As weird and unlikely as it seemed, Gerard was up way before Gia. And what’s even stranger, he made breakfast.
“Who are you and what have you done with my father?” Gia asked in shock.
Gerard stood by the stove, making pancakes, and the table behind him was all set up. The coffee maker was doing its job and the water boiler was heating up water for Gia’s tea.
“I just thought I’d make up for the past few weeks. A couple of burned pancakes aren’t the best way, but it’s a start. And besides, while we’re on tour, we’ll be stuck in a tour bus half of the time, so I’ll have plenty of time to make it up to you, right?”
“Dad, the pancake is burning.”
Gerard rushed to save the burning pancake. Gia sighed and sat down. Soon there was a cup of tea and a plate of pancakes in front of her.
“So, where were you last night?” he asked after he sat down to eat too. He asked the question nonchalantly, but Gia knew that he’d been dying to ask that for the whole morning.
“I was… With Lucas.”
“I thought you two were fighting?”
“We made up.”
“Oh. What did you do with him then?” he asked suspiciously.
“Drank alcohol, did drugs, beat up random kids, got arrested, the usual.”
“What, no pre-marital sex?”
“Oh, lots. But don’t worry; you’ll make a wonderful grandpa.”
Gerard grinned, but then he got suddenly very serious. “No but seriously though.”
“Nothing happened. You don’t have to worry. I know how to behave”, she finally answered, giving him a sweet smile, like only a daughter could give her father. After having made up with Lucas, she felt better. Of course there was the small matter of him moving away that clouded her day, but she tried not to think about it.
The smile apparently didn’t work, because it was clear that he doubted her words. There was just something different about the way she acted, but he couldn’t really put a finger on it. She was always awkward and nervous but now she just seemed… fidgety.
Gerard didn’t ask any further questions. He might have been a lousy father in the past, but he knew a thing or two about his daughter. She would never tell him even if something happened. No, Gerard would just have to make someone else pry the information out of her. There was something going on, and he wanted to know what it was.
The boy’s gaze wandered around the cafeteria and like always, it eventually landed on the blonde girl. She was still on the line to get her food, mostly because she was too nice and shy to push others out of the way when coming to the cafeteria, unlike these two boys. When it came to food, Lucas and Danny had no rules, only the unstoppable urge to gobble down everything edible in sight.
“You’re pathetic”, Danny scoffed.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lucas asked, glaring at his friend.
“It means you’re pathetic, simple as that. If you like her, just ask her out. It’s not like she has the guts to say no.”
“You’re an asshole”, Lucas sneered.
“Look, if you want to know my opinion on this…”
“I really don’t.”
Danny ignored his words and continued: “I think that you waited too long. And now you two are on the friend basis. You’re in a comfort-zone. You should’ve just told her in the very beginning.”
“I didn’t like her like that in the very beginning, okay?”
“The way I see it, you have three options.”
Lucas rolled his eyes. He was kind of interested in what his options were, obviously, but he was too bitter and annoyed to show his interest. Luckily Danny didn’t really care.
“Door one: You tell her everything, and she either crushes your heart like a bug or falls straight into your arms, devoting her love and life to you. Door two: You don’t tell her, and for the rest of your life you wonder: ‘What if?’, and die as sad, miserably man with twenty cats. Third door: You don’t tell her, and just get over it. I myself would go for number one, but knowing you, you’d most likely choose number two. I think we can rule out number three at this point.”
Lucas stroked his chin thoughtfully and looked back at the girl. Gia bumped into some guy and almost dropped her tray. Her face red, she mumbled an apology to the guy and started to look around the cafeteria. Lucas waved to her to make her notice them.
“Well, what do you think?” Danny asked.
He shrugged. “She wouldn’t hurt a bug. Her dad might, though.”
Danny got the hint, and shut up. Not like they could have continued on the conversation anyway, because Gia had reached their table and set down her tray.
“Can I have that pizza?” Lucas asked the second he laid his eyes on her plate.
“Go ahead”, she smiled and pushed her plate to him.
“Hi Gia”, Danny greeted.
“Hi. Where’s Sherry?”
“Who knows”, Danny sighed. “Probably refilling her plate. That girl has got a serious case of the munchies. She’s getting fat.”
“I am not fat”, said a very serious, angry voice. All three turned to look at the girl. Sherry slapped Danny on the head before sitting down.
“Really? Could’ve fooled me”, Danny grinned.
“Yeah, well, you walk funny.”
Gia watched them bicker about Sherry’s weight and Danny’s odd way of walking. If she had paid more attention to the fourth person at the table, she might have noticed him sneaking glances at her every now and then.
“Did you talk to your dad yet?” Lucas asked, throwing the eraser into the air and catching it. They were waiting for the teacher to arrive. It was time for the history final.
Gia sighed at the question. She didn’t have a lot time to put Lucas’ plan into action, and she was just putting it off asking Gerard.
“No”, she answered.
“What?!” he shrieked, dropping the eraser in shock. He picked it up before giving Gia the most judgmental look there is. “You’re a coward.”
“I know! I just… I can’t do it. He’ll freak out and he’ll kill me. He’ll never let me go.”
“He might surprise you.”
“Are you hearing yourself?”
“Okay, fine. Yeah he’ll be mad, but what’s that compared to the best summer of your life?”
“Well it won’t be so fun after he kills me and chains me up in the basement”, Gia frowned, lowering her voice so that the people around them won’t hear. “And not necessarily on that order.”
“The teacher’s coming!” someone announced and suddenly everyone’s facial expressions changed into ones of panic, including Lucas, but Gia stayed calm.
“The civil war started in 1851, ended in 1855… Uhm, Hitler something something something… Ah, Slavery! Wait, what?”
“The civil war started in 1861, ended in 1865, and Hitler was in World War two. The slavery in—“ That was all Gia had time to say, because the teacher had reached the class room and let them go in, and everyone had to be quiet.
By now, Gia was starting to feel a bit nervous too. She hadn’t studied nearly as much as she would have liked to. She glanced at Lucas who ran straight to the back of the class and sat down. Gia could see his hands shaking. He had a lot in these exams. The faith of his life depended on whether he passed these exams or not. If he didn’t pass, his dad may not let him go live with his mother, so it was vital that he passes
Gia sat down in the front and took a deep breath. This exam wasn’t the end of the world, she realized that, but at the time it seemed more important than anything.
“Dad?” Gia called into the house and slammed the door shut. Jersey immediately ran over to her, begging for attention. Gia petted the dog, and that made him calm down. He still followed her around happily, obviously hoping for more attention.
Gerard came out of his room with a pile of clothes in his arms. “Hey. How was the history exam?”
“It was okay. I think it went alright, but we’ll see. What are you doing?”
“Packing. You wanna help?”
“For the tour?”
She followed him to his room and saw that he had emptied the contents of the closets on the floor and was sorting through them.
“These are the ones I’m taking with me and these I’m leaving here”, he explained, pointing at the piles, and dropped the clothes he had in his hands into the pile nearest to the bed. There was an open suitcase on the bed, and seeing it made Gia nervous.
Might as well get it over with now.
“Um, can I talk to you about something?” she asked, picking up a few shirts from the floor and folding them neatly into the suitcase.
“Sure. What’s up?”
“I was thinking… Uh, well, maybe I shouldn’t come with you after all.”
Gerard stopped what he was doing and stared at her, but Gia was too scared to turn to look at him.
“What? Why?” he asked.
“Well… I was talking to Nora the other day and she –“
“Who’s Nora?” Gerard interrupted.
“Mom’s mom, remember? My grandma.”
“Oh, right. Continue.”
“Well, she suggested that I could go visit them, if I wanted to, and if it was okay with you, and I so I was thinking that I could go stay with them for the summer… If it’s okay with you”, Gia finished, holding her breath. She waited anxiously for his response, but when it started to seem like she wasn’t getting one, she finally turned to look at him.
Gerard didn’t look particularly mad. But he wasn’t exactly happy either. Actually he lacked an expression completely, which in a way was even scarier, because she couldn’t know what he was thinking. Suddenly the air in the room got hot and difficult to breathe when he spoke, and Gia really wanted to run away.
“Why?” he finally asked.
Gia opened her mouth to answer, expecting a smart, convincing reason to come out, one of those that Lucas told her to tell her dad, but nothing came out. She had no other option but to shrug her shoulders.
“I mean, is this some kind of a revenge for me not paying any attention to you lately? Is this your way of getting even? Because it’s not funny”, Gerard said, standing up. He stood firmly, hands balled into fists, ready for an argument, but Gia could see that he didn’t want to fight. He just wanted an explanation.
“I’m not doing this to just get you mad”, she answered. “I just… I feel like I want to get to know them. This might be my only chance to know what my mom was really like.”
“Well you’ve talked to them already! What more is there to find out?”
“Dad, you don’t understand –“she started, the tone of her voice pleading, hoping that he would listen to her.
“You’re right, I don’t understand.”
Gia sighed. His skull was thicker than diamonds, no use trying to get through to him. She’d have to consult Lucas and find out what she should do.
“Fine”, she said, shrugging.
Gerard watched her leave the room. Moments later he heard the front door open and close. He walked into the living room and looked out of the window. Gia had Jersey with her on a leash and they were going (or more like he was dragging her) next door. No doubt to see Lucas.
Somehow Gerard got the feeling that Lucas had something to do with this. Gia didn’t come up with these things by herself.
Lucas and Gia sat side by side, petting Jersey and throwing a baseball for him to fetch. The dog was enjoying the attention and barked and growled like crazy. He was acting just like a little puppy that just discovered the joy of the fetching game.
“So I’m guessing it didn’t go over well?” Lucas asked, throwing the ball once more. They sat on the porch steps on his backyard, eating some weird pastries that Tina made.
“Nah. He freaked out. He just doesn’t understand”, she sighed.
“Well, in his defense, you don’t actually want to visit your grandparents, so you can’t expect him to understand.”
“I know. But it would be nice if he could support me with this. Like, I would support him, even if I didn’t understand his actions.”
“Would you?” he asked, looking thoughtful.
Gia ignored the question. “Well, what’s next?”
“Hm, I guess you could play the guilt card. It’s risky, I know, but since you haven’t been using it before…”
“The guilt card?” Gia asked, completely confused.
“Yeah, I mean he’s done a lot of shit, right? Pretty much ruined your childhood. You have the right to take advantage of that.”
“Tell him – no, you imply that you’re really hurt about all that. And so he should let you go because he owes you. He’ll think about it, start feeling guilty, and in his remorse and misery, he can’t say no. But remember that you can’t just say him that, because he might be too smart to figure it out.”
Gia started feeling more and more uncomfortable. She had that heavy feeling in her chest. “Lucas, I don’t want to lie to him. And he’s stressed enough as it is, he doesn’t need this too.”
Lucas stopped throwing the ball and stared at her in shock. Jersey sat down on the grass in front of them, eyes fixed on the ball, waiting for it to be thrown.
“Do you really not want to do this?” Lucas asked.
“Well, of course I want to, but…” Gia stuttered, her whole body stiffening up. She really did want to do this, but she didn’t want to lie.
“What? You know that he’ll never agree to it if you just tell him. What would you say? ‘Hey, my crazy, insanely overprotective dad, can I go stay at a strange, new town for the whole summer with my male friend who I’ve known for six months even though you won’t even let me sleep in a same house with him?’ Come on, he’ll lock you up!”
Gia looked down at her shoes. He was right. “Yeah”, she said, nodding. “He’s got to be suspecting something though.”
Lucas shrugged and threw the ball for Jersey again, then laughed when the ball went into a barrel filled with water and Jersey went crazy trying to get it out of there. As a result, Jersey was all wet and dirty. Gia rolled her eyes. She would have to clean him up.
“God I’m going to miss that dog. We’re gonna bring him with us to California for the summer, right?
Lucas was back to his smiley, happy self. He wrapped an arm around her and grinned. “Hey, it’ll work out. If everything else fails, I’ll just kidnap you.”
“Yeah, ‘cause my dad will be so much more okay with that”, Gia muttered. He must’ve noticed that she really wasn’t doing too well, because he suggested that they watch a movie and ‘pig-out’ before she goes to talk to her dad again. Hell, he even let her choose the movie.