Gerard confronts Frank.
The sounds of the waking world fade in like a gentle nudge on his shoulder. Gerard blinked once, twice, three times before his eyes adjusted to the bright lights that shone above him. As sensation returned to him, he felt a thin blanket over his lower half --- but he was still cold.
He still could not figure out where he was, but this was definitely no hotel room nor any bedroom that he knew of.
The timid voice of his brother caused Gerard to spin his head to the left faster than he should have. As the room wobbled, trying to find it's balance, Mikey's concerned face filled his vision. A sterile smell flooded his lungs.
This was a hospital room.
"Mikey..." Gerard addressed him, finding his voice raspy and dry. "What happened?"
Mikey bit his lip for a moment, his expression telling Gerard that he was trying to choose words carefully in his head. In the meantime, Gerard's thoughts trailed off into speculations about just how long he had been here. Judging from Mikey's unkempt appearance, it had been at least one night.
"...You fell." Mikey finally blurted out.
"Fell?" Gerard repeated, searching his memory for what he was doing before he woke up. He could not remember falling, and certainly not falling hard enough to land him in the hospital. Perhaps he had blacked out and erased his memories --- oh god, what if he had amnesia?!? ...No, he could remember Mikey, so that probably wasn't it.
"We were playing a show, remember?" Mikey went on, "We were in the middle of Party Poison, and then you just sort of fell. We thought you were playing around at first, but when you weren't getting back up or even singing after 30 seconds, Ray ran to check if there was something wrong... and you were unconscious. So we canceled the rest of the show and brought you here."
"Shit." was all Gerard had to say in response. His eyes darted behind Mikey briefly. Frank and Ray were not present, only the white walls and generic furniture. Mikey's eyes followed his glance, and Mikey answered him without needing to hear the question.
"Frank and Ray are talking it out with Anna and them from management as to what to do next."
"What to do next?" Gerard frowned, "Well don't you think I should be involved in that decision?"
Mikey stared at him thoughtfully, a slight "hmmm" buzzing out of his throat. Again, Gerard could tell that he was trying to figure out how to word something that he felt was a delicate subject.
"Do you know why you fell, Gee?" Mikey asked finally, speaking the words like a sigh of relief.
While Gerard could not remember the exact moment Mikey had described, the tiny black spots that have been clouding his vision in the past week or so helped him to answer that question in his head. He just wondered if Mikey knew it, too. He prayed this was not the case and ventured a little white lie.
"I think I was just really dehydrated that night, you know." Gerard tried to sound confident in his answer, "All that jumping around the stage really got to me, and I didn't get enough water before hand. I feel much better now though."
Mikey's expression showed no relief, and Gerard knew instantly that Mikey had not believed a word he had just said. After some rather tense seconds, Mikey finally spoke.
"The doctor told me you had the BMI and stomach size of six year old. Your blood cell count numbers are dangerously low, and all the meat seems to have mysteriously vanished from your body. You wanna tell me what that's about, Gerard?!?"
In the time it took to say all that, Mikey had crossed his arms and raised his voice considerably. His brow furrowed, and a vein was pulsing in his temple. It was "Mikey's turn to be the condescending big brother" time.
Gerard bit his lip. There was no point in lying about it, he knew. Mikey was already upset, and trying to cover it up might really cause him to really blow his lid.
"I've been trying to lose some weight for the band." The older Way shrugged his shoulders, trying to turn it into a casual idea.
"Why?" was Mikey's response, "Who told you to do that? What gave you the idea that the band needed you to be skinnier?"
"Nothing, I just figured every band does better with thin, attractive singers fronting them."
Mikey cocked his head, his expression growing more and more troubled. There were creases on his forehead that he was much too young to have.
"Gerard, this isn't like you."
Gerard shrugged again. His mouth itched to say that that was a good thing, but he stopped himself. He knew he was already in deep and he certainty did not want to cause Mikey more confusion or worry.
"Im going to call Ray and Frank to tell them that you're awake." Mikey then spoke curtly, perhaps bothered by the fact that Gerard was not taking this as seriously as he was.
As Mikey searched through his phone, the tension in the room had reached a boiling point for Gerard. He softly uttered the words, "I'm sorry..." and just hoped Mikey had even heard them.
His face still buried in his phone, Mikey shook his head.
"Thats the worst part -- I know you're not."
When Mikey lifted the phone up to his ear, Gerard could see a watery glaze over his eyes. He looked away, his gaze turning instead to the big plastic containers of liquid feasts they were pumping into him through tubes and needles.
They were inflating him into a big, fat balloon.
After discharge, Gerard begrudgingly agreed to postpone the tour. Mikey, Ray, and Frank all seemed to feel it would be appropriate to “ground him” from playing any further shows until he showed some progress. The hospital had released him with discharge instructions and a diet plan, and Mikey spent most of his time worrying as to whether Gerard was following them.
Despite the black out, Gerard continued to hide food and tell fibs about having already eaten. When he was forced to eat, he would sneak out hours later to exercise it off.
He avoided mirrors.
On the last night before they were to fly home, where Gerard would enjoy a stuffing from Lindsey, who had been in a panic since she got word of her husband’s condition, Gerard was alone in the hotel room.
There was ketchup stains around his mouth – not because he had devoured a drop of the condiment as of lately, but because Gerard had to deceive Mikey into thinking he had eaten something in order to get Mikey to give him any alone time. His younger brother, after all, had desperately wanted to shop around since they had arrived in Florida --- but Gerard’s crash had made that impossible until tonight.
Gerard was answering emails on his laptop when a knock came tapping on the hotel door. Gerard cursed under his breath.
“Who is it?” he called out to the visitor.
“It’s Frank.” a muffled voice came from behind the door.
Gerard sighed and got up, stepping off the bed and walking to the door on bare feet. He opened it to reveal Frank Iero, who looked somber. He had clouds in his eyes.
Gerard did not say anything as he stepped aside, allowing Frank in. He shut the door behind them and turned to see Frank sitting on his bed.
“We need to talk.” Said Frank, and that confirmed what Gerard had already suspected this was about. He walked over to sit across from Frank, sinking one side of Mikey’s mattress with his immense weight.
“Whats up?” Gerard asked, as if he did not already know.
Frank shook his head, the clouds in his eyes growing dark and grey. A storm was brewing, and Gerard could feel its cold wind blowing with every breath Frank took.
“I don’t like what you’re doing to yourself Gerard.”
Here we go.
“I’ve gotten better!” Gerard argued immediately, “You guys have seen me, I’ve been doing everything you’ve asked.”
“No you haven’t.” Frank laughed bitterly, “You might have been able to fool Mikey, but do not think for even a second that you fooled me Gerard Way. I know you’ve been hiding food, I know you’ve been cheating off of your diet – fuck, I knew from the beginning that you would do those things without even seeing it, because I fucking know you, and I know that you are one of the most stubborn fucking idiots on this entire planet!”
Gerard sneered, “Well, don’t you have me all fucking figured out?!? If you know so much, then you know telling me all of this isn’t going to change a god damn thing, so why the fuck are you even here?”’
“I’m here because even though I know you won’t listen to me, just like fucking always, I still have to try because that’s how much I fucking love you!” Frank screamed at him, flashes of lightning burning in his irises.
“Bullshit.” spat Gerard, “You’re the one who fucking started this in the first place.”
“The fuck are you talking about?”
“I heard your comments when we were doing the photoshoot for Rocksound.” Gerard admitted, his eyes averting Frank’s. “I know now why you used to call me Uncle Jiggy. I know what you think of my appearance.”
When he looked again, Frank was gaping. Sounds of disbelief slipped out of his throat in intervals. The storm was wilder than ever.
“Gerard – I was the first one to say you weren’t fat!”
“You said I had a muffin top!”
“Oh my god, Gerard we were just joking around!”
“WELL IT WASN’T FUNNY TO ME FRANK!” Gerard shrieked at him so loudly, that his throat seemed to hurt from the strain. “IT WASN’T FUCKING FUNNY OKAY?!? DO YOU KNOW HOW FUCKING FAT I FEEL ALL THE FUCKING TIME?!? DO YOU KNOW HOW UGLY I LOOK WHEN I SEE MYSELF IN THE MIRROR?!? EVERY FUCKING TIME I SEE SOMEONE STARING AT ME, I SEE THEM LOOKING AT HOW IMPERFECT I AM! BUT I ALWAYS THOUGHT… I always thought… at least you….”
Gerard trailed off, and there was silence. He and Frank were both breathing as fast as their hearts were beating. Gerard finally ventured a glance at Frank’s face.
Rain had begun cascading slowly from the storm clouds. First a few drops, and then there was a throttle of them.
Gerard could not remember the last time he saw Frank cry.
“Gerard…” Frank seemed to struggle to speak, “I’m so sorry you heard that, and I’m sorry you were so hurt by it. For fucks sakes, Gerard – you know I think you’re beautiful. I used to tell you that almost every day ---“
“The keywords being ‘used to’. “ Gerard interrupted, his tone callus.
“— Gerard, I shouldn’t have to constantly remind you! You should just be able to look in the mirror and see that you’re gorgeous!”
“I can’t.” Gerard shook his head violently, “I can’t see anything but ugly and worthless and fat and stupid…”
He was sucking in enormous amounts of air. Gerard only realized that he was hyperventilating, and the room around him was beginning to spin and wobble as tough the hotel itself was flying through space.
Gerard didn’t feel Frank sit next to him until the muscular, tattooed arms wrapped around him like a blanket. The room steadied.
“You are none of those things.” came Frank’s voice, speaking right next to his ear. “You are beautiful, you are worth everything to me, and you are incredibly, incredibly smart. I wouldn’t be here trying to talk you out of this if you were anything less.”
Gerard said nothing, but relished in Frank’s embrace. They had not shared any affection in such a long time, he had forgotten the sheer power of a best friend’s love to guide you through a wicked storm.
At last, a ray of sunshine had broken through.
The next day found Frank at a Ben and Jerry’s branch in the airport lounge. Their flight was delayed slightly, so he had found time for a good snack. He had just ordered a Brownie Fudge sundae, and it’s delectable goodness was placed in front of him a moment later. He literally licked his lips before taking a spoon and going in for the kill.
But another spoon beat his to it.
Frank looked beside him to see Gerard stealing a bite. Frank grinned at him widely, and Gerard grinned back. They sat down together and shared their sundae, Frank happily letting Gerard snatch all the brownie chunks.
Gerard looked up, and his eyes met a small mirror near where the menu stood. There were chocolate stains all over his mouth, and his hair was a mess. Yet he saw someone neither beautiful, nor dying.
In his reflection, he saw someone who was on their way to finally getting better.