Friend zones, boy talk, confessions, breaking guy code, conclusions and that persistant little feeling that, against all odds, had me on a chokehold.
"You know.. After coming to terms with your bitchiness, it's been kinda cool having you 'round." Gerard mused.
He was currently sprawled on the basement floor, trying every now and then to burp without barfing in the process. A severe case of food overdose. I had already moved on to the food coma level, lying on his bed unable to move a finger even if my life depended on it.
It was a nice move from Donna to prevent me from murdering her oldest son by making such delicious food that keeping it to a reasonable amount was nearly impossible.
Especially if you had the self discipline of yours truly.
"Pft! Having me around? You're the one who moved in with us, you dork." I pointed out.
I didn't appreciate feeling like some sort of a new installation to his group of acquaintances, when in reality he'd been the one begging on his knees on my hall floor. I cringed inwardly at the memory, still sort of in awe at how big of a bitch I was capable of being. If it wasn't such a shameful trait to brag about, I'd seriously take great pride on my achievement.
"Besides the point. I guess we were too much alike to see the friend material in each other."
I felt a bit uneasy with this touchy feely shit going on, and concentrated on digesting his view on this so called friendship. When exactly did the passionate dislike turn into being buddies? And how did him fucking my brains out the other night fit the concept of friends? I hadn't thought of it until now, but it seemed like at the end of the day what we'd created since the hatred was nothing more than a slightly bigger puddle of general mess.
I'd just gone with the flow, not giving it a second thought. The way I'd lived my life since my first defiant scream that had echoed in backroom of a craft store my mother had worked at while being pregnant with me.
But maybe, for once, a little thinking ahead was called for. What would this lead to, eventually? Nothing sweet, I was sure of it. Would we keep trying to befriend each other while fooling around every now and then? If that was how shit was going to go down, all I can say is from what I knew, it really would go down low and in a very messy, unpleasant way.
I'd never really grasped the idea of friends with benefits, I mean, fuck buddies were an entirely different species. Buddies for fucking only. But managing a friendship in between? Especially one as rocky as this one, that was constantly hanging on a thread? I was only starting to get used to not wanting to rip his head off of try various new insults on him.
I shook my head to myself and let out a sigh.
Analyzing wasn't anywhere near my range of abilities and trying to think things through was merely making my head hurt. I took that as solid proof of my attitude that declared all aftermath secondary being actually genious and a much more effortless way to spend my days.
The only thought that proved to be exeptionally hard to get rid of was the nagging little voice telling me there was something off about the way he said friend material.
Or rather, there was something off with the way it made me feel.
"Sure it's kind of tricky to see the friend material in someone who has an impression of you as a engine-like whore that runs on whiskey, which, by the way, was totally based on bullshit. I haven't even had sex with a lot of people."
I don't know why I added that last line.
It just slipped, but if I had learned anything about the male gender during my entire life spent having only the forementioned as friends, I knew I was jumping into the deep end with that one.
Nothing interests men as much as sex talk. Numbers, freaky shit one's done, anything to brag about really, or question another to either feel good about themselves or fantasize about whatever they hear.
As I suspected, his oh-so-tired, void of energy head popped up in instant interest, and he shot a devilish grin my way.
"Oh yeah? How many?"
There was an edge to his tone that spoke of challenge but I wasn't sure whether he questioned my having had an eventful, wild kind of sex life or if he was trying to imply that he didn't really believe I had had a sex life at all. If not for the fact that he and I had sex, of course.
The reason I felt like I'd taken a dive to dark waters was that I really didn't have a number.
God knows I'd lost count but no matter how bad that sounds it honestly wasn't that many. It couldn't be. I simply sucked at calculus and had the memory of a goldfish, which when added to the fact that most of my flings that had led to bed had happened while drunk, was more than enough to explain the lack of a number.
This was like a round of truth or dare, a round in which dare wasn't a given option and you weren't in a party, trashed out of your mind.
I closed my eyes, trying to count the ones I remembered, or atleast come up with a number big enough to match what I considered my experience but small enough to keep a distance from the skank section.
"... Like, uhm. Fifteen - twenty, tops?" I tried carefully.
"And you're how old again?"
"When did you lose your virginity?"
Man, were we getting out of line in record time.
"I'm not comfortable with the way you interrogate me, Gerard." I snorted. "But I was seventeen. I'm sort of proud of that. Most of the friends I had back then had most likely born with their cherries popped, cause it always felt like they spoke of the sex lives of thirty-year olds at fourteen, y'know?"
"Five years of sexual activity, tops twenty partners... That's like basically four per year? I'm surprised, Em. I expected worse."
I lowered my chin in infamy. Sure it sounded OK when you put it like that.
"Yeah but you can count the first year out cause I was in a relatonship and wasn't fucking around. The year after that I don't remember much of, so whatever happened during that time in life is something we'll never find out. Might be selibacy, might be me opening my legs to every guy in a party of one hundred plus people."
I don't know why I told him all this, but perhaps after all these years having boys as closest friends, I'd turned into a bit of a male myself. Come to think of it, I prefered boy talk to girl talk any day. Even when the boy talk didn't involve heavy beer drinking, which it usually did.
I almost threw up as I thought about beer. Just thinking of all those sizzling bubbles in my ready-to-explode stomach almost made me miss my mom.
"You do realize you're gonna have to contribute if you want to pick this topic, don't ya?" I teased.
"I'm not even ashamed to say that it's less than ten. Seven, eight? Counting out all the ones I've actually had a solid, long or short, relationship, it only leaves like 3 one night stands. Including you." His tone was purely conversational, but something about that very fact stung like a bitch.
'Including you' he said...
Well that cleares our situation, for sure. It was a one night stand, a once in a lifetime only, and now we were in some sort of a weird, awkward stage of becoming friends. I had never begun a friendship by talking about my questionable sex life, though, so either we were equally messed up or something about this friendship differed from the usual.
I quickly hid my frown, the reason to which I didn't understand in the first place, and tried to think of something to say.
"Right. Now that we're super best friends and all, are we like also supposed to trust each other with our biggest secrets and shit? This is truly hilarious." I mused in a highly unamused tone.
"'Spose we could."
He was being serious. I had to look to be sure, and his face held no traces of joking.
I tried to think of a secret. I had a lot of small things that I wasn't exactly proud of and wouldn't like the world to know about but I hardly had any secrets.. Something in my stomach flipped, which usually happened when I knew I was hiding something, but this time it kept tightly hidden as I myself didn't seem to know my own secret.
"Can't think of anything. Except for having been popping pills for since last thursday, but I'm done with that now, I think."
I hated saying that out loud, but not for the obvious reason. I had no problem with Gerard knowing I'd popped a pill or ten, but saying it out loud made me desperately crave for one.
It was one thing to try and stay away from something, and an other to completely deny yourself it. Everyone knew the curse of the forbidden fruit.
I always wanted what I wasn't allowed.
My words didn't seem to have a great affect on Gerard, and he lay silent and unsurprised on the floor as I waited for him to reveal a secret.
"You really wanna know?" His tone shifted from light and mellow to nervous and hesitant, which sort of put me on the edge, too.
I'm not sure I wanted to be his confidant in case he planned on telling me something big. I regretted possibly having given him the impression that I was trustworthy, because in all honesty, I really wasn't. Not with anyone but Frank. I had a big mouth and a hurtful tendency to use whatever people told me against them at first fight.
"Shoot." I said, ignoring my previous thoughts.
"You can't tell anyone." He spoke quickly. I raised my eyebrows. That big, huh?
"I hate having to make promises. People always make me feel shitty about it after I break 'em.."
I shifted my body on the bed, waiting for Gerard to back down and realize that he was definitely being too trusting for his own good. Whatever was stuck in his throat, pleading to be let out, wasn't for my ears to hear and I hoped he had the brains to figure that out.
"I ain't gonna make you promise. But I'm gonna ask you pleadingly to shut up about this."
"Don't tell me anything!" I groaned, making a show out of covering up my eyes and bellowing out an out of tune la la la...
"I think I'm gonna have to, you're the only one who could sort of help me out.." His face made me think of that cunning bad guy in movies, coming up with a masterplan while twirling his moustache. I cringed, not that sure if there was something I hadn't quite caught.
"The thing is.."
A short pause.
I deliberately did nothing to encourage his opening up stunt.
"... I think I really, really like someone."
For some reason, my blood froze.
Despite having stated that I sucked at calculus, one plus one was simple enough for even me to put together and I replayed his earlier words in my mind, completely horrorstuck. Only one who could sort of help him out..
Oh shit no!! I tried to think of something to say but didn't want to get ahead of things, and decided that playing it dumb was likely the best solution I had at the moment. My mind raced at sickening speed as I thought of the way his behavior had gradually turned nicer and nicer towards me, the way he just declared it having been fun to have me around, the way he brought me over to his mother's house for a so-called hangout..
Every single moment we'd spent together suddenly came crashing down on me, reminding me of the fact that sleeping with him had propably not been the best idea I ever had.
And then at the same time, there was this tiny voice yelling at me, reminding me of the gay factor, the fact that only yesterday he had told me again told me about only having feelings for other men..
Last, and I hope to God least, the strange feeling that had surprised me at times, that little fluttering feeling, or not even a feeling but an idea of a feeling, burst up and almost made me want to gasp out for air. I quickly willed the wings of that idea to cut the bullshit, to land on wherever possible that stop flapping those goddamned flappy things that made my stomach tickle and my heart ache.
I was having none of that.
I was suffering of some post-sex fraud affection that I wasn't pleased with at all, and it would have to stay down, suffocated and smothered until it would go away. Wouldn't take two days, I suspected. I'd experienced this before with Nick, and if I gave in to this need of intimacy brought on by physical contact, I would be on my way down the same rabbit hole I'd seen one too many times.
"Oh yeah? Who's the unlucky someone?" I forced out an innocent, almost convincing smile.
He laid there picking his fingernails, sccratching away the chapped black paint.
It looked like he was, for the lat time, weighing his options, and took a deep breath before he spoke,
"... It's Frank."
I let out a laugh that sounded more like a cackle. The relief washed over me, the relief of having avoided an unhealthily awkward situation. A heavy weight was instantly lifted off my chest and laughing like a maniac felt appropriate.
Obviously, judging by his facial expression, Gerard did not agree. I was high on not having anyone in love with me, and also the silently increasing emptiness inside of me was best covered up and slaughtered by a laugh.
"Who doesn't like him? The dude's awesome." I nodded.
The silence that followed should've been enough to indicate that my blondie brain hadn't registered the information given, but if a girl can't take a hint...
After a very confusing moment of thick silence, I was beginning to understand the meaning behind the innocent statement. I stared at the ceiling, feeling my mouth drop until I was sure my jaw had dislocated for good. Food coma was quickly forgotten as I jumped up, anger flaring, and glared at the man on the floor.
"NO! You- you- you, ugh! You can't! I won't let you!!" I wasn't sure exactly what I meant by that, and why the fury I felt was enough to blind me, it was all so irrational but I was definitely not going to sit back down to think about it. I was mad beyond belief! My Frank! He thought he could waltz into our lives and steal away my Frank? He thought he could just -ugh- fall for anyone he wished and expect it to be okay? Well it wasn't o-fucking-kay!!
I threw my hands around furiously as I bellowed at him, pointing my finger at him with the same kind of force I would've used to punch him in the face.
He sat up quickly, and the bewilderment on his face seemed genuine and real. How could he not understand? If anything, his stupid confused eyes made me even fucking angrier.
"You little bitch, you idiot, you friend-stealing, man-hunting predator of a gay person! This is not cool, not cool, Gerard! I can't believe this shit!!"
The anger I felt was comparable to him admitting having vile, sexual thoughts of the little sister I never had. I cursed my vivid imagination for creating numerous pictures of him and Frank that now played non stop in my head as the fury blurred my vision and trembled my body.
Him having a crush on Frank, a boy I considered my best friend and somehow a kid brother, was so not okay on so many levels! He was braking the guy code, and I considered myself as one of the guys. Gerard the lady here obviously thought he was beyond the guy code and all the unspoken rules of family, friend and lover relations.
He was unbelievable. And telling me this like it was no big deal, just spitting it out as if it was nothing to throw a fit over? Outrageous!
Disrespectful and rude and unfair and.... AAAGGHHH!!
I didn't know what to say anymore and I dreaded the moment my anger would die out and I'd have to explain getting so worked up over this when I wasn't sure I understood it myself, except for the guy code part.
I did the thing I handled best, and grabbing my things I went for the stairs.
Before slamming the door shut behind me, I turned to shoot him one more murderous, cold glare and flipped my middle finger as if to say all the things I hadn't been able to get out of my mouth. He was still in an uncomfortable looking half-seated position on the floor, with that expression that made me question my own emotions. It was hard to hold on to a sudden rage when the one you were enraged at had obviously no clue as to why the fit had taken place.
The sincerity in his dumbstruck eyes made me look like a lunatic for lashing out like this, and I hated him even more for that.
Fuck him. Fuck Gerard fucking Way, I cursed under my breath as I left the house without calling a goodbye to Donna. Once outside, I decided to let out what was still left in me of the frustration I felt.
"AAAGHHHHHHH" The off-tone scream echoed in the vacant streets of the suburbia, and I regretted it already before I saw the lights on the house across the street go on.
"Oh crap.." I muttered to myself and for the second time tonight, ducked behind the stupid yellow fence, hoping that the residents of these houses, my Ma especially, took my desperate scream for a cat getting run over by a truck or something.
I inhaled the chilly evening air and let the light, icy drizzle land on my skin to cool me down.
So Gerard was in love wih Frank. That was bad, right? Something about the statement made my skin crawl and I hoped to God that it wasn't just me being judgemental toward sexual minorities. I had never thought of myself as one of those people, and wasn't really fond of the idea, either.
I frowned at the darkened sky, trying to once again listen to any signs from my inner self, something that would explain myself to me so I would gain a better understanding of my reaction to this. Having Gerard like my best friend felt somehow dirty, and wrong, even if Frank happened to be a girl and not a guy. It had nothing to do with Gerard being gay, although I had so smoothly used it and thrown it in his face a minute ago.
This is exactly why I shouldn't be let in on secrets; this is what I did with them. In the heat of the moment, in an arguement, in the middle of a gun fight.. I would make you walk away with your arms raised high by using the information given that I knew would be a blow below the belt.
After a hard look at my deepest self, I came to the conclusion that there was a part of me, a microscopically insignificant fragment of the emotional fuck up that I was, that had persistantly changed the terror of hearing him say my name into anticipation. Anticipation of it being me, instead of Frank. I had no idea this sort of feelings existed, and the realization made me sick to my stomach. I hated to admit this, even to myself, crouching here on the front porch of his mother's house, and I swore to never think of it again.
As if on cue, the door clicked open behind me, and I lifted my head up to see Gerard stare stupidly down at me.
"Care to come back inside or would you prefer waking up the entire fucking neighborhood first?"
His disapproving look didn't help my irritation, nor the dislike that I'd had for him that was starting to make a rather succesful comeback.
I flipped him off again, not even planning on standing up or moving, and when I eventually would, I would definitely not be walking through that door.
I waited for the light to go out in the white house. I wasn't up to explaining my mother why it always had to be her daughter who cause all the mishap in the neighborhood. I just hoped she didn't recognize the voice as mine.
"Fine. Get in the car. Let's go for a ride, have a smoke, get you to chill your pants." He slammed the door shut and basically dragged me over to the van, placing my involuntary but inconveniently light to carry body on the passenger seat. I crossed my arms across my chest and pouted.
The engine roared to life and he gased away, leaving a worrying trail of dark smoke behind the piece of crap of a car.
He offered me a cigarette and even gave me the lighter so I could light it myself.
After taking a few deep drags of the soothing cancer stick, I decided to try and calm my nerves before I made a complete fool out of myself. Looking back now, it was quite obvious that that ship had already sailed, but I would have to hold on to whatever was left of my credibility.
Throwing a mindless fit like that seemed like the most ridiculous idea I ever had, now that I'd taken a few moments to look back at my actions.
I was still upset as hell for the news I'd received, but I no longer felt the need to put up a freak show over it.
"Frank's not gay, you know." I stated with ice in my voice, hoping that pointing out the obvious would sting as much as possible. I wanted to grab his stinky heart and squeeze Frank out of it.
"Well, yeah.. I guess I knew that." He admitted quietly, with a strained voice and a pained face. "But I was hoping.." His voice trailed off into the darkness of the car. I looked away, not wanting any feelings of sympathy or pity for the guy to pop up in my unstable mind.
"Hoping for what? That you'd make him doubt his sexuality? You're insane! You-" I noticed getting a bit worked up again, and settled on sucking on the cigarette instead of calling him what I'd been about to.
"Calm the fuck down, Em! What the hell has gone into you? I told you I always got feelings for guys? That's hardly a newsflash anymore, is it?" The vein on his temple sarted throbbing in a worrying way as he lashed out.
"You can't touch Frank." I muttered defiantly, feeling like a kid who's afraid of his favorite toy getting stolen.
"Well I wasn't exactly planning on invading his pants to mutilate him in his sleep." He shot back.
I made a gagging sound to express the affect his lovely mental picture had on me.
"Is there something else bugging you? I don't get it, I really don't."
He lowered his voice, propably trying to be the bigger person by being the first one to take things down a notch. I wasn't about to follow his lead, but his question kind of hit a sore spot and kept me quiet. I wasn't even sure what it was that bugged me so bad, counting out the fact that I found it hard to accept that he actually had the nerve to go after my nearly a brother best friend. There was something else, but for the life of me I could not put my finger on it. Or maybe I could, but I had just sworn against it. It was packed up, duct-taped and buried into a puddle of cement in the back of my mind. It was so hidden, it wasn't even there.
I settled on shrugging his question off.
"Look. I won't try anything. What's the point - he's straight, right? So unless he gives me signs that point toward the opposite, I'll keep my thoughts to myself and we can forget about this. I won't act on these feelings I have for him if it bothers you that much." He explained.
I snorted, not knowing what to say. I didn't want to make peace just yet, but didn't really know how to keep on arguing, either.
We drove around in silence for a while before he pulled over at a gas station near the bridge.
He paused and let out an exasperated sigh. He looked at me sadly, but I made a point to not return the kindness.
"You love him, too, don't you?" He whispered coarsly, his voice piercing the deafening silence the died out engine had left behing. It wasn't even a question, but a statement.
But it was one I could not agree on.
I shook my head slowly, a sad smile appearing on my face now, too.
"Honestly, sometimes I wish I did. I can see the life we'd have and I want it bad. But that's not us.. That won't change, ever." I explained quietly.
I had thought about this a lot. I knew for fact that if there was a soulmate for me on this planet, I had found him. It was Frank and there was no doubt about it. But did being soulmates necessarily have to involve romance, marriage and kids? Ours didn't, and sometimes it saddened me to realize that if we only had that spark, that extra spice to take the love we shared to the next level, the level beyond friend zone, we would quite likely both live our lives happy and content.
Sometimes I wondered if that was the way it was originally supposed to be, the way faith had intended, if such a thing ever even existed. Had something just gone crooked along the way?
Had the bonding gone too far on the best friend level, to ever take the turn towards romantic love? Maybe. But it didn't matter. There was no changing it, and at the end of the day I didn't even crave the idea of marriage and kids.
It was a nice thought, but I would hardly ever actually choose that path, if I'd be given the opportunity to pick. I would keep him as a friend, and nothing more.
"You act like you do, though. Maybe you're not entirely aware of your feelings yet." He chuckled. "Try a couple days without the pills and you'll get in touch with yourself again."
I could sense the atmosphere having changed, and was kinda of grateful. His dumb imitation of a pshychologist almost made me crack up, but not quite. I didn't want to talk about my feelings toward anyone, and something about what he just said seemed to have hit home. I twisted my face into a light smile.
"Yeah, did it work for you?" I asked, remembering that not too long ago the guy was popping pills himself in his mother's basement, even offered me one. He wasn't one to talk.
"Sure it brought back reality." He said "But reality's a bitch." He added with a smirk and tapped the front pocket of his jeans. There was a bump with the fine outlines of a pill container. I ached to ask for one, or to know what kind of pills he took and if he would have any idea of what the ones I took were, but bit my tongue.
"Let's get you home." He grunted, bringing the engine back to life and starting the quiet ride back to NY.
I was floating around in my own thoughts, not even remotely aware of the world around me. When we arrived at the house, he parked the car up front and invited himself in for the night, saying someone had to be there to see that I would get my ass to the school in time.
He slept on the couch and I fought the urge to sneak in to sleep closer to him.
It was irrational, unexpected and plain wrong.
Was it just another level of wanting what I couldn't have? After all his confession tonight was the first solid proof there was to his claims on being gay. It was the first real sign towards the fact that he wouldn't look twice at a girl, unless it was for either a cover-up relationship like the one he had with Kat seemes to be, or a one night, mindless case of physical release. I felt like gagging when I realized I belonged in group number two, although I'd always thought that was what I prefered and wanted, too.
But the recently awakened longing for something more was constantly on the verge of getting a chokehold of me.