Gerard struggled with epilepsy as a child. Now, the past is coming back to bite him - can he rise to the challenge, or is he doomed to fall?
Take The Devil In Me
He used to think he was possessed by demons.
Gerard stood in the shower, hot droplets of water gliding off his exposed skin. Steam filled his nostrils and turned the bathroom into a foggy enclosure. It was like a soothing embrace after a rough struggle through an angry wilderness of screaming teenagers, scorching sun rays, and exhausting dance routines.
He cupped his calloused hands under the fall of the drops, and they gathered into a lake that leaked slightly through gaps between slender fingers. Once the lake was filled to its brim, Gerard jerked his cupped hands forward and launched it all onto his face, cleansing his features of all the dust, dirt, and grime that they capture at outdoor concerts.
Gerard took a deep breath, and he made to exhale -- but the air seemed to get caught in his windpipe.
He coughed -- once, twice, three times before he lost count. The first three had been controlled, but the hacking sensation soon became rampant, his throat hitching like machine gun fire. He could feel his throat closing.
Gerard gripped at his neck hopelessly, as though he could stretch his esophagus open again. His wet hands barely got to grab at anything before he felt them jolting away suddenly.
His knees were buckling.
Gerard knew what was happening, but it came as such a shock that he could not think of the sensible solution at first.
"HELP!" He tried to scream, but the cry produced nothing more than mere whisper.
In a matter of seconds, Gerard found himself a naked sprawl of shaking limbs on the tiled floor. His arms and legs were each going this way and that, his head bobbing in an awkward motion.
It had been 13 years.
The worst and most familiar sensation was the gradual tightness in his throat, as though hands were squeezing it with pressure at every angle. He did his best to try and breathe through his nose, but the sensation of being choked was overwhelming.
His hands were involuntarily hitting the glass panes of the shower walls. He tried getting up, but his body only flopped like a fish out of water.
Finally, his head jerked upward one more time --- and the seizure stopped. He ceased to convulse slowly, but the sensation of control did not come back for some time. He felt only half conscious, only seeing his surroundings but not really being there.
When he did regain full awareness, Gerard gathered himself and pushed himself off the ground with a trembling hand. His body, while now his own once more, felt weak.
He stumbled out of the shower. He had to go tell Mikey.
What's the matter with you?" whispered a twelve year old browned haired boy with large, coke bottle glasses. Anyone else may have taken offense to such an insensitive sounding question, but Gerard saw that curious spark in his eye that his little brother would get whenever he was merely confused about something.
"The doctor said I have epilip -- epil -- epil something." Gerard tried to explain to him. Mikey only looked more bewildered.
"I think he's wrong though." said Gerard then, rolling his eyes at the bald neurologist that Donna insisted on taking him to. "I think I'm possessed by a demon or something..."
Mikey's eyes went wide behind his glasses, making him somewhat resemble an owl.
"What like in The Exorcist?" Mikey spoke in a hushed voice, treating the conversation as though it were an exchange of dark secrets.
"Yeah, something like that. I feel like someone's inside me or something...like, something enters my body, and makes me thrash around like that. I think it might be trying to kill me, I don't know. I feel it choking me sometimes..." Gerard trailed off, memory flickering traces of the horrid sensation on his neck.
"Wow..." Mikey was pale faced, "Maybe we should call Pastor Jim."
"Fuck that." Gerard snorted, "I'd rather just wait to see if it leaves me alone. It doesn't scare me."
"I don't know Gee..." Mikey frowned, "What if... you know... you try to kill me in my sleep?"
"I would never!" Gerard was quick to say. "Whether I'm possessed by demons or not, I still love you."
"Yeah, but the demons don't..." Mikey muttered under his breath, but did not argue further.
"Now, how bout we watch some movies?"
"What do you mean it's back?"
An adult Mikey sat on his hotel room bed, staring at his soaked and disheveled looking brother, who had put on only a towel since stepping out of the shower. His eyes were making him look like an owl again.
"I had a seizure." Gerard spoke timidly, like he was afraid Mikey would be angry at him for it. Actually, Gerard was simply struggling to say the sentence considering what it meant.
"Oh my god, Gee -- you haven't had one since we were kids!" Mikey pointed out the obvious, but Gerard did not comment on it. Mikey looked distraught already.
"I know..." Gerard sighed, feeling just as scared as Mikey appeared to be on the outside.
"Well... we need to get you to a doctor then." Mikey said decisively, far from the bewildered boy afraid of demons. "Should we cancel the rest of the tour?"
"No, Mikey!" Gerard shook his head, "We don't even know if it's just this one time."
"I don't know if we should risk that, Gee." Mikey sighed himself. "If something happens on stage -- I mean I don't know if you should be exerting much energy."
"If it happens another time, fine. But no for now." Gerard crossed his arms, his tone stern. It was times like these that Gerard took advantage of his power as the band's lead. The final decisions always rested with him.
"Fine." Mikey agreed, albeit uneasily. "But we're still seeing a doctor."
"Fine." Gerard huffed.
"...Do we tell the other guys?"
Gerard thrashed about violently, making a massacred snow angel with the mud that he was almost knee deep in. His schoolmates all stood in a circle around him, staring. A few of the boys were laughing at him. He felt someone kick him in the hip.
Why wouldn't any of them help him?
Of course, most of them didn't know what to do. His mom would put him on his side and place a soft pillow under his head, stroking comforting fingers through greasy locks of hair. A girl went to go find a teacher a moment ago. She hadn't returned.
A good amount of mud was entering his mouth, gobs of wet dirt trying to make their way down his spasming throat. He let out an awkward cry, and a few kids laughed loudly.
By the time the teacher came to help, the seizure was over and, thus, so was the show.
"It'll be okay."
Frank smiled at him widely. Gerard tried to focus on him rather than sharp pinching he felt on his head. They were doing an EEG, and so returned the cold slime they put in his hair, as well as the electrodes that felt strangely like needles sprouting from his scalp.
"Only one of you can stay in here while we do the test." said the nurse as she secured a few more electrodes. Mikey, Frank, and Ray looked at each other.
"Who would you rather, Gee?" Ray asked him, "Don't worry -- no one will be offended."
Gerard took a moment to think.
Mikey looked surprised, but did not argue. Ray had given him a look before he could open his mouth. The lead guitarist and bassist made their exit after Mikey had given him a pat on the hand, while Ray flashed him a comforting smile.
When the door had closed, Frank looked back at Gerard with interest.
The nurse turned out the lights and began to prepare the equipment needed for the test.
"You're funnier." Gerard said before he closed his eyes.
Gerard rocked back and forth, wailing loudly on his bed.
When Mikey had first walked in, he had thought he was having another seizure. Then he realized he heard the clearly defined sobs, and Mikey did not know whether or not to feel relieved. He walked to his brother's bedside with great hesitation. He wanted to help Gerard feel better, but sometimes his big brother scared him a little.
"Gee.. Gee, what's wrong?"
Gerard did not speak for a while, and Mikey thought that Gerard might just ignore him. Finally he spoke in a broken voice "I can't.. I can't take it anymore Mikes! I fucking hate this stupid fucking disease! I don't.. I don't wanna! The medication isn't even working! I don't.... I'm scared..."
Mikey took a breath, and felt a lump in his throat. His eyes were watering too. He hated seeing Gerard like this, and feeling helpless to do anything about it. His brother did not have any friends, had failing grades, and was shoved against lockers and laughed at all the time -- what fucked up God had to give him this curse on top of the rest? What did he do to deserve this?
Trying not to think on it further, lest there be two sobbing Ways in the same room, Mikey simply sat down next to Gerard on the bed and wrapped his stick-like arms around the shaking ball of black.
"I just feel like it's never going to leave me alone..." Gerard hiccuped, "I just....I just want to die already...We all know that's how this going to end, anyway..."
"Gee, come on, don't say that." Mikey hushed him.
"It's true.." Gerard mumbled miserably.
Mikey held Gerard tighter. He had never really tried to dwell on the idea that Gerard might die from this. It was something he didn't want to think about. He needed Gerard, no buts about it. Yet he couldn't deny the nightmares that so often creeped into his slumber, visions of a pale corpse who had choked on his own tongue.
"You're not going to die. You can't die." Mikey whispered in Gerard's ear, while speaking more to himself than anyone else.
"I just don't know, Mikes. Maybe it would be for the better."
"I want to die with dignity. Not while I'm all out of control and while I can't even say final words because my throats all closed up. Quick, hand me the dagger."
"Don't be stupid."
Gerard looked at Mikey in annoyance before he tried to get up himself. Mikey immediately shoved him back on the bed. Gerard fought to push Mikey off him, and a wrestling match ensued. By the time they both gave up, Gerard was too exhausted to commit suicide.
"Remember, if you feel sick at all, just let us know and we'll cancel the show -- no questions asked."
Ray had to yell as he put in his ear piece. The crowd outside was roaring. It was 1 minute till showtime.
"Yeah, thanks." Gerard nodded at him.
The intro came on. It was time to go. Mikey was the first to go up the stairs, taking one last look at Gerard before he did. He smiled, and Gerard smiled back. He disappeared. Frank and Ray followed, both mimicking Mikey's motion.
Gerard was next.
He took a breath and sprinted up the stairs, his heart pounding wildly in his chest. A great amount of light shone in his eyes, and an explosion of cheers bursted forth from the audience. Gerard grinned at them crookedly before running to the mic. He reached the stand, plucked the microphone, and began to scream "Na!" repeatedly while hundreds of kids joined him in unison.
A rush of good emotions crashed over him, and he was finally out of control in the best way possible.
The show went smoothly up until Our Lady Of Sorrows.
Gerard was bending forward and back, trying for his awkward attempts at headbanging. The mic was tight in his hand, which was coated in sweat.
"...take my fucking hand and never be afraid again!"
Gerard looked up, and the world suddenly seemed a lot less sharp. The whole stadium was blurred.
Oh no, please God no, not in front of all these people...
His throat was closing again, and just the knowledge of what was about to happen would have been enough to make Gerard cry if he could have.
His fingers twitched.
The guys must have noticed he was freezing. They were staring at him with fearful expressions. Mikey was starting to walk over.
Gerard heaved. He retched, and sputtered. He was trying with all his might to resume singing, but he could feel the demon inside trying to pull his strings. It was already beginning to squeeze down on his throat -- but then another hand touched him.
Gerard looked down and saw a tattooed hand clutching his forearm.
The same thing happened to his shoulder, and Gerard's saw Ray's own hand had rested on it. On his other side, Mikey was speaking to him.
"Gee? Gee? Are you alright? Do we need to stop?"
Frank was on his way to telling the crew to get a stretcher before a high pitched scream filled the entire stadium. The crowd screamed back.
Gerard's throat had released it involuntarily, but the audience had thought it to simply be part of the show. Gerard, although unable to resume singing instantly, was able to play it off and wave at the audience, who he had not lost just quite yet.
He stood straight up to the awed expressions of his band mates. Gerard nodded at Ray, who was the first one to start playing again. Frank looked delighted as he resumed his part. And while Mikey looked hesitant, he resumed playing as well -- although he made it a point to stay unusually close to Gerard for the rest of the show.
The demons weren't going to take him tonight. He knew as he stood on the stage, playing with his brothers to the admiring stares of hundreds of fans --- nothing could touch him here.
On the stage and at the top of the world, Gerard Way would always be invincible.
"We think he might be okay for now, but a relapse is always possible."
The bald doctor was explaining Gerard's latest test results to Donna Way, while Gerard and Mikey sat in his office, both bored slumps.
"Yes, he and his brother want to play in this band." Donna told the doctor, "I don't know if that would be very safe for him, with the epilepsy and everything..."
"Well that's up to him. Many musicians battle diseases and they do alright, and for now we do think it may have gone into remission..."
"So you're cured now?" Mikey suddenly asked him -- he had been quiet since they had left the house.
"Maybe." Gerard shrugged, "They said I am, but it might come back."
"That's dumb." Mikey spat. "Then they shouldn't be acting like you're cured."
"Well..I hope I'm cured." Gerard said thoughtfully, "I'd really hate to be having seizures when I get my own place and I'm all old and alone."
"You'll have your wife to help you." said Mikey.
"Nah, fuck that. I'm not getting married." Gerard scoffed.
"Well.. maybe you can live with me. I'll take care of you." Mikey told him, and Gerard could tell he was completely serious. He appreciated that.
"What about your wife?"
"Eh, I don't know if I'm going to get married either. Besides, you're my priority." Mikey said with sincerity, "You always have been. Come to think of it, I guess I'd rather we did live together..then I know you'd be well looked after, so would I. We practically live by ourselves anyway, why mess with success?"
"You have a point." said Gerard. "In any case, you know I'll always look after you too."
"And I, you."
The brothers grinned at each other amidst their soapy conversation, a feeling of security binding them together. The doctor gave Gerard one last prescription for his seizure medication, and they left his office for the final time.