"All right Frank, you did very well today."
I turned my head as best I could to peer at my physical therapist. He was massaging the back of my right leg slowly, working out the muscles after an hour of exercise.
"When do I come back?"
"Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Same time. You need a day in-between each for your muscles to rest and I'm booked on weekends."
I stayed quiet for the rest of the session, enjoying the slow massages. I kept my head buried into my arms the entire time I was lying down; I didn't want to look up and be forced to look at Gerard. The last thing I needed was to start crying like a baby in front of someone I'd be seeing three times a week for God-knows-how-long.
The therapist patted my leg and slowly helped me into a sitting position. Gerard wrapped his arm around me, easing me into my wheelchair as I kept my gaze plastered to the floor. I hated feeling so helpless, especially when I couldn't even enjoy being babied by him. A few minutes later I'd been silently helped into the car and driven off. The car ride, just like every moment between us since he left me just a day prior, was dead-silent and awkward.
That day at the hospital I refused to talk to anyone about what happened. The guys were basically left to interpret it on their own from how cold and distant Gerard and I were.
Whenever Gerard was around, I'd clam up and withdraw from the group; whenever I was around, he would gravitate away from everyone and slip into his own little grief-ridden world. I could tell by the look on Ray’s face that it was exactly what he had warned against that day on the ship.
After a while anger consumed what originally hit me as sadness. I wanted nothing to do with Gerard.
But I'd have no choice. I'd have to deal with living with him until my damn muscles decided to work again. Oh, no, it couldn't have been Mikey or Ray or Bob to volunteer to help me out. It had to be him.
I stared out the window, carefully avoiding his gaze. He kept glancing at me out of the corners of his eyes to see if I'd say something. Nope. Wasn’t going to happen.
He didn't get it. I wanted to be with him, regardless of what some pompous, over-opinionated cowards thought they could get away with. But if he was going to let so much go so soon, then that would be his problem. Not mine. Let him find some girl who won't give two shits about him and will only want him for his money. I didn’t care. The world would be happy then.
But he wouldn't be.
So I did care.
I bit down on my lip in frustration and finally glanced at him when the car came to a stop. We were home. My home.
Gerard got out of the car, circled around to my side and somehow managed to help me out without making eye contact. I held my breath as his arms supported me by my lower back, holding me close against his body.
"I want to walk."
He seemed shocked and finally looked me in the eyes; it was the first thing I'd said to him all day.
"I want to walk," I repeated, nodding to the wheelchair. "Put that damn thing away."
"You can't yet, you've only had one session—"
"Well, let me try! I don't want to be babied," I snapped. He muttered something under his breath about being stubborn and huffed.
"Fine, go ahead then." He steadied me onto my feet and let go without warning. My calves and knees gave way immediately under my weight and I toppled over, just barely saved by his arms from making an impromptu acquaintance with the pavement. He had a smug I-told-you-so look on his face. Oh, if my muscles worked…
"You asshole!" I barked. With a glare he seated me none-too-gently into my wheelchair, slammed the car door and pushed me into the house with more force than necessary. I would have liked to strap him into the wheelchair and "accidentally" roll it down my basement stairs.
When we were inside the house I tried to struggle out of my wheelchair myself since Gerard probably wouldn't help me after our little episode. After watching my several failed attempts he grunted, hooked his hands under my arms and heaved me onto the couch. He then started to scroll through the channels on the T.V. until he came across Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and placed the remote next to me.
My anger left with him as he walked to the kitchen. Tears found their way to my eyes for the thousandth time that week.
The Harry Potter movies were my favorites.
The clinking of glasses and the opening of cabinet doors echoed throughout the kitchen. I recognized the cabinet by the way the hinge squeaked and the direction it came from; he was helping himself to my alcohol.
"Gerard," I groaned, leaning my head back. He didn't hear me. "Gerard!"
He returned to the living room empty-handed. Nice try, buddy.
"What is it?"
I didn't want to accuse him and piss him off further, but I had to distract him somehow. I had a feeling he had been doing much more drinking since I was last conscious. "Can I have something to eat?"
He nodded curtly and left the room, returning a moment later with some Pop Tarts. Another favorite of mine. Sitting next to me, he picked one up and held it to my lips. I took a bite, chewed slowly. Our eyes met and I swallowed, more out of nerves than need. There was nothing I wanted more than to kiss his lips; it felt like the moment before our first kiss all over again.
I finished off half of the Pop Tart before resting my head on his shoulder. He tensed slightly, then relaxed with a sigh. He never could stay angry at me for long, even when we were just friends.
"Gerard, please," I begged. I finally pressed my lips to his in a desperate attempt to stop him from saying it. It was relieving to feel his lips linger on mine and even react to some degree before he pulled himself away.
"Yes, we can," I whimpered, those damn tears filling my eyes again. My “Pansy” guitar was suddenly starting to feel very fitting. "I want to be with you!"
He shook his head and I felt something inside me crumble.
"We can't – I can't. I'm sorry; I can't risk you getting hurt again because of me."
"I'd rather suffer fifteen more comas than live without you," I muttered shakily. He watched me break down with pained eyes. The intensity of my voice increased steadily until I was nearly shouting. "You can't do this to me. After all of those years I finally had you and now you're just gonna take it all away? Do you enjoy this or something? I’m sick of you always teasing me, dangling yourself in front of me and then pulling back!"
"Of course I don't! You think I wanted this? Why d'you think I kept pushing you away? None of it would have happened in the first place if you would've just kept off me around other people like I told you to!"
His voice seethed with the smell of stale whiskey. My mouth opened and closed several times in an attempt to scream something back, but I had nothing to say. He was blaming me for my own coma… because I wasn't ashamed to love him?
"Fine," I breathed shakily. "Fine. Go drink your ass off and live in fear. I don't care. See if letting other people hold you back will ever help you in the band or in anything else you try to do. I'm through with trying to drill this into your fucking head."
He balled his hand into a fist and I was sure he was going to hit me. Instead, he stormed out without a response, slamming the door so hard a picture frame fell off the wall and shattered. I was tempted to throw something at the door until I was painfully reminded that I could barely move. I muttered a foul curse under my breath. Gerard was the only one in the house with me; without him, I wouldn't be able to do anything, even call someone else to come help me out. My pain killers were wearing off, too, and I couldn't get to the kitchen to take a few more. A dull throbbing slowly came to life in my ribs and intensified with each passing minute.
It seemed like hours that I sat there in pain. I decided I wasn't exaggerating, either, since Harry Potter was over and some awful chick flick was playing. The pain in my ribs was starting to take over my entire body and even breathing became difficult. I needed those pills. Now. And maybe some of my own alcohol, if the jerk hadn’t drank it all.
I slowly moved my arms as much as I could and pressed my palms flat against the back cushion of the couch. With as much of a push as I could muster, I tried to stand and was met with searing hot pain in my torso. I cried out and slumped back down into a lying position, my arms draped over my stomach. I fought back the tears this time; if I couldn't control them during emotional trauma, I could at least prevent them during physical.
I laid there helplessly for another hour or so until I heard a key being shoved into the doorknob. I groaned; pain or no pain, I wasn't ready to see him again just yet. The door opened and I glared over at the slim, tall man that walked in.
Oh, wrong Way.
"Hey Mikey," I sighed, trying to push myself back up. He kneeled down next to the couch and helped me.
"Hey." He sounded sympathetic. "Gerard called me and told me you'd need someone to come help you out. What happened?"
Oh, so he decided not to let me rot after all.
"Nothing, we got into a fight 'cause he'd rather run away from his problems. He tried to blame what happened on me and I lost it."
Mikey sighed and placed a pillow behind my back for support. "He sounded a bit off on the phone. I don't think it was from anger, either."
"Yeah, he was drinking again." My anger slipped away from me again, to be replaced by worry. "We can't let him get into that again, Mike…"
"I know, but Gerard does what he wants to do. There's no stopping him, take it from someone who grew up with him." He sat next to me on the couch and stared down at the floor. I suddenly felt that if Gerard sunk back into his old habits it would be entirely my fault. "I don't know what to do."
"Maybe one of the guys can stay with him."
"I think I might just call him up now and then to make sure he's doing okay." He spotted the shattered glass across the room and walked over, bending down to clean it up. "You guys really went at it, huh?"
I shrugged. I didn't want to talk about it anymore. The small movement reminded me of the sharp pain in my ribs and I wheezed.
"Mike, can you do me a favor and bring me my pain killers? I've been overdue for a dose for about four hours now."
"Oh, ouch. Alright. Where are they?"
I told him where to look and he came back with two pills and a glass of water after throwing out the broken glass. Smiling my thanks at him, I downed them eagerly. He then found a scary movie on T.V. and put it on for me while he disappeared into the other room with the phone for a while.
Everything reminded me of him. I couldn’t even look at Mikey without seeing the similar browline, the only slightly different pointed nose. The unknown horror movie taunted me with every scene; we used to watch movies like it on the road together all the time.
When Mikey came back, he hung the phone up and sighed in relief.
"He sounds sober, just a bit upset. I don't think he's drinking."
"I'm still worried," I murmured.
"I know, so am I. But there's nothing we can really do, I mean the only real reason he got out of it last time was because he wanted to. Intervention wasn't working, remember? He should be fine; he remembers what it's like…"
He didn't sound too sure, but I nodded the reassurance he needed and let it go.
God, I was so worried about him. I wanted to be mad at him – I felt that I should be – but it was a hard thing to do when he was so caring in his own twisted ways.
I still loved him. Even more than I did before all of this.