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I’m a traitorous, weak little fucker. I’m a terrible little brother. I’m an awful friend. I’m an ungrateful little shit. I’m a worthless freak that should just die.
To die right now would be perfect, would be absolutely delightful in it’s warming release. Even if there is no afterlife, if it just fades to blackness in the echo of reality, it would be nice. Just to disappear like I was never even around to upset anyone in the first place; to end along with the constant pain that is like my faithful shadow; to not have to face what I’ve just stuttered to Frank. I have thought about death before, about how much of a gift it has the potential to be. I have thought about just jumping under a bus when no one’s looking, not that anyone would bother to stop me if they did see; they’d most likely give me a helping hand.
Because that’s all I’m worth, all I deserve.
Especially now that I’ve yelled at Frank.
Especially now that I’ve betrayed my big brother.
Why the fuck did I even come here in the first place? What did I really expect to happen; comfort? Reassurance? Friendliness? Love? I know that I don’t deserve any of those things, but I can’t help but long for them like a danger-seeking tortoise longs to shed it’s restricting shell. I know that I don’t deserve them, but there’s something about Frank that makes think that, just maybe, he’ll look past all of my setbacks and endless bad bits; look past them and give me what I long for. I just want someone to be my friend, to care if I jump in front of a bus, to protect me from all of the scary things.
I want to feel loved. Not just loved; loved by Frank as though if I were to jump in front of a bus on my way home he would be the one holding my mangled hand whilst the ambulance comes, would be the one clinging to my dying body, would be the one to actually give a fuck. No, everyone would give a fuck; everyone would be overjoyed. My funeral would probably be one of the most celebrated parties to ever rock Belleville and my grave an ever-lasting monument to the amazing service that the bus did for everyone else by ridding them of such a pathetic little freak; an ever-lasting monument to the merciful service that the bus provided for me by releasing me from the hate and the pain and the loneliness.
But I’m not alone, not right now anyway. Right now Frank Iero is holding me like I’ve just told him that the world will end tomorrow, not like I’ve just told him that one more person on top of many used to beat me. It’s not like he should care anyway, he shouldn’t find it distressing that people enjoy hurting me; he’s too good to waste his time caring about someone like me. But I’m horrendously glad that he does; I don’t know where I’d be right now if he didn’t.
I know exactly where I’d be. I’d be under a bus. I should be under a bus instead of wasting Frank’s time, instead of making Frank feel bad. I think that he does feel bad; he wouldn’t be crying if he felt good.
I didn’t want to make him feel bad.
You always make people feel bad, you selfish little shit.
I don’t mean to.
You still do though. And you must mean to; you know how to stop making everyone feel bad, yet you still do it. Still make everyone as bad as you are.
I don’t want to hurt people!
Then you should do it, shouldn’t you? Should just go away and die. That’d help everyone. Especially your beloved Frankie.
You’re lying! Frank doesn’t want me to die!
Maybe not yet, but still can’t you see that you’re just upsetting him? Do you enjoy making him sad?
I… No. No I really don’t. I hate it.
Then you know what you should do, don’t you? Just a quick step out, make it look accidental if you want, and then everyone’ll be happy.
Especially you. Me. You. The two of us. God, you’re/we’re/I’m fucked up aren’t you/us/I?
I know that I’m fucked up. I know that I’m selfish. I know that I should have just stepped out in front of a bus instead of running here, to a place that I view as somewhat safe and comforting, where I can only bring Frank down. Now that really is selfish, isn’t it? He’s only ever been nice to me and how do I repay him for the kindness that I in no way deserve? I tell him about something that happened long ago, something that I’ve never told anyone about before, and make him sad. I just didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what I was doing. It just came out like the tears from my piteous eyes and blood from my deserved wounds; quickly, painfully, regretfully.
Yet it somehow feels like a relief, like having a naked flame pulled out from under my heart just before it could turn my insides to ugly ash completely. Or rather, it did feel like a relief. For all of two seconds, those two seconds when Frank just looked at me and held me as though he could fix everything, make everything stop without the addition of public transport. But those golden two seconds disintegrated into ravenous regret the moment that his eyes streamed like my own seem to do constantly and he hid my face in his chest. Normally I like being close enough to him to almost be able to imagine that he’s holding me in a romantic way, but I hate it this time; hate it because I know one of the reasons he won’t let go of my head is so that I won’t be able to see the tears that are dripping down my neck as they fall like angels from the heaven of his eyes. Angels that I managed to displace with my selfishly careless confession.
What if he tells Gerard?
I really will never forgive myself; I can’t ever let Gerard know. It just wouldn’t be fair on him to bring up something he didn’t even mean, something that was much more my fault than his. Because he never meant it, no matter how hard he hit or how excitedly he laughed, he never really meant it. That’s why I can’t let him know; he might remember and hate me for it, might hit me and mean it for bringing up a time he doesn’t want to remember. I don’t want him to hit me and mean it; he’s my big brother, I want him to protect me from the kind of hits that he used to dish out on an almost nightly basis.
Hits that I know Frank wants to protect me from. I just don’t understand why. Does he love me? Love me like I think I love him? No, like I know I love him? He did call me beautiful, did call me good, calls me ‘Honey’, likes holding me close, stares at me like he cares and thinks I’m worth more than a shallow grave; the sort of things that I’ve seen couples do to one another. Apart from one major issue; he could never love me. Should never love me, should never love someone so unworthy of love and so damaged that I don’t think I even fully remember what love truly is. But, from what memories I can salvage, I think that it feels like this; safe, secure, warm, gentle, soothing, lovely.
But I’ve still told on Gee, told even though it should be insignificant enough for Frank to overlook. Yet he’s still crying over it. Crying over something I said.
I turn my head slightly so that my right ear is pressed up to his chest, seeking out the steadiness of his body’s baseline so that I know his words will eventually join it to sing my worries to sleep and his breathing shall slow to the melody of calmness that I’ve become acquainted with these last few days. Days that, whilst agonizing in most places, have somehow improved things; have made me feel ever so slightly less alone. His heartbeat is pounding cathartically into my ear, just like Gerard’s used to when I was still able to find comfort and reassurance in his presence, and I feel his soft fingers tracing cautiously around a bump on my head. Those wandering dancers of care pirouette gracefully around where the top of the bump is cut open a little bit, dusting through my hair like snow to try and tease some of the dried blood from my greasy strands of straw.
“Honey, tell me about Gerard hurting you. Tell me what he did and how long it went on for.” I shake my head; I’ve said too much already. It wouldn’t be fair on Gee if I said any more. He sighs heavily, his prolonged breath crawling through my hair like a serpent of anticipation. “Mikey, do you know how serious this is? He can’t just beat the shit out of you and get away with it!”
He’s yelling, yelling at me and I don’t like it. Not one bit. I thought that Frank was different; that Frank was my friend. I don’t want him to shout at me, I want him to like me, to love me.
I pull out of him and gawp at his red-rimmed eyes; the red rim of despairing fire is all my fault. I can’t take it. He can’t just yell stuff about my big brother, either. Gerard wouldn’t let him yell stuff about me that isn’t true, so why should I let him do the same to Gee? Because he’s right. No. He isn’t. It’s not serious because it happened a long time ago and it was all my fault for getting in his way or annoying him. There’s nothing for him to get away with; he did nothing wrong. Not on purpose, anyway.
“He didn’t mean it!” I shout back defensively, shocking myself almost as much as I’ve shocked Frank.
“Mikes, he fucking beat you. How can he not?”
Ow. That hurt. That tore like a bullet through a cloud. That, fuck, I don’t even know. He just, he just can’t think that. He’s wrong. He has to be. He can’t be right. He just can’t!
And then, like the babyish waste of space that I have become, I let out a mournful wail that doesn’t even begin to describe to anyone unfortunate enough to hear my stupidity just how I feel right now. More confused than a prom queen in a mechanic’s; more torn apart than a scrap of worthless meat in the jaws of a starved wolf; more unsure than a toddler taking it’s first, shaky steps; more heartbroken and miserable than a spoilt brat getting a lump of coal for Christmas; more frightened than a mouse dancing a tango with a famished cat.
I wail, I scream, I cry, I thrash, I struggle, I all but throw a fit in my attempts to escape my thoughts and whatever Frank might say about Gerard next, but Frank just holds me tighter. He holds me tight and close and undeniably reassuringly, his chin resting on my shoulder like it was made to slot there. His hands are splayed out on my back, fingertips curling into the fabric of my t-shirt like they can keep me together. It feels nice to have someone not want to let go; someone want to pull you in instead of striving to cast you out.
And then I can feel his hot, sickly tears dripping onto me. Why is he crying? I don’t understand.
“I’m sorry, Mikes. I didn’t mean to shout at you. I just don’t like the idea of you getting hurt.” He sounds really sorry, regretful even, and I know that he means it. Is that why he’s crying; does he really feel that bad about it? He shouldn’t.
“He-e, he did-idn’n’t mean-ean it. He doe-oesn’t-t kn-know, oka-kay? Can-an’t eve-ven remem-member it-it.”
“What do you mean, Honey?” His voice is all soft and persuasive, like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day and his eyes flash with a profound desire to understand what happened between me and the person that the evil spirit of intoxication possessed; to know about me and how I feel.
And he called me ‘Honey’ again. I like it when he does that; it makes me feel un-alone and loved.
I want to make him feel like I appreciate him, like he really is helping me. Because he is; just by holding me and not letting me be alone, he’s made me feel somewhat significant even though I know that I’m not. He’s made me feel loved even though I know that he’ll never think of me in any way other than a friendly one. What can I do that he likes? I think he liked it when I didn’t stutter. But that’s something I can’t control; it’s like it’s controlled by some weird switch that only the fussy, shitty parts of my mind can access, only choosing to turn it off when they are completely content and happy with the situation/people demanding my speech. But I’ll try. For Frankie I’ll do anything because for me he has done everything that nobody has ever bothered to do; he’s looked past my stutter and my weaknesses to try to become my friend, because for some ridiculous reason he seems to think that I am worth befriending.
So I’ll try. It’s the least I can do.
“He, Gerard used to drink a lot and do some… some stuff that he shouldn’t have.” So far so good, I don’t know how but I’m just letting my trust in Frank and my longing to please him into smiling for me control my vocal chords. I pull out of him, wanting to look him in the eyes and do this properly, like we’re equals even though I’ll never be as good as he is. “Sometimes he’d get really bad and I just kept getting in the way…”
He nods and his eyes lock onto mine, begging me to tell him everything so that he can analyse it in his gracious mind and figure out what to do to make me feel better, to help me through it. I still don’t understand why he likes me and wants to help my damned soul reach contentment, but I do understand that it feels nice. More than nice; fantastically lovely and amazing.
All of a sudden I find myself actually wanting to talk, actually wanting to ask for the help that I’ve always assumed would never be offered. I want his help, I want him to make it all go away and stop. I want to talk; I want to let it out like he wants to listen. After all, he might take back his friendship at any moment because at any moment he could realise who exactly I am.
No. Not Frankie. He’s my friend. My only friend. My best friend.
“He started off just with a punch here or there whenever I got in his way. But then, then he got worse-orse and-d…” No! I’m not going to give in; I’m going to say it to Frankie and I’m going to say it in confidence or not at all. I’m not going to sound as pathetic as I am when I say this. I refuse.
“C’mon, Honey, you can do it. I believe in you.”
He nuzzles his warm nose reassuringly into the side of my icy neck, making me shudder at little. I hope that he didn’t notice.
Oh God, it feels good. Feels affectionate and caring and everything that he is all summed up in one little action that sets my face ablaze with a blush to put a forest fire to shame in both it’s heat and brightness. He nuzzles me like he cares and that’s all I need. Because he does care and he does want to help me.
I can do this; Frank said so.
“Some nights he just wouldn’t stop no matter how much I cried. Just kept hitting me, slamming me into stuff. But then in the morning he wouldn’t remember it; would ask me where all the cuts came from and that really fucking hurt; I had to lie to him, I couldn’t tell him that he did it.” My voice is a weak whisper by the end, but at least I’ve done it.
And I really do feel better. Not by much, but at least I know that I have someone to talk to now; someone that understands me.
Understands me more than my own big brother.
He looks thoughtfully and painfully at me, before nodding sadly.
“You didn’t wanna upset him, huh?” I nod, glad that I don’t have to talk anymore. It was a relief to actually speak out, but I don’t think I can hold my stutter out much longer; the topic is just too… frighteningly relative. “Honey, you’ve gotta tell him.” I shake my head so furiously that Frank has to use his quick reflexes to avoid getting head-butted. “I’ll help you, if you want. But you do have to tell him; he doesn’t understand what happened between the two of you to make you so different to how you two used to be. I can remember back in high school, you were all he ever spoke about and now he feels like he’s lost you and he just doesn’t know why.” My eyes are brimming with tears at the memories of when I truly was the most important thing in Gerard’s life, back when I was naïve enough to believe that it would always be that way. “It’s only fair that you tell him. He has a right to know how badly he hurt you, Honey.”
“Thanks, Frank.” I offer him a small smile that I hope conveys just how grateful for his wisdom and presence I am. I receive a hugely reassuring beam of pride in return. I’ve made Frankie proud! Proud because I am managing to talk properly. That’s nothing to be proud of; if anything he should be disgusted that I found it so hard to say, like an infant finally managing to swallow it’s way through a plate of vegetables. “You always know the right thing to say.”
“I wasn’t right earlier, Honey. Back when I said that Gee did mean it; I was wrong then. And I’m sorry, Honey. Really, I am.”
He’s leaning strangely close to me, even for Frank, and I can taste his Skittle-sweet breath on the tip of my tongue like gold-dust sprinkling the pocket of a thief. Our noses are almost touching, would be if they weren’t side by side like two passing gondolas in a Venetian canal; I kind of wish that they were touching. My eyes become magnetised towards his lips, all red from the cold and stretched out slightly as if looking for warmth; warmth in the embrace of another. MY eyes go back up to meet his own wide and earnest portals of honest care. We’re frozen like this, neither entirely sure how we got so close and neither willing to make any sort of movement to change the situation.
My whisper parades straight onto his lips for that is how close we are now. And I like it. The pounding of my heart, proclaiming like a marching snare the need to advance forwards, fills my ears. I want to do it; I want to kiss him, but what if he hates me for it? What if he’s just playing with me, seeing how stupid I am? No, he’s not like that. He does care and the hotness of his breath confirms that, as does the half-lusty half-curious tint to his slowly closing eyes tells me. I want to kiss him, I rea-
His lips are pressed up against mine with the impatient urgency of a starving child devouring a hamburger, but with the careful grace of a ballroom dancer trying out a new dance partner. I press my lips back, taking in every little tear in his lips from where boredom has caused him to gnaw at them, and I love it. I adore it. I treasure it; the feeling of getting to know Frank in a way that not everyone does. Then I feel something warm sliding into my mouth like fluid platinum; his tongue. So I copy, imitating him in hopes that I’ll make him feel as stunningly special as he is making me feel. But he’ll never feel as good as I do right now; I don’t think that anyone ever will.
This is my first kiss and I’m never going to forget how spectacularly wonderful it is; how high and special it’s making me feel.
I pluck up the confidence from all that Frank has blessed me with to wrap an arm around his neck and, almost immediately his tongue becomes a dead snake in the trap of my mouth. It goes limp and then slides out again.
Did I do something wrong?
I open my eyes to see that he’s avoiding looking at me. Was I really that bad? Am I really that ugly? Am I really as unlovable as that kiss persuaded me I wasn’t?
I must be.
Does he hate me?
“Shit.” He hisses, making me shake in fear. He looks up, eyes on the edge of madness and tears. He sees that I’m shaking in real, genuine terror at the idea of his hate and/or rejection, so he reaches a hand to my shoulder. I flinch away almost violently.
What if he does hate me? He might hurt me if I let him touch me.
No, not Frank. My Frank cares about me, doesn’t like it when I’m hurt. He’ll never hurt me. Never. He cares too much for that.
Maybe he wants me to kiss him again. Is that how it’s supposed to work?
I’m about to lean forwards, but he puts his hand against my chest so that I can’t. My heart plummets and then shatters as it hits the floor of some sort of bottomless pit.
He really doesn’t want me. Doesn’t love me. Probably hates me for even coming to him in the first place when he had better things to do.
“I… Shit, Mikey.”
I’m back to Mikey. Not ‘Honey’. Not even ‘Mikes’. Just plain old Mikey. The Mikey that everyone hates. The Mikey that I hate.
“I can’t. I’m sorry, Mikey. You’re cute and all, but I just… I just can’t get into something like that with you; it wouldn’t be right or fair. I’m sorry.”
The shattered bullet of each fragmented sound appears to wound him.
No. I don’t want to hurt him! I love him… He doesn’t love me. Nobody ever will.
I stand up on my worthless, shaky legs. I stumble to the door and open it. I leave and shut it behind me, numb to everything.
Frank does nothing to stop me. Doesn’t shout after me or ask where I’m going. Just sits there, staring at Misfit.
I run. I run and I run until my legs burn.
Or I’m sure they would be burning if I could feel anything other than emptiness.
A/N: Thank you very much for reading; I hope that it was alright! Thanks for reading and please review! :)