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Just Sleep

Chapter 7

A shadow falls across the table and Gerard looks up with glazed eyes, expecting Ray. When he sees Frank instead he nearly chokes on his drink and drops the mug, coughing and swallowing awkwardly behind his hands. Frank's uneasy posture tenses up a few more degrees and he quickly grabs a pile of napkins from the counter and starts mopping up the spill. “What're you doing here?” Gerard splutters, wide-eyed and defensive as he leans back in his chair away from his ex.
“Toro asked me to come,” Frank answers nervously, sitting down in Ray's vacant seat and dropping the soggy napkins in a pile among the crumbs and coffee spots left on the table. “He didn't say you'd be here though. Are you okay with this? Cuz I can leave, y'know, if you want. But I think we should clear the air and, y'know...stuff...” Trailing off, he shakes his head and frowns, shoving his sunglasses into his messy hair before carrying on, “We need to talk about Florida... and probably New Year's Eve too. It's getting so that even when you're not around all I can think about is us and what we were and now I see you and I know there's still all this fucking tension between us, and it makes me feel sick. Since you almost died I can't deal with it anymore. I feel sicker every day.”
“Oh, Frankie.”
“I'm not doing too good, Gee. I guess you probably noticed that last night.”
“Everyone gets upset sometimes,” Gerard says carefully.
“Not like I do,” Frank groans, wincing at the memories, “And you weren't even there for the worst of it. My stomach still hurts now and I can't... Ugh, fuck I don't even know why I get like that. I hate it. I fucking hate it!”
“Calm down, Frankie, it's okay.”
“No it's not, I feel fucking pathetic! Now even being alone doesn't help me hide it anymore. When I kicked you out of my house yesterday, I only made it worse.” Lowering his voice and staring at the table, the teenager adds in a whisper, “A lot worse.”

“We can talk about what happened if you like,” Gerard says cautiously, secretly excited that Frank regrets making him leave, “But I need to know what you want from me, Frankie. If you need support you can have it but I'm not exactly in a safe sane place either right now and I'd have to be blind not to realize that I really upset you last night. I made you cry again and I hate that.”
“It doesn't take much to make me cry,” Frank jokes, trying to sound funny but there's a lump in his throat. Gerard sighs, watching his ex's fingers trace patterns in the coffee stains. “How can I fix things, Frankie? Do you want me to apologize again for kissing Bert? Cuz I said sorry the morning after it happened like a hundred times and it didn't change anything. You still broke up with me.”
“Because saying sorry didn't magically undo what you did!” Frank snaps, his left leg twitching anxiously up and down under the table as he mushes damp crumbs into pulp with his knuckles, “What even possessed you, Gerard? Why the hell did you ring in the New Year with the most repulsive creep in the room instead of me? You don't even know how that looked to everyone else at the party do you: like even a disgusting smelly psychopath was better than your own boyfriend...” The teenager's voice breaks on the last word and Gerard feels like a total scumbag, the heavy weight of self-hatred in his stomach growing larger and making him ache.
“Frank, come on. Of course he wasn't better than you.”
“Then why the fuck did you kiss him at midnight?” Frank shouts, his heavy-lidded eyes flooding with tears as other customers in the cafe turn to look at them, “I was right there, Gee, I was standing right fucking there and you just laughed at me!”
“I'm sorry,” Gerard insists, hunching over the table as he shrivels under the embarrassing glares from people nearby, “I was sky-high on blow and tequila and I wasn't thinking. At midnight Bert threw his arm around me and shoved his tongue in my mouth and I know I should've pushed him away and told him to fuck off but I was drunk and it seemed really funny at the time. I regretted it so much afterwards but by then you were gone. To tell you the truth it still fucking kills me every day to wake up alone and remember that you're not there because I hurt you, Frankie. I can't stand that I broke your trust and lost your love and fucked everything up. Even before Mikey died I was hating myself a little more every day. Florida was about me trying to drown out the memories of all the shitty things I'd done, not just to Mikey but to you as well and everyone else... I just wanted it all to stop. I know I can't ever make up for the mistakes I made or fix the lives I ruined but fuck at least I could take myself out of the picture, yknow? That's how I felt on that bathroom floor and part of me wishes you never saved me...”

Tears swell and sting in Gerard's eyes as his voice falters and he hides his face in his hands. His throat burns with coffee dregs and stomach acid and he doesn't know how Frank can stand to look at him right now. “I need to know if you can forgive me for Bert and Florida and everything else,” he whimpers, trying and failing to compose himself, “Because if you can't then this... m-me and you... it can't work. You know that. So just tell me once a-and for all, okay? P-Please let's just settle this... or s-say goodbye.”

A whole minute passes in silence from the other side of the table and Gerard waits with a miserable heart, wiping his eyes on a napkin as the coffee shop bustles on busily around them, people chatting and foamy cups sloshing. Nobody pays them any more attention.
When he finally dares to look up and see Frank's reaction to his tearful ramblings, the teen is sitting very still with his fidgety hands motionless in front of him and his red-rimmed eyes lowered in thought. A streak of crimson blood blooms in the chewed nail-bed of his left index finger and after a moment he sighs and lifts the finger to his mouth, sucking at the wound. “You didn't lose my love, Gee,” he says at last, his voice muffled by his knuckles as a few locks of hair escape the grip of his sunglasses and fall down over his forehead in soft black strands.
“What does that mean?” Gerard sniffles, picking up his empty cup and holding it close like a security blanket. Frank shrugs and starts to nibble at his torn finger and the older man sighs and reaches out, yanking the youngster's hand out of his mouth, “Stop eating yourself for five minutes,” he scolds affectionately, “Or you'll have no fingers left!”
Frank snorts and rolls his eyes and another minute of silence stretches between them but it's friendlier now, and suddenly the younger man impulsively leans over the table to brush his lips against Gerard's wet cheek. His warm skin smells like gum and cigarettes and Gerard flinches at the touch, unsure if it's a promise of things to come or a kiss goodbye. Frank sits back down and sighs but his eyes seem lighter now. “You really don't deserve to hate yourself so much,” he murmurs softly, “You're a good person, Gee, no matter what you think you've done, and I don't want you to be miserable. I know what it's like to look in the mirror and detest your own face and I can't stand the mess I've become since you've been gone, but at least you still like me now... right?”
Gerard nods firmly, meeting Frank's steady gaze with his own.

“I can forgive you for the Bert thing,” Frank continues slowly, “I didn't know Florida was anything to do with that and I'm so fuckin sorry our fight contributed to you wanting to hurt yourself. I would never, ever want you to feel suicidal no matter how bad you made me feel with Bert, understand? I would rather you break up with me again than hurt yourself. Fuck, I would forgive you a thousand times over if it meant you didn't feel like you had to end your life!”
“I'm still sorry.”
“Stop saying sorry! It's done now, it's forgiven okay? This whole week I thought you did what you did in Florida purely because of what happened with Mikey and your folks. I never knew our break-up put such a huge burden on your mind. I'm really the one who should be apologising.”
“It's not your fault, it's mine,” Gerard mumbles, blinking through another blurry ocean in his vision.
“No, come on, please stop crying,” Frank begs, getting up and coming around the table to kneel by Gerard's chair. Gently, he takes one of the other man's hands in his and entwines their fingers together, “I still love you, Gee, and I want to help you. I've always wanted to help and I'm so sorry I freaked out on you yesterday. I guess I couldn't deal with you knowing I hurt my shoulder, and sometimes it's like I get so worked up I can't control what I say. I didn't mean it.”
“I know that,” Gerard replies, lifting a hesitant hand to stroke Frank's hair, “I shouldn't have turned up unannounced like I did and messed you around either so it's totally my fault. I'm sorry for that too.”

“All apologies accepted,” Frank insists, starting to bounce a little on his heels with nervous relief.
“Thanks,” Gerard sniffles, scrubbing the tear tracks off his face and tucking his hair behind his ears, “So, uh, does this mean we're not saying goodbye for good?”
“This is gonna sound cheesy but I don't think I could ever say goodbye to you,” Frank admits, “I care about you too much to just cut you out of my life... And being alone hasn't worked out too well for either of us so far.”
Getting slowly to his feet, he pulls Gerard up with him and wraps his arms around the taller man in a hug that is gladly returned, “I didn't follow you all the way to Florida for nothing y'know, baby.”
“Hey listen to you calling me baby again,” Gerard smiles hopefully, nuzzling his nose in Frank's hair and breathing him in, “What does that mean?”
“Whatever you want it to mean,” Frank whispers with a wink, stepping back and looking bashfully around the sunlit coffee hut, “Hey do you wanna find Ray and get out of here? I haven't eaten much the last couple of days so, uh, maybe we could grab some pizza or something?”
“Oh god yes, I'm starving.”
“Pizza for the win!” Frank cheers as Gerard's warm hands caress his ragged fingers and the dark clouds leave his head for the first time in weeks.

After consuming a huge amount of cheesy junk food, the three friends go for a walk down to the park and when Ray gets bored of watching Gerard and Frank make-out in the bushes he goes home and the reunited couple barely notice him leave.
The hot afternoon turns slowly into a cool calm evening and the guys are relaxing on a picnic bench watching the sun set behind the city skyline when Frank's cell phone starts ringing and buzzing for attention again and again. “You gonna answer that?” Gerard asks sleepily, lying back on the old bench with his feet dangling in the long grass. Biting his lip, Frank reluctantly rips his eyes away from the fading sunbeams glowing red in his boyfriend's raven hair and answers the call. It's his mom.
“Frank, where are you?”
“Er, in the park. Why?”
“Who are you with?”
Hearing the wary edge to his mother's tone, Frank glances guiltily at Gerard and answers with a lie that rolls off his tongue as easily as water, “No one.”
“Well I need you to come home now.”
“Why? I'm just taking a walk.”
“Come home, Frank,” his mother orders, “Right now. We need to talk, honey.”
The line goes dead and Frank nearly growls at the blank screen he's so pissed off. If only he wasn't still living with a parent who can boss him around whenever she pleases. He's still such a child in some ways and it makes him ashamed at times like this. “I've gotta go,” he says sheepishly, poking Gerard in the stomach until the older man sits up and looks at him in the gathering dusk, a half-smoked cigarette dangling from his lips. “Aw, how come?”
“Mom wants me back, says we have to talk.”
“That sounds ominous,” Gerard remarks, sitting up and giving the cigarette to Frank who puffs on it nervously as all the tension from the previous night returns to his aching neck and shoulders. His belly knots with dread and suddenly all that pizza seems like it was a really bad idea. Gerard notices the change in his partner's body language and slides a comforting arm around his shoulders which Frank quickly pushes away, his spiking anxiety making him feel smothered by even the smallest touch. “I've gotta go,” he says again, jumping off the bench and crushing the dead cigarette butt into the dirt, “I'll call you later, I promise,” he adds, turning away from Gerard's confused and slightly hurt face and walking away quickly into the dark.

When Frank gets home he finds his mom sitting in the kitchen waiting for him. With a small crease of concern between her eyebrows she shoots him a tight smile as he stands there awkwardly fiddling with his keys. “Thank you for coming back, sweetie. Please sit down.” Frank obeys and sits nervously opposite her, licking his bottom lip and tasting Gerard as his palms start to sweat so much he has to wipe them on his jeans. The bright bulbs in the ceiling create shadows under Linda's eyes and mouth and make her look tired and older than her 45 years.
“I found something outside that I need you to explain to me,” she says solemnly, reaching under the table for something big and dirty which she places with a small thud on a sheet of newspaper she has already laid out on the table top. It's the garbage can from Frank's bedroom, the one he threw out of his window yesterday into the bushes to hide from Gerard, and his heart sinks at the sight of it. It's still full of beer cans and reeks of stale vomit and buried inside is the old photograph of him and Gee that he's been crying over for the last few days, pitted with cigarette burns and curling and damp at the edges. Linda watches his guilty, ashamed expression like a hawk, her brown eyes shining with worry, before pulling something else out from under the table and plonking it down beside the metal can: Frank's blood-stained army knife.
“I'm sorry,” the teenager blurts, spitting the words out as fear and remorse turn his world and his stomach upside down, “It was just one stupid bad night and I never wanted you to find out. Things kinda got away from me and... I'm so sorry mom! I-I was gonna pick this up and dump it somewhere so n-no one would know. I didn't mean to drink so much and I swear I won't do it again, p-please don't kick me out!”

Shaking her head sadly, Linda watches a spark of genuine terror ignite in her son's wide eyes and she fights to keep her voice calm enough to avoid sending him into a full-blown anxiety attack. After yesterday he's probably still fragile and she can't handle another night of listening to him cry himself sick. “Calm down, Frankie, I'm not going to kick you out. I'd never do that to you. I just want to know what's going on, baby. Last night you were in such a bad way I almost called the hospital but you wouldn't tell me why and it's alright for you to have secrets but not if it's making you this miserable, okay? When I found this mess I didn't know what to think and now there are bloodstains in your bed. I saw them and they scared me. What did you do to yourself? I love you, you're my baby boy, and I want to help you. Are you okay? How did you even get your hands on this much booze and how much did you drink? How deep did you cut yourself? Do you need a tetanus shot?”
“No. I-I dunno... A f-friend bought me the beer,” Frank stammers as the panic he tries so hard to keep hidden erupts in his chest. She's asking so many questions he can't keep track and how can he explain all of this without mentioning Ray or Gerard? “I'm sorry for how I've been acting lately, I know I've been drinking too m-much but I was upset and I needed it.”
“Did you keep drinking more after you threw up?” Linda asks, her nursing instincts all fired up, “You could have given yourself alcohol poisoning!”
“No, mom, I stopped... I-I think,” Frank mumbles, holding his clenching stomach as his eyes burn and adrenaline boils in his head, “I'm fine now, I p-promise!”
“You are definitely NOT fine!” Linda snaps, picking up the knife and folding the blade closed in front of his watering eyes, “Don't lie to me, Frank! Do you think I didn't see the band-aids on your arm last night while you were crying?” she adds in a hurt voice, “Why did you cut yourself? You know that whatever or whoever is making you feel bad inside, whatever is making you so depressed and anxious, it's fixable and you can tell me about it. I won't get mad. It's nothing to be ashamed of, sweetie. You're not alone in feeling these kinds of feelings. I've seen more self-harm scars and drunk kids trying to drown their problems in the ER than I can count. We can stop this from going any further if you just tell me what's wrong. I can help you, sweetheart, or I'll find someone else who can. You're my only child and I love you more than anything, I don't want you to hurt yourself.”
“I know, I'm s-sorry,” Frank sobs, tears spilling in fat droplets over his eyelashes as he stares hopelessly at the floor, the table top and his trembling hands, anywhere but at his mother's sorrowful face.
“Is it me?” Linda asks tearfully, lowering her head to try and get Frank to meet her gaze, “Have I been too hard on you about school? Have I done something to make you miserable or scared?”
“No!” Frank cries, a fresh needle of pain stabbing his already tortured heart at the thought of her blaming herself for this mess, “This isn't about you, mom, you didn't do anything.”
“Well then what's wrong? You seemed fine before you went to Florida, did something happen there?”
“I don't know,” Frank whimpers, wishing she would stop asking questions and just leave him alone.
“Is it that man you used to date?” Linda demands, her voice hardening with protective anger, “Did he do something to you?”
“W-What man?” Frank sobs, rubbing his forehead with a shaky hand, his skin sticky and clammy. “This man,” Linda snaps, fishing out the stained photograph of Frank and Gerard with her thumb and forefinger, “I knew he was too old for you and now he's got you into trouble hasn't he! I know someone was in your room yesterday, was it him? Did he hurt you?”
“No!” Frank yells, his eyes burning with fury now as well as nerves, “He would never hurt me!”
“Really?” Linda retorts sharply, dropping the photo and standing up so that she towers over her quivering offspring, “Because I seem to remember him breaking your heart not that long ago. Yes I figured it out, it wasn't hard. You wouldn't talk or eat properly for a week after New Year's Day and I never saw him near you again after that. Then suddenly last week you disappear to another State and when you come home you're like this! And now I find this photograph and...” Her words abruptly trail off into nothing as her son screws his dripping eyes shut and grips his hair with his hands, pulling hard on the short brown locks as he starts visibly shaking with anxiety.
In an instant Linda's anger melts away and she runs to the sink and pours Frank a glass of water, bringing it back to the table and sitting beside him with one hand rubbing soothing circles on his back. He's hyperventilating and his skin feels hot and damp through his shirt. “Alright, sweetheart, it's alright,” she murmurs softly, “I'm not mad at you. It's okay. Try to take some deep breaths now, I know it's hard, but listen to my voice, Frankie. Focus on the room around you. Concentrate on the feel of the air on your skin, okay? You hear the cars outside in the street? Listen to them. Feel the chair you're sitting on and the solid floor under your feet. Concentrate on what you can hear and feel and just breathe, Frankie, breathe in and out... in and out... It's okay...”

Focusing on the objects and sounds in the room helps Frank control the raging panic in his chest and slow down his racing adrenaline-soaked thoughts. After a few minutes he's able to stop crying and lowers his hands from his aching head to take a drink of cool clear water. Soon he can breathe normally again and see more than a rush of tears and dizzy red spots in his vision and he puts his head down on the table, cradled in his folded arms. Linda stops rubbing his back as he relaxes and plants a loving kiss in his hair, noting that he could really use a shower. Rising from her chair, she fetches a garbage bag and quickly throws all the messy items from the table into it with the exception of the photograph which she carefully wipes clean and leaves on the counter. “We don't need to talk about this anymore tonight,” she says softly, tying the bag closed and opening the back door to take it out to the yard, “But we'll pick it up again in the morning if you're ready. Until then no more drinking, Frankie. I mean it. Alcohol will only make you feel sick and more depressed.”
Sniffling quietly, Frank nods and shivers in the draught from the open door, wiping his reddened eyes on the back of his wrists. He feels hollow and weak like he's made of cracked glass and when he lifts his head, the bright kitchen lights make the world look too hard and sharp. He feels like he could bruise himself just by breathing.

Linda finishes taking out the trash and shuts the door quietly before going to wash her hands. While her back is turned, Frank slides off his chair and grabs the glass of water and wrinkled photograph, taking both upstairs to his room and curling up on the rumpled bed in the dark. It's not even late but he's already exhausted, wrapped in the woozy numbness that comes after a really emotional day. After ten minutes or so he drags himself upright and goes to the bathroom, treating his cramping stomach to some pepto bismol before trudging back to bed for the night and lying down with Chilli tucked under his head and a soft rock album playing on his ipod. Sliding out of his jeans, he throws them on the floor and checks his phone, burrowing deep under the old sheets with it. Gerard has sent him a text message: R u ok? X
Yawning wearily, he types one back with clumsy fingers, staring at the tiny screen with eyes that feel sandy and sore: Yea. mom jus wanted sum family time. Will call u 2moro. Frnk xx
By the time Gerard texts him back - OK. Nite baby. X – he's fallen fast asleep.

When Linda goes to bed later that night she lies awake for a long time, staring at a small book on her night-stand as she tries to pluck up the courage to read it. It will help Frank, she tells herself, it will help me understand him and understanding him will let me help him. Frowning determinedly, she picks up the small black journal she stole from Frank's room while he was out at the park and opens it to the first scribbled entry.


Hi readers, please forgive me for taking so long to update, I've had a rough month.
I hope you like this chapter, sorry about any typos.
I also wanted to say that the way I describe Frank's anxiety in this story is from my own experiences and I know it might not match what you personally know or feel. Everyone's different. Comments help.
Much love xo.


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