The residue of the fireworks filled the air with their smoky scent, like gunpowder filling their lungs. Visually, the night sky was a multicolored rainbow of lights, sparkling and whizzing like something produced by magic wands from fairytale books.
His prince caressed his cheek gently, curling a few strands of red behind his ear. He could feel his breath on his face, warm and scented with traces of vodka and cranberry. Gerard wondered if his own breath smelt like the peppermint candy he had just eaten.
They had kissed when the clock struck twelve.
It was what they had expected to do, of course. Still, there was an element of surprise. Perhaps it was because this was their very first New Years kiss, when they were both so used to the small mouths of their previous wives. Or maybe the collision of their lips had felt so extraordinarily good, it was like kissing for the first time entirely.
The only thing they knew was that the explosion of their passion upon the clashing of their mouths was much louder and shone brighter than anything going on above them.
"I love you, Gerard Arthur Way." Frank had whispered the moment they parted, their lips still brushing each other's slightly.
"And I love you, Franklin Iero."
They both smiled at other, two sides of a mirror reflecting only half the person. It was a new year, and the beginning of a new era. If there was anything Gerard had found himself wishing for in the dead of the night, hoping for with every fiber of his being, it was the idea of a clean slate.
He had fought his urges to get into his car and drive away without telling a single soul that he was leaving, and surrendering to go wherever the road might carry him. Be patient, his self control would tell him, your time will come soon.
Finally, patience had found it's reward. It had big green eyes that were then hidden by a silver masquerade mask, as was Gerard's own. It was that kind of party.
Fingers entwined with fingers, Frank and Gerard walked away into a river of masked bodies. They entered the hotel that was hosting the shindig, rejoining the crowd who had scampered outside for the fireworks display.
The mass of people was thick, and it was difficult to take more than five steps without bumping into someone’s shoulder, or having to adjust to avoid walking straight into someone. They made their way over to the bar, where two lone bartenders fought to fill orders. They were two old men, both looking distressed and having to shout over screams of “SAMUEL JACKSON!”“INCREDIBLE HULK!”“CAN I GET A SOUR WHISKY?”. They really should have hired more people for such a large event.
Frank and Gerard grimaced at this knotted crowd, but Frank went to go forward anyway. In the past year, Frank’s love for the bitter flavor of anything that contained more than 12% alcohol had increased by ten-fold. Gerard hated it. It made him feel guilty.
Of course, Gerard had no real evidence that Frank’s drinking had anything to do with him. It actually made more sense to say it was Jamia’s fault, for putting him through such a stressful divorce.
‘...but the reason he divorced Jamia is you…’ a snarling voice would remind him from time to time, this moment included.
Frank was gone.
He curled his fingers, making a fist and feeling nothing in his palm.
“Frankie!” he yelled out, but the sound of his voice got lost into the crowd of the voices around him. He could barely even hear himself. Gerard looked around, afraid to wander any farther from where he stood. He first tried to search for Frank’s outfit – a plain black dress shirt with black Dickies pants, plus a small silver mask – but realized that he was doing about the same as looking for a particular ball in a ball pit.
Everyone was wearing black, and silver was a very common mask color.
Next, he studied every neck in his field of vision, his eyes searching for the scorpion shape that he had traced with his fingers a hundred times over in the past. Yet every neck was bare. Gerard began to get the idea that he was amidst a sea of clones, all with mask shaped plates where their eyes should be.
Suddenly, Gerard felt something fall on his shoulder. He jumped slightly as his focus was shattered, his search so abruptly interrupted by this surprise touch.
“Gerard Way!” a voice bounced behind him, the grip on his shoulder tightening. Gerard spun around to find himself in rather close quarters with a gentleman who at first glance, Gerard could not say he knew. He had blonde hair in a common pudding bowl hair cut, and below it a velvet purple mask that covered half his face.
Gerard said nothing for a moment, and the man seemed to take his hint of confusion. Lucky it was a masquerade party, the masks could always be blamed for any non-recognition.
“Andrew Hietala, I photographed you and your band for Rock Sound magazine a couple of times!” the man introduced, or rather, re-introduced himself.
“Oh yeah!” Gerard smiled widely, although he only vaguely remembered meeting such a person. He was always well accustomed to the art of pretending to remember people he really didn’t – it was a requirement in the life of a celebrity. “How are you man?”
“I’m great, jived for the New Year! How about you, who’d you come with?” Andrew asked him, taking a sip of what looked to be red wine.
"Frankie is here,” Gerard told him, “...or at least he was. I seem to have lost him in the crowd!”
“Uh-oh, that’s no good.” Andrew craned his neck, trying to look around. Gerard held his breath, the man was about two heads taller than him, and probably had a much better view of the crowd than he did.
He slumped his shoulders and frowned.
”I don't see him myself. Come on though, I'll help you look.” Andrew ushered him forward with a wave of his hand.
“It’s alright man, I don’t wanna burden you – I’m sure you got shit to do of your own. It’s not a big deal, I’m sure he’s just around here somewhere…” said Gerard uncertainly, his eyes scanning his surroundings/.
“Nah, nah, it’s fine. Let me help you look.”Insisted Andrew, “This party is kind of a bust anyway – it’s a fucking sausage fest in here!”
Gerard chuckled, and together they began to walk through the thicket once more. Andrew led him, but Gerard had to keep his eye concentrated on following the shining purple that Andrew’s mask consisted of. Andrew would look back over his shoulder now and then to see if Gerard was still following, and Gerard supposed his bookmark must be the red hair.
It was not too long after that the skin on Gerard’s feet began to feel sore and aching, it’s owner growing more and more aware of his steps. Yet bigger concerns were beginning to trouble Gerard, as the room around him suddenly began to grow hazy and muffled. He put a hand on Andrew’s upper arm, at first missing and swiping nothing but air.
Andrew, who had been silent for the most part of the search, spun around sharply.
“I – I don’t feel so good…” Gerard tried to explain, the muscles in his throat feeling too weak to transport the words. “I think I took too many meds…”
“Meds?” Andrew asked, one waxed looking eyebrow shooting upward.
“Yeah, I’m on anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic pills. My doc upped the dose just yesterday, which doesn’t seem like it might’ve been a good move now.” Gerard told him, hearing his own speech through something other than himself. He heard the words, but he could not remember saying them. Then again, he was finding it difficult to recall anything at all, even actions occurring only five seconds before.
They took a few more steps. Gerard stumbled a little. He felt hands gripping his arms like the claws of a determined and hungry crab. He was pulled upwards, making his head accidently fly to the rooftops.
The room was spinning.
“I think you need to lie down.” said a voice from far, far away. “I have a room here, you can go ahead and lay on the bed. I’ll go out and find Frank myself, promise.”
Andrew’s words came to him in an echo like the rippling of water from his mouth to Gerard’s mind. Before he could even comprehend what he had just been told, Gerard felt himself being dragged by those claws from earlier, which had tightened their death grip.
Many bodies walked past him in blackened blurs, and Gerard still made an effort to see if any of them was a short man with green eyes named Frank Iero. The more he came across people unfitting of his criteria, the more Gerard became nervous.
The crab scuttled away with his catch in his hold, determined to bring it to his rock for dinner. Gerard saw the numbers 2 and 1 squished together, both of them colored gold. It's shine hurt his eyes. The rock squeaked open, and Gerard was taken into cold and dark hole beneath it.