I think I finally understand the true meaning behind the phrase 'silence is golden'.
I'm in a great mood for once. Why, you ask?
'CAUSE THIS CHAPTER WAS A BITCH TO WRITE AND TOOK ME FOREVER AND A HALF TO FINISH!
I don't know why but every time I'd sit down to write this I'd write a few paragraphs, hate what I wrote and delete it, change my mind about what was gonna happen and try again, hate/delete it AGAIN, and then just give up entirely and shut off my laptop.
But after about two weeks of torture (sorry it took me so long, but at least it's longer than usual, right?) here it is!
Hope you all like it :) shit's starting to get real.
"Where the fuck is Pete, man?"
I watch as James paces around the small practice space for about the trillionth time, stealthily avoiding cables and random music equipment laid out haphazardly on the carpeted floor. Gabe is sat on top of an amp in the corner of the room, writing what I assume to be lyrics on a notepad, humming the melody of the latest song we've been working on under his breath. He looks at least ten notches less annoyed than James, but I can tell from the slight impatient tap of his foot that he is bothered by Pete's sudden disappearance as well.
I, on the other hand, am unperturbed by this turn of events. I wouldn't dare share this aloud of course, that crazy look in James' eyes is slightly unnerving, but it's the truth. I have not had a Pete-free day in weeks, and so far, today seems promising. We only have the practice space for another hour and we desperately need to run through our set list before our next gig however, so right now isn't the ideal time for Pete to disappear, despite my wishes.
"Fuck it. We're starting without him."
Gabe raises an eyebrow at James, who is now picking up his guitar angrily, but doesn't say another word and goes to grab his mic. I follow their lead and clip on my guitar strap, making sure it's secure before we begin. The guys have told me I get pretty out of control when I get into my playing, even during rehearsal. I don't know what they're talking about, I think I'm fairly calm when I get lost in the music.
We run through the first two songs without much difficulty, even while missing the bass parts. It's not until we reach the chorus of the third that I do something incredibly stupid.
It's not that I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing, I just got a bit…distracted. It's hard to focus on strumming all the right chords, staying on tempo, keeping inner turmoil under control, and looking out for your surroundings, all at the same time. One was bound to be abandoned sooner or later. Three guesses which one that was.
If it wasn't for Pete and his stupid laugh. And his cocky grin. And his annoying humor. And his irritating voice. And his pushy attitude, I may have avoided tripping over my guitar table and splitting my lip open James' bass drum.
Gabe stops singing once he hears my outburst and James is a step ahead, having seen me fall first hand.
"Frank! Oh shit, are you alright?"
James is by my side in a second, helping me up and inspecting my injury. I can feel the blood flooding my mouth as I say "Yeah. Fine", but I rather not make a huge deal out of my stupidity. I used to fall down all time as a kid. A little scratch on the lip is nothing new to me.
James doesn't buy my macho man routine and hauls me towards the restroom down the hall to help me clean up.
"It's not that bad, dude. Really. See?"
I press an index finger to my bottom lip in order to prove to James that the pain isn't that severe, but totally ruin it when I accidentally wince. James just rolls his eyes fondly and holds the door to the men's room open for me.
"You should put some ice on that. I don't think I'll be able to find any around here, though."
"I don't need any ice" I argue, sounding like a stubborn toddler in a toy store who's mother won't give him what he wants, "Just give me a minute to wash this blood off and I'll be fine."
"Your mouth is going to swell up so bad you're not gonna be able to speak in a few minutes, but okay. Suit yourself."
I lean in close to the mirror over the sink, inspecting the damage. My lips are so bloody it looks like I'm wearing bright red lipstick that glimmers in the dull light. It's kinda gross and kinda cool at the same time. I can barely even see my lip ring under the liquid substance. I must have fallen pretty damn hard.
I grab a handful of napkins from the dispenser over the trash and begin to dab gently at my mouth until a majority of the blood is gone. Once I can see my lip properly I notice that both my top and bottom lip have begun to swell considerably. Screw James for always being right.
"Okay, maybe I'll put some cold water on it."
"Ata boy" he says before winking and laughing good-heartedly.
I run a wad of napkins under some water, faucet turned as cold as possible. The relief I feel when I place the napkins on my burning lips is almost enough to make me groan. There's an old analogue clock hung on the wall behind me, and when I see the time through the reflection in the mirror, I realize we only have less than half an hour of precious rehearsal time left.
"I'm so sorry, man. I just wasted our time by being such a klutz."
"Don't worry about it, it's not like we were making much progress today anyway. Pete's gone awol and Gabe's in a weird mood" really though, when isn't he? I think to myself.
"Plus," James adds, humor in his eyes, "that was fucking hilarious to watch. How did you even manage to trip so hard? Too busy day dreaming about Wentz?"
It's obvious that James means it as a joke, but I flush pink and downcast my eyes at the rather accurate assumption anyway. The only difference is that James means it in a romantic sense when I was really just focused on loathing Pete's very existence.
"Ha! You totally were!"
I don't respond. Instead, I busy myself with gingerly fixing my lip ring that had fallen out of place after I fell. Because, really, what am I supposed to say to that?
Yeah, I'm madly in love with Pete would require me to lie through my teeth and No, I actually can't stand your bassist and long-time close friend would probably end with more blood shed. And this time it wouldn't be from my own doing.
I think I finally understand the true meaning behind the phrase 'silence is golden'.
When I turn to face James once again, lip ring securely in place, his face has transformed from the gentle, light hearted expression it held moments before into a more serious one. I panic for a second that I might have said, or rather, not said, something he didn't like.
"Listen, Frank. I know you and Pete seem to have hit it off so far, and that's great, it really is, but" he takes a moment to gather his thoughts, brow furrowed, as if he wants to be extra careful on how he words what he has to say.
"Just- be careful, okay?"
To say that catches me off guard is an understatement. I was fully expecting big brother type threats on not hurting his best friend, when really he's the one looking out for me.
"Careful? What do you mean?"
James breaks eye contact with me in favor of staring at his shoes hesitantly. He begins to stumble over his words, which is a very rare occasion for James Dewees who is always so confident and sure of himself.
"He, I- Let's just say Pete doesn't have a good track record when it comes to relationships. I can't remember the last time he was in one that ended well."
That's not so shocking. Most people don't have great luck when it comes to dating. I could practically be a spokesperson for that. I've only been in a handful of relationships, all with girls before I accepted that I wasn't bating for that team, and none of them were a walk in the park. But it looks like there's something James isn't telling me. A part of me isn't so ecstatic about finding out what that is.
Before I can question James any further on the matter, Pete strolls into the bathroom. When I say 'stroll', I really mean stroll. He's walking right past James like he doesn't have a care in the world, completely ignoring the death glare he's giving him. I think I even hear James growl deep within his chest once Pete locks the door to one of the stalls.
"I'm gonna leave before I do something I'll regret" James informs me, fiery rage present in his dark, brown eyes. True to his word, he exits the bathroom after slamming a fist down on the closed door Pete is behind, making him yelp like a Chihuahua.
I try to stealthily make my way out as well before Pete notices, but I'm too late. He emerges from the stall, stupid fucking smirk right where it always is, and stops me before I can escape.
"What's his problem?"
I see what James means by leaving before he does anything stupid, because I'm seconds away from punching that irritating smirk right off his pretty little face.
Maybe then it would stay out of my mind too.
Loud voices. Too-bright lights. Cold glasses in my hand. Empty glasses in my hand. Pills in assorted colors. Slurred conversation. Off beat dancing. Intoxicated kisses. Touching. Moaning. Nausea. Blackness.
There are two things I am instantly aware of the second my mind breaks through the heavy layer of sleep it was buried under. Firstly, I have no recollection of last night or how or when I fell asleep. Secondly, if I don't get myself to a bathroom soon I'm going to puke all over the hard, wooden floor I am unfortunately laying on.
Once I get my eyes open, which takes more time than I'd care to admit, my dilated, over sensitive pupils are attacked by bright, artificial light. I heave my sore body up anyway, determined to find a restroom even if I can only squint the tiniest fraction of an inch while guiding myself. The room, which I have now discovered is an unkept apartment even worse than the one Bert, Quinn, and I share, is spinning all around me. My stomach feels like it's starting a mosh pit inside of me, disturbing all other internal organs in the process. I have to steady myself against a nearby paint chipped wall before I fall over from the intensity of it.
Thankfully, my vision has now adapted to the surrounding light and I spot a bathroom down the hall adjacent to where I am stood. I stumble over my shaky feet along the way but manage to get myself kneeled in front of the open lid of the toilet just in time to empty the contents of my stomach. It's mostly dry heaves that make my entire back damp with cold sweat and make my moist palms slip on the weak grip I have on the sides of the bowl.
A few more lurches and my body decides it can't take anymore. I let myself fall onto the cold tile of the bathroom floor, not even flinching when the back of my already pounding head collides roughly with the bath tub behind me. I'm past the point of caring about anything, period. Past caring about where I am. Past caring about who I probably hooked up with last night. Past caring about the impression I have been leaving on people lately. Past caring about my health. My future. My life. My existence.
I begin to entertain the thought of ending it all tonight. No more pain, no more depression; it'd be wonderful.
No, I think to myself, it's not the right time yet.
I'm not sure how or when I'll know it's the 'right time', but I let the voice in the back of my mind win. I'm too exhausted to argue…even if it's with myself.
Wow, you really are losing it, Gerard.
I float in that hazy state between consciousness and slumber for a while, just concentrating on the steady rise and fall of my chest. My vision is still slightly out of focus, but at least the walls are staying in one place.
I can't say I'm entirely surprised when Bert causally walks into the bathroom and pisses while standing over me, feet placed on the gaps between my outstretched arms like I'm part of the decor. He washes his face in the sink once he's done and scratches at his beard, inspecting it at different angles in mirror.
"Think I should shave this off? It's getting pretty long and I can't be fucked with trimming it all the time" questions Bert, looking down on my reflection in the mirror in search of an opinion.
I try to respond, but I have such a bad case of cotton mouth that all that comes out is a hoarse "Mmmmphm".
I catch Bert's smirk in the mirror before he turns around and addresses me properly.
Miraculously, I find my voice this time.
"Like you don't know? You were there." For a moment I roll my eyes at Bert's stupidity but stop once I realize I might be wrong. I also stop because that whole eye rolling thing isn't such a great idea with migraine, but that's beside the point.
"You were there…right?"
I mentally steel myself for the oncoming answer.
"Yeah, of course."
Sigh of relief.
"Until you left with that guy."
I spoke too soon. Or, sighed too soon?
"Do I even want to know?"
"Probably not", Bert shrugs as he pulls himself on to the countertop, "But I'm gonna tell you anyway."
"Didn't we all go to that Pub together?"
My memory isn't the clearest thing in the world right now, but I do remember partaking in our daily routine early on in the night.
"Yeah. We hung around there for a while, drank a couple beers, popped a couple pills, downed a couple shots. Y'know, the usual."
So far so good, I can vaguely recall some of the events Bert is recounting to me.
"But there was this guy that was all over you last night. He kept buying you drinks and trying to get you to dance with him."
This is where my memory abandons me for the most part. I can't even remember what this mystery guy looks like.
"I didn't though, right?" Bert knows as well as I do that I am not the dancing type by any means, although he claims that's not the case when I'm wasted enough.
His wide smirk tells me all I need to know.
"Hell yes you did. You were grinding that tight ass all over this guy" Bert's chuckling really isn't making me feel any better, not that he cares.
"And from the looks of it, he got what he wanted."
"What are you talking about?"
I know Bert can be hyper-observant most of the time, but there's no way he can tell I slept with the guy just by looking at me. He hops off the counter and makes room for me to step in front of the mirror.
"Look for yourself."
After a few seconds of inspecting my messy appearance, I spot what Bert is talking about. On the right side of my abnormally pale neck lies a huge, dark hickey the size of a baseball. I can even make out teeth marks around the forming bruise. I close my eyes and lean my forehead against the mirror, groaning loudly.
Great, Bert's right. There's no doubt this guy and I hooked up last night. Since I was wasted off my ass, that means it was probably unprotected too. With my luck I caught some terrible, incurable STD. Not that it really matters anymore. It's not like I'd have to live with it for very long. But still, the fact that I made myself so easily accessible to this creep makes me feel like utter scum.
The feeling only worsens when I open my eyes and am met with the dead and emotionally drained irises starring back at me in the mirror. My parents were right all those times they put me down, telling me what a piece of shit I am. I'm no better than the dirt built up under my finger nails after days of not showering.
My voice sounds weak and washed out. I have to swallow down the lump in my throat before I burst into tears right in front of him.
"I need a fix. I'm all out and I need something, quick. Please."
My voice cracks on that last word and Bert must sense my desperation because he automatically reaches into his pocket.
"Yeah dude, no problem" he says and drops three white pills onto the counter.
"No" I answer immediately, "I need something else. Something stronger."
Bert grabs hold of my shoulder and spins me around to face him, looking me dead in the eye. I don't think I've ever seen Bert act this serious before.
"Are you sure?"
I'm about to answer 'yes' right away, but Bert shakes his head sternly before I even open my mouth.
"Seriously think about this, Gerard. Don't say you want it until you're absolutely sure. This ain't any little pills you take for fun with a couple friends at a bar. Once you go down this road there may not be any turning back."
I know he's right, but I can barely think past the pounding need for more coursing through my veins and reverberating through my head. I know what I'm getting myself into, but this is what I want. What I need.
"Who says I'd want to turn back?"
Bert nods, respecting my decision, and digs through his pocket once more. This time he comes out with a little baggie, filled half way with glorious, snowy white powder.
Please R&R! :)