"'Cause we are all a bunch of liars, tell me, baby, who do you wanna be?"
Gerard couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Mikey was standing there, absolutely silent, staring right back at him through bewildered eyes. Gerard blinked once, twice, thrice, rubbed his eyes, and repeated the process. He pinched himself, drawing blood. He wasn’t dreaming. He wasn’t dreaming. He was not. Fucking. Dreaming.
Gerard stepped closer to Mikey, putting his gun back into the holster. “Mikey, is that really you?”
Gerard didn’t receive a verbal answer. Instead, Mikey nodded, as though he simply couldn’t speak.
“Are… are you able to speak?”
Mikey shook his head. He bit his lip, as though he were trying to figure out a solution to their little problem. Gerard, suddenly remembering that he had a small notebook and a pen in his bag, said, “I’ll be right back. I think I might have a solution to our little problem.”
Gerard went back to the murder scene, rummaged through his bag for a moment, and came back with the notebook and pen. He handed it to Mikey, who quickly scribbled something on the first available page.
I’m scared, Gee.
Gerard gave his brother a sympathetic look. “They… they made you watch, didn’t they?” Mikey nodded. “Christ… I’m so sorry, Mikes. I’m so sorry I couldn’t have been there to help you.”
Mikey took a moment to write. He paused a few times, scratched a few words out, and continued before showing Gerard his response.
It’s not your fault. Please don’t blame yourself.
“I’m supposed to protect people, Mikey. I’m supposed to help.”
Mikey rolled his eyes. Technically, your job is to figure things out, not save people.
“Same difference,” Gerard said. He ran a hand through his hair, sighing. “Mikey… I’m going to need your help finding evidence. Obviously, since you’re dead, nobody’s going to believe that you told me who killed you. I need to find something, anything that will help me find your murderer.”
Mikey nodded. He wrote something else down and showed his brother the response.
Before I died, I had a chance to write in my journal. I write in it every evening, so it should give you whatever information you might need. I don’t remember who attacked us, though. I do remember that it was someone we know.
That gave Gerard a very good hint. “Where’s your journal?”
Mikey walked into the bedroom, with Gerard following behind. He cringed at the sight of all the blood, giving Gerard a look that didn’t need to be written out. Gerard simply nodded.
Mikey approached the nightstand and carefully opened the drawer. He removed a small, black journal and handed it to Gerard.
“This, uh… this doesn’t go into deep detail about your, um, sex life, does it?”
Mikey quickly shook his head. Gerard placed the journal into his bag and said, “I’ll look through this later. Mikey, I want you to know that I love you and that I really, really care about you. I know you know that already, but I just needed to tell you that. I promise, I’ll put your murderer behind bars.”
Mikey smiled at Gerard and wrote down his response. He handed Gerard the notebook and disappeared from view.
I love you, too, Gerard. I know that this isn’t easy, but please remember to look after your wife and your friends. Little Bandit will be here sooner than you think- try not to get too caught up in this and miss the moment she’s born. Please take care of mom. She needs you now more than ever. Make sure Pete doesn’t do something he’ll regret, make sure that Frank doesn’t spend hours at work- get him to spend time with his boyfriend. I know Zacky worries about him.
Most importantly, smile. I know that it’s hard, but don’t forget to enjoy life. Dying isn’t exactly the end. I’ll stick around for as long as I can, but eventually, I need to go and be with Gabe. You’ll be okay, Gee.
A few tears landed on the paper, but a smile graced Gerard’s features. He closed the notebook and placed it back in his bag, walking out of the room. He wiped at the tears, knowing that, eventually, Mikey won’t appear to him. He’d have a few more days with the ghost of his brother, but he had to use them wisely.
He was going to find his brother’s murderer, one way or another.
“How are you holding up, Gerard?”
“Better than two days ago, Zacky” Gerard sighed, “I… I’m still losing sleep over this, and I still feel like this is just some awful nightmare, but I’m not crying hysterically in my wife’s arms.”
Zacky gave Gerard a look of sympathy. “Everyone at the hospital thought Frank was mistaken when he told us… I mean, who would want someone as sweet as Mikey dead? He was probably the best ICU nurse we had.”
Pete nodded, “Damn right he was. Can’t count the number of times he took a bullet out of me or stitched my wounds when he wasn’t on duty. I’m just really surprised that he hadn’t had the chance to actually become a doctor like he wanted.”
“Yeah,” Frank sighed, “I mean… if he didn’t introduce me to Zacky, I probably wouldn’t have even stayed in Belleville- no offence, guys.”
“Belleville sucks,” Pete sighed, “Always did. Nobody bats a fucking eye when some poor kid is beaten by his fuckin’ father.”
“Please don’t bring him up,” Gerard said, “It’s bad enough that he didn’t give a shit that Mikey was found dead…”
“He said something, didn’t he?” Pete hissed, “What the hell did he say about Mikey?”
“He called him a faggot… said he was glad that, and I quote, ‘God punished him for his sins.’”
“Gerard, I don’t care if he’s your father… I’m gonna kill him. I’m gonna fucking kill him!”
“Pete, calm down,” Frank said, “I know you and Mikey were close-”
“Close? Hell yeah, we were close. We were like brothers, Frank,” Pete sighed. He paused to take a sip of his vodka. “We were best friends since we were babies. We were almost as close as Mikey was to Gerard. Best friends until the bitter end, y’know?” Pete wiped at the tears that had started to fall from his eyes. “Sorry… I just… Mikey’s like- no, is family to me. The fact that someone would ever hurt him, hell, say anything bad about him just makes my blood boil.”
“Wasn’t the entire point of coming here to, for one night, forget about this case?” Ray asked, “If we’re going to talk about Mikey, don’t talk about his death. Celebrate his life, don’t bring up the horrible way he and Gabe died. Their funeral is only a few days away, you know… we can be sad then.”
“Ray’s right, you know,” Zacky said, “Thinking of either one of them is going to hurt for a while, but if we are going to keep bringing them up, let’s keep it positive. We sure as hell need a few happy thoughts right now… now more than ever. Mikey wouldn’t want this. I’m sure he’d tell us that drowning our sorrows in vodka is an awful decision and that we’re idiots for doing this.”
Pete smiled at Zacky. “You’re goddamn right, Zacky. Mikey Way-Saporta wouldn’t just let us grieve. He’s too upbeat and positive for that.” He raised his shot glass, ignoring the tears that slid down his face. “To Mikey… may he be happier on the other side.”
“You’re really improving your bass playing, Mikey. Has Gabe been giving you lessons again?”
Mikey smiled at Gerard. “Yeah. He taught me a couple new chords… can’t wait to play for, y’know, an actual audience.”
“You guys are gonna do great,” Gerard said, “Can’t wait to see it.”
“Um… Gerard, the guys were wondering if you’d be willing to cover vocals. Matt lost his voice and it’s too late to cancel,” Mikey said.
“I dunno, Mikey-”
“Pleeeeeeese? Matt said that if we had to cancel another gig, he’d have to break up the band. I mean, I know that we’re not good enough to make it big, but we’re good enough to become neighborhood legends, and we all know that will only happen if we kick ass at Scotty’s.”
Gerard shook his head and chuckled. “Fine… but I’m doing this for you, Mikes, since I know how much this band means to you.”
Gerard looked up to see Lindsey staring at him with a look of concern on her face. “Gerard, are you okay?”
“Y-yeah… um… why wouldn’t I be?”
“Gerard, honey, you’ve been staring at Mikey’s old bass for ten minutes,” Lindsey said, gently taking the bass out of Gerard’s hands. She carefully placed it in the old, worn case and shut it before sitting beside him. She took one of his hands in both of hers. “I know you’re hurting. I know that you feel that you’re under a lot of pressure to solve this crime. I know that you miss Mikey. But staring at his old bass, spacing out like this… it’s not healthy. It’s not healthy to constantly blame yourself for his death when you know damn well that there was nothing you could do.”
“I know, Lindsey,” Gerard said, “I just… I miss him so much. I miss his smile, his positivity, his willingness to help someone out. He still had his life ahead of him, Lindsey! He still could’ve gone on to become a doctor, like he wanted, but the bastard that killed him took that away! He wanted to live with Gabe for the rest of his life, which turned out to only be /less than a year!/”
Lindsey pulled her husband into an embrace. “I know… I know. But you’re not alone. You will never be alone. I understand that you want closure, but you have to be careful. Don’t lose yourself in this, Gee.”
“I won’t, Lindsey… I promise.”
“Good,” Lindsey said, smiling. “Go visit your mother, Gerard. She’s worried sick, and I think she wants a little time with her-” Lindsey sighed, obviously reluctant to say what needed to be said. “-with her /only living son./”
“It’s so good to see you, Gerard,” Donna said, pulling her son into a hug. Gerard said nothing when the embrace lasted longer than usual. In all honesty, he didn’t want it to end.
“How are you holding up, mom?” Gerard asked, taking a seat at the kitchen table.
Donna sighed, sitting across from her son. “I’m… I’m managing. It’s hard, and it’ll stay that way for a long time… but I know that the pain will fade and I’ll be able to smile again at the thought of Mikey.” She let out a shaky breath before asking, “Would you like some coffee, honey?”
Gerard, figuring that his mother probably needed a distraction, nodded his head. “Yeah… thanks.”
Donna stood and walked across the kitchen to make the coffee. Gerard glanced over at one of the family photos that was hanging on the wall across from him. It showed Gerard and Mikey, thirteen and ten respectively, with their mother and father, long before Mikey had come out. Mikey was missing his two front teeth, his hair was a mess, and his glasses were low on his nose, just how he liked to wear them. Gerard had the same picture on his desk at home.
A sigh escaped him and tears threatened to form, but Gerard refused to let them fall. He needed to stay strong, especially right now, when he was supposed to be comforting his mother.
“That’s my favorite picture of you two,” Donna said, setting Gerard’s coffee down in front of him. “Before your brother came out, before your father became such a monster, before the divorce… that was a simpler time, Gerard. It’s a shame that the world only gets uglier as it gets older.”
Gerard nodded, taking a sip of his coffee. “Yeah… but I wouldn’t trade it. Those three years of hell that dad put us through really did have a big impact on us. Mikey and I may have already been close, but dad brought us closer by hurting him. Mikey wouldn’t have wanted to help others. He wouldn’t have been happy if he hid himself… you know, he was really happy with Gabe. When Gabe proposed… Christ, I thought he’d never stop talking about it.”
Donna gave a bittersweet smile. “Yes. And I’m happy that he found someone to love. No matter what, I’ll always love you boys. I don’t care who you love or what you do, I’ll always support you.”
Gerard smiled. “He knows that, you know. That’s exactly why he moved closer to you. He knew you were sick and that you needed him. Once all this is over, mom, I’ll be there for you.”
“Thank you, Gerard,” Donna said, “Oh, I’m so proud of you.”