the last form of joy
I giggled helplessly. "Christ Bob, just king the poor man. He's going to rip out his hair soon."
Ray brightened instantly, his kingless-ness forgotten for the moment as he sat up straight and grinned. "Hey, don't you just love my fro?"
I paused and gave Bob and strange look, which he returned with a half-shrug. "I'm...sorry, Ray; did you do something different to it?"
"No, you just haven't, you know, mentioned it in a while."
I rolled my eyes and went back to reading my comic book, which had long ago been switched from /Cell/; it was hard to concentrate on a serious storyline while there were two guys in the background shouting "I win!" "You don't win, you fucker, you just /moved/!" from their spot on the bus floor.
"Why the hell are we playing checkers anyway?" Bob demanded, and I raised my eyes up, intrigued. Why the hell were they playing checkers?
Where the hell did they get checkers?
"Because," Ray replied, his voice light. "It's a fun game that builds strategic skills that we'll need in life. Although, with the way you play it..."
"Why aren't you playing video games?" I questioned suddenly, and Ray's eyes went from shining to dangerously narrowed in .2 seconds.
"Ask /Mikey/," he spat bitterly, moving his piece with much more force than necessary and knocking several black and red markers off the board.
"/Dude/." Bob said, motioning helplessly at the game board, before flipping it over entirely and crossing his arms. "I hate this fucking game anyway."
I looked over at Mikey, who was lounging next to me, texting, and he shrugged his shoulders. "What? Yeah, I hid them, so what? Videogames rot your brain."
"Hypocrite!" Ray shouted, pointing a melodramatic, accusing finger at Mikey, who replied with an entirely convincing "innocent" look. "Well, it's Frank's fault anyway; he was the one that broke your Atari."
Ray's eyes widened, and he turned to look at me with an almost automatic twist; his mouth was even slightly open. Bob laughed openly despite the situation and began flicking little red pieces into Ray's fro.
"Frank... you broke it?"
"Ray, listen...it was an accident, I swear. It was dark, and I was sleepy--"
"I blamed Worm for that!"
I ignored him and scoffed in Mikey's direction, where he was watching the scene play out with god-complex eyes. "Mikes, you little fuck, you had to open your mouth, didn't you? Dammit!"
The bassist merely laughed, his eyes shimmering with the authentic look that he managed to hold on to, despite the loss of his glasses. "I could say the same for you. But, you know, we could just go ask--"
I tackled him before he could say another word, but he was ready and blocked my attack until we both had fallen off of the couch and were rolling around on the bus floor, a dangerous flailing of limbs.
"Way to break Ray's pride and joy, dickhead!" Mikey giggled.
"Way to leave it out in the middle of the floor, Way!"
I scrambled with him and tried to pin his arms to his sides, but after many a bad wrestling match on my part, he knew all of my moves before I even thought about playing them and managed to block every one. Bob was still smirking, tossing checkers at anyone in range, while Ray lamented his lost Atari while trying to convince me that I was already forgiven, and there was "no need to fight!"
"Tell that to fuckface here!" I yelled, ending my cry with a string of unrelated profanities and curses while Mikey continued to laugh maniacally, finally taking control and pinning me underneath him.
"I win again..." he panted, "...bitch."
"What the hell are you people doing out here? You're shaking the whole bus."
I squirmed underneath the skinny bastard on top of me and tried to wiggle out at the sound of the voice, but to no avail.
"Gerard!" I called, my voice slightly muffled. "Lord help me! Get your brother off of me, or I'm going to go Jackie fuckin' Chan on all your asses!"
I heard him--he was somewhere close. To my left?
"Aww, Frank, did Mikey sit on you again? It's not our fault you're so short, you know. We just can't see you half of the time."
I shifted again, trying to maneuver Mikey's weight evenly on top of me, before giving up and sighing, defeated, into the floor.
"I'm cute," I said in a mumbled pout, deciding to put my traditional backup plan to active use. Threats never seemed to have an effect anyway.
"Alright, alright, I got him..." I heard Gerard sigh with a giggle, before there was a loud "oof!" and Mikey was gone from my back. I sat up gingerly, stretching and popping my joints, before delivering a well aimed kick to Mikey's foot, muttering more obscenities and smirking at him, which was returned with a hiss of pain and a eyeshot of venom.
Before Mikey had time to reply, though, Gerard's hand was on my shoulder.
"Hey, can I talk to you in the back for a minute?"
I didn't think much of it at the time, my first thought being a revenge plan directed at the other three--two of which technically hadn't done anything, but that hardly mattered; everyone is a potential victim when I'm bored on a bus.
"Yeah, sure," I smiled, making a kissy face towards Mikey when he glared at me, both actions manifesting the 'we're not fucking done here' attitude we both held. Gerard moved his hand to the small of my back and ushered me gently out of the room.
"Sweet, thanks Frank. It'll only take a minute. Oh, and Ray?" he said, turning back and giving Ray an oddly dubious look. "You, um...you have something in your...thing."
Ray reached up and pulled a couple of checkers out of his fro before groaning angrily and chucking them at Bob, who proceeded to swap them away with the abandoned checker board.
Gerard pulled the curtain that separated the bunk section from the main half of the bus and hid the others from view.
"I want to show you something," he said.
I recognized the voice, the tone. It was nearly a whisper, laced with anticipation, excitement, and adoration. I grew to connect that form of speech to times when Gerard would show me new lyrics, singing them aloud and waiting to be complimented, or when we were meeting someone famous that he'd looked up to for years. I thought offhandedly that he had some news to tell me about back home, or who had mentioned him in what magazine. But I certainly didn't expect what awaited me inside of my bunk when he pulled back the red cloth covering it with an unnecessary flourish.
I dropped to my knees to examine every inch of it, my mouth hanging open in awe.
Along nearly every inch of bare wall surrounding the inside of my bunk, he had drawn, coloured, and written familiar words. Every single inch. There was no white wall left.
The first one that caught my attention was the recreation of the pizza monster I had drawn just a few months ago during an interview, but he had added colour and dimension to it, making it far more believable than mine was: pen markings on an old napkin. I had held it up to him from across the table and he had snorted water everywhere, scaring the poor interviewer into thinking he was dying. In the far corner I saw what must have been a recreation of the Eyeball records party where we met.
Noticing what I was looking at, he bent down next to me and leaned in.
"You thought I was fucking weird," he grinned at me, and I could see a little black marks along his hands and jeans, from where he had tried to clean them off.
I nodded and smiled, still raking my eyes over the transformation.
"You're still fucking weird. But... god dammit if you're not amazing."
I still couldn't fully believe what I was seeing; every part of available wall space had been converted into gorgeous arrays of colours and patterns, with pictures hidden behind each brush stroke and smear. When I had taken in the backgrounds, I finally was able to focus in on some of the words plastered across the plane haphazardly. The first were lyrics to a song I knew all too well:
I see you lying next to me
With words I thought I'd never speak
Awake and unafraid
Asleep or dead
Then, something I didn't expect (which made my heart beat quicker for only a moment), written in white across a stretch of blue and orange:
"Why does the bird sing when it's about to die a lonely life?"
I placed my fingers over the lettering, mumbling the response with an aching heart before turning to Gerard. "What is this from?"
His eyes met mine in a soft embrace without physical contact, and he regarded me curiously. "You told it to me, didn't you? Years ago, I think. It stuck with me for some reason."
"Yeah," I said, "I remember."
Which I did. I remember remembering this. Like amnesia and dÃ©jÃ vu. Like I had forgotten this /before/. ...But not once did I remember saying anything like that before the night with Lincoln. It must have been a line to some horror movie we had watched years ago. A B-class. Something no one would no about, right? Something that was long lost in the film archives, moved aside by the popular cinamatic adventures with better graphics. Right?
"It's like your tattoo, I guess," he said, making a face. "I still think it's weird that you don't remember when you got those, though."
I climbed into my bunk to study the art more closely, but ended up simply flopping onto my side in a sudden bout of fatigue. I was still thinking about that fucking line and that stupid kid that had attacked Gerard. He watched, still propped against the side of my mattress.
"I don't not remember, I just...haven't thought about it," I shrugged. "I'm just glad, knowing that they're there."
I flipped onto my back so that I was facing the ceiling--or, what was essentially Gerard's bunk, and squinted my eyes.
"What did you write...?" I asked, unsure if I was reading it right. I turned to him. "Are these Lloyd Dobbler lyrics?"
He bit his lip and nodded and I cocked my head, inviting him in next to me. He hesitated before climbing in and laying against my side. I watched him as he did, his every move, and waited until he had gotten settled before asking, "Since when do you listen to Pencey?"
He turned towards me, and it wasn't until that very moment that I realized how small these bunks actually were. It was a miracle we were both comfortable. His eyes were glazed over and I wished he was smoking, just to give me something to concentrate on besides the little wisps of hair falling against his face and the way his skin reflected the small amount of light circulating through the area.
"Since I fell in love with the singer's voice."
I chuckled lightly, suddenly wishing that I had a cigarette, just so I wouldn't have to worry about what to do next.
"Gerard," I sighed finally, gesturing to the walls around me. "This is...it's truly amazing. I can't even begin to tell you... you've turned my bunk into a piece of art."
His hand was circling my hip, and he mumbled something in my ear that sounded suspiciously like "...already a piece of art in it..." but I chose to ingore it and continue.
"It's just.... It's gorgeous. Beautiful. Thank you."
I turned to look at him, but it appeared that my words didn't even register in his head; his fingers were tracing lines against the hem of my shirt and his eyes weren't leaving mine (as if that was unusual).
"Gerard...Gee, don't," I started, trying to unclench the skin he touched. His fingertips gently explored the exposed inch of skin between my pants and shirt, pressing down gently in just the right spots to make me struggle to hold the noises in my throat.
"Why?" he murmured, so close to my lips that I could nearly taste the coffee from only an hour ago. White vanilla? Hazelnut?
I felt my hip twitch as he slipped a hand underneath my shirt and ran his fingers over the skin gently, feather-light. My eyes started to slip closed, but I held on to the little resolve I had.
"Gee, don't, we can't..."
He moved closer, a liquid motion that mirrored the green pools of his eyes, and his finger hooked around one of my belt loops to skillfully pull me towards him. His breath was against me and I felt every movement of his lips as he spoke.
I resisted the overwhelming urge to close the space between us, and instead allowed my eyes to finally shut as his hand traced patters over my lower stomach and hipbone. With no warning, his lips were against mine and I was trailing a hand over the back of his neck while he coaxed my mouth open gently. I complied, and I discovered that he tasted just like everything he felt and smelled like: coffee and cigarettes and a pure, unaltered sensation that I couldn't confuse with anything else. Jamia reminded me of vanilla. Gerard reminded me of home. Perfection. Love.
"Gee..." I whispered, breaking apart for only a moment to concentrate on his hand, which had slowly slid past my lower stomach and was residing on the top of my jeans. He grinned at me, not seductively, but amused--excited?
"Hey, do me a favor?"
His sudden outburst of childish behavior was unexpected, and I stared up at him like he had lost his mind. His hand was still pressed against my jeans, lightly palming me, and it was taking my full concentration not to react to it.
Gerard smiled and pulled out a piece of paper from his back pocket, unfolding it. "Do you like me? Check yes or no."
I snorted and threw my head back against the pillow, punching him in the arm. "Man, you're such a boner-kill!"
His hand stopped. "That doesn't answer my question!"
I looked over at him, licking my lips and feeling the hard coldness of my lip ring on my tongue. It tasted like coffee now. I think it was hazelnut.
"Hmm, well, I guess I do like you, Gerard Way," I said, grabbing the paper from him and ripping in half. "Even though you're a douche bag." I paused as the lyrics struck my eyes. "But, seriously Gerard, this..." I looked around my bunk again, taking in the pleasure and artistic brilliance of its walls, "...I really want to thank you. ...This is beautiful."
He looked down at me and smiled affectionately. "Yeah. Yeah it is."
I rolled my eyes. "I thought I just told you not to be a douche bag?"
"I thought I was a boner-kill?"
I wondered if the others could hear us. If they knew all about it. I wondered if they were outside this very moment, eavesdropping and filming us for blackmail purposes. I wondered why, that, at that very moment, I didn't give a fuck.
"You are a boner-kill, trust me," I laughed.
He smirked, and his eyes flashed acidic green before he leant down and whispered, "Oh, I doubt that..."
His hand resumed it's movement and my hips jerked and thrust against him instinctively. One of my hands shot to his hair and curled my fingers in it while the other clasped the hand over my pants, urging it to press down harder. Faster. Harder.
Gerard groaned and bent down to press his open mouth against the vein underneath my scorpion tattoo.
The lights were flashing--red, green, blue--and casting bright sequences of colour across the stage, reflecting off of the edge of my Texas and the glimmering edges of Bob's drums. It was a swirl of action. Of passion. Of frenzy and perfectly uncontrolled control. This was our show. Our scene. Our lights, our camera, our action.
I looked up. My mind was hazy and I couldn't tell if I was facing the crowd or the ceiling, or the back of the stage. My fingers were almost numb to the point of pleasant familiarity. I couldn't decide if the crowd was smaller tonight or if Gerard was just singing loud enough to cover their screams; or maybe I couldn't really hear the audience anymore. It was perfection through misted lenses and broken mirrors. Until half-way through our third song.
The bass line fumbled. Gerard's voice wavered.
I raised my eyes and flung the hair out of them, glancing at the middle stage suspiciously; it wasn't uncommon for Gerard to invent his own lyrics on the spot, but for Mikey to screw up and Gerard to stop singing entirely?
The sound was back, but the nervous hint to Gerard's voice didn't fade, and I watched them together, my own fingers passing up and down the neck of the guitar from sheer habit. Gerard turned and cast a meaningful look at his brother, before facing the crowd again.
That's when I noticed it. What they both were looking at. What drew their eyesight in together with that strange telepathic connection they seemed to share.
The crowd was jumping and screaming, despite the obvious rattled demeanor of the lead singer, making it hard to see the back of the room, under the second level. But there was...
Gerard was next to me. His eyes looked panicked. He had stopped singing, and, slowly, the other guys ceased playing until there was only the heavy sounds of the stage and the confused mumbling of every fan in view. Gerard leant in close to my ear. My mind was still blank, confused, and now almost shaking. I wasn't sure why. My entire body felt queasy, not just my stomach.
"Do you see it?"
He whispered to me, the microphone held at arms distance. His voice was cracked in the middle, something I may have admired if the situation wasn't as desperate. He was human, after all, however inhuman he was able to morph himself into.
I nodded, my mouth open slightly still, panting. My fingers hurt, and I think I had injured my ankle. The place was buzzing with questioning stares and rumors that had barely begun, and yet were spreading like wildfire.
He's still not right in the head.
Gerard looked back over the crowd, and I waited for him to move away, back to center stage, to address everyone on his podium where he reigned supreme. Where he was god.
But he stayed in his spot, and I imagined that I could feel the heat from his body lulling me into a false sense of security while I continued to shake violently. I still felt queasy. I felt like collapsing. My vision was unfocused and I couldn't believe this was happening. I couldn't stop staring into the semidarkness, unable to comprehend what I was seeing.
I thought we were rid of you.
"What the fuck is going on back there?"
Gerard's voice, magnified by the small hand-held microphone that was his weapon, his staff, his lightning, spread to every corner and every gap and every molecule of thick atmosphere. A simultaneous murmur filled the audience and, with uncanny likeness worthy of The Wall, every head turned and every body shifted in the direction of Gerard's stare. Quiet, punctuated with only a few small gasps, lay a silence over the excited demeanor of the area.
And then someone screamed.
And in the frenzy of blood, cries, and a body falling to the floor, I saw him. In the chaos of people trying to get outside, away from the kids with the neck wounds leaking onto the floor, into safety, he smiled. In the last moments I remember of that night, before Gerard was pulling at my hand and Brian was ushering us off stage with fearful sidelong glances, before the news article the next day about several kids being attacked at our show with no suspects in custody, before I felt the screams screech through my bloodstream and whiten my eyes, I felt him.
Standing in the mass of screaming fans with two equally unnerving murderers beside him, he cocked his head, smiled, and waved pleasantly as blood dripped down his lips.