'But that’s the thing. I don’t think I hate him. I don’t think I hate him at all...'
“Frank? Are you okay?” Mikey’s small, mousy voice shakes me from my tangled thoughts with its unvoiced anxiety, and I look round blearily, rubbing my eyes as if I’ve just surfaced from a nightmare.
It’s nearly six o’clock and I’m slumped beside my skinny, bespectacled stepbrother on the 91B bus home, forehead resting against the cool glass of the window pane as I watch the uncountable salted droplets rolling sorrowfully down the black glass.
The city blurring outside the window is black and rain-drenched, a haze of greasy streetlamps and pungent car fumes swirling thickly round the city centre.
I’m grateful for the coolness of the glass against my skin; the bus is horribly sticky and stuffy, the air so sluggish it crawls across my flesh like half-dried glue.
“Frank?” Mikey prompts, sounding uncertain. He’s all huddled up into his navy duffel coat, despite the airless humidity of the bus that makes me feel as though I’m grappling desperately for air I can’t have.
“Uh,” I blink, tearing my eyes from the blurred, rainy city outside the flickery artificial strip lights of the bus. The rain continues to roll down the glass where my head was in the most potent tears of all; uncried tears. So many tears must be stifled everyday, and now the world is crying them out for everyone to too scared to do so themselves.
I know the feeling. Maybe that’s why I like the rain so much; it’s sort of therapeutic, to watch the tears I’m to proud to cry, the fear I’m to scared to let out.
I suddenly realise that Mikey’s looking at me worriedly, concern tinting the hazel of his eyes like black ink. I watch it spread out, through the mottled russet and hazel of the irises, curling out as the concern increases.
“Are you okay?” he repeats gently, adjusting his glasses and jumping so as he nearly pokes himself in the eye when the drunk at the front of the bus burps loudly and beer slops from his can to the grime speckled floor of the lurching bus.
“Sorry,” I sigh, turning to face him properly, but not quite meeting his eyes. Instead, I focus on my fingers, clammy from the uncomfortable environment. “I’m fine, Mikey.”
“You don’t look it,” Mikey says bravely, nibbling his lower lip.
“I am,” I insist, picking at a scab on my wrist. “Honest. I’m just tired- I keep zoning out.”
“Frank, you’ve been biting your lip so hard it’s bleeding all the way down your chin,” Mikey says quietly, wriggling back against the lumpy bus seat and drawing his knees protectively up to his chest like some kind of shield.
I blink again and put my fingers up to my lip, feeling the familiar, warm, metallic gush of blood on my skin. “Oh.”
“Seriously, what’s wrong?” Mikey asks quietly, eyes serious.
I avoid his gaze, because it’s much easier that way. “Nothing, honestly.”
“Frank,” Mikey says with a small sigh and an unfairly perceptive hazel gaze, which I have the excuse of looking away from when the bus judders to a stop at a red light and we’re flung forward. “Since when do you make your own lip bleed just for fun?”
“What can I say? I’m a weird kid,” I shrug, trying to diffuse Mikey’s all-too seeing gaze with sarcasm.
“I’m not stupid, Frank,” Mikey says softly, and he’s right, he’s not.
I glance up, and my heart plummets as I’m fixed with an earnest hazel gaze from eyes so painfully similar to those of the pallid, blood-soaked boy trying to hide away in his leather jacket I comforted less than an hour ago on the locker room floors.
This kinda throws me off guard, because before, I’d never thought Gerard and Mikey’s eyes bore the slightest bit of resemblance; Gerard’s were impassive and cool and green with a tint of hazel, whereas Mikey’s are scared and warm with speckles of russet amongst the hazel.
Before, Gerard’s eyes didn’t really have any life in them; they were almost plastic, as if there was no heart beating behind them. But when I saw them this afternoon, they were far too alive. There was a heart beating behind them, beating so violently and vigorously, as if it was trying to make up for lurking so far behind the surface most of the time, pretending they weren’t alive.
But as I sat with my arm awkwardly round the person I loathe second most in the world, I saw his eyes. I saw them covered in blood and tears and shame. I saw Mikey’s eyes in them; the same vulnerable, sensitive, scared hazel infiltrating the cool green. In that moment, they were so, so alive. Agonisingly alive.
“Frank?!” Mikey’s voice once again jerks me from my cobwebbed thoughts and I start, hand flying away from my bloody lip as my mind flies away from Gerard.
“Sorry,” I say, and I mean it; I’d offered to hang out with Mikey, and I somehow don’t think what he had in mind was having to shout me out of my thoughts every five minutes on a stale, stuffy bus.
I was actually looking forward to hanging out with Mikey, but now I just can’t the image of his brother out of my mind, mangled like a marionette, his pride and composure shattered on the linoleum floor along with his blood.
“Is it about Ocean?” Mikey asks gently.
I shake my head. “No, we’re actually okay now, I think.”
“Oh?” Mikey smiles slightly.
“Yeah, she called me when I was waiting for you earlier, and I think it’ll be okay,” I say, licking at the congealing blood under my lip and letting the sickeningly familiar hot, sour taste worm its way across my taste buds.
“That’s great,” Mikey smiles politely, but I can see it isn’t true. His eyes are curved into disappointment.
“I still want to hang out with you, y’know,” I tell him reassuringly and honestly. “Being friends with Ocean or not doesn’t change that one bit, okay?”
This time, Mikey’s smile seeps right across his features, just for a second, as if he’s scared it’ll eat him up if he smiles too long.
I have to smile back, but then I’m consumed by thoughts again. It’s strange how only five minutes of your life can change so much you thought you’d got figured out. This morning, I had Gerard pegged as an obnoxious, self-satisfied, smug teenager who loved to put anyone weaker down. I hated him with every fucking bone in my body and wished he’d never been part of my life. Even just thinking about him made my blood boil and my teeth grit.
Now I can’t stop thinking about him. Every time I blink, the image of him lying, broken and defeated, at Danny’s feet worms its way into my mind so potently I can almost smell the blood and fear, almost feel the way he quivered through his leather jacket when I tried to comfort him.
It was as if he was nothing but the bones that poked through the leather and the fear that wracked his whole body. And his eyes. Those tortured, wild eyes I know will haunt me forever.
I never thought I’d feel sorry for Gerard Way, but I do.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sorry for someone before in my life.
“Frank?” Mikey snaps his fingers in front of my face and I jump.
“Huh?” I blink again, struggling to come back to the moment.
“Something’s wrong,” Mikey says bravely. It’s not a question, and I sort of like how he’s being less twitchy and nervous with me all the time. It’s almost as if he trusts me, just a tiny little bit. “Tell me.”
“It’s nothing, honestly,” I lie, fiddling with the limp sleeve of my hoodie and pushing an empty sweet wrapper across the floor with the tip of my Converse.
“I’m worried about you, Frank,” Mikey whispers, ducking his head.
That makes me look up. “What?”
People don’t worry about me. Not apart from Mom, anyway- I’m just a sulky, stubborn kid who always fucks up and acts like he hates everyone, so everyone thinks I can take care of myself just fine. They don’t want to worry about me. I’m nothing, to them- nothing they want to be associated with, anyway.
“I’m worried about you,” Mikey repeats, cheeks pinkening. “I want to help. Please tell me what’s wrong.”
I hesitate, touched by Mikey’s kindness. “Well…you know…Gerard…” The second his name is off my tongue, I regret uttering it.
I know, straight off by the look in Mikey’s hazel eyes, that I can’t tell him the truth. I don’t want to hurt him, and this sure as hell would.
And after all, what the hell would I say? That his brother is being hounded by the most dangerous, vicious bully in the whole school who’s gunna make his life a living hell? That his brother got his face smashed in and cried all over me less than an hour ago? That I think his brother’s slowly, agonisingly breaking? That I can’t stop worrying about a boy I hate?
I just can’t tell him. Mikey has enough to deal with right now, and I don’t want to be the one who adds to his stress load. I’d also feel almost guilty for telling another living soul how I witnessed Gerard earlier- he was so raw, so vulnerable, it was scary. I saw him without his shell, just for five minutes.
And I wish I never had.
Because now its haunting me, and it won’t stop. It reminds me of someone, but I can’t place who.
And although I’m ashamed to admit it, Gerard’s parting words will stop me from spilling the truth forever- he seems to have understood far more about me than I’d like. What if he told people the things Danny does to me? I’d be humiliated.
So I know, deep down, he’s got me. I’ll stay silent, even though I can feel the truth gnawing a huge hole inside of me.
“Frank? Is he okay?” Mikey repeats, practically gnawing right through his lower lip.
“He’s fine,” I hear myself say. The words feel tainted.
“Then why did you mention him?” Mikey asks, not looking any less worried. I’m going to have to be more convincing.
“Uh, it’s just that…well, he’s so lucky,” I hear myself say, although that’s the last thing I think about Gerard right now. “He’s only been at the school for what, a week, and he’s already got all these friends. I’ve been at this school for five fucking years and I’ve got no one.”
“You’ve got me,” Mikey says lightly.
I feel a proper smile spread across my face at that. “Thanks,” I whisper gratefully.
Mikey smiles back, a small, trembly little smile. “You’re welcome.”
There’s a small silence as the bus lurches to a halt and the drunk staggers off. Mikey and I are the only two left on the bus now, apart from the irritable looking driver who keeps eyeing us suspiciously in his mirror.
“God, we must be nearly home by now,” I groan, leaning back in my seat. “I hate busses.”
“Me too,” Mikey agrees fervently. “Hey, do you wanna play a game? Pass the time, y’know.”
“Sure,” I agree, eager to have something to diffuse my gnarled thoughts. “What game?”
“Twenty questions?” Mikey suggests.
“Sure,” I say again. “You go first then.”
“Misfits or Iron Maiden?”
“Misfits all the fucking way.”
“Uh…Dawn of the Dead or Corpse Bride?”
“Corpse Bride. Dawn of the Dead made me puke,” I admit.
Mikey grins. “I love Dawn of the Dead. Okay…Batman or Spiderman?”
“Batman. Definitely. Spiders suck.”
“You don’t like spiders?” Mikey asks, looking faintly amused as he offers me the bag of Cola Bottles we stopped to buy while waiting for the bus outside school earlier. I’m pretty sure it’d have only taken us half the time to walk home, but it was raining so bitterly we chickened out.
I was also a lot more inclined to brave the rickety, sour-stench of stuffy bus than usual seeing as Danny might still have been lurking after his little attack on Gerard- I might be able to face him on my own, but I couldn’t make Mikey. Gerard wasn’t anywhere in sight, despite the fact he’d stormed away from me only minutes before- limping too.
“I hate them,” I shudder in response to Mikey’s question.
Mikey looks at me questioningly. “You’re scared of spiders?”
“No,” I say decisively. “I just don’t like them.”
Mikey’s smile widens.
“They’ve got too many legs, okay?” I protest.
Mikey’s grinning now; a proper, wide grin that shows all his neat little teeth and stretches right across his skinny face. It makes him look very different; much freer, much happier.
I like it. It’s a very honest smile.
I suddenly wonder if I’ve ever seen an honest smile from Gerard- the kind of smile that you just can’t stop splitting across your face, the kind that makes your eyes crinkle and everyone else around you want to smile too.
Any smile I’ve seen Gerard smile seems to stretch his face uncomfortably, and it never seems to reach his ice-cold, masked eyes.
Oh god, what if Danny caught him on his way home? What if he was so badly injured he can’t get home? What if-
“Frank?” Mikey prods me out of my thoughts with another Cola Bottle.
I shake myself back into the present, irritated with my own lack of concentration and annoyed at how much my thoughts are straying to Gerard. “Sorry,” I mumble, trying for a smile.
“Something’s wrong,” Mikey says after a few moments, when the bus is trundling through oily puddles and under flickery lights towards our road. It’s so quiet that I don’t know if I was meant to hear.
So I keep quiet. And even if I was meant to hear, I don’t know what to answer.
Because it’s the truth.
Something is desperately wrong.
Gerard is already there when Mikey and I finally make it home. He’s slumped over the kitchen table, toying with a forkful of lasagne, midnight hair clouding his eyes and any ghosts from the events of the afternoon. His stance is as impassive and mask-like as ever, but his long fingers are trembling round the grip of his fork and his feet are turned vulnerably inwards.
Something scarily like empathy shoots through my chest in a judder of warmth, melting slightly round the edges so as the feeling ebbs out through my whole body, new and scary and completely painful.
A glimmer of uneasy green flickers up from the shrouding of black hair for the tiniest split second as Mikey and I both enter the kitchen, soaked to the skin from the vicious winter rain and violently pink-cheeked from the cold.
The kitchen is wonderfully warm and comforting after the harsh, stuffiness of the bus followed by the harsh jaws of winter rain.
“Hi boys,” Mom smiles in greeting as we cross the room and sit down at the table. “Good day?”
“Yes thank you,” Mikey replies shyly, taking off his glasses and wiping their rain-smeared lenses on his school jumper.
I shrug dismissively, because I don’t really know what the answer is. Gerard still hasn’t looked up from his dinner, but his whole stance has tensed and I can see his tiny teeth digging into the flesh of his lower lip in a silently anxious way so similar to his brother’s.
It’s almost as if I can now see him in x-ray vision; I can see the vulnerable, hurting dimension under the perfect mask. And I wish I couldn’t, because whenever I think of it, serrated arrows gouge their way through my heartstrings.
“Frank?” Mom presses, pausing in her eating to fix me with a warm honey gaze I know so well. I start out of my thoughts, confused and annoyed with myself.
“Uh,” I mumble, feeling embarrassed. Steve looks up from his dinner, his faced lined with grey stress, but he waves when he sees me.
“Hi Frank,” he says tiredly.
“Oh look,” a coarse, roughened voice spits before I have the chance to respond to Steve’s half-hearted greeting. “The elf.”
“Gerard!” Steve hisses crossly, putting his fork down and frowning at his son.
“What?” Gerard laughs bitterly. The sound is empty and dark, and it sends soured thrills of something unidentifiable down my spine.
“Be quiet,” Steve reprimands him.
“I will be,” Gerard whispers darkly. “One day.”
And on that little ray-of-sunshine note, he digs his fork back into the mound of untouched pasta on his plate, flicking a stray pea across the table.
“Oh Gerard!” Steve sighs despairingly at his eldest son. “Stop being so morbid.”
“Sit down, Frank honey- have some dinner,” Mom interjects hastily before Gerard can spit an answer back in his father’s face.
I awkwardly slide into the seat opposite Gerard and take a sip of water, trying to stop my answer-seeking eyes flickering up towards the arrogant masked boy in front of me.
There’s silence for a few moments, broken gently by the clink of knives and forks on plates. Gerard toys with his dinner the whole time, but doesn’t swallow a bite. I don’t eat much either- I’ve kinda lost my appetite.
Misguidedly, I guess I’d kinda hoped he’d be nicer to me now. Hah. I should have learnt after all these years; this is reality. Things you’d like don’t tend to happen in reality.
Hold on a second, though- I don’t care whether Gerard’s nice to me or not. I hate him.
“So,” Steve says conversationally, taking a gulp of water and saving me from my whirlwind of thoughts. “How did your first bass lesson go, Mikey?”
Mikey chokes on his mouthful of lasagne and grapples for his water, eyes straining from their sockets as he splutters desperately.
“Okay?” I ask quietly, patting him on the back.
“Thanks,” Mikey smiles gratefully.
Across the table, Gerard finally looks up slightly, and I get a glimpse of defeated emerald behind his midnight hair. Something sharp shoots behind my ribs.
“Uh, my bass lesson was good thank you,” Mikey says once he’s recovered from his choking fit. “Mr. Hallow is a really good teacher.”
“Yeah, he is,” I agree fervently.
“What do you think of him, Gerard?” Steve asks.
For several moments, Gerard doesn’t answer. Then he just gives a non-committal jerk of his shoulders and ducks his head further towards the table, hair falling dispiritedly forwards, grease-crusted split ends of worn-out black.
I suddenly catch a glimpse of sickening red on his school shirt and my whole heart jolts, my mind churning back to this afternoon.
Steve must have spotted it too, because he suddenly frowns worriedly. “Gerard?” he asks softly, eyes pained.
“What?” Gerard growls, slamming his fork down.
“You’ve…you’ve got something on your shirt,” Steve says quietly.
Gerard looks down and I can practically see his heart sink. “Chill out, freak. It’s just paint,” he says irritably, taking a swig of water, but his hands are shaking so much that the liquid jerks over the rim of the glass, cascading like one big tear down his wrist. He slams it down furiously, making me jump.
“Oh,” Steve relaxes, clearly convinced. “So, when’s your next guitar lesson?”
“Monday,” Gerard snaps, mopping up the water. “What are you staring out, looser boy?” he adds in a threatening hiss to me, eyes full of hollow venom.
I blink and drop my gaze, not even having realised that I was staring at him. I feel my cheeks heat up slightly and duck my head further so as no one will see my blush or the self anger flooding my eyes.
“Don’t you call Frank that!” a small, angry voice says beside me.
Gerard blinks. “Mikes?”
Steve blinks too, seemingly bemused. I feel shocked too, but a nice, warm glow spreads over me at Mikey’s support. It’s weird, a feeling I’m pretty sure I haven’t felt in years. No one’s ever really stood up for me before, apart from Ocean- and that usually involved violence.
“Just stop it, okay?” Mikey says fiercely to his brother, sweeping his tufty mousy hair out of his eyes so he can fix Gerard with a glare.
“Oh, and why’s that?” Gerard asks, recovering hastily and sweeping his hair from his face and revealing a huge black eye, a burst lip and a nasty graze. Apparently I’m the only one that notices before he hastily flops his midnight tangles back over. Maybe it’s because I know they’re there.
“Because…” Mikey falters.
“Exactly,” Gerard sneers. “He’s pathetic, he’s boring and what the FUCK is the big deal with all his ‘amazing’ guitar playing? He’s bullshit, Mikey.”
A deep knife of serrated hurt lodges itself between my ribs, wounded blood trickling all over my body and glazing me in stupid self pity.
“Gerard,” Mom says quietly, voice laced with controlled anger, but before she can say anything further, Mikey stands up, breathing heavily, eyes dark.
“He’s none of those things, and you know it, Gee. He’s nice and interesting and really fucking talented, okay? Have you heard him play? Don’t kid yourself, Gerard Way. Don’t lie to yourself,” Mikey hisses.
There’s a long, dead silence. I can feel my heart fluttering against my ribs because it’s one of those moments like in the movies when you just know an explosion is about to happen, and you know you’re going to jump a mile when it does.
Except no explosion comes. Gerard just sinks back under his limp hair and stares at the table in a very defeated kind of way.
“So,” Steve says brightly in a terrible attempt to break the tension. “So what are you guys doing for Mr. Hallow at the moment?”
Gerard shrugs, tearing at the fraying skin of his hangnail.
“Uh,” I find myself saying. “We’re doing compositions.”
“Oh, great,” Mom smiles at me. “You’ll like that, honey.”
“Yeah,” I find the smile spreading across my face in return.
“How far have you got with it so far?” she asks interestedly.
“Um, I’m almost done actually,” I say, feeling slightly uncomfortable. I’m not used to talking at mealtimes, having people’s eyes on me, but it actually feels okay. Kind of like a long lost memory I’d like to relive.
“Oh, will you let us hear, Frank?” Mom asks, eyes shining. “I haven’t heard you play for ages- months!”
“Uh,” I squirm uncomfortably. I don’t like playing in front of people I know; for some reason, it’s so much easier to play in front of several hundred people I don’t know, because I don’t care what they think.
But it’s been so long since I’ve played to Mom and Steve, so long since I’ve even let Mom get close to the person I am now. Maybe now is the time. I can’t hide away from her forever.
“Okay,” I hear myself say nervously, ducking behind my hair.
“Great!” Steve says enthusiastically, and Mom beams like she’s just been given the universe, which kinda makes me feel childishly happy. I glance beside me, and see Mikey’s eyes smiling, although his mouth stays indifferent out of shyness.
Then I glance up at the boy hiding in the dark in front of me. His whole posture has slumped and he drops his fork to the table with a defeated clatter.
The elation I felt seconds ago is marred slightly, but I know I can’t back out now. And why the hell would I want to back out for the person who puts me down at every opportunity?
I want to show him, fight him, show him I’m worth something.
So I mutter something about getting my guitar, and stumble from the room to the hallway where my guitar is sitting in its battered case. The feel of the handle under my fingers soothes me as I brave the kitchen once more, irrational adrenaline fused butterflies curdling the few forkfuls of lasagne in my stomach.
“Uh, are you sure you want to hear this?” I mumble to the awaiting table, trying to swallow my nerves, but they just stick in my throat, butterflies with their wings snagged in a web.
“Yes!” Mom, Steve and Mikey say together. Gerard’s whole jaw line has tensed horribly, as if his teeth are grinding together in silenced anguish that I can’t understand. I suddenly frown, angry for letting him invade my thoughts so much.
“Go on, Frank!” Mom cheers. I can’t bear to disappoint the hope in her honey brown eyes, a look I haven’t seen for so long. So I sit back down in my seat, pushing it back to allow room to pull my beat-up old guitar out of its case and onto my lap.
“It’s kinda shitty,” I mutter, feeling embarrassed. “You’ll probably hate it.”
“I don’t think we will,” Mom smiles encouragingly.
“Your playing really is amazing, Frank,” Mikey says shyly, offering a shaky smile. “I wasn’t just saying that. Mr. Hallow raves about you as if you’re god or something.”
“Thanks,” I mumble, unable to stop a smile creeping across my face, feeling embarrassed and pleased. It gives me the push I need to sit back and tentatively start strumming away at the slightly dusty strings, and then the awkwardness and nerves melt away as if they were never even there.
As always, the moment the melodies my fingers are tremblingly creating, my mind switches off from the present and I just play, let myself feel, let myself be me. I become everything I can’t be in reality, because it’s too hard, because I’m too scared.
The chords are raw and untamed, full of sweet and sour memories that curdle in the middle, gouging emotions that hollow out the space behind my ribs, glowing smiles that split my whole face in two with rarity.
I think of me, I think of Mikey, I think of Ocean, I think of Mom and Steve, and I think of Gerard.
I play for the soul inside of me I silence far too much. I play for the wonderful freedom I can only feel when my fingers caress the strings. I play for my fear, the fear that fills me up everyday, the fear that’s so exhausting to defeat, but I’ll never, ever stop trying.
But most of all, right now, I play for the one thing I can’t stop seeing. The image that scars the back of my eyes, flickering potency every time my gaze so much as glimmers shut.
Breaking Gerard. Broken, scared Gerard, with those wild, terrified eyes that screamed so loudly in the greasy yellow light of the cloakroom, his skin waxy and murdered in the artificial beams.
I play for Alive Gerard.
The blood and the tears and the fear, the shame and the shattered pretence and the smug demeanour, the churning eyes and the smell of rebel’s black leather and the salt, the soft, pure salt of honesty.
My eyes have fluttered shut, and I let my life flow out from the strings, from behind my battered ribs and behind my swollen eyes.
I play and play and play until the tune comes to an end, just like everything on this earth, fading out gently, softly, bittersweet with honesty. Everything has to end, but something ending doesn’t have to be negative. Sometimes, the end is the strongest part of all.
I let the final chord fade out, tender dust particles into the silence, and then I open my eyes. Mom has tears brimming in her honey eyes. Steve’s lined face has softened to stupidly vacant wonder. And Mikey is smiling widely, letting the emotion light up his eyes and stretch right across his face, take him over.
I can’t help it. I smile right back.
But then I look up to the gnarled shadow opposite me and the smile drips off my face, withering and dying there on the spot.
Gerard has his head in his hands, fingers violently scrunching his fingers into the midnight strands, gripping so tightly his fingers have gone whiter than usual. His whole body is rigid, jaw clenched so viciously I’m scared the muscles will rip.
He looks tormented, tortured. And I can’t even see his eyes.
“Honey,” Mom’s gentle voice breaks through my frowning thoughts and I look up into her warm brown eyes, letting their warmth melt the icy concern I’m not sure why I feel. “That was beautiful.”
“Thank you,” I smile, really meaning it.
“Gerard?” Steve asks, suddenly noticing his son.
Gerard’s grip on his tangled hair tightens. He looks as if he’s trying to hold himself together.
And he’s failing.
“Gerard, honey?” my Mom presses, concern filtering out her pride as she lays a tentative hand on Gerard’s shoulders.
“Don’t touch me!” Gerard shouts, making Mikey and I jump wildly.
Mom withdraws her hand hastily.
Gerard is shaking so violently I can see it wracking his whole body.
“Gee?” Mikey whispers. “What’s the matter?”
“I’m fucking fine!” Gerard spits, throwing Mikey’s tentative gesture to the floor. “I just can’t bear listening to such bullshit, okay? I’m fine! Why the hell wouldn’t I be?”
“Because you’re shaking,” I hear myself blurt, watching the way his long, spidery fingers quiver and tremble around his death-grip of his fork.
Gerard looks up, green eyes cadaverous and empty with venom to mask the fear I know is there. The fork drops to the table with a clatter. “What?”
“Nothing,” I mutter, ducking my head.
“What did you say?” Gerard snarls again, getting to his feet and leaning threateningly towards me. I can smell the ghost of blood and cigarettes and alcohol on it, and it makes my stomach churn.
“I said that you’re shaking,” I mumble, keeping my eyes on the floor.
“Don’t you dare tell me what I am-” Gerard starts viciously, grabbing me by the collar so as I let out a loud yelp of surprise and Mom lets out a squeak of anguish, Steve leaping to his feet as Gerard lets out a furious snarl. “You-”
However, before he can kill me, the loud shrill of the doorbell shatters the thick, awkward atmosphere. Eager to escape the unnervingly hollow eyes boring into mine in a dead ocean of broken emerald, I slip from Gerard’s loosened grip and stumble out into the hall, fingers fumbling on the latch of the front door.
“Hi Frank,” Ocean beams brightly, stepping brightly into the hallway and pulling down the hood of her Nightmare before Christmas hoodie. Bright blue curls tumble around her shoulders, and the familiar smell of her vanilla shampoo wriggles its way into my nose.
I blink slightly bemusedly at her sudden entrance, heart still beating a violent taboo against my ribs from the incident seconds before.
“Hey…” I manage, as Ocean marches into the kitchen.
The scene has frozen where I left it; Mom’s angry face, Steve risen from his feet, Mikey’s look of shock.
Gerard has his back to us, leaning over the sink, his stance almost contorted with anguish, buckling under his own weights. Every muscle in his leather-clad back is clenched and tortured, and I can see his hands trembling where they’re viciously gripping the bench.
“Hi everyone!” Ocean says happily, smashing the awkward with her usual blunt attitude, clearly completely unaware of the situation. I mentally facepalm, but say nothing. I kinda like Ocean that way, anyway.
“Uh,” Mom manages, swallowing and looking round. “Hi, Ocean.”
“Hey, Mrs. Iero! Guess what?! I’ve come to invite you boys…to Revolutions! You know, the local alternative venue!” she beams excitedly, tossing her curls over her shoulder. “Oh, and that wasn’t including you, Steve. Sorry,” she flashes him a grin, which Steve manages to return, still looking shocked.
“Well…?” Ocean says impatiently into the silence. “What do you say? It sure as hell wasn’t easy getting the tickets, so you’d better say yes! I wanted to make up for being such a shit best friend, Frankie,” she smiles a little guiltily at me, and I feel touched by the gesture, despite everything else.
“When is it?” I manage, eyes still clued to the rigid jarring of Gerard’s spine and the way his hands are clawed into the surface.
“Tonight!” Ocean grins happily. “Are you coming? Mikey, Gerard, you too? I’ve got enough tickets.”
“Um,” Mikey glances at me, nibbling his lip as if he’s asking for my permission.
“Yeah, please come,” I smile at him, surprised to find I mean it.
“Uh, okay,” Mikey smiles, ducking his head slightly, but looking pleased.
“How about you, Mr. Gerard Way?” Ocean presses, going over to him and running a finger up his spine, nibbling cheekily at her snakebites.
For a second, I think he’s going to explode and scream and break, but after a couple of seconds, he turns round and stitches a smile onto his mask, eyes shadowed with dark rings as if his eyeliner’s smudged.
“Sure.” His voice is hoarse, but passable as darkly seductive. “If you’d like.”
“I’d love,” Ocean beams, and I frown slightly.
“Great. I’ll just go get into something a little less…school-ish,” he throws a hollowed smirk at her, and saunters out of the kitchen, hips swinging flirtatiously. It’s slightly unnerving how easily he can hitch his mask back on again, and act as if there’s nothing wrong inside. He seems to have had far too much practice.
“You too, you guys!” Ocean says happily, ushering Mikey and I towards the door. “This is gunna be wild!”
“Uh, not too wild, I hope,” Mom says, smiling slightly over the rim of her glass.
“No, don’t worry, Mrs. Iero,” Ocean beams. “I’ll take care of them all.”
And with that, she shoves Mikey and I towards the stairs, burbling excitably about the bands playing and the new lighting and how she’s gunna try tequila shots.
I let her propel me into my room, wondering why I’m not more pissed off that Gerard is coming. For fucks sake, I was nice to him and helped him, and then he was horrible and short of violent towards me only an hour or so later. I’m actually more angry with myself for not being able to shake him from my thoughts.
It should be easy- I mean, I despise the guy with every bone in my body.
I hate him. I don’t want anything to do with him. I wish he’d never come.
But that’s the thing.
I don’t think I hate him.
I don’t think I hate him at all.
Hope that was okay...things are starting a to change a little, aren't they? Anyway, please let me know your thoughts and I'll update asap :D