School on Monday.
Frank stayed with me all of Sunday until he had to go home at 10pm. We made out a little but mainly we just...hung out. Listened to music, played video games, watched movies. It felt like we were the only two people in the world, nothing else existed. Not parents, not school, not Henry Linton, nothing. I completely forgot everything that happened to me, just for a little while, until he left. When he did, I crashed. I lay there, curled up on my bed and cried until midnight, some of the tears though, were tears of joy. Frank was my boyfriend. Neither of us said it but we both knew it, we don't need to say it. I couldn't believe after all the years I've dreamt of this, it's true. True, and overshadowed by something so horrible. Nothing ever really goes right, does it?
We agreed I'd go to school on Monday and Frank was trying to get me to talk to the police but I wouldn't, I just want to forget it ever happened and school, wasn't going to help that.
Gerard woke me up at 7 on Monday morning, which didn't register very well with me.
'Hey Mikes,' he said, 'you've got to get up, you're going to school.' I opened my eyes and Gerard was smiling at me sadly. I nodded wordlessly and stood up, my body aching.
'I know it's gonna be difficult Mikes, but you just have to try not to think about it. And besides, you have Frank.' I smiled at Gerard's words and nodded at him again.
'I know,' I said, quietly.
Frank had agreed to meet me outside my house, so we can walk to school together like usual. When I opened my front door, he was stood at the end of my drive, looking at his shoes and tapping his hand on his thigh to whatever song he was listening to. He looked up and smiled at me, my stomach resuming its usual display of gymnastics, just like every time he smiles at me.
'Hey Mikes,' he said, taking his earphones out and putting them away, 'you okay?' I nodded.
'Yeah...well, not really. I'm a bit scared actually.' Frank looked up at me with sorrow it his eyes, his expression oozing sympathy.
'It'll be okay, I won't let anyone hurt you, okay?' he reassured. My stomach dropped.
'Yeah, but you're not in all my lessons, are you Frank? You can't protect me all the time,' I replied.
'I can try,' Frank replied and I smiled a little.
'You always would,' I say. He smiles back up at me.
'And besides,' he adds, beginning to walk, 'if anyone does try anything with you, I'll kick the shit out of them, just like I'm going to do to Henry.' I sighed, my stomach twisting into nervous knots.
'Frank, I told you to leave it. You'll just get yourself hurt.' He looked up at me with a defiant spark in his eyes.
'Do you doubt me, Way?' he asked. I went to speak but he spoke before me.
'Well, I'll just have to prove you wrong.'
'Frank,' I warned, 'just promise me you won't do anything stupid, please.' He looked into my eyes.
'Mikey, nearly everything I do is stupid, this is no different.' I looked away from him.
'But it is though. I just want to forget it, please Frank.' He stopped and placed a hand on my arm.
'Mikey,' he said, gently, 'you can't just forget this. It doesn't work like that.'
'I can try,' I whispered, looking into his eyes. He shook his head slightly.
'You can get over it, move on, but you can't ever forget.'
'I want to though,' I sigh.
'I bet you do, but you can't. You'd just be in denial, you have to except it, Mikey. That's the only way it's gonna get better.' I just nodded slowly and he took hold of my hand.
'Come on, school,' he said, starting to walk again, pulling me along next to him with his warm, soft hands.
When we reached the school gates, the anxiety really took over. My heart was racing inside my chest, turning itself in and out at the sight of the tall gates in front of us. They looked ten times taller now than usual, as if they were going to lock me in and I would never be able to leave again. I stopped and just stared, Frank coming to a halt a little ahead of me. He turned back to look at my scared face.
'Mikey? Mikey, are you okay?' he asked, worry consuming his features. I shook my head and pulled my hand out of his.
'I-I can't do this,' I whispered, looking towards Frank, 'I can't go in there.'
Frank had pity in his eyes, his expression one of sadness.
'Mikey, you can. I'm here, just come with me. Imagine we're the only two people here, yeah?' I nodded slowly but stayed where I was, staring back up at the huge, imposing grey building in front of me. Frank took hold of my hand again and have me a gentle pull towards the building.
'You can do this Mikes, I know you can.' I allowed him to pull me through the gates and the huge front doors and through into the school. I wasn't oblivious to the snickers and whispers that we're being directed our way because if our linked hands, but right now, I couldn't care less.
He took me to Homeroom, me walking alongside him, a different way than usual, so we didn't walk past that particular janitor's closet. This filled me with relief and I was really grateful for Frank in that moment, and everything he's done for me, simply because he cares, not because he has to.
He turns to smile at me and I find myself smiling back, staring into his deep, hazel eyes before he stops and turns to face me fully.
'Homeroom Mikes, you wanna go in?' I thought about it. Henry wasn't in there but some of his friends were and so many other people. The thought made a stabbing, sick feeling consume my stomach, but I remembered Frank's words from earlier, I have to move on.
'Yeah, come on,' I said, reaching out to push the door open, seeing Frank smile before he follows me into the room.
It's chaos. Our Homeroom teacher isn't here yet, so the students are chatting loudly, sitting on chairs and some bustling about the classroom. Franks grips my hand again before looking at me and beginning to walk towards our table at the back.
Most of the day goes by uneventfully. Me and Frank have most of our lessons together and we didn't see Henry anywhere, not even at lunch, which surprised me. I even think he might not be in today, the thought making relief crash over me like waves on a shore, except he can't stay off forever. Anxiety and fear bite at my stomach again, making a lump form in my throat. I swallow it down as we walk from the canteen and towards our next lesson, the first one of the day we don't have together.
'Mikes? You alright?' Frank asks. I turn to look at him.
'Yeah, just thinking,' I reply. Frank smiles at me.
'You think way too much,' he said. I smiled back.
'You don't think enough, actually.'
'Don't you know it,' he replied, before coming to a halt outside my English room.
'Well, I'll see you in Geography last lesson, yeah?' he asked, offering me a reassuring smile.
'Yeah. I'll be fine,' I say, going for a reassuring smile back but probably looking like I'm in pain. Frank seems to notice and goes in for a hug, wrapping his arms around me tightly, as of as trying to hold me together, fix the pieces back into place. I put mine around him before he pulls away, ghosting his lips to my cheek before smiling and walking away. The simple gesture causes my skin to tingle as I walk into the classroom, willing this lesson to go quickly.
It actually goes incredibly slowly until, about fifteen minutes from the end, the school receptionist comes in and speaks to the teacher in hushed tones, before Mr.Gale turns to look in my direction.
'Michael Way?' he called, 'could you step outside for a second please.' My stomach dropped as I rose from my seat and walked out into the hallway of my school, heart pounding, all eyes watching me as I left.
The corridor was silent and the receptionist stepped out behind me, closing the door and looking me in the eye.
'Michael, we were told you're good friends with Frank Iero, is that right?' she asked. I nodded my head slowly, stomach clenching at the mention of Frank and the look on her face.
'Well, I'm afraid he got into a fight with another student and he was quite badly beaten, he's been taken off sight,' she said. I stared at her, willing the words to sink in, but they wouldn't. I knew who the fight was with, of course I did, and it was all my fault.
'Where is he?' I asked quietly. She looked at me with sympathy.
'The hospital, Michael, he's been taken to the hospital.'