Frank comes home to an unpleasant surprise.
Chapter Nine: Our Great Divide
While Frank had spent many nights and seasons with Gerard on tour buses, none of it compared to the experience of staying with him in the guest room of their own home.
Perhaps, it was due to the fact that Gerard had found himself in a very stripped down state. He had no real control over his emotions, and was in every way vulnerable. He was unable to lie and say that he was fine when he really wasn't, which he did very often when he had been in a proper state of mind.
Emotionally, Gerard was completely exposed without any options for hiding. And Frank could not really decide if he liked what was revealed to him in the process.
Gerard was hurting. He could see it in his eyes, hear it in his sobs, feel it in the way Gerard would hold on to him at night. Frank wondered just what was agonizing his friend so, but Gerard did not seem to know himself.
Whatever it was seemed to reach a fever pitch in the form of fervent nightmares that attacked Gerard in his sleep. Try as Frank might to comfort him, try as he may to assure him that they are nothing but dreams, they just came back every single night. Frank was at a loss to help him.
Meanwhile Jamia provided little to no support. Her objective seemed to now focus on one thing: keeping Gerard away from Cherry and Lily. Yet it would seem that Cherry and Lily had grown just as much of a fondness for Gerard as he had for them. They would wander to his room often, encouraging him to play whatever game or activity they were engaged in. Gerard was always more than happy to oblige --- which would in turn always invoke a scolding from Jamia, which would then become a fight between her and Frank.
Frank became convinced that perhaps these fights were the source of Gerard's nightmares, for they always sent Gerard into a fit of tears. He would then blame Jamia for Gerard's sufferings, thus adding on to the tension.
So to get a proper summation of the household: There was Cherry, Lily, and Gerard, three people who were physically unable to properly communicate; and then there was Frank and Jamia, two people who refused to communicate.
It was a very somber situation indeed, but not quite compared to how things were soon going to get.
A minor incident happened on a Sunday afternoon, after Frank had just returned from walking his array of dogs. He had to take the time to relinquish them of their leashes and feed them after such a strenuous exercise before he could go into the room that he and Gerard shared. When he did, however, he was met with the unpleasant surprise of Gerard not being there.
He checked the girl's rooms, and neither of them know where he was. That was slightly a relief, as he would not have to endure another bickering with Jamia. Yet at the same time, it worried him more, because he could not fathom where else Gerard might have gone. He checked the kitchen, which turned out to be just as Gerard-less as the other rooms. He checked the bathrooms, and he checked their own bedroom. Still, nowhere to be found.
Finally, Frank thought to check the backyard. It was a last pick, as Gerard had never once gone to their backyard since the time he arrived, but Frank was out of options. And sure enough, there he was.
Typically, it's a relief when you find something you have been searching everywhere for. There are exceptions to this rule, however, and one of those exceptions is if you find said object in the bottom of a pool --- which is exactly where Frank found Gerard that afternoon.
He had a black shirt on and black pants, and was floating like a sinking black rose in the water. Frank thought that Gerard may have gone for a swim, but remembered that Gerard was, in fact, a very poor swimmer.
Panicking, Frank dove in without actually removing his own clothes or remembering that his iPhone was in his pocket. He plunged in and kicked hard, trying to propel himself towards Gerard as quickly as he possibly could.
Finally, he was able to grab him by the hand and pull him upwards. Frank had to use the entirety of his strength to bring them both up to the surface of their rather steep swimming pool, as Gerard was not the lightest person. Upon emerging from the water, Frank had to take in a few gasps of air before he could swim them to land.
When Frank looked at Gerard next, he was surprisingly awake. Soaked and shivering, but awake.
"Gerard, what were you thinking?" Frank sighed, as he carried them both inside. Gerard whined, and moved as though he wanted to go back towards the pool.
"No, you can't go there anymore!" Frank yelled at him slightly, his heart still pounding from the experience. The image of Gerard floating at the bottom of the pool played in his mind repeatedly.
As they walked up to the guest room, Cherry and Lily peered at them through a crack in their bedroom door, knowing their friend was in trouble.
Frank brought Gerard to their room, and plopped him onto the bed. He helped to undress Gerard out of his wet clothes, and unveiled some scars from the accident that lined his pale body. He was forced to take Gerard's underwear off, as that was soaked too. Again, it was not like Frank had not seen Gerard before, yet it was still an odd sensation.
At one point, Gerard grabbed Frank's crotch, cupping it. He looked Frank straight in the eyes, like he was asking for something. After a long, awkward pause, Frank remembered what Mikey had said about Gerard being handsy. Frank grabbed Gerard by the wrist, and pushed it away, simply telling him the word, "No."
He brought Gerard a towel and helped to pat him dry, while Gerard stayed obediently still. In between his procedure, Frank told Gerard things along the lines of "You could have drowned!" and "Don't you ever scare me like that again!".
And once Gerard was at least mostly dry, Frank gave him new clothes to change into. Frank then wrapped Gerard in a variety of blankets to make extra sure, and brought him some hot tea to drink.
"I don't want you to get hypothermic." Frank explained to him as he tucked him into yet another blanket, for Gerard was beginning to look annoyed.
At last when Frank was satisfied, he changed into dry clothes of his own and settled down on the bed next to the bundled up Gerard.
"What were you thinking?" Frank asked him again, a bit more gently this time. Still, Gerard just averted his eyes, looking like a child being scolded for something he knew he was not supposed to do. He seemed embarrassed.
Frank asked nothing more, knowing that Gerard disliked being questioned. Still, he himself could not hide his emotions. He was disappointed, and it showed on his expression. Frank had hoped that Gerard was getting better, that maybe he was no longer in need of constant watching.
...Yet it was evident that their ordeal was only beginning.
Next chapter: Mikey and Frank attempt a different approach.