It seemed that Frank was always there for Dwayne. Never having experienced that from anyone Dwayne had reacted at first towards his Uncle the same as he did to the rest of his family – he hated him. But over time things had...changed. And whatever happened Frank was always there, never failing, just always there.
When the nightmares would wake him in the middle of the night, petrified with fear, skin damp with sweat and heart beating in his mouth, it was Frank who would stroke his hair till he fell asleep, undeterred by the fact that at seventeen he should be immune to the fear, and never mentioning it in the morning.
Once Dwayne stole a lighter from a store. He hadn't planned it, didn't even want it, but the security guard didn't believe him. Frank never mentioned it to Richard or Dwayne's mother, so Dwayne didn't either.
When his Uncle walked into their shared bathroom and found him on the floor, razor blade in his hands and his wrist crying red tears, he said nothing but silently bandaged his nephew, and sat with him until he stopped crying. Never speaking, never offering more than his presence. Dwayne traced the scars on Frank's wrist and knew he understood.
"Uncle Frank? Are you awake?" Frank had, in fact, been staring at the ceiling, sleep furthest from his mind, waiting to hear the sound of his nephew's breathing.
"Yeah" he heard the sound of padding feet, and the pressure of a body on the bed beside him. It was usual, and but unlike usual Dwayne was silent.
"Are you okay?"
"How...how did you know you were gay?"
When Dwayne told his mother and Richard, it was only Frank that stayed silent through the screaming of the other adults, eyes focused solely on his processed chicken despite "I told you he was going to be a bad influence" and "Turned your son into a fag". And it was Frank's reassuring hand on his knee that convinced Dwayne that everything would be alright.
"Why won't he like me?" a drunken Dwayne was crying into his Uncle's shirt at three in the morning "Why?"
"I don't know" Frank's voice was low, and although he held the young man tightly his eyes were staring into the darkness "Sometimes they're straight. Other times they're just arseholes. If he can't see how good you are..."
Richard never came to Dwayne's graduation. Frank accepted the seat reserved for 'the father'.
"Just out of interest" Frank asked, during one of their late-night conversations "How did you know?"
"I liked this guy"
"Oh. Luc?" he pressed nonchalantly, trying to understand when all he knew of Dwayne's love life were snippets of closed answers.
"No not him"
"Do I know him?" Dwayne didn't reply for so long that his uncle didn't think he would. Then quietly
"His name's Frank"