Chapter 23 “Gerard?” Frank was shaking violently. He had just finished talking to the police and had escaped out into the cold night. He leant against the wall to stop himself falling over. There were still tears running down his cheeks. “Frankie? What’s wrong?” “Are you drunk?” Frank snuffled. “No.” “High?” “No!” Gerard sounded insulted. “Frank! Stop checking up on me! I’m fine okay?! You just have to –” “Lily’s dead.” Frank stated, a numbness creeping through his cells. “What?” “My brother’s murdered Lily.” “Oh, Frankie, I’m so sorry, oh god,” “I need you Gerard.” Frank sobbed. “I needed to check you weren’t high because I really need you and oh god, she was just hanging there and they’d slit her wrists and she was bleeding, there was so much blood.” Frank broke down in a fresh wave of tears and slid down the wall until he was sat in the ten inches of snow. “Oh Frankie, it’s okay, come home, be safe and careful. I love you.” “I love you too,” Frank whimpered. ... Frank stumbled through the front door, falling to his knees. There was a numb, raw feeling radiating through his body, He expected Gerard to be there, lifting him up, holding him tight and promising him that the pain would go away eventually but he never came. Frank couldn’t stand; he crawled over to the mattress and buried his face in the pillow. He started screaming harsh, raw, pained screams in total anguish again. “Frankie, shhh; you’re too loud!” Gerard whined, coming to sit next to his boyfriend. “They murdered her! She didn’t do anything! All she did was to know me!” He screamed. “Urgh, just get over it.” As soon as the words escaped Gerard’s lips Frank tensed; his boyfriend would never say that, the man he loved would never be that heartless. But the man that his boyfriend became when he had taken drugs would. He sat up and gripped Gerard’s face between his hands, studying his hazel eyes. “You’re high,” his face dropped, his eyes grew wide and vulnerable. “So?” “You were fine on the phone.” Frank scooted away from Gerard. When Gerard tried to follow, he pushed him away. “Yeah,” Gerard giggled. “You took drugs in the time from me calling you to when I got here.” It wasn’t a question; Frank knew. He fought to keep his voice level. “I was confused and scared and I didn’t want to have to help you with the withdrawals that started after you called.” “You think I want your help now?!” Frank exploded; all the pain and anger coming out at once. “I knew quitting drugs wouldn’t be easy for you but now?! I wouldn’t have cared if you were withdrawing! My best friend just died! All I can see is her hanging there, her blood dripping down her arms and it’s killing me! It’s my fault she’s dead! I needed you and you took drugs! I had a feeling you loved them more than you loved me and I guess I was right. You can go to hell Gerard; this is the final straw.” “Are you breaking up with me?” “Yeah, I guess I am. You keep the apartment; my aunt pays for it. I’m going to stay with Sam. I’ll see you around Gerard.” ... “Sam?” “Frankie? What’s wrong?” Sam’s voice sounded tired and concerned down the phone. “Gerard and I broke up, can I stay with you? Please.” Frank asked desperately, wiping the tears away. “Of course, the shed’s a crime scene; you can stay with me in the house.” “Thanks Sam, I’ll be there soon.” Frank stumbled through the snow, falling repeatedly, not caring that his clothes got soaked and he started shivering. He slipped again, his hand dragging along a brick wall and he cried out as the skin on his palm was torn up, leaving bloody gashes. He curled up in the snow in the foetal position, crying. The cold instantly wrapped it’s cold fingers around him, making his shivering even more violent. Frank hated himself; he had as good as killed Lily himself. He couldn’t allow himself to get close to people, while he was running from his past and his family, anyone he loved would get hurt. He had no idea how long he’d been out in the snow when strong arms hoisted him up and began carrying him. “Sam?” “Yeah Frankie, it’s me. Let’s get you home and warmed up, yeah?” “This is a nightmare right? Lily’s dead, me and Gerard are over. Lewis is about to butcher you, I’m so sorry.” “Yes Frankie, for now, this is a nightmare.” Sam told him as he carried him through the front door and up the stair to his old room. “So if I go to sleep now it will all go away?” “No Frankie, you can’t sleep, I need to make sure you don’t have hypothermia. Sleeping could be very bad.” Sam lay Frank don on his bed and began to take off his sodden shoes, socks, coat, shirt and jeans. The boy was still shivering. “Fuck Frankie, even your underwear’s soaking. I’m not changing that for you, I don’t care how much I love you.” He threw Frank a clean pair and went to his door. “Cathy?!” He shouted down the hall. Her head appeared out of her bedroom door, followed by the sound of You Me At Six. “Hey Sam, how’re you holding up?” she asked, concerned that her brother had just lost one of his best friends. “I’m alright for now. Looking after Frank occupies my mind but I’m just worried about when it comes to sleeping. Can you make a hot chocolate? I need to warm Frank up.” “Yeah of course, I’ll bring it right up. Is he okay?” “I don’t know,” Sam admitted. “I think he was even closer to Lily than I was. He told her everything. I really need to raise his temperature; he’s been out in the snow.” “Of course Sam, I’ll be right back.” She told him, hurrying past him. “Thanks Cathy. Frankie? You changed?” Silence from his bedroom. “Frankie?” Still no word, Sam snapped around and was instantly at Frank’s side; terrified the teenager had slipped into unconsciousness. He was relieved to see that he was only silent because he was crying and nothing more; Sam had feared the worst. “Sam,” Frank whispered, Sam gripped his hand tightly. “I’m here Frankie, come on, we have to get you under the covers.” Frank lifted his hips to allow Sam to pull the duvet out from under him and then his legs. Sam covered him over and tucked him in before pulling off his own shirt. There was a knock at the door and Cathy entered on Sam’s word, handing Frank a steaming drink. “Drink it,” she ordered kindly. “It will raise your core body temperature and stop you getting sick,” she explained before smiling sadly at them both and leaving the room. Sam didn’t want to leave Frank on his own for any amount of time but had to go to the bathroom to change into pyjama bottoms. He returned as swiftly as he could to find Frank finishing his drink, the tears slowing. Sam turned out the light and climbed in beside the smaller boy, pulling him close. “I just want her back,” Frank whispered. Sam could feel himself welling up too. He kissed the top of Frank’s head, resting his lips there. “Me too, Frankie, me too.” “Thank you Sam, for this, for everything. I –” “I know Frankie, I know. Just sleep.” Frank nodded, snuggling in closer into Sam’s chest, savouring his warmth and the love he could feel in Sam's embrace.