Gerard and Frank have their first visit to the counselor.
They were at the counselor's at last. The man that sat before them was thin, with squinty eyes. A man dressed in a suit as though he were some sort of lawyer. He rarely made eye contact, instead focusing on the pad on which he wrote. Gerard was glad that Frank had been allowed to come in with him because this man was so far from welcoming, he was almost a little scary. Gerard was finding it difficult to open up based on that alone.
They were asking Gerard to recall anything he remembered. Frank kept a reassuring hold on his hand the entire time, which Gerard appreciated deeply. There was something very familiar about it. He wondered if he was this supportive with Jamia. If so, she was indeed a very lucky woman.
He thought long and hard. He recounted his childhood correctly, much to everyone's relief. Yet it was after they hit the formation of My Chemical Romance that everything went blank. Well, not exactly blank, as Gerard could remember everything after that from the other reality. Just not from this one. It made sense, as this seemed to be the fork in the road for both realities -- but that wasn't exactly something he could explain to them. It wasn't like you could say a man who looks like Bob Saget placed you into an alternate universe while you were really, really drunk one night. It was one thing to have a sudden loss of memory, but he did not want risk seeming delusional.
It was around then that the counselor gestured to Frank, and Frank brought out a medium sized cardboard box that Gerard had noticed in the car earlier.
"I asked your husband to bring some mementos from home, to see if they might give you the extra push you need to help you remember." Shultz explained, "Hopefully if we can get one memory going, they'll trigger other memories as well. Lets um... let's start with the moment you two decided to quit your band."
Frank nodded and retrieved from the box what looked to be a wristband. Upon closer inspection, Gerard saw it was a hospital wristband. And it had his name on it.
Frank stared at it with an odd look on his face before turning his attention back to Gerard. He held his breath and began to tell him a fascinating tale.
Frank Iero paced back in forth in the small hospital room. He was scared, scared out of his mind for his friend that lay in that bed. He had seen far too many of his friends end up like this. And there was no doubt Gerard had escalated into possibly the worst case of alcoholism Frank had ever seen. He did not know how he was going to face losing another. Especially one he had begun to have feelings for.
'I never even got to tell him..', Frank thought to himself.
He watched Gerard's little brother Mikey, seated next to Gerard's bed. He was sobbing his eyes out. Poor kid. He must be traumatized.
See, just about an hour ago, they had played a show in Newark...not very far at all. There had been an after party. They did their usual rounds of drinking and smoking, getting both high and wasted. Yet tonight, Gerard seemed to have taken it just one shot of vodka too far.
At first he had just seemed tired out, but Frank noticed he was breathing weird. Before he could say anything, Gerard just went into a full blown seizure in front of everyone. Mikey had been right there. Frank remembered how he was panicking, screaming for someone to help his brother. Someone did call 911, but once help arrived, the scene had exploded into mass hysteria.
People had ran for it, hiding their stashes and scrambling out the windows. A couple of people trampled on Gerard while he was still choking on his own tongue, which added to the damage.
They got him to the hospital soon enough. The physician had diagnosed a case of alcohol poisoning. Just one shot too many. And here they were.
"I just never thought...I never thought it would happen." came Mikey's voice. Frank literally jumped. Mikey never talked much --- and now he was opening up to him? Well, Frank wasn't about to discourage it.
"You never thought what would happen?" Frank prodded.
"I always heard all this shit about the rockstar life and the drugs, sex, and rock and roll... you know, all that stuff." Mikey said thoughtfully, "And it's like those after school specials about teen pregnancy or getting an STD... you understand it, but you never think it's going to happen to you or anyone you care about -- until it's too late..." As he trailed off, the pitch of his voice got higher, indicating that he was ready to burst into a fresh wave of sobs.
Frank walked over and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it encouragingly.
"It's okay, Mikey. He'll be okay." Frank reassured him without knowing for sure, "I mean maybe this isn't the point where it's too late, maybe this is the point of warning before it gets too late. Maybe this is just the beginning of a second chance."
"Even if it is, it's not going to change anything..." Mikey sniffed miserably.
"You should have more faith in your brother than that. He's a smart guy Mikey." Frank told him.
"I know that!" Mikey said almost angrily, "It's not him! I mean ever since we got into this band, it's always been about this kind of stuff. Everywhere you turn, people are shoving cocaine and rum in your face..I can't blame Gerard for getting hooked on it. He's not superman and I know he's under a lot of pressure. Even if Gerard wanted to stop drinking, all the other stuff won't change. And it feels like the more famous you get, the worse it gets! I don't know, it just feels like there's nowhere to go but down..."
"That's not true. There's always an option."
"Well, you could not be a band anymore."
Mikey looked at him with a shocked expression in his bloodshot eyes. He seemed to consider it for a moment before shaking his head, "Gerard would never agree. He seems finally happy."
"This is what you call happy?" Frank gestured towards Gerard. "I mean I've been thinking of getting out too. I know that being a big rock star is the dream and all --- but is it worth your brother's life?"
Suddenly, Frank heard a noise. He turned his attention to the bed. Gerard was waking up.
"Gee!" Mikey grinned, the color finally returning to his face.
"Mikey." Gerard rasped out happily. He saw Frank and looked slightly surprised. "Frankie." He smiled.
"Hey buddy." Frank smiled back at him. "Welcome back."
Mikey looked from Frank to Gerard, who were both staring at each other with equal curiosity. Mikey then got up from the chair.
"Umm..I'll just leave you guy's to talk. I told mom I'd call her when you woke up anyway." Mikey excused himself, rushing hurriedly out of the door.
"He was worried about you." Frank told Gerard as he sat down in the chair Mikey had been occupying.
"What the fuck happened?" Gerard groaned, holding a hand to his head.
"You drank a bit too much there. You got alcohol poisoning and you started seizing. So someone called an ambulance."
"Oh." was all Gerard had to say.
"I was worried about you." said Frank out of the blue.
"Well thanks for the concern?"
"Gerard... you're alcoholism is getting really bad." Frank pushed on. "I think it's time something needs to change."
"I know, I know. I just - I don't know Frank. I'll be fine. I'll just drink less after today and --- "
"No, Gee. You always say that! I mean something needs to really change this time."
Gerard just stared at him. After a moment, Frank saw Gerard's eyes begin to water. His shoulders shook a little. God these Way brothers were crybabies. Still, Frank thought it was a little cute.
"It'll be okay. I can help you. I -- I really like you Gee."
"I really like you too." Gerard said rather casually.
"No Gerard.. I um, really, really like you. Like..like you, like you." Frank blushed, realizing how juvenile that sounded.
"Oh." was again Gerard's response, but his expression was that of a surprised one. Then he smiled.
"I think I like you, like you too."
Frank chuckled and reached out to hold Gerard's hand. Gerard squeezed it, looking at Frank with trusting eyes. It was then that Ray and Mikey came back in the room. Mikey eyed their joined hands together, and then turned away bashfully as though he had walked in on them having sex. Frank rolled his eyes and beckoned them forward. As they walked over, Frank announced "Guys, I think we have something to talk about."
"..And the rest is history." Frank grinned at Gerard.
Gerard was shocked. He remembered that show in Newark. He remembered having been offered a couple of extra shots. He remembered turning them down because he was trying to impress this girl. Is that what changed his entire life? One fucking shot of vodka?
"So, Gerard? Anything?" the counselor asked. Frank looked at him hopefully.
"No." Gerard frowned, hating to crush Frank's spirits, "..but I'd love to learn more."
Next chapter: Finding Lindsey.