Did he have any idea? At all? She didn’t think he did. Hell she didn’t even know what he was doing to her. But she did. She knew all too well. She knew she had fallen all over again.
But instead they’d kept driving and parked on a street already cluttered with cars. Mikey and Gerard had already arrived, Frank had explained to her. She had lost the guys as soon as they had stepped into the house but she found her way to the kitchen where there was a keg hooked up and helped herself to a beer. There were three girls standing around the bench that caught Escher’s eye. They were all wearing low slung pants and midriff baring tops, as though it were 1998 and they were taking fashion tips from Britney Spears.
Escher resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the skanks and took a swig from her beer.
She turned to see one of the skanks smiling at her. She couldn’t help her eyebrow quirking up
of its own accord.
“I’m Michelle” The girl said, “You here alone?”
“No I just…got separated from my friends”
“Oh, okay, well we’re mixing up some skinny bitches if you want some instead of the swill in that keg”
Escher laughed in spite of herself and crossed over to the girls.
They may have had interesting fashion sense, but the “skanks” were actually really nice. They were all Belleville locals and had grown up near Escher’s house, they had gone to Belleville High though. Michelle worked in an underground record store and attended a lot of these parties filled with bands and producers. Kyra was her younger sister, she was twenty and at college in New York studying textile design. Her brief top made out of a silver fabric with tiny marching band characters inked on it in black was some of the fabric she had made. And Valerie was Michelle’s best friend, she worked in a legal aid office as a receptionist.
“Dressing up like this is my relief from wearing a suit every day” She said with a laugh.
“What do you do?” Michelle asked Escher.
“Oh I work for a record company doing some PR and some legal stuff for them, and I’m studying”
“Which record company?” Michelle asked.
Escher was about to reply when Kyra came running back from the bathroom, excitement all over her features.
“Oh my God you guys are going to freak!” She whispered loudly as she grabbed her sister’s arm.
“What is it Kay?”
“The guys from My Chemical Romance are here”
“They’re her favourite band” Val explained calmly to Escher.
“Are you sure?” Michelle asked.
“Yes! I just saw Mikey, Ray and Bob!”
“What the hell would they be doing here?” Valeria asked, “I thought they were touring”
“Frank and Gerard are really good friends with the guy throwing this party” Escher said as she sipped her third drink.
The girls turned to stare at her and she shrugged.
“I work for Reprise, I came with the guys…did you want to meet them?” She asked Kyra who gaped at her.
It took Escher a good twenty minutes to find the guys, they were outside smoking.
“Hey Gee,” Escher said, tugging on his sleeve.
He turned and smiled that million-watt smile at her.
“Esch! Wow you look amazing!”
She grinned and courtseyed.
“Thank you, thankyou but I need to ask you guys a favour”
Gerard groaned playfully.
“I’ve met these really nice girls inside and Kyra, the youngest, is a huge fan. She saw Mikey, Ray and Bob before and I want you guys to come and say hello to her”
“Sure” Gerard replied,
“Yeah, I mean, it’s a party, no security E, she’d find us anyway”
Kyra behaved beautifully, discussing The Black Parade with the guys and grinning in thanks at Escher.
“You’re just a big softie aren’t you?” Frank asked, “Sure you go around breaking people’s fingers and getting shot, but you’re a marshmallow”
Escher punched him in the arm.
“Shut the fuck up Iero”
“Are you getting drunk Mrs. Drake?”
Escher smiled a bittersweet smile.
“Well, that’s your name, right?”
“I prefer Escher” She said with a smile, the smile growing as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, drawing her closer to him.
“Escher it is then”
“So what’s going on with you and Frank?” Michelle asked her later, after Frank had gone to ‘take a slash’ as he had put it.
“If you had any idea how sick I am getting of that question” Escher said with a laugh.
“Well there’s no wonder people ask all the time with the way you look at him” Valerie interjected.
Kyra was still moon eyed and holed up with Bob discussing the drumming on the Black Parade album.
“It really is that noticeable?” She asked, taking a sip of her drink that had just been handed to her.
“It’s not like you’re throwing yourself at him,” Michelle explained,
“It’s just that girls can read other girls” Val continued,
“And you can see in your eyes, the way you look at him” Michelle finished.
“Have you told him?” Val asked her.
Escher shook her head.
“No, never…I mean, he’s just come out of a long relationship and I don’t even know what I feel”
“Bullshit you don’t” Michelle scoffed, “you’re trying to convince yourself because you’re scared shitless, you’re madly in love with him Escher…”
“Or you at least want to jump his bones,” Val said with a giggle and Escher laughed as well.
Another hour found Escher sitting in between Frank and Michelle on a long couch and nursing the latest in a long line of drinks. Frank’s arm was draped around her and he was holding her close to him. Escher tried to ignore the pointed looks being thrown at her from Val who was grinding up against her boyfriend Al on the makeshift dancefloor.
“I’m gonna go to the…the kitchen” Escher said loudly and climbed to her unsteady feet.
She stood in the kitchen which was mercifully clear of the crowd there had been in there earlier, there were only a few others around now.
“Gee was right before,”
She closed her eyes when she heard Frank’s voice behind her.
“About what?” She asked as she turned to face him.
He smiled sheepishly at her.
“You look amazing” He replied simply, “ Really amazing” He repeated emphatically, and she shivered under his appraising gaze.
She leaned back against the wall taking a deep breath and barely noticing as Frank’s hand hit the wall behind her so he was leaning almost completely over her.
“Thank you” She said quietly.
Did he have any idea what he was doing to her? As he leant over her, his hot breath falling across her face and neck, heating her from the inside out. As his lips quirked into an honest smile she felt her heart start racing. Did he have any idea? At all? She didn’t think he did. Hell she didn’t even know what he was doing to her. But she did. She knew all too well. She knew she had fallen all over again.
When Warren had offered her the job at Reprise and told her she’d be working with MCR, if she was honest with herself, she had agreed because of him. It had all been about him. For years she’d convinced herself she was over it, over him. But then she tumbled straight back down the rabbit hole.
She was conscious of him, everything about him. The way his eyes glinted under the harsh fluorescent lights, the way his breath hitched when he moved. The way he was leaning further into her as he talked, not that she heard a word he was saying. All she could hear was a roar in her ears as the words she’d been trying to voice for eight years bubbled to the surface.
“Frank I…I need to tell you…”
He looked concerned.
“Tell me what?” He asked, leaning further into her, staring into her eyes.
“When we went to school together, I’m sorry about all of the shit that happened after that night…” She was babbling and she could hear herself doing it and it was awful.
Just tell him!
“Hey that doesn’t matter now” He said softly, touching her cheek.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“I need to tell you now, because I never told you back then but I still mean it…I think, no I know that…” She trailed off to collect her thoughts but any thoughts were washed away as she felt him close the small gap between them and crush his lips to hers.
She was kissing Frank Iero. No, she was being kissed by Frank Iero. For the first time in eight years. She felt his free arm snake around her hip pulling her closer. He bit her lower lip softly and leaned back.
“You were babbling” He whispered before he kissed her again.
She felt as though she were drowning. This was what she wanted, but it wasn’t. She had wanted to tell him how she felt and he had ruined it and now he was kissing her and she was pretty sure she was kissing him back. Why was he kissing her? He was drunk, that was it.
She leaned back and put her hands on his chest, pushing him away, anger rising inside her, perhaps irrational anger, perhaps not.
“Jesus Christ Frank, what the fuck?”
He looked at her in surprise.
“What?” He asked.
And she noticed how unsteady his gaze was. How he swayed as he stood.
“Jesus Frank, I was trying to talk to you and you just, you…”
Escher could feel tears on their way.
“I need to get out of this fucking place” She mumbled, pushing past him.
She saw Val and Michelle on the dance floor and asked them where Gerard was, knowing he’d be the only sober person there.
“What happened hon?” Michelle asked.
It was clear she was the mother of the three, Kyra was sweet but a little giddy and Valerie was the abrasive one.
“I tried to tell him and it was…oh God, I’ll tell you another time”
They had swapped numbers earlier in the night.
“I need to go home, where’s Gerard?”
“I saw him outside before, come on, we’ll take you” Val said, taking Escher’s arm.
Gerard looked up in concern when he heard his voice being called, recognizing the girls he’d met before with Escher in tow.
“E? You ok?”
“I need to go home” She said, her voice soft, broken sounding.
Gerard nodded and took a drag of his cigarette.
“You want me to drive you?”
“I’ll get her coat” Michelle said, racing back into the house.
Gerard wrapped his arm around Escher, whispering in her ear.
“What’s going on?”
Escher sniffed miserably.
“I just want to go home”
Gerard nodded and wrapped her up in one of the hugs she remembered from the old times with Gee when he would hug her after Johnny’s rampages. The nights when Gerard would hold open his arms in a drunken embrace and they would whisper gibberish to each other as Johnny came down from his cocaine high in the corner, talking animatedly with the demons that were his constant companions.
She felt her heart catch and tears welling up.
Michelle felt Frank’s arm land on her shoulder and spin her around.
“Where’s Escher?” he demanded.
“What the hell did you do to her?” Michelle snapped.
She didn’t know why she felt so strongly for the girl she’d just met, they had just clicked, like they’d known each other before and had found each other once again.
“I don’t know!” He cried, anguished, “She was babbling and I kissed her”
“You what? You kissed her?” Michelle exclaimed.
“Yeah and she just, she shoved me away and she…”
“She’s leaving, Gerard’s taking her home” Michelle said, “I’m going to give her her coat”
With that she turned and left, knowing Frank would be following.
Frank stopped short when he saw Escher wrapped up tight in Gerard’s arms, his thin lips whispering into Escher’s ear as she nestled her face into his chest. Frank felt something boiling inside of him…God, it couldn’t be…he couldn’t be jealous.
Michelle stood by them with Escher’s coat which Gee took with one arm and began steering Escher towards the car.
“Escher!” Frank cried.
He saw her flinch and wondered what he’d done to cause that pain.
“Frank I’m going to take E home, I don’t know what’s happened…” Gerard began.
“Shut the fuck up Gee!” Frank snapped, yanking on Escher’s arm, pulling her out of the embrace she seemed to be enjoying so much.
“What the fuck Escher? What’s wrong with you?”
She bit her lip and looked anywhere but at him or the growing crowd.
“Frank please, I just want to go home. I’m going to be really embarrassed tomorrow and I just need to go home”
“Jesus Escher, nothing’s changed has it? Are you trying to be enigmatic? You want to be a mystery?”
“Frank give it a rest” Gerard said calmly, “We’re going home”
Frank stared sullenly at the ground as Gerard put Escher in the passenger seat of his car.
“Can you please make sure Mikey gets home?” He asked Frank who nodded broodingly as Gerard swung into the driver’s seat and the car peeled away from the curb.
“I just…I…” Frank stuttered.
“I know” Michelle said soothingly, rubbing his shoulder.