“Oh. He doesn’t seem to me like the sort to get into trouble. Has he done something wrong? Something that you don’t agree with? He’s not... disappointed you or anything?”
Rachel, you're rambling now.
Sorry. You may continue with the chapter.
Chapter 19; Hiding
My head had begun to spin - I was shaking at the knees as I told Gerard who the two people in that car were. My own Mum and Dad. Two people who were in honestly, the last two people that I had wanted to run into. Holding hands with another guy. Kissing another guy. I was, metaphorically, bricking myself.
“You can’t.. oh my god, you know that... they’re.... my parents, Gerard....”
“Frank,” Gerard said, interrupting my babbling. “Frankie, honey, come here.” He pulled me into a hug - I clung onto his arms, squeezing my eyes closed.
“I told you about them,” I said quietly. “They’re going to be so bummed out....”
“You’re working yourself up over this, Frankie,” he said, gently kissing the top of my head. I took a deep breath and held it in, trying to control my shaking. I had to hold back tiny sobs that threatened to shake their way through.
“No, I’m not,” I said. I heard my own voice wavering and I tried to shove Gerard away. “You don’t get it.”
“No, I don’t,” he said, his strong arms not allowing me to pull away. I was glad, in a way, that he wasn’t just going to let me run off. “It must be bad if you’re reacting like this.” I pressed my lips together, dug my nails into his forearms and nodded.
“Very,” I managed to say, feeling the tears threatening to spill over. I whimpered and wrapped my arms around Gerard’s torso.
“What’s going on?” I heard Pete’s voice from behind me.
“Those two in the car, they were his parents.”
“And they’re not the most tolerant people in the world?” I nodded into Gerard’s chest.
“All they ever taught me about... well... they’ve always told me that gay is wrong. And... I don’t want to... I was always scared because they’d be so disappointed... and I know that.” I turned my head, opened my eyes and saw Mikey and Pete staring at me, wide-eyed. “I don’t want to be gay.” Gerard stiffened slightly. No, wait, I didn’t mean that... say something, Frank... “It’s not bad... but it’s in the sense that I don’t want to disappoint mum and dad. It’s... oh, I don’t know,” I said, burying my face in Gerard’s chest again.
“What is it, Frank?” said Pete, his voice gentle.
“I’d be fine with it... if my parents were better about it.”
“Frankie,” said Gerard. “Let’s not worry about it for now. The end of school’s seven hours away, I’m sure we’ll figure something out in that time.”
“I am sure.”
“Talking of school, if you want to get there on time, we should hurry,” said Mikey, checking his watch. I nodded and pulled gently away from Gerard, keeping my eyes fixed on his chest.
“Should we go round the back way? Through the park? We can avoid the main roads and there’s less of a chance of funning into your folks again,” suggested Pete. I nodded.
“Come on then. We all know the way, you’ll be okay,” said Gerard, taking my hand. I nodded and clung on tightly, possibly cutting off the blood flow to his fingers, but he didn’t complain.
“Let’s go. We have ten minutes before we need to be there.”
We began walking down the alleyway, away from the main road, and true to Pete’s words we emerged on a quiet little road. A few houses down and there was another path that lead down a stony path, edged by grass and trees. I was walking along next to Gerard, fiddling with my lip ring with my teeth, switching between that chewing on the insides of my cheeks.
“Frank...” I looked up at Gerard, who had been watching me with a sad expression on his face. “You’re making yourself bleed.” I raised my free hand to my lip ring and found my fingertips dotted with blood.
“Oh.” I sighed and looked down at the floor, resorting to biting my nails.
“Frankie, stop it,” said Gerard gently, removing my hand.
“I’m sorry, Gee, I just... I’m so...”
“Hey, it’s alright.” He wrapped his arm around my shoulder. I nodded, still clinging onto his hand.
“Frank, you have any idea what’s exactly going to happen?” asked Pete, slowing down to walk next to us. I closed my eyes and shook my head, sighing shakily. “I’m guessing it’s pretty bad, right?”
“Yeah. They won’t be angry... but I could cope with angry. They’ll be so disappointed with me.” By this point we’d emerged out of the park onto the long road that the school was situated on. Gerard removed his arm from my shoulders and held tightly onto my hand instead.
“Well, at least...”
“Guys,” I said, stopping in my tracks. “What if they’re there? What if mum and dad are waiting outside school and...” Gerard placed his slender finger on my lips, stopping me in my tracks.
“Frank, don’t worry. Are they likely to be waiting for you?” asked Mikey, shifting his bag on his shoulder. I shrugged. “Well, then don’t freak. If you see them, turn and run. If they’re not there, you’re safe.” I raised my eyebrow.
“Run? Is that really the best thing to do?”
“Maybe,” said Pete, his eyes clouding over as he stared in front of us. I blinked, and began to walk forward again. Panic was bubbling up inside me like lava inside a volcano, about to burst. It was all I could do to not completely have a breakdown.
Yes, it really was that bad. You don’t know my parents. They were Catholic, and they took most of their faith very seriously. They were the sort of people who wouldn’t confront somebody, rather those who would sit and pity from a distance. Confrontation, I was good with. Pity... I couldn't cope with that. I’d felt like that, what with them watching, I’d just let them down.
“No parents so far,” said Pete. I looked up and breathed a tiny sigh of relief. We had reached the gates to the school, and sure enough all that was in sigh were students. I have never felt so much affection for the people in my school. At least I could disappear into the crowds if my parents did turn up.
“You’ll be okay,” said Gerard, taking my hand and gently leading me in between the crowds of students.
“Gerard? Frank? Guys?” Gerard stopped and turned. I looked. Valerie, Ria, Jenna, Penina, Ray, Bob and Anna were all standing in a group, staring at us. “You just walked right past us, we even called over.” It was Penina who’d spoken.
“Oh. Sorry about that,” said Gerard, looking around. “We were... we went through the park. And we were a bit... worried about shit.” I nodded hastily, nibbling on my lower lip again.
“Ah. Is everything okay?”
“No. I’m going to die,” I said, smiling brightly. It seemed like the appropriate expression.
“Oh, I see,” said Valerie, nodding. “In other words, you’ve done something and you’re completely screwed?”
“That basically sums it up,” I said, shrugging.
“Oh dear. What happened?” asked Ria. I opened my mouth, but couldn’t find any words to say anything. Also at that moment the bell rung, calling all students into our form classes.
“Let’s not go in,” said Penina. “Let’s go to our tree. If this is worrying you so much.”
“That sounds good,” said Bob, nodding. So, instead of joining the throng of students making their way into the building, the group of us instead stalked around the edge of the school grounds, avoiding all the teachers, to the base of our tree at the end of the grounds.
“Should we go up?” asked Jenna, placing her hand on one of the rungs of the ladder. I sighed and shook my head.
“They can’t see us around the back, can they?”
“No... but they also don’t know that the place up there exists.”
“I want to stay out here, though. So we can see if anyone comes.”
“Okay.” Valerie sat down on the floor behind the tree. Everyone else sat around in a group, and Bob sat just at the edge of the corner to alert us if he saw anyone coming. So slowly, and clinging tightly onto Gerard’s hand, I told them all about my parents.
I finished off, my voice trailing off very uncertainly, trying to keep my voice controlled. The expressions on my friends’ faces were varied; sadness on Ria’s, confusion on Jenna’s, blank understanding on Ray’s... and really scarily, anger on Valerie’s.
“That’s shit,” she spat. “How could...”
“Guys,” said Bob quietly. looking past the tree. “A teacher has just seen me. She’s got a man and a woman with her.”
“Shit.” I felt my heart go into overdrive. Without even thinking about it, I stood up and started up the ladder, keeping well out of sight. I felt Gerard right behind me.
“Quick, make it look like you didn’t see them,” he hissed. “We were never here.” Instantly I saw the group resettle into a tighter circle as I rested in the trees; Valerie launched into a story and Jenna pulled out a pack of playing cards and dealt everyone in to a game of Blackjack. I watched as Gerard rolled up the rope ladder, and we both crouched on the branch leading towards a bridge of planks, not moving towards the main area of the tree-hut. We wanted to see what was going to happen.
We were both concealed by the leaves in the tree and we could peek through to where the teachers and.... yes, it was my parents. I breathed in again and held that breath, struggling not to panic.
“Frankie,” whispered Gerard, clutching onto my shoulder. “It’s Miss James. We’re safe.” I nodded my head shakily, keeping my eyes fixed on the view below me. It was leafy, but I could still see everyone there; and they couldn’t see me or Gerard. I hoped. When the little group of adults reached the larger groups of my friends watching, I held my breath again.
“Oh shit!” I heard Valerie say as they ‘noticed’ Miss James and my parents.
“What are you students doing out of class?!” said Miss James. I saw Valerie look around the rest of the group guiltily, and Penina bowed her head. However, all of them had a tiny grin on their face - they knew that, because it was Miss James, nobody was in any trouble.
“Um... we had a...” Mikey shrugged. Miss James narrowed her eyes at the group.
“I’d understand a couple of misfits like you, Mikey, Robert, to be out here... but Penina and Ria, what on earth do you think you’re doing? And Pete, you’ve barely been back a day/. Do you /really think this is a suitable way to start your year off again?!”
“Sorry Miss,” I heard Penina say. She sounded on the brink of tears. From where I watched though, her back to the assortment of adults, she looked up into the trees and smirked slightly. I let out the breath that I realized I’d been holding in.
“Well, you’d do well to be sorry. But we’re halfway throughout first period, so I don’t see much point sending you in halfway through your lesson...” Miss James said, raising her eyebrow at Penina.
“Thankfully, Penina is everybody’s favourite. With Ria and Jenna’s the friendliest person I know... they could get away with anything,” murmured Gerard.
“Okay. Okay. Have any of you guys seen Frank or Gerard?” As one, our friends shook their heads, but Mikey nodded. “Mikey?”
“Well, Gee left today but he said something about skipping off and going to visit some friend about something.”
“He said something about seeing Patrick when we were walking home yesterday, I think,” said Pete, reshuffling his Blackjack hand.
“Patrick? I haven’t seen him in ages!” said Jenna, grinning.
“Okay. Does nobody know where Frank is?”
“Probably with Gerard,” said Valerie, smirking. Jenna giggled. My dad raised his eyebrows so far up I thought they might disappear into his hairline. My heart was sinking gradually into my converse; I hated seeing either of my parents like this.
“Who is Gerard?” asked mum, looking down upon my friends kindly.
“He’s...” started Pete, but Ria nudged him in the ribs, shaking her head. Like she was trying to be inconspicuous, but just so that everyone could actually see her. Mum didn’t miss the gesture.
“He a friend of Frank’s?”
“Yeah, they’re pretty close.”
I gotta admit, it was one of the best scenes of acting I’d ever seen. I honestly mean it - both parties in the ‘discussion’ trying to outwit the other. My dear mum trying to uncover where I really was without giving the game away, and my friends countering it in such a way that it would make them suspicious without letting too much away... they were some of the cleverest people I knew. My family and my friends.
“Do you know when Gerard and Frank might turn up today?” asked mum. Pete shrugged.
“Think Gee said something about lunchtime. Though knowing him and Patrick, he might not turn up till late tonight. As for Frank, I can only guess that, cos he ain’t here, he’s with Gerard. That’s all I can give you. Why you looking for him?”
“We’re his parents,” said my dad.
“Oh! He’s told us about you,” said Penina, smiling. “Do you need him for something? Family problems? Maybe have you tried calling him?”
“Well, we have... but he hasn’t picked up his phone.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry, sir. If he turns up, we’ll ask him to call you?”
“That would be nice. Thank you...”
“Penina. Yes, if you could get him to call us, that would be great.” They turned to leave.
“Why are you looking for your son, Mr Iero? Has he got himself in trouble or something?” asked Valerie. I gritted my teeth together and closed my eyes. Please, Valerie, don’t let the game away...
“No, not really. We’re a bit worried about him,” said dad.
“Oh. He doesn’t seem to me like the sort to get into trouble. Has he done something wrong? Something that you don’t agree with? He’s not... disappointed you or anything?” she asked deliberately. Dad narrowed his eyes.
“Do you know something?”
“No? What makes you think that?”
“If we could not get into any arguments, please?” asked Miss James, who’d been watching the exchange with an amused expression on her face. “Mr and Mrs Iero, if you could please make your way back towards the school? I would like to have a private word with these students about being out of lesson.” My parents nodded, and they began to walk back towards the building. When they were a safe distance away, Miss James’ stern expression relaxed and she turned towards us.
“Frank told us,” said Pete quickly, before Miss James had an opportunity to ask if we knew what that was about. She nodded.
“I see. Where are the two lovebirds, then?”
“Hiding,” said Valerie simply.
“Well, that’s useful. Now, I didn’t get the full details, but I could tell when his parents walked in that something was wrong. They’re not angry... but you need to tell Frank to be careful.”
“It’s okay, Miss. They heard everything,” said Mikey.
“Oh? Where are they?”
“Hiding,” said Valerie again. Miss James rolled her eyes.
“Okay. I won’t ask. But the simple fact is... Frank, wherever you are, I’m sorry. Your parents will probably turn up at lunchtime again to see if Gerard gets back from meeting with ‘Patrick’. I hope you’ll work this out.” At this, Miss James got to her feet. “However, next period, you all get straight to your lessons, okay? You’ve got... twenty minutes left of this. I’ll let you off for now, because I like you.”
Then she turned on her heel and walked away.
“You know, I’ve always wondered how she walks in those stilettos,” said Ray. “Especially on grass.”
“Yeah. You guys going to come down?” asked Jenna, looking up into the trees. Gerard and I both poked our head through the foliage.
“No,” I said, just as Gerard began to say ‘Yes’ - we turned and looked at each other. “I feel safer up here,” I said. “Just in case.”
“Okay. I was thinking about just going back and hanging out there. Because we’re safe with Miss James and all,” said Penina, scratching her head. “Are you two not going to turn up?” I shook my head.
“What if someone else sees us and my parents come back and realise we were here the whole time?” Beside me, Gerard sighed, but didn’t say anything. The people gathered below me nodded.
“Okay. You two stay up there, we’ll hang about and see you again at break time?” asked Valerie. I nodded.
“Okay. See you guys later then?”
“Yeah. Bye...” My voice was quiet as I watched them all get up below me and move away. Gerard sighed and began to move away from our uncomfortable perch on the branch, and towards the main tree-platform. I followed him a tiny bit more slowly.
“How are you feeling, Frank?” I heard him ask as he leant in his usual place against the tree trunk. I shrugged, curling up next to him; his arm instantly wrapped around my shoulder. “I never realized exactly what you meant when you said that stuff about your parents, those few weeks ago. I’ve never seen anyone so.... so worried.”
“I wasn’t exaggerating then, Gerard,” I said, resting my head on his chest.
“I know that, Frankie,” he said soothingly, stroking my hair.
“The thing is... it’s only them... but they’ll be so upset now they’re going to be so...”
“You also don’t have to face them until after school,” he interrupted. “We can stay hidden up here all day if you want. You don’t have to worry.”
“So... what are we going to do?”
“Just stay here. We can stay here and talk, or tell jokes, or play a game...” Gerard’s voice had taken on some odd sort of quality... very quiet, almost dreamlike. “You don’t have to worry about anything. You have a whole pile of morons ready to stand up for you. You have Miss James who, basically, is awesome. And you have me, Frankie. Remember that.”
“I will, Gerard...” I sighed and closed my eyes. “I think I just panicked.”
“It’ll be okay, Frankie. I promise." Gerard sealed the conversation, kissing me gently before I felt myself falling asleep.
Heeheehee! I know my updating is very... not ordered. I hope you like this chapter, it was quite fun to write. Please Rate and Review?
I have so much fun writing this, you don't even know. The group of friends reminds me a lot of my own group of friends. They're amazeballs.