Being alone is the easiest thing in the world. Being lonely is the hardest. At eighteen, Gerard Way believes he'll never be anything more. [Bert/Gerard. Chaptered.]
Summary: Being alone is the easiest thing in the world. Being lonely is the hardest. Living in his mother’s basement, eighteen year old social recluse Gerard Way is just that- until a chance meeting opens up the kind of friendship he’d always been too scared to make.
A/N: Well, here’s something scary, guys- well, firstly, an actual post of mine for the first time in what feels like forever (fuck you exams and revision), but more than that; a story that isn’t Frerard. Please don’t not read this just because of that; give it a chance? Basically, I’ve got into The Used in a big way lately, and Bert’s character and contrast in his music really fascinates me. This story started off as a oneshot, but it was too big so I’ve decided to make it a ten-part story. If you like Gerbert, angst with a little bit of smiles and wordiness, you’ll like this. I’m just posting this first chapter to test the waters and see if anyone would be interested in reading a Gerbert. If so, after the exams, I’ll update, so let me know what you think.
Scabbed X-Ray Blues
Smoke the Loneliness
He was alone again. The beer was fosy and lukewarm under his tongue, and his fingers were coated in the black charcoal dust of unfinished teenage angst. It was just another Friday night hidden away in the dark, smoky air of his cluttered basement bedroom; the wax of the candles melting and shrunken, black rain sluicing softly down the dark glass of the window outside. The midnight beads hushed into the damp ground outside, underscoring his solitude with their softness.
At eighteen, Gerard Way knew full well this wasn’t the way most kids his age spent their Friday nights- he had no doubt that the majority of his peers would be out right that moment, slurring tequila-reckless words, fucking people they’d regret, and puking their guts out into the grimy Jersey gutters. They were out, having fun- while he sat in a pair of tatty Batman pajamas on his creased black bed sheets, listening to an assortment of gloomy grunge bands as he penciled out a week of bitterness into his sketchbook; smudging and highlighting and perfecting until his eyes would sting with tiredness and his head would be lucid with sour, flat beer.
Sometimes he’d stay up until dawn crept, fluffily pink and frayed, through the moth-eaten red curtains he never bothered to close, drawing, thinking, drinking.
But always on his own.
Everyone knew that Gerard Way preferred to be alone.
All the kids at school took his anti-social behavior as a given fact, and although he never socialized, he wasn’t classed as one of the losers. Perhaps it was simply because instead of being alone and craving attention, he resented any friendly move put on him. People didn’t dare trample on him, let alone smile. If they did, they’d only do it once. For someone with no friends, Gerard was oddly respected within the high school status.
But then again, being on your own wasn’t what the other kids picked on; it was being scared of being on your own.
And Gerard wasn’t. He was simply, antisocial, bitter Gerard Way with his venomously sarcastic tongue, going everywhere in his beat-up leather jacket, raven tendrils flopping in his smoldering glare, sketchbook tucked tightly under one arm. He made it quite clear that he liked best to be left alone. So that’s exactly what everyone did.
Maybe that was why no one seemed to stop and consider the obvious.
Gerard Way was lonely.
Secretly, desperately lonely. Sitting alone in the dingy, smoke-swirling shadows of his room in a pair of pajamas he’d worn since he was a thirteen, drawing self-pitying pictures with a stinging wrist and aching belly was not how he wanted to spend his Friday nights- no matter what he managed to convince his peers.
Convincing himself was a lot harder these days. The unsaid words were bitter in his mouth, sour on his skin, corrosive and synthetic, and they ran backwards, thick and gelatinous in his veins, turning the blood black with defeat.
But the thing was, Gerard didn’t know how not to be lonely. It was simply how he’d existed, how he survived through his later teenage years. It was easier, less painful. At least, that’s what he’d initially convinced himself.
Now, listening to the dull, pounding thrum of loud music above him years later, he wasn’t so sure. One of these compulsory teenage parties he wasn’t attending was being held in his very own home, by his younger- and much more popular- brother. That sure rubbed salt into the wound.
With a laden sigh, Gerard paused in his drawing to take another gulp of his lukewarm, flat beer sitting on the untidy nightstand beside him, and lit up a smoke; long, pale fingers shaking slightly from lack of food and a stomach sloshing full of watery alcohol. Once it was lit, he took a long, deep drag of the cigarette, letting the hot, tugging smoke fill his lungs- before exhaling bitterly and returning to his uncompleted drawing, still trying to ignore the sharp, malicious feeling swelling in the pit of his belly, threatening to engulf him.
Gerard clenched his charcoal-stained fists furiously; teeth gritted, as upstairs, the sound of laughter drifted down from the party, conducting the soundtrack to his smoked-loneliness.
He despised the gaudy, immature laughter and yells that always emanated from high school parties- but he despised himself even more for wishing he could share them.
It wasn’t like there was anyone he actually wanted to be friends with, though- he found his peer group so boring, so predictable. He took great pride in being able to instantly categorise them into stereotypical boxes and leave them there to stew, contemptuous and uninterested.
But try as he might, Gerard could not deny how much he missed the feeling of having someone who cared. It wasn’t like he’d always been alone.
Gerard wrenched his gaze from his drawing, eyes glazed with the stinging emotion.
In that moment, alone in the flickery candlelight of his cluttered basement, the black rain rolling down the window, the stereo crying, Gerard wondered if the limp cigarette in one hand, the half-drunk beer can in his other and the blade lying on his nightstand were the closest friends he’d ever get. The thought was bleakly gratifying.
Three sharp raps at the door abruptly sliced through the stale silence of Gerard’s smoky basement bedroom. He winced slightly, but otherwise did not acknowledge it at all, returning to his drawing. His grip on his pencil tightened slightly as he bowed his head over his work, hair falling in disenchanted ringlets across his shadowed eyes.
The door opened, but Gerard still did not look up- though he tugged in annoyance at his long sleeves before returning to his drawing.
He gritted his teeth and continued to draw determinedly, adding a little more pressure to his charcoal strokes than necessary, so as deep grooves dug into the white paper with the black.
“Gerard, please speak to me.”
He still didn’t look up, eyes fixed furiously on the page which he was beginning to lacerate with the intensity of pent-up pencil strokes.
A sigh. “Are you ignoring me?”
He snorted bitterly, the first acknowledgement that he was no longer alone.
“No, Mikey, I’m temporarily incapable of speech,” he sighed tiredly. “What do you think, genius?” His tone was wearily sarcastic.
There was a silence, excluding the heavy thud of the party upstairs, until Gerard sighed, slumping, the dark sarcasm wiped from his face, making it look hollowed in the stagnant candlelight- as though someone had suddenly wiped its makeup away.
“Look, just go away, Mikey,” he mumbled eventually, rubbing tiredly at his forehead. “I’m not in the mood.”
“Are you ever?” was the dark mutter of response, accompanied by a frustrated huff of breath.
“I just want to draw, okay?” Gerard said evenly, jaw gritted behind his slackened tangles of hair as he shaded a little too fiercely.
“No. It’s not okay. When was the last time you hung out with someone, Gerard? When was the last time you socialized, huh? Frank?”
“Go away, Mikey,” he said emptily. “I don’t want to talk about Frank.”
“It’s been months, Gerard.” His brother’s voice was gentler this time.
“That doesn’t change anything,” Gerard snapped bleakly, dusting charcoal powder from his pale fingertips before continuing with his artwork.
“Can’t you just come upstairs for five minutes? It wouldn’t kill you.”
“I said no, Mikey.” He looked up fleetingly then, gritted green eyes behind a broken-up midnight patchwork quilt. The second he met his brother’s gaze, he looked away, feeling the humiliation burn pinpricks into his back.
Gerard noted the softer tone to his brother’s voice then, and gritted his teeth.
“I’m not changing my mind.” He said bleakly, discarding his 6B and picking up a 3B.
“All you do is you drink and you draw, and you never talk to anyone. Do you have any idea how worried Mom is about you? I’m worried about you, okay? Please, Gerard. Just five minu-”
“It’s not happening, Mikey,” he cut in dully.
The party thudded on upstairs. The rain pattered down outside. The charcoal was dust in his fingers, like everything he wanted.
“Whatever, Gerard.” The annoyed and snappy reply eventually came in a frustrated huff, but it was followed by a small, shuddery little sigh that tried to infuse Gerard’s blood cells with guilt- but then the door clicked shut, and he was all alone again.
He somehow felt even more alone than he had before. It was welling up inside of him, choking him as he continued to methodically sketch on the page in front of him, barely feeling the pencil between his fingers or seeing the world weaving from its tip.
It wasn’t until a large, clear droplet spattered the page of his sketchbook, that Gerard realised the lump in his throat and the hotness in his eyes were tears; drunken, bitter tears rolling hot and salty down his cheeks and melting away the charcoal on his drawing. Furiously, he wiped them away, scratching his cheeks angrily in the process, hating himself for being so weak and pathetic. He wanted to rip his own wrists to ribbons, to scribble so hard over all his stupid, self-pitying drawings that his pencil snapped in two and punctured a hole all the way through his sketchbook. He wanted to be numb.
But none of it would make a difference.
He’d still be alone. He’d always be alone, because the alternative made him too vulnerable. Letting someone in again simply wasn’t an option. He couldn’t go through it all again. It hurt too much. He couldn’t do it.
After a few moments of struggling, Gerard finally managed to compress the fierce emotion swelling inside of him; dulling it with an extra long swig of beer that burnt at his salty gullet. Tucking his hair firmly behind one ear, he returned to his drawing, blocking everything else out with swift, fierce strokes of charcoal and vicious shading.
The music upstairs was louder than ever, a dull, repetitive thud against the ceiling, grinding into his skull. His heartbeat was louder than ever, echoing off all the lifeless space that surrounded him, but he ignored it and drew; drew until his hand ached with cramp and his eyes were scratchy and dry and his second beer was empty, and then finally, he cast his sketchbook aside and stared out at the indigo window where all he could see his own, bitterly lonely reflection flickered in dying candlelight- and then he let the tears fall properly, hot, salty, welling, not even trying to stop them.
A couple of hours later, and Gerard was unmoved, staring at his raindrop embossed reflection with his knees hugged up against his aching chest, teetering backwards and forth on the edge of his bed. The party upstairs had only gotten louder, reminding him even more bitterly of his loneliness and the cowardly burn behind his eyes that refused to dull.
He was halfway through his seventh cigarette, artwork forgotten, eyes dead and hopeless as he stared at the black raindrops running down the window, letting the dry, loose smoke warm his unfeeling lungs, when there was suddenly an odd fumbling noise by the door and then the music from upstairs was a lot louder.
Gerard whipped his head round, his cigarette trembling, forgotten in his long fingers, eyes glazed, brimming with tears he’d been to proud to shit. His hear was suddenly punctured with an influx of terrified beats; there was someone in his room.
It was a guy- a scruffy, weird looking kid with long, tangled waves of greasy black hair falling into his sharp, dangerous features. Skinny and wearing a stained, blood-red ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll’ t-shirt with a pair of extremely ratty, frayed and faded jeans and a slightly devilish grin, he looked like your typical teenage rock rebel- but despite the drunkenly lazy charisma that lingered round him, he was quite steady on his feet.
Gerard was about to choke and tell him to get the fuck out, but he found the words were broken and lost at the bottom of his core, bitter, black fragments- and he let his hand fall in limp defeat from his temple, jaw rigid.
At that moment, the kid appeared to notice him, and his features pulled into an edgy grin; lopsided pink lips and a nicotine stained teeth- a smile sort of like dirty sugar.
“Huh. I’m guessing this isn’t a bathroom, then,” he remarked in a voice Gerard wouldn’t have expected- he’d have predicted a low, lazy drawl, but although it was that, it was also somehow oddly alert and quirky, husked slightly with smoke.
Gerard tried to speak, to say something sarcastic and bitter and venomous to distance himself from this grimy kid, but it all failed him. With tears still wet on his cheeks, his wrist stinging freshly and his chest feeling as though it was impaled with a dagger that dug in more deeply with every breath, he was powerless. He was what no one ever saw, even himself.
The guy hadn’t even seemed to notice- he was biting at his lower lip mischievously, the dirty sugar grin still pulling at his alcohol-moistened lips as he exhaled lazily, making his greasy hair flit around him like hacked up ribbons.
“Whoa, nice poster!” he exclaimed dramatically, suddenly catching sight of a ‘The Cure’ poster beside the door. “They’re fuckin’ ace- and Robert’s damn hot as fuck. That’s my name, you know. Robert. But I hate that name, so everyone just calls me Bert. If they call me Bertie, I piss in their beer. Damn, I wanna listen to The Cure now, it’s been far too long since I’ve heard them, and- hey, man, what’s wrong?” he trailed off unsteadily, frowning, suddenly seeming to notice Gerard’s hunched posture and badly concealed dead eyes. He tucked his messy hair earnestly behind one ear and cocked his head to one side, inquisitive.
Gerard hid further behind his tousles of ebony hair, clenching his fists furiously in his lap. He didn’t trust himself to try and speak. He was scared it would come out shaky and weak, so he just gritted his teeth and prayed the guy would leave.
“Didn’t catch that, sorry,” the guy- Bert- said wickedly, flopping down carelessly on the other end of Gerard’s bed in a fluid movement of unshaven smoke and tequila.
Instinctively, Gerard backed away, staring at his lap as his heart pounded in fear. He glared as furiously as he could at his wrung hands, as though doing so would somehow cover up the fact he had tear trails staining his cheeks and his eyes were raw and red.
“God, that’s an impressive scowl you got there, man,” Bert remarked, catching sight of it and recoiling slightly. “Jeez, calm it. I don’t bite or anything.” He paused and the evil grin pulled at his lips again. “Actually, that’s a lie. But don’t worry. If I bite, it means I like you,” he bared his teeth in a full grin, crossing-legged, sitting up straight like an eager first grader and pushing his greasy black hair back from his angular face, swaying from side to side as he stared intently at Gerard.
And that’s when Gerard noticed his eyes. Oh, his eyes…they contradicted everything else about him. He’d initially appeared to be careless and lazily rebellious, slightly sloppy- but his eyes were such a piercing, vivid ice-blue color that fiercely clashed with any initial judgements made about him, and they sort of took Gerard’s breath away a little, despite everything. They were amazing, and nothing like Gerard would have predicted. He felt himself itching to reach for his pencil and put them down on paper, because they said so much they shouldn’t have; a soul split right down the middle in a conflict of things that loved and hated each other. It sort of made Gerard annoyed, though, because he prided himself on prejudice- and he’d decided not to like this kid.
Then he suddenly realised he was staring, and dropped his gaze to his hands, scowling, hiding behind a few ringlets of tousled midnight.
“What’s wrong, man?” Bert questioned inquisitively, voice rough yet not unkind. “You look pretty low or something.”
Gerard struggled with himself for a moment, shrugging and trying to bite back the tears, furious with himself for not being able to get a hold over his emotions. He was clenching his fists so hard he could feel his bitten-down nails digging half-moon grooves into the soft skin of his palms. “…Please…” he muttered through gritted teeth, his voice rough and unused. “Please. Just leave.” He didn’t dare peek through his veil of moody hair for more than a split second, before clenching his jaw and staring at his closed sketchbook.
The Bert guy was biting his lip thoughtfully, impatiently tucking his hair behind his ears again and staring unnervingly at Gerard with those insightful, clashing blues. “Why?” he said the single syllable as though it held the weight of the world- and maybe it did.
Gerard could feel his fists shaking slightly now from how fiercely he was clenching them in vain attempt to hold the remains together. He ached for a smoke, but didn’t quite dare unclench his fists in fear of what it would do to reach the carton off his nightstand.
“Don’t you wanna come upstairs and enjoy the party?” Bert was looking at him impatiently, plaiting a strand of hair lazily. “Surely it’s kinda… boring down here on your own? There’s vodka. And they’re playing Motley Crue, and there are some really hot chicks. And guys, actually. I don’t know which floats your rubber duck, man.”
Gerard blinked, slightly taken aback at the amount of words that seemed to spew from this drunk yet oddly charismatic guy with tangled hair and stained clothes and bitten down nails and the bitterly sugary smile. He didn’t know how to respond, so he hurriedly snatched a cigarette from his desk and lit it with quavering long fingers. His jaw remained gritted, hidden behind unkempt onyx hair and the half-moon groves in the pale skin of his palms tingled from the pressure of his nails.
Bert was still looking at him curiously, head cocked to one side, and Gerard realised he wouldn’t rest without an answer.
“I don’t like parties,” he muttered gruffly after several moments, flicking ash from his cigarette to the messy carpet with an irritated sigh and hoping his eyes weren’t visibly bloodshot from crying. “Okay?” he glared at the kid, but Bert didn’t even appear to notice.
“What?” he looked scandalized. “How can someone not like parties?” Then his eyes narrowed, icy slits that glittered contradiction. “Do you not like crowds of people or something?” he guessed, surprisingly intelligently. Then, to contradict that too- “Or is it ‘cause you’re a stuck up dick and you’re too good to mix with us kids?”
Gerard almost snorted at that, but didn’t have the heart. “Just go away,” he said weakly.
Bert seemed to contemplate for a moment, before shrugging cheerfully. “No, thanks.”
Gerard stared at him.
“Seriously, man, what is it?” Bert persisted earnestly, fidgeting, all tangled, greasy long hair, warm skin and a heart-shaped face. He jiggled up and down. “C’mon, man, I wanna know why you’re sitting here all sad and alone when it’s Friday fucking night.”
“What makes you so special?” Gerard spat, stubbing his cigarette out on the nightstand, suddenly fed up. Bert’s words had hit a nerve, and he was angry; the heat scrabbling at his lungs along with the smoke. He snorted bitterly. “Seriously. Like I’d tell a random stranger who wandered into my room looking for somewhere to piss. Are you actually as thick as you look?”
He felt guilty as soon as he’d spat the words out, but he couldn’t take them back.
Bert blinked. “Wow. You don’t even know me, and you’re making very cruel and inaccurate comments about my intelligence.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Gerard snapped sarcastically, wishing he hadn’t stubbed his cigarette out. “Should I have formally introduced myself before telling you you’re an annoying motherfucker, then?”
“Oh.” Gerard was wrong-footed, unsure of just how to measure this scruffy guy.
“I’ll go first, seeing as manners clearly aren’t your strong point. I am Sir Robert McCracken, and how do you do on this spiffing evening, good sir?” he was grinning wickedly, showing off a set of pointy, vampire-like teeth, which sort of marred the mock-pompous voice as he extended a hand for Gerard to shake.
Gerard sniffed and glared at it for a second in the dim light, annoyed by the way he was vaguely reassured at how Bert’s nails were bitten right down to the quick, as though he worried about things, just like Gerard. Realising again he was staring, Gerard shook it tersely before withdrawing his arm and hunching back over himself, scowling even more dourly than before.
“So, you’re Gerard,” Bert announced loudly. “Mikey’s brother, right? I’m the singer in Mikey’s band. I see you like, all the time in school, but I’ve never talked to you. I guess it’s ‘cause you’re older. Pecking order and all that shit, but you don’t really look like that kind of thing would make a difference to you. Who do you hang out with? That Toro dude who moved away last year? He was an epic guitarist, but his head looked like a toilet brush.”
Gerard glared, itching for a cigarette and solitude.
Bert frowned suddenly, and ducked forwards, peering under Gerard’s greasy hair. His breath tasted headily of alcohol and smoke, a little like the atmosphere of a rock gig, which oddly reassured Gerard- that was one of the few places he’d ever felt safe in. Close up, Bert’s eyes should have been sharp, steely and piercing with a blue like that and an attitude so careless- but there was a slightly kinder, intelligent quality laced into their irises. He could have lost himself in them, the way he lost himself in art, but then Bert spoke, short and dry.
“You’ve been crying.” It wasn’t a question.
He half expected Bert to laugh, to make some kind of joke and laugh it off. But he didn’t. He sounded appalled, his icy blue eyes pained as they stared at Gerard.
Suddenly, the anger that had been fluctuating all evening rose furiously inside of Gerard like blood, swelling and flooding every inch of him as he suddenly hated this scruffy, amazing-eyed kid with such insightful impertinence. He clenched his fists, glaring smoulderingly at Bert from behind his moody tousles of black hair.
“Get out,” he spat, shaking with anger. He couldn’t stand the presence of anyone else a second longer; he needed to be alone, so he could crumble.
He’d expected Bert to argue, or even ignore him, but much to his surprise, the greasy-haired guy slid off the bed and sloped easily towards the door with a shrug and a sad kind of smile.
When the door closed behind him, Gerard felt a pang of disappointment shoot through him, and blinked in shock, thoughts in a whirl. It had been so long he’d spoken properly to someone, and as usual, he’d messed it up. With a grimace, he drained the remainder of his beer, threw the blade across his room and started a new sketch.
So, uh, worth continuing? I'm aware there probably aren't that many Gerbert fans on here, but like I said, please don't judge on the pairing alone, give the story a shot? I have bits and pieces of it written, and it's not going to be a particularly long one, so I'm not too worried about the workload, especially as I'll have a lot of free time once my exams are done. I really want to try something a little different, so...yeah. Do you guys want to me to continue? I'm kind of unsure about this as it's something new, so rates and Reviews would make my day...Pretty pretty please? If I get enough, I'll continue :3 Thanks for reading!