Chapter 26: Tales of a Jedi
Lucas sat on the couch, absentmindedly staring at the TV. It was playing some Sandra Bullock movie that made him want to fall asleep, but his girlfriend had had her heart set on watching that particular 140-minute long film of pure dullness. Lucas' arm was resting on Janie's shoulder as she was curled up against him, her head on his chest and legs over his lap. Lucas eyed the bowl of popcorn longingly. It had been moved to the couch table when Janie freaked out about him constantly dropping popcorn on the couch. She wasn't a neat freak, thank god, but her mom was. No mess allowed. The woman did not like him. Lucas wondered why the parents of all of the girlfriends he's ever had hated him. It's just weird.
It was one of those rare nights when Janie's parents were out, and Lucas could come over. Sure, they'd much rather hang out at Lucas and Danny's place, because that way there was no danger of parents, but Lucas had agreed to give Danny the apartment for tonight. Danny was going to a party, and Janie decided that if somehow miraculously Danny managed to get a girl over, they would not want to be there to hear. Well, Lucas wouldn't mind, but Janie just couldn't be happy for Danny for getting some action.
When Lucas yawned, Janie's head rose and she looked at him. "Are you tired or just bored?"
"I don't know. Which option will make the movie stop?"
Janie shook her head, thinking how unfair it was that she had to endure endless hours of Star Wars, yet when she wanted to watch a movie she liked, he always fell asleep. "Fine," she said, and turned off the TV. "What do you want to do then?"
"You know what I want to do," Lucas answered, his arm moving from her shoulder to her lower back.
Janie took the hint. After all, Lucas wasn't being exactly subtle. The almost pleading look in his eyes, the way his hand was caressing the spot where it resting on her back... Not to mention the small glances towards the pile of DVD's on the floor.
"But Lucas... We watched Star Wars yesterday," she tried to argue.
"Not with director's commentary," Lucas cheered, jumping up from the couch to change the DVD.
Janie sighed. If she had to hear that stupid Jar Jar speak in his incoherent dialect again, she’ll take a pen, stick it in her ear and swirl it around in her brain. “Come on, Lucas,” she pleaded. “Do we really have to watch it again?”
“Well I guess we can watch some Star Trek if you’d prefer.”
Janie bit her tongue so she wouldn’t scream. How did she find the only guy at school who spoke klingon fluently? Sure, she liked him. Lucas was a great guy, but there was no denying that their interests just didn’t exactly go hand in hand.
“I don’t want to watch Star Trek,” Janie calmly said. “And I don’t want to watch Star Wars either.”
"A couple of episodes of Dr. Who?"
“What do you want to do then?”
“I don’t know. Something that happens in this galaxy. All we ever do is watch these movies that don’t even make sense.”
Lucas gasped and hugged the Star Wars DVD set protectively. “Don’t say that! It’ll hear you!”
“You used to be romantic. Remember? We could have an intimate moment without you picturing me as Princess Leia.”
“I don’t do that!” When Janie looked at him and raised an eyebrow, he added: “Well not always.”
“You just don’t get it. It’s like I don’t matter anymore.”
“You do matter.”
“For the past few weeks you’ve been acting strange. Ever since we saw that girl at Starbucks, you’ve been distant. It's like you're pushing me away.”
“What girl? Wasn't it a guy? An old guy? I remember a beard,” Lucas stammered, but was so nervous that he felt his palms get sweaty. She was partly right, after seeing Gia for the first time since her return, he’d been unable to think about anyone or anything else.
“You know who I mean, don’t play stupid with me. Look, I don’t know what happened between the two of you and I’m not sure I even want to know, but all I’m asking is that when you’re with me, don’t act like this.”
“Like you’re a million light years away! Can we just be a normal couple? Can we have normal for one night?”
Lucas nodded. “Of course. So... You wanna have sex?”
Janie groaned. This guy was unbelievable. “I think it’s best you leave.”
“Wait, you’re kicking me out? What did I do?!” Lucas asked, panicking. Usually Janie was very mellow, and it took a lot for her to get agitated.
“Just get out! I’ll call you tomorrow but right now I just can’t even look at you.”
Lucas might not be the sharpest crayon in the box but he knew when he wasn’t wanted. But before he left, he couldn’t help but ask: “So... Does this mean you won’t dress up as Princess Leia for Halloween?”
For some reason, Janie threw the bowl of popcorn at him, and Lucas was forced to flee.
When Lucas got home, his initial reaction was to hold his breath. The whole place stunk toxic with cigarette fumes and strong alcohol, which would've been fine if the stench didn't hit him so suddenly. When Lucas got used to the smell and could breathe again, he could smell a slightest hint of strangely familiar sweet perfume. He figured Danny had succeeded in his plan to get a girl over. Good for Danny.
Lucas took off his jacket and shoes and threw his keys at the general direction of the key bowl, and hoped he didn't wake anyone up when the keys caused the whole bowl to crash on the floor. Too tired to pick it up, he decided to leave it there and started dragging his feet to his bedroom.
It was already way past 3 AM, so it was no wonder Danny had passed out. As Lucas walked past his roommate's bedroom, he couldn't help his curiosity and peeked in. It's not like the door was closed so what's the harm in peeking. Of course, after he saw who Danny was in bed with, he wished he hadn't looked at all.
Lucas wasn't sure how he felt about this. On the other hand, he had Janie, so this just shouldn't have mattered. Then again, seeing his ex-girlfriend in bed with his best friend wasn't anywhere near the list of things he wished to see in his lifetime. Sure, Gia and Danny were as far away from each other as possible, and both were wearing an appropriate amount of clothing, but details like that somehow escaped Lucas' mind as the only thought that seemed to ram through his thick skull was grabbing a pillow and suffocating Danny with it.
But of course, the homicidal act could wait until tomorrow. Lucas was simply far too tired that he could barely keep his eyes open, let alone hold up a pillow against someone's face until they stop breathing. No, patience is a virtue, so the killing would feel even better in the morning.
When Gia woke up, her initial thought was 'Oh no, not again!'. Waking up in a bed in a strange apartment with a guy she hardly knew was starting to become way too familiar. As she stretched her limbs, partly because every part of her body was still asleep and partly to make sure nothing was broken, she felt a sharp pain in her lower back. Ignoring the pain for the time being, Gia looked around the room, ignoring the stench of alcohol that made her want to vomit, and saw her purse lying on the floor right next to the bed. After making sure she was still fully clothed - which she was, thank god - she picked up the purse and went through it. All of her cash was gone, which wasn't that big of a deal because she only had about 20 dollars on her, and her cell phone had only one missed call. It's really a no brainer who the caller was. Gia figured she'd call Gerard back once she got out of this apartment.
As she was getting out of the bed and collecting her leather jacket from the floor, the person lying next to her woke up. He stretched his limbs, burped very loudly, and then noticed her. He stared at her like he wasn't surprised at all to see her.
"Good morning," Danny said.
"Morning," Gia answered, although she was very confused by his relaxed attitude towards all this. "Um, one question. Did we...?"
Danny laughed. "You wish."
Gia sighed in relief. "Oh thank god. I'd better go," she said, and as she was leaving the room, Danny stopped her.
"By the way," Danny started. "I had fun. We should do this again some time."
"Don't count on it," Gia said. She couldn't remember much of last night, which was a clear indication that even though it may have been fun, it wasn't something to be proud of.
"Oh and Gia," he continued. "Nice ink."
At first she didn't know what he meant. Then, as the new information sunk in, Gia realized the source of the pain she'd felt on her lower back that she'd dismissed earlier. Yep, this was it. This was the final straw that was going to make her father snap and just chop her to pieces with an axe and bury those pieces in the backyard.
"Do you have a mirror?" Gia asked, and Danny pointed at the dresser in the corner of the room. She opened the dresser door and there was a large mirror on the inside of the door. She lifted her shirt and pulled down her jeans just enough to see the monstrosity that was decorating her pale skin. "Oh no," she gasped. "I have a tramp stamp!"
"Yeah," Danny laughed, looking pretty amused.
"This isn't funny!" she snapped and felt like she was about to cry. Gerard was going to kill her. There was no question about it. "I am so dead," she sighed as she inspected the black tribal pattern that had a blue butterfly in the middle of it.
"It's not that bad."
"How did this happen?"
"How does anything happen when you're drunk? You get wasted, suddenly every bet is a good idea and next thing you know, you're in a cab on your way to a tattoo parlor to have a permanent sign of sexual promiscuity tattooed on yourself."
Gia really hated herself. "I should go home. You know, to get killed and stuff. You're welcome to come to my funeral."
"Thanks, I'll see you there."
Gia left the room, dwelling deep in her internal pit of self-loathing, and as she was so concentrated on her own thoughts, she hadn't even considered the possibility of running into Lucas. So when she saw him, leaning on the kitchen door, a mug filled with coffee, dressed in his Green Lantern t-shirt and pajama bottoms, she felt her heart skip a beat.
"Morning," he said, clearly not very pleased with the circumstances.
Gia opened her mouth to answer, but she couldn't get any words out of her mouth. The situation must've looked pretty bad from where he was standing, and Gia knew that. But of course, as she was unwilling to deal with any kind of conflict, instead of explaining, Gia walked past him and left the apartment. The moment she closed the door behind herself and stood in the empty hallway, she let out the breath she'd been holding in, and fished out a pack of cigarettes from her pocket.
Inside the apartment, Lucas was not done with the issue. Since Gia had obviously decided to not acknowledge his existence, he would have to settle for the next best thing. And that thing happened to just emerge from his bedroom.
"Morning," Danny said and yawned. "Did you make coffee?"
"I don't know. Did you sleep with my girlfriend?" Lucas snapped, and then corrected himself: "I mean my ex-girlfriend. I mean... Shut up. Did you?"
"What's it to you?" Danny asked, walking into the kitchen with Lucas on his trail. He opened the fridge and looked into it, trying to find food. He was very aware of how annoyed this 'so what' -attitude made Lucas, and boy did he enjoy it.
"You know that if you did, it's in clear violation of the code!"
Danny raised an eyebrow, feeling pretty amused by all this. "The code?"
"Yeah! The bro code! Mothers, sisters, and ex-girlfriends are off limits!"
"What about hot grandmas? Remember when I met your grandma at your birthday? She's a total cougar."
"Leave my Nana out of this!" Lucas raised his voice. "Tell me honestly, did you two... You know?"
Danny shut the fridge door and finally looked at his friend. "Yeah, so?" he lied, staring at Lucas challengingly.
The whole apartment was quiet, only the quiet humming of the old fridge was audible. Danny started to wonder if the lie had been the best move when he saw the reaction to it. The two of them had been friends for a long time, but not once had he seen Lucas this angry. Lucas was quite scrawny, as most of his time was either spent on the computer, the couch or strumming a guitar. But now when Lucas' fists clenched and his whole body seemed to go stiff from the anger, Danny wondered exactly how much strength could he gather into the punch that he knew he had coming.
And as he had predicted, Lucas threw his fist at him and hit him straight on the jaw. If it hadn't been hurt so much and he hadn't been temporarily blinded by the pain, Danny would've figured that the jaw was a total accident and Lucas had really aimed for the nose.
Danny leaned on the counter, hovering over the sink, and spit the blood from his mouth out. He held a hand on his jaw, trying to figure it if it had been dislocated. But Lucas wasn't done.
"How could you do that?!" he asked with a raised voice. He didn't particularly care that Danny's face was probably hurting so much it felt like it was on fire, in fact it made him feel satisfied that he was the one who caused that physical pain. "You are such an asshole!" Lucas kept on ranting for a good while, calling his friend all kinds of colorful names, but Danny merely stood there with an odd grin on his face until finally it started to tick off Lucas even more. "And would you please stop looking at me like that when I'm angry at you!"
"Oh relax," Danny laughed, and then immediately winced in pain as the laugh hurt his jaw. "Never thought you could hit that hard. I mean, I always thought you'd be more of a slapper."
"What?" Lucas asked, thoroughly confused by this nonchalant attitude. "Umm... I've been playing a lot of Wii Boxing," he stammered. "But that's not the point! I'm mad at you!"
"Calm down. I didn't do anything with Gia."
Lucas went completely silent for a moment, then looked at Danny like he'd gone mad. "Wait, what?"
"I didn't do anything to her. We got drunk, I offered her a place to crash for the night because I figured you'd be at Janie's all night, we came here and passed out. Nothing happened. You think I'd actually do something? She's not even my type."
"Then why did you say you did?"
Danny shook his head. "Lucas, we've known each other since you were still in diapers."
"You were in diapers too."
"Shut up, I was born potty trained. The point is, we've never had a fight. I beat up a girl in second grade because she was bullying you. I did that for you."
"She was a big girl. Strong," Lucas said, his cheeks getting a lovely shade of crimson from the memory of being pushed around by a girl. "And she was half shark I think..."
"And in fifth grade I tasted all of your food before you ate it because you were paranoid and thought the biology teacher was trying to poison you."
"He was! You didn't see the way he was glaring at me!"
"Lucas, you've never hit me before. You've never had a reason to. We've been best friends before you could even speak. And now you hit me because you thought I slept with Gia. What does that tell you?"
"I don't understand. Also that was so cheesy," Lucas said, scratching his head, trying to figure out what the guy was trying to say.
Danny sighed, and said: "You just think about it. Now I need to go pass out. And maybe get some surgery later. And painkillers. Definitely painkillers."
Lucas watched him walk out of the kitchen and back to his room, but still couldn't figure out exactly what had just happened. He stood there for a long time, deep in thought, and realized for the first time ever that Danny actually may not be as dumb as he looked.