the news scare
All I could feel was the unforgiving pavement as I ran, pounding hard against my feet, and the still-chilly air that lingered in the afternoon that chilled my jacketless body and iced over my breath.
Damn smokers lungs.
Mikey was beside me, muttering something about jackass kids and how his side ached. Even though he would probably be pissy for the rest of the day, it was comforting to know that Gerard wasn't in enough trouble for Mikey not to curse something involving himself with every passing breath.
I could hear Bob behind me, his footsteps heavy and intimidating--like he might run me over if he saw something of interest beyond me. People watched us curiously as we ran past, but I tried not to think about it--I tried not to think about Jamia, or what Mikey said three days ago, or what Gerard and I were doing. Whatever the fuck it was.
I tried not to think about anything. I just followed Mikey's lead as he turned and headed towards a far curb, where I could spot a familiar figure hunched over in the grass, gripping his head. Brian was with him, rubbing his back soothingly and talking to someone on his cell. I passed Mikey and flopped down next to Gerard, instantly looking him over.
There was a long gash down his arm, which was still trickling out a small amount of blood, and his neck was sporting angry red marks from an abusive hand. But probably worst was the fact that he was literally shaking with fear. The same shake that had plagued him last night, but an entirely different fear. Rejection versus horrible shock.
"...no, no, it's okay. Really. Mikey, I--"
Gerard was muttering and smiling while Mikey bent in front of him, touching his cheek and staring at him piercingly.
"It's not okay, Gerard. Here, come back to the bus, we'll clean you up."
I gently lifted up Gerard's arm and examined it, trying to figure out how deep the cut was. Mikey nodded to me.
"Will that need stitches?"
I shook my head. "I don't think so, but, you know, I have no clue. Bob?"
Bob knelt down and peered closely at the would stretching from the inside of Gerard's elbow to the space between his thumb and first finger. "Hmm, it should be fine," he judged. "But you should really get it wrapped up so it doesn't get infected and all that shit."
Gerard nodded his head quickly, his arm still shaking as I held it. Mikey stood and scratched his head. "Alright. You guys, help me get him back. He still looks shaken up--"
"Mikey, for fuck's sake, I'm /fine/. I think I can walk back to--"
"Hey, hey, hey, hold up!" Brian said, snapping his phone shut. "I need someone to help me out--Bob, will you go and tell security that we have some fucker running around here, trying to do in band members?"
"Yeah, what did the little bitch look like?" Bob asked Gerard, and Gerard shrugged. "long sleeved red shirt, jeans, dark glasses. Not unlike every other person here," he mumbled, running a quivering hand through his dark hair.
Bob nodded. "Oh well. I'll tell them."
"Right. I need to make some calls back," Brian said, "so take care of him back in the bus, and--will you be alright to perform in--" he looked at his watch "--an hour?"
"Yes, dammit," Gerard swore, looking thoroughly irritated that everyone was treating him like a child. Or, at least in his eyes.
"Okay. Mikey, Frank, see you guys once I get back. I won't be long. Make sure that doesn't get infected, Gerard."
And he trotted off, calling Matt, the stage manager, as he went. I shook my head, still curious as to why Brian had volunteered to do this tour with us. Didn't he have other bands to manage?
"Oh, shit, I got to find Alicia. I kind of...ran off. She's probably worried," Mikey said, scratching the back of his neck guiltily. "Frank, get him all bandaged up, will you?" I nodded. "'Kay. Thanks man," he said, gripping Gerard's shoulder gently before turning back in the direction Bob had left.
"Alright," I sighed, maneuvering around to his uninjured side and helping him up. "Jesus Gerard, you're shaking bad. Are you really okay?
He stood up, using the support I offered him, and smirked. "Trust me."
I rolled my eyes and put a hand comfortingly against the small of his back, urging him to move forward. "Oh, you made a funny. Great job, Way."
He laughed lightly and we started to walk back slowly, his arm slung around my shoulders and my hand on his back. He was still shaking, but not as much as before; I wondered if it was me, or because he was up and moving. I, once again, tried to ignore that I already knew the answer.
It was about that time that I remembered I was livid towards him. Fucking pissed. Angry beyond all belief and hope of reconciliation. That I wanted nothing more four minutes ago than to punch his face in.
...but his grip tightened gently on my shoulder and he hissed in pain when he moved his arm, and I promptly forgot about everything four minutes ago. I forgot about forgetting.
"So, you want to tell me what happened?"
He grimaced--not in a oh-this-hurts-boo-fucking-hoo way, but more of a dammit-this-hurts-little-bastard sort of way that made me want to laugh and hug him at the same time, because he was such a little twit, but in the most awkward of ways.
"Can it wait until we get back?"
I nodded, and the rest of the way back was spent in a comfortable silence, broken only by the random sound from the loading area and our footsteps crackling against the occasional piece of trash. When we reached the van, I punched in the code for the door, and it opened, miraculously (I always forgot the stupid number sequence, and it didn't help that Mikey found it amusing to change it nearly every four hours).
I helped him inside and he sat down on the couch, gingerly cradling his arm and examining it, his eyes narrowed. He looked almost...curious. I ignored his strange (yet typical) behavior and shuffled to the bathroom, opening cabinets and drawers until I found gauze and disinfectant, and a towel already stained with blood. Probably all of our blood, by the looks of it.
I sat down next to him and took his arm, dabbing at the blood covering the surrounding skin while he watched me, muttering "ow" every four seconds, just to piss me off.
"Gerard, you say something ever again, and I'm going to chop off this damn arm and shove it down your throat."
"But then I won't be able to talk," he pouted, while I dampened the towel with a bottle of water lying on the floor.
"But I thought you wanted to know what happened?"
"Well, if you're going to stop being a moody bitch and just tell me," I said, cleaning around the cut, "then sure, I'd love to know why you're bleeding all over the place."
"Well, I had gone out for a smoke, right?" (Trust Gerard to launch straight into it). "And I was wandering around over there, where we were, and this kid comes up to me. I figure he just wants to say hi, or whatever, so I smile at him. I ask him what's up, he tells me his name and we just talk for a couple of minutes. But then I ask him what he's doing out here instead of inside, and he just smirks and says 'I didn't come for the show,' or some shit like that, and... Frank? Are you okay?"
The towel had fallen from my hand at his last sentence, but I quickly picked it up and smiled at him. "Yeah, it's cool. What happened?"
I was afraid to put my hand back on his arm in case he felt me shaking. God only knows I could feel him, and his senses seemed to be far more in tune than mine were. But that dialogue was all too familiar.
"Yeah, alright, so I ask him what he did come for, and he says something under his breath. Something like, uh..." he screws up his face for a moment, thinking hard. "Oh, I can't remember. But it was funky, you know? And the next thing I know, this kid launches himself at me and I hold up my arm, but he fucking shreds it with these long ass nails. Bitch."
He shivered, and I sat closer to him.
"But...uh...yeah. And his hand closes around my throat, cutting off my air, and he's coming closer, like he's going to kiss me, but his head turns, and...and--well, I don't know. There was something wrong with his teeth. But then Brian comes running, screaming at this kid, and he scampers off."
I twitched nervously beside him, unrolling the gauze and starting on his arm. "His name was Lincoln, wasn't it?"
Gerard looked at me nervously, and I didn't blame him. "Yeah, yeah it was. How did you--?"
But he paused and his eyes grew wide. He shook his head, sadly, almost forlorn. "Oh, Frank, no. You don't seriously think--? This kid was your Lincoln?"
I continued to bandage his arm, not meeting his eyes. "Gerard, this kid's got some kind of grudge against you. He's a creepy bastard, yeah, but he's got motive. When he talked to me, he said something...that I discovered something that would...oh, I don't know. Something that's been helping me. I can only assume me meant you."
He glowered at me playfully, and I felt myself smile in return. "He really hates you for some reason. I'm sure it was him."
"Why the hell does he hate me?" Gerard asked, slumping against the back couch and earning an irritated noise out of me as I continued to tend to his arm.
"Well," I said, "You do get to hang around me all day. That could make anyone hate you."
He grinned. "Yeah, even I hate myself for that. Sorry Frankie, but you're so damn annoying sometimes..."
"And to think I did all of this from the kindness of my heart. Fuck you too," I replied, sealing the last part of the gauze with the tape I had found in the first aid kit.
"You can't use 'fuck you too' in a retaliation unless the first person says 'fuck you' to start with."
I had a reply ready, but my eyes had drifted and, with Gerard lying back, his neck was fully exposed.
"Jesus, Gerard," I said, edging closer to him and brushing his neck gently with my fingertips. Angry red fingerprints marred what would have been pale smooth skin. "He really got you. Your neck is.../horrible/."
"Yeah," he replied, unmoving. "I much perfer what you do to it."
I paused and didn't answer. He said nothing else until I pulled away, muttering that he should get some rest before the show. He nodded and retreated to his bunk. I didn't see him again until we hit the stage.
"I'm still pissed, Mikes."
"You'll get over it."
He took out another chip and bit into it, his eyes glued to the television and completely ignoring my desperate plea for attention. Attention I desperately needed from him.
"Mikey, really. I don't think I've ever been this mad at him."
Finally, he turned to me and stopped crunching, his eyes alright with what I really hoped wasn't the annoyance it looked like.
"Frank, you need to calm the fuck down. So Gerard called your girlfriend, big deal. I didn't hear you complaining last night when he was in your bunk."
I flushed. "Did you--? Were you awa--?"
"You know what I think your problem is?" he interrupted, leaning back against the couch. "You just can't fucking accept when you've lost."
"Lost? Of course I lost, weren't you listening when I told you what happened? Jamia is--"
"And when you've won."
I stared at him, trying to figure him out. I had lost that battle since I first met him at that Eyeball Records party. One would think I'd be able to understand his logic by now and maybe equal it. Wrong.
"Won? What have I won?"
"It's currently lying in your bunk, you dumbfuck. Asleep. Go see. And while you're at it, bring me his phone; there's something I guess I should show you."
Bewildered, I walked out of the back room while Mikey turned his attention back to his show. I shut the door behind me; I wanted mild privacy, unsure why. I felt this was my moment, and I didn't need Mikey hovering over me; I knew he wouldn't anyway, but I liked to pretend I controlled that decision.
I could hear the television up front, where Ray and Bob were lounging on the couch and chairs, watching what sounded suspiciously like the news. Ignoring that for the time being, I padded softly to my bunk and pulled back the curtain, revealing a sleeping Gerard. He was facing towards the wall, his body curled up slightly and a pillow clutched in his bandaged arm. He had gone to bed straight after the show, climbing into his own bunk and disappearing. He was there for no more than fifteen minutes when he emerged restlessly, shooting me a significant look. I had nodded, and he switched into my bed, falling asleep almost instantly.
I leaned in and pushed the hair away from his face, causing him to twitch slightly, his nose wrinkling up. I smiled before scanning the area, locating his phone tangled in the sheets at the end of the bunk. I grabbed it and was about to close the curtain and go back, when a sudden urge hit me. Looking around to make sure no one was watching, I quickly leaned down and kissed his cheek, hovering there for only a moment before pulling away. He whispered something and shifted, so I took that as my cue to finally leave him there and get back to Mikey.
I shut the door behind me and tossed him the phone.
"There. Now what did you want to show me?"
He flipped the phone's cover open and pressed a few buttons, pausing to stare at me, looking me over.
"Don't tell him I did this."
"I'm serious, Frank."
"I got it."
He reached over and handed me back the phone. "It's on "dialed calls" right now. Scan through them."
A smart remark was on the tip of my tongue, but I held it there, knowing better than to question Mikey; he might as well be a fucking god for everything that he knew. It was creepy, almost disturbing sometimes, but I guess I had just learned to live with the omniscient bastard.
"Today," I read aloud softly as I scrolled through the names and dates. "Jamia. Yesterday: Mom, Adam, Adam. Two days ago: Mom, Jamia. Four days ago: Eliza, Trent, Jamia. Five days ago: Jamia. Mom. Matt."
I scrolled through faster, reading only the names now. Why...?
"Jamia....Jamia...Jamia--Mikey, what the fuck, man?"
Mikey was staring at me with a look I had never taken well to in the entire time that I had known him. It portrayed nothing, and everything. It...well, to be honest, it made me fucking nervous.
"Think about it, Frank. All those calls...what do you think he was doing?"
I looked down at the phone, watching it so intently that my vision blurred and slipped out of focus. "Mikey...? Why has he been calling her? Why would he? I mean..." I trailed off, my mind running and flying.
"He's been giving her updates, Frank."
"You..." I muttered. "What?"
"He made that first call over a month ago."
I snapped the phone shut, my hands trembling. "He.../why?/"
"Gerard doesn't simply do things, Frank. Nothing is a lark to him. Everything means something, and he wouldn't bother with it if it didn't affect him. You seemed to be causing him quite a lot of mental stress."
Mikey smiled, and I opened my mouth, shaking my head. "I can't believe...and Jamia knew?"
"She didn't tell you today?"
"No, I... I was upset."
Mikey just smiled. "She knew."
"Jesus, what, does everyone know?"
"No, of course not."
Mikey laughed lightly, turning back to the TV. "Gerard's my brother. He doesn't get shit past /me/."
"Frank! You guys, get in here!"
I jumped at the sound, and Mikey cocked his head curiously at the door. I leapt up and opened it, calling back to Bob, "What? What's wrong?"
"You guys have to see this! Get the fuck in here!"
He sounded panicked. It was unusual for Bob, and unnerving, and I had barely opened my mouth again before Mikey was rushing past me and into the front part of the bus, calling behind him, "Frank, get Gerard."
I did as I was told and hurried to my bunk, sliding open the curtain and shaking Gerard awake.
"Come on, Gerard. Something's happening."
I tried to pull him up, and he obligated, lifting himself into a sitting position. "What? What's happening?"
"I don't know, come on!"
I pulled him fully out of bed and rushed after Mikey, my heartbeat slightly quickened at the alertness in Bob's voice.
Bob Ray and Mikey were all on the couch, staring intently at the glowing television and paying no mind to Gerard and me as we entered. I stopped immediately and turned to the program, which showed a lady in a red shirt looking grieved as she delivered a report.
"Police in Canada have stumbled upon cases of obsessive people in vampire cults who indulge in rituals of drinking human blood, swallowing it from what they draw from one another, torturing animals, and even murder. These are exceptionally rare crimes, however."
The screen switched to a man sitting in a Victorian-style chair; large while lettering below him declared that his name was Grant Charles, a social work professor at the University of British Columbia.
"It's very unusual, but not unheard of. It's not something we teach at my school, but they may have heard about it in a case study. Aside from these reports, however, there is no reason to believe that there are other teenage vampire cults in Canada.
The scene switched back over to the reporter, who said simply, "There have been no other reports as of recently, and one of the boys, whose name still remains unknown, has been caught and is being tried for first degree murder. More information on that as it develops." She shuffled the papers in front of her and cleared her throat. "Ready for spring yet? Sorry folks, it's still months away, but a local man in Oregan has found an intivative way of keeping his house warm during the cold season..."
"Shit," Ray muttered, and Mikey echoed it with a "holy /fuck/."
"Is that what attacked me? Attacked Frank? A fucking cult kid?" Gerard asked, dumbstruck.
Bob shook his head disbelievingly at the screen. "I don't know, man. They said there's only been reports of those damn things in Canada..."
"Fuck that, I know what I saw," I said. "That kid was involved in some strange shit, I'm telling you."
Gerard nodded. "A cult would make sense."
We discussed it for a few more minutes, mainly cursing the kids that did it--drinking blood and torturing. The reports of murder was what scared me the most, though. Lincoln hadn't seemed armed, but his teeth--which I assumed were either fake or surgically implanted--looked like they could do damage, and combined with the long nails that had scratched up Gerard's arm, he could most likely put someone in the hospital for quite awhile. And if there were more of them...
Gerard tapped me on the arm after the conversation had started to repeat itself, and I took his lead and followed him back to the bunk area. Without hesitation, he climbed into my bed after me while I struggled to process this new information. I could still hear the other three faintly, their angered voices cutting through the curtain and distance. All thoughts of Jamia and Gerard's phone had been driven from my mind.
We lay in silence for a time, his breathing shallow on the back of my neck, before one of us spoke.
"Gerard, you don't think that--"
"No. I mean, he was out in the sun and everything. They can't..."
"Yeah. Yeah, okay."
The conversation was unfinished and left a chilling nervousness on our conscious, and when his arm slipped around my waist, I let it; I needed the comfort as much as he needed the reassurance.