Back at the house, Braelyn made sure Mikey got cleaned up and Donna gave him a bag of frozen peas to put on the bruise on his cheek that was now turning purple. Gerard had stayed outside, smoking a cigarette.
“Well that was exciting,” Donna remarked, joining the two young people at the table.
“I’m sorry,” Braelyn said.
“Why are you sorry?” Donna asked. “I gather it wasn’t your idea.”
“Well, no. But I-”
Mikey cut her off, “Absolutely not your fault. As usual, everything is all about Gerard.”
“Is this why Quinn left?” Donna inquired.
“Yes. Gerard had been ignoring her for a while.”
“That’s too bad. She was sweet.” She sighed and muttered under breath, “Idiot boy.”
Donna left the room and Mikey stuck his tongue out at Braelyn. “My face is gonna look so pretty.”
“Manly,” Braelyn declared, taking the bag of peas off his face. She replaced it and said, “Isn’t fighting a macho thing?”
Mikey just laughed and stood. “Let’s go watch tv. I’m tired.”
Braelyn nodded and allowed him to guide her upstairs by the hand. Once they were settled on the couch, Mikey sitting with his feet propped up on the ottoman, Braelyn with her head in his lap, Mikey switched on the television. He ran his fingers through Braelyn’s hair and asked her, “Are you sure you’re ok? You were pretty upset.”
“I’m just a little shaky,” Braelyn replied. Secretly, she was concerned that her dreams would start again, but she thought that having Mikey around would keep the nightmares away, after all, his presence had been keeping the dreams at bay. Besides, she told herself, even if it didn’t, she still had the leftover sleep medication from her visit to Dr. Fillmore.
While she was going through this line of thought in her mind, Mikey leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Ok.”
They passed the afternoon quietly, watching a lot of Pawn Stars and eating snacks Donna brought up. Gerard was missing from dinner. He had gone to see Max. It was just as well. Braelyn was worried about how the brothers would get along, plus she had a sickening feeling of rage in her own stomach that she suspected had a lot to do with Gerard. But without him there, and all the distraction of Donna’s Christmas activities, it was easy for her to push the feeling away and enjoy herself. After dinner, Braelyn helped Donna decorate cookies, then they all sat down to play cards. When Donna and Donny went to bed, Braelyn and Mikey went back to the television room on the second floor. When Mikey realized they were both falling asleep an hour or so later, he suggested they go to bed.
When Braelyn hesitated, he asked, “What’s wrong?”
She frowned then bit her lip. “I’m the tiniest bit afraid to go to sleep.”
“I just...last time, the dreams started. I don’t want the dreams...”
“How can I help?” There was concern in Mikey’s voice.
“I thought, maybe staying with you would help...”
“Done,” he replied instantly. But then he reconsidered. “Um, actually, mom would not like it if she found out we slept in the same bed...she likes to believe we’re perfect angels and would never do anything that was ‘improper.’ Hence, the separate rooms.” He paused to think. “What if we sleep in here? That way if she asks, we can just say we fell asleep watching television?”
“You’re brilliant.” Braelyn leaned up and kissed him.
“I’ll be right back.” Mikey pushed himself off the couch and left the room. He returned a second later and sat back down next to Braelyn, two blankets in his arms. Entwined with each other and the blankets, they soon fell asleep.
The next morning they were awoken by Donna calling up the stairs that breakfast was ready. Braelyn sat up and stretched and Mikey rubbed her eyes. Her hand caught in her tangled hair and she made a face. “I’m gonna brush my hair...and probably change. I’d hate for your mom to be suspicious.”
Mikey just grinned up at her. Braelyn reappeared a few seconds later and the two of them went downstairs to where Donna had pancakes ready.
“Good morning!” Donna said cheerfully. She dished breakfast up for them while explaining, “I hope you’re excited, because the cousins are going to be here soon.”
“All of them?” Mikey asked, pancakes falling off his fork.
“Yes. And they will only be here for a few hours, so you will pretend you like them. Janice, Mikey’s cousin,” Donna explained to Braelyn, “Said her oldest, Elaine, who just turned thirteen has discovered your music and Janice says she hasn’t seen the girl so excited to come to family Christmas since Joey’s son was born three years again. That reminds me,” Donna went to the door and shouted up the stairs, “Gerard! Come down here now!”
The other boy appeared in the doorway, stopping short when he saw Braelyn and Mikey in the kitchen. He had a pretty epic shiner and Braelyn had to duck her head to hide a laugh. Gerard took a step into the room and Mikey stood up so fast he almost knocked his chair over. Braelyn grabbed his hand and tugged him back down, glaring at Gerard until he stepped back into the door frame.
“Anyway,” Donna said. “I was just telling Michael that Elaine, Janice’s girl, is really excited to meet the two of you, now that she knows you’re famous musicians. I wanted to warn the two of you. Also, I’d like all three of you to get this unpleasantness out of your systems before they get here in an hour or so. So get to it.” Then she swept past Gerard, pushing him towards his brother.
No one spoke. After a few minutes, Braelyn was finally able to sort through the hurricane of rage in her mind and she told him, “If I thought it would do any good for either one of us, I’d slap you.”
“You should,” Mikey muttered. Braelyn squeezed his hand.
“But it won’t make me feel better and it won’t teach you anything. So let me be very clear,” her voice was icy, “I am perfectly happy to be your friend, to be your close friend, even. Before all this weirdness started, I would say we were in a place in our relationship where I considered you my brother, which is a particularly difficult position for me to fill. And now, if you stop being such a jerk, I’d love for us to get back to that point, because I feel like we’re meant to be close. But make no mistake. I am Mikey’s and he is mine, and there is nothing that is going to change that, not you grabbing me in the middle of an ice rink, not you breaking up with your girlfriend, who actually loves you, by the way, and not any other hair-brained scheme you could come up with. So I suggest you move on.” She was done. Mikey had let go of her hand to wrap his arm around her and pull her to him. Braelyn let her head fall to his shoulder, she hadn’t even noticed that a few tears had escaped her eyes during her accidental speech. She was now focused on pulling herself together and she heard Mikey speak to his brother.
“It’s not even that you like her,” he explained, slowly. “Of course you like her, she’s awesome.” Braelyn smiled into his shirt. “It’s that you scared her so badly. Did you even see that? Did you think about it before you grabbed her like that? Didn’t you think about how that kind of action would affect her after everything’s she’s been through?”
“I didn’t think,” Gerard replied, ashamedly. Braelyn sat up to give him her full attention. “And I’m sorry. I know it was stupid.” He paused, now looking at the ground. “I forgot, temporarily, what had happened to you Brae. I thought it would be this big romantic gesture. It was stupid. I’m stupid. And I don’t know what happened that made me feel this way and I don’t know what to do about it. I know both of you are mad at me, and you should be. I just wanted you to know that I’m sorry.”
“Well, at least he’s apologized,” Braelyn said quietly to Mikey. Her anger was abating, but she could tell Mikey was still mad by the shrug he gave and the glare he was still directing at Gerard. “Well, work it out then, boys. I’m going to shower before the rest of your family gets here.” She kissed Mikey and got up. She gave Gerard a small smile as she passed by him and headed upstairs.
A/N: Updates for you! Thanks to T, Izzy, Melody, and Nicole for the reviews. I loved the reactions. And I really want a snow cone now, thank you Nicole. Anywaysssss I hope you enjoy the chapter! Everyone go review! Hearts, Corri