Two surprise visits for two halves of one whole.
Chapter Seven: Family Matters
Frank awoke with a start. It took him a moment to place what exactly had roused him, but an echo in his ears told him that someone had rung the doorbell. He laid in his guest bed, turning over with a groggy moan. Listening intently, he took a few moments to see if Angela would get the door, but no other sound was heard. He reckoned that she had left again, like she seemed to every morning. Frank never asked where she went.
He pushed himself up, the mattress springs groaning under the pressure of his hands. He checked on what he was wearing --- a grey shirt and black sweatpants --- to make sure he was decent for company. Then Frank hurried off to get the door in case whoever it was decided that no one was home.
He was not sure why he even bothered -- usually the visitors that came were only looking for Angela. It would make sense, considering that he was staying at Angela's house. Still, Ray occasionally came by to check if he was okay, and he'd had visits from a few other close friends. Of course, deep down, Frank knew who he was really hoping to see on the other side of their door each time he opened it.
And as he swung the door open then, he realized quickly that this wasn't that time either.
Instead of his former lover, two of his cousins stood on the wooden porch of the small home. Nonetheless, he greeted them with great enthusiasm, just as he had with Ray and everyone else.
He didn't want to show anyone the agony that Gerard had left him in.
"Yo!" Charlie, the bigger of the two greeted Frank with a tight embrace, which Frank returned.
"Hey Frankie, how ya holding up, man?" asked Andre, the scrawnier one who always reminded Frank of a rat because of the way his face was shaped.
"Good! Good!" Frank nodded eagerly, brushing his hands through his hair because he knew it was probably unkempt. He looked at the empty driveway to the right of them. No Angela. "You guys wanna come inside? I can make us some coffee."
The two seemed to consider it. They exchanged glances, and Frank thought he saw Charlie smirk.
His family in general had always been extremely tight knit --- just the kind that would be able to communicate through facial expressions and looks, without needing words. Frank had always felt slightly deprived of that bond, being away from his family and on the road with the band as much as he was. Over the years, his cousins only grew closer, and Frank would always have to wait to get off of whatever tour he was on to hear the stories of what he missed, never actually experiencing these "Iero adventures" himself. They insisted that it was fine, that he was the pride of the family nonetheless. Their shining star. But Frank knew just as well that it was never really the same.
"Nah Frankie, thanks though." Andre made a waving motion with his hand, "We're just in town for some... unfinished business. We just came to see how you were doing."
Frank was at least close enough to the family to know words like "unfinished business" always meant something bad for somebody, but those matters, at least, he tried to stay away from. He loved them all, but he wasn't about to go to jail for association with any stupid shit that they were pulling. Therefore, in Frank's mind, "unfinished business" also translated to "don't ask questions".
"I see." Frank sighed, "Well be careful, you guys. And remember...."
"Yeah, yeah, if we get caught, you know nothing." said Charlie dismissively, "We know the drill."
"Exactly." Frank almost laughed. "I still got my baby girls to worry about, you know?"
"Yeah, those two are growing real big." Charlie nodded, "Have you visited them lately?"
Frank shook his head sadly, "Haven't had a lot of time since everything went down. And it's always kind of awkward since..."
"Jamia's cool though man, she's not gonna bite you or anything." said Andre. "You should just give her a call, no harm in that. If she get's weird on you, just say you have to run and hang up. Nothing to it."
"Yeah, I guess it sounds like a good idea." Frank gave them a half smile. There was a pause in which Frank expected them to leave, but Charlie spoke up rather suddenly.
"So are you all moved in here, then? You got all your stuff from the other house?"
Frank thought about it, then gave a nod of confirmation. "Yeah... I'd say so."
"That's cool. Well.. see ya!" Andre gave one last wave and then walked off with Charlie, not even waiting from a farewell from Frank. Frank watched them until they got into their car, and then walked back into Angela's feeling rather perplexed. He shut the door behind him, which blocked off the conversation the other two Iero's were still having on the front lawn.
"He seems alright." said Charlie as he strapped himself into the driver's seat. Andre grinned.
"So we all set to take care of Way?"
Charlie's eyes darted to the back of the car, where an arsenal lay waiting in the trunk. He licked his lips as though they were literally blood thirsty.
"Yeah man, let's do it." he nodded to his overly enthusiastic cousin beside him as they began pulling away from the sidewalk and off to, by their definition, avenge their dear cousin's broken heart.
The waking world kept whispering in his ear softly. But whenever Gerard would try to focus on what it was saying, it disappeared again. Every visible moment was like a silent movie that faded in and out every ten seconds. He had no awareness of the hunger or thirst that the rest of his body was dying from, due to the drugs in his bloodstream that masked them with confusion and darkness. Those two things were all he experienced in the third week without his beloved Frank.
The nightmares were mostly gone, but he wasn't sure if what he kept falling into was sleep or just plain unconsciousness. Maybe the brief moments from the waking world were dreams, and he was just in some sort of coma. He knew he could no longer trust anything he felt, or thought, or saw.
He did realize and know that Mikey never came.
Gerard did still try to wander around the house, did his best to keep going about his activities of daily living. He still was able to do things during brief windows of opportunity, like walk to the toilet or take walks around the house in a zombie-like stupor. Gerard would find himself doing these things in hazy flashes. He was not even sure how things got to this point. It was like he just slowly slipped into this god awful abyss, and the by the time he truly realized it, he was too deep in to ever hope to pull himself out.
In some brief moments of clarity, he felt himself dying. He knew he was going to die. And he would die with the disappointment of not being strong enough to carry on without Frank. With the knowledge that he was so pathetic, he let some stupid, unexplained fight destroy him.
Is it really about Frank, though? Or does it trace back to something more than that? Something deeper?
You know you have never been the most stable person, Gerard.
It didn't matter.
Nothing could save him now. Nothing could pull him out of this, not even himself. Not even if he tried with every ounce of strength he had, which, if the past weeks had proven anything, wasn't very much.
The waking world again. Gerard blinked a few times, trying to focus on the white ceiling above him, but already feeling himself losing it. He felt around with his now scar covered right hand and felt that he was on the leather couch in the sitting room.
He was certain he heard it, but he couldn't be sure. So he forced himself up and stumbled to a window that was, fortunately, not very far off. He had to blink a few more times to focus on what he was seeing, to make sure it was real. To make sure he was not hallucinating the one thing that might cause him doubt his previous thoughts of imminent doom.
He had heard the slamming of a car door.
And there, parked in front of their house, was most certainly someone's car.