Willow overhears an upsetting conversation and reveals something to Ray.
“Hey, man.” Gerard said as the neared. “I didn’t think you were coming until tomorrow.”
Brian shrugged, “Just thought I see how you guys were doing. How’s Mikey getting along?”
“He’s doing good.” Gerard said releasing Willow’s hand. “And we’ve done some great work for the new album.”
Brian smiled, “Well that’s good to hear.” He turned to Willow, “Good to see you again.”
Willow forced a smile. While she didn’t like to listen in to thoughts right now after what had just happened with Gerard in the woods her defenses were down. Brian’s thoughts were easy for her to hear. He was wondering about her relationship with Gerard. He was also thinking that maybe he’d been right all along and she had an ulterior motive for being with the band. “I’m good thanks, but I need to find Mikey.” She brushed past Brian and went into the mansion without a word to Gerard.
Gerard watched her disappear before speaking to Brian, “Uh, what were you just thinking about?”
Brian gave him a confused look, “What?”
“Just now, what were you thinking?” He had become very adept at recognizing Willow’s smiles. The smile she had just given Brian was fake. She was upset and he had a good idea it was because of something Brian had been thinking.
“I don’t understand.” Brain said.
Gerard took out a cigarette and lit it. “Dude, you know she can hear people’s thoughts. What the fuck were you thinking when we walked up just now?”
Brian realized he’d been caught so to speak, “Shit, I was wondering what was going on with you and Willow. I mean you guys came out of the wood holding hands.”
“And?” Gerard knew there was more.
Brian looked very uncomfortable, “I guess I was wondering what was going on. I mean you have said time and time again that you aren’t ever going to get into another serious relationship.”
“Yeah, that’s true.” Gerard said taking a deep drag, “So?”
Brian searched his memory, “I was thinking that maybe Willow was trying to change your mind about that.”
“Fuck” Gerard said blowing out a stream of smoke, “You think she’s trying to get me into some kind of permanent relationship?”
Brain sighed, “Yeah, I guess that’s what I was thinking. Shit, I guess I forgot for a moment about her hearing peoples thoughts.” He tried to defend his actions, “But I thought she was all about the not listening in to thoughts. Didn’t she say she thought that was rude, or some shit?”
“Yeah.” Gerard sighed, “Since we’ve gotten here things have been very hard and very difficult for her.”
“So you think she’s pissed at me now?” Brian asked.
Gerard wasn’t sure. “Fuck, I don’t know.”
“So what’s the deal with you two? You two look pretty tight.”
“We have an understanding.” Gerard said not feeling he needed to explain any further at the moment. “We are enjoying the time we have together.”
Brian looked at him closely, “That’s it?’
“What’s it?” Gerard’s anger was beginning to surface.
“You two are together?”
Gerard stared at him. “You think that’s bad?”
Brian laughed, “Fuck, no. She’s a good-looking woman. More power to you.”
Suddenly Gerard didn’t like the way his manager was thinking, “Look, this ain’t no ones business but ours.”
“Hey. “ Brian said holding up his hand, “Dude, don’t get pissed at me. I’m sorta in awe truthfully. I mean I had no idea. I think it’s great you’re getting to nail her.” Before Gerard could respond he continued, “Oh and I saw Jessica a couple of days ago. Man, you are a lucky fucker. I envy you.”
“I’m never gonna see Jessica again.” Gerard said angrily but gave no explanation.
Brian was surprised, “Really? What about when you guys get back home? I thought you and Jessica had an understanding.”
“It’s over.” Gerard said shortly.
Brian shrugged, “Whatever.” He was having trouble gauging Gerard’s mood. “So uh, Willow is still going home after this, right? I mean I brought her check and I got her a plane ticket back to Kansas.”
Gerard didn’t know how to answer. He needed to talk to Willow.
Brian waited but got no answer. “Dude, what the fuck is going on? Have you fallen for her?’
The question further angered Gerard, “Fuck no. But I like having her around. She’s good for Mikey.”
“And you.” Brian laughed.
Gerard’s eyes narrowed. “Just drop it man. I’ll deal with Willow.” He noticed that Brian was looking over his shoulder. Turning slightly he saw Willow standing in the doorway. “Shit.” He muttered wondering how much she’d heard.
“Uh, the guys are waiting in the practice room.” Willow said softly.
“Great.” Brian said. He turned to Gerard, “Come on. I want to hear what you guys have so far.”
Gerard followed him into the mansion. Instead of following them Willow headed for the staircase.
“Don’t you want to come and hear too?” Gerard asked her. He was feeling like a shit at the moment fearing she’s overheard the conversation.
“I’m gonna go lie down. I’ve got a headache.” She said without turning.
Gerard watched her walk up the staircase until she turned out of sight.
“Come on.” Brain said giving him a shove. “Impress me with what you guys have got accomplished.”
Gerard smiled and tried to seem excited to show off the work the band had done but it wasn’t easy. His thoughts were on Willow. He knew tonight he needed to talk to her. There were things they needed to get straight.
Willow was lying on the bed trying to relax when she suddenly realized she wasn’t alone. Opening her eyes slowly she was the woman standing over by the dresser. “He’s not here.” Willow said impatiently. She really didn’t want to deal with this right now.
The woman looked at her a moment then began to fill Willow’s head with images. Willow closed her eyes and tried to concentrate of the scenes she was seeing. Slowly it began to make sense. All of it and it was brutal.
“Oh shit.” Willow whispered. “I’m sorry.”
The woman nodded then disappeared. Willow sighed feeling helpless. She now understood why the woman was here but she didn’t believe there was anything she could do to help her. Rolling over on her side she hugged the other pillow and let her tears flow. In three days they would leave this place and as much as she didn’t want her time with Gerard to be over she would be glad to leave. There was so much pain here.
The band played the new song for Brian then took a break. Most decided to grab some lunch. Brian took the opportunity to talk to Mikey.
“Hey, got a minute?” He asked as Mikey was preparing to follow the others out of the room.
Mikey looked over at Alicia. “I’ll catch up in a minute.” He knew Brian wanted to talk to him alone.
Alicia nodded, “I’ll make you a sandwich, okay?”
“Thanks.” He gave her a quick kiss and walked her walk out of the room. Turning to Brian he asked, “So what’s up?”
Brian nodded towards two chairs and the sat down. “Uh, I was just wondering how you’re doing?”
“I’m good.” Mikey said honestly. “Better than I’ve been in a fuckin’ long time.”
“That’s good to hear.” Brain said sounding relieved. “So you getting your head straight about all of this?” He wasn’t sure how to phrase the question.
Mikey laughed, “Yeah, I’m learning how to deal with seeing dead people.”
Brian sat back and shook his head, “Man, if someone had told me weeks ago that you and I would be sitting here of all places I’d never have believed them.”
“Yeah, well bet you wouldn’t have believed them if they told you I could see the dead either.” Mikey said smiling, “Life is weird, ain’t it?”
Brian nodded, “Fuck, yeah. So I take it Willow has been a help to you?”
“She has been literally a lifesaver for me. I’m not sure what would have happened if we hadn’t met.”
There was a moment of silence before Brian spoke, “I noticed that Willow and your brother have become close.”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, they have. You know she stayed with Gee after the tour.”
Brian nodded, “Yeah, I knew that. Is that when their relationship changed?”
“I’m not sure.” Mikey answered, “But I’m just hoping Gee doesn’t let the past ruin his chances for happiness.”
“You think he’s in love with her?” Brian asked trying to understand what was really going on.
Mikey sighed, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think so but I’m not sure he will let himself believe it.”
“Has he said anything to you about continuing to see her after we leave here?”
“Nope, not a word.” Mikey admitted, “But I can’t believe he’d just let her walk out of his life. He’s a fool if he does.”
Brain decided to level with his friend, “Look don’t get mad at me but I did some checking up on Willow.”
Mikey gave him a surprised look, “Checking up?”
“Hey, I’m your manager and friend. I just wanted to make sure she wasn’t some kind of nut, you know?”
“She’s not a nut.” Mikey said feeling his temper rise.
Brain held up his hands, “Dude, I didn’t say she was. All I said was I did some checking up on her. Had someone run a background check.”
Mikey didn’t like the thought of Willow’s life being investigated. “You didn’t need to do that.”
Brain nodded, “Yeah, I did. That’s part of my job. Taking care of you guys. Anyway, I didn’t find out much. She did leave college and she does work at McDonalds. She lives with a roommate in a small house.” He paused, “And she’s got tons of debt.”
“From my mother’s medial bills.” Willow’s voice startled them both. She walked further into the room. “You could have just asked me instead of wasting money to find out.” Her anger was apparent.
Brian nodded, “I suppose I could have.” He said slowing feeling bad he’d once again done something to anger her.
“But then you wouldn’t have been sure if I was lying, would you?”
Mikey looked very uncomfortable. “Willow he was just trying to protect us. It’s what he does.”
Willow nodded, “Yeah, I get that. Well so I’m guessing the investigation didn’t turn up any horrible things about me?” She asked Brain looking directly at him.
She knew she should let it go but for some reason her anger was getting the best of her. “I’ve never been arrested. Hell I’ve never even had a traffic ticket. I’m sure my life must look pretty boring on paper, doesn’t it?’
Brain glanced over at Mikey hoping for a little help. He didn’t want her angry with him but at this point he wasn’t sure what to say.
“You’ve led a quiet life.” Gerard said entering the room. He’d gone upstairs to check on Willow and when she hadn’t been there he’d returned to the practice room thinking that’s where she might have headed. He’d heard the last bit of the conversation. “That doesn’t mean boring.”
Willow glanced over at him. “Yeah, it’s been boring, trust me. I’m just a hick from Kansas. That’s all I am or ever will be.” She turned and brushed past Gerard on the way out. He watched her go then turned to Brain.
“Dude, what the hell?”
Brain defended his actions again. “Look you have to admit she entered all of your lives in a weird way. I just wanted to make sure she was on the up and up. Especially after I found out she was straying with you.”
Something suddenly dawned on Gerard, “How did you know she was going to stay with me? The last time I saw you I heard Mikey telling you that Willow was going to stay with him and Alicia.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought but Bob told me she was staying with you.”
“Bob?” Gerard repeated. “When did he tell you that?”
Brain was unsure why this mattered. “He called me the day after we got back.”
“Did he?” Gerard was trying to keep his anger under control. “Why did he feel it was necessary for you to know that?”
Brain shrugged, “Hell if I know. But when he did that’s when I figured I should do some checking up on her.”
“To protect me from her?” The sarcasm was apparent.
“Gee you took a woman to your home to stay with you that you didn’t know anything about.”
“But Mikey and Alicia were gonna take her to their home. That would have been okay?”
“That would have been a different situation.” Brain answered with a sigh. “Look I’m sorry she overheard.”
Gerard took out a cigarette and lit it. He thought a moment before speaking. “I need to talk to you about something.”
Mikey gave his brother a puzzled look.
“Do you mind?” Gerard asked him.
“Oh, okay.” Mikey understood Gerard wanted to talk to Brain alone. “Sure, no problem. I’m sure Alicia has my sandwich ready anyway.” He stood and left the room. Gerard waited until he was gone to talk a seat across from Brain.
“I want you to do something for me.” Gerard said taking a deep drag before continuing, “I heard Willow say she has a lot of debt left over from her mother’s medical bills.”
Brian nodded, “Yeah, the woman had no insurance. Willow is still paying on the medical bills. She’s also paying on a student loan she took out and there are back taxes she owes on the house she inherited from her aunt.”
Gerard nodded, “Okay. I want all of the bills paid off.”
Brain was shocked, “What? Why?”
Once again Gerard didn’t feel he owned him an explanation. “I want to do this for her because of all she’s done for Mikey. And no, she didn’t ask me to do it as a matter of fact I don’t want her to know.”
“Well she’ll find out.” Brain said.
“I’ll tell her myself.” Gerard said reaching over and snuffing out his cigarette in the crystal ashtray. “Just get it done as soon as possible.”
Brian sat back and looked at his friend, “Why are you doing this?”
“I just told you. I’m doing it because she’s helped my brother.”
“And that’s the only reason?”
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, the only reason.”
Brian shrugged, “Okay. But I get the feeling it might piss her off.”
Gerard had considered this and truthfully he thought Brian was probably right. “Yeah, well she’s just gonna have to deal. There is something else I want you to do.”
Brian listened as Gerard gave him further instructions. A worried look crossed his face. He wasn’t sure what Gerard wanted was a good idea at all.
Willow walked into the kitchen hoping to grab a bite to eat then planning on retreating to someplace where she could be alone. Today was not turning out to be good. Hearing Brian’s thoughts earlier had made her angry. Hearing Gerard’s remarks had hurt. And now having overheard how Brian had checked up on her just made her angry. It also reinforced her feeling that she really was an outsider to these people and would always remain one.
“Hey, Willow.” Alicia said seeing her enter the room. “Come sit down. We’re all having lunch. There’s lots of sandwich makings in the fridge.”
Willow tried to smile, “I think I’ll just grab an apple and head out into the sunshine for a bit.” She didn’t feel up to being around anyone at the moment. Taking an apple out of the bowl on the counter she exited out the back door.
“It sucks she heard what Brian did.” Christa said softly. Mikey had told them all when he’d reached the kitchen.
“Yeah, I mean I get why he did it but still.” Frank agreed. “I’m sure it hurt for her to hear that.”
Ray stood, “I’m gonna go talk to her.”
There were some puzzled looks around the table. He smiled, “Look I’m vampire quiet for her. Maybe it would be nice for her to talk to someone like me right now.”
Christa touched his arm, “I think it’s a good idea. I’m kinda worried about her. The last couple of days have been hard for her.”
He leaned down and gave her a quick kiss. “Yeah, you’re right.” He straightened up and left using the door Willow had earlier.
Since Gerard was still talking with Brian and Ray was with Willow everyone else decided to go into the home theatre and watch a movie. After it was over they would return to work on the new music. The film had just started when Gerard appeared.
“Bob I need to talk to you.”
Bob looked away from the screen. “Uh, sure.” He didn’t like the sound of Gerard’s voice. Following him out they walked into the main living room and sat down.
Gerard took a deep breath and tried not to let his anger take over. “I want to know why you told Brian that Willow was staying with me.” He came right to the point.
Bob cringed, “I just mentioned it in passing.” He lied.
“He said you called him and told him. I want to know why.”
Bob was trying to think of an answer to that one when Gerard suddenly asked another question. “And why the fuck did you tell Jessica where we were going to be the other night?”
Ray slowly walked towards the wrought iron bench in the rose garden where Willow was seated.. He saw that the apple was sitting beside her untouched. Her eyes were closed and her head was bowed.
“Willow” He said softly.
Her eyes popped open and he saw they were wet with tears. “Oh shit. You scared me.” She quickly rubbed her eyes hoping he hadn’t seen.
“Sorry.” He said, “Okay, if I sit down a minute?”
Willow nodded, “Sure. What’s up?”
Ray wasn’t sure how to begin. “Mikey told us you heard Brain telling him he’d had you investigated.”
Willow sighed and looked away, “It was stupid of me to be upset about that. I understand why he did it.”
“Well, yeah I do too but we all understand how that must have made you feel. Everyone wants me to tell you that we’re sorry. If he’d asked any of us we would have told him it wasn’t necessary. You are our friend and we trust you.”
“But I’m not really.” Willow said softly. “Circumstances brought me into your lives. Those same circumstances are why I’m still part of your lives.”
“You do that a lot.” Ray asked looking directly at her.
Willow gave him a puzzled look, “Do what?”
“Discount your importance to people. Yeah, something very strange happened and brought you into all of our lives but that doesn’t mean you aren’t important to all of us.” He paused, “Especially Gerard.”
Willow sighed, “If you’ve come out here to talk about my feelings for him then you’re wasting your time. What I feel doesn’t matter. On Sunday we will all leave here and I will be going home. Gerard will return to his sterile apartment and continue to hide his feelings.” Her mouth snapped shut realizing she’d said too much.
“It’s okay. We all know that’s how he’s been living his life. And I know you’ve been hoping to change that.”
Willow wasn’t sure how to respond to his words. If only she could hear his thoughts but she couldn’t.
Ray smiled, “Vampire quiet isn’t always so good, is it?”
Willow smiled slightly, “It’s like you can hear my thoughts. Yeah, I was just wishing I knew what you meant. Do you think I set out to make him care about me?”
Ray shook his head, “No, that’s not what I meant. I think you understand he’s buried part of himself and you’ve tried to make him realize that.”
“Well I’ve failed.” Willow said softly.
“Are you sure?” Ray asked leaning forward. “He seems different now, Willow. I think you are very important to him.”
Willow wished with all her heart that was true. “No, what we share is physical, nothing more. He won’t let me in his heart.” Tears once again threatened her eyes.
Ray had to ask, “Then you’ve listened to his thoughts and that’s how you know?”
Suddenly the tears began to fall. “No, I can’t hear his thoughts. He thinks it’s only when we touch that I can’t hear them but that’s not it. I can’t hear his thoughts at all now.”
Ray was shocked, “When did this happen? I know when you first met him his thoughts were a problem for you because they were loud.”
Willow nodded, “Yeah, they were.” She continued to cry feeling unable to stop. “The first time he kissed me I noticed that my mind went silent. I was so freaked I told him. That was when we both realized that when we touched I couldn’t hear his thoughts anymore.”
“So when did it change?”
“The first morning after he and I became intimate.” Willow whispered.
“And he knows?”
Willow shook her head, “No, and please Ray I don’t want him to know. Please promise me you won’t tell him.” She pleaded.
“But why?” Ray asked reaching over and touching her arm. “I don’t understand.”
Willow hated the truth but she told him anyway, “Because I’m fucking pathetic. If he knows I can’t hear his thoughts anymore then I’m afraid what we have right now will stop.”
He was still confused. “I don’t get it.”
“Right now he touches me because he thinks it keeps me from hearing his thoughts. If he knows it doesn’t matter I’m afraid he’ll stop. We don’t have much time left to be together and I know how bad it makes me sound but I don’t want anything to chance until it has to change.”
Ray gave her a sympatric look. “I don’t think that’s the only reason he touches you, Willow.”
“I believe it is one of the reasons.” She whispered brokenly.