Frank must realize something before its too late for Gerard.
'You fucking killed them. They loved you more than anything, and you fucking killed them. He's going to murder them, and it's all your fault.'
The words hissed in Lindsey's mind over and over. These thoughts, these thoughts haunted her every single time she tried to shut her eyes to sleep. The emotionless reaction she had felt upon reading Ryan's letter had in the days to pass had become replaced with an overwhelming sensation of guilt. No matter how hard she struggled to shake it off, it stayed and lingered.
She sat now, at the desk in her room, hovering a pen over the blank paper in front of her. She pressed upon it and began to write:
I'm writing to you now for no other reason than closure. I know there aren't enough apologies for the hurt I've caused you, so I'm not going to bother. Instead, I'm going to ask that you not remember me for the person I was when you last saw me. I ask you to remember me as the woman you loved and who loved you in return. The woman you started a family with. The woman you called your best friend. Because she's still there, Gerard. She's still there, buried underneath the ruin that I've become. And she misses you so, so much. She misses your tight embraces. She misses your Breakfast Monkey imitations. She misses your soft, sweet kisses. She misses your excellent home cooked meals.
Tears began to spill on the paper, splattering like heavy drops of rain. She searched her mind for more to say, but all that came to mind was this:
I know it’s in your nature, but please don’t go blaming yourself. No matter how cliché it sounds: It’s not you. It’s me. The things that I kept from you were not only to protect myself, but to protect you too. I still want to protect you. But I guess the best way to have done that was to simply be honest with you. And now it’s too late to turn back. That fact alone kills me every single day I continue to live. I’ve ruined everything. Please understand Gerard, I just don’t want to hurt you anymore.
The last thing I have to protect you from is myself.
Goodbye, my love. Maybe we'll meet again someday, and then I'll be who I used to be.
Sighing, she left the table, leaving the note upon it. Lindsey then went about throwing her pillow on the floor, and she removed her bed sheets from the mattress. She looked outside the tiny window of her room one last time, trying to glimpse at the stars in the night sky. Suddenly, she felt a kick in her belly, and she placed a hand ever so slightly on her stomach.
She had to protect him.
Tears still streaming down her face, she tied the sheets around her neck.
Gerard had been in the grips of an uneasy sleep when he heard a noise that sounded like it had come from downstairs. In his state of being semi-awake, he brushed it off as possibly being imaginary. Then, a few minutes later, he heard it again, only louder.
He forced himself to get up, and his first instinct was to check on Bandit. He hopped off the bed and quietly crept to her bedroom. It wasn’t until he opened the door, did he hear voices.
Gerard’s heart jumped to his throat. There were six or so darkly clothed men standing around Bandit’s toddler bed, and all of them had turned their attention to him.
There was a long moment of frightful silence. One man with a deep voice then said, “Kill the girl.”
Another man rose what Gerard could see was the outline of a gun.
“NO!”, he screamed, hurling himself at the man. Gerard and what looked to be a man in his mid-forties struggled on the floor, Gerard hitting and kicking him everywhere he could reach. The gun had flown the floor on one corner of the room upon Gee having jumped on top of him.
An array of hands then pulled him off the man, and Gerard only then remembered the fact that he was highly outnumbered.
“WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT?” Gerard screamed at them as a man held him back firmly.
“Payment. Or payback. However you’d like to look at it.”, one man said casually.
“You want money? Fine, whatever, take however much you want. It's all in the master bedroom. Just get the fuck away from my daughter!” Gerard growled.
“Daddy?” a small voice piped up. Bandit had awoken. They all turned to her at the sound of her voice.
Gerard took advantage of this opportunity and bit down hard on the arm of the man who was holding him. The man screamed from the pain and Gerard immediately bolted towards Bandit, grabbed her, and tried to make a run for it.
Then, just as they got out into the balcony, a gunshot rang. White hot pain seared through Gerard’s leg as he fell to the ground. He held Bandit close to him, struggling not to drop her. He tried to get up again and keep running, but a second gunshot rang out, and Gerard then had two bullet wounds in the same leg. Try as he might, he could no longer stand, let alone make it down the stairs. Bandit started crying hysterically. She didn’t know what was happening, and the loud noises weren’t helping to say the least. He released Bandit onto the floor.
“Sweetie, I need you to do something for me.”, Gerard tried to tell her as quick, yet as clearly as he could, “I need you to run. Run outside, and go to the Ling’s house. Tell them to call 911, do you understand?”
“Daddy, you’re hurt….” Bandit cried.
“No sweetie, I’m okay. Everything’s fine. Just please, baby, run!”
Gerard then saw Bandit look up, and he knew it was too late. Someone was approaching them. In the distance, he could hear some of the other men going into his bedroom, and from what it sounded like, looking for the cash he had mentioned. The man who approached them flipped Gerard on his back, kicked Gerard in the stomach a few times, then stomped on his face enough to break his nose. He caressed Gee’s cheek with his shoe, grinning manically and dealing him a blow to the head.
“Stop!” Bandit screeched. “Stop hurting daddy!” and she grabbed onto the leg the man was using to kick Gerard.
“Bandit!”, Gerard yelled in protest. The man only shook Bandit aside, grunting in annoyance. He kicked her in the stomach and she yelped.Gerard grabbed onto the hem of the man’s pants with all his strength and pulled him away. Bandit only ran back to her father’s side.
“Please.”, Gerard shook his head, tears forming in his eyes, he begged, “Please spare her. Kill me, do whatever you want with me, but please don’t hurt her, she knows nothing! Just leave her! She won’t remember what you look like, she’s barely even two! Please, I’ll do anything….”
The man pulled out a pistol, and aimed it at them both. Gerard was looking straight into the barrel of the gun as the gaunt looking man sneered.
“You’ll have your wife to thank for this.” he said.
Frank flipped through the channels restlessly while lying on the bed of the cheap motel he had settled for. He had chosen this place, as he wasn't sure how long he'd be out on his own for, and he figured it would be best to save money. It had been only two days since Gerard kicked him out, and already he felt a sense of complete hopelessness. He wouldn't deny that he missed Gerard and Bandit, or that he had thought hungrily tonight of what Gerard might be cooking for dinner.
Frank wondered if Bandit had asked as to where he went, or even noticed he was gone. 'Pfft, probably told her I was going on vacation.', Frank scoffed. He bitterly played with the idea that Gerard might just use that excuse every time Bandit noticed yet another person had been dropped from Gerard's life. Wondered how long Bandit would catch on to the fact that her father just couldn't keep a damn relationship.
"Now, you know that's not true."
Frank nearly jumped out of his skin. He had heard a voice next to him. He had looked over, and Lindsey Way was sitting right next to him.
She had been dressed in her stage outfit, the short plaid skirt with her thi-highs, her red vest, and her hair in pigtails. Her hair was black again.
"Wh-wha- what the hell? Lindsey?", Frank questioned, alarmed. He blinked a couple of times to make sure he was really seeing what he thought he was. Had he gone crazy already?
"Yes. It's me.", she smiled, her lips the same bright red she used to always paint them. "Look. Gerard loves you and you know that. It's absolutely silly that you're not with him right now."
"He fucking kicked me out! He's the one being a drama queen!"
"Because he IS a drama queen! The man is a total diva!” Lindsey chuckled. "You know that by now! And yet there must be a reason you keep coming back to him after all these years…"
Frank paused for a moment, and Lindsey stared at him patiently. Then he blurted out, "I -- I don't know how to answer his question."
"Wh---whether or not I love him.", Frank hesitated, feeling extremely weird to be saying this to his wife. "I think...he wanted an answer to that."
"But you do love him, Frank. Maybe not in the way he wants, but god damn Frankie, after ten years of friendship, should that even matter? The point is that you guys love each other enough to be with each other through tough times. He needs you right now. Get through the forest first, then deal with the meadow later."
"He's just so...so.... difficult sometimes!” Frank sighed with exasperation.
"I know love, but don't pretend you're an angel either."
"Why are you even here, why are you telling me this? I would've thought you would've wanted me far, far away from him..."
Lindsey smiled at Frank sadly, and he could have sworn he saw her sorrow through her eyes. Her eyes, so like Bandit's. It was like he was looking at exact replicas.
"Because I need you to do what I failed to do."
"What's that?” Frank whispered, still entranced by her eyes.
And then Frank woke up.
Spongebob was playing on the TV screen, he and Patrick ensuing in another one of their crazy antics.
'Spongebob is purple.’ was the first thing that went through his head. He looked to his side and saw he was alone. Frank then got on his jeans and put on a coat. He headed for the door.
He knew he had to make things right.
Next chapter: Saving Gerard.