The morning after.
Gerard nodded to him and took a seat at the table. He poured a glass of orange juice, took a drink, then asked trying to sound nonchalant, “Did anyone talk to Willow before she left this morning?” He didn’t miss the look of disgust that Bob shot him.
Brian nodded, “Yeah, I gave her the check we owed her before she took off.” He was confused by Gerard’s mood. Was he regretting asking her to move to New York? He thought it best not to add that he’d been shocked when she’d asked for the check. In his mind Gerard had already done more than enough by paying off all her bills.
“What time did she leave?” Gerard asked.
Alicia was the one who answered, “About six.” She gave him a puzzled look, “I was kinda surprised you didn’t get up to see her off.”
Gerard looked down at his empty plate but said nothing.
Something seemed wrong to Alicia. She blurted out, “Holy crap, you haven’t changed your mind about her moving to New York, have you?”
Gerard’s head shot up, “She told you about that?”
“Well, uh, we talked about it.” Mikey had told her last night about his brother plan to so she had asked Willow this morning. “So what’s wrong?”
“Uh, nothing.” Gerard muttered trying to figure out what had happened. Willow had left without a word to him but had obviously given Alicia the impression that she was moving to New York like he’s asked. Suddenly he realized he actually was angry at Willow. How could she let him treat her like he had done last night and still want to be with him? Didn’t she realize there was no way she should allow him to treat her like he had?
Brian grabbed another cinnamon rolls and spoke, “She told me she’d give me a call as soon as she got things settled.”
Bob pushed away from the table in disgust. “Hope you’re happy.” He glared at Gerard. “You got what you wanted.”
Gerard cringed, “Did you talk to her this morning?”
“Yeah, for a few minutes. I carried her bag out to the cab for her.” He started to turn but added, “She looked terrible, like she hadn’t slept.”
Gerard looked back down unable to meet his stare.
Mikey was watching his brother closely and knew something was wrong. “Hey, I’m gonna go take one final walk around the grounds. Wanna come with me, Gee?” He really wanted to find out what was going on in his brothers head.
Gerard definitely wanted to get away from everyone. He nodded, “Yeah, sure.” And stood to push away from the table.
Mikey waited until they were outside before he asked, “So what’s wrong? You’re acting like you were surprised Willow was gone this morning. Didn’t you know she was leaving?”
“We really hadn’t worked out all the details.” Was his vague answer.
“But you knew she was going back to Kansas, right?” Mikey asked.
They had reached one of the wooden benches and Gerard sat down. He pulled out his cigarettes and lit one.
Mikey sat down next to him. “When I talked to her she told me about you asking her to move to New York. She said she was going home to take care of stuff. I just assumed she was going to take care of details and whatnot like her house and shit.”
Gerard’s mind was a mess. Was that what she was doing? Maybe he was taking this all too seriously. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“So I didn’t really have time to ask her a lot of questions.” Mikey said, “But is she gonna sell her house?”
Taking a deep drag off his cigarette Gerard shrugged, “I don’t know.”
Mikey had a sinking feeling something about this conversation was very wrong. “You didn’t talk about it?”
“We didn’t talk about anything.” Gerard’s anger was just below the surface and he was trying to keep control, “Fuck, I didn’t even know she was leaving.”
Mikey gave him a shocked look, “I don’t understand. You did ask her to move to New York, didn’t you? I mean last night Brian told us that’s what you were gonna do and Willow said the same thing.”
“Brian told you that?” Gerard’s anger was now apparent.
“Well yeah. He also told us about how you had him pay off Willow’s bills. I think that was great.”
“Fuck.” Gerard exploded, “What, did you all just have a get together and talk about my life?”
Mikey was confused, “You didn’t want us to know you’d asked her?” Suddenly he thought he understood, “Oh, you didn’t want him to tell us you were gonna ask her to move to New York before you actually asked her. Gee, did you really think she wouldn’t?”
“How the fuck would I have known what she would say?” He tossed this cigarette butt away.
“But Gee, you gotta know how she feels about you.” Mikey answered softly. “You gotta know. I just don’t understand why you didn’t ask her to move in with you.”
“Because it ain’t like that.” He spat, “I didn’t ask her to marry me for Christ’s sake. Why the fuck do all of you suddenly think that?”
Mikey shook his head slowly, “Gee calm down. What the fuck is going on? I’m confused.”
Gerard stood, “Yeah, well so am I. Brian has no business telling everyone what the fuck I’m doing. It’s my life and my business, no one else’s.”
Mikey looked up at him, “So are you regretting asking her to move to New York?”
“I don’t fuckin’ know if she is moving to New York.” Gerard answered angrily, “I don’t fuckin’ know what is going on.”
“But you said you asked her. Didn’t she agree?”
Gerard just stared at him.
Mikey was trying to make sense of everything, “Look, she said she was going back to take care of things and I assumed that meant because she was moving.”
It was hard but he tried to control his anger, “I asked her and I thought she agreed but she left without telling me goodbye.” That sounded so lame to his own ears but it was the truth.
“Well just call her later and talk to her.” Mikey suggested.
Gerard sat back down and ran his hand over his face, “Dude, I don’t even have her phone number. I know she doesn’t have a cell phone.”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, I knew that. She told Alicia she’d like one but couldn’t afford it. But you can call her once she gets home. Brian probably has her number.”
Once again Gerard’s temper flared, “Yeah, I’m sure he does. He had her checked out after all.”
Mikey couldn’t fault Gerard being angry about that because the truth was he was pissed about it too. “Gee, you just need to talk to her and get this straightened out. Maybe she thought you understood she was still going home this morning. She understands that we gotta fly home then turn around and fly off for Europe tomorrow.”
“I don’t wanna go.” Gerard muttered.
“But we have to.” Mikey reminded him softly, “We already agreed and it’s all set up. It sucks that you won’t be able to see Willow for a couple of months but I’m sure she understands.”
“I looked at the itinerary.” Gerard said shaking his head, “It’s actually three and a half months. I’m gonna be fuckin’ gone for three and a half months.”
Mikey reached over and touched his arm, “Gee look at me.” He waited until Gerard’s eyes met his, “How do you really feel about her?”
He couldn’t lie to his brother. “I fuckin’ love her and I hate it.” He whispered.
That was what Mikey had been afraid of. Not that Gee loved her but that he hated that fact. “She’s not like her. Willow wouldn’t hurt you.”
“You don’t know that.” Gerard answered reaching for his cigarettes again.
“Yeah, I do and I know she loves you.”
Gerard lit the cigarette with trembling fingers, “She told you that?”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, that is what the Dark Man was using to hurt her. He knew it too.”
“He knew how she felt about you. He was filling her mind with images of you. Images of the woman I saw choking you, shit like that because he knew that would hurt Willow to see that shit.”
Gerard remembered Willow begging Ray to get him out of the room, Now it made sense. He remembered Willow saying the Dark Man had known she had feelings for him but at the time he’d ignored that fact. “Why didn’t she tell me that she loved me?” he asked.
“Because she believed you didn’t love her.” Mikey answered softly,. “But now she knows you care about her so it’s gonna be okay.”
“She doesn’t know.” Gerard said miserably. “I didn’t tell her. Fuck, I told her that I could never love her.”
Mikey shook his head sadly, “But Gee deep down even if you wouldn’t admit it to yourself how you felt about her was there. Surely Willow knows.”
“No” Gerard leaned back and closed his eyes a moment, “We discovered that all I had to do was touch her and her mind went silent. She can’t hear my thoughts.”
Mikey sighed, “But you didn’t touch her 24/7. All the times you two were together she must have heard something.”
“I made sure she couldn’t hear any of my thoughts.” Gerard admitted.
“Oh like you did on the bus you blocked your thoughts from her by singing in your head.” Mikey said remembering.
“Yeah” Gerard answered growing more miserable by the minute. “At first I told myself I was doing it so she wouldn’t get the wrong idea.”
“I didn’t want her to think I had deep feelings for her.” He looked down, “I didn’t want her to think I loved her.”
“But you do.” Mikey said hating the sadness he saw in his brother’s eyes.
Gerard nodded, “I’m such a jackass I wouldn’t let myself admit it. Not until last night when the truth hit me full force and then..” His voice trailed off.
“And then what?” Mikey asked hearing something in his brother’s voice.
“When I realized the truth I panicked. I blamed her for making me love her. I blamed her for making me feel the way I promised myself I would never feel again.” He became lost in the memories of last night, “I took my anger out on her.”
Mikey was shocked, “What did you do, Gee?”
Gerard couldn’t make himself admit to his brother what he’d done.
“Gee?” Mikey was suddenly very afraid. “What did you do?”
“I was a bastard to her.” Was all he could say.
“So she doesn’t know that you love her.” Mikey said sadly. “She doesn’t know.”
Gerard looked down. “I just couldn’t deal with the truth. I was so afraid. Mikey I can’t get hurt again. It would destroy me.”
“She wouldn’t hurt you.” Mikey said believing his words completely. “Willow would never hurt you.”
Gerard wanted to believe his brother with every fiber of his being. “I need to talk to her. Fuck, I have to talk to her but I don’t honestly know if I can deal with this. One minute I hate her for making me love her and the next minute I freak because I’m afraid because I don’t want to loose her.” He ran his hand through his hair as he shook his head. “I’m just so fuckin’ confused.
Mikey smiled sadly, “Gee listen to yourself. You are blaming Willow for making her love you but you have to know that’s a lie. She didn’t make you love her, you feel in love with her on your own.” He reached out and touched Gerard’s arm, “You’re afraid of how you feel about her, I get that. But Gee, you have to let go of the past and move on.”
“I’m not sure I can.” Gerard whispered.
Mikey’s heart went out to him. “Then you’ll lose her forever and I really don’t think you want that to happen.”
“I don’t know what the fuck I want.” Gerard felt as if his whole world was being turned upside down. “I just know that I really need to talk to her. What I did last night…” Once again he felt such a deep ssense of regret. “She needs to know how sorry I am. But Mikey, I don’t want the others to know what’s going on.”
“I understand.” Mikey said leaning over and giving him a quick hug. They all think that Willow just went home and then is moving to New York. I won’t say anything.”
Gerard nodded, “Thanks.”
“It will be okay, Gee.” Mikey said with a small, hopeful smile. “I really think things will work out. Willow is a remarkable woman and I know in my heart grandma knew that too when she brought her into our lives.”
An hour before the plane was scheduled to land in New York Gerard stood and walked down the aisle until he reached the row where Brian sat reading a magazine. Taking the empty seat next to him he spoke in a low tone not wanting to be overheard, “I want to see the report on Willow.”
Brian looked up clearly surprised. “I told you there is nothing in it that’s all that interesting.”
Gerard tried to keep the anger out of his voice, “I want to see it, now.”
Brian shrugged and reached for his messenger bag. “Sure, here.” He handed over the folder.
Gerard took it and returned to his seat. Opening it up he began to read and soon realized how much he didn’t know about Willow. He read the facts of where she’d been born, her birthday, her parents names, the schools she had attended. When he reached the section on her admittance to the psychiatric hospital he was filled with anger. The mere thought of a young Willow being in that place and growing “silent” broke his heart.
Forty minutes later he closed the file and leaned back. It was all there in black and white. Her parent’s divorce, the hospitalization that had lead to her aunt gaining custody of her, and the deaths of her parents and her beloved aunt. She truly was alone in this world. And because of him she still believed that nothing had changed.
“See you in the morning, Bro.” Mikey said as the airport shuttle pulled up in front of Gerard’s apartment. Only Mikey and Alicia remained the others had already been dropped off.
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, in the morning.”
“Tell Willow hello for me.” Mikey said as Gerard grabbed his bag. He knew his brother had been waiting for the privacy of home to call her.
“Oh, tell her I said hey, too.” Alicia added. “And make sure to give her my cell number. I meant to this morning but I forgot.”
“Yeah.” He stepped out and gave them a wave as the van pulled away.
Reaching his apartment he let himself in and threw down his bag. He glanced over at the clock and figured the time difference. In Kansas it was only a little after five. He made his way to the study and sat down behind the deck before pulling out his cell phone. He’d already programmed her number in while he’d been on the plane.
A voice he didn’t recognize answered.
“Uh, can I speak to Willow?” He asked feeling his heart begin to race.
“She’s not here. Can I take a message?”
Gerard realized he must be speaking to Kelly, Willow’s roommate. “This is Gerard. Will she be home soon?”
Kelly paused, “I’m not sure. She didn’t tell me when she’d be home.”
“Can you have her give me a call? I’ll give you my cell number.” He had realized Willow wouldn’t know the number.
“Sure, hold on.” He heard her moving around and assumed she was looking for paper and pencil, “Okay, what is it?”
He recited his number.
“Got it. I’ll give her the message.”
“Thanks.” Gerard closed the phone and sat back in the chair. His eyes roamed the desktop noting the photos Willow had added before they left for California. He closed his eyes and remembered how she’d been worried he’d be upset because she had tried to make his sterile apartment homier. He realized she’d come into his life and completely changed it, she’d changed him. “I just have to tell her.” He whispered to the quiet room.
Kelly looked across the small living room at Willow who was curled up on the sofa. She walked over and handed her the piece of paper on which she’d written the phone number.
Willow reached for the paper then crumbled it in her hand. She closed her eyes and prayed for sleep.
AUTHORS NOTE: I want to thank all of you for the reviews. Don't worry this isn't the end. There is still much more to come. Sorry about the spacing but I'm posting from a different computer. Take care all. Love ya.