quick postcard jotted down with a London postmark. He read it at least six times the day he picked it up at his old post office box. It was right before he moved the last of his stuff permanently out of storage and up to New York. He never knew if she knew where he ended up, just that he never received another word from her. Her words seemed happy, no longer the moody teenager but a genuinely content young woman. It was a delicate balance that he knew he could still upset. It was then that he decided not to be selfish anymore. It was then that he made himself at least pretend to let her go.
He turns over and stares at the wall for a moment before shifting back onto his back and gazing up at those stupid stars. He can feel the wheels rolling beneath him, can hear the gentle snore of his new bass player a few bunks down and can smell the stale air that goes with being in a bus for twelve hours. He misses sleeping in a real bed and eating real food cooked in a real kitchen and any real sense of a real routine. He loves touring, loves music, loves his fans. He doesn't take a minute of it for granted and truly appreciates all the opportunities he's been given.
That doesn't mean, however, that it's all amazing. It's lonely and draining. He lost his privacy so long ago, first to the confines of traveling with guys and then to his loyal fandom and then to the prying eyes of the press. His sense of normalcy is gone, replaced by waking up every day in a different city and constantly being told what state or country he's even in. The only thing he drinks more than Pepto is coffee, and that's only to give himself a break from the thick pink liquid. A pair of nagging ulcers have taken up permanent residence in the pit of his stomach, and his throat doctor is constantly threatening he'll lose his voice if he doesn't rest it soon. The only thing he gets him through his the vacation he has planned in Bora Bora for the end of the year and the newly finished notebook begging to be recorded come November.
Until then, Jordan will stare at the plastic stars on the road and her photograph at home in New York. He will sing the same songs that make her real to him every night and pretend that the statuesque blonde front row center is a petite redhead. He will sign autographs after shows before climbing onto the bus and repeat the whole sad process the next day because this is his life now. He'll do all this and he'll think of her – his beautiful star with green eyes hidden by red hair.