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.
Frank Iero sat by the dining table with a cigarette loosely between his fingers. He was trying very hard to be interested in the flower vase in front of him on the table, but his thoughts always ended up returning to the mental image of what he had just witnessed.
Frank had always been the uncle that understood that Gia was growing up. He treated her like an equal, which actually wasn’t really much to say because at times his mental age went down to four. Still, Gia had always liked the fact that Frank never judged her, always preferred talking to her rather than yelling his guts out when she made a mistake, unlike her lovely father, and Frank just understood her.
Still, there were certain things concerning her maturing that Frank had wished to never see or even hear about.
“Hey,” Gia said nervously as she entered the room, not sure if he was mad or not. She was clearly embarrassed, it was written all over her face. Looking back now, what she and Lucas did was so incredibly stupid, but at the moment it had made sense. Gia wished she was smarter.
“Why don’t you sit down?” Frank suggested. His voice was calm, but Gia feared the worst. Frank may be the cool one of her uncles, but he was also the unpredictable, crazy one. Who’s to say he won’t spontaneously combust and start spitting fire at her?
Gia took a seat on the other side of the table, right across from Frank. They were quiet for a while, and during the silence Gia’s eyes were fixated on the burning cigarette that he held in his fingers. She hadn’t had one since her return to New Jersey, so the twirling smoke that circled around her seemed nearly heavenly. Gia hadn’t realized how much she could crave for something so unhealthy, and now she just couldn’t think about anything else. Oh, if her father knew. He’d chop off her head so she could never smoke again.
Frank noticed her eyes following the movement of his hand as he took a drag from the cigarette and then dropped the ashes. Gia completely missed the thoughtful look on his face as she took a long, silent inhale, and kept her eyes fixated on the smoke rising from the burning end of the stick.
Frank reached for his pocket and took out a half full packet of cigarettes, and set it on the table right between them.
“You can have one if you want,” Frank said, making Gia look up at him in surprise. She was pretty sure it was a trick, and nearly turned down the offer. But one glance at the cancer stick that was already lit, and Gia found herself reaching for the packet. Frank lit it for her, and moments later she sighed in relief as the smoke filled her lungs. For a while they sat in silence, just smoking their cigarettes, until Frank decided to speak.
“So,” he started, clearing his throat. “That was an interesting sight.”
The stress that had disappeared slowly with every inhale of the poisonous smoke now came crashing back. “I’m sorry you had to see that,” she apologized. “And I’m sorry I did it, it will never happen again.” She was obviously lying, but during her stay in Connecticut she had learned the art of successful lying. She was now considerably better at it. Somehow Frank still saw right through her as if she was just made of glass.
“Gia, please. It’s me you’re talking to. You don’t have to put up an act.”
Gia realized that he wasn’t like most adults. In fact, at times, Frank stopped being her uncle and became only her friend. This was one of those times.
“Now tell me. What happened?” he said, knowing that she’ll never start the explaining unless he gives her a nudge.
Gia shrugged. “He came over, and I don’t know, I just realized how much I missed him and it’s like I lost my mind, I just wanted to be with him. I loved him, you know? I really did.”
“And you don’t anymore?”
She didn’t have an answer to that question. She had no idea.
“It wasn’t the first time, was it?”
“With Lucas? No.”
Frank raised a brow. “So there have been others?”
“Look, are you just going to run to my dad and tell him everything I say?” Gia asked. Frank was a good guy, but hardly reliable.
“No, I really don’t want him to have a heart attack and then go to jail for manslaughter. That would be the end of my glorious rock star career in My Chemical Romance,” Frank grinned. “Now, spill.”
Gia sighed, finishing her cigarette. Frank immediately offered her another one, and she didn’t hesitate to accept it. “Okay, before I left, I was with Lucas a few times. And then once I moved, there were three other guys,” she said, looking down at the table. “It was hard, you know? Moving to a different place, starting at a new school. At first everyone thought of me as some sort of a freak, because I did my homework on time and did well in school. I didn’t like the way they treated me. I’ve been alone most of my life and I didn’t want to be alone anymore. So then I heard about this party… I went, drank quite a bit and… I met a guy. I never even found out his name.” Gia paused. She looked ashamed, and hesitant to tell this story, but even so, she still continued. To her, it felt good to get it off of her chest, to finally tell someone.
“Next Monday at school, suddenly people wanted to talk to me and I got friends. I went to more parties, school lost its meaning because it didn’t make me happy, and pretty soon I started to gain a reputation. I mean, I only really slept with two guys but there was other stuff. And the third guy in Connecticut, his name was Sean. He was really nice, at first at least. We were together for a few months only, but during that time having sex sort of became an obligation. It’s not that I didn’t like Sean, I did, but he always assumed that because we’re together, I have to do it with him. It wasn’t fun anymore.”
Frank nodded, understanding what she meant. But it did feel strange. He used to play with Barbies with this girl, and now she was sitting there, smoking, talking to him about having sex. “Continue,” he told her, so she’d carry on with her story.
“I guess I started to miss Lucas more than I thought I had. So when I saw him, I wanted to feel like I used to feel. It sounds stupid, I know.”
“Not at all. What about protection?”
Gia rolled her eyes. “Frank, I’m not stupid. I’m on the pill.”
“Good. If you got pregnant, I’m pretty sure Gerard would start suspecting something.”
Gia had to agree with him. Her father could never find out about anything ever, or else she’s as good as dead.
“So, you sure have become quite the wild child.”
“Is that why you didn’t want to come back? Because you could do what you wanted in there, whereas if you were here, you would be watched constantly?”
“I’m not gonna lie. It was a pretty big reason. But also… I was scared to come back. I’m not the same person as I was when I last saw all of you, and I was afraid that maybe…”
“Maybe we won’t accept you the way you are?”
Gia nodded. “Yeah. Something like that.”
“Well that’s crazy!”
“Yeah I realize that now.”
“The freedom you had there, was it the reason you didn’t say anything about your stepdad?”
The question took her completely off guard. She hadn’t expected him to mention Thomas, nor had she really wanted to hear his name mentioned. “It’s complicated,” Gia finally said, hoping that he’ll drop it.
“Tell me anyway.”
Gia hesitated, but then gave up. If there was anyone who would be good to talk to, then it would be Frank. “Look, I was liked at school, I was happy and free, my mom knew what was going on with me but she never said anything, and I was just… It was like living a double life. At first it was going great, but then Thomas saw me come home drunk and he got quite irritated. He told me that he didn’t want me around his kids and that he never really wanted me to move there... He always knew it was a bad idea. He didn’t like me. And he threatened to tell my mom, but he never did. He told me to stop, and if I did, I could stay there. Of course, me being me, I couldn’t stop and I kept doing what I did, and Thomas really didn’t like that.”
“That’s when he started hitting you?”
“Yeah. At first it wasn’t anything bad, and he actually hit me only a few times but the other stuff was nearly daily.”
“But that doesn’t answer my question. Why didn’t you tell anyone? We could’ve stopped it.”
Gia finished her cigarette before answering, but Frank didn’t offer her another one. He figured that she had had enough.
“Because he wasn’t wrong,” she answered.
“What do you mean?”
“Look, the only reason he did that was because I did bad things first. He didn’t want someone like me around his family, and he wasn’t wrong defending them.”
“Gia!” Frank suddenly shouted, looking shocked. “You’re not actually saying that he did the right thing by hitting you?!”
“Well didn’t he?! Yeah, it hurt, but I deserved it.”
“Listen to me, Gia. No one ever has the right to hit you or abuse you in any way. You’re better than that and you do not deserve to be someone’s punching bag, okay? You’re a good person. You’re a teenager, it’s okay to drink and whatnot, and he had no right to handle it like that.”
Gia looked down at her fingers, which were playing with the hem of her oversized shirt. She didn’t want to look up at him, not when he was so serious.
“Now, promise me something,” Frank continued. “If anyone ever hits you or abuses you, don’t keep quiet about it okay? Tell someone. And if there’s no one else, you can always come talk to me, okay? I’ll help.”
Gia nodded, and finally looked up at him. Frank noticed that she looked somehow distraught, somehow sad. “Do you think that if it wasn’t for Thomas doing what he did, then dad wouldn’t have wanted me to come back?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I mean, if I had asked to come back here, would he have been happy about it and let me?”
Frank stared at her in shock. “Are you serious? He loves you! He was miserable when you were gone! Why would you even think that?”
Gia shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s just… It seems so perfect, what he and Lindsey and Bandit have. And granted, I used to be really unhappy and felt like I was caged, but now that I’ve gotten more freedom…”
“You’re happy now?”
“I was, for a while. But the point is, I feel like the freedom I had sort of… ruined me? And now I’m like a broken toy, and you don’t put something broken in the middle of something whole and perfect. It doesn’t fit.”
“But that’s crazy! Is that one of the reasons you didn’t want to come back? Because if that is the reason I didn’t see you for over a year, I swear I’ll slap you!”
Gia couldn’t help but smile. It was the strangest situation, but she just started to laugh. Frank stared at her, thinking that she’d gone mad as she laughed harder than she has ever laughed. It wasn’t a particularly happy laugh, more like the hysteric kind you have when you’re too tired.
It took her a while to calm down, but once she finally did, she said: “I’m really sorry, Frank.”
Frank nodded with a smile. “Well I survived, didn’t I? Now, go put on some pants. I’ll wait in my car.”
“Where are we going?”
“We’re going to go overdose on ice cream, duh.”