Gerard remembers his past. Ayasha plans a surprise for him.
“Oh, sorry.” She said removing her leg and arm at the same time.
Gerard laughed, “Hey, no complaints from me. You could lay completely on top of me and I wouldn’t feel it, you know?”
“Yeah, but I would.” She muttered throwing back the covers.
His voice stopped her as she was preparing to scoot from the bed. “Yes?”
She couldn’t help but smile. “Good morning, Gerard.”
“So what would you like for breakfast?”
She had crossed to the closet and was in the process of deciding what to wear. “Uh, cereal is fine.” It was sweet of him to cook for her but she didn’t want him to feel it was necessary.
“No can do.” He said rising from the bed. “Remember you milk turned.”
“Oh yeah.” She pulled out a tee. “I really need to pick up a few things at the grocery store.”
“I can grill a mean steak.” He offered.
She frowned, “Sounds good but have you seen the price of beef lately?” As soon as she said it she rolled her eyes. “Okay, stupid question. I’m sure the price of groceries doesn’t concern you.”
“That’s not true.” He said shaking his head. “I think it’s shitty that people can’t afford things they like.” He was bothered by her attitude. “You know I ain’t a billionaire or anything.”
She knew by his tone she’d hurt his feelings. “I didn’t mean to imply...” She paused then tried again. “It’s just I’m really on a tight budget. After I make my house payment, car payment, utilities, well, there isn’t a lot left.”
“So is that red car out front yours?” He’d been wondering if the car he never saw leave the curb was hers.
“Yes, that lovely hunk of junk is mine. Sad I still make payments on it, isn’t it?”
“Wish I could help you.” He said softly.
Ayasha turned to face him. “Even if you could, I wouldn’t let you. It’s important to me to stand on my own. This house, that car, may not be much but their mine.”
He nodded, “I understand. Okay I’m thinking donuts.”
She gave him a confused look. “Donuts?”
He grinned “Yeah, for breakfast.”
“Uh, I don’t have any.” She said slowly.
“Gonna make them.” He said heading towards the hallway.
Ayasha dressed quickly pulling on jeans and the tee she’d chosen then went to find him. What she saw when she entered the kitchen made her laugh. “Gerard, what are you doing?”
He was humming to himself as he separated the refrigerated biscuits. “Well I found this roll in the fridge and remembered how grandma used to make donuts for me and Mikey.”
“Out of a roll of refrigerated biscuits?”
“Yep.” He pulled out a skillet and while Ayasha watched he added several scoops of vegetable oil. “Now while that’s heating up I need to get shit ready.” He said talking to himself.
She leaned against the counter to watch him closely. “So you’re gonna fry them?”
He nodded, “But not until after I put a hole in them. Gotta make them look like donuts you know.”
It was hard for her to hide her grin. The man looked so serious as he punched holes in the biscuits. “So, you have any powdered sugar?” He asked not looking up from his task.
“Sorry.” She answered, “Only regular sugar.”
“Just as good.” He grabbed a plate then covered it with granulated sugar. “Okay, now that’s ready.”
“So you grandma made these?”
He nodded, “Yep, first time she did was when our family went camping.”
“You went camping?” Ayasha said slowly clearly surprised by the statement.
He glanced over at her, “Ayasha, just because I never mentioned something in an interview don’t mean it hasn’t happened. I’ll have you know when me and Mikey were little we went camping a lot.” He checked the oil then looked over at her again. “What? Don’t I look like the rugged outdoors type?”
She knew he was teasing. “Uh, you really want me to answer that?”
He laughed, “No guess not. Hey, just cause I look like a pretty boy now doesn’t mean I always looked like this. Shit, I bet you’ve seen my high school year book photo. Fuck, I was so pissed when that thing showed up on the Net.”
He rolled his eyes. “Cause it’s so fuckin’ bad.”
“I don’t think so.” She said softly.
He was trying to mask his nervousness about the fact she’d be leaving soon so the light hearted banter was good. “I didn’t realize all this time you needed glasses.”
“Oh, ha ha.” Ayasha laughed. “So tell me more about your outdoor adventures.”
“Pour yourself a cup of coffee.” He said nodding towards the maker then set yourself down at the table.”
“Then you’ll tell me?”
He laughed. “Not much to tell, really. We had a little camping trailer and we’d go to Belhaven Lake Resort. It’s in Southern Jersey in the Pine Barrens. Great place for fishing and camping.”
As she poured her coffee she smiled, “Sounds nice.”
He carefully placed the homemade donuts in the hot oil. “It really was. Me and Mikey had a blast. Course I was always trying to scare him. Telling him shit like the Pine Barrens are haunted.”
“Evil brother.” She giggled.
“Yep, that was me.” He was carefully watching the donuts, waiting until it was time to flip them. Suddenly his voice grew thoughtful. “I know at times I’ve made it seem like me and Mikey had a rough childhood but it really wasn’t all that bad.”
Ayasha took a sip of her coffee but remained silent.
Gerard sighed, “That one interview I do on Life On The Murder Scene...” He looked over and she nodded to let him know she understood what he was talking about.
“I said me and Mikey had a bad childhood in a scary place so we were always making up stories.” He started to flip the donuts, “Well I did make up stories when I was little and I was still doing it then.”
She struggled to come up with something to say. “Well at least the making up stories part was true.”
He kept his gaze on the donuts. “I guess I feel like a real shit about it now. My childhood wasn’t that bad. Not like what some people have to go through.”
She knew he was talking about her. “Gerard, most people have good childhoods but there is always some bad memories too.”
“Yours wasn’t good.” He said softly.
“We aren’t talking about mine.” She said with a sigh. “Hey, those donuts are floating.”
He knew she’d dismissed a subject she didn’t want to talk about. “Yep, and they are gonna be ready soon. Damn, I used to love these things.”
She wanted to get him talking about happy memories again. “And you had these while camping?”
“They are easy to make on a cook stove.” He began to lift them out of the oil on to a plate covered with paper towels.
“I’ve never been to the Pine Barrens. What’s it like?”
He shrugged, “Pretty cool and yeah, I’ll admit it, kinda scary especially at night.” He sighed, “Shit I haven’t thought about camping in years. You put the thought in my head the other night when you were talking about your fire ring outside.”
“Sit, woman.” He nodded towards the table. “Gotta sugar these up and they’re ready.”
Ayasha giggled, “Sugar them up?”
She walked over to the table while still watching him. He carefully placed the donuts on the plate covered in sugar making sure both sides got their fair share. Then he carried the plate over to the table.
“Dig in.” He said setting the plate in front of her then taking a seat.
Ayasha laughed, “Okay, I can’t eat all of these but they look delicious.”
“They are.” He said with sadness in his voice. “Shit, never thought…”
She looked up. “What?”
“I’d want to taste a dounut so fuckin’ bad.” He said keeping his eyes on the plate.
Ayasha lifted one of the still hot treats and took a small bite.
Gerard was still lost in the memories that were filling his mind. “Never thought I’d miss the smell of a campfire so fuckin’ much.” Suddenly he forced himself to push those thoughts away. “So?”
“These are delicious.” She smiled as she polished off the small donut.
He grinned, “Yep, thought you’d like them.”
Even though she starting to fill up she took another hoping it would make him happy. “Think I’ll take a few with me to work. Dawn will be there and I’ll share.”
“Just remember to say you made them.”
“Uh, yes.” She nodded, “Can’t really say you made them for me.”
He was trying so hard to stay upbeat. “I can just image her face if you blurted out that Gerard Way made you donuts this morning.”
“She’d just think I’d finally gone round the bend.”
He was surprised, “Finally gone round the bend?”
Ayasha tried to explain. “I don’t usually show a lot of emotion. The fact that I lost it when…”
“When I overdosed.”
She nodded, “Yes, well that surprised people. Guess they find it really strange for me to show so much emotion about someone.”
“Someone you really don’t know. Someone you’d never met.”
She gave herself a moment to answer correctly. “I didn’t really know before.”
There was something about her answer that surprised him but he couldn’t figure out what. He was still thinking about it when she suddenly stood.
“Thanks for breakfast.” She smiled as she wiped her hands on a napkin. “But I have to get going or I’ll be late.”
He stood. “Got some plastic wrap?”
“It’s in the drawer by the fridge. Could you wrap these up while I finish getting ready for work?”
“Sure.” He grabbed the plate but saw his hand was shaky. She was leaving and he was scared.
A few minutes later when she returned to the kitchen she spotted the donuts on the table ready to go.
Gerard was standing in the middle of the kitchen. Ayasha’s heart went out to him, the fear on his face was apparent.
“Gerard, I’ll be back and hopefully early, okay?”
He nodded, “Yeah, don’t worry about me. Have a good day.”
She crossed the room to hug him tightly.
“This a tight hug?” he whispered.
“Very tight.” She kissed his cheek before standing back. “Okay.” She grabbed the donuts and her purse. “Be back before you know it.”
“Sadly, that’s the truth.” He said as he walked with her to the door.
Ayasha gave him a smile then opened the door. She started to speak then changed her mind.
When the door closed Gerard rushed to the window. When she walked out of sight the darkness descended.
“Hey Tom.” Dawn said as the shop owner walked out of the back room. She gave this greeting in way of alerting Ayasha that the boss had just arrived via the back door.
Ayasha looked up from the computer screen but not before clicking off the site she’d been viewing. While Tom was a good boss she was sure he wouldn’t appreciate her checking music sites for news about Gerard even though at the moment there were no customers.
Tom nodded to both women. “Watch the store, okay? I’m gonna have Ayasha give me a hand with the boxes Marco and I have out back.”
“Sure thing.” Dawn smiled.
As Ayasha walked by her she gave Dawn a quick “thanks” under her breath.
The large back doors were open letting in the beautiful sunlight and warm Spring breeze. Immediately Ayasha began helping the two men unload the truck. Once it was done Marco started unpacking the boxes.
“I was hoping you could help Marco get this merchandise out.” Tom said whipping his brow.
Ayasha’s heart sank. She’d been planning on asked Tom if she could take off work a few hours early. “Of course.” She said softly with a sigh.
Tom looked at her closely. “Not feeling good?” He asked with concern.
She smiled, “No, I’m fine,”
He sat down on a nearby stool. “Okay, then tell me what’s wrong?”
“Nothings wrong.” She said automatically grabbing a box cutter to use on the nearest large box.
“Ayasha.” Tom said kindly. “Just tell me.”
She sighed, “Really, it’s nothing.”
He eyed her closely. Since she’d broken off her engagement she’d changed and it worried him. “I can’t help if you won’t talk to me.”
If it wasn’t because she wanted to get home early like she’d almost promised Gerard she would she wouldn’t have admitted the truth. “I was just hoping to take off a couple of hours early today.” She said glancing down.
“Well why didn’t you just say that?” Tom smiled. “This can wait.” Still he was concerned, “But it’s not because you’re feelin’ bad, right?”
“No, I’m fine.” Ayasha said slowly. “I just have some things I need to take care of.”
“Well since you work six days a week that’s understandable.” Tom said with a nod. “You go ahead and take off now.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. Don’t be silly. If my best employee wants some time off I’m sure not gonna tell her no.”
His words while meant to complement her only caused anxiety. How would Tom feel about her if Kyle or his father told him about her past?
Tom was again watching her closely. “You sure you’re okay?”
Mario had gone into the office leaving them alone in the storage area. “You know if you need someone to talk to…” He paused, “I’m an old man but I got two good ears.”
His kindness touched her. “Thanks but I’m okay, really.”
He nodded then watched as Ayasha started back into the store. She’d planned on telling Dawn goodbye but when the front door of the shop opened she stopped dead in her tracks. Kyle and his father had just walked in.
Tom got up slowly then walked over to stand beside her. As of yet they were out of sight to the two customers. He gently reached out, took Ayasha’s arm and pulled her further into the storage area. “Your bag is back here in the office, right?”
“Need anything else from up front?”
She shook her head in confusion.
Tom lowered his voice. “Unless I miss my guess you don’t want to see that young man.”
“I don’t.” She admitted.
Tom nodded, “Okay then why don’t you skedaddle out the back door?”
Ayasha tried to think. “But he’ll ask where I am and if he knows I want home early...”
“He’s been bothering you, hasn’t he?”
Ayasha knew Kyle’s father spent a lot of money in Tom’s store so she didn’t want to make trouble. However before she could answer Tom spoke again.
“I’ll be honest with you I don’t like the kid or the old man. But I put up with them.”
Ayasha gave him a shocked look.
Tom smiled, “Ayasha I think of you like you’re my own kin. So I want to protect you.”
“I can handle it.” She said automatically.
He sighed, “Didn’t say you couldn’t. You’re tough and determined. I like that about you. But if you ever need help you come to me, okay?”
Before she would have ignored the kindness but now since spending time with Gerard she was slowly changing. “I will.” She whispered. “Thank you.”
“Okay, now get going. I’ll see you on Thursday.”
She almost didn’t notice his mistake. “You mean Wednesday.” Today is Tuesday.”
Tom laughed, “Nope, I mean Thursday. You take tomorrow off. Lord knows you deserve a day off with pay.”
In the three years she’d worked for him Tom had never given her a day off with pay. “Take tomorrow off?” She repeated slowly.
He nodded, “Yep. Take some time for yourself.”
“No arguing with me.” He said giving her a gentle push towards the office. When she started to leave he spoke again. “And don’t worry about Kyle. I’m gonna make up a story about sending you on a buying trip with Marco. You won’t be back until Thursday.”
Ayasha was shocked, “You don’t have to lie for me.”
“Normally I don’t condone lying. But I gotta be honest I was mighty glad when you broke up with him. Something about him bothers me. Always has. I don’t want him bothering you.”
At that moment it hurt to think that the truth of her past could ruin the way Tom felt about her.
Tom wasn’t a fool. He’d always know Ayasha was running from something. He’d known it the first time she walked into her store. But years of living had taught him to trust his gut. She was a good woman of that he had no doubt. “Get going.” He laughed.
Ayasha nodded then quickly hurried out the back doors.
Tom stopped in the office to talk to Mario, waited until the younger man left, then headed out into the store.
“Tom.” Kyle’s father, Dole, greeted him. “Good to see you.”
Tom smiled, “Good to see you too.” He noticed Kyle was over at the counter talking to Dawn. “Got a new inlayed gaming table I think you might be interest in.”
Dole nodded, “Like to see it.”
By this time Kyle had joined his father. “Dawn tells me Ayasha is in back.”
Tom smiled, “Afraid you just missed her. I sent her and Mario out on a pick. Woman up in Fort Collins is selling off her collection.”
Kyle frowned, “That’s a pretty far drive.”
Tom nodded, “Yeah that’s why I sent Ayasha. I’m not too fond of long trips anymore. They won’t be back until Thursday. Gonna have them scout a few flea markets while there in that area.”
Dole gave his son a look then spoke. “You put a lot of trust in her, don’t you?”
Kyle suddenly looked nervous, he knew his father was just itching to tell Tom about Ayasha’s past. For now he didn’t want that to happen. He was enjoying holding the information over her head and watching her squirm. “Of course he does, Dad. Ayasha’s been working here for three years.”
Tom had a good idea he knew what was going on. It seemed obvious Dole was angry Ayasha had dumped his kid and wanted to make trouble for her. He pasted a smile on his face. “Sure do trust her. She’s like a daughter to me. Now come on, let me show you that table.”
It wasn’t long before the two men left without purchasing anything. Tom walked over to the counter where Dawn was seated.
“Was the buying trip planned?” She asked having overheard Tom’s explanation about Ayasha’s absence.
He gave himself a moment to think over his answer. While he knew Ayasha and Dawn seemed like friends he had also seen Kyle flirting with the woman. Fearing if Dawn knew the truth she might tell Kyle he shrugged. “Got the call from the customer this morning. Figured it might do Ayasha some good to get out so that’s why I sent her.”
Dawn nodded, “Yeah, she should get out more. I just feel sorta bad because Kyle really wanted to talk to her.”
“Boy needs to realize she called off the engagement and let her be.” Tom answered gruffly.
Dawn was surprised by his attitude. “You think it’s good she called off the engagement? Kyle seems to think she’s scared about commitment and will change her mind.”
“Think it’s her business.” He said before walking towards the back room. However he was thinking about the fear he’d seen in Ayasha’s eyes when she’d spotted Kyle earlier. She might not believe it but she was like a daughter to him. He’d never married, never had children but he definitely felt protective towards her. For the past three years he’d hoped she’d start to open up because he was sure she had a lot of trouble, a lot she was hiding. He could still remember the distrust he’d seen in her eyes when he’d offered her a job. He’d done it purely on a leap of faith. He knew nothing about her past, he didn’t even know if she had any family. But none of that mattered to him. He’s gut trusted her and to him that was all that was important.
Ayasha hurried towards the thrift store with a smile on her face. She not only got to leave work early, she had tomorrow off. Now she just had to hopefully find the few items she needed then she’d hurry home. On her way to work this morning the idea had formed in her head and she truly wanted it to work out. She had a surprise for Gerard, one she hoped would make him happy.
Suddenly her steps slowed and her smile faded. What was she doing? She was planning a surprise for a man who was lying in a coma out in California. She was happily rushing home to him. This was what her mind kept telling her. It kept reminding her that hopefully he’d find his way back to his life and when that happened he’d be completely gone from hers. Her mind kept reminding her that from what she’d read about comas he wouldn’t remember anything that happened while in the coma. And then another thought she hated surfaced…she didn’t want him to go back to his life.
“No.” Ayasha muttered feeling a wave of guilt wash over her. She knew he had to go back. He had family and friends waiting, who were suffering right now.
“He’ll go back. I’ll help him somehow.” She whispered to herself.
Moving quickly she entered the large thrift store. Yes, she assured herself he’d get back to his life and she’d help him do that but for now…
“I just want to see him smile.” She whispered. Quickly her eyes started scanning the shelves for the items she needed. Her mind might be telling her she was getting too involved but for the first time in her life she was listening to her heart.