"I’m nothing but a faded memory in the moonlight." Read, review, rate and feel my love! :P
“Now, Frankie-boy, I’m gonna talk and you’re gonna listen. Get it?” I snarl frostily at the short, shaking mess of fifteen-year-old and I can’t help but let my smirk infect the entirety of my face when all he can do is recoil as far back onto his bed as the dark green wall will allow him to.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea of hurting or frightening people but for my baby brother I could kill without batting an eyelid; for my baby brother I would do anything just to make him happy, even haunt some conceited little prick who is most likely going to pass out by the looks of things.
I don’t know anything about Frank Iero other than what I’ve just seen of him from his first meeting with my greatest treasure and yet I can already tell that he’s a smug little bastard who needs taking down a level or two. Or a million.
There’s nothing wrong with being confident, fuck knows that I am, but when that confidence mutates into the kind of attitude that Frank Iero just showed to my baby brother it becomes something that pisses me off. Because Mikes is hurting, is blocking himself off from everything in an attempt to block out all of the that hurt and to stop himself from getting hurt again, yet all this snooty little shit can do is have a go at him; manhandle him; leave him alone to dwell in his endless pit of misery and grief. And for that I despise this kid, or I will despise this kid if he doesn’t listen to me. I’m all for giving people second chances, but after that second chance is up I will turn much less Casper and a lot more Sleepy Hollow.
I completely get that having a stranger move into your house could be difficult for a teenage boy, but I also get that Frank sure as hell isn’t as stupid as he looks; the way he studied my little brother back in his living room told me that much, the way he could sense the agony in my brother’s corpse-cold eyes when I was stood watching them from behind the veil of death. I know that Frank could tell that something bad is going on with his new housemate, could tell that the poor kid just needs someone to be patient and accepting, yet he still acted like a spoilt little brat at not being able to command my baby brother’s attention.
I bet Frank is one of those people who always has to be in the limelight, always has everyone either wanting to be with him or be him, but I would never resent anyone for being popular; just for letting that popularity turn them into the sort of person that I think Frank is. The sort of person that I don’t want anywhere near my traumatised baby brother.
Mrs Iero seems nice, though. I followed her and Mikes on their little shopping trip and I quite honestly don’t think that I’ve ever seen a warmer woman. Mikes was being all withdrawn and cold towards her, just like he has been with everyone else for the past two weeks, but she understood; she didn’t push him, she was just slow and calm and kind. Everything that my little brother needs in abundance if he’s ever going to get over everything. I say everything because he was already withdrawn before the fire, was already about as open as a locked vault with anyone besides me and he was definitely depressed; because of kids like Frank Iero. Kids who thought that the world revolved around them and that just because Mikey didn’t see it that way, they had the right to treat him like a cobweb in the wind; barely there and extremely disposable. Most of the time he would come to me after particularly bad school days, when both tears and blood stained his fragile features in equal wealth, but towards the end of my life it was becoming more common for me to have to go to him; for me to have coax the events of the day out of him rather than him just instantly telling me because I’m his big brother and he knows that he can tell me anything. Either way, I could always make it better for him with my teddy bear hugs and special movie marathons, always reminding him of how special he is. But those comforts expired the second that the whole vicious cycle started again the next day; eventually it broke him and the fire was just the final straw for an already dying kid.
Because I’m a failure at being his big brother, I let him down and now I can never make it up to him directly because I’m nothing but a faded memory in the moonlight.
But I can sort this Frank kid out, make sure that he won’t make things any worse for my little brother. In fact, my plans go deeper than that; I’m going to make him the person that Mikey needs, the person that can look out for my baby brother now that I can’t. Why? Because Frank has potential. The way he looked when my brother started crying at his words showed me a glimmer of someone that could easily be all that Mikes needs. I just have to make him fulfil that potential.
It’s the only way that I can make up for failing my little brother in life.
But right now I’ve reduced Frank to a snivelling heap of terrified child. He is currently curled up at the pillow end of his bed, knees drawn up in front of him as though that could stop any threat that I may pose to him. Not that I do; even if I could hurt the kid, I wouldn’t because he really is mine and my baby brother’s last hope.
But he doesn’t have to know that. Not at all.
He peeks up at me with tear-rimmed eyes, eyes that are so full of fear that I want to turn invisible again just to take it away but I can’t; my baby brother is far more important to me than some snivelling, cocky little shit
“You’re a psycho, aren’t you? You’re gonna kill me and I’m gonna die and I don’t wanna die an-!”
“Shut the fuck up! Do you want your mom thinking that you’re talking to yourself?” I spit at him, stunting his hysterical flow of rambling words with the sharp axe of my hissed words.
He blinks a few times, rubbing at his eyes and trying desperately to hide his fear with, what I assume to be a scowl but ends up being a petrified little pout; I really am quite good at haunting people, aren’t I?
I would take some satisfaction in that if I didn’t have much more important things to be dealing with right now; making a friend for my isolated little brother being one of them. He really is isolated, like a lone iceberg in the frozen sea of trauma that losing his family threw him into. He has nobody; nobody to hold him when he gets scared or upset like I used to take pride in doing; nobody to give him little pep talks whenever he’s faced with something that he doesn’t think his brilliant mind can handle; nobody to convince him of how wonderful he truly is whenever someone else is working to do the opposite; nobody to be his everybody.
I’m sure that Mrs Iero, in all of her lovely benevolence, will at least try to be all of those things, but she doesn’t even know my baby brother and so it will be meaningless, nor do I think that Mikes will let her know him. But Frank…. Frank really does have potential; potential to be all that I need to see my little brother has as a friend before I can move on from this astral plain of protectiveness and onto some sort of afterlife.
“But I’m not talking to myself, you fucking freak!” Frank squeals exasperatedly, terror dripping from his forehead in the form of tiny beads of sweat, kind of like his brain is crying out for someone to save it from the threat that he clearly views me as.
I can’t help but feel glad that he views me as a threat; I can tell that the only way I’m going to get anywhere with this kid is by earning his respect, by forcing him to listen to all that I have to say. And he will be listening or else he will be having his own personal poltergeist ripping up his bedroom until he does. Because I’m not giving up on my baby brother’s only hope at having a brother again.
Apart from I think the last think on Frank’s mind is being a brother to Mikes, not if the way his eyes were paralysed by my baby brother is anything to go by; like Mikey’s pale skin drew the black dots of his pupils into it, just absorbed all of the attention that Frank seems to think that he himself should be receiving. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the way Frank looked at my brother, with a kind of fascinated enchantment, but I do know that he might as well forget any hopes he might have of stealing my baby brother’s heart when my poor baby brother has no heart left to steal. Not that I think Frank would stand a chance with the kid anyway, Mikey’s just too closed off right now and Frank’s acting like too much of a bastard to ever open him up again.
Which is exactly why I’m going to sort this motherfucker out; Mikey needs support right now and I don’t care how he gets it, just as long he isn’t left to drown in the memories of the flames that engulfed me, just as long as he has someone to look out for him like I think Frank has the potential to. It’s just a case of forcing him to realise that potential. An impossibly difficult task if he’s going to act like the arrogant little prick that he seems to be, an arrogant little prick who is currently cowering away from me like the scared kid that he really is.
“Well, yes, technically you are talking to me. But I’m dead; I’m not fucking real, Frankie!” I cry frustratedly at him, walking over to be next to where he is curled up into himself. “I’m a ghost, Kid. And right now I’m haunting your sorry ass.” He looks as though he’s about to come up with a counterargument, fuck he’s stubborn, so I go to slap him; knowing full well that my hand will go straight through him like a fine blade glides through butter. And it does, I feel nothing other than a little bit freaked out teamed with a surreal tingling sensation and he just gawps at me like I’m Kurt Cobain come to teach him some skills on the black and white electric guitar he has stood in the corner of his room. “Believe me now?”
I fall back to rest my weightless form on his bed next to him, turning my smile from a smug smirk into a friendly little upturning of my lips; he is just a kid after all. A kid the same ages as Mikes and so I can easily understand how frightened he must be. I just need to give him a few minutes to get his head around having some dead guy in his bedroom, some dead guy who just so happens to be the overprotective big brother of his new housemate and who is not going to leave him alone until he shows me that he can be nice to the kid. Because I know that he wants to be, he just doesn’t seem to know how.
“You… You’re a….” He staggers out helplessly, waving his hand through me a few times and staring at it as though it’s just turned bright green. My eyes encourage him to accept what my baby brother couldn’t; that I really am dead and that I am roaming around among the living. “Holy motherfucking shit!” Bingo. “You’re a motherfucking ghost!”
Here it comes; the denial, the screams, the delusion, the neglect of belief in his own sanity. I brace myself for the worst, he is just a kid and at the end of the day I’ve got to expect a little less of him than I have been. He’s simply some kid with attention issues and a head twenty sizes too big, how did I ever expect him to be any form of hope?
“That is so cool!”
I stare at him as though he’s the dead man here as opposed to me; he’s grinning like all of his dreams have come true at once. I’m trying to haunt him into being nice to my baby brother and he’s motherfucking grinning like an idiot on April Fool’s Day. Maybe this is a good thing; at least I don’t have to go through watching him scream until someone knocks him out like I did with my baby brother.
My baby brother; my poor, lonely little buddy. I used to call him that, call him my little buddy. I called him that right up until the day that I died; it always managed to make him smile whenever he felt that he was an outcast, that nobody wanted him as their friend. I did though and, even if I was the only person who could look past his shy awkwardness and natural differences, I was more than enough for the kid; I could keep him at least a little bit happy and I could make everything good again in his lost little head. But now he doesn’t even have me, doesn’t have anyone other than someone with obvious potential to be a good friend. Or more.
“Being a ghost isn’t ‘cool’, it fucking sucks, Kid.” I moan at him, my tone sincerely sad at the memory of how being a ghost has cost me all contact with the person who needs it the most; how it has cut my baby brother’s one lifeline.
“Whatever, Casper.” He rolls his eyes at my dullish tone, no sympathy or any sort of willingness to understand something that so obviously hurts me evident in any part of his response.
I’ve got a lot of work to do with this kid.
“My name is Gerard, Kid; just because I’m dead doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own name.” He rolls his eyes once more, nowhere close to the fear that I’m already starting to miss; he was a lot more pleasant to be around when he wasn’t being himself. “Now, we need to get some shit set straight right now.”
I’m trying to sound forceful, like I can command him like I could earlier but that moment has passed; he’s about as scared of me as I am of him. This kid really is perplexing, I just can’t figure him out. First he can’t tear his eyes from my baby brother, then he violently grabs his jaw to get his attention, then he lets go like he’s petrified of hurting the kid and then he snaps at him again before storming off like the spoilt little brat that he is. And then he thinks that seeing a ghost is motherfucking cool! I swear to god that this guy’s a walking contradiction.
And for that I pity him, really I do. He’s just as lost as Mikes is, just tries to hide it because he doesn’t want to look weak. Or at least, that’s what I’m guessing; he is just a kid at the end of the day, a kid who’s just as confused as the next person. Apart from I think he might be more confused than most; I have yet to see any sign of a father other than the fact that Frankie is here, no photos or anything. He’s probably just as insecure as Mikes is, he must be for him to act like he does. Poor kid.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Mikey is poorer; Frank wasn’t cradled to his brother’s chest whilst paramedics tried to put the latter out in a futile attempt to save him, Frank didn’t have to be dragged from aforementioned brother’s charred corpse to be treated for smoke inhalation, Frank didn’t lose everyone and everything in one cruel night. Mikey did. Mikey went through hell and nobody is even trying to understand, not even Frank and that’s why I feel absolutely no sympathy towards him; the moment he starts showing sympathy towards my baby brother is the second that I’ll start feeling sympathy towards him.
“Don’t talk to me like that in my own house!” He snaps at me, eyes alight with fury at being told what to do by someone who he blatantly regards to be less important than he is. Perhaps I am, but that isn’t going to stop me from setting him straight as to where he stands with my baby brother. “What the fuck did I do to you to make you all pissy, Casper?”
He really needs a slap; even if I am against violence I will admit that. He needs to have that smug smirk wiped off of his face like a mark on a white board, he needs to realise that he’s not the most important person in the world no matter much he believes himself to be, that there are people with real problems out there and that they require more attention than he does. My baby brother being but one of those people. Because of me, because I let him down when he needed me to be the best big brother that I can be; I didn’t get myself out of that building alive and now I’ve left him all alone in a world that’s all too happy to swallow him whole. But that’s why I refuse to move on; I’m earning my redemption by getting Frank his. I’m going to get him to be a good person by getting him to be Mikey’s friend. My little brother could turn anyone good, could turn dull lead into vibrant gold with the golden glow of his youthful smile if he so wished. But that was the old Mikey, the Mikey before I failed him and now I honestly don’t know if he’s even capable of smiling that smile which made me want to be the great big brother that I’ve failed at being.
I guess that, in a way, Frank and Mikey need each other; like a lock and a key, like a guitar and a player, like vinyl and a record player, like a lost soul and solace. Mikes needs Frank because he’s far too lonely for such a bereaved kid and Frank needs Mikey to make him a nicer person, to make him less lonely. Because that’s what I think Frank is; lonely. Why else would he be so bent on having attention, on not wanting to share his mom like he blatantly doesn’t? He fears being forgotten, fears it like I fear leaving Mikes alone in this world.
They’re both just lonely kids in need of one another, aren’t they?
Well, they’ve got one another whether they like it or not and I’m going to make sure that they do like it. It’s the least that Mikes deserves after all the shit that he’s been through.
“What did Mikey do to you to make you all pissy, Midget?” I shoot back, painting my face with my own smug smirk at his incredulous gawp; I think someone’s just realised that they’ve met their match, someone who isn’t going to sugar-coat shit for his pretty little face. “He did nothing, Frankie; he did fuck all to you other than be shy and nervous.” His face melts and the indignant shock washes away into something that resembles pained remorse. But I’m not done, I’m stopping this before he can start anything major with my brother; before he can start thinking that it’s alright to bully the kid brother of an extremely pissed-off ghost. “He’s just been through hell and he needs someone to be nice to him; not act like a motherfucking drama queen!”
There is a tense silence, a silence filled with the resounding deafening of my heated words of pure protecting fury; I honestly don’t care about scaring this little shit anymore, not when he doesn’t care about upsetting my little brother. I see his face flicker with the desolate fire of profound guilt, but then he wipes at his eyes as though wiping away all decency that he may have and turns to scowl angrily at me.
“If you care about him so much, then why aren’t you annoying the hell out of him instead?” He growls at me in tones that don’t even sound spiteful anymore; he just doesn’t want to accept the fact that he’s not perfect like he so clearly longs to be.
I would feel bad for him, bad for him because he obviously has some serious insecurities that nobody has taken the time to pay any sort of attention to thus resulting in the person he is today. I would but I can’t because he’s just hammered a hideously deep chord with his words; a chord that plays back the memory of the night a little under two weeks ago when I tried to talk to my baby brother.
When I made him scream. When I made him have to be knocked out by the doctors. When I made him look crazy. When I fucked his head up even more than the cruelty of both bullies and the fire already had. I honestly do feel terrible about that night, but not only from the guilt; from the knowledge that I’ll never be able to comfort my baby brother again, never make everything alright for him with my presence because to attempt doing so would be to risk what little mental stability he still has. And that would just be selfish.
“Because I just fucking can’t! Okay? I just… I can’t.”
Great. I’m crying; I’m looking weak in front of the person I need to look strong in front of for my little brother. I’m fucking crying! Now I look like the teen drama-queen.
This time when I look to the boy, he really does look genuinely contrite; like making a dead man cry is the worst thing he’s ever done. His eyes are a swirling hurricane of confusion and regret, of a longing to help that society long-since stamped out of him, his eyes are smashed windows offering a glimpse into his true personality. And I like it, I like the sort of person that he could be. If only he would just realise his potential.
“Gerard? I’m sorry, I didn’t think. I didn’t mean anything by it, I just… I get all…” He trails off, his eyes going distant in a way that makes me wish I could give the brotherly hug that I used to give Mikes on a minutely basis. But then the windows that his eyes had become shutter up, close with such ferocity that it takes even me by surprise. “Fuck, I don’t even know.”
Poor kid; he just needs someone to listen to who he really is, someone to show him that he doesn’t have to pretend because the person that he’s pretending to be is a lot uglier than who he really is. He needs someone who doesn’t care about what everyone else thinks makes a good person, he needs someone who can see things for what they really are; he needs a Mikey.
Well, it’s a good thing that he’s got one.
Or will have if I can make him into less of a dick than he is because, as he is, he isn’t fit to even look at my baby brother. And I can make him less of a dick, because I’m not giving up until I do.
“I know you don’t, Kid.” I pause, offering him a watery smile which he returns; I guess dying really does make people pity you. I think that I can exploit his retreating guilt, use it for the greater good and get away with it. Because I’m dead and he can’t do fuck all to stop me. “But that doesn’t give you the right to take it out on everyone else. Do you know how I died, Frankie?”
I wince at how manipulative I’m being, at how sickly-sweet I am sounding just to make the point more poignant. I would feel regretful about using this sort of tactic on a kid, but I don’t because I’m doing this for Mikey, for my baby brother and this kid was nasty to him; this is the very least that he deserves.
Frank just shakes his head, eyes wide and full of sorrowful curiosity; just like when he first saw Mikes. I swear to god that this kid has had more mood swings in the past hour or so than I had in my entire life. He’s gone from being petrified, to cocky, to downright rude and now he’s acting all contrite and cautious, like he wants to make up for making my lifeless eyes glaze over with the ghosts of what once would have been tears. I just don’t know which persona is really him; is he the arrogant, cocky little shit who I don’t want anywhere near my little brother or is he the thoughtful, curious kid who clearly has the potential to be all that my brother needs? Either way, one thing is certain; he is more confused than Mikey looked whenever I used to tell him that he is perfect just the way he is, that the bullies at school didn’t know fuck and that just because they made him cry it didn’t make them better than him.
Fuck, I miss being able to comfort that kid; miss it more than I miss everything else about living put together and multiplied by infinity.
“I died, Kid, by protecting my baby brother. I died with fire tearing out my insides and do you know where Mikey was when that happened?” He shakes his head, eyes down and suddenly full of sheer shame. “Curled up in my arms and fighting off the paramedics who were trying to take him away from me. He heard me scream as I had my life ripped out of me, he felt the fire that took his family and now he’s got nobody, he’s got nothing and he sure as fuck doesn’t need you acting like a pathetic little dickhead!” I’m screaming at him now, not caring that he really is as genuinely contrite as the tears spilling down his face tell him to be; he deserves this, every last chastising spit of spite. “He’s a great kid who has been through hell. No, it was worse than hell and all he needs is someone to be nice to him. Do you know who that someone is going to be, Frankie?”
Please, please for the love of whatever force has allowed me to stay behind in this world let him get the point, let me not have to shout at this shaking little kid any more than I already have; let him not be the selfish little shit that I desperately don’t want him to be. He can’t be, he’s just a confused and lonely kid who needs someone like who Mikey used to be and could be again with the help of a friend, a friend like Frank has the potential to be.
He shakes his head.
I fix him with beseeching eyes, all anger gone and just a pure desperation fuelling me onwards; if there really is such a thing as luck, which I highly doubt right now, I don’t think that I’ve ever needed it more than I do right now. Because I can yell at Frank until hell freezes over, I can guilt trip him with every reason I have for Mikes needing a friend but at the end of the day I can’t physically force the kid to be nice to my baby brother and nor can I force them to get along. I’m just praying that they will if they give one another a chance.
“And who is that someone, Frankie?”
A/N: Thank you very much for reading, I hope that it was alright! I don’t really like this chapter at all, but I hope that it wasn’t too bad. Thank you for reading and please review! :)