"It’s not really trying if you know you’re failing." Read, review, rate and feel my love :P
The kid’s sat restlessly beside me, perched as though ready to run, looking nothing like my idea of what a kid should look like. Not in the slightest.
He looks like a train was chugging along the train tracks of his veins and derailed violently, smashing through the hollow half-hearted fist of his heart and puncturing his silken lungs to the extent that death would be a pleasant relief from the pain that the speeding locomotive of Gerard’s words inflicted upon his pre-tormented psyche. The flaming track left behind from where the wheels lifted off are still encased in a coffin of flame and I can see that it’s spread to his vacant eyes. His eyes look so burnt by the derailment that they’ve turned cold, but not cold through shock; cold like the stiff corpse of a fairy-tale princess that has been dead and decaying for an eternity of chaos, just like him. He may not be physically dead, which after the alley incident is something of a blessing, but inside I think that he’s been dead for a long time. No, not dead; that implies that he can’t be bought back. It’s like all of his positive emotions are lost in the overpowering wilderness of the monstrous negative ones and are waiting to be found. Not waiting, that suggests that they expect someone to be looking; more like they’ve given up and are waiting for hopelessness to kill hope; for sorrow to slaughter glee; for shyness to suck the blood out of confidence; for terror to steal the life away from contentment; for negative to completely consume positive. Yeah, it’s like one of those rare genuinely scary horror movies is playing on his inside; the bad emotions being the relentless and unstoppable monsters, his good emotions being the helpless victims. But there’s always a hero in those movies, the one who figures out how to stop the monsters and save the hopeless victims. I guess that’s me. I’m going to make him happy again.
Only one problem with that plan; he’s still too fearful of me to actually say anything. Without his trust how can I even expect to be able to help him? I know that his trust is impossible to gain and effortlessly easy to smash, but surely I’ve proved to him that I’m not a threat and am a friend by now? After saving his life like some sort of short superhero with a swift sense of justice; after holding him upright as he threw up blood into a bush like it was poison; after tending to his wounds like a matriarchal nurse with a passion for eradicating pain; after cradling him to sleep twice as though he were some antique teddy that’s too adorable not to hold yet too fragile to treat like a normal toy; after managing to coax him out of the bathroom with my soft and persuading reassurances.
I thought that that last one meant that he did trust me, maybe not as much as I’d like him to, but enough to believe that I want to help him and won’t tease him because of the stutter that flows out of his mouth like a staggered convoy of boats sailing down multiple waterfalls with jagged rocks in their basins. Just thinking about the fact that he believes his stutter to instantly cost him all hopes of friendship makes me fill with so much fury that I might as well be Lucifer himself, but scarier. Kids can be cruel, that I get and know better than most, but to drive one of their own to this? I’m not ignorant, I know that everyone will get bullied at least once in their life but never have I seen it to progress to this… this ear-splittingly anguished silence that Mikey has been forced into by his scarred mind. Surely someone had to know what was going on with him and being done to him before it got this bad; a teacher, a fellow pupil, even the school caretaker? I bet that someone did notice, but human nature took over and they said nothing, did nothing. But that in itself is everything. It allowed for everything and anything to happen to him. Everything and anything did happen to him; he hasn’t spoken about it, but it’s so obvious I wouldn’t be able to miss it if my ears were full of sulphur and my eyes were gouged out by the hands of someone I love. I blame his high school for how he is right now; the high school that let bullies pick on him until it reduced him to be as shattered as his speech, like a reckless toddler stamping on a beautiful and meek young wildflower until it’s stalk snaps in two; signalling the death of something perfect and pure.
Rather, I want to blame his high school. I would if his teary face and shuddering body afforded it, but I can see so much more behind the scars and gashes of his blanched face that suggest teenage teasers didn’t cause all of this, and neither was it a combination of them and that bastard who dared to paint the scars onto his skin like the most enchantingly foul picture of all time. There’s something else to all of this, something far less obvious. And that something is the thing that is causing him to be this way; if Gerard knew about this other thing then I’m sure he’d have dealt with it, but it’s so serious and traumatising that Mikes can’t find it in himself to make it obvious and so it still plagues him, like a tumour ready to snuff out his life at any given moment.
I’d like to think that Gerard would have dealt with it if he knew what it was. Of course he would, I just doubt after seeing what I’ve seen that he’d have dealt with it correctly. I don’t blame him for his obtuseness when it comes to his brother; he’s only so unaware because of his scorchingly strong ache to be all that the kid needs, all of the things that he won’t be until he stops trying so hard to be the things that he isn’t. And I can’t hold any of that against him; that’d be like hating someone for buying you an amazing present that you already have. Harshly cruel and stupidly pointless.
Although it doesn’t half bemuse me and confuse me how the gap between the two brothers became such a huge, behemoth of a gorge. I know that Gerard’s becoming of Mikey’s guardian didn’t help at all, but it’s like something happened to them. Something that only Mikey has knowledge of and that’s exactly what forced them apart. And I think that it might just be the same thing that’s made him so introverted.
The couch creaks under the minute weight of the injured boy I hope to help and I look around to see him leaning back onto the couch, his eyes following Misfit’s anxious pacing as though it’s the first time he’s ever seen a dog. But I know that’s not it; he’s just trying to distract himself and not look at me. Which is exactly why I’m trying not to look at him; I have to let him become familiar with me so that he can learn to trust my will to aid him in whatever is ailing him. I want to look at him though, want to inspect each heartless bruise and carelessly concerning cut. I want to touch them and stroke them until my fingers erase them from his skin; skin that should never be dotted with the relentless rash of cruelty that is currently infected with.
He lets out a loud sigh, once again earning him my relaxed attention, and cups his forehead in his right hand; much like a trainee teacher in a class full of hyper and misbehaving teenagers. Does that sigh signal speech? I want it to. But the following silence ruthlessly proclaims that it doesn’t. Perhaps I should try talking to him, it’s worked before.
No. I have to let him approach me this time or else it won’t mean anything.
He wipes furiously at his eyes, as though it’s his fault that they’re weeping and he’s ashamed of it, before resuming eyeing Misfit’s bored traipse around the small living room that melds into my kitchenette. I can hear him sniffle ferociously in his gallant attempts to bottle up the tears. It may be gallant, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the smart thing to do. Life may have taught him that tears are wrong, but I understand that without the excretion of the poison it will kill him; like a venomous snake bite, you have to suck out the venom before it’s too late.
The furious, confused, morose little swipes that his thumbs deliver to his tears make me wish to just hold him and take over like I did last night. But I can’t; this all has to be on his own terms or I risk making him frightened and soulless once more. I’m sure that if I did try to cuddle it away like my heart is screaming at me to he wouldn’t reject me; he’s far too sweet and shy for that, he’s more likely just view me as someone trying to control or change him and therefore be less likely to open up.
I hear him shift again and, again, I look towards him. He’s pulled his knees up to him and is resting his head on them as though they’re the only thing keeping his head from snapping off of his neck. His fingernails are digging into the couch and he’s wincing like someone’s forcing needles down his throat and into his still-weak stomach.
He’s suffering. Again. I have to say something.
“Mikey, are you feeling okay?”
It’s the first sound to infiltrate my humble apartment since the click of the door and it comes as no shock that it’s a coarse question of care directed at he who Fate’s rare care abandoned long ago. Too long.
He looks as though he’s about to rip his head clean off, whether through some tremendous headache or a staggering heartache, I don’t know. But it’s perfectly clear that he is not feeling okay; too clear. I’m glad that he’s not trying to hide his horrific state of being not-okay instead of trying to compress it, but a little selfish part of me wishes that I could be blind to his suffering because of how much it excruciates my eyeballs to choke on the image of it. No, not blind; I wish that I didn’t have to see it because I’ve fixed it, not be blind to it. I should feel lucky that he’s comfortable enough with me, for trust isn’t entirely present yet, to let his body show his pain. Although I can’t help but wonder whether it’s a choice or an agony decided infliction. His answer will confirm which one it is. If he can be brave enough to respond at all.
He lifts his head like a class clown lifting the voluminous weight of his homework book and his eyes flash to my own, a lightning strike of tears igniting them in a damp fire behind his spare glasses. It’s almost as though he’s searching my own, willing to listen irises for something; for some sign of honesty and reliability. I just give him a small, encouraging smile that I can only pray delivers the answers I long to provide.
I guess I messed up. Didn’t make my friendship clear enough for him. My smile drops like a falling bullet and his following eyes catch it in their own little twirl of sorrow and guilt. Guilt that I have caused by reacting sadly to his silence. Hang on. That’s where Gerard’s gone wrong before; pretending to be something that he isn’t, right? Maybe all I need to do is show him exactly how much his silence upsets me, not because I take offence at it, because I’m sad that he’s sad. Maybe then he’ll realise how much I mean what I say. Of course that’s what I should do! It’s what I’ve been telling Gerard to do and therefore I should be doing it too.
So I let all of my misery at his misery infect my pupils, let my mouth sag with the weight of his heavy heart but I ensure that none of my body language could possibly be taken as either anger or being his fault.
He shakes his head. At least I’m making some form of progress on the journey into his head.
“Tell me what’s wrong, Mikes. I can’t fix it if I don’t know what’s broken, kid. And I promise, I swear on my life, that whatever is it is that’s bothering you isn’t silly or insignificant; it’s important to me because I don’t want to see you sad. So please tell me because as long as it’s hurting you, it’s hurting me too.” I hope that it didn’t sound berating or discouraging in any way; as it so happens my words came straight from my heart like a bullet of honest blood out to shoot down his problems, I just long for it to sound like that to his ears, not like the bullet is intended to hit him. Perhaps I should have put Gerard’s name on the end of that too? On second thoughts, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t; the kid feels bad enough about him already.
Another shake of the head. I wait for the silence that I fully and regretfully expect to drown in.
“It’s not-ot imp-portant-t.” He croaks it out as though he really does believe the rubbish that has just staggered like a useless drunk from his pinked lips. And it really is rubbish; complete and utter bollocks. Does he really believe that something bad enough to make him cry, anything bad enough to smash the smile I have yet to see from his face, isn’t important? Of course he believes it, I know full well that he believes it. Believes it like he’s been forced into believing every spit of spite directed at his far from deserving self.
I feel myself flash with the vicious electric shock of fury at the little so-and-sos that have driven him to wanting to be invisible, to thinking that nobody thinks he’s worth any sort of thought other than a mockingly mean one. Fear glistens in his eyes and I know that I have to reinstate my care and lack of anger for him.
“Mikey Way, listen to me when I tell you this because if I have to I’ll repeat it until it makes you scream; I am your friend. Friends care about each other and, therefore, I care about you. I know that something’s playing with your head, so why not tell me so that I can help you?” I pause and he looks almost persuaded to speak. Almost isn’t want I’m aiming for; I’m aiming for completely. “I know that you don’t think you’re worth it, but trust me; you are. Let me be the friend that I want to be.”
His eyes shimmer like an overflowing bucket of rain in the first light of a sunrise. His mouth gawps like he can’t quite believe that someone actually does care. His hands grip his knees like they’ll protect him from whatever cruel snort of laughter or yell of insult he expects from me. He blinks as though he thinks he’s about to wake up from a distant dream of hope. He looks like he’s about to implode upon himself.
Perhaps that’s what needs to happen; you can’t fix something that isn’t aware of its own brokenness.
“I-I… Frank-ank, I’ve mess-essed-ed up so-o bad!”
Ouch. His words pierce the air like an unstoppable barrage of archer’s deadly arrows and I honestly don’t know what’s worse for my soul to be inflicted with; the desolate solitude of sorrowful silence or this. He’s full on sobbing again, but not like when most people cry. When most people cry they are searching for the attention of that person who can take away the tears, but this is so much more worse and more hellish to endure; his tears aren’t asking for pity, they’re fighting not to be heard at all. It’s like he thinks he is in the wrong and doesn’t deserve my sympathy. A sympathy which is bleeding out of each of the numerous gashes that the sharpness of the arrows has torn into my heart.
“Oh, Mikes, you haven’t. Not at all.” I turn to be sat sideways, my arm leaning along the top of the couch in an open invitation for an optional hug. A hug that I want to fully initiate so that my top can catch his tears and the warmth of my soothing words can evaporate all wetness from those beautifully lost eyes. I have to let him choose to enter the hug though, if I don’t it will be meaningless and he won’t think anything of it. No, I have to let him know that he can take the comfort from me however he chooses; just as long as it does comfort him.
“I ha-ave and now-ow I can-an’t go hom-ome!” And with that anguished cry of sincere hopelessness and loss in the belief that anyone wants him or cares, even Gerard, he finds it in himself to launch into my side; too upset to think about the audacity I doubt that he possesses. Either that or he’s beyond the point of caring if I punch his lights out for letting me help him.
I just hold him close to me, keeping my arm slightly limp so that he can escape my hold at any moment he pleases, and press his face into my chest. I hate being able to feel how many tears it takes to make an impossibly deep distressed puddle on my t-shirt, but I hate the idea of him crying alone a million times more than that. My fingers brush his downy and damp hair from one of the deeper cuts on his forehead, no doubt a large contributor to his inability to walk for most of last night’s journey, and he sighs in relief at the air the cut can now use to cool itself with. I can feel his anxious hands grab onto my t-shirt and tug at the worn material like he thinks I’m going to disappear into the ethos, leaving him to cry alone like he blatantly has many times before. I wish that I met him earlier on, before things got this bad for him because then I wouldn’t have allowed things to get this bad for him in the first place and he would have no reason to be crying like his tears can fix world water shortages. I wonder how long it’s been since Gerard held him like this; probably not all that long ago but if I’m going to be brutally honest, how long has it been since he held Mikey like this and it actually helped? It’s a cynical question, I know, but a painfully valid one none the less. Holding someone whilst they cry is all well and good, but what’s the point if it doesn’t mean anything to the person who’s crying? There isn’t one. Apart from maybe getting away with a clean conscience because you’ve at least tried to help. But it’s not really trying if you know you’re failing. Which I think Gerard did know, was just too scared and ashamed to admit it. Scared and ashamed. Just like his little brother. Maybe they aren’t as different as Gerard would like to believe; they both need a helping hand. A helping hand that’s attached to my caring arms and is currently stroking whimsical patterns into his back.
“You haven’t messed up, Mikes. Why d’you think that you have?” I think that I know the answer, but I want him to gain confidence in the fact that he can tell me anything. Anything at all.
He gasps to catch his rapid breath and I can feel his heart pounding at his ribs like a bass drum. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked, the last thing I want is to rob of the security he has finally managed to find in my arms. A security that I doubt he has felt since he became an orphan. Perhaps even before that if his eyes are anything to go by. He’s looking up at me like a new-born gazing at it’s big brother for the first time and I can’t help but feel a slice of guilt; the last thing I want is to fill the place that Gerard has momentarily vacated. If I do that then I’ll never fully help them, they need each other. Need each other as big brother and little brother; not as father and son; not as guardian and charge; not as bearer and burden. As big brother and little brother which is why, as tempting as it may seem, I can’t let myself be the big brother that Mikey is currently deprived of. I have to be something else, something just as meaningful and helpful. And I can start by listening to him whenever he wants to talk.
“I-I only-ly ever make-ake Gerar-rard feel bad-d and now he-e hate-ates me.” It isn’t a cry or a subliminal beg to be told that he’s wrong; it’s a soulful statement of something he believes as strongly as Jesus believed in God.
Now don’t get me wrong, I really do love Gee but he really has fucked up this time. Not just this time; this is just the event that was one too many for Mikes to handle. Or maybe he’s felt hated by his own brother for a long time, just never had the courage to outwardly display it because I’m sure if he had Gerard would be a very different person to who is he now. He’d be an absolute wreck if he knew how terrible he’s made his brother feel, how alone and without someone to love him. It’s not just Gerard’s fault; it’s Mikey’s too. Or rather, it’s Mikey’s shyness and meekness because if he had voiced his thoughts then perhaps none of this would have happened. Perhaps. And I still have yet to find out the whole story behind his undoing and his fear of Gerard’s shouts.
“Honey,” why am I calling him that? It’s what you’re supposed to say to an upset kid, right? And besides, it kind of fits him; he’s sweet, but the sweetness only makes his scars all the more sickly. Just like honey. “Gee loves you. You’re his little brother.”
“No-o I’m-m not-ot!” Just like that, tears well up in my own eyes at the first proper shout to leave his mouth; the first intentional noise to be louder than a pin dropping to exit him, over than sobs and cries of pain. “Not-ot anymo-ore. He does-oesn’t want-t me.”
Oh, Mikes. You poor, poor kid. No one should ever doubt the love of their only family; of the only person who loves him more than anything.
“He does want you, Honey. He just… he doesn’t understand things as well as he would like.” Should do. “But I saw how bad he looked because he hurt you; he really didn’t mean any of it. He just got a little mixed up, Mikes. He really does want you, honest. He just doesn’t get some things.”
“You-ou do though-ough.”
I mentally face palm; I’m meant to be sorting out the issues he has with Gerard, not glorifying myself. That’s the last thing anyone wants or needs.
I hold him at arms-length, trying my best not to melt a little with his little whimper of confusion and protest at the sudden loss of my warmth, looking straight into the eyes that have finally found the courage to allow some trust in me. Not as much as trust as I desire, but enough trust to get us by. I just have to sustain it and not make the same mistakes as Gerard. I smile sympathetically at him; you know it’s bad when you, a kind almost-stranger, are better with a kid than his own big brother.
“No, I don’t. I’m trying to and I really want to, but I can’t until you let me get those things.”
“At lea-east you-ou’re trying-ing.”
More tears tsunami down his face and wash away the strength in the arm holding him back; how can I deny him my sanctuary when he needs it the most? Because I know that he wants it to be Gerard holding him, his big brother and because of this my embrace is a deadly threat to their relationship. But still, I can’t not hug him; he needs it too much right now. Besides, I kind of like the way he feels in my arms; like I mean the world to his crumbling one.
“I don’t know what to say to that, Mikes.” I stop and think, my hand in mid hair ruffle. “Other than you should be saying this to Gerard.” He stiffens tensely, breathing stopping and heart beat racing. “Do you want me to ring him for you?”
“No! Pleas-ease, don-on’t!”
“Hey, it’s okay; I won’t let anything happen that you don’t want to.” He looks up at me in consideration, a look that half frightens me and half makes me pity the boy who can’t form proper words. “What is it, Mikes?”
“Don-on’t mak-ake me go hom-ome wi-ith Ger-erard-ard. Pleas-ease.”
I should say no. I should say that he has to go home with his big brother, should make him go with him when he returns so that they can try to rekindle their relationship. But that’s just it; try. Not; they will rekindle their relationship. Try. And that’s if Gerard has fully realised where he’s at accidental fault. Try. And if I let Gerard take him home against his will it won’t be ‘try’. It will be fail. I can’t let that happen; I can’t let Mikey lose everything he holds close to him again.
“I better phone Gerard-“
“And tell him that you’re staying with me.”
Please, please let him forgive me.
A/N: Thank you very much for reading! I hope that you liked it and it wasn’t too boring! Thanks again for reading and please, PLEASE be lovely enough to review so I can improve. Thanks! :)