"You evil bastard!" I howled at Frankie, but over the sheer wall of noise produced by the amps, I could barely even hear myself. The band rocked on to the Beatles, the lead singer yowling how she wanted to hold your hand. Tyson's hand. How I wanted to hold Tyson's hand.
I wanted to kill myself, but first, I was going to kill Frankie.
I struggled out of the crowd, but it took a while because the mass of people was almost a living organism and resistant to change. I had to use my elbows to free myself.
I managed to get outside, bursting into the cool, clean night air. At that point I had decided I was safe. I could just wait in the car for Frankie, and then beat him to death once he emerged from the all-ages club. It would be the perfect murder.
Of course that didn't work. Nothing in my life ever turned out nicely.
The voice was familiar and hesitant. My heartbeat started to throb through my whole body. If there was ever a moment I prayed, I prayed then that it wasn't who I thought it was.
I turned around slowly. It was.
Tyson was standing alone against the wall, expression lit with...hope? Confusion? Rage? I couldn't tell. I was too busy fighting to urge to flee. He took a step forward. I forced a laugh and stepped backwards. "Oh. Hi. Didn't see you there."
"You're not wearing your sunglasses," he said.
He was just standing there, watching me with those dark eyes, and I was about ready to scramble over the parked cars and run into the street to escape. "It's funny," he said. "I barely ever see you without them on."
"When do you even see me?" I asked, backing up and bumping into a blue car.
"In the halls. Around. That morning when you took off."
I stayed mute. Maybe he would go away if I didn't encourage him.
He took another step forwards, perhaps realizing there was nowhere left for me to run, and then asked, "Did you ask the band to play that song?"
"Um. No. Sorry. I hate that song. He's a friend of mine, he's actually retarded, I was coming out here to kill him."
"I have to say, it's kind of weird getting a song dedicated to you about your relationship problems, when you don't even have a relationship."
I cringed. "I'm really, really sorry about that."
"But not about avoiding me?" he asked, and then moved forwards. He was getting extremely close. Close enough that if I stuck my arm out, it would be touching his chest, which was way, way too close in my mind. Yet even as I pressed myself against the blue car in the vain hope it would give me an extra inch of space, I was remembering my little moment of revelation in the crowd.
It was possible that Tyson was just as messed up and unsure of this as I was. Then again, it could be a very cruel practical joke. I wouldn't put it past him.
"What song would you pick?" he asked. "If you were going to ask the band to play one, since you hate that one."
I gulped. "I don't know."
"Jitterbug?" he suggested. "Wake me up before you go-go."
I almost laughed at that, but luckily caught myself. "Probably not."
"Why'd you run away like that? I wanted to talk to you," he said, staring me down, and without my sunglasses to hide behind I couldn't win the staring battle.
I looked down instead. "I thought...I thought it was just because you were drunk and that was why you liked hanging out with me. That it didn't mean anything to you. I thought you didn't actually like me. As a person, that is. I mean, I don't even like myself as a person, so why would you?"
"Fee," he said, and when I looked up, he was right there, and he was a little bit red but had a determined look in his eyes. "I like you. You're funny when you're drunk, but you're better when you're sober. I like you. As a person, and as a hot, funny girl. Even from the first time I tried talking to you and you totally shut me down, I liked you."
The bottom dropped out of my stomach. All I could do was stare up at him.
"I might not have remembered everything, but I remember enough. Look, Fee, when you're not being a bitch and pushing me away for no reason, I've had the best time since I got here just hanging out with you."
He was right in front of me. I could feel his breath, see the anxious tremor in his hands that his voice didn't betray. He was nervous, worried I would shut him down like I kept doing, but he was still giving it another shot.
Looking back on the events of the past week, I realized that maybe I hadn't been all that fair to him. I had been downright horrible to him. Normally the thought of failing yet another social encounter would depress me for weeks to come, but I realized now that I had another chance to make things right.
Tyson was watching me, eyebrows creased, and I could tell he was already bracing himself for a rejection. The next move was mine. I had no idea what the hell I was going to do, but dammit, I was going to do something.
"Let's get it on," I croaked.
And that was possibly not what I wanted to say at all.
He obviously hadn't been expecting that, and he leaned back a bit, derailed from his confessions. "What?" he said.
"That's the song I would've picked to win you back," I said, and felt my cheeks burning with embarrassment, though it wasn't like I could've said anything more intelligent under the conditions. "Let's Get it On, by Marvin Gaye. Not the Beatles. I don't want to hold your hand. Well, I do, but I also want...ah...other stuff."
For what felt like the longest time, we just stood there staring at each other. I was burning with shame. I had no idea I was actually capable of saying such stupid things. Tyson, for his part, hadn't moved an inch since I'd spoken, and was close enough that I could easily reach out and touch him. I wanted to, so badly. The seconds seemed to crawl past.
Then he grinned. "Well. In that case..."
I knew he was going to kiss me a second before he did. I leaned in before he could change his mind.
I heard the song ending inside the all-ages club, and the crowd cheering. I smiled and closed my eyes, letting myself sink into Tyson.
I was still going to kill Frankie, though.
Luckily, I didn't have to murder him. The rest of the school was going to do it for me.
The very next day, the high school quarterback loudly and publicly denounced his own homosexuality and punched out a guy, and then Frankie swooped in and kidnapped him in the Honda Civic, and now they were officially dating on Facebook. It was all very shocking.
"You like him that much?" I asked him, while we were camped out in my room on the computer, searching the internet for more pictures of hot shirtless guys to add to the man-porn folder.
Frankie shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. He's fun to hang out with."
High praise coming from Frankie, considering that he'd barely even talked to his other flings. I had high hopes for their relationship. Also, watching the gay sex scandal rock the school's hierarchy was going to keep me entertained for days.
"He's really built, too," Frankie mused. "And he's got one of those faces, like, not super-pretty, but manly, you know? Like if something bad ever happened he would be able to take care of me. He's really good at fighting, too. He's good at a lot of things. I like his shirts, too. I like how he talks. It's really nice. Plus his truck is nice. And I like his muscles. He's just...yeah. He's all right, I guess."
Frankie was totally in love. It was hilarious.
"He likes you that much? He's coming out and proud, man," I said.
"I honestly had no idea," he said. "I kissed him outside Dairy Queen after he saved me from this rich asshole."
"What?" I hadn't know about that, but come to think of it I had heard rumours of scandalous pictures.
"Yeah, I dunno, but I had to get to the gig right away and I just got in a fight and I was really hyped. And now I have him. In my pants."
I had no idea what to say to that, so we sat in contemplative silence for a moment.
"How about Tyson?" Frankie asked me. "Did the song work?"
"You know I hate the Beatles, you jerk," I told him. "But yeah, Tyson and I talked."
I tried and failed to stop grinning. "And we made out for the rest of your show. My lips are all chapped now. It's amazing."
"Shit," he said, impressed. "I didn't think you had it in you."
"I know, neither did I, but I had this sudden clarity of mind right after you finished playing Fear of the Dark and then I realized that I was the only one holding myself back, right, and then when I met up with Tyson I was going to run away but then he cornered me and then it all worked out. We're going on a date tomorrow. It's going to be awesome."
Frankie paused to consider that for a moment. "You're crazy," he said.
"Yeah, well, you're gay."
"At least I'm getting laid."
"So am I, loser."
Life, I decided, didn't get much better than this.
That was short, what.