Pasolini is me, 'Accattone' you'll be.
First of the Gang to Die
You Have Killed Me
“What’s wrong with Franco?”
Gerard Way swallowed hard and met his niece’s politely curious gaze. Ever since her rape, she had been less inquisitive and active-she now just liked to plant herself in the corner of a room and indulge in a pleasant book. She had changed-she was no longer the adorable little girl with such a spark in her eye.
The Don swallowed again and tried to bite back his tears, controlling his emotions as he had taught himself over the many years being involved in brutal warfare. Frank had done anything but improved; he was hooked up to an oxygen machine, and a nearby hemopurifier that cleaned and purified his filthy, infected blood. He spent the majority of the day sleeping or in pain-tears constantly adorned his ample cheeks. His voice had cracked permanently; now he spoke in a cracked tone, more strained than his previous. Gerard still considered the boy angelic, of course, but his heart broke every time he laid eyes on Frank.
He couldn’t lie to her. Not about such a topic. The men surrounding the boss and his niece-his crew, Soprano, Toro and a new forth comer, Ross, glanced up at the leader.
“He’s sick, baby,” he whispered, putting his fork down. “He’s so-very-sick.”He sniffed and his lids slid shut. “Really ill.”
Luciana nodded. Down further the table, a man said the word ‘die’. Way cried out in a mixture of fury and agony and stormed out of the dining area. Other members met each other with wary looks as they watched the made man literally break down in front of them. Frank, obviously, was not the only one was being by his disease.
Meanwhile, sniffling, Don de la Via, rapped up the stairs, angry with himself. His mind was playing tricks with him now-every little cough, every minute sniff made his temper snap and he’d be showering Frank with questions in a minute-was he alright? Did he need anything, anything at all? Did he want a doctor? Iero would try to smile at his husband, sickly white, teeth slicked in scarlet red blood. He now took food intravenously through his arm, and the gangster had nearly cried with pity when the boy asked for more; he was so hungry, and all he could receive was a thin fluid into his veins. Calversari, the MD, now resided in a spare bedroom on the first floor.
Gerard knocked on their bedroom door-he was aware that Frank was extremely embarrassed about his sickness, the stale smell of blood in the room. Of course the mobster didn’t mind, but nothing he could say would convince the twenty four year old to change his ways. His selflessness was touching as well. The boy refused to inject himself with Gerard in the room; he knew the fear of needles.
“Baby?” He paused, and could hear meek cries and soft whines coming from his bedroom. “Sugar, you okay?”
“I’m with him, Don de la Via,” the doctor called out, and Gerard frowned. No matter who the person was, if someone was alone with his husband, he got jealous. He wanted the boy in his lap all the goddamn time; it had been like that since their relationship began. “He’s fine, Don de la Via.”
“No more,” the boss heard his baby plead weakly. “Please, please, no more.”
“What are you doing to him?!” Gerard barked, twisting the knob with such force that it snapped right off. He pounded at the door and continued to yell. “Open the fucking door and leave him the fuck alone!”
Iero’s sounds of discomfort ceased then, and the door was opened a hinge, revealing the short, thick-browed doctor. Way tried to see his love but the door was shut in his face. He growled; a horrible, thick, noise right from his diaphragm. A wolf would have cowered in his wake. The doctor held a clipboard and three pill boxes (two larger ones and one rather small) in his hands.
“Don de la Via,” he greeted breezily, easily. “Many congratulations on your-“
“Never fucking mind that,” he snarled, utterly vehement. “Tell me how he is.”
“Well,” the short man said brightly. “There’s actually some good news, Don de la Via!”
“What?” Gerard questioned quietly, gripping the doc by the shoulders. “You fuckin serious?”
“Yes, very serious. I managed to drain some of the blood in his lungs, and dry out his ribs. It was a long...and painful process,” he winced, and hastily added: “I assure you I was as gentle and caring as possible. The process is always risky and sore. I removed approximately three out of the eight pints of blood in the average human being. So his throat is clearer now, Don de la Via, but he is very, very weak. I offered to help him dress but he said Gerard would do it. Is Gerard a therapist?”
The boss almost smiled. Almost. “No...no. That’s me. My uh...my name’s Gerard.”
“Oh.” Pink touched the doc’s nose. “I see. I suggest to you to be gentle with him, Don de la Via. He is very fragile.” He looked through his half-moon glasses at his illegible notes. “Has he any strenuous activities coming up?”
“Well...we’re renewing our vows on the fifteenth,” the Don shrugged. “But we can do it sitting down.”
“My many good wishes,” Calversari murmured. “He seems very in love with you.” He smiled a little, scribbling extra on sheets of yellow-prescription paper. “I asked what he’d want for comfort after the procedure-some source of consolation after the agony-most patients say reading, or sleeping, or maybe listening to music.” He smiled widely, and he considered the married couple so adorable. “And he said ‘my husband’. Very cute.”
“Mmm, he’s wonderful,” Gerard breathed, thinking of his poor, bleeding bunny rabbit in their bedroom, his harsh breathing audible though the key-hole. “So perfect.”
“I must actually prescribe some more medication for him,” the medic said in his throaty, sing-song Italian throng. “Hopefully if the hemopurifier does its job he may no longer need the Ethambutol.”
“Yes, his injections. But, for now-“ he removed his glasses and rubbed his tired, dreary panda-eyes. “He will stay on them. I have some other remedies, however.” He shook one bottle. “This is temazepam-I believe he has trouble sleeping?” The Italian-American nodded. “These are to help him sleep-not too strong, as I don’t want him to become bed-ridden. Then these-“ another jiggling of a pill bottle-“are for, what I believe to be, yet undiagnosed PTSD. That is post-traumatic stress disorder, Don de la Via.”
“You think he has that?” Yes, that would make sense. The constant anxiety of being beaten and raped...it all adds up. “Yes, I suppose that could suffice.”
“He is quite...jittery, to be informal,” the doc observed quietly. “He gets distressed and upset easily-not from pain, but-“
“Yes, he does,” Gerard murmured. “He’s had a troubled past. Beaten...punished...abused...” he hated the next word. It tasted like sticky, slick oil on his tongue. “Raped.”
“My.” He clacked his tongue as Gerard clenched his fist and growled. “Poor boy.” His voice was hushed and silent-he was deliberately trying to avoid Frank hearing him. “Then...these...” he held the last bottle up-no label, with a grotty, yellowing case-“are a little more...frowned upon.” He glanced up at the leader. “He, momentarily, will be refraining from sexual activity. If you, in the future, would like to initiate it...” he gulped and shifted. “These are flunitrazepam. More commonly known as roofies.” Gerard recoiled a little. “Just slip them into his mouth. He may refuse at first, but if you-“
Gerard reached out and grabbed him by the hair, then banging his head against the wall, again and again and again and again, until the old man was moaning weakly with the pain. Blood gushed down his neck and into the collar of his white coat.
The Don scowled as he watched the medic slump to the floor, and kicked him. He spotted Ray ascending the stairs and ordered quickly:
“Don Toro, take this sick fuck down to the chambers.” He spat into the greying hair of the doctor. “Take him down there and tell him I’ll be down soon.”
“Yes, Don de la Via,” Ray replied brightly, dragging Calversari down by the collar.
Then he remembered his place and pushed the door open. Frank was lying on the bed, in his boxer shorts, skin stretched tight around his protruding ribcage, he gasped suddenly when the door flung open-and then relaxed as his husband cautiously perched n the bed.
“Gee,” he croaked, short arms stretching up, only to fall back down again. Gerard leaned over him and stroked his cheek. “Oh, Gee.”
“Sugar pop,” he responded in his ear and he could see where Frank had gripped at his hair in the agony-small fistfuls of the chocolate hair absent. “How are you, gorgeous?”
“Mmm...hurts,” he groaned, indicating his swollen chest. “Really...really...sore.”
“He drained your lungs, darling,” the boss said quietly. He didn’t even understand what that meant properly; it sounded horrible, like shoving a pipe in your chest and sucking whatever was in there. “He said you’d be in pain.”
“Dick,” Frank tried to snap, and Gerard tittered lightly at his attempt to be rude. “I don’t like him.”
“Don’t like him either, honey,” he replied, catching sight of the pill boxes in his hand. “He gave me some meds for you to take.” He struggled to continue when his bunny’s face crumpled. “Don’t worry, Frankie, they’re for your sleeping and stress and stuff.” He avoided the small, blue pills in his palm. “You have trouble getting to sleep, pet, don’t you? I hear you tossing and turning during the night. And you get so stressed so easily, baby doll, you get worked up about...sex and me touching you and stuff like that.” He backtracked. “It’s not your fault in any way, babe, it’s that I wanna help you.”
His baby cried softly and his voice cracked into squeaks.
“I don’t want-no more pills-please,” he whimpered. “I don’t wanna-hate it,” he panted, ribs giving way. Gerard quickly pressed his palm over his mouth in order to stop him talking.
“Baby, calm down, please sweetie, you’re so fragile,” the Don scolded him gently. He pulled the boy up gingerly and rubbed his back, murmuring in his ear. “I know it’s hard, darling, and you’re so good.” He went to the ground and kneeled before him, hands on Frank’s knees. “Please, Frankie. Do it for me and do it for yourself. You need to get better.”
The twenty four year old snuffled and suckered in brokenly, blood dripping down his plump lip.
“Oh-okay,” Iero conceded, weakening. “But...I...you’re staying up here with me,” he ordered quietly, and Way grinned. “I...you’re my bitch now. Come snuggle with me.”
“You got it,” the gangster said happily, bounding back onto the bed. He glared at the skin barely stretching over his husband’s bones. “Bitch Boy at your service. Whaddaya want me to do first, sir?”
“Can I...really cold,” he whispered, large eyes looking to Way for comfort. He was just in his boxers, and trembling slightly. “But I can’t-I can’t-“
“No worries, sweetheart,” the head of the family returned, jumping up to their wardrobe, glancing through the racks of clothing both men owned. He frowned a little when he saw that the majority of Iero’s clothes were tight and flattering, and would be no help to the boy’s pain. “Hmmm...no offence Frankie...your clothes are not very suitable for such situations.”
“Well...I could...I could wear your clothes,” the medic said slyly, such a small smile on his lips. “Your shirts and stuff.”
Gerard grinned widely and pulled out a black silk number, the softest one he could find. He yanked it from the hanger and held it up to imagine the boy shrinking in the huge shirt.
“It’s gonna look like a dress on you,” the gangster snickered. Then he returned to seriousness. “Here, honey, can you stand up?”
The five foot four nodded and got to his feet slowly and shakily, eyes lighting up a little as his husband rolled up the sleeves for him and began buttoning it up slowly, carefully, cautious not to hurt him. Gerard marvelled at how much he was trusted-this was something Frank would only show him, refusing even the doctor a glance of his chest. It was so private; a show only Way was privileged to see.
“There,” he murmured, rubbing his hip. “Better?”
Frank nodded and reached over his husband’s shoulder. “Jacket. I want your jacket.”
“The one with the fluff on the inside,” he said, and Gerard heard the attempt of joyfulness in his voice. “The soft one.”
Frank stood again, in a billowing shirt down to his mid-thigh, smiling a little as the boss bundled him up tightly in a suit overcoat that went to his knees, warm angora on the insides, tickling his abdomen. It was beautifully heating and smelled exactly like his husband, and he snuggled into it again, perching back on the bed.
“Now...your legs are still bare, and your trousers are much too tight...I can get a nice fluffy blanket, baby, is that okay?” Frank nodded and rested against a feathered cushion, hair sinking into the white plush. “What else, dalring?”
“Well...the doctor had a tourniquet for my chest but he took it away,” he said. “That’s where pressure is put on my ribs and allows my lungs to get fresh air. Do you think we’ve got something like that?”
Gerard’s mind went into overload. He reeled on what he could find for his pet.
“Lemme look,” he said, and the boy nodded, thanking him. “We might to have improvise, baby.”
Frank waited patiently as his husband searched through the room, grunting and muttering sounds of ‘damn’ and ‘hmmm’-all the boy could see were the Don’s long legs jutting out from the closet door. Then:
“A-ha!” He pulled something dark from the top shelf of their shoe closet, where Iero knew knuckle dusters and shooting stars lay-smaller, secretive weapons resided there. Frank, of course, was unable to reach them. “Got it!”
Gerard returned to the bed, carrying something large and black (of course) and settled on the bed, smiling smugly at his proud handiwork.
“Lift up your arms, baby doll, I have to tie this around you.”
“What is it, Gee?”
“Bulletproof vest,” Gerard shrugged, and the boy gaped at him. “It secures around your middle, and I can tighten it whenever you want, sugar pop.”
“Oh my God, like what cops have, that’s so cool!” He squeaked, and the Don’s smile lengthened. “Does it actually work?”
“Yeah-huh,” was the answer, as his nimble fingers tightened the straps. “It’s not like I’m gonna shoot you, bunny.” His eyes travelled around the dark room, the soft bed speckled in red. “Feeling better?”
“Uh huh,” he answered, and regarded Gerard for a while. It was hard to find a flaw in the strong jaw, the muscular, thick frame, the deliciously amber skin. He noticed something that made him frown. “You’re too skinny, Gee.”
“Ha!” The leader threw his head back and laughed. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No...you’re not really thin...just thinner than usual.” He stretched out his arms and was tenderly enveloped by his lover. “I like you soft and cuddly. My Gee-Bear,” he cooed, leaning back against his lover, so that his spine rested along the sternum of the gangster, who placed his jewelled fingers delicately on his waist. “So pretty.”
“Pretty, huh? I’m pretty?”
“Mmm, so beautiful,” Frank murmured, snuggled up and warm. He clicked his fingers. “Now I want you to amuse me. I can’t go downstairs and I wanna be with you.” He beamed. “Entertain me, bitch.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Oh, that’s easy. Tell me about the Mafia.”
“Again?” Gerard asked, surprised. “Babe, don’t you find it...boring?”
“No,” the boy breathed, turning around to pad around on Gerard’s thighs. “No, it’s so cool. You talk about it...like it’s nothing.”
“It takes up my whole life, Frank,” he said softly. “I work nearly twenty four hours a day. I’m twenty nine years old and I’ve gotten more injuries than war heroes get in their life time.” His eye flickered; his leg shuffled; the stump of his finger twitched. “I wish it didn’t have to be this way, Frank. I know we wouldn’t be rich or sophisticated or something but-I wouldn’t give a shit, babe. I can’t go out with you. I wanna go dancing with you, hold hands in the park, make out in car lots.” He sighed. “But we can’t. And I’m so sorry.” He sighed sadly. “I really am.”
“Don’t be, Gerard,” the sickened breathed weakly. “You were born into this.”
“And I’ll die in it,” he muttered glumly. Then his eye brightened a little. “So? What do you wanna know today?”
“When you came out,” Frank murmured. Gerard had never gone into the depths of his sexuality. “Tell me about that.”
“Well,” the Don said, pulling his boy close to him but minding his broken lungs all the time. “I was sixteen years old when I told my father I was gay. I’d seen him flirting and doing shit with women and I just never found them appealing.” He shrugged. “Pretty, sure, but not sexually attractive. But I did with men. And so I remember just walking into my kitchen one day and my father was drunk, half-unconscious on the table, babbling. Talking about fanooks and the sin and shame they bring upon their families.” He laughed a little. “And I just said something like, ‘hey, yeah, so I’m a fanook’ and he freaked. Threw a bottle at me or something.”
“Oh God,” the boy gasped into his shoulder.
“Yeah, he was a bitch. Asking oh God, where he went wrong, and he raised me so well, and what would Don de la Via-my grandfather, ya see-would say.” He scoffed, and his fists clenched. “Asked me had I ever fucked a guy, and I said no, and then he got a little relieved but then I said-“ he smirked. “I said a guy fucked me.”
“That was a lie, I hadn’t even done it yet, but I said it anyway.” The grin was ever present on his soft lips. Frank had to bite his lip; he couldn’t kiss the man in front of him no matter how much better he was feeling-his mouth was slicked with blood.
“What about Evan’s parents?” Frank asked quietly, playing with Gerard’s fingers, gazing at the dark ring that shone his reflection. “Did they care about him being gay?”
“They were in Italy,” Gerard breathed. “They were more focused on the fact that he was marrying a...criminal.” He grimaced. “After the Royal family, they were the second wealthiest group in the country. His father was a governor and his mother a socialite.”
“But you’re rich. Your whole family is rich.”
“Once you strip away the money, the fame and the dignity,” the Don murmured, sounding as vulnerable as his diseased husband, “my family is nothing but a group of glorified criminals.”
Frank looked up to see if he was joking.
“It was a fact constantly brought up by my ex-husband,” Gerard whispered. “That he was better than me. The Ricci family have been wealthy since the early eighteenth century. My family have only gained stature in the last thirty years.” He pulled Frank closer to him. “My father talked about common blood. How we were superior to every other family member that walked the earth.” He shook his head slowly. “My blood is common as scum. I am no better than rapists and murderers imprisoned as we speak.”
“I don’t care about your blood,” Frank muttered. “I don’t care. I grew up in shit, Gerard. I went days without food or washing, I only learned to read when I was like fourteen, my mom was a fucking hooker, for God’s sake.” Gerard looked at him; the boy speaking so harshly currently was not his Frank. “I remember my mom telling me when you’re poor you got two options; you fight for your life or you sit there and hope for the best.” He paused. “You fought; I sat there.” He looked into their conjoined laps. “My blood isn’t exactly clean, either.”
“If we’re comparing the colour of blood in regard to innocence,” Gerard replied, “then yours would be white. The brightest, purist white you could find. Mine would be black.” His soft, silky voice with deep and dark with shame. “The fucking murkiest colour on the charts.”
“I’ve slept with so many men, Gee,” he sniffed. “At least you’re posh and smart-“
“Frank.” The timbre was low and dangerous. “You’ve heard the way I speak normally. I sound like a pauper. Please just believe me when I say my family is nothing to be proud of.”
The boy sucked his lip and nodded as Gerard stroked him in an absent mind. Then the gangster spoke.
“I think I’m gonna leave the gang for a little while, babe.” He closed his working eye. “For a few months.”
“What?” The younger gasped so sharply his throat caught. “Why?”
“You’re so ill, darling,” he answered silently. “You’re so ill and I want to be here to help you. Whenever I’m gone you get so upset, baby, or you get hurt. I ain’t no molfucking medical expert but I love you and I wanna see you get taken care of.” He rubbed his cheek. “And I can’t look after you and Luciana while also running the Italian Mafia, pet.”
“But Gee, you love fighting,” the rabbit insisted. “And I’m fine, don’t worry-“
“Frank, please, don’t belittle your disease,” Gerard said sharply. “It’s attacking your lungs so bad you can’t fucking walk. Do you wanna stay here and be at risk by those other cunts? Wait till you get violated or beaten again? Not fucking happening.” He shook his head. “I’ve made up my mind, baby. I need to. At least until you get better.”
If he had the correct amount of blood supply, a light pink would have touched his nose as he realized how much his lover was giving up for him. He leaned up to him and pressed their cheeks together; he still desired to kiss him so bad, but felt the wish was a tad far-fetched.
“Thank you,” he croaked, brushing his fingertips against Gerard’s collarbone. “Thank you, Gerard.”
The Don lightly pressed his lips to Frank’s forehead, who mewled at the contact. It wasn’t long before Way pulled and broke the moment of intimacy. The boy leaned back and noticed something on the covers.
“What are they, Gee?”
Gerard turned and nearly groaned out loud when he saw what his husband indicated; the illegal medication that Calversari had given him. He had let them slip from his hold as he chatted to the boy. He remained true to what he promised Frank all those months ago-he couldn’t lie to the love of his life.
“Baby...ya know the doc who was in here...”
“Doctor Calversari,” Frank said, nodding. “Yeah, he’s okay.”
“He’s a fucking creepy motherfucker, that’s what he is,” he snarled. Then he softened at the fear in Frank’s large pupils. “Oh Jesus...baby, we gotta get you a new doctor.” He ran hands through his hair and slipped his hand into the matching one.
“Why?” The rabbit looked alarmed. “What’s wrong? Did I do something wrong?”
“You didn’t do a goddamned thing, bunny, that rat bastard did,” he muttered. “He disrespected you and so I took care of him.” He shrugged as the boy looked more and more scared. “Nothing to be frightened about, babe. He’s gone.”
“Did he...did he insult me?” He asked, quivering. “About...about James?”
“Nothing to do with Romano, sweetie,” he cooed, knowing it would only be a matter of seconds before the boy would tear up and snuffle. “Nothing like that at all.” He sighed. “He just...when he was giving me the pills he gave me ones you don’t need, that I don’t need. Ones for...sexual activity.”
He rubbed his eyes. “So that I’d be horny or something?”
“No, darling.” He leaned close to Frank again and lightly touched his cheek. “To knock you out...and I could...take advantage of you.”
The rabbit began to shake and his chest rose dramatically as he tried to breathe in deep gulps. Red flashed into his cheeks and his hazel eyes were wet and doleful.
“But you said no, didn’t you, Gee?” Gerard’s baby squeaked, and he ripped into fresh, hot, painful tears. “Didn’t you?”
“Oh, of course, sugar pop, you know I wouldn’t ever do something like that-“
“Every time you kiss me or hug me or touch me, you love me, don’t you?” He continued, higher and higher. Gerard nodded vigorously and tried to rub his chest to calm him down. Yeah; definitely PSTD. “That’s not-you’re not trying-no one else, Gee-“
He threw his head back and sobbed, crying out when his skull knocked against the headboard. The gangster cuddled him close and cradled him.
“It’s only for you, Gerard,” he sobbed hopelessly, blood coming with the salty tears. “No one else gets to see what I show you, or touch me like you do, nothing like that, I promise. I practically lost my virginity to you, Gerard, you made love to me properly for the first time, and it would be so bad if you fucked me, Gee, it'd hurt my feelings and I-“
“Frankie,” he murmured, kissing his ear. “Darling. Please calm down. You’re just getting stressed out a little bit. How about you just relax, babe, and mind you don’t hit your head again, bunny.” Frank breathed deeply and held his lover’s hand tightly. “You know that would never happen, Frankie. Every time I kiss you, every time I hug you, or touch you, it's just that I wanna be closer to you, baby,” he promised, tipping their foreheads together. “You’re so beautiful, sugar, and I just can’t keep my hands off you. I ain’t using that shit, Frank. You’re so fragile and I wanna wait for you to be better.” He smiled. “Then it’ll be real good, babe.”
He nodded, trying to calm himself. The Don peered at him cautiously, lovingly, with great concern. At long last Frank sat up a little and pointed to one of the pill-boxes.
“I’ll take one of the stress ones,” he said quietly, and Gerard passed him a small, neat white pill. Frank popped it in his mouth, grimaced, and then forced it down his throat, thigh being stroked as he did. Then he looked at Gerard. “Sorry. I just...I can’t help it, the freaking out thing.”
“It’s perfectly okay, sugar pop,” the mobster promised. “I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you.” He smiled at his rabbit again, and cleared brown strands in front of his eyes. “Anything you want me to do?”
“Well...could I..could I see Luciana?” He proposed silently. “Please. Just because I miss her and I haven’t seen her since...the attack.” He bit his lip again. “Please, Gee.”
“Alright, baby.” The boss stood up and regarded the boy he was married to. So precious. So innocent. So gorgeous. “I’ll be back in a minute, honey.”
Frank nodded as his forehead was pecked again and waited as his husband went down the stairs. He flexed his fingers and patted his chest, putting on the tiniest amount of pressure over the thick vest to test his stamina. He didn’t start spluttering or cough up several organs in the process, just a minimal surge of shooting pain in his ribs. He breathed out deeply and closed his eyes. That must be a good sign.
He heard two pairs of footsteps ascend the staircase; one heavy, determined set and the other light and dainty. They were conversing in Italian, unfortunately, and so Iero was deprived the knowledge of knowing what they were saying. Gerard spoke in a low tone, with his niece replying in a high falsetto that was pleasant to the ear. Frank then caught that they were talking in broken English, splashes of coherent words inserted in their speech.
“Be gentle with him, amore, he’s very weak.”
“Okay,” she responded brightly. “What’s wrong with him, zio?”
“He better explain it, baby, I’m not so good with the medical thing,” he heard Gerard reply, and smiled a little. “But it’s to do with his lungs, inamorato, he can’t breathe properly.”
The door was pushed open and Frank saw his niece-in-law for the first time in a week. Her mouth fell open when she saw him-a skinny little white thing in a bundle of black blankets, hooked up to tubes, needles sticking into all available skin. Tears sprung to her eyes and she put her hand to her mouth.
“Fr-Franco?” She whimpered, climbing up onto the bed and crawling over to Iero. On closer inspection he was tired-looking and his eyes stood out in his skull, large and wet. She glanced at the machines around him, beeping and trilling. He smiled at her, still warm and polite.
“Hey honey,” he greeted, and she sat on his thighs lightly, bearing Gerard’s warning in mind. “How’re you doing?”
“Hi,” she replied quietly, laying her own little hand on top of his. “Wh-what’s wrong with y-you?” She stammered, lip pushing out, welling up with tears. “Wh-why are y-you so s-sick?”
“Oh sweetheart, don’t cry,” he soothed, petting her hair-a poppy bruise stood prominent on her temple, he noticed with venom-and smiling again. “I’m okay, baby, I’m just kinda ill at the moment.”
“But he said you were really really sick,” she cried, indicating Gerard, who was perched on the edge. “I don’t want you to go to Heaven!”
“Luci, I’m not,” Frank replied. “Gerard just gets worried about me, that’s all. He’s super paranoid,” he said, and the girl giggled weakly. “And he gets real worried about me.”
“Wh-what is it?” The six-year-old asked. “What’s making you sick?”
“Luciana,” Gerard said a little firmly. “Perhaps Frank does not want to answer so many questions.”
“Gee, it’s fine,” his husband told him. He turned to the girl again. “It’s this thing called TB, honey. Tuberculosis bacillus,” he stated. “You got two lungs, darling, and they help you breathe nice, clean air. Your lungs-and Gerard’s lungs-work properly. Mine don’t. They’re full of icky stuff and I can’t breathe correctly.”
“W-what’s that?” She pointed to a large white contraption.
“It helps me breathe. Like-“ he inhaled deeply, wheezing a little, and then exhaled again-“that. Cuz I can’t do it on my own. Well, I can, but it sounds all weird and raspy.”
“Like a doggy,” she said quietly, and the twenty four year old smiled.
“Yeah, like a doggy,” he concurred, and let his tongue fall from his mouth so that he was panting. Luciana laughed and took a little tuft of his chocolate hair in her grasp.
“You have a bruise,” she pointed out, touching his neck. “Purple.”
Frank looked at the mark and blushed when he realized it was a love bite, donated by none other than the Don himself. Gerard said nothing but chuckled quietly to himself.
“I miss you,” she said softly. “Gerard’s always talking to the other men and I have no one to talk to.” Frank’s heart split and his eyes widened. “And my friends suck compared to you.”
“You can always come up to me, sweetie. I’ll do whatever you want, we can play if you want to.”
Luciana beamed, liquid chocolaty eyes glistening. She reached up and touched his cheek.
“I’m glad Gerd married you, Franco.”