I asked Frank if he was okay a lot that week, he kept spacing out and he had returned to the habit of wrapping his arms around himself. Not even Ray could make him talk much, and that started to increase my worries - he and Ray were best friends and usually I couldn’t make them shut up. Something was wrong with Frank, I could tell there was but I couldn’t understand what it was. It was clear he wasn’t sleeping and I constantly wondered what was plaguing his mind to keep him awake at night. I prayed he wasn’t feeling guilty about his father being sent to jail...
"Gerard darling! Just a quick call, but I don’t suppose you could do me a huuuuge favor could you?" I mumbled a 'depends what it is' round the chunk of cookie in my mouth and leaned back against the kitchen work top, the phone pressed to my ear by my shoulder as I held my cookie in one hand, and stirred sugar into my coffee with the other.
"I've just been called by an old friend of mine, Judy, do you remember her? Oh wait, of course not you never met her - we were school friend’s hahaha." I rolled my eyes at my mother’s stupidity and waited for her to continue.
"Well, she rang me - got my number off Louise, you don’t know her either - and she wants to meet up tonight. I'll be staying at hers too and it means Frank will be alone all night, and I'll feel just awful leaving him! I knows he's old enough and everything but I just won’t rest if I knows he's alone, and I really don’t want to pass up on this chance to meet up with Judy again. So I was wondering if you'd let Frank stay over at yours the night, since its Saturday tomorrow and all. I wouldn’t usually ask with such short notice but -"
"Geez ma shut up." I laughed, having finally finished the cookie. "Its fine, of course I don’t mind. You go have fun." I said with a smile. I heard ma breathe a sigh of relief.
"Oh thanks Gee. I just really would feel bad if I left him alone, especially with his nightmares and everything." She sighed. I nearly choked on the coffee I had been sipping and gently thumped my chest.
"Nightmares - what?" I cried. There was a small pause before ma answered, and when she did her voice was quiet.
"Hasn’t he told you? He told me he'd told you. Goodness Gerard didn’t you notice how tired he's been this week?" She snapped in an accusing voice. I frowned and scoffed.
"Of course I've noticed. And no, he hasn’t mentioned anything about nightmares." I said moodily. I heard mom tut as if it was my fault he hadn’t told me anything.
"Well, he's been having nightmares. He won’t tell me what about, but I think it’s pretty obvious what it must be - oh god, Judy’s here, I have to go now Gee. I'll send Frank to yours he'll be there soon. Bye Gerard!"
"Mom hold on a seco -" I heard the sound of the dialing tone and sighed. She had hung up, and I hadn’t had chance to ask her more about the nightmares. I knew I could just ask Frank when he got here but I guessed he didn’t want me to know if he hadn’t told me, and I didn’t want to press it. No matter what I always wanted Frank to be happy. I groaned and dropped the phone on the side, picking up my coffee and wandering out of the kitchen with a scowl. If Frank was going to be coming round then I was going to have to do as much marking as I could before he got here.
"Gee... Gerard, wake up!" I jolted awake; Frank jumped back and grinned at me sheepishly. The end credits of the movie was had been watching were rolling up the TV screen and I yawned, rubbing my eyes.
"How long have I been asleep?" I asked, Frank shrugged.
"Since ten minutes into the film." He said. I groaned and pushed a hand through my hair. I hadn’t realized I was so tired.
"Sorry Frank. I've been working so hard this week, I just have no energy." I explained guiltily. Frank smiled and helped me to my feet.
"It’s fine. I'm pretty tired too. I think I'll get to bed. You should do the same." He said, making me feel as if he were the adult and not me. I swatted him round the head and he giggled before yawning. I smiled fondly and he smirked at me, making his way out of the living room and to the spare bedroom. He hugged me goodnight and disappeared into the room, I shuffled into my room and only had the energy to pull off my shirt before collapsing onto my mattress, hugging the pillow to my chest before falling to sleep, not even beneath the covers.
I groaned in discomfort and rolled onto my back, rubbing my eyes and stretching my aching muscles. The room was pitch black and I could tell I hadn’t been asleep for more than a few hours, but my neck was killing me from the awkward position I had been sleeping in. I sat up and looked around my room with heavy eyelids. I couldn’t tell what time it was, but my guess was early in the morning, like one or two am. I lay back down and shifted until I was beneath the covers, thumping my pillow before resting my head on it. I rolled to my front and felt a sharp pain stab through my abdomen as my belt buckle stuck into my skin. I gave a hiss of annoyance and sat up again. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t removed my jeans before sleeping, but then I must have been tired because I couldn’t even remember coming to bed.
I swung my legs over the side of the mattress, planning to remove my jeans before sleeping again but my fingers had barely touched the buckle when I heard a choked sob coming from the spare bedroom next door. My hands stilled and I tilted my head, listening intently to the silence that had followed the noise. Just as I had begun to wonder whether I had imagined it another little choked sob like the first one penetrated my ears, it was quiet, but unmistakable. I got to my feet, frowning, I crossed over to my open door and stepped into the hallway. I could hear quiet whimpers coming from the spare room.
"Dad... p - please... no..." I halted in my tracks and felt my stomach lurch. "Dad please doesn’t... please!" Franks voice was muffled and I jolted out of my shock as if I had been electrocuted. I ran to the spare room and burst through the door, looking about the room with wide eyes. From the moonlight coming in through the window I could see Frank lying in his bed, the covers were tangled about his legs and one side of his face was pressed into the pillow. He was talking in his sleep, begging his father to stop. I felt my stomach give a sickening churn and I crossed over to him, debating on whether to wake him or not. It was when he started screaming hysterically that I made up my mind.
"Frank! Frankie wakes up!" I whispered harshly, shaking his shoulder. He gasped and pushed my away with such force I stumbled backwards onto my ass and Frank toppled out of the bed, falling into my lap, my knees pressed into his stomach, winding him. He groaned with pain I flattened my legs, allowing him to roll away.
"Fuck Frank, I'm so sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you." I whispered, getting to my knees and helping him into a sitting position. He rubbed his eyes and ran a hand through his hair that was sticking up in several places.
"What happened?" He asked gruffly, looking about in confusion. Tears on his cheeks glistened in the moonlight and I resisted the urge to embrace him.
"You were having a nightmare..." I answered. He looked horrified and bit his lip, avoiding my gaze. "You were talking and... screaming." I added quietly. Frank looked further away from me and pulled his knees up to his chest.
"Oh..." He whispered. I sighed and sat back.
"How often have you been dreaming about Frank?" I asked. He looked at me with sad eyes and shook his head.
"What makes you think that wasn’t the first time?" He asked, and I could hear the guilt in his voice.
"Mom told me when she rang me today... why didn’t you tell me anything Frank? Why hide that from me?" I asked, unable to hide the hurt in my voice. I just didn’t understand. I thought he trusted me, I thought everything was going to be okay now. He looked down at the carpet we were sat on and I could see the tears in his eyes.
"I'm sorry." He whispered, his voice trembling. "I just didn’t want anyone to know... I thought you'd want me to go to counseling, and I hate talking about it. I just want to take it on my own." He confessed. I sighed and shifted closer to him, unsure of what affect the dream had on him I gingerly put my arm around his shoulder, relaxing slightly when he didn’t flinch away.
"You shouldn’t have to take everything on your own Frank, you know you can talk to me. I would never make you go to counseling if you didn’t want to... you're supposed to trust me." I whispered, my voice laced with pain that Frank noticed. He looked at me with surprised eyes and I saw pain reflected in the hazel orbs.
"I'm sorry." He repeated. "I just... I don’t know... I'm sorry Gee. I won’t hide it from you again." He promised quietly. I sighed and pulled him closer to me, cuddling him close and he rested his head on my shoulder, raising his arm to hook over my other shoulder, securing his body to mine.
"Five times." He whispered and I frowned.
"What?" I asked.
"Five times." He repeated, staring directly at the wall in his line of vision. "I've dreamt about it five times. And I can never sleep afterwards. It’s like he's right there next to me. Haunting me even though he's in prison now." He whispered, twisting a lock of my hair round his finger. I bowed my head until my lips were pressed against his hair and I closed my eyes.
"He can’t hurt you now Frank, just keep reminding yourself that, and the dreams will go. Maybe not for a while, but they will. Just make sure you talk to me okay?" I asked. He nodded and shifted closer to me, pressing his face against my bare chest and I could feel his hot breath on my flesh directly over where my heart would be. I felt my heart rate increase and my body temperature rise. I silently prayed that Frank wouldn’t notice.
"Gee?" He whispered, and I could hear that he was falling asleep again.
"Um?" I hummed, subconsciously running my fingers through his hair.
"I -" Frank cut himself off with a yawn, fidgeting a little before continuing but I could tell he was fading fast, back into the embrace of a hopefully dreamless sleep. "I think I..." He trailed off and his breathing became heavier. His body slumping in my arms. "Think I love..." He mumbled, already practically asleep. My body tensed and I waited for him to continue but he never did, sleep had taken him and I released the breath I had been holding, unease nibbling at my nerves. What had he been going to say? I struggled to stop myself from thinking about it, I didn’t want to convince myself that he had been going to say something he may not have, I didn’t want to drag up feelings for him that I was already trying to keep buried.
I slowly got to my feet, careful not to wake him. He was breathing softly against my skin and his fingers were still twisted in my hair. I bent to lay him in his bed and gently pulled his arms away from me, tucking him beneath the covers and looking down at him, his body was cast in shadow, but his face was illuminated by the moon and his skin looked pale, the rings under his eyes prominent. I sighed and ran a hand down his cheek, I hoped he would sleep through the night now.
I knew I wouldn’t. No matter how much I tried, I would be up all night battling with my thoughts.
"Sleep tight Frankie." I whispered, leaving his room and taking one last look at him before pulling the door shut.
A/N: Phew, I actually didn’t think I was gonna be able to post this chapter. I was starting to get writers block and I was really beginning to panic, but then Immy gave me a helpful nudge in the right direction and Walla! The chapter was born ^_^ So, all credit to this chapter goes to Immy, who is awesome =P
So yeah... thanks for all your amazing rates and reviews, you groovy cats keep my world turning xD