A jailbreak in costume, Magic Pie, and Gee's mysterious past.
Gerard pulled the beautiful blue corvette up outside my house, squinting as the afternoon sun beat down on the sidewalk. The world looked unreal with all its colors washed out to almost nothing. He brushed his lips against my cheek and murmured for me to take my bag in before we headed to school. I slid out the passenger window and grabbed my backpack from the trunk, taking the porch steps tentatively – I was still a little sore from last night, but I wasn’t about to let it show for fear Gee’s overprotective side would come out. The last thing I needed was him fussing over me and putting ice on my loins. I fished my keys out of my pocket and unlocked the front door, leaving him drumming out an imaginary rhythm on the steering wheel. I didn’t bother to take my shoes off or try to be sneaky as I barreled down the hall, assuming the house would be as empty and creepy as it always was. Those quiet creaks and moans never failed to freak me out on the rare occasions when I was by myself at night.
“Frank?” my mother’s voice came from the kitchen. I paused, standing stock-still on the faded hallway carpet. My bag fell from my hand with an audible thud. I winced. So much for stealth; I sounded like an obese water buffalo.
“Yeah?” I called back tentatively, and rounded the corner. She was sitting at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee lying cold and forgotten next to her. From the look on her face, I understood immediately that something was wrong. I was getting that prickling sensation in my fingers and my pulse rocketed. “Hi Mom.”
She gave me a small smile. “Where have you been all weekend, Frankie?”
“…At a sleepover,” I lied lamely. My veins were buzzing like they were full of soda. “My friends kinda dragged me off to stay with them.” And fuck them all night long, I barely restrained myself from saying. Hysteria bubbled up inside me. I was trying to stay calm as I sunk down in the chair across from her. “What’s up?”
“Frankie, is everything okay at school? You’re making friends, but…everyone is nice to you, aren’t they?” she asked, worry creasing her blue eyes. I hated that I had brown eyes like my dad, that I didn’t look more like her. Hated that she had to work so hard just to take care of me.
“Everything’s fine, mom.” My voice shook slightly. My thoughts slid rebelliously to the beating I’d gotten on my first day, the footsteps that followed me home, the eerie feeling that someone was watching me at night. I told myself not to be a baby, not to be scared of the dark. But there was that note…
My eyes met hers and I knew she saw fear in them.
“Really? Because I found that outside, by the back door.” She gestured towards a black shape laid out on the counter on a newspaper. I got up and walked towards it slowly, fighting back dread.
It was a dead crow, its feathers glossy and pitch-black, its little legs sticking straight up as if it was still trying to fight something off. Its eyes were gone, gouged out. The beak was still open in a silent scream. I shuddered, but I poked at its stiff wing where I could see a corner of white. It was a crumpled piece of paper, folded up into a tiny square. I unfolded it with trembling hands and recognized the same jagged, messy writing as the last time.
You don’t need eyes for where you’re going.
Suddenly everything seemed much too loud, like my ears had finally popped after going up a mountain. I could feel my mom looking at me and kept my back turned, desperately trying to push my terror away, to compose my face into some semblance of normalcy. But I wasn’t brave like Gerard. I couldn’t face danger without flinching, look my enemies straight in the eye and spit on them, go down swearing and screaming like he did. I trembled at the very thought.
Iero the hero, came the familiar playground taunt, spiteful and mocking. I hadn’t heard it in years. Gerard can’t be with you all the time, can’t follow you everywhere…
“Frankie, please. Tell me what’s going on,” my mom said quietly. She was just as scared as me. I folded the dead crow up into a sad little bundle of newspaper so I couldn’t feel those empty, eyeless pits staring at me, and turned to face her, biting my lip.
“Okay. But there’s something you should know about me first. I’m gay, mom,” I said flatly. There was no point in trying to sound ashamed of something so fundamental, so out of my control. “I like guys. I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid you’d hate me for it, and I didn’t want to lose you. You’re the only family I’ve got. But I am, and I don’t try to hide it. And that doesn’t go over too well at school.”
“Oh, Frankie.” She gave me a quick smile. “Sweetie, I’ve known for years; I just wanted you to tell me when you felt like it. I would never dream of punishing you for something that’s perfectly normal. Besides, anyone would be lucky to be with you.” Her smile faded, replaced by concern. “But you know I can’t stand by and do nothing while others hurt you. It wouldn’t be right. You don’t have to be alone, Frankie, we can do something about this–”
“Please, mom, don’t tell anyone,” I practically begged. “It’d only make it worse. I can take care of myself; I have everything under control.” The words shocked me as they shot out of my mouth.
Yeah, because hate mail and a dead bird are normal housewarming presents.
“I have friends now,” I continued desperately, “friends who look out for me. They stand up for the other kids, too, and make sure nobody gets hurt.” And I was so proud of them for it.
She sighed doubtfully. “All right. I suppose you’re old enough to deal with your own problems.”
“I have been for years, mom.”
She laughed. “Little Frankie against the world; it’s always been that way. Sweetie, not everyone is out to get you.”
“I know.” My heart was in my throat, but I rocked forward onto the balls of my feet and took a huge breath. If I didn’t tell her now, I never would. “Mom?”
She looked up.
“I’m kind of…seeing someone. His name is Gerard, and he’s…well, he’s really...nice.” I was blushing furiously; I knew it was irrational, but some part of me still suspected he was listening in right now and laughing his ass off.
“Invite him over to dinner,” she said, her tone reassuringly relaxed. “I’d love to meet him.”
“Okay.” I waited for a beat, to make sure it really was. Then my excitement got the best of me. “He’s really gifted, mom. He draws, like you, and he’s incredible at it, and he knows everything, about science and history and art—he looks out for me—”
She laughed. “I’m sure I’ll like him.”
I reached up to brush my hair out of my eyes and realized I was sweating bullets. The combination of shock and relief was getting to me. Gee was probably wondering why I was taking so long.
“I’mgonnago,” I blurted. “I’ll bury the crow when I get homeokay? Bye!” I was out the door two seconds later and sprinting down the garden path, tearing open the passenger door and climbing in. Gerard was drumming his fingers against the wheel, unruffled as always. His hair framed his face in a sexy mess. I squirmed as I felt his appraising green eyes on me.
“You stop for a three-course meal or something?” he asked in a deliberately slow drawl. “Seriously, I was about to come in and see if you’d locked yourself in a closet by mistake.”
“It was nothing. My mom was home; she wanted to hear about my weekend.”
“What’d you tell her? Some smutty romance story about how I lured you to a hotel and ravaged you?” His tone was curious, but his gaze stayed firmly fixed on the road as he pulled out. His long eyelashes cast shadows on his cheeks as we passed through the dappled sunlight.
“Not much, just that you exist and we’re kind of dating.”
“Oh,” he breathed, smiling slightly. “Kind of dating, that’s exactly how I’d describe it.”
“She wants you to come over for dinner.”
He raised one eyebrow. “Don’t I crash on your couch in my socks and eat grilled cheese all the time? I’m pretty sure that constitutes dinner.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “You know what I mean. The whole tie-wearing, polite-small-talk-making, not-grabbing-my-ass-when-I-walk-by thing.”
He beamed. “I would love to meet your mother.”
My nerves were still shot and I was seriously considering checking into a mental facility, but somehow just talking to him in the warmth of the car made me feel better. Those bright hazel eyes pulled me in and left no room for fear.
I was trying not to think about what had happened last night, but it kept creeping up on me unbidden. Things were subtly different between us. The change wasn’t good or bad, but it was there. We were almost eerily in sync; I wasn’t quite comfortable with the way my body responded automatically to his. And I didn’t need to constantly run my eyes over his gorgeous face, reading his expression, because I already knew what he was thinking. He was feeling it too, glancing over at me when he thought I wasn’t looking, then sighing softly and turning back to the road. His hands slid restlessly over the wheel. It was weird, knowing each other so well that everything seemed new again. Or maybe I was only really getting to know him now; I thought about what he’d said a long time ago, curled up on an air mattress in Mikey’s room. I mean different things to different people. What do I mean to you, Frankie?
Everything. But it was hard to say. I took a deep breath and broke the too-long silence.
“Any word from Mikey?”
He shook his head, making a smooth right turn onto a tree-lined back road. “No. But I hear from Liza that the kid’s a real mess. He stayed with Ray over the weekend and didn’t sleep a wink, just stared out the window for hours.”
“Shit.” I rubbed the back of my neck absently. I could remember what heartbreak felt like, the pain that made your chest heavy as lead. Not wanting to move for days at a time, because there was no point, and feeling like every part of you was ugly. I hadn’t had any friends to help me through it, but Mikey had people that loved him. I promised myself I’d take good care of him, then laughed. I was thinking like Gerard again.
He glanced over at me, a grin twisting his lips. “Psychotic much? Most people don’t burst out laughing when their friend’s all broken up over some dumb blond—”
“We should steal him,” I interrupted. “Ditch school and take his mind off of it, act like we’re in a cheesy movie.”
His face brightened. “My thoughts exactly.” He made an illegal u-turn and started speeding down the opposite side of the street, towards the school. I clapped a hand over my mouth.
“What?” he asked, bemused.
“We need props and costumes. Take me to your house so I can raid your attic real quick.”
He complied with a husky laugh.
By the time the corvette pulled up outside Fair Haven High School, we looked like a million bucks. Gerard hopped out, popping the studded collar of his green vinyl jacket against the breeze, and adjusted his gigantic purple sunglasses. He walked around the hood and opened my door for me. I got out carefully, my arms cradling the gigantic bullhorn I’d found in the Ways’ hall closet about a week ago. Apparently their dad used to coach little-league soccer; I’d seen it and known it would come in handy at some point. Gee smirked at me as I donned my oversized sombrero. The sequins on it flashed and glittered in the late morning light, casting garish rainbow shadows onto my fake-fur vest.
“You look like a Mexican troll doll,” he said, barely suppressing a smile. “If this ends up online, we’ll never hear the end of it.”
“Think of Mikey,” I said determinedly, huffing as I climbed onto the hood of the car and did a quick run up the windshield and onto the roof. He braced his foot against the window and pulled himself up in one fluid motion, the muscles in his arms bunching and coiling.
“Showoff,” I muttered as he leaned in and licked my cheek.
“Right,” he scoffed, drumming his heels against the side door. “I’m the epitome of manliness.”
I grinned. “You’re up there with the best of ‘em, Gee.” He blushed as I raised the bullhorn to my lips, took a deep breath, and flicked the switch. My Jersey accent blasted across the tarmac and shook the windows of the school buildings a hundred yards away.
“PAGING MIKEY FUCKING WAY. MIKEY…FUCKING…WAY.” Faces were starting to appear at the windows, smiling and crowding close to the glass to watch. “COME TO THE PARKING LOT, I’M STUCK ON THE ROOF OF THIS CAR AND I’M TOO SHORT TO GET DOWN—” Gerard burst out laughing and started nipping at my neck, tickling me with an evil gleam in his eyes. My voice shot up a full octave; I am cripplingly, agonizingly ticklish. My squeaks went shooting out over the school grounds at rock concert-level decibels. “—GEE, NO, GET OFF—FUCK—WHY ARE YOUR ARMS SO LONG?!? MIKEEEYYYY! MOVE YOUR ASS!”
A furious, red-faced teacher was booking it across the quad. I could tell by the way her mouth was moving that she was shouting some ignorant epithet. I couldn’t hear her, but I was feeling sassy.
“OH REALLY, LADY?” Hearing my voice, so loud and strong, was the biggest adrenaline rush. I didn’t have to keep my head down, bite my tongue like I always did. “WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HEARTBREAK, HUH?”
Kids were spilling out onto the grass now, laughing and yelling, along with a few dozen teachers who looked absolutely livid. I flicked off the bullhorn and locked eyes with Gerard. “Better turn the car on, Gee,” I whispered, biting my lip to hold back a smile. He slid effortlessly off the roof – why was he so goddamn smooth? – and climbed into the driver’s seat. I felt the purr of the engine underneath me and scanned the crowd again, desperately searching for that mousy brown head I knew so well. At last I caught sight of him, flying across the grass as fast as his gangly legs would carry him, with a huge smile on his face. He ducked under the arms of our balding English teacher, hopped the fence and dashed across the parking lot. “THERE HE GOES, GIRLS AND BOYS, LOOK AT HIM! IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! ACTUALLY, HE’S NOT REALLY MOVING FAST ENOUGH TO BE A PLANE! IT’S MICHAEL JAMES WAY!”
He scrambled up onto the roof of the car with tears of laughter in his eyes.
“I know we’re both from Jersey,” he said, “but gimme a big hug, Frankie.”
We embraced atop a ’57 blue corvette to the applause of the entire student body. “We thought we’d spring you,” I said in his ear. “I have no idea what to do now; we’ve come to the end of the script.”
“Gerard has a knack for getaways,” he whispered back. “He’s gonna become a bank robber one day. Just watch.”
Suddenly, the car jolted to life under our feet. I dropped to my knees; Mikey sat cross-legged and stared at the horde of people running towards us. Laughing girls in miniskirts, approaching with open arms; jealous-looking jocks, and our principal, Mr. Tony, looking vaguely bemused.
“I don’t mean to be a bother, Gee,” he said uneasily, “but I’d really like to get out of here before they call out the riot squad.”
“I’m working on it,” his brother said through gritted teeth as he slowly reversed out of our parking spot and cruised down the aisles towards the main gate. The horde of people was falling further and further behind; I let myself relax a little, clinging to the bright chrome roof rack so I wouldn’t make an unintentional detour and reacquaint myself with the pavement whizzing by under the car’s tires. Gerard let out a reckless laugh as the wind whipped through his dark hair. We were riding off into the sunset again, and everything was sliding by us in a blur of blue and gray.
Mikey smiled shyly. “Can I borrow your bullhorn?”
“Sure.” I handed it over. “It’s yours anyway, so technically it’s called un-borrowing.”
His nose scrunched up when he smiled. Gee turned the car around and brought us past the school again. Bob saluted us proudly from where he was standing on the perimeter fence. Mikey waved back, and I saw his chest expand as he took a deep, deep breath.
“FUCK YOU, CASEY BATEMAN!” he shouted into the bullhorn, and I laughed as Principal Tony flinched. Then we were turning the corner in a jumble of limbs and speeding off into the suburbs of Fair Haven, which gleamed in the late-morning sunlight, full of promise.
We bummed around the video-game arcade for a while. Gerard pulled a sock full of quarters from some unknown region of his jacket and told Mikey to have at it. He seemed content enough to just be with us and out of school.
“He’s lost weight,” Gee said quietly, with pain in his eyes. His normally skinny little brother was now gaunt and hollow-cheeked. I could see his ribs moving under his skin as he laughed and played Pac-Man.
That boy needs a cheeseburger.
“Poor Mikes. I had no idea he liked her so much.”
“Puppy love,” Gerard scoffed.
“Yeah, because you have no idea what that feels like,” I said, raising my eyebrows pointedly.
“I’d call this a little more than puppy love.” He smirked.
I looked at him sideways. “You would?”
His mouth dropped open. “What, you think this is just some teenage crush? Are you seriously under the impression that I’ll get bored with you in a few weeks and just walk off? Or…” He broke off as a new thought occurred to him, and his face grew pale. “…Or do you really not care about me, after all? Frankie, I—”
I cut him off with a passionate kiss, throwing my arms around his neck and sucking on his lips until he left out a soft moan, his hand curling into a fist in my hair. “You are so gullible,” I said lovingly, teasing him and planting little kisses in a row down his neck. “If you really doubt that I’m head over heels for you, then you’re pretty fuckin’ dumb.”
He smiled, his cheeks flushing an embarrassed pink. “I forget it sometimes. I’m like a baby, Frankie; I need to hear it all the time.”
I stood on my tiptoes and breathed “I love you, Gee” into his ear.
We played bumper cars and let Mikey crash into us over and over, giggling as we bounced off the walls and chased him in return, shooting insults back and forth at several hundred miles an hour. Gerard and I spent the rest of the day doing basically everything we could to take his mind off Casey – we went out for a three-course ice cream lunch, walked around the back alleys of Fair Haven to all the best sketchy punk thrift stores, sat in the park and listened to a guy with a guitar play Nirvana songs for spare change. Mikey was enthralled, listening with Gerard-like intensity as the music rolled out into the chill fall air. Gee was speaking quietly into his phone, his breath turning into clouds.
“Yeah, Ray, I know—”
Chatter, louder and aggravated.
“I’m not fucking with him!...Believe me, I’m doing everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t. Well, maybe your grapevine is wrong, did you ever think of that?...I mean if you want to, sure, but it’s your ass on the line, man. Your call.” His eyes darted to mine, gleaming bright green. “I gotta go,” he murmured. “See you later…yeah, he…at four? We’ll be there.”
He hung up and went back to staring up into the sky, fiddling with something in his pocket. I wanted to ask what he’d been talking about, but something told me he wasn’t in the mood to answer my questions. His face was a work of art – he had it perfectly under control, to the outside observer, at least. But I could see emotion running riot under the surface. It was in the way the corners of his eyes tightened, the way his lips turned down just barely. He sucked his cheeks in like he did when he was thinking hard. When he was at school, all anyone could see was his exterior – Gerard Way, dressed all in black, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. The brave, handsome rebel who never lost his composure, who always remained unruffled and always had a biting comeback. Somehow it wasn’t a letdown, realizing that he didn’t have the world wrapped around his little finger; it made him so much more real to me. Seeing him biting his nails and trying to quit smoking and dancing around shaking his ass to a Beyoncé song made him my hero, because he wasn’t some distant, almost mythical figure. He was mine, imperfect, maybe, but so full of ideas and lust for life that he glowed from the inside.
Mikey smiled at me. “You’re drooling a little, Frank.”
I jumped. “Sorry, sorry.”
He sighed. “It’s fine, it’s not like I ever minded. It’s just…everything reminds me I’m single again, no matter how hard I try to forget about it.”
I rubbed his arm comfortingly. It was disconcertingly skinny; I’d cursed my little hands time and time again, but I could wrap my fingers around his bicep so they almost touched. “Aww, Mikes. You’re not single. You’re just in a committed relationship with Taco Bell.” That got a laugh out of him. “Being single isn’t the end of the world, kiddo. Just think—you don’t have lose sleep over the way your hair looks, or act cultured. You can drink and spit and swear and eat all the cookie dough out of the ice cream, and me and Gee won’t mind at all.” His thin face brightened slightly, and I put my arm around him so he could lean on my shoulder. “It always feels like the end of the world when some girl, or guy,” I added hastily as he turned to look at me curiously, “breaks up with you. It happens to me all the time, and you get over it faster than you’d think. Chicks will be all over you before you can say ‘who’s Casey?’.”
He nodded uncertainly. “Thanks, Frankie. It…it means a lot.”
“Very touching,” Gerard said loudly, a mischievous grin tugging at his lips. “Who wants to head home? I don’t want Bob and Ray to beat us back and empty the entire fridge to make ‘Magic Pie’.”
“Magic Pie?” I frowned. Mikey rolled his eyes.
“They take a pie crust and fill it with chicken wings, jam and guacamole, anything and everything. It’s either that or Milkshakes of Doom, but our blender broke last week.”
“Death by frozen turkey meatloaf is a cruel way to go,” Gerard murmured sadly.
It felt like we’d been sprawled around the kitchen table at the Ways’ for hours, shooting the shit as per usual. Bob had the presence of mind not to ask about our weekend escapades, but Ray insisted on hearing about the concert in agonizing detail, and Gerard blushed every time he mentioned the hotel.
“I’ve played poker with you enough times to know your tells, Gee,” Ray said, nodding sagely as his friend smoothed his black hair back from his face for the umpteenth time. “Something happened this weekend, and you’re not telling me.”
“You don’t want to know,” Bob and Mikey said simultaneously. Ray narrowed his eyes.
“So everybody knows about it but me.”
“Aww gee, I wonder why.” Gerard rolled his eyes meaningfully.
“I’ll tell you later,” I whispered to the angry Toro, and Liza laughed softly. Gerard got up and headed into the dark hallway, beckoning to me with his finger. I followed him.
“Ooh,” Bob chuckled, “you’re in trouble.”
“Gerard, I’m sorry, I was just going to tell him we ordered room service—mmpf.” I bumped into a solid wall of muscle in the darkness. Two hands slid down over my shoulders, warm through the thin fabric of my t-shirt. I couldn’t see for shit; my eyes showed no sign of adjusting to the unlit hallway, and it was getting dark outside. I heard a low laugh as he pulled me to him, his lips crashing into mine in a long, burning kiss. His tongue teased mine mercilessly; he tasted like smoke and peppermint. I slid my fingers under the collar of his shirt and traced over his collarbone until he pushed me up against the wall and ground his hips into mine. “Unh, Gerard,” I squeaked, my jeans tightening uncomfortably. But he pulled away, pressing a last gentle kiss to my forehead.
“I’m not mad, Frankie baby,” he purred, cupping my face in his hands. “I just wanted to say goodbye in private.”
“Goodbye?” I said, dismayed. “Where are you going?”
“Just to meet some old friends,” he murmured, averting his eyes. “I haven’t seen ‘em in a while, and I thought I’d better…catch up.”
“You’re a terrible liar,” I said, before I could stop myself. He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck, smiling slightly.
“Yeah, I know." His voice grew harsher, almost pleading. "Frankie, you have to trust that when I don’t tell you things, it’s for your own good.”
I held my temper with an effort. “Okay.”
He paused for a moment, his eyes glowing so close to mine. His breath was still a little ragged. “You still want to know, don’t you?”
“I couldn’t care less about ‘my own good’,” I said honestly. “I just don’t wanna worry about you.”
He laughed hoarsely. “Who, little old me? Frankie, I’ll be all right. I always manage somehow, don’t I? And I'll take my knife with me.”
“So you are going somewhere dangerous.”
“Fuck,” he said under his breath, smiling in spite of himself. “I need to talk to some people I know, okay? To arrange some kind of protection for you. Jason’s on the warpath again, and this time it sounds like he means business.”
I was quiet for a minute, absorbing that. My hands shook involuntarily, but here in the dark, so close to Gee, I couldn’t be afraid. Jason Bateman wasn’t invincible; our fight in the parking lot had proved that. He was crazy, and I was sure he’d try to kill me if he had the chance, but I had no intention of letting him get me alive. Gerard would surely be able to help with that.
“It makes sense now. You talking to Ray on the phone, and all.”
“Ray Toro, gossip queen extraordinaire. His afro keeps his brain full of secrets safe.” His pink lips curled into a crooked grin. He glanced down at his watch. “Shit, I’m late. I’ll be back in an hour, honey,” he said gently, sliding gracefully away as my hands gripped his jacket of their own accord.
“Be safe,” I said, and kissed his cheek. He stepped out into the murky New Jersey darkness. I caught his pale palm raised in a wave, then he faded away into nothing.
When I turned around, Mikey was leaning against the doorway into the kitchen, his too-thin arms folded across his chest.
“I’m worried, too,” he said softly. “But it’s the right thing to do. If we’re all gonna be in danger anyway, might as well let him try to do something about it. At least Gee will rest easy, even if the rest of us won’t.”
“Are the rumors true?” I asked as we headed back to join the others. He nodded.
“The beatings at school have been getting worse - New Jersey’s a dangerous place. A kid went missing on Thursday. Gerard knows, and it fucking freaks him out; that’s why he wants protection for our houses, yours and mine.”
I was about to suggest I just stay with them all the time, but a sudden, vivid flash of Jason’s gang breaking into the house when my mom was home alone shut me up. “It’s like one of those mob movies.”
Mikey sighed, hands tucked in his pockets. “I hate to think what he’d become if anything happened to you, Frankie. You keep him human.” He walked away before I could ask what he meant.
Bob looked up from his half-finished beer as we came in. “Did Gerard leave?” he asked nonchalantly.
“Yeah, he took off for Matt’s,” Mikey replied. Ray sighed from his perch near the fridge, brought out a couple more beers and tossed one to me. I just barely caught it, still in a daze.
“You guys know who he’s meeting?”
“Boy, do we ever,” Liza said ruefully.
“Liza used to date him,” Ray grinned.
“What happened to your taste in men?” Bob asked her disparagingly. I sat down at the worn wooden table, flicked the cap off my drink and took a long, cold swig. Liza looked up. When she spoke, I could tell she was thinking carefully about what to say.
“Matthew Pelissier moved to Fair Haven last fall. His parents were friends of my family; I showed him around town and told him about school and everything. I thought he was a nice guy, and I introduced him to Gerard and the gang. Before too long, he was one of us. We’d have done anything for him.”
Mikey looked at me across the table. The story sounded eerily similar to my own.
“But something changed him,” she continued, her voice growing soft. “His parents got divorced and his mom committed suicide, and we think that’s why he started pulling away, falling into drugs and dangerous things. We all get high sometimes,” she amended, blushing, “who doesn’t? But never hard drugs or pills. Matt dropped out of school and started dealing; he broke up with me; he wouldn’t talk to anyone except Gerard. He said Gee…’got it’, in a way the rest of us couldn’t.”
“My brother goes through phases,” Mikey said solemnly, ducking his head.
I frowned. I didn't know a lot about Gerard's past, of course, but I'd never realized things had been so bad for him. “And what does Matt do now?”
“Deals cocaine, mostly,” Bob said dryly. “He runs this…well, I guess you’d call it a gang, or a circle, or something. Fair Haven’s drug cartel, the Falcons. He kicked the habit; he just likes living on the other side of the law, getting tattoos and shit.”
I choked on my beer a little bit.
“And he’s the only one with the manpower to deal with Jason’s crew,” Ray finished. “Gerard can be very persuasive when it suits him, especially to people who owe him favors. I’m sure you’d know that, Frankie. He’ll get Matt’s help, get a watch for this house. Matt’s guys are tough, but they’re fair and they don’t fuck around with homophobes.”
“Well, that’s reassuring,” I lied. “I don’t wanna think about it anymore; let’s just drink.”
Mikey nodded in mute assent. He cracked a beer and watched, aghast, as Ray swiped it out of his hand.
"No liquor for you until you eat some Magic Pie."
“Ray Toro giveth, and Ray Toro taketh away,” Bob said, deadpan as ever.
Everyone else seemed content to laugh and joke around, gradually drifting to the living room and turning on some sci-fi thriller, but I remained uneasy no matter how many beers I downed. The others caught me staring out the window into the darkness more than once, looking for shapes in the night. My mouth was dry; I was in some kind of trance-like state, imagining something had happened to Gerard.
He’s fine, and he’ll come bursting through that door any minute now, and you’ll feel like an idiot, I chided myself, but it was hopeless. It was a kind of game, coming up with reasons for him being barely six minutes late. I could see him in my mind’s eye, walking through the darkness alone, shoulders hunched inside his coat to hold the warmth in. It terrified me to feel so weak, like a part of me was out there, unprotected and shivering along with him.
I get too attached to people, I thought, that's the real problem. I trusted too easily, assumed that people all meant something, all stood for some important ideal. I could label Gee to my heart’s content – he was about rebellion and defiance, fighting a battle he knew he’d never win, because it was one against a million - but it was all in my head, and those labels didn't necessarily stick. Still, it was exciting when he smoked a cigarette on a street corner or smoothed his hair back from his white face. I saw the way everyone looked at him; the adoration in his brother’s eyes; the deep respect Ray and Bob showed for him. When he told a joke, Liza smiled like he was the best thing in the world. They all believed nothing could ever happen to him, that he was invincible and bulletproof and sixty feet tall. I didn’t even know what I thought anymore, because there was a side of him that was weak and foolish enough to love me.
The minutes ticked by, and there was still no black-haired boy smiling down at me, apologizing for walking home so slowly and touching me with cold hands. Mikey was asleep in Liza’s lap, his fingers twitching in the throes of a dream. She stroked his hair softly and leaned against Ray. Bob was slumped in the armchair, dozing off and snoring softly. Gerard had left fully three hours ago. I didn’t want to think about what he could possibly be doing. I felt hot and uncomfortable, too impatient to sit and stare at this peaceful scene for a second longer. I needed to clear my head, spend a little time by myself instead of agonizing over my boyfriend like a love-struck moron.
I wrapped myself in an old denim jacket I found in the hallway and tugged on my high-tops. The night air chilled my lungs as I walked down the porch steps and through the Ways’ overgrown garden. There was a new moon overhead, and what little light it gave off soon disappeared under the canopy of trees. My feet automatically took me towards my house. My mom might still be up, and I smiled a little at the thought of midnight hot chocolate and amicable silence. But it was a long walk back once the sun went down, and it seemed even longer alone. I felt the same damn tingling at the back of my neck, and shoved my shaky hands deeper into my pockets, refusing to creep myself out like a little kid.
Grow some balls, I lectured myself. The ground felt like it was stretching underneath me until I was miles from home. My heart started to beat faster with every abandoned house and pitch-black alleyway I passed. I cursed under my breath, but once the fear started, I could no more stop it than I could singlehandedly halt global warming. And the worst part was that my mind started playing tricks on me. I could hear footsteps behind me, shadows moving where no shadows should be. It was happening again.
There’s no one there. There never is. Just get home before you give yourself a heart attack.
The footsteps got louder. There was more than one of them.
I veered from my usual route and started walking down an unfamiliar street. It was narrow and run-down and I immediately regretted my rash decision. I had a shitty sense of direction; unless I walked around the block and back onto the road I recognized, I knew I’d get lost. Panic was squeezing my throat shut, and the noises were behind me, getting louder. I knew it wasn’t my imagination anymore. There was no mistaking the glittery tinkle of broken beer bottles, drunken laughter, deep voices. One voice in particular.
I broke into a desperate run, turning corners at random and sprinting through empty intersections. No one went out at night; no one would hear me if I yelled for help. I ran until my lungs were burning and my eyes were full of tears, until there was nothing but decrepit brick wall in front of me. I recognized the error too late; I was trapped and they were there at the entrance of the alley, silhouetted by the dim moonlight.
Relief surged through me as I realized I wouldn’t have to see their faces. That kept things impersonal. Adrenaline pulsed through my veins. I held up my hands and they were practically vibrating with fear. But my head was clear, and I felt oddly detached.
Where are you now, Gee? I wondered as they closed in. There was no preamble, no slurs or jokes. Just the fists, pounding into me over and over, battering my ribs like they wanted in. The air left my lungs in a torturous whoosh; I sagged to my knees, blood streaming from my nose. My fingers were sticky with the stuff, but I curled them into a fist and managed to get a few blows in. I knew it wouldn’t stop them, but it was something to do. Gerard would never forgive me if he heard I’d just given up. My eye stung as one of them found his mark, laughing in brutal triumph. My ribs let out an ominous crack. I was conscious of my body breaking and blood pooling everywhere, but at the same time, I could hardly feel it. My thoughts were somewhere far away, floating in Gerard’s strong arms. When he was with me, there was no pain. I curled into a ball and felt the world around me slide into soft, welcoming black.
Hi errybody :) For some reason, writing this chapter was about as easy as taking a three-pound shit. But I finished, and I'll try not to burn that image into your subconscious forever.
Does anyone else get super emo in the winter, or is it just me? I’m thinking I might have seasonal affective disorder (SAD, the most ironic acronym ever), but nothing makes me want black clothing and tons of eyeliner more than a winter day. Sorry I haven’t been so fast about updating, but I write on a chapter-by-chapter basis, and I like to have a little feedback before I start scribbling like a maniac. I have the plot for the next couple chapters planned out, so email me if you’re interested/have terrible ADD and can’t possibly wait for another few weeks. I feel that way aaaaalll the time.
I would like to thank my girl CosmicZombie, who’s the fucking sweetest and always reviews (major brownie points in my book). Title’s from Tom Petty, of course. Is it sad that I like dad rock? The letter Frank gets is a reference from Event Horizon, by the way. Sorry to gloss every single fucking unimportant thing that happens in this chapter. I thought Jason would be into scary movies, since he’s scary. I’ve been blasting (literally, my ears are shot) “Climbing Up the Walls” by Radiohead and “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters.
And sad as it is, this is not going to become one of those nine million-chapter fics. I’m not saying the end is near, just that it’ll probably have about 25 chapters total, and then I’ll move on to something else. I’ve been writing for nearly a year, after all :) Anyway, I have a couple of ideas for a new story, just blurbs, not details:
-Gerard is a twentysomething detective - think a modern Sherlock Holmes - who rescues Frank, a teenage orphan, from a serial killer. Frank lives with him and together they solve murder cases. This would probably be nice and grim (perfect for winter), with blood and guts, double yum.
-Gerard is in a modern gang and Frank gets swept up in violence and drama. This would not be a happy, fluffy fic like Sing It. Possibly they’d do the whole Romeo –and—Juliet thing where they’re in opposite gangs (or is that West Side Story?...whatever) and they fall in love and run away and die. Or maybe it’s set in the 50s. Choose your own adventure, people; I’ve had way too much coffee. I worry this might end up sounding like First of the Gang to Die, and there’s no way to top that (if you don’t know what this fic is, stop reading my shitty one and go look at it, it’s fan-fucking-tastic).
-Gerard's a vampire living in the seamy underside of New York (believe me, it’s not all fashion models and Park Ave). He bites Frank, a prep-school playboy, in a dark alley and takes him home so he doesn't die in the street. This would probably entail a large amount of sexy neck-biting, and some info on manhattan society (hint: it’s already full of bloodsuckers). I've been thinking about it for a long time since I’ve lived in the city forever, and it might be interesting.
-Frank is broke (like yours truly) and resorts to modeling for art classes at the local community college. Gerard is putting himself through art school by working at a local bar, yet also trying to support Mikey, who is sick...with an interesting disease that I have yet to get from my AP Bio class. You get what happens next, and it probably wouldn’t be too long, around 7 or 8 chapters.
All and any of this can be combined into one super weird story with way too much personality. I don't know how long any of these would end up being, but tell me if anything sounds promising and if you have any ideas as to how I should go about it. Literally, please tell me or forever hold your peace as I go off and write in my cave. Also, if you hate the idea of another Frerard, or are super interested in Frank/Mikey, lemme know. I’m a little wary of just writing a smutty Waycest thing, but if you can justify it, I’d do it. Fuck it, maybe I’ll just get schwasted and shoot one off and you can see what you think. I’m not posting again until I get five rates or reviews, so go at it ;) I love you guys so much, sorry for the excess of personality that’s popping out of this note. I’ll be sure imbue the next note with less of my sparkling wit. Also, feel free to email me with random questions at any time of the day or night – I’d love to meet you and my phone now gets emails, which is thrilling. Xo b_b