Sequel to Fly Away, Dance on the Milky Way. Over a year has passed, and Gerard is reunited with his daughter Gia. She has a lot to hide, and Gerard finds that she has grown up and changed.
Chapter 8: Home is where the heart is
The drive back to Belleville took a little over two hours, but during that time, Gia had fallen asleep. Having calmed down just a tad, Gerard kept sneaking glances at her and her bruised face. Her left eye was sporting a new purple bruise, and judging by the looks of it, it must’ve hurt.
Just thinking about Thomas made Gerard’s blood boil. How anyone could hurt Gia went beyond his understanding. Gerard had sworn to keep her safe, and he had failed. He had seriously trusted that she’d be safe and sound while living with her mother, but he was wrong. And he had learned the hard way that he can’t trust anyone else with her.
From now on, he’ll have to keep an extremely close eye on her in order to keep her from getting hurt.
When they arrived at the house, it was already past midnight. Gerard shook Gia awake and she woke up with a start.
“Where am I?” the girl asked, as if she had forgotten what happened.
“It’s okay,” Gerard assured her. “You’re home.”
Gia was a bit out of it, but she followed obediently as he guided her into the house. If she hadn’t been so sleepy and dizzy, she would’ve been hesitant to go in. Now she just wanted to go to bed and forget.
The first thing Gerard did was make her stand under a light so he could see the bruise on her face. The white on her eye had gotten slightly red, which indicated that some veins had probably broken.
“We’ll have to show that to a doctor tomorrow,” Gerard sighed. He felt sick just by looking at the bruise.
Gia nodded, but she felt extremely uncomfortable under his inspection.
“Let’s get you to bed. We’ll talk tomorrow, okay?” he said, and was about to walk her up to her old room which had remained exactly the way she left it.
“Dad, I can go by myself,” Gia said. She really just wanted to get away from him.
Gerard hesitantly agreed. “Yeah, of course,” he said, and pulled her into a gentle hug. He didn’t want to hurt her, he knew she was in pain. He gave her a kiss on the forehead and said: “Good night.”
“Good night,” Gia said, and left her father standing downstairs in the dimly lit hallway.
When Lindsey woke up the next morning, she was shocked to find her husband at home and sitting in their kitchen, drinking coffee. He was completely awake, and he obviously hadn’t slept all night.
“Morning,” he greeted her when he noticed her enter the kitchen.
“Morning. Why are you home, though? I thought you weren’t supposed to come back until later today?”
“Change of plans,” Gerard shrugged. He had been sitting there, completely awake all night, thinking about what had happened.
Lindsey saw that there was something bothering him. She had learned to read between the lines. With Gerard, that ability was very useful, as he was hardly ever willing to speak of his problems unless he was asked.
“I’m a failure as a father, that’s what happened,” Gerard scoffed. “I actually thought that she was in good hands. But it’s all my fault. She’s hurt and there’s nothing I can do about it. What makes it even worse, I have no idea what happened or how many times it happened, how bad it was… What was I thinking when I let her go?”
Lindsey was completely confused now. “Honey? I realize you haven’t slept all night and you’re probably overloaded with caffeine, but… You need to give me more details and maybe start from the beginning?”
Gerard sighed, and started his story. “I went out to get cigarettes. Gia stayed home. When I got back, I heard a loud crash from her room, and I went up to see what it was.”
Lindsey listened to the story in shock. Neither of them had expected anything like that to be going on. They had thought that Gia was happy living there.
“Oh wow,” Lindsey gasped when Gerard finished. “So where is she now?”
“She’s asleep upstairs. I don’t know what to do.”
“What if she wants to go back?”
Gerard shook his head. “No, I won’t let her. She’s not going back there ever again.” He sighed, wishing he had a bottle of hard liquor. He found it ironic that his daughter was the reason he stopped drinking, but whenever he feels like starting the old habit again, it’s always because of her. “I just felt like killing him. I’m serious, I could’ve easily killed him and I wouldn’t have regretted it at all.”
“Yes you would have. But Gerard, it’s over now. He can’t hurt her anymore.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a loud, ear-breaking scream from upstairs. Their one and a half year old has woken up and is ready for a new day.
Lindsey rose from her chair, about to go get their younger daughter, but Gerard stopped her. “I’ll go,” he said. “I haven’t seen her in a while.”
“Okay. I’ll make more coffee. And tea for Gia, I assume?”
“No need, she drinks coffee now,” Gerard said, and couldn’t help but smile at that. He knew that drinking coffee was just a small thing, but he was glad of any similar preferences he had with his daughter, especially because for a long time it seemed that they had nothing in common.
Gerard went up to Bandit’s room and found the toddler in her crib, het tiny fists pulling on the wooden bars and a terrible howl coming out of her wide open mouth. Gerard knew that they’d have to buy her a real bed soon, the crib won’t last her violent ways for long.
“DADDY!” the girl screeched, her face spreading into an overjoyed, yet mad-looking grin. She extended her arms for him to pick her up.
“Hey princess,” Gerard laughed, picking her up. “You’ve gotten so big, I can hardly carry you anymore.”
“PRESENTS!” Bandit shouted right into his ear. She was used to getting souvenirs when ever her parents came home from being gone for longer than a few days.
Gerard laughed at the shouting. The girl sure had a good set of lungs. “Do you want your presents or do you want to go say hi to your big sister?”
Bandit grasped only to one word of that sentence, and that was “sister”. Bandit started squirming in his arms uncontrollably and let out a longing, screeching cry for Gia. Gerard had no other choice but to put the girl down and let her go by herself.
Bandit dashed out of the room faster than she had ever run before. Gerard followed her quickly, but Bandit was surprisingly fast. He tried to grab her, but only ended up watching in horror as she managed to climb over the gates at the stairs, dashed up the stairs and climbed the other gate, and then sprinted down the hall to the closed door. That’s where her journey ended. She couldn’t reach the doorknob.
“Bandit, what did mommy say about running in the house?” Gerard lectured when he reached her. He was completely out of breath.
“Daddy! Door!” the girl shouted, jumping up and down excitedly.
Gerard opened the door for her, and seconds later the hyper little child had jumped on the large bed where Gia was sleeping.
When Bandit jumped on her, Gia let out a loud ‘oomph’ sound and curled up under the covers. Gerard got nervous, fearing that Bandit may have jumped on a bruise or something.
“What?” Gia asked, peeking from under the covers. Gerard cringed when he saw that the dark purple bruise on her eye had turned yellow.
Bandit squealed once she saw the blonde girl’s head and hugged her furiously. Gerard laughed as Gia was being attacked by the toddler and tried to understand what was happening.
“Good morning,” Gerard called out to her with a grin. He went to pull the tiny monster away, and managed to pry her away from her sister long enough for Gia to sit up.
“Morning,” Gia said. “You can release the hound, it’s cool.”
“GIA!” Bandit shouted and crawled across the bed to give another hug, this one a little more gentle and less eye-popping, to her older sister. Every time Gia came to visit, Bandit went crazy. It was like the energy of coffee-hyper Frank multiplied by a hundred.
“Hey Bandit,” Gia laughed. “You’ve gotten tall.”
“I’m a big girl now!” Bandit answered excitedly, her voice even more high-pitched than it usually was.
“You sure are.”
“I want to show you! Come with me!” Bandit screamed, tugging at Gia’s hand. She had so many things to say and show to her sister that she could hardly function at all. Gerard knew that in a few minutes Bandit will be beating the shit out of the piano’s keyboard, throwing around crayons so she can show Gia her badass drawing skills and making a huge mess with her toys. Every time Bandit got a Barbie doll in her hand, it always got broken because Bandit’s games were so violent that everyone always died in them. Bandit didn’t have one doll that still had its head and limbs connected to its body.
Bandit took at least a half an hour to fuss about everything, and she was nowhere near done when Gerard decided it was time for her to eat breakfast.
“Daddy no!” Bandit howled, reaching for Gia as she was being carried out of the living room to have her breakfast. “I wanna play!”
“I’ll play with you after we’ve eaten,” Gia assured the little girl and followed the two into the kitchen where Lindsey had set up the table.
Lindsey hadn’t seen Gia yet, and when she did, she let out loud gasp. “Gia! Your face looks horrible!”
“Oh thanks,” Gia answered with a sarcastic tone.
“You know what I mean. Let me look at that,” Lindsey said, grabbed Gia’s face and inspected the bruise more carefully. “Does it hurt?”
“Not really unless you keep poking it.”
“Oh, sorry,” Lindsey said and smiled sadly. “Look, your dad told me what happened, so if you want to talk…”
“Thanks,” Gia said before she finished.
“I’m so glad you’re back,” Lindsey sighed, giving her a tight hug. “We all missed you.”
“I’m glad to be back,” Gia answered. But the thing was, she wasn’t sure if she was happy or sad about being back in Belleville. Even though living with her mother had its obvious downsides, such as Thomas, Gia had enjoyed the freedom. Adapting back to the peaceful pace of Belleville would surely be difficult.