"I don't want to wake up into a dream, anymore."
Gerard is alone in the front-lounge, perched on the edge of the couch. His shoulders are hunched. He sighs deeply as his eyes move over the photograph in his clutch. It was taken a few years back; Gerard remembers. He was in his last year at SVA and he had come home for the holidays. And right there on that piece of shiny paper, a theoretically younger but same looking Gerard is smiling at him now, frozen in a place and time that was better in every possible way. He’s behind the couch on which his Mom, Grandma and Grandpa are sitting. Mikey’s standing up straight next to him as he leans forwards in an attempt to be closer to the occupants of the couch. His Dad’s nowhere to be seen – he was the photographer for that night.
He sighs, longing. He wishes to go back. Or better yet, he wishes to replace himself with that photo-Gerard. He wants to be frozen in that particular time like him. With a smile present on his face and a light bright in his eyes.
He doesn’t know if it’s gone forever. He thought it was. Because his life changed; his childhood dreams started to become real but at the same time his childhood slipped away from his grasp. He realized you can’t have it both ways.
But now, he feels like he has a choice. Or rather, a way to go back. To abandon all this and return to the protective cocoon of his family. Return to his Mom’s basement. And stay there forever. Because it all makes sense, now: He felt like he needed to do something. He felt like he needed to change the world. He saw people die, he stood at the edge of the cliff and watched all hell break lose in front of him. And he couldn’t do a damn thing. He has no doubt in his mind about that day. No, he couldn’t have imagined that, too. The explosion, the smoke, the fire, the chaos and the screams… he still hears them sometimes. No, it was real. But it… it made him change. It made his imagination and the real world clash. In the end, he wanted to be a hero so he made himself one. It all makes perfect sense, now. The doctor’s right.
But it all has to end. He needs to go back. He knows that, now. He can’t run away forever. And it turns out that he can’t run away properly, either. Even his imagination can’t give him peace. He needs to come back to life. He just… doesn’t know how to do that. Everything is falling apart everywhere around him and he doesn’t know if he’s supposed to let it happen or if he’s supposed to stop it. Or maybe he’s supposed to deliver the final blow so it’ll all collapse, at last. So he can open his eyes to the real world.
“Gerard, good news!” says Mikey, as he enters the lounge, breaking him free from his thoughts. “I just talked to Brian. It turns out we can go home tomorrow!”
“What?” Gerard asks, shocked. He thought they weren’t going home until after they’ve been to Japan.
“Tonight’s the last show of the tour,” Mikey says eagerly, sitting down on the couch beside him, “And apparently, we have a few days’ gap before the Japan dates. We can go back to Jersey and just have some time to ourselves to regroup.”
Gerard doesn’t say anything. He can’t stop thinking that going home won’t change a thing. He doesn’t believe it’s his real home, anymore. But then, he has just heard the crumbles of joy in Mikey’s usually monotonous mumble… and he can’t help but want to believe he’ll really be going home, tomorrow. He’s so confused…
“Gerard?” asks his brother softly, concerned.
“Mikey, I… I-I feel so lost.”
The bassist sighs, putting a hand on his brother’s back and starts to rub his back soothingly. “I know,” he tells him, “But we’re going home. You can go see a doctor and your therapist, too…”
“Bruce?” Gerard asks hopefully.
“Yeah,” Mikey affirms immediately, “They’ll help you, we’ll all be there to help you.”
“But it’s more…” Gerard protests, “It gets worse every time I look up… I’ve been so… distant, away… detached.”
“We’ve all been kinda distant,” Mikey admits, embarrassed. “Communication’s not been one of our strongest points for some time, now.”
Gerard turns his head to look at him and he feels as if he’s looking up to the sky from the bottom of a deep well. He’s in too deep he doesn’t even feel like he belongs there anymore.
“But it’s been so long,” he begins, “Everyday I wake up like this… and I’m so tired, so lazy… or just so far gone that I don’t even try to snap out of it. I can’t figure out why I’m like this. Maybe it’s… well, maybe this is why… maybe I want out of this… this dream. I don’t want to wake up into a dream, anymore.”
Mikey shakes his head frantically. “No, Gerard, look at me. This is not a dream. You’re not in an institution. You’ve never been in an institution.”
“But what if I have?” Gerard asks in a fragile voice. “What if… what I saw messed with my head… somehow?”
His little brother takes a deep breath with his eyes closed. He looks like he’s in pain; Gerard’s not sure. Mikey was never one with the evident facial gestures.
“No, Gerard,” he says silently, “Your head’s just fine. It’s just… your body… your brain wants the alcohol and the pills back. It’s just withdrawal, trust me.”
Gerard agrees. But it’s not just his body or his brain that wants them back. It’s all of him. It’s him. He wants the alcohol and the pills back.
Gerard ends up crashing at Frank’s place, when they’re finally in Jersey. The plan is for Mikey to go talk to Mr. and Mrs. Way and try to inure them to Gerard’s present state. Because everyone is pretty sure they’d freak out if Gerard showed up on the doorstep with red eyes (and not because of make-up), a sweaty face and crazy hallucinations taking over his mind. So Frank says Gerard could stay with him for a while, they’re not in town to stay for long, anyway. And Frank is also aware that the singer somehow seems more relaxed and collected when he’s with him so he thinks maybe he’ll even be able to help Gerard. He’ll do anything to keep Gerard from slipping away. Anything.
So that’s why he nods his head with a silent “Sure.” when Gerard asks “Frankie… could you… stay?”
He’s lying, shivering in Frank’s bed, tucked under the covers by none other than Frank himself. And the guitarist is just about to leave to claim his place on the couch in front of the TV in the living room. And then Gerard calls for him right when he stretches his hand to open the door and Frank nods. He can’t leave Gerard alone like this. But he… he, himself is confused, too. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. The thing is… when he’s near the other man, he wants to touch him. Wrap his arms around him and lull him to peace. He wants to chase that hurt emptiness away from Gerard’s eyes. Frank’s always… he’s always. He knows he’s always had something in there, so very deep inside him. Something about Gerard. Something warm and peaceful. Up until recently, he’s always just ignored it. Because it’s not the kind of thing that craves attention, no. It’s not burning hot love or lust, even. It’s something else. And now, somehow, it’s started to surface without Frank’s consent. Made him kiss Gerard. And Frank feels guilty. He feels so bad about himself. Some might think it’s stupid to feel bad when Gerard’s done nothing to make him think that he didn’t want it. But that’s the thing: Gerard is… Gerard can’t say no to him because he’s so vulnerable, right now. He’s so confused and scared and he just needs someone to take care of him. And Frank feels like a pervert for exploiting the situation. The more he thinks about it, the more he’s convinced that he’s taking advantage of Gerard’s weakened state.
So he pulls back a bit while he’s walking back towards the bed. He hesitates as Gerard scoots over to one side of the bed to make room for him. The mattress dips under his weight as he perches on the side of it delicately and Gerard whispers “Thanks,” peeking out from under the covers, still shivering and it’s August 2nd. Something’s very wrong with him.
“No problem,” Frank replies, smiling hesitantly. He looks Gerard over while trying to settle down on the bed in a position he’ll be touching Gerard the least.
“I’m okay, Frank,” Gerard says softly, managing a smile when he notices the worry in the tiny guitarist’s eyes.
“Yeah. The intense shivering in the middle of the summer heat really helps sell that.” He leans closer to put his hand on the singer’s forehead gently and his eyebrows come closer to meet each other in the middle. “You’re burning up,” Frank whispers in concern.
Gerard does something under the covers, making his shoulders move. He’s probably shrugging. “Coming apart…” he whispers distractedly, his blank stare a thousand yards away.
“What?” Frank asks.
Gerard blinks a few times, trying to focus back on Frank. “We. Us,” he says. “We’re falling apart,” he whispers in horror. Then he sits up in bed so suddenly he almost head butts Frank’s nose on the way. “We need to try harder,” he chants, his breathing suddenly erratic, “We have to make things better…”
“We will,” Frank tries to reassure him.
“The band… the shows and… you guys’re having fights, it’s…”
“What? No. No, Gerard. That’s not important,” Frank lies, even though he knows it’s important. One of these days, one of those fights is going to be the end of them. He puts one hand on Gerard’s chest, trying to get him back to a horizontal position. And he feels Gerard’s heart fluttering under his hand like crazy. He doesn’t think he’s felt anyone’s heart beat so fast, before. Something is seriously wrong with Gerard. Is he having a panic attack or…? Delirium tremens, Frank remembers: … signs of severe autonomic instability (fever, tachycardia, hypertension)...
“Calm down, Gerard,” he tells the singer as he rants on and on about “having to deal with these things” and “making things better”. He strokes Gerard’s flushed, swaty cheek softly and whispers:
“It’s alright, Gerard. You’ll see, everything’s gonna be – ”
“ – alright, honey.”
It’s Donna. And Gerard’s not even shocked to see her, anymore. He’s finally gotten used to the reality shift. But he still wants it to end. All this, is too much for him. He can’t take it anymore. This double-life…
“You’re not in a band, Gerard,” she tells him gently, stroking his palm with her fingers.
It’s torment. “Frank…”
But Donna shakes her head sweetly as if she’s trying to get a point across to a mentally retarded child. So patient…
“No, honey, say it. It’ll help you believe it.”
“I’m not in a band. I wasn’t always, I know. But then we wrote songs and… and Mikey learnt bass. We’re –”
“Your mind,” his Dad cuts him off, “It’s playing tricks on you. You need to break its hold on you.”
Gerard shakes his head lightly. He doesn’t know how to do that…
“You’re our little boy, Gerard,” coos Elena, taking his other hand and patting it. “We’ve missed you so much. We just want to take you home and take care of you, dear.” She examines each of his fingers softly, stroking. “And we can draw together, once again. Just like old times. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
Gerard yearns for that solace and feels himself slipping away with the warmth in her eyes. He wants to roll around in it like a spoiled little puppy. He doesn’t want her to ever let go of his hand. He reaches out with one shaky hand to brush against his Grandma’s cheek.
Gerard comes back with a snap, this time. It feels as if someone hauled him up by his clothes and threw him back the way he came. He finds that Frank’s young face is only inches away from his and Gerard’s hand is reached out to brush against his cheek.
“You are in a band, Gerard,” Frank breathes, “We haven’t come apart, yet. And we won’t.”
“What?” Gerard asks, his brows furrowing.
“You said it a second ago,” Frank whispers, it’s as if he’s afraid he’ll scare away Gerard’s hand if he speaks in his normal voice. “That you’re not in a band. But you are.”
Realization finally dawns on Gerard and he stays shocked as to how he came back to himself in such a short time. It wasn’t a dream, then. What was it?
His fingers stroke Frank’s cheek absently and the guitarist leans his head into his touch. “I don’t know what to do,” Gerard sighs in confusion.
Frank’s hand slides in his disheveled, dark locks and tries to brush the confusion away from the singer’s head. “It’s okay, we’ll figure it out.”
He’s so close, even closer than before and Gerard… Gerard wants to wrap himself around him and let him tell him that it’s going to be okay forever and ever. He lifts his head up an inch and Frank meets him halfway. Their lips join in a gentle kiss; then it grows into something more once Frank lets his body fall onto Gerard’s. Gerard’s arms wrap around him like they’ve been wanting to for so long and Frank’s hands disappear in Gerard’s soft hair, their throats letting out pathetic little noises of longing and comfort.
Frank rolls back to lie next to Gerard as they break the kiss for air. Gerard stares at Frank as if he’s seeing him for the first time until his eyes catch something on the nightstand behind the guitarist. It’s a frame. With a photograph in it. Of Frank and Jamia. Smiling and so happy together, wrapped around each other.
Suddenly, the peaceful glow over his vision disappears and Gerard falls… falls back into the well he only just crawled out of. Frank strokes a few rebellious strands away from Gerard’s face and leans in for another kiss now that he’s once again had the taste of it. The singer leans his head back at the last second. “We can’t.”
“What? Why not?”
Gerard frowns, getting a bit annoyed. “Because… Because.”
The front-man doesn’t say anything; he just points at the photograph. Frank whips his head around to see what’s wrong and when he turns back to look at Gerard, he looks heart-broken.
“I,” he starts, “I-I guess I. I didn’t have the chance to tell anyone. Because I didn’t even give myself any time to think about it properly. It kinda hurts when I think about it.”
“What?” Gerard asks, shocked.
Frank shakes his head sadly. “Instead I… I focused on you, taking care of you and playing the shows and trying not to fight… But. I should’ve faced it.” He pauses and looks down, examining the patterns of the bedcovers before he takes a deep breath. “We… we broke up, Jamia and I.”
Gerard can’t make any noise except “…Oh.”
“Yeah,” Frank nods.
“B-but you were so… so –”
“Good together? Yeah, we were. At least I thought so. But I guess, when you can’t be together very often, it stops being that good after a while.”
Gerard’s heart breaks at Frank’s crest-fallen admission. It’s because of the band. It’s because of the endless tours that they broke up. It’s because of this fucking wreckage of a band that he’s now away from the woman he called his one true love. Gerard doesn’t know what to say to that. Except…
“… I’m sorry.”
For everything that’s happened and for everything that’ll happen, Gerard’s thinking as they cuddle up against each other on the bed. Arms wrap around and breaths mingle… And Gerard knows he has to end this now:
This band doesn't save lives anymore. It ruins them.
[*A/N: Okay, I just wanna say thanks again for the lovely reviews for the last chapter. So, how do you like it so far people? Tell me, tell me, tell meeeaaahhhh! I think I just morphed into a zombie-author. Don't freak, though. I won't bite your flesh off if you review and/or rate, thereby telling me what you think about this. Yeah.
Bye for now.