Two weeks later.
"Frankie wake up." Mikey hit me slightly, as though he had been trying to wake me for a while, he looked scared. He was frowning and his eyes left my face the second I opened my eyes and started to stir.
"Mikey?" It didn't look very light outside yet, I didn't understand why Mikey had woken me. We had finally gone to sleep sometime around 4am and I felt like I had only been asleep for an hour at the most. A quick look at the alarm clock confirmed my suspicions. It was only ten past five. No wonder I felt like crap. "What's wrong?" The sooner Mikey told me what was bothering him the sooner I could go back to sleep before I had to go home again.
"There's someone else here..."
I was sure that Mikey was just trying to wind me up after we had stayed up so late watching as many horror films as we could find, but the look on his face was pure terror. Maybe he was over reacting about a small noise because we had watched some pretty creepy stuff.
"Mikey. Go back to sleep. I can't hear anything." My blankets were still warm and I was still half asleep, I didn't care. When I pulled my blanket over my head I didn't really think anymore about Mikey's freak out, it was nothing and I wasn't really in the mood to make Mikey know that it was nothing. He would get over it when his mind told him that he was tired.
Sleep was nearly upon me, I was so close, when there was a soft thudding coming up the stairs. My breathing quickened and I had to tell myself that it was my imagination over and over before my heart would slow down again. I hated how Mikey's little freak out made me react so drastically to some little sound.
A loud crashing sound moving from half way up the stairs back down to the bottom. This noise was real no doubt about it. Mikey heard this one too because when I jumped up onto his bed and hid in the corner next to the wall Mikey took no time joining me.
"Told ya so." Mikey whimpered although I was sure that he cared more about the person in his house than being right.
His parents wouldn't have woken up; they weren't at home, why would they have. They had gone away for the weekend leaving Gerard in charge so obviously we took the opportunity to have a mega film marathon. Maybe horror films wasn't our best choice.
"Go see who it is..." Mikey prompted looking at me expectantly from where I sat hugging my knees to my chest.
"It's your house!" My voice broke slightly and I tried to remember to keep my voice down. "And you're older, you go look!" I felt slightly mean trying to get Mikey to go look, he was obviously scared. He had been against the idea of his parents leaving Gerard in charge and asked me if my Mom would be okay with Mikey staying for the weekend but his parents didn't want Gerard to have to stay at home alone and I knew my Mom wouldn't let us stay up watching films so I had insisted we stayed at his house. It was kind of my fault we were in the situation.
"You look more tough though. I'm too scrawny to scare anyone..." Mikey purposefully called himself scrawny. He hated being called it but I always teased him for it. He looked at me, trying to tell me that I was always right when I told him to work out or something physical.
"I'm scared." It wasn't worth lying about it, Mikey was scared too and maybe if I told him that I was he would take pity on me and would go look.
"We'll both go." Mikey didn't move but looked at me as though I was meant to lead this expedition. When I didn't move he pushed me off his bed and held my hand as we walked slowly out of his room.
"What?" His tone of voice sounded like what he really wanted to say was 'shut the fuck up!' but he wouldn't say that to me, not when I was walking behind him, trying to hide very unsuccessfully.
"What if we just went back to sleep and say that we didn't hear them in the house?" It was an honest suggestion; I really wanted to just pretend none of this was happening. I didn't want to die.
The floor didn't creak as we walked towards the stairs; I think that made it worse. It meant that it wouldn't tell us if someone was sneaking up on us. It was silent apart from our ragged breathing and occasionally when one of us would lose our footing and our feet would fall heavily on the carpeted floor.
"The person in my house would butt fuck us and then kill us... do you want that?" Mikeys voice was harsh, but I understood that he was just as scared as I was.
"But we'll die either way." I had no doubt that whoever was in the house would kill us if we went and found them.
"Yes. But with this way we don't get raped too!" Mikey leant over the top steps, looking down into the hallway. I braced myself for the sound of a gun or something just as bad.
"I wouldn't put my dick near your ass Mikey!" Gerard (?) called from the bottom of the stairs.
Mikey started to breathe again but I still couldn't remember how to.
"Gee you scared the hell out of us!" Mikey yelled, dragging me down the stairs to see Gerard collapsed on the bottom step. "I thought you were someone come to kill us." Mikey's voice didn't hold the anger it possessed a second ago and he let go of my hand to crouch next to Gerard who looked more than happy with himself. I stood frozen where I was.
"If I find out you watched Rocky Horror without me then yes I may be someone who came here to kill you both." Gerard laughed but didn't try to stand up. He didn't try to hide when he was shit faced anymore.
The first few times Gerard had stumbled home sometime in the late hours of the day he always tried to seem normal, but because he was so wasted he always over did it and gave himself away. His parents were apparently oblivious to what was going on.
"Gee." Mikey sounded disappointed and tried to help Gerard stand up so he could go to bed, but Gerard wasn't being co-operative. He pulled Mikey into a hug and then motioned for me to get in on it too. I didn't move still, I wanted to turn around and go back to sleep, forget that Gerard was drunk again. Mikey wasn't the only person disappointed in him.
"Mikey?" Gerard said his name like he was trying not to laugh although he looked very uncomfortable where he was. "There's a stair in my back..." Gerard grinned at Mikey like he wasn't lying on the floor unable to get up.
"Come on. We'll get you to bed." Mikey sighed and stood up to see how he was going to try and help Gerard stand before we had to carry him up to his room.
"No! No, no, no, no." Gerard tried to sing his objection but his voice wavered. "There's a samich in the kitchen. I was going to eat it but it was so nice I was bringing it up to show you guys and then I just didn't have it." I was scared that Gerard was going to cry, his eyes were all watery. It was awkward being around crying drunk people even when it wasn't one of your best friends. "I think I might have eaten it."
Mikey gave me a look to say how ridiculous this was but we both knew that we had to help Gerard anyway. His parents would be back in the morning and he couldn't just be left to sleep on the floor. He was one of my best friends and Mikey's brother; we should have just left him.
"Gee. Give me your hand." I held my hand out so Gerard could place his in mine while Mikey crouched down to try and lift his shoulders.
Gerard kept playing with us, putting his hand near mine just to pull it away, in the end I just grabbed his hands and pulled him so that he was standing. He didn't seem too happy that I had a firm hold on him but he didn't try to pull away which made it a lot easier for us to drag/carry him up the stairs.
"Frank, can you stay here while I get him some water and something to eat?" Mikey turned away from Gerard who we had gotten laying on Mikeys bed. He had complained profoundly when we tried to take him into his own room.
If it was for Gerards benefit I would have said no, but I knew that would just make it harder on Mikey, so I just nodded and took a seat on the end of the bed, trying to avoid Gerard's boney feet.
Mikey just gave me a thankful smile and left me in his room.
"You're being so mean to Mikey." I told Gerard, not caring if he was upset about it.
"And you're being so nice to him." Gerard smiled to himself but curled away from me anyway like he didn't want me to say things that he knew were true. "It's good you look after him, because then who would look after me!" Gerard laughed and rolled onto his other side before hitting the wall.
At least Gerard cared that Mikey was being looked after and he knew that Mikey was being put in a difficult position by looking after Gerard. Maybe he still slightly cared.
"Frankie..." Gerard sighed my name but stayed exactly where he was. I thought maybe he was trying to blend into his surroundings because he pulled the blanket up over his head so that I couldn't see his face.
"I think I'm in love..."
"With who?" My voice went high and I quickly hid my surprise at Gerard's confession. He didn't like many people, for him to just come out and say that he was in love was a big step up from telling me and Mikey that we were 'okay' to be around. He liked us more than he let on, why else would he hang around with us all the time, but he would never let us know.
"Charlotte." He still hid under the blankets but I could hear the smile in his voice as he spoke her name. It annoyed me the affection he held for her in his voice when he could never speak about any of his few friends with any affection at all. He always spoke about Mikey or his friend Ray as though they annoyed the hell out of him and he spoke about me as though I was just his toy.
I didn't really have anything to say to him after that. How was I meant to say anything? What he wanted me to say was that she liked him too or that they would be a really good couple, but I didn't know her, I doubted even Mikey knew her. Gerard wasn't one to share his school life with us, even if she wasn't someone he had met at school.
"Do you like her?" Gerard sat up and gave me a look that said he was upset that I hadn't given him my opinion yet.
"No." I realised my mistake when Gerard sharply turned to look at me, his hair all tousled. "Yes, maybe. I don't know Gerard. I don't know this girl at all. I've never even seen her." I felt panicked. I didn't want to offend Gerard but I didn't want to have to talk to him about this girl at all.
"Yeah you do Frankie! You know that really little boy in your class. It's his brother's girlfriend!" Gerard shook his head at me like it should have been more than obvious who he was talking about.
I should have known Gerard would get involved with someone who would get him beaten up. He was talking about Charlotte Davins, we all knew her because she would go to parties make out with guys and then her boy friend would punch them when he found out they had made out with 'his girl'. He was brutal and it wasn't as though we hadn't had encounters with him before. Mikey and I were in his brothers year and his brother was kind of scrawny so he got his brother to 'rough' me up and Mikey normally tried to help me but got hurt too. Mikey refused to tell Gerard because he would try talking to this guy and he would get beaten up too, neither of us really wanted for him to get hurt trying to help us.
"Gee... I don't think..." There was nothing I could say to him without insulting him or the girl he 'loved', it was nauseating knowing that he must be thinking about her right now.
"She likes me too Frankie. She kissed me." The look of complete awe on his face made me angry at this girl for hurting him, even if he didn't know she was going to hurt him.
"But you kissed that guy a while ago and you're not suddenly in love with him and I'm quite sure he's not in love with you either! It's called being drunk! Not love!" I was getting angry at Gerard and I was too tired to hide it, I would hate myself for shouting in the morning. "Just go to sleep Gerard." I didn't want to say it to him, I didn't want to say anything to him, so I just slid onto the floor and rolled over in my quilt so that I was facing away from Gerard.
"Why'd you call me that?" Gerard sat up and crawled onto the floor with me. He poked my neck but I didn't reply to him. "Frankie?" He didn't sound sad that I wasn't talking to him, or that I called him Gerard instead of Gee. He just sounded like I was amusing him, like I was just a show for him to watch. I didn't really matter to him at all otherwise he wouldn't have told me about the stupid girl who was going to get him beaten up; and I wasn't even going to feel sorry for him when he did get beaten up. It was his own fault.
"Gee?" Mikey opened his door and let light from the bathroom flood in, he sounded worried until he saw Gerard on the floor with me and realised that Gerard was still okay.
"I think he's asleep?" I wasn't sure but Gerard's breathing was heavier and his arm that was resting across me felt heavy.
"Okay." Mikey reached across the hall and quickly pulled the light string, we were in darkness again. "Night." I heard Mikey stumbling in the dark back to his bed and the slight creaking sound of his wooden bed when he moved around until he found a comfortable position to go back to sleep in.
Gerard smelt like alcohol next to me. It made it nearly impossible to go back to sleep, plus the fact that he kept trying to speak but no real words were formed on his lips. If he hadn't seemed so helpless I would have pushed him away from me or complained until he went back to his own room. But he did look helpless and vulnerable and I knew that the second he walked into school on Monday morning everyone would treat him differently for kissing a girl who had a boyfriend and that he would be coming home with some kind of injury. He deserved to at least have a peaceful day before his life descended into hell. I was his best friend; I owed him something even if I hated him with a passion at the moment in time.
The next morning Gerard seemed unusually quiet. His parents still weren't home so the three of us had simply gotten some cereal for breakfast. Every so often he would look up at me or Mikey when we spoke to him, or mentioned his name, but we never really caught his full attention. I thought maybe he was hung over, but he never had been before.
Mikey made the effort to try to include Gerard in our conversation, trying to make sure that he was in fact 'okay' as he had promised us.
I couldn't talk to Gerard though, at least not directly. In his sleep I hadn't managed to figure out many of the words that he was saying, mostly just mumbling, but the few words that I had deciphered truly haunted me.
'Charlotte' was the word he said most, he must have been dreaming about her and it still annoyed me that he thought he was in love with her. Other than that I only got one sentence. 'Abandon Mikey, Ray, Frankie." He woke up looking confused to see me next to him and too guilty for me not to think that what he had said in his sleep had meant something.
While me and Mikey chatted away Gerard just watched his cereal, nodding along to whatever we said. He was too interested in the little hoops, like he was trying to hide from the two of us; it just made me more suspicious.
Apparently his cereals were more interesting than mine. All I could see were little hoops floating in milk. Occasionally I would disturb them by moving my spoon or removing them for the purpose of eating and self preservation. I was sure that Gerard was seeing something else in his bowl though. He had always been good at seeing things that no one else could, that's why he's good at art, that's what we tell him. He was probably seeing the colour leak out of the cereal and into the shallow milk, just watching them go soggy so he could leave the whole bowl. He never ate much anymore. The colour of his milk was always considerably darker when he got up and left without any pre-indication. All the flavour had melted out and found new home in the milk rather than where it belonged.
"I don't think Mom and Dad will be back soon. We could go out for a while; the fun fair is in town?" Mikey leaned back in his chair, pushing his empty bowl out before looking at Gerards to see if he had touched his food yet. He hadn't.
"Doesn't open until two." Gerard pushed his cereal around some more but didn't look at either of us.
"Well that's a bummer. I need to walk Darcy. You want to come along?" I knew Mikey wouldn't want to, but I didn't feel like just sitting around. I was tired still and I knew that if I just sat around I would fall asleep.
"Alright. You coming too Gee?" Mikey sounded like he was talking to a small child who wouldn't really be able to understand what he was talking about. We both knew how Gerard would answer.
"No. I'm still tired. Might go back to sleep." He slid his bowl away from him, it was still full to the brim, and got up to leave us both.
"I'm tired too. But I'm still going out. Don't you want to spend time with us anymore?" The hurt in my voice was hardly there but Gerard still picked up on it, I think it made him angry that I was upset with him. Mikey still didn't know anything and I wasn't going to tell him. I'd let Gerard do that himself.
"Fine!" Apparently he didn't want to tell Mikey because otherwise I was sure that he would have just blurted out to Mikey why he was acting a bit more odd than usual and gone back to bed. He just grabbed his coat and went to stand outside the back door where he kicked at the remains of a cigarette and waited for us to get our coats and join him.
"What the hell is going on with him?" I needed the answer from Mikey; I couldn't believe that Gerard was acting this way for no reason.
"He's... I'm not sure Frankie. I already told you that he won't tell me anything!" It was obvious that Mikey was annoyed that Gerard was drifting away from him. Mikey turned away from me, leaving his empty bowl on the table, to grab our coats. He threw mine at me.
"Mikey I'm worried." It was the truth and I knew that I couldn't be the only person who felt worried.
"He won't eat, he hardly speaks anymore. He's not even drawing anything." Mikey slouched; he looked so small and defeated, almost worse than Gerard had looked. "He can't remember anything after he's been drinking. I can see it upsets him but whenever I ask he just say's that he's okay and that I should trust him."
Two weeks later.