"Brothers. Forever." Read, review, rate and feel my love! :P
How did it ever come to this; to being sat in purgatory with two weeping angels refusing to meet my demonic gaze?
Well, one angel longing to fly up to heaven and one angel who has just proven his humanity rather than angelic-ness.
Frank kissed Mikey.
My Frankie kissed my baby brother Mikey. The two people that I love the most have cost me one of those people, or rather, how I saw one of those people. I saw Frank as perfect; as unable to make mistakes and incapable of causing hurt. Now I know better. Now I know that he’s perfectly capable of not only hurting me, but hurting my baby brother too.
Just like me.
Just like I did around twenty minutes ago when I let my anger and frustration get the better of me.
I hurt him, I hurt my Mikey. I’m no better than those bullies; than Frank when he used him; than that motherfucking bus; than his own mind can be. Than his own mind can be when the right words of hideous hatred are handed to it, just as I have done.
I told him I wished he was dead.
Who the fuck does that to their suicidal, lonely little brother who needs love now more than ever?
Apparently I do. And I can’t believe it. I love that kid more than anything, more than I know I love Frank despite what he’s done, and I know that I’m the only consistent, friendly face and family figure he has. I know that he takes every stupid word that I utter as gospel. I know how much people (including myself) scare him and make him insecure even though he really is the nicest person I’ve ever met.
I know all of that yet I don’t know how to do the right thing for my baby brother.
My baby brother who hasn’t spoken to me since he left for school this morning purely because he is that unbearably frightened. Frightened and I, his only family, caused it.
So did Frankie.
But at least Frank didn’t yell at him like a bully; didn’t swear at him like an intimidating threat to his frail form, a frail form that’s hardly stopped shaking since being conscious; didn’t call him everything that drove him to such pure desperation in the first place. I did. I did and now I have that horrible, sludgy, sinking feeling that this horrifically stormy guilt is about to go completely nuclear. How do I know that? The way Frank’s squeezing my hand even though he should be snarling at me for being so heartless towards my fragile baby brother when he didn’t even do anything intentionally wrong.
Frank did. Frank cheated. Frank betrayed me and messed my little brother up even more. I fucking hate him for it; hate him like Mikey hates himself, but only an uncountable amount of times more because my hatred for Frank is actually valid.
Then why am I holding his hand like he can take all of the pain away?
Because I love him.
Hating someone doesn’t mean that you can’t love them; love will always be there if it is strong enough, even if the hate seeps through it the love will always be sheltering underneath everything else. I guess my love for him is strong enough, how can it not be? He’s beautiful, like a wildflower growing through Belleville’s cracked grey pavements; he’s genuinely sorry, the kind of sorry that means he really won’t do it again, a stronger sorry than even I am for doing all that I have done to my baby brother; he’s truly a nice person, he just messed up and it would be more than a little bit hypercritical of me to hold that against him; he loves me. I know he does. The look in his torn, teary, melted-chocolate eyes conveys that with the strength of a soaring cannonball.
But if he loves me why did he kiss my motherfucking brother? My brother!
It was just a mistake. A simple mistake that could have happened for any number of reasons be it curiosity, my brother needing comfort, falling into each other or anything else. It was a mistake. A mistake that has been rectified because Frank’s made it clear to Mikes that he’s mine. And he is. All mine.
All mine and shaking almost as much as my baby brother is.
“Frankie, you’re scaring me. What is it? What do you need to tell me?” My scratchy voice claws at the near-silence of Mikey’s sobs and Frank pings his head back up, giving me the most un-reassuring look of devastation that I’ve ever seen.
It’s my turn to squeeze his hand now, returning all of the small blessings that he has given to me and my brother over the past few days, my turn to be in charge of the situation. It’s about fucking time I did something constructive for my own little brother. Something constructive that I won’t destroy later on.
I refuse to destroy him again. I mean it this time.
“Frank, Mikes, what’s wrong? Is it about the… the kiss?”
All three of us wince in unison at that one syllable of love-hate.
But each wince is something different; Frank’s is burning remorse, Mikey’s is pained shameful embarrassment and mine is pure hurt at the thought of what my love did with my depressed, helpless little brother. I shake my wince away before I can dwell on it; what’s done is done and I need to know what they’re hiding. How else can I fix my broken brother and rekindle what I may/may not have lost with Frank?
“If that’s it you can tell me; I won’t get mad again.” I reach out to stroke Mikey’s forehead like I’ve seen Frank do, but the terrified kid tries to shrink away from my hand like a mouse away from a ravenous snake.
Oh, Mikes. Mikes, my little brother, please don’t be scared of me; of your big brother.
Who am I kidding? He’s been terrified of me for a long time, just too strong to show it. I saw he was scared and did nothing to belay his fears. And I loathe myself for it.
Which is why this ends now; the ignorance, the fear, the secrets, the lies.
It’s all ending now.
“It’s not the kiss, Gee. But I think that maybe we should start just before it. Alright, Mikes?”
Mikey barely manages a distinguishable nod amidst his shudders in reply to Frank’s grave voice of complete sorrowful seriousness. A voice that I never want to hear coming from those stunningly kissable lips again.
“Tell me if I get anything wrong.”
Mikes nods again, not daring to look at either of us, and my heart goes into slow motion; what could be so bad that it’s caused even Frank apprehension? I don’t know but by the looks of it, it’s worse than the kiss.
And that scares me shitless.
“Mikey ran to me from school; he got beaten up pretty bad and he needed help.”
I knew that he would, but I’d been banking on the fact that he’d run to me for comfort. Not to someone he’s known for mere days and seems to trust more than the big brother who’s been there his whole sixteen years. It kills me inside to know that he’d rather go to Frank’s than to mine; that he trusts the short punk-boy more than he trusts me. Once upon a time he’d have trusted me with his life and I took that trust for granted, just assumed that he’d always trust me because he’s him and I’m me; the unstoppable Way brothers, forever and always. But no, something happened and nowadays I’m lucky if he trusts me enough to tell me how his day was.
I motion for Frankie to continue.
“I comforted him and he just let it all out; started shouting about how he can’t take it anymore… how he wants to die.”
A tear trickles from Frank’s left, gold-flecked eye and that immediately extinguishes all fury building up like hell-fire behind a dam in my overflowingly empty heart; Mikey actually shouted about what was bothering him, actually asked for help in the most direct way he ever has? Wait. He told Frank that he wanted to die. He told Frank and Frank still let him go off to jump in front of a bus? And I thought that I’ve messed up with the kid. He let my baby brother do this to himself; that bastard let it happen! No, no, that’s not fair. I don’t even know the full story yet. I need to calm down; the last thing that anyone needs is me going off on one. Again. I refuse to lose it; I owe Mikes that much.
Frank swallows and takes a deep breath.
“He was telling me why he ‘knows’ what the bullies say is true.”
That breaks my heart; no kid, no; nobody, evil or kind or otherwise, should believe that they are the sorts of things that those little shits at Mikey’s school call him. What I have called him. The only person who deserves to think so harshly (and falsely) of themselves are the people who did this; including myself. I deserve what Mikey has and doesn’t have. I deserve to be hated and alone and frightened for the way I’ve treated him; an innocent kid with bereavement and emotional issues.
Issues that I should have abolished a long time ago.
No. Not abolished; helped him through, helped him to erase by himself. I think that I see that now. Thanks to Frank.
“And… And he said that…”
This is it, here it comes; whatever my fiery angel says next will hurt with the deadly force of a speeding bullet missing a vital target, leaving it’s victim to a dragged out death. I can just tell by Frank’s agonized expression and the way that Mikey’s all but stopped breathing due to the stress that this is putting him under. Stress that I try to remove with a stroke of my fumbling fingers, but only manage to amplify it with my soft touch. Frank notices and starts soothing soft patterns on Mikey’s stomach, earning a surprised sigh of comforted relief, and I can’t help but feel extremely envious; of both of them. Of Mikey for having Frank’s touch, even if it really is just Frank’s way of calming my near-panic-attacking little brother and a successful method of doing so at that.
Of Frank for being able to do the one thing I desire to be able to do but yet cannot no matter how I hard I try; he can make Mikes feel that little bit safer.
“Go on, Frankie. I promise that I won’t get mad again.”
“He said that when you used to get drunk or whatever that you… you…” He takes a huge breath in, like a diver preparing himself for the most dangerous dive imaginable, and looks with miserable eyes to the boy who can’t bear to look in my direction. “You used to…”
“Frankie, please, just say it; what did I use to do?”
My voice is frantic, doing nothing to help Mikey’s raspy short breaths, and my eyes beseeching; what the fuck did I do? I can’t even remember half of those nights back when I was really bad. I would give anything to be able to regain those months, years even, of my life back; to have been there for my brother before being orphaned forced me to be.
Frank looks away, tears cascading down his face like rabbits fleeing a burning forest, and his circle-stroking on Mikey’s tummy becomes slower, more dragged out and certain.
“Mikey, you have to say this. It won’t be right coming from me.” Mikey’s head shake is so vehement that I half want to hold his head still through fear of it falling off.
And that kills all memories of joy my mind has ever captured; I’m the one person he should be able to speak to, yet he seems to fear me the most out of anyone, even the kids at school…
Shit. Is that what this is about? Is this the reason behind is constant fear? I have to know.
“C’mon, Mikes, tell him like you told me. I know you can do it.” Frank’s words are persuasive and quiet, just like the hand movements he is sprinkling my baby brother with, and when Mikes looks to him he offers my teary brother a reassuring smile.
I should be doing this. Not him.
“I’m your big brother, Mikey. You can tell me anything; I won’t shout at you again, I was just being stupid before; okay?” He nods at my fiercely sincere words but even I can tell that he doesn’t believe me. And it shatters my broken heart to know that he just doesn’t feel safe with me, trust me like brothers need to trust each other. “I’ll never hurt you, bro; I love you too much for that. Tell me what’s wrong, help me to fix it. To fix you. To fix us.”
This time when I reach my hand out to join Frank’s I relish the fact that some panic drains from his flooded eyes.
But his expression is twice as pained.
As is Frankie’s.
“You-ou.. used-ed to-o-o ge-et cros-oss with-ith-th me and I-I go-ot in the wa-way and-nd you-ou b-b-b-b-beat-eat me-e.”
The nearly non-existent, fragmented, sorrowful, frightened words may be practically impossible to hear, but they hit my heart like an atomic bomb.
No. No, I would never beat him up; never.
I think I can remember it now…
”Gerard? Are you alright? You’ve been in there an awful long time and I just wanted to make sure you don’t want anything or whatever.” Mikey’s timid voice hushes concernedly through the bathroom door, knocking me from the drug-induced cloud I’d been mentally perched on.
Perched on and perfectly happy with; as long as the drugs and alcohol block the real world from my view then it can’t be real; can it? At least that’s what it feels like. Ignore the things you hate, drown them out with that which you love and eventually all of the pain will disappear. Right?
Wrong. Not when annoying fourteen-year-old brothers are adamant to ruin a perfectly good evening.
“What I want, is for you to leave me the fuck alone.” I growl back, my speech slurred with I doubt my dealer even knows what.
There is a pained silence and I think I can hear Mikes sniffle a little on the other side of the unlocked door. I hear him and practically chuckle; Momma’s golden boy getting knocked down by the family failure. It only seems fair.
Beautifully ironic if you ask me.
“Oh. Okay. I’ll, I guess I’ll see you in the morning then?”
“Sure as Hell hope not.”
I couldn’t help but smirk to myself smugly; stupid kid gets all of the attention. I’ll show him he isn’t so special, hasn’t got anything I don’t other than the lack of knowledge of how to have a good fucking time.
“Gee… I love you. You know that, right?”
He’s still there? Jesus fucking Christ, he’s like a dog with a bone; just won’t drop it.
“I don’t do incest.”
I pull myself to my feet and stumble to the door; even if the little creep is being annoying, I need to get him back to bed or else Mom will go mental at me for upsetting her precious little Mikey. Why can’t she care about me for once instead of my stick of a brother? All that kid ever does is sniffle and feel sorry for himself; he needs to loosen up a bit. Take a leaf out of his big brother’s book and find himself a decent dealer.
I open the door to see that he’s gone. Good. I don’t think that I can deal with that brat tonight.
I turn to walk away, down the corridor to the stairs and to my basement bedroom, but something trips me up.
A sobbing someone.
A sobbing someone who tripped me on purpose; he must have done, the little attention-seeking freak.
Time someone got put back in their place, I think.
I push myself to my wobbly feet, wincing at the bruise forming on my shin from my trip to the ground, and haul him upwards by the scruff of his t-shirt.
“I’m sorry, Gee, please don’t hurt me!”
He sounds frightened.
He needs to be frightened or else the lesson won’t work.
Oh my God. Fucking hell. I hurt him. I hurt my baby brother. I hurt my little baby boy that I’m supposed to protect. I hurt him and I couldn’t even remember it because I was too fucking off of my face to even think properly, or overthink things too much, and I actually…
Beat him. A kid.
I beat my baby brother. I’m no better than those evil bastards that end up in prison for smashing their kids around, the kind that you’re bought up to despise with every iota of your being because it’s wrong to hurt kids. Kids who are too weak and defenceless to even stand a chance.
“How many times?”
“I-I can-an’t-t rem-ember-er.”
“Bullshit. How. Many. Times?”
My hand is stationary on his stomach, trembling with the lust to slap myself round the face for being so, for lack of a better word, cruel and unadulteratedly evil towards the poor kid. I have to know how many times I hurt him, how much of a bastard I am, how unlikely it is that he’ll ever be able to look me in the eyes again. Frank’s hand is still moving around his tummy and I’m sincerely glad that it is; comfort is what the kid needs right now and is the very least that he deserves.
“Ev-every-ry ni-ight. Mo-orning-ing mar-arks we-eren-eren’t bu-ullies.”
I sit at the breakfast table, my head pounding like my heart was last night after I took…
Wait. Just what did I take last night?
I can’t remember but it felt fucking amazing. I think. I can’t really recall anything past throwing up in the toilet. It may have felt fucking amazing last night, but right now it feels fucking awful.
Mikey stumbles into the kitchen, face down with his spindly arms wrapped tightly around his chest, and sits in the seat opposite me. As far away as possible.
He just nods in response, refusing to meet my concerned gaze. He’s been like this for weeks now, ever since I first saw what those bastards at school are doing to him. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this bad, this shaky and unsure. And it hurts. He should have told me straight after school yesterday or at least let me tell our parents; he needs help. He really does. Those bastards are killing him, my little brother.
“Hey, Mikes. Look at me, bro.”
I till his head into the light with my hand so I can see properly what they’ve done to him this time.
“Shit, Mikes. Holy shit.”
I’m going to kill whoever did this to my little brother.
He’s only twelve. Too young to suffer like this.
“You mean… all of those…. they were me?”
He nods. I think I’m going to be sick.
That means I did… that to him almost every night for around three years.
I abused him for three fucking years. And he never once told me, told anybody; just let it slowly kill him and us. He never told. Why? Because he’s really loyal, a genuinely amazing little brother that probably could have been admitted to hospital for half of the wounds that he greeted me with on those hazy mornings.
Those bullies that he told me about, they were all made up just to save me from facing the consequences of what my own stupidity allowed me to do. Some days he wouldn’t even be able to open one of his eyes; some days his nose looked clicked out of place; some days there were finger imprints on his neck; some days he couldn’t breathe right and refused to show me the state of his skinny torso, I bet he had a cracked rib or two; some days he could barely walk.
And I did that. I did all of that. I killed him inside and nearly did on the outside too; how am I supposed to fix this?
Years of abuse won’t just go away because I apologize, that’s like saying the war-dead will be forgotten just because new alliances have been formed.
Abuse. Actual, physical and verbal abuse. Shit. I could go to jail for this, for beating a child; even if I stopped getting into that state when our parents died, over a year ago now, I still abused a child.
A child who needed a friend more than anything. I think that he did get bullied at school anyway, but I must have made it a million times worse for him.
He’s sniffling uncontrollably, unable to stop the tears that he’s sick of shedding, and grabbing at my hand like he did when he was first born; I’d held him in my three-year-old lap, marvelling at how tiny my new brother and best friend was, when just locked onto my thumb, refusing to let go even in sleep. I curl my larger hand around his pale, frightened one and know that, no matter what happened in the past, he needs me now.
Needs me to prove that he can trust me; that I’ll never hurt him again; that I never meant any of the atrocities I inflicted him with back when he was too young to understand that I was abusing him, beating him too brutally for his mind to cope with, and I was too stupid to realise that I actually had a good life, a life too good to spoil with addiction.
A life good because of the people in it. Or, rather, the brother that was in it. A brother that Fate’s all but managed to kill with a helping hand from my own idiocy.
“Gerard, you okay, Babe?”
It’s only Frank’s gentle prod into my thoughts that makes me realise that I’ve been staring at Mikey, holding his hand in my left one and using my right claw to tickle the back of his own; just like when we were little and there was a thunderstorm. I’d sing to him and just tickle little patterns onto his fear-slicked hands. It always calmed him down and I got something out of it too; the sense of being a good big brother.
A sense that I haven’t truly felt for years.
Until now, until seeing Mikey lean to sit upright, Frank’s arms supporting him in the most encouraging way possible. In every way possible.
Mikey’s free hand reaches clumsily towards my face and he does the single most touching thing that I’ve ever experienced; his wispy, nervous fingers and thumb smudge away a stray tear from my frozen cheeks.
Thus unleashing an endless army of followers to slide down my face like Mikey’s do far too frequently for my liking.
Before I know it, I’m sat on his bed with him; our arms around each other and sobbing openly into one another’s shoulder, being ever mindful of Mikey’s horrifically endless wounds, just embracing each other as though we haven’t seen each other for years.
And we haven’t. Not as brothers.
“God, Mikes, I’m so sorry. So, so sorry. I know that I say sorry to you a lot and each time I really do mean it; you’re the best thing to ever happen to me, bro, and I don’t know what I’d do without you.” I press my lips to his forehead, kissing one of the cuts dead on, and then just cradle him like the baby he still is to me.
Always will be.
Because he’s the little brother and I’m the big one.
“I love you, never forget that. I love you and I can’t even begin to let you know how sorry I am. I’d never hurt you, not really as myself. Never. I love you too much for that. It’s my duty- No. I chose to protect you, Mikes, not just because it’s my duty to, but because you don’t deserve to get hurt. And I’m never letting it happen again. Ever. I’ll change your school if I have to; but know that I’m sorry and I’m never letting anyone hurt you ever again. Ever.”
I can see Frank blinking back tears from the side; smiling at us in a kind of wistfully sorrowful way.
Before he knows it, I’ve got him pulled next to us. All of us crying and embracing and just simply being together.
The three lost boys finding hope in one another.
“I love you, bro; you’re my best friend and I want to be yours again.”
“You never weren’t, Gee. You just got lost.”
A/N: Well, that chapter was an absolute bitch to write; I hope that it was alright! This is the last chapter in the sense that this is where the storyline stops; I think that I’ll do a kind of epilogue chapter though if anyone’s interested? I kind of suck at writing endings so I hope that this wasn’t too bad and I’ll try to tie up any loose ends in the epilogue chapter (which I’ll do tomorrow if people want it). Thank you very much to anyone who has ever taken the time to read/review/rate this story; you’re all absolutely amazing! Thanks for reading and please review! :)