Gerard was already drunk.
He'd started drinking shortly after Jamia and Frank had arrived for dinner and hadn't stopped since. Lindsay hadn't noticed, or, more probably, had preferred not to.
But Gerard was, with no doubt, drunk. Not drunk enough to not be able to stand up or speak, but drunk enough to be dangerously on the brink of losing his temper. He'd hit the level of drunk in which he would've, sooner or later, abused Lindsay in some way.
But, for now, they were all painfully quiet, prodding at their chicken and serving themselves spoonfuls of mashed potatoes drowned in gravy, sipping wine or water, being oh so very aware of the tension and the broken promises and the damaged trust and the regrets weighing all of them down.
Lindsay stood up: her gesture broke the silence.
“Would...would anybody like some more mashed potatoes?”
“I doubt anybody wants any of your shit cooking.”
They all knew it would've happened. Even Lindsay knew it.
And she thought she would've been used to his abuse by now.
She thought that, after all those years, she would've been able to let it roll right off of her.
But every word was a new blow, every insult was something else that made her lock herself in the bathroom every night, stare at a bottle of pills. Everything was a painful reminder that he didn't love her.
That he never had.
Gerard hadn't looked up from the glass he'd been staring at. He knew she'd cringed and tried to hide it. He knew exactly how she'd react: he'd seen her do so thousands of times, and each and every time he imagined Frank instead of his wife. Thinking that gave him a twisted sense of power. He made Lindsay suffer: in his mind, it was Frank the one crying. In his mind, Frank was paying the price for leaving him.
In his mind, Frank was paying for being such a coward.
So he'd lash out at her, countless of times, spewing hate onto the only person who had no fault except that of trying to love a man who'd never loved her.
Lindsay breathed a few times, in pain. She didn't look at her husband: she hadn't looked at him in the eyes for a while.
“But I thought-”
“Nobody cares, Lindsay.”
His voice had been the scariest thing: detached, cruel, you could tell he was hurting only for the pure joy that came to him from hurting.
He genuinely hated Lindsay. He genuinely despised her and the person he'd projected onto her.
Or better, he hated what Frank leaving him had made him become.
“I was just-”
“I said, SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU WHORE!”
“NO. NO. YOU LISTEN THE FUCK TO ME, YOU WHORE. YOU JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP, AND SIT THE FUCK BACK DOWN, AND QUIT FUCKING POISONING US WITH YOUR FUCKING SHITTY FOOD, AND QUIT KISSING PEOPLE'S FUCKING ASS, UNDERSTOOD?”
He'd violently stood up, screaming and spitting as alcohol took hold of his brain and made it twitch and burnt his liver.
And it was a pointless boast of anger that came from an exasperated, desperate and sad mind, a mind that just wanted closure and peace and silence.
Frank convulsively clutched his fork, unintentionally slammed it down.
He couldn't handle it. He couldn't handle seeing Gerard destroy himself and annihilate all that was good inside of him. He couldn't bear it.
Gerard's chest was heaving and Lindsay had shut her eyes as he'd screamed at her. She, slowly but surely, sat back down in her chair, shaking ever so slightly.
She would've never gotten used to it. Ever.
In the few, tense moments of silence that followed, Frank stood up. He stood up and, without any true effort, he grabbed Gerard and dragged him upstairs.
He pushed him into his studio, slammed the door behind him.
They stood facing each other for a few grueling seconds. Frank ran a hand through his hair, trying not to think about what had just happened, what his best friend had just done.
“You're destroying yourself.”
It was the only thing he managed to say.
“Because that - he knew he'd started crying even before he felt the tears flow – that wasn't you. What happened down there was the death of the man I love. That was me looking into your eyes and seeing that everything I've fought for and loved and cherished, is dead.”
“You don't love me.”
He felt like screaming.
“I do. Goddammit, I do. Every single day I wake up and I realize it's not you lying next to me and I feel like dying. Each morning I wake up and I make coffee and it's not for you. Each morning I take my daughters to school and all I can think about is wether you're awake or you've drunk so much the night before you can't even open your eyes. Every, single, day I wake up and wonder how my life would've been if I had followed through, if I had had the courage to make you mine, if I had had the courage to be proud of loving you, because, believe me I love you more than anything, and I've spent fourteen years of my life wishing for you and wanting you and needing you, fourteen years during which I have not, in any way, lived. Because there's no life without you. There never was.”
Gerard was chewing on his lower lip, hugging himself.
“And every day I'm forced to see you destroy yourself because of me. I've seen you spiral out of control, I've seen you slip away without being able to do anything and it's killing me to know you're so close, you're so close I can almost touch you and I wish I could just go back and never say those things, and not do as if nothing happened between us, and if I could I would've spent every day of these last fourteen years listening to you talking and being amazing and God, Gerard, God I wish I could hold you every night and I need your skin against mine, I need it so much I can't breathe whenever I look at you. Because even though you're old and your hair's greying and you're broken and you're a shell of what you used to be, you're still the most beautiful creature in the world. And the only one I couldn't bear losing. The only one I ever loved.”
He stopped talking abruptly because he was sobbing too hard.
Gerard's eyes were welling up, too.
“We could've had the world at our feet.”
Frank smiled, bitter, sad, because he knew that it wasn't true, but it was nice to believe it.
“We could've had the world at our feet, we could've been amazing.”
Gerard shook his head, trying not to cry.
“We could've been beautiful, Frank.”
And Frank had suddenly grabbed Gerard and kissed him.
“We can still be.”
And, deep down, he knew that this time, he wasn't letting go.
This time, it was for good.