Confront what you are afraid of; in the future when all's well.
In The Future When All's Well
September 1st, 1939
"So you got the assignment done by Friday, Gerard? That's great, real great."
"Yeah, well I figure since we got the Dici show in Milan next week that I should get my ass moving, ya know? Demolition Lovers is done and so is Thank You for the Venom...just gotta get the coat on Dead! and shit, I'm done."
"Christ, that's good. You're our best seller, Gerard, I got no damn idea how you do it. Ya know Bruscloni?" Rossi jabbed his thumb outside the glass doors of his office towards the stocky blond man who was chatting loudly and expressedly on the telephone. "Takes three months to complete a first draft. Three. Goddamn. Months. To make a fuckin draft?" He scoffed and spat into the nearby bin. Even as a classical art seller Antoine Rossi still retained the most uncouth persona. "Oh, you're a lifesaver, Gerard, my goddamn life-saver. I get up and prays to our Virgin Maria every goddamn day begging that'chu ain't gonna leave us and go for another firm."
"Nope," Gerard replied happily, propping his shoes up on his boss's table. "You know me, Imma one-gallery kinda guy."
Rossi sighed a litte, thick black brow creasing just a bit. His cigar ashened a bit as the stub fell from the joint.
"You sure you ain't able to come to tha Halloween show in Florence?" He wore a face of praise and idolisation. "C'mon, Gerard, please, I'm beggin ya. You know Il Duce will be comin, and all the fancy asses he hangs around with-"
"Antoine," Way put forward gently; his good craftsmanship was proved by his ability to call the other by his first name. "I told ya; I can't that week." A wicked little grin spread across the thirty four year old's face. "'s my boy's birthday then. Taking him to Syracuse then for some sun."
"Ah, well, I see I'm fightin a losing battle here," the boss admitted, and Gerard laughed loudly. Rossi grinned sideways, hands in pockets. At six foot four and well over two hundred and fifty pounds, the artistic salesman certainly looked terrifying, but those who knew him close were well aware he was rather like an uncle; loud and friendly, and kinda embarrassing in a humourous way. "'kay then." He glanced at his watch. "'s five now. You're free to go, if you wanna, wese just working the clock tonight for the de Gold order due in October."
"That's cool," Way said, standing up to roll up his sleeves. September in Italy is like July in the US; even a thin shirt and trousers might be a touch too snug and warming for the weather. He looked at the watch again, and cussed. "Aw fuck, you say it was five? Goddamn, I gotta go, Frank's lecture starts at quarter of, aw shit!" He grabbed his bursting portfolio from his boss's oak desk and kissed Rossi on each cheek, as was returned to him. "Mantenere la fede!"
"Mantenere la fede!" Rossi yelled back as the red-headed man raced down the corridors, pushing past unfinished paintings and fellow collegues, giggling at Way as he tripped and sprinted along the long, narrow floorway. Sheets were slipping from his folder and floating down from it to rest on the ground. He didn't care; he wanted to surprise his husband at work today. He knew the staff well at Sapienza from showing up to watch Frank lecture there. Gerard would grin cheekily as the younger flushed pink every time he would turn around.
He was speeding past his collegue's desk when a certain name caught his sight;Anthony Rush.
He froze and stared. Could it...could it be? He hadn't spoken to any of his former associates or friends in over four years. The deal over his Mafia past was simple: ask me no questions, I tell you no lies. When he returned to Italy with his husband and his niece in '35 he made a pact with companies and associated men and women that he nor Frank would ever be questioned to do with his former mademanship. He and his family now lived in the richest district of Rome; he was a working artist that sold his paintings at art galleries and exhibitions. Because of this, the Way's were richer than they were when they left the States. Frank lectured struttura anatomica at Sapienza Universita di Roma, the most privilidged and private third-level college in the entire region. Meanwhile, eleven-year-old Luciana attended the private school her grandfather and great-grandfather had obliged before her.
Quick as he could, he ripped the letter up from the table and shoved it into his folder, catching a glimpse of his watch face in the time and cursing again. He figured it could wait til later (even though his hands were itching to read it) as he knew his time was shortening. He pushed past the doors of the Galleria di Rossi and his leather shoes clipped across the courtyard seperating the art building and the university. Four years may have passed but Way was still as youthful and amazing as ever; the only feature that had been altered was his hair (and neck) as he had dyed his hair fire-engine red last December in order to liven up his appearence. Perhaps he had been a little too liberal with the dye bottle, as scarlet had been sploshed all over his neck to match his head, but he had a fucking blast of a time with Frank massaging the dye into his scalp, and they had kissed and cavorted in the massive marble bathroom afterwards. He thought it gave him a artistic, quirky look as well to match his new career.
He crossed the courtyard and apparoched the guards standing to attention outside Sapienza. He propped Aviators up on his nose and grinned crookedly, holding his portfolio by his side. A number of wooden beads slunk down his thick wrist; last week his niece had made them in art and he had positively shrieked over his relation's new found intrest in le arti. ("My baby's gonna be an artist!" He had yelled, and picked her up in a proud swoop.) He advanced toward the polizia and offered up his identification.
"Gerardo de la Via," he replied, flashing his name. "Marito di uno dei docenti qui."
One of them grunted and tapped open the large chamber doors that opened to the college. The campus was unfurled to the man who had laid eyes on it so many times before. Students were relaxing in the sun, spread out on thin rugs, chatting amicably to friends and loves. Some were more veered toward education during their break; some were gathered with private tutors and teachers, preaching their art and subject. Gerard spotted two girls in front of him holding science books, and felt a strong, sudden surge of impulse. He tapped on one of their shoulders.
One, a blond with sharp features, whipped around.
"I was wondering if you might know what time Professer de la Via's lecture might be," he said politely, and the giggle and blush the other girl-a short brunette-wore spoke for the boy's reputation within the college. "And perhaps which classroom he is lecturing in today."
The blond girl just stared, mouth open, at the beautiful murderer in front of her. Her stomach was flitting and churning with heat and lust; the man was gorgeous. She hadn't even heard the question.
"Um, yeah," the brown-haired girl-Gloria-said, pointing to the side of the gothic building. "He's in Ricci Hall today, and it starts in ten minutes." She shone a dark shade of crimson as her friend just gaped at Gerard. "But he has a strict policy no one's allowed in before the lecture starts."
"Thank you, you have been most helpful," Gerard replied, and stalked away, folder under his arm. He was well aware the girls were seizing him up with their eyes as he walked; he could feel their vision burning holes in his back. He wore a cocky grin as he walked toward the centre, running his hands through his hair. The space between his middle and little finger went unnoticed these days.
Way approached a coffee stand next to the main entrance, jingling coins in his pocket. It was fairly humid today, and he could feel his skin browning in the thick heat. Nonetheless, he would never pass up an offer for coffee.
"Uno caffe nero, per favore," he ordered politely from the stall-holder, a fat man in a candy-striped cap and apron. "E una cioccolata calda." The merchant nodded and mumbled the price. Gerard handed over ten lire and shook his head when change was offered. "Bella giornata, non e vero?"
"Per il momento," the man said slyly, filling the cardboard cups full of steaming liquid with the pull of a tap. "Sono sicuro che la Tedeshi si la penso cosi." He sprayed the top of one mug with a bottle of whipped cream and waited for it to set. "Il Duce sta rovinado questo paeso dannato," he spoke quietly.
Dammit. Gerard knew this would escalate. Knew it from the first moment the bastard had come to power.
"Lui e," he responded dully and took the cups in both hands, frowning a little. The ominous message of he's ruining this damn country had put a little downer on his fabulous mood. He tried to shake it off by shrugging and muttering his thanks. "Grazie."
"Nessun problema," was the dreary response, and Way walked away from the stand, cussing under his breath. He had been waiting for the day to come for four years. Fuck that; he'd been waiting for this since the Austrian cunt started smirking his way into the Reichstag in the early thirties. Now, nearing the end of the decade, Gerard was unhappy.
Nonetheless, the man with no finger walked through the medieval castle building, loving the slapping of his shoe soles against the stone. Echoes of chatting teachers rang within the college and bounced off the walls. Way finally grinned widely, like a cat who got the cream, when he came to Ricci Hall and peered in the window of the door.
Franco de la Via was standing at the massive blackboard in the lecturing hall, writing out the class agenda carefully. Even though he was now nearing twenty nine, Gerard couldn't help but still think of his husband as the cute little bunny he'd met as a depressed twenty eight year old, the boy a battered victim who had not seen the change of twenty three summers. Frank was still pale as ever, which the artist found so ludicriously beautiful, that little white glow that bounced from his cheeks. The brown hair had been dyed black in order with the vivacious red of his lover, but other than that, the lecturer could still very well pass as an eighteen year old. The shy smile, the soft, pure skin that new born children did not deserve; his tiny frame and slender hips, the plush pout and the quiet, breathy little tone in which he spoke. And then, of course, that beautiful, pure mind that was so sacred to Way. God, he was just so fucking brilliant. Perfection in suspenders and black skinny jeans.
Gerard watched with a little grin on his lips as his husband talked quietly to himself, not needing to read or borrow from a book as he wrote formulas and Latin names on the board that were meaningless to the artist. He noticed Frank tended to twitch his hips a little every so often, or let out a quiet mewl, or perhaps twist the diamond ring on his finger. Gerard Way would smile so widely at this his jaw would weaken and click.
He gently pressed his outstretched fingers around the door knob and turned it. The lock gave with a minute lick and the door opened slowly, revealign the hall containing only the short man and a hundred rows of empty chairs. He made sure to be as quiet as he could and retain that Frank would not turn around and ruin his apparition act. He didn't.
Gerard placed his feet deliberately silently on the floor to make certain the boy would not hear him. The artist was perfecting a balancing act of his portfolio tucked under his armpit and two boiling hot mugs in his hands. He was approaching the desk now; the smirk only widened.
He ever-so-gently put the cups on the wooden table, the cardboard only barely scuffing the surface a little. His heart swelled a little at the picture Toro had taken all of five years ago-that of their wedding day in thirty four. Notes and pens lay lightly on the desk, the boy's near-OCD neatness showing in his books stacked on one another, his apple standing on the edge. Slowly, so slowly, simpering madly, Gerard reached out for those little hips and pulled them to his, clamping his hand over that little mouth.
"I'll give you three guesses," he purred right in Frank's ear, who was squeaking excitedly underneath his palm. Gerard brought his teeth down on the lobe and heard a shaky sigh of bliss. Way smirked wider and pushed Frank, so that he was now bending over his desk, at any advantage to the other.
"Gee," he trilled happily, reaching his hand back to caress de la Via's cheek lovingly. He pushed himself up on the desk and looked up at his husband of five years, red hair touseled and messy after the gentle humid winds had tried their worst. Their lips met softly and Frank giggled like a schoolgirl. "Was Antoine in a good mood today?"
"Uh huh," was the response, and arms wrapped around the lecturer. "Ya know we got that show in Milan next week? Well, guess who got their shit done for it and got to leave early cuz I'm so amazing?"
"Really, Gee?" Frank said, grinning. "Oh Gee, that's so great!" A snuggle into the artist's chest. "I'm so proud of you, Gerard. I can't wait to go see your show, I know you're gonna be the shit there." His smile widened again and he was beaming with happiness. "So proud of you," he repeated.
"Thanks, baby," Gerard said, and pointed to the cups, taking one and pushing it into the hands of the twenty eight year old. "Got off early and I figured I should go see my bunny furbishing some college kids with knowledge. Got ya some hot chocolate as well, cuz I know you're a sucker for romantic shit."
"Thank you, Gee, thank you, but you'll get so bored, it's just-"
"So? You come to art auctions with me and they must bore ya outta your mind." He tipped his chin up. "And I can't get bored staring at you for forty five minutes, I'll just undress you with my eyes..."
The scientist scoffed and sipped at the drink, cream sticking to his mouth. "You're so strange."
"If I did it with my hands I'd get killed, right?"
Gerard smiled and leaned in to kiss him again. "Not a bad way to go, really. I figured since this lasts for a little while, and then we can take our time collecting Luciana, maybe go for a walk by the river?"
Frank practically swooned. "Oh, Gee, that sounds so romantic." Oh yeah; Gerard Way can turn on the best-husband-ever regime whenever he wants. "I won't be able to concentrate on this when I think about afterwards." They embraced again, and the artist nipped at the delicate skin as the shrill bell shrieked to show the next class was due.
"Oh no," the boy said breathily as the thump and chatter down the corridor escalated. "Promise you won't smirk at me throughout the whole thing or send me dirty notes. Anyway, they'll recognise you. Like last time..." he trailed off, blushing even now at the obsceneties.
"What, you didn't like it? I thought I described it fabulously well. Real words for shit and everything." He cackled. "I got the names of the muscles and everything, shows I was actually listening to you..."
"Mmm, gluteus maximus, tell me about it," the teacher replied, slipping off the desk as his door was preyed on by students. "I'll be walking around in the middle of the lesson, okay? I'm checking their work and I can talk to you then, Gee." Frank reached up on his toes and pecked his husband on the mouth.
"What, that's it? I'll be away from you for forty five minutes and all I get is like a quarter of a kiss?" He gaped, disappointed. "Not even open mouth? Fuck it, I just got robbed."
"If you're a good boy and you don't disturb my class I'll make it up to you tonight, promise," Frank swore as Way dug his fingers into the scientist's pert gluteus maximus. "Luciana's going to her friend's house tonight and I have to make her dinner and help her pack and make sure she has nice clothes for Church on Sunday-"
"You're like a lil housewife, ain't'cha?" Gerard grinned, and the boy pouted.
"Not a housewife...just...looking after her and stuff..."
"Oh yeah?" His lip was tugged out again. "You wanna put on a garter belt and some lacy panties, that it, baby?"
"Gerard!" Frank shrieked, and the older man laughed so loud it reverberated around the room. Way chose a seat at the back of the class, settling down as girls and boys in their early twenties crowded into the seats. The class was packing with pupils as Frank instructed to 'please take out your books and the essay due about William Harvey-you need not talk whilst doing so, Miss Chigetta-and no smoking in the hall, Mister Missoni.'
"But sir! I'm allowed smoke in Signore Way's class!"
Gerard pulled a trilby over his forehead so he was not caught, smirking to his ears. He chanced a glance up at his husband, who was struggling not to smile. Frank cleared his throat and shuffled his books. To avoid recognition of their marriage by the students, Gerard went by the Anglasized version of his surname.
"Well, I am not Signore Way, Mister Missoni. His rules differ from mine." Frank wore a slight, strict smile, raising his eyebrows and the students laughed. "Now, returning to page four three five-"
"Sir, he was in here just now, I saw him." Another girl chirped up and Frank looked up again. "Signore Way. Can you ask him when the show for Il Duce is? I know it's in Milano, but I forgot the date-"
"It's next week," Frank said sharply, propping up black reading glasses. "Now, Miss Borozza, since you are so eagar to speak, you may start reading from the paragraph on the inner-coagulated circulatory system."
"If you have any more questions for Signore Way you can ask him when you have your next class with him. He will be indisposed for this afternoon." A flash of a smile decorated his features, and then vanished again. "Now, no more questions. This is not art, this is A.S. Now. Read."
"Yo, Gerard," Professer Moni, a fellow lecturer at UdR, whispered into the ear of the artist. He taught fine mathematics and scientific association; Gerard didn't have a clue what that meant but knew he was in Frank's department. A stocky rugby player in his mid-thirties, he was a heart-throb amongst the students, as were both Frank and Gerard. He was typically Italian in that he was a little coarse and thoughtless, but had a genuine good heart and mind. "My man."
"Luigi," Way returned, and their knuckles bumped. A strictly masculine relationship; this guy was all brawn with a surising amount of brain, as his subject might suggest. Gerard would chat to the man amicably but kept his eye on Iero all the time. "How are ya?"
"It's the weekend, can't complain," he shrugged, tapping the section of his intrcate wristwatch that read FRIDAY. "Didn't expect to see you here, in a science lecture. For your boy, huh?"
"Yeah," he replied, smiling, thinking of Frank in his innocent, tempting glory. "Got something romantic planned tonight, ya know? Gonna take him for a nice walk, drop my niece off at her friend's and then..." he grinned as Frank turned around to see Gerard waving at him. The scientist spluttered a little. "The night is ours."
"Oh yeah? There gonna be some angry neighbours round Roma tonight?" He cackled quietly and the artist joined him. "He good?"
"Oh, he ain't just good...he's perfect," Gerard corrected, smirking widely as Frank ascended the steps to check on students. Way winked at him and received a scowl in return. "So...so good. Yanno, for Christmas I'm taking him back to the States. Haven't told him yet, but we're going back to California for a month." He grinned; the twenty eight year old was nearing him. "I'm a good old fashioned lover boy, ya see."
Instead of looking pleased, Moni actually looked a little sad, regretful. However, his statement was not usurped immediately as Frank had come to their end of the bench, and whispered something in Gerard's ear, and pressed a note into his hand. The artist smiled wider, and bit the boy's ear.
"Yeah, I have a question," he whispered, as students below him scribbled notes from the board. "Why are you so fuckable?"
Frank gasped and shrieked.
"GERARD!" He screamed, and then dawned to the horror that all of his students jumped and stared at their blushing professer and their smirking art connesuir. Frank, quick as a wink, bolted from Gerard's lap and snapped at them. "Well, back to your work! Nothing to see here!"
"I honestly cannot believe you, Gerard Way," Frank said as they crossed the campus, holding hands. The younger man was shaking his head, tutting. "You are just the most perverted man I have ever met. Honestly...'why are you so fuckable?' Unfreakingbelievable. And then kissing me in front of everyone afterwards?"
"What can I say? I'm a romantic at heart," Way replied, shrugging as he walked with his husband. "I like people knowing you're mine. Here; lemme take your books for you." He turned to Frank and took the heavy hardbacks from the weaker one's hands, who stammered not to. "They're too heavy for you, sugar."
"No no, Gee, it's fine, you already have to carry your art shit," the boy insisted, but the artist shook his head, red layers shaking with it. "I-oh-um-thank you."
"Just being a gentleman," Gerard said seriously, carrying one pile of books in his arm and his folder below them. He laughed when he saw a small letter g with a pink heart surrounding it on the inside of the cover of one of the books, considering the little doodle by his husband so cute. "Will you go in and get her, baby? Wait-" he whipped out a black marker from his notes and scribbled that same letter on the boy's wrist. "Yeah. They'll know you're mine."
"Who? The fifth graders, Gerard?" Frank said incredulously, and the other giggled immaturely. "Like they're gonna come on to me?"
"Oh yeah." He leaned down and pressed their lips together. "You know what classroom she's in? Good bunny." Gerard caught sight of a newspaper stand in the far distance. "Imma get a paper and then I'll be straight back to you and Luci."
Gerard, laden with books and folder, walked calmly to the stand across the street from Santa Marina Scuola Privata Per Regazze and bought the Gazette di Roma. The headline shocked him to his very core; Il Duce declares military intervention into forthcoming expected conflict. He shook his head and looked up at the salesman, who looked at him sadly. This was what the man at the coffee shop had been talking so glumly about a while ago. This was what the letter to him addressed that fateful name would be about. This would destroy eveything.
Gerard's thoughts were interrupted by a tapping on his shoulder. He turned around to see his niece and husband smiling up at him hopefully. The worried frown he wore went unnoticed by the girl but Frank knew him too well.
Luciana de la Via had changed in the last five years. Not just physically, but mentally. The black hair she wore (Gerard had been told last year finally that the black hair dye had been token of Donald, who had bleached the girl's hair raven in order to make her 'pure-blooded'-Gerard had nearly killed a guy) was down her back and she was tall, nearly five foot now. Her chocolate eyes had grown large and panda-like and her skin had taken on that olive hue Gerard also had. She would be beautiful when she was older; that much was certain. She was a straight A student and popular with her classmates. She still referred to Gerard and his husband as 'zio' and 'Franco' respectively; she and Way had never discussed the subject of her father's death. The one time the artist had brought it up she had nodded and said "I know. You're not my father. You killed him. I don't care."
"Ciao zio," chriped the girl, and he grinned at her, painting a face of happiness as he hugged her tightly. His eye flashed with fear as he saw Frank beyond her. The American mouthed 'what's wrong?' at him as he did, but Gerard just closed his eye to show he'd tell him later.
"Hey honey," Gerard greeted her, and slipped his hand into hers as he and the two others began walking down the busy, suburban street. "How's my gorgeous girl? Was school good, sweetheart?"
They turned a corner and saw around thirty soldiers, armed and ready, standing before them, all dresses completely in black. Other people in the street were gasping, screaming 'no no questo non puo accadere!', jabbing fingers at the army guards. The depressing parade was fronted two soldiers who carried a banner bearing the legend of 'Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell'Antifascismo'; and then, under that, 'Escrito Reale d'Italia'. Frank, who had heard nasty, grisly tales of these from his husband all of five years ago when he had visited Rome, let his jaw drop and quickly turned to Gerard.
"Gee?" He squeaked, and Luciana began to cry, hugging Frank around the waist. "Gee, what are they-I can't-"
"Babe, you and Luci get down the-" Christ, they were opening fire. One bullet surged through a man's skull and he felw to the ground, spurting blood; the eleven-year-old screamed and squeezed her uncle's husband tighter. Gerard saw his boss, Rossi, run out of the office and shout: "hey! What the hell's goin on-" but the sentence was cut short by one quick shot to his neck. Way, frantic, turned to Frank and cupped his wet cheeks. "Go down that alley, okay, sweetheart? Get down there with her and I'll be down to you in five minutes, I sw-"
Moltovs were going off along the street. Bodies were flying everywhere. Frank was in floods of tears, as was the former Mafia boss. He bent down and covered his niece in kisses and and hugged her as tightly as he could. Then he rose to the boy he loved, and captired his lips in a seering grasp, not caring that he could get killed any minute, just latching onto the beautiful man he was married to.
"Go down the alley, Frankie, and take her with you," Gerard instructed. "I have to take care of shit right now and then I'll be back to you both in two minutes, I promise."
"Gee!" Frank cried, and pulled the artist back to him and kissing him again, and both men had tears running down their cheeks. The artist paused, and the shelling, the bullets and the screams of agony seemed to stop for the moment. "I love you, Frank."
The scientist sniffed. "I love you, Gerard."
Then, for the first time since leaving the United States, Gerard Way reached for his belt and pulled out two pistols, the same guns that had been presented to him on his second wedding day to that one person. He hauched a loogie and spat onto the ground, shoving the sleeves of his shirt up his arms and wearing his best glare. He had vowed to himself once he set foot in the land of Italy he would not partake in more Cosa Nostra related violence. But now...that temptation was all too sweet. He, in his heart, knew he was born to do this. Art was wonderful, it was such a raw talent. But he was a killer by nature. It ran through his veins. He could deny it all he wanted-art was just a hobby.
Killing was his art.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the onyx ring. He slipped it onto his finger and walked towards the troupe.
Meanwhile, down the alley from the Don, was his husband and his niece. Frank placed the two of them inside a metal doorway which would shield them from any shelling. He tried the door and it gave way, leaving them free into a plain room. Upon turning on the sparse light bulb, it was a woodshop. Barren tables and saws had been abandoned to face the danger on the street. Frank was literally sobbing from his suspected future of his husband. Gerard was going to die, and he knew it. He should have tried to stop the made man, but he knew in his heart that Way was headstrong with honour and pride. He couldn't just walk away from a showdown.
He sank down the wall, crying into his hands. Luciana simply sat down opposite him, placing her neat pleated black coat beneath her.
"Don't cry, Franco," the girl said softly, smiling. "Don't cry. Gerard's going to be fine, you know. He's done a lot more than take on some fascist idiots with a load of guns. Some of them aren't older than me. There's one girl in my mathematics class and her brother's only fifteen and he's in it." The sweet smile was so gorgeous, and Frank could find no fault in her reasoning. The light above them flickered. "And zio could take on a million of those."
"Sweetie, I don't think it's that easy," he croaked, and cried out when he saw his wedding ring. "He's a real good fighter, honey, but there's only one of him. Versus...so many of them."
"Don't you realize how important the Don of the Famiglia is? If Mussolini kills zio then all his gangs will come after him. There are four hundred and sixty two sub-sets of loyal men to my family in Italy," she stated matter-of-factly. "And then another three hundred and twelve in America and across the world. Mussolini is stupid but is smart enough to know that killing zio would be more than death for him." She kissed his cheek. "So no more crying. Do you wanna see what I did in school today? Do you wanna?"
Frank, even though he still had doubts, felt much better after Luciana had explained to him the sanctity of her family. He giggled a little.
"Sure, honey." He pulled her up as she rifled through her satchel. "Your family is so...so respected, I guess."
"Not just my family," she corrected, and her next statement made him tear up. "Your family too."
"Ma famiglia," Frank breathed quietly as the girl presented him with a poem in fine, texted script.
"This is a poem we got in school today, and I love it so much." She blinked and grinned again at the snivelling man. "Can I read it for you, Franco?"
"Of course, baby girl."
Luciana took a deep breath and beagn to read. Frank forgot all about the shelling and the danger; he was pretending he was in Gerard's warm and comforting hold as the words floated to his ears.
"Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!---An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,---
my friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori."
The light finally gave way and went out with a sizzle as she uttered the final word. Frank's cheeks were glistening with tears as he held his husband's niece. Bombing and shooting and screaming continued to rage outside the strong building as both the boy and the girl found solace inside the working man's shop. Two hours passed, and Frank fell asleep. He woke with a sharp start when a hand gently shook his shoulder. He woke up and saw a green iris staring back at him.
He was about to bleat the girl's name when he realized Luciana didn't have green eyes.
"Ger-ard?" He croaked, and tears fell down from his cheeks. He grabbed the made man around the neck and pressed kissed everywhere he could reach. Way was limping and covered in blood, but he was alive, oh God he was alive and real and in Frank's arms. "Gee?"
That familar laugh in his ear. The smirk was probably present on his lips.
"Don de la Via, baby," he corrected, and laughed again.