"He just… stopped." Read, review, rate and feel my love! :P
How could he think that? How could my own baby brother think badly enough of me to actually believe that I’d just up and leave him the first chance I get?
I bet it was something that Pete Wentz, with his googly eyes and sickening smirk, said to him. It must have been.
Apart from I know this wasn’t, I wish that it were because then I’d at least know that my sweet little baby brother, my baby to protect now that there’s nobody else around to, didn’t honestly think that I’d leave him for good. The thing that hurts the most about it is the fact that his fears are well-founded and not at all ridiculous; he’s still just a little kid, still has that naively innocent little mind that makes me lust to protect him like an alcoholic lusts for cheap vodka. I just need him to be safe and happy, everything else in the world after that can just sort itself out. Or not, for all I care.
I want him to trust me too, though, to not be scared out of his mind that he’ll never see me again whenever I leave the room. He used to trust me like that; back before Dad started hurting him and making him feel like a worthless little maggot eating away at everyone around him. He used to be happy and full of light to blind everyone with, but now he’s different, no matter how hard he tries to hide it I can still see it.
The depression. The fear. The anxiety. The absolute terror of being left alone in a world that he’s already convinced is out to get him.
It’s quite simple once you stop to think about it, really; his daddy, one of the two people who are meant to continuously love and support him, not only beat him but walked out on him too. Giving his only reasoning to be that he couldn’t take living with Mikey anymore when he came out. Didn’t want to live with a faggot, he said. So I punched him, clean across the jaw. Then he left us, with no money, a sick mom and no hope. And just like that, to the tune of some fucker’s violently black hatred, Mikey Way got broken. Too broken for my hugs and cuddles and late-night comic book readings to fix.
He just… stopped.
Stopped believing in the idea of anyone liking or caring about him, stopped trusting the people he once would have in a heartbeat, stopped being happy. He’s a strong kid is my brother, not many people could live with the way he’s been and still does get treated, but he has two major issues that seriously need sorting out before anything else. The first being his reluctance to trust or believe that everyone is not out to hurt him, or just abandon him like he thinks I will.
The second being his self-esteem, or lack thereof. It’s gotten to the point now where someone will call him a “fucked-up little loser” and he’ll just agree with it, not even try to deny it a tiny little bit in the back of his head because it’s been drilled into him so many times. Too many times for him to think that it’s a lie.
Obviously it has been if he honestly believed that I’d left him forever. With Pete Wentz. With that arrogant asshole who clearly thinks that the stars shine at night just so the world is able to see his over-styled awesomeness even in the dark. Asshole.
Patrick’s near-silent mutter from behind catches me off-guard, yanking me out of my thoughts and back to the present with an unpleasantly resounding thud to see that Mikey’s smiling up at me. Something that I would have been ecstatic over earlier this evening but right now would rather not be seeing. Because it’s a smile painted onto his face with Relief’s cruel paintbrush, thus making it not a smile at all but an inside-frown crying for help.
A large, paw-like hand gets pressed my shoulder, the fingers rubbing into my skin as the owner of the hand sighs sympathetically from behind me. It’s just ‘Trick being his usual, caring self but I can’t help but feel like I’m special for having his help. I am; anyone who knows Patrick Stump is special because he genuinely is one of life’s special, sweet people. The kind that you think only exists in little kids’ books and in the Bible, not in real life because most people are too selfish to care about others as much as Patrick does. And I’m truly lucky to have him on my side in my war to save my baby brother from everything that has or will hurt him. Including himself.
But he shouldn’t need saving, not at just fifteen years of age and not ever. He shouldn’t be like he is, all introverted and frightened and beaten-down; he’s just a kid. A genuinely nice kid who’d happily be a friend to everyone if only trust weren’t such an issue for his fractured little mind. Half the time, no matter how much it murders my soul to admit it, I don’t think that he even trusts me anymore. As is evident by the way he reacted when I came back into the room. Something that made me want to curl up and be the younger one for once because I need somebody to comfort the agony out of my heart.
Patrick’s hand gently nudges me forwards, towards the bed that’s cradling Mikes, until I’m stood parallel to Pete and looking straight into Mikey’s wavering face. That’s when I realise that I’ve been staring at him, something that I told Pete myself Mikey hates, and so I look quickly away, guilt rampant within me for causing a nervous hue to overshadow his precious features. Features that are still sweaty and rife with fever, but thankfully not as bad as it was earlier. I really didn’t want to have to drag him through the trauma of going to some strange hospital to be prodded, poked and stared at some more.
“Of course I did, Kiddo. You’re my baby brother, aren’t you?” I try my hardest to make the words seem nonchalant, but my tone is oozing hurt concern as the mild reassurance falls out of my lips. He just nods, eyes looking down in something that seems akin to shame. Just like whenever our dad shouted at him. “I’d never leave you, Mikey. Never. You’re my family, my baby brother and my best friend. And you’re a great kid, one that I am genuinely proud to call my brother. I could never let myself lose all of that. I love you way too much.”
The honesty of the words tears through me like a bullet impacting a moth purely because I’ve never said anything truer in my entire life. Mikey is the only family I have left who’s worth anything to me; he’ll always be my baby brother to me, the kid with dorky glasses hiding the shimmering light in his bright irises; he is my best friend, the bestest best friend in the whole wide world. And I do love him, more than life itself. I’d happily die for that kid in a second if that’s what needed to be done to help him.
Of course I would.
I manage to catch Mikey’s gaze, still slightly bright from seeing me again but having taken on a kind of solemn tone to fit my sincere words. As he starts to slowly nod, trying to get his tattered mind around something as fantastical as someone not wanting to leave him and actually loving him instead, I allow myself to smile back at him. Letting him know that I’m happily proud of all that I’ve just admitted to him, that I’m happy to have him for a brother. More than happy; overjoyed. Have been ever since Mom bought him home from the hospital that day a little over fifteen years ago, when he was nothing more than a strange alien for me to gawk and giggle at. I’ve always understood one thing, though, right from day one; we’re brothers and that means we look after each other, no matter what happens. If the world’s ending, we care about one another first and the rest of the world last. Just like the world cares about itself before us, every fucking time. Mikey wouldn’t be like he is if it wasn’t that way.
“Who could ever leave you, Sweetness?”
At the unwelcome purr of sugary seduction I snap my head down to find that the source of the words as none other than Pete Wentz. Typical. I knew that he was this sort of person, the sort who hits on sick little kids when they’re too weak to second-guess any type of kindness, and I knew that I should never have left him alone with Mikey. I bet he’s been telling Mikey all sorts of lies; I bet he’s been making the poor kid squirm and blush and I bet he’s tried every trick in the book. Well, I won’t stand for it. Not at all. Not whilst Mikey’s so helpless.
Who the fuck does he think he is, talking to my brother like he’s some sort of animal and acting like he knows better than I do about my own baby bro?
I don’t care who he thinks he is. I know. He’s an asshole.
“Let me sit next to my brother, Creeper.” I shoot at him, reminding myself that I can’t just explode and drill Pete to shit with the shrapnel for two perfectly good reasons; he’s Patrick’s housemate so me hurting him would most likely get me kicked out and if I act threateningly in front of Mikey then the odds are that he’ll think back to all of the times when people have hurt him, that he’ll become frightened of what I can be. “You’ve done enough.”
Pete moves to shuffle back up to his earlier spot on the end of the bed, next to where Patrick has just plonked himself down with a look of heated interest on his rounded face, and as he does I catch sight of something that makes me very nearly lose it with the bastard; he lets go of Mikey’s hand. Meaning that he must have been holding it whilst ‘Trick and I were doing the grand tour. Mikey must have been so uncomfortable, waking up in a strange room with some asshole holding his hand and giving him ridiculous, degrading nicknames. No wonder the poor kid was relieved to see me.
Trying my hardest to ignore the scorching hatred I feel flaring up in my chest in favour of focusing on my poorly brother, I carefully position myself to be sat where Pete was, upper body dangling over Mikey’s shoulders and face. A face with a repertoire of marks on it, if you know where to look, from his numerous losing battles with the bullies. There’s even one or two permanent scars staining his fair skin from where he’s been slammed too harshly into the metal corners of lockers by kids at school or kicked into the coffee table at home by our dad at the wrong angle. Everywhere you look and everything about Mikey refuses to let me forget that he’s an abused child.
An abused child in need of more than a trio of stupid teenage boys to look after him and raise him.
“You met Pete, Gee?” He mumbles up at me, a worrying glint in his eyes and small smile twirling on his features so that they twist into something stunning. The fever must be flaring up again, because his cheeks turn a deep crimson and his eyes glaze over slightly. “He’s real nice. Got a bass.”
When I hear a sickening giggle from behind me, I look around to see Pete smirking smugly to himself and tossing me a wink when he sees that I’m on to him. Which I am; I can see exactly what sort of twisted, evil little game he’s playing with my Mikey and I don’t like it. Not one bit. But I guess I can pretend for Mikes whilst he’s all sick like this, I’ll just have to wait until I can catch Pete alone to tell him precisely what I think of him and his selfish, sick game with my baby brother.
So I just turn back to my little brother and fix him with one of the fakest looks of happiness I’ve ever had to conjure up. Not that it matters, he’s probably too sick to even realise what’s going on right now.
“Sounds great, Bro. I’m sure we’ll all get along just fine.” I lie through gritted teeth, grimacing when Mikey gives me one of the most delighted little looks I’ve ever seen since the day that Mom and I managed to save up enough money for his birthday-present bass. And then it hits me; Mikes hasn’t even seen ‘Trick yet, a real nice guy as opposed to the false smarminess of Pete Wentz. “Hey, I’ve got someone I want you to meet. The guy whose house we’re staying in.”
Upon hearing those words Mikey grabs onto my hand desperately, terrified of this new stranger who holds so much of our wellbeing in his omnipotent hands. For all Mikes knows he could be another controlling fucker like our dad was with us, just helping us out so that he gets to use the younger of us as stress relief. Not that I’d ever let Mikey go through that again, something that I’d hoped he knew well enough from the fact that I didn’t just leave him to rot in our old home. A place that I couldn’t stand at all but, for some incomprehensible reason, Mikey adored. Would probably go back to in a heartbeat.
So would I, if it would make Mikey the same little kid that grew up there before the world eclipsed his inner light.
With my spare hand, the one that isn’t clamped by a shaking sweaty palm, I gesture for ‘Trick to come so that Mikes can see him without having to move around too much. With a small grunt of understanding, he gets to his feet and slowly approaches Mikey, a gentle upturn of his lips making it clear that he means the kid no harm. He just seems to have an amazing grasp on how to read people, how to act just right around someone because he takes the time to learn to understand them and treat them like they need to be treated. Just like he is now, taking it slow and gentle so as not to frighten my brother.
“Mikey, this is Patrick. Patrick, this is Mikey.”
At my short introduction the two look at one another, Mikey more so than ‘Trick because ‘Trick knows better than to stare at a kid like Mikes from his own personal experience with having no self-esteem. Mikey’s eyes take in my friend; everything from the black trilby slanting over his blonde hair at an askew angle to his teddy-bear-like body, from his warm irises to his relaxed, non-threatening stance. Patrick’s doing everything right, unlike that Pete asshole, and Mikey nods in acknowledgement as his own little way of telling me that he’s not as terrified of this guy as he is with most other people.
Good. I want ‘Trick and Mikes to be friends. I think that they can understand each other, perhaps even enough for ‘Trick to be able to help him out of his homely little shell.
Not friends with someone as arrogant and insensitive as Pete, who is currently observing my brother yet again with the eyes of a starved demon, someone who will most likely set Mikey up just to knock him to pieces all over again. Just like I’ve seen his type to do before. I only want to protect my baby brother. It’s the least I owe him.
“Hello, Mikey. You’re brother’s told me lots about you, it’s nice to finally meet you at last.” Patrick’s pillowy voice is full of everything that it needs to be; care, friendliness and, most importantly, pure benevolence. The kind that only ‘Trick can honestly produce without having ulterior motives for it.
“Nice to meet you, too.” Mikey mumbles back shyly, making Patrick’s smile split into a beam of encouragement, letting my brother know that he’s truly pleased to hear his meek little voice. “Thank you very much for helping us. I real-“
“You’re very welcome, Mikes.” ‘Trick chuckles in reply, leaning in to ruffle Mikey’s hair gently after searching my eyes for permission to do so. ‘Trick really couldn’t be better friend material for my brother. “Are you comfy? Do you want anything? More blankets? Less blankets? Food? Drink? I can bring in the telly if you want. Or I can put a CD on? What ab-“
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Chill out, ‘Trick. Stop being such a hen.” A smug, arrogant voice cuts across Patrick’s endless flow of kindly offers, earning a small giggle from Mikey. And a harsh glare from me. “The kid’s sick, not mute.” He pauses a second, his words this time making Mikey frown because he has been known to be as quiet as a speechless angel and ‘Trick taking his turn to glare Pete down. Pete leans further up the bed, scrutinizing my baby brother as though he hasn’t just been staring at him the entire time since his arrival. “Although he could do with a meal by the looks of him. You hungry, Sweetness?”
Although I don’t like Pete, not by any stretch of the imagination, I can’t help but regard his words as something that I should be taking into account. Mikey is small, tall but skinny with not an ounce of meat on his brittle bones. Brittle bones that show through his thin layer of paper-like skin, resembling some sort of intricate antique wrapped in a thin layer of white tissue. So fragile and weak, too weightless for it to be healthy.
It’s certainly not the first time that I’ve noticed his alarming lack of weight, just the first time that I’ve been able to do something about it. I’m not exactly tubby myself, so I can barely have a go at Mikes for being a little underweight when it’s probably down to the fact that we’ve scarcely been able to afford food these past few weeks, but now I can do something. I can feed him up until he looks less like an emaciated skeleton and more like a teenager should do. Smiles and all.
“Yeah, Mikes, you feel up to eating anything?” I add, taking on the brotherly tone that I only use on him whenever he’s really sad and inconsolable or when he’s sick. “I’m sure ‘Trick wouldn’t mind getting you something.”
I can’t help the sassy tone that filters into my voice with that last bit; Patrick, when around guests, takes on the role of an overprotective mother with not enough to do for his guests. Blend that with his worry over the fever that’s raging through Mikey’s veins and his soft spot for kids, then it’s pretty much a given that he’ll do just about anything to help Mikey right now. Maybe even take his hat off.
“Not at all, Mikey. We’ve got biscuits, chocolate, cereal, bread, fruit, every type of candy under the sun thanks to Pete’s sweet-tooth, noodles, a billion different ready meals and chips.” He stops to go over the list again, counting the items in his head. “And custard.”
“Custard!” Pete pipes up, arms going out to the side as he fixes my brother with the most blinding grin that I’ve ever been wiped out by at the sound of Mikey’s giggles. “You gotta have custard, Sweetness. It always makes me feel better when I’m sick.” He catches himself, a sad tint welling in his eyes as he looks at Mikey’s hollow cheeks. “After you’ve had some proper food though.”
“We could order out. My treat?” Patrick adds, silently begging Mikey with his eyes to say yes because he just wants to feel useful.
And because he can see how skinny the kid is too. Way too skinny for it to be healthy. But that’s okay; now we can afford to have three square meals a day, with desert and snacks and everything!
Just like every other fifteen-year-old takes for granted. Just like he will be able to from now on. Because have one of the greatest best friends of all time.
All three of us, the arrogant asshole included, stare at Mikey with eyes beseeching him to accept at least some form of substance. It’s as if we’re all on the same wavelength, none of us wanting anything other than for Mikey to eat because it’s obviously what he needs the most right now.
I bet Pete only wants him to eat though so he can fucking spoon-feed him and coo over him until he’s charmed my baby brother into jumping into bed with him. That’s the only thing on the mind of kids like Pete; kids with too much arrogance and charisma for him to be able to keep it in his pants. But I can moan about him later, right now I can take advantage of this boy, a boy that Mikey seems to trust for reasons I can’t hope to understand, with his eyes begging Mikey to eat.
“Tired, Gee. Too tired.” He mumbles sleepily, pulling my hand and arm up to his sweltering face, where he proceeds to use it as some sort of pillow. “Can I sleep?”
We all let out a breath that none of us seemed to realise we were even holding in one ginormous sigh that fails to hide our disappointment. Something that would normally make Mikey wince or go all teary-eyed, but right now he’s just too exhausted and sick to care.
“Yeah, Kiddo. Get some rest.” I whisper down to him, not even whining when he twists my arm under him to get his new human mattress just right. “I’ll be right here when you wake up.”
“Promise?” He yawns, squeezing on my hand as ‘Trick silently leads a reluctant Pete out of the room so that Mikes can sleep in peace and without an audience. “Promise you won’t leave me?”
“I promise, Kiddo. I wouldn’t leave you for the world.”
I’m glad that he’s too out of it to see right now. At least this way he can’t see the tears leak from my eyes for the poor little kid with abandonment issues.
Issues that I should never have let happen.
A/N: Thank you very much for reading and a huge THANK YOU to anyone who has reviewed/rated this story so far; it always makes me smile when I get to know what you think of my writing! Anyway, I hope this was alright and please let me know what you think! :)