Gerard's living in the shadows, a ghost of his former self...can someone save him and see him outside the shadows? FRERARD ONESHOT PLEASE READ AND REVIEW!!
It’s a typical Friday afternoon; I’m trudging my weary way home through the cold, murky city rain with my best friend, fellow misfit and music obsessive, Mikey Way, sharing our traditional celebration end-of-the-week strawberry laces and shivering violently in the dusky November drizzle that soaks through the thin black fabric of our matching black band hoodies.
The endless skies of New Jersey are glum and grey and glowering, clogged up with murky cloud tainted by the contaminated exhaust fumes that curl up into the bleak sky from the incessant queues of traffic crammed along the main road, mingling with the atmosphere like stained smoke.
There’s nothing unusual about the empty cans of Monster energy drink, stubbed out cigarette ends and general grime that clogs up the gutter, the bitterly bleak grey city sky, or the copious, thickly polluted air that scratches at my throat every time I draw a breath.
It’s just another endless day in an endless city of endless dull skies and endless dull air; every day the same as the one before, bleak and bitter and bored, stretching further than the murky horizon, like a dark tunnel where the light at the end is slowly getting further and further away from reach.
In a lot of ways, I have nothing to complain about; I have a family who loves me, we have enough money, I’m not picked on at school, I have great friends…what more could I ask for?
It’s not even like I could put my finger on something that’s missing from my world…it just sometimes feels like, through all the thick, shadowy cloud, there’s clear blue sky beyond, waiting to be discovered.
“Frank? Frankie!” The voice of my best friend drags me from my daydreams, and I blink, shaking my head out of the clouds.
“The day you stop daydreaming, Frankie, hell will have frozen over.” Mikey shakes his head at me, smiling slightly, pulling another strawberry lace from the packet and offering one to me.
“Thanks Mikes.” I smile a little sheepishly, taking a lace and sighing, my breath smoky in the cold grey urban air, curling up into the sky and mingling with the exhaust fumes and tainted cloud.
“So, I was saying, The Lost Boys or Shawn Of The Dead tonight?” Mikey asks, stuffing the sweets into the pocket of his Metallica hoodie.
Friday nights; a movie fest, sweet binge marathon at either Mikey’s house or mine. This week it’s at Mikey’s as his parents are away for the weekend, which means we can blast The Misfits as loud as we want and scream along to it like crazy people.
“The Lost Boys, every fucking time.” I reply without hesitation, swallowing the last of my strawberry lace.
Mikey rolls his hazel eyes at me. “Jeez, Frank, will you ever get tired of that movie?”
“Nope.” I grin.
“Fine.” Mikey sighs. “The Lost Boys it is.”
“Yay!” I cry. “I love you Mikeyway!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Mikey rolls his eyes again, elbowing me in the ribs.
“Park?” I ask as we reach a fork in the grimy street, one way leading towards my flat, the other towards the graffitied, rusty local park and Mikey’s house.
“Sure.” Mikey agrees as we set off down the slightly quieter side street, converse squelching through the dirty puddles of rainwater that collect in the cracked, chewing-gum speckled pavement.
The park is one of our regular haunts on a Friday afternoon- no one else our age really goes there at this time of year when it’s so cold if you sit on the swings too long, your hands get frozen to the chains.
We go through the rusty gates and make straight for the half broken swings underneath the two ancient gnarled, blackened and bare oak trees.
“Sooo…” Mikey says as we ditch our scruffy schoolbags on the cracked, well-worn tarmac and plonk ourselves down on the rain-spattered swings. “How’s life, Frankie?”
I consider the question, hooking my left arm round the cold, rusty chains of the swing and starting to swing gently back and forth, converse scuffing the ground beneath me.
“Life’s…okay, I guess.” I reply truthfully. “What about you?”
Mikey sighs, looking up at the cold, grey sky. “Alright, I guess.”
I know Mikey well enough to know when he’s not being entirely truthful, and right now, he’s not meeting my eyes, looking up into the grey drizzle.
“Alright?” I ask, frowning, pulling my hoodie closer around me in the bitter dusk. “What’s wrong, Mikes?”
“Nothing wrong with me…I’m just…well, worried about someone.” Mikey replies, looking at me, hazel eyes all wide and sad behind the lenses of his geeky glasses. “But it doesn’t matter.”
“Of course it matters- if it’s worrying you then of course it matters, moron.” I exclaim incredulously.
“It’s okay, Frankie, honestly…I don’t want to spoil our movie night.”
“Tell me, Mikes.”
“I don’t give a fuck about movie night if there’s something worrying you, Mikes! Tell me- who are you worried about?”
“My brother.” Mikey says, looking down at the damp tarmac.
“…Gerard, right?” I ask. I’ve always known Mikey has an older brother, and that he goes to the same school as us, but I’d never really noticed him. Even though I’ve spent half my life round at Mikey’s house since I moved to New Jersey two years ago, I’ve only met him properly once, and even then he hardly said a word, just stayed hidden behind a curtain of tangled, raven black hair, nibbling his lip.
All I know about him is that he always wears a lot of black, and, according to Mikey, is amazing at art. He’s so quiet I never really notice when he’s there and when he’s not.
It’s like he’s a shadow, always there, but no one ever notices him. Of course, maybe that’s how he wants it to be.
Sometimes it’s safer to live in the shadows.
“Yeah.” Mikey sighs.
I wait, but he doesn’t elaborate.
“…Why are you worried about him?” I ask delicately, sensing the subject is one causing considerable stress to Mikey, and trying not to put my foot in it like I usually do with my blunt attitude.
“He’s so depressed, Frank…all the time. I don’t know what to do- he used to be so different, he used to be happy…but now…it’s like he’s a different person.” Mikey whispers, his voice only just audible above the sound of congested traffic in the distance and the soft, damp drizzle hitting the tarmac.
“What changed?” I ask, frowning. “You say he wasn’t always like that….”
“It’s only been the last year or so…but it just keeps on getting worse and worse, especially recently- it’s ever since he got picked on at school last term.” Mikey tells me, fiddling with the zip on his hoodie.
“I didn’t know he was picked on…” I mumble, feeling slightly ashamed that I had no idea my best friend’s brother was getting bullied.
“It’s not obvious stuff- I mean, people don’t beat him up or anything…they just make fun of him, crush him with words.” Mikey sighs. “I don’t know what to do. He gets hurt so easily. I don’t think it’s as bad anymore, the bullying, but Gerard’s worse- it’s like he believes all the shitty stuff people said to him- he’s lost all his confidence- he never goes out anymore, or talks to anyone, just stays holed up in his room, alone.”
“Have you tried talking to him?” I ask.
“Yeah…we used to get on great, Gerard and me- we could talk about anything. But now he barely talks to anyone…he keeps getting drunk and locking himself in his room. I don’t know what to do, Frank…I’m scared for him.” Mikey whispers, eyes wide and fearful.
I feel terrible; something like this has been eating away at my best friend for god knows how long, and I didn’t even know, didn’t bother to find out.
“Jeez, Mikes, I feel terrible- I wish you’d told me sooner.” I say, shivering, not just because of the dusky drizzle.
“I just didn’t know what to say.” Mikey admits. “And there’s not really anything you could have done, anyway.”
“Sharing stuff you’re worried about always makes it seem less scary, though.” I point out.
“Mmm.” Mikey says quietly.
“Do your Mom and Dad know?” I ask softly.
“Not really.” Mikey says. I can hear him clamming up about the subject, and decide that he needs a change of topic, something that’ll distract him.
“Hey, Mikes, y’know the plural of moose?” I ask, opening up the ongoing debate between us.
“…Yeah?” Mikey says slowly, looking suspiciously at me.
“It’s definitely not Moosi.” I grin.
“Is too!” Mikey cries.
“Is not!” I retort.
“You know it is!”
“It’s mooses!! Mooses for the motherfucking world!” I yell out into the silent park and Mikey bursts out laughing.
“You’re a lunatic, Frank Iero.” He shakes his head at me, but he’s still smiling.
“That’s me!” I grin, pulling a crazy, cross-eyed face, relieved to see the familiar slightly lopsided grin on Mikey’s face once more.
We carry on the grammatical argument of moose until the damp drizzle becomes icy bullets, hitting our skin and seeping through our hoodies.
“Time to go?” I ask, as the icy bullets become torrential, falling so fast, the park around us becomes blurred.
“Time to go.” Mikey agrees, giving me a grateful smile. “Thanks, Frankie…you’re a good friend.”
“No problem…but if you think I’m a good friend, I think you should be seeking professional help.”
By the time we reach Mikey’s house, we’re drenched to the skin, hair plastered to our foreheads, shoes filled with muddy rainwater, frozen to the bone with bright red stinging cheeks from the lashing rain.
We stumble into the hallway, gasping, shivering, laughing, slamming the front door shut behind us on the pouring rain that tumbles down from the murky sky and washes away the grime of the grey pavements with salty tears of rain.
“So fucking cold!” Mikey gasps, taking his sodden hoodie off and showering the hall and me in icy droplets of rain. “Need. Coffee.”
Ah, the Mikey Way answer to everything; coffee.
“D’you think we could maybe get changed first? Before we both catch pneumonia and die?” I ask, teeth chattering.
“Maybe that would be a plan.” Mikey agrees, dumping his schoolbag with his soaking hoodie and starting up the stairs.
I kick off my soggy converse and follow him up the staircase, along the landing, and into his room.
It’s typically Mikey; posters of Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Metallica, The Misfits and various other bands pinned neatly on the dark blue walls, CDs, homework, music magazines, DVDs and video games stacked in an orderly way on the floor and the desk. His band t-shirts, ripped jeans and hoodies hang neatly in the closet.
It’s almost the complete opposite to my room, which looks like a bombsite of CDs, clothes, guitar music sheets and DVDs.
“Wanna borrow some dry clothes?” Mikey asks, stripping off his school shirt and tie and chucking on a long-sleeved stripy t-shirt and his favourite ripped blue skinny jeans.
“Thanks.” I smile gratefully, as Mikey grabs a pair of ripped black skinnies and a black Misfits tee from his closet and chucks them at me.
“I’ll just go make some coffee, yeah?” Mikey says, pulling on an old scruffy black hoodie and clean socks.
“Sure.” I say, tugging off my wet school shirt and stripy tie.
“’Kay, see you downstairs in a minute.” Mikey smiles, leaving the room and shutting the door behind him.
I squeeze into the black skinnies and loop my studded belt through the loopholes, then make my way over to Mikey’s dresser, locating his eyeliner and smudging a little around my olive green eyes, standing back to examine my reflection.
The boy looking back at me in the mirror is skinny and small with wide green eyes, a stubborn expression and a silver lip ring, his dyed black fringe flopping scruffily across his right eye, damp from the rain.
I sigh into the silence of Mikey’s empty room at my reflection, choosing not to throw something at the boy in the mirror only because I doubt Mikey would appreciate his mirror being shattered.
Instead, I kick my rain-soaked clothes into a small, crumpled pile on the floor, and go downstairs to find Mikey.
The house is unusually quiet; when his parents are around, there’s usually the sound of the TV from the living room, his Mom cooking in the kitchen, or his Dad doing up the study. Now, the house seems oddly big and empty, only the sound of the kettle boiling downstairs and the dull thump of rock music coming from the door furthest along the landing, the door I know leads to Mikey’s brother’s room.
“Frank?” Mikey’s voice calls from downstairs, jerking me from my thoughts.
“Coming!” I call, thundering down the stairs two at a time and bouncing into the kitchen.
“Sup, geek.” I grin, sitting down at the table and taking a welcome gulp of the coffee Mikey’s just made us.
“Don’t call me geek, freak.” Mikey grins back, draining his mug of coffee and pouring himself another.
“I swear it’s not healthy to be that addicted to coffee, Mikes.” I tease, putting down my mug.
“Fuck you, Iero.” Mikey scowls. “Just cause you’re short.”
“Oi!” I protest. “I’m not short, I’m just…”
“Stunted elf size?” Mikey grins.
“Fuck you, Mikeyway.” I growl. “Say something like that again and I’ll hide all the coffee in the house.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll never comment on your abnormal height again.” Mikey says hastily, cradling his coffee mug protectively. “By the way, what do you want for dinner? I don’t know if we have anything…” Mikey frowns as he searches the fridge.
“Ummm…do you like mouldy pickles?” He offers.
“Not really.” I laugh. “We could always order pizza?”
“Good idea…but I don’t think I’ve got enough to get it delivered- I’d better go pick some up.” Mikey says, draining the remains of his third coffee mug.
“Oh, okay. Want me to come?” I ask, gulping down the rest of my coffee and putting the empty mug down on the draining board.
“Na, it’s okay…you stay here and watch TV or something.” Mikey says, shrugging on his jacket and going out into the hall.
“Sure?” I ask, not really wanting to get drowned in the rain again, but not really wanting Mikey to have to go out on his own either.
“Sure.” Mikey reassures me. “I’ll be back in a bit…keep yourself entertained- watch TV or listen to music or something. Gerard’s here but I doubt he’ll come down from his room, so don’t worry.”
“Okay, see you later then Mikes.” I say as Mikey takes a deep breath, opens the front door and braves the icy downpour.
“Laters, Midget.” He calls, but before I can kill him for the Midget comment, the door slams shut, leaving the house even more silent than before.
I wander through into the empty kitchen and sit down restlessly at the table, drumming my fingers on the wooden surface in the rhythm of Dig Up Her Bones. I can see the rain pouring down outside, cold, grey tears trickling down the clear glass of the kitchen window. The sky is bleak, a blanket of grey smothering the city, overcast and ominous.
The silence making me uneasy, I get up from the table, deciding to go through to the living room and see if there’s anything good on the TV.
I grab a bag of skittles from the kitchen counter, pop a few into my mouth and skip from the kitchen.
However, I don’t get much beyond the kitchen doorway, where I collide with something warm and dark and human sized and let out an embarrassingly girly scream.
The thing I’ve collided with lets out a small yelp.
Massaging my chest where my heart feels ready to have a heart attack, I step back to see what I’ve collided with.
He’s pale and skinny, only a few inches taller than me and dressed exclusively in black, from the slightly scruffy Iron Maiden t-shirt he’s wearing to the ripped black skinnies and the little black socks printed with tiny bats. Even his hair is blacker than midnight, falling dishevelled across his heart-shaped face and shrouding his expression.
He looks kind of like a ghost, someone who’s too used to living in the shadows, hiding away from everyone and everything because it’s safer to be a shadow no one ever really notices.
“Ooof.” He mumbles, rubbing his chest where I ran into him.
“Oh…sorry, man.” I apologise, heart still racing.
“Uh, it’s fine.” He mutters, trying to shuffle past me into the kitchen and not looking up from under his curtain of ebony hair.
“Um, Gerard, right?” I stop him, remembering what Mikey said about being worried about his older brother and wanting to at least attempt to help.
“Mhmm.” Gerard replies, still hidden behind his dishevelled, unkempt hair.
“I’m Frank Iero, Mikey’s friend.” I tell him.
“Oh.” is the feeble response.
Silence hangs in the air between us for a moment, heavy and awkward, before Gerard shuffles past me and into the kitchen.
I follow him and lean against the doorframe as he fills up the kettle and spoons a copious amount of coffee grounds into a pink ‘Drama Queen’ mug, scuttling around the small space of the kitchen getting milk, putting the spoon in the sink, drying the counter with the tea towel, until he finally has no option left but to look up at me.
“Can I help you with something?” he mumbles, addressing the kitchen lino floor.
“I was just wondering if you maybe wanted to, y’know, hang out for a bit or something? Get to know each other? Mikey’s gone out to get pizza and I’m bored.” I hear myself say, not having intended to suggest anything of the sort- Gerard seems awkward and stuttery, not something I usually find endearing, but there’s also something about him that I can’t put my finger on, something unique, something special hidden behind the awkward mumbling and mass of dishevelled raven hair; for some reason, he intrigues me.
There’s something about his charisma that’s different to anything I’ve ever come across before; he’s like a mystery tied up with trailing frayed black ribbons of unanswered questions.
“Um, no offence or anything, but I’m kinda busy.” Gerard says timidly, pouring boiling water into his coffee mug.
“Busy doing what?” I ask, nosey as ever.
“Just stuff.” Gerard says monotonously, adding milk to his coffee.
“What stuff?” I persist.
“Drawing, Music, just that kinda shit.” Gerard replies quietly, putting the milk back in the fridge, scooping up his steaming mug of coffee and edging past me into the hallway.
“Oi, wait up!” I call out as he’s halfway up the stairs, for some reason determined to solve the mystery that hides so anxiously behind that curtain of inky black hair.
“What?” Gerard turns around listlessly, hair still flopping scruffily across his ghostly face.
“Can come and I see?” I ask, and I don’t know where that came from either.
“No, your curtains. Yes, the drawings!” I roll my eyes, tone sarcastic.
“Look, no offence, seriously, but I really don’t have the time to entertain Mikey’s midget friends.” Gerard mutters apologetically, carrying back up the stairs.
“Oi, Gerard! Wait!” I sprint up the stairs after him.
“What?” Gerard sighs, stopping on the landing as I slide to a halt in front of him.
“ Okay, first, I am NOT a midget. I’m just slightly smaller than average, okay?” I growl.
“S-sorry.” Gerard stutters, sounding slightly scared, which makes me feel bad.
“Piss me off and I’ll munch your skinny little ankles off with my fangs, okay? So show me the motherfucking drawings.” I put my hands on my hips, hoping to god he’ll recognise that I’m not actually threatening to bite his ankles off, just trying to show him I’m okay.
A strange little sound halfway between a reluctant giggle and a snort issues from under Gerard’s dishevelled hair.
“So can I see them?” I persist.
“Okay, okay.” Gerard relents. “But really, they’re shit.”
“Yeah, and I’m a leprechaun.” I roll my eyes.
“You could be…” Gerard mutters under his breath, balancing his mug of coffee in one hand and opening his bedroom door with the other.
“Excuse me? Did you just call me a leprechaun? Do you not remember me telling you that if you piss me off I’ll bite your ankles off?” I scowl, and Gerard makes the funny little reluctant giggly-snort noise again, stepping inside his room and holding the door open for me to follow.
It’s almost the opposite to Mikey’s; instead of being neatly ordered and organised, it’s dark, cluttered and insecure.
The blood red curtains are half drawn, only a little bit of the harsh, grey light of reality seeping through. The bleak, black walls are plastered in band and movie posters; The Misfits, The Cure, Iron Maiden, Rancid, HIM, Dawn Of The Dead, Scream, and The Lost Boys; pinned haphazardly above the purple desk that’s recklessly strewn with cigarette ends, paints, pastels, pencils, scrunched up papers and pencil sharpenings are endless sheets of drawings.
The ceiling is black too, but somehow lighter, almost purply, painted as the night’s sky; star constellations, the moon and bats flitting across the giant canvas. Looking up at it, you almost forget you’re in someone’s dark, smoky room, and just dream…the stars look as if they stretch on into forever, shining bright and hopeful in the depression of the blackness.
“…Did you paint the ceiling?” I ask, still gazing up at it, realising I haven’t said anything for about five minutes.
“Umm, yeah…” I hear Gerard say, sounding embarrassed.
“Dude, that’s so fucking cool! Will you paint my ceiling too?” I beam, whirling round to see Gerard hovering apprehensively by his desk, sipping coffee with shaky hands.
“You like it?”
“Dude, I fucking love it!” I cry.
“Oh…thanks.” Gerard says, and I can almost hear a slight smile in his voice.
“How do you draw in here?” I ask curiously, peering round the room in the half dark. “It’s like, dark.”
Gerard points wordlessly at some waxy candles dripping oily black wax onto his desk. “Uh…I prefer drawing by candle light, and I don’t really like daylight.”
“Vampire.” I grin.
I’m sure I see the glimpses of Gerard’s chalk white cheeks behind his wild hair pinken.
“So, can I see your drawings?” I ask, sitting down on his unmade bed and bouncing slightly.
“Um…if you really want.” Gerard mumbles, switching on the stereo in the corner. “The best ones are pinned above my desk.”
“Cool.” I grin as The Misfits blasts into the darkened room.
Gerard lights the waxy, burnt down candles on his desk with long, pale, shaking fingers, and I get up to look at the drawings.
I almost forget to breathe as my eyes roam over the various images pinned along the wall.
When Mikey said his brother was good at drawing, I didn’t realise he meant breathtakingly, utterly amazing.
The paintings are so raw and full of emotion, so full of anger and hurt and despair, the feelings jumping off the paper.
There’s a beautiful, sad-eyed vampire girl standing amongst a thousand decaying corpses, crying tears of her victims’ blood, scarlet and shocking against her lily white skin and big, emerald eyes glimmering with utter despair. Next to it is another undead girl, this time zombie-like, Frankenstein inspired, her blue-tinted skin a thousand wounds, carefully stitched up, only two brutal looking boys have been drawn stitching her up, jabbing the needles into her perfect skin, mutating her, pulling to tightly at the thread stitching and contorting her beautiful features.
They’re both just beautiful, breathtaking drawings. Morbid, misunderstood, and meaningful in a way that goes beyond words, but just utterly beautiful, the care and imagination and emotion that has bled out into their canvases.
But it’s the last painting that really takes my breath away, stops my heart.
It’s of a boy, pale and skinny, ghost-like with haunted, tortured eyes. He’s running, fleeing, stumbling desperately through decaying woodland in the misty dusk, cold, blackened spiky branches and gnarled trunks that look like twisted faces. There’s nothing painted chasing him; he appears alone, just a skinny misfit fleeing through the thorny branches that snag his thin black t-shirt and scratch at his pale skin like claws, but in his eyes, in his wide, startling greeny-hazel eyes, there’s fear, pure, undiluted, unconditional fear.
It’s disturbing and dark, and shivers tingle up my spine at the raw emotion in the image. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
“…I told you they were shit.” Gerard’s anxious voice makes me jump out of my skin; I’d been so lost in the world of dark, haunted imagination that created the paintings that I’d almost forgotten where I was.
I blink and look round; Gerard’s room. Dark and cluttered, but somehow calming.
“Shit?!” I yelp incredulously, my voice coming out slightly louder than intended. “SHIT?! Are you fucking INSANE, dude?!”
“Probably…” Gerard mumbles from behind his hair. “I knew you wouldn’t like them…they’re too weird.”
“Dude, these are fucking AMAZING! Fuck, they’re the best artwork I’ve ever seen in my life, and almost certainly the best I ever will see. I mean yeah, they’re weird, but that’s what makes them so awesome! There’s nothing else like them- they’re dark and beautiful and just fucking WOW, okay?!” I cry, arms failing about.
Gerard blinks. “Really?”
“You are amazingly talented, man. You’re gunna be like, a fucking millionaire some day!” I exclaim.
“No one’s ever seen my paintings before…except for Mikey.” Gerard admits, sitting down on the bed, still hidden behind his hair.
“Well I’m fucking glad you showed me!” I beam at him, sitting down cross-legged beside him.
“Me too.” Gerard says, and this time, I can see a proper smile play across his lips.
I look at him, still smothered in black, midnight hair shrouding his expression, shielding his eyes from the harsh light of reality. He still looks like a shadow, but he’s definitely no one else’s shadow but his own.
There’s silence in his room for a moment, nothing but the comfortingly familiar background melody of The Misfits, both of us suddenly caught up in the other.
Gerard’s shy and strange and scared, sitting beside me on his unmade bed, nibbling his lip, skin ghostly in the soft, flickering candlelight, arms skinny and pale, concealed with studded wristbands and spiky bracelets, nails bitten down to the quick, chest rising and falling unevenly, slightly shakily. I can almost feel his breath on my skin, warm and soft, smelling subtly of smoke and coffee and peppermint.
The CD’s stopped now, but neither of us seems to have noticed, just staying, sitting, centimetres away from each other, not seeming quite able to pull away. The air between us is almost…charged, the same electricity giving me goose bumps that spread across my flesh like an epidemic.
“FRANKIE?” The front door downstairs slams and Mikey’s yell makes us both jump and I scramble up off the bed just as there’s a knock on Gerard’s door.
“C-come in.” Gerard’s voice is shaky.
The door swings open and Mikey stumbles in, soaked to the bone, hair plastered to his face, but clutching two steaming pizza boxes.
“Guys? Frank?” he looks a little bemused to see us both in Gerard’s room.
“Oh, Gerard was just showing me his fucking amazing drawings.” I stumble over my words, my cheeks feeling hot for some reason I don’t understand.
“Oh.” Mikey smiles. “That’s great, Gee.”
“Mmm..” Gerard mutters, not looking up at either of us.
“I was just coming up to ask if you wanted to come watch The Lost Boys with us and share the pizza?” Mikey looks hopefully at his older brother, hazel eyes wide.
“Umm..I don’t think so, Mikes.” Gerard mumbles, his usually chalk white cheeks pink behind his dark hair.
“Oh, go on, Gerard.” I say, stomach rumbling at the smell of pizza wafting from the boxes Mikey’s clutching.
“Well…” he wavers.
“Pleeeease!” Mikey bats his eyelashes jokingly at his brother.
Gerard chuckles softly. “Okay, okay.” He agrees.
“Yay!” Mikey beams. “I’ll go get the movie ready…you guys coming?”
“Yip.” I reply, following Mikey out of Gerard’s room, Gerard behind us, and down the stairs, the cream-coloured walls almost blinding after the darkness of Gerard’s room.
“You guys want anything to drink?” Gerard asks.
“Coke please.” Mikey replies, slotting the DVD into the player and flopping down on the sofa.
“Same please.” I say, flinging myself down beside Mikey.
“Be right back then.” Gerard says, going out into the kitchen.
“Frank…thank you.” Mikey smiles gratefully at me as the movie starts to play. “I don’t know how you did it, but this is the most happy I’ve seen him in months.”
“Really? I don’t even know what…” I trail off as Gerard shuffles back into the room, balancing three glasses of coke.
“Mooovie time!” Mikey beams as Gerard sits down tentatively beside me on the sofa and hand Mikey and me our cokes.
“Hell yeah!” I grin, taking a gulp of coke as the opening scene rolls on.
Right now, I’m happy; food, vampire movies and a friend squashed either side of me on the sofa. Does it get better than this?
By the time the end credits roll across the screen, Gerard’s relaxed a bit, and is even joining in Mine and Mikey’s conversation without too much shy mumbling or lip nibbling.
“So, Guys, which vampire would you be?” Gerard asks, draining the last of his coke.
“David!” Mikey and I cry in unison, then look at each other, disgruntled.
“I’m David, you scrawny little geek.” I scowl.
“No, I am, you stunted little Leprechaun!” Mikey growls.
“I told you not to make any more jokes about my height or I’ll chuck out all the coffee in the house!” I threaten.
“Noooo!” Gerard and Mikey yelp simultaneously.
“Tough.” I shake my head, getting up. “I did tell you…” I start walking towards the door.
Next thing I know I’m being hit by two Way brothers running full pelt at me, and we all collapse on the floor, giggling feebly in a Gerard-Mikey-Frank pretzel.
“Die, you pathetic moron, die!” Mikey yells, tickling me with his bony fingers.
“Nooo-oof-Mikey-eeef-please-oooch-don’t-ugg-tickle-ooof-eeep-me!” I squeal, flailing about on the carpet as Mikey tickles me to death.
“Gerard!” I gasp through giggles. “Help!”
“Sorry…you did threaten our coffee supplies..” Gerard shakes his head at me, and starts tickling me too, long fingers pressing into my sides, ebony hair flopping across his face and half-hiding his grin.
Being tickled by two people at once is almost too much, and somehow, I manage to accidentally punch Mikey in the eye.
“Owww!” He yelps, ceasing tickling me. “Fuck you, you stunted little leprechaun!”
“Sorry, Mikes.” I pant, still trying to prise Gerard off me.
“You might wanna put some ice on that, Mikes…it looks sore.” Gerard says from behind his tangle of raven hair, long, artistic fingers still making me squirm.
“Hmpph..” Mikey grumbles, stalking out into the kitchen.
Luckily, his departure is enough distraction for Gerard’s tickling to weaken, and in that split second, I manage to shove him off me and pin him down, trapping him.
“Arggh, no!” Gerard squirms, twisting in my grip.
“You will pay for tickling me to death.” I smirk.
Gerard squirms more, tossing his head about on the carpet, flailing about, hair falling away from his head a little, exposing his face for the first time.
He’s ghostly pale with wide cheekbones and cherry pink lips, but it’s his eyes that make my heart stop.
Wide, startling greeny-hazel.
Tainted with hurt and the ghost of fear, pure, undiluted, unconditional fear.
They’re the eyes of the boy from the painting.
Gerard’s the boy from the painting.
He’s frozen beneath me, breathing fast, watching the horrified realisation spread across my face.
It’s not just his eyes that go through me like a blunt, rusty dagger.
Stretched across the length of his cheek to the lid of his right eye, is a long, thin, angry red scar.
“…Gerard..” I whisper, horror fizzling through me and clashing inside me like oil and water.
He pushes me off him, eyes blinded with shame or hurt- I can’t tell which, and stumbles from the room.
Seconds later, I hear his bedroom door slam and Slipknot being blasted out of the stereo.
I just sit on the floor of the Way’s living room, frozen in horror.
Who would do such a thing to Gerard? Why would anyone want to hurt someone like him? I’ve only known him properly for a few hours, but already I can see there’s something special about him, something unique, something different.
He’s anxious and unsure, but he makes me feel different to anyone else, makes me feel relaxed, feel myself. When I’m with him everything seems so much more simple.
“Frank?” Mikey’s voice makes me jump and look up to see him standing in the doorway, a bag of ice on his eye, looking confused.
“…Gerard…” I start, voice hoarse.
“Is he okay?” Mikey looks worried, glancing up the stairs as a loud crash sounds from Gerard’s room.
“Mikey, what happened to him?” I whisper.
“I saw his scar…”
“Oh.” Mikey slumps down beside me, the bag of ice limp in his hands.
“Tell me, Mikey.” I look at him. “Please. I want to know.”
Mikey takes a deep breath. “Okay…well, as you know, Gerard was bullied- badly bullied…and again, as I said, it wasn’t anything as obvious as getting beaten up. The bullies destroyed him with words. Physical injuries heal, but words can scar you for life…Gerard believed them. Believed all the shitty stuff they said about him. They made him believe he was ugly and useless and unwanted.”
“He’s not! He’s-” I protest angrily, but Mikey shushes me.
“I know he’s not. But that’s what he believed. He fucked hated himself, wanted to destroy himself cause he thought he was so worthless and pathetic. That’s how he got the scar- the bullies didn’t do it, he did. I came home from school one afternoon and found him in the bathroom, blood all down his face, holding my fucking razor.”
My stomach’s churning uncomfortably, making me feel ready to throw up.
“He told me later that he was so ugly he wanted to rip his face apart cause no one wanted him, no one cared about him.” Mikey whispers.
“But people do care about him!”
“Yeah, his little brother and his parents…do you really think he counted us? Anyway, after that, I think he realised how much he’d scared me- he hasn’t done anything like that since, but he’s like a zombie now- sometimes he doesn’t even seem alive. Today is the first day in months he’s actually seemed almost…happy. He’s been a wreck for months, Frankie…and I know all those wristbands aren’t just for show.”
My heart goes cold at the thought of Gerard, angry and upset and alone, holed up in his half-dark room, breathing in stale smoke, slashing at the perfect, pale flesh of his skin because he believes he’s ugly and unwanted and useless.
“I know the bullies didn’t physically harm him, but they as good sliced the razor across his face. They’ve made him a ghost. He hides away, hates to be noticed, never draws attention to himself, because it’s safer to sit in the shadows.”
Silence. Bleak and black and broken, wrapping tightly around me, smothering me in velvety blackness as I toss and turn in my sleeping bag on Mikey’s bedroom floor.
We went to bed at half eleven after a rather subdued watching of Shawn Of The Dead, both of us quiet, lost in our own thoughts. It must be at least one in the morning now; I’ve been lying wide awake since Mikey flipped the light off and curled up in his bed, breathing softly.
I could hear music and various crashes and clatters coming from the direction of Gerard’s room for ages, but it’s silent now. Too silent.
It’s making me uneasy, jittery, tossing and turning, thoughts spinning round and round my skull, faster, making me feel dizzy, making me feel sick.
I can’t stop thinking about Gerard and what Mikey told me.
Usually, I wouldn’t be so bothered about something like this. I mean, sure, I’d find it upsetting, but nothing’s ever completely and utterly overwhelmed my mind, my body, my senses, like this before.
It’s making my stomach churn sickeningly, my palms clammy with cold sweat, giving me shivers that can’t be quelled by the warmth of my sleeping bag.
After another five minutes of restless tossing and turning, I finally fling back my sleeping bag in frustration and get up, tiptoeing to the door, and creeping out onto the landing, planning to go down to the kitchen and get a glass of water that will hopefully calm my jitteriness.
I pause on the landing, looking from the last door down to the staircase.
I find my heart’s pounding in my chest.
I half turn towards the stairs and crash headlong into something skinny and Gerard-shaped coming up them.
“Jesus fucking Christ!” I gasp, just managing not to scream and wake Mikey.
“Sorry…” Gerard mumbles, edging past me, head bowed, hands behind his back.
“What are you hiding?” I ask bluntly.
Gerard turns around listlessly. “Nothing.”
“Aw, c’mon man- I know I’m a fucking annoying kid about the size of a vertically challenged elf, but I’m not stupid.” I sigh, ducking round behind him and seizing something cold and made of glass from his hands.
It’s a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka.
I look up at him. “Seriously?”
He doesn’t meet my eyes, hair falling over his face, nibbling his lower lip guiltily.
“Are you okay?” I ask softly, and then realise it’s probably the most stupid question I’ve ever asked someone in their entire life. “I mean, I can see you aren’t, but what I mean is, wanna talk about it to a stunted midget?”
Gerard half laughs, then hangs his head. “It’s fine, honestly.”
“Well it’s obviously not fine, dude. I’m not blind, you know.”
“I don’t want you to waste your time on someone like me.” Gerard mumbles, trying to shuffle past me in direction of his room.
“Oi! Stop right there.” I call into the dark of the landing, brandishing the bottle of vodka incredulously. “What the fuck do you mean by ‘someone like you’?”
“Umm…” Gerard mumbles. “Just y’know…I’m not exactly…I’m just…Why would you want waste your time on someone like me?”
“Because, you are one of the most awesome people I know, you’re incredibly talented at drawing, you have an awesome taste in music, and despite the fact you keep giving me heart attacks, I like you, okay? So I’m not just gunna let you walk away and get drunk and depressed. Got that?” and with that, I march down the hallway and into the bathroom where I empty the contents of the Vodka bottle down the sink and chuck the bottle in the bin.
“Right. Let’s go, then.” I say, as Gerard somewhat reluctantly opens his bedroom door and lets me in.
The candles are burning low, and the amount of scrunched up papers and pencil sharpenings on the desk have increased, cigarette ends sprinkled around the floor by the chair.
The air is thick with stale smoke that looks almost purple against the ceiling in the flickery candlelight, making Gerard look almost vampire-like with his inky black hair, ghostly skin and tortured eyes peeking apprehensively out from behind the dishevelled ebony strands.
“You’ve been doing more drawings? Awesome, can I see?” I ask enthusiastically, picking my way carefully across the room to his desk.
“Frank, don’t…” Gerard starts, but just trails off and sighs, slumping down on the bed, head in his hands.
On the desk, atop all the crumpled up pieces of paper, is a drawing of a short, skinny boy with a black fringe that flops scruffily into his eyes, the rest of his hair shaved and dyed blood red. His eyes are big and green, rimmed with smudgy black eyeliner, and his lower lip has a silver ring through it. He’s wearing a black The Misfits t-shirt and ripped black skinnies with a studded belt.
The picture is outlined in a border of bleeding, black hearts, their blood spattering the boy’s clothes.
He’s drawn me.
“You drew me?” my voice sounds strangely small.
Gerard just sighs from behind me.
I can’t drag my eyes from the drawing, gazing at the love and care and time put into it. Suddenly, the edge of one of the scrumpled up pieces of paper catches my eye and I tentatively unfold it, fingers trembling slightly.
It’s Gerard, but he’s drawn himself contorted, ugly, eyes bleeding the same black tears that run down the drawing of me.
“Gerard?” I say quietly, looking round at him, holding the crumpled drawing of him in one hand, the perfected drawing of me in the other.
Gerard doesn’t look up.
“Why did you draw me?” I ask.
“I don’t really think about what I draw…it just kinda flows out.” Gerard mutters, head bent.
“You’ve made me far too beautiful.” I whisper, stroking my finger across the paper.
“It’s how I see you.” Gerard mumbles.
My heart gives a funny little jolt in my chest, and I don’t know what to say in response to that, so I change the subject slightly. “Why have you drawn you like this?” I ask a little shakily, holding up the drawing of Gerard.
Gerard’s head snaps up, startling greeny-hazel eyes peeking out from behind his tangle of midnight hair, shimmering with sorrow in the soft candlelight.
“It’s how I see me.” He whispers, eyes not leaving mine, wide and full of truth.
My heart tugs painfully in my chest. “You’re nothing like that.”
Gerard shakes his head at me. “Thanks, but I know you’re just too kind to tell me the truth.”
The beginnings of anger start to prickle at my insides, tiny, red hot needles contaminating me. Anger, not at Gerard, but at the people who have made someone so beautiful and talented consider themselves nothing.
“That’s shit, Gerard.” I say, putting the drawings back down on the desk and sitting down beside him on the black sheets of his unmade bed. “Fucking bullshit. I know you don’t exactly know me very well, but do you really think I’m the kinda person who’s tactful and lies about stuff just not to hurt someone’s feelings?”
Gerard shrugs limply, nibbling at his nails.
“I’m not, okay? I never think before I say something- which is why I actually say all the shit I think.” I tell him, leaning back against the wall and staring up at the starry ceiling.
Gerard says nothing.
I sigh and look away from the night’s sky etched overhead to where Gerard’s sitting at the other end of the bed, shadow spindly in the dim candlelight that dances across the dark room.
“Come over here.” I say to him, and looking slightly confused, he shuffles up the bed to sit beside me, leaning against the wall, legs pulled up to his chest, arms hugging them tightly as if he’s broken, trying to hold himself together.
I look at him, really look at him.
His skin’s pale and ghost-like in the dim light, his inky black hair soft and dishevelled as if he’s been tossing and turning half the night. His eyes are hidden and he’s skinny and delicate with long, spidery artists fingers and bitten down nails.
He’s like a ghost, a phantom, a boy of the shadows, hiding away from everything, everyone, including himself.
But he’s kinda beautiful.
Gently, I lift my hand and push his raven hair out of his face. He flinches slightly, but doesn’t say anything as I tentatively tuck the silky soft strands of midnight behind his ear, not letting him hide.
His eyes are wide and apprehensive, creative and emotional and just plain beautiful, shining emerald in the dancing candlelight, looking right into my soul and turning it inside-out.
“…You’re not ugly.” I whisper, looking right at him, and for once, he doesn’t drop his gaze, unable to hide behind his hair. “The whole fucking world is ugly, but you’re beautiful to me. Fucking beautiful, okay? I hear myself say.
Gerard’s ghostly cheeks pinken and he looks away, ducking his head. “Thanks, Frank.” He mumbles, and I can see the beginnings of a soft, shy smile playing at the corners of his lips.
I don’t say anything else, because there’s not really anything left to say, so I just lie back on the bed and gaze up at the stars that seem to stretch on and on, beyond the horizon, shining and sparkling in the deep indigo sky, shimmering faintly in the dim light of the candle.
I don’t know how long I lie there, silent, just breathing in the soft, mingled scents of smoke and coffee and peppermint that linger on the bed sheets, breathing softly in and out, feeling calmer than I have in months, until Gerard slides down beside me and starts gazing up at the stars too.
I can hear his soft, regular breathing, gradually getting slower and softer as the last candle burns out, until the room’s left in velvety blackness.
He’s warm and vulnerable and sweet and skinny, curled up next to me, sleeping peacefully, his gentle exhales brushing my cheek, faintly peppermint and softly smoky.
I can still hear the rain pouring down on the grimy grey streets outside, the never ending noise of incessant, clogged up traffic in the distance, but I feel as though I’m in a different world to the one of bleak, bitter cities and pollution. It’s serene and peaceful, an endless, deep violet sky sprinkled with a million shining stars.
A car horn blasts suddenly just outside the window, harsh and sudden in the velvety blackness, and Gerard starts awake as I jump violently.
Silence falls between us, the darkness seeming charged, almost electric in the small space between us. I can hear Gerard breathing faster, his chest rising and falling unevenly, exhaling shakily, and I realise I’m doing the same, heart beating faster and faster against my ribs.
I’m suddenly incredibly aware of his body beside mine and he seems a lot closer to me than before, his warm breath brushing my lips, his ebony hair tickling my cheeks, dangling in my eyes.
I reach my hand up to brush it out of my face, and my fingers get entangled with the dishevelled raven strands, silky soft on my fingertips.
I pull my hand away, and find it trembling, my pulse fluttering.
Gerard lets out a small, shaky sigh that makes goose bumps ripple across my skin like an epidemic, my heart pounding faster…faster…faster…
I can’t think straight in the darkness that’s blinding me, the silence that’s deafening me.
For some unknown reason, it’s suddenly all too much, the dark and the proximity, the short, shaky breaths on my lips, the faint, mingled scents of smoky peppermint and coffee overwhelming me, the silence deafening me, heart pounding, mind whirling, pulse jumping…intoxicated, body and soul.
I can only think of one thing.
Only think of one person.
One person who doesn’t believe in themselves, one person who lives in the shadows.
But I believe in him.
I act like I speak, without thinking, just following my heart, regardless of consequence.
Heart thumping, pulse racing, stomach fluttering, mind spinning…spinning…spinning…
I can’t contain the emotions swelling uncontrollably inside me anymore in the dark of the bedroom.
Without further thoughts or consideration, my lips have collided fiercely with Gerard’s, fierce and frantic, breath coming in frenzied gasps as I mesh my lips desperately against his, hands grasping handfuls of his midnight hair, body crushed forcefully into his, feeling the pound of his heart, the jut of his hipbones.
His arms wind around my waist, dragging me fearlessly closer, hands cool and urgent on my spine, tongue snaking into my mouth, hot and sweet, sending thrills of pleasure up my spine and making my heart pound faster still as I tug desperately at his hair, mind exploded into oblivion.
It’s reckless, wild, uncontrolled, sparks exploding in my chest like fireworks, stomach dancing, pulse throbbing.
I’m trembling all over, hands feverish, lips entangled.
We finally pull away, gasping against each other’s lips, blood drumming in my ears as I dive at the soft, pale flesh of Gerard’s neck, devouring it with my lips and making him clutch fiercely at my back, exhaling in shaking, breathy gasps.
I’ve found the blue sky under all the murky grey clouds in my broken, bleak world. I’ve found another misfit, another broken soul, someone who lives in the shadows, a pale, skinny ghost of himself.
And I want him, I need him.
I lick a thin stripe up his neck and chin with my tongue, panting slightly, until I find his lips once more, smashing my mouth into them and sinking into their soft warmth, burying my fingers in his silky soft mass of dishevelled midnight hair as he pulls me closer once more.
The kiss is getting harder, faster, tongues clashing animalistically, my heart pounding right out of my chest, stomach twirling as Gerard’s nimble fingers wander feverishly across my hips and I lose it; overcome, possessed, utter reckless ecstasy.
Breathing heavily, pulse fluttering wildly, not taking my lips from his, I roll him onto his back and straddle his hips, kissing him fiercely, fearlessly.
“…D-do you believe me now?” I pant out between kisses, heart hammering at my ribs.
“Believe…believe you?” Gerard’s whisper is ragged, in the darkened room, breath shaky on my swollen lips.
“That you’re fucking beautiful?” I groan into the soft, sweet, irresistible flesh of his neck. “That you’re amazing and talented and just fucking beautiful!”
I lean down and smash my lips into his once more, wanting, craving, needing. Gerard kisses me back like he’s alive, properly alive again. Wonderfully, beautifully living, no longer a ghost, the boy that hides in the shadows, too scared to be himself, but the real Gerard, the one who’s passionate and creative and talented and unique.
“I…I believe you..” Gerard gasps, breaking away and breathing feverishly into the nape of my neck, giving me goose bumps all over.
“Promise?” I breathe as his soft lips start to nibble at the flesh of my neck, making me shiver and moan softly.
Gerard looks up at me, emerald eyes staring right into mine, shimmering in the dull light seeping through the curtains from the streetlamps outside and turning my soul inside; they’re not scared and vulnerable, tortured and haunted with memories, but wild and alive, the pupils big and black and staring, pooling in their emerald depths that drown me.
“Promise.” Gerard whispers, eyes sincere.
The boy who lived in the shadows, now the brightest star in my world.
What did you think? Was it okay? I’ve never written anything like this before, and I’m kinda nervous about posting it cause I think it might be over 7,000 words of shit…I hope it wasn’t! please please please R&R- this took me fucking ages and I’d really like to know what you all think- even if it is bad. Like I said before, I’ll definitely consider carrying it on if enough people want me to…let me know and thank you all so much for reading! Love you guys!