Bowling, according to Wikipedia, is a sport. And Gia generally hates any kind of sports.
Gia would have never stepped a foot on a bowling alley if she wasn’t forced to.
Unfortunately Lucas had this crazy idea that she should socialize with people and come out of her shell. Too bad Gia was very fond of her shell and therefore extremely hesitant to go bowling with Lucas and his friends.
When Gia and Lucas arrived at the bowling alley, Danny and Sherry were already standing there in front of it. This was the first time Gia saw the two of them since she first met them at that school lunch.
“Hi Gia, what’s up?” Sherry instantly greeted, making Gia feel more at ease. It was strange. Gia had known Lucas for much longer and hung out with him more, but for some reason Sherry had this relaxing affect on her.
They went inside. It wasn’t as crowded as she thought it would be. There were six lanes altogether, and only two were occupied. It was still kind of early, three pm, and people would still be at work or possibly at school. For Gia and Lucas, school had ended an hour ago, and, well, Danny and Sherry skipped.
“Okay, how exactly does this work?” Gia sounded really nervous, looking around the large hall.
“You’ve never been bowling before?” Danny asked, taking out his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans.
“No. I don’t really go out much”, she answered. Danny still made her cautious. And to make it worse, he had gotten a new piercing on his bottom lip and dyed his hair green. Sure, she was sort of used to that kind of stuff, but it still made her nervous.
“Give me the money, me and Gia will go get the shoes”, Sherry said, extending her hand out. After giving her the money, Lucas and Danny headed for an unoccupied lane and Sherry dragged Gia to where you pay and get the shoes from.
“So you and Lucas huh?” Sherry asked her, when the man went to get them four pairs of shoes.
“What do you mean?”
“Like... are you together? Lucas won’t tell me anything, and god knows I’ve tried my best to get information from him.”
Gia tilted her head in confusion. Together? As in... “Oh god no!” she finally shrieked.
“Oh good”, Sherry laughed. “Because the thought of klingon-boy having a girlfriend before I get a boyfriend, is just... Well, impossible.”
Gia wasn’t really sure what she meant, but decided to just shrug it off. “Right. Impossible.”
The guy behind the counter came back with the shoes and put them on the counter. Sherry grabbed all four pairs and ran to the lane where Lucas and Danny were already sitting and talking.
“I’m gonna go get a soda, do you guys want anything to drink? It’s on me.” Lucas asked when he noticed the two girls.
“Yeah, get me a coke”, Sherry said, dropping all the shoes on one of the chairs.
“What about you, Gia?”
“I don’t need anything”, Gia answered quietly, sitting down and putting on her shoes.
“So two cokes it is”, Lucas said and went to get the drinks.
“I don’t get it”, Gia announced after she was finished tying her other shoe. “Why can’t we wear our own shoes?”
Danny grunted. “It’s so that they can humiliate those with big feet. I swear, it’s a conspiracy.”
“Yeah, I’m sure it is”, Sherry rolled her eyes.
“What’s up with you today?” Danny frowned.
“Why do you always have to be so stupid?”
“Wanna come eat dinner at my place after this?”
Gia watched the two of them bicker. They were friends, and still they fought. Yet, two seconds after the fight they’re all friendly again. She may never get the hang of this thing they call ‘friendship’. Gia glanced towards the soda and snack machine and saw that Lucas was struggling to carry four bottles and at least ten bags of candy and peanuts. At one point he dropped all of them, making a loud noise and causing everyone in the bowling alley to stare at him.
“Lucas, stop playing around and get in here! I’m thirsty!” Danny shouted at him and got up to choose a ball.
“Hey, who said you could start?” Sherry instantly snapped. “Ladies first!”
“Well then you better wait for your turn too because you’re no lady”, Danny snarled, but let Sherry go first anyway.
When Sherry was about to throw the ball, Gia watched carefully. She had never even seen anyone bowl before, so she wasn’t quite sure how it’s done. She watched her every move and then her eyes followed the ball, which hit the pins at the end of the alley. Sherry knocked over six of the ten pins.
Lucas sat down next to Gia and put down all the things he bought on the seat on his other side. “Here, I got you candies too”, he said, pushing a can of coke and a bag of M&M’s on her lap.
“Uh, thanks”, Gia said.
After Sherry had thrown the ball the second time and knocked over two more pins, leaving only two standing, she dragged Gia up from her seat. “Come on, it’s your turn now.”
“But I’d really rather just watch for the first –“Gia tried, but no one listened. Sherry just gave her a black bowling ball, which Gia almost dropped. She wasn’t expecting it to be that heavy.
Gia faced the pins and gulped. They seemed to be a lot further than they first appeared to be. She wondered if they moved them just to make her suffer. Gia tried to throw the ball just like she had seen Sherry throw it, but it didn’t really work out that well. The ball went straight into the gutter.
“She’s even better at bowling than you are, Sherry”, Danny laughed. Sherry elbowed him on his side.
“Here, I’ll show you”, Lucas said and went to where Gia was standing. “First of all, you’re not holding the ball right.”
Sherry and Danny watched their friend instruct the new girl on how to throw the ball. They still couldn’t believe that Lucas had actually managed to talk to someone like Gia without scaring her away. After all, Lucas could be a little straight-forward sometimes and Gia was just shy.
“So what do you think about her?” Sherry quietly asked the green-haired boy.
“She’s too shy for my taste”, Danny answered. “I mean, she’s kinda cute I guess but I can’t believe she hasn’t been bowling before. What is she, a hermit?”
“Well, Lucas seems to like her.”
Danny snorted. “Oh come on, Lucas is still a dude, no matter what the doctors say. He’d like anyone with boobs and a -“
“I dare you to finish that sentence”, Sherry growled.
“Well lucky for you, I never turn down a dare.”
“- and you just kind of... swing it, I guess”, Lucas said, not sure how to describe it.
Gia grinned. “Uh, okay. Just swing it.” She did as she was told and swung the ball, and this time it didn’t go straight to the gutter. She actually managed to knock down one pin. A feeling of achievement instantly took over and she was happy.
“There, it wasn’t so hard, was it?” Lucas asked. “One is good for a beginner. I think.”
The game went on for a while and after Lucas knocked down five pins on his second turn, Gia couldn’t help but ask the question she had wanted to ask ever since she first saw them bowl.
“Do you guys go bowling often?” she asked.
“Like once every two weeks for about a year, I think”, Lucas shrugged. “Why?”
“Well, you kinda suck at it. No offense.”
Danny burst out laughing. “And this coming from the girl who has so far gotten one point in bowling her whole life.”
“Bowling isn’t about bowling”, Sherry explained after she hit Danny on the back of his head. “It’s about hanging out with friends and looking like you’re actually doing something when you’re really not. It’s your turn.”
Gia got up to go throw the ball, but then her cell phone rang. She hurried to get it out of her school bag.
“Who is it?” Lucas asked curiously.
Gia checked the caller ID and frowned. “It’s dad.” She went to the talk in a corner so that the other three couldn’t hear her.
“Where are you?”
Gia rolled her eyes. No greeting. “I’m bowling.”
“What? Bowling? You? You’re not sporty.”
“I can be sporty!”
There was some noise in the background for a moment. “Frank says that bowling is not a sport.”
“And he’s right. I really can’t see what the fuss is about anyway, it’s difficult and pointless.”
“Anyway, when will you be back?”
“In a half an hour, an hour, maybe?”
“Okay. That works. Hey, just out of curiosity, do you know where we keep those fire blankets?”
“Why don’t you just use the foam extinguisher?”
“Because we’re all out of the foam. And by the way, the kitchen is in terrible condition.”
Gia sighed. “Check under the sink. I think there’s one. What did you guys do?”
“We were cooking.”
“With a flame thrower?”
“I wish we had a flame thrower... Anyway, I was just checking up. Dinner’s at six.”
“I’m not eating anything that is burned or has foam on it.”
“Don’t be so picky! There are children in Africa who would be more than happy to eat this crap. Hey Frank, do you think we could go buy a flame thrower?”
When Gia returned to the other three, they were looking at her curiously.
“I heard you say flame thrower”, Danny announced.
“My dad and his friend are cooking so I have to go home. I’m afraid they’ll burn down the whole house”, she explained. To Lucas this kind of an explanation was clear, but to the other two not so much. She put her phone back into her bag and started to change her shoes.
Gia didn’t feel too bad about leaving early. Bowling wasn’t exactly her cup of tea.
The whole My Chemical Romance was sitting in Gerard’s kitchen with coffee cups in front of them and papers scattered around on the table.
“I’m done cleaning up the foam. Does anyone want more coffee?” Gia asked, stretching her neck so she could see what was written on the papers.
“Okay. Well... I think I’ll just go then.”
The guys continued what they were doing and completely ignored her.
“Or I could just hang out with you guys”, she continued and with a happy, content look on her face she sat down by the table beside Frank. “Hi Frank.”
“Oh hi Gia!” Frank greeted happily. “Do you want to come over tomorrow? I was cleaning up the other day and I found Twister and I thought we could all play –“
“Gia”, Gerard interrupted. “Don’t you have something to do in your room?”
“Not really”, she shrugged.
“Well find something to do.”
She frowned at the warning tone of voice, but she got up and went upstairs anyway. The silence she left behind was shocked.
“Wow”, Ray said, shaking his head. “You are a parent.”
“Did you just send her to her room?” Mikey asked.
“I know, I feel so old”, Gerard sighed. “Can we just do this thing?”
Now that Gia was sulking up in her room, they could continue working in peace. Who knew that being in a band required doing paperwork? Sure, there wasn’t a lot of it, but still there was some. Mostly it was just signing contacts and all that though, nothing that required much brain work.
“So... Is there any coffee left?” Mikey asked.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you check the coffee maker?” Gerard answered mockingly.
“Shut up”, the younger of the brothers scoffed and got up to fill his cup. Unfortunately the coffee was all gone. “I’ll make more, does anyone else want it?”
“Make the whole pot, I’ll drink it if no one else wants it”, Gerard answered.
While Mikey was trying to figure out how the coffee maker works, there was a knock on the back door. It was in the kitchen and it had a big glass window in it, so they could all see the boy who was knocking on it and waving.
He didn’t wait for an answer, just came straight in.
“Hi Lucas. You looking for Gia?” Gerard asked.
“Yeah, is she here?”
“She’s in her room.”
However, Lucas didn’t go straight to the stairs like he usually did. Instead, he just smiled like an idiot and looked like he was in seventh heaven. “You’re Frank Iero”, he finally managed to say. He even went to shake hands with him, but really all he wanted to do was hug the guitarist. “I am such a huge fan, I admire your work. You’re the best guitarist ever, would you sign my –“
Gerard cleared his throat, making Lucas look at him confusedly. When he nodded his head towards the stairs, Lucas realized that they probably wanted him to go.
“Oh, right. Sorry”, Lucas apologized and his face flushed crimson when he hurried to go upstairs.
“Wow, I do have fans”, Frank said, looking a little flustered. “I hope he’s straight though.”
Mikey narrowed his eyes. He had forgotten all about the coffee. “Who exactly was that?”
“I’ve told you about him. That’s Lucas, Gia’s friend.”
“The one we don’t like?”
Frank gasped. “Is he the one who Gia’s having premarital sex with?”
“Wasn’t it you who was just hoping he’s straight?” Bob asked indifferently.
Mikey frowned. “I’d rather him jack off to Frank’s pictures than doing obscene things to my niece.” After he said that, the music coming from Gia’s room started to play louder.
“I think I left my purse in her room, I’d better go –“Frank started, but stopped when he saw the look on Gerard’s face.
“Sit down”, Gerard commanded. When the other guys looked at him like he had grown a second head, he figured he should explain. “I decided that if Gia trusts him, then that’s enough for me. She has a friend, is there anything wrong with that? And besides, like that boy would get any anyway. He speaks klingon, for god’s sake.”
The other men obviously didn’t buy any of the crap he just said, and Ray was pretty sure what he really meant. “You still feel bad about the whole fire and foam thing?”
“Yeah”, Gerard admitted.
“Hi Gia”, Lucas greeted, knocking on the open door.
“Hey. What are you so happy about?” she asked and put down the magazine she was reading. Gia was lying on her bed, a pile of pillows under her head and back. She had a box of chocolates that she got for Christmas on her stomach and the CD-player was playing Green Day (CD borrowed from Lucas). When he came in, she sat up and offered him the chocolates.
Lucas went to sit on the foot of the bed and started gobbling down the candies. “My Chemical Romance is in your kitchen”, he said with that stupid fanboy-grin on his face.
“Yeah, I know. You didn’t bother Frank too much, did you? Oh, and that reminds me. Here.” Gia got up, took the rolled up poster from her table and gave it to him. “Their autographs. Just as you ordered.”
Lucas took the poster but didn’t roll it open yet. Instead he glared at the girl. “Of course I didn’t bother Frank. I can be cool.”
“Yeah sure”, Gia grinned and went back to her spot on the bed.
Now he rolled the poster open and looked even happier. “Just wait until I tell Danny and Sherry about this.”
Lucas went to the stereo and turned the music louder. “So, what are you doing next weekend?”
“Same thing I always do. Eat and read.”
“Sherry’s having a party.”
“Yeah. And you’re going.”
Gia frowned. “Why?”
“Because I said so. Look, you have this shell –“
“I like my shell.”
“You shouldn’t! You need to get rid of this stupid bubble and bravely socialize with people!”
Gia narrowed her eyes suspiciously, looking at him. He had all the signs. He was avoiding her eyes and constantly fidgeting. “Lucas, what’s up with you?”
“Okay, look, I need a date”, he said quickly, going back to sit on the bed. Only this time, he sat on the very edge. “Not a real date, just so that everyone thinks I have a girlfriend.”
Suddenly Gia was very aware that Lucas was a boy and that she was in a room with closed door alone with this said boy. She jumped off of the bed, staring at him like he had gone mad.
“Just, let me explain”, Lucas started. “Yesterday when we were bowling, something happened. After you left. An accident. I don’t want to get into details, but...”
“What exactly happened?” Gia asked, now curiously.
“Well, like I said, we were bowling. And it was my turn. But when I was throwing the ball, it... It slipped out of my hand and went backwards. I know, I suck at bowling. Anyway, the ball landed on this guy’s toes. He was huge. And for a guy who just had a bowling ball crush his foot, he sure ran fast. He chased me through the lanes, and when he finally caught me, I tripped and we fell, and accidentally...”
There was a look of pain on his face. Gia could guess the end, but he said it anyway.
“And then... there was definite... mouth to mouth contact. It was an accident, but do you know how fast rumors travel? They develop, Gia. It happened yesterday and already I’m super gay! Not that I have anything against gay people, but... Anyway. I need to make sure that no one thinks I’m really gay. That’s where you come in. Come with me to the party and then we can ‘break up’ for all I care. Please, just help me with this. My cool reputation is at stake here. ”
Gia stifled a laugh. “Oh god. Only you can get into situations like that.”
“So will you help me?”
“What’s in it for me?”
“I will be your best friend forever!” he announced. “And plus, I’m just too adorable, don’t you think? How can you say no to this?” Lucas put both of his hands on the sides of his face, batted his eyelashes and puckered his lips when he said the word ‘this’.
She shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t believe I’m saying this but... Okay. No one knows me anyway so what harm can it do.”
“Really?” Even he looked surprised. “You’ll help me?”
“Yeah. And for your information, you don’t have a cool reputation at all.”
“Shut up. I’m cool”, Lucas muttered and took a handful of chocolates from the box. “Did you get these as a present?”
“Yeah, they’re from Ray.”
Suddenly Lucas froze and then almost choked on the chocolate candy he had in his mouth. “You mean... THE Ray? Ray Toro?”
Gia laughed. “I thought you loved Frank.”
“I love them all!”
“Maybe you are a little bit gay.”
“Oh, only for My Chemical Romance.”
When Lucas was leaving, Gia’s dad and the other guys were still downstairs, only now they were sitting around in the living room with beers and playing video games. Gia was walking him to the door, but Lucas insisted on stopping to say bye to them.
And there was another reason for stopping. Lucas wanted to make sure that Gia asks Gerard if she can go to the party. If she didn’t ask now, she would just put it off and in the end she wouldn’t be able to go. And Lucas knew he couldn’t persuade Gia to sneak out.
“Uh, dad”, Gia started quietly, but he didn’t hear her. She had never asked for a permission to go out to a party before, so of course she was nervous. “He can’t hear. Maybe I should ask later or maybe – Ouch!”
Lucas pushed her forward, making everyone in the room notice her. When it was clear that Gia would just stand there quietly, Lucas decided to speak. “Gia has something she wants to ask.”
“What is it?” Gerard asked, putting down the Xbox controller.
“Well... Uh... There’s this party next weekend... And... Could I go?”
“I don’t know, where is this party?”
Lucas figured that it was best he speak. “It’s at my friend Sherry’s house. It’s totally supervised because her parents are there, no alcohol, no drugs, no sex, only a little bit of rock’n’roll.”
Gia and Lucas both stared at Gerard pleadingly, waiting for the final choice. “Okay fine”, he finally said. “But Lucas, if you think I believed any of the crap you just said, you’re insane. I’m not that old.”
That evening Gerard sat down in front of the TV in the living room with a glass of whiskey and the rest of the bottle on the TV table. Gia was most likely already asleep, since it was a school night and the clock was nearing midnight, so it was okay if he drank a little.
And besides, if Gia knew that he took those video tapes with him from grandma’s attic, she’d have him executed for sure. Gerard understood why Gia didn’t want to see the videos from her childhood, but he still wanted to watch them.
Gerard put in the first tape. It had the label ‘Gia’s second birthday’. He couldn’t remember what happened that day at all, so it was a good place to start.
The first thing that showed on the screen was little Gia and really young looking Mikey playing with Barbie dolls on the floor.
“I’m going to the grocery store”, Gia’s high voice said and she moved the doll so that it was walking.
“Fine, then I’ll go to the car shop to buy a new car because this pink convertible is really not good for my ego”, Mikey said and the Ken doll he was moving went to sit in the toy car.
“You can’t! I’ll sue you!” Gia huffed and made the Barbie doll sit on the other seat.
The next person who showed on the tape made Gerard want to throw the glass he was holding at the TV screen. He and Gia’s mom never really got along that well, and after the suicide attempt, Gerard had begun to hate her even more. Thanks for cheap alcohol or otherwise Gia wouldn’t exist.
“Gia, it’s time to cut the cake”, her mom announced and went to pick her up from the floor. She lift Gia with ease and carried her to the table, where they had set a small white and pink cake. Mikey had disappeared from the picture because he had picked up the camera that had probably been resting on the floor or something, and Mikey was now filming.
“Okay honey, blow the candles”, the woman said, holding Gia on her lap.
“But daddy’s not here. Shouldn’t I wait?”
“Well... Listen Gia, daddy had to go to a very important meeting. He’d really like to be here but...”
“Oh”, Gia said and her face clearly showed that she was sad.
“For god’s sake Mikey, stop filming”, the woman snapped at the camera and hugged her daughter closer to comfort her.
Everything went quiet on the tape. Gerard had had this small smile on his face, but now it completely disappeared. Now he remembered that day. Well, actually the few following days. He had been drunk out of his mind that day and completely forgot about Gia’s birthday. So of course both Mikey and Gia’s mother gave him crap about it. The only one who seemed to be fine with it was Gia. She always preferred pretending to telling the truth.
The quiet voice coming from the door surprised him. At first he thought it came from the tape, but it couldn’t have. The tape wasn’t playing anymore.
Gia came closer and sat down on the couch beside him. “You just had to take the tapes, didn’t you?”
“I couldn’t help it, sorry.” He noticed her glancing disapprovingly at the bottle on the table. “And I can’t help that either.”
“You have to drink? I thought you said you stopped.”
“I did. For the most part, anyway. It’s not easy.”
She shook her head. “Whatever.”
“But it’s not a problem anymore, if that counts for anything.” When she didn’t answer, Gerard sighed and put in a new tape. Gia didn’t go away, and he figured that that was an improvement.
In the end they watched through all of the tapes, and Gerard didn’t anymore even touch the glass or the bottle that evening.