"I’m going to hell for this." Read, review, rate and feel my love :P
The worst I’ve ever seen Mikey look was after a rough day at school.
It was only a month or two ago, actually. I’d gotten in from work to find him collapsed on the couch in a fit of unstoppable tears and fire-freezing sobs, a bloody nose staining his face like the irremovable mark that seems to curse every carpet no matter how hard you clean it. It had hurt seeing him like that; the fact that he hadn’t even bothered to wipe the blood from his face during the three-and-a-half hours between the end of his school day and the end of my day working in Starbucks only amplifying how worthless he felt, how I had failed to love him with all of the love of a family. Another thing that shocked me like falling into a bathtub of vicious electric eels was that he hadn’t come to Starbucks to seek out my assistance, nor had he even phoned me to tell me that he was all busted up and in need of someone to soothe his wounds. I guess that’s when I first realised that something was wrong with us, when I was cradling him as he cried half-hearted missiles of hopeless sorrow; he hadn’t been leaning into the hug like he once would have, with all of the eagerness of a little kid trying to get into a candy store, but he’d just kind of accepted that it was happening. Like he didn’t mind it but knew that it wouldn’t help him either. I hadn’t noticed it then as I told him, like our father had once told me, to stick up for himself and to not take it from them, but as I look back I notice it now. As I lectured him on not taking anyone’s shit, because it’s what a father would say, instead of comforting him until he smiled a genuine smile like I wanted to as his big brother, he had lost that last little bit of himself that had been locked up in my love. After that, he never told me about his school day; about what he was feeling; about all of the things that he needed help with. But I can’t blame all of that solely on that one incident; no, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And it kills me to know that. That I fucked up with him an uncountable amount of times, so much so that I can’t even recall all of them, and it cost me the one person I want to guide and love and care for; my baby brother. But that day was the worst he’s ever looked by the way of injuries.
I’m sat on the end of the bed that currently holds his broken, abused and sleeping body like some sort of mausoleum crib. Seeing him like this, I just can’t even form proper thoughts on what to do. It tears me up inside as badly as his face is torn up that this happened to him, to my baby brother. Not to my charge or to my son; to my baby brother. If only I’d realised that before, then maybe he wouldn’t be in the state he’s in now.
I lean over him and trail my horrified fingers over each of the cuts that adorn his face like red paint on a white fur coat; my thumb traces around the huge blue-black bruise that surrounds his right eye like a bottomless ocean of heartless brutality; my eyes scan the rise and fall of his battered chest, wincing whenever I can hear the pressure of each breath as it falls from his, once again, busted nose. And it’s all my fault. I can tell myself that it’s down to the bastard that’ll burn in the devil’s asshole who did this; that Mikey’s to blame because he’s the one who ran off into the dark on his own; that it’s all the fault of Fate and nobody’s to blame. But all of those are just half-truths. I’m to blame. I drove him away with my spite and inability to see what’s going on in front of me, I told him that he couldn’t come back and now, now he’s lucky to be alive.
Mom and Dad must me so ashamed of me for letting this happen to their baby boy. I’m ashamed of me for letting this happen. I just want to burn in hell right now, but even then that won’t be enough to make me forget the guilt; I want to go to purgatory, so then maybe the anticipation to discover my fate will distract me from this rampant regret, remorse and rage. But that won’t work either, because I know my fate. I’m going to hell for this; for slowly dismantling my, once happy, brother.
“You okay, Gerard?”
I whip around at the quiet question to see Frank slumped in the doorway, his silky mane of ebony stuck up at odd angles from where he’s been running his hands through it in worry. If it wasn’t for the situation, I might be blushing because of his presence, might be grinning like a love-sick teen because of his stereo-typical bad-boy good looks. But we are in this situation; this isn’t one of the chemistry classes from the time when we were lab partners. But I wish it were.
“Yeah. It’s just… Aw, shit, Frank. Look at him, he’s just a kid. A kid with too much to deal with already. He shouldn’t be going through this too.” I grimace at how unlike the sort of person Mikey needs I sound, at how lost and pathetic I sound; at how like myself before I decided to become Mikey’s guardian I sound.
I half expect Frank to laugh at me, but quickly bleach that thought away; he’s way too nice for that. I remember once I almost set fire to him with my carelessness with an ignited lab splint, he’d yelled at me to put it down and then, just as I was about to apologize for burning a hole through his Misfits hoodie, he had begged for my forgiveness because he had shouted at me. I forgave him immediately, of course. How could anyone stay mad at Frank? Cute, kind, selfless, good-looking Frank? I’d liked to have thought that we were friends back then, but judging by how he hasn’t looked at me as though he knows me yet, I don’t think he remembers me; nor all of the laughs we had at the back of Mr Adams’ chemistry class.
I feel a strong hand on my shoulder and look up to see his heavenly hazel eyes, eyes that appear to be so full of sadness and concern that they’re about to overflow in the form of salty daggers, searching my own teary, dull hell-pits for a correct way to respond to my words.
This surprises me slightly. Mikey’s notorious for being quiet, for not speaking unless he absolutely has to; has Frank Iero, in the few painful hours that he’s known my brother, gotten through to him like I should be able to? I hope so. Mikey needs a friend. A friend like Frank.
“He spoke to you?” I almost sound hopeful in my shock; of course I was rather it were me he was opening up to, but at least he’s opening up to someone. Someone I vaguely know and trust. Someone who can help me fill the roles that desperately need filling.
“He didn’t tell me much. Only his name, that you’re orphans and that he lives with you.” My face falls at his response, but at least it’s a start.
The last time I tried to get him to speak to someone new, a potential friend, he’d burst into tears at the pressure and then the kid (a friend’s younger cousin) had laughed cruelly at him. This had only made Mikey cry harder. I don’t get it. Everything that I do to help him always makes him worse; every time I try to be a good guardian I always manage to push him further away; everyone I try to be, his mom and dad and guardian, only seems to make him feel even more alone. But Frank Iero got him to speak, not a lot by the sounds of it, but it’s better than nothing. I think I would quite like Mikey to be friends with Frank; that way I can be friends with him, too.
“He also told me that you guys had a fight.” Wait a second. He sounds angry now, angry at me and I don’t like it. Not one bit. I want him to like me, like I did him back in high school. That’s right; Frank Iero was my first crush. But that’s all it ever was and that’s all it will stay as; right now there are more important things. My dilapidated brother, being all of them. “He was pretty upset about it. What happened?”
That dangerous litter trigger goes off in my mind, a trigger that has cost me a lot of friends (including my brother), and I let the anger overtake the stinging hurt of his simple, truthful words. I guess it’s kind of like my defence mechanism; I block out whatever I don’t want to hear with anger and arrogance. And I always pay for it later.
“None of your business.” I growl back, not wanting to remember my spiteful words and Mikey’s destroyingly destroyed ones. I feel his arm leave my shoulder and I look up at the sudden removal of the patch of warmth that his hand was blessing me with. To see a pair of furious-looking eyes burning a glare into me, his teeth biting down on his lip as though he’s trying to stop words from escaping his mouth.
Bravo, Gerard! Two of the best people you’ve ever known are now pissed with you. Well done!
Hang on, why should Frank care about what I said to my brother? It really is none of his business; he has no right to be mad at me. Not like Mikey. I’m dreading Mikey waking up; I don’t think I can take the rejection which I deserve for doing this. Yes, Mikey’s rejection is something that I do deserve; Frank on the other hand, has no need to be pissed with me. Not yet, anyway.
He heads out of the bedroom, looking very much like he’d like to stomp his feet in frustration but doesn’t because of the sleeping angel in his bed, and gestures for me to follow. Intrigued and eager to find out what the fuck I’ve done, I follow. I shut the bedroom door behind me and look back to Frank, who is sitting down on his battered old couch with some overweight Jack-Russell nuzzling at his legs. He pats the space next to him and I slam down onto the seat, causing it to groan like a school kid in some sort of tedious exam.
“I’ve got an injured kid fast asleep in my bed. A kid that was clinging to me and crying for his mom not two hours ago. A kid that threw up his own blood all over me. A kid that I saved from rape. A kid that was too scared to even talk to me. A kid that’s in need of a friend. A kid that’s in need of help. A kid that I want to help. And your little spat with him is something that he obviously needs help with. So, I think you want to stop being a childish dickhead and just tell me what the fuck happened.”
Whoa. Ouch. I didn’t think that Frank, lovely and caring Frank, even knows how to get mad at people; how to make digs at people; how to swear at people. I’d rather he didn’t.
How dare he talk to me like that?
I may want to be furious, but my gratefulness overpowers that. He was there for Mikey when I wasn’t; he listened to what Mikey needs when I was too deafened by what I think he needs to hear his silent cries for help; he saved my brother in every possible way. And he wants to help him more, wants exactly what I want; to simply make everything better. He figured that out in hours. I’ve only just figured it out tonight. I’m such a miserable failure.
I have a great baby brother; he’s beautifully kind to anyone he meets, even if he doesn’t talk to them; he’s ridiculously scared of upsetting anyone else, even me after all of the shit I’ve put him through; he’s so anxious and shy that it burns me because I know that people won’t get to know the wonderful person underneath the nervous eyes and lost little stutters, they’ll just judge him as some sort of freak. But I’m just as much to blame for that as the haters are. His stutter is born of negative emotions and anxieties, shit that I should be taking away from him. But no. I suck at what I do and it kills me that I’ll never be enough; that I’ll never be able to help him to turn himself into the person that he wants and needs to be, a person just like him but without the frightened glances and constantly watery eyes. I’ll keep trying though, I have to. Besides, by the look in Frank’s eyes that are pleading with me to tell him what he needs to know in order to be able to assist Mikes with his problems, I won’t be doing it alone anymore.
And just like that the friendly, warming look on his face returns. On some people it might seem painted on through their want for information, but not on Frank. On Frank I can see that he genuinely means his friendliness and radiating warmth; that he really does just want to help and be a friend despite the fact that he barely knows me or my brother.
My brother. My baby brother. My baby brother who I always vowed to be there for. My baby brother that’s lying bloody and bleeding in my old lab partner’s (not to mention first crush) bed. My baby brother that really isn’t a baby anymore. My baby brother who’ll always be a baby to me; someone in need of constant protection. My baby brother whom I’ve failed a million times too many.
Before I know it tears are pricking at my eyes like the white-hot needles of Satan’s taylor and I can’t quite catch my breath due to the blockage of bad memories.
“I’m sorry that I got mad; I didn’t mean it. I just want to help you and your brother.” He sounds so profusely contrite that I almost choke out a laugh. Almost, but not nearly quite. Confusion clouds me; why does he want to help me? I’m not the one in need of help, Mikey is. He puts a reassuring hand on my knee and smiles apologetically. “So, what happened, Gerard?”
“We were yelling at each other about some stupid thing or another.” He raises his eyebrows in disbelief when I describe Mikey as ‘yelling’. That I can understand; you usually have to strain to be able to hear my brother’s smashed little squeaks. Unless you’re someone he really, truly trusts. Like me. Or rather, not me. Not anymore. He’s been quiet with me for weeks now, just never to the point of stuttering and it bludgeons my mind to hear it. I swallow my clawing sorrows and release them in a heavy sigh. “He was saying how I act like his father and how he doesn’t like it.” Talk about a fucking understatement. “And… We both said some stupid, hurtful things.”
“He said that-“
“No, not what he said. I want to know what you said that made him leave and has obviously got you beating yourself up.”
Not just a pretty face, then.
“He… I said…” His eyes suddenly flash with authority, making me feeling ashamed and embarrassed; just like when Mr Adams told us off for setting the lab frogs free. By throwing them out of the second-floor window. Whilst they were already dead. Right onto the principle’s open-top convertible.
I give him a look that questions whether I really have to tell him. His look, which is fast threatening to become fierce once more, tells me that yes, I do.
“Go on, Gerard. I won’t judge you.” Why does he have to be nice? I don’t deserve his kindness for what I’ve done and it nearly makes me resent him. But I can never resent Frank, especially when he seems to be the best shot I have at getting through to Mikes.
I take a deep breath of the tension-filled air, like a swimmer preparing for a dangerous dive into depths unknown.
“I made fun of his stutter.”
There’s a deadly silence that infiltrates the air around me, making me choke and my eyes vomit out tears of guilt. I expect Frank to slap me like I feel like I’ve been slapped; to shout at me like I deserve to be shouted at; to tell me what an absolute bastard I’ve been. But he doesn’t. He puts an arm around my shoulders and exhales heavily, as though unsure of what to do.
“I’m not gonna lie to you, Gerard; that was a disgusting thing to do and I think that it’s fucking disgraceful that you could do something like that to him. But I don’t think that’s what made him run off, not really. It might have been the final push, but he doesn’t seem like the sort of kid to run off because of some stupid insult.” His voice is full of an otherworldly wisdom that I would kill to possess, especially as it seems to be enabling him to understand my brother. I look at him expectantly, longing for his analysis of events; for him to tell me why I really should feel guilty. “Think about it. He was crying for his mom earlier. He yelled at you about acting like his dad. C’mon, Gerard, think.”
And then it hits me like a bus hitting a rabbit; quickly, painfully and heart-stoppingly.
“He misses our parents because I can’t replace them and I never will be able to?”
“No, Gerard. That’s part of it, obviously. But it’s more than that. So much more.”
I think. I dig deeper into my boxes of unwanted memories and unheard double-meanings than I have ever done before.
“He misses his big brother.”
He smiles at me applaudingly, but the pain from the revelation takes away from whatever pleasure I may have found in his praising smile. Until he says something that, despite all that’s happened, makes me grin a little bit because it reminds me of happier times.
“That’s the lab partner I remember.”
A/N: Thanks for reading; I hope that it wasn’t too bad! I know that I say this (in some way or another) about pretty much everything but; I’m not sure if I really like this chapter, so sorry if it’s terrible. Thank you sooo much for reading and please review so I know what’s good/what to improve/what you like/what you dislike! Thanks! :)