No worse form of torture.
“What? What’s the problem?” asks Cam, craning her neck to see through the crowd. Her eyes fall upon the small huddle of vamp kids with woefully familiar side partings and narrow in loathing. “What the fuck are they doing here?”
“Who let them into the country?” is what I want to know. “I swear vampires aren’t allowed in Italy.”
“Let’s go ask,” Cam grabs my hand and charges with steely determination in her eyes.
The emos show no sign of alarm at our appearance or the fact that we appear to have Hell dancing behind us. On the contrary they look rather bored, as if expecting us for a long time.
“Get out of my country,” Cam snaps, propping her hands against her hips to show that she means business.
“What a typical way to greet a minority,” drawls the one with pockmarks all over his face.
“You realise you do kinda sound like a redneck immigration officer?” I mutter.
“I don’t care,” she replies. “This is a holiday. We’re here to get away from tomato juice sucking morons like you.”
“Well you can relax,” Vega replies, flipping his long hair out of his eyes. “Because we’re not here for you.”
As the words have their effect we look at each other, eyebrows raised in imploring disbelief. I know this sounds pretty egotistical but the emos are always here for us. They’ve been making our lives a misery from when we first started high school, a lot of the time purely because people keep mistaking us for one of them. Gerard, however, seems pleasantly surprised.
“Well...That’s cool,” he says with all the gullibility of a baby bird in the face of too tight jeans and paper-paste makeup. “So what are you here for?”
“There’s this vampire festival thing on in a few days,” one of the fat girls snarls with contempt. “And we’re, like, going. Cos we’re vampires.”
“Omigod!” I cry. “You’re not. Freaking. Vampires. Look, you’re not even burning in the sun!”
“Well no duhh,” Vega rolls his eyes. “We put on special vampire sun cream before we went out.”
The emos simultaneously reach into the insides of their jackets to reveal their supply of special vampire suncream. “You just put ordinary sun cream into J2O bottles!” says Ray indignantly.
“No I didn’t.”
“Yes you did!”
“Well, you can’t prove it so there,” Vega concludes, slipping the bottle back into an inside pocket. “Now if you excuse us we have a lot of preparing to do. The Volturi don’t like it when their new coven makes them look bad.”
Insert face-palm here.
“The Volturi?” asks Gerard, perplexed. “Are you serious?”
“Gravely,” Vega nods, turning to Gerard. “As you shall soon discover. Although you tread the path of the living your place is with us, the walking dead. The darkness shines on you, son of...I’m sorry, what’s your dad’s name?”
“The darkness shines on you, son of Donald,” Vega concludes with majestic finesse. “And 4 moons shall have you know it. We have no quarrel with you guys this day, nor the next. So walk on, homeboys. I hear there’s a good vegan bar down that way.”
We all look in the direction he points and when we turn back round the emos are gone. “Okay...” Gerard says very slowly. “That was five minutes I wish I could erase from my mind forever.”
“Don’t worry about it dude,” I shrug. “They’ve been driving that sled for years. Right Cam?”
But Cam looks troubled and gnaws on her bottom lip. “Cam?” I say again, waving my hand in front of her face. “What’s up?”
“Just something Vega said,” she replies, a frown playing on her forehead. “About how in 4 moons the darkness will shine on Gerard or something.”
Gerard and I exchange glances. “So...what?”
“Well, 4 moons is pretty specific,” Cam continues. “I guess I’m just worried or something. I don’t think I bought his explanation for coming here, did you?”
Gerard shakes his head. I shrug. Ray swallows a fly.
“Never mind,” Cam shakes her head. “Hey, it’s getting dark. We should make a move.”
We nod and head back to the hotel, chatting animatedly about how the Cullens don’t really count as real vampires considering they neither eat humans or become a barbecue in the sun. If I was a vampire I would be so kickass. I wonder, do vampires get human illnesses? Because if they do the AIDS/HIV rate must be enormous.
After dinner I race upstairs to my room, close the door and draw the list from my bag. Tis time for some serious evaluation, methinks. Tracing a finger down the list I count eleven more techniques to perfect. Having already covered nine in three months I think I’m doing pretty well. But Gerard still only sees me as a friend and in my opinion, friendship + sex = love. Well, most of the time. Okay, not really, but I don’t see any other way of doing it. I get a teensy bit excited upon realising that the “sex appeal” one is only a couple of stages away...but there’s still one before it.
Wait. That can’t be right.
Cam’s room is just across the hall. I head in that direction like a bullet with a mark and knock on the door hastily. The giggles issuing from inside hush immediately, filling me with an ominous sense of dread. “Who is it?” asks a stupidly girly voice.
“Father fucking Christmas,” I reply. “Cameron, let me in. I need to talk to you.”
“Oooh, Cameron!” says another voice, prompting another bout of giggles. Sigh. I swear there is nothing I hate as much as the teenage girl.
“Coming Frank,” a familiarly calm, normal voice approaches the door and Cam opens it, smirking slightly. Behind her I count six or so of her friends sprawled out in an apocalypse of nail polish, makeup and some mysterious novels one of them nudges out of view.
Ignoring them, I shove the list in her face. “What,” I hiss angrily. “Is the meaning of this?”
Cam blinks dully. “The next stage on the list.”
“And how does it bare any relevance to this situation?” I ask, gesturing towards my crotch. “Believe it or not Cam, I am actually a boy. ‘Be feminine’, what kind of impossible task is that?”
“Being feminine doesn’t necessarily mean turning into a female,” Cam sighs in exasperation.
“Then what am I supposed to do?”
Cam is cut off by the ear-splitting, cat-calling behind her. But while it makes me cringe she just laughs, takes my arm and pulls me inside.
“Cam?” I mutter, the feeling of dread mounting as I stare into the faces of her friends. “Cam, what the hell are you doing?”
“Guys, this is Frank,” Cam ignores me. The girls smirk, all knowing who I am. “Frank wants to learn how to be feminine.”
The smirks split open into bellows of hilarity. I shuffle my feet awkwardly, plotting ways to get out of the situation. There are some hair straighteners in the corner. I could use it as a light sabre and burn their asses if they tried to stop me. Or that hairpin looks pretty sharp. I imagine trying to explain to Mr James how I ended up drenched in the blood of half his news team and decide to remain silent as Cam manoeuvres me over to the eagerly waiting hounds of hell.
The corner of a novel sticks out from under a sheet and I pick it up, intrigued by the attempt to hide it. There are two cowboys on the front. I like cowboys. Cowboys are cool.
“Look at page thirteen,” one of the girls tells me with a completely straight face. “That’s a really good part.”
I flip to page thirteen. And throw it across the room in dismay. “WHAT THE HELL?!” I scream to heavy laughter. “THIRTEEN PAGES IN AND THEY’RE BUTT-FUCKING?!”
“It’s a short story,” Cam protests. “A short story about friendship and undying love set against the beautiful backdrop of the West.” But the hand placed in front of her mouth to hide the giggles gives her sincerity away.
“It’s PORN!!” I cry accusingly. “Girls read porn! The proof is under the mattress!”
I seize the material and yank violently. About thirty novels come tumbling out, stamped with the label “erotica”.
“Lady Chatterley’s lover?” I read, aghast. “What foul, filthy minds you have.”
“Our foul, filthy minds are your best bet right now,” Cam continues. “So shut up and read the damn book. Girls, hold him down for me.”
My arms are grabbed and tied behind my back, my mouth gagged to stop me from screaming. Because I don’t care what they tell you, there is no form of torture worse for a boy than learning how to be a girl.
The next morning I am ready.
Instead of waiting for Raoul I cross over to Cam’s room and go down to breakfast with my new girlfriends. Our walks are synchronised perfectly, our asses stuck out just enough to make the guys standing behind us do a double take. A swift glance left, another to the right and flick the hair, flick the hair. Nice. Okay, head up, boobs out. Fantastic.
“Hey boys!” I greet in a sing song voice, sliding myself in next to Ray at the breakfast table.
“Hello Frank,” Gerard replies.
No greeting from Ray, however. Instead he leans in and takes a long deep sniff. “Are you wearing girl-stench?” he asks, perplexed.
“What, you mean like perfume?” Cynthia interjects. “That’s probably me.”
“No, it’s definitely coming from over here,” Ray shakes his head, sniffing again. I bat him away crossly.
“For your information it’s cologne, alright?” I snap. “Not girl-stench, cologne.”
Ray wrinkles his nose. “It smells like you just dipped a dirty ass in L’Oréal shampoo.”
Which provokes mad laughing from a certain bitch on the opposite side of the table. I give Ray the evil eye and decide to rise above it. It’s not his fault he’s an uncouth boy, after all.
Food comes, my greatest test yet. Normally I’d just shove as much as I can fit in my mouth, chew once, chew twice and swallow, often resulting in a sore throat and massive heart burn. But apparently, girls are at their most self-conscious in front of boys when they are eating. For one thing they actually use a knife and fork. I pick up the foreign objects, cut a neat little square off my bacon and place it daintily in my mouth, aware of the others’ eyes on me.
“Do you mind?” I scold them. “It’s rude to stare at people while their eating.”
“Since when do you eat?” says Gerard. “You normally just...consume.”
I slap a hand over my mouth to muffle the giggles, a technique Cam got me working on for about an hour last night. “God Gerard, you say the funniest things sometimes.”
Cynthia’s steely look burns right through me but I ignore it and instead slip a lose strand of hair behind my ear in a very girly way. She notices.
“Yes Gerard, you are so funny,” she nods, battering her eyelashes as if she’s got a rock or something in her eye. “Hey, do you want some of my pancakes? I don’t think I can finish them all.”
She spears pancakes with her fork and feeds them to Gerard, an almost invisible smirk creeping in at her mouth that causes stomach acid to bubble inside me. God she makes me sick. But two can play at that game, baby.
“Hey Gerard,” I say sweetly. “I’m craving a mint. You got any mints I can suck on?”
He just stares at me blankly. “Mints?”
“Yeah, I’m in the mood for a mint. Something I can really get my mouth round.” I chew my lip a little, slip another strand of hair behind my ear and gaze at Gerard seductively yet innocently.
He shifts uncomfortably in his seat and shakes his head, causing his fringe to fall over pink cheeks. Score! Cynthia’s desperation shows on her face, now as hard as nuclear nails. So she resorts to the very low.
“Aw dudes,” Ray groans. “At the breakfast table? Seriously?”
Cynthia doesn’t reply. Her mouth’s pretty full of Gerard’s face. I’m not too bothered about that. I’m concerned about the fact that her hand is currently grasping non-too discretely at Gerard’s crotch. When a moan escapes his mouth I decide I can’t take much more and stand up abruptly, causing them to break apart.
“I’m gonna go get some coffee,” I state. “Gerard? You want coffee?”
“Oh, yes please,” says Gerard who is currently looking pretty damn pleased with himself. “One sugar and-”
“-I know how you like it,” I cut him off with a wink. He goes, if possible, even brighter.
“I want coffee.”
“Coffee’s bad for you, Ray. Be back in a sec.”
I walk away obviously, allowing Gerard an eyeful of my swaying hips. But when it comes to managing the coffee machine I can’t help but press the buttons more aggressively than usual. It’s not fair. Cynthia’s not playing the same game as me with her pouty lips and cock-grabbing hands. She might as well just marry him and have me commit suicide or something.
I return back to the table with a heavy heart which drops a little further in my chest as I sit down. “Ew, ew, ew!” I exclaim, jumping up again. “Why is there nastiness on my chair?”
“Oooh sorry,” Cynthia says mock-apologetically. “I must have spilt some cream on it when I was passing it to Ray.”
Fantastic. I have ominous looking white stuff all over the back of my pants. Too far. I make a big deal of spreading jelly over my toast, clucking my tongue in sympathy when I accidentally knock some into Cynthia’s lap. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I stress emphatically. “At least it isn’t fucking WHITE.”
“It is a designer skirt, though!” Cynthia snaps. “That I bought yesterday.”
“A vampemo with a designer skirt?” I question with surprise. “That’s original.”
“You know what else is original?”
“A fag covered in chocolate,” she replies and before I have a chance to punch her lights out chocolate sauce is squirting in my face.
“Cynthia, what the fuck?!” Gerard exclaims, rushing to grab napkins.
“Don’t worry about it Gerard,” I say, wiping chocolate from my eyes. “I guess she’s just hungry.”
I grab a bottle of ketchup, smearing it all over her pathetic self with relish. She lets out a ridiculously high-pitched squeal and her hand closes around the margarine.
“What is going on over there?” Mr James’ cuts through the quarrel and we stop, faces dripping in sauce, both clutching various breakfast items. “Frank, Cynthia, get over here now!”
I’m in trouble.
“This is your fault,” I exclaim bitterly, slapping the mop against the tiled floor with hostility.
“Oh, quit your wining,” Cynthia answers sulkily, scrubbing hard at a bit of mould congealed on the window sill.
As if I’m anywhere near done. While the others are out filming the morning catwalk, we have to stay hear and do the hotel’s chores. I can even hear the cleaners laughing at me from the other room. “Why’d you have to go and cover me in Nutella, huh?” I protest. “Jesus.”
“Hey, none of this would have happened if you just did what I said and left Gerard alone,” she bites back. “Desperate times, Iero. A girl’s gotta step up her game if she’s going to keep what she wants.”
Sigh. “I don’t just want him though,” I mumble to myself.
Cynthia drops the sponge. “What?” she stares in apparent shock. “Wait...don’t tell me, you love him or something?”
She releases an ugly cackle that rebounds off the sinks and walls. “It’s easy for you to laugh,” I snap. “I bet you’ve never loved so much as a pet hamster.”
“I killed my hamster. Got too fat.”
“Point proven.” I turn away to mop up some leaking cleaning fluid so that she doesn’t have to see the dejected look on my face. When she speaks next, however, her voice has softened.
“You’re wrong though,” she says and she sounds almost human. “I love who I am. I love my friends. I know what you think of us but it’s what makes us who we are. The rest of the world can call us what they like but we’re happy that way and we’re not about to change.”
I make a non-committal gesture. “I guess I can admire you for that.”
She smiles but it’s not one of malice or contempt. “And I guess I can admire you too,” she says. “For your persistence. Even though it’s in vain.”
“We’ll see,” I shrug.
“We will,” she nods and we spend the rest of our detention in silence, but not before I swear I catch a hushed whisper of “And sooner than you think.”
Oooh it’s getting serious!
Can I just say an enormous thank you to ShadowSouls for recording this awesome podfic. It took a lot of time and I think it sounds absolutely great. Here’s a link to it on 4shared so if you want to like, listen to the story or download it or whatever just go ahead! :)
Update next Wednesday.