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Ada-Beth was well-known around the village of Lokirk in which she lived. Her house was a small, rundown brick cottage on the outskirts of the town, into which no-one was ever invited. In fact, the villagers rarely glimpsed through the windows, for they were always obscured with thick black-out curtains. It was rumoured that she had a daughter living there too, though she had never been seen; and those rumours may, after all, have been only rumours and nothing more, as Ada-Beth was the constant victim of gossip. They said she was a witch. They said she was a lunatic and they said she was an alcoholic. The children were told sternly by their mothers not to go near "that woman" and her house -- a rule which they heartily disobeyed, flinging stones and pebbles at the dark windows, calling and shrieking and cackling as they scurried away, before she could peek round the door to utter a single rebuke.

A soft wind blew lightly across the paved stone path outside Ada-Beth's cottage, and rain was beginning to fall. Adelio wandered aimlessly across. He was a well-built lad of fifteen, with a mop of tangled brown hair and rosy cheeks. At this moment, he was carrying a battered black satchel which was slung nonchalantly over his shoulder, and was clad from head to foot in dull, regulation school uniform.

x [. To Be Continued .] x
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x__vampire Random Story Draft <3 Oct 17th, 2007 1:51:19 pm - Subscribe
[x] . 1

Ada Beth was well-known around the village of Lokirk in which she lived. Her house was a small, rundown brick cottage on the outskirts of the town, into which no-one was ever invited. In fact, the villagers rarely glimpsed through the windows, for they were always obscured with thick black-out curtains. It was rumoured that she had a daughter living there too, though she had never been seen; and those rumours may, after all, have been only rumours and nothing more, as Ada was the constant victim of gossip. They said she was a witch. They said she was a lunatic and they said she was an alcoholic.
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x__vampire This Rose </3 Aug 19th, 2007 12:15:25 pm - Subscribe
Author's Note: After that small preview, here is the proper fanfic; I have spent all summer writing this thing so you'd better be grateful for it. xD Please comment...
---

This Rose

Chapter 1
"I thought I heard you say 'I like you'."
-"This Is The Best Day Ever", I Brought You My Bullets...

HAYLIE'S P.O.V.
The sun rose, staining the sky a brilliant rouge above the stark, grey city. I watched from my bedroom window as cats sped past in the morning rush hour. It was the beginning of a new term of school, and for the first time in my life, I couldn't wait to get there.

"Haylie! You're going to be late!" I heard my mother shriek from the next room. As usual, she was up an hour before everyone else, getting ready to go to the office. She worked as a secretary for a well-known magazine, and had been for a few years -- ever since our family had stopped travelling. I could still remember how much I had hated having to move to a new school at least twice a year, having to make a new set of friends, and having to get used to a new environment -- and yet, when we'd first settled down in New Jersey, I'd felt restless and bored. However, I was now so used to our home in Belleville, I knew I never wanted to leave.

Our family -- the Johnstons -- were pretty strange, to say the least. There were three of us: my mum, my younger sister Anna, and me. Although we were technically Scottish, we had lived in various places throughout America for five years. Because we lived in a rough area, Anna and I had had to get used to not going out a lot. Anna spent most of her time -- wasted it, in my opinion -- watching chick movies, and painting her fingernails; I was obsessed with music, and would pass hours reading alternative music magazines, trying to find out about new bands, or writing songs on my own.

I walked across the room, and checked my reflection in the faint, silvery light of the mirror.

A girl stared back at me. She was completely average in almost every way: neither tall nor short, neither horribly fat nor anorexically skinny, neither stunningly beautiful nor repulsively ugly. Her hair fell, like a dark veil, to her waist, almost obscuring her oval shaped face, with its pale blue eyes set like gems; her clothes were black and clingy, although a flash of rose glimmered at her wrists, where her many bracelets and charms shone.

"HAYLIE!"
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" I called back to my mother's impatient yell: and with that, I grabbed my old, tatty schoolbag and headed for the door.
*
Five minutes later, I had arrived at school, swallowing my nerves. My palms had begun to dampen slightly. I swiftly whipped out my pocket mirror and re-checked my hair and make-up. What if he didn't like me any more? What if he'd changed his mind? What if he'd forgotten? It all seemed so unlikely. I wasn't especially pretty, or popular, or witty, or bubbly -- or like any of the girls he had dated before. Why on earth would he want me?

"Hey, Haylie."

I nearly jumped out of my skin, then turned to see Joel standing there, smiling at me, with his storm-grey eyes looking straight into mine, causing me to catch my breath.

"Hi," I replied, trying to smile and not look as though I was wishing to die on the spot.

There was a silence.

An uncomfortably long silence.

Say something, Haylie.

Make conversation. Ask a question. ACT NORMAL.


"So... how've you been over the summer?" I tried.

Joel shrugged. "All right. I've missed you." He drew closer, and before I knew what was happening, his lips were on mine.

The bell rang, and slowly, Joel pulled away.

"I'll see you later, OK?" he said, smiling, before he ran off, leaving me alone. Wanting more.
*
"So, are you two, like, dating now?" Gerard asked me, as I rifled through the papers and jotters and pens and notes and chocolate wrappings of last year that I hadn't made an effort to clear out of my locker.
"Sort of, yeah," I replied nonchalantly.

Gerard Way was one of the few boys that would hang around with me -- probably because he was a bit of a reject himself. He wasn't bad looking, but I wouldn't necessarily describe him as good looking, either; and he'd definitely changed since I'd last seen him. His hair was long and dark, falling into his sallow white face; his eyes were bright, animated, and an unusual shade of green-hazel, shadowed by many a sleepless night. Since I had seen him last, his hair was longer, he was a lot thinner and his cheeks were a lot hollower -- he looked, I thought, almost ill.

"Well, good for you. I'm happy for you," said Gerard, although he did not look at all happy.

I stared at him. "What's wrong?"

"Well..." he began cautiously, "don't take this the wrong way or anything, but--"
"But what?" I interrupted him, almost angrily.
"i know you really like him,. but sometimes Joel and his friends can act a bit stupid for their age--"
"Do you have a problem with me going out with him?"
"Nooo..."
"Well, good. And if you'll excuse me, I have to get to my next class," I said loftily, slinging my bag over my shoulder and marching off.
*
"Hey!" I greeted my best friend, Cassie Levine, cheerfully at recess. She merely smiled mysteriously back at me.
"Guess who I'm dating now?"
"Uhh..." I wasn't sure. Cassie, unlike me, had had a lot of boyfriends, probably because she was tall and pretty, with chestnut-coloured hair. She could get just about any boy she wanted to fall under her spell.
"FRANK IERO!!"
"Oh my God, you bitch!" I exclaimed, grinning.
"Yes! Yes, I am!" she laughed. Frank Iero was reknowned as the "hottest" boy in our year -- if not, the school.
"Anyway, what're you talking about? You've got Joel, haven't you?"
"Yeah..." I said. I thought of Joel and the way he had kissed me this morning. Like he meant it. Like I was special to him. I remembered the way his touch felt, and his deep storm-grey eyes...

"Haylie! Are you with us?!"
"Uh, yeah, sorry... I was miles away there," I said as my fantasy faded.
"I bet you were thinking about Joel," Cassie teased.
"Shut it!" I clobbered her over the head.
"Gerard! How've you been!" Cassie was distracted as Gerard entered the room.
"Oh, I've been good, you?" he returned, looking anywhere but at me.
"Great!"

We were quiet for a moment. I glared at my feet, waiting for someone to speak.

"OK.... this incredibly awkward silence is telling me something is wrong between you two," said Cassie.
"No, not at all!" Gerard said hastily.
"'Course not! We're just..." I found my words trailing off.
"Just what?" Cassie questioned sharply.
"Oh, never mind," I sighed. "So what's this about you and Frank?"

Cassie launched into a detailed description of how she'd met Frank over the summer and how he'd kissed her and asked her to be his girlfriend and what the weather was like and where they had stood and exactly what she was wearing, which was so exciting and action-packed that I forgot to listen. I looked at Gerard, and had to giggle at the intense boredom on his face. He caught my eye, and smirked.

"And then he said-- wait, what are you two laughing at?" Cassie frowned.
"Oh, uh, nothing," I choked. "Please continue with your story. It's fascinating."

And with that, the three of us burst out into hysterical laughter, as the bell rang out once again.
*

Chapter 2
"They said all teenagers scare the living sh*t outta me,
They could care less as long as someone'll bleed,
So darken your clothes or strike a violent pose,
Maybe they'll leave you alone, but not me"
-"Teenagers", The Black Parade

GERARD'S P.O.V.
A damp, white fog had slowly begun to settle on the school grounds, obscuring the building from view, as I patiently waited for my friends, Haylie and Cassie, to arrive. All that could be seen was hard, grey tarmac, with the occasional sprig of faded green grass.

It had been strange, meeting Haylie and Cassie again after the long months of summer holiday. They both looked different, Haylie most noticeably -- her hair had grown, her skin was clearer, and she had lost a lot of weight; she was wearing dark clothes and there was a lot of make-up on her face, especially around her eyes.

"Hi Gerard," Haylie said, grinning as she came through the entrance, causing me to start.
"Hey, what's up?" I smiled back.
"Nothhing much... just bored out of my mind, as usual," she said, rolling her heavily outlined eyes. "You?"
"Me too. I take it you're not having the greatest first day back then?"
"Hell, no!"
"Sorry to interrupt, but are you two lovebirds planning on noticing that Frank and I exist?"

I jumped, and for the first time noticed that Cassie and Frank had arrived. Cassie was nice enough, although at recess earlier both Haylie and I had been treated to a wonderfully detailed and elaborate account of how Frank Iero had come to be her boyfriend, so I could not honestly say I was overly ecstatic upon her intrusion.

"Ah... sorry," I said awkwardly, more than slightly embarassed about her reference to Haylie and me as lovebirds.
"Hi," Haylie said to the couple, and soon enough they were immersed in conversation.

Frank seated himself on the steps, and asked Cassie, "So, how's your day?"

Cassie joined him, and said in a sugary voice, "Oh, it's just great, now that you're a part of it."

Haylie and I exchanged a look of revulsion as Frank pulled Cassie closer, his arm around her waist, and slowly kissed her on the lips.

"Well, that's just sickening," Haylie said.
"Tell me about it," I agreed.

She fiddled restlessly with her battered, canvas bag. "I forgot my Walkman today. I can't live without it."
"So what music do you listen to on there?" I asked, conversationally.
"Uh, all sorts. Smashing Pumpkins, Fugazi, Cursive, The Misfits, Lifetime, The Cure, The Smiths..." she rapidly recited band names, as though she had learned them by heart.
"The Smiths?"
"Yes, the Smiths. And don't start giving me sh*t about being into them, 'cause--"
"No, I really like the Smiths! I'm just surprised, that's all. Most girls in our year would never listen to bands like those in a million years."
"Not necessarily. If they heard more of that kind of music on the radio I bet they'd like it," she snapped, bright with excitement.
"Yeah, I agree. So are you a big music fan, then?"
"Definitely. I write my own songs, too."
"What style?"
"Depends... usually hardcore and emo."

Slightly taken aback by the fact that she knew the term "emo", I replied in a rush, "Really? Well, I've got a guitar at home. You should come round sometime. Well, if you want to. 'Cause I'd really like -- I'd, uh, really -- I'd be interested to hear your stuff, you know..."
"Sure," said Haylie, and smiled at me calmly. I'd never noticed until now that her eyes were an icy shade of blue, framed by long, thick black lashes, penetratingly cool.

"Hi, Haylie..."

Joeal and his posse had arrived. Despite Haylie's adoration for him, I had always resented him because of the way he constantly seemed to treat girls. I had watched many an innocent teenager fall in love with him, only to be jerked cruelly back into reality in finding that Joel was just using them and bragging about it behind their backs.

As if to prove my thoughts, Joel sat next to Haylie, causing his friends to cheer and wolf-whistle unnecessarily. He kissed her roughly on the mouth, and she gazed up at him, melting like butter in his arms. I felt my cheeks grow warm with rage as Haylie fell into the trap. Here it goes again.

His friends cackled. Joel turned slightly, eyeing me, his lip curling into an arrogant sneer.

"Why are you hanging around with her?"
"Joel, this is my friend, Gerard," Haylie cut in.
"Gerard, huh? Can I just ask -- what kind of a name is that?"

Joel's friends sniggered idiotically. I wondered if that was intended as an insult. If it was, I had most certainly overestimated him. Saying nothing, I gave him a sweeping stare of disdain, which seemed to arouse his temper.

"Can you hear me? ARE YOU DEAF?" he yelled in my face, but my eyelids barely flickered.
"I can hear perfectly, thanks."
"Well then, I guess you're just stupid."
"Guess so."

Without warning, Joel smashed his fist into the side of my face, causing it to explode with pain.

"Leave him alone!" I heard Haylie yell out, but to no avail.
"It's all right, Haylie," I said, still refusing to break eye contact.
"Yeah, never mind him. He's just a retarded goth dude," Joel taunted.
"Really? I'm not the one who's been held back two grades, Joel," I said, with asperity.

Joel made no comeback to this; instead he shot me a last, malevolent stare, then proceeded to exit, his loyal band of followers tripping along behind him.

I looked at Haylie, whose delicate features were now lit with a rosy tinge of embarassment and frustration, as she twirled a strand of dark hair between her fingers, staring ashamedly at the ground.

"I'm sorry," she muttered, wandering off.

Hearing a noise, I glanced at Cassie and Frank, only to see that they were both now entwined together, and Frank was seemingly sucking her face in a fashion reminiscent of a vacuum cleaner.

With a deep sigh, I pulled out my sketchbook out of my bag, and flipped through the pages of drawings, wondering why I felt so alone.
*

Chapter Three
"Oh, the blood
But I'd like to learn your name
And holding on,
Well I hope you do the same,
Aw, sugar!"
--"This Jetset Life Is Gonna Kill You", Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge

HAYLIE'S P.O.V.
"This is my brother, Mikey," said Gerard, gesturing to the boy who had just wandered in. He had short, dirty-blonde hair and large spectacles which rested on the end of his nose.
"Hi," I said with a smile.

He didn't return the salutation, but remarked somewhat randomly, "You have a Scottish accent."
"Cleverly observed, Mr Way!" I joked.
"Are you Scottish then?" he asked.
"Yes, but I've lived in America for five years."
"That's cool," Mikey said, still peering at me through his thick glasses. "We're part Scottish."

I was sitting at Gerard's family's kitchen table, sipping at a cup of hot, bitterly strong coffee. The blank white walls seemed yellow n the electric light, as outside we could hear the incessant pattering of rain hitting the glass windows, and the gentle whistle of the wind.

"Do you want to go to my room, so you can show me some of your songs?" Gerard asked me, his mouth twitching hopefully. "You can take your coffee with you if you want."
*
Gerard's room was fairly small, with walls plastered with drawings, notes, half-formed ideas, cuttings from comic books and lists; above his bed, brightly coloured cartoon characters gleamed, and a series of beautifully painted landscapes of imaginary places hung: a glittering sea, filled with rich, bright blues and greens; a dark, whispering forest at nighttime; and a light, snowy purple mountain, under an endless blue sky. I could almost taste the icy fresh air, feel the warm sun on my skin --

"They're not that good," Gerard said, apologetically. I faced him in shock.

"Gerard, are you SERIOUS? These are amazing!"

He looked down, and I could tell he was trying not to smile.

I cast my eyes over the rest of his room. Comics were strewn untidily across the soft, carpeted floor -- namely, X Men; in the corner, stacked up against the wall, was a large pile of videos, most of them X-rated; and a few thick, hardback books lay desolately on the desk, surrounded by Gerard's notes and sketchbooks.

"Your room is awesome," I told him.
"Thanks..." he replied shyly. "So, do you want to play a song?"
"Er... OK, but I must warn you, they're not that good... and I never played them to anyone else before. So don't judge, OK?"
"OK," agreed Gerard solemnly.

I unzipped my guitar case, and pulled out my acoustic, steel-stringed guitar, which I had been trying to teach myself to play for the past few years.

As my fingers slid smoothly and softly over the frets, I realised my hands were sweating; I was breathless and shivery as if I had a fever, and my mind was racing. Why was I so nervous? Admittedly, this was the first time I'd ever played in front of anyone, but it was only Gerard. Only a friend.

I closed my eyes, and began to sing.

The song was about Joel -- Joel, and how he caught me playfully in his warm arms, how he pulled me near to him, how his stormy grey eyes drew me in and never let me go -- how he smiled at me, full of joy and longing and love...

Silence.

I sat, holding the guitar close to my chest, feeling mortified, still trembling.

Silence.

Silence.

Silence.

"Was it really that bad?" I ventured, my voice sounding a lot more high-pitched than usual, holding my guitar even tighter as I waited for the reply.
"Bad? Not bad at all!" Gerard said, laughing. "I wish I could f*cking write like that! Haylie, that's insanely good."

I exhaled, loudly.

"Thank you," I said, feeling a mixture of gratitude and relief. "I didn't think you'd like it."
"Why not?" Gerard asked curiously.
"Well, I guess I've never really thought of myself as a songwriter. It's just something I do in my spare time, not seriously or anything."
"You should do it a lot more," advised Gerard. "Wow, Haylie..."

I felt myself blush.

"Do you think we could work together on a song sometime?" Gerard said, running his fingers through his long hair, obviously already beginning to get excited.
"Yeah, sure. Why not?" I responded.

Gerard positively beamed at me, and as our eyes met, I felt a peculiar sensation in my stomach, like butterflies.

No, Haylie.

I liked Joel. Joel, my boyfriend, with stormy grey eyes. I was the luckiest girl in the world to have Joel.

Right?
*
Later
The phone rang.

"Hello?"
"What's up, baby..."

It was Joel, speaking is what he apparently thought was a seductive voice.

"Please do not call me that."
"Aww, honey, what's wrong? What've you been up to?"
"For your information, I've just been at Gerard's."
"What?" Joel's tone changed instantly. "What are ya still hanging round that freaky goth dude for?"
"Gerard is my friend," I answered frostily.
"Yeah, whatever. It's obvious he doesn't really like you. He just wants to get in your pants."

There was a pause, as I went cold with fury, my fingers gripping the reciever so hard they turned white.

"Ex-cuse me?" I said, in a voice barely above a whisper.
"Oh, come on, baby, I didn't mean it like--"

I hung up, still shaking with anger. How dare he?

"Just out of curiosity, Haylie, who was that on the phone?" Mum enquired, as she stood in the kitchen doorway, munching on some tortilla chips.
"Oh, no-one. Just some stupid boy from school," I said scornfully. "I wish he'd leave me alone. He's seriously annoying."

And it was no word of a lie.
*
Chapter Four
"Holding hands and life was perfect
Just like up on the screen"
--"Early Sunsets Over Monroeville", I Brought You My Bullets...

GERARD'S P.O.V.
"I'm not speaking to Joel," Haylie said matter-of-factly, although she did not quite meet my eyes.

We were lounging on the school steps, lazily chatting away, as the sun pounded down upon us, glaringly hot and uncomfortable, catching the shine of Haylie's straight, midnight-coloured hair.

"What did you two argue about?" I asked her.
She replied evasively, "Oh... nothing much."

I suspected that I had been the cause of the argument, but I did not say anything.

"But he said something really harsh, and I don't think I should see him again. I do kinda miss him, though," she sighed.
"You do know he uses girls, right?" I blurted, then inwardly cursed myself. A cold wave of nausea crashed over me. How much more tactless could I possibly be?

I had expected Haylie to pour forth a stream of indignant defence on Joel's behalf, but instead she sighed and said tiredly, "Somehow, that doesn't surprise me."

She rested her head on my shoulder, and I tried -- and failed miserably -- to ignore the quickening of my heartbeat. A warm, companionable silence fell gently upon us as we both quietly pursued our separate thoughts. I pondered why on earth Haylie and Joel were dating. Their characters were so entirely different that it seemed to me a miracle that they could even stand to breathe the same air. Joel seemed to imagine, in his absurd, warped mind, that women existed to make men happy, and, of course, to reproduce. Haylie, I knew, leaned towards feminist views, having thoroughly studied the subject; she believed that women did not need men to complete them, and anyone who thought otherwise had their head stuck in the Dark Ages. Joel had read few books in his lifetime, the longest and most instructive of which being "Thomas the Tank Engine". He was blindly ignorant of both religion and politics, and devoted most of his spare time to wild, drunken parties, during which he would jump around to blaring pop music, and humiliate himself thoroughly before vomitting violently and passing out of consciousness on the floor. Haylie, however, had read and enjoyed the works of Alice Walker, Sylvia Plath, Anne Bronte, Daphne au Maurier, and Jane Austen to name but a few of her favourite writers; she consistently achieved top grades throughout her school year; she had written countless essays including themes such as child labour, poverty, war and racism; she listened to all music, especially non-mainstream, underground, alternative bands, although not even she could bear to listen to the dance beats that constantly pumped out of Joel's hi-fi.

"Did you honestly think that song was good?"

I realised I had been humming the song she had written.

"Course I did. It was brilliant, way better than anything I've ever written. You've got a real gift for that, you know."

And I meant every word. I had only ever heard the song once, and the frank, honest simplicity of it had struck me. Haylie's voice was pure and delicate, and seemed to fit the lyrics, which were sweet and innocent, and about falling in love for the first time. I knew that the song had been written for Joel, though somewhere in the back of my mind, I wished that it wasn't.

"Thank you. You have no idea how much it means to me that I can actually do something. Up until now I've felt pretty useless."
"Why?" I found myself asking. "You're beautiful, and smart, and more talented than anyone I've ever met."

Sh*t. I hadn't planned on telling her that. Not only did those words echo my most private, inner thoughts, but when said aloud they sounded hideously pretentious and cliched.

Haylie smiled sadly, her head slowly but surely tilting towards me, our lips nearly touching; my heart beat still faster as I closed my eyes, and...

"What the f*ck?"

Cassie and Frank had appeared, at the most inopportune moment they could possibly have chosen. Haylie and I jumped, and immediately sprang apart.

"Aw, I just knew you two were going to get together!" Cassie squealed excitedly.
"We're not together."
"Whatever you say. I believe you."
"You should," I snapped. "Anyway, I'll see you later, OK, Haylie?"
"Uh, OK," replied Haylie vaguely, and I watched her hurry off, her long hair swinging behind her, as I tried to comprehend what had just occurred -- or rather, what had almost just occurred.
*
Haylie Haylie Haylie Haylie Haylie.

Thoughts of her continued to scuttle into my mind like spiders, as I fruitlessly set my pen to my sketchbook. Unbidden, the pen wandered across the page.

I still could not quite accept what had happened. It was definitely Haylie who had made the first move, wasn't it? I remembered how it had felt as Haylie had leaned towards me, so close that I could smell her sweet breath.

Upon the page, a likeness of Haylie began to blossom. Her bright eyes sparkled mischieviously, her sweeping dark hair shone, and her soft lips curved into a dreamy, thoughtful smile.

I looked critically at the sketch I had just made. It was a fair drawing, considering I had done it within the space of twenty minutes, but I hadn't captured as much of Haylie's character as I'd have liked.

How could Haylie possibly think that she was talentless when she spent time with me? I had no natural talent whatsoever. My grandmother had taught me to draw, and yet my pieces of art rarely looked the way I wanted them too. Haylie had never been shown how to write songs, but her music was original, refreshing, catchy and still simple. Where did that kind of thing come from?

Frustrated, I packed my art materials away, my mind still churning. Why was Haylie the only thing I could think about?
*
Chapter 5
"If you were here,
I'd never have a fear
So come on, live your life
But I miss you more than I did yesterday,
You're beautiful!"
--"Give 'Em Hell, Kid"

Three days, three nights, I had been without Joel.

It wasn't hurting as much as I'd thought it would, and yet I still missed the way he held me close, his arm wrapped tightly around my waist; the kisses and the way he said my name. Most of all I missed his stormy grey eyes...

Was breaking up with Joel worth being alone? He always knew how to make me smile, always knew how to make me laugh, had always been there for me, until he had blatantly insulted me -- but that had been the first time he had ever offended me in any way, and surely now that he had seen what it had done to me, surely now it would have made an impact -- surely he would never say such things to me again? Was I being narrow-minded in not giving him another chance?

And what was to be done about Gerard? Because I now knew that he definitely hated Joel, and was at a complete loss as to why we had ever dated. Joel's words, which I had thought at the time to be pure lies, designed to destroy Gerard's and my friendship, did, actually, have a grain of truth in them after all, as I had discovered when we -- inexplicably -- had nearly ended up kissing. Cassie and Frank walked in on us, and totally took the piss.

But the strangest thing was that I wanted it to happen. Whether it was because I was lonely without Joel, or I really wanted Gerard, I had no idea: but I suspected the latter. Gerard shared my interest in music, was an incredibly talented artist, was kind and pleasant, and always full of support. I remembered what he had said to me before, as we had sat, together, under the oppressively hot afternoon sun.

"Up until now I've felt pretty useless," I had said.
"Why? You're beautiful, smart, and the most talented person I've ever met!"

Tears pricked at my eyes as I smiled, tilting my head towards his. He sounded so sweet and sincere. He needed someone to love him. It was only what he deserved. his eyes were deep, and I could almost see the thousands of tears locked up inside him, that he had never cried, as I moved forwards, and our lips nearly brushed.
*
"Haylie, it's your turn to do the dishes!" my Mum called me.
"OK, Mum... just coming," I sighed wearily.

The phone rang, and I picked up the reciever as I entered through the kitchen door.

"Hello?"
"Hey." It was Joel, sounding uncharacteristically subdued. "What's up?"
"Nothing, right now," I said, wondering why he'd called, as I had refused to talk to him at school, and made it perfectly clear that I never wanted to see him again; but I waited to hear what he had to say for himself.
"Listen, Haylie... I'm reallly sorry about what happened. Honestly, I didn't mean it in that way. I guess I was just pissed off and needed to take my anger out on someone. I'm sorry."

I considered. Although he certainly didn't deserve it, he had apologised -- he wasn't ever going to say anything like that to me again.

"I miss you," he added.
"OK, fine. I forgive you," I gave in reluctantly.
"Awesome!" he said, brightening a little too quickly. "So, do you want to meet up or something?"
"Sure. What about that park around the side of my house?"
"What time?"
"Uh, half an hour. I have to wash the dishes."
"Great, then I guess I'll see you."
"Bye."
"I love you."

There was a click, and the line went dead.
*
It was a colourful summer twilight in the park. The last of the sun glowed over the spiky blades of grass, sparkling and shining and shimmering like magic, while the blues and purples of night darkened the sky. Dangling lopsidedly from their frames, and twisted out of shape around the bars, were the children's swings; the cold metal chains hung, forlorn, having been ruthlessly vandalised.

Joel held me in his arms, as we sat on the damp, wooden park bench, and I gazed at the gradual setting of the sun, and the night creeping over the horizon.

"I love you," Joel whispered in my ear as he moved to kiss my neck.
"Oh, Joel, don't say that."

He stopped short in astonishment.

"What?"
"You know it's not true."
"But, baby--"
"What did I say about calling me that? Look Joel, I really like you and all, and I'm not suggesting we break up, but we're just teenagers, and--"
"Are you saying this relationship isn't serious?"
"We're still in school, Joel."
"Hmmph."

I sighed and yielded to his gentle kiss, feeling his fingers in my hair, and slowly, the trailed down my neck, and towards my chest --

I pulled away, suddenly.

"No! Have you been listening to a single word I say?"
"Yes, but--"
"This isn't serious! Do you understand?!"
"It doesn't have to be serious," he muttered, almost inaudibly.

I looked at him, disgusted, and at that moment I wanted nothing more than to slap him.

"You are just a little man-whore, you know that?"
"Aw, Haylie..."

And he looked so genuinely upset, that I couldn't help it; I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him properly.

When wee eventually broke apart, the moon had risen, and all was quiet in the eerie, deserted park.
*
Chapter Six
"I can't always just forget her,
But she could try"
-"Ghost of You," Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge

GERARD'S P.O.V.
Predictably, Haylie and Joel decided to retain their bond of undying love, or whatever. I didn't care. I had always known Haylie would never fall for me; it seemed more like a last, feeble blow to my already much-affected self-esteem.

Far more importantly, I had been occupying my time by working on a new horror comic, although I could not deny that I hadn't made much progress with it -- so far I had only four characters, whose names I had not yet chosen, and a rough outline for a plot. The enthralling (ha, ha) tale was of a group of vampires that conspired to attack a village; at the climax, the main character, who had planned to destroy the vampires and end the terrorism, realised that his best friend was a vampire herself, and part of the conspiracy.

Also, Haylie and I were collaborating together on a song, which was simultaneously the best and most difficult prokect I had ever endeavoured to pursue. Haylie may have shared my adoration for The Smiths and the Smashing Pumpkins, but on the whole, our musical tastes were vastly different. Her music was influenced by hardcore and indie, but always included that element of pop that made her songs catchy and easy to listen to; my music was influenced by punk and metal bands such as Black Flag and Iron Maiden -- not that I had ever written much music before, other than the occasional, self-indulgent, ranting, cliched piece of shit, sung along to a random string of chords played on an untuned guitar. However, when I was working with Haylie, it felt as though I was actually getting somewhere.

Slowly.

"OK, so I wrote a set of lyrics, they're not that good, but we can work on them," Haylie said briskly, thrusting a sheet of A4 paper at me, which I scanned quickly. At the top of the page, in Haylie's tiny scrawl, was the heading "The Strange Cross-Way", followed by a lot of scribblings and scratched out lyrics. Around half-way down, the song was written out more neatly. Squinting at the cramped handwriting, I read:

"The railway's broken, but you say you still hear the trains,
Now the air is clear, I'm refusing to breathe
'Til I drain away

I hear your voice, smooth as honey,
In my ear, the hypocrisy seems just as sweet,
And you don't care, you'll just use me
'Til I'm all worn out

Chorus:/'Cause after all that's what I'm here to get,
Standing at this cross-way pretending you won't forget
About me

Don't disenchant me with your empty promises,
You can't catch me, claim me in your grey storm,
I'm only here to pass the time

Chorus"

"Whoa," I said finally. "Where did you get your inspiration for that?"

Haylie's demeanour instantly changed; she folded her arms, and her expression became so guarded it was as if doors had been slammed shut behind her cold blue eyes.

"Well," she began awkwardly, "It's, uh, kind of -- well. It was about when--"
"No," I interrupted her, and she broke off, looking extremely relieved. "You don't have to tell me. Songs can be personal like that."

I read over the sheet of paper again, wondering what it was about.

"In my ear, the hypocrisy seems just as sweet,
And you don't care, you'll just use me..."

Had Haylie finally begun to see sense, and had she discovered for herself what Joel was really like? All of a sudden, my hopes rose, and excited fantasies flew vividly through my slightly overwhelmed mind. What if -- What if -- she still liked me? It was possible -- after all, she had tried to kiss me --

"Gerard?" Haylie said, puzzled, bringing me back to earth.

I was getting ahead of myself, as usual. Haylie was still with Joel, and to me it looked very unlikely that they would ever break up, however many furious hardcore feminist songs Haylie penned; the only reason she had tried to kiss me was to ease her own loneliness while still refusing to communicate with Joel: I had been used, once again. Not that anything else could be expected, as I was just Gerard Way, the loner, the outcast, the reject --

"Gerard??"
"Oh. I'm sorry," I heard myself say. "It's great Haylie, really. So what do we do now?"
"Well, I guess I'll go and write something else. Actually, we could both go and write different chord progressions, and see what we come up with -- how does that sound?"
"Great," I readily agreed, and watched as Haylie gathered up the sheets of paper with lyrics and chords scribbled across them. As she leaned over, her dark, soft hair fell across her pale face: how I longed to reach out and run my fingers through the black, fine strands, feel her close to me, smell her flowery scent. As was painfully obvious, though, this was never going to happen. I had neither the courage to tell her about my feelings for her (or the stupidity, as it would be to tell her while she was still with Joel), or the conviction that she had the merest trace of affection for me. Generally, people avoided me like the plague, especially as I had a tendency to isolate myself ostentatiously from others, knowing that people were going to point and stare, knowing that I would always be the last one picked in Gym, knowing that people owuld always see me as "that odd kid with the long hair". And I didn't care, because I knew that I deserved it. I constantly hurt people every day, I was not talented, I was not outstandingly intelligent, I was not good-looking. So why did I delude myself with the idiotic notion that Haylie had some feelings for me beyond friendship, when at the moment I could be contemplating seriously about the fates of others less lucky than me, and how to help them -- but no; all I could think about was myself and how much I wanted Haylie for my own. I was not generous, I was not caring, I was not sympathetic...

Idly, I wondered whether if I died, anyone would seriously care.
*
Chapter Seven
"Can I meet you, alone?"
-"I Never Told You What I Do For A Living", Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge

HAYLIE'S P.O.V.
Every day, Joel became more crass, sexist, insensitive and nasty in my eyes -- he didn't seem to care about anything I wanted, and was convinced that if he told me he loved me, I would bend to his will and do anything he wanted. When we were together, he frequently complained because I wouldn't act like a slut or hang around with any of his equally infantile friends. He had invited me to a house party that one of these friends was holding, and I, having seen the state Joel was usually in on a Monday morning, declined.

"It's going to be awesome, most of the school year's going, 'cause Frazer's house is huge. You must come with me, Haylie."
"No, I really don't --"

Joel took my hands and held them in his, looking at me pleadingly.

"Please. It'll be fun. You'll have the night of your life, I promise."

Although I seriously doubted this, I pasted a false smile on my face, that was so transparent that anyone who knew me at all could have seen through it.

"Sure, I'll go," I said sweetly.

To my infuriation, Joel smiled back at me, satisfied.

"There! I knew you'd give in."

What a fucking idiot. Gerard could have told him that was fake in less than a second.

Gerard...

He constantly wove in and out of my dreams, and my mind always wandered involuntarily to him, but just looking at him made me breathless: when his eyes locked with mine, my heart pounded so hard it felt as though it was about to come out through my chest. We had begun writing a song together, called "The Strange Cross-Way" -- I had written the lyrics after a particularly dismal meeting with Joel, during which he had whined incessantly and then tried to make out with me in the middle of the cafe. It felt like I was at a cross-way: on one side, was Joel and his twisted idea of what love was, and on the other side, I could be free, independent, single: and it felt as though I was drawing closer to that side every day.

Gerard had read through the lyrics, his brow furrowed, analysing every line, and praising them. He seemed lost in a universe of his own for a while, biting his lip, his eyes vague. I hoped he had not guessed what the song was about, though I wasn't sure why. Eventually, I pulled him back to reality, and he seemed startled and embarassed. A shadow seemed to pass over his face as I collected the papers for our song, and I wondered, yet again, exactly what he was thinking, for with Gerard, it was always hard to tell. He was always gentle, supportive, loyal, and never snide or even impolite -- unlike Joel and his dedicated cronies; but he seemed to loath himself so much it was almost terrifying. Whenever I questioned him casually about his tastes and opinions, about what his life was like at school, about what he wanted to do when he was older, his face fell, as if he wished we could talk about something else. Whenever I paid him a compliment or did my best for him, he was cheerful until he thought I was no longer watching, and he fell back into that universe, darkening: I could tell he thought he did not deserve it, and he had no idea how much it hurt me that he was miserable. All I wanted to do was throw my arms around him and tell him what he really was. He seemed to have strayed so far from reality in his mind, that his view of hismelf was wildly distorted. He was not talentless or boring or unintelligent, as he thought he was. I wondered how he could possibly see people such as Joel every day and still think these things about himself, as I was almost certain he did; but like I said, with Gerard, it was always difficult to tell.

But what tugged at my heartstrings most of all, was that he said the most degrading things about himself all the time: "I suck at guitar -- I really can't play it to save my life", "I have a shitty voice", "I'm such an idiot", "My comics are god awful, I don't know why my art teacher is so into them", etc. etc. etc. All day, he almost absentmindedly insulted himself, until I felt like breaking down in tears.

I wondered if I was in love.

I knew perfectly well that I was only a teenager, prone to the usual hormonal outbursts and moodswings of my age, but it was so different to anything I'd ever felt before: infinitely stronger than what I'd felt for my previous crushes and boyfriends, that seemed so childish and insignificant in comparison to Gerard. After I'd been with him, I felt weak and at the same time bursting with excitement, joy and energy; no matter how bad I was feeling, when I saw him a smile spread across my face, unbidden, and my cheeks grew warm with pleasure. What was wrong with me?!
*
"What's up with you lately, Haylie?" Mum asked curiously. Even she had been able to tell there was something strange going on inside my head.
"Oh, nothing," I lied.
"This Gerard boy you seem so fond of. Who is he?" she wondered. I felt myself blush, and struggled to keep a straight face.
"Oh... just a friend. We're working on writing some songs together, that's all."
"He's into all the goth stuff like you, I take it?"
"No, it's not goth--"
"OK, OK! " Mum cut me off. "So," she continued, with a mischievious, conspiring smile, "is he cute then?"
"Uh...well... um, I guess he's all right," I mumbled, not meeting her eyes, and excusing myself hurriedly, I ran back to my bedroom. Honestly! The woman was supposed to be my mother, for fuck's sake!
*
Chapter Eight
"If you look in the mirror and don't like what you see,
You can find out first-hand what it's like to be me"
--"The End", The Black Parade

GERARD'S P.O.V.

"Well then, why don't you play the chord progression and I'll sing the words, improvising the melody?" Haylie suggested.

We were sitting, cross-legged, on my bedroom floor, surrounded by screwed-up pieces of paaper, and trying to decide what to do next.

"OK. Just as long as I don't have to sing," I muttered, looking down.
"Aww, Gerard, I'm sure you're not that bad," Haylie said in a coaxing, reassuring voice.
"It is!" I exclaimed. "My voice is fucking weird. I can hit higher notes than a girl."
"Sing something for me then."
"What -- now?!"
"Uh-huh." Haylie looked triumphant already, obviously sure that I was good. I hated to disappoint her.

"Stop me, oh, stop me. Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before," I sang, feeling slightly humiliated. The last time I could remember that I'd ever sung properly, giving it everything I had, I had sorely regreetted. It had been years ago, in the school's musical production of Peter Pan which I had unfortunately starred in. I'd had the time of my life, though it was sadly ruined by certain classmates that found it amusing that I had got a leading part in a musical -- especially a musical that involved wearing a costume that included green tights.

I sang the chorus, and waited. Haylie simply stared at me in scock for a few moments.

"Whoa," she said finally. "You have a really, really, really awesome voice."
"Are you kidding me?" I said in disbelief.
"No. I love that song, and up until now I thought only Morrissey could do it justice. But you sang it even better."

This was hard to believe, as Morrissey was one of both Haylie's and my favourite vocalists of all time, and my voice sounded nothing like his, and nowhere near as good.

"Sing something else. Sing 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'."

I obliged, and she seemed to love that, too.

"I don't think I should write the vocal melody," Haylie announced. "I think you should do it."
"Hell no!" I said, horrified. I'd never attempted songwriting properly in my life, so how was I supposed to write a whole melody by myself -- singing?
"You can sing perfectly fine, Gerard. And I'm sure your songwriting will be great. I never had a lesson in it, remember?"
"How did you know I was thinking that?" I said, confused.

Haylie laughed. "I can read you like a book!"
"So you say."
"Come on, Gerard. You're a much better singer than I am, and I wrote the lyrics. You have to chip in at some point."
"Fine!" I said, irritated.

Haylie looked at me, her piercing blue eyes sparkling, and flung her arms around me.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she whispered in my ear, sending little electric shocks through my body. "But thank you, thank you, thank you!"

She drew back, and returned, business-like, to her work.

"Here are the lyrics. I'll play the chords."
"OK..."

Closing my eyes, I heard power chords blasting out of the guitar with more force than I could have summoned if my life depended on it, and smiled. Haylie was great at the guitar.

I thought about the lyrics, and how Haylie must have felt as she wrote the words -- how used, betrayed, and self-doubting she must have felt -- and tried to force myself into that state of mind.

It was far too easy.

At that moment I despised myself. I wanted to hurt myself, make myself bleed, take some sort of revenge on myself. Everything bad that had ever happened to me, everything that I liked to blame other people for, had happened for a reason.

I opened my eyes and sang the lyrics -- trying, with every ounce of my heart and soul, to force someone else to fel the same way as Haylie did... as I did.

We reached the chorus, the key changing, and I sang in a higher octave, the notes sliding over the chords, smooth and sweet as syrup; I returned to the loud, heart-wrenchingly painful noise of the verses; eventually the song ended.

I sat, limp on the floor, shaking. My throat burned, and hot tears stung my eyes. Looking at Haylie, I saw that she was crying, too.

"Oh, Gerard," she murmured, leaning over and wrapping her arms around me. I couldn't help but wish I deserved this, that I deserved to be happy. That I deserved Haylie.

We sat there for what seemed like hours, shivering in spite of the warmth of my bedroom, the salty tears that rained down my face drenching both of us. Yet they brought, at the time, relief: Iknew that at last someone understood me, someone could feel the way I did, someone cared about me. Whether I deserved it or not, being accepted for once in my life was so incredible I hardly dared to acknowledge it.

I clung to Haylie, as though I never wanted to let go.
*
Chapter Nine
"Think happy thoughts!"
--"Headfirst For Halos", I Brought You My Bullets

"You OK, Gerard?" I asked him on the school steps at lunch. He smiled weakly back at me.
"Yeah... fine."

He looked terrible: his face was paler than a ghost, except from under his eyes, where the shadows were clearer than ever, giving him a sickly, gaunt appearance.

"Where've you two been for the last couple of days?" Cassie demanded. "I've been calling both of you, and neither of you are ever home."
"Uh, we've been working on a song," I replied, shooting Gerard a sidelong glance.
"Oh, can I help?" Frank chimed in, excitedly.
"What, are you into music?" Gerard looked surprised.
"Yeah, I love Black Flag and The Misfits. And I play guitar," Frank said, looking proud.
"No way!" Cassie exclaimed. "I gotta hear you play sometime!"
"How about now?" Gerard suggested, and the three of us looked at him, to his slight embarassment. "Well, we could all, like, go into one of the music rooms and practise our song?"
"Great idea," I agreed. "Cassie, what will you do?"
"Uh, I guess I'll play the drums," she said, after a moment's pause. "I'm not that good, but if I make a mistake, it's 'cause I'm hardcore, OK?"
"OK," Frank said, laughing a little, and we proceeded to enter the school building.

The disused music room was dusty, small and damp; in the corner there was a cheap set of drums, and a couple of scratched guitars. I pulled my thick notebook from my bag, and laid the sheets of scribbled notes out where I could see them, in complete organised chaos, as Frank tuned one of the broken guitars, Cassie styled her hair, and Gerard stood around awkwardly.

"Has anyone seen my pen?" I asked absently, rifling through the papers.
"Who cares about your goddamn pen? I've just lost my hair tie!" Cassie yelled hysterically. "It's gone! Deceased! I'll never find another one like it! IT WAS MY LUCKY HAIR TIE! I think I'll go and kill myself!"
"No, don't kill yourself, honey!" Frank held her so tightly it looked as though she were being suffocated, and kissed her lightly.
"Love is blind," I muttered, causing Gerard to crack up laughing.

"Anyway, how will I set this up? Will I write the chords down for you?" I asked Frank, who unglued his lips from Cassie's to reply, "Yeah, that would be easiest."
"What am I going to play?" Cassie whined.
"Wait," I told her, as I sat down in front of the drums with a sheet of paper, and began to pick out a simple rhythm, scrawling over the paper with my pen (which I had thankfully found at last).

After showing her what to play, and handing her the sheet of paper, I rose from the drum kid. "OK, Frank," I said loudly, and he spun around, his arms raised.
"What did I do?" he squeaked.

I rolled my eyes.

"Play the chorus parts for the intro, remember that I've written some extra guitar parts for me to play, so just do what I've laid out for you and don't freak out. The vocals start in after the intro, too."
"Yessir," he said, and when I glared at him ominously, added, "I mean, ma'am."
"And Gerard--" his eyes met mine, and I knew instantly that he understood what to do -- "Yeah, you know what you're doing. So after four, start the drumbeat, OK? One, two, three, four..."

The sound of the drums was pounding, loud and repetitive. Frank's guitar kicked in: the powerful, aggressive chord progression I'd worked so hard on was played flawlessly.

And then Gerard's voice came in.

Instantly, shivers went up and down my spine; I was trembling at the sound of his beautiful voice and the dark, chilling melody, cutting through the air like a knife, and piercing my heart like an arrow. Distracted, I played my parts on the guitar, as the chorus kicked in. His voice rose higher, so that it almost hurt to listen to: my own voice seemed feeble and emotionless as it joined his in harmony. In harmony. How I wished Gerard and I could be together, in harmony, forever...

I loved this -- loved the way it sounded, loved the way each lyric and piece of melody Gerard and I had worked over so painstakingly, had come together to create something even more breathtaking. Gerard's voice was unlike anyone's I'd ever heard; Frank really was an incredible guitarist, his fingers moving like lightning between frets, occasionally adding notes or chords I had not thought of or had not the skill to play; Cassie, although not outstanding, kept the rhythm reasonably well, especially considering she had never heard the song before. The words that had come in a fit of rage, accompanied by uncontrollable tears, took on a whole new perspective that I had never managed to see.

The song came to a close, leaving me breathless and absolutely full to the brim with adrenaline.

"OH MY GOD! THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!" I screeched, running round the tiny music room twice in celebration.
"We should try and get a gig somewhere," Frank agreed seriously.

Cassie looked thoughtful, for once. "I think they were looking for bands to play at this club in a few weeks. I could phone up and see what they say."
"Cool," said Gerard, although he seemed misty and faraway.
"I can't wait," said Frank, and then we each departed.
*
The house was quite dark; deafening, synthesized music pumped out of the speakers, blaring and repetitive, making me feel sick and light-headed. Boys jumped around, most of them already drunk, while girls whispered and giggled and gossiped and bitched in little groups, all clad in skimpy short skirts, make-up plastering their faces. Why did I agree to come to this party?

I stood alone. Or so I'd thought, until Joel crept up behind me and kissed me on the cheek.

"Hey, babe! Do you want something to drink?" Joel asked. I could see the euphoria of the party shining in his eyes, and sighed. Immature little boys like him were so easily occupied.

"OK," I replied, thinking that I may as well drown my sorrows.

He sauntered off, then returned with a couple of vodkas. As I sipped at mine, my mind strayed. I wished I'd never come, and was back home, listening to music, with the comfort of my duvet, gently drifting off to sleep; or else at Gerard's, where we could sit on his bedroom floor, just him and me, writing songs and talking -- talking properly, debating and asking questions and discussing -- not the sort of mindless small-talk people made at parties.

On cue, Joel asked me, "Are you enjoying yourself?"

Inwardly I groaned, loathing having to waste my breath on him.

"It's all right."
"Do you like this song?"
"Not really."

I finished my vodka, and he filled another glass for me.

"Still into all that heavy metal?"
"It's not heavy metal."
"What is it then?"
"Hardcore."
"What's that?"
"Like punk, but more aggressive. More screaming and shit."
"Ah, see. But how can you like listening to screaming?"
"'Cause it's awesome."
"Why?"
"God, you ask a lot of questions."
"Sorry. But why?"
"It's emotional."
"Right."
"You wouldn't understand."
"Why not?"
"You listen to, like, dance music."
"So?"
"It's not that emotional, is it?"
"No. But it's fun."
"Exactly."
"I don't get it."
"I wouldn't expect you to."
"Huh?"

I rolled my eyes, and realised I'd finished another vodka. Joel pushed his towards me, but I hesitated for a moment. It probably wasn't a good idea to get drunk, but right now Joel was irritating me so much I could care less.

"Like the vodka then?"
"It's all right."
"Do you drink alcopops?"
"No."
"Really?"
"Really."
"Why not?"
"'Cause they are completely full of sugar."
"So? They taste good. And they get you drunk."
"No they don't. They're weird colours and they taste odd."
"So what's your poison then?"
"I don't drink usually."
"You're drinking now."
"You noticed."
"Uh-huh. But why?"
"'Cause I've got nothing else better to do."
"It's a party!"
"And?"
"You should get up and dance."
"You have got to be fucking kidding me, dude."
"Aww, why not? I bet you look sexy when you dance."
"I wouldn't put money on it."

I started to feel slightly dizzy, and the feeling was increasing with every sip of vodka I took.

"Come on, dance with me."
"Hell, no."
"Hell, yes."
"FINE!"

Joel led me to the centre of the room, and we began to dance. The dim lights of the house blurred and flashed. I felt delirious. Delirious. I bounced and twirled and giggled, my head whirling, feeling great, but in a strange way -- as if I wasn't really me. As if I was more like one of those slutty, whispering girls, that seemed to have so much more confidence. They lived for today, and didn't care about tomorrow.

"See, I knew you could dance," I heard Joel say; I glanced up at him, and suddenly he looked quite attractive again. On an impulse, I leant forward and kissed him, opening my mouth slowly until my tongue was on his. I pulled away, and he looked down at me complacently, grabbing my waist.

"Let's get out of here," he muttered out of the side of his mouth, and I let him whisk me away.
*
Chapter Ten
"Sometimes I think I'll die alone,
I think I'd love to die alone"
-"Cubicles", I Brought You My Bullets...

GERARD'S P.O.V.
The day was a clear, bright blue, the sun set in a strikingly cloudless sky; it was almost like a scene from a painting, the streets bathed in gentle, cascading yellow light that glittered especially where yesterday's puddles of rain had been; although it was ruined by the cars speeding past, their colours metallic and manufactured-looking, and the litter that lined the pavements.

I scanned the window of the comic book store, but realised with a disappointed sigh that there was nothing new in this week. As I meandered aimlessly, lost in my thoughts, my vague half-formed dreams and my fantasies, I noticed that two boys I recognised from my homeroom were here, laughing and jostling carelessly, the way I wished I could. One of them, to my surprise, acknowledged my existence in saying to me, "Hey, Gerard, still hanging with that Haylie chick?"
"Uh, yeah, why?" I replied.
"Seen these photographs yet?" he asked, disregarding my question.
"What photographs?"

The other guy dug them out of his pocket, and I stared.

What. The. Fuck.

Picture after picture of Haylie, posing as though she were modelling for a porn magazine, giggling, and in a couple of them, topless. They looked as though they had been taken with a cheap disposable camera. It was definitely her -- I couldn't mistake those startlingly blue eyes -- but...

The two idiots chortled.

"It was at that party a few nights ago. You should have seen her dancing. What a slut."
"Who gives a fuck? She's fucking hot!"

I handed them back, feeling sickened. What a slut...

The Haylie I knew, who read feminist novels, and loved Morrissey, and listened to hardcore, and said I was great at art, would never do that, not in a million years. Had I misjudged her? Was she, in fact, just the same as every other girl her age -- desperate enough for a boyfriend that she would take her clothes off?
*
"Hey, Gerard," Haylie greeted me.
"Hi," I said coldly and indifferently, and was pleased to see a look of shock and hurt flash briefly across her face. "Have a good time at that party the other night?"
"Yeah, it wasn't bad." Then comprehension dawned. God, she was so slow. "Wait, I never told you I was going to a pa--"
"You didn't need to," I told her icily. "I've seen the photos."
"Oh my God -- look, Gerard, that was a mistake--" she said, stumbling over her words. It was obvious she was lying.
"No it wasn't. How could it have been? You can't just accidentally do something like that, so stop acting like you didn't do anything wrong--"
"You don't understand, I was drunk--"
"Haylie, you don't drink!"
"But I--"
"I'm not listening to any more of this bullshit!" I said, raising my voice. "I get it! You go off with your boyfriend and have a good time. There's no need to pretend you care about me, so stop being such a hypocrite!"
"Why are you so determined to hate me?" Haylie shouted back, her voice shaking slightly. "If you'd just let me explain--"
"No, Haylie. There's nothing to explain. So just leave me alone."

And with that, I stormed off.
*
I was wrong. She's not the girl I thought she was. She's just like everyone else. I was completely alone, again. And I knew I deserved it.

I walked into school every morning and no-one noticed. Sometimes I thought if I tried to blow up the school no-one would notice. No-one would notice, and no-one would care.

Not even me.
*
I thought it was around three in the afternoon, but I couldn't be sure. I was lying in bed, suffering from the worst headache I'd ever had in my life, probably due to the fact I'd done nothing the day before except get so pissed I'd thrown up four times within the space of ten minutes.

There was a knock at the door.

"Gerard? Are you awake?" I heard Mikey quietly ask.
"Yeah..." I said, lifting my head slightly. Mikey crept in, gently closing the door behind him.
"Hey, dude," I said weakly.
"Hi," said Mikey.

Then he looked at me properly.

"Whoa, dude -- are you OK?"
"Yes, I'm fine," I said through gritted teeth, wishing people wouldn't keep asking me that.
"We're worried about you. It's been five days, and you're sat up here every night, getting drunk. Something's wrong."
"No, really, I'm OK," I protested.
"Aw, come on, dude. If something's happened, you can tell me," Mikey said.

I considered. But really, what was there to tell?

"Is it about that Haylie chick?"

My head snapped up at the mention of her name.

"No!" I said, a little too quickly. "Honestly, don't worry about me, OK?"
"So are you coming out of your room then?"
"Yeah. In a minute."

I watched Mikey leave the room. He was such a good brother, and he had no idea how much it meant to me that he was there. I didn't deserve it. I didn't deserve all the love I got.

I looked at my reflection in the mirror, thinking of Haylie, and how I'd never get to tell her how beautiful she was; how her hair fell like shimmering, glossy, black satin; her eyes, pale blue and penetrating, saw straight through me; her lips, sweet and vivacious, would never touch my skin.

It was all my fault. Everything was my fault. I hated myself so much. Would it be better for the world if I died?

Honestly, Mikey. You really need to listen to me. Because I'm telling you the truth. I mean this. I'm OK.

I'm not OK, I'm not OK, I'm not OK...
*
Chapter Eleven
"Give me all your poison,
And give me all your pills,
And give me all your hopeless hearts to make me ill"
--"Thank You For The Venom", Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge

HAYLIE'S P.O.V.
What had I done?

Gerard loathed me now, and I could blame him, as I had rushed without thinking, as usual -- it was all my own fault for getting so drunk. Why had I not forseen this? Of course Joel would force me to do something like that, he was a sexist asshole: that I knew for certain. He had unknowingly ruined my life, when I was just beginning to live it to the full.

The pale grey light of afternoon flooded in from my bedroom window, illuminating the dark, bare violet walls, plain and dull in comparison to the busy, colourful, eye-catching walls of Gerard's room. I felt a stabbing pain in my chest as I realised I would probably never see those walls again; and as I sat on the cold, uncomfortable wooden floorboards, I played a set of mournful, broken chords on my guitar, a single, lonely tear dripping down my cheek, wondering what I was going to do now.

"Anna -- Haylie -- living room. Now. I have some important family news!" Mum called.

I sat up, an ominous feeling drenching me, hearing Anna rush from room to room in a fever of excitement. However, I took my time. "Important family news" was the phrase Mum usually chose when telling us we were moving to a new place, and she hadn't used it in years. Hoping it was something good, I entered the living room, to see Mum poised on the edge of the sofa, restlessly tapping her foot, a gleam of anticipation in her eyes.

"OK, I've got some really great news," she began, her face breaking into a wide smile as she paused for suspense. "I got a job!"

Neither Anna nor I congratulated her. Mum looked rather hurt.

"Well, isn't that a good thing?"
"A job where?" I asked suspiciously.
"Not that far, just Lodi. You'll have to go to a new school and everything. But doesn't one of those rock bands you're always going on about come from there? What's the name... er..."
"The Misfits!" I interrupted loudly, though that wasn't really the reason for my anger.
"Mum, I thought we were done travelling!" Anna whined.
"But we're not travelling, really, darling--"
"Yes, we are!" I said furiously. "Now that Anna and I have FINALLY had a chance to fit in, and love this place and the people, you run off and get a job somewhere else without telling us. How could you be so SELFISH?"
"But darling, I thought you said you hated Belleville--"
"Fuck that! We'd just gotten used--"
"Language, Haylie!"
"I DON'T CARE!" I screamed, turning sharply on my heel and stomping to my bedroom, taking care to slam the door. As I collapsed on my bed, I began to cry in earnest, tears burning, my whole body shaking as I howled into my pillow. Why was the world so against me?

Because of what I had done, Gerard was never going to speak to me again. Because of my mother, I'd be lucky if I ever got to see is face again. I cried harder as I thought of Gerard: artistic, talented, clever, kind -- and all I'd ever done to him was hurt him. That was how he'd always remember me: the stupid, lying slut. And it hurt more as I realised just how much I loved him.
*
"Hey, Joel."
"'Sup, baby?"
"Don't call me that!"
"Sorry."
"Look, can you meet me at the park? I seriously have to talk to you."
"Why? Is there anything wrong?"
"I'll tell you when I see you."
"OK... later, I guess."
*
Joel arrived at the park, flashing me a winning smile, which I scornfully ignored.

"OK, Joel."
"What is it, honey?"
"Look, I'm sorry about this, all right?" I began, not quite knowing what I was about to say. How, exactly, was I supposed to tell him that thanks to him, my life was now a complete mess, and I could hardly stand the sight of him anymore?

"You see, my family are moving soon. And you know those pictures the other night--"
"Yeah," Joel said, grinning enthusiastically. "That was awesome!"

A spark of anger flared inside me.

"No, it fucking wasn't. That was vile, sexist and disgusting. And I'm not a model, I don't even get paid for that stuff. And the way you treat girls really gets on my nerves," I continued, fully aware I was beginning to rant. "It's like all you ever want to do is have sex with us, and we're just meant to go along with it, because we're girls -- like we're inferior to you or something, like we can't think for ourselves. Well, here's a lesson for you -- we can."
"Sweetheart, you don't understand--"

Before he could say anything else, I slapped him in the face, with as much force as I could possibly muster. He stumbled back, staring at my in shock as he clutched the side of his face, which was a bright, stinging red.

"I'm not your sweetheart anymore," I told him quietly, "and yes, I do understand. So go and fuck yourself. I guess now no-one else will."

With that, I stalked out of the park, my head held high, adrenaline pumping through my veins, feeling that at last, I had done something right.
*
Chapter Twelve
"Wouldn't it be grand to take a pistol by the hand,
And wouldn't it be great if we were dead?"
--"Dead!", The Black Parade

GERARD'S P.O.V.
I didn't need Haylie.
I didn't need anyone.
I was going to die alone.

I had begun working on my comic properly; my cluttered desk was now even more crowded and disorganised due to the character sketches and notes that lay in random heaps, and the pens, crayons and chalks that were scattered across the top. Currently I was trying to draw the scene during which the main character (David) discovered that his best friend (Marie) was a vampire. It had taken me hours to draw up Marie: somehow, she would never look exactly the way I'd have liked her to.

I took out a fresh sheet of blank paper, and laid it on my desk top on the only clear space, and there it stayed: pure, white, untouched and unmarked.

Why couldn't I draw?

I had thought that Haylie was different. I was wrong. Why couldn't I get over this? It was completely trivial, and I knew I had overreacted, but I couldn't figure out why. Why? Why did I care so much? When did I get so fucking neurotic? And why did I keep asking myself these questions? I hated myself, hated thinking about myself -- so why was it all I could ever seem to do?

I walked slowly to the other side of the room, to where the dresser was.

And on top of the dresser was a small, square box of razor blades.

I fingered the box thoughtfully. Was I really prepared to leave everything behind, to black out, to die, to never see my family again? Would they even care that much? Or did I just want someone to pay attention to me for once?

Probably, I answered myself. But then, that was me: Gerard Way, the loner, the reject, the outcast. The one who always wanted attention. And when he got it, he threw it away.

Hesitantly, I slid a blade from the box, and began to trace lightly along the vein of my wrist, not heavily enough to make a cut. My heart raced, as I pondered what happen if I cut deeply enough. I imagined Mom or Dad or Mikey, coming to check if I was OK, only to find me lying limply, icy cold, my lips white, the floor stained with blood. Wryly, I thought of school, of my classmates' reactions when they heard I had committed suicide. I imagined their expressions of guilt mixed with their somewhat vindictive smiles. I imagined Haylie's face, and a lump grew in my throat: the dull ache I had been filled with for over a week flooded back, and I dug slightly deeper into my wrist.

With some satisfaction, I watched as the blood gathered in the wound: then, slowly, a large red droplet appeared, and dribbled down my outstretched arm, bright against the pallor of my skin.

All of a sudden, the door banged open, revealing Mikey standing there: I jumped, and dropped the razor blade, which fell quietly to the carpeted floor.

"Hey, Gerard, do you-- oh."

He saw the dark blood trickling from my wrist, and a cold silence dawned, as Mikey sat on my bed, looking up at me with an earnest, serious, concerned expression behind his glasses. I squeezed my eyes shut as I felt the tears well up. There were still so many tears I hadn't cried...

Finally, Mikey spoke.

"Gerard," he said softly, in an understanding tone well above his years, that made me loathe myself even more for assuming that he did not care. "Gerard, I think you're going to have to see someone about this."

I did not reply, but opened my eyes to look at him. Was this what I wanted? Was it? Someone to pay attention to me and try to fix me? Did I want to see psychiatrists and therapists and other people who would treat me as though I were crazy? Was crazy really what I was?

"No," I said, and it came out as a hoarse whisper. "Or at least, not yet. Please... let's wait a while."

And then, I was in tears again, and Mikey's arm was around me, as I silently cried and cried, pouring my heart out to him without words.

"Hey," he said quietly in my ear. "Are you ready to tell me what's wrong now?"

So I did. I told him everthing -- even things I would never tell another living soul, things that were buried so deep down that even I had some trouble digging them up. I told him how much I disliked myself, how I wished I wasn't a loner, how I didn't have any natural talent; I told him everything about Haylie, how I had felt about her -- how I still felt about her -- how she could always make me smile, how she'd run off with her boyfriend and become a slut, leaving me all alone, the misunderstood teenager, who only ever wanted someone to love him.

"Well," said Mikey finally. "I think there must have been some sort of mistake with Haylie. She didn't seem like the kind of chick that would do that."
"But she admitted it herself!" I argued.
"I know, but maybe she really was drunk."
"I doubt it," I said pessimistically.
"And Gerard, you have no reason to hate yourself. We all love you. You know that, right?"
"Right," I said, unconvinced.
"No, honestly, Gerard."

I looked at him, and he shifted his glasses slightly further up his nose, as he gazed back at me solemnly.

"You have always been there for us. You are great at art and music, way better than me -- and you are such a good person. We love you, Gerard. Don't hate yourself, please. We love you the way you are."
*
Life, in general, began to seem a little kinder after that day.

My comic, though still unfinished, was beginning to get somewhere, as I had succeeded in drawing and writing the dialogue for the first couple of pages, which basically set the scene, and was from the vampires' point of view. The colours were all dark purples, greys and blues, heavily outlined to set an eerie tone. Marie was definitely not a vampire in the "traditional" sense; she looked exactly like an average, fairly pretty teenage girl -- yet every night she crept into the houses of the neighbourhood, and sucked the children's blood. It was not without a sense of regret that I looked upon her dramatically blood-stained, white face, for she closely resembled Haylie. Haylie...

No.

I didn't need Haylie.
I didn't need anyone.
I was going to die alone.
*
Chapter Thirteen
"You're not in this alone,
Let me break this awkward silence,
Let me go,
Go on record,
Be the first to say I'm sorry,
Hear me out"
--"Skylines and Turnstiles", I Brought You My Bullets...

I couldn't stand feeling like this: almost as if my soul had been smashed into a thousand, splintering pieces. I wondered why I cared so much. Though I was now certain I loved Gerard, I was equally certain I didn't need him to get on with my life: hadn't I always been the first to argue that women did not need a male partner to complete them, that they could be whole, healthy individuals, alone, or with each other? But the thought of packing my possessions into those all-too-familiar, labelled cardboard boxes, stripping the house of character until it was bare, empty and cold, without so much as a polite goodbye from the only one I'd ever loved, knowing I was never going to see him or speak to him again, overwhelmed me until I was choking with sorrow.

I thought about visiting Gerard and trying to explain myself. It seemed almost impossible. He thought I was a whore and a liar, and I knew he probably didn't ever want to see my face again. Yet I still wanted to see him, so, so much -- even to snatch a glimpse of him for a second before he slammed the door in my face.

If only I'd had the sense to dump Joel earlier -- we might have had months together, and when I left, I could visit his house on weekends, I could look at his drawings, and he could listen to my songs. I dared indulge myself in the fantasy of what could have been if I'd told him about all of my feelings for him. For a time, I could have sworn he felt the same way.
*
I knocked at the door, tentatively.

Mikey answered, and welcomed me inside with an easy smile.

"Gerard's up in his room," he told me cheerfully. "I'll just get him."

Forcing myself to take deep, calming breaths, I waited patiently in the hall, trying not to think about what I was about to do, but in the back of my mind, a small voice nagged: what if he rejected me? Would I really be able to carry on as normal, or would I be so deeply wounded I might never be healed again? What if he didn't speak to me? What if he laughed at me? Oh, why did I even trouble myself to come in the first place?

"Here he is," said Mikey brightly, bringing me back from my "what-ifs" with a start.

Gerard looked the same as ever, albeit slightly paler, the dark circles under his eyes blacker than ever. For a moment, neither of us spoke, but simply stared, taking in each others' appearance.

To my surprise, he broke the quiet.

"Hey."
"Hi," I replied, unsure of myself. Gerard surveyed me a little longer.
"You look like shit," he bluntly informed me.

I supposed I did. I hadn't eaten very much in days, and I wasn't totally sure when the last night I had slept had been, or even whether I'd remembered to comb my hair that morning. Nowadays, everything passed in a hazy blur: it was as if I was not really living life -- just going through the motions.

"I know," I said.
"What are you doing here?"

Carefully, I replied, "Uh, I just came to see if you were OK."
"Well, I'm OK," he snapped defiantly.
"I'm not. I expect you must think I'm just a skank now."

Gerard said nothing, but the contemptuous look on his face confirmed that he most certainly did.

"Look, you've got to hear me out. Please. This is all a misunderstanding--"
"How is it a misunderstanding? You went off with your boyfriend and he took slutty pictures of you. That is all I need to know. I understand perfectly."
"He is NOT my boyfriend!"

Pause.

"What?"

Tears in eyes, heart in mouth, I continued.

"Right after you stopped talking to me, I told Joel I hated him because he tried to use me, and I broke up with him. I should have done it ages ago. I just didn't want to be alone."
"But you wouldn't have been alone," Gerard intervened unexpectedly. "You would have had me."
"Would I?"

Gerard went quiet, staring determinedly at the ground. Moving closer to him, I repeated in a voice barely above a whisper, "Would I?"

I couldn't see his eyes; they were hidden by his mop of straight black hair. If I drew ever-so-slightly closer, I would be able to feel his skin and taste the kiss of his lips that looked so, so soft...

"Were you really drunk when you took those pictures, or did you make that up?" he said, swallowing as though he was trying very hard not to cry.
"I honestly was, Gerard. I was depressed and he kept buying me vodka--"

I was not sure exactly what happened next: all I knew was that I was enveloped in his arms, breathing him in, sobbing.

Wishing, hoping, praying that everything was going to be all right.
*
Chapter Fourteen
"I'll never let them hurt you,
I promise"
--"Vampires Will Never Hurt You," I Brought You My Bullets...

GERARD'S P.O.V.
Things had become intensely awkward between Haylie and I lately. The only time I ever felt as though she was being truly open with me was the cramped, dingy music room that we liked to call our "practice studio"; since we had been reconciled, we had begun working together again, on our songs. Then, her eyes were alight with enthusiasm, happiness and excitement, though it always dulled as the practice came to an end. Ever since our fight, and ever since her mother had told her they would be moving, she had never been quite the same.

Her family were leaving for the small town of Lodi, home to one of Haylie's many favourite bands: The Misfits. I would have thought that this was a good thing, however Haylie's usually colourful, lively presence now seemed darkened, as if a stormy rain-cloud was permanently following her: she flinched at the mere mention of her mother, or of her leaving.

"We're moving. To Lodi," she had told me in a flat, dull tone.
"Oh," I said. There was an uncomfortable pause.

"Well, I'll be sorry to see you go," I lamely said, and an expression of derision flashed across her countenance. I wondered when she had become so apathetic. With all my heart, I wished for the old Haylie back: ever-cheerful, slightly coquettish, talkative Haylie, with an occasionally cynical sense of humour and a sharp, witty tongue. The only time I ever saw the old Haylie was when we were playing our song; then she would instantly come back to life, and I would remember why I fell in love with her in the first place.

At one of these practices, she seemed especially mirthful.

"I got us a gig! Well, kind of!" Cassie announced proudly.
"What do you mean?" I frowned.
"Well, this club are having a sort of show with loads of different bands playing. They only get a short slot for one or two songs though, so we're all right," she clarified.
"What did you say our band name was?" Frank queried.
"Well, I said it was 'Haylie's Pointless Shitty Musical Project'... the dude on the phone laughed..."
"That's awesome," Haylie said, chuckling. I hadn't heard her laugh for what felt like months.
"Holy shit, we'd better practise," I said seriously. "When is the gug?"
"Saturday, nine-fifteen."

Five days.

"That's the day before we leave," said Haylie, although she seemed, for once, quite unperturbed by the thought: her cheeks were flushed with excitement as she added fervently, "Oh my God, I can't wait!"
"Me neither!" exclaimed Frank. "I haven't had a gig in ages!"

All of us rolled our eyes at each other. Frank had played in more bands than any of us, and regularly went to gigs, either to see or to perform, whereas Cassie, Haylie and I did not know too much about rock shows; all three of us got irritated from time to time with Frank's almost pitying manner as he recounted his experiences.

"Gerard, what the hell am I going to do? I couldn't sing these harmonies if my life depended on it!"

Haylie was freaking out, as usual.

"You can sing them fine. You wrote them, remember?"
"But I just sound stupid compared with you--"
"No, you don't," I soothed her. "I think your only problem is that you're not putting enough emotion into your voice. Try singing the chorus now, OK?"

She sang it, hitting each note with amazing precision, skill and execution, but precious little feeling or colour.

"See? I suck," she said, desperately.
"No you don't. You're a great singer. But just try again and don't concentrate so much on what it sounds like. Think about the lyrics. Think about how you felt when you wrote them. Understand?"
"Uh-huh."

This time, she sang it differently. Although she missed a couple of the lower notes, and was not breathing strictly from her diaphragm, it sounded raw, painful and full of emotion; there was something more heartfelt about it that I could not quite place.

"Was that better?" she asked hopefully. I smiled at her, and our eyes locked for the first time in weeks: we had a moment of understanding, and nothing could touch us then.
"Way better."

Cassie and Frank had been watching us with interest.

"You know, you two would make a really cute couple," Cassie observed.

Immediately, the awkwardness returned, and we hastily broke eye contact.

"OK, let's go!" Haylie briskly called, as the song began.
*
HAYLIE'S P.O.V.
We were about to do it.

I tuned my guitar, my fingers trembling with excitement. For weeks now, I had refused, point-blank, to communicate with my mother, resulting in countless restrictions, rules and punishments, all of which I had managed to break. I had not wanted to live in the real world: it hurt too much, so that half the time, I was so lost in memories, regrets, fantasies and imaginings that I was hardly aware of my surroundings. At this moment, I wanted to stay here, now, with my friends, my music, in the place I couldn't bear the thought of leaving.

Frank and Cassie were wedged tightly together in the corner of the room, holding hands and speaking together in low voices. Gerard was pacing restlessly, looking terrified,

"I can't fucking believe I'm about to do this," I heard him say.
"Dude, calm down!" I said laughingly. "It's just one song, OK? No big deal. We'll be fine."
"You will. You're not completely shit at everything," he retorted.

I stood up, and grabbed hold of his shoulders, my fingers digging in sharply.

"Gerard. You are talented. You are the best singer I know. You are the best artist I know. You are not shit, by any stretch of the imagination. Do you hear me?"
"Yes," he said quietly, staring at his feet.
"Look at me, Gerard."

Unwillingly, he met my eyes.

"Never, ever talk about yourself like that again. OK?"
"OK."

I heard Frank chortle from the corner, "Like you can talk!" and, imitating me in a high-pitched voice, "I suck at singing! Boo hoo! Nobody likes me!"

I let go of Gerard's shoulders, turned round, and gave Frank the evils.

The club owner stuck his head round the door. He was a small, tubby, middle-aged man with greying hair, and an irritable temper.

"You're on nect, so you better hurry up and get your shit together!" he hissed, and before we could reply, he had slammed the door shut.

"Jeez! What's his problem?" Cassie wondered, amidst our nervous giggles.
*
GERARD'S P.O.V.
It was dark on stage.
A few white lights shone.
The crowd cheered.

I grabbed hold of the microphone, swallowing, and called out with more confidence than I felt inside, "Are you all enjoying yourselves?"

The crowd yelled YES.

"Well, here's a little song we've got for you, it's called 'The Strange Cross-Way'!"

I heard the familiar drum intro. The smooth, and yet aggressive power chords.

One, two, three, four.

I began to sing.

I sang it for everyone who was like me. Everyone who had been used. Everyone who had ever hated.

I sang it for Mikey, who had helped me through: the only person who'd never let me down.

And most of all, I sang it for Haylie.

Each lyric had a meaning.

I saw Haylie and Joel, Joel and Haylie. Joel's friends, with their crude comments and childish wolf-whistling. Joel arguing with Haylie, trying to take her further than she really wanted. Joel's photographs flickered through my mind. Joel, sneering. "Don't take any notice of him. He's just a retarded goth dude."

Anger rose in my chest, uncoiling, twisting and spitting like a serpent. I realised I was moving, running across the stage, almost screaming the words to anyone who would listen. Frank was jumping, twirling and rolling around in time to the music, with remarkable energy, still not missing a single note or chord. Haylie was less wild, but had a certain dark glamour, her long black hair whipping across her white face as she played her parts and sang the loud, clashing harmonies. Cassie's drumbeat was precise, perfect, rhythmic and driving, as always; I caught sight of her face as I turned to the other side of the crowd: she was obviously wrapped up in the music, her face damp with sweat and tears.

The last chorus had kicked in, with a loud, raging euphoria it had never achieved during the practice sessions. Haylie yelled the last lines of the song:

"'Cause after all, that's what I'm here to get,
Standing at this cross-way pretending you won't forget--"

The last chord was struck. Cassie brought her drumstick upon the cymbal with an almighty crash.

Deadly quiet.

Then, without warning, the room erupted with screams, cheers and explosive applause. I looked out at the shadowed crowd and felt tears pricking my eyes as I saw the people jumping up and down. We'd done it. We really had.

The four of us fled backstage.

"THAT WAS AMAZING!!" Cassie shouted, completely hyperactive with adrenaline.
"Unbelievable," Frank smiled.

Haylie seemed too overwrought to speak, her eyes an even brighter blue, twinkling as they caught the light. The stormy rain cloud had vanished. I restrained myself from sweeping her up in my arms, then and there; and a drop of bitterness was added to my cup of joy as I realised that all too soon, I'd have to say goodbye to her for the very last time.
*
Chapter Fifteen
"I held you close as we both shook,
For the last time take a good hard look"
-"I'm Not Okay (I Promise)", Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge

HAYLIE'S P.O.V.
The parking lot was almost completely silent, lit only by the soft glow of the moon through the wispy, blackening clouds. A chill wind swept us as Gerard and I stood outside the entrance of the club, enjoying the gentle, peaceful contentment after the last of the adrenaline had drained away. It was still difficult to take in that we had managed to bare our souls to the world without their being brutally ripped apart, even after all we'd been through together.

Hesitantly, I broke the silence.

"Gerard?"
"Yeah?"

Choosing my words cautiously, I asked him, "When Joel took those photos of me... why did you care so much?"
"Well -- uh," he faltered, as he met my eyes. "I guess it just made it seem like you were just as desperate as all of the other girls, and it pissed me off. Not saying that all girls in general are desperate," he added hurriedly, when I raised an eyebrow, "I just think that some of the more slutty popular girls do that stuff all the time, and I, like, never want to see you in that way."

He looked so abashed and awkward that for a moment, I had to fight the impulse to kiss him.

"Let's go for a walk," I suggested. He readily agreed, and so we took off.

"You know," he said haltingly as we walked down the street, cars glinting and whizzing past, "when we argued I got so upset, that -- that --" he paused, and took a breath.
"That what?"
"That I cut my wrists," Gerard muttered, looking down.
"You did WHAT?"
"Not properly, I didn't really want to die. I guess I just wanted to get some attention, 'cause I was so sick of being alone. I'll do just about anything for attention," he rambled, as if trying to steer the conversation away from dangerous waters. "Once I jumped out the second floor of my house. All I managed to do was break my foot."

I stared at him, almost in tears.

"But, Gerard," I said softly, "didn't you realise I wouldn't be able to carry on without you?"

I wasn't sure who moved first, but the next thing I knew, I was kissing Gerard more passionately than I'd ever kissed anyone in my life. My heart beat faster as I took in the taste of his mouth, the way it felt -- as though our hearts were somehow knitting together: the way it felt as he gently pushed his fingers through my hair...

When we broke apart, breathless and excited, our eyes collided; we needed no words to describe the pure, unadulterated love that coursed between us, setting our souls alight with joy.
*
GERARD'S P.O.V.
Fingers trembling, I took her hand in mine, and without speaking, we strolled up the street.

We reached her house: an average, semi-detached place, not particularly unsightly, but not beautiful -- yet in the calm, quiet moonlight, the pale, rain-soaked garden roses glittered majestically, and the faint yellow light from the window smiled out at us in invitation.

I could see Haylie's face, flushed with exhilaration, as she plucked a rose from on of the bushes, her delicate white fingers curled around the dark, thorny stem.

"Take this," she implored, "and keep it for when I'm gone. You'll never lose me."

I clasped the hand in which she held the rose to my heart, and looked at her. Her lip was trembling as though she were about to cry, although her eyes were animated, the striking blue piercing me for a last time.

"Thank you," I said, and suddenly she kissed me again. I closed my eyes, wishing with everything I had left that this could last for ever. That we could last forever, even though I knew we couldn't.

And then she was gone, her black hair flowing in the cold air behind her as she hurried up the garden path, stealing a last glance at me before she closed the door behind her. Closed the door to our togetherness.

I twirled the rose betwee my fingers, tears forming involuntarily in my eyes, as Haylie's words echoed in my mind.

She had given me just a taste -- just enough to tantalise me, make me ache for more. I knew that as long as I lived, even if I never saw her again, I would never forget her and her capturing blue gaze. I would never lose her.

And she would never lose me.
*

THE END
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Mood: morbid
music: Saves The Day [Is Love]

bikerbabe Let's Get Lost - Chapter 1 Aug 1st, 2007 7:04:55 am - Subscribe
1.

‘Oh why don’t you all just piss off!’ I screamed at my mother and father before slamming the door in their faces. I toppled onto my bed and began thumping my pillow, while thinking up a suitable revenge for my little brother Joel. Pouring rat poison into his coke at dinner seemed about the only thing that came near justice. He just had to go off and tell mumsy that I wasn’t actually staying the weekend at Claire’s but was actually an invited guest to the local bands gig down in Edinburgh, therefore being grounded for the next 5 years of my life and my allowance now going down to nothing until they think I’ve learned a lesson. I never really have learned a lesson even though I’ve had about 50 different punishments in my whole life time. Even when I was 4 I remember my crayons being thrown in the bin for scribbling all over the newly painted living room wall, though I still got hold of Joel’s felt tips and drew squares all over my own wall. My brother was always the one that grassed me in if I done something against the house ‘rules’. Yeah, my mum and dad are that lame, they’ve made these rules that we have to follow otherwise there will be these thought provoking consequences. God they aren’t half shit! Who cares if I’m grounded for a month? I couldn’t really care less, it means that I’m gonna get away from the trolls that I call my friends for four weeks. They’ve even gone far enough to ban my use of the television which I can live without but it’s not something I’d want to lose for a while, especially since there’s a really good bit coming up in The O.C. My phone started beeping furiously and dancing across the table because of the vibrator. I picked it up and looked at the flashing name on the screen… Fiona. She was meant to be one of my best mates but she acted like my worst enemy at times, and sometimes I preferred her that way.
‘Hey?’ I answered trying to stop my voice showing that I really couldn’t be bothered talking to her.
‘Hey Haylie, fancy coming out? Kelly has managed to bump a couple of tenners off her dad so we’re planning and heading off to the off-licence to get bottles of cider and then we’re gonna crash at Debbie’s house. Coming along for the ride?’
‘I’m kinda busy the now Fiona…’ I replied slowly, summoning up a good enough excuse to keep me away from the drunken boys that followed us practically every night.
‘Yeah, doing what? Rearranging your sock drawer? You’re coming out, like it or lump it. We’ll be round for you in 30 minutes.’
‘Whatever Fi, give us 45 minutes, I’ve not even got any clothes on, just my pyjamas.’
‘Good, see you then’ She answered hastily, leaving me speaking to dead nothing. I sighed and pulled myself up from the bed, plucking at my best £50 jeans from Topshop. There was a butter stain on them from breakfast this morning but since I’ll probably puke myself into oblivion from the amount of alcohol I’ll be forced to drink there was no point changing. I think my social life had passed it expiry date long ago, drinking with sleazy chavvy boys really wasn’t my thing. And all these student parties we intended on crashing every weekend? That had to go too, all these guys talk about at the parties is Doctor Who and these girls way out of their league. It was so dire I would rather have jumped out the window and ran all the way to the police station and confessed that I drank alcohol at just 16. I rifled through my wardrobe to pick out something that would go with my ripped light blue jeans and came across a white top with gold swirls up and down the sleeves. I then sat down at my dressing table and began to work on my face. The dark circles under my eyes were from lack of sleep weren’t half annoying. Even cucumber wouldn’t get rid of them. I put concealer on the imperfections and began to work on my eyes, sweeping liquid eyeliner on my eyelids and under my eyes making me look like a modern Cleopatra. I looked at my phone and still had 30 minutes left till Fiona and company came round for me. I picked up my brush and wondered what to do with my hair. A while ago I had dyed part of my fringe a dark pink hoping to look like one of those punk girls, apart from only a few strands dyed pink instead of about 50. Instead the pink turned out red and made me look like I constantly had a bad hair day, which wasn’t too bad because I could just nick one of Joel’s beanies and shove it over my head and hope it covered my entire fringe. I decided against creeping into his room and hunting around for a decent looking beanie and started to straighten my jet black hair. After just 10 minutes the bell rang and I could hear a few girls laughing. I jumped out of my seat and ran down the stairs before my dad could reach the door and say that I wasn’t allowed out because I was caught disobeying the house rules. I would look such a geek if that happened and the weeks of teasing really wasn’t worth it. I pulled open the door and was greeted by Fiona, Kelly, Marc and Lauren.
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Mood: neglected
music: Damn Girl - Justin Timberlake

bikerbabe Let's Just Start Off With A Heartly Welcome.. Jul 26th, 2007 8:19:31 am - Subscribe
S O P H i E

Proffesional Writer Guys ;]
Here For Yuuh Lot 2 Recognise My Talent :}
Comments And Suggestions Are Gladly Welcome

Enjoy Babys x
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Mood: Annoyed
music: RHCP - Porcelain

x__vampire Introduction Jul 9th, 2007 12:22:30 pm - Subscribe
Greetings and salutations, my good friends. My name is Amber, and this is my new blog, upon which I plan to write fun entries and some My Chemical Romance fanfiction. Yes, I am aware of how sad writing My Chemical Romance fanfiction is; in fact, it causes me pain to dwell on my intensely nerdy fangirlness for too long, so I try not to do that too often.

Sooo.... have fun, my children.

xxxx cool.gif
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Mood: hyperactive
music: Fall Out Boy - FUCT