Don't know why I chose that title. It just struck me. :D Enjoy!
When normal drunk people kiss you, it's generally messy and disgusting (unless you're both sloshed--then it's even more messy and disgusting, but you don't even notice). Gerard's kiss had been neither here nor there--not fantastic, but not exactly bad either. It was quite brief, with a little tongue and lots of whiskey and smoke. On a scale of one to ten, it ranked at about a six.
I embarrased myself by wondering how he kissed when he was sober. I annoyed myself by reasoning that he probably wouldn't remember any of this tomorrow. And then I got myself riled up by thinking that he didn't know me, he had no right to kiss me, and that being drunk was no excuse.
I got up early the next day to walk to school. The air was so cold it hurt my lungs and made me bite my tongue three times, but at least it woke me up. I amused myself by watching my breath float up to mingle with the dew.
When I got onto the street, I caught sight of a familiar figure further up the sidewalk. I immediately recognized him and ran to catch up with him.
"Hey! Wait a second!" I yelled stupidly. "Mike!"
He waited for me to catch up. "Morning," he said.
"Morning! You live close by?" I panted.
"Just there," he said, pointing to his street. "Number 27."
"Sweet. Mind if I walk with you?" A pointless question, really, since I already was. He nodded anyways.
"So..." he said. I cringed for his sake, and quickly said,
"So what was up with you yesterday? I mean, you walked off so fast. What was with that?"
"Oh, you know," he shrugged. "I don't exactly get along with Gerard."
"I don't blame you," I giggled. "I mean, I can't really say, cause I don't know him, but he seems kind of...unfriendly." I purposely blocked out the image of Gerard kissing me behind the school.
Mike just shrugged again, so I decided to drop it. We walked in silence the rest of the way.
I tried to catch Gerard's eye during maths, but he wouldn't look at me, so I decided to give him a wide berth. As in, I hung with Mike during all our shared free periods and didn't give Gerard so much as a thought. I think I caught him looking at me once, during lunch break, but he was so far away (and his hair as so much in his face) that I could't be sure.
It was weird for me to be with a 14-year-old so much, but seriously, he looked and acted older--16 at the least. He said something pretty strange to me.
"Hey, listen." He dropped his voice a little. "I know you're probably pretty pissed at Gerard--I don't know what he said, obviously, but probably smething b!tchy, no?"
"Yeah, well, just don't take it personally, kay? He's like that to everyone. I don't really know why."
I nodded, thinking, 'Does he get drunk and kiss everyone, too?'
When I got home from school, the house was dark and silent. I kicked off my uncomfortably new school shoes and crept into the kitchen. (I fought with my mom so often that I was always trying to avoid her, and as such had taken to creeping instead of walking--in my house, anyways.) Stuck to the fridge was a sloppily-written note:
Verity, I'm working late and then going out with a few girls from work. You can order from Domino's if you want.--Mom
Smashing. I'd rather have her yell at me than ignore me in favour of a bunch of forty-something "girls" who she barely knew. In passive-agressive rebellion, I refused to order pizza.
I had to eat, though, so I decided to walk to Mike's house and see if he had anything edible. I didn't have his number, so I just walked right over, but by the time I rang the bell it was almost pitch black out.
"Who is it?" Mike yelled gruffly from inside.
"Hey, Mike?" No answer. "It's me, Verity."
"What!?" He swung the door open, yanked me inside, and locked it behind me.
"Are you fucking insane?" he half-yelled.
"I...don't think so. Are YOU, by any chance?"
He sighed. "I forgot--you're new here. Well, just so you know, don't ever, EVER, go outside after dark. Ever!" He shook his head emphatically.
"Sorry," I said quietly. "I didn't know. Then how am I supposed to get home?"
"You can't," he said firmly. "Way too dangerous. You'll have to stay the night."
"What? I don't have clothes or anything. And besides, I live like two blocks away from here. What could possibly happen?"
He gave me A Look.
"Stupid question," I sighed. "You're right. God, I am such a complete fucking idiot."
"Don't worry about it," he said, somewhat gentler this time. "I did the same thing once, except I had to stay with some senile old lady and her son." We both laughed.
"You ate yet?" he asked, heading into the kitchen. "I got 2-minute noodles is all."
"Sounds good." I followed him into the tiny, dingy kitchen, which was so small that its walls squished us together obscenely.
"Um, right. I'll just, uh, waith in the living room, then," I said awkwardly, slipping past him and smacking my back against the corner of the bench in the process.
He microwaved two mugs of noodles and we ate them, squished up on the tiny couch, talking and laughing. He was nice. REALLY nice. Like, kid brother nice (which I know is a contradiction in terms). This was the best fun I'd had since moving to New Jersey. After awhile, he said,
"Hey, I'm just gonna run upstairs and take a shower. You'll be fine, no?"
Crap. I didn't want to be by myself in that freaky house. "Yeah, fine," I said, waaay more enthusiastically than I actually felt. After all that indirect reference to rapists, I was pretty freaked.
"I won't be too long," he yelled as he walked up the stairs. And then I was alone. I curled up into as small a ball as I could manage, and tried to pile all the cushions on top of me. (it's a basic instinct of mine to want to cover myself when I'm scared--I didn't even think of how ridiculous I would look if Mike came back downstairs.)
The house was almost fully dark, but I wasn't about to get up and find a light switch. I tried to focus on something, anything, to stop myself from being so scared. I tried to hum a song, but I couldn't. And then I heard it--the front door creaking open.
My heart went straight from 0 to 30, and I broke into a sweat. I couldn't move, couldn't even close my eyes to shut out the danger. I could hear footsteps coming down the hallway, straight to the living room. Then someone stepped into the doorway, and I couldn't stop myself--I screamed.
"Verity? The hell are YOU doing here?" Whoever it was was still in the shadows. And whoever it was was definitely a male, and sounded almost--ALMOST--as surprised as I was. Then he stepped into the light--and I saw that it was Gerard.
"Oh my god!!" I yelled, jumping up and sending cushions flying. "The fuck is your fucking problem, scaring me like that!? And how the hell did you get in here?"
"Uh..." He dangled a key in front of me.
"You stole their key?" I yelled again.
"No!" he looked genuinely puzzled and not a little annoyed. "This is MY key!"
"Why do you have a..."I trailed off as realization dawned on me. "WHAT!? Are you serious?"
"Pretty fucking," he nodded, looking at me as though I were insane. He turned to go.
"Wait!" I said. "First you tell me what's going on!"
He glared at me, as if to say, 'In your dreams,' but I went on anyway.
"Why didn't you TELL me you and Mike were brothers? And why don't you talk to each other? That's not normal, you know! How come you're always so pissed off at everyone else, and fuck's sake, WHY did you kiss me?"
He gave me a look just short of pure hatred as he sat down on the couch. I perched next to him.
"How about YOU don't assume things!" he snapped.
"I didn't--" I began.
"Yes, you did! You just ASSUMED Mike and I are brothers, but did you even notice that we look nothing alike? Or maybe that he has blond hair and I have black?"
I was confused. "So you're not--?"
"No, we're not." He sighed, and his mood seemed to change from angry to depressed. "Mike's parents are my foster parents."
I was quite literally speechless.
"My mom died of AIDS and my dad was an alchoholic, in case you care." He rolled up his left sleeve and pointed to a scar in the middle of his forearm. "That's from when he broke my arm."
I gulped. A salty tear ran down my cheek. I felt like the most selfish bitch ever to have lived.
"I...Gerard, I'm sorry," I choked. "I didn't know."
"Yeah, yeah," he said. He was obviously uncomfortable because I was crying, so I tried to stop for his sake.
I wondered what his life so far had been like. I'd read enough and seeen enough to have a pretty good idea about his early years, but what about since moving in with the Ways? I'd never met Mike's parents.
"And why I kissed you?" He swallowed hard and looked down, and my stomach gave a jolt. But then his face hardened, and he looked up at me, his eyes defiant.
"Out of habit. Although, I'm usually in the company of better-looking females when I get smashed, but this time YOU were the only one around." He was challenging me, I knew--testing me to see if I'd get angry. "Which leads to the question: why WERE you there?" His voice was full of scorn, and I probably WOULD'VE gotten mad, if Mike hadn't walked in at that moment.
"Oh--Gerard. Hi." He sounded a little deflated. His hair was still wet from the shower. I silently begged him not to notice that I'd been crying.
"Hey, Mike. Your parents aren't here?" I noticed Gerard didn't look at him.
"Well, I'll see you later, then." He got up from the couch and walked upstairs without so much as looking at me. I tried to wipe my eyes without Mike noticing, but failed.
"Are you--are you crying?" he asked incredulously.
"Of course not, " I said brusquely, picking up the cusions I'd scattered earlier. "So where am I gonna sleep?"
Mike lent me a huge old Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt that, with my tank-top over it, offered some sebleance of a nightie.We dragged a spare matress into the living room (he offered to share his bed with me, but you can imagine my response to THAT), found some clean sheets, and between the two of us, managed to make a comfortalbe-looking bed.
"You're lucky it's Friday," he said as we wrestled with a fitted sheet. "Otherwise you'd have to go to school tomorrow--AND my parents would be here." I wasn't sure which was supposed to be worse.
We watched more TV after that, until eventually Mike went upstairs, after assuring me that the doors were all locked securely.
Half an hour later, as I dozed and woke to half-consciousness and dozed again, I thought I heard someone walking around in the next room. Too sleepy to care, I didn't take note, but a minute later the person opened the lounge room door. I tried to pretend I was still asleep, until suddenly something hit the floor beside my head with a sharp smack. My eyes flew open, and what should I see but Gerard's face, inches from mine and looking thoroughly confused and in pain.
"Gerard!" I hissed, feeling the need to whisper in the near-darkness. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Verity?" he asked, squinting. "What're you doing here?"
God. Was he really that inebriated? Yes--I could smell the whiskey already. I stifled a sigh as I realized that he must've tripped over the edge of my mattress.
"Are you naked?" he asked, his voice soft and low.
"Gerard, NO," I scoffed, my own voice snappy and harsh by comparison. "It just so happens that I'm very nearly fully dressed."
He laughed and closed his eyes.
'Is he going to fall asleep right here?' I wondered. Who knew what Mike would say if he saw us in the morning--to say nothing of what would happen if his parents came home and found us asleep on the living room floor together.
God, I wanted him to, though.
He opened his eyes again, and whispered to me.
"Verity? You remind me of my mom."
"What was she like?" I asked softly.
He pulled himself up onto his elbow.
"Beautiful." And he kissed me. This time I wanted him to, though. He kissed me again, and then again.
"Move over," he said.
I knew I should protest, tell him that I couldn't possibly let him into my bed, and that he'd just have to find somewhere else to crash--such as his own bed. But I was so tired, and he smelt so good...
I moved over.
He slipped under the covers with me, and surprised me by doing nothing more than wrapping his arms around me, kissing me once more, and falling fast asleep. And I felt safe.
Thanks for your comments, Zaberdeen! I'm gonna read your story wwith the odd-sounding Latin name right now, so expect reviews! *grins