Gerard hates needles.
“Since when does he smoke?” Egan was astonished.
“Uuummmm…since he was about…six?”
“Absolutely. That’s illegal. Actually, he was smoking while it was still illegal for him to anyway, so it’s not like it matters.”
“I live with him! How did I miss this?”
“You really didn’t know? That’s weird. Consider yourself lucky. He used to smoke like a fiend when he was coming down from being addicted to all that shit, but he cut back during the last tour. Made the whole bus happier when he did. I mean, I smoke too, but it got hard to breathe sometimes when he was around. Plus, it was wrecking his lungs. Can’t sing if you can’t breathe.”
“This is astounding.”
“What is?” Apparently Frank hadn’t been paying much attention to anything besides his food and himself.
“Listen to me when I speak.”
“No you don’t.” Before Frank could cut her off, she continued. “I am astounded because Gerard smokes. According to you, he has for a long time. And I never knew until now. And I’ve been living with him for getting on two months.”
“Oh. Well, he does.”
“I think I understand that now.”
“How come you don’t have any sweet and sour sauce for your sweet and sour chicken?”
“I just don’t.”
“Yeah, but why?”
“I don’t like the sauce. I just like the chicken. It’s kinda like fried chicken, but different. The sauce just screws it up.”
“You’re creepy.” He said while attempting to capture and ingest some stringy, hot cheese that was dangling from his lips. He was going cross eyed from trying to spot the rapidly swinging rope and ensnare it with his tongue.
“You’re creepier.” She said back, watching in mild repulsion. He caught the rogue cheese string and swallowed.
“I already said you’re creepier than I am. So even if I’m creepiest, you’re still creepier, which means you’re actually creepiest, not me.” Frank looked confused and Egan giggled at his comical expression. Finally he pulled together a stunning rebuttal.
“No I’m not. You’re creepier.”
“No, you are.”
“Ahah! So you can’t prove it!”
“I have unassailable logic on my side. There’s nothing left for me to prove.”
“You’ve got jack shit on your side—“
“Yeah, except for reason and sanity—“
“Which are for wimps!” Egan was laughing again. She could have had this exact same conversation with Gerard and ended up pissed and red faced, but with Frank she just couldn’t get mad. Frank was grinning now too and on an impulse Egan threw a piece of sweet-and-sour-sauce-less sweet and sour chicken at him. He caught it in his mouth and spit it back at her. She ducked, then fished a chip of ice out of her drink and chucked it at his head. It grazed his ear making him shriek femininely which he quickly covered with a very manly gravelly cough. He reached over and pinched her side and quick as a flash, she responded by tugging on his lip ring, careful not to hurt him. But Frank was ready and before Egan could twist out of the way he had snaked his arm around her back and unhooked her bra one handed. Impressive, but very inconvenient.
“Oh. My God.” Egan’s mouth was in a stunned “O” which was rapidly deteriorating to a large grin.
“Oh. Your God what?” Frank smirked, wiggling his eyebrows.
“Frank Middle name Last name—“
“Frank Anthony Iero,” she tried again,” I cannot believe you just did that!”
“Did what?” he was still smirking diabolically.
“You know good and well what! How am I gonna fix this?” she whispered hoarsely.
“Well, my suggestion would be remove your shirt and--OW!” She had picked up her plastic fork and stabbed him in the splayed hand that was resting on the table; the other was attempting to tickle her and make her relinquish her grasp on her modesty, but she was beating it off. If she wiggled too much, certain things might pop out and that would be monumentally disastrous.
“Aw, don’t hurt poor Frankie.” Egan turned half way, careful to keep one hand on the clasp of her bra.
“Since when do you smoke?” she asked Gerard nonchalantly. If they continued the way this conversation was going, he would find out what Frank had done, and for some reason the idea mortified her. She knew he would probably tease her once, maybe twice at the most, but still, she didn’t want him finding out. It sounded bad. ‘Oh, yeah, Frank just unhooked my bra for me. It was tight anyway. Better eat up, your pizza’s getting cold.’ There just wasn’t much she could say to make it sound alright.
“Since I was uh…how’s long it been Frank? Since I was si—“
“Don’t bother man, she knows the truth.”
“Damn. Teenage years, then.”
“I can’t believe I never knew. I mean, how could I not know?”
“I have no idea. Why’s it so big a deal?”
“Because I fucking smoke and I’ve been wasting away for days! My stash ran out two weeks ago!”
“Well, why didn’t you just say so?” He said this in the way one might when suggesting something very obvious. Which he was.
“Because…I didn’t know what the ‘house rules’ on smoking were. It bothers some people.”
“To clear that up, there aren’t any. And there aren’t house rules anyway. Shoulda just told me, I would have gotten some for you.”
“I couldn’t have done that.”
“I’d take free cigarettes if they were offered.” Frank chimed in.
“That’s just it. Taking things, accepting charity. It’s not my cup of tea. I’ve always provided for myself—“
“Be it legal or no.” Gerard interjected.
“—Legal or no,” she conceded,” Ever since I left home. I am in no way a charity case and I don’t want to be treated as one.”
“Then…I don’t really know what to do. It’s my job to provide for you. That’s part of the deal, that’s what the center said.”
“Uh…I could get a job.”
“You’re not supposed to get a job until six months. It’s only been two.”
“Yeah, and what would you work as anyway?” Frank asked.
“I have job skills.” She said defensively, lying through her teeth.
“I bet you do. ‘Drug peddler for two years, some growing and manufacturing experience—‘”
“I was never a pusher.” She said it in the same quiet voice she’d used in the car. Frank knew he’d gone too far. The table was quiet for a minute.
“Hey, Egan, I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“It’s fine Frank.” She didn’t meet his eyes.
“Egan,” he said again,” I really am sorry. I didn’t mean to make you unhappy.” She shrugged and smiled a little.
“And it really is fine. Don’t worry about it.” A sudden light came into her eyes as she picked up something lying on the bench next to her and said “Wrong profession anyway. I was a thief and a con. Here’s your wallet.”
Egan and Frank were reclining in the tattoo artist’s chairs, Egan’s bra now mercifully buckled back into place, while Gerard leaned against the wall, head in hands and face looking paler than bleached flour. He had no idea how he’d been coerced into stepping foot in this place, but he had an idea hallucinogenics had been used. Why the fuck was there even a tattoo parlor in a mall anyway? What idiot came up with that idea?
“Geraaaaaard.” Egan sing-songed from the chair. “Geraaaaaard!”
“You’re flirtin’ with danger.” Frank said. “Gerard’s scared of needles like you wouldn’t believe.” Gerard just groaned. Egan found it all very funny.
“Geraaaaaard honey, don’t you wanna know what I’m gettin’ done?” She was using her Jessica Simpson voice again. It was fun. She grinned evilly as he moaned slightly and relinquished his head from his hands, leaning it on the wall behind him and rocking it slowly from side to side. “Whatsa matter darlin’? Somethin’ wrawng?” He opened one eye long enough to cut her a look, then closed it again and continued the head-rocking. “Here hun, I know what’ll make you feel better. You come sit right here in this chair next to me and get one too. Then you’ll feel right pretty!” She knew there would probably be hell to pay sometime later, but she was having much too much fun to pay that thought much mind.
Personally, I think she should leave him be. He looks like he’s gonna throw up.
Gerard groaned and sank to the ground, putting his head on his knees and trying to remember the sequential order of in-through-nose-out-through-mouth. It sounds easy, but you get it mixed up when you feel as if you are going to get a second chance to visit with your pizza. It’s an awkward, confusing situation.
“He’s kind of pitiful, you know?” Egan said softly to Frank and they watched Gerard look squeamish. “I feel bad for him. He looks like he needs a hug. Like a very sad puppy. Mmm, seasick puppy, rather.”
“Well, go hug him then.”
“I can’t go hug him, what is wrong with you?”
“It’s a debate I’d rather not get into tonight. Why can’t you go hug him? You just said you feel bad for him. I do too. He looks like he might puke.”
“That right there makes me wanna hop up and squeeze him ‘round the middle, thanks Frank.”
“No, no, no excuses. I don’t think he’d puke if you hugged him anyway. It was your idea. Go on, shoo.” Egan ‘humphed’ and then got up from the seat, walking carefully over to Gerard. Should he be sick, she was prepared to leap out of the line of fire if he projectile vomited. She reached his sad, hunched form and felt a little pang of pity shoot through her. It was really was kind of heartbreaking. He looked so miserable. She slowly lowered herself to his level—not that it was that far—and as she did so, her knees cracked. Gerard looked up blearily at the sudden noise so close to him. He saw Egan about three inches in front of him, looked down briefly at something she couldn’t see. Then he put his head back in his arms.
“Egan?” he said in a muffled sounding voice.
“Yeah?” she sounded sympathetic and motherly. It was detestable.
“I can see up your skirt when you sit like that.”
“I’m not concerned.” She said back, but sat down on the ground in a more lady like position anyway. He looked up and saw she was decent.
“No problem. I would have thought you would have taken advantage of the situation, but…”she smiled at him, trying to make him feel better.
“Whatsa matter baby?” Egan asked softly. Even though he had many inches and pounds on her, she was feeling very protective towards him at the moment. He just looked so heartbreaking.
“Nothin’, ‘m fine. Go back to Frank and get ink injected into the top layer of your skin…Oh God.” He said as the thought made him turn a little paler.
“Gerard, you look bad. You gonna be okay? You hurl, the manager’s gonna get mad, and he’s a rather burly man. He has more tattoos than I do, and he resembles a boulder.”
“Your attempts at humor are making me feel worse. I’ll be alright. Don’t worry. Go get inked.”
“Yeah. Go get ‘em tiger. Rrrr.” His valiant stab at a tiger’s growl made Egan giggle, and she slipped her thin arms around as much of his curled up body as she could and hugged fiercely for a second. Then the pressure of her arms was gone from Gerard’s body, and he looked up to see her tiny form returning to the chair. He sighed and closed his eyes again. He was distantly aware of exchanged murmurs between Egan and Frank and then he stopped listening. Next thing he knew, a very small and very warm something was leaning upon his right side. He twisted his face to look at Egan, her chin on his shoulder, her faced upturned and looking at him. I could kiss her, he thought. Weird what occurs at you in times of extreme sickness. He was probably delirious.
“Okay if I wait with you for the guy to come back? Frank says he wants to nap, and I don’t want to sit next to a snoring possibly gassy dwarf.”
“You’re one to talk” he muttered. He knew Egan was lying to him, but he was too tired and sickly to say anything. “Yeah, you can sit with me.” They spent the remainder of the time waiting for the tattoo guy with Gerard curled up and Egan curled up right next to him, her head resting on his shoulder. After about ten minutes of sitting like that, Egan had dozed off. Gerard gently moved his rapidly numbing right arm out from under her and put it around her miniscule shoulders. To increase blood flow, he told himself. She shifted and sniffed twice, then wrapped her arms around his torso and snuggled closer to the warmth. He tensed for a moment, then relaxed into it, leaning back against the wall and making sure not to squish her arms. She smells nice. He wasn’t feeling quite so bad now.
This ain’t so bad, Egan thought to herself as Gerard put his arm around her shoulders. He smells really good.
Author's Note: Hello my most favorite darling and faithful readers. So, here's the dealio. I have plans for the near future continuing on until my exams and exam prep and over all stress end, or whenever, to write sporadically at best. I hate that it's that way, I'd rather sit down and develop a whole story and write it all in one fell swoop, but I cannot. So I ask you keep reading and bear wtih me. And also, REVIEWING! Because I am a review whore. Thanks so much beautiful people.
P.S. I love you all, but say something more original than "Good story" in your reviews. I want to hear what you particularly liked, what you could do without, where you think the story should go, etc. I like hearing that kind of thing. It inspires me.