“I saw Frank. Can I talk to you?” he asks. “I mean, this isn’t something I can go to the guys with, but I really need to talk.”
When I reach the dressing room I rummage through the bag I’d managed to pack and find with some relief that my makeup and contacts are there. I lock myself in the connecting bathroom and begin transforming back into Jason. I apply my makeup thoroughly and pop the awful contacts back into my eyes. I remove the beanie and hide it for some future occupant to stumble upon.
I’m fully back to being Jason, and am pondering my next move when I hear the door slam. One set of footsteps paces the lounge area. I figure it’s Bob, but I need a few more minutes before I can face him. The pacing grows more agitated and I hear whoever it is muttering under their breath and occasionally hitting something. Very un-Bob-like.
I unlock the bathroom door and stick my head out to see what’s going on. It’s Mikey, alone, looking quite upset. My stomach churns as I remember him shouting at me to leave. I have to convince myself I’m not Frank, I’m Jason, and it’s completely reasonable to talk to him.
“Mikes,” I say quietly. “What’s wrong? Why are you in here? Where’s everybody else?”
He looks up at me as though seeing me for the first time. He just stares, taking me in for a second before he answers. “They’re on the bus. I forgot something in the dressing room.” I can tell he’s lying. He’s a terrible liar.
“Ok,” I go with it. “Well did you find it?”
He blushes, caught in his lie. “Yeah,” he mumbles.
I just smile, not trying to make him uncomfortable. I gesture to the bag slung over my shoulder. “I forgot some stuff too,” I offer. He cracks a tiny smile.
“I didn’t forget anything,” he confesses. “I just needed to get away for a minute.”
“I know,” I nod. “Are you ok Mikey?”
“I saw Frank.” I catch my breath in surprise. I didn’t expect him to be so forward about it.
Although I suppose after my little scene in the parking lot pretty soon everyone will know Frank was around. “Can I talk to you?” he asks. “I mean, this isn’t something I can go to the guys with, but I really need to talk.”
I nod. “Of course,” I say, even though hearing him hate on Frank is the last thing I want to do right now. He slumps onto one of the ratty old couches, but I’m too anxious to sit down right now.
“What happened?” I encourage him, mentally bracing myself for his anger.
“I was looking for you, but you must have already left. I went to the bathroom on the other side of the hospital and he was there. Just, like, hiding in the bathroom. He said he wanted to make sure Ray was alright, but he never went to the room. You and Gerard were there the moment visiting hours opened, did you see him?”
I shake my head. Mikey continues, “So he was there but he never actually went to see Ray. None of the other guys saw him.”
“Ray told me he called.”
Mikey nods. “Yeah, that’s the thing. He knew Ray was hurt, and he called, and he was at the hospital. He obviously still cares about us. And I yelled at him. I don’t know, I just lost it and I started screaming. I told him to leave. He must think I hate him.”
I walk over to the couch, sitting down next to Mikey. “What he did two months ago was awful, and he obviously didn’t mean it. Maybe he just doesn’t know how to make things right,” I say.
Mikey nods. “I’m just scared I blew any chance we had to get him back. I scared him away when the only thing I really want is to have him here.”
I smile reassuringly, trying to be supportive without revealing how freaking overjoyed I am right now. “Yeah, well, Frank’s not exactly one to preach about not giving second chances. I’m sure if you give him one he’ll be more than willing to give you a million.”
Mikey smiles. “You think?”
“Oh, I know.”
“He left this.” Mikey reaches into his pocket and pulls out my old picture. I feel my breath catch in my chest. “He still carries us with him.” Mikey smiles slightly, then turns to me.
“Thanks,” he sniffs.
We sit in a comfortable silence for a moment. “Come on, we should get back to the bus,” I say. Mikey nods and stands.
“Hey, Jason?” he asks. “Don’t tell the guys, ok? They don’t know he was there, and it’d just upset Gerard.”
I nod. “Ok.”
We walk back out to the bus together in silence.
As soon as Mikey and I make the bus we take off. Checking Ray out of the hospital took longer than expected – Ray mumbled something about a Napoleonic power monger of a nurse – and at this rate we’ll be hard pressed to make it in time for the next venue.
Gerard and Bob are sitting on one of the couches having a heated discussion, about Frank no doubt. I glance around nervously for Jamia, expecting the wrath of the Gods, but she’s nowhere to be found and the pulled curtains on her bunk leave me wondering what she’s up to now.
I catch Bob’s eye for a second and he waves me off. We’re obviously not going to be able to talk now. I head to the bathroom and splash some water on my face. I’m trying to get my head around these recent developments. I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster. Two days ago I thought I had this under control, but then my botched call to Brian, Ray getting hurt, Bob coming back, calling Ray, Mikey seeing me and hating me, then not hating me, the incident in the parking lot. I’m so overwhelmed.
Slowly I walk back to the bunk area. Gerard and Ray are already there. They look tired. Come to think of it, I’m tired too. The three of us were up early this morning.
Mikey appears in the doorway. “Hey Jason, these two are going to take little girl naps, what are you up to?”
Gerard flips his younger brother off and I laugh. “Actually, Mikes, I’m pretty beat too. I think I’m going to sleep.”
Mikey frowns. “You guys are no fun.”
Gerard laughs. “You’ll get over it.”
Mikey rolls his eyes and leaves. I go to get into my bunk but Gerard puts his hand on my arm lightly. “Hey, thanks for talking to Mikey.”
“No problem,” I say, turning toward my bunk again, but Gerard’s not done.
“Did he say what upset him so much?” Gerard asks.
I falter. “Um… Well, not exactly…”
“He saw Frank didn’t he?”
I raise my eyebrows. “Uh, yeah,” I say stupidly, not sure how much Gerard knows or what to give away.
“Did he mention anything Frank said?”
“No, I didn’t really ask. He just needed to vent.”
Gerard nods, brow furrowed in thought. “Alright.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
Gerard runs his hand through his bright red hair. “I don’t know,” he says. “Frank came to check on Ray, then he picked a fight with Bob here before we got back. You were here weren’t you? Did you see anything?”
“No,” I say. “I was in the dressing room mostly.”
Gerard sighs and shakes his head. “I don’t know what he thinks he’s doing but keep an eye out ok? He might show up at the next show or something.”
I nod, an idea slowly forming. “Ok,” I promise. “I will.” Whether I’m talking about looking out for Frank or showing up at the show I’m not entirely sure.