The atmosphere hung heavy in the dark closet. The two that resided there searched through the darkness for their clothes, wanting something to cover up their bodies. Or, their sins as Frank Iero would call it.
He gripped his shirt and rubbed his thumb against the material. He let out a sigh and hung his head. "Why did we just do that, Gerard?" he asked, turning his head to look at the other.
The one called Gerard made his way over to Frank, standing behind him. "What are you talking about?" he asked in return, extending a hand to lightly touch his hip.
Frank shivered, closing his eyes and turning his head. "You know very well what I'm talking about," he said rather harshly as he pulled his shirt over his head. He roughly straightened it out, shivering again. "I feel dirty," he simply stated, standing up straight.
He heard Gerard let out a hum as he turned his back on him, putting on his own clothes. Frank looked over at the other, studying him. Before he knew it, he was watching in absolute amazement at how Gerard's back muscles moved, and how toned he really was. Frank liked how his back dipped down, revealing the curve of his hips. As his thoughts grew, he started to feel dirty again, the 'I just sinned' feeling creeping up into his head. He shook his head and quickly looked away.
Gerard approached the younger and wrapped his arms around his shoulders. He pulled Frank towards him, dipping his head down into his neck. He softly began to nuzzle the soft skin, attempting to soothe the other's thoughts. "Are you okay?" he whispered, tilting his head to the side, watching Frank.
Frank let out a sigh and looked over at Gerard. "Don't you even care what we've just done? What could happen to you?"
Gerard immediately frowned and reached a hand down, brushing his fingertips along the back of Frank's hand. He soon tangled their fingers together, squeezing his hand. "I believe we just made love, and I have no worries in the world, when you're here." He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss behind Frank's ear.
Frank slowly closed his eyes and shook his head, tilting his head slightly. "We sinned, Gerard, and you should be worried." He opened up his eyes and looked over at him.
The older looked at him, furrowing his brow. "I won't worry about anything, love, and you shouldn't either." He sighed and soon shook his head. "Please, don't make me regret everything."
Frank frowned and bit his lip. "You should," he quietly said, pulling away from Gerard. He looked ahead before shaking his head again. "We have to go, before someone catches us in here." He glanced at Gerard, studying him. "You go out first. Father Armstrong will be looking for you. You did leave your youth class to see me." He turned his head away, looking down at the floor.
Frank heard movement behind him, but he didn't dare turn his head. Next thing he felt was a pair of lips on the back of his head. "I love you," Gerard breathed out, before exiting the closet. Frank let out a sigh, feeling shivers run down his spine.
"Frank, what's gotten into you lately? You used to be such a good boy, always home on time, never misbehaving in school…"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Mother. I haven't changed any."
"Frank, me and your Father don't want to hear any of your lying. Lying is a sin, remember?"
"I remember very well, Mother. Now, can you leave my room? I need to start on my homework…"
"You better not be lying to us, Frank."
They exited the room, and Frank immediately fished out his phone to call Gerard.
Frank remembered this confrontation all too well. It was the night that he had arrived home late. He had stayed late from church that evening, after experiencing an only-slightly homoerotic situation with, of course, the church's Youth Minister, Gerard Way, in the confessional.
Frank didn't, however, remember what had taken place in said confessional. His hands had traveled up my body, his voice whispering sweet nothings in my ear.
All he knew was that Gerard had put the moves on him. He slipped his hand up into my shirt, caressing the skin.
And Frank had pushed him away. I pressed myself closer to him, wanting more of his touch.
Gerard pressed the issue further. He unbuttoned my white shirt, immediately pressing his lips to my flushed skin.
Frank continued to resist, knowing what they were doing was wrong. I tilted my head back and began to rock my hips against his.
Gerard acted back with force, pressuring his touches onto the younger, the weaker. He nibbled on my skin before undoing my jeans.
Frank was scared, and he wanted out of there. I helped him pull my jeans and boxers down, giving him easier access.
Gerard's motives had become more inappropriate, scaring Frank out of his mind. We both shuddered with pleasure as he took me into his mouth.
Frank wanted it all to end, and as soon as it started, it ended. I quickly reached my peak, letting off a soft moan in the process.
Gerard had quickly left after, leaving him in the confessional, dirty and feeling used. We both left the confessional, hand-in-hand.
Frank was crying and scared when he left. We shared a kiss before we parted ways.
He never wanted to see Gerard again. I was in love with him.
Maybe Frank had tried to repress his thoughts. Only by a little bit.
It all started when Frank had turned fifteen, and his parents decided to change their church. This was the result of them finding out that their pastor was, ahem, using the boys a bit inappropriately. How ironic.
Father Armstrong had always been a friend of the Iero family, so Frank's parents didn't see a problem with starting to go to his church. They still didn't see a problem with it when the church's Youth Minister had begun to give their only son suggestive looks, and that their son was returning them. Yeah, no problems there.
Now, with Frank nearing the age of sixteen, his parents had no idea how deep his and Gerard's relationship was. They were oblivious to the fact, and Frank can't help but wish they did notice. Not because they'll stop Gerard and him from seeing each other, but just because of the simple fact they noticed Frank had someone special in his life.
But they never noticed.
They never noticed him, when he was happy or even practically enjoying life. They only noticed him when they had heard he had cut class, or he was found smoking outside of school. They refused to believe that nonsense.
Frank was a good boy. He knew better.
But they never noticed.
"Are you okay?"
Frank lifted up his head and looked out of his window. He could feel his eyes glaze over in deep thought, and for once, he was glad the other wasn't there with him.
"Frank, answer me."
Frank shook his head and raised up a hand to chew on his fingernail. "Yeah, I'm fine." He roughly swallowed, and he could swear the one on the other line could hear.
"I feel like you're lying to me, darling. Would you tell me if something was wrong?"
Frank let out a long, exaggerated sigh. "Yes, Gerard," he said, practically irritated. He hoped Gerard noticed, even though he had denied something was wrong.
There was a long pause on Gerard's end, and Frank wondered if he was mad at him. He bit his lip in fear and anticipation as he leaned up against the wall, pulling a leg to his chest.
Finally, he replied. "When can I see you?"
Frank's face immediately dropped to a grimace. He curled his fingers against the phone. "Why do you want to see me?"
Apparently, Gerard found his question amusing, for Frank had heard a laugh on his end. "Why else would I want to see you, Frank? I miss you."
Frank narrowed his eyes and lowered his gaze to his bed covers. He reached out a hand and started to tug on a loose thread. "Oh."
"Don't you miss me?"
He had thought about simply saying 'yeah', but then Gerard would certainly get mad at him, and he didn't want that. It hurt him whenever Gerard was mad. "Of course I do, Gee," he said, settling on that. It seemed acceptable, right? He continued to tug on the thread.
Gerard laughed again. "So, when can I see you?"
Frank bit his lip and watched as his fingers curled against the thread. "I dunno." He tilted his head in curiosity, slightly adjusting the phone against his ear and beginning to lightly pull on the thread, watching how it moved.
"Frank, I'm beginning to think you don't want to see me."
He sighed again, sliding his eyes shut. "I do, though."
Gerard's response came almost instantly after Frank's. "Act like it then."
Frank opened up his eyes and looked up at the ceiling. He watched the fan move around, the base of the machine shaking more than it was supposed to. "I'm scared, Gerard." His voice came out barely above a whisper.
He could practically feel his boyfriend frown on the other line. "What's wrong, Frank? Talk to me."
Frank parted his lips and closed his eyes again. He twisted the thread on his bed covers around his finger, feeling it beginning to go numb. "I have to go."
He imagined Gerard to be in his room, at his desk, probably sketching out a comic book character he had in his head. He probably had his head resting in the palm of his left hand, his elbow leaning against the desk. He was probably running his fingers through his chopped black hair, sighing and frustrated at the other. He would probably tell Frank to call him when he could, or that he loved him. Maybe.
"Okay, call me when you can. I love you."
Gerard could be so predictable sometimes, or it could just be the fact that Frank knew him well. He let out a soft sigh before tilting his head, pressing the phone closer to his ear. "Love you, too," he mumbled, dropping his gaze to the bed covers.
And, without waiting for a reply, he hung up. Frank tossed his phone aside, raising his other leg to his chest. He shivered and wrapped his free arm around his legs, attempting to pull them closer. Frank continued to tug at the thin thread with his finger.
He felt cold and empty inside. What was the point of staying with someone if he was doing wrong in his life? He had received countless lectures in his lifetime about how the way he chose to lead his life was wrong. Although, his parents did not know that he was, in fact, gay, yet, they did have their suspicions. They did notice what type of people Frank hung out with, and they did not approve. Not one bit. Frank snorted. That's the only thing they cared about to notice.
He wrapped the thread around his finger more, tightening his grip. He narrowed his eyes and pulled. He could hear the thread beginning to break.
They needed to see. They needed to hear. They didn't even know that their only son was obviously in pain and utter confusion. Frank let out a straggled breath and shut his eyes. Tears had begun to slide down his cheeks, one-by-one. He bit down on his lip and yanked on the thread, hearing it snap off.
And just like the string, now on the ground from being carelessly swept away, Frank's heart broke again.
Frank had fallen asleep shortly after he had finished talking to Gerard. He had curled into a ball, tears staining his face, and fell into a sound sleep. He had expected his sleep to be filled with endless dreams that circled around his pain and misery, but, to his surprise, no dreams came.
When he had finally woken up, he was met with the face of the Youth Minister, himself. Frank's eyes widened as he flinched horribly, almost falling off his bed. The other looked at him, with an amused expression on his face. "What are you doing here?" Frank hissed, quickly sitting up in bed. He stared at Gerard, narrowing his eyes.
Gerard sat up in bed, copying Frank's movements. He scooted closer to him, staring at him. "You were crying," he said quietly. He reached out a hand and placed his fingertips against Frank's cheek. Frank sucked in a breath and closed his eyes. He attempted to shake Gerard off of him.
"Gerard, I'm serious. What are you doing here? If my parents saw you… Dear, God…" He looked at Gerard, frowning. "They would think something was happening between us." His eyes widened. "You have to go." He looked around the room. "How did you even get in here?"
Gerard tilted his head, furrowing his brow. "How else? I climbed in through your window," he simply said.
Frank stared at him, mouth slightly open. "You got some nerve, Gerard." He got off the bed, quickly standing up. He turned towards Gerard, crossing his arms over his chest. He stared at the other, clenching his jaw. "You have to go," he repeated. Frank nodded, biting down on his lip. He looked over at the window and then back at Gerard.
The other made no attempt to move, though.
Frank let out an angry groan and stomped his foot. "Gerard! Go! You have to." He raised up a hand to his cheek, his fingertips twitching against the pallid skin. "Before my parents come down here to get me for dinner." He looked over at Gerard, yet he had made no movements since Frank had woken up. He frowned and stared at him, bottom lip quivering. "Go," he mouthed, lowering his head.
With that, Gerard slowly lifted himself off of the bed and walked over to Frank. He wrapped his arms around the younger, pulling him to his chest. He let out comforting words as he stroked the back of Frank's head, threading his fingers into the dark hair. "I'm not going anywhere."
Frank let out a shaky breath and raised up his arms, wrapping them around Gerard's neck. He turned his head into the crook of the taller's neck, brushing his nose against the skin. "Why not?"
"You need me."
Frank stood on his tip-toes and pressed himself closer to Gerard, hugging him more. "I need you to leave."
His arms left Frank, then, and hung at his sides. He looked down at him, with concerned eyes. "I'm staying."
Frank returned Gerard's gaze, finding his heart beat speeding up. "My parents…" he began, but he was cut off, with Gerard's slender finger.
"Don't talk to me about your parents," was his simple reply as he dipped his head down, matching his lips with Frank's.
Before Frank knew it, they had ended up on his bed, him on his back, and Gerard on his hips. The twenty-three year old had taken it upon himself to start raising up the younger's shirt, exposing the smooth skin that laid underneath. He lifted up his head from the boy's lips before trailing kisses down to his chest, his stomach. Gerard tilted his head and paid close attention to Frank's belly button, swirling his tongue around it.
Frank turned his head to the side, his eyelids sliding over his eyes. He slowly raised up his legs, hooking them on Gerard's hips. He arched his back, parting his lips and letting out a soft moan. In response, he heard Gerard give off a little giggle. Frank's lips curled into a smile as he tilted his head, opening his eyes.
And, then, as if the sound pierced his eardrums, Frank heard his mother walking down the hallway that lead to his room. He quickly sat up, pushing Gerard's face away from his stomach. "Gerard," he hissed. "Mom's coming!"
Gerard eyes widened as he darted up, looking around awkwardly. He looked over at Frank, who was straightening out his shirt. "What am I supposed to do?" he asked in a panicky voice.
Frank bit down on his lip before grabbing Gerard's wrist and pulling him back down on his bed. "Just sit here," he said. That was the only thing that he could have managed to say, for his mother had just entered the room.
A petite woman, with shoulder length, dark brown hair, she resembled her son. She looked almost immediately at Frank, but her eyes darted over to Gerard. She stopped in the middle of the room, furrowing her eyebrows. "Oh, hello, Minister Way." She put her hands on her hips, watching him. "I wasn't expecting you to be here."
Gerard, who had suddenly gotten pink in the cheeks, gave a side ways glance over at Frank. Frank, getting the sign, quickly spoke, "Mother, uh, I called Minister Way. I asked him to come." He nodded, as if that helped validate his statement.
She gave Gerard a stare before looking over at her son. "You did?" She crossed her arms over her chest, looking concerned, for once.
Frank bit down on his lip ring and roughly swallowed. "I had to ask him something, and it's kinda personal." He raised one of his hands to scratch the back of his head.
Mrs. Iero scanned Frank before slowly nodded. She immediately put a smile on her face, her role of housewife coming back on. "Well, Minister Way, would you like to have dinner with us? It's ready right now. That's actually why I came up here." She nodded again and turned on her heel, heading back to the doorway. "Go wash up, Frank, and show our guest to the dining room." And with that, she left the room.
A silence hung in the room, then. Gerard turned his head to Frank, a smile on his face. "I would love to stay to have dinner with you."
Frank frowned and stood up, dragging himself to the door. "You should have left when I told you to."
Through the forced small talk and the awkward atmosphere of their family dinner, Frank decided to keep his gaze down while he ate. He didn't want to risk the chance of seeing Gerard giving him a look from across the table, or any unwanted questions from his parents. But he knew that would be inevitable, for when he lifted his head from spinning his pasta noodles around his fork, he was met with the questioning eyes of his parents.
Frank's hand that held his fork shook with nerves. He furrowed his eyebrows before slowly bringing the utensil to his mouth, sliding the noodles off it with his tongue. He could feel Gerard watch him. He carefully swallowed and set the fork down on his plate, looking from his father and then to his mother. "What?" he asked nervously.
Mr. Iero glanced across the table, at his wife, before lowering his head and beginning to eat again. Mrs. Iero cleared her throat and sat up straighter. "I asked why you had to call Minister Way." She looked over at Gerard, giving him a smile. "Not that we don't want him here." She turned back to her son, her smile gone. Mrs. Iero stared at Frank, her lips slightly pursed.
Frank glanced at Gerard before looking down at his plate. "I told you, Mother… It was a personal issue." He picked up his fork again, starting to twist noodles around it.
Her response came almost immediately after Frank's. "Nothing's a personal issue with your family, Frank." She sounded irritated, annoyed.
He continued twirling his fork around on his plate. He looked up, his eyes landing at Gerard. He was already staring at the younger, his fork on his plate. The black head scanned him, his eyebrows raised and eyes wide, as if he was in disbelief. Gerard turned his head to look at Mrs. Iero, the same expression on his face.
Frank bit down on his lip and looked at his mother. "This was," he said, nodding. He looked back down at his plate. He felt someone kick him from under the table. He furrowed his eyebrows and lifted his gaze, seeing Gerard looking at him. Frank gave him a puzzled look, making the older shake his head and return back to his food.
Mrs. Iero looked at her son, and then at the Youth Minister. She shook her head and put her hands together in her lap. "Frank, honey, if there's an issue in your life, you know you can tell us."
"No, I can't," he muttered, prodding at his food.
"Excuse me?" Her voice was sharp.
Frank didn't lift up his head. "No, I can't," he repeated, narrowing his eyes at his food. His father had taken it upon himself to lift up his head and stare at his son.
"Why do you think that, Frank?"
The teenager closed his eyes, shaking his head. "It's nothing," he breathed out, opening up his eyes lazily and starting to twirl noodles around his fork again.
"Frank, is there something you're keep-"
"What's going on?" his mother quickly cut off his father. "What aren't you telling us?"
The fork in his hands slid out of his grip, making a clinking noise against the plate. Frank lifted up his head, staring at his mother through narrowed eyes. "I don't have to tell you anything," he said harshly, crinkling up his nose. He shook his head and looked down, crossing his arms over his chest. He could feel all eyes on him now, and he even felt Gerard's foot rub against his own, as in an effort to comfort him. Frank didn't dare lift up his head, though.
A silence rang through the air, then, making Frank shift uncomfortably in his seat. He had begun to tear into his lip, closing his eyes in the process. And finally, attempting to break the silence, Gerard cleared his throat and sat up straighter in his chair. "Maybe it's best if I leave."
Frank glanced at Gerard, frowning slightly. The black-head had a flushed look to his face, almost panicky. Like how he was when Mrs. Iero came up to Frank's room. He quickly lowered his gaze before anybody could notice.
His mother was quick to answer. "Oh, no, Minister Way. You don't have to go, just because my son is being difficult." She threw a nasty glare at Frank, making him sink down into his chair. She turned back to Gerard. "Besides, if he is facing a personal issue, perhaps you could help us through it."
Frank lifted up his head, then, eyes wide. He looked over at Gerard, who had the same wide eyes. He glanced at Frank through the corner of his eye, opening and closing his mouth. "I-I… I'm afraid I can't do that, Mrs. Iero. The talks between Frank and I are kept confidential."
Mrs. Iero's face immediately dropped to a scowl. "Are you sure about that? We're his family. We should know about any issues he's having, right?"
"And if you don't bother to tell me and my husband, I have the right to call the police on you, for under the suspicion of you using my son for your sexual exploitations."
Gerard stared at Frank's mother in disbelief. His eyes were wide, and his jaw dropped open. "You… you have no… no proof of that."
She gave a smile. "Why else would you be in my son's room, without any other way of entering it besides his bedroom window, since me and my husband were both near the front door?"
Gerard's face kept the same expression. Frank stared at his mother and then at his father. He, too, had the same surprised expression. Frank nibbled on his lip before looking over at his mom, scratching the back of his neck. "Mom, aren't you overreacting, just a tiny bit?"
She turned to the teenager, narrowing her eyes. "I have a right to know what's wrong with my son, in case you haven't guessed by now." She looked over at Gerard. "And I will do whatever I can to get this information, Minister Way." She clenched her jaw.
"You really don't have to do that, Mom."
"Be quiet, Frank. You have no say in this."
"But it's my life!"
"Mrs. Iero, you really don't have the… the… Well, you can't… know… I have a right to keep our conversations confidential!" Gerard finally spat out, nodding.
Frank's mother merely laughed. The dark-haired teen lowered his head, shaking it. He had to find a way to get his mother to be quiet… Gerard's replies weren't getting any more confident than the last.
Without noticing she had begun talking again, Frank quickly interrupted his mother, looking at her with wide eyes.
Talking ceased, then, and every head turned in the room. Frank was met with the disbelief of his parents' eyes and the proud look of Gerard's eyes.
Frank bit back a smile.
Frank turned his head to peer around the corner of the building. He chewed on his bottom lip and took a drag from his cigarette, anxiety eating out at his insides. "I'm so fucking scared," he breathed out, shifting the phone around that was pressed up against his ear. He took another drag, not bothering to let out the previous one.
He heard a sigh come from the other side. "Frank, please, just don't worry about it. It'll be better if you don't."
Frank looked down, kicking at the grass below his feet. "I'm just…" He lifted his head up, looking ahead. He saw the elementary school across the road. He paused to watch the children play on the playground. His attention only returned back to the current situation when he heard the other clear his throat, due to his lack of a reply. "Sorry," he muttered, shaking his head. He sighed and tapped the ashes off of the stick. "My parents haven't even… acted like I came out." He leaned his head against the wall behind him. "It's just… out of character."
"Why aren't you listening to me? I told you to not worry about—"
"—Gerard! I don't care!" His voice had suddenly become high-pitched, shrill. He sighed, lowering his head, pressing the heel of his palm to his forehead. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you." He dropped his hand, turning slightly to smash the cigarette out on the high school's wall. "I'm just tense. I shouldn't even be talking to you."
There was silence on Gerard's end, and Frank thought for a second that he had hung up on him, had had enough. But, movement was soon heard. "Frank," he softly said, as if he was tired. Frank had to hold the phone closer to hear his voice.
"Yes?" He breathed out in the same tone.
"I love you."
Frank lowered his head, closing his eyes slowly. He sniffed and kicked at the ground again. "I love you, too."
More movement was heard from Gerard's side. "I want you to hang up, and go back to school. I know you snuck out to talk to me." Frank narrowed his eyes. "We'll see each other tomorrow, okay? Trust me. Now, run along."
Frank smiled, even though he thought he couldn't, and nodded. "Bye, Gee." He pressed the 'end call' button on his phone before slipping it back into his pocket. He slid out from behind the school, turning back into the building.
Sometimes, Gerard knew him all too well.
The lead of the pencil snapped against the pressure Frank was putting on the paper. He furrowed his eyebrows and turned his head, looking over at his father, who was reading the newspaper in the chair opposite him. Out of both of his parents, Frank thought his father would be the one to accept him, but, like his mother, he was acting like nothing had happened.
No doubt his mother had said something to him.
Frank shook his head and continued to his Algebra homework.
The only sounds in the room were the occasional sniff from Frank's father and pencil scratching against paper. Soon, his mother entered the room, looking like she was out of breath. She had a slightly accomplished look on her face. "Hello," she said, putting a smile on her face, as she headed into the kitchen to start dinner. His father only sniffed as a response, while Frank waved his fingers.
He felt only a tad bit awkward by this, so he quickly lowered his head, wanting to somehow disappear through the floor. Of course he had to do stuff that would only further the fact that he was a faggot. He heard Gerard's voice in his head, then, telling him not to worry. He chewed on his lip and closed his eyes, wanting the other to be with him right now.
Frank suddenly remembered what he was planning to say. He jumped up in his seat a bit, only to sink back down into it when he saw his parents' looks. He nibbled on his lip and leaned against the back of the chair. He looked at his mother, taking a deep breath. "Can I go to church tomorrow?"
His mother slowly turned on her heel from her spot by the counter. "What, honey?"
He wet his lips. "Church, Mother. Can I go tomorrow?"
His father was the one who replied. "Frank, I don't think that's a good idea at the moment. Considering the circumstances and—"
"—no, no, sweetie. I think it's a… great idea if we all went to church tomorrow," Mrs. Iero cut in before turning back to the counter, continuing to make their dinner.
Mr. Iero gave his wife a confused expression before lowering his head, shaking it, looking at the paper. "Linda, are you sure that's a good idea—?"
"—yes, Frank, now, please, stop questioning me," she said, in a rather stern voice. Frank only watched as his father frowned and stood up, picking up the paper before heading out of the room. She turned back to her son, giving him a smile. "Yes, yes, we need to go to church tomorrow."
Frank only nodded as he turned his head to look back down at the textbook. He soon heard his mother mutter under her breath, "God knows he needs to go, the faggot he is."
Dressed in his best clothes and with his family by his side, Frank entered the church with high hopes. He had a plan all set out: He was going to part ways with his family, tell them he had to confess before the sermon, but he wasn't going to confess. Not at all. He was going to sneak off with Gerard.
He hoped, really and truly hoped, that nothing would get in his way.
Frank patted his hands onto his pockets, checking to see if he still had his cigarettes and phone with him. Gerard was supposed to text him whenever he arrived. He let out a low breath before looking up from the ground. His parents were near by, talking to Father Armstrong. His mother had a look on her face like she was exchanging precious information, while his father looked a bit guilty. Frank furrowed his eyebrows and was about to ask what they were doing, but they had returned to him. Mrs. Iero reached out a hand to grab his arm, tightening her grip.
"Come on, honey, let's go in."
Frank's eyes widened, and he tried to slip out of her grip. "No, Mom, I need to… Need to do something."
She looked at him, an expression of disbelief on her face. "Nothing's more important than this, Frank, now come on. Father Armstrong's going to begin."
And without as much as the chance to put up a struggle, Mrs. Iero pulled Frank into the chapel, his father following close behind, his head down low.
Through the entire thing, Frank thought that his plan had failed, and it had barely even started. But the vibration of his phone brought him a bit of hope. When he was sure his parents weren't looking, he slipped his phone from his pocket, seeing a message from Gerard.
He read it and smiled.
Meet me in the confessional.
Frank could feel himself drift in and out of consciousness during Father Armstrong's sermon. The only thing that was making him stay awake, even though it was only a little bit, was the thought of seeing Gerard after all this. Despite that thought, his eyes fluttered closed for the umpteenth time that evening. He even considered leaving his eyes closed. Maybe sleeping would make this torture pass by more quickly.
But that didn't even seem to last for three seconds, for his mother was elbowing him in the shoulder, trying to wake him up.
Frank lazily opened his eyes, looking around the area. "What?" he asked sleepily, turning his head to look at his mom. He smacked his lips.
Mrs. Iero stared at her son with wide, disbelieving eyes. "How dare you sleep during church!" she quietly hissed. She shook her head in disapproval. "Well, he'll regret it… sooner or later," she muttered underneath her breath. Frank wondered whether or not his mother meant to say that loud enough so he could hear, but he didn't question her. He only lowered his head, looking down at his shoes.
Frank had to endure several more minutes of Father Armstrong's sermon before he dismissed everybody. He let out a deep sigh, looking around with wide eyes. He watched as everybody filed out of the chapel. He bit down on his lip. His eyes drifted over to the confessional behind those doors. He inhaled deeply before standing up and turning on his heel, ready to leave his parents' side and spend time with Gerard. He just hoped nobody else wanted to confess that evening…
Just as he was out of his parents' sight and a few strides away from the door, Frank felt his mother grab his arm, pulling him back roughly. He looked up at her, eyes wide. If Frank could see his face now, he'd think he was up to something.
"Where do you think you're going?" Mrs. Iero asked, scanning her son. Mr. Iero walked up, then, standing beside his wife. He, himself, looked guilty, too.
Frank didn't know why.
He looked up at his mother, narrowing his eyes. "I was going to confess." He tried to yank his arm from her grip. "You know… let all of the unhealthy and impure feelings out." He slowly nodded, making sure his eyes were wide while doing so.
Mrs. Iero stared at him, beginning to nod. "Alright," she said, seeming unconvinced for a second. She pulled her hand back, letting go of Frank's arm. She took a step back, putting her arms at her sides. Her husband looked at her, furrowing his brow. She simply shook her head. "Go on, Frank."
Frank watched his mother with careful eyes before taking a step back. "Okay…" He turned on his heel slightly. "I'll be back… in a minute or so." He took another step back.
Mrs. Iero gave Frank a smile, a smile that almost seemed fake, sickly. "Take as long as you want, sweetie." Frank furrowed his eyebrows, but turned around, disappearing through the doors.
Mr. Iero looked over at his wife, frowning. "Linda… Are you sure you're doing the right thing?"
Linda Iero straightened up a bit next to him, arms crossed over her chest. "Of course I am, Frank. Stop sounding like you care about him."
Frank Iero studied her before lowering his head, shaking his head. He let out a sigh and ran a hand through his hair.
Frank climbed into the confessional, turning around to snap the door shut behind him. He sat down and moved around in the seat, trying to get comfortable. He hoped Gerard was already in here. He didn't want to start talking if he wasn't in here.
He turned his head and attempted to peek through the screen in the middle of the wall. He could only make out a male figure with shaggy looking black-hair. He smiled a bit and leaned back in the seat. "Hey, there," he said quietly. He let out a tiny laugh before lifting up a hand to press his palm to the screen.
Frank shook his head. "Oops. I forgot." He curled his fingers against the screen before pressing his cheek against it. "Oh, forgive me, Father, for I have sinned." He laughed a bit afterwards, and he considered adding an 'I've been a bad, bad, boy' to that, but he decided against it. He kept his hand on the screen, curling his fingers and uncurling them.
"These past few days have been really hard," he said quietly, looking down. He carefully wet his lips. He heard the person on the other side—Gerard—move around a bit. Frank continued. "I wish you were there for me. I really needed your comfort… your touch." He slowly closed his eyes, letting out a small breath. "Sorry… I shouldn't have said that." He raised up his other hand to lightly pound the heel of his palm to his forehead. "Um."
Frank straightened up in his seat slightly, dropping the hand that was against his forehead to lay in his lap. He let out a sigh, sniffing. "How're you?" He peered into the screen, expecting for Gerard to give him some sort of physical answer, like pressing his hand up on the screen, how they usually done, but nothing came. Frank frowned a bit and sunk down. "It's okay. You don't have to talk." He looked down, chewing on his lip. "I can talk instead."
He lowered his hand from the screen and put it in his lap. He twisted his fingers together, closing his eyes. He nibbled on his lip before perking up his head, looking into the other side. "Hey, Gee," he muttered, not really sure why. He scooted closer to the screen. He pressed his forehead against the screen.
"I think something's up with Mom and Dad. Well… Dad's just acting all guilty." He reached out a hand, tapping the dividing wall. "I'm really scared. I think they're up to something." He saw Gerard lower his head, his shoulders sinking. Frank frowned. "What's wrong, Gerard?" He tilted his head and sighed. He scratched at the screen. "How about you slide this little screen over so we can kiss?" He stuck out his bottom lip. "I really need one right now…"
The door of the confessional flew open, then, revealing a police officer. Frank's eyes immediately widened, and he tried to flatten himself to the back wall of the confessional. He was speechless, and all he could do was open and close his mouth like a fish.
The police officer didn't say anything as he reached out a hand and grabbed the front of Frank's shirt. He pulled him out of the confessional with ease, for Frank was too scared to put up a fight.
Were they finally caught?
The officer held onto Frank carefully as he walked over to the middle of the room, where another officer was at… who had Gerard in front of him. Frank's eyes widened as they drifted down to the other's wrists… and to the handcuffs that were now there. Frank looked at Gerard before turning his head, looking at the confessional.
Father Armstrong stepped out of the confessional, then, a saddened expression to his face. He kept his head down, not wanting to meet Frank's gaze. His eyes widened even more. He attempted to loosen the officer's grip by jumping up and down.
"I don't think you'll want to do that, honey."
Linda and Frank walked into the room, going over to stand in front of their son. Frank's father kept his head down, like Father Armstrong was doing, but his mother had a smug smile on her face. Her arms were crossed over her chest.
Frank's mouth fell open. "You did this? You set me up?"
She gave a little laugh. "I didn't do anything. You did this to yourself."
He felt his temper quickly rise. Frank never wanted anything more than to just lash at his mother right then. He narrowed his eyes and attempted to move out of the officer's grip. "I hate you! Why would you do this to me? To your only son?"
Gerard and Father Armstrong's head had perked up from the other's outburst. Father Armstrong had made his way over to Frank's parents, standing beside his father. Gerard watched Frank while a couple tears rolled down his cheeks.
Mrs. Iero wore a shocked expression on her face. She must have thought that her darling little son could have never yelled at her like at that.
Despite her expression, Frank continued to yell. "I can't believe you!" He twisted and turned. "The one time you actually cared about my life, it was me being in a relationship with my Youth Minister! You're unbelievable! Why couldn't you look past that and actually see that I had something good in my life? That I was in love?" He stared at her, chest rising up and down quickly.
Linda looked at her son with complete shock on her face. She pressed her lips together in a tight line before holding her head up high. She looked at the officer that was holding Gerard. "Get him out of here. I don't want to see him again."
Gerard's eyes widened, and he looked up at the officer who towered over him. The officer only nodded as he began to pull Gerard away. Frank's own eyes widened before he took all the strength he could muster and broke free from the officer's grip. He ran over to Gerard, reaching out and grabbing his arm. He tried to yank him away, pull him back. "No, I won't let you!"
Gerard looked at Frank, his eyes widened even more. Tears now stained his face, and a small smile had formed. He slowly shook his head. "No, Frank," he said quietly.
Frank's face immediately fell. "But, Gerard. I can't let them." He stepped closer, gripping his arm. "I need you." The officer went over to Frank, grabbing the back of his shirt. He attempted to pull the shorter back. Frank resisted the best he could. "Gerard," he breathed out, whining.
The black-head closed his eyes, shaking his head. "You don't need me, sweetheart."
The other nodded rapidly. "Yes, yes, I do." The cop was roughly jerking his arm back, now. The strain was making it difficult for Frank to breath. He dug his fingertips into Gerard's arm. "I love you," he breathed out, letting go of his arm to run his fingers against his cheek. Frank was, then, pulled back, away from Gerard.
The officer wrapped his arm around Frank's waist, as if it would help hold him back. But Frank didn't try to move anymore. He watched in absolutely fear as he saw Gerard being lead out of the church and into the cop car parked close to the building. Frank closed his eyes, his lips trembling together.
When the cruiser drove away, and it seemed that Frank wouldn't try and escape, the officer released his grip on the younger. The brunette stayed still, trying hard not to break down and cry.
His mother walked up to him, wrapping her arms around her son's shoulders. She gave him a hug and a gentle kiss on the top of the head. "There, there. Everything's going to be okay, now."
Frank elbowed his mother in the stomach.
Frank stormed around his bedroom, a duffel bag in his hand. He went over to his dresser, opening up the top drawer, and started shoving as many clothing items as he could into the bag. He slammed the drawer shut with a snap of his wrist afterwards. He bent over, opening up the bottom drawer. He did the same for it.
It was strange to think that this might be the last day Frank could spend in his house.
It was a couple days after the incident at the church, and the whole community was spreading the news like wildfire. Even Father Armstrong was being targeted as a sexual predator, but there was no proof on him.
There was plenty of proof on Gerard.
Frank slammed the bottom drawer shut by kicking it as he got up. He turned on his heel and walked over to his bed, setting the duffel bag on the bed covers. He looked into it, examining the contents. "Do I need anything else?" he muttered to himself. He raised up a hand, tapping his lips as he looked around the room.
He didn't want to live in this house anymore after what had happened. He didn't want to be in an environment where he wasn't accepted and was posed as a threat to his parents' reputation.
Frank shook his head and looked down. "I think that's it," he said quietly with a nod. He began to zip up the bag, pausing when he had made it half-way.
He raised up his head, looking around. "Cell phone," he breathed out, turning around and going over to the dresser. He reached out his hand to take it, but immediately drew his hand back, shaking his head. "No," he said, shaking his head. He took a step back before returning to his bag. "They could find me."
He zipped up his bag and grabbed the strap.
Frank took one last glance around the room, a faint smile appearing on his lips. He would miss this room, despite it all. His parents had no idea what he and Gerard had done in here…
He let out a sigh of nostalgia before adjusting the bag strap and going towards the window. He bit down on his lip and held in a breath as he placed his fingers underneath the window, beginning to slowly raise it up…
"Oh, I see your mother already told you."
Frank's eyes widened, and he quickly spun around, seeing his father stand in the doorway of the room. He dropped his hands to rest at his sides before looking around carefully. "Um, what?"
Mr. Iero walked further into the room, standing in the middle of it. "She must have told you where you're going today." Frank gave him a confused expression, so he tried to clarify. He nodded towards Frank's bag. "You got your bag packed and all ready to go." He looked at Frank before widening his own eyes. "She didn't tell you, did she?"
Frank slowly shook his head, eyes still wide.
His father let out a sigh. "God," he breathed out, shaking his head. He looked back up at Frank. "Your mother was supposed to tell you that we're, well, she's, sending you to a reparative therapy camp."
Frank's face didn't change its expression, but he gave a little wave of his hands. "Reparative therapy camp?"
Mr. Iero let out a low, deep sigh before walking over to Frank's bed and sitting down on the edge of it. "Reparative therapy is… well…" He stopped there, and he didn't seem like he was going to continue. A look of extreme guilt had appeared on his face. Frank frowned and walked over to the bed, sitting down beside him.
"It's a camp to try and make me straight again, isn't it?"
His father looked at him, his eyes wide, and he looked like he was going to deny it, but he eventually shook his head and lowered it. "'Fraid to say, yeah." He ran a hand through his hair before closing his eyes and letting out another sigh. "I didn't want to send you to one of those camps. It seemed pointless." He lowered his hand, looking ahead. "But Linda seemed intent on it. And, you know her. She doesn't like to change her mind once it's been made." He frowned.
Frank studied his father, and for the first time in his life, he could honestly see how ashamed he looked for getting himself into this whole ordeal. Not just the 'my son is gay' ordeal, but the 'what happened to the woman I married all those years ago' ordeal. He frowned and reached out a hand, touching his father's shoulder.
"It's okay, Dad, really." He gave his arm a little squeeze.
Mr. Iero turned his head to look at Frank before giving him a small smile. "Well, I hope so." He slowly stood up, smoothing out his shirt. "Well… We'll be leaving in a few minutes. I just came here to see if you were all packed." He nodded and looked down at the ground awkwardly. He turned and began to walk out of the room.
Frank bit down on his lip and resisted to ask him something. He knew it was inappropriate and might even hurt his father's feelings, but he felt the question slip off his tongue right before he stepped out of the doorway.
"When did Mom turn into such a stuck-up bitch?"
His father seemed to freeze for a second before shaking his head, even laughing a bit. He looked over his shoulder at his son. "Let's just say that I'm proud of you for elbowing her a couple days ago." Frank's face lit up as he smiled, and his father left the room.
Trees flooded Frank's vision, making him become dizzy from all the greenery. He didn't know how long they had been driving, but he just wished his father would have wised up about half an hour ago and turned the car around. He leaned his head against his palm, looking out of the car window. He felt his eyelids start to slide down his eyes.
He felt warm breath on the side of his neck, and he shivered in response. He straightened up and turned his head to look at who had breathed on him. He instantly smiled, seeing the black-head who he thought he wouldn't be able to see again.
"Hey," he said, his voice raspy, reaching out a hand to lightly touch Gerard's bony one. He rubbed the joints.
Gerard smiled in response and leaned forward to nudge his nose into his cheek. "Hello," he breathed out, pressing his lips to his ear. He slid his eyes shut and wrapped his arm around his waist. "Do you know what's coming up in a couple days?"
Frank instantly smiled again and turned to press his nose to Gerard's neck. He breathed in, smelling the familiar scent of smoke and coffee. "I think I might know." He twisted around in his seat, not worrying about his parents in the front, and kissed his neck, beginning to nibble on the skin.
The black-head purred and put his hands on Frank's hips. He moved him away from his neck and let him face front. He rubbed his sides and raised up his hands to rub his neck. "You're finally turning sixteen," he breathed out, almost like it was taboo to say.
Frank shivered and closed his eyes. He began to nod as he felt Gerard's fingers stroke the hollow of his throat. He parted his lips as he heard the older talk again.
"And I got the perfect present for you."
He wrapped his fingers around Frank's neck, around his windpipe, and squeezed.
Frank jumped, and his eyes snapped open. He looked around with wide eyes, hopelessly confused. "What?" he asked, to no one in particular.
He was still in the car, and it seemed like nothing had changed. His parents were still in the front seat—his mother in the passenger side, giving his father directions—and Gerard was not in the back seat, with him. Nobody was with him.
Frank bit down on his lip and sank back in the seat. He raised up a hand to rub his sore throat.
"Frank, stop dragging your feet.
"Frank, hurry up.
"Frank, you're lagging behind.
"Frank, are you paying attention to me?
"Frank, Goddamnit, listen to me!"
Frank held his bag close to his chest, looking down. He avoided his mother's gaze and kicked the ground. His father walked over to him, wrapping a protective arm around his shoulders. He squeezed Frank's arm.
He cautiously lifted up his head, sneaking a glance at his mother. She had a stern look on her face, jaw clenched and her eyes set ahead.
The Iero family had arrived at the reparative therapy camp, ironically named "Cleanse the Soul". Frank could have sworn he saw "pray the gay away" right under the camp title, but when he had brought it up to his mother's attention, she shook it off, saying it was just his imagination. The hell it was.
The camp reminded Frank of an '80's summer camp movie. He was expecting a blonde, long-legged woman to pop up any second, only wearing Daisy Duke's and a bikini top.
Frank hoped it would have been a male, considering the type of camp this was for.
His father squeezed his shoulder, making him come out of his fantasies. He lowered his head and followed the rest of his family inside the biggest building, which he suspected was the main office.
Once inside, Frank was blinded by the overhead lights. He shook his head, blinking several sides. He changed his mind. From the outside, it looked like an '80's summer camp movie. Inside, though, it was all bright and clean. There was nothing out of place, and it was totally quiet. It was hard to believe that this was a place to change people who were 'confused' with their sexuality.
He cautiously continued with his walk inside the office, noticing that his mother was already talking to the receptionist. She was a blonde who was wearing an extremely low-cut blouse, with a key dangling from her neck, making home in between her cleavage. Frank narrowed his eyes and stood a couple steps behind his mother.
Was this really how they were trying to treat the boys here? Letting staff workers display their goods?
Frank shook his head and lowered it.
He didn't notice it, but he had let out a scoff of disgust when he looked away. Mrs. Iero turned her head, giving Frank a dirty look. "Son?" Frank perked up his head, but only to meet the back of his mother's. He narrowed his eyes.
The receptionist nodded once and took a pen out, uncapping it with her teeth and beginning to write down a few notes on a post-it. "Thank you. We appreciate what you're trying to do for your son."
Mr. Iero shifted uncomfortably behind Frank.
The blonde tore off the post-it from the pad and handed it to Frank's mother. "Here you go. It's the number where you can contact your son while he's staying here." Mrs. Iero took it gingerly and looked down at it, lips pursed.
She crushed it in her palm and nodded. "Thanks, now, can we go? Will you take it from here?" Frank gave her a look, but the receptionist nodded and moved to stand up. Frank saw that she was wearing a skirt that cut off a little above the knee.
The blonde walked around the edge of the desk, a clipboard in her arms. "Yes, I will. And you'll be able to start calling Frank by Friday, which is in two days." She held up two fingers, as if they couldn't understand her. "This is because we want him trying to adjust to not being around you guys—his parents."
Mrs. Iero looked down, a little sneer in her face. "He already does that…"
"Oh, nothing." She raised up her head and turned on her heel. "Come on, Frank," she said to Mr. Iero. She started heading out of the building, the post-it note flying out of her palm when she opened the door. She continued to walk, head held high. Frank didn't know if she had 'dropped' it on purpose, or if it was honestly a mistake. Either way, Mr. Iero gave Frank a one-armed hug and walked over to the exit, picking up the post-it and sticking it into his pocket for safe keeping.
A couple minutes later, Frank was left alone with the receptionist.
He turned his head, looking up at the blonde. He glanced down, seeing that she was wearing rather long heels. He narrowed his eyes.
She waved a few fingers, trying to get his attention back up to her face. "Hello. My name's Stefani, and if you happen to experience any problems while staying here, I want you to know that it's okay to talk to me." She nodded and looked down at the clipboard. She flipped through a couple of papers, while Frank looked back down at her heels.
Oh, I'm already having a problem, he thought, closing his eyes.
Stefani flipped her wavy hair over her shoulder before starting to walk towards the door. "I'm going to give you the grand tour." She laughed a bit before pushing open the door, letting Frank slip through.
He clutched his bag to his chest and narrowed his eyes, keeping his gaze ahead.
In a matter of minutes, Frank was following Stefani out of the main building—which consisted of the reception area and the office of the man who owned this place—and outside. The camp itself was located in the middle of a wooded area, which of course meant trees surrounded the place. There were five main buildings located throughout the camp: the office, cafeteria, dorm hall, recreation center, and a building where classes and lessons took place. It reminded Frank of a rehab—and he was there to get clean.
Stefani showed Frank the recreation center first. It was a two-story building where a swimming pool was on the ground floor, while ping-pong and pool tables were on the second. She advised him that he was not allowed here while meals were taking place or after curfew, but any other time it was free for him to use.
The building right next to it was the cafeteria, which, to Frank, seemed like dinner was occurring right now—people were already inside. Stefani clicked her tongue and wagged a finger. "You can go eat with them after the tour, but you are not allowed to sneak food out after meals or curfew."
Frank asked when curfew was, and Stefani told him it was eleven thirty. Frank made a mental note.
Next to that was the office, but Stefani told him that he didn't have to go back in there, as long if he was a good boy. Frank gave her a look, to which the blonde laughed.
They soon neared the building where classes were held. They stood in front of the two-story building, and Frank swallowed. Stefani looked at him, studying his face.
"You can't go in there unless you have a key." She lightly picked up the key that rested in her cleavage. She waved it a bit. "But whenever you do have classes, the building should be unlocked." She lowered the key and looked back at her clipboard.
"What classes are held in there?" Frank asked, nibbling on his lip. He didn't like the vibe he was getting from this particular building.
Stefani glanced at Frank from the corner of her eye. "It depends on the person, Frank, and it seems like to me, you'll be taking a harder class than others."
Frank didn't like the sound of that, but he let Stefani continue with the tour without any protest.
The dorm hall was next. It was a one-story building, which confused Frank. He asked Stefani how many people were attending the camp. The blonde pursed her lips and drummed her long fingernails against the clipboard.
"Not that many. Maybe between fifteen and twenty."
Frank looked down and readjusted the bag in his hands. "Then why did you provide them with all this?"
Stefani gave him a sweet smile. "It helps keep the boys motivated. And if they aren't motivated, then they aren't going to get better." Frank only nodded and kicked the ground. Stefani walked over to the door and pulled it open, holding it out for Frank. "Let me show you to your room."
Frank and Stefani walked down the hall, the sound of her heels being the only thing heard. The brunette looked around, eyebrows furrowed. "Why are all the doors opened?" He peered into a room. It had two beds, one on each side of the room. It seemed like every room had that basic setup. Was he going to share his room with a complete stranger?
Stefani squeezed Frank's shoulder and urged him ahead. Soon, they reached the end of the hall, the last door on the right. She turned Frank into the bedroom and lightly pushed him through. "This will be your room while you stay." She walked into the room, too, looking around. "We keep the doors open, since we have to inspect them everyday. This occurs during breakfast, which starts at eight thirty, so, you might want to be sure you have everything when you head to eat, since we lock the dorm hall down. You won't be allowed to enter until seven in the evening."
Frank looked around his new room before going off to the left-hand side. He set his bag on the bedcovers, hoping that this wasn't already someone's bed. He looked behind him, at the other side. That side seemed to be occupied already. Frank nodded and opened his bag. "Why's that?" he asked, thinking back to what Stefani had said.
Stefani walked further into the room and sat down on the other bed, wrinkling the bedcovers. "We have to make sure the boys are actually being cleansed—being converted."
Frank narrowed his eyes and grabbed a pile of clothes. He walked over to the dresser, opening it and slipping the clothes inside. "About classes… don't we need to keep coming back to our dorm room to get our books—so, we don't have to carry them all day?"
The blonde let out a small laugh. "You don't need any books, Frank." She stood up, then, looking back at the clipboard. She flipped through a couple papers. "It seems your roommate is Brendon Urie." She looked up at Frank. "We have a policy here about our roommates." She lowered the clipboard and seemed to put all of her weight on one of her legs; her hip popped out. "Your roommate is your responsibility. If anything happens to your roommate during your stay, it is entirely your fault—you are held accountable. You must watch over your roommate, or there will be consequences. If your roommate gets into trouble, then both of you will get the punishment. Understand?"
Frank studied Stefani, starting at her eyes and going down to her painted toenails. He nodded and looked back up. "Understood." He finished emptying his bag and sat down on the bed. Despite how it looked, it was actually soft. He scratched his chin. "Anything else?"
Stefani pushed a few curls behind her ear and smiled, her lip-stick coated mouth stretching. "Welcome to Cleanse the Soul."
1:00-1:45 Optional Lunch
6:00-11:30 Free Time
*Be sure to be out of the dorms in time for breakfast.
*Classes are different for each student.
*Dorms are open at 7:00.
*Lights out at 11:30.
*Free Time will be spent in the recreation center.
*If you don't have any classes taking place, please head to the recreation center.
*Any problems, come to the office.
We hope you enjoy your stay at Cleanse the Soul.
Frank wrinkled up his nose and turned away from his bed. He looked around his new bedroom before sighing. He didn't want to be here. He didn't want to take special classes. He didn't want to share his room with someone he didn't know. And he didn't want to spend his sixteenth birthday away from Gerard. This was horrible.
Frank kicked his night table.
He took in a sharp breath before looking over at the alarm clock on his roommate's night stand. It was five minutes until six. He turned his head back to the schedule Stefani had pinned to his wall. According to it, dinner was over and 'free time' was beginning. He felt his stomach growl as he read. Too late for food now, though.
He walked over to his night table and opened up the top drawer. He pulled out a Pay Day snack bar. He tore open the packaging before heading out of the dorm hall.
Frank made his way into the recreation center, keeping his head down low. He didn't want anybody to even bat an eyelash at him. Most of the boys seemed to be hanging out in the cafeteria, even though dinner had ended. He furrowed his eyebrows, but didn't enter the building. He took another bite from his snack before pushing his way into the recreation center.
Nobody was on the ground floor, since it held the swimming pool. Not wanting to seem the oddball that liked to swim, Frank quickly headed upstairs. He didn't really want to participate in any of the activities, so he'd just sit around and watch.
Upstairs, a few boys had made their places at the pool tables, while a scattered couple played on the table tennis tables. Frank finished up his Pay Day before tossing the wrapper in a nearby trash can. He went over to a couch that was near a table tennis table. He sat down, pulling a leg to his chest, and watched the others play.
A couple minutes later, Frank's shoulder was prodded. He looked up to see who had poked him. It was a boy, obviously, with dark-brown hair and chocolate-brown eyes.
His hair was parted perfectly, and he wore black-rimmed glasses. Frank scanned him once more before scrunching up his nose. "What do you want?" Way to show a great first impression, Frank.
The boy narrowed his eyes and gestured at Frank's leg. "Don't put your feet on the furniture. It gets everything dirty and gross."
Frank furrowed his eyebrows and looked down, staring at his toes. He curled them against the couch cushion. He sighed and lowered his leg down off the couch. "Oh. Sorry." He sniffed obnoxiously and turned his head to look at the other. "Didn't know that was a rule."
The dark-haired smiled and let out a small laugh. "Oh, no, I'm just OCD about these types of things." He nodded, and Frank looked away. The boy continued, "Hey, are you new here? I've never seen you around before."
Frank looked over at the other and slowly nodded. "Yeah. I'm new." He waved a hand. "Just got here today."
The other smiled again and looked around the room. He looked back at Frank. "Do you care if I sit with you? I don't feel like playing anything."
Even though he wanted to say no, Frank nodded and scooted over on the couch. He looked ahead and sighed. "So, what's your name?" He could at least attempt to get to know the guy. He needed a 'friend' here.
The dark-head leaned back in the couch and looked at the near by table tennis court. He watched the ball be hit across the net a few times before looking over at Frank. "I'm Brendon. Brendon Urie."
Frank's eyes widened, and he took in a deep breath. Dear God, this was his roommate? He looked at the boy, now named Brendon, and raised up a hand. "You're Brendon?"
Brendon smiled and nodded. "Yeah. Why? Who're you?"
Frank roughly swallowed and tried to contain himself. "I'm… Frank Iero. I'm… your new roommate."
Brendon's eyes seemed to grow bigger, and his face broke into a smile. "You're my new roommate?" He scooted closer to Frank, taking his hands into his own. "Thank the Lord! I've been lonely in this place!" He squeezed Frank's hands and pulled them to his lips. He kissed each individual knuckle. "I prayed for someone to enter my life, and that someone is here. Now, if God can answer that prayer, I'll be able to see my dear Ryan soon!" He continued to kiss his hands.
Frank could only watch in confusion.
When it was nearing eleven o'clock, Brendon lead Frank back to the dorm hall. During their walk, Frank regretted telling Brendon that he was his new roommate. Even though he would eventually find out, Frank couldn't help but to feel a bit creeped out by Brendon's enthusiasm about the whole thing. Was he going to turn into that big of a Christian by the end of this? He believed in God, but damn.
Brendon closed the bedroom door after Frank had entered. He slid over to his bed and sat down on the surface. He looked over and smoothed out the spot beside him while Frank went to sprawl out on the covers of his own bed. He let out a yawn.
The dark-haired watched Frank for a second before reaching up a hand to take off his glasses. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I hope you'll like it here."
Frank turned his head to look at Brendon. He wrinkled up his nose. "I didn't even want to be here in the first place. My mom made me."
Brendon set his glasses on his bedside table before standing up. "I know how that is, but in my case, it was my father." He walked over to the dresser, pulling it open.
Frank watched him before nibbling on his lip. "My dad's cool with everything."
The other pulled out a set of pajamas. He stared at the clothing before shrugging. "Families are different." He glanced at Frank. "Changing." He turned around to make his back face Frank before beginning to undress. Frank turned his head away from Brendon and closed his eyes.
"Yeah, families are different." He opened his eyes and looked at the wall. He raised up a hand to chew on his fingernail. "How long do I have to stay here? How long have you been here?"
Brendon finished changing into his pajamas and began to fold them neatly. "I don't know how long you have to stay here, and I've been here for a year." He placed the folded clothes on top of his dresser. He patted them before going over to his bed. "Don't be scared to change in front of me. Even though we're all gay here and probably frustrated, we won't jump anybody."
Frank let out a nervous laugh, but slid out of his bed. He went over to his dresser and pulled out his pajamas. He stared at them for a second or two before quickly undressing, despite what Brendon had said.
Once he was finished, he lazily tossed them onto the top of his dresser, deciding to deal with them in the morning. He turned around and looked over at Brendon, whose nose was scrunched. He walked past Frank and went to pick up his shirt. He began to fold the clothes. "Have to be neat," he muttered, shaking his head. Frank gave him a look before dragging himself over to his bed. He pulled the covers down before slipping into bed.
He let out a soft sigh as he pulled the covers up to his chin. He smiled, being engulfed with warmth. He perked up his head and looked over at Brendon. "You have an alarm, right?" Frank asked, even though he already knew the answer. He nodded towards the alarm clock on the brown-head's night table.
Brendon set the now folded clothes onto the dresser top. He turned his head and looked at the alarm clock in question. He nodded. "Sure do." He walked over to the device and pressed a button on top. Frank watched him for a few seconds before sinking back into bed.
Silence hung in the air for couple seconds before Frank's new roommate broke it.
"Aren't you going to say prayer?"
Frank slowly opened his eyes and raised up his head. He looked at Brendon, furrowing his brow. "No?"
Brendon slowly frowned and nodded. He looked over at his bed before sighing. "That's fine." He dropped down to his knees and kneeled beside his bed. "I'll pray for the both of us." He put his hands together and bowed his head.
Frank gave him a look before turning over in bed, away from the other. He drifted off to sleep, listening to Brendon pray.
"Thank you, Lord, for another day, the chance to learn, the chance to play. Now as I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Please, guard me, Jesus, through the night, and keep me safe 'til morning's light. But should I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. And should I live for other days, I pray that God will guide my ways. Amen."
The alarm on Brendon's bedside table woke Frank up that following morning. He refused to move or even open his eyes upon hearing the ringing sound. This was all a dream, he thought. He wasn't at a reparative therapy camp. He was at his house, in his bed, and he was going to see Gerard tomorrow for his sixteenth birthday. They would be able to prance around, because he wasn't in jail. He would be living in the same shitty apartment he had been for the past—
"Wake up, sleepy-head! It's morning!" Hands grabbed Frank's shoulders, and he was shook. "We only have an hour to get everything we need! We have to hurry!"
Frank grumbled and slowly raised up his head from the covers. On the other side of the room, Brendon was prancing around, quickly grabbing articles of clothing. He had already straightened up his bed. Frank narrowed his eyes and rubbed his eyes, attempting to get the sleep out of them. "We have an hour. Why do we have to hurry?"
Brendon didn't answer him, though, for he was already marching out of the room. "I'll be in the shower!" he called over his shoulder before exiting the room.
Frank sniffed and slid out of bed, closing his eyes. He really didn't want to be here. He felt one of his legs leave the support of his mattress, causing himself to fall down. He cursed and slowly raised up, looking around. He was thankful Brendon wasn't there. He would have probably made fun of him. But, then again, considering his character, he would have probably floated over to Frank and helped him up.
He sighed and rubbed his eyes again.
One hour, he thought. We have to be out of here by eight thirty, he told himself, looking up and around. "What am I supposed to do in the meantime?" He narrowed his eyes before going over to his own dresser and opening it. He peered inside before extending a hand to grab a random t-shirt. He dropped down and grabbed a pair of jeans. He kicked the drawer closed before walking over to the bedroom door and shutting it. Despite what Brendon said about not being jumped while staying here, he wasn't about to take any chances. Brendon was one person, and there were a handful of other boys here.
After getting dressed, Frank headed over to the small mirror above Brendon's dresser. He ran a hand through his shaggy black hair, trying to make it somewhat reasonable. When his roommate came back in, he'd ask him for a comb or something.
A knock came from the door, and Frank lifted up his head. He stared at the door awkwardly before looking around the room. "Uh, come in." He returned his gaze to the mirror.
The door opened, and in walked Stefani. Her heels were clicking. Frank turned his head and looked over at the blonde, scanning her. Today, she was wearing another low-cut blouse. The key was still resting in between her cleavage. He waved and opened his mouth to greet her, but she had held up her hand, showing him long black fingernails. "You have a visitor."
He narrowed his eyes. "Am I allowed to have visitors now?"
She gave him a sly smile. "Well, not exactly, but your visitor is a member of the church, so we have to let him see you."
Frank's mind raced. Who did he know that was part of the church and actually wanted to talk to him? Without waiting for his mind to answer himself, he stared at Stefani. "Who is it?"
She pursed her lips. "Billie Joe Armstrong—or Father Armstrong. Whichever he prefers to go by." She turned on her thin heel and began to walk out of the room. "Finish getting ready and come to the office. He's been waiting for quite a while."
Frank was ushered into the room and into a too small chair on one side of the table. On the other side was Father Armstrong, appearing to be calm. He had his hands in his lap, and he was twiddling his thumbs. Frank stared across from him, narrowing his eyes. The last conversation he had with the Father was when he was in the confessional, thinking he was Gerard. He wet his lips. "What are you doing here? Why do you want to see me?"
Father Armstrong gave him a small smile and raised up a hand to brush a few strands of hair behind his eyes. "I just wanted to talk to you—get a few things clear." Frank sat back in the chair, folding his arms over his chest. He nodded, giving him the 'go ahead'. The other cleared his throat and wet his lips.
"I didn't want you to get sent here. This place is horrible. And it doesn't solve anything." Frank furrowed his eyebrows and wanted to ask why he thought this, but the Father continued. "Your parents—well, your mother—dragged me into this. I didn't want to get my Youth Minister fired, or you basically excommunicated. Yes, I knew your and his relationship was wrong—not because of your sexes, but of the position he was in. Gerard was a member of my church, and he should have acted more responsible.
"Love is love, and your mother failed to realize that. Even though your behavior is frowned upon in the Christian faith, I, personally, do not think it is wrong." He raised up his hands to touch his chest. "I know that is strange for a preacher to say, but the only thing I disapprove of is your and Gerard's behavior on the church's property—for instance the confessional and several supply closets." Frank gave him a look, and he nodded. "Minister Way spilled when I went to visit him early this morning. He is very sorry for his behavior, but he still has to serve his sentence." He drummed his fingertips against the table top, looking down.
Frank narrowed his eyes, and then he got a sliver of hope. "If you don't think I should be here, can you take me away from this place?"
Father Armstrong gave him a soft smile. "I'm afraid I can't do that. See, this was your… mother's decision. Not mine. I don't know how long she decides to keep you here, but I wish you the best of luck." He stood up, avoiding Frank's gaze. He started over to the door, but paused, turning to look at the other. "Oh, and happy early birthday. You'll be getting my birthday present later today." He gave him a smile before sliding out of the room.
When Frank entered the cafeteria, it was empty except for a couple of boys who were hovering about. He knew it was bound to be empty, due to the fact it was nearing ten o'clock. He approached the line that held the fruit and stared at the food. He rubbed his chin and extended a hand to grab an apple, but he jumped, feeling someone's hand on his shoulder.
"Hi, Frank! Where were you?"
He turned his head, seeing Brendon behind him. He had a concerned look on his face. Frank looked ahead and grabbed the apple. "Oh, yeah. I was talking to my preacher." He glanced at Brendon, whose eyes had lit up. He walked through the cafeteria, biting into his apple. Brendon followed.
"Why'd he visit you? What did he tell you? You aren't leaving me, are you?"
Frank stopped in the middle of the room and turned around, seeing the other close behind him. His eyes seemed like a puppy-dog's. Frank swallowed what was in his mouth before lowering his apple. "He was just telling me that he didn't want to send me here—but I have to stay," he quickly added, seeing Brendon's expression.
The brown-head smiled and even clapped. "Yay! I don't want to be lonely here." He turned on his heel and slipped his arm around Frank's, hooking them together. "Let's go to the recreation center before we have to get to class. We can play table tennis."
Frank studied Brendon and slowly smiled. He looked ahead and dug his fingertips into his apple. "I'd like that."
The two of them marched to the door, but once they were outside, a woman reached out and grabbed Frank's arm. "Come with me."
His eyes widened, and he stared at the woman. She had brown-hair and was wearing the same thing as Stefani, but excluding the heels; she was wearing a pair of low-top Converse. Frank shook his head. "Why? I'm eating breakfast." Brendon gripped his arm.
The woman shook her head and grabbed Frank's apple. She tossed it towards Brendon, who caught it. She looked at Frank. "It's time for your first lesson. Mr. Bryar thought it was a good time to see you now." Frank glanced at Brendon before shaking his head.
"How about I go to class after lunch?"
She shook her head and pulled Frank away from Brendon. "No time." She began to guide him towards the two-story building. There seemed to be a fog that hovered around it, but Frank could have been imagining it. Once they got far enough away from Brendon, the woman slackened her grip. "Sorry about that." She looked over at Frank. "I usually have to be strict when I have to fetch the boys." She looked ahead. "Nobody likes the classes. Can't imagine why." She shook her head, and Frank realized that she blinked a lot when she was talking.
"Who are you?" he asked in a small voice.
"Miss Stewart, but you can call me Kristen." She gave him a small smile and shook her head again. "Here we are." She dropped her hand from Frank's arm and walked ahead of him. Kristen reached out her hand and tugged on the door handle. She sighed and shook her head. "These doors are supposed to already be unlocked." She picked up the key from her cleavage and bent over, sliding it into the lock. Frank walked up beside her when the click was heard. She glanced at Frank before opening up the door.
"Go ahead. It's the first room on the second floor."
He bit his lip and took a careful step into the building. Cool air immediately surrounded him. He looked back at her. "Can't you show me the way?"
Kristen shook her head. "I'm not allowed in here. Sorry." She raised up a hand to push back her hair. She reached out her other hand and pushed the door closed, making the thud echo through the halls of the building. He watched as she locked the building back up and walked off.
Frank slowly looked ahead, at the staircase looming ahead. He let out a carefully sigh and started down the hall. "Let's just get this over with," he muttered, rubbing his arms.
Mr. Bryar, the teacher he was assigned to, was the stereotypical homophobe. He was reluctant to touch Frank whenever he entered the room, and he couldn't help but wonder why he was employed as the teacher of this facility.
Frank was now sitting in a large chair in the middle of the room. There was a projector in front of him, along with the pull-down screen. He could feel the contents of his stomach rumble with nervousness. Mr. Bryar had hardly spoken a word to him since he had gone over to his computer.
A couple of minutes later, Mr. Bryar flipped on the projector and stood up straight. His back was facing the screen as he began to warm up. "Right now, Mr. Iero, you are going through a process known as behavioral modification. It has been effective in most of the extreme cases, and I hope it'll work on you." He turned around and grabbed a set of sticker-like objects and walked over to Frank. He placed them on his hands and down his arms. Frank noticed that wires came out of the stickers and were connected to a small remote on Mr. Bryar's desk. He felt nauseous.
Mr. Bryar made sure the devices on his arms were secure before looking at Frank. "Okay. Now, stand up." The smaller slowly nodded and stood up, taking in a deep breath. He had begun to shake. "Drop your pants."
Frank's eyes widened. "What?"
The other's eyes narrowed. "Drop your pants." He lifted more pairs of the stickers. "Trust me. I don't want to see anything down there. This is just my job."
Frank stared at him and slowly lowered his hands, making sure not to make any of the objects on his hands fall off. He shook his hips, his pants and boxers lowering. They soon dropped down to his knees and stayed there. Mr. Bryar grunted and bent down, attaching a couple stickers to Frank's groin and genitals. The black-head stared at the window, chewing on his lips. What was he planning to do? he asked himself, closing his eyes.
"Okay. Now, pull up your boxers. Leave your pants down." Frank did as he was told and sat down in his chair, looking ahead. Mr. Bryar walked behind his desk and sat in his chair. He held the controller carefully before glancing at Frank. "Place your arms on the rests—that's what they're for." He took a long breath and extended his arms and laid them on the rests. He looked ahead at the projector screen, his throat tightening.
Mr. Bryar grunted and shifted around. "Now, I'm going to be showing you a few images and videos on the screen. Nothing too scary, okay?" He clicked a few times before a video popped up on the screen. Frank watched with narrowed eyes as the video began to play. His eyes widened once he realized that it was a man and a woman making out. He tilted his head as the video switched to another one. This time it was of the same couple having sex. Frank's lips parted, and he glanced at the teacher.
"Keep your eyes on the screen," he growled, clicking a few more times.
Frank quickly looked back ahead just as the video switched again. But this time, two men were shown. One of them had their face buried in the other's groin, giving him head. Frank shifted around in his seat before little pinpricks began to prod at his hands and arms. He stared at the stickers before glancing back up at the screen. The pain intensified incredibly, and the stickers that were applied to his groin had begun to shock him, too.
He jumped up in the seat, arching his back. "Oh, God!" He looked down and twitched uncontrollably. "Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop!" he cried, looking over at Mr. Bryar, but the teacher wasn't looking at him.
Instead, he growled another, "Keep your eyes on the screen."
Frank closed his eyes and tried to block the pain. He opened up his eyes, and the video had switched back to the heterosexual couple. The pain had stopped; he wasn't getting the shocks anymore. He let out a deep breath and leaned back in the seat, swallowing roughly. But just as the pain stopped, it started back up again when Mr. Bryar switched back to the two men having sex. He shuddered and withered in his seat, biting down on his lip. He didn't want to let out a sound, but it was getting extremely hard to do that when the shocks were slowly being intensified in the stickers that were attached to his groin. He leaned forward and raised up his hands to rub his eyes, but the shocks were now being intensified in his hands, and he could practically feel the pain in his eye sockets.
"Sit up, keep your eyes on the screen, and place your arms on the rests."
Frank let out a small whimper before straightening up and carefully placing his arms back on the rests. He looked ahead, watching the gay pornography in front of him. Soon, the video switched to another heterosexual couple, and the shocks were stopped.
He could feel tears slowly slide down his cheeks.
How was this allowed?
Frank walked out of the building, arms wrapped around himself. He was there for about two hours, he thought, but he couldn't know for certain. All he could remember was the pain that flowed through his body. He hugged himself as he headed to the recreation center, knowing that he wouldn't be allowed in the dorm hall until seven that evening.
He slid into the building and immediately went up to the second floor, not meeting any of the boys in the pool's gaze. He turned on his heel and started over to the couch that was beside the table tennis booth he had sat at the day before. He plopped down on the end of it and laid his forehead on his knees. He sniffed and wrapped his arms around his stomach. He could still feel the pinpricks of pain all around him.
"Frank! There you are!"
He lifted up his head to see Brendon fluttering over to him. But as the other got closer to the couch, his face immediately fell. He sat down on the couch right next to Frank and laid a hand on his shoulder. "You got the electric shock, didn't you?" He only nodded as he leaned towards Brendon and eventually wrapped his arms around the other, pressing his body up against his. He slowly crawled on top of his lap, straddling his hips, and wrapped his arms around his neck. Frank pulled himself in close and hid his face in Brendon's neck.
"It was horrible," he breathed out, closing his eyes.
Brendon wrapped his arms around Frank's middle, holding him close. He ran his fingertips along his spine. "I know, but it gets better eventually."
He raised up his head, staring at him. "How do you make it stop?" he muttered, eyes wide and shiny.
Brendon raised up a hand and pushed Frank's hair behind his ear. "I think about Ryan. I remember all the happy times we've spent together before I was carted off here." He threaded his fingers through the dark hair. "Love, ultimately, conquers the pain, and, soon, you won't be able to feel it at all. But just act like you do at certain moments, or else you'll be switched to being injected with drugs that make you sick." Frank's eyes widened, but Brendon shushed him. "Don't worry about it." He guided the other's hand to rest against his shoulder again. He began to stroke his hair again and the nape of his neck. "All we can do is pray."
Frank looked ahead and reached out a hand, dragging his index finger across the hollow of the other's throat. "Where is Ryan?" he asked quietly, unsure if he wanted to know the answer.
"Military school," Brendon breathed out in response. He tangled his fingers in Frank's hair. "I don't know if I'll be able to see him again, but I always look on the bright side and pray." He closed his eyes. "I do hope I get to see him again, though."
The other continued to stroke the hollow of Brendon's throat before sniffing. "I hope you do, too."
He smiled. "What's your man's name?"
Frank looked up at him, blinking. "Gerard."
Brendon smiled. "Well, Gerard's a lucky man."
Frank hugged him.
Stefani knocked on the bedroom door before walking inside. She looked over at Frank, who was on his bed, doodling. He stared at her, eyebrows furrowed. "Yes?" he asked, laying his notebook aside.
The blonde pushed back her hair before raising up a hand. "I almost forgot to tell you something. Mr. Armstrong wanted me to tell you that you'll be escorted to the nearby jail where Minister Way is held. He said that you deserved to see him tomorrow." She shrugged and nodded. "Oh, and he said something about having a happy birthday." She waved her hand and gave him a smile. "I best be off." She turned around and walked away, heels making contact with the floor.
Frank looked ahead at the spot where Stefani had been, and he immediately felt a smile grow on his face. He didn't care that Brendon was giving him looks from across the room, or that he was questioning him about who Gerard actually was—he was just happy.
That night, he decided, he might actually say a goodnight prayer with Brendon.
"I don't understand."
Brendon lifted up his head and stared at Frank, who was laying on the floor beside him. He furrowed his brow and rested his hand on his chin. "Understand what?"
Brendon turned over in bed, looking up at the ceiling. He let out a small sigh before closing his eyes. "I'm sorry."
He heard movement coming from below, and he soon felt Frank crawl into the bed with him. He didn't move. He just let the smaller curl into his side.
"Why is everybody stupid?"
"I don't know."
"Say a prayer to me."
Brendon sighed and wrapped an arm around Frank's shoulders, rubbing his shoulder. He paused for a second or two before looking down at Frank. "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And when I wake in the morning's light, teach me the path of love to take."
Frank slowly looked up at Brendon, eyes wide. He studied him for a second before switching his gaze to look ahead. He raised up a hand to stroke the hollow of his throat.
Frank heard movement on the other side of the room. He didn't move, though. He couldn't. When he even attempted to move, the only thing he could feel and remember were the shocks he had received only hours beforehand. He suddenly felt nauseous. He groaned and turned over onto his side.
"Are we allowed to be up this late?"
Brendon caught the small paper wad the other had thrown at him. He crushed it in his palm slightly before throwing it back. "No."
"Oh. Well, it's my birthday in an hour or so."
"Yeah. Do we do anything on Halloween here?"
"Of course not."
Frank grimaced as he threw the crumpled wad at the wall.
Whispers came from the front of the room. It sounded like they were coming by the door. Frank sighed and let out an irritated breath. He wanted to yell. He wanted to say that he was trying to sleep. That he should be allowed to sleep in, since he had just turned sixteen, but instead, he rolled around in the bed, pulling a pillow over his head.
"When will you see Ryan again?"
"I don't know."
"When will you see Gerard again?"
"You heard Stefani today. I get to see him tomorrow. Well, today in a couple of minutes."
Frank flashed Brendon a look before playfully slipping the thick-rimmed glasses from his face and putting them on himself. He ran about the room, giggling and dodging Brendon's swings.
The bedroom door slowly closed, but that didn't lessen Frank's worries. He stayed underneath the pillow, eyes closed and fists clenched. He let out a breath he had been holding and shifted around in the bed. He heard someone approach his bed and sit down. He froze and resisted to turn his head.
He looked over at Brendon beside him, chest heaving from running around the room. He roughly swallowed and furrowed his brow. "Yeah?"
Brendon reached over and took the glasses off of Frank's face. He slipped them back on his own. He stared at Frank before glancing at the alarm clock beside his bed. "Happy Birthday."
The two stared at each other for a second or two before Brendon slowly leaned in, sliding his eyes closed and pressing his lips to the other's cheek. Frank closed his eyes and parted his lips. He shivered.
Frank shivered and curled his toes. "Yeah?"
"Lift up your head."
The now-sixteen year old carefully pulled his head up out from under the pillow. He turned his head and looked over, seeing Brendon sitting on his bed. He had his hands in his lap, and he looked like he was already freshly dressed and everything. How could he have done that, when they had only managed to fall asleep only a mere couple hours ago?
Frank groaned and sat up in bed. He raised his arms above his head, stretching. "What time is it?" he asked, yawning all the while. He smacked his lips.
Brendon turned his head to look at the clock. "Six o'clock." Frank's eyes widened, which made him hold out his hands and wave them. "Now, don't get mad at me. I had a good reason to." The other narrowed his eyes, and Brendon carefully stood up from the bed. He walked over to his side of the room. "I heard from a little birdie that you had to pretty yourself up to see a certain someone."
Frank bit his lip, resisting to smile. "Really? And who was that little birdie? Stefani?"
He shook his head. "Surprisingly, no. It was Miss Stewart." He nodded and turned on his heel. "Oh, and I kinda went through your clothes. You have absolutely nothing nice to wear." He started over to his dresser and opened it, pulling out white button-downs and dress pants. Frank grimaced and swung his legs over the side of the bed, standing up. His ankles popped as he went over to his dresser, opening it.
"I have nice clothes."
"No, no. Those won't do." Brendon walked over to Frank and turned him around. He pressed the crisp clothing into the other's chest and stared at him. Before he knew it, Brendon was crying.
Frank's eyes widened. "What's wrong?" He took the clothes and held them close. "I'll wear them, Brendon. Don't worry." He frowned and lightly touched his neck.
Brendon sucked in a deep breath and shook his head. "It's just… I'm so happy for you." He seemed to force a smile as he gestured at Frank. "You finally get to see Gerard after… a few days. And I'm still waiting to be able to see Ryan after a year." He continued to smile and began to nod. "Yeah…" He bit his lip and lowered his head, holding his head in his hands. He continued to cry.
Frank nervously patted his shoulder, not really knowing how to console the other. So, he quickly got dressed before wrapping his arms around the taller's middle, holding him close.
"Come on, Brendon. There's nothing to be sad about. You'll see Ryan in no time. I just got lucky."
Brendon lifted up his head, but looked down at the ground. "Or God hates me." Frank's eyes widened and froze. He didn't say anything. He didn't know what to say. Brendon sighed and stretched out his hands, patting down his shirt collar and running his fingertips along the smooth surface. "You look so nice." He rubbed the first button with his index finger before extending his middle finger to rub the second one. He sighed and lifted up his head, no longer crying as much. "Let's go, I guess."
He turned on his heel and started out of the room, leaving Frank alone. He was about to go and sit on his bed, but he heard Brendon shout "birthday boy" over his shoulder, so he jumped up and hurried after him.
As soon as Frank stepped foot into the office, he instantly knew something bad was about to go down.
Father Armstrong was standing by the counter with Stefani close by. They both had a saddened expression on their face, and Father Armstrong was muttering in her ear. Stefani closed her eyes and shook her head. For a split second Frank thought they were talking about him, since the two of them had quit talking when he closed the office door. He nervously bit his lip and stared at the two of them. "Hello?" They stared at Frank with wide eyes. Frank roughly swallowed and turned his head, going to reach out for Brendon for comfort, but the other was no where to be found. He furrowed his brow.
"Oh, Frank, I see you remembered my message from last night," Stefani said, breaking the silence between them. She took a step forward and held out her hand. "Come with us, and we'll escort you."
Frank gave each of them a look. "What were you guys talking about?" He reached out his hand and slipped it into Stefani's. His fingers curled. Her hands were soft.
She gave Father Armstrong a glance before pulling Frank in, turning to lead him to the back door. The older sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "We were talking about your roommate's little friend."
Frank turned his head, staring at the Father with wide eyes. "Ryan? What about him?" The other gave a small frown and opened his mouth to say something, but Frank interrupted him. "What happened? Is he okay?"
Father Armstrong put his hands together and looked down. "There was an incident at the military school he was staying at—"
Stefani quickly pulled him towards the door as if she didn't want Frank to hear what had happened. "Come on. Hurry up. Don't want to keep Miss Stewart waiting." She pushed him out of the office and slammed the door shut behind him. Frank frowned and turned his head to stare at the closed door. He nibbled on his lip before turning on his heel and starting over to the small black car that had stationed itself under a tree. He took a deep breath before starting over to the car and pulling open the door, sliding into the back seat. He crossed his arms over his chest, looking at the driver—Miss Stewart.
She awkwardly waved, studying him, before turning to face front. She put her hands on the steering wheel. "Hello, Frank," she said kindly.
Frank forced a smile. "Hello, Kristen. Good morning?" he asked, turning his head to look out of the window.
She started the car and began to drive off. "Yeah." She nodded, furrowing her brow. She glanced at Frank through her rear view mirror. "And you?"
He laughed a bit. "Excellent morning," he said with faux-happiness.
Trees began to flood his vision, making him dizzy from all the greenery.
Kristen and Frank stood in the prison lobby in silence. Frank crossed his arms over his chest and attempted to stay calm. He slowly breathed out, pursing his lips a bit. Kristen looked around and put her hands into her sweat jacket pockets. "This is great." Frank glanced at her. "Really." She nodded.
Frank looked ahead and closed his eyes. "When can I see him?" he asked in a low voice. "I could be sleeping right now." He opened his eyes and gave Kristen a look.
She frowned and ran a hand through her hair, ruffling it. "Be patient." She walked over to the counter, placing her hands on the surface. She began to talk to the woman behind it in a stern, low voice.
Frank let out a loud stream of sighs before turning his head and looking at the other people that were in the lobby. They gave him funny looks.
A few minutes later, Kristen walked back up to Frank, fixing her button-down. "You'll be able to see him in a couple minutes."
He narrowed his eyes. "What did you do?" he asked.
Kristen scrunched up her nose and lowered her hands. "Secretary may or may not have been a lesbian." She turned her head, seeing a door off to the side open. Her eyes widened, and she reached out a hand to push Frank towards the door. "There! Go see your man!"
Frank smiled and turned his head, looking at the brunette. She gave him a smile in return before pushing him again. Frank faced forward and started towards the open door, peering inside carefully. He stepped inside as the door shut behind him.
Even though Kristen was a worker for that God-awful camp, it seemed that she didn't disapprove of Frank's sexuality, or think of him any less because of it. She didn't exactly know what took place during the 'classes', which only made Frank grow suspicious—how much did the workers know?—but he appreciated Kristen's contradictory attitude all the same.
The room he had just entered was obviously the visitation room. There was a large clock on the side of the wall, and a long piece of glass that seemed to split the room into two sides. There was a long counter spread out on either side of the glass, and it was divided into separate cubicles. Chairs were in each little section. On each side of the glass were people visiting their loved ones and friends who happened to end up in this place. Frank's stomach dropped. He was no exception.
Frank walked over to an empty cubicle and sat down in the plastic chair. He looked around the small area, seeing a phone on the corner of the counter. He reached out a hand to lightly touch it.
A tap came from the glass, which made him raise up his head. He blinked, confused at first, but then his eyes widened when he realized the source had come from the Youth Minister.
"Gerard!" he said, reaching out a hand to touch the glass. On the other side was, indeed, the black-head. Since the last time he had seen the other, Gerard had looked as if he had lost weight, and his hair was getting longer. As Frank studied the ugly orange jumpsuit Gerard was wearing, he scratched at the glass. "Gerard, it's so good to see you." He gave him a goofy smile.
Gerard stared at him with a confused expression on his face. He raised up his hands, showing handcuffs around his wrists, and pointed at the phone on the counter. Frank's eyes widened, and he mentally smacked his forehead. How could he be so stupid?
Frank reached out a hand and took the phone, holding it up to his ear. He waited for Gerard to do the same before speaking. "Oh, Gerard, it's so good to see you." He studied him again and tightened his grip on the phone. "I've missed you so much."
The other gave him a weak smile and tilted his head to the side. "I've missed you, too." His voice sounded different over the phone. Still, Frank held the phone close to his ear, like it was his lifeline.
A silence hung between the two, and Frank didn't mind. It felt oddly comforting to him. He lifted up his gaze and looked at Gerard. He was already staring. He bit his lip and glided his fingertips along the counter.
"Happy Birthday, Frank, dear," Gerard muttered into the phone. Frank slowly smiled. "I love you, and… I'm sorry I couldn't be there." He reached out a hand and tapped the glass. Frank could hear the handcuffs rattle through the phone. "I would give anything to be out of here." He slowly closed his eyes.
Frank studied him before scooting closer to the other, sitting on the edge of his seat. He reached out his own hand to touch the glass, where Gerard's fingers were. "It's okay." He slowly sighed. "It's… not your fault."
Gerard curled his fingers. "Did you get sent anywhere?"
"Yes. Camp Cleanse the Soul, or something like that."
"Are they treating you well there?"
"This is all my fault."
Frank heard Gerard groan and his fingers drag down the glass. He held his head in his free hand and sighed. He frowned and tapped the glass, trying to get his attention. "This isn't your fault. I'll be fine. I'm not weak."
"You're only sixteen."
"So? I'm strong." He narrowed his eyes and pecked the glass. "And I seem way stronger than you right now."
Gerard looked over at him, blinking. "You're stronger? I'm in prison right now, Frank. You have no idea what I've been through so far."
"I should say the same to you." He placed his hand into his lap before pressing the phone closer to his ear. "Do you have any idea what happens in reparative therapy camps? What the actual therapy is?" Gerard began to shake his head, and Frank continued. "You get electric shocks in the most unpleasant places, and Brendon told me that if you don't show any progress, you get injected with drugs."
Gerard stared at Frank for a moment or two before frowning. He raised up a hand to scratch his face. He looked down and remained quiet. After several seconds Gerard looked up at him, blinking. "You made a friend?" He gave a small smile.
He didn't know if this was a joke or not—if Gerard was making fun of him. He slowly sighed and rubbed his eyes. Gerard rarely joked around with him anyway. Frank looked over at the other and nodded. "Yes. I made a friend. He's my roommate."
Silence hung in the air again as Gerard scanned Frank. Soon, the black-head reached out a hand, touching the glass again. "Frank, promise me that you'll wait."
Frank lifted his head and stared at him. He blinked. "What?"
Gerard curled his fingers. "Wait for me. Don't go off with anybody else while I'm in here. Please."
There was a strange pleading in Gerard's tone, which made thoughts and memories flood to Frank. A montage of various scenes played in front of Frank's eyes. He saw Gerard and him meeting up in the confessional for the first time; Gerard rocking him to sleep in his bed; Gerard and him making love for the first time, despite his own doubts and confusions about the whole idea; and lastly he could see Gerard being pulled away from him by an officer, tears streaming down his face, and he could feel the pain that was in his chest when everything had happened.
Frank closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He slowly began to nod and opened his eyes. "Yes." He reached out his hand to touch the glass, the spot where Gerard's fingers were. "I'll wait. It's too good not to."
Frank returned to camp a little after noon. Kristen had persuaded the man on guard to let Gerard be able to go over his visitation time by several minutes. After the visit and when Frank and Kristen had made it back to the car, he had thrown his arms around her and sobbed into her neck.
She had seemed reluctant to comfort him back, but eventually laid out a hand to pat his back. "It's going to be okay," she had said, before loading Frank into the passenger seat and driving off.
Now, Frank was heading up the stairs of the recreation center. The only thing in his mind was to tell Brendon everything that had happened in his visit with Gerard. But as he reached the landing, he figured that would be impossible, as a crowd had formed around one of the table tennis tables. It seemed as if all the boys were crowded around that single table for some odd reason. Frank furrowed his eyebrows and began to push his way through. What was so interesting anyway?
As he got closer to the source of the crowd, he saw Brendon sitting on the table. He had his arm wrapped around a small boy's shoulders, holding him close. He was laughing and hugging the other at every opportunity he could get. The boy seemed to be the same age as Brendon, though he was smaller in size. Frank didn't know what the big deal was until he pushed through the last person—and then he saw it.
The boy was missing an arm.
Frank's eyes seemed to do a cross between a widening and a narrowing, which only made him seem like he had a problem. He raised up a hand to tap against his lips before beginning to move over to the dark-head. "Brendon?" His voice seemed so small compared to the others' voices.
Brendon didn't seem to notice Frank's voice, for he continued to pay attention to the amputee. He reached out his other hand and ran a hand through their short brown hair. "You're just like how I remembered you," he said with a small smile.
"I should say the same to you, Brenny," the other said. He made a fist and lightly punched Brendon's jaw, smiling, giggling.
Brendon leaned forward and nuzzled his cheek before softly kissing the skin. Frank remembered Brendon kissing his own cheek early that morning. He lightly touched his cheek before shaking his head. He moved out of the crowd, feeling thoughts whirl around in his head.
"Hey, Ryan. How about you tell us what happened?"
"Did the camp really get invaded?"
"Was it true a grenade blew off your arm?"
Frank felt his shoulder get a hard shove as people moved to get closer. He closed his eyes and held up a hand to touch his temple. "Damn," he hissed, turning his head to look at who had shoved him, but he soon felt someone grab his upper arm and pull him hard. "The hell…" He lifted up his head to see Mr. Bryar pulling him over to the stairs. Frank's eyes widened, and he began to shake. "What are you doing?"
Mr. Bryar only glanced at him before tightening his grip on his arm. This did nothing for Frank's nerves, though. He began to shake even more. He twisted and turned, looking to find another way out of the building. He was not going to go through another class. He had had enough the previous day. He whipped his head around. The window. Could he jump out of the window? He craned his arm around and attempted to break through Mr. Bryar's grip. "No. I'm not going back there."
Frank looked over, seeing Brendon run over to him, pushing past people. The amputee named Ryan followed close behind, trying his best to maneuver. He reached out a hand, feeling Brendon's fingers against his own before a sharp pain pierced his neck. His eyes widened, and he turned his head, seeing Mr. Bryar's hand on his neck. He felt his eyelids start to droop before he crumpled to the ground.
Frank opened his eyes and saw that he was in his dorm. He started to sit up, but someone grabbed his shoulder. "Not so fast." He lifted his gaze, seeing Mr. Bryar standing beside him. His eyes widened. Mr. Bryar squeezed his shoulder. "Don't stress. You need to relax."
He only nodded before looking ahead, seeing Brendon, Ryan, and Stefani standing around his bed. He furrowed his eyebrows before raising up his arms to cross over his chest. "What happened?"
Stefani let out a little hum before raising up a hand. "You had a visitor, and I made Mr. Bryar come fetch you, but something must have happened."
Brendon nodded and looked over at him. "You were freaking out. I think you were afraid of going to another class." He glanced at Mr. Bryar, who grunted. He removed his hand from Frank's shoulder and crossed his arms over his chest.
Ryan looked at everybody before resting his eyes on Frank. "I'm Ryan. But I think you already knew that. I was transferred here after… well. You might have heard." He glanced at his shoulder, where his arm should have been. Brendon raised up a hand to stroke his side. Mr. Bryar cleared his throat, and Stefani reached out a hand, pulling Brendon's hand away from Ryan.
Frank simply nodded and nibbled on his fingernail. "Yeah. I know who you are." He studied him before slowly looking over at Stefani. "I had a visitor?" he asked, remembering what she had said.
Her eyes widened, and she nodded. "Oh, yes. Almost forgot!" She turned on her heel and shuffled over to the bedroom door, pulling it open. Mr. Bryar made his way over there, as well. Stefani smiled and moved out of the way, letting Mr. Iero walk into the room.
Frank's eyes widened as he jumped off the bed and ran over to his father, throwing his arms around his neck. "Dad!"
Mr. Iero smiled and hugged his son back. "I had to be here for your birthday."
"Your mother didn't want me to come."
"So, you're only here?"
"I got you a present. Well, me and Minister Way did."
Frank's eyes widened, extending a hand to take the box Mr. Iero had pulled out. He carefully pulled it towards him, studying it. He glanced at the other before opening it.
Inside the box was a necklace with a little pumpkin charm. He slowly smiled, taking out the piece of jewelry and holding it up to the light. Light bounced off of the surface. He looked over at his father, smiling again. "I love it." He lowered it and put it back in the box.
Mr. Iero smiled and rubbed his hands together. He looked around before studying his son. "Do you want me to put it on for you?"
Frank nodded. "Sure."
He held out the box for the other as he carefully took the necklace out. He walked up behind Frank and held it out. He brought the chain around to the nape of his neck, clasping it.
"There." Mr. Iero moved to sit beside him.
Frank lightly touched the necklace, liking the way it rested on his chest. He looked over at his father. "I really do like it. Thank you."
Mr. Iero smiled and looked ahead. He cleared his throat. "Needed something to remind you of Halloween in this place." He looked around the bedroom before sighing and dropping his gaze down to the floor. "You do know you have to stay here for a while."
Frank looked down and rubbed his neck. "Yeah."
"And in a while, I mean at least several months. Linda has her heart set on six." He turned his head to look at his son. "I don't want you to change who you are, Frank. I want you to stay with Minister Way, if he makes you that happy. And I'll be sad to see this place change your sexual orientation or just the type of person you are in general." He chewed on his thumb before studying Frank. "Just remember who you are and do what's right." He nodded.
Frank slowly smiled and wrapped his arms around his father's shoulders. He hugged him tightly. "I will, Dad. Thank you so much."
Mr. Iero hugged him back before pulling away. He looked down at him, scanning his face. "I hope you do the right thing, Frankieboy." He raised up his hand to ruffle his hair. "I gotta go." He stood up and started out of the bedroom, quietly closing the door behind him.
Frank stared at the closed door with glossy eyes. He lowered his gaze and curled his toes. He raised up a hand to lightly touch his necklace. He wrapped his fingers around the pumpkin charm.
He didn't know how long he was going to be stuck here, but he remembered his father's words, and he knew he was going to do the right thing in the end. He was going to tough through this camp from hell, and in only a matter of years, he was going to see Gerard again, and everything would go back to normal. Because he couldn't give him up. Gerard was his own little slice of heaven, and it was too good to give up.
Thank you for reading.