"Mikey, he's a monster." When one drunken misstep drags them all down into the mire, Mikey's choices will leave a trail of human wreckage none of them can escape.
"Does he have any family left?"
"No, none. She was all he had."
"Can't say it's not for the best. They were moving for his removal from the home soon anyway. That woman, I've heard the stories from patrol. She was a monster."
"Still... Doesn't he have a father?"
"There isn't a name listed on the duplicate birth certificate we found in the house. Total shithole. I can't believe she even had any record of him at all, to be honest. We're hunting down the original copy. But apparently, the dad's a total deadbeat. Never even seen the kid apparently..."
Hazel eyes tracked the officers outside the hospital room door. Back. Forth. Back. Forth. They thought he was sleeping. Thought he was in shock. The accident had traumatized him. Blood everywhere. Flames yawning up to swallow him. Metal crunching metal. Screeching brakes. Slick, rain coated pavement. Blood, everywhere.
"A'righ', A'righ', Mikey, try to hold the beat with Brian. And Frank, instead of the sweeping, try just holding an E-G-C chord progression, and then take over Ray's part when he goes for the solo. Ray, you were perfect. Just do that same thing again, like that sound, exactly. 'Kay, we good?"
Mutters of mild dissension swelled from their ranks, but it was light-hearted. Smiles were echoed all around the recording booth as Mikey nodded to Gerard's directions, stepping closer to the drum kit on his left, kicking a stray cable out of his way. He hefted his bass a little higher on his hips, checking the amp jack absently, fiddling with the tuning knobs.
Frank focused on curling his fingers over the neck of his guitar, ghosting over the frets as he practiced the E-G-C progression. Ray strummed out a few random pieces, sounding vaguely like a Metallica riff. He straightened up, facing Gerard and grinning, "From the top?"
"Yeah, from the top," Gerard said, cracking a smile, eyes twinkling, "And I'm sorry I'm being so totally anal about this, but I want it to sound as good as it can on the demo so they'll green light the extra tracks."
"Yeah, yeah, more like you get off on all that power," Mikey laughed, head up, facing Gerard, nose crinkling as he giggled, "You're addicted to making us play the same shit over and over until our fingers bleed while you just fuck around with the vocals."
Gerard feigned an extraordinarily offended look, wrinkling his face and sticking his tongue out at Mikey. He snorted, huffing and turning completely away from his younger brother. "I'm not even going to justify those preposterous, slanderous, accusations with a response," Gerard sniffed, nose in the air, head back, fiery red hair dangling down his back.
Frank took the opportunity, lunged in Gerard's direction, grabbing a fistful of his hair and yanking the already off-balance singer down, hard, by his hair. Gerard yelped, unable to right himself in time, and crashed to the ground. He snagged Frank's tie on the way down, yanking the shorter man down with him.
They lay in a giggling, groaning, heap on the wooden floor, both rolling around in a mix of pain and laughter. "What the fuck!?" Gerard half-laughed, half-yelped, backhanding Frank's chest, "Pull my hair motherfucker!? The fuck!?" He backhanded him again, harder.
"Ow, OW!" Frank howled with laughter, on his back next to the singer, yipping in pain when Gerard smacked him, "Ow! I couldn't help it, you've just got such beautiful auburn hair, darling!"
"Motherfucker!" Gerard snarled, grinning in spite of himself as rolled himself over forcefully, launching himself on top of Frank, grabbing his shoulders and pretending to bang the guitarist's head into the floor, "Fuck you!"
"Ow, ow, ow, get off!" Frank choked with laughter as Gerard straddled him, sitting on his stomach, "You're a fucking fat ass and you're crushing me! Get off!"
At this point, Ray and Mikey, who'd been stuffing their fists into their mouths to contain their giggles, broke down completely, dissolving into fits of raucous laughter, collapsing against one another. By now, Gerard had his hands around Frank's throat, trying to throttle him for the 'fat ass' comment.
"Take it back, motherfucker!" Gerard shrieked, shaking Frank's head like a bobble-head toy, "I am not fat! Take it back!"
Frank, faking asphyxiation, rolled his eyes back into his head, making choking sounds and trying to pry Gerard's hands off his throat. "N-never!" he pretended to hack with his dying breaths, gurgling, drooling out the corners of his mouth, tongue lolling, "Y-y-you fat ass!"
"Okay, okay, okay!" Ray cried weakly, barely managing to speak around his laughter, stepping forward finally, crossing his hands in a 'T', "Time out you two! Game over. Stop, stop, stop! We've got a demo to finish, remember?"
"Aw, Ray, you weren't gonna let him kill me?" Frank asked, eyes sparkling with fake innocence, grinning up at Toro, his 'suffocating' seemingly forgotten, "Is it 'cause you love me so much?"
"I-" Ray began, but was cut off suddenly by a voice from the overhead intercom of the recording booth:
"Mikey? There's someone here to talk to you," Brian said from outside the booth. They glanced up at him through the glass, where he wore an unreadable look, hand on the page-in button, leaning over the control panel.
"What's up?" Mikey frowned, stepping forward, loosening his bass strap as he walked towards the door, "Who is it?"
"I don't know," Brian replied, shrugging his shoulders, "He says it's important though. You got a sec to spare from doing... whatever it is you're doing?"
"Yeah," Mikey laughed, pulling his bass off over his head, setting it on a chair, "We're not really doing anything anyway, right Frank?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Frank lied, eyes staring upwards, trying for another innocent look, "I have no fucking clue what you're even saying Mikey Way. I don't speak English anymore."
"If you don't speak English, why are you speaking English?" Gerard snarked, glaring at him, still sitting atop him, crossing his arms over his chest and frowning down at the little guitarist. He was clearly still pissed about the 'fat ass' joke.
Mikey could only imagine what Frank said next as he pushed open the door of the recording room, and walked out, letting it swing shut behind him. Cool air blasted over him, and he shivered a little, traipsing down the hallway to the sound mixing booth, turning and walking inside.
A man in a formal gray suit, white shirt and polished black shoes was standing a few feet in, ramrod straight with a gray comb-over. He gripped a brown briefcase in one hand, a sheaf of papers in the other. He turned towards Mikey as he came in, eyes the color of blue ice chips locking onto him. Mikey's stomach twisted a little; he felt his pulse quicken. He was suddenly very nervous.
"Michael James Way?" The man addressed him coolly, taking a confidant step forward, eying him icily, scrutinizing him closely, sizing him up. His nose wrinkled, as if whatever he saw in Mikey was offensive.
Mikey clenched his jaw, glaring right back. He hated being judged. He stared the man down, lifting his chin away from his chest. He ground his teeth. "Yes, I'm Michael Way," He replied acidly, through gritted teeth, "Why do you need to know?"
"You've been served, Michael Way," The man replied, eyes like daggers, thrusting the stack of papers roughly in Mikey's direction, "By the state of New York. You are to present yourself tomorrow to the Los Angeles medical testing lab for paternity testing. Congratulations, Mr. Way. Good day."
Ice cold dread cascaded down into Mikey's body, freezing him. He froze.
The papers were jammed into his hands, the man stalking past him, snatching open the door and vanishing behind it before Mikey could even formulate a reply. He stood, gaping like a fish, eyes wide, arm dangling at his side, the other still extended and stuffed full of the papers.
"Alright, Mr. Way, open your mouth please?" The woman in the blue scrubs asked, cotton swab in hand, smiling pleasantly at him.
Mikey couldn't move. His mouth remained tightly shut. He stared, zombie-like, at her. He almost didn't understand the question. He was still in a state of shock. "Mikes, open," Gerard commanded, nudging Mikey's side, grinning gently, "It's gonna be fine. You and I both know this is total shit anyways. Open wide Mikey-boy."
Mikey nodded mutely, dropping his jaw, opening his mouth. She reached in, running the cotton swab along the side of his cheek, under his tongue and along his gum line. She pulled the swab out, capped it with a little plastic tube, slipped it into a box she had on the chrome cart she had with her, scribbled something on the box and set it down. "You're all done, Mr. Way," she said, grinning brightly, "We should have the results to you in about two days."
"Two days?" Mikey grunted, frowning, "Um, don't you think you might wanna go a little faster on that? This is my fucking life we're talking about here."
"I'm sorry sir, but those are the procedures," She said, cocking her head, shooting him a fake sugar-sweet grin, "No exceptions."
And with that, she was gone, pushing her cart along with her. Mikey watched her go, the cold chunk of dread that had been slowly solidifying in his stomach over the past twenty-four hours hardening a little more. He swallowed, sighing heavily and scrubbing an exhausted hand over his face. He glanced over at Gerard, who was busy fiddling with his phone.
"Gee?" he began weakly, swallowing again, clearing his throat.
Gerard's head snapped up, and he searched Mikey's face quickly, eyes tracking his expression worriedly. Mikey almost never used his childhood nickname, unless something was very, very wrong.
"Mikey?" he asked cautiously, slowly pocketing his phone, taking a step forward, "What's up, Mikes? You're not seriously worried about this paternity suit bullshit are you? It's shit man, like I said. Someone trying to get fucking money out of you. There's no way this shit's real, don't worry."
Mikey sighed heavily, running an agitated hand through his cropped blond locks, glancing up and down the long, deserted lab hallway around them. He slowly sank onto the bench that was next to them, hunching forward, resting his elbows on his knees, letting his hands dangle between them.
"I don't fucking know that for sure," Mikey muttered quietly, refusing to meet Gerard's eyes, "I mean, what if it's real? What if, y'know, the kid's mine? I mean, the file the guy gave me, and the kid's birth certificate? That was my fucking name on it, as the 'father', Gee."
"How could it be, Mikes?" Gerard scoffed, dropping down onto the bench next to him, slinging an arm around his shoulder, giving him a reassuring squeeze, "Fuck man, you read the kid's file. It said he's ten fucking years old. We were living in New Jersey outta mom's basement ten years ago, Mikes. And I think we'd all remember you having a girlfriend. Hell, we all thought you were gay back then."
"Hey!" Mikey snapped, blushing furiously, jerking his head up to throw Gerard a dirty look, "I'm not gay, Gerard! If anything, you're the gay one. Fucking making out with Frank all the fucking time."
"Hey now!" Gerard laughed, throwing up his hands as if to ward off Mikey's words, "I got a wife and kid of my own. Happily married man, remember? Besides, don't fucking pretend you and Wentz didn't-"
"We didn't!" Mikey cut in sharply, shoving Gerard hard, snarling furiously, "You know I'm not gay, Gerard! I've got a wife too, y'know."
"Yeah, yeah, see?" Gerard laughed, punching his shoulder playfully, "You've got nothing to be worried about here, Mikes. No way this could be your kid. You were gay back then."
"Gerard," Mikey began, growling, eyes sharp, but Gerard only laughed harder, tossing his arm back around Mikey, dragging him in for a one armed hug.
"Lighten up, Mikes," Gerard said, grinning, "There's no way this kid could be yours. Stop fucking worrying. Seriously. Now, let's get outta here and get something to eat. I'm fucking starving."
"Definitely," Mikey said, smiling now, Gerard's words bolstering him, "Let's get some fucking coffee too while we're at it. Starbucks is on the way back to the studio anyway."
"Yeah," Gerard replied, getting to his feet, spinning on his heel, thrusting his hand out for Mikey to take, which he did, and helping to pull him to his feet, "We've got that demo to finish, if you could ever fucking stay on beat, Mikey."
Mikey responded by socking Gerard, hard, in the arm, as they made their way down the hallway. Gerard laughed, punching back. Mikey couldn't suppress a grin, stumbling a little and laughing. He was glad he'd asked Gerard to accompany him after all. He'd been leery, at first, of telling anyone in the band. Brian had solved that problem for him, by telling them anyway.
They'd all reassured him, as Gerard had, that it was obviously just some woman looking to cash in off of a rock star. He had nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.
Thanks so much for reading! Let me know what you think of it, because I'm a little unsure right now. I promise following chapters will be much longer. Ratings and reviews make me update faster, so, if you could? :)