What would have happened if Frank had never joined the band? It could still be exactly the same. COMPLETED.
'Hey Mikey,' I type, 'Send my regards to Gerard and Lynz about the baby news. Frank.' Then I click send, tears welling up in my eyes.
Its always been Gerard. From the first time we met, when him, Mikey and Ray began touring at the same time as my band Pencey Prep was, I was drawn to his tormented soul. When I sat in the wings, watching them play an out of tune, haphazard show, I smiled at Gerard lurching around the stage, pissed. He was always very ambiguous; he preferred to sip spirits drawing fucked up cartoons than partying with the rest of us. I remember the time I chose to stay with them in the little van with 'My Chemical Romance' scrawled all over it that they toured in after a show, declining invites to parties going on that night. I'd say we were casual acquaintances, and for the first half hour or so, we sat in silence and I watched him draw. But then I struck up conversation with him, asking him why he wasn't pursuing a career in art, since that seemed to be his passion.
"I want to make a difference." He'd simply said.
"You could," I had replied, "You're skilled enough."
He didn't say anything for a while then, just carried on drawing. I thought he hadn't heard me, because a couple of minutes passed and he didn't answer. I had leaned back in my chair; taken a swig out of my beer can.
"I was an artist for Cartoon Network." He had suddenly said, and I looked up at him. His eyes had become cloudy as he reminisced. "But on 9/11 I saw the bodies falling from the burning buildings." He had said in a quiet voice, filled with emotion. Picking up a shot glass of Vodka, he knocked it down his throat. "I realised my art couldn't make a difference when I'm working for some massive bullshit corporation. So I think I should, and beware, I'm going to use a cliché -" Gerard had broken off, and smiled, "Live each day like its my last. Do something I feel can make a change. That night, after I had quit my job, I went home and wrote Skylines and Turnstiles. Then I formed a band."
We sat in silence for a while after that. Just thinking. It reached 2am, so I said I had to leave. I hugged him, and his alcoholic breath tickled my ear as he made a proposition to me.
"Join my band."
I think back to that night a lot. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in a cold sweat, I wonder what would have happened if I'd given a different answer; if I'd said yes. The I think back to the night, see myself gently pulling out of his embrace and looking him in his deep eyes. "I have other commitments Gerard. I'm sorry." His face had fallen, he'd looked to the ground. I had leaned forwards, gone up on tiptoes and lightly kissed the top of his head. Then I had left, and felt his gaze wash over me as I walked away.
At this stage, I'd never thought My Chemical Romance would make it. In fact, my band had been the biggest back then. I had tried to stay away from Gerard after that night in the van, partly through the fact that his proposition was somewhat ridiculous; partly because I was embarrassed over the tender moment we had shared. How was I to know that My Chemical Romance would bring a record out, then start touring the whole of the US, leaving Pencey Prep to endless arguments and disagreements until we finally broke up. The day I went into the ancient record store near my house and found, hidden away in a dark corner, My Chemical Romance's album 'I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love', I was so shocked that they had made it, I had grabbed the record and bought it for the meagre amount of dollars it was. That night, I had sat in my dull flat listening to the record on repeat. Gerard's vocals weren't perfect, but were full of angst and emotion. I read through the lyrics, and somehow they all seemed to be about us. Or at least, whatever 'us' was, which admittedly wasn't much. But ever since that intimate night in the My Chemical Romance van, I couldn't stop thinking about him.
Merci Pour Le Venin, the cd booklet reads. Oh Gerard. I'm sorry for the hostile way I turned your offer down, I had thought.
When Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge was released, I had felt so many regrets. I should of joined the band, I thought everyday. I swear, when I found out they were leaving for Europe, I felt a ripping in my soul that he was leaving. Sure, I hadn't seen them since that night, but I had started looking on the internet at all the My Chemical Romance websites, and Gerard Way fan sites which had popped up. When they got back from Europe, I started getting back in touch with Mikey again. We'd email about once a week, him saying he couldn't believe how well the album was going, that he was sorry Pencey Prep had broken up, and how fun it had been touring in Europe. Maybe about five weeks after we had been talking, he had emailed me at 3am. Being somewhat of an insomniac, I had been there to receive it when it first popped into my inbox.
'Gerard's completely wasted. Again. Talking about killing himself. We're back in town, can you help?' Mikey had written, and given directions to where they were staying. Not even thinking about the cons, I pulled on some clothes and tugged on my shoes, and headed to find them. Since it was so early, there was almost no traffic, so I got to them in about ten minutes. I remember the moment I saw Gerard. He was stumbling around outside his trailer, his sweatpants coated in grime and blood, his black wife beater hanging off his skinny frame. His black hair was in his eyes, and dripping with sweat. The rest of the band were watching him nervously through the window of the trailer, but when they saw me they disappeared. I cautiously approached Gerard, and then he noticed me. He had been hanging his head, looking at his feet, but when he saw me, he looked up and grinned widely as recognition flashed through his eyes.
"FRAAAAANK!" He called, "How….how are you Frank?!"
I was so shocked, I couldn't answer. But he wouldn't have listened anyway, because at that moment he'd whirled round and vomited noisily on the sparse grass. I remember, I had automatically ran forward and held his hair, and placed a hand on his bony, sweaty shoulder. When he'd stopped being sick, he wiped his mouth with the back of his arm, leaving a trail of slime and mucus. I held his other arm firmly, but he staggered backwards and fell on the floor. Because of my lack of height, I was so easy to pull down, so I fell with him. Gerard's eyes flickered up at me, and he parted his lips to speak slightly.
"One day we'll run away…" he had muttered, and then his eyes closed and his breathing had steadied. I recognized the words from the song 'This Is The Best Day Ever', and smiled slightly. I'd spent many long nights trying to figure out if any of the songs had been about me, and it turns out this one had. Clambering off him, I'd gotten onto my feet. I had been ready to leave, but when I turned and looked at him, he'd looked so frail and small, that I knew I couldn't leave him laying there. So I'd walked forwards, and scooped his bleeding body off the floor and into my arms. When I'd loaded him into my car, I'd called out to Mikey and the band, "We'll be back later."
The drive had seemed to take longer that time, because I'd been so conscious of him in the back that I hadn't wanted to drive fast and risk hurting him more than he had already hurt himself. When we had reached my flat, I'd scooped him up once more and carried him inside. I heard him mumbling words to himself as he stirred, and set him down on my faded sofa. I think that was the moment I had fallen in love with Gerard. Before it had been a crush, but that night I had seen him in his worst state, and still been attracted to him. His destructive personality had riveted me; I loved the danger he was to himself. As I watched his chest rise and fall in a perfect rhythm, I'd wondered what would happen to him. No part of me had thought he would survive the month. When he'd finally woken up a couple of hours later, I was still sat with him.
"Frank" he'd croaked, so I'd got him some water, "What… what am I doing here?" I'd looked him in his swollen eyes, shocked he really didn't appear to know what he was doing here, unaware of the bender he'd been on. "I need to help you Gerard. You're going to kill yourself if you carry on like this." He'd shook his head in an exaggerated manner, making me think he was probably still pissed. "I'm enjoying myself Frankie. And if I die… well its not so bad."
I'd exploded in outrage then. "WHAT!? You think you can use death as an escape route?! Please Gerard, that's not you…" He'd looked me in the eyes then for a couple of minutes. "What else can I do? What's so great about my life?" He'd breathily whispered. I couldn't help myself then, so I'd leant forward and kissed him full on the lips. I didn't care that he tasted like shit, that he was still slightly pissed. I just kissed him. And he'd kissed me back, powerfully pushing his tongue roughly into my mouth. I'd enthusiastically kissed him back just as powerful as he had to me, until I cautiously pulled away. He'd frowned slightly then, and I spoke. "You're life is fucking good Gee. You're life is getting better, you have an amazing band, friends who love you, you're having experiences people would die for. Don't throw it away just because you're slightly depressed. That's a cowards way. I didn't think that was you Gee. I hope its not." He'd looked away then, ashamed. I could still taste him in my mouth, but knew I couldn't kiss him again because the atmosphere had changed. I remember him picking up a pillow and burying his face in it, sobs emanating from it. I'd leaned forward, and awkwardly hugged him as he howled. "Oh Gerard, oh Gerard. I promise it will get better." I'd whispered to him, "I love you." I don't think he heard the last bit, because he didn't respond and I'd said it almost inaudibly. Its for the best, I had thought. Later, Gerard picked himself up, and wiped his face.
"I'm sorry Frankie." he'd said as he looked deep into my eyes. I hadn't known what he was apologising for: his behaviour that night, or the kiss. I'd hoped it was the behaviour. He'd left then, and that was the last time I saw him.
Me and Mikey stopped emailing not too long after that. Gerard cleaned up. I like to think that I helped, but I can't say for sure. Life went on, I got promoted at work, got married to my long-time girlfriend and moved to a roomy house in the nicer area of New Jersey. And then, out of nowhere, The Black Parade struck.