"Frank is broken. He is seventeen, but he believes his life may as well be already over. Gerard is your standard troubled kid in high school, until his parents agree to a new foster child; Frank."
This is my first attempt at writing a full length story. It's going to be a a long, rocky journey, and will likely be completed over the course of two years. I plan in advance, and so I expect according to my writing schedule, the finish date will be August 2013. There will be about forty chapters in total, and around 120K words. This story will not be left unfinished under any circumstances, unlike hundreds of other Frerard fics out there.
If can't feel unable to handle dark themes including abuse, rape, self-harm and various eating disorders, then I think it would be better if you left now. There are many fics which are considerably happier than this.
Each chapter will alternate viewpoints between Gerard and Frank. It will be written entirely in first person.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the members of My Chemical Romance, past or present. Yet.
On the day that it all happened, I was alone.
I was alone. Walking, coolly and quickly down the city streets in crowded downtown Manhattan, feeling little except the vibrations running through my body at the muted thud of my leather boots hitting the concrete. The crowds upon the pavement were like fields of harvest wheat. They jostled me, and it seemed as though the wind was bending the stalks in a bid to break them, but I barely felt it. I was alone inside my head with my music, like every other person in this damn empty city. Just another regular guy, trying to get to work ontime like everybody else.
Just me, just Gerard Way.
I knew my name was Gerard Way, only because they told me that was what it was, when I woke up from the transcent, endless sleep of a coma exactly two hundred and six days ago. They could have been lying of course, and I would know no difference. But statistically it seemed unlikely. I have nothing they would want, and I could see no way they would gain an advantage by concealing my identity. So for all intents and purposes, we can assume Gerard Way is my name.
Lying in a coma can be a beautiful thing. Up to one in three people who recover claim to retain some memory of the time. Their accounts depict a spectrum of experiences ranging from an absolute void to partial awareness within overall unconsciousness, much like dreaming during deep sleep. To my disappointment, I remembered nothing from my coma but the moment between sleep and wakefulness, when the sense of my corporeal self became absolute, and I came to exist again. Before then, my mind is a complete blank. I am like a half completed book, with all the previous chapters wiped out - as though the author had changed their mind halfway through the novel, leaving a character struggling to finish their own story, with no supporting background. I was like a mutated, monstrously overdeveloped newborn child, who is born into the world with the ability to speak, read and write. To function utterly normally, but with no memory of specific people or events.
I was half a man.
Of course, they filled in the gaps in my knowledge somewhat. Again, I had to merely hope they were telling the truth. They told me I was an artist, and my dream was to work for the Cartoon Network. They told me I had a mother and a father and two brothers, one real and one adopted. They told me I was twenty four years old.
The real brother came to visit sometimes, when I was in that room with the white walls after I first awoke. He said his name was Michael-call-me-Mikey. He sat awkwardly on the wooden chairs they provided, and tried hard to smile, but he could barely look me in the eye. Sometimes he brought a pretty dark-haired woman with him. I think she was his wife. She told me her name was Alicia. She seemed more relaxed around me than Michael-call-me-Mikey, and sometimes she showed me pictures of myself that I didn't remember being taken.
The adopted one never came. They told me his name was Frank, and that I had known him once, a very long time ago. But I didn't know him. They were wrong, I had never seen him before in my life.
On the day that it happened, all the birds flew away. They took to the air in a flurry of wings and feathers, their impossibly light forms clouding the blue skies and obscuring the sun. People in the street stopped and stared, titlting their heads back and gazing into the sky as though looking for a sign from God; as though they were praying. Tourists with more practice at reacting to the unexpected, pulled out cheap plastic cameras to snap this phenomenon, and across the street from me a young child tugged on an older woman's hand eagerly, excitedly. But I didn't notice. I kept walking, one measured tread after another, dodging around the occassional person who had actually come to a standstill. I was too busy being alone to pay attention.
On the day that it happened, I was nearly at work, because as it turned out they had been right. I was an artist, undeniably, so it looked like they hadn't been lying about that particular detail after all. However talent and employment rarely go hand in hand, and simply being an artist is no guarantee of a job in todays industry. It wasn't back then, and as far as I know it still isn't today. As it was, I worked in the basement of a comic book store, nurturing my other great love; of graphics. I was almost there, and I had just crossed the main intersection, dodging cars and buses, and blended safely back into the crowd when it happened.
The first thing we heard was the explosion.
It shattered the early morning peace -already partially disturbed by the birds - in a hailstorm of fire and screams, the screech of protesting metal. I looked up, up past the building and saw the monster. A bird of shiny silver metal, not of blood and feathers, was destroying the world. The shockwaves from the impact almost knocked me off my feet, and I reeled as I stood. I wasn't the only one. Everywhere, there was suddenly shouting, screaming, panic. But as I regained my balance, I just stared as people began to run, knocking into me, ignoring me in their blind terror like rats trapped on a sinking ship. I couldn't feel anything. I wasn't hurt, it wasn't touching me.
I looked up, into the sky and I saw it. The two towers. The end of the world. Because the world was on fire.
Before I could begin to process what had just occurred, it happened again. Suddenly the first terrible pillar of smoke and flame, was joined by its twin and there were two terrible flaming brands, jutting out into the sky.
I walked numbly towards the devastation, as though in a daze. My mind was strangely empty, no emotion or real thought. In retrospect, I believe I was going into shock. I was within a few hundred metres of the hit towers now, sensation barely returning. The acrid stench of burning brought me back to myself more than anything else. The flames were taking hold, somewhere halfway up the first tower, and beginning to spread. On the streets below, crowds gathered wherever there was a view of the smoking towers. As I looked around me in shock, peoples reactions ranged from stunned disbelief to weeping. As we watched the groan of protesting metal rose to a hideous screech like a beast in agony, and then we saw the building begin to buckle. As one, we watched as the World Trade Centre collapsed into a pile of smoking rubble. The dust cloud was choking, and I doubled over. Others, better men than I, immediately and quickly pitched in, doing what they could to direct traffic or assist people.
Along 6th Avenue, New Yorkers stood aghast as they watched the buildings burn, and a sudden shriek went up when the other tower collapsed, sending a huge plume dust into the air. People ran screaming as a growing cloud of debris hit the streets of lower Manhattan and pushed them up the Avenue. It was like a scene out of a movie as the huge ball of rubble grew behind a terrorised crowd, running for cover.
I learned later from the newspapers and television coverage, that further uptown, trolleys formed outside St. Vincent's Medical Centre in Greenwich Village awaiting the injured. Hospital staff went through the crowd pleading with people to donate blood. Shopkeepers shut-up shop, while others remained open as employees gathered around televisions and radios to hear what had happened. Major north-south thoroughfares were shut down for access to police and emergency vehicles only, as pedestrians made their way uptown. It has always amazed me how some people react to tragedies. The human condition is one to endure, to adapt, to cope and survive. Miracles happened that day. Heroes were made, people were found alive where they should have died, and strangers joined together in a doomed attempt to comprehend the depth of the disaster that had struck when they least expected it.
I wish I could say I contributed in some useful way that day. That perhaps I joined the search for the missing, or extended a hand to a passer-by who had simply broken down in tears - because there were plenty - or helped to organise food and clothing in some way, or anything.
But I didn't. I was still just standing there. Alone.
I saw the bodies fall from the sky.
I saw people on fire.
I watched the world burn around me, and for the first time in seven years since the moment I entered that coma, I felt again. Sensation and memory cut through me like a knife, and I remembered everything.
The Memoirs of Gerard Way.
Was it the best idea to start with the moment where I regained my memory? I have no idea, because I've never written a book before. To tell the truth, it was essentially a ploy. I just wanted to capture your interest and drag you into the story. Please don't think worse of me though, or imagine I'm making a mockery of the twin towers - because in all honesty they were the most horrific thing I have ever experienced in all my years. But my emotions are mixed, you see. Because on the day that so many people lost their lives, I had mine returned to me.
Maybe I should have started this story from the moment Frank Iero first entered my life. Perhaps I ought to have given you the whole story from there, and ended my tale with the disaster. After all, that was when my life really began. But you see the hardest part of writing a book, I am discovering, is not the art of constructing sentences and paragraphs. It is deciding what to include, what events are relevant, which conversations really need to be written down. Which order I should place them in. I'm constantly second guessing myself, even now. But this is my first foray into the world of the literary, so you will have to forgive me all my flaws. I am only a man with just a pen, and a story.
Every man needs a purpose, and this is my new one. Since I was seventeen, my purpose was Frank Iero. I didn't realise it when I first met him, and our start was hardly auspicious. But since I awoke from the coma, he has been the only thing on my mind, and I am like a boat adrift without him. My psychologist, a truly wonderful woman called Eliza, was the first to suggest I write everything down from beginning to end, although I am not a writer, but an artist. Words are an unfamiliar alien language to me, and they cluster around me with their individual uses, threatening and frightening to confront. I cannot afford to make mistakes with them, and yet I know I do with every sentence I type. With my paints and my canvases I feel safe, because I am allowed to be wrong. Wrong is good, messy is encouraged, failure is simply another method of creation. My writing is like art, because it is ugly and flawed.
Still, sometimes a story must be told. It is nothing special, but it is mine and that makes it significant to me. You my dear reader, are simply an accident.
So let me return to when I was seventeen, and my life was about to change.
It was a Friday afternoon when I first heard about the new kid. I had just escaped the tyranny of double maths, and was pushing my way down the corridor like everyone else, hoping to make it out of the front doors unscathed.
Mikey came out of nowhere, collared me, and dragged me to one side of the hall. "They're talking about fostering again!" He shouted in my ear, then disappeared into the melee before I could ask him what he was talking about. I could hazard a guess he meant our parents. They were always talking about fostering though. Doubtful they'd ever actually do anything about it.
I had been in this school long enough to know that the comment was intended for me. The damn jocks that patrolled the hallways at all times like some neo-nazi version of the boy scouts, couldn't make it through half an hour without a little bit of well-meant torment. Unfortunately for me, I had also been around this place long enough to know precisely what would happen should I respond. I wasn't in the mood for a fist fight today, my only goal was to make it home. I kept walking down the corridor, flicking long strands of stringy black hair out of my eyes and focusing on the dirty linoleum floor rather than the comments that were increasing in volume. My last lesson was over and I was almost out the door. What could possibly happen?
A balled up paper missile hit the back of my head as I continued towards the double doors at the end of the corridor, the inevitable laughter erupting around me like a scene from one of those high school movies we all love to hate. But honestly, I wasn't particularly concerned by this development. Thirteen years of attending school with these exact same people, had taught me paper was okay. Hell, paper was good. But sods law came into play, and no sooner had I re-assured myself with this comforting thought, than a text-book hit me smack bang in the face. Painful. Why did the school think it was a good idea to produce a hardback edition?
I closed my eyes, hoping my feet would guide me out the door, and pretended I wasn't there. This was a game I often played when things happened. I would have whole conversations in my head with someone who wasn't there. Pretended I was somewhere else, with someone else, talking to them instead. I would centre myself by telling them all about me, reminding myself in the process. What would I say to them today?
Maybe I would start by apologising. I'm so sorry, I'm being terribly rude here, allowing myself to get caught up in the moment, I would say.
Please, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Gerard Way, no abbreviations thank you very much, unless your name is Michael Way and you're my little brother. Which I must admit, I find extremely unlikely. Yes I'm Gerard. Seventeen years old, resident artist and faggot at this little American high school in the back waters of New Jersey. Not the prettiest combination in the world.
Of course if you're really here for the the ride, I would warn them, you'll work this out all by yourself. But let me tell you I'm unpopular, to say the least. I dress too dark to be cool; I smoke too much to be a jock; and my raging homosexuality makes being around other people difficult. So shoot me, I'm fucking flaming. Of course, if we're being honest I should probably let a sliver of the truth in as well. I don't get on with people because, well, I suppose always worry while I'm not looking, they're joining in with the general mass opinion that I'm a freak and a weirdo. Call me paranoid, but I've had one too many beatings in this place.
What else to might I say? Doing my very best to introduce myself, but honestly I think you'll find I'm pretty uninteresting underneath the eyeliner and paint. I have two parents and a little brother called Michael, who I already mentioned as the only person allowed to abbreviate my name, and only grudgingly at that. I call him Mikey. He's a good couple of years younger than me, but manages to keep a close eye on me in all my classes, thanks to a 4.1 GPA that allowed him to be pushed up a few grades.
If I was really talking to someone, I would sigh and probably roll my eyes at this point in the conversation. Can you blame me? Mikey might be a genius, but it has had the predictable effect of making the little smart-arse not only the apple of our mothers eye, but also an insufferable and terminal pain in the arse.
Oh, and while we're on the subject of terminal pains, I want to be an artist. Rather badly at that.
By this point I had made it through the school doors and left behind the mass exodus, hopefully with only a mild concussion to brighten up my afternoon. My miniature conversation with myself had grounded me like it always did. Initially a suggestion by my therapist - before I threw a fit and got kicked out of her office - it never failed to remind me of who I was. Even if the person I was happened, in fact, to be a sarcastic asshole. But I was happy that way.
Before I could continue down my contentedly self-absorbed train of thought however, I was interrupted by the afore mentioned mini-genius who chose this particular moment to make an entrance, conveniently too late to save my right cheekbone.
"Gee!" Mikey called, hurrying to catch up with me as I headed out of the school gates.
"Where've you been?" I asked. My question was answered as he went pink and ducked his head under his long, meticulously straightened brown fringe. "Oh. With Alicia." Mikey and Alicia had been dating solidly for three years. Mikey met the girl in the first week we moved here, and had instantly fallen head over heels in love. He was barely twelve years old, but informed us determinedly from day one, that Alicia was the girl he was going to marry. We had all smiled indulgently, patted them both on the head and waited for the relationship to end in a wave of teen angst and tears. We were still waiting. It had gotten to the point that I'd even given up teasing him about it - unless of course it was a special occasion.
Mikey either didn't notice, or didn't care how blatantly uninterested I was in just about everything he had to say. After three years of walking this exact same stretch of sidewalk, he still didn't pick up on my dull tone of voice. Sometimes I wasn't sure if Mikey was deliberately making conversation just so I spoke a few words every day, or was genuinely unaware I didn't give a damn. The boy continued chattering happily the whole way, prattling on about school and Alicia, alternating smoothly between each every few minutes. I concentrated on my ripped red converse hitting the sidewalk in a steady rhythm, trying to drown him out with varying degrees of success.
Now don't get me wrong here, Mikey has been there for me through a hell of a lot. It's not that I don't like him, or even that he annoys me in any violent way. Hell, I love the kid. But even though he probably has a greater brain capacity and higher IQ than half the people in our grade, he still has the mentality of a child majority of the time. God knows how Alicia puts up with him.
And remember the little comment I made regarding my dubious popularity a few paragraphs back? To break down the illusion entirely, I have to admit that aside from my two best friends from New York, Ray and Robert, who I haven't seen in three years, Michael Way is all the company I get.
When we finally arrived home, Mikey peeled away to his bedroom, no doubt to search up Alicia online at the earliest convenience. Either that or make conversation with our parents, another task I was only too happy to delegate to the favourite Way child. I just headed straight downstairs, threw myself onto my filthy bed and shrugged my black Misfits satchel off my shoulder. Pulling my shoes and clothes off, I slumped back against the pillows in my briefs and lit up a cigarette. Inhaling appreciatively, I looked around my room.
Located in the basement of our supposedly stylish house, it was a far cry from the clean cut wholesome American decor my parents favoured. No white walls and pot plants for me, thank you very much. I had chosen to walk a different path many, many years ago. My walls were a deep blood red, the product of months of begging. Typically, there was virtually no need for it as band posters obscured almost all the red, and where there weren't posters there were my sketches, and my poetry scrawled on scraps of paper, and pinned up roughly. To call it a mess would be an understatement; the immediate aftermath of a detonated atomic bomb would be a better description.
Piles of dirty clothes, plates and CDs littered the floor, which was so dirty and bloodstained it was hard to see the original colour. My blood only. At this tender stage in my life, I hadn't quite sufficiently developed my more homicidal tendencies to the extent that I would be spilling the blood of others. Or at least, I hadn't brought them into my bedroom.
My chipped wooden desk had almost as many cigarette burns as my bed, which I liked to think of as artistic expression, rather than being too lazy to find an ashtray. Less easy to explain were the deep scores in the wood, inflicted by my alcohol-fuelled rages when I'd manage to successfully channel my fury into the desk rather than myself for a change. I still had bunk beds; a constant reminder of my childhood with Mikey, back in New York where we grew up. I stared above me at the narrow slats supporting the top bunk. Mikey had called top as soon as he was tall enough to scramble up there, and there was never a point arguing. Mikey the toddler was an absolute terror when he didn't get his own way. Even after we moved here and Mikey was granted his own bedroom, I was in the habit of sleeping on the bottom.
I pulled my sketchbook from my bag and flicked through the full pages until I came to one void of marks. I love my sketchbook. Every time I buy a new one I decorate the front cover with a mixture of paint, charcoal and ink, in crazy patterns. Sometimes I put quotes on there too, and then I have to wait for it all to dry. It's utterly necessary. No matter what scenes or faces entrance me as I observe the world around epme, I can still never bring myself to open the book until the cover is completed. And then there is the joy of desecrating the first page with dark bold lines, the adrenaline rush that comes with it. The understanding that the first page must be perfect because if anyone ever looks through the sketchbook, it's what they're going to see first, and first impressions are important. Then the slow satisfaction as days pass and the pages are filled with sights, thoughts and faces. The quiet contentment upon reaching the final page, dating it, and closing the cover. Then the whole process begins again.
Chewing on a pencil, I lay back and began to idly sketch, taking a deep drag on my cigarette to help me focus. Lines flowed smoothly from the tip of my pencil; tracing figures, wings, a night sky, a boy holding a guitar... I wasn't paying attention to what I was drawing, and it certainly wasn't anything particularly inspired but I didn't care. This was how most of my evenings were spent these days. Just me and my sketchbooks, concentrating on the Smashing Pumpkins blaring through my beat up stereo.
"The world is a vampire
Sent to drain
Hold you up to the flames
And what do I get for my pain?
Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game"
Lulled by the rasping vocals, I continued to sketch my way through the afternoon. It's the only thing I can do right anymore.
I was so caught up in my thoughts that I barely noticed when my pencil moved slower and slower over the paper, and my drawings finally ceased and turned into dreams.
In order to continue scribing this book the way I envisioned it, I'm afraid at this point I am going to have to cease writing from my own point of view. This story isn't just mine, it belongs to Frank too. The experiences and the life Frank lived is so intrinisically enwtined with mine, that it must be told alongside my own. Therefore I must let his voice guide you through the labyrinth of his personal tale. This is something I pieced together over the years, from his own words, and those of people who had once known him. But in the end, Frank simply told me his own story from start to finish - and I cannot do it justice if I don't tell it to you exactly the way he told me.
Franks story and my story run along the same timeline. I think you should know his side of it at the same time that you hear mine - it's only fair that way. So we will take it in turns to continue our tale, piece by piece.
Thank you for reading.
"Well now this could be the last of all the rides we take...so hold on tight and don't look back..."