Mikey goes to Jason and Frank talks to Gerard.
I wander back to my bunk and have just fallen asleep when I hear the bus door slam. One set of footsteps paces the lounge area. I figure it’s Jess, so I stay in my bunk, pretending to be asleep. But the pacing grows more agitated and I hear whoever it is muttering under their breath and occasionally hitting something. Very un-Jess-like.
So I get up to see what’s going on. It’s Mikey, alone, looking quite distraught.
“Mikes, what’s wrong? Where’s everybody else?”
He looks up at me as though seeing me for the first time. He just stares, taking me in for a second before he answers. “They’re at the hospital helping Ray check out. I came back early.”
“Why?” I ask, although I already know.
“I saw Frank.” I didn’t expect him to be so forward about it. What if he tells Jess?
“Can I talk to you?” he asks. “I mean, this isn’t something I can go to the guys with, but I really need to talk.”
I nod. “Of course,” I say, even though hearing him hate on Frank is the last thing I want to do right now. We walk to the back area of the bus and sit down on opposite couches.
“What happened?” I encourage him.
“I was looking for you, but you must have already left. I went to the bathroom on the other side of the hospital and he was there. Just, like, hiding in the bathroom. He said he wanted to make sure Ray was alright, but he never went to the room. You and Gerard were there the moment visiting hours opened, did you see him?”
I shake my head. Mikey continues, “So he was there but he never actually went to see Ray. None of the other guys saw him.”
“Ray told me he called.”
Mikey nods. “Yeah, that’s the thing. He knew Ray was hurt, and he called, and he was at the hospital. He obviously still cares about us. And I yelled at him. I don’t know, I just lost it and I started screaming. I told him to leave. He must think I hate him.”
I get up and switch couches, sitting next to Mikey. “What he did two months ago was awful, and he obviously didn’t mean it. Maybe he just doesn’t know how to make things right.”
Mikey nods. “I’m just scared I blew any chance we had to get him back. I scared him away when the only thing I really want is to have him here.”
I smile reassuringly. “Yeah, well, Frank’s not exactly one to preach about not giving second chances. I’m sure if you give him one he’ll be more than willing to give you a million.”
Mikey smiles. “You think?”
“Oh, I know.”
“He left this.” Mikey reaches into his pocket and pulls out my old picture. I feel my breath catch in my chest. “He still carries us with him.” Mikey smiles slightly, then turns to me.
“Thanks,” he sniffs.
The bus door creaks open and we are greeted by happy voices breaking the silence. “Come on, let’s go be social,” I say. Mikey nods and stands.
“Hey, Jason?” he asks. “Don’t tell the guys, ok? They don’t know he was there, and it’d just upset Gerard.”
I nod. “Ok.”
We walk back out to the front. “Raymond!” I yell. “You’re back!”
He grins from ear to ear. “I know! Hey, how come you two ran off so fast?”
Mikey looks nervous – he never was a good liar – so I cover for both of us. “Monster headache, came back to get some Tylenol.”
Ray is satisfied with that lie. “Oh, ok.”
Jess runs onto the bus a few minutes later and we immediately depart. Checking Ray out of the hospital took longer than expected – Ray mumbled something about a Napoleonic power monger of a nurse – and at this rate we’ll be hard pressed to make it in time for the next venue.
I excuse myself and make my way back toward the bathroom. On my way I see Gerard’s phone laying on his bunk. An idea hits me. I grab the phone and slip into the bathroom. I pull out Frank’s phone and switch Gerard’s to silent. Then I call it. Obviously, no one answers.
“You’ve reached Gerard’s phone. If it’s important, leave a message. If not, go away.” His familiar message makes me smile. I wait for the beep then speak quietly into the speaker.
“Gerard, it’s Frank. I’m calling you because I want to say I’m sorry. I know I’m the last person in the world you want to talk to right now, but hear me out, ok? I was a major dick and I know it. I want to make it up to you. Please call me back.”
Ok, so I’m a big fucking scaredy cat to call when I knew he wouldn’t answer. So sue me. I leave the bathroom and drop Gerard’s phone back on his bunk, after turning it off silent. As soon as I do so I am joined in the bunk area by – speak of the devil – Gerard and Ray. They look tired. Come to think of it, I’m tired too. The three of us were up early this morning.
Mikey appears in the doorway. “Hey Jason, these two are going to take little girl naps, what are you up to?”
Gerard flips his younger brother off and I laugh. “Actually, Mikes, I’m pretty beat too. I think I’m going to sleep.”
Mikey laughs. “You guys are no fun.”
Gerard groans. “You’ll get over it.”
Mikey rolls his eyes and leaves. Out of the corner of my eye I see Gerard pick up his phone, eyeing the blinking new message light with interest. He gets into his bunk and pulls the curtains. I do the same.
A moment later Frank’s phone blinks twice – a new text. I open it curiously. It’s from Gerard.
You’re right. I don’t want to talk to you.
I quickly type in a reply.
I know you don’t, just hear me out.
Then I wait. A minute. Two. Am I being paranoid, or is he ignoring me? How long does it take to type a damn message? After five minutes I crack and text him again.
I’m not going to stop until you talk to me.
A minute later.
Gerard, you know I won’t stop.
Finally he texts me back. I’ll turn my phone off.
You’ll have to turn it on again at some point.
Fine! What do you want?!
I want to say I’m sorry and I want you to believe me. I hadn’t planned on doing this through texting, but hey, you take what you’re given, right?
I’m not sure that’s possible.
I’m willing to do whatever it takes.
If you’re trying to get us to take you back you can stop right now. We have a new guitarist and we don’t need you.
I won’t lie, his words hurt. But I know he doesn’t mean them. He’s angry right now, and hurt and he wants me to hurt too. But I know first hand that he’s not happy with Jess and that he wants the band back to normal. So I’ll play his little game as long as he needs me to.
I know. That’s not why I’m writing. I just don’t want you to hate me.
I hear a deep sigh from the bunk across the aisle.
I don’t hate you, Frankie.
I smile. That means a lot to me.
After that he stops texting, but I don’t mind. We’ve said what we needed to say and I’m pretty tired. With a smile on my lips, I fall into the best sleep I’ve had in weeks.
Yay! Frankie finally talked to Gerard! I've been waiting for that. Oh! And I have a friend from out of town staying with me for a week, so I won't have much time to write so I may not post for quite some time. Instead I'll give you a quick trailer for the next chapter. Frank and Bob hatch a crazy, dangerous plan to catch Jess. That's all I'll say. Love you to pieces (don't make me make that literal).