More of the hospital, kinda.
I opened my eyes to the harsh light of day radiating into my bedroom. I squinted at the clock on my bedside table, eyes widening when I realised it said 2:34pm. I sat up quickly and threw the duvet off me, still dressed in my school uniform from the day before.
'Gerard?' I called as I bounded down the stairs. He came up from the basement, a crease of worry on his forehead and a battered paintbrush in his hand.
'Mikes? Are you okay?' he asked, worried. I nodded.
'Yeah,' I began vaguely, 'just kind of confused as to why I'm not in school.' Relief sparked in Gerard's green eyes.
'Oh, I thought you'd want the day off, what with Frank and all.' My heartbeat quickened at his name; Frank. Instantaneously, everything came flooding back to me: Frank, the fight, the hospital, his mum, his bruised and battered face. I swallow the thick lump that's formed in my throat.
'Yeah,' I reply, quietly. The spark of relief in those eyes are replaced by concern.
'Mikes,' he begins softly, 'are you okay?'
I look up into Gerard's eyes, the crease back in his forehead. The murky green swirls with concern and sympathy, nearly overflowing with it, like a bath with the tap left on. In that moment, I realise how glad I am I have Gerard for a big brother. He's been through some shit himself over the years but he's always been there whenever I needed him, to comfort me or pick up the pieces. A warm feeling sprouts in my chest and spreads throughout my body, making even my fingertips glow. I offer him a weak smile.
'I guess what happened to Frank just came as a shock, but I'll be okay, and so will he.' Gerard's smile was so big I could see his pointy, childlike teeth peeking from between his lips.
'Yeah, both of you will be just fine.' We stand there smiling at each other for a minute before he just waves his paintbrush around, gesturing he needs to get back to work, and walks back down the basement stairs.
I stand vacantly in the hallway for a little while, I'm not quite sure how long, before I register I'm still I'm my school uniform. I hastily get changed before walking out the house, the front door shutting behind me with a definite bang.
The hospital is just as sterile and intimidating as the day before. Doctors and nurses bustle about, people sit worried and fidgeting on uncomfortable waiting room chairs, the white walls reek of disinfectant.
I guess I should be glad; the near potent stench must mean they keep the place clean so Frank probably won't die of some gruesome infection that turns his skin green or makes his limbs fall off.
The same doctor as yesterday greets me, smiling at me with a very similar false air to his expression. I offer a slight smile back as we walk down the stifling fluorescent corridor to Franks room.
'You know the drill, one hour. I'll come check on him then.' I nodded before he walks away and I push open the door.
Frank looks up from the Batman comic he's reading and smiles at me.
'Hey,' he says, voice still slightly hoarse. He look just as bad as he did yesterday, his injuries still prominent. It wasn't like I was hoping for a instant recovery, but I still can't fight off the heavy, disappointed feeling in my chest as it hits me just how long he'll probably be in this place.
'Hi,' I reply, voice smaller than I wanted it to sound. I walk forward and approach his bed as he places his comic on top of the large pile on his bedside table. I sit tentatively on the chair next to him and look into his deep, brown eyes.
'How have you been?' I ask weakly.
'In the last fifteen hours? Yeah, not much different from last night, I'm fine, you?' I take his hand in mine.
'You don't look fine,' I say, quietly. He just raises an eyebrow at me which brings a smile to my face.
'Well, I am. But you didn't answer my question Mikes, how are you?' I avert my gaze from his face and look at our intertwined hands. I sigh.
'I don't really know,' I begin honestly, 'I don't know how I feel about the fact that my boyfriend is in hospital for getting beaten half to death by the guy that raped me. I don't know how I feel about getting raped. I don't know how I feel about going back to school, or my future, or about myself, or about anything. I just-I don't know.'
My voice got smaller as I went on. I didn't quite mean to say all that, my voice seemed to run away with my thoughts. My vacant hand fidgeted with a stray thread on my dark blue jeans, heart spasming
Frank reached forward and placed his hand on my chin, gently lifting my head to face his, looking straight into his warm, caring eyes.
'Mikey,' he began softly, 'what happened to you should never happen to anybody, it's a horrible thing, but you don't need to worry about me, I've always got myself out of shit before anyway. You need to remember that I'm always here for you, though, and you're going to have to come to terms with what happened to you, sooner or later. And as for your future, there's no need for you to be fucking worried about that. You're an amazing person, you'll make it. Trust me.'
A nauseous feeling weaves into my stomach at Frank words. I want so desperately to believe him, to believe that I don't have to worry about him and that I'm an amazing person, but I just can't.
'Frank, I-I'm always going to worry about you, you're my boyfriend.' A smile grew over his face.
'But I don't know if I...if I can ever really except what happened to me. And I'm not an amazing person, I just-I'm not.' I stared into Frank's eyes, watching the greens and browns mould together into some blissful nebula of pure Frank.
He sighed gently and took my hand that he was holding and moved it up towards his face, kissing each of my fingertips in turn before ghosting his lip on the palm of my hand. A tingling feeling worked its way through me at the simple action, Frank never taking his gaze from my eyes the whole time.
'You are,' he whispered, bringing my hand to his cheek as I soothingly stroked my thumb over the purple bruise on his cheekbone, 'you're amazing and beautiful and I love you Mikey.' He closed his eyes as I leaned in and placed a delicate kiss on the bruise I was just caressing.
'I love you too.'
He opened his eyes and smirked lightly at me, patting the small space in the bed next to him. I smiled as he shuffled up and I lay down next to him, wrapping my arms around him and pulling him close.
In that moment, I became consumed by Frank; the feel of his head resting against my chest, the smell of coconut and honey that floated gently from him, his entire body pressed against mine, small fingers tracing swirling patterns on my lower back. In that moment I realised just how much he means to me, how much he's always meant to me. How much I would miss it if I could never see his devious smile again, or watch his fingers slide effortlessly over the frets as he played guitar for me, or see how excited he gets when he talks about something he really loves.
Almost as if they had read my mind, just as I thought this, the steady beeping of the machines became a long, dull, high-pitched note as Franks fingers stopped moving on my back and his breath ghosting over my skin became nothing but an after effect, still lingering lightly on my body as he became limp next to me.