Categories > Celebrities > My Chemical Romance > Rest Easily, in the Bed of Another Man's Tired Old Queen

part two

by australis 1 Reviews

Category: My Chemical Romance - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Frank Iero,Gerard Way - Published: 2012/04/13 - Updated: 2012/04/13 - 5755 words - Complete

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Patrick ran a venue just out of Downtown Chicago. The place was tucked between two larger buildings, one a warehouse for the storage of kitchen tables and antique chairs, the other a dive bar, the windows tinted and carrying a purple sheen to them, stains centered by the front door. In contrast, Patrick’s place looked like heaven, the bricks were well kept and posters advertising that week’s shows lined the way to the front door, just up a short flight of stairs. Patrick himself was waiting at the top of those, polishing his glasses while sitting on the steps, a fedora perched nicely on his head.

Patrick Stump was a short man, a fact that Frank took certain glee from, freckles dotting his pale skin to match the blond hair peeking out from under the hat. He looked like he belonged in a different decade, slacks and blazer accentuated by the thin gold chain of a pocket watch. When he saw Frank approaching, he grinned easily.

Frank had not been entirely honest with Gerard in saying that Patrick was frightening. In truth, he was not. What was frightening, however, was the man who Patrick worked with, a technician, formerly bassist. Pete Wentz.

Frank climbed the steps, dusting of snow and ice crunching under his trainers, and prayed fervently that Wentz was not in.

“I don’t know why you insist on coming in for the interview, Frank,” Patrick said as soon as Frank was close enough, clapping a hand down on his shoulder. “You already know you get the job.”

“What can I say,” Frank said, his mouth turning up the slightest bit. “I like the tradition.”

Patrick laughed. “Well then, let’s go inside. It’s cold out here.”

“Damn straight,” he said, fogging the air with his breath to prove his point.

Once inside, Patrick led Frank to the bar. “Alright,” he said, grinning. “Work your magic, Iero.”

Five minutes or so later, they were both lounging against the bar, martinis in hand. Patrick was smiling lazily. “That’s it,” he said, bringing his cup up to a toast. “You’re hired. Officially. I do not know why Bryar ever let you go.”

Frank hummed. “Technically, I let myself go.”

“And he should have tied you to a chair and smacked some sense back into you. Or maybe not. I’m a bit selfish, and if you still worked for Bryar then you couldn’t work for me, no?”

Frank snorted and ducked his head into his drink. “You’re exaggerating.”

“Really, I’m not. I think you might be the best bartender in all of Chicago. On top of that, you’re crazy good with a guitar and not half bad with a tattoo gun. I’m going to make a sign, hang it on my front door, and it’s going to say ‘workplace of the best bartender in Chicago’,” Patrick said. “You sell yourself short too often, Frankie. I worry about you.”

“Thanks,” he looked up and grinned. Patrick returned the smile, and raised his drink again. Frank raised his to clink the sides of the glasses together. “To life.”

“To life,” Patrick agreed, and frowned. “And as long as we’re swearing things on gin, promise me you’ll try to live a little. How’s that for a New Year’s Resolution?”

Frank nodded. “I’ll try,” he said, setting his drink on the counter and turning fully to Patrick. “So while I’m here, I need to ask you about someone.”

Patrick coughed and set his drink down as well. “I can try to answer.”

“What do you know about Gerard Way?” Patrick furrowed his eyebrows, deep in thought.

“Way… Way… Where have I heard that last name before?” He straightened, and shouted. “PETE! Do you know anyone with the last name of Way!?”

From beneath the stage, Frank could hear a muffled answer. “I dated a Mikey Way back in college! But that was years ago. Why do you want to know?”

“Frank was asking about a Gerard,” Patrick called back, and Frank heard a thump and continuous laughter.

“Tell him good luck from me, okay?” Pete gasped out, his voice faint. Patrick turned to Frank with a smile on his face.

“Good luck from Pete,” he said.

“Thanks?”

“He says thank you!” Patrick yelled out, and Frank could not hear a response from Pete. Patrick sighed and turned back to Frank. “Alright, I think I remember him now. Dark hair, greenish eyes, nose than turns up a bit? Has mood swings like a girl at that special time of the month, and flirts?”

Frank nodded. “That’s the one,” he took another sip of his martini. Patrick shrugged.

“Then there isn’t much to tell you that you probably don’t already know. He’s a nice guy, but if he’s flirting with you, then he’s a man on a mission. He won’t go away until you give him what he wants. Which,” Patrick winced, and took a long sip of his drink. “Damn. I’m sorry, man. You’ll never be rid of him.”

“Great,” Frank sighed, sliding into his jacket. “Just wonderful. Listen, Patrick, thanks for everything, I’ve got to go buy my housemates Christmas presents.”

“I understand,” Patrick walked with Frank to the door, smiling softly. “Your shift starts on Saturday. We’ve got a sweet band playing,” Patrick turned to Frank, his eyes sad. “Hey, listen Frank. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the funeral. I would have if I could, but…”

“I understand,” Frank said, and felt the heaviness settle on his chest again. He slipped out into the cold, and caught a cab, heading downtown.

/

Frank was not surprised, strangely enough, when he got home at ten, and Gerard was waiting in the kitchen with a cup of coffee. He smiled and held out the mug, still steaming, and Frank shook his head.

“I got some on the way home,” he said, craving a cigarette. He went over to stand by the back door, opening it just a crack, and lit one up, taking a long, satisfying drag. He closed his eyes, and heard Gerard sigh and dump out one cup of coffee, holding the other tight in his hands and coming to stand by Frank. Outside, a dog was barking, and someone’s radio was playing way too loudly.

“Did you finish your errands?” Gerard asked softly, and Frank nodded, taking another drag and blowing the smoke into the night, watching it spiral up.

“Yeah. I got a job and I got the gifts. Getting around in the stores was Hell, though,” at this, Gerard laughed, and set his coffee down on the table, pulling out a pack of cigarettes.

“Can you light this?” he asked, holding out a new one. “I seem to have misplaced my lighter.”

“Sure,” Frank said, and lit his cigarette with this glowing ember of his. Gerard took a grateful drag, and leaned on the doorframe, a content and dazed expression on his face.

“Thanks,” he said, and Frank nodded, tearing his eyes away from Gerard, his face painted in shadows from the streetlamps and the soft glow from the kitchen itself.

“No problem,” Frank mumbled. They stood that way for a while, breathing in smoke in silence. Gerard broke the silence with a soft chuckle.

“My mother keeps saying these things are going to kill me,” he said softly. “And of course she says it as she’s lighting up one herself.”

“Well,” Frank said, and felt his throat tighten only slightly. “You’ve got to die somehow.”

“I guess,” Gerard said, and took another drag. “But you know, all things considered, I’d really rather not.” Frank tossed his to the ground and stubbed out the ember with the heel of his shoes.

“I’m going to bed,” he announced, and Gerard looked at him, a vaguely disappointed expression on his face.

“Good night,” he said after a moment, turning his head back to the sky.

“Good night,” Frank replied, and retreated back into the house.

/

He bought the ring in February, and was keeping it in his pocket for just the right moment. He figured it was about time – they had been together for just about seven-ish years. He couldn’t wait to see her face when he asked her.

Their little apartment was home now; afghan throws draped over the tattered couch, hiding stains made from many years of much use, posters hung all over the walls and framed pictures of each other on every flat surface. They were as good as married, and so why not make it official?

He cooked dinner that night, a hearty blend of pasta and red wine to go with it. He spent all of his paycheck on the bottle. She got home from work and smiled at the setup, coming up behind him and wrapping her arms around his neck, pulling him in for a kiss. He’d smiled, and stirred the saucepan again.

“Hello,” he said, pecking her cheek.

“Hello,” she’d smiled in that same, breathless way that made him fall in love with her so many years ago. “What’s with all the fancy?”

“Am I not allowed to cook without reason?” he retorted, and she laughed. They moved to the table, and ate in contentment, trading stories about their days.

“… And then he threw up! Right on her shirt!” she giggled, pressing her face into her hand, glass of wine held delicately in the other. Frank had to fight off a smile, her glee was infectious. “Lindsey was horrified.”

“Did she hit him?” he asked, taking a sip of his wine and setting the glass back on the table. Jamia’s giggling fit subsided somewhat, and she gave him an affectionate look.

“Honey, its Lindsey. What do you think happened?”

Frank pretended to think, stroking his imaginary beard. “Well, I’d imagine she cured him of the ability to have children. Among others things.”

Jamia clapped. “And the grand prize goes to Mister Iero!”

Eventually they moved to the couch, browsing through the channels, her head on his shoulder and their hands intertwined. He could feel the ring box in his pocket like it was a red hot ember, and he felt a smile building on his face. “Hey, I want to ask you something…” he started, and she looked lazily up at him.

“Yes?” she smiled, and he extricated his hand from hers, pulling away. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the ring, holding it out in the traditional way.

“Will you marry me?” he asked, a hopeful smile on his face. Her smile faded somewhat, a crease appearing between her eyes. The expression vanished almost as quickly as it disappeared, replaced by a brilliant, if somewhat strained smile.

“Frankie…” she said, very softly, her hand coming to rest on top of his.

“Is something wrong?” he asked, his smile disappearing and worry instead twisting at his gut. “I thought this would be what you wanted.”

“Of course it is,” she said quickly, smiling again. “Of course I want to marry you, but…”

“But what?”

“It isn’t fair to you, sweetheart,” she bit her lip, her breathing quickening. “I can’t… I can’t do that to you.”

“What?” he asked, panic rising in his throat. It was the way that she had retreated into herself, barely picked at her dinner, despite the fact that it was her favorite. It was the way she slept more and more often, the way that even though she’d slept twelve hours in a night, she could barely function the next day. “What’s wrong?”

She told him, and grief tore at his breath. She wouldn’t look at him.

“Were you planning on telling me?” he forced out, feeling oddly numb. “Or were you just going to let the funeral explain everything?”

“Frankie…” she said, her voice strained. “Don’t say it like that. I was going to tell you… The doctors – they’re going to do everything they can, they – they won’t…” She swallowed, and shook.

“Fuck,” he breathed, leaning towards her and taking her hand in his own. “Alright. We’ll get through this. We’ll get through this, and I’ll buy you anything you want.”

She was crying now, sobbing into his chest. “You won’t leave me?”

“Why would I leave you?” he said, kissing her forehead and holding her fiercely. “Sweetheart, you’re stuck with me, I hope you realize. I won’t ever leave you. Not now, not ever.”

That was the beginning of the end.

/

Christmas came and went exactly how Frank thought it would. Brendon walked up and down the halls at an ungodly hour, banging a spoon on a pan and announcing that Florence had made French toast for breakfast. When everyone was woken up and standing bleary eyed in the kitchen, she gave them each a plate and told them to go crazy, but not too crazy. Frank took only one slice, and drizzled it with a small amount of butter and maple syrup. Gerard walked by in his pajamas, wide-eyed and wild-haired, his plate smothered in whipped cream and strawberries. Frank wrinkled his nose slightly, and started to slice up his breakfast.

After breakfast, they retreated to the front room and exchanged gifts in the shadow of the plastic tree they put up only two days before. They were all very happy and very loud, drinking the eggnog that Brendon had brought in and lounging about, listening to Christmas carols and waiting for the sun to rise.

Frank sat in the corner of the room, leaning forward to listen to Ray tell stories about Christmases in his past. Though Florence and Brendon had no doubt heard them before, they listened with the same rapture that he and Gerard – the outsiders – did, eagerly drinking up the tales of blizzards and mistletoe. It felt like family, and reminded him of his Christmases Before.

The ache hit him like a physical blow, and his smile faded somewhat.

Four funerals.

He had never felt so alone.

/

The first funeral was in March. His grandmother had passed quietly in her sleep. She had been old. They had seen this coming.

It still hurt.

It was a beautiful day, the sun shining brightly through the stained glass windows. Outside, the sky was blue and the snow was beginning to melt. The crowd of mourners was hushed in the pews, Frank and his family sitting front and center, his mother on his left and Jamia on his right. The doctors had started treatment on her only a week ago, and she was still healthy. He could see her staring at the coffin with a wide eyed, blank look. The colors from the windows hit her cheeks and painted them blue and red. She reached for his hand.

The pastor was droning, and Frank held Jamia’s hand tighter still.

/

Patrick had been right, the band was pretty good. A little bit rough around the edges, but they had potential. Frank nodded his head to the beat, cleaning out the used glasses at the counter and pouring new drinks for the crowd. The singer, parading around on the stage front and center, was young, and his voice betrayed that somewhat. But he had the energy, and he would learn, certainly.

Frank smiled softly, and the singer blew a kiss to a girl in the crowd.

The band played six more songs; most of them covers of older tunes, and then the show was over. There were a few more patrons who made it to the bar and ordered a couple more drinks, but by then the band had made their way off the stage and Patrick’s bouncers were herding the masses out of the doors, taking their complaints and snide comments in stride. Frank snorted, and ducked his head, getting out a rag to wipe down the bar.

“Hey,” Patrick said, sliding onto a stool. “So? How do you like it here?”

Frank smiled, and shook the rag out over the sink. “I like it here a lot.”

Patrick hooted, and smiled so broadly Frank thought his face might split in two. “Success! Pete! Get down here, this calls for celebration!” Patrick pushed Frank into a seat and took his place behind the counter. Pete dropped from the rigging in the ceiling, a shark like grin on his face. He held out a hand for Frank to take.

“Welcome to the team, man,” he said, shaking Frank’s hand with an iron grip. He then all but fell into the chair next to him, and they both turned their gazes to Patrick, setting out three shot glasses and a bottle of whiskey.

“Bottoms up,” he grinned, passing them each a glass. He looked pointedly at Frank, raising his eyebrows and nodding. “To life!”

“To life,” he and Pete echoed, taking long draughts of their drinks.

“Mm,” Pete said, raising his hand and setting his glass on the counter, motioning for another. “And to our newest family member.”

“Yes,” Patrick said, grinning easily and adjusting his hat. “That too.”

As the evening wore on, Frank felt the cold-handed grip on his lungs lessen.

/

The second funeral was in June.

His uncle, a funny little man who took after his mother’s mother, had drowned after falling asleep in his bathtub. The casket was a shiny blue and the flowers his grandfather had brought were a milky white, standing out vividly in the sunlight. The church stood tall and proud behind them, and the sky was an unbreakable blue. His uncle was smiling beatifically up at nothing at all, and his mother was smiling back at him, little tears gathering under her veil and running at her mascara.

She looked up, and attempted to meet his eyes. Frank’s stare was fixated on the man in the coffin, buttoned up into his Sunday clothes. This was the man who was there when his father was not, the one who taught him to ride a bike and bought him his first guitar. The coroner had done a remarkable job on disguising the pallor that lingered in the shadows of his face and the veins in his hands.

He almost looked like he was sleeping.

He met his mother’s eyes with a dead stare.

He wondered, briefly, if Jamia would prefer red flowers over white, or a black coffin over blue.

/

Gerard and Florence were cooking when he got home. At least, he assumed it was them. Laughter and music were coming from the kitchen, the twanging sounds of a slightly out of tune guitar and raspy singing voices, three of them in total. Frank set his coat of the coatrack, his shoes over the vents, and rubbed his hands together to will some warmth back into them.

It had snowed again the night before, and it seemed as if the temperature had dropped another ten degrees in the evening alone. There was a crash in the kitchen, followed by a break in the music and an uproar of laughter, and Frank found himself grinning as well.

He entered to find the kitchen covered in a fine layer of flour. Florence’s hands were caked in it and it had settled in both Gerard’s and Ray’s hair to give them an aged appearance. Brendon was sitting cross-legged on the table, an acoustic guitar in his lap and brilliant smile on his face. Ray was looking at him with a fond, if long-suffering look in his eyes. Florence shrieked at his entry, and threw a handful of flour at him. Unprepared, it caught Frank square on the nose, exploding into his eyes and mouth. He gasped, tasting the bitter powder on the back of his tongue. His lungs felt tight, like something foreign and long forgotten was building up inside them. It came out, first as a soft cough, and then as something else.

He felt the corner of his lips tug up, and the sound grew louder.

It had been so long since he laughed.

He vaulted forwards, scooping up a handful of flour and giving a battle cry, latching onto Florence and grinding it onto the back of her neck. She shrieked, and batted at him weakly. On the table, Brendon launched forth into song once more, powerful but simple chords barely ringing out before they were replaced. He sang. Gerard sprayed both he and Florence from his position at the sink, sending them to the floor in a mass of limbs.

Ray shook his head sadly, despairing at the state of his kitchen.

Time passed, and Frank was sitting on the counter, mirroring Brendon’s position. Gerard was leaning next to him and Florence had taken a seat propped against Ray’s legs, her head lolling in exhaustion.

“Did we actually succeed in making anything?” Brendon asked, plucking at his guitar in an idle way.

“No, I don’t think so,” Florence said, twisting her head to look at him with half-lidded eyes. “But, it was fun anyway.”

Brendon pouted. “It would have been more fun with cookies.” Florence flopped over, attempting to smack his leg. When she found she couldn’t reach, Ray did it for her.

“You are on kitchen duty for the next week, Urie,” he said threateningly, and Brendon sighed, pursing his lips.

“Alright, fair enough. I’ll clean in the morning. For now, it’s late as fuck and I am worn out. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to sleep,” Brendon gave a dramatic yawn to prove his point, clambered off the table and disappeared down the hall. Florence looked after him with a black expression, and finally got to her feet as well, stretching and beating some of the half congealed flour off of her clothes.

“I’m going to bed,” she said, waving to the three still in the kitchen and smiling softly before disappearing into the hallway. They heard a thump, a hissed curse, and quiet laughter, and then there was silence.

“And then there were three,” Gerard said mournfully, and Ray nodded in agreement, standing up and picking up the rag.

“Yeah,” he said, nudging Frank off the counter and towards the hallway, Gerard along with him. “You two should get some sleep; you’re going to need it if we’re staying up half the night tomorrow.”

“Aren’t you going to sleep?” Gerard asked, a worry crease appearing between his eyes. Ray smiled broadly, and gestured to the kitchen.

“Trust me, I will. After I get the kitchen sorted,” he turned around, and paused. “You know Brendon is never going to clean it.”

He and Gerard made a sound of agreement, and they disappeared back into the hallway, Ray’s scratchy and pleasant voice humming out a tune at their backs.

They stopped in the hallway that led to their rooms, and the moonlight from the window caught the green of Gerard’s eye in a way that closed off Frank’s throat. Almost without thinking about it, he reached up and wiped his cheek clean of flour. Gerard’s gaze snapped to him, expression caught between surprise and affection. Frank bit down on his tongue, and forced his hand away. The rings around his neck had never felt heavier.

“Sorry,” he choked out, and disappeared into his room without looking back.

/

It was dark, and Jamia was drowning.

The doctors buzzed around her bedside like a swarm of persistent flies. Machines hooked into and over her wailed in alarm, adding to the cacophony. She lay on the bed, her hair patchy and thin, eyes glazed over and fixed at a point in the ceiling, dark fluid leaking from her nose and the corners of her lips. She wasn’t moving. Through the glass, Frank stood still, dumbstruck; his mind had frozen when the first machine had droned, when her breath had seized up in her throat and the orderlies has buffered him out of her room. Now he could only look, marveling at the way her hand was turned up on the sheets, pallid skin catching the light.

Sound came to him through the window, but it was muffled, and it didn’t feel real.

Fluid in the lungs, oxygen deprivation at two minutes, forty seconds

His hand clenched around their rings, and his throat felt too tight. This wasn’t right. It couldn’t be.

It didn’t make any sense.

His mouth formed words, but his brain could assign no sound or meaning to them. He could have been begging or screaming some nonsensical phrase, and it would have made no difference to him,

She’s gone into cardiac arrest

He felt like crying, and settled for laying his head against the glass, seeking a way in. He needed – he needed to be there for her, to –

Her eyes widened fractionally, and her fingers twitched up, as if she were reaching for something. A sound garbled in her throat. Her eyes became misted, and her fingers slackened.

Come on, sweetheart.

Five minutes. Six.

Alright, I’m calling it.

The world crashed down around him, and Frank screamed.

Time of death: October 31st, 10:53 PM

/

She made the third.

Lindsey made the fourth.

/

The streets were relatively devoid of cars – everyone was at home, with friends and family, waiting patiently for the New Year. The sun was setting over Chicago, and the great iron gates of the cemetery loomed closer in the fading light. Frank took a long drag on his cigarette, the butt glowing a bright red for a millisecond, and hurried forward, finding his way around the graves.

The cemetery had ‘streets’ that were named. In that sense, it was a city. A place where the dead resided and the living visited only briefly. If he was to follow that reasoning, then her newly bequeathed – and very permanent – address was 14, Cherry Lane. A block or two from the northern city limits.

In the true city, someone set off fireworks, and they screamed into the sky, exploding in a white starburst. Frank paused for a moment to watch the embers fall back to earth, coat clutched close to his body, cigarette nearly down to the filter and held loosely in his mouth. Shaking his head softly, he turned back to the task at hand.

He knelt in the snow, feeling the wet chill seep into his jeans. He ignored it, swiping off the light covering of snow on the granite-and-marble tombstone. He smiled softly, setting out two shot glasses and bringing out a bottle of vodka, fingers numb and red with cold. He poured a small amount into each glass, and knew in his core that his serving would only get larger. He set the bottle down, and picked up his glass, toasting towards the tree behind the gravestone. He cleared his throat.

“Hello, sweetheart,” he said. “Happy New Year.”

As expected, he did not get a reply save for another round of fireworks explosions. He raised the cup to his lips and swallowed the bitter liquid, wincing at the burn.

He swallowed again, working his jaw up and down. “I miss you.”

/

It was well past midnight by the time Frank came stumbling back down his street. Despite this, lights were still on and music could still be heard pouring from within the houses. This was the way of New Year’s. Frank staggered, clutching the vodka to his chest, his dragging feet making deep tracks in the snow down the center of the street. He looked up with bleary eyes, entranced by the glow of the streetlamps. He stopped, and swayed in place, raising the bottle.

“Happy fuckin’ New Years!” he shouted, swaying dangerously and slurring his words. He stumbled, hardly catching himself from crashing to the snow. “Woah.” His body felt like it was heavy as a rock, light as a feather at the same time. He grinned and laughed, making his way to his front porch. His house was the quietest on the block – likely the guys and Florence had gone off on their own, maybe to Ryan’s or Spencer’s and not yet returned.

He set the bottle down, and fumbled for his keys, struggling to get them into the lock. Before he could get it, though, the door popped open, as if of its own accord.

Well, no. Gerard had opened it, but he sort of blended into the shadows, and Frank had not noticed him at first. He stared and Frank, blinking owlishly while Frank swayed. Finally, he cleared his throat and ducked his head, stepping aside and letting Frank through with his reclaimed bottle.

“Are you drunk?” he asked, wrinkling his nose once the door was closed. Frank laughed roughly, and swung the bottle under his nose.

“A little, I think,” he said, and leaned on the wall for support, looking at the bottle curiously, as if wondering where all the liquor had gone. “Probably. But hey! It’s New Year’s! The question that I should be asking you is… why aren’t you drunk?”

Gerard gently pried the bottle from Frank’s hand, carrying it carefully to the trashcan in the kitchen. Frank followed, pouting like a wounded puppy. “I’ve been sober for five years,” Gerard replied after a while, his voice soft. “I’m not about to ruin that.”

“Huh,” Frank said, entranced by the way the reflected lights on the snow shone into the darkened house and into Gerard’s hair. He looked like he was spun of silver, or royalty. A silver prince, of some kind. “You know, you’re very pretty. Almost too pretty for a guy.”

He swayed, catching onto Gerard’s arm for support. He leaned heavily on him, sighing contently, laughing when he felt Gerard stiffen under him. Frank nuzzled into Gerard’s neck, and Gerard froze before gently pushing him away.

Frank glared at him. “What gives? I thought you wanted this?”

Gerard sighed. “No. I mean, yes! But, I want it to mean something. Is that weird?”

Frank was swaying again, his head tilted to one side as he regarded Gerard. “No,” he said slowly, considering. “So you are a romantic.”

Gerard nodded. “At least for you,” he said, smiling a little sadly. “And so are you, I mean.” He gestured, without really looking, to the chain around Frank’s neck.

Frank immediately broke into a grin. “So I am,” he frowned. “I’m tired.”

Gerard smiled softly in return. “Let’s get you upstairs.”

They only fell twice on the stairs, and before Frank knew it, he was in his bedroom.

His covers were warm, and oh so inviting, and Frank fell onto them eagerly, nearly passing out immediately. Gerard turned to leave, and Frank’s hand darted out, landing on his wrist with a surprising grip. His eyes flashed from the pillow, and he blinked sleepily, drunkenly.

“Stay,” he commanded. “Just… stay.”

Gerard raised an eyebrow, and laughed. The sound was like bells. “Not tonight.”

Frank pouted. “Fine. Goodnight.”

“’Night.”

/

He was in his bedroom again, and the soft electric glow of the street filtered in through his blinds, casting shadows on the far wall. He blinked, and sat up, looking first to the desk.

The chair was empty, and everything was in its place.

“Hello,” a soft voice said, and Frank’s eyes widened, his head snapping to the foot of his bed. She was sitting there, in a yellow sundress, dark brown hair braided over one shoulder, legs swinging over the side of his bed.

“I’m dreaming,” he breathed, hand shaking as he reached out, afraid to touch and shatter the illusion. Jamia shrugged, and smiled.

“Maybe,” she said, and tilted her head. “But maybe not.”

“Lindsey visited me,” he said after a moment, swallowing. “She told me you love me.”

Jamia shook her head, smiling apologetically. “Honey, you don’t need her to tell you that.” She moved closer without having seemed to have moved at all, a blink and she was sitting right next to him. “But she was right. I love you very, very much Frankie.”

He ducked his head. “I miss you.”

“I miss you too,” she said, her breath ghosting over the shell of his ear. “But sweetheart. You are running yourself into the ground. What’s done is done, and I don’t want you to wait for me. I want you to be happy.”

“I – I don’t know if I can,” he whispered, his voice catching in his throat. She took his hand, her palm feeling dusty and not-quite-there.

“But I do. There are people who can help you. You’ve already met a few of them,” she said, and distorted flashes and images crossed his mind. Brendon, smiling and holding his guitar, Florence, caked in flour, Pete and Patrick, strobe lights flashing behind them.

Gerard, the moonlight catching the curve of his cheek.

She turned his face to her own, and planted a chaste kiss first on his lips, then on his forehead. “Go on,” she whispered, and the bedroom fell away into the sea.

/

Frank was on the porch steps in the morning, eyes fixated on the skyline rising to the northeast. The sky was brilliantly blue.

January first. A new year.

He was terribly hung over. He felt like a train had run over his head sometime in the night, but for the first time in ages, he felt as if he could breathe. He fingered the rings without feeling their crushing weight. He felt born anew. The door creaked open behind him, and he smiled, not turning. He closed his eyes, and Gerard sat down next to him. The sun was warm on his skin.

“Yes?” he asked, cracking open one eye. Gerard was beside him, eyes outlined in chalky eyeliner, eyes brilliantly green in the morning light. He grinned, worrying his lower lip between his thumb and his forefinger.

“You look like you could use some coffee,” he said after a moment, and Frank laughed, rising to his feet. He held out a hand for Gerard, helping him to his feet as well.

“Oh, God, yes.”

Gerard’s grin grew wider.

“I know just the place.”

[I cannot wait for love]

~end
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