Frank’s eyes were wide and the only untarnished gold in the dark that had seen too much. He couldn’t turn back. He knew he should, but he was still walking.
Chapter Eleven: Dead Dancers
All in all, Frank’s day didn’t improve much as it progressed. No matter how hard he tried to focus on his lessons, the concentration slipped as fluidly and easily as water from his grip, and by fifth period, he’d completely given up on trying to maintain it. Instead of thirsting for regulation textbook wisdom and pasteurised facts like he’d always done before, Frank was suddenly consumed by a craving for uncharted, untamed knowledge. It flooded every inch of his being like nothing had before, taking him over, itching at his too-tight skin as it yearned to be fed with the kind of information he had never been allowed before.
By lunchtime, Clarissa was relentlessly poking and prodding him with question after question, clearly worried by this new, restless, distracted Frank who fidgeted and daydreamed through lessons, tapping his pencil on the desk or jiggling his leg impatiently up and down, as though he was waiting for something.
Frank was worried too. He wasn’t sure what was happening to him. Suddenly, all earnest, hard-working ambitions were being eclipsed by this desire to venture beyond everyone’s perspective of him. He wasn’t sure if it was Robbie or punk music or the gaunt, glitteringly green eyes flitting to his in the dark of unforgotten memories, but he knew one thing; he wasn’t who he thought he was. That itch of curiosity in the shadows of his psyche- that itch that he’d tried to push away for so long- was breaking through, and the night that debauched the woodland and crawled with nightmares had been the final straw. The night where he’d nearly lost his life.
As such a normally organised, whole sort of person, it greatly disconcerted Frank to feel so haphazardly flung together in a jumbling of pieces that didn’t quite fit into sync with one another, but shifted constantly, as if they were trying to find a place to settle.
It kept him quiet and distant all day, lost in an avalanche of thoughts that were of a language he wasn’t fully fluent quite yet- all he knew was that they were overwhelmed with the smell of the decomposing forest floor, the flash of firelight, and those flickering, cagey emerald eyes suddenly scintillating through the stark blackness at him. No matter how hard he tried, Frank couldn’t push them from his mind. It was as though their imprint of morbidly dazzling green had been tattooed into his thoughts.
Despite their mass and cloudiness, one theme ran throughout every thought.
If it wasn’t for this supposed killer, Frank would be dead.
He should be dead. It was as though some intangible twist of fate had smashed through his definition of reality, and now there were so many shards of the illusion, it was impossible to piece it back together to how it was before- and that scared him. He’d secretly longed for adventure since he was a kid, but now that it was here, it was confusing and its darkness was obscuring all he understood.
The ballet hall was time-out from reality. It’s soft lighting and waxy floors and mirrored walls choreographed freedom, and before it’s downfall, he had never felt anything other than as though the air around him was one, unending sigh of soft relief, sweeping him gently along into its tranquillity and dusting all angst from his shoulders.
Contrary to the atmosphere of lightness it gave, the hall had no windows to the outside world, which, logically, should perhaps have made it feel dank and trapped rather than free- but he had always thought that was exactly why it felt so devoid of horror and full, so overflowing, with pure freedom; reality- the dark, twisted truth- couldn’t interfere. It couldn’t leer down on them, taunting fate in their faces like maggot-ridden meat they’d one day have to choke on.
Nothing could ooze blackly, sticky like dried blood, into the hall and taint the dreamlike quality the symphony of dance and music and talent evoked.
At least, that was what he’d always felt.
But, as always, the world's contradiction took the cruelest shapes.
The ballet hall’s foundations were built on the soft, feathery talent and dazzling passion- a combination as rare and fragile as an untainted soul. But the second it was spattered in the dark, hot red of revenge and reality, its haven and innocence would be shattered forever, beyond repair.
Frank’s sudden and uncharacteristic lapse in concentration had a number of effects. One of these was that his day, far from improving following his breaktime with Robbie, went so badly downhill, Frank was surprised he didn’t end up with whiplash. Apart from forgetting his Hamlet coursework for English Lit and daydreamed his way through an entire reading lesson, Frank had spilled a funny-smelling green substance all over his lab partner in Advanced Bio and consequently received his first detention ever. In fact, at that stage, the only thing keeping him going was the little thrill that shivered through him at the prospect of hanging out with Robbie later.
When he thanked his French oral examiner for her money instead of time and mixed up the translation for ‘prostitute’ and ‘teacher’, he honestly thought the day could not get any worse- especially with Clarissa bombarding him with anxious questions at every possible opportunity.
But of course, the world would never be so kind. Instead, Frank accidentally ended up defending The Black Rainbow Lies in the presence of not just Clarissa and Ray, but all his fellow members of the Homework Club. It had been lunchtime, and due to the grizzly October rain that swept the muddy fields outside, the sixth form common room was full of people chatting softly or revising in the warmth- or in Frank’s case, interspersing Maths homework with bites of a slightly limp tuna salad sandwich, and getting increasingly frustrated at the way the words swum about on the page, refusing to sink into the sand of his brain.
He kept getting distracted by the patterns of the clear rain gliding silently down the window beside him or the way Robbie kept tucking his tangled green hair behind his ear because the floppy fringe was just a little too short and kept falling out of place. The eccentrically-dressed boy had his feet up on the coffee table, and Frank could just make out the lyrics of ‘I’ll eat your guts for breakfast’ hissing from the headphones hooked casually round Robbie’s neck.
Sadly, Clarissa seemed to be able to hear it too- or else Frank would have been spared the whole, disastrous situation.
“Excuse me!” She had called primly across the room, and Robbie looked up, smiling pleasantly.
“Yes?” he replied cheerfully, popping a fizzy glow worm sweet into his mouth and turning to face her.
“Could you please turn that uninspiring, angry excuse for music down?” Clarissa snapped, re-tying the clasp on her plait, something Frank had noticed she always did when she was getting stressed. “Some of us are trying to work and actually want to get good grades, you know.”
“Don’t judge music you haven’t even listened properly to,” Frank said without thinking, not looking up from his sad-looking tuna salad sandwich. “And for your information, The Black Rainbow Lies are actually okay.”
After spending most of the night restlessly awake, worrying that he should be worrying about French revision when he was actually worrying about gaunt, green-eyed convicts, Frank was a little slower as quick on the uptake as normal. Therefore, it had taken him a few seconds and another bite of his tuna salad sandwich to realise just what he’d said, and promptly choke on his mouthful.
Gregory, Adam and Sophie, his friends from the Homework Club were gawping at him in utter disbelief, Ray was biting his lip sympathetically and Robbie flashed Frank a cheeky wink, grinning, while Clarissa was glaring at Frank so stonily it was as though he was actually the escaped convict, not her boyfriend of sixth months.
Frank gulped, feeling his cheeks burn in horror as he realised what he’d just said. “Um.”
“What?” Clarissa hissed, jabbing Frank with her English jotter. Ray tactfully looked away, throwing Frank a sympathetic ‘sorry-you’re-going-to-die’ smile. “What the hell do you mean, Frankie?”
“You heard the man,” Robbie called across the room, beaming proudly at Frank. “Good on you, Sausagey! Oh, and for your information, I got straight As in last year’s exams, Clarissa. Just because I like to have a life outside school doesn’t mean I can’t get good grades.” He smiled politely, but his turquoise eyes glittered in triumph.
Clarissa flushed, and Frank suddenly found himself biting back a smile, because Clarissa hadn’t got straight As in last years exams.
“Frank?” Clarissa’s pretty blue eyes were wide with blue distain and confusion, boring into Frank incredulously.
“Um,” Frank bowed his head, feeling flustered. He didn’t know what to say without offending either Clarissa or Robbie, who was looking at Frank as though he’d just won the lottery and he had one of those wonderfully infectious smiles that just made anyone else around him want to smile too, regardless of how they were feeling. Well, except perhaps Clarissa.
Instead of choosing a side, Frank just swallowed uncomfortably, and ducked behind his Maths book, cheeks still burning with humiliation.
He spent the remainder of lunch break hiding behind the textbook, but couldn’t help smiling back at Robbie as the green-haired boy called an exuberant goodbye on his way to fifth period. This caused Clarissa’s glare- which Frank had truly believed could not get any colder- to become practically glacial and Frank received the silent treatment for the rest of the day.
He vaguely realised, halfway through an incorrect Maths equation, that it probably wasn’t a good sign for their relationship that this aspect was a huge relief.
By the time the school bell rung and Frank was shunted and shoved onto the airless, stale-petrol scented interior of the school bus amongst a sea of jabbing elbows and chatter, he wasn’t sure he’d ever been so glad to see the back of a school day. He’d been shouted at in last period Maths for not paying attention, and backed into a locker and hit his head when Clarissa had apologised and tried to kiss him.
She was sitting beside him, looking stony and affronted. Frank felt distinctly bad about dodging her kiss, but he’d done it without thinking and now he couldn’t take it back. Usually, he was able to prepare himself for it, but she’d taken him by surprise and was now probably really hurt at his reaction. Frank knew Clarissa, and he knew that she wasn’t really sulking anymore, she was just upset.
This bothered him, because Frank genuinely cared about Clarissa. They’d been friends for years, and he hated to think of upsetting one of his oldest friends. Or his girlfriend, of course. Because that’s what she was. His girlfriend.
His girlfriend who wasn’t showing any knowledge of his existence as the bus trundled jerkily along the familiar, winding countryside lanes, the death-bathed hedgerows brushing their unruffled, jutting branches scrapingly alongside the shiny exterior of the bus, while their faded orange leaves blew up into the air like rain in reverse. Frank watched them spiral like the corpses of dancers through the frayed sunshine that glistened raindrops on the dusty glass beside him, and let out a small sigh that misted up the autumnal world outside.
The rest of the bus’ airless, badly air-conditioned atmosphere was overflowing with the loud rabble and chattering of their peers and the unhealthy chug of the bus, and it only highlighted the festering silence that had hung between Frank and Clarissa for far too long. Not just a silence of hurt, but a silence of things never shared.
Frank fidgeted, shifting around uncomfortably on his cheap nylon seat and pushing his glasses up his nose with a small sigh as the air conditioning blew stray waves of his toffee coloured hair into his line of vision, a poor imitation of the wind majestically sweeping the countryside Frank stared out at in internal disarray.
Ray was sitting just in the seat just in front of him, beside Robbie, but Frank didn’t dare speak to either of them in fear of just offending Clarissa further- however, he didn’t want to offend Robbie by ignoring him either. Thankfully, he was saved having to make the decision when Robbie turned round in his seat to directly face him, turquoise eyes glittering, and grinned widely at Frank.
“Hi,” he whispered loudly, winking.
Frank squirmed and blushed. “Hello.”
Beside him, he felt Clarissa tense angrily, but he tried to push it from his mind.
“Did your day improve at all since I saw you at break?” Robbie asked, leaning his head on the headrest and gazing at Frank innocently, batting his long eyelashes.
“N-not really,” Frank stammered, feeling awkward. “How was yours?”
“It was okay. I freed the lab-frogs last period. Mrs. McCloud wasn’t happy, but hey, neither were the frogs in those horrible little Tupperware boxes, were they?” Robbie grinned, shaking his hair out of his eyes.
Frank couldn’t stop a smile twitching at his lips, but bit it back for the sake of Clarissa, whose lips were straining so much to keep a neutral expression, they were going white. Guiltily, Frank gulped and looked back to where Robbie was resting his head on the headrest, his face so close Frank could smell the cigarettes and smoke and rebellion on his breath.
“I named them too,” Robbie announced, eyes twinkling and crinkling up at the edges as he smiled. “Tallulah, Felix, Nymphadora, David and Twinkletoes.”
Frank couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing, and felt Clarissa throw him a furious glare, which she hurriedly smoothed over. But really, he didn’t care.
“It’s a very serious matter, Sausageboy,” Robbie reprimanded him, leaning over and tapping Frank lightly on the nose, eyes wide and full of bright blue humour. “Those names were very meaningful.”
“Sorry,” Frank stifled his giggles guiltily at another huffy sniff from Clarissa.
“Stop apologising all the time, Sausagekisses!” Robbie rolled his eyes. “You don’t need to be so polite, y’know.”
“Sorry,” Frank said without thinking, and Robbie shook his head, grinning in disbelief. He leant over and patted Frank’s head gently, and Frank got another lungful of smoky, strangely…tugging breath. Then his cheeks were heating up, and Frank suddenly didn’t know where to look, because Robbie was in his face, all green hair and grins and pumpkin orange eyeliner.
A particularly violent jerk in the bus’ engine flung Robbie back in his seat, and Frank bit his lip, ducking his head to his feet.
“Holy shit, this driver’s just about as good as Venom,” Robbie retrived himself from an unruffled Ray’s lap and rolled his eyes, making Frank smile, despite the fear he had felt in the car with the unpredictable Goth.
“So. I have to go home before I come and turn you into a little rebel, but what time would you like me to come and get you?” Robbie asked, fiddling with a curl in Ray’s ‘fro that had strayed over to his side of the headrest.
“Um. I don’t mind,” Frank said politely, smiling shyly.
“Awesomebeans,” Robbie said cheerfully. “I was thinking maybe I’ll whisk you back to mine for a bit…Lindsey and Venom should be coming over too. A mini-party for my favourite guests. What d’you think, Frankfurter?”
Frank shrugged, secretly thrilled to have been included. “Sounds good.”
Clarissa inhaled sharply.
“Don’t worry, I won’t get you drunk again,” Robbie grinned. “Though I have to say, you are adorable when you’re tipsy. You tried to teach me algebraic fractions with toilet paper, y’know.”
“I did?” Frank blushed and adjusted his glasses awkwardly.
“Hey, there’s nothing to be ashamed about, Frankieboy,” Robbie grinned, poking Frank’s nose again.
“Um,” Frank said awkwardly, hiding behind his hair. Luckily, before Clarissa could silently kill him, the bus heaved to a halt, and Robbie grabbed his schoolbag and sprung to his feet.
“Right, this is my stop, so I’ll be seeing you later, Sausagey,” he threw Frank a grin, blew him a kiss, and sauntered off down the aisle. Frank watched him until he was off the bus and then leant back into his seat with a small sigh.
For several seconds, silence grew between him and Clarissa, obese and flabby with inane bickering just waiting to be let go. Frank felt as though he was waiting for an explosion- but after a further few miles, Clarissa turned to him and simply said in the coldest, most spiteful voice Frank had ever heard her use-
“You don’t seriously think he’s telling the truth, do you? He’d never want to hang out with you.”
Frank was shocked, not from what she’d said- although it did stab him with little knives of hurt- but at the spite in her voice. He’d never heard it before, and it greatly unsettled him. However, before he could say anything- although admittedly, he wouldn’t have known what- she turned her back completely on him, and began talking to Gregory, the head of Homework Club, who was sitting to her left.
Frank, more relieved than hurt, cautiously got out his iPod, stealthily unravelled the wires, placed the earbuds into his ears, cranked up the volume, and spent the rest of the journey watching the wet, autumnal countryside blur past in a fluke of brilliant orange sun, as the angry disillusionment of The Black Rainbow Lies blared so loudly he couldn’t even smell Clarissa’s flowery scent.
He had loved to sit in the safe shadows of the wings and watch her dance. She channelled the emotion of the music in flawless grace and feather-light flight, pirouetting across the waxy floor as though it was a silken ribbon of ebony clouds, leaping and letting the dance carry her through the air in a way simple technique never could. Gravity seemed to have no hold over her lucid elegance the way it did when she wasn’t dancing. She wasn’t just embodying the music in her movements, she was the music, and the music was her.
He had loved to sit in the safe shadows of the wings and watch her dance, because he could let the ivory magic of it carry him into safety, into the weightless clouds where nothing could rip the dreamlike canvas of perfection and drag him back down with twisted, bloodstained black claws.
He had loved to sit in the safe shadows of the wings and watch her dance, because when he did, he could shed all reality and let the dancing breathe him in and out, softly, soundly, peacefully. It was like watching his painting come alive.
Watching her dance was almost like being alive again. Before the secret, before the fears and the nightmares he’d met. It was like breathing.
But it was stealing someone else’s oxygen.
Even with E. Artery shouting about porn star angels and the genitalia of demons in his ear to distract him from Clarissa, Frank was deeply relieved when the bus chugged to a halt at his stop. Clarissa was still tight-lipped and determinedly deep in conversation with Gregory, so, without a second glance, Frank stuffed all his schoolbooks under his arm, pocketed his iPod, and stumbled hastily down the aisle.
All the way, he could feel Clarissa’s hurt disappointment burning into his back like a branding iron of expectations he could never honestly meet.
The outside air whipped his hair back and woke him up from the uncomfortable, airlessly-sleepy feel the bus had lulled him to. A curtain call of brilliant gold sunlight shattered its way through the frayed, stormy silk of the clouds, illuminating every raindrop clinging to the earth’s surface and the dying insects buzzing through the air like forgotten dust particles.
For a moment, Frank just stood on the overgrown verge that the tumbling rain had left muddy and sodden, watching the way the watery amber sunlight shimmered on the puddles that reflected the glowering sky like curdled, black oil. The hedgerows were almost completely naked, their fragmented amber skins swathing the puddles and the verge like a natural shroud covering summer’s defiled corpse.
Frank let out a sigh as the bus chugged over the hill on the horizon, leaving a stale grey stain of exhaust on its trail. Lost in the copious thicket of thoughts imploding in his skull, Frank pulled on the grey scarf his Mom had knitted him last year, arranged his bundled-together schoolbooks a little more securely, tucked them under his arm, and set off into the forest, along the mottled red and brown decomposition of the sludgy path.
The ghosted rain had left the air fresh and cool and slightly damp, ruffling the remaining leaves on the stark, tear-streaked trees as Frank sloped wearily along the leaf-strewn path, scratchy tiredness weighing down his eyelids and making his eyes smart while the golden sun peaked on the tangled, mossy-branch horizon, exploding out into the undecided autumnal sky with wizened rays of weary gold.
His footsteps, soft and crackly, were the only sound in the woods, excluding the reedy cry of the scraggly-winged crows that soared overhead like guardians of the blackness to come.
Their thin, threadbare cries echoed through the forest’s unexplored vastness, its only music, and Frank suddenly realised how much these broken woods were like his existence; there was so, so much of it, yet, in all the years Frank had breathed, he’d only really walked the one, same path from his farm to the roadside, perhaps straying a little off the route he’d created, but never exploring fearlessly and spontaneously or venturing off into the depths he knew nothing of. And now he desperately wanted to drink in every inch of what he didn’t know. It felt as though all his life, he’d had answers, not questions, and now he needed something new.
He needed questions, not answers.
A sudden crackle of twigs made Frank jump and whirl round, heart beating fastly and wetly against the confines of his ribs, as red as the moulting maple trees’ leaves. He could almost hear its pumping echo off the frail-branches trees that had been stripped of their pulses. The crows soared overhead, flapping their scraggly wings of frayed dancer’s dresses, but other than their raven circling, nothing moved.
The forest was still.
Frank held his breath for several seconds, until his lungs were screaming for the decaying woodland air and he was forced to concede that logic meant he was alone. Unconvinced, he continued on his way, pulling his blazer a little more closely around him as he shuffled through the piles of sodden, dead leaves and murky puddles of muddled oil and burst red berries.
But the whole way home, he could have sworn his footsteps were being echoed silently through the honeycomb of botched, stark trees and rambling bushes.
Every time he whipped round, the woods were empty.
But so were his answers.
Instead of retreating to his neatly ordered navy-and-blue bedroom and revising like he usually did as soon as he got home from school, Frank threw himself into working on the fields for his Dad. After mumbling a distracted ‘hello’ at his Mom, he’d darted upstairs and chucked his schoolbag into a corner, pulled on an old cable-knit jumper and threadbare blue jeans before thundering back downstairs, and grabbing an apple from the draining board in the kitchen with the intention of setting off to Sycamore field to rake the soil.
He remembered- with a jolt to the pit of his belly- that Robbie was coming to collect him later, but a tiny little part of him in his confused, negative state, didn’t expect him to, so Frank pulled on his mud-spattered Wellington boots and stomped out across the yard towards the fields.
The air was still crisp and autumnal, blowing stray leaves of ghosting orange across his vision and whirling tendrils of his chestnut hair across his eyes as the ravens from the woodland nearby cawed their harsh, reedy cries into the silence.
Frank pocketed his glasses and set to work furiously, working off all the pent-up frustration he’d accumulated over the day. He worked so angrily that the thoughts couldn’t be thought and were just hisses in the wind that tugged at his skin. He forgot about his disastrous day. He forgot about Clarissa. He forgot the little bubble of excitement at seeing hopefully Robbie later. He forgot everything but Gerard Arthur Way. The brutal murderer. The fear of the whole county. The escaped convict.
The reason he was still alive.
It was just starting to whisper of dusk when Frank finally relented and looked up, putting his hand on his hip and panting into the cold, woodland silence. He surveyed his work for a moment, before his gaze lingered to the shadows that oozed in crepuscular silence from the bare woods.
And that’s when he saw it again.
Every bone and pulse and beat in his body froze. He was sure he had seen something this time- a flash of darkest ebony that moved in a way that was too knotted up in rigid, twisted fear to be a ghost. Ghosts were fluid and floating. This flash was sharp and contorted and screamingly alive.
Holding his breath, Frank set down the shovel on the freshly dug earth, breathing fast into the cold air as the countryside silence buzzed and scrabbled at his ears and round its confines, desperate for a sound. Heart thudding, Frank tentatively wandered to the barbed wire fence separating the field from the jutting bones of the naked forest.
In descending dark, everything seemed to be alive. The crinkly orange leaves could have been dying butterflies trying to reach the glowering faces of the light-drained clouds. The knots and rings on the trees could have been leering down at the ivy that slithered like a serpent of abandoned vision, green and glutinous, across the upside-down sky.
Frank’s heart lashed against his ribs for freedom. There it was again. Something too big to be a crow or a butterfly of the dusk or a serpent, yet too small to be a descent of the sky. Something human sized. Something scared- something mangled and thwarted and defaced by fear.
He wasn’t sure what it was, but something was pulling him to the brokenness, and suddenly, Frank found he was walking shakily into the shadows of the forest, trembling like the breath dusting his lips. Every sense was heightened- only he wasn’t afraid. His heart thudded and thudded and thudded such a vivid red in all the merging blacks and greys of dusk, but it was more like excitement than fear.
It was curiosity that had come alive. Curiosity breathing in the rotting, damp air of mouldering leaves and a season wrapped up inside a decomposing chrysalis. Curiosity beating out the blood of someone who needed to thwart the boundaries. Curiosity inhaling the rich, rusty tang of dry, amber skeletons. Curiosity with a pulse.
Curiosity that turned him to a powerless marionette, ready to dance with the slightest tug of the strings.
Somewhere at the back of his thundering mind, Frank knew that what he was doing was probably a seriously bad idea, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to stop. It was as though his curiosity had compelled him completely, and he couldn’t rein it back in. It had been ignored for too long, and he was powerless as it led him into the outskirts of the woods and the shadows’ motives.
Frank’s eyes were wide and the only untarnished gold in the dark that had seen too much. He couldn’t turn back. He knew he should, but he was still walking.
The ground underfoot was mossy and damp from the rain, so his footsteps were silent as he meandered into the threadbare shadows, ears straining to hear something besides his own pulse in the darkness- every single sense struggling to discover something uncharted in the silence that was too silent to be innocent of secrets.
Suddenly, something snapped just behind Frank and he spun round, eyes wide, still the only un-rotting gold in the woods. Once more, the coven of particularly gnarly trees behind him appeared to hide nothing, but there was a foreign smell starting to unravel into the woodland dusk air, tickling Frank’s senses with musky fear and a festering pulse that wasn’t meant to beat but resounded deafeningly, ruby and spattered with black, off the faceless trees and corpses of summer dancers.
Frank whirled round again, feeling the air press closer to his skin. Every shadow seemed to move, every branch seemed to claw its way out to snatch him, every crackle his feet made on the ground seemed to come from somewhere else- were they coming from somewhere else? Frank couldn’t hear anything but the fevered pound of his own heart telling him to run, to flee, because there was something that shouldn’t be tangled with, yet something he needed to find out, beyond the flutter of his pulse and the thud of his heart and the scream of the silence and the shadows of the dark-
Frank screamed, the sound that ripped his throat apart instantly shattering the cocooning silence and rupturing off the lichen-encrusted trees. Someone’s breath was hot and tickly on the back of his neck, and he spun round, heartbeat wracking his whole body in red hot, bloodied expectation.
“God,” Robbie grinned, his turquoise eyes glittering enchantingly in the half-light. “I know I’m hot, but there’s no need to get that turned on just from me whispering into your neck, Mr. Sausage.”
Frank choked in the lungfulls of cold air he seemed to have been deprived of, ignoring Robbie as he let his eyes darted round the surrounding woodland, but the oppressive feeling of unknown company was evaporating, slipping from his fingertips as easily as the shadows. Something stabbed at Frank’s chest, and he realised it was disappointment of the most bitter dose.
“Frank?” Robbie’s eyes were tinted with concern now as he pulled Frank round to face him. “Are you okay?”
Frank dragged his gaze from the tangle of branches on the indigo horizon and the way the dusk sunk to their trunks like intangible mist. “…Sorry?” he breathed distantly, forcing his gaze onto Robbie and feeling rather as if he was resurfacing from a kind of surreal dream.
“Are you okay?” Robbie repeated, definitely sounding concerned now. He stepped closer, surveying Frank’s flushed cheeks and wide eyes worriedly, not seeing the innocent, rule-abiding Frank he knew at all.
“Yes. Yes, I’m fine,” Frank replied breathlessly, blinking and re-adjusting his glasses. “You just scared me, that’s all. Sorry.”
Robbie surveyed him through narrowed eyes for several moments, and Frank squirmed, getting the uncanny feeling that Robbie could see through his skin.
“I think you’re hiding something, Frank Iero,” he said quietly, turquoise eyes glittering perceptively in the half-light, far more full of knowledge than any of Frank’s geeky friends ever could be, no matter how many books they read.
Frank opened his mouth, but stopped, because he didn’t like lying to Robbie. There was an almost taboo feel about it, and he didn’t know why, but he just couldn’t bring himself to.
“I’m not going to make you tell me or anything,” Robbie said, sounding more serious that Frank had ever heard him before, his voice husky and low, as if speaking up would frighten away the truth. “But- are you in danger?”
Frank hesitated, staring out through the finely woven dusk that swirled round the stark, stripped branches like cobwebs. Then he looked at Robbie. “I don’t think so,” he said quietly, because something deep down that contradicted logic told him this was the truth.
Robbie looked seriously at Frank for a moment, and then said, “Good. I wouldn’t want my little Sausagekins getting hurt,” and Frank knew it was all okay again. He smiled, biting at the corner of his mouth.
“So,” Robbie said lightly. “Are you ready to rock and roll?” His eyes swept Frank’s tattered jeans, mud-splattered Wellington boots and ivory, cable-knit sweater with the unravelling cuff.
“Um,” Frank bit his lip. “I wasn’t exactly expecting you to actually turn up…I should change.”
Robbie narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean?”
“My outfit isn’t exactly the coolest.”
“No, I meant why did you think I wouldn’t turn up?” Robbie demanded.
Frank turned bright red and ducked his head. “Um. I don’t know. I’m not…y’know…cool.”
“What the fuck has ‘cool’ got to do with anything?” Robbie exclaimed incredulously. “I want to hang out with you because I like you- not whatever the fuck your social status is. If I say I’ll do something, Frankfurter, I always do. I don’t break my word, okay? Especially to my friends.” He lightly touched Frank’s cheek, eyes empathetic and glittering.
“Oh,” Frank let out a breath shakily and blurted- “I should still change, though.”
“No, I know- we’ll find you something to wear at my house,” Robbie announced, grabbing Frank’s hand and yanking him back towards the fields, a mischievous smile starting to play across his features. “A makeover for little Sausagekisses! C’mon, my car’s in your yard. You can tell your parent people you’re going off to get pissed with a green-haired lunatic, and then we’ll be off, okay?”
“Okay,” Frank agreed, excitement fizzling in the pit of his belly as Robbie pulled him across the uneven ground of the fields, half running half skipping, their laughter echoing through the lonely farm.
It was only then that it occurred to Frank that perhaps the reason he didn’t like lying to Robbie was that maybe, despite his harebrained, reckless ways, Robbie was actually a far more sincerely honest person than anyone Frank had ever met before. He didn’t need to give off the impression of knowledge the way his friends like Clarissa did, because he truly understood.
He didn’t need a pretence.
Sometimes, he’d wished his dancer was one of those wind-up ballerinas locked away inside a mahogany jewellery coffin, because when they stopped spinning, you could just rewind the clockwork and watch them pirouette in the pattern of their ghost again and again and again. The magic couldn’t be murdered, because it was a pulseless illusion.
But she wasn’t. She was alive, and the magic would never beat again.
The magic of her dream was dead.
And he had killed it.
I really hope you guys liked that. I wasn’t sure if it was okay or not, changes are happening to the little Frankiekins, aren’t they? O: I wonder if you noticed some of the little hints towards what may happen in the next chapter? I’d love to know your thoughts on that! Like I said, there will be a meeting between the two main characters in the next three chapters, so keep your eyes peeled…Sorry it’s taken a while, but you know me, I like to imbed the characters well and set the scenes :L it’ll hopefully make it more effective when it happens. So…Rate and Review? I know it’s been a while, but I’d love to know what you guys are thinking- of Gerard’s little snippets too- and, if you guys like, I’ll update in five days? Thanks so much for reading, I love you guys! Really hope this was okay- I was a bit uncertain, but hopefully that’s just ‘cause it’s been a while since I’ve written it.