Black eyes, bad intentions and a soon forgotten wave of worry.
My quest to find Mikey was unsuccessful to say the least. I had given up after an afternoon of feverish searching for a motherfucker I didn't really want to see at the moment to start with. I had calmed down a bunch next morning, and judging by the fact that Mikey didn't come home for the night, he was either still in the conclusion of me being a ruthless whore or he had managed to got the facts right and simply didn't have the nerve to show his face around here for a while.
I was late for school again - the first lecture of the day had begun a good twenty minutes ago and I had no desire of interrupting the stuck up professor Friedrich who taught the subject and get frowned and disapproved upon first thing in the morning.
So instead, I headed to the cafeteria to grab some coffee to get my motor running, though to be honest, I prefered something a little stronger, but somehow the cantine of a campus didn't serve drinks for my taste and I settled for a king size cup of bitter, black coffee.
I used the opportunity to go over my notes from yesterday. They were short and disoriented due to my total lack of focus. I frowned at the papers, I was never going to pass any of these courses. I was petrified - I knew I hadn't given school nearly enough thought and time and the half term exams weren't too far in the future anymore.
I was starting to have serious doubts about this whole college thing. How had I even fooled myself into thinking I'd be able to handle it? That I'd be committed enough, or even smart enough? My sudden burst of ambition would be the death of me. I should've kept my job, I couldn't really be all that bad, could it? I momentarilly pictured the ever-so dispiseful Fiona in my head, and cringed.
Yes, it was all that bad.
I downed half of the beverage in two large gulps and set my papers aside. I needed to copy someone's notes. Too bad I hadn't been very busy making any friends, I could vaguely remember a face or two that attended the same courses I did, but names... I racked my brain for a few minutes but came up empty. I would propably have to ambush one of them after class and beg and plea and attempt my skills at bribery and shit. Oh the joy.
"Aren't you supposed to be on Friedrich's class?"
I looked up to see the only familiar face in the entire campus, and not a friendly one at that.
"Aren't you supposed to be hating on me and shit?" I asked groggily and Gerard's face, under the dark sunglasses, fell slightly.
He let out an exasperated sigh and took a seat next to me.
"Or was there some part of what you said that I misunderstood?" I went on "Like 'Stay the hell away, Em' or 'stop calling me, Em'"
He didn't respond to my poor impersonation of himself, only shook his head.
"I'm guessing this is the part where I have to say I'm sorry"
I looked at him in surprise. He dodged my stares.
"Well then. Say it" I stated half amused at his discomfort.
I let out a short laugh at his sheepish expression as I emptied my cup, hoping for a refill.
"Way- I'm been told off before. And in much worse, much more passionate ways" I shrugged.
"Something tells me you've totally deserved it all" He chuckled.
I had long ago gotten used to people cracking jokes about my misbehavior, even when it wasn't all that called for, so I let his comment slip and smiled warily. After a moment of silence I remembered something I'd been thinking about the entire evening and on the way to school.
"Where's Mikey, though? He didn't come home last night"
"I've no idea. I tried to convince him over the phone that he got it all wrong, but the guy is stubborn as hell, and so pigheaded. He believes the two of us are wrapped up in some intense, smoking hot sex affair."
His tone was highly amused, but I couldn't force out a smile to save my life. All I managed was a grim smirk. His features darkened, too, as he quietly added
"And so does everyone else"
He leaned back, making himself comfortable on the sofa chair his body was sprawled upon. His dark hair looked messier than ever, and the dark circles under his eyes seemed to grow more prominent by the minute, almost reaching his cheekbones and therefore very visible even with the sunglasses he'd chosen to wear to try to cover it up.
His ragged breathing came across as somehow very sexual, combined with the way his head was thrown back and the fact that his legs hanging carelessly apart drew my involuntary attention to his crotch. I shook my head in horror to clear my head and abandon the very unwanted and very disturbing thoughts that had suddenly made their way to my brain.
Get your fucking act together!
"What a fucking mess" I sighed and meant it with all my heart.
He tilted his head to the right, slightly getting the glasses out of place, and my hand instinctively flew to my mouth. Dark circles under his eyes, my ass!
"Gerard!" I yelped, astonished.
He turned his head again, fixing the glasses and gave me a questioning look.
"What happened?" I shrieked incredously. He still bothered to act like nothing!
"I told ya. Nick's pissed off" He shrugged and looked away.
"No way, no freaking way he did that! The guy's insane! He's out of his goddamn mind! Oh, ohh- if he thinks he can just go around delivering black eyes without getting the facts right then he has another thing coming!" I jumped up, almost knocking over the fragile coffee table before me.
"Em.." He groaned "Don't"
"He's a self-righteous prick and and I'm starting to feel like puncing someone, too" I declared
"Your class starts in ten minutes." He pulled me back to seated position, losing the sunglasses in the process.
"Why do you care so much?" I spat, forgetting for just a second that I wasn't actually angry at him..
"Why do you?" He replied, setting his golden brown eyes on me. I didn't meet his gaze, my eyes were much more drawn to the sickly greenish bruises around his swelled up eyes.
I felt sick to my stomach. But why did I care so much?
I mean any reason to pick up a fight was a good one, and any excuse to try and punch Nicholas I would pretty much pay ridiculous amounts of money for.. But why did seeing Gerard's face swollen and hurt make my insides twist and turn in a way that made me want to express my feelings towards the cause of this in an exceptionally violent way?
I'm supposed to dislike this guy, I reminded myself again.
His eyes studied my face intently, and the world that surrounded was starting to fade into the backround, the noises turned down, colours blurred and the cafeteria came off as vacant and deserted, though I knew for fact it wasn't.
He kept staring, trying to understand my sudden burst of compassion, so I did what my ill-natured core told me to do in order to hide all humanity and fixed my eyes so that instead of worry and vengeance, they spoke only of mock and indifference.
"I don't. I'm just very fond of the idea of fucking Nick up, no matter the reason" I scoffed.
He turned away, sighing loudly and shaking his head in a way that reflected a kind of disappointment.
"You're not right in the head, Em."
"I'm sorry, did you want a hug or something? A black eye won't get you laid, Gerard" I smirked and tucked my notes in my bag.
I wasn't going to miss the class for a fight with Nick, I decided as I stomped my way out of the café, but a tiny voice in the back of my head was as angry and shocked as I'd been a minute ago, and it still whispered words of revenge to me and boy did I listen.
I knew myself well enough to know that I'd be finding myself at Nick's some time soon, and he would pay a high price for sticking his perfect, angular, Italian nose in my business. And for hurting Gerard, I added quickly, and then shushed myself silent.
"What do you need us for?"
"What do you think I need you for, Grace?"
"You're out of your mind."
"No, I think she's right, Em. You are.."
"Ugh, whatever. I can't exactly recall why I even came to ask a bunch of pussies to begin with"
"Pussies? That's hardly any fair, Em"
"I'm gonna beat the crap out of you, Em"
"Oh yeah? Show me what ya got, Frankenstein"
A split second and a swift tackle later I found myself flat on my ass on the floor. My tailbone ached as hell, but I didn't mind. The fucker was going down with me.
I launched, which was kind of a weird movement from someone who's practically sprawled on the floor, toward Frank and held on to his leg for dear life. I kicked and tossed and turned until I managed to make him lose his unnaturally great balance.
The only thing I didn't see coming was his small but amazingly muscular and hard body slamming into mine as he fell on top of me. My lungs gave out, and I felt like all the air had been squeezed out of my body with a goddamn butt roller.
"Frank!" I yelped with the last of the air in my lungs "Get the hell up!"
Laughing, he slowly climbed up only to perform a brief victory dance to rub it in my face, I had to pretend to start crying before he actually made the effort to give me a hand and help me the hell up, too. And yes, I did just pretend.
Grace stood by the doorway, giggling uncontrollably, which, come to think of, she seemed to be doing an awful lot lately. Reason or no reason.
"I believe you've been proved wrong, love" He sang as he took a seat on the sofa chair and pulled me onto his lap. Or sort of, I was more like placed on his bony knee, swinging in an uncomfortable way whenever he adjusted himself. Soon I gave up and placed my butt on the arm rest, throwing my legs onto his lap. For once, I hoped my socks would smell extremely bad.
"I feel sorry for all the girls you've slept with. Having you on top is pure torture" I laughed. He snorted.
"Well you can't really know until you give it a shot, can ya?" He winked in a way that was guaranteed to make me crack up each and every time.
"I'm disgusted, Frank"
"You can ask all the girls I've slept with and they'll tell you what a mindblowing experience it was"
"Mindblowing is a very flexible expression. By the way I felt the blood and air being drained out of my body, I think they might've meant that literally, love" I mocked "But I can't really ask, can I, cause I don't think any of them could've survived that and lived to tell the tale" I snickered.
Frank was very talented in misguiding you in a conversation, leading you onto sidetracks and making you forget the main point but I wasn't having it this time.
He snorted again.
"Right, so you won a girl in a fight, now that's a real something to brag about, Franklin"
"I won a girl without lifting a finger so you can only imagine what I'm capable of when I actually try to hurt someone" He disagreed
"So why don't you prove that and come with me" I challenged.
Frank's expression twisted and he seemed to seriously consider it now.
"This is madness" Grace snapped. "You want us to join you in your quest to beat up this gorgeous Italian god-like creature who ain't done a single thing wrong in his entire life. I mean come on, Em, if we do fuck him up, he'll fucking report us! We're not freaking teenagers anymore, we can't just go around beating people up and get away with it. Not that I ever did but anyway- there'll be consequences and you know it"
"No there won't - It's Nick we're talking about, he's soft as a marsmallow" I cried
"Not by the look of Gerard's new face" She murmured, and I was suddenly very close to practise my fighting skills on her.
"Listen you two. When did we last do something reckless, huh? We're getting old, I can feel it" I whispered dramatically.
Amazingly, that drew their attention so I went on with my little one chick's theatre. "My bones are whining under my body weight, squeeking and squealing the days away, my lips are colorless and trembling, my skin is no longer attached to my muscles the way it was in my golden days, it now hangs onto my dry bones for dear life. We're getting old" I gasped, almost cracking up at my poor acting.
"Aside from her horrible monologue, she is sort of right" Frank considered.
"What?" Grace gasped
"Yeah, I mean, we are getting kind of old. Sitting here doing nothing for the most part of the day. When was the last time you ran from the cops, Grace? I can't even remember..."
"It's so sad" I nodded, quite thrilled with where this conversation was heading.
Slowly, Grace nodded. A small smile was playing around her lips, we all knew how ridiculous this situation and the whole conversation was. We were talking as if we were the three fucking musketeers on a live-changing mission. Frank's face had been taken over by a wicked grin.
"Let's fuck shit up" he declared
"Yes!" I squealed "I knew I could trust you guys! We're like a small but lethal army" I jumped up and down, boxing with an invisible punching bag.
"We're trouble, that's for sure" Frank agreed
"We're in trouble, that's for sure" Grace corrected.
"Been there, done that. Trouble feels like home" I shrugged.
Grace left the room shaking her head and doing her best to hide the smile that was starting to become impossible to keep from forming.
"Frank, I want you to sleep with me tonight" I murmured
"Gosh, you really need to work on using those words, it gets kind of confusing. One would've thought you'd learned your lesson the other day"
"Sorry" I huffed "Will you spend the night in my apartment, with me, sharing my bed but not touching my body?" I tried again.
"I take it Mikey still hasn't showed up" He mused stroking my hair.
I smiled sadly, "Nope. And the apartment creeps me out when I'm alone. I keep imaging sounds coming from the front door like there's someone trying very hard to get in"
"It's a reasonable fear, it's Jersey after all..."
"Keep me safe" I faked a whimper and buried my face into his massive hoodie.
He chuckled "You'd make a terrible actress, did I ever tell you that?"
"Yes.. But I still kinda have faith in my skills"
He laughed and got up, pushing me down in the process. I sat on the cold floor and watched as he picked up his bag and collected the missing contents from around the apartment. Frank the Nomad had his life packed up in a duffle bag, which I couldn't help but admire. Freedom held an entirely different meaning when it came to Frank Anthony Iero.
"Can I do some laundry while I'm there?" he called out from the bathroom.
"Sure, just do me a favor and don't leave your underwear anywhere where I can see them, dirty or clean"
I stood up and decided to go give Grace a goodbye hug. I found her in her bedroom, lying on the narrow bed with the covers thrown down to the floor. I lifted up some of it but she kicked them down again.
"what's up?" I asked, sitting down on the bedside
"Been feeling kind of strange" She answered curtly.
"How so?" I inquired.
"Can't tell" She snapped and I decided it was best to leave her alone. Her moods swings could be quite aggresive and harmful in the worst case. Usually the best thing to do was to get the hell out of her sight when you got the first warning signal. Frank told me she had actually thrown a vase at him once, full force and without mercy, so that it had missed him by half an inch. Frank was sure he'd be six foot under if it wasn't for his extraordinarily short reacting time, of which he was very proud and bragged about to no end.
I closed the door behind me, after carefully calling out a goodnight, and found a waiting Frank in the corridor. A fit of giggles from the bedroom reached our ears and we looked at each other blankly.
"Grace will be Grace" Frank mused, barely audibly, and shrugged.
"You ready?" He asked and fixed his grip on the bag straps
I nodded and we walked hand-in-hand over to my empty apartment.
I wondered when was the right time to start worrying about Mikey. What if something bad had happened and I was here having a slumber party without a care in the world?
What if they found him floating down the Hudson in a week and the tabloids would be screaming things like "No one cared enough" or "nobody noticed the disappearance of a talented-"
I stopped to think up something Mikey was talented at, cause that's what the tabloids always mentioned about the missing and the dead...
Hm. He couldn't play and instrument to save his life, he sucked at anything in relation to sports, literature and art were way out of his range of abilities... How about nagging? Whining? Being hysteric? I felt a pang of guilt again, and decided to push Mikey as far away from my thoughts for the moment.
He would show up. He was the worrier, not the one to be worried about.
He would show up.