Mikey joins the next counseling session.
Session II: Ordinary Hero
They had arrived for another counseling session. This time, Mikey had joined them. Evidently, Mikey had been concerned about the incident at the concert. So, he had called Frank and asked about what had been happening with his brother lately, without disclosing as to why he was asking.
Frank filled him in on the counseling sessions, and what the neurologist had told them. Mikey asked to come, wanting to help in any way he could. And here they were.
It was annoying to Gerard, really. How Mikey and Frank would converse about Gerard right in front of him, as though the concerned parents of a small child. He mentioned it to Frank, who then corrected him in saying, "Well at least we're concerned, loving parents.", which did not amuse Gerard in the least. In fact, it was beginning to be one of the reasons he wanted to go home. His real home.
They sat in the lukewarm office, each in separate armchairs. Gerard sulked like a moody adolescent in his while he watched the counselor writing more notes about him.
"Why don't we try his last graduation?" the counselor then said.
Frank nodded and got out something framed from the "memento box". He held it up for the room to see. Gerard leaned in for a closer look. It appeared to be some sort of college diploma. This too, had his name on it.
Frank approached Gerard, cleared his throat, and began to explain.
Frank watched from the audience as his long term boyfriend Gerard Way sat amongst the other graduates that were gathered in a crowd by one end of the stage. Even this far away, he could tell how nervous Gerard was. Maybe it was just intuition. They both knew what was about to happen, and Frank thought how scared his poor baby must be. Gerard had not been on a stage since that night he ended up in the hospital. He tried to catch Gerard's eye.
To his relief, he saw that Gerard was looking at him too. Frank gave him a reassuring smile. After that, his intuition felt Gerard's nervousness go down at least a little.
Finally, the man at the podium announced, "And now, here is class valedictorian Gerard Way, with a few words about his fellow classmates."
The rest of the audience applauded politely, but Donna, Mikey and Frank stood to cheer loudly. As he walked to the stage, Gerard looked at them and grinned. When he took his stand behind the podium, his head held high, the sense of pride Frank felt was overwhelming.
Gerard waved sheepishly at the crowd before beginning:
"Well, if you're listening to me talking right now, you're either graduating right now, or you're attached to someone whose graduating, or you're in the wrong room..."
Scattered chuckles could be heard around the audience.
"..I could stand up here and tell you how things are going to be better, and the futures going to be bright for all of us --- but I have things to do, and so do you, so I'll keep this short.
A lot of us will fail in a lot of goals that we set, but despite that, we will succeed in things that will make us better people. I'm not here to tell you to reach for the stars, if it's your destiny to touch them, you'll do it. If it's not, then you're like most people. I guess if you remember anything that I say tonight, it's that if you don't reach a star, don't consider yourself a failure. Don't lose hope. We all succeed in what we're meant to do in the end.
When I was a young boy, I wanted to write children's books. When I was a young adult, I wanted to be a rock star. But in the end, I found my place as a professional in the medical field, and I consider myself as a success. Because even if I did not do any of those things professionally, anyway, I leave here tonight knowing that I have a bright future ahead of me, a bright future that will help not only myself, but the people I love..."
For the second time that night, Gerard caught Frank's eye.
"...and to me, that is as much success as I hope to ever achieve. Still, I sing when no one's listening, and write a little on the side. And I can see a story unfolding right here. Your story. It begins with the sentence: Once upon a time, a bright group of students graduated from Citrus College... the rest, is up to you.
Thank you, and have a great night everybody."
Gerard left the stage upon massive explosion of cheers and applause. While Gerard never had very many friends at the school, everyone respected him for that moment, and that could be felt all around the room.
He returned to the stage not that long after, this time to receive his diploma. Donna was crying, Mikey was furiously taking pictures, and Frank was just savoring every moment. Because that was his man out there, and his man was truly amazing ---
"...wait." Gerard interrupted.
Every head in the room turned to Gerard, all seeming slightly annoyed at the intrusion.
"I'm sorry..." Gerard started, unable to control himself. "... but that is just SO uncharacteristic of me!"
"Why do you say that, Gerard?" the counselor asked, writing on his notepad as he spoke.
"I --- I can't --- I mean, it makes no sense!" Gerard raised his voice in his confusion, visibly alarming Mikey. "All I've wanted to do since I was younger was inspire people, help them! How the hell am I doing that by doing some 9 to 5 job? I mean, it's not even like I'm a fucking doctor or even a nurse, I'm a fucking pencil pusher! That's what the whole point of being a rock star was -- giving people someone to be inspired by! I'm not inspiring anyone this way, and if I'm not helping people then no, I couldn't have been a success!"
The room was silent for a moment, no one really knowing what to say. Surprisingly, it was Mikey who piped up next. He pulled out something from his pocket. It was a ring. He looked up at Gerard and said, "I brought something too.."
Mikey sat in his brother's room, as Gerard helped wiped the tears from his eyes. His shoulders shook a bit more, and Gerard continued to hold him as they sat on the bed.
"How do you think they'll react?" Mikey asked in an unusually high pitched voice.
"Well." Gerard sighed, "Mom will be fine with it, Mikey. I mean...she already knows she has one gay son, and she's come to terms with that. She'll love you no matter what. Dad... dad will not take it so well, but you know --- who cares about that? It's not his life. It's yours. You and Ryan will be out of here soon. And then you don't ever have to speak to him again if you don't want to."
"He hasn't spoken to you at all.." Mikey whispered.
"No, he hasn't." Gerard confirmed.
"And you're okay with that?" asked Mikey.
"Of course I would want things to be different." frowned Gerard, "But I can't change the way people think Mikey, neither can you. No one can. We come from a religious family. I have to respect that, as well as accepting what they're against. If I can't, then I'm just a hypocrite. I mean, the whole argument is that we should allow people to live their lives the way that they want. Dad hasn't done anything really other than show that he disapproves. And, I have to respect that. I mean, yeah I could try to make him see things my way --- but then, wouldn't I be just another person forcing their beliefs on someone who doesn't want them?"
"He hit you when he first found out!" Mikey argued, still fuming at the mere memory of it.
"Okay, yes --- I admit that the initial shock of it was pretty bad. But I mean, he's fine now. He doesn't bother me and I don't bother him. And I'm okay with that. Mikey, my point is -- in the end, it's your happiness that matters. Only yours. Because people come and go, Mikey that's just how life is. One day, dad won't be here, mom won't be around, hell, I might not --- "
"Don't say that." Mikey interrupted.
"-- sorry. Either way, you need to do what's right for you. There will always be people against you, and you can't do anything about that. In the end, all you can do is look out for yourself and the people who you really love."
"Ryan is getting really impatient with me. He wants us to move forward, he's been begging me to tell them. But dad, he --- he just reacted so bad when you and Frank told him you guys were together. I just --- he's our father you know? He raised me. I don't want him to hate me. I don't want to alienate him." Mikey cried.
"Yeah but Mikey, when you find someone you love, someone you want to spend the rest of your life with -- you have to make sacrifices. Big sacrifices. But one day, when you and Ryan are old and have a house on a hill overlooking the countryside or some shit like that --- you're going to look back and you're going to realize those sacrifices were worth it." Gerard said softly.
"Do you think telling him about you and Frank was worth it?"
"I love Frank, and I want to spend the rest of my days with him. So yes. It was worth it. Do you love Ryan?"
"Of course. He's everything to me, Gee."
"Then you're going to go out there, and you're going to tell our family that you're a proud homosexual whose found the man he loves. And don't worry, I'll be behind you all the way..."
Mikey looked directly at Gerard for the first time since they had started talking. This entire time, his heart had been filled with such terror. He had felt like a shaking little boy who was afraid of getting grounded by his parents. But when he looked right in Gerard's eyes... something...something in them completely took the fear out of him. Something in their hazel depths told him 'I'll protect you.'
Mikey had always looked up to Gerard, and this moment reminded him exactly why. Despite his depression, despite everything that had happened to him, Gerard never cowered in the face of terror. He was always proud of who he was, and never faltered in his passion. This was why his brother was his hero.
He nodded slowly, breathing erratically. Gerard smiled at him, and helped him off the bed.
"C'mon." he said simply, and gestured for Mikey to take his hand. Mikey grabbed it. Together they walked out into the living room, where a family dinner was being held. Ryan and Frank were there as well.
Mikey cleared his throat. Gerard squeezed his hand gently, and Mikey felt an unfamiliar surge of courage course through him.
His parents both looked at him. Their father caught his eye. Mikey did not break the eye contact, and began to speak.
"Guys, I have something to tell you. And I want you all to hear it."
"...we were in engaged the same night." Mikey said, still looking down at the ring that he had been stroking. Finally Gerard realized its significance.
Frank was teary eyed. He himself had never heard this story before. He remembered Gerard being with Mikey in their room that night, but Gerard had never spoken of what went on in there.
Mikey then turned to Gerard and smiled, "See, Gerard? You don't need to be a big rock star to inspire people. You don't need to be up on some stage to get your message across. It's the little things you do that inspire the people around you. You inspired me to come out to our parents, to the world, when I was fucking terrified. I don't think I could have ever done it without you. Ryan and I would have probably broken up, because I'd have been too much of a coward. But you saved us, Gee. So how can you say you haven't helped anyone?"
Gerard did not know what to say. The Gerard in this existence sounded like an amazing human being. Yet it was so mind blowing to think that they were in fact the same human being. All it took was a little change to make all the difference in the world.
As two people who clearly loved him more than he has ever known stared at him with looks of concern and hope, Gerard only wished he knew what the better Gerard would do now.
Next chapter: Gerard gets to do something he's been dying to since he awoke that fateful morning.