‹ Prequel: Frank Iero: P.A.

Gerard Way: Artist


“You haven’t pinned a single tail on the donkey, you haven’t spun the bottle and you didn’t even try to secure a seat in musical chairs...”

Juliet goes on at length about all the ways I haven’t participated in her sons’ birthday party. I hear the words, I see the family-friendly chaos playing out before me, but I can’t shake the image of Frank’s face or the sound of his voice from my mind. Those questions he asked me were so simple and they shouldn’t have gotten to me. They have though, because they were genuine.

“Gerard!” Juliet is standing directly in front of me now, her face extremely close to mine. “Can you at least pretend you are having fun?”

“I’m sorry that the idea of adults playing childish games under the pretence of this being a children’s birthday party isn’t keeping my attention,” I reply sarcastically. Juliet isn’t impressed. “Come on, Jules. The boys are one – they have no idea what’s going on, let alone how to play spin the bottle.”

She sighs heavily and slumps against the same wall I’ve been leaning on for the past half hour. I can tell she feels defeated.

“Sorry,” I murmur.

“Everything has just been so shit lately. I wanted to put something together that would make us all forget, for a little bit at least,” she says softly. “A bit of harmless fun, that’s all.”

I grab her hand, squeezing it affectionately. “Look, the party is great; it’s just not my scene.” We both jump at the sound of a loud bang. “And with your dad accidentally popping all the balloons as he tries to pin that tail to the donkey’s ass, cleaning up will be a breeze.”

We share a laugh, that is until Bernard Theroux pops another balloon, this time setting both Austin and Adrien off. Their wails are deafening, so loud that I barely hear Juliet apologise as she hurries off to sooth them.

The party quickly goes downhill from there. Juliet and her husband struggle to quieten the twins and they spend the next hour and half taking turns at crying. When they do finally doze off, the guests are all too worried to do or say anything for fear of triggering another tantrum. The parents from Austin and Adrien’s daycare mutually decide to take their children home, leaving just a few family members. I spy Ellie cleaning up and pitch in, knowing it will save Juliet time later. It is all going well, until Bernard decides to pack away the party games and ends up dropping the bottle. It smashes into shards on the titled kitchen floor, the noise causing one of the babies to start crying. His wails encourage his brother to cry as well.

“I give up!” Juliet screams as she storms into the kitchen. She snatches up the baby monitor and switches it off. “They can cry themselves to sleep.”

The kitchen gets very loud as Ellie tries to console her daughter at the same time as Bernard starts to apologise for the balloons and the broken bottle. Both of her parents’ responses to the situation push Juliet over the edge and she starts to sob. They envelope her in a hug. I’m about to join in the consoling, but I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. I step away from the huddled bodies to check it and my heart drops.


In the ambulance. Please come.

I find myself running to the street, the worst possible scenarios playing in my head. I hail a cab and hurriedly tell the driver which hospital to go to – it’s always the same one. As we drive along the next block I remember the bag at my place, which is filled with everything Mikey has said he wants with him if he ends up in hospital. I want to get to the hospital as fast as I can, but I know how important this bag is to him.

“Shit,” I murmur under my breath. “Actually, driver, I need you to take me somewhere else.”

The drive back to my house takes nearly half an hour. I split my time in the back seat between texting Alicia for updates and thinking about how tonight could be the night we lose Mikey. When the cab finally pulls up out the front of my house, I shove three $100 notes at the driver and spring from the back seat. I run up the driveway and into the house, moving quickly upstairs to retrieve the bag from my room.

It’s not until Frank asks me where I’m going that I realise he must have been downstairs and followed me. I don’t have time for this.

“Never mind, Frank.”

“I can call you a taxi,” he calls after me.

“Just drop it, Frank!”

I hear him running after me and next thing I know he is stopped right in front of me on the stairs. He won’t let me pass.

“Get out of my way!” I yell.

“No! Tell me where you’re going!”

I try to push past, but he reaches out to hold me in place. All I can think of is Mikey and how he could be dying right now. He is in hospital and I am stuck here, fighting some assistant. I let the bag fall from my hands and reach up to grab Frank by the collar. I ram him into the wall.

“It’s none of your business,” I snarl, but let him go. He fights back and forces me against the same wall. “Frank!”

“Just tell me! Why do you keep disappearing all the time? Is someone pregnant, dying, are you going to a gallery? What? You can trust me!”

Any sense of control I have vanishes as I drive him into the banister. He grabs my shirt in return, holding me in place.


Finally, I can pick up the bag and run. With my Maserati, I should be able to make it to the hospital in 20 minutes. Over the sound of my footsteps on the marble, I hear Frank panting heavily. He may think he’s hurting now, but he’ll never know the pain I’m going through.

“You wanted to know, well now you fucking know,” I tell him, the anger in my voice loud and clear.

I allow the front door to slam behind me. The sound echoes in the garden and it’s the last thing I properly hear until I’m standing next to my brother’s hospital bed half an hour later, listening to the methodical beeps of the monitoring equipment.

“He’s going to be okay,” Alicia tells me. “The doctor said it’s just chronic fatigue at its worst. They want to keep him overnight, to be safe.”

I nod. “He’s got chemo tomorrow anyway.”

Alicia focuses her attention on Mikey’s still form. His skin is almost as pale as the white sheets he is cocooned in. He’s always been pale, but being cooped up in the apartment for weeks at a time has really drained him of what colour he did have. I try not to think too much about it, opting to unpack the bag I brought with me instead.

Everything in the bag was picked out by Mikey. Each item is meant to either make him comfortable or remind him of everything he has to live for. I drape his favourite blanket from his childhood across his torso. There are a few framed photos, which I line along the windowsill, and a stuffed zebra that he loved as a kid and plans to hand down to his child. I place the toy under the covers with him. The bag also contains his old iPod, which is filled with his favourite songs and a few demos from the first bands he discovered while working as a talent scout. I lay it on the table beside him with a set of headphones.

“I’m sorry I dragged you down here,” Alicia says eventually.

“You did the right thing.” I place a hand on her shoulder. “You should go home and rest. I can take the night shift.”

She shakes her head defiantly. “I need to stay. Please, let me be here for him.”

The hours pass and neither of us leaves his hospital room. We talk a little, but most of the time is spent watching Mikey’s chest rise and fall. Just before midnight, a nurse comes in and asks one of us to leave as they can’t have two overnight guests. Alicia refuses to go, so I reluctantly leave for the night with the promise that I’ll be back for his chemotherapy in the morning.

I spend the cab ride back to home in silence, too tired to pay any attention to what's on the radio or even think about everything going on. When I get inside, I’m startled to find Frank still up. He is standing in the living room, a blanket draped over his shoulders.

“Frank... you’re up late.”

I have nothing else to say, so I keep moving with the intention of going upstairs. Barely a step later, I feel his fingers curl around my wrist. I will him to let go, but he doesn’t.

“Gerard, we have to talk about what happened earlier,” he says, his voice quiet but firm.

For the first time in a long time, my body is screaming for bed. I'm exhausted from the party and being at the hospital, not to mention all the sleepless nights lately from stress. The idea of sitting down to placate Frank after our fight earlier is repulsive. I attempt to wriggle out of his grasp.

"Look, Frank – it’s been a long night and I’m tired," I all but beg, hoping it will be enough to get me out of this situation.

He actually loosens his grip, not entirely, but enough to put the power back in my hands. I'm about to pull away, but the next words out of his mouth make me want to stay.

"Then tell me about it," he says.

"Okay, Frank, you win," I find myself saying. There's something about the way he said it, the way he looked at me, that makes me relent.

We walk into the living room together, me slightly ahead of him. As I allow myself to fall back into the couch, I notice the thermos sitting on the coffee table beside two mugs. Frank pours something into one of the mugs and hands it to me. It's warm in my hands, the scent of sweet chocolate emanating from it.

I think carefully about everything that has been going on and how much of it I'm comfortable telling him. Part of the problem I'm facing is that there are parts of my life that I'd rather keep private that overlap with Mikey. It's hard to know how to tell the story, especially when I'm uncertain about the way he will react to any of it.

Eventually, I'm able to form some words.

“Mikey, my brother... he’s been the most important part of my life since I was three and a half. We’ve always been close,” I explain.

Just saying those words makes me think back to when we were kids, then teenagers. Inevitably, my mind goes to the day he was diagnosed with cancer. I feel the sting of tears in my eyes as I remember the grave look on his face when he told me and Alicia’s sobs as she heard the news again.
I realise I’ve been quiet and turn to Frank. “I’m his big brother – it should be me who goes through all this stuff first, if at all. He has acute myeloid Leukaemia.”

“Leukaemia...” he says, more to himself than me. “That’s the same thing that boy you did a request for had. Is that why you did it?”

I've thought about that little boy, Andrew, more than once since I received his letter. In a way, it helps knowing there are little kids out there, so much younger than my brother, who are living with the same thing. They may not get as many years in their lives as he has had. It's an awful thought, but it's the reality of cancer.

“He was diagnosed eight months ago. Since then it’s been a traumatic combination of chemotherapy and sickness. His entire system is out of whack.” I explain to Frank. “Sometimes it gets too much for his wife to handle, so I step in and help out – cooking, cleaning, helping Mikey shower... whatever they need.”

“That’s where you go all the time, then...to their place?” he asks me.

“That, and the hospital. I go with him to his chemotherapy sessions when his wife can’t bring herself to go.” I find myself shaking my head as I think of Alicia. “She loves him so much – this is tearing her apart.”

“But what about you?” he counters gently. “This obviously isn’t easy for you either; you love him, too.”

I look him straight in the eyes. “When you love someone the way she loves him, seeing them in pain makes you physically sick. Sometimes it’s as if she’s going through the treatment herself; she suffers from a lot of the side effects he’s going through. She’s being as strong as she can be.”

“But not as strong as you...” he whispers, reaching out to hold my hand.

“I’m only strong because I don’t let myself think ahead to anything further than today. All that matters is that today, he’s still here." And that realisation kills me.

Franks asks me about how old Mikey is, the number I give shocking him. If I'm honest, the number shocks me too. The idea that someone who is only 20 has cancer – I've always thought of cancer as an older person's disease. I feel the tears pricking at my eyes as an image of Mikey in his hospital bed earlier tonight pops into my head. The wires, his pale skin, how small and skeletal he looked amongst the white sheets.

I need to go to bed, need to do anything else other than think about hospitals, cancer and death. Franks calls my name as I start to walk away.

“Thank you for tonight, Frank, but I can’t deal with anymore of this right now.”

I know he says something back, but my head is so chaotic that I don't hear any of it. I keep moving towards the stairs, until I hear my name above all the noise and a request to wait. I stop, and within seconds Frank is in front of me, wrapping his arms around my torso and pulling me into him. The tears that had threatened to fall in the living room spill onto my cheeks and I can do nothing but blink them away and grip Frank tight until they subside.

When I feel like I've composed myself, I slowly loosen my hold on Frank and step back, although my right hand stays on his hip. I take in his face, his hazel eyes and the warm smile he is giving me. My heart swells and in this moment I feel a great deal of affection for him. And then that affection is overtaken by desire as I recall those eyes of his from my dreams and the way his lips had contorted in pleasure. Those same lips are beckoning me now and, if I don't take a big step back, I know I'll fall to temptation and kiss him.

That can't happen.

"Thank you," I say. I retreat, keeping my pace even despite my pounding heart.

I'm able to breathe again when I'm in my bedroom and alone. I look down and realise the hug with Frank had more of an effect on me than I thought. I end up pushing my tight pants down my legs to relieve the pressure, reach for my pyjamas, and finally crawl into bed.

An hour ago I was exhausted, but now I am so alert and can't drift off to sleep. Frustrated, I switch the bedside lamp on and grab my sketchbook off the nightstand. The pages are filled with drawings of the things that have haunted me in my dreams or kept me awake at night. I flip to the next blank page and let my hand take over. I'm not even surprised when the basic sketch ends up being a rough portrait of Frank.

"Why can't I get you out of my head?" I ask the drawing, before tossing the book aside and switching off the light.

I make the decision suddenly that I have to see him again. I haul myself out of bed, grab my robe and head downstairs. The television is on in the living room, casting a glow over the room and into the hallway. Cartoons are playing, of course, because Frank can be such a child. Despite the absurdity of it, I find myself smiling.

"Can't you find something more intelligent to watch?" I ask as I enter the room.

There's no response. I check the couch and realise that the room is in fact empty. Frank is nowhere to be seen, he has just left the television on before going to bed himself. I switch it off and make my way back upstairs. Instead of going to my own room, by feet take me to Frank's door. I seriously consider knocking and going in, but I lose my nerve.

Back in my own room, I pick up my sketch book once again and draw until dawn. Sleep eludes me for another night.


When I decide I can't stand being in bed anymore, I shower, dress and take a walk around the house for a little while, making the most of the peace and quiet. Eventually I end up in the kitchen, where I make myself something to eat and a strong coffee to restore some of my energy.

My food ends up going mostly untouched as I strike up a text conversation with Alicia. She never sleeps particularly well in a hospital room, so she is always awake early. We send messages back and forth about my brother and how he went overnight, along with what help he'll need today during chemo. I promise her I'll be there at ten-thirty for his appointment and stay with him for as long as he needs.

I tuck my phone away when I hear Frank come into the kitchen. He is early today. When our eyes meet he looks ready to flee, but seemingly changes his mind as he steps further into the room. We don't say a word to each other, but I'm oddly aching to speak to him. I didn't realise how much I had valued that time with him in the living room, confiding in him. Noticing his dishevelled, tired appearance, and hoping to start a conversation with him, I fix a mug of coffee and slide it across the counter to him. The gesture startles him and there is a clear question in his eyes when he looks at me.

“You look like shit,” I tell him honestly.

“Yeah, well so do you.”

“Yeah,” I admit, “but I haven’t slept for twenty-four hours.”

“Couldn’t stop thinking about Mikey?” I ask.

“Yeah... Mikey...” I lie, knowing it was really the man before me I couldn't stop thinking about. But now my thoughts turn to my brother and I find myself sighing heavily. “God, my life is shit.”

Frank stares it me in disbelief, gesturing randomly around the room. "This is your definition of shit? Do you want to see where I came from?”

“Okay, this part isn’t shit,” I concede, “but the emotional part, that’s the epitome of shit.”

“I’d have to agree with you on that one,” Frank replies.

I allow him to finish eating his breakfast, myself opting to think about everything going on. As I sip on my coffee, I replay his words from last night in my head, specifically the comment about me being strong. Other people have called me that since Mikey was diagnosed - Ellie, Juliet, Alicia, even Mikey himself - but I have never felt the need to argue it. Now that I'm thinking about the sleepless nights, the nightmares, the casual sex, the constant crushing grief and the idea of losing my brother so soon, I can see that I'm weak. I can't handle what is going on.

I notice Frank is leaving.

“Frank?” He stops. “You think I’m strong because of how I’m dealing with this, don’t you?”

“Yeah. I couldn’t do what you’re doing,” he replies easily.

I want him to know the truth. “Well, I’m not. I scream, I cry, I beg to a deity that I don’t believe to stop this all from happening... I’m scared, Frank. I just don’t let anyone see.”

My eyes lock with his, begging him to understand how much I'm struggling. A few seconds pass, where we just look at each other, but then steps towards me. He is so close that I can smell his natural scent and count each fleck of gold in his eyes. He takes my cup from my hand and stands before me with his arms outstretched. I look him up and down, uncertain of exactly what he expects from me. I catch him roll his eyes before his arms wrap around me. I need little encouragement to hug him back.

In my ear, Frank softly says, “You are strong, Gerard, simply because you keep it together when everyone around you is falling apart.”

Much like last night, his touching words making my eyes sting with tears. I hug him tighter, both in thanks and in desperate for some kind of support from someone who doesn’t need me to be strong for them.

“Thanks, Frank,” I say simply when I’m able to pull myself away.

Our eyes remained fixed on each other. It hits me that I just hugged Frank, my assistant, like someone much more significant than that. It’s not only highly inappropriate for our working relationship, but also very deceitful. Frank has no idea I’m gay.

Clearly feeling awkward, he says “I’ll leave you to it” and practically runs from the kitchen. On top of my inappropriate behaviour as a boss, I’ve also scared off the one person I could confide with. I need go back to being professional.

When eight o’clock finally arrives, I meet Frank in the hallway in front of the offices. We talk a little, but then it is straight inside to get started with the day. When Frank reads me my schedule, I realise that so much of it is going to interfere with me being at the hospital with Mikey.

“At nine o’clock you have a phone interview with the New York Times – they want to talk to you about the recent demand for your French art. At ten your lawyer is coming around to go through the MOMA contract with you. You have another phone interview at eleven-thirty with The New York Observer. There is a truck coming by at one o’clock to pick up a piece for a private buyer – a Mr. Jonathon Richardson. The Met emailed through some questions for you that they need answered and in their inbox by three o’clock. And some business tycoon wants to discuss purchasing one of your pieces at three-thirty – they said they’ll call you then. Plus there is an exhibition at the MOMA this evening that you need to see at some point today so you can critique it tomorrow for the Inquirer.”

“That’s not going to work,” I reply. I take a moment to figure out how to make this all work before leaning over Frank’s should to point out changes he can make in the appointment book. “Okay, phone my lawyer and have him come around at nine instead – I can deal with him and the journo at the same time. Ring up the Observer and see if they’ll reschedule to eight-thirty, if not then move it to tomorrow. That piece for Richardson is done, so get Ellie to deal with the truck. The business tycoon can wait, and I’ll go get those questions done now.”

Frank writes down all the changes, leaving me clear to answer the questions for The Met. I head for my own office to get a start on them, perusing the list as I go.

“Um, Gerard?” Frank calls. “Is there a reason why everything is getting moved around?”

I decide, in the spirit of keeping thing professional, not to reveal too much. “I have somewhere to be at ten-thirty; I’m not sure how long it will take me.”

Thankfully, Frank doesn’t push the point. The questions from The Met are rather simple, pedestrian even, but I answer them. I finish emailing them off just as the call from the Observer comes through. Much like the ones from The Met, there is nothing particularly interesting or inventive about what the journalist has to ask me. My answers are short and to the point. If they aren’t prepared to ask me worthwhile questions, my answers will be of the same quality.

Five minutes after I end the interview, my lawyer, Thomas Reiner, arrives in my office, early as usual.

“Tom, thanks for coming by on such short notice,” I greet him. “I take it you’ve read the contract already?”

“Barely worth the time, but yes,” he replies. He extracts a highlighted copy of the document from his briefcase and starts to explain the two paragraphs I should be concerned about.

One of the reasons I’ve kept Tom on as my lawyer for so long is because we have the same work ethic. He believes in being prompt, prepared and precise in everything he does. We also share a similar dry wit, which makes him quite easy to get along with. I’m also his best-paying client, so he knows to prioritise my needs and never question them.

When the journalist from the New York Times calls, Tom doesn’t even bat an eyelid. I answer the questions directed at me, while at the same time initialling the contract from the MOMA where necessary. I’m able to show Tom to the door when I’m finished on the phone. It leaves me with enough time to put another bag together to take to the hospital for Mikey. I also text Alicia to let her know I'll be on time.

At ten o’clock, I’m ready to leave. Frank is sitting at his desk, but I do my best not to engage him on my way out.

“Where are you going?” he asks, just as I think I’ve gone by unnoticed.

“Mikey has chemotherapy at ten-thirty; I’m going to be there for him.”

“Okay, Gerard. I hope the side effects aren’t too severe today...”

“Me, too,” I reply, now standing just outside the door. “And, uh, you can take a few hours off while I’m gone.”

What can I say? I owe him one.
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It feels good to be back. Thanks to those still reading. Leave a comment and let me know how you're feeling ❤

Coming up in Gerard Way: Artist...

“I’m not in a damn mood,” I snap. I take a breath. “For your information, my boyfriend and I are going out tonight.”

“To a strip club?” he retorts delightfully.

“No, the MOMA,” I say proudly.

“And I’m sure Frank will have wonderful time, because obviously you wouldn’t be caught dead in an art museum with an idiot like Toby.”