"Trust me, this is gonna be hilarious!" Mikey assured me, stifling his giggles as he pulled me into a crouching position behind a cupboard.
Besides for the two of us and Mikey's older brother Gerard, the Way house was empty. Mikey's parents had gone out for the night and Gerard was supposed to be "taking care" of the two of us. Fat chance with Mikey Way around.
Gerard was a little weird, no doubt about that. He never really spoke more than a few short words at a time and often in the middle of those rare words, he would just stop and stare off into space. Plus, every time I visited the Way house, he was always cooped up in his room. I had no idea what he did in there and whenever I asked Mikey, he just shrugged. I had never actually dared knock on Gerard's door to find out myself but I was willing to bet it was something all creative and artsy. At school, Gerard was always winning competitions. Whether it was for painting or for poetry, Gerard Way's name would be at the top of the list. Because of this and his silent attitude, people thought him to be a snob. It was actually that he was too shy to talk to people and he didn't like being the center of attention in any way but people didn't get that. Well, besides for me. I would rather die than admit it to Mikey but I had sort of had a crush on Gerard ever since he first said "Hi, I can I draw on your arms?" to me. (By the way, I had been about to agree when Mikey had jumped in and told him to buzz off.)
And this was why I felt uncomfortable doing what we were doing.
Mikey on the other hand, was bubbling with glee. He couldn't wait for Gerard to come out of the bathroom. Actually, neither could I but not because I wanted to see how Gerard reacted but just because I wanted to see how he looked…
"Why are we doing this again?" I whispered, as if there was actually time to stop it happening. I could already hear the shower being turned off so I knew it was too late.
"Because he jacked my USB key and deleted all my stuff to put some emo music junk on it." Mikey growled, balling his fists.
"What was on it that was so important?" I asked curiously.
Mikey grinned. "Oh nothing, it's just the principle."
Which is why I felt even more uncomfortable when I heard Gerard shriek from the bathroom. The door slammed open and although I couldn't see him, I imagined Gerard's eyes to be filled with fury and his lips turned down in a deathly scowl.
"MIKEY, WHAT THE HELL?!" he howled.
Laughing like a maniac, Mikey stood up and walked casually out from behind the cupboard. I scrambled after him and my breath caught in my chest. Gerard didn't look angry. He looked… freaked out.
His hazel eyes, so similar to mine, were wider than I had ever seen them go and for once were focused on something other than the floor. They were also brimming with what I highly doubted was water and he clutched the towel wrapped around his body as if it was the last thing on earth which he knew wouldn't hurt him.
Everything about him screamed "lonely, lost, little boy." Except for his hair, which was dyed bright, fire-engine red. Courtesy of me and Mikey.
"What the hell Mikey?" Gerard repeated, but this time, it was barely more than a whispered. "What slime did you put in my shampoo?"
Mikey laughed, "It's not slime, it's red hair dye. And the look suits you big brother!"
He skipped forwards and ruffled Gerard's newly colored hair, taking great pleasure in rubbing in the fact that, despite being several years younger, Mikey was at least two inches the taller of the Way brothers.
Gerard didn't even bat Mikey's hand away.
"Aw, don't look so scared, I'm sure no one will notice!" Mikey snickered. "And if they do, then for once your artsy-ness will show in something other than your work."
And with that, the younger Way brother danced past his shocked brother and into his room, leaving me standing in the hallway all alone with a dripping wet Gerard who I was pretty sure was about to burst into tears.
He turned his shocked look on me and our eyes met for the first time. Fireworks. I swear. It was a shame it had to be under these circumstances though…
"Frank? I thought…" Gerard whispered. "I thought we were friends."
The second Way brother also turned and fled to his room, slamming the door behind him.
Great. What was I supposed to do now? I could go celebrate with Mikey. Or I could try to comfort Gerard. And what had he meant by "I thought we were friends?!" I was supposed to be Mikey's friend! Not Gerard's!
Still, I went for the latter option and gently rapped my fingers against the older boy's door. Hey, I wasn't going to barge in if he was changing! How awkward would that be? Even the thought made me blush.
"Gerard?" I said quietly.
No reply. Aw geez… I twisted to door-knob and pushed the door slowly open, shielding my eyes with the other hand, just in case.
When Gerard didn't throw anything at me or yell at me to get out, I slowly moved my hand away from my eyes.
Gerard had pulled on a pair of jeans but nothing else, and was staring at himself in the mirror, slowly running his fingers through his hair with shaking fingers.
"Gerard, I'm sorry we…" I began.
I was appalled. Gerard had never ever interrupted someone before. Nor had he said shut up.
"Just shut up and go away, I know you're enjoying this!" he said, still not turning to face me.
I heard the catch in his voice and two seconds later, he was sobbing into his folded arms, resting them across his dresser. And the sound of his gentle cries was filling me with more and more and more and more regret until suddenly, I snapped. My emotions just uncapped in the way that I least expected.
Suddenly, I was angry. "Dude, it's just your hair, grow up!" I snapped.
As soon as I said it, I regretted it. As soon as Gerard looked up with tear-filled eyes, I wanted to apologize. And as soon as Gerard got up and sprinted out of the room, his hands covering his mouth and his sobs echoing loudly in the empty house, I wished I had never been born.
For a full minute, I just sat there, staring at the open door that Gerard had just run out of. Then the full force of what I had done just hit me. I had just lost Gerard's trust. I realized then that I wasn't only his friend but I was his only friend. Gerard wasn't crying because of his hair. He was crying because of me.
Slowly, I sank onto his bed, my head in my hands. How could I have…? I mean why didn't I…? Even my thoughts wouldn't finish. Gerard was probably feeling what I would feel if I had just discovered that I had lost all my friends. Betrayed. Lonely. Worthless.
Before I started sobbing myself, I stood up and sprinted out of the room. Gerard was downstairs, in the living room, curled up on the moth eaten sofa with his hands still over his mouth. His eyes went wide when he saw me and he scrambled to the furthest edge of the sofa, bringing his legs up in a protectively small position.
I didn't say anything.
I just watched him cry silently for a few seconds before I sat down next to him. I could feel his whole body stiffen from the little movement in the cushions but I didn't move away.
"Gerard." I started finally, "I'm sorry… I should have stopped Mikey but…" I bit my lip.
Well here goes nothing, I thought.
"Ithoughtyou'dlookreallycutewithredhair." I blurted in one breath.
I could see in his eyes that he was processing what I had just said and when it finally clicked, he removed his hands from his mouth.
"So… you don't think I look stupid?" he asked quietly. Desperately.
I smiled as gently as I could. "If I thought that, would I do this?"
And I finally, finally did what I had wanted to do since I had first lay eyes on this gorgeous now-redhead. I kissed Gerard Way.
At first, he stiffened even further but then he relaxed into my kiss. He lowered his legs from the sofa and I wrapped my arms around his neck. He kept his hands tightly on his lap at first but when I lifted my fingers to stroke his still-wet hair; he brought them up, one to rest over my hand and the other on my cheek. His fingers were cold but just as soft as I imagined them.
If I could stop time, it would have been right then, when Gerard's beautiful face was pressed against mine and I was inhaling the smell of his hair dye.
But when he pulled away and smiled at me, I would have paused time again, just to take in the delighted sparkle in his hazel eyes and the gentle pink blush that ran across his cheeks.
And when his beautiful lips parted to form words, I would have stopped for a third time.
I couldn't, so I didn't. But I will always remember that moment and I will always replay his words in my head, every time I think of him.
"Wow, you must think I'm beautiful."
Truer words were never spoken.