The sun shone through the car window, tormenting me by completely opposing my mood. There should be thunder and lighting, preferably with some pissed off screamo music playing full volume in the background. Instead, I had vibrant colours and the car was driving by laughing people, most of whom were in swimwear. On the right side of the car, I could see a glimmering white beach, palm trees lining the sidewalk. The sea - a magnificent blue sparkled and stretched into the distance. The surface was dotted with people swimming in the sunshine warmed water and magnificent white boats, rocking gently in the waves. This was my new home and I already hated it.
To most people - ordinary people - this would be some sort of paradise. For me it was hell. From the moment the plane touched down, I knew I was going to hate California. Too hot to wear my preferred black hoodies, too sunny to stay pale and too cool for me to ever fit in.
Okay, I wasn't exactly the most popular guy in the world back in New Jersey but at least I had my younger brother, Mikey, and best friend, Ray. We hung round together at school with the other so-called losers, who were dubbed 'geeks' and 'emos' simply because they cared about getting good grades or had a decent music taste. As we drove along I couldn't see one person who fitted in with my idea of halfway decent. The guys were all sporty jocks, and the girls; all blonde bimbos. No one looked real - it was like being on a life sized movie set. I bit on my lip as I pictured my brother. He was my best friend. The one who helped me when I was too drunk to help myself, the one who helped me hide the worst of my problems to protect me from my parents' anger. The one who eventually outed me when my problems were beyond his help and hiding them was impossible.
Here, I had no one. No one apart from my Uncle John, whom I hadn't seen in God only knows how long. He was the one driving the car whose window I was staring out, already wishing I'd managed to have enough common sense to keep sober for more than one night in a row. I'd messed up so badly; and I knew it. Now I was reaping me rewards.
"So... Gerard?" My uncle asked hesitantly, glancing over his shoulder. "You ok back there?" I nodded and shrugged. I was not in the mood for small talk.
"You didn't bring much," he pressed on. "Are your parents sending the rest?"
"Yeah," I sighed. "Though with any luck I shouldn't be here that long."
"Well that's a relief." I looked surprised at John's words. "What?" He asked, having obviously caught sight of my face in the rear view mirror. "Having a alcoholic seventeen year old living under my roof isn't exactly ideal, you know?"
I blinked. It wasn't many adults who were that straight with you and I appreciated it. At least John wasn't a liar. For a man in his mid-forties he was actually quite cool - he owned a tattoo parlour and Iron Maiden was currently playing through the car stereo. Despite his entirely middle aged appearance of thinning brown hair and wrinkles where his tanned skin had seen too much sun, he was wearing a band tee and loose jeans that had been artfully ripped. Although I couldn't understand how anyone could wear jeans in this heat, there was a possibility we'd actually be able to get along.
"Let's just focus on getting you clean." John continued. "You'll have to help out in the shop and make your own way to school, but that shouldn't be too difficult. Other then that, you'll be living under my roof so you follow my rules." I nod, though he did not phrase it as a statement.
"Good." He nodded back at me, parking the car by the side walk. As he got out of the car, I followed, blinking slightly in the bright sun that threatened to blind me. I leaned back in the car and grabbed my sun glasses, before slamming the door closed. John was already walking into the building in front of us. It was completely unremarkable; two stories high with a large glass window running along the front of the bottom floor. In the window there were different designs displayed, along with the costs for various tattoos. The glass door had a sign in the window proclaiming the shop to be closed but I walked up to it and followed my uncle in.
The shop was bright inside - probably due to the large windows at the front - and I could see John standing in a corner talking to a short boy who was leaning against one of the walls. I couldn't help but gape slightly. The boy had tattoos, literally hundreds, all up and down his arms. From where he was standing I could see he had another on his neck, this one a scorpion. He also happened to be one of the most gorgeous beings I'd ever seen - guy or girl. The skin that was not covered by the black skinnies and t-shirt he was wearing was tanned from the California sun, but he wasn't overly bronzed like so many seemed to find attractive. His hair was jet black and curled around his face, one side covering his eye. The other I could see was a deep, chocolaty brown and sparkled with life, though his face looked bored. In short, he was perfect.
Suddenly, those eyes snapped over to me and I blushed and ducked my head, embarrassed at having been caught staring. Oh well, it wasn't the first time.
John continued to talk to the boy for a few more minutes, his words too low for me to hear, though his tone was obviously sharp. The guy just looked bored though, his gaze shifting round the room and responding with only the occasional shoulder shrug or murmured word.
At last, my uncle sighed, giving up, and walked toward where I was hovering awkwardly, motioning for the boy to follow. He did so, eyeing me up and down in the process and smirking slightly. This made me blush and feel slightly light headed at the gorgeousness of his smirk.
"Right," John said, matter-of-factly. "Gerard, this is Frank. Frank, Gerard"
"Yeah, I kinda guessed after you called him that." Frank was smirking again, drawling his words, eyes still on me. I smiled, and waved at him awkwardly. This made him raise an eyebrow, and run his eyes over me again - this time sceptically - before shoving his own hands in his pockets. I could feel myself turning red again at this unfriendly gesture that made it clear just how pathetic Frank thought I was. Although he barely came up to my nose, the guy had more presence than ten of me put together.
John rolled his eyes before addressing me again. "Frank works here and rents one of the rooms in my house. You'll be seeing a lot of him."
At this my head snapped up. Seeing a lot of Frank? I wasn't sure whether to break into an over joyed dance or die of mortification. I mean, the guy was gorgeous, but all too obviously not interested. I compromised by nodding and then resumed gazing at my shoes. "Well boys. Wait here, I'm just grabbing some stuff from the back then we'll head to mine." I heard his footsteps walk away and kept my shoes in sight.
"What's so interesting 'bout the floor, then?" I heard a voice in my ear and looked up to see Frank's face barely an inch from mine. I jumped back, shocked and he cackled mischiefly. "Well?" He prompted.
"N-nothing." I mutter, wishing to God I could control my blood and stop it making so many journeys to my face. Why couldn't I be cool like Frank?
"Well why don't you be polite and start up a conversation? It's only manners you know." He drawled, his smirk now evil.
Immediately I felt my embarrassment change to anger. "Fuck off! I've had one hell of a day and do not need it made worse by some jumped-up idiot."
Frank looked shocked for a split second before laughing. "Oh Gerard, we are going to get along just fine..." The way he said it made my skin crawl.
There, that wasn't too bad was it?