"I’m gambling and praying that, for once, Fate might just be on my side." Read, review, rate and feel my love :P
“Good morning, Mikes.”
I smile at the sleepy-eyed teenager as he stumbles out of my bedroom, immersed in the snuggly fabric of my oversized Batman pyjamas for the second day in a row. Gerard had offered to drop some clothes around, but I’d gently declined his offer with the delicacy of a pilot landing a rickety old plane that could explode at any given second; I think that Gerard coming here with Mikey like he is right now will only hurt both of them and that would be extremely counterproductive. I want to heal them, not harm them. Not want. I will heal them. I don’t have any choice in it; the Way brothers have pierced my heart with the golden bullet of sympathy and the only way for me to stop the bleeding is to stop them from falling to their own bullets that Fate’s accurate aim has dotted their souls with.
When I phoned Gerard early yesterday afternoon to tell him that he wouldn’t be picking Mikey up the small gasp and agonized silence made it sound as though a real bullet, not an equally as painful metaphorical one, had flown through his perfectly imperfect throat. I could hear his static heartbeat screaming at his vocal chords to tell me that it wasn’t alright; that his baby brother was sleeping at his home whether he like it or not. But then something clicked and he had found the staggered strength to tell me that, whilst he wasn’t thrilled about the idea of leaving his brother in my care when he could be looking after the sixteen-year-old like he wants to be, he understood and would be available through his cell at any hour should either Mikey or I need him. And that made me proud. Really, profusely and genuinely proud of my lovely Gee. I’d expected him to blow up or swear at me or yell some expletives that spelt out for me just how not okay it was for me to let his brother stay with me; but no, he learnt from his mistakes and used the painfully acquired knowledge that the situation demanded instead of reacting in a catastrophically nuclear way. He’s getting there, using my advice and Mikey’s tears to put power behind his will to learn how to rectify his mistakes. And I’m intensely, delightedly proud that those lips, lips which fill every crevice of my own like a long-lost puzzle piece, have found the determination to say the right thing.
Mikey shuffles like a dreary-eyed robot to the couch, his hair stuck to his face and his face looking to still be asleep. It reminds of Gerard yesterday morning before everything nose-dived so dramatically that it barely had time to fall before it was at rock-bottom. I guess that neither of the Ways are morning people and I guess that it suits them both, makes them both look quite undeniably adorable, but in different ways. On Gerard I think that it’s comedic and sexy, the way that he has to stretch out to awaken his body like some sort of dormant volcano, the way he has run his hands through his hair to shake the curtain of sleep from his eyes; it makes me want to do things that my would make my parents pass out if they were still living in Belleville like they actually care about their only son. On Mikey it makes me want to carry him back to bed so that he can sleep more, makes me want to hold him until he can absorb some of my endless energy, makes me want to light up those eyes and ignite that mouth with laughter so he can laugh the sleepyness away.
I move up, hurriedly swallowing my last mouthful of burnt toast, indicating that he’s free to sit next to me if he so wishes. Sure enough, just as I had hoped and halfway expected, he flops down next to me. Not quite next to, but well within the reach of both arms.
“Mor-orning.” He yawns, rubbing at his eyes but wincing when doing so causes him to scratch one of his healing wounds with his nails. He really is quite cute, especially with that tone he just used; he is one of those people with what I refer to as a ‘morning voice’. From most people it sounds lazy or over-emphasised, on him it sounds ridiculously eardrum melting.
My grin widens; this time yesterday he was struggling to be courageous enough to talk to me, now he’s responding to something that isn’t even a question. In fact, since our little heart-to-heart yesterday his confidence around me has grown at an extremely pleasing rate. I kind of feel like an over keen gardener watching a rose sprout from a patch of dirt that I thought could only spew out weeds; but like a rose, I must remember Mikey is fragile and needs nurturing or else he will wilt. I think that if I were to allow myself to fail now it would hurt even more than it would have yesterday; now I know for a fact that he really is a nice person, a nice person who has been despicably mistreated, I feel an indescribable urgency to help him; like if I don’t than I’ll end up worse than he is. Sure, after me phoning Gerard yesterday we didn’t really converse all that much; we just sat in each other’s presence and I eventually put my Doctor Who DVD on. He liked that; I don’t think he’d seen it before but it entirely captivated his attention as though it were some great beauty and not some British man in a blue, time-travelling police box. He’s got a new fan in Misfit, too. The Jack-Russell even followed him to bed last night.
Talk of the Devil and he shall appear, or in this case; think of a teddy-like dog and she shall trot out of the bedroom.
“Good morning, Misfit!” I beam down and my oldest friend, eagerly awaiting her paws trampling up the ladders of my legs until they reach my lap. Usually, this would take milliseconds. Today, however, it hasn’t happened.
I hear a child-like giggle that evokes my faith in the world and turn to see Mikey, smiling for the first time since I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him, with a lap full of overweight, over-hyper dog licking at his face. He reminds me of the first time I met Misfit, five friendship-filled years ago. She’d made me laugh too, laugh for the first time in a long time; that’s why my uncle had persuaded my parents to let me have her. I was going through a rough patch at school, a rough patch that felt like I was being trawled through an icy patch of spite-sharpened nettles, and Misfit distracted me from that; made me feel loved because she was always happy to see me. And now she’s doing the same for Mikes. Apart from I think that Mikey is going to need a hell of a lot more than a cheerful little dog to get him through whatever it is exactly he’s going through; he needs his big brother.
But then the happy moment gets smashed like the dangerously sharp glass of a light bulb getting obliterated by a merciless blast of electricity too high for it to handle. He cries out in excruciation-dictated shock as one of Misfits wandering paws places her heavy weight onto, what I assume must be, a particularly nasty bruise. She immediately jumps off of him and onto the floor, her eyes consciously contrite like the eyes of the attacker ought to be.
Yesterday I wouldn’t have dreamt of making a joke out of this, but seeing as the beginnings of his own semi-happy facial expression are still tugging at his lips, I can’t help but want to lighten the situation further. To see if I can make him giggle again because his giggle seems to be like some sort of drug; I’ve had my first hit and want more. But it’s going to be risky and tricky to get. He reaches out to Misfit and scratches behind her ears, imitating the way I do to perfection and my decision is made.
“Don’t worry about it Mikey, I still love you.” I forgive in a feminine high-pitched voice, my words deadly serious and in line with Misfit’s humanistic facial expression.
People say that owners grow to be like their pets, right? I think that this might be true with me and my baby girl. When I got her, I was relatively well-behaved and ordinary; now it appears that I’m just as crazy as she is. When I got her, I was quiet and proper; now I’m forward and confident like she is. When I got her, I wasn’t fully aware of how to help others; now I’m always ready with the comforts that she has taught me. I guess this is kind of running along the same lines of what I’m trying with the Ways; I only became the person that I am now because of her, the creature that was my friend when I didn’t really have one, the creature who made it so that when I met Gerard in chemistry class I had the guts to actually be fun around him. I want to be their Misfit, their friend who’s always ready with sympathetic looks and comforting hugs. I’m not saying that I want to be their dog (although I doubt that I’d really mind being Gee’s bitch), I want to be what my dog means to me; friendship and hope and someone who’ll always love me, no matter what.
He laughs. A real, relaxed laugh that my simple and silly joke has teased from his little lips. Well, maybe not fully relaxed but close enough to make my smile increase tenfold. The laughter travels to his eyes and they join his mouth in some sort of jive of joy, the kind of combination that I have a feeling nobody’s seen in a horribly long time, not even Gerard. Especially not Gerard. But that makes me feel all the more blessed and fortunate to be witnessing it.
“Better not tell Frank, though. Might break his heart; we’ve been together for a long time.”
“It-it’ll be our-r sec-ecret.”
Wow, he’s actually playing along. Engaging in some foolish and fun game. Yeah, he’s doing it somewhat shakily and unsurely, but he’s still having fun. Part of me thinks that the reason behind his un-sureness is that nobody has invited him into a joke for years; no, I know that they have. Just not the kind where he gets to find it funny or actually be in control of it; the kind that leaves your heart torn and your soul feeling like a desolated tundra of worthlessness. That’s why I’m finding it a momentous feat that he’s letting me have a joke with him without falling into the wealth of bad memories that I’m sure his mind possesses.
But this isn’t trust. There’s a distinguishable difference between trust and the simple belief that somebody won’t hurt you. I want his trust, not just a temporary belief in my good nature.
But still, his comeback did tickle my lungs with it's good-naturedness, even though it’s obvious he wants to say more, but doesn’t dare to.
So, I chuckle along with him. Partially because it’s genuinely dusted my funny bone and partly because I don’t want to knock his fractured confidence even further out of reach; wholly because he’s my friend and I really do care about him. Even more than I care about Misfit. Not because Misfit is a dog, but because what I have with Misfit took at least two out of five years to build; already I feel like Mikes and I could be best friends despite the fact I only met him two days ago. The addition of my amusement is reflected instantly by a flame of excited glee burning in the cracked chandeliers of his glasses.
Eventually Misfit gets bored of not being the centre of attention, for mine is now Mikey and Mikey’s is now mine, so wanders over to the kitchen to nibble on some breakfast. Whether her idea of breakfast today is actual dog food or the peeling linoleum of my kitchenette’s worn out floor has yet to be seen. Breakfast. That reminds me; I need to feed Mikes. Gerard may not be doing an amazing job of looking after Mikes, although I can’t deny his admirable determination and longing to be the best guardian he can be, but if I let Mikey become even skinnier I doubt that I’ll be capable of kissing Gerard again. Largely because he will rip my face off. And my arms. And my legs. And every other detachable part of me. I guess that’s how he makes up for not fulfilling his ideas of what Mikey needs; he just acts all overprotective, which is what Mikes needs. Just not in the way that Gee is delivering it. He needs Gerard to be an overprotective big brother, the kind that protects him from bullies and gives him advice on girls and helps him with homework; not as a guardian, the kind that won’t let him have any fun through fear of him getting hurt and tells Mikes to tell a teacher about the bullies instead of beating up the bastards for him and is always too busy with work to listen to him when he needs advice or help. Because I think that Gerard is currently the latter, currently everything that he believes a parent should be. And maybe they should. But he’s not a parent; he’s a big brother and, once was, a best friend.
By now the laughter has dissipated to a state of awkward silence. Awkward because Mikes expects me to say something as I know that he won’t do unless nudged towards noise. His face burns a captivatingly cute shade of red when he realises that I have noticed him staring contently at me whilst my mind went off on its own little tangent, and he looks down into his lap, fingers tugging at his faded pyjama top in nervous anticipation for the teasing or anger that’s sure to come.
I’m about to break the fragile silence when his stomach breaks it for me in a loud growl, indignantly announcing its displeasure at being empty.
“Do you want some breakfast, Mikes, ‘cause I think your tummy does.” He shakes his head at my soft offer, wrapping his arms around the source of his uncontrollable snarl of nature as though he’s chastising it. I thought that we were past this… this thing where he thinks that I don’t care and shouldn’t. Because I really do and so should everyone else. “You sure? It isn’t a problem. I can put some toast on or get you an apple or whatever.” Another vehement shake. An even louder growl. “I’m going to the kitchen anyway, I’ll grab you an apple whilst I’m there. Unless you want something else?”
He doesn’t reply, just twiddles an abnormally long strand of his hair around his fingers as though not looking at me will stop him being a problem to me. Why can’t he see that the only time that he is actually a problem is when he’s like this, when he won’t let me help? No, he’s not even a problem then. He’s just a scarred and introverted kid in need of some self-confidence and self-esteem.
I stand and walk to the fridge, passing Misfit digging into my kitchen floor, and open it to be greeted by the smell of dairy products being kept in a fridge with dodgy electrics. Not wanting to dwell on the smell, I snatch the biggest and reddest apple I can find; I only want to give Mikes the best. Be it the best apple, the best help, the best friend; the best that I can give. I grab a small, lunchbox-sized cartoon of orange juice for him too and press the door closed behind me. I’ve decided that he’s eating this whether he wants it or not; now that I think about it he didn’t eat anything yesterday and I’ll be damned if I let him starve himself amidst his sorrow.
Or rotting in hell, if Gerard finds out.
As I resume my seat next to him I drop the apple into his hands and smile. He just shakes his head and tries to hand it back.
“Please eat something, kid. I understand that you were sick Friday night, but it’s Sunday now and besides, it’s just an apple; it won’t hurt you.” He looks at it, scrutinizing every detail for reasons that I don’t understand but sadden me all the same. “Go on, it’s only an apple. It’s not costing me anything.”
“Than-anks, Fra-rank.” He nods gratefully and then I get it; he didn’t want to take it because he doesn’t think that he’s of any value, that his hunger isn’t worth the money spent on the food that I’ll happily supply him with. That and the fact that the pitiful state of my flat correctly suggests the pitiful state of my finances. I watch as he bites into it, consuming it with all of the hunger that his stomach screamed about. I stab the little complimentary straw into the carton and hand that to him. Sure enough it’s nothing but a shrivelled piece of cardboard within three eager slurps.
Do I really make him so nervous that he feels he can’t ask for food when he’s hungry? I must do. Either that or he genuinely doesn’t think that he deserves my kindness. I believe it to be a poisonous cocktail of the two; the kind of cocktail that a gold-digger would serve to her billionaire husband in order to gain her murderous fortune.
“Do you want anything else? Honestly, Mikes, it isn’t a problem if you do.” It comes out as a beg, not because I want him to be hungry but because I know that he is hungry and I ache to take that hunger away from him.
He shakes his head and I relent for if I force food into him then he’s no longer the one in control; we have to both be equals in this or else I’ll be making the same mistakes as Gerard. I want to take care of him, as does Gerard, but I need to be his friend just as Gerard needs to be his big brother. I just have to find the perfect balance between being his friend, his equal, and being someone that he can trust to look after him should he need it. There’s that word again; trust. A word that seems to be on a fishing line, almost in my grip but then Fate reels it in; concluding in me falling back to square one. But not square one, a little closer each time but never anywhere near.
I hear a soft scratching of claws on wood and look in its general direction to see Misfit meekly requesting a walk. A walk that I never gave to her yesterday because Mikes needed me more and, in her own canine way, I think that she understood, but she is an animal; she needs to be outside. I don’t know what to do. Should I take her for a walk and run the risk of leaving Mikes home alone, where all manner of tormenting thoughts could run through his head about his state of aloneness? Or should I force Misfit into staying trapped indoors in my cramped little apartment, where she can’t even run around like she was designed to?
“Mikes, I’ve got to take Misfit for a walk. Do you mind?” His eyes tear up and my heart stops. No, it quickens like a car knowingly accelerating into a head-on collision. “Hey, don’t cry! I won’t be long, twenty minutes tops; promise!”
I reach out a hand to his shuddering shoulder, shocked by how much my presence means to the kid. It shouldn’t really be all that much of a surprise though, should it? Think about it; I’m the first person to actually be nice to him, to act like I care and treat him like a human being in far too long for my liking. Of course he’s going to be scared of me leaving; he thinks that I won’t come back. And if I don’t come back I leave him open for attacks like the one on Friday night. Because the residue anxiety from that monstrosity will be radiating through his entity for many weeks, which doesn’t help the fact that he thinks Gerard is angry with him. I stroke his shoulder like I would stroke Misfit if she had to go to the vets for some sort of tedious injection; to Mikes this is the same sort of thing. Panicking; painful; terrifying; life-threatening.
I really don’t know what to do. I know that the majority of people would just think ‘fuck the dog, the kid’s a wreck’ and I would too, if I didn’t understand how much Misfit needs a walk. She’s like me; can’t abide being caged in and controlled. But I can’t leave Mikey alone. He’ll never forgive me and then he’ll never trust me. If he never trusts me, I’ll never forgive myself. It’s like no matter what I do the outcome will upset someone important to me, it’s like being given the choice of how you can die; buried alive or burnt to death?
The door-scratching stops and I let out a sigh of relief. She’s relented, but that just means I’ll have to face the choice later. Wait, I can hear her footsteps bounding around the apartment. I look away from Mikes, who still looks like he might die inside if I don’t get this right, to see my Jack-Russell running proudly towards me. Leash in jaw. Shit.
But once more, like earlier, she stops in front of Mikey. She places her front paws delicately onto his knees, levering herself up so that she’s stood wobbly on her chubby back legs and tilts his hanging head up with her motherly nose. Immediately, Mikey looks at her as though his heart’s been ripped out; like he feels to be a terrible person for not wanting her to go for a walk because it means he’ll be all alone. But before he can start to cry properly, she drops the leash into his lap.
Well done, Misfit! I’ve always said that you’re my better half.
“Look at that, Mikes; Misfit wants you to come too.” I’m playing a dangerous game here; if I win he’ll come and we’ll have a good time, get to know each other better perhaps. If I lose? I lose everything; he’ll go back to feeling guilty and retreat into the false safety of his silence. I’m gambling and praying that, for once, Fate might just be on my side. “What do you say, up for a walk?”
He looks into Misfit’s eyes and then into my own, beseeching ones. I really do want to get to know him; about his favourite things, about things that make him want to throw up, about all of his interests, about things that he hates. I want to know everything there is to know about Mikey Way and this might well be my best chance. I want him to know about me too; know that I’m exactly the sort of person who could be an amazing friend if only he’ll give me the chance to be his. Besides, if he says no I’m beyond fucked.
He takes the small, overused and worn-out red leash from his lap with one hands and uses the other to tickle under Misfit’s chin. She really is like medicine for broken boys.
“Ok-okay.” He stops, looking down at the pyjamas that seem to swallow him whole. “Bu-ut do you min-ind if I-I borro-row your clothes-s aga-gain?”
I beam at him and take the leash; I can tell that this is going to be great. What could be better than going for a walk with my new friend? Well, going for a walk with my new friend when he has no need to stutter or be frightened, but that can’t happen yet. I have to learn more about him first or else it’ll be like trying to glue back together a fragmented antique vase without all of the pieces or the correct type of glue; impossible and if you somehow manage to do it, it’ll soon fall apart again.
“Go for it.”
A/N: Thank you very much for reading; I hope that it wasn’t too boring or rushed. I tried to put more dialogue in this chapter (there will definitely be more in the next chapter…) but I’m not sure if it really worked all that well so please let me know what you think and how to improve. Thank you sooo much for taking the time to read and please be lovely enough to review; reviews really do help me to write! :)