“Gerard, it’s been over two weeks, you have to talk to her!” Lindsey pleaded once again, even though she knew very well that her pleas would have no affect on him.
For the two weeks after Gerard and Gia’s fight, the two hadn’t spoken more than two words to each other. Every time they spoke, it was only when they had to, and it was very polite and awkward. Neither of the two seemed willing to do anything about it, Gerard insisting that it was no use and that he’d just screw things up again, and Gia basically just refusing to talk about the whole thing.
It was driving Lindsey crazy.
“Please, Gerard,” she repeated herself, while watching him make himself a cup of coffee. Their morning rituals hadn’t changed. The first one up still made coffee and filled the water boiler for Gia’s tea. However, these days Gia seemed to have left for school before anyone could even tell her good morning.
“I’ve told you already,” Gerard sighed. “It’s no use. Honestly, it would’ve been better if I had just given her up when her mother died. I knew I couldn’t raise her on my own and I obviously failed trying.”
He shook his head and sat down by the table with his coffee cup. “I just… I don’t know. I feel so guilty that every time I see her, I just want to run away from her and never see her again!”
Lindsey had heard those words so many times during these few weeks, but they hadn’t lost their meaning at all. If anything, he only meant them more now. The man was broken, or at least about to shatter to pieces.
“Gerard…” she said, taking his hand. “I understand that you’re feeling terrible. You blame yourself for everything, and you think this is the end of the world. But it’s not!”
When Gerard just stared at her, not saying a word, Lindsey groaned in frustration.
“Alright, you’ve had two weeks to mope around the house. Now, either you get yourself sorted out and start acting like a father again, or I swear you will regret it. Honestly, how can you give up this easily? Did you expect things to be easy? Gia is damaged, so are you. After everything that’s happened, things won’t be normal, but it can work! If you give up this easily on Gia, how will you act when our baby is born? Will you be able to be a father for her either if you can’t deal with Gia now?”
Gerard just stared at his wife, whose face was reddish from the yelling and frustration. Eventually she groaned and stomped off angrily. Gerard knew that the outburst was mostly caused by the pregnancy hormones, but she still had a point. How was he going to take care of a baby when he couldn’t even deal with a teenager?
Instead of wallowing in depression, Gerard’s mind started to clear. This was so unfair for Gia, too, he realized. What was she, a test? Some kind of a practice piece so he can learn what not to do?
No, of course not. Gia was his daughter. And he would not allow himself to do the mistake of letting her get hurt again. Ever.
Gia sat down by the table in the school cafeteria, setting down her tray on it, and her book bag on the floor next to her chair. Hazel sat down on the opposite side of the round table.
Since the party, Gia and Hazel have gotten even closer. For a moment there Gia had thought that Hazel would want nothing to do with her, but turns out she was wrong. And for that she was thankful. Gia really needed a friend, and since Lucas refused to speak with her, Hazel was the only one she had.
“So…” Hazel started. “How’s your arm?”
“I’m getting the cast off in two weeks,” Gia smiled. Luckily the cast was in her left hand, so she had no problem taking notes, but it still bothered her. The cast was so limiting.
“And how are things with your dad?”
Gia shrugged, the smile fading. She had of course shared the whole story with Hazel, who had been very understanding about the whole thing. “Same old,” Gia answered. “I mean, he still avoids me like the black plague. I don’t mind, it’d be too awkward to talk to him anyway. It’d just be nice if he even tried…”
Hazel was about to answer, but then she spotted something that took her mind off of it. “Okay, not to change the subject on purpose or anything, but… Ryan’s coming this way.”
Gia’s blood froze. While Gerard had been steering clear from her, Gia had done her best to avoid Ryan. She was too embarrassed to talk to him.
“Really? Does he look angry? Does he look like he’s going to make fun of me?”
“No, he kind of looks like he’s just going to sit with us.”
“Oh no, is that good or is it bad?”
Hazel had no time to answer, as Ryan had already reached their table. “You guys mind if I sit here?”
“No, go ahead,” Hazel said, but she knew that Gia had hoped that she would’ve told him it wasn’t okay.
Ryan sat down, and for a few moments Ryan and Gia just picked on their food while Hazel looked around awkwardly. Then she realized that he wanted her to leave.
“Oh, look at the time!” Hazel gasped, glancing at her watch-free wrist. “I’ll be late from my next class if I don’t leave now!”
“But next class starts in fifteen minutes,” Gia said, begging with her eyes for her not to leave.
“I’m sorry, my leg hurts, and I’ve got to go see the school nurse!” Hazel apologized, and ran off so fast that no way was her leg hurting. Gia wished her a lot of pain though, and wondered if she could use the same excuse to run away from Ryan.
“You know, I’ve been trying to talk to you for the past two weeks. You keep running away from me,” Ryan said, getting straight into what he wanted to say.
“Um… My… leg hurts a lot…” Gia answered, her cheeks getting red. She could never lie.
“Right. Well… The reason I wanted to talk to you was that I wanted to ask why you didn’t want to talk to me. I mean, I thought the date went well?”
“It did! That’s not the reason. I had fun, I just…”
Gia sighed. Well, he knows about the party thing anyway. Everybody does. Stupid gossip going miles per minute. “Okay, fine. I figured that… After what happened after the date, you’d want to not go on another one and you’d want nothing to do with me, so I figured I’d save you the trouble of actually telling me all that… And spare myself from hearing it. Saying it isn’t at all easier, I realize now.”
“Would you please stop rambling?” Ryan said. “Okay, let me tell you a little secret. After the date, I thought you were kind of a wimp. I mean, you’re such a goody-two-shoes, you take no risks, and you’re… basically just a good girl. Well, you proved me wrong.”
“I’m confused. You like me because I got so drunk that I ended up unconscious in the hospital?”
Ryan shrugged. “Basically yeah. Is that a problem?”
“I guess not,” Gia answered, though she wasn’t really sure what it meant.
“So you wanna hang out?”
Gia was speechless, so she just nodded. This wasn’t going at all like she thought it would. And what’s worse, is that Ryan, who she never actually even liked that much, somehow ended up being her boyfriend. She wasn’t even sure why she was going along with this.
This was not good. At all.
The next few hours went like in a dream. Gia’s thoughts constantly revolved around Ryan and the fact that she had somehow ended up “hanging out” with this boy that she had no actual interest in. But the good thing was that she didn’t think about the situation with her dad during those few hours.
Until she got home, that is.
The second she stepped into the house, she knew that something was off. Her first clue? The sound of a drill coming from upstairs, more precisely her room.
“I swear, I had nothing to do with this,” Lindsey said when Gia got up the stairs. Lindsey was just standing there, looking worried. “Okay, maybe I said a little bit something that made him… Well…”
Gia got even more nervous to go into her room. When she saw her dad, she wished that she could go back to school, or be anywhere else but right there in her house.
“What are you doing?!” she shrieked.
Gerard stopped the drill and looked up at her, looking like a deer in headlights. “Nothing!”
“Yeah, you’re drilling holes on my window and putting metal bars on it, that’s nothing! What am I, a prisoner?”
“Look, it’s not –“
“You put a lock on my door?!” Gia asked, shocked when she saw the newly installed lock that could only be locked from the outside. “Are you completely insane? Did you finally go crazy?”
“I am not crazy!” Gerard argued and put away the drill.
“Actually, honey, I think you are a bit crazy,” Lindsey pointed out from the door.
“You two are ganging up on me?!” Gerard asked. Yes, he may be a bit crazy, but to him, this all made perfect sense.
After realizing that he couldn’t give up, that he couldn’t fail, he decided that if he wanted to keep Gia safe, the only way to do that was to keep track of her entire life. Naturally that requires making sure that she doesn’t run away again.
“Look, I’m not crazy,” Gerard said, and when neither of them apparently believed him, he sighed deeply, and looked at his daughter. “I just… I just want to keep you safe.”
“By putting bars on my windows? By locking me up in my room?” Gia asked, getting more and more frustrated.
“Well that seems to be the only thing that could work!”
“How about talking to me?! You do realize that the more you try to control me, the more I will fight back? For the first time in my life, I have a chance to actually live. I don’t want to be chained up in my room.”
“You don’t understand. No matter what I do, it’s wrong. I don’t know what’s right with you.”
“You want to know why that is?” Gia asked, and by the look on her face Gerard knew that he really didn’t want to know. But she told him anyway. “That’s because you don’t know me.”
“Well that’s ridiculous! I know a lot of things about you!” Gerard argued back. Neither of them noticed Lindsey silently exiting the room. “I know that your favorite color is yellow, you’re allergic to carrots, your favorite movie is the Blues Brothers, your favorite food is chicken noodles…”
“I don’t mean that kind of stuff,” Gia interrupted him. “I mean… the things that are going on in my life. You may know what I like and what I don’t like, but you don’t know what makes me cry and what makes me happy. And because you don’t know those things, you don’t understand why I do the things I do, and that makes you angry, so we argue and we fight. And that makes me hate you even more.”
Gerard felt a cold wave and suddenly the room and the 15-year-old girl in front of him got very intimidating. “You hate me?”
Gia regretted saying that, but it was too late to take it back. “Sometimes.”
Gerard sighed deeply and sat down on the edge of the bed. He knew that she didn’t like him very much, but he had never even considered the possibility of her really hating him.
“That’s it then,” he said.
“What is?” Gia asked, remaining standing.
“I’ve completely failed. I’m a terrible, terrible father.”
“No you’re not,” she said, finally sitting down beside him. “Mostly you’re okay. Sometimes… you just get a bit overboard. I’m trying to do as you want me to do, but at the same time I want to live a little. So, I sometimes hate you. But most times I love you, and not just because you’re my dad and I have to love you. Because I just do.”
“Yeah. And all those things you don’t know about me… There’s still time to learn. I’m not going anywhere. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know that much about you either. I mean, I know you now, but I know nothing about how you were before I was born and such. I’d like to know about that.”
For the first time in two weeks, Gerard smiled without anything shadowing it. “So how about we make a deal? You tell me things about you and your life in general, and in return, I tell you about my past. Okay?”
“Deal,” Gia smiled. “Why don’t we seal this deal by taking off those bars from my window?”
“Oh, I was kind of hoping you’d forgotten about them… We can do that later. Let’s just talk now. You hungry? Want to get food?”
Gia nodded happily. “Sure.”
According to the note left on the kitchen counter, Lindsey had gone out to have dinner with a friend, ‘just in case’. Gerard and Gia ordered Chinese food, and settled down on the living room floor to eat it. The low couch table was filled with food and drinks, and beside it was a pile of CD’s that Gerard wanted Gia to hear. That was part of the deal.
Things may not still be perfect, and they didn’t know if this time things would work out and they’d learn to live with each other, but they were more than prepared to give it a chance.
“What’s this band called again?” Gia asked, lying on her stomach on the rug, and turned up the volume button on the stereo a bit.
“Smashing pumpkins,” he answered, even though his mouth was full of food. He said something else too, but Gia didn’t understand what he said from all the food he had stuffed in his mouth.
“They’re awesome. Once, when I was still at school, Mikey and I skipped school to go to their concert.”
“Didn’t you get in trouble for skipping school?”
“Yeah but it was worth it,” he grinned. “But don’t you dare start skipping school just ‘cause I did. I’ll kill you.”
“I won’t. I’m not stupid.”
“Did you just call me stupid? Well, anyway, the whole bars on the window thing links up to this story. When we got back from the concert, our dad was so angry it’s ridiculous. So, we got grounded of course, but we would just go out of the window at night and come back in the morning. One time we got caught coming back at like 5 am, and dad was so furious that he actually put these metal bars on our window so that we couldn’t open it.”
“Ah, and that’s where you got the inspiration.”
“Exactly. Of course, now I realize that it was completely ridiculous to do the same thing… I remember thinking that my dad had gone crazy.”
“Now you know how I feel. I worry about your sanity on a daily basis.”
“Well don’t. I’m not crazy, no matter what the doctors say. So anyway, let’s talk about you. What’s new? How’s school?”
For a moment Gia pondered whether it was wise to tell about what happened with Ryan, or not. But then she realized that the whole point of this talk was to share. She just wasn’t sure if they were ready for boy talk.
“Well, school’s okay. I’m thinking about joining a club. The math teacher asked me if I wanted to join this math thing she’s leading, but I don’t want to do that. Hazel’s in the drama club, and she tried to make me join but I wouldn’t be comfortable on stage.”
“You wouldn’t? You sure? You have to have inherited some of my genes.”
“I’m sure I did, just not this. Trust me. Anyway, I might… start to play another instrument. I mean, I pretty much hate playing piano now, so I thought I’d try another one. After I get this cast off, I mean.”
“Really?!” Gerard asked happily. “You should! Which one?”
“I don’t know. Maybe guitar?”
“I play some guitar.”
“Yeah. I used to play guitar in this other band, but they kicked me out because I was so bad at it. But you know, if you asked Ray or Frank to teach you, I bet they’ll do it.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Okay. Just, pick Ray okay? Knowing Frank, he would be a terrible teacher.”
Gia laughed. “True. He wouldn’t be able to concentrate for two seconds.”
“Exactly. So, what else?”
It was kind of nice to have him interested in what was going on in her life. And, when it came to the thing about Ryan… He’d get over it. “Well, today something… kind of happened.”
“What? Am I not going to like it?”
“Oh, you definitely will not like it,” Gia said nervously. “I think… I’m going to keep seeing Ryan…”
“Don’t freak out!” she pleaded before he could start yelling. “It’s no big deal. We’re just… hanging out. I guess.”
“Hanging out? So… You like him then?”
Gia sighed. “Yes. No. I don’t know. And it’s weird, I’ve never had a boyfriend before. What am I supposed to do with one anyway?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll tell you what you’re definitely not supposed to be doing with a boy!”
She rolled her eyes at him. “I know, I know. I won’t be doing stuff. I mean, like, I don’t really know how to be around him. Is it like hanging out with a friend?” Not that she had many friends to compare this to, but still. With Hazel she just talks about things, or they watch movies or such. Of course, with Lucas, things were a bit stranger. He’d put on her bra and make up and pretend he was a girl, or make her listen to weird music and then fanboy about the lead singer for half an hour.
“I’m not sure. I’ve never had a boyfriend,” Gerard answered with a shrug.
“Frankie says he’s your boyfriend,” Gia pointed out. It was true.
“Okay, leave Frank out of this. He doesn’t count. He’s more like a very persistent parasite.”
“And you go along with it?”
“Hey, who can resist that raw sexual magnetism?”
“And this is how Frerard was born?”
Gerard looked at her, a bit confused. “How do you know about Frerard?”
“Lucas showed me the pictures online.”
“Ah, of course he did… That little –“
“Leave Lucas out of this! Now, spill it. What’s up with this gayfest?”
“Hey, you may find it disgusting, but let me tell you, the fans, they love it. I’m like a sex god!” When she didn’t seem to believe him, he continued. “They go crazy for things like that, you know, kissing, groping on stage. It’s just a stage thing. I’m not gay.”
“And… Is Frank aware that this is just a stage thing?”
“Yeah, of course he is. At least… I think he is… But that doesn’t matter. We got a bit side tracked here. We were talking about Ryan.”
Gia had kind of hoped that he’d forgotten about that. “Yeah, I guess we were,” she sighed. “You’re going to tell me not to hang out with him, aren’t you?”
“Surprisingly, no. But, there are some rules that I’m going to need you to follow. First, you can’t go to his house because I can’t go there so I can’t know if he’s rolling some sort of an illegal casino or brothel or something. Second, if he’s over here and you’re up in your room, the door must stay open, or you will lose the privilege of having a door. Third, physical contact other than holding hands is off limits. Four, the motorcycle must go. Five, you –“
“Okay I think I get it!” Gia interrupted him. Gerard, who was obviously just getting warmed up with this list of restrictions, didn’t look very happy with the interruption.
“Oh, fine. So, more boy talk or are we done playing with my blood pressure for today?”
“Nope, I think that’s it. I think I’ll spare your life for now.”
“Thank you.” Gerard took out the Smashing Pumpkins CD from the player and replaced it with a new one. “This is Iron Maiden.”
“I liked the pumpkin one.”
“More than Green Day?”
Gia grinned. “No way, that’s not even possible.”
Lindsey took her time getting home, knowing that the two probably had lots to talk about. And they did. Gerard and Gia talked and listened to music until Lindsey got home and it got too late to stay up.