A snowstorm delays all the flights in the eastern area, stranding a certain band on Christmas Eve.
The Cancelled Christmas
The snowstorm of the century, they called it.
Gerard sat sulking at the airport, his gaze fixed upon the same screen that had crushed his heart into some powder like substance just three hours ago. He read the letters repeatedly, yet could not possibly comprehend what they meant.
D E L A Y E D
Gerard knew, of course, exactly what this meant. It meant that he would not make it home in time to help Lindsey with the cooking like he had promised. It meant that he would not be able to secretly sneak boxes under the tree in their living room, each of them signed by Santa Clause. It meant that he would not see the glow on Bandit's face in the early hours of the morning, her fingers itching to tear apart paper and ribbon. It meant that he would not be home for Christmas.
Through the gigantic windows that lined the airport walls, there was almost nothing but white powder visible. The wind pounded against everything with unmerciful fury, relentless and unyielding. Inside the building, amidst the hustle and bustle of crying children and people on bluetooth devices, Gerard could still hear people going to and fro, trying to find a way out.
"Can't we just book another flight?"
"I'm sorry m'am, all flights are shut down until the storm subsides."
"Is there another airport that can fly us out?"
"No sir, all airports that we know of in the eastern states have delayed their flights as well. The weather is simply too dangerous to fly."
"When is the soonest the planes might be running again?"
"Perhaps on Tuesday, but there's no guarantees."
“But today is barely Saturday!”
“I’m very sorry sir, would you like us to find you a nearby hotel?”
Gerard could see elderly people walking around with frowns upon their faces, kids asking their parents questions in confused tones. A few people clearly did not have a plan B, and wandered around asking each other what they were supposed to do now. Gerard wished he could help them, yet he was not sure what he was supposed to do himself.
Finally, he felt a tap on his shoulder.
An equally somber looking Frank approached him, putting away his phone in his coat. Behind him were the rest of his band mates, Mikey Way and Ray Toro, who were both dragging around luggage that should have been stowed away on a homeward bound airplane by now.
"Well I booked a suite at the Doubletree across the road, they only had the most expensive available." Frank grimaced as though the blow to his wallet was felt physically.
Gerard shifted his feet and looked down as he did so, knowing what the response to his next statement would certainly be.
"Maybe we should stay here a bit longer... maybe the storm will let up..."
When Gerard looked up again, he expected to see an annoyed Frank staring back. He had been putting off leaving the airport for some time now, with the reasoning that they had nowhere to go. Now that Frank had booked them a suite however, there was no excuse and nothing to do but check in and cut their losses. Yet to his surprise, his gaze was met with sympathy materialized in the large green irises only inches away.
"I know how you feel G." Frank sighed, "I have kids too. But we can't stand around here forever. The storm isn't going to let up, at least not today. We may as well get comfortable at the hotel, and we'll all check in every now and then to see the status of the flights. Okay?"
"Okay..." Gerard mumbled. Protests fought to surface from his throat but his self control muted them all. Mikey and Ray both looked tired and worn, and Gerard himself was aching to lie down upon something soft. Their band had played a long and problematic show just hours ago, the aches of which they had expected to recover from in first class on an American Airlines airplane the morning following.
They turned around and left for their surprise hotel stay, each of them with disgruntled and uncalled for mumbles about the weather and the airports, and a variety of things that nobody had any control over.
"Welcome to the Doubletree." came the irritatingly high voice of the concierge at the front desk. Gerard gritted his abnormally small teeth, fighting the urge to tell her off for being so chipper at such a god awful time.
Luckily Frank was more courteous and dealt with the woman, checking them in and retrieving the complimentary cookies that are always received upon checking in at a Doubletree Hotel.
The journey up to their room was had in silence, as no one was in any mood to talk. Yet it was not until they reached their rooms, after they had settled in and unpacked objects, that the grief of their situation hit Gerard like a hard punch to the stomach.
He looked at his phone, knowing he had to call them.
How could he ever make such a terrible call, how do you utter to your wife and daughter, "Sorry, but I won't be there for Christmas this year."?
He was supposed to be Bandit's Santa. There can't be Christmas without a Santa. So to tell them such a thing would be the equivalent of telling them that there was going to be no Christmas. How was he supposed to do that, when his poor Bandit had only gotten to experience the joy of Christmas one year before? What would she think of Christmas now? Something that was flaky and unpredictable, like her no good father?
Gerard's train of thought continued its course, soon going off the rails and causing a headline worthy train wreck in his mind. In the meantime, Frank set out to do exactly what had sent Gerard spiraling.
"Jamia? Yeah... No I'm still here. Yeeeaaaahhh, you heard?....I'm so sorry sweetie..."
Frank lowered his voice, turning away from Mikey and Ray's hearing ranges. Both of them were watching the other two, all four of them feeling terribly sad for the children they were letting down. Mikey frowned to see that his brother seemed frozen in place, staring at his phone. He had already called Alicia, and that was hard enough. Steering away from the dining area and towards Gerard, he offered his sentiments.
"You know you have to tell her." Mikey placed a hand on Gerard's shoulder, squeezing it lightly. "She'll need time to prepare Bandit for the news. It's barely Christmas Eve now, and that will give her a whole day for it to sink in. But if she finds out last minute, then Christmas will no doubt be ruined."
Gerard turned to him, and for the first time Mikey saw that his eyes were glossed over with tears, sparkling in the winter sun that shone through the window.
"I hate this." he said simply, his voice meek and angry at the same time.
"I know." Mikey nodded with understanding. "...but that isn't going to make it go away. Do what you need to do, Gee."
Mikey walked away from his brother to give him the privacy that he hoped would enable him to execute his task. He wandered past the doorway to the TV and dining room, where he could see that Ray was dealing in the same way with Frank.
"How is she?" Mikey asked Frank, whose facial expression should have made it so he did not have to ask.
"Pretty disappointed..." Frank frowned, "I didn't talk to the girls. I couldn't bear it. I just told Jamia to do her best to make them understand."
Frank blinked furiously for a moment, and Mikey figured that he might be taking as hard as his elder brother. However Frank, as guarded as he always was, was quick to change the subject.
"How's he holding up?"
Mikey knew exactly who Frank meant by he, and felt a pang of annoyance that Frank did not initially ask about the conversation that Mikey was forced to have with Alicia. Although it should have come as a surprise to no one -- Frank's concerns always went to Gerard above all the others. Always.
"Not so good." Mikey admitted, "He's struggling to tell Lindsey still. I don't think he's actually called yet. He's pretty broken up about this whole thing."
They all stood in silence for a moment before the quiet was broken by the sound of Gerard's voice.
"Hey honey...yeah, I know...I've really missed you too..."
The words drifted in from the other room like an unavoidable sad tune. It was uncomfortable to hear, but the boys could not bring themselves to concentrate on anything else.
"Listen, I have some... no...no honey don't...hey B."
Mikey visibly cringed.
"Of course daddy wants to see you too sweetheart. Can you put your mom back on for me? Oh, she's on speaker? Well can I talk to mommy alone?...No, baby, its not like that...we just have to talk about grown up stuff...yes, I know you're a very big girl, but this is super grown up stuff... I promise we'll talk after, okay?... Okay, thank you honey."
The voice of Gerard's wife returned to the other side of the line, and his breath caught in his throat.
Why do people always sound their sweetest whenever you are about to tell them terrible news?
Gerard nearly gasped as he suddenly felt something touch his hand. He first looked down at his clammy fingers to see that another hand, covered in tattoos was wrapping gently around them. He then looked behind him, and saw Frank sitting on the edge of the hotel bed. He gave Gerard a small smile of encouragement, and it was then that the words slipped easily out of Gerard’s lips, his eyes unmoving from Frank’s face.
“…I won’t be able to make it home for Christmas.”
The rest of the conversations was filled with reassurances and apologies. Gerard no longer spoke to Bandit after, as Lindsey assured him it would be best if she talked to her first. It was difficult, but Frank sat by him until the final click once Lindsey gave him a solemn goodbye.
“Are you okay?” asked Frank as Gerard settled his phone in his charger.
“I think so, yeah.” Gerard cleared his throat and looked at the luggage around them. His carry on was zipped open, and a golden glimmer could be seen through the revealed space.
The Christmas gifts.
He had bought a few last minute presents that he was hoping to bring home. Frank saw where was looking and without another word went for his own luggage, out of which he retrieved some tinsel.
“Yeah, I had some stuff in here for Cherry and Lily too. And some tree decorations that I thought Jamia would like.” Frank pulled out small boxes, a few of them displaying ornaments in the shape of hearts. They made Gerard cringe slightly.
“I have your gift in here.” remarked Frank as he sifted through the packages of shimmering wraps.
Gerard smiled, “I have yours too. Since Christmas is cancelled and all, do you wanna…”
“Aw, Gerard.” Frank looked up at his friend, “Christmas isn’t cancelled. It never was. We can have our own Christmas right here. Christmas is wherever family is, right?”
“I… I guess.” Gerard hesitated.
“You’d guess correctly then.” Frank winked at him. He got a few gifts from his carry on bag and brought it to a clearly fake decor plant in the corner of the room. He placed them at the bottom and then proceeded to wrap it in the decorations he had brought. Gerard began to follow his example, taking his own presents and placing them at the bottom of the plastic plant.
And so was the Christmas Eve of 2010. Mikey and Ray joined their own gifts with the others, and batches upon batches of hot chocolate was made by the youngest Way. Frank and Gerard spend the evening under the same blanket, sharing mugs and entertaining one another with stories they both already knew. Ray provided music by means of his iPhone, and Mikey placed their cookies on a plate as an invitation to Santa Clause, so that perhaps a Christmas miracle could be granted.
Morning arose. Gerard awoke in a slightly confused daze, and the smell of cinnamon filled his lungs. The scent of Frank’s hair.
He blinked a few times so that his vision would come into focus, and there he saw Frank lying next to him in his bed. He remembered last night’s events, and a small smile curled the corners of his mouth.
He shifted slightly, and the movement awoke his bedmate. Frank turned to him, equally confused in the first few seconds. Gerard grinned at him sheepishly before he finally uttered the infamous greeting.
“Merry Christmas, Frankie.”
“Merry Christmas, Gerard.”
Frank kissed Gerard lightly on the forehead, and a sense of nostalgia came over them both. The embrace they laid in was significant of nothing in the last year, but of many years before this. Of years before they had any families and children, but when they were children themselves; when they were devoted to no one but each other.
They relished in one another’s company, no one bothering to notice that the skies outside were perfectly clear.