Some how, it feels as if I've made what could ultimately be the best, or worst, decision of my life. Either way, Gerard's smiling, so I must be doing [/something/] right.
Sadly, my life is far from any of those things, and that is why this chapter has taken so long. I am insanely sorry, BUT! on the bright side, I recently purchased a little netbook type thing that I can take with me everywhere, even school, so I should be able to get a lot more work done and hopefully have the next chapter up sooner than a million years from now. (If it somehow does take forever, blame my teachers) To make up for my extended absence, here is the longest chapter thus far. Hopefully it was worth the wait.
You'd think James would have learned by now that it's useless trying to have a decent conversation with me during the last half hour before we are scheduled to go on stage. At this point, my nerves have usually gotten the best of me, stomach in a swirl of overly excited butterflies and adrenalin pumping so hard I can feel it in my ears.
But sure enough, James is sat casually on the lumpy couch in the center of the makeshift dressing room, going over some last minute adjustments the sound guy had to make to my pedal board, while I restlessly pace around.
I attempt to sit down at some points and actually "listen", but I only manage to sit down on the couch besides James for the grand total of 45 seconds before my knee is bouncing up and down so rapidly that I need to bolt up right and resume my pacing before I burst the cushion with my excitement. It's all I can do to nod during the, hopefully, appropriate pauses throughout James' one sided conversation, even though not a single word is registering in my mind.
"-and we couldn't get that crisp cut off we wanted after the second verse, anyway, so just skip it for now. We'll look for better model next week."
"Hopefully we'll have everything set for our next show. It's gonna sound sweet."
"You're not listening to a word I'm saying, are you?
James' laughter catches me off guard because, what? Last time I zoned into the conversation he was talking equipment. I can't imagine what could possibly be humorous about that, unless he made one of his lame tech joke.
Just to be safe, I chuckle half heartedly, which only makes James laugh even harder.
The confusion on my face must be very obvious, because James rolls his eyes, stands besides me, and pats my shoulder.
"Forget it. I'm going to find Pete. Just try to relax."
I nod in response, this time having actually understood what the hell James said this time.
Once I hear the click of the handle as James closes the door behind him, I collapse on the couch with an exhausted sigh. Today has been hectic so far, between running unnecessary errands to keep myself busy while Pete decorates the club for my not-so-surprise-surpise-party and calling him every twenty minutes to make sure he isn't making this party into the big deal that I don't want it to be, and I can tell I still have a long night ahead of me. I haven't seen the full extent of Pete's doings yet, aside from the quick glances I caught when entering through the back an hour ago, but I can already tell Pete didn't respect my wishes. Not that he ever does, so really, I shouldn't be that surprised.
The sentiment was nice, I guess, but the last thing I wanted was a huge, crazy party for my eighteenth birthday. Between my personal choice of sobriety and my hatred of situations that may lead to violence, I've never been much into the party scene. Even if I had friends to go to parties with back home, I don't think I would have enjoyed them.
Now that the damage is done, I have no other choice but to stick a fake smile on my face, mingle with the rest of the party-goers, most of which I don't know, and tough it out until the end of the night. It seems simple in theory, but nothing ever runs that smoothly for me. I shouldn't get my
hopes up and think that tonight will be a piece of cake--oh, there's something to look forward to. Cake. How could anything go wrong when there's cake involved?
While contemplating my current Wentz dilemma, I had begun to rub my hands over my face, completely forgetting that my face is covered in make up until I get a glance of my palm, smeared in swirls of black and green.
I groan and force myself up from the couch, rushing to the mirror to fix the damage I have made, before someone comes in and gives me the five minute warning. When I catch sight of my reflection, a smile grows in the desolate land of my face, the first genuine one I have managed all day.
Today's Halloween. My birthday and favorite holiday all wrapped into one. I shouldn't let Pete get in the way of my fun. I turn eighteen tonight, and I definitely have a lot to celebrate. Surviving almost twelve years of Catholic school. Being bullied day in and day out for as long as I can remember for simply being myself. Making it through life thus far without any true friends, constantly looking after myself. Grieving for years, that have begun to feel like centuries, over my beloved mother's untimely death. Suffering through my father's abuse every single day from that point on.
This day has been a long time coming, and I'm not going to let anyone or anything stand in my way. Not today. Not tonight.
I quickly put the finishing touches on my costume make up, perfecting the pale, greenish complexion covering my face and the fake scars placed haphazardly, and exit the dressing room. Everyone is already in place backstage, tuning guitars and twirling drum sticks.
The nerves that haunted me earlier reappear full force. The pounding in my ears, courtesy of my adrenalin-filled heart, makes the screams and cheers emitting from the crowd seem like mere whispers in comparison.
I take deep breaths and try to calm my shaking hands. The only reassurance I receive is a pat on the back from Gabe and a supportive, one armed hug from James before my guitar is thrown in my hands and I'm shoved on stage. By this point, the band has discovered my intense stage fright and learned to work with it. Sometimes I really love these guys.
It comes as a pleasant surprise that Pete kept his distance from me before coming on stage. He usually pinches my ass or whispers some obscene comment in my ear before taking his place stage left. While this isn't a problem whatsoever, really, it is strange behavior for Pete. Kind of makes me wonder if he's up to something.
The band and I are greeted with enthusiastic cheers as we set up, and when I gather enough courage to look up from my guitar half way through our first song, I am shocked to see that the venue is filled to it's full capacity. That fact alone makes me so ridiculously happy that when I glance around and confirm my suspicion that Pete ignored my request for minimal decorations, I can't find it within me to draw any emotion even resembling annoyance.
It is my birthday, after all. Why the fuck shouldn't I be happy?
Once we reach the half way point of our set, I have come to the conclusion that this is the best show I have played thus far. My energy is at an all time high, not that I am ever still for longer than a second, on stage or not, but in this moment, I can feel the passionate chords reverberating through every bone in my body. My blood is pulsating to the beat being set by James' bass drum. My ears ringing with Gabe's high pitched melodies.
I take a few steps forward, coming dangerously close to the edge of the stage, and lean out into the crowd. I can see a few girls in the front singing along, fans that have been following us since our first show and subsequently have learned the lyrics to all our songs, but the rest of the audience, even the new faces all the way in the back, are just as into the music as they are.
A huge grin spreads across my face as I absorb the crowd's energy, giving as good as I get, until I make eye contact with a pair of wide, jade eyes.
I almost drop my guitar pick in utter shock and mess up the bridge to one of our more popular songs. The dancing teenagers don't notice, but when I turn my back to them and head towards my amp, just looking for a distraction from those eyes, James gives me a questioning look. I shake my head and shrug in response, receiving a stern frown in return.
The song eventually comes to an end, my hands sweating profusely with the tension in my right hand that has a death grip on my pick. I take advantage of the short break to grab the water bottle resting next to my pedal board and take a well deserved drink. I chug it a bit too fast, more water dripping down the sides of my mouth and onto my neck than in my mouth, but it feels good on my over heated skin, so I let it happen.
Gabe usually takes advantage of the breaks in our set to speak to the crowd, telling them how beautiful they all are and sharing some bullshit philosophical theory he has, making the girls in the crowd giggle and the guys roll their eyes in amusement. When I hear Pete's voice being amplified through the venue, my brow furrows in confusion.
"How are you fuckers doing tonight?"
The crowd screams in response.
"I hope you are all enjoying the decorations, designed by yours truly, of course. Today may be Halloween, but that's not the only reason we decided to make this show so special."
Pete takes a moment to pause and look in my direction, giving me a wide, mischievous grin. I can feel the blush radiating off my face in the matter of seconds. Pete is not seriously going to embarrass me like this in a room full of strangers.
"It's our guitarist's, Frank, birthday!"
More cheers, only this time they're not welcomed on my part. I awkwardly wave to the crowd, trying to look grateful instead of completely mortified.
Thankfully, Pete doesn't do anything too horrifying like get the crowd to sing me happy birthday, it makes me cringe just thinking about it. The rest of the show goes by pretty smoothly, except for the fact that I do everything within my power to keep from looking out into the crowd again and meeting those eyes again.
Soon enough, our last song of the night comes to an end, and after the audience applauds for the final time, the lights dim and we make our way off stage. I try to flee to the dressing room, in desperate need for some time alone to gather my frantic thoughts, but Pete grabs me by the waist before I get the chance to escape. He drags me to a relatively quiet corner and places a sloppy kiss on the corner of my mouth. I have to hold myself back from wiping it off on my sleeve.
"Hey," I mutter quietly, desperately looking around for some excuse to be released from his unwanted embrace.
Pete's arms tighten around my slim hips and I wonder what I ever did to deserve this torture.
"What do you think?"
He doesn't specify, but I know he's referring to the transformed venue.
"It's a bit, uh-"
"Awesome? Fantastic? Incredible? I know, you're welcome." he interrupts, kissing me again.
Thankfully, Pete lets go once he hears music being played through the PA system of the venue.
"Oh! Wait 'till you hear the kick ass playlist I made for the party," he exclaims, grabbing my wrist and pulling me along with him to join the festivities, "C'mon."
"Um," I hesitate, skillfully freeing myself from his grip "I'll be there in a sec. I'm just gonna make sure all our equipment got put away."
"Suit yourself", Pete shrugs, and leaves me lets me be.
As soon as he's out of sight, I huddle up into the dimly lit corner and allow my body to slide against the wall until I'm sitting on the floor, legs folded up against my chest. My thoughts are spinning so crazily that it's starting to make me physically nauseous. I close my eyes and attempt to get myself under control.
It's just my luck that out of all the people in this world that I could have ran into tonight, it just had to be the one person that has been haunting my thoughts ever since I first laid eyes on his disheveled figure on that New Jersey bus all those weeks ago.
I knew Gerard was more than likely going to be staying around the same area of London as I am, so it shouldn't come as such a huge surprise that we crossed paths. I guess I had deluded myself into thinking that I would never have to face that beautifully tragic being ever again. Not that looking into that flawless face is some kind of chore, I could stare at every perfect dip and curve for hours on end.
It's the person hidden behind those features that I'm too afraid to confront.
His dangerous personality is far too familiar and some how also completely alien for me to be comfortable with. Allowing myself to become close to someone like Gerard could ruin everything I hoped to escape from when I ran away from my former life. Is a pretty face really worth the risk?
The loud voice intrudes on the quiet bubble I had built around myself and makes me jump. Once the voice appears in front of me, I see that it's James, clad in his Jedi costume, complete with a full functioning light-saber.
"There you are! What are you doing here all alone in the dark?" he asks, raising an eyebrow at my protective position on the floor.
I reluctantly get up and force on a friendly smile.
"Oh, you know, just trying to hone in on my inner Frankenstein", I joke.
James laughs and drapes an arm over my shoulders, leading me towards the main area of the venue at the same time.
"Well why don't you cross over to the light side of The Force? We have an endless supply of sugary drinks and pounds of candy. And not the cheap kind, either."
The first half of the party moves along without any problem. I don't run into Gerard again, and I can't tell if I'm relieved or disappointed. Maybe a combination of the two.
I stick to James like glue, using him as a clutch whenever someone tries to socialize with me past "Happy Birthday, dude!", and I can't manage to carry on a conversation because my mind is still preoccupied with dark waves and crooked smiles.
When the people surrounding me become less coherent and noticeably more intoxicated, James offers me a sheepish smile and doesn't try to stop me when I slip out a side door and into the alley. James knows I have issues with alcohol. He might not know the reasoning behind it, but he respects my boundaries either way. It's guys like DeWees that give me the slightest bit of hope in humanity.
The second the cool, fall air hits my face, I allow myself to inhale a deep breath and cleanse my lungs of the dingy atmosphere of the club.
It's almost midnight at this point. I give myself a minute to appreciate the bright, twinkling stars and full moon over head that are serving as the only source of illumination in the silent alleyway. It isn't until I rest my hand in my pocket and feel my half empty box of cigarettes that I realize I am in desperate need of one. Unfortunately, after a hasty search, I also realize that I left my lighter back at the apartment.
A loud cough down the alley breaks the calm serene of the night and startles me from my casual leaning position against the wall. I spot a hunched figure a couple yards away I hadn't noticed before. There's not enough light available for me to be certain, but it seems to be a guy in cape, desperately smoking the nicotine out of a cigarette grasped between his fingers. The lit cherry makes my yearning for a cigarette that much more intense, so I cave in and walk over in hopes of borrowing a lighter.
When I get within speaking distance of the figure, who is lost in thought, staring at the opposite wall, I clear my throat. The guy must not hear me, because he doesn't so much as twitch.
"Hey," I say, hoping to get his attention, "any chance you could lend me light?"
He finally looks up at me, and when I get a good look at his face, my breath catches in my throat.
It's him. The pair of alluring eyes I have been trying to avoid all night. It's Gerard.
For a split second, the thought of fleeing into the club and all together avoiding the conversation that is to come seems like a great idea. But when a small, genuine smile spreads across Gerard's face, my mind is made up for me.
"Of course," he says, rummaging through his pocket, "it is your birthday, after all."
I take a seat in front of Gerard, and gratefully take the purple lighter out of his outstretch hand.
"Thanks", I mumble around the cigarette between my lips.
A heavy silence falls between us as we take drags from our cigarettes. It isn't necessarily awkward, but the way Gerard has his gaze fixed intensely on me makes me want to blush and run for my life all at the same time.
Now that I have the chance to really look at Gerard, it's evident that a lot has changed about him since the last time we spoke. There are dark, profound circles under his eyes, partially covered up with the white costume make up he has on. He is much slimmer now, and not in the healthy kind of way. He was skinny as it was the first time we met, but now he looks dangerously malnourished. The, what I'm sure are supposed to be but no longer are, black skinny jeans he is wearing are hanging off his bony hips, only being held up by the battered belt around his waist that has clearly been modified to accommodate his deteriorating frame.
Although he is obviously not at his healthiest or most well kept state right now, I can't help but still find him ridiculously beautiful. His gothic vampire costume is very impressive, and it compliments his already vampire-esq features in all the right ways. His eyes have been covered in smoky, black eye shadow, making the green in his irises pop and enchant any onlooker lucky enough to come this close to him. His dark waves have been expertly tousled to create the perfect impersonation of sex hair, a sight that would have made my knees weak if I weren't already sitting down.
Basically, he is the exact projection of every dirty fantasy I've ever had and life just isn't fair.
Gerard eventually breaks his gaze to take a sip from a beer bottle placed on the ground next him I hadn't noticed before. My stomach churns as I watch the sinful liquid slide past his angelic lips, but I redirect my attention to my shoes before I delve too deep into those emotions.
"So," he says, once he places his drink back on the ground, "band, huh? That's pretty awesome."
"Yeah," I smile easily, "the guys are great. I'm just happy to have the chance to get my hands on a guitar regularly, y'know?"
"You're great. I've never seen anyone get so into a performance before."
"I get a little too into it, sometimes", I admit, scratching the back of my neck, "I should probably learn to tone it down before I kill myself or one of the other guys on stage."
"Don't" Gerard replies quickly, then hesitating as if considering what he is going to say next, "It's amazing to watch. Inspiring, even. Not many people ever get that passionate about something, you should be grateful. I wish I cared about something as much as you care about music."
"But," I say, thinking back to one of the many conversations we had while aboard the plane, "what about art? You're a kick ass artist. You must be passionate about that, right?"
Gerard looks down, rolling his half burned cigarette between his long fingers.
"I use to be", he says so quietly I need to strain my ears to hear it.
"What happened?" I ask, curious.
"I lost it", he mutters before meeting my eyes, "Other things overshadowed my love for art. I'd do anything to get it back."
"I'm sure you can, you just need to-"
His laugh interrupts my insistence. It is so hollow and emotionless, it makes me forget the words I meant to say.
"It's too late for me," he says, eyes filled with sorrow and unshed tears, "Trust me."
The evident hopelessness and pain in his voice takes me back to my first night in London. That confused, intoxicated mess hasn't changed. In fact, I think his state has done nothing but worsen over time. What was I thinking, abandoning Gerard when he so obviously needed someone? I let my own personal issues with alcohol and narcotics blur my judgement. I would never come near either of them myself, but that doesn't mean I should label those that do so easily. Gerard is very obviously nothing like my father.
"Listen," I start, preparing to apologize for being so heartless, "about that night in the hotel..."
"Don't worry about it", he says, shrugging, an ashamed grimace on his face,
"I can't really remember everything I said, but I probably deserved it."
"You didn't deserve that. No one deserves that", I argue.
A smile has some how found it's way onto Gerard's woeful expression, making my heart pang at the fact that my small displayment of concern has brought him such joy.
"Really, it's okay, Frankie."
My smile doubles in size compared to Gerard's when I hear him use my nickname. Even though I know what I did could never be "okay", it comforts me a bit. At least one thing is now clear in my mind: I will never leave Gerard to fend for himself ever again.
Down the alley, near the door I entered through earlier, I hear James calling my name.
"Over here!", I yell, waving my hand to grab his attention.
James walks over to where Gerard and I are sat, and shares a head nod with Gerard before turning to face me.
"You two know each other?" I blurt, confused as to how the pair could have met without my knowledge.
"Yeah," James answers in behalf of both of them, "Gerard sort of got into a bit of a uh, disagreement with Pete before the show."
At the mention of Pete's name, Gerard snorts sarcastically.
"Asshole attacked me for no fucking reason", he says, and quickly changes his demeanor when he notices my paling face. "I mean, uh, we just didn't hit it off, I guess. Sorry, I know he's probably your friend, and-"
"No," I say, trying to cover up my inner panic attack, "You're right. He can definitely be an asshole."
The tension in my voice quickly turns the atmosphere incredibly awkward. James informs me that we'll be leaving in ten minutes and says his goodbyes to Gerard before the silence can stretch on any further.
I don't know why I'm freaking out. I'll just have to fix my um, situation with Pete before Gerard ever has the chance to hear about it.
"I, uh, should probably go help load everything onto the van." I reluctantly say.
"Oh, yeah, right. I'll see you around, I guess," he says, then, under his breath with his head bowed, "Or not."
"Do you have something to write with?" I ask, before my nerves can stop me.
Gerard looks up at me, confused, before reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a stick of black eyeliner.
I reach out for one of his arms and push up the sleeve of his silky shirt once he allows me to.
"Meet me at this address tomorrow at around noon", I say, scribbling down numbers in my messy handwriting. "It's the music store I work at. Maybe we could have lunch or something?"
"Sure," Gerard replies, instantly, "I'd like that."
"Great" I exclaim, trying not to smile too widely, "I'll see you tomorrow, then. Goodnight, Gee."
I get up and hurry towards the door to the venue once Gerard echoes his goodbye.
When I look back, he's still staring at the address written on his arm, beer bottle half full and completely forgotten at his side.
Some how, it feels as if I've made what could ultimately be the best, or worst, decision of my life. Either way, Gerard's smiling, so I must be doing something right.
And may the Frerard commence! haha
It feels so great to reunite these two again, finally.
I hate that it had to take so long, but it was necessary in order for the plot to develop.
Please, as always R&R and let me know what you think.
Ever since this story got rated down by some stupid troll, I have been really discouraged to continue my writing.
I feel a bit better now, seeing as I'm not the only one dealing with trolls on this site, but it still feels pretty crappy.