‹ Prequel: Frank Iero: P.A.

Gerard Way: Artist


“Really, you two, really?” I yell as I shield my eyes from the scene in front of me.

My little brother is entirely naked with his lingerie-clad wife lying on the couch beneath him. Alicia shrieks loudly and I hear the sound of a blanket being whipped off the arm of the sofa.

“Is everyone covered?” I ask, not removing my hand from my eyes until I hear an answer. I glare at them and the small blanket hiding their bodies from sight. “Jesus Christ.”

“I'm so sorry, Gee. We didn't think you'd be here for at least a few more hours,” Alicia apologises.

“You do realise that I can't un-see this – ever,” I reply. Their clothing strewn all over the floor does not help.

For some reason, Mikey laughs. “Gee, we're having a baby – clearly we have sex with each other. Why are you freaking out?”

I point to my brain. “Up here I know you guys have had sex and still do,” I say before pointing to my eyes, “that doesn't mean I need to be aware of it here.” I stalk over to where Mikey's pants are and throw them at him. “Put some clothes on for Christ sake.”

I leave them to dress, walking through to the kitchen to hide out until they have. A few minutes later Alicia appears by my side with flushed cheeks and is unable to look me in the eye. There is a moment where I can't look at her either, but soon enough I start to see the comedy in the scenario I walked into. Despite being a consenting adult, my sister-in-law is acting very much like a teenager.

“I'm sorry you had to see that,” she eventually says.

"I didn't think he'd be able to handle something like that," I comment with a smile. "It was nice of you to perk him up."

Alicia laughs. "Well, a wife's got to do what a wife's got to do." She sobers. "You could do with a bit of the same."

I huff and turn my attention to putting the brownies Ellie gave me on a plate. “I get plenty of sex.”

“I wasn't talking about sex,” she replies gently, touching her hand to my arm.

“Don't think I don't know where this conversation is going, Alicia,” I warn sternly.

This isn't the first time she has made a not-so-subtle dig at my inability to commit to someone. At 23-years-old, I don't necessarily find that to be a bad thing. Unfortunately for me, though, both Alicia and my brother have very strong views on relationships, marriage, and family values, meaning they are convinced everyone should be paired up like they are. They don't realise that not everyone is as lucky as to have found their soulmate in high school. Some of us probably don't even have one out there at all.

“I'm not going to give you the lecture,” Alicia says, “but I am going to tell you that I want to see you happy – and Toby doesn't seem to make you happy at all. And for what it is worth, Mikey wants you to be happy as well.”

I glare at her. “I don't appreciate you using my brother to guilt-trip me into dumping Toby. If and when I choose to, I will dump Toby for my own reasons, not yours.”

To her credit, Alicia drops the topic and moves on to discuss my brother's treatment plan. He is due to undergo another round of chemotherapy, starting in two days on Wednesday before more sessions next week, to kill the cancer cells. I expect that is why he has been a bit unhappy today. Mikey is always positive about his experience and how the treatment will set him right, but even his attitude can't get him excited about the idea of an IV lead being attached to his arm for long periods of time.

“I should probably take him,” Alicia says. “I need to get more comfortable with the process.”

The sessions are always difficult for Alicia to sit in on, but I admire her for always trying to be there despite how uncomfortable she feels. Hospitals have unnerved her since her parents died in a car accident six weeks after she and Mikey got married. Her mother died on impact, but her dad was in hospital for a few days before his life support was switched off. I visited him once; it was disturbing to see so much machinery keeping him alive. Steve was a good guy.

“I'll come along, too,” I promise. “I wouldn't mind speaking to the doctor again about how he is progressing.”

“That would be great,” Alicia replies. The relief is evident on her features.

We head back out into the living room to spend time with Mikey. Seemingly over his earlier amorous feelings, he is lying back on the sofa watching television. I'm reminded of Frank suddenly as I hear the opening credits of The Simpsons. Mikey also has a love of the show.

“Ellie made brownies,” I announce as I place the plate down on the coffee table. “You can have one as long as you plan on keeping it in your stomach.”

Mikey smiles as he gingerly reaches for one. “No promises.”

I've heard stories my entire life about how women have a fierce appetite when they are pregnant. Watching Alicia these past few months, I've seen nothing that lends any truth to that. After setting up The Wizard of Oz on the DVD player, I settle back into the sofa and watch my sister-in-law and brother, rather than the film. Mikey is as enthusiastic as can be expected when he eats his brownie, but Alicia only picks at hers. I notice her eyes are trained on my brother, sad and watery. It's obvious what she's thinking, and like me it would be a combination of “Please don't die” and “Please don't throw up”. My simple brother is oblivious to it all, and part of me loves him for it.

I watch my brother for far longer than any other person would. Deep down, I fear that every glance of him I catch could be the last. That fear fuels me to look at him each chance I get. Each glance is committed to memory. For the most part, my obsessive gaze goes unnoticed. Occasionally, though, Mikey will see it and do something childish, like poke out his tongue or call me a dork. He never questions why I'm staring. Ignorance truly is bliss.

“Have you ever noticed that the buttons on the scarecrow's chest keep changing sides?” Mikey asks aloud. He rewinds the scene we're watching so he can point it out to a curious Alicia. “See? I can't believe that slipped past editing.”

I find myself laughing. “Have you not watched The Wizard of Oz with him before, Alicia?”

“No. Why?”

“Because he brings this up every time we watch this movie. He loves it when he can point it out to someone who had never picked up on the mistake. You watch, he'll point out more mistakes later,” I inform Alicia.

Mikey glares at us both. “Gerard is a liar and he slept with a nightlight until he was twelve years old.”

I throw a cushion at him playfully. “Is this really how you want to play things, brother? Remember, I have a long list of dirty little secrets about you as well. I'm sure Alicia would love to hear about how you fantasised over this model you saw in a dirty magazine once and then feigned illness when she came to school as your sixth grade teacher.”

Alicia and I burst into hysterics as my brother's cheeks turn bright red. I catch him glaring at me, but he can't meet his wife's eyes, no matter how much she touches him to get his attention.

“I hope I throw up my brownie all over you,” he says to me in a huff, although there is a certain twinkle to his eyes that suggests he finds the whole situation more humorous than he is letting on.

“That may just be the funniest thing I've ever heard,” Alicia manages to say as she wipes happy tears from her eyes.

After more good-natured ribbing, we return our attention back to the movie. For a brief moment, I'd forgotten my brother was sick. Alicia had forgotten. I think my brother may have, too. If things could be like this all the time, cancer would not be so rough.

We reach the end of the movie, with Mikey, of course, going overboard with Wizard of Oz movie mistakes and trivia. He dozed off just as Dorothy made it back to Kansas. His light snoring fills the room as I switch off the DVD player.

“I'm surprised he made it so far through the movie,” Alicia comments casually.

I smile. “I think it was an act of defiance after I called him out earlier. The Way brothers are renowned for their stubbornness – you know that.”

She nods, but I notice sadness has taken over her eyes. They're fixed on Mikey's still form, watching his chest rise and fall gently. The blanket keeping him warm is touching the floor. I move to fix it, but Alicia stops me by placing her hand on my forearm lightly.

“Is it selfish of me to want to wake him up so he can come to bed with me?” she asks.

I don't think the question is directed at me, but I offer an answer anyway. “No, not selfish. Loving, I think, would be the right term.”

“He sleeps on the couch almost every night now. It's ridiculous, but I miss him not being there when I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning. It takes me hours to get to sleep usually, because I just lie there wondering if he's okay,” she shares sadly. She pauses for a moment. “Today was the first time we'd tried to make love in close to four months. I'm not desperate for it in a sexual way, but I want that closeness back.”

The intimate details of their relationship induce a sharp pang of guilt in my stomach. Part of me wishes the man from the elevator had have taken longer, just so they could have finished what they started on the couch earlier. If I had have known how rare the moment was, I wouldn't have reacted the way I did.

“I know you aren't meant to do any heavy lifting, but grab his feet, will you?” I ask as I do my best to scoop my brother up in my arms.

For someone who has lost a lot of weight recently, my brother is still difficult to carry. Alicia obliges with my request, however, and takes some of his weight into her arms. It is no easy feat, but somehow we manage to get him from the living room, through the kitchen, to the bedroom and into bed. When we've got him tucked in, Alicia pulls me into her arms and gives me a giant, tight hug.

“You have no idea how much this means to me,” she whispers. “Thank you.”

I hug her back. “I was happy to do it.”

“It's starting to get dark - do you want to stay here tonight?” she asks.

“No, I need to get back and do some work,” I reply, shaking my head. “Mikey looks like he'll be fine for the night.”

“But will you be?” Alicia asks. “You look like a wreck. Have you been sleeping much?”

"Plenty, maybe too much," I lie. "You go to bed; I'll lock up on my way out."

We say our goodbyes and I leave, turning off lights as I make my way to the front door. When I reach the elevator, I pray that the old man won't be inside. In keeping with my luck lately, he is. It takes eight minutes to get to the first floor, after stopping at every floor above and below the third floor, including the underground parking garage. When finally released from the cage, I walk briskly to the subway and wait for the next train to come along.

Half an hour later, I reach the high walls surrounding my home. It's almost nine o'clock and I yawn involuntarily at the thought of how much work I've got to put in before I can go to bed. I type in the code for the gate quickly and walk across the lawn to the house. Inside, I'm met with the sight of Frank descending the stairs. My body is so exhausted that the sparks of awareness I usually feel around him are just tiny pricks.

"Ellie left your dinner next to the microwave," he tells me as I begin to climb the stairs.

"I'm not hungry," I say dismissively.

Thankfully, he doesn't press the issue. I continue to my room, closing the door behind me firmly. My bed calls out to me - I'm tempted - but I drag myself to the desk instead and pull my laptop out of my bag. I didn't get the chance to finish updating the website at Mikey and Alicia's apartment as planned. All that's left is to add three more of my completed pieces to the gallery and calculate how much I think they're worth. My pricing system is quite simple: $100 per hour of work that goes into a piece, added to the cost of materials, plus one third the cost of Frank's weekly wage - as he is quite an expensive business cost. I consult my diary to figure out how many hours went into each of the three pieces and go from there. Uploading the photos, which are high resolution, takes the longest time.

After an hour of work, I'm finally able to shut down my laptop and go to bed. It's not all that late, but I am absolutely exhausted. I change into my comfy, plaid pyjamas and crawl into bed.

“Get out of my house! Get out you fucking faggot!”

“I'm your son!”

“You're a faggot! You're not my son! You're not anything!”

“Stop pushing me! OW! OW! You're hurting me...”


She cradles me close to her, stroking my hair, kissing my bruises. I can barely hear her soft voice over my own wailing.

“Everything will be alright, mon enfant,” I hear her whisper.

I jolt awake suddenly. The tears from my dream start to leak from my eyes. I wipe them away harshly. If only I could get rid of my memories as easily. My entire body is streaked with sweat, making my pyjamas feel damp and uncomfortable. It is only 4am, and I know I won't be able to get back to sleep after waking up from that. I throw the covers back and go to my ensuite for a shower to wash away the sweat... and the horrific memories.

Half an hour later, I am locked in my studio with music turned up loud, working on a new concept for a series of works I can sell. I never make copies or prints of my work; each piece is 100 per cent original and hand-drawn or painted. Every now and then I like to create a series, just three to five individual canvases, that are all connected by a single theme. Sometimes it's several pieces celebrating one city or a season on the calendar, or it could about something as generic as romance or travel. While it's not a regular fixture of my work, it is a great way to generate sales because often a serious art collector wants to purchase every piece in a series and will offer up far more than what each piece is worth to ensure they have the whole set. It's usually a cruel competition to see which collector can snap them all up. No artist hates a bidding war.

The concept I settle on is expectation versus reality. I sketch out a few rough ideas, establishing the physical connection each piece will have to the others. It is something quite simple: a single person drawn back-to-back with itself, poised to take a step forward – the figure on the left will be walking away from the glamorous expectation into the harsh reality, while the figure on the right will do the opposite. I know fame will be one of the subjects, but I need to think more about what else often doesn't meet expectations.

At seven-thirty, I go down to the kitchen to enjoy a cup of coffee and protein bar. Not exactly the breakfast of champions, but enough to tide me through until later in the day. I take my time eating, browsing an old article on myself that was featured in an art magazine. At 8am, I'm walking into the office and taken by surprise. Frank, despite his usual tardiness, is once again at his desk early.

"On time two days in a row," I remark as I pass his desk, not looking at him. "I may have to call you a doctor."

My surprise continues in my own office when I spy a bunch of papers sitting on my desk, awaiting my signature. Clearly Frank has been working for a while if he's managed to get all this done prior to my arrival. I'm impressed, but at the same time I'm suspicious. I've never had a personal assistant who was actually competent at their job. Frank either wants something or has done something wrong.

I get on with signing all the paperwork and then go over a few things on the website. It'll need to be updated again later today once Frank's finalised the payment for one of the pieces I have listed for sale. My phone rings a few times, all minor things, but then the last phone call I take before heading back to the studio captures my attention.

“Hello, Mr Way,” an English accent greets when I answer. “This is Alfred Abbey calling. You may recall that I purchased Demolition Lovers from you just last week. It hasn't yet arrived, but I thought you should be aware that I received a rather odd telephone call from one of your staff yesterday – a Mr Iero.”

My eyes narrow at the office door, knowing Frank is on the other side. Mr Abbey paid a lot of money for that piece. If he jeopardised the sale, well, quite frankly, I'll kill him.

“Could you define odd for me, Mr Abbey? My assistant is a little bit strange at the best of times,” I say lightly.

“He was showing quite a bit of interest in the painting, going almost as far as to make me an offer for it,” Mr Abbey tells me.

I'm intrigued. “Go on...”

“I found the entire exchange terribly confusing, actually. He did seem harmless and assured me the painting would be shipped to my residence immediately, but I can't entirely rule out the possibility of it... shall we say, falling off the back of the truck,” Mr Abbey explains politely.

The entire thing makes no sense to me. Why would Frank try to buy back one of my paintings? He's made it painfully clear in the past that he doesn't like my work. I admire his honesty, but I don't like the idea of him contacting my clients behind my back like this.

“Frank is a lot of things, Mr Abbey, but he isn't a thief. You will receive the artwork as promised, and if it doesn't arrive within the next week, ring me back and I'll sort it out. I'll speak to my assistant regardless to ensure this kind of thing doesn't happen again,” I reply. “Thank you for calling.”

“One other thing,” Mr Abbey says just as I'm about to hang up. “I did suggest he ask you to recreate the painting for him, but he was resolute that you wouldn't be so kind. I don't know if that changes anything.”

We disconnect after that and I'm left wondering what to do. If this were Marty, I would be marching out there to fire him straight away. But this is Frank, and for some reason he just doesn't merit the same treatment. I'm not painting Demolition Lovers again – it goes against my entire policy on originality and exclusivity – but I might be able to find an alternative.

My iPhone vibrating on the table distracts me. I smile warmly at the caller ID.

“Are you checking up on me, Juliet?” I answer immediately.

She laughs – a sound very few people are treated to hearing from the strict school teacher. “Always with the questions, Gee, never just a simple 'hello'.”

“Nothing is ever simple with me, you should know that,” I say. “Now, what's on your mind?”

“I'm just ringing to check that you're coming to Austin and Adrien's birthday party this afternoon. My mother said you'd come, but I wanted to hear it for myself.”

“It's their first birthday – I wouldn't miss it for the world,” I tell her. “Is Phil bringing Renae?”

She sighs. “No. She was meant to be there, but Gordon got sick at daycare yesterday so she wants to stay home with him. That's the trouble with new parents – the first time the baby comes down with something they go into crisis mode. Phillip's only stopping in for an hour himself. Honestly, Gee, it is just a sniffle.”

“I seem to remember you getting worked up when Adrien had diarrhoea for the first time,” I say coyly, knowing exactly what reaction it will evoke.

First comes the huff. “That was completely different! I had two babies to worry about. Can you imagine what it would have been like if Austin had have picked it up? Liquid poop shooting out of both of them like an out of control fire hose... I feel sick just thinking about it.”

I don't try to hide my laughter. “I'm just teasing, but cut your brother some slack. He has a three-month-old baby and is still learning all your fantastic parenting skills.”

“Flattery doesn't work with my students and it won't work with you,” she says, but sighs gently. “I'm just disappointed, that's all. My brother and sister-in-law won't be there, your brother won't be there, and, I don't know, it just feels like such a waste without all of our family.”

I'm back to feeling sad and stressed at the mention of Mikey. “I'll be there, don't worry, Jules. I just need to finish a few things here and then I'll be right over.”

“Thanks, Gee,” she replies. “I'm looking forward to seeing you – it's been way too long.”

She's right, I think to myself as I tuck my phone into my pocket. I call Juliet and Phil about once every week, just to make sure they're happy and okay. Visits are few and far between, however, as we all have such busy schedules.

I moved in with Ellie and her family when I was 17 years old. Myself, Mikey and the two Theroux children were friends since we were kids. Juliet is a couple of months older than me, but I've always felt as if we tumbled into the world on the same day. The eldest sibling has a tendency to be the most responsible, the hardest worker, the one that paves the way for those younger. That is certainly the case for both of us.

Juliet welcomed me with open arms when I moved in, figuratively and literally. The first night in that house saw me cry until I was sick. It was the first time I had allowed myself to shed tears about the relationship I had been slowly losing with my parents. Juliet heard and she came running. She hugged me like a child, let me rest my head on her shoulder, but she didn't speak; she knew what I was crying about and knew that I just needed to let everything out. My perceptiveness disappeared in that moment, but it felt like some time had passed before Ellie came in to take over from Juliet.

She cradled me close to her, stroked my hair, kissed the bruises that hadn't faded yet from my father's recent assault. I was wailing by then, but I know she told me everything would be all right. It was the last time I ever believed someone uttering those words.

With the shambles my life has become, how could I ever believe it again?

I sigh, shaking the memories away. If I want to make it to this birthday party, I've got to get a lot more work done. There are several paintings waiting for my attention upstairs, so I push away from my desk and head on up to the studio. The fact Frank is hard at work as I pass by his desk puts me in a much better mood.

Rushing my work is something I hate to do. If you're a trained artist, or even just a keen collector, you can always identify urgency in a painting, a sculpture, anything. The harshest of critics will love 99 per cent of what you've created, but the basis of their critique will always be that one per cent, or sometimes less than that, where the brush work is lazy, there is the tiniest evidence of a smudge or fingerprint, a line is curved when it should be straight or the colours have run. Those critiques are the ones that keep you up at night because you know you could have prevented those mistakes if you just took a little more time.

With that said, I am now frantically sketching the remainder of an idea on a canvas I started last night. I tell myself I'll fix it later, but it's a lie. The only justification for allowing it to be below my usual standard is that it is for a charity auction, which would never sell the piece for its actual worth.

Eventually, I’ve made enough progress on the piece and, after an interesting exchange with Frank involving ladies underwear, I finally feel that I can justify going to the party. I grab my leather jacket from my office and make to leave. I notice Frank sat at his own desk, reading over a document. He glances at me briefly, but otherwise ignores my presence.

“I’ll be out for a few hours,” I feel the need to tell him. “Keep working until six-thirty.”

“Okay,” he replies. There’s a small pause. “Have fun at Austin and Adrien’s birthday party.”

“I wi–” Wait. “How do you know about that?”

“Ellie mentioned it before I stole one of her cupcakes yesterday,” he replies.

My mind conjures up an image of that smoking monkey cupcake. It was so childish, but so very Frank. I recall that he is still looking at me, waiting for some kind of response. I force the image out of my head, reminding myself this is a business relationship.

“Well, Ellie was always prone to gossip,” I retort, ending the conversation.

There are a few things I need to collect before I can head off for the party, so I press on. I’m barely out of the room when I hear Frank’s voice again.

“What did you get for them?”

I want to ignore him, but I can’t – and I hate myself for it. Begrudgingly, I step back into the office. I’m actually quite proud of the gifts I bought the twins. I tell him about the classic children’s stories (bought because I think all children should be encouraged to read) and the Aquabats pyjamas. Those I know will go down a treat with Juliet’s husband – he and I have had many a conversation about the television show.

I sense that I’m getting a bit too excited, a bit too personal, so I steer the conversation back to safer territory. Territory where I am the boss and he is the employee.

“Is there anything else you’d like to know before I go, or are you finished with your inquisition?”

“Just one more question,” he says quickly. “Would you like me to send off that canvas in your office this afternoon before the post office closes?”

He’s actually being professional. I can hardly believe it, mainly because I hadn’t even asked him to mail the canvas yet. I just nod and force myself to leave the room. I collect the gifts for the boys and a bottle of wine for Juliet – her favourite, of course – and finally leave for this party. Unfortunately, the thoughts of my assistant follow me there.
♠ ♠ ♠
*Peers out from bushes* Hi...

So, uh, this is happening.

If any of my old readers are out there, welcome back. Oh, how I have missed you. I've kind of missed this, too. It's been a long, long, long time. I'm not going to sit here and make excuses: I simply lost momentum. But over the last few months, I guess since The Return, I've kind of fallen back in love with this story and I wanted to finish it. Well, I've finished it once before, but now I want to finish this off-shoot of it, too.

I promise that this chapter won't be a false start. Why? Because I have actually got another 12 chapters of Gerard Way: Artist finished and I'm writing more each day! The content is there, I just now need to post it and, believe me, there will be A LOT to post. Back in the day, I used to post updates for this story on Fridays, but I'm thinking that because it's all written I'll post two-three days a week. I guess it depends on what the response is like to this chapter.

Anyway, I've gone on long enough. Enjoy this sneak peek, and please leave me a comment.

Coming up in Gerard Way: Artist...

“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.