Days passed. Then weeks. Then it was an entire month gone, where Gerard still had not been found.
Frank, after much self reflection (plus dwindling finances), was forced to return home to Jamia and his children. Of course, seeing the twins again aroused a comforting warmth in him that he had not felt for some time. Even seeing Jamia caused him to feel some nostalgia, and he was happy to be home in general. But that did not make things okay.
Happy as he felt upon his reunions, Frank knew that nothing would be ever really be okay until he discovered what had happened to Gerard.
Mikey went home to Alicia, who was due any day. While they still filed a missing person's report, Frank could not help but feel like Mikey began to forget Gerard again, in light of the new baby. Slowly, the amount of calls and updates he received on the subject of his missing friend began to disappear like the person himself.
It was not like Frank could say he wasn't guilty of the same thing, either. He tried to rebuild with Jamia. Because despite everything, he did still love Jamia. Whatever was going on with Gerard was never going to erase over ten years of closeness and intimacy with someone, and Frank felt guilty for storming out on her like he had. But if Jamia was anywhere near the same best friend and lover he had grown up with, she had to know how he had also always been very protective of his close friends, especially Gerard Way. Maybe this is why, when he returned, she did not seem so angry with him. She greeted him with a smile, and a big hug that Frank wanted to last for hours. He unpacked his things with the twins help, and settled back home with warm emotions all around. From that point on, Frank tried his damnedest to get his life with his family back on track.
Yet he still could not get him out of his head.
He would make love to his wife every night from then on, a somewhat desperate way to rekindle the love that he was in dire need of. But whenever he fell into slumber, there would be Gerard, terrified and injured and lost in dark places. Frank eventually resolved to sleep less, but even in the waking world, Gerard followed him.
He cursed their shared interests, because everything around him became a reminder. Every comic book, DVD, novel, or piece of regularly shared clothing blamed him for abandoning his friend, screaming "How could you leave him?!? He'll die out there, because you weren't around to protect him. You're a coward! Coward!!"
It was one early Wednesday morning when Frank just couldn't take it anymore. Without saying another word to his family, who was still asleep anyway, Frank got his coat, hopped in his car, and drove away to the cabin where Gerard had vanished.
Just as he had left when the sun was rising, he arrived there when the sun was already setting. The cabin was empty, of course. Frank had no idea why he might have thought that Gerard would be there, but he couldn't help but feel disappointed to see that he was not.
He went upstairs to the room where Gerard stayed, and looked out the window to the view outside. A landscape of trees stretched out for miles, ending where Frank knew was the dingy town they had searched in. Mikey told him that the police had already conducted a search there, on top of their own. Yet still no Gerard.
But Frank still felt an inkling.
He left the cabin and drove off again, this time to inspect the town one more time. Perhaps the locals had spotted him since their last inquires.
When he arrived, the town looked no different than he remembered it. It was even almost the same temperature and weather as the day when he was last there.
Frank walked to each building, but did not stop to talk to anyone. He would merely peer in through windows, probably seeming incredibly creepy to anyone who might have spotted him.
And finally, he came to the building at the end. The only building that looked more like a house than a business.
It was here he stopped, and actually thought to knock. He had an inkling, and it had something to do with this particular building. Perhaps it was due to the fact that he had thought he had heard something, just as he was leaving here one month ago. Perhaps it was just a gut feeling. He wasn't sure --- but he raised his arm, and he knocked.
First, there was silence. And then, the slow thump of footsteps came muffled behind the door. Finally, the sound of a lock releasing -- slowly, the door opened.
And there, standing tall before him, was Gerard Way.
His hair was long and black, but well kempt, unlike the matted mess it had been when he had been under Frank's care. It even had a shine to it, and dare he think -- maybe a little color in it? He was still thin, but seemed to have regained some bulk. The bags under his eyes were still prominent. All in all, not many details had been changed.
Yet still, something was different.
Frank was speechless at first. He just stood there with an awed expression, almost certain he was hallucinating. Gerard did not smile, but instead had an expression that read, "Can I help you?"
"Gerard..." Frank whispered finally.
"Hey there, Frank." Gerard responded, his tone soft. "How have you been?"
"How -- how have I been?!?" Frank sputtered, his senses returning to him. "Where have you been?!? Wait -- holy shit, you're talking! I -- fucking what?"
"I've been right here." Gerard answered calmly. "Would you like to come in?"
Gerard stepped aside, and gestured to the interior of a sitting room. Frank stared bewilderedly at him for another moment before he followed Gerard's motion, stepping into the rather dark place. As Gerard closed the door behind them, Frank asked. "Where's the other guy who lives here?"
The door shut, and for the first time, Gerard smiled a little.
"I killed him."
The lock clicked. Frank shuddered, still unable to fully comprehend those words.
"Have a seat." Gerard said curtly, and suddenly feeling very afraid, Frank obeyed immediately. He sat, or more like collapsed, into an armchair that was by the fireplace. Gerard left into a separate room for a moment, but then came back only minutes later with two steaming cups of coffee in his hands. He placed one under Frank's nose, which Frank took reluctantly.
Gerard must have caught the expression on his face, because he himself grew an expression that seemed irate.
"Don't look at me like that, Frank. You shouldn't be so shocked." Gerard sat down on an armchair himself, facing directly in front of Frank. "You know, it really didn't take me that long to regain myself after the accident. It was just my physical restraints that forced me to be all out of whack. I had the words, I just couldn't say them. I was damaged, but not gone. A lot of my breakdowns could be attributed to simply the fact that I knew I had just murdered my own family."
"You killed him?!?" Frank blurted out, his mind still glued to that statement.
Gerard sighed and took a long sip of his coffee before he spoke again. "Calm down and let me explain, will you?"
Frank scowled slightly, being someone who never liked being told to shut up. But he bit his lip and leaned back into the chair, as though to indicate that he was listening. Gerard nodded and continued on.
"I'm sorry I ran off. I just, I fucking hated how you guys were all being. I wasn't upset that Mikey was excited about his kid more than he was worried about me, but I was upset that he was talking about me like I was some sort of infant. And you too! I hated being treated like such a child or such a shell! All of you guys kept talking about me like I wasn't right in fucking front of you! And then you turn around, and you expect me to give you answers that I can't because of my disabilities! I never pulled your kids into the pool Frank --- they had already dove in, and I was trying to pull them out when Jamia found us. She didn't see me do shit, she just threw that in to give her story more credit."
Frank shook his head. "Gerard, I'm so sorry bu ---"
"Let me finish." Gerard growled, and Frank faded into silence again. He could not help but feel intimidated by something in his eyes, something hard and unfamiliar. No matter what he said, this was most definitely not the same Gerard he had held in the cabin one month ago.
"When I left, I found this place." Gerard gestured around the building. "And of course, Jonathan. He was the guy who lived here before. And he was actually pretty cool, at first. He gave me free food, free lodging. But I think he realized my restraints and he... took advantage of that."
Gerard trailed off and seemed to stare at his lap for a very long time. Frank wanted very much to ask Gerard what he meant, but he was afraid Gerard might see it as an interruption. Instead, he waited with patience. And Gerard's head snapped back up eventually, his eyes wide. It was like someone had just woken him up from an alarming dream.
"I - I'd rather not go into details. But he would hurt me. A lot. Sometimes, he would take it too far. And I would bleed for a very long time. So suddenly my pressure to recover enough to get the hell out of here became a matter of life and death. I tried everything. It was really hard at first, because I felt like I was stuck. I was frightened at the same time too, for a little while it almost seemed impossible. Even now, I haven't fully recovered. I still get stuck, sometimes. But I had get to as much strength as I could when I could. I practiced my hand movements and literacy by writing, and slowly I got better at it. I also tried to do exercises of my own, like push ups and things. At first, I would just end up rolling around on the floor every time I tried -- but eventually, eventually I got it. I mean really, it wasn't even about getting strong -- it was just about regaining control of myself. It seemed like the more of my physical self that I regained, I also would regain a bit more of my own memory too. Can you imagine that, Frank? Despite all the coddling and the doubts, I was able to recover this much this quickly without anyone's help.
Of course I still wasn't the most mentally stable person. I kept having dreams, dreams of a woman. I could never place who she was at first, but I drew her a lot, because I wasn't sure what else to do with her image, which was stuck in my head."
Frank nodded. He remembered those drawings.
Gerard smiled sheepishly before saying, "I realized while I was here that it was actually Elena."
"Your grandmother?" Frank stated the obvious, but only because he hadn't expected it.
"Yeah, it was weird, it was like she was communicating with me from the afterlife or something. She told me when the time was right. She told me when I had to do it. So one night, when he came into my room... I did it. I slit his throat while he was on top of me. "
"Where did you put the body?" was Frank's next question.
"No one in this town asks anything. That's one thing I learned." Gerard sipped his coffee again. "I used his meat for culinary means."
Frank nearly dropped the coffee that was in his hand, the coffee that he had barely sipped. And although he had maintained his grip, his hand was still shaking.
"You ate him?"
Gerard smirked again. "To be fair," he said, "Some of it went to my dog."
"You have a dog?"
"Yes, his name is Frank."
"Oh." Frank had a moment's recollection of how he had often compared Gerard to a puppy dog when he had been under his care. How odd that he was evidently the dog now.
They sat quietly for a while, with only the sound of Gerard slurping his hot beverage. Frank was unsure how he was expected to react, or even how to comprehend all this. That he was coherent this whole time, that his dead grandmother influenced him to kill a man, that he evidently was not beyond cannibalism. So finally, Frank just asked the most basic and simple question he could possibly think of.
Gerard seemed to think a moment before he answered, "Yeah Frankie, I'm okay. This place is great. Its just the kind of solitude I need. I know you're going to ask if I'm coming back, but I don't plan on doing that. I want to stay here and enjoy the peace that it offers... at least, for a little while. Going back home and seeing everyone else would just remind me of... what I've lost."
Frank laughed somewhat before saying, "Yeah, I've gotten to know how that feels in the past month."
Gerard looked at him with an apologetic expression, and for a moment, Frank could see the small child that he saw Gerard as not that long ago. The child that needed rescuing and protection. But perhaps, Frank realized, he had been going about this all wrong after all.
"I'm sorry, Gee. For everything." Frank
"It's okay. I know you meant well."
There was a vibration in his pocket. He plucked his phone from it, and saw Jamia's face on the screen. He remembered that he still had yet to tell everyone where he was -- which led him to another that.
"Can I tell them? When I get back?" he asked him.
"I trust that you know what I would want you to do in that situation." Gerard answered, and Frank already knew what he was going to say when he got back. He would tell Mikey, but no one else, and Mikey would know to keep his mouth shut about it.
"Okay. Well, I should get home then." Frank nodded, unsure of what else might transpire if he stayed for much longer.
"Okay Frankie, it was nice seeing you." Gerard grinned at him.
Frank stood, placing down the full coffee cup on the coffee table, and Gerard stood, placing his empty one next to Frank's. They walked to the door together, and turned to one another. Frank nearly had a heart attack when Gerard wrapped his arms around him, thinking that it might be some vicious attack. But it was nothing more than an embrace, and Frank held him in return.
"Here's something I've wanted to do, but couldn't for reasons that you already know." Gerard said into his shoulder before he lifted his face and kissed Frank softly on the lips. Frank returned the kiss, and caressed Gerard's face as he did, savoring his scent once more. He doubted, after all, that he would be back for a very long time.
They relinquished each other, Frank said an awkward farewell, and Gerard closed the door behind him.
And that was it.
Frank still stared after that door for a while, thinking about how uncertain he felt about letting Gerard go. Had he become haunted by Gerard's lack of presence around Jamia because he didn't know where Gerard was? Or was it something else? Was he really stuck on the idea that Gerard needed him, or was it he who had needed Gerard, in the end?
Frank didn't think he knew much of anything at this point, but had nothing else left to do except move forward.
Just as he did.
That night, Gerard went to sleep in a happy haze of booze and sleeping pills. He found himself fading in underneath an old bridge from his hometown in New Jersey, where the homeless usually hung out.
But there was no homeless tonight, only her again. She stood at the corner of it, but she was approaching him eerily quickly.
"Elena. Haven't seen you in a while." he greeted her, removing the cigarette that he found was in his mouth.
"Why didn't you go back with him?" she asked him, her expression unamused.
"Because I'm doing just fine here." he answered her.
"You'll never leave, because you're always so stuck in your ways." Elena sighed. "But you'll die alone in this place."
"That's a bit far off, don't you think?"
"Depends, are you going to keep going to sleep every night with all that pills and booze?" Elena scoffed.
"I think... my decision might have to do with the fact that I've accepted certain things. I miss them, you know?" Gerard looked her in the face, where she was the young woman he had only seen in pictures his mother had shown him.
She used a hand to smooth back the back of his hair like she used to when he was younger and kissed him on the forehead.
"Momento mori, my child." she smiled.
She grabbed him by his hand, and together, they walked away into the mist.
A/N: Wow, it feels like I haven't closed a story in a while. Well, I know this was posted really late, and I hope you all will forgive that. I would have posted it tomorrow instead, but I wanted to close both my stories this week, and tomorrow will be the end of Schrondinger's Cat.
Truth being, Gerard was definitely supposed to kill himself by the end of this. But considering the ending I have for tomorrow's story, I wanted to do something a little bit different. Did Gerard die here? I leave that up to you.
One more to close until my final (seriously this time) story on Ficwad begins.