Gerard gets to spend a day out.
A few more weeks passed, but no change or progress was seen. Gerard continued to throw tantrums and have random fits of anger.
Mikey eventually did come to visit, and Gerard did seem a small amount calmer in his presence. Mikey brought with him a large plastic back when he came.
"I brought some toys." Mikey explained, seeing Frank's look of confusion. They were seated in the living room couch, as Gerard sat in the kitchen watching Jamia cook.
"Toys? Seriously?" Frank shook his head, "He acts a bit childishly, but -- "
Mikey held up a hand to stop him. "I know it sounds silly, but the first doctor we took him to said they might help his cognitive functioning. And its learning toys too like puzzles and stuff."
Mikey dug through the bag and handed Frank some of it's contents. There was a couple of coloring books, and jigsaw puzzles that were ridiculously basic. It did not take Frank more than a few seconds to know that Gerard was not going enjoy any of these for a single second. Still, he smiled politely and nodded his head in agreement.
"We were shopping for Doug." Mikey said abruptly.
"Yeah, that's what we decided to name him. You know, like Doug Funny." Mikey grinned eagerly.
Frank's eyes lit up, "You're having a boy? Seriously?"
Mikey nodded, and Frank laughed, "Woah, way to go Mikes! The first son amongst us! Gerard would be so proud!"
Mikey's smile instantly faded at that last remark. Seeing this, Frank realized what he just said, and he too became deflated. "Sorry.", he muttered.
"Its okay." Mikey sighed, although he certainly did not look okay. Mikey lifted his head to make direct eye contact with Frank, and eye contact was always something he only made when he was being very serious, and thus only wanted a very serious answer.
"Now that you've stayed with him for a while... do you think he's going to get any better?" he asked in a low voice.
Frank sighed. While he was still upset at Mikey for not properly preparing him for Gerard's state of mind, he still could not bring himself to crush the boy's hopes. At least, not during what should be such a happy time in his life. How would could Mikey ever truly celebrate a new life, when something he had known all his life was falling apart?
"Yeah Mikey, I think he will." Frank nodded, encouraged by the smile that those words triggered. He was not sure if Mikey really believed him, or simply wanted to hear a morsel of false hope. Either way, Mikey seemed in better spirits after Frank's reassurance.
That night at dinner, long after Mikey had gone, Frank watched Gerard trading his food with Lily. Lily laughed, shook her finger at him, and changed the food back. She stuck her tongue out at him, and Gerard just smiled at her.
"They've been warming up to each other." came Jamia's voice from the other side of the table. Frank turned to look at her as she continued. "I saw them playing with the bouncy ball earlier this morning."
"Oh." was all Frank had to say, and it was evident by both of their expressions that neither parent knew what to think of the friendship. Not many parents would trust a fully grown man as a playmate for their toddler. However, it was Gerard they were talking about...
...but was it really?
"Well I'm sure they're just interacting with each other like they would with you and I." Frank said uneasily. Jamia did not reply.
Frank did want to acknowledge the issue any further, but did not avert his gaze from their direction for the rest of the evening. Still, he pushed for a change in the topic.
"Are we still going to Best Buy tomorrow?" Frank asked a question he already knew the answer to.
"Yeah, I don't see why not." Jamia shrugged, "We can have lunch at Sakura."
Sakura was a little Japanese restaurant that Jamia particularly enjoyed, and they often ate there whenever the family was on an outing. This tradition brought Frank to his next question.
"Should we bring Gerard?"
Jamia stopped eating her rice pilaf for a moment and stared at Frank. "I don't know hon, do you think that's wise?"
"I think a day out would do him some good." Frank explained.
"Well, what if he goes berserk again?" Jamia asked, "Maybe if we bring him in a leash..."
"No!" Frank immediately protested, "God that would be so fucking degrading!"
"Sorry!" Jamia threw her arms up, "So how do you propose we restrain him then?"
"...I'll, I'll keep a hold on him." said Frank.
"What, are you going to hold his hand the entire way?" Jamia scoffed, as though it was a rather silly idea.
"If I have to." was Frank's instant reply. However, unlike his wife, Frank did not find it silly or amusing the least bit. He did not take any pleasure in imagining himself dragging Gerard around the streets, struggling to keep him from running off or throwing a fit at strangers. It was not at all like the hand holding he and Gerard used to do during a time that now seemed a million years ago.
Jamia saw a subtle blush growing on Frank's cheeks, and she looked away, not even bothering to contemplate on what he was thinking about. She looked over at Gerard, who had stopped interactig with Lily, and was now staring down at his plate in a subdued manner. He had a pout on his lips, as though he felt wronged.
Jamia was familiar with this frown, and it was very much like the old Gerard's frown whenever he was feeling as though something was unfair. Jamia even thought she saw his eyes darting in her direction, and she wondered if he knew they were talking about him. She smiled at him, and his gaze returned quickly to his untouched plate.
The next day went almost just like Frank had envisioned it. He literally did hold Gerard's hand the entire time they stayed in town, but luckily Gerard was relatively quiet the entire way.
They went to Best Buy to retrieve the new modem that they needed for their house, and they went to eat at Sakura. Frank was required to chop up Gerard's fish for him so he would not get any of the spines, as he always did for Cherry and Lily.
Afterwards, they simply strolled around for the pleasure of window shopping. At one point, Gerard nearly walked into the street while Frank was distracted. It was Jamia who saw it just in time.
"GERARD!" she screamed, and Frank turned around to see that Gerard had in fact taken three steps into the street, and was merely one step away from oncoming traffic.
"NO!" Frank ran towards him, fear rising inside him like bile. He grabbed Gerard by the waist, pulling him away just in time. A few cars honked at him as they sped past, seeing nothing more than a very clumsy jaywalker.
"You don't do that!" Frank yelled at him once they were safely back on the sidewalk, "You don't walk away without me, do you understand?!?"
But Gerard did not understand, which was evident from his lost expression. Frank realized this quickly, sighed, gripped Gerard a bit tighter this time, and they continued their trek.
The next, and thankfully last, incident of the day happened at a supply store, where they arrived to pick out new paint for their porch furniture. They were just going through the aisles, when an employee approached the family, looking nervous.
"Excuse me, sir." the adolescent interrupted them. He was looking at Gerard as he talked, "You'll need to pay for those."
Frank looked over to see that Gerard was using a pencil and a sketchbook that he had obviously found in the store. He smacked Gerard on the shoulder lightly and made a grab for the pencil.
"Gerard! We don't take things from places without asking!" Frank scolded him.
"No, wait.." Jamia silenced her husband. "Look."
She pointed at the sketch that Gerard had drawn out. Frank leaned in to get a better look. His eyes went wide.
It was a sketch of himself, looking particularly angry, almost like he was a few moments ago when he yelled at Gerard for crossing the street. Yet that was not what took him by surprise.
No, what caught him off guard was how good the sketch was.
Every detail was there, and well executed. This was very strange, as they had tried to get Gerard to write before, and that had always resulted in nothing more than blank sheets of paper. How could he not know how to write, yet still be able to draw? Frank had not a clue, but it was one step forward.
"I'll buy it. I'll buy four of them." Frank told the employee with a grin.
Next chapter: Frank begins to realize that Gerard might not be completely gone after all.