Hours later, Gia came back home. Her legs were numb and her hair and clothes were dripping wet. She and Lucas had walked around, ate ice cream and junk food and just talked, losing track of time. And even though they talked for hours, they still somehow avoided the topic of Gerard and Lindsey. They probably would have been outside longer, but it started to rain and it made them realize how late it was.
“Where have you been?” Gerard demanded to know the second he heard her come in. He looked furious, but calmed down a bit when he saw the state his daughter was in.
“Out”, she answered, wiping some rain water off of her face and then she took off her shoes and jacket.
“Exactly where out? And who were you with?”
“Just, out. I was with Lucas.”
She could tell from his flared nostrils and the slight tint of red on his cheeks that he wasn’t happy about her company. “You spend way too much time with that boy.”
“Oh I’m sorry, would you rather me hang out with drug dealers and alcoholics? They must be so much better company. You should know.”
If possible, he got even angrier. “You didn’t even call! Do you have any idea how worried I was?!”
“I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself”, she rolled her eyes and went upstairs.
“I’m not done with you yet!” Gerard shouted after her, making Gia stop and turn around. She looked down at him.
“What do you mean what? Do you know what time it is?” When she didn’t answer, he continued. “It’s one o’clock in the morning. We have rules about this kind of thing, if you can’t remember. And your teacher called, said that you weren’t at half of your classes today. What for?”
“I just didn’t feel like going.”
The look on his face softened and he sighed. “What’s going on? You skip school, stay out late, and now you’re giving me this attitude. Is it trouble at school? I wish you’d tell me, you know you can trust me right?”
“Can I?” she scoffed. “Then why didn’t you tell me about Lindsey?”
It only made Gia sure of one thing: he didn’t want her to know, for whatever reason. She ran up to her room, slammed the door shut and let her emotions take over sense. Not caring about her wet clothes and hair, she got under the covers of her bed and just lied there.
Gia couldn’t understand why she was taking this so hard. Gerard had had these ‘female friends’ before, but this time it was different. He had tried to hide the woman from Gia, so it had to be something more than just physical.
At that moment Gia realized that maybe she wasn’t ready to let go of her mother, even though she died nearly ten years ago. Gia just never had to deal with it before, but now Gerard forced her to.
Gerard wondered long what he was supposed to do in this kind of situation. But in the end he did what he thought he should do, even though he really didn’t want to do it.
“Gia?” he said quietly and opened the door. “Are you awake?”
As a response he got a sound, a mix between a sob and a cough. He took that as a sign that she was awake, and went inside.
Gia was lying on her bed, hiding under the covers, and judging by that and the sound he heard, she wasn’t happy. Gerard sat down on the side of her bed, but didn’t dare to move the covers off of her. If she wanted to hide, he should give her that privilege.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you”, Gerard started. He wasn’t sure if she was listening, but she did move slightly, so at least she was alive. “I know I should have, but I was just worried about how you might react.”
“You still should’ve told me”, Gia said from under the covers. “I can handle it.”
“I know”, he agreed.
“You can’t expect me to tell you everything when you’re keeping a secret like that”, she accused and revealed her head.
“I realize that I’m being a hypocrite. But, how do you feel about all this?”
Gia rolled her eyes. “Does it matter?”
“Yes it does. If it bothers you that much, I’ll stop seeing Lindsey and wait for a little longer. I just got things in track with you, so if you’re not ready for that change, I can put it off for a while. So, I suppose I’m asking for your blessing.”
She could tell that he was hesitant to say those words. He didn’t want to wait, but he would do that anyway just for Gia.
“What’s she like?” Gia finally asked.
Gerard smiled. Her response had told him the thing he wanted to hear, though indirectly. He had gotten the blessing he wanted. “She’s really nice. I think you’d like her. All I ask is that you give her a chance.”
“I’ll give her a chance, but I won’t be happy about it. And I want something in return.”
The smile on his face was replaced with a frown. This didn’t sound good. “What do you want?”
“I want you to stop nagging about Lucas.”
“What? I can’t do that! That boy is –“
“Dad!” Gia cut him off, sitting up. “He’s a nice kid. And he happens to be my best friend. If you can’t live with that, then maybe I won’t like this Lindsey woman.”
Gerard was in between of rock and a hard place. If he stopped nagging about Lucas, then soon the creep will be having sleepovers with Gia every night and doing god knows what to terrorize Gerard’s daughter, but then again... He really didn’t want to give up Lindsey. He’d just have to be extra cautious and lurk in the shadows like a ninja when ever Lucas is around.
“Fine”, he gave in. “But no more of this attitude, okay? You better stop skipping school too. And go change your clothes, you’ll catch a cold.”
Gia smiled. “Yeah, as if I would ever get sick.”
“Oh crap”, Gia croaked, threw a used tissue to the general direction of the trashcan (it had filled up a long time ago so she had stopped aiming) and took another tissue from the night stand.
There was a knock on the door and Lucas came in, looking happy. “Hi, how are you feeling?”
“How do I look like I’m feeling? I blame you for this!” she accused, and huffing she switched the channel on the TV that Gerard had dragged to the foot of her bed. She had woken up early in the morning, feeling dizzy, her nose running like a fountain, eyes watery and in general just feeling and looking crappy.
“Why would you blame me?” Lucas asked, coming in. He set a cup of hot tea that Gerard asked him to bring up for her on the nightstand and got a few books out of his school bag.
“Because you’re the one who let me be out in the rain.”
Lucas rolled his eyes, but didn’t argue. It was Gia who wanted to be outside in the first place.
“Anyway, I brought you your homework”, he said, nodding at the books on the table.
“Thanks”, she said quietly and then blew her nose very loudly. She sounded like an elephant.
“So, how did it go last night? When you came home?” Lucas asked.
Gia blew her nose again before answering. “It was okay. I agreed to meet Lindsey. I’ll meet her on dad’s birthday party next week.”
“Awesome! Could you get me an autograph?” Lucas asked excitedly, his eyes practically sparkling from excitement. His face fell when he saw the angry look on Gia’s face.
“We still don’t like this. We’re just giving her a chance”, Gia explained. “Now go away before you get sick too. And take Jersey out for a walk. Dad can’t do it properly, he’s old.”
“You’re mean when you’re sick”, Lucas complained, but did as he was told anyway.
Gia thought that she could finally wallow in misery and flu germs in peace, but the very second Lucas left, Gerard came in.
“Drink the tea”, Gerard commanded.
“I don’t want to.” Normally Gia was very obedient and friendly, but now she was sick, which made her angry. She didn’t want to be nice. If she had to suffer, then she was taking everybody else down with her.
“Just drink it. Do you need anything else?”
“A cure for this terrible disease”, she croaked. “Oh, and an aspirin would be nice.”
“I think you can get through this without any kind of pills”, Gerard protested. These days he was cautious about even taking a painkiller. There wasn’t even aspirin in the house. “Anything else?”
“I want to watch movies.”
“Do you want me to bring them from downstairs or go rent new ones?”
Gerard returned a half an hour later with a plastic bag full of DVD’s. “I didn’t know which ones you would like so I asked the people working there”, he explained and put all the DVD’s on her bed so she could choose.
“This one”, Gia said after a while and handed him the DVD.
Gerard put the DVD in and went to get her more tissues, cough drops and something hot to drink. In a way it was nice that she was sick, because that was the only time when she relied on him. Usually it was Gia who took care of the house, the dog and made food. Now she couldn’t do that, and it was Gerard’s responsibility to make sure the house didn’t burn down. It almost made him feel like a parent for once.
As soon as he reached the bottom of the stairs, he heard a shout from upstairs: “DAD! THIS MOVIE SUCKS!” Rolling his eyes, he sighed and walked back up.
Then again, maybe he preferred it when Gia wanted to do everything by herself. Slavery, that’s what this was.
“Hey Gia, about that party...” Gerard started. “Maybe you should stay home.”
“What? Why?” Gia asked, blowing her nose. She had been sick for two days, but she was getting better. And besides, she wanted to go to Gerard’s birthday party. He was turning 30, which was a huge milestone, so one of his friends (who Gia didn’t know) had rented some local club for the night and they were going to have a big party to celebrate. The plan was that Gia can go to the party, but she has to go home before ten o’clock, and she can’t drink anything.
“Because you’re still sick and even if you weren’t...”
“But I wanna go to your party! And I wanna meet Lindsey and I wanna have fun and I’m not really even that sick anymore”, Gia pleaded, and to boost up her words, she sneezed really loudly into a tissue.
“Okay, you’re not going”, Gerard announced when she got a huge coughing fit.
“But wait!” she managed to wheeze out before he could leave. “It’s in two days, right? I can get healthy by then!”
“Sure you can”, Gerard said. “Tell you what, if you’re completely healthy by Saturday morning, you can come. If not, you’re staying at your grandma’s.”
When he left, Gia quickly grabbed her cell phone and dialed the number of the person who would surely help her. Who else would be better to help her with things like this than Frank?
“Hello?” Frank answered with a groggy voice.
“Were you sleeping? At this hour?” Gia immediately asked, glancing at the clock. It was one pm. When she thought about it, it wasn’t really that odd that he had been sleeping.
“Uh, yeah. I had a busy night. What’s up?”
Gia could only guess what he meant by ‘busy night’ (and she had a pretty good idea what he had been doing. She had seen those magazines Lucas has hidden in his room). “I need your help.”
“Well, I’m your fairy godfather, right? Spill it.”
“Actually you’re not my godfather, Mikey and Ray are”, Gia protested.
“Well I should be your godfather, damn it! Stupid deck of cards and stupid Ray for getting the better card...”
Gia couldn’t help but grin, but she had to interrupt Frank’s angry muttering. “Anyway, since I’m sick, dad’s not letting me go to the party on Saturday unless I’m healthy by then. What do I do? I really wanna go.”
Frank, who wanted Gia there too, instantly gasped from excitement. “I have a plan! I’ll be there in like an hour. Or something. Just make sure that the demon dog is locked away somewhere when I get there. I’ll see you later!”
It took Frank almost two hours to get there, but when he did, he turned up with two full plastic bags.
“Where’s the demon?” was the first thing Frank said when he came in.
Gia rolled her eyes. Frank and Jersey didn’t really get along, which was weird because Frank loved dogs and Jersey liked all the other guys. “Jersey is staying with Lucas for a while since I can’t take him out for walks.”
“Good. Gerard couldn’t probably do it either. He’s getting old. And speaking of old, you sound like 100 years old. You must really be sick!”
“What’s in those?” Gia asked, nodding at the plastic bags. She really did sound like an old woman. She was holding the duvet tight around her body. It was cold; it had nothing to do with her being sick. Or so she was preparing to convince anyone who asked.
“Ingredients”, Frank answered when he led the girl to the kitchen and set the bags on the counter. He was practically beaming of happiness. “I’m going to heal you.”
“This isn’t some voodoo crap, is it?” Gia groaned.
Frank frowned. “Don’t say crap.”
“Why not? You all say it. Why can’t I?” Normally Gia would be too embarrassed to say even a word like that, but she was sick and she was frustrated. Enough said.
“Because it’s not a word fit for the mouth of a pretty girl. So mind your language. You kiss your mom with that mouth?”
Gia raised an eyebrow. “I don’t have a mom.”
“Oh, well then... You kiss your dad with that mouth?”
“Actually, I’m not really the kissy type”, Gia said. “Anyway, what exactly are you doing to heal me?”
The excited look returned to Frank’s face as he started to explain: “Right, once when I had a really bad cold and we were supposed to have a concert, this roadie guy made me this really spicy soup, like literally it burned my throat so badly that I lost the ability to speak for a few minutes. Anyway, I don’t really know what he put in the soup, so I thought we could just mix stuff together and see how it turns out.”
Gia figured that she must’ve been sicker than she thought, because his words actually made sense.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but let’s try it.”
“Great! Okay, you just sit there and I’ll cook.”
“Are you sure you can handle cooking by yourself?” Gia asked, becoming concerned.
“Hey, I’m a grown man; I think I can make one lousy bowl of soup! How do you make the stove get hot?”
Gia wondered how terrible the kitchen will look like after Frank’s done with the soup. But it wasn’t her problem. If the soup doesn’t heal her, then she’ll still be sick. And when she’s sick, she’s not allowed to clean. Therefore, it’s Gerard’s problem, not hers.
Hours later the kitchen was covered in used pots and pans, dirty dishes and unsuccessful soup stains. Gia had fallen asleep by the kitchen table while Frank was doing his best to make the soup as spicy as possible. He thought he was doing pretty well. He was just glad that Gerard wasn’t there. Frank had a feeling that his friend wouldn’t appreciate the typhoon that had been set free in his kitchen.
“It’s done!” Frank finally announced, setting a bowl full of orange soup in front of her. “Gia, wake up! It’s time for you to heal now!”
“Already?” Gia yawned, rubbing her eyes and blew her nose on a tissue before picking up the spoon. “It looks like regular soup to me. What’s in it?”
“Oh you know, this and that. More this than that, really, but we’re not too picky are we? Just try it.”
Carefully, Gia tasted it. “Hm, tastes like chicken.” She ate a few more spoonfuls until the aftertaste hit her.
“What’s wrong? Is there not enough salt? Pepper? Oh no, I was being too careful with the chili seeds, wasn’t I? I don’t have any more of them, but I can add some more Tabasco if – Where are you going?”
Gia’s cheeks had turned bright red, her eyes even more watery and if this was a cartoon, there would be smoke coming out of her ears about now. She dashed out of the kitchen and into the bathroom.
“You know, I find this a little offensive”, Frank said from the door when Gia was in the shower, pouring water out of the shower head into her mouth.
The soup had more kick than she thought. Gia felt like her whole body was on fire, and she had just eaten a few spoonfuls of the stuff. The cold water made it a little better, but after spraying her mouth with water for a few minutes, it didn’t help anymore. She turned off the shower and not caring if her clothes were wet, she stumbled her way to the fridge and drank a half carton of milk and ate yoghurt. That helped some more.
“Oh come on, it wasn’t that spicy, was it?” Frank asked, rolling his eyes. “You just can’t handle spice like I can.”
“Well you’re welcome to try the soup if you’d like”, Gia said glaring at him after she finished her second yoghurt.
“No thanks, I’m not hungry”, Frank answered quickly. There was no way he was eating that stuff. “Hey, by the way, I think it worked.”
“You don’t sound like an old lady anymore! Do you feel sick?”
Gia thought about the question for a second. She really shouldn’t have, because it made her realize just how nauseas she was from all the spice, water, milk and yoghurt that she just gobbled.
As she rushed back to the bathroom, holding a hand over her mouth, Frank followed her. When she started puking her guts out, he held her hair back. Now he started to feel a little bad for her. He just hoped that Gia won’t tell Gerard anything about this. Gerard would so have poor Frank executed for this (and for what he did to the kitchen).
Gia had to lay down for the rest of the day, but as amazing as it is, the soup worked and her cold disappeared. Go Frank!