Which one went home, and which one left?
The crowd of masks had all gone home. Gerard sat in the lobby alone, where he had now spent many hours of New Year's day. His body ached, every fiber of his being felt sore and tired. It was strange to him at first; he had spent all night searching for Frank, but it usually took him quite a lot to become as sore as he felt.
The sneaking suspicion that something more had happened in the past few hours crept up on him like a raven on a starless night. He didn't feel right. His back hurt particularly, his legs were screaming with ache, and there was some odd moisture between his legs.
Although to any other observer the diagnosis to his symptoms was something obvious, Gerard did not even want to entertain the thought. He had never done such activities with anyone but Frank, who had always been gentle enough to never leave him hurting like he was now.
Yes, but the Frank you knew would have never gone home without you either.
The only reason Gerard was still there was because he was having a very hard time grasping that Frank had done such a thing. It simply was not something Frank would do, even if he was intoxicated.
Maybe he finally got tired of you.
...would you really blame him?
He had tried to call Frank's cell phone many times. At his first attempt, he took a while before he realized his cell phone was missing. Gerard's panic increased considerably afterwards. After about an hour of looking around for it, Gerard resolved to asking the hotel if he could use one of their phones. He called, no answer.
He did however, leave a voicemail:
"Frank...Frankie? Babe, where are you? I've been looking everywhere for you! I'm getting really nervous, Frankie. Everything hurts, and I don't know why. Meet me at the lobby when you get this. I'll be waiting there. Please hurry. I'm seriously really freaked out right now. I love you, bye."
That was before the sun had come up. When Gerard looked outside now, he could see it had already risen to its fullest glory. Half of him was pushing to go home, feeling that he might have better luck there. Yet another part of him knew that if there was even a chance Frank might still be here, there was no way he could leave.
You searched the hotel, you've searched the parking lot, you've had staff search the hotel, four different people have told you that he's nowhere to be found. What more do you want?
He left you.
Just one more hour, Gerard pleaded with his pessimism. Just one more hour and then he would give up, and try to find a way back home. He watched people shuffle to and fro in the lobby, many of them shooting judgmental looks at the disheveled looking red haired boy sitting by his lonesome. Their stares felt violating, a strangely familiar sensation.
The smell of burnt sugar came to him suddenly, but was gone as quick as it had grazed his nostrils. It came like a faint whisper of last night's ghost. He wondered where he had smelt it before.
Just thirty minutes more.
It was those thirty minutes that gave Frank just enough time to finish packing the last of his things. His boxes were piled into the trunk of his car. It was his car, after all, he had bought it as a gift to Gerard, but the fact was that it was his own money that he spent --- and therefore, it was his.
Frank had made quick work of sorting through what was his and what was not. Things that were in “shared” territory, or things he was not certain of, he simply left alone. He had made his decision early that morning, but he was not sure how much time he had left to dwell. For the most part, he stuck to taking what he needed.
The last thing he wanted was Gerard walking in on his moving out – for many, many reasons. Mostly because he was outraged at Gerard’s betrayal, and felt hurt beyond belief. He could not recall ever crying so many tears in his entire life. A part of it was also scorn – Frank knew that coming home to an empty place would speak quite the statement to Gerard. Yet despite everything, another part of it was that he could not bear to see the pained look on Gerard’s face, the one he always gets just before he was about to cry. Frank knew that look too well. The way his bottom lip would tremble slightly, his eyebrows going up like a dam opening up for the river of tears that were about to pour, his voice quiet but his expression asking “Why, Frankie, why?”
Frank knew that even with the pain Gerard had just caused him that damned look of his would stop him in his tracks. And then, he would risk being coaxed into staying there.
For his sake, he knew he could not.
A loud beep from underneath a pile of clothes reminded him that he had a new voicemail. He had already traced the number back to the hotel, and knew full well that it was, if not regarding, from the last person he wanted to see or hear from right now.
With the last box loaded into the trunk, Frank returned to the inside of the house in order to survey it one more time. A moment’s hesitation flashed through his mind.
Don’t do this. You know how Gerard is when he’s left alone. You know what he might do to himself. Don’t be responsible for that.
…It’s not like you don’t still love him.
The image of Gerard in bed with another man returned to the surface of his mind like a tide on a beach’s shore. The tide took hold of his doubts, and washed them away quickly. Frank would admit that he did not remember exactly what it had looked like --- he had been drunk and he had left rather quickly. Yet how much did he really need to see? Gerard was naked, and in another man’s arms. Jonathan had said that he was having a “lay” after all.
Gerard probably got lost on purpose.
The more he thought about it, the more the anger piled up as though sand at the bottom half of an hour glass.
His time was running out.
Frank saw the small whiteboard on the refrigerator door that had a metal ledge at the bottom, like miniature school board. There was a black marker on the ledge, one that he and Gerard often used for little reminders or surprise love notes here and there.
Frank grabbed the marker and thought of something to write.
An hour later, a dark blue Honda pulled up in front of their home. Gerard was in the passenger’s seat, his face turned to the man in the driver’s.
He was a built fellow, around six feet tall perhaps. His hair was extremely short, black and nearly shaven. His eyes were a radiant blue that Gerard found hypnotizing in the moonlight that was already overhead. Yet his most distinct feature was his incredibly full lips, the bottom one drooping, as though he was constantly in a pout.
The white badge on his uniform shirt gleamed, flashing his name like a strobe light:
“Thanks a lot for the ride man,” Gerard repeated for the fifth or so time since he had gotten in the car. “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
“Ah, I had nothing to do after my shift anyway.” Jason smiled at him, his eyes causing the illusion of a Cheshire cat grin. “Thank you for the autograph, my sister is going to go insane when she sees it. She really loves your band.”
“Well send her my thanks.” Gerard smiled back, his hand reaching for the door handle.
“Oh, one more thing.” Jason said just as he was about to turn it.
“What’s up?” Gerard asked with an uneven voice, trying not to let his anxiety show. His eyes darted to the drive way, noticing their car was not there.
“…Could I get your number or something?” asked Jason shyly. “…I – it’s for my sister. I promise I won’t give it out or anything, it’s just so she can call you like, on her birthday. It would really be the best birthday gift anyone could give her, and I really want to make her happy. We wouldn’t like, stalk you or anything though. Just one phone call.”
“Why don’t I just call you guys?” Gerard proposed.
“Oh, I wouldn’t expect a big hot shot rock star like you to ever remember the birthday of a commoner like us.” Jason chuckled.
Gerard opened his mouth to argue, but his desperation to find Frank had gone from an annoying poke to pounding punches. He just wanted to get the conversation over with and get into his house.
And after all, the guy did just drive him for hours through traffic.
“Yeah sure, you got a pen?” Gerard asked. Jason held up his smartphone with the dial pad on the screen.
“It’s 909 208 7288” Gerard recited rather quickly, but Jason was just as fast.
“Got it.” He grinned as he saved the contact, “This means so much to me man, you don’t even know. I still can’t believe I just met you.”
“Think nothing of it.” Gerard laughed politely, but then turned away and closed the door without waiting for a response. He walked up their walkway into the dark patio, and observed the windows of the house.
No lights were on.
He patted down his pockets. He usually kept his keys attached to his wallet, but, as he had so grimly realized thirty minutes ago, his wallet was missing along with his phone. Sighing, Gerard bent down and picked up the spare key buried in the potted plant next to the door. The move caused his back to whine angrily, and he had to grip his side for a moment once he was standing straight.
He put the key in and turned it. The door clicked and swung open.
Gerard was met with nothing but darkness. He flipped the switch for some lighting, and the living room as well as the kitchen came into view – but not quite. Gerard could already tell that there were items missing, spaces vacant that should not be so. He frowned and called into the emptiness.
Gerard’s heart began to reach a fever pitch of beats as his last solution crumbled to pieces. If Frank was not here, then he simply could not begin to think as to where he would have gone. Had he been kidnapped? Had someone broken into their home and taken him? Had he tried to find Gerard after Gerard had left with the hotel employee, and gotten into a car accident on the way here?
Was he dead?
“Frankie???” Gerard called out again, louder this time than before.
He was only met with echoes. His eyes roamed around for any sign that Frank had come home at all, and it was then that the whiteboard caught his eye.
It had writing on it.
Yet Gerard specifically remembered wiping it blank just before they left.
Jumping to conclusions, he breathed a huge sigh of relief at even this small footprint in the sand. He practically ran into the kitchen, having to stop abruptly due to such a short distance being traveled so quickly. His eyes scanned the words, certain that this must be some sort of message saying he had gone to this place or that, that would be home soon, and that he loved him.
It was these expectations that made it so Gerard did not understand what he had read after he had finished reading it. He read the words a second time, and absorbed a bit more – but still could not understand it’s meaning totally. It took him at least ten reads to truly convince him that he was reading the message correctly.
I hope you get what you deserve.