Maybe that was all Frank’s excitement was, a guy jonesing for a cigarette. If so, Gerard could definitely sympathize. Back home he knew all the best places to sneak a smoke on the school grounds—here, not so much. Waiting all day for a cigarette was definitely torture. He fumbled out his pack of Marlboros and his lighter, handed them over gingerly.
“So, yeah,” Gerard said, eyeing Frank warily as he somehow managed to bounce and light a cigarette at the same time. “I’m Gerard? Gerard Way.”
“Nice to meet you, Gerard Way!” Frank said, beaming. He was still leaning into Gerard as he lit up, and he took his first drag with his shoulder bumping into Gerard’s arm and his hair brushing Gerard’s cheek, which, okay, probably wasn’t like a come-on or flirting or anything—Gerard knew better than that, there was no way—but then Frank’s eyes fluttered closed.
“God, Gerard,” he said hoarsely, and Gerard stared at him. “I owe you one, it’s been ages.”
“You can, uh, keep the pack if you want?” Gerard offered weakly. He guessed Frank’s parents were anti-smoking Nazis or something. “I’ve got an extra in my bag, anyway.”
“Dude,” Frank said, face lit up. “You’re fucking awesome, Gee—can I call you Gee?—it’s so fucking fantastic that you’re here. I mean, the forest, not Glen Fell, Glen Fell fucking blows cocks. Are you new here? Why’d you move out to the middle of fucking nowhere, dude?”
Gerard took a moment to parse that. He was having a hard time gathering his thoughts when Frank was still making happy little sounds around his cigarette.
“Gee’s fine,” he finally managed, ducking his head. “And, uh, yeah, we just got here last weekend.” Frank seemed to be waiting for more of an explanation than that, and for some reason Gerard found himself going on. “You know the Trumbull Medical Institute? We couldn’t, um. Afford to rent a house in the city, and this is the closest town to it, so.” He paused, and waited for the question, but Frank was just puffing away at his cigarette, looking bright and quizzical. “It’s my brother, Mikey,” Gerard got out finally. “He’s got asthma. They’ve got some experimental stuff they can try him on, so, uh. That’s why we’re here.”
Gerard could actually rattle off a list of totally boring stats about jet nebulizers and long-acting beta-2-agonists, but he figured Frank didn’t want to hear all that. He didn’t particularly feel like saying anything else, anyway. It was way too easy to remember how his brother had choked for air last fall, collapsed in the stairwell, not breathing, Gerard pounding on his chest and swearing. Then the ambulance had arrived and Gerard didn’t remember too much of that part, of the CPR and the defibrillator. Just Mikey in the ER later. The only sign his heart had restarted had been a steady beeping from the machines, and otherwise, Mikey had been motionless. Pale and intubated, lifeless, snaky lines of plastic weaving their way around and up inside his nostrils and lungs. He’d been like that for days. If Gerard let his mind wander, it always went back there, to that place, to how close it’d been. How close it still could be.
“Sorry, man.” Gerard jumped, startled, and looked up. Frank was staring at him, solemn for once, his eyes dark. “That’s rough.”
“He’s going to be okay,” Gerard clarified. He bit the inside of his cheek. “Mikey, I mean. He’s gonna be fine.”
Frank didn’t say anything, just sort of squeezed Gerard’s shoulder and Gerard leaned into it before he realized what he was doing. He should have backed away, he didn’t even know this kid, but Frank was playing with the strings of Gerard’s hoodie and humming something quiet, and Gerard just—couldn’t.
Anyway, Frank was just wearing a t-shirt, and it was fucking freezing, so maybe he was trying to steal Gerard’s body warmth or something, and it would be wrong to push him away, right? Although, fuck, for all he knew Frank was a crazy serial killer, living in the woods and collecting the scalps of loser kids to make into a coat. Except he was a little short to be a serial killer.
Frank had already gone through one cigarette and was blissfully lighting another. “Really, I mean, even if it sucks being here, I can’t lie, I’m glad you came. I’ve been bored for fucking ever. I haven’t had anyone to actually talk to in years,” he said out of the corner of his mouth, and then bit his lip and looked at Gerard with wide eyes, like maybe he’d said too much. Gerard snorted. Like anyone could confess to being more of a loner than Gerard himself was.
“No kidding,” Gerard said heavily. “I have no idea how I’m gonna survive Glen Fell. It’s, like, absent of humanity.”
“You stick with me, obviously,” Frank said, eyes crinkling as he beamed at Gerard. He wrapped an arm around Gerard’s shoulders and squeezed. Gerard’s stomach did a completely stupid, unnecessary swooping movement. “We can keep each other company. Fuck all those tools. Hey, you like the Misfits, right?”
“Yeah,” Gerard admitted, and okay, it was sort of awesome that Frank knew the Misfits. “Danzig’s fucking raw.”
“Damn straight,” Frank agreed. “You have rocking taste in music, too! See, this is fucking awesome. This is, like, fate. You should totally walk with me a while, Gee.” He waggled his eyebrows invitingly. “I know all the best shortcuts and shit. We could go see some ruins, you like ruins?
Gerard scuffed his boot against the ground, and weighed Frank’s ginormous smile against straying out into the woods with the ticks and spiders or whatever with some guy he barely knew. It wasn’t like he had anything else to do. Sit at home and drink and wait for his mom to take him to the hospital. And he totally did like the Misfits, but. Fuck. It’d been a really long fucking day, and he wasn’t sure he was up for possibly getting murdered, or lost in the woods, or whatever.
“Um, look, I actually have to go. I was just, um.” Escaping from a bunch of assholes in letter jackets. “Just exploring,” he finished lamely.
Frank’s face fell. “You have to leave already?”
“Yeah?” Gerard said, eyeing him uncertainly. Frank let go of Gerard’s shoulders and shuffled back a few feet.
“Oh,” he said, and he looked so unhappy, hunched in on himself and face twisted. “Oh, um. Okay.”
Gerard felt like a tool. Like he’d kicked a puppy and then stolen its ball. And then set its ball on fire. “We could hang out tomorrow?” Gerard offered hesitantly, and stuck his hands in the kangaroo pouch of his hoodie to keep from fiddling impatiently.
“Yeah?” Frank said, a small smile creeping back on his face. “Fuck yeah! I mean, only if you want to. But that would be cool. Meet you here, same time tomorrow?”
“Or I could just see you in school,” Gerard said hopefully.
“No, here is better,” said Frank, not meeting Gerard’s eyes. Maybe Frank didn’t want to be seen with Gerard in public. Gerard could sympathize—he didn’t want to be seen in public, either.
“Uh, okay,” he said, and fuck, he was bleeding again. He sucked his lower lip in his mouth and pressed his tongue to the cut. Probably his should ice it when he got home, he guessed.
“You sure you can’t stay a bit later?” Frank wheedled, peered out from under his bangs, looking hopeful and even more puppy-like than before. An adorable punk puppy with tattoos and dimples, which surely was breaking some sort of UN law for weaponized cuteness.
And weirdly, even without the hot Misfits-loving guy, Gerard really did want to stay. These woods weren’t so bad, atmospheric in a way he’d never appreciated before: the falling leaves skittering by on the breeze, the trees stretching upwards, vibrantly orange and red, and Frank standing incongruously cheerful amidst the grey trunks and fallen leaves.
But his shoulder hurt, and his head hurt, and really, it had been the longest, shittiest day ever. Gerard, more than almost anything, just wanted a goddamn beer and to hide in his room until it got dark, and then to crawl into bed with Mikey, listen to him breathe.
“Yeah, I gotta go home,” Gerard said, and Frank frowned.
“But you’ll be back, right?” Frank said, voice oddly young and solemn. “You promise?”
Gerard raised an eyebrow, but Frank just kept looking at him and so Gerard wound up nodding uncertainly. Frank lit up, and Gerard couldn’t help but grin back
“Sure,” he said. “I promise.” Then he turned to go, leaving Frank standing on the path behind him. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he called over his shoulder after a moment. He looked back, but Frank must have disappeared around one of the trail’s bends or something. He had to be close, though; Gerard could still hear him.
“Tomorrow,” Frank called back, and Gerard felt the wind blow chilly and October-cool against his cheek.
Okay, so the day hadn’t been a total loss, he thought, and smiled into the collar of his hoodie as he left the forest and walked homeward.
It wasn’t until later that night, chair tucked up close to Mikey’s hospital bed and telling Mikey about his day, that Gerard abruptly realized he was, maybe, a little more excited about seeing Frank tomorrow than he’d thought he was. He’d started telling Mikey about Frank, about his tattoos and bizarre personal space issues, how he’d apparently explored the woods and found ruins, how Frank was the only really friendly person he’d met all day, besides the hyper receptionist-student guy. He caught himself gushing about Frank’s smile mid-sentence and stopped, slightly horrified.
Mikey cocked an eyebrow knowingly.
“Look, he’s totally weird!” Gerard said, backpedaling. “I mean, not that that’s a bad thing. I just. I don’t know, he’s weird. I don’t like him or anything.”
Mikey’s mouth twitched.
“Oh, shut up,” Gerard huffed. “He’s just…interesting, okay? He likes the Misfits!” The eyebrow stayed up. Stupid little brothers and their all-knowing eyebrows.
“I mean, at first I thought he might be a serial killer, but he’s probably not. Pete’s got personal space issues, and he’s not a serial killer, right? I guess I might go hang out with him tomorrow. Just because of the ruins, you know. And now you know where I’m going, so if Frank kills me and hides the body, you know where to look.”
If Mikey kept rolling his eyes like that he was going to strain something, Christ. Gerard was a little offended Mikey wasn’t more concerned for his brother’s safety.
Mikey eventually drifted off, exhausted and pale, without ever saying one word out loud—he’d apparently had a pretty bad attack earlier that afternoon. Random nurses kept poking their heads in to coo worriedly over his limp form. Nurses tended to fawn over Mikey. Gerard had a theory that it was probably a combination of the stoic silence, the big brown eyes, and the fact that the kid weighed a hundred pounds, max. It was like nurse catnip.
His mom had been in the hospital with Mikey all afternoon, so after kissing Mikey’s forehead, she’d stormed out and left the two boys alone. Probably she was off terrorizing the doctors again, who seemed fairly inexperienced at dealing with a Jersey mom in high dudgeon. Gerard almost felt bad for them.
While Mikey slept, Gerard passed the time drawing a totally awesome scene of himself and Mikey with Bruce Campbell chins and chainsaws, patrolling a ghoul-ridden graveyard. If Frank was lurking behind a tombstone with a half-moon grin, then no one had to know. Well. Okay, Mikey would probably notice when he found the drawing on his nightstand in the morning, but that didn’t count. Mikey noticed everything; it was at once awesome and totally annoying.
Gerard tried his best not to snarl at the night nurse, a hefty brunette whose stern expression melted like butter when she gazed at her sleeping patient but turned steely with alarming speed when Gerard protested being kicked out. It wasn’t as though Gerard was disturbing Mikey or keeping him awake or anything. Visiting hours were such bullshit. He hated leaving Mikey there.
On the way home his mom started fussing over Gerard’s bruised mouth, which he could have really done without. He did his best to ignore her as she went off again on how maybe he should try a little harder to fit in at school. That was rich coming from Donna Way, who’d gone to work at the hair salon that morning wearing jeans with giant roses embroidered on the ass and a sparkly black t-shirt that read ‘Queen Bitch’ across the boobs. Gerard was finally forced to distract her by casually letting it drop that he’d been asked to join the math team.
“What?” his mom said, eyes bugging out. “You have to be fucking joking, Gerard. You failed your last three math tests back home!”
“Yeah, but that was Calculus. That shit is impossible,” Gerard said defensively, and then clutched the dashboard in terror. “Holy fuck, eyes on the road, Mom!” he squealed.
The near-death experience was worth it, though, because his mom started laughing and looked a little calmer. Gerard relaxed; he felt shitty worrying her when she had so many other things to deal with. Apparently she’d spent the evening yelling at Mikey’s physician, Dr. Costa, who wanted to keep Mikey checked into the hospital longer than expected by, like, a month. Mikey’d had a bad reaction to the new bronchodilator they’d started him on that morning, and Dr. Costa wanted to keep him on oxygen for a while before even beginning the experimental treatments.
Apparently Mikey wasn’t getting worse, but he wasn’t getting better, either. It’d been a rough year for all of them. Gerard’s mom had lost about twenty-five pounds in the last five months and quit smoking entirely—Gerard knew he should, too, but it was hard enough just making sure not to do it anywhere around Mikey, or where Mikey might be. His mom had managed, though. She’d suddenly gone from a relaxed, casual hairdresser who would chill with Gerard in the TV room, watching cartoons and late night monster movies, to a near-stranger, brittle and constantly busy. It was nice to see her joking, just a little, even if it only lasted for a moment.
At home, though, his mother immediately disappeared into her room. Gerard knocked on her door tentatively to see if she wanted a Hot Pocket, or cinnamon toast, or an Irish coffee. She didn’t. Gerard retreated to his room, slamming the door just to hear the noise reverberate around the house.
His new room wasn’t a basement, got too much sun in the morning, and was fucking drafty as hell, but it was the only place in the entire town that felt remotely familiar. It was strewn with stacks of comics and DVDs. The smell of paint and charcoals and socks already wafted out into the hall when he opened the door.
It wasn’t home, but it was what he had, even if it was eerily quiet and creaky. He wound up digging his old TV set out of the stack of unpacked boxes in the living room, something to drown out the silence. He hauled it upstairs awkwardly and only caught his elbow against the banister once. Success.
After a drawn-out battle with all the evil cords and plugs and random buttons, he finally flopped onto his bed and triumphantly pointed the remote at the screen, cueing up an episode of Mystery Science Theater. He drifted on the edge of sleep for a long while, watching with half-lidded eyes, but he kept being jolted awake. It was windy tonight, and every few minutes branches scratched against the window. It sounded almost like a cat pawing at the door, like something wanted his attention, wanted to get inside. He kept expecting Mikey to chime in with Tom Servo, and his stupid tired brain kept getting confused and thinking it was Mikey scratching at the window, asking to be let in. Gerard wrapped up in his ugly old quilt and turned up the volume, but it still took two discs to finally fall into an uneasy sleep.
The next morning, for the first time in years, Gerard actually woke up on his own. No alarm or mother screeching, just the morning sun, hanging at the perfect angle to flood his room. He suddenly jerked up in bed, out of a spider dream of bloated black widows, tangled in hot damp sheets. For a moment he blinked in the light, and had no idea where he was, where he’d woken up. Then he got to realize all over again that he was trapped in fucking Vermont, that he had to walk to school, that Mikey wasn’t in the next room and that Gabe and Pete weren’t in any of his classes. That his day was stretching hopelessly long in front of him.
“Fuuuuuck,” he groaned into his pillow, and made a valiant effort to go back to sleep. Useless. He opened one eye and glared hatefully at the giant bay window. First thing tonight, he was getting a bucket of black paint and covering that shit up.
He finally just staggered downstairs and prodded the coffee maker for a while until it looked like it was working, then stood zombie-like, watching the pot slowly fill. He really didn’t want to deal with high school bullshit today. He wasn’t eager to stage a repeat of yesterday’s morning encounter. Either he could go in really early and hide out somewhere Ted couldn’t find him, or he could go in really late and skitter into Geometry at the last minute.
Fuck. Geometry. He collected his coffee and settled down at the table with his homework assignment, graphing sine waves and adding tiny demon snowboarders to the slopes. He wished more math involved drawing shit. They’d already covered this twice back in Belleview, so he finished the assignment pretty quickly, and then there was nothing to do but finish off the pot of Folgers and glare balefully out the window at the sunny street.
Before he left—just late enough to miss the first bell by a minute or two, he hoped—he looked in the mirror for a while. A long greenish bruise was forming along his lower jaw where Ted had slammed him into the truck, and the corner of his mouth had scabbed over, dark red and scaly. How attractive. He hesitated a moment before pulling out his Sephora coal-black eye pencil and ringing his eyes, thicker today. Never let them see you’re scared, right?
Outside, the wind had finally died down and the sky was perfectly clear, that kind of cloud-free bright blue that only came during the fall. The streets were almost totally empty; a distant car puttered across an intersection two blocks down and disappeared, but other than that no one was out. Next door he could see some lady peering out of her curtains at him and making cursory window-cleaning gestures with a checkered cloth as she stared, like that wasn’t totally creepy. Gerard did a little finger wave at her and the curtains swirled shut immediately.
“Weeeird fucking town,” Gerard muttered to himself, and kept walking.
There was still a sizable population of students milling around in the parking lot when he got there, but no sign of Sikowski or his deluded minions. His truck was still there as an antler-bedecked reminder, though. Gerard was sorely tempted to deface it. Maybe spit on it or something. People keyed cars, right? It might be better to come late one morning and cover it with pink bows and gay pride stickers. The downside of that was the fact that the culprit would be fairly obvious, and then Ted would beat the shit out of him.
Mrs. Hall was thrilled to see him. Apparently the homework was actually due Thursday, and so he’d inadvertently done it early. Because he needed to look like that much more of a geek. Ted was predictably dickish about it, but the guy next to him, Letter Jacket #2, Isaac Barrows, or something, was genuinely scowling at Gerard and muttering about him being a fucking show-off. Whatever.
Luckily Ted wasn’t sitting next to Gerard and couldn’t harass him as directly as he had the day before, but Gerard still had to spend the period listening to him snickering about god knew what. The fact that girls had breasts, probably. He’d run into Ted enthusiastically making out with some chick before class, and that seemed to be featuring prominently in the conversation. Gerard didn’t want to know what Ted had gotten up to last night. Even Geometry was better than listening to that.
Gerard scuttled out of class soon as Mrs. Hall dismissed them, narrowly avoiding collision with the short squat ball player, the one with, seriously, a face that looked like an Easter Island monolith. He could have sworn the dude fucking growled at him. Before he could adequately compose a response—the people here were fucking rabid, he knew it—Ray emerged from the stairwell and immediately made a bee-line towards Gerard. Gerard stared at him. Ray was still smiling, huge and irrepressible. The contrast in attitudes was mind-boggling.
“Gerard, hey! What’s up, man, how was your first day?”
“Um, kinda shitty,” Gerard said apologetically, hiking his bag up on his shoulder. Ray’s his smile faltered a bit, and then he seemed to shake himself, perking back up.
“Yeah, well,” Ray said, grinning again—it was only 9:30, Gerard thought, squinting at Ray. He really had to find out where Ray got his crack-laced coffee, and then steal it for his own. “It is school. It’ll get better, dude, first days always suck.”
“Maybe,” Gerard said doubtfully, but regardless of Ray’s eerie amounts of energy, he was glad the guy was there, because he’d gotten totally turned around and would never have found his way to the English room in time on his own. Maybe Ray was, like, a psychic vampire, Gerard mused, stealing energy from the general populace. People who smiled before noon could not possibly be human. It was a fact. Although Ray seemed way too perky for a vampire.
They reached room 207 and lounged against the taupe wall, waiting for the bell to ring. “We’ve got about five minutes before class starts,” Ray said, running a hand over his head and apparently trying to smooth down his hair, which, to be frank, was a lost cause. “Do you know anything about Byron, because I totally forgot to do the reading last night. I was messing around with a friend and we got this really sweet guitar and drum thing worked out on GarageBand, but it was like two before I got to bed, you know?”
“Byron is awesome,” Gerard gushed before he could stop himself, and then figured, what the hell. Ray seemed pretty nerdy anyway, so he let himself ramble on about Childe Harold and Don Juan and the gobs of sex Byron had probably had with Percy and Mary Shelley, how’d they’d written their own versions of German ghost stories in the midst of their wild orgies.
“But, uh. Carew probably won’t care about most of that,” Gerard said, raising his voice as the bell rang. “Just talk about Byronic heroes being the precursor to the modern anti-hero, and you’re good, probably.”
“Damn,” Ray said, raising an eyebrow. He’d actually seemed interested in the whole thing, which was unexpected. Gerard was sort of used to people tuning him out when he rambled.
Ray steered them over to the far right side of the classroom and sort of pushed Gerard at the front row. Normally Gerard would have objected—he was definitely more a back-corner-of-the-room sorta guy, but he saw what Ray was doing when he put a notebook down on the desk to Gerard’s left and then took the desk behind Gerard for himself, forming a sort of protective barricade between Gerard and the rest of the class.
When Ray saw Gerard looking at the notebook he nodded, grinning. “Savin’ a place for Bob. Bob’s good people, you’ll like him.” Gerard was more worried about Bob liking him, but he was still touched that Ray was at least trying to seclude him from the class assholes. He’d probably still be harassed, but it was nice of Ray to try. Deluded, but nice.
Other students were filtering into the room now, and Gerard kept his eyes on his desk. Someone with the initials RT guitared BB. Interesting. Then he heard Ray Toro’s squeaky voice, “Sorry, guys, seat’s taken.”
Gerard glanced up and to his shock saw one of the assholes from yesterday receding resentfully as a tallish blonde walked up and took the seat next to Gerard. He handed Ray back his notebook and nodded briefly to Gerard.
“You must be Gerard. Toro told me about you,” the guy said placidly, an amused glint in his eyes. “I’m Bob Bryar. You should join the band.”
“But I can’t play anything!” Gerard responded automatically, just as Ray said, “Hey, Gerard, tell Bob about the Byronic hero! Bob, he’s totally an English genius, check it out.”
Gerard was saved from replying by Mr. Carew strolling to the front of the classroom and squinting out at all the students, slapping a ruler against his pants. He looked startlingly like a drill sergeant for a fifty-year old man in a red Hawaiian shirt. Gerard slumped low in his chair and shook his bangs into his eyes, trying to look invisible as Carew started firing out random questions to the class.
“We should have sat in the back!” Gerard hissed at Ray as they left the class an hour later. “Then Carew wouldn’t notice when I gave you the answers.”
Ray shook his head at Gerard. “Nah, that’s asking for trouble, dude. Sikowski’d freak out if we took his seats. Gotta run to French, see you guys at lunch!” And then Ray was wandering off through the hall, hair towering over the crowd of students.
“C’mon,” Bob said, giving Gerard a small grin, and then stared blankly and terrifyingly at one of the smaller jocks that had just slammed his shoulder hard into Gerard’s side. The jock sort of squeaked and scurried off. Gerard was in awe. And in love. He totally got why Ray guitared Bob. “I’m in your History class,” Bob continued, setting off down the hallway, Gerard following gratefully in his wake. “You know as much about the French-Indian War as you do about Gothic romance?”
Gerard scowled. “I hate American history,” he grumbled. “European history is so much better. They have castles, and druids, and fucking knights in shining armor, you know?” The only part of US history that was worthwhile involved Blondie and Doc Holliday, and unfortunately most classes tended to ignore the Sergio Leone and Tombstone aspects.
“Cool,” Bob said. “I always take a nap in this class anyway.”
Yesterday, Ted had spent the whole of U.S. History taking advantage of the teacher’s tendency to read directly from her lecture notes (seriously, Gerard thought it’d take an act of Congress or nuclear war for Mrs. Gist to look up) to jostle Gerard’s desk every three seconds and whisper nastily and throw things in Gerard’s hair. But Bob Bryar was apparently goon-repellant, because even though Bob did, as promised, fall asleep ten minutes into the lecture, the jocks only threw like three spitballs and mainly stayed quiet.
Gerard used the time to color all his fingernails black with a sharpie and to work on his Mikey Way: Unicorn Warrior cartoon. He’d gotten up to the point where Mikey had entered the space station lair of Steve the Solar Bonobo when the bell rang for the end of class. Bob stretched and looked down at Gerard’s notebook.
“Pretty sweet,” Bob commented. “Is that monkey on fire?”
“No, he is fire,” Gerard explained as he started cramming his stuff back into the bag. “He’s a solar flare brought to life by the wishes of his captive brethren back on Earth, subjected to animal testing and cruel commercial acting.”
“Chimps do sorta get short shrift,” Bob agreed. “C’mon, the cafeteria’ll run out of fries if we’re late.”
Yesterday Gerard had refrained from going to lunch and instead hid in the library, flipping through his September copy of Fangoria and furtively drinking the Diet Coke he’d brought from home. The cafeteria of any high school was always a wretched hive of scum and villainy, best to avoid if at all possible. Today, though, Bob just inexorably steered him through the room, totally unconcerned by the glaring eyes from the letter-jackets-only table and the people whispering as they passed. No one bothered them. It was awesome. Bob was a total Jedi.
Gerard wasn’t actually that hungry, though, and the food all looked sort of foul, but by that time Ray had joined up with them in the line and begun prattling about healthy diets and vitamins, so Gerard rolled his eyes and grabbed a greenish orange to go with his bottle of diet coke. While he wasn’t looking, a plate of antique, pre-WWII spaghetti snuck onto his tray. Gerard looked at Ray. Ray widened his eyes and shrugged, all, What? Plate of spaghetti? I don’t see any plate of spaghetti.
Bob shook his head. “It’s easier to humor him, Way. Go with it. And seriously, get the fries.”
Ray leaned over Gerard’s shoulder and said airily, “Yeah, it’s easier to humor him, Gerard. Just go with it, get the fries.”
A brief scuffle broke out, so Gerard sighed and in the interests of keeping the peace, grabbed a little checkered boat of the french fries. He really wasn’t hungry, but he figured he could just give them to Bob later.
The cafeteria was dank and dark, with a low ceiling and flickering fluorescent lights, and also filled with sneering faces. Gerard had been looking around for Frank all day, but he didn’t see anyone short and hyper and covered with tattoos in here, so he wasn’t too bothered when Ray and Bob headed outside to go eat lunch next to the band room.
Gerard squinted in the sun as they exited the cafeteria. Fuck, he was actually enjoying the fresh air. Much more time in this town and he’d probably turn into some obsessed nature lover and go hiking and climb mountains and shit. And then he’d fall off the mountains and die. He felt a vague resignation to this series of events.