He'd watched her often, during class when he should have been paying attention, but he'd never spoken to her. But when she turns up in Gerard's kitchen, it signals the start of a hopeless love affa...
The silence inside room 16 was broken only by the hasty scratching of pen on paper. All heads were bowed as the history class hurried to complete their exam before the bell rang. A short, middle-aged lady stood at the front of the room, surveying the class with sharp eyes. Her gaze fell on a chubby, sullen-looking boy in the back row.
“Gerard Way!” Her voice rang out shrill and shocking in the quiet room. All eyes turned immediately to the boy, who was glancing up guiltily at his teacher.
“Yes, Mrs. Alders?” His eyes flickered down at his hands in his lap, which clutched a wrinkled comic book.
“Just what is that you’re reading?”
Most of the onlookers rolled their eyes and returned to their papers; several continued to watch in disinterested scorn. Mrs. Alders marched across the room and snatched the comic from the boy’s hands. The bell rang out in the corridor, and the class rose to their feet and bustled out the door. Gerard made to follow, but Mrs. Alders halted him.
“I want a word with you,” she said curtly. “I don’t know what you think makes you exempt from the rules, but I’m sick of your attitude.”
Gerard gnawed his lip, but said nothing. He’d heard this talk before.
“You have no work ethic,” Mrs. Alders continued. “You may be in high school now, but it won’t be long until you’re out in the real world and I doubt your employers will take kindly to your laziness. Unless you want to end up a failure, I suggest you pull your act together.” She stalked brusquely out the door. “You can have this back at the end of the day,” she called back to him.
Once Mrs. Alders was out of hearing, Gerard sighed and plodded out the door and into the courtyard of Belleville High School. Eyes on the ground, he didn’t notice the blond, muscular boy in front of him until they had collided. Shocked, he looked up into the face of – well, he didn’t know the boy’s name. He knew he played on the school football team, but that was about it. The boy didn’t know him either, but his mean eyes narrowed immediately in dislike.
“Watch it, porky!” He snarled, knocking into Gerard and pushing him full force into the wall as he walked past. “Watch where you park that fat ass next time or I’ll knock it right off.” Without bothering to reply, Gerard regained his balance and kept walking. At the back of the technology block he threw himself heavily down on the grass next to a skinny, bespectacled boy among a gaggle of freshmen. He took a cigarette out of his satchel and lit up, taking a long drag and sighing. The boy beside him coughed.
“That’s disgusting,” he complained, punching Gerard playfully in the arm.
Gerard rolled his eyes. “I think you’re gorgeous too, Mikey,” he said. “Gimme a break, I’ve earned this.”
Mikey chuckled. “Whatever, just keep it away from me. I don’t want to go around reeking all day.” He threw a glance across the lawn, and a broad smirk broke suddenly across his bespectacled face. “Look who it is, Gee…”
Gerard’s head shot up and his eyes fixed on the figure of one of the senior girls coming towards their group. His cheeks turned slightly pink and glared at Mikey, as though daring him to say anything.
“You could talk to her for once,” suggested Mikey, trying and failing to wipe the smirk from his lips.
“Fuck off.” In actual fact Gerard had several classes with the girl, but somehow he’d never spoken to her. He just watched her sometimes, as she worked and chatted away with her friends. Her name was Alice, as he’d discovered by listening carefully as the teachers called roll. She had a younger brother, Jonah, who was one of Mikey’s close friends. Mikey had long suspected that his brother was a little bit smitten with her, a fact which Gerard no longer bothered to deny. Still, he couldn’t quite work up the courage to speak to her. He just watched her from afar, as he usually did, and with slightly more interest than he bestowed on other people. There seemed little point in talking to her; as far as he knew, she didn’t know his name.
He was right, but if he thought she never noticed him then he was wrong. She glanced briefly in his direction as she handed her younger brother his lunch money, appraising him with one swift flick of her eyes. He was a nice enough kid, she thought, from what little she’d seen of him. Plain, quiet and unenthusiastic, but decent. If he took more care of his appearance, he might be almost attractive. A few less cookies and a thorough shampoo would do him the power of good. But even then, he’d still be weird. He stared at her in class…her friends thought it was hilarious. Alice just found it a little bemusing. As she left and retraced her steps across the lawn, she was uncomfortably conscious of his eyes on her back.