Thursday, the next day.

 Mikey didn’t look too please with me when I turned up at the back gate ten minutes late with no apology. I hadn’t waited for him at the end of school yesterday but just went straight home and when he knocked the back door I had turned my amps up louder. When he decided it was urgent enough to go to the front door the only welcome he got was Darcy jumping up at the door. He phoned when my Mom was home but I told her that I was still feeling sick and that I just wanted to have some rest; she happily agreed with me and told Mikey that I wasn’t well enough to come downstairs.

 “What was that for?” Mikey threw my christmas jumper from yesterday at me; I had left it in his locker and presumed that I would get it again at the end of the day.

 “Which ‘that’ are we talking about?” My shoulders were hunched making me look smaller than normal, I was slightly jumpy and my head was still spinning slightly.

 “You just left!”

 He wasn’t helping me understand what we were talking about. I had ‘just left’ after I stopped Martin from hurting Gerard and I had also ‘just left’ after school.

 “Not very helpful.” My tone was slightly more impatient than it should be towards my best friend but I honestly wasn’t going to go into school; the only reason that I did go was because I knew Mikey would think that I was avoiding him if I didn’t.

 “Yesterday. I get that you didn’t want to talk after you defended Gee and all that but it’s like you just weren’t there anymore! Did you know that I was knocking and ringing for ages! The Frankie I know would never leave me hanging like that... Feel like telling me anything?” Mikey ducked down slightly to try see my face with little luck.

 Admittedly there was a reason that I had been avoiding Mikey and it did have quite a bit to do with the incident involving Gee and Martin.

 “You’re not angry at me?”

 “Well kind of. You won’t tell me anything and you were just ... I don’t know ... not yourself since before the incident yesterday. What is up with you?”

 “I thought you would be angry at me. I never stop Martin from hurting us. I thought you would be angry because I stopped him yesterday...”

 The surprised look on Mikey face told me that he hadn’t even thought to be angry at me about that yet. I hoped that I hadn’t set off a domino effect in his head.

 “What else? There’s something else you’re not telling me.” My head kept telling me that Mikey was angry but he was just going to be angry at me later.

 There was something else that I wasn’t telling him, it was something that I was planning on not telling him even if he begged me forever. It was his stupid girlfriends fault.

 When I had gone to find her at the start of recess yesterday I had found her flirting and in due course kissing some guy from her textiles class. It had made me uncomfortable but I pretended that I hadn’t seen and wanted to block it from my mind forever.

 “I don’t understand you.” Mikey smiled on the way home, he was staring at the puppy face I had painted over my own.

 “What? Mrs Woods said she wanted a volunteer for the face painting demonstration, and it meant that we both got out of Geography!”

 Just before last lesson the art teacher and organiser for the christmas fete had stopped me and Mikey and asked if we would help her with the face painting lessons for the students working the face painting stall at the fete. She asked me to pick a random picture from the book so of course I choose a puppy but by the time she had finished the bell was ringing and Mikey didn’t have time to get his face painted too.

 “But why a puppy? Gee’s always teasing you about looking like a small fury animal anyway. What do you think he’s going to do when he see’s you like this?”

 “Simple. He won’t see it. Mom’s working late so you can have dinner at mine. Then I won’t have time to go to yours and Gerard won’t see me! Simple.” It made me feel like an evil villain walking home while laughing ... with my face painted ... like a puppy. Maybe I would make a terrible villain.

 “I still don’t understand you.” Mikey humoured me. We both knew that I couldn’t properly explain what he didn’t understand because I didn’t understand it either.

Darcy gave me the strangest of looks when we walked in. Admittedly she probably wasn’t expecting me to turn up looking like a dog, maybe she didn’t recognise me. When she barked at us Mikey jumped so much that Darcy barked again, I was sure that it was just to see his spectacular reaction again.

 “Even your dog is scared of you. And she likes you more than anyone.” Mikey laughed nervously and started to inch his way up the stairs to my room. Although he was only joking I knew that he was sort of right, although I was sure Darcy liked me in a more throw-that-damn-stick-so-I-can-run-back-at-you-at-the-speed-of-light-and-knock-your-legs-out-from-under-you-so-you-face-plant-the-floor kind of way and Mikey liked me in a more human based kind of way.

 “Fine, I have to wash it off before my Mom gets home anyway. Go wait in my room if you don’t want to curse my dog.”

 Mikey didn’t respond to me, he just ran away from Darcy quicker than I had ever seen him move. “That’s right, run from a little doggy!” I laughed up after Mikey and went to follow him.

 There was a light tapping on the glass of the back door which made me quickly jump onto the stairs where it wasn’t visible from the back door.

 “Yeah. I wasn’t running from Darcy.” Mikey’s head poked around the top of the stairs and nodded at the front door, he tried to whistle, failing, and waited until Darcy bounded up the stairs. “You shouldn’t have help with this...” Mikey grinned but left before I could ponder what he meant.

 The knocking continued, quick light taps.

 “Frankie open the door!” Gerard’s voice echoed in, he sounded whiny, more so than normal.

 I knew he had seen me standing in the hallway before I dove out of sight so he knew that I was home, he probably had seen me and Mikey walk in the back gate a few minutes ago.

Instead of just walking up the stairs like I should have done, or open the door like most people would have, I just sat on the second step, wondering whether I could talk to Gerard yet.

 It could have been a long time that I just sat pondering, a few times Mikey would appear at the top of the stairs but when he found me in the same position he would just go back to my room and tap his leg so that Darcy would follow him.

 The knocking on the door never stopped. Gerard was so god damn persistent about this. It stood to reason that he wanted to thank me, or make up for it, but I didn’t want him to thank me, all I had done was to delay his punishment and simultaneously got myself, and most likely Mikey, in trouble. I didn’t want him to make it up to me, he could try but nothing would quite get there, it just felt wrong for him to even  be trying.

 “Frankie please! If not for me then for yourself...” He sounded unsure about what he was saying, like he didn’t in the slightest mean what he had just said. When I didn’t reply he realised that I could see through his fakery and he started again. “Frankie let me in... It’s freezing like the gates of heaven out here!”

 “Try again bro” Mikey’s voice was fainter and I could mostly hear it echoing down the stairs from my room. He had thrown open the window to yell help to Gerard but had run from the opportunity of helping me and dragged my dog with him. I’d have to remember to pretend to be annoyed about that later.

 “Whatever. I don’t care anymore. Frankie please just talk to me.” He gave me time to reply.  “Listen to me at least?”

 I didn’t have much of a choice on this front. He would talk loudly outside my house until my Mom got home and then some. It was close to impossible not to listen to him but I couldn’t guarantee him that I would take the words in. My silence was as close to a yes that he was going to get.

 “Frankie I don’t even understand why you won’t talk to me. What did I do, I honestly want to know and if you don’t tell me ... I’ll ... I’ll have to stalk you until you have to tell me! You might be strong but I'm sure as hell taller, I recon I could still pin you” There was a hint of a smile in his voice, it faded as soon as it had appeared.  “Frankie?”

 Then I snapped. I just couldn’t listen to him anymore with his stupid apologetic tone. It was driving me insane. I knew that he wasn’t sorry, and that he wasn’t upset that I was ignoring him, it was all just a game he played. I was a game and I was sick of being just a game.

 Before I could even give anything a second thought I stomped up to my room like a little kid and slammed my bedroom door behind me, not caring that Mikey was half leaning out the window to see what was going on with Gerard.

 “I hate your brother.” Mikey didn’t listen to me. I was quite sure that he heard me but was just trying not to acknowledge that I had given up with Gerard. “Mikey Fucking Way are you getting this? I hate your brother.”

 Mikey turned slightly but left the window wide open, now I could hear the knocking coming from inside the house and outside, it was insanely annoying.

 “Alright. You might have a harder time convincing Gee that you hate him.”

 “Yeah but according to him the whole world loves him.”

 Mikey gave me a look that told me that I was right but that I shouldn’t say it aloud anyway.

 “Dinner?” Darcy ran out the room and blundered down the stairs even though I was asking Mikey if he wanted some dinner. It had grown dark over the time that I sat on the stairs listening to Gerard’s rhythmic tapping and now that I looked at an actual clock I realised that time had flown while I had been hypnotised by the knocking. “How come you didn’t already come to complain about how hungry you are?” It was half six and I had only just realised that I was starving.

 “I figured that if I left you long enough you would have to talk to Gee, but it doesn’t seem to have worked.” Mikey admitted it slowly, thinking each word through before he spoke it.

 “Yeah well the longer I spend with him the angrier I'm getting.”

 “You know I can hear you Frankie?” Gerards annoying voice came up through the window.

 “Come on Mikey, I think there’s something I can cook in the kitchen” I choose to ignore Gerard, maybe if I refused his existence he would do me the favour of leaving ... or even better hiring an assassin to get Martin before he got me. Both would be good.

 “I'm scared to eat your cooking.” Mikey shrank into the wall before bouncing up and following me out of my room.

 “So am I. Now close the window. I don’t want anything undesirable climbing in.” I eyed the window, remembering a night three years ago when Gerard and Mikey had climbed in my window when I wasn’t allowed to have them over for my birthday because it was a school night. I couldn’t help but thinking of Gerard scrambling back up the wall and into my room so he could try to talk to me, it wasn’t going to happen.

 Mikey slouched and tapped my window gently seven times before it sat back where it belonged.

 “See, I knew we wouldn’t die.” I poked my tongue out at Mikey from across the sofa, we had just finished eating slightly over cooked fish fingers and chips.

 “Yeah because all you had to do was heat it up but it still tasted shit. Why do I even agree to have dinner here when you’re cooking?” Mikey laughed and stretched out on the sofa, his feet getting dangerously close to my face.

 “Because you love me” I grinned and pushed his feet away from my face, taking a deep breath of fresh air. “Or to get away from that.” I nodded toward the back door where there was still knocking. It had grown softer over time and it was impossible to see his silhouette anymore because it was so pitch black outside and the street lamps were placed stupidly far apart down the back alley.

 “You gotta admit, he really wants to talk to you.” Mikey sounded like he was going to try convince me to talk to Gerard again. He had spent nearly the whole time we were waiting for dinner to cook trying to get me to go open the door. He tried to tell me that he felt like he was in the middle of it all, with his best friend and his brother fighting, but then I assured him that we were not fighting but I was merely not interacting with his brother. He had then said that it was annoying him having to listen to the constant knocking and I told him that if it was really bothering him he would go tell Gerard to go away himself. He never did so I figured that he didn’t care that much.

 “No. He just can’t be bothered to find someone else to abuse.” It was final.

 We both just lazed around after that, neither of us brought up the whole Gerard issue again although we could still hear him knocking over the sound of the television. We didn’t talk because we both knew that the only thing either of us would talk about was the Gerard issue and that would just make us fight, so we didn’t talk.

 “Frank why is Gee sitting on the back door step?” Mom sounded concerned when she walked in at ten to ten and found me and Mikey half asleep on the sofa and Gerard still knocking the door and my face still painted like a puppy.

 “Trying to apologise” Mikey announced at the same time I said “I don’t know, shoo him away.”

 She just gave me a look as though I was being inappropriate and stalked to the back door, opening it and Gerard almost fell in when his back rest suddenly disappeared. “Frank will just be a second Gee. Wait here.”

 There was a muttered reply that I would have sworn was Gerard saying “That’s all I’ve been doing for hours.” But I knew he was too polite to my Mom to use that tone of voice with her, although he had been waiting for absolutely hours and I was sure that my tone of voice would have been rude if I had waited that long.

 “Frank! Now!” She didn’t give me a choice, she basically pushed me off the sofa with a little help from Mikey who when I glared at him just gave me an innocent look.

 As slowly as I could I dragged my feet to the back door, prolonging the time before I had to talk to Gerard. I would probably just get there mutter something unintelligent and slam the door in his face.

 Mikey leaned around the arm of the sofa to see me doing the death march. I knew that he wouldn’t be able to see me when I got to the door but I glared at him anyway for getting me into this mess.

 “Why are you here?” Even to myself I didn’t sound like me.

 “I brought Mikey’s inhaler over. I can’t believe you’ve been endangering his life for so many hours by just refusing to talk to me” Gerard still sat on the floor so for once he had to look up to see me but he soon started to stir and he stood up, towering almost a head over me.

 “Mikey doesn’t have an inhaler. Or asthma.”

 “No. But how would you feel if that was the case and Mikey had been hurt because you won’t interact with me?” Gerard looked accusingly at me but I refused to feel guilt because that hadn’t happened.

 “Why are you really here?” I really didn’t want to mess around, I just wanted to get rid of him as quickly as possible.

 “I'm here to bargain for my undying soul.” The sincerity in his voice could have fooled me, but now I realised what Gerard was really like I couldn’t just go back to believing what he told me.

 “Go home. You can take Mikey with you. I guess it’s getting late and I need to practise.” I had already started to turn away and close the door slightly so I could get Mikey and make him leave, I thought that if I made Mikey go home Gerard would give up and go home too.

 “Idiot you have nothing to practise for! And even if you did have somewhere to play it’s not like you need any more practise. You’re already perfect!” Gerard and I had this argument a lot. He always thought that I was good enough at playing guitar but I knew that I still needed more practise.

 “Practise makes perfect” I mumbled back, not wanting to let him get the last words.

 “Nobody’s perfect, mortal.” He was so annoying it was hard not to just kill him.

 “You would know, Jedi.” Gerard shuddered at my insult, not one of us wanted to be on the good side of the force, we had all agreed that it would be much more fun to be on the dark side, apart from all the killing and stuff but we had a plan to over throw the leader and then we could rule the dark side and then there wouldn’t need to be any killing, just fun.

“Look, do I get my soul back or are you going to keep it forever? Because I don’t know what you plan to do with it after you die, I don’t want my immortal soul sitting around your grave for eternity.” It was obvious to me from the start that Gerard didn’t really want to make amends with me; he just wanted to know if he was okay, because only Gerard matters to Gerard. At least he used to pretend that me and Mikey mattered to him, now it seemed like he didn’t have time for us at all.

 “Mikey, go home and take this with you!” I yelled back into the house, I couldn’t be bothered to put up with him anymore and if the only way to get him to leave was to send my best friend away then so be it.

The two of us just stood either side of the back door staring each other down while Mikey appeared behind me looking slightly disappointed with both of us. He was right to look at us like that but I was offended anyway.

 “Bye.” Mikey side stepped me and went outside standing shoulder to shoulder with Gerard.

 My amps weren’t hardly loud enough to drown out my own thoughts when I plugged my guitar in and turned everything up to full. Mom was pacing past my door every half an hour or so, the noise from my room was obviously keeping her awake, it was past midnight, but I just couldn’t shut off and I was so angry at Gerard and Mikey and myself that I had to play as loud and as hard as I could until I couldn’t physically move my fingers anymore. I wanted to play until my fingers were bleeding and blistered and there wasn’t any pain in my head anymore. I needed to play until there wasn’t breathe in me anymore and my veins ran dry and everything in me had stopped ticking. Then I would be satisfied. 

The End

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