The shuddering of the bus woke me late the next morning. For a moment, I only recalled falling asleep outside and could not figure out why I was in Gerard's bunk.
But then, slowly, it all came back.
I groaned, and clutched at my head as I felt the beginning of a headache forming. It wasn't long until it was a full-blown jackhammer in my head and was forced to get up for painkillers.
"Morning!" I batted my hand in Bob's general direction, mumbling incoherently.
"Someone's grumpy," Commented Frank. I could feel him eyeing me warily.
"I think I have full right around about now. Now please, for the love of god, be quiet until I get the painkillers," Silence. "Thank you," Finally, I managed to get the painkillers and a glass of water, I quickly downed two white pills before allowing myself to collapse on the sofa.
"Where's the others?" I asked Bob and Frank, who were crowded around the laptop.
"Other bus," Frank replied. I nodded. "Gerard said something about keeping Bert out of your way," He looked up from the screen and at me. "I can see why," I smiled wanly, not even attempting to be offended.
There was a moment's silence during which there was the clacking of keys and a lot of giggling.
"What the hell are you two looking at?"
"Nothing," I eyed them wearily.
"Just someone saying you're a retarded tramp," I rolled my eyes.
I have never has such a quiet day. No Bert, no Gerard. Sheer bliss. Of course, the lack of Mikey and Ray wasn't exactly joyous news, but I could live without them.
But, in the end, we all had to come back together at some point.
"How many more gigs have we got left?" I asked whilst struggling to keep Gerard still during make up.
"This one, another one, then we're off home," I nodded.
"Thank you, now stay still," He huffed and, leaning back from me slightly, took the make up off me.
"You either deal with it - or I do it myself," Smirking, I stood away from him, turning and heading towards Mikey sat on the lone sofa in the seating area.
"Fine by me, less for me to do," I called over at him as I seated myself comfortably next to Mikey.
He took that comment literally for the rest of that day and the next. He wouldn't let me cook, clean, do their make up - anything! Why? As he said:
'You want less to do, you find it a strain to do the make up; fine - we'll do it all,' much to everyone else's annoyance.
So, by the time we both stumbled laughing into my house the day after the next, I was dying to clean something - worryingly enough. I was certainly happy to be instantly set around fetching drinks for five.
And, seeing as someone had diet coke from a bottle...a game of spin the bottle ensued.
"All right! Everyone quiet!" I grinned, popping my head happily from side to side, as all five fell quiet. Ray and Frank finally sat down with the rest of us, Gerard let go of me for the first time since I handed him the diet coke and Bob and Mikey finally quit arguing over who was, in theory, the better spork fighter. I forbid them from testing their theories...in my house at least. "Now, seeing as I'm the only girly here...wait, are we counting Mikey?" I moved backwards slightly to avoid the hand that batted itself in my direction. "Okay, fine, I'm the only girl here, so no kissing dares. Unless it's kissing the ground I stand on, of course. So, who spins first?"
"Wait!" I blinked at the sudden outburst from Ray. "We can't do it without a sugar fix...just keep it away from Frank," Rolling my eyes, I stood from my place on the floor and went in search of whatever sugar I had in the kitchen that was in date.
"Gerard, think she'll let us dare her to kiss your-"
"No she won't or you just don't want her to?"
"Both...well, at least not in front of you,"
"Eww, why do I have to listen to this? He's my brother, why?"
"Because you were thick enough to carry on listening, that's-"
Table leg. Chair leg. Deep red carpet. Light under the front door. Back of the sofa.
Pain. Blurry. Footsteps. Shouts. My name? Light headed.
Feet - boots. A face - familiar. Hands on my shoulders - lifting me up. Bright light. Panic.
That's all I remember. Random pieces. I suppose I wouldn't wish to reserve it to memory, though.
I remember the hospital though. When I woke up my eyes were bombarded with white. I groggily lifted my hands to shield my eyes until they adjusted. It took a while, but finally I could make out the mound sleeping uncomfortably in the chair to the right of the bed. Removing my hand, I smiled slightly.
There, mouth hanging open slightly, was Gerard, slouched about as far down as he could without sliding out of the seat in one of those dreadful plastic chairs you expect never to see again once you've left school.
My next thought was of the needle stuck in my arm.
It took several minutes of deep breathing to calm myself somewhat so I didn't have a heart attack there and then. Mind you, I'd have been in the right place...
Now, as I have witnessed since then, Gerard is much worse than I am. At least I can stand being around them - he freaks out as soon as the point is aimed in his general direction, even when on the other side of the room. So I consider myself quite a needle lover in comparison.
I think I had only just calmed myself down when the curtain surrounding me, an awful dingy grey one, was pulled back suddenly, causing me to come close to another heart attack.
"Hey, you're awake," I smiled up at the silhouette of an afro.
"Yeah," I croaked out, struggling to sit up slightly. Footsteps told me I was about to receive help and was unsurprised to have Ray pull the pillows up for me. I smiled my thanks up at him before settling back. "What happened?" I could have won the 'sound like a frog' competition.
"You," He cleared his throat before settling himself into the plastic seat behind him, eyes boring a hole into the floor. "You, uhh, passed out. I'm...not entirely sure why, none of us were listening to the ignorant bastard, but..." He finally looked up at me. "It had something to do with your diet and exhaustion," I nodded solemnly.
"How long have I been...?" I trailed off, guilt setting in somewhat as I became more aware of the mound to the right of the bed.
"Day or two," I nodded again.
"And him?" I looked at Gerard, shifting in his sleep slightly, before turning back to Ray.
"A Day or two," I nodded once again. "Everyone else is downstairs at the caf, tending to fans who are worried about you," I frowned. Noticing my perturbed look, he was kind enough to explain. "We've had a few fans floating around the hospital coming and talking to us when we've been down getting food. At first they all expected it to be Gerard that was ill, seeing as we couldn't get him to leave that seat, but we kindly explained that it was you. Some of them were understanding, but not exactly sympathetic. But there were the few that seemed more worried about you than they were about Gerard," I smiled wanly. "So we've been looking after them. One's a patient in here, says she owes everything to us. She...uhh...wishes you all the best and hopes for a speedy recovery. Oh! And she damns anyone who's against you two being together," My fragile smile widened slightly. "It's been nice, knowing some people really do like you," There was a brief silence through which someone in the bed next to me rolled over. "You should have seen the way they babied Gerard when we actually managed to get him to eat with us," He smiled slightly at the memory. "All crowded around him, asking if he was okay. Some, even, to ensure he ate, offered their own food. Y'know what he's like - too modest for his own good sometimes,"
"Nice to know you're all here,"
"Yeah, and we called a few friends of yours. We decided we'd leave family for you, we don't know where you stand with them so..." I nodded in agreement. "So you've got a few friends coming over and Bert said he'd try and make it down tomorrow. We've got Gerard's parents on their way too," I smiled a genuine smile, unable to feel sorry for myself anymore.
"So, really, everyone wants to know how I am,"
"Really, yeah," There was stirring from Gerard and my head snapped as quickly as my sleep-addled joints would allow in his direction. Slowly, his eyes fluttered open, followed by his mouth as he stretched and yawned. He came dangerously close to falling off the chair and heaved himself upright.
"Morning," I croaked brightly. He stopped moving. For a moment, I was sure he'd stopped breathing and was about to collapse in his seat. But either way, he made no movements, just sat staring at the curtain pulled around the bed. I squinted out of the window, or what I could see through the closed blinds. "Well, more like evening," I was either going to stop talking or get someone to fetch me a drink.
Suddenly, almost without warning, his arms were clasped tightly around my shoulders. I say almost without warning as I at least had the scraping of his chair across the white floor as he jumped up as a fair warning.
Smiling, I wrapped my arms around him.
I let him stay there. I let him lower himself onto the bed and stay next to me, arms still around my shoulders. I let him hold on as tight as he wanted. Let him mumble something without making him repeat it for once.
It took a long series of racking coughs for him to pull back and let Ray hand me a drink of water. Downing the cup as quickly as possible, I smiled at him, kneeling next to me on the bed.
"Miss me?" He frowned slightly for a moment, before smiling.
"Of course I did,"