"I have to tell. It’ll eat me alive if I don’t." Read, review, rate and feel my love! :P
“Honestly, ‘Trick, let me pay for my own drink.” I argue, although I know that it’s completely pointless, as we pull up chairs around a two-seater table in the corner of Starbucks. “I’m the one who just got a job, after all.”
I can’t believe it, actually. The first store we went in, one selling vintage comic books and old action figures no less, took me on straight away, claiming that I have just the right sort of image to fit their business. There were only two guys working in there when ‘Trick and I went in, a middle-aged man called Zacky and his mini-me, Frank Iero. They both seem perfectly nice, especially the Frank one, what with the way that they had guitars hidden behind the counter to muck around on when business gets slow. The store itself was more like two oversized closest sewn together, shelves crammed against every part of wall as though they’re stopping the walls from caving in. Judging by the look of the place, they may very well be. Then there was the smell of the place; that kind of musty smell that you get with old books, teamed with the strong aroma of fresh coffee and cigarettes.
Basically, in laymen’s terms, I just got my dream job; starting on Wednesday I work from nine ‘til half four in a comic book shop. I should be happy, over the moon even, and I am, really I am. But not really. I’m more worried than anything right now, the unpleasant feeling of uncertainty heaving through my guts like vomit and leaving a foul taste in my mouth. Because we’ve been out for over an hour and a half. Leaving Mikes home alone with some asshole creeper with eyes too wide for my baby brother for me to be comfortable with it.
I don’t even know why I let ‘Trick drag me out minus my younger half, but when ‘Trick gets an idea of how to help someone and the will to follow it through, there is absolutely no stopping him.
I should have, though. I should have put my foot down and thrown a toddler-tantrum until he said we didn’t have to leave Mikey all alone in that huge house with someone who is quite clearly as capable of looking after a traumatised kid as I would be at getting a job cleaning needles; it’s just wrong. I mean, the last time I left Mikey with Pete alone the poor kid ended up a wreck. Granted, it may have been over something that wasn’t Pete’s fault but he should have noticed that Mikey was worrying about something and got me the second the kid woke up. But no, he decided to hold his hand instead. Not just hold it; almost caress it in a way that makes my stomach churn.
Because there is no way that I’m letting Pete asshole Wentz fall for my brother.
So why the fuck did I leave him in charge of the poor kid?
Because, deep down and as selfish as it may sound, I needed a break. Even if it’s just a couple of hours, I need to relax and not have to worry constantly about Mikey. Just be a normal eighteen-year-old without playing guardian to my adorable little baby brother. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy looking after him as is my duty, one that I take great pride in doing, just that sometimes it can be nice to get away from it all. To not have to be thinking of ways to make him more like a kid and less like a ghost. Apart from it’s not really working, is it? I’m still panicking about him and when I got the job my brother was the only thing on my mind; about how he’s the reason that I’m doing this, so that I can take proper care of him like I swore I would to Mom.
I miss her. Not as much as Mikes does, they really were close despite the fact that the only other parent in Mikey’s little life slammed him around, but her departure from this cruel world has left me with a gaping void where the love of a mother should be. But I have to be the strong Way brother, the one who can keep it together when everything else is getting torn apart. It’s the least I owe Mikey after letting him get hit by our dad more times than I should have. I couldn’t hold it together then, but I can now. I have to. I’m all Mikey’s got.
I’m all Mikey’s got.
That thought terrifies me like the idea of death terrifies a worthless sinner. Because it means that if I fuck up with him then he’s got no-one else to run to; when he gets sad I’m the only hope he has of comfort; I have to be enough even if I’m not. In short, I’m a single parent with an anxiety riddled kid to look after. And I can’t mess it up. I love Mikey way too much to let that happen.
“Hey, Gee. You okay?” Patrick’s soft voice slides into my mind like a sunbeam on a stormy afternoon and I look up from my mug of pure caffeinated awesome. “You just kinda spaced out on me there, Buddy.”
I blink a few times, trying to clear all of my thoughts and fears from my mind; ‘Trick has bought me a drink, it’s the least I can do to act like I’m enjoying it. Yet I won’t, not with thoughts of my poor baby brother niggling away at the back of my skull like a tumour. That’s nothing new though, I’ve always kept Mikes in mind ever since we were little kids and Mom explained it to me about Mikey being too little to understand things so it was my job to explain stuff to him. Like when I taught him how to draw a smiley face, or how to ride a bike, or how to swear back at the people who tease him. Not that he ever used that last one.
He’s too nice for that. Too nice for his own good.
“Oh, yeah. I’m fine, ‘Trick.” My words are half-hearted, my heart aching for ‘Trick to ask me to tell him what’s wrong so that I don’t have to hold it in anymore. He just raises his eyebrows, warm wells of honey churning in sympathy and urging me onwards. That’s good enough for me. “I… I’m just worried about Mikey.”
Patrick regards me steadily, his trademark smile of sunlit warmth shining down on my icy soul, and he picks up his tiny expresso mug. Down in one, just like a shot. It’s a game we used to play when we were little and the world didn’t matter to us in the slightest; we’d have tiny cups of coffee and make a bar out of the couch cushions, pretending to be to “growed-up big boys”. It might make me chuckle at the way he’s kept the childish habit like it always does whenever we meet up for coffee, but right now there are too many things going on in my head for it to even register as something that reminds me of a happy memory.
He slams the cup back onto the table, as per tradition, and creases his forehead into the expression he always takes on when he’s thinking of how to help, which is pretty much all of the time when he’s around me. A pinprick of guilt stabs the inside of my stomach at that thought, making a tiny trickle of remorse bleed at me from within because I always run to ‘Trick whenever things get bad, a little more than most other friends would put up with. But that’s just how ‘Trick is; he’d help a super villain if he thought they needed it. Full of second chances and kindness, that’s Patrick. My best friend in the whole wide world since forever.
Since before I became a drain on his resources.
Before Mikey became a drain on mine.
“Gee, he’ll be fine. I know Pete can come across as a little…” I fix him with my best attempt at an indignant look, letting him know that I understand exactly what Pete is. “Um, Pete-like. But he’s a good guy, wouldn’t ever hurt anyone. Sweet too, around the right people.” He chuckles lightly as I slump back in my seat, wondering why on Earth I seem to be the only one who doesn’t think that the sun shines out of Pete’s ass. “And I think Mikey’s definitely one of those people.”
At that I quickly shoot to be upright in my chair, fists clenched on the table and a horrible feeling festering in my gut because I know exactly what ‘Trick is hinting at and I don’t like it. Not one little bit. Mikey’s too fragile to be around someone like that, someone who thinks that they can just hold my baby brother’s hand and act like Prince fucking Charming rescuing Snow White from everlasting sleep. He’s got absolutely no right to stare at Mikes like he was last night, as though the kid is some free show for him to feast his lusty eyes on. Nobody gets to look at my baby brother like that. Especially not arrogant assholes with red spikes in their hair and too much eyeliner for it to not have been slaved over for hours on end.
Cocky little prick.
“Don’t look at me like that, Gee. You saw the way Mikey looked when I said that Pete could look after him. He’s got it just as bad.”
No. No he hasn’t. Just because the kid was blushing and grinning, standing eerily close to the older man as we left, that doesn’t mean that he likes him. Not at all and certainly not like ‘Trick is implying. I know Mikey’s gay, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll fall for any halfway decent-looking kid. And it doesn’t mean that he trusts Pete either, not at all. I could see it shining in his eyes as we left the house this morning, the slight fear at being left without anything or anyone familiar to cling on to.
I could also see the small indent running under the left side of his jaw, something that anyone else might mistake for a natural blemish on his milky skin. I wish I could. I wish I didn’t know it’s a scar. I wish I didn’t have to be there when Dad threw him against the bathroom door, chin catching on the handle and splitting the bottom of his thirteen-year-old face open. I think that Dad scared himself with that, with the way that Mikes was knocked clean out on the floor, and so he left my baby brother alone for the following week or so, but he didn’t do anything to help the poor kid. Just pointed at me with his icy dagger of a finger and told me to fix my brother or else it’d be me next. So I carried Mikey to his room, mopped up his face with a lukewarm dishcloth and did my best to stop the bleeding. When he woke up forty minutes later the poor thing was petrified, the earlier event playing back in his head like a broken record full of screeching violins. I just cradled him, promising him that he was going to be alright.
Even if he did end up having to wait through another two years of abuse for my promise to come true. Because I never did anything, just let it happen to him like I hate myself for doing.
And now I’ve left him with Pete Wentz, a perverted little creep with an ego the size of this state. Which is exactly why I don’t want him going starry-eyed over Mikes; I doubt he’s ever had a hard day in his life, so it would be easy for him to say the wrong thing or to not understand what it is to be treated like Mikey has been.
All because I was too cowardly to stop my baby brother from getting hurt.
But it was the sensible thing to do, right? If I’d stepped in then it would have only made things worse. I know that as well as Mikey knows Dookie, but at least if I’d tried then I wouldn’t feel like I do right now and Mikey wouldn’t be at all able to doubt how much I care about him. If I’d tried then we would both be in the same boat; two abused kids with nothing other than each other. But that’s how it should be, us two brothers facing things together. Not Mikey getting smashed to bits and me trying desperately to glue him back together before another tidal wave hits his precious body.
All of a sudden a surge of something grips me right where it hurts in my heart and I know what I have to do. I have to talk. To ‘Trick. To the guy who might just be able to help me and Mikes simply be normal again.
“Patrick?” The addressed abruptly puts out his smirk, letting me know that he’s listening and ready to do whatever he can to get rid of the churning concern staining my tone. “What would you do if someone you loved was being hurt, but if you tried to help you’d only get the both of you hurt twice as bad? Would you try to help anyway?”
I know that I sound like a lost little school kid owning up to being the one who cut the heads off of all the tiny plastic farmyard animals in his own roundabout way, but I can’t help it. Right now I do feel like a small child, the kind with Satan’s sins on his shoulders. And I just want ‘Trick to help like I know he can. Like I know he has to or else I’ll have to let this eat away at me like an infestation of maggots for the rest of forever.
A hand gently presses itself on top of my own, it’s warmth flooding into my veins and making my broken heart beat again. I tilt my head back up to see that ‘Trick isn’t smiling, isn’t solving this with his regular twitch of the lips and sympathetic eyes; he looks intent, staring me down with a serious look that almost scares me with it’s intensity because I’ve only ever seen that look in his eyes a handful of times before. All of them times when he thought that there was something worse wrong than a stung heart or blocked nose; all of them times when he was absolutely right about whoever he was helping. Just like he always is.
“Gerard, what are you talking about? Who, are you talking about?” Although his smile may be gone, the soothing pigment of his voice is shining brighter than ever and that sets whatever fears I may have to rest; ‘Trick can help me. Will help me, I know it. “Tell me, Buddy. I’m always ready to listen.”
And that’s all it takes for me to slump forward in my chair, chin lolled shamefully down onto my chest and tears trickling out of my eyes like they’ve been dying to since I first found out what was going on between my baby brother and the monster with the audacity to call himself our dad. An ice-cream-soft thumb swoops in from in front of me to carefully smudge away a tear, the movement conveying to me that he wants to make me feel better but that it’s alright to cry. As long as he’s here to dry away my tears.
I take in a deep breath, readying myself to take the plunge into the truth. Into offloading the memories that wake me up panting almost every night because they have aged like wine; gotten more deep and sharp with the passing of time. My baby brother’s screams seem louder, even more helpless and the blood even more vivid. Apart from I know that the reality was so much worse, a fact that only makes the memories and nightmares hurt me even more.
But perhaps they won’t hurt as much if I share them.
There’s only one way to find out.
“M-mikey. I’m ta-alking about Mikes.” I stumble over the words, every other syllable seeming to trip over my tears and drowning in their miniscule puddles. “My brother.”
Patrick’s eyes widen in shock, then flitter back down so that the lids are almost touching as though weighed down with sorrow for the kid he’s house-sharing with. ‘Trick is a naturally compassionate guy, but I can tell by the way he looked at Mikes last night when we first cropped up on his doorstep that he can see just how special Mikes is; how sweet and innocent and naïve he is, even though the world has done more to him than most people can take without going insane. Mikey didn’t go insane; he went depressed instead. Another thing that I’m sure someone as observant as Patrick would pick up on.
I swallow down, letting my friend wipe at my tears with a napkin, before I gather enough nerves to carry on with the story that I know I have to tell. It’ll eat me alive if I don’t.
And then who will Mikey have to look out for him?
“Our dad, he…” I choke back a sob, shaking Patrick’s hand from my face and boring my eyes straight into his so that I have something nice to focus on amidst the horror. “He used to beat Mikey. Real bad.” I look down to my side, hating the way that ‘Trick looks like he’s about to burst into tears. “Never me though. And I never did a fucking thing, ‘Trick. I let it happen.”
“Gerard Arthur Way, look at me, right now.”
Too ashamed of myself to want to do anything other than obey, I lift my head to be directly opposite his. And he doesn’t look disgusted with me or angry or any of the other things that I thought he would be towards me for letting an innocent kid suffer. He just looks… fragmented, for lack of a better word. Like he’s proud of me for confiding in him at last, but also like he wants to punch something. Hard. Not because of what I did, though, rather because of what Dad did.
And that makes everything seem at least a little bit better. To me, anyway. Because ‘Trick is one of the smartest guys I know and if he doesn’t blame me then there’s got to be a valid reason behind that.
“Now I need you to listen to me, okay?” I just nod, his hand going back to cup my face in an almost motherly way. “It’s appalling that something like that happened to Mikes and it explains a lot about him, but it’s not your fault that your dad was an asshole. Did you go up to him and make him hurt Mikey?”
I just shake my head slowly, blinking back tears as his thumb wipes the escaping ones away.
“Then I don’t see how it’s your fault, because it isn’t. You just did what you thought was best and I know for a fact that Mikey loves you for it.” That old smile has returned, even if it is seventy degrees off from it’s normal optimism, and the sincerity behind his words is enough to make the tears stop. “Jesus, Gee. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you.”
The statement makes my head spin; it’s Mikes he should be worrying about, not me. I’m not the one who got slammed around by someone who’s meant to love and nurture me, the one who was made to feel like less than nothing for far too long for it to be reversible. I never stopped myself to think about how bad it was for me, only for Mikey, because, let’s face it, I was always on the side-lines, never in the spotlight of Dad’s rage. Now that ‘Tick has mentioned it though, the feelings are coming.
And they’re begging to be shared.
“He used to beg me to make it stop.” A bitter bight of laughter crawls through my lips at how pathetically helpless I was to help my own brother. “Afterwards, I mean. When he was all bruised and bloody he’d beg me to make it all go away.” My voice is cracking, but I don’t care; better said weakly than weakly kept inside. “Still does whenever he has a bad dream about it. Begs and cries and says sorry. He fucking apologizes, ‘Trick!”
The strangled yell gets us a fair few strange stares, but I refuse to care. Not when they probably wouldn’t care if they knew what we’re talking about. My temporary anger at whoever I can possibly blame for this whole thing dissolves into complete despairing misery, ‘Trick reacting by tracing a small curve repeatedly under my eye. Like a dog being petted by it’s master, the gesture pushes me forward in my quest for solace.
“He thinks it’s his fault, I know he does and I get why, but I just don’t know how to make it all better like he begs me to.” I sigh, letting my worries out in one large, long breath. “What do I do, ‘Trick?”
“Be you.” He replies immediately, no sense of uncertainty coming from any part of him. “Be you because that’s all that he needs; the bestest big brother in the whole wide world. Don’t for a second think that you’re not. I saw how he acts around you; the kid loves you, Buddy. And none of it, not a smidge, is your fault whatsoever. You understand me?”
Stunned into silence, I simply nod. Because ‘Trick is right; I’m just doing the best that I can for the kid and that’s all that I can do.
“Thanks, Patrick. I mean that, for everything.” I fix him with a smile, the sort that says I think that everything’s going to be at least a little bit okay now, and he drops his hand from my face, leaving me longing for it’s warmth to return. “But you tell that Pete kid to lay off of Mikes. He’s the last thing my brother needs right now.”
I just gawp at him, struggling not to yell back at him because he’s just shown me more kindness than anyone else ever has. But Mikey’s my brother, my lookout, and he should respect that; not challenge me when I voice my honest opinion. Apart from I can’t say that I don’t trust his omnipotent wisdom, the wisdom that he’s just used on me to make the stormy weather seem alright because I know that there’ll soon be a rainbow at the end of it all.
Still, I’ve got to look after Mikey. And I need ‘Trick to help me do that.
“From the sounds of it Mikey could use a friend and Pete’s got a knack with hurt, shy kids. Trust me, I was one.” A sad note tings in his voice, but that doesn’t stop me from aching to doubt his words. “Let’s just see what happens with them. I know Pete well enough to recognise the way he acts around Mikes; he cares about him. A hell of a lot.”
“But they only met last night!” I squeal, finally finding some sort of leg for my argument to stand on. “And Pete’s twice his age!”
‘Trick just chuckles, shaking his head and giving me a wry smirk.
“Pete’s just like that; he’s a great reader of people. It’s like he can understand everything about a person from just one conversation. Especially when it’s someone he’s interested in. Trust me, Pete isn’t as stupid as he looks.” He pauses to look down at my full cup of mocha, earning a knowing nod from me as he downs it on my behalf. “And he’s seventeen. Only two years older.”
“I don’t care. I just, I’ve got a bad feeling about him.” I rake my hands through my hair, not wanting to tell ‘Trick precisely what I think about his creepy, using, arrogant scumbag of a housemate through fear of starting my first ever argument with him. “I just don’t want Mikes anywhere near him. Not whilst he’s so fragile.”
“Whatever you say, Gee.”
And if I catch Pete doing anything to him, anything at all, I will kill him.
It’s only the brotherly thing to do.
A/N: Thank you very much for reading and I hope this was alright! Next chapter will be in Patrick’s POV for the first time and I’m kinda thinking of throwing in a glimmer of romance between him and Gerard (Gertrick?). So please let me know what you think about that, or if they should just be best friends? Or unrequited? Up to you guys.
Anyway, thanks for reading and please, please let me know what you think! :)