Gerard met his girlfriend when she looked up from her clipboard in the small cinderblock office backstage and said "what do you need, sweetheart?" He and Frankie had gone back there looking for the schedule for the next few days and found her, this short girl with long brown hair who'd called Gerard "sweetheart" and that was all it took: Gerard was smitten. Frankie found out a couple of days later that she called everyone by pet names -- "sweetheart," "honey," "darling" -- because it meant she didn't have to remember the names of over a hundred different band members and hangers-on, which made sense, he supposed, but still annoyed him for some reason he couldn't put his finger on. She was a production assistant with the tour -- "I liason between the local production crew and the talent," she told Gerard and Frankie while they had lunch one day -- and she was on the short side and had brown eyes and a college degree in public relations and her name was Jamie and Frankie hated her immediately.
He didn't know why. Jamie was nice enough, and fun, and didn't seem like the type of girl that would hurt Gerard by being too moody or demanding. Unlike Frankie's own girlfriend, who was a tornado of righteous fury and jealousy when she was upset, Jamie simply said "I'm pissed at you, Gerard, so I'm going to go do some work and we'll talk later when I'm done thinking you're a total ass," the one time Frankie saw them fight. So Frankie couldn't explain why he hated her so much that he actually tasted acid in the back of his mouth when she came into the room.
"Her name is Jamie," he said, when Gerard asked him why he didn't seem to like her, as if the similarity between her name and that of his own girlfriend was actually some sort of reason.
"So?" Gerard said, but Frankie just shrugged and put his headphones on and resolved to hide his loathing a little better.
The worst part was that everyone else seemed to like her. Bob and Ray thought she was a "kickass chick" because she'd met about every famous guitarist ever and, before joining the Warped Tour, had been a production assistant for Green Day and actually had Billie Joe's number in her cell phone, which Frankie was all, like, "please, anyone could label some number Billie Joe and say that the lead singer of Green Day was a personal friend," until the day that Billie actually called her and asked to speak to Gerard and that was how they got the gig opening for Green Day and that was the day Frankie considered shooting himself in the head because some things were just too much.
And even Mikey, who hated almost every girl Gerard ever even talked about dating just on principle, liked Jamie.
"I dunno," he said, when Frankie cornered him at the craft services table and asked why the hell Mikey had invited Jamie to movie night on their bus. "She's cool."
"No, she's not," Frankie said, but he couldn't say more than that without completely losing his shit, so he settled for just stomping away.
The tiny small puny little upside was that Gerard was happy. Since he'd quit liquor and drugs cold turkey, it had been hard work for Gerard to be happy, but Jamie seemed to aid in that and Frankie had to give her credit, no matter how much it galled him. When she was around, Gerard smiled a lot more and seemed more at peace with himself and, ironically, spent more time hanging out with the band, since Jamie had to work a lot during the day and the only downside as far as Frankie could see, was that with Gerard so happy the next album was going to end up sounding like the fuckin' Backstreet Boys or something.
But she was still a bitch and Frankie still hated her.
It took maybe a month or six weeks, but he was finally getting used to having her around, having her call him "honey" instead of "Frankie," having her make them all grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron (they had a stove in the bus, but Jamie insisted that the iron allowed her greater browning control), having her sit on the arm of a chair next to Gerard and touch his hair lightly, when he accidentally heard them break up.
He'd been strolling down one of the underground hallways toward the storage room where the instruments were kept for tuning and preparation. He was hoping to get his Pansy out and mess around with some new stuff before they went on: Ray did most of the music writing for the band, but Frankie had some ideas from listening to Rainy Day Monday that he wanted to figure out and show to the guys. He heard Gerard's voice before he came around the corner
and there was something strange about it that stopped Frankie in his tracks.
"Sweetheart," Jamie said. "It's just too much. You need someone who's going to take care of you and look out for you and I'm just not that girl. I can't be your mother."
That was true. Gerard did need someone who was going to watch out for him, be the practical one to balance out Gerard's flighty and artistic nature. He did need someone to make sure that he ate and slept and had clean socks.
"But Jamie --"
"I'm sorry, Gerard," she said, and that was when Frankie knew she was serious. He turned and bolted back to the bus, punching the security code and clambering aboard. A frantic search revealed no one else. Frankie kicked off his tennis shoes and grabbed up a Game Boy and tried to concentrate on Super Mario Brothers until he heard the whoosh of the pnuematic door.
It was Gerard, pale, shaky, obviously thrown.
"Gee?" Frankie said. Gerard looked at him, one hand pressed against the side of his face like an old woman. Frankie stood up and held his hand out. "What's wrong?"
Gerard inhaled sharply, then he took a step forward and grabbed Frankie and yanked him in tight, his arms vice-like and heavy around Frankie's shoulders, his face pressed against Frankie's neck, his sobs loud in Frankie's ear. Frankie put his own arms around Gerard's waist, rubbing Gerard's back as high as he could reach. He hummed something he hoped was comforting in Gerard's ear. Then Frankie, who had spent countless days as a child in his upstairs room, waiting to hear the sound of footsteps on the stairs, longing for some one to want him instead of always being the one wanting, smiled.