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Just Sleep

Chapter 6

The next day dawns blue and clear with a dazzling hot sun burning bright in the smoky city sky. The roads are already rippling with heat-waves at noon when Frank wakes up sweaty and disorientated in his stuffy room with a throbbing headache. Groaning into sticky sheets, he kicks the boiling covers off his body and gropes blindly for the gatorade he usually leaves on his nightstand but it isn't there. Lifting his aching head, he rubs at his eyes and finds them swollen and crusty. From crying?
Oh god.
Like a ton of bricks the events of last night crash back through his brain and he cringes at the memories: crying into his mom's blouse like a helpless baby and screaming threats at Gerard until the older man ran away... He hadn't meant to do those things! Fuck, he hadn't meant for any of yesterday to happen. Sometimes something deep inside him just breaks and a horrible airless void of tremors and panic swallows him whole until he can't stop the fear and frustration taking over. That's why he yelled at Gerard's parents in the hospital, and why he drank half a liquor store after coming home from Florida. When he's drunk he's numb and the emotions screaming around his guts don't hurt as much. But the booze didn't change a thing this time; it only made him more breakable, and now his mother and Gee have seen exactly how fucked up he is.

With a miserable moan, Frank screws his eyes shut against the cruel sun blasting in his window and drags a pillow over his head, burrowing into the darkness and breathing in his sweaty hair and stale breath. He promised himself years ago that he'd never have a total meltdown in front of his mom, never put her through that kind of worry and heartache, but he's broken that promise, like he breaks everything else! Now she'll probably want him to see a therapist or try to put him in hospital. Shit, how the hell is he supposed to fix this mess? Screwing his eyes shut all he can see is flashes of Gerard covered in blood, his mom's worried eyes, Donna Way's stinging slaps, that fucktard Bert McCracken, and an ocean of booze, puke, pills and pain!

Clutching hold of Chilli so tight he nearly pulls the little toy's head off, he tries to take some deep breaths as his eyes flood with hot stinging tears that quickly soak through the damp pillowcase. He isn't strong enough to live like this: so wrecked that even the smallest argument with his ex-boyfriend can send him spiralling into a breakdown so bad his mom has to sedate him with drugs. He's not worth the trouble he's causing her. He's not worth shit to anybody! No wonder Gerard kissed another man at that party. No wonder he tried to-

With a sharp ping, Frank's phone twitches in his pocket and his sad heart leaps at the thought of Gerard texting him a few words of apology or reassurance or even anger. Anything to make him feel like he's still on the other man's mind. But when he scrambles to check the text message, blinking through tears and headaches with his heart in his throat, it isn't from Gee.

Two miles across town on the fourth floor of a shabby apartment building, Gerard is reluctantly sober and medicated, all thanks to Ray who is projecting a very steely vibe of “you will do as I say or I'll kick you out” at his homeless friend. Curled up hungover on the couch in an old tee and sweatpants, Gerard stares blankly at a cartoon on the TV and spoons Fruit Loops and milk into his mouth, trying not to think.

It's boiling hot in the apartment even with all the windows open and Spongebob Squarepants can only distract him for so long before Frank's face and voice are haunting him like stubborn little tattooed ghosts. The meds keeping him calm and sleepy dilute quickly in his addict's blood and soon all he wants to do is give Frankie a call and apologise for ambushing him at home yesterday and every other sin he's ever committed. He can't do that though because his bossy new room-mate has confiscated his phone.
“I want my fucking phone back, asshole,” he growls now as Ray walks jauntily out of the kitchen with a plate of jelly sandwiches.
“Nah, not yet, man,” Ray replies, “Frank told you to leave him alone, right?”
“Well, yeah, kinda. But-”
“Then you should do what he wants, at least for a little while. Let him calm down before you talk to him again. I've told him you're okay. Just be patient. ”

Unfortunately, patience is not one of Gerard's virtues and the heatwave is making him extra cranky. Sighing into the hair falling across his face, he slurps the last milk from his bowl and grabs the TV remote, flipping endlessly through the channels until they blur into one long fuzzy picture. He won't admit it to Ray but he's bitterly disappointed in himself for trying to drink his problems away again and his arm is aching like a sonofabitch but he can't find his sling anywhere. Everything sucks so much today and he feels like a fucking waste of oxygen. He's a grown man in his twenties with no home, no job, no relationship, and a dead brother forever on his conscience. What a joke.

Wishing away the claustrophobic guilt clawing at his skin, he drops the remote as his hands start shaking.
“Hey, are you okay?” Ray asks gently.
“Not really. I...um... Do we have any coffee?”
“No. I'm all out.”
It's not really a big deal but Gerard is already so tired and fragile that the news hits him like a sledgehammer and he almost starts to cry. Blinking hard against the tears, he slumps deeper into the couch cushions and lies there silent and unmoving for the rest of the afternoon, chain-smoking cheap cigarettes and torturing himself with self-hating thoughts.

After three hours spent watching his friend sink deeper and deeper into self-pity and depression, Ray sends a few secretive text messages and then suggests out loud that they go out on a quest for more coffee. When the miserable lump on the couch doesn't answer, Ray sighs and grabs his friend's wrist, pulling him roughly off the cushions onto the floor just to make him move. Gerard growls in annoyance, his bloodshot eyes glistening, and yanks his hand away, pouting on the carpet. “Fuck off!”
“Gee, come on. You need some fresh air. We both do.”
“It's sunny outside. I hate the sun!”
“There's a coffee shop only two blocks down and it has amazing air-conditioning, you'll barely be in the sun.”
“I don't wanna go out!”
“Dude, I'm putting my foot down here. You've done nothing all day and it's not good for you. You know that. Just think about sipping on one of those rich dark blends you love so much.”
“I can live without coffee.”
“We both know you can't. Let's just go.”
“I don't want to!”
“Gee, I swear to god! I know you feel shitty and I don't blame you after everything that's happened. I wish I could help with all the stuff messing up your head but I can't so at least let me keep you safe, fed and caffeinated, okay?”
“Argh, fine! But we're only going if you give me back my phone.”

“Ohmygod, I needed this,” Gerard purrs, chugging from a huge mug of black sweetened coffee as hungrily as a baby animal taking milk from its mother.
“I'll try and restrain myself from saying I told you so,” Ray snarks, sipping from his own cup at their table in the local java hut. “Seriously dude, what's the point in denying yourself these little things? You don't need to suffer even more than you already have. ”
“There's no need to tiptoe around the facts, Toro. Mikey's dead and Frank hates me. You can say the words.”
“Frank doesn't hate you. He likes you just fine.”
Setting down his drink, Gerard frowns and runs a nicotine-stained hand through his messy hair, tugging distractedly at a knot near his crown until a few black strands break away and he drops them on the floor with a disinterested motion. Silence stretches between the two friends and Ray slowly finishes his iced mocha, checking his phone under the table every few minutes and stealing quick glances over Gerard's head at the coffee shop door. Any second now...

Some old Goo Goo Dolls song is playing on the cafe sound system and as the last chorus ends Gerard suddenly launches into a rushed confession, his voice quaking and stressed out, coffee on his breath. “I just can't believe how much I regret what happened between me and Frankie now, and I don't just mean New Year's Eve. You should've seen him last night, Ray. He's so scared underneath it all. I mean he's practically still a kid, he can't even buy beer yet, and he's totally wrecked because of what I did! I tried to hurt myself but ended up hurting him more, can you believe that? I fucked him up and made him cry just because I wanted to be near him yesterday when I knew he wasn't ready. I pushed him until I triggered his anxiety, Ray. How selfish is that? Why do I keep upsetting someone I supposedly love?”

Shrugging helplessly, Ray plays with the plastic stirrer in his cup and tries to look understanding. “First of all, you didn't fuck him up Gee. He's stronger than you think he is. Sure you did a desperate thing down in Florida but it was because you were in a huge amount of emotional pain and you weren't to know Frankie would find you there and see everything. The guy had problems long before he saw you hurt yourself and way before that thing with you and Bert. I'm friends with both of you, remember, and I know you're both in a bad place right now.”
“You can say that again.”
“Right. I think whatever you two need to feel in order to deal with things right now, you should probably just let yourselves feel it. Bottling shit up won't help anybody and it's not selfish to want to be close to someone who makes you feel better. You are who you are, Gee, and that's okay. Neither you or Frank are bad people. He's sick and you're grieving and you both drink too much but you're not bad guys and you're not broken beyond repair. Life ain't easy, man, give yourselves a fuckin break!”

Gerard winces at his friend's words and wipes his eyes on the back of his hand, staring into his drink like it could hold all the answers to the universe.
“I'm gonna go grab a bagel or something,” Ray says with another glance at the door, “You want anything?”
Gerard shakes his head and grabs his mug again, shutting his eyes and inhaling the fragrant steam. Ray pats him supportively on the shoulder and wanders over to the counter, pretending to read the chalkboard menu while actually watching the cafe door until it finally swings open and Frank slinks in out of the sunshine. The teenager is wearing dark glasses, a Danzig shirt and blue jeans ripped at the knees and his hair is matted to his forehead with sweat. Peering around at the crowded tables, he's hugging his skinny stomach with his left hand and chewing on the bitten-down nails of his right, looking pathetic and lost.

Gerard is sitting with his back to the door so he hasn't seen Frank enter. Ray quickly rushes over and hugs his little buddy before stepping back and looking at him for signs of damage. He isn't sure what he's looking for but when he sees the end of a large bandaid poking out from under Frank's t-shirt near his shoulder he pretends not to notice. “Thanks for coming,” he grins, “Are you doing okay?”
Frank shrugs and looks around, “I guess so,” he mumbles. Reaching towards his back pocket, he pulls out a neatly folded medical sling and holds it out to Ray, “Before I forget, can you take this home and give it to Gee for me?”
“Give it to him yourself,” Ray replies, stepping aside and pointing at Gerard's hunched figure on the other side of the room. Frank stiffens and bites his lip, realising he's been set up. “Why is he here? Did he ask you to text me?” he whispers.
“Nope, but I got sick of watching him mope around on my couch all day pining for you.”
“Pining?” Frank laughs, his eyes wide and shining behind his shades, “I really doubt that.”
“He was, I swear to god.”
“Whatever you say.”
“Look man, Gee doesn't know you're here. I didn't tell him you were coming and I don't wanna force you guys into anything but I thought maybe you'd like to talk things out in a nice neutral setting before stuff starts to fester, y'know? I'm sorry if I overstepped the mark. You can still turn around and leave if you want. He'll never know.”
Frank shivers and chews harder on his nails as the air-conditioner above the door ruffles his damp hair with a cooling breeze. Ray steps back a little, assuming the shorter man is going to flee, but instead Frank straightens his shoulders and drops his hands to his sides, ignoring the blood beading around his savaged fingertips as he gazes hopefully at the back of Gerard's shaggy head. “I don't want to leave,” he says with a cautious smile.


((Hello my dears,
Hope you're still out there!
Please tell me what you think of this little story, and how you want it to progress.
Your feedback really does help me write. :) xx)


Thank you so much for commenting, I will indeed continue :) x

Pinchetta Pinchetta

This is so good. Keep writing <3

Jacketslut2 Jacketslut2

Thank you for commenting! You're a fab reader <3 x

Pinchetta Pinchetta

Thank you for the update <3 youre a great writer!

insanity insanity

Updated! X

Updated! X

Pinchetta Pinchetta