"I see all of you"
But I seriously doubted that my own inner demons were more comforting than his.
The town not only looked deserted, but felt as abandoned as we did. The streets were empty of people, litter, dogs, and birds. There was nothing. Nothing but faceless windows in eerily calm houses and trees that barely made a sound in the breeze.
"Check the news, Bob," Ray muttered from the far side of Mikey, rubbing his arm uncomfortably with his hand. He had been shooting Mikey worried glances, as if the bassist might just reach over and tear his face off. I could hardly blame him. Mikey was /seething/.
Bob complied and reached over to turn the dial on the face of the stereo. Spanish blared through the speakers, and I grimaced, wondering who the fuck had left it on that channel, before Bob flicked the scan button and a small buzz replaced the not-so-foreign language that was spoken so rapidly through the speakers that it made me dizzy.
He soared through the channels until the firm, unbiased voice of a news reporter caught my attention, and I said "stop!", to which Bob yanked his hand away from the radio as if he had been burnt.
"...of strange activity in the county. People are warned to stay off the streets during the night, and travel in pairs, or, if possible, groups. Again, this is an announcement to all those in the lower United Kingdom area. Retreat inside for the later hours and lock all doors and windows. Multiple strange murders have been occurring at an alarmingly increasing speed, and civilians are warned to stay off the streets. Details are unavailable at this time."
Brian leaned forward and pressed the power button, throwing the speakers into silence again. He cleared his throat nervously while gripping the steering wheel tightly before letting out a soft breath.
"Let's, um...let's just find a place to stay tonight, all right?"
He didn't voice his thoughts. None of us did. We didn't turn back on the radio, as our fears were already confirmed.
There was no help for us. We call the police, and they'd jot down our panic and pleas for help as number 206 in their expanding notebook of sudden vampire cult occurrences and send us on our way with the warm, friendly reminder to lock our doors. We weren't My Chemical Romance to them. We were six guys with names they'd never remember and reports of what they had heard fourteen times that hour already. I turned my head so that my face was buried in Gerard's hair and tried to avoid the helplessness that was sinking into my gut like a blade.
Gerard gave up trying to convince Mikey to talk to him, and the bassist resigned himself to sitting on the floor in front of television, watching the news obsessively for any signs of information. The rooms weren't as shitty as we originally thought they would be, as the outside was deteriorating and several of the light fixtures had been smashed to pieces by vandals, criminals, or former guests. Probably all three.
Brian was a little skeptical at holding up here, but with the assurance of Ray (less than calmly telling our manager that we had stayed inside random people's kitchens before the band took off, and that we'd have given anything for a place like this years ago), Brian had finally pulled into the parking lot and we all tugged out our bags and belongings, trudging up to the front desk like a sad group of traveling performers.
Two rooms, four beds, and a thin white door connecting them. That's what we saw when we walked in, dropping all of our things in one room and gathering around the other to sit on the beds and floor in front of the television, which cast blue shadows against the brown dÃ©cor that surrounded us. The dusty, worn in mud-coloured carpet, the blank, sterile white of the walls, the lonely end tables by the beds that had nothing but a red blinking alarm clock and bible on top of them; this is where we were. And I could never remember feeling more vulnerable and safe at the same time.
Bob was in the far corner in the only armchair, talking quietly with what we all assumed to be Melony, but we didn't bother to ask him. No one wanted to ask him. He was whispering comforting things and warnings in the softest voice he could manage, and Ray tried to discreetly turn up the television so we wouldn't be able to hear him. Coupled with Mikey's outburst, Bob's helplessness was starting to break us down as well.
I was sitting on the bed next to Brian, the news reports fading in and out of my hearing like static as the pretty lady staring at the camera talked about an accident on whatever highway involving whatever cars and however long traffic was backed up for. Ray claimed the other bed; his eyesight was directed at the television, but his eyes were glassy and far off, and his mind was elsewhere. Mikey was below us, leaning heavily on the end of the bed with his fingers wrapped tightly around his Sidekick. The faint light from the glow of the box in front of him bounced off his newly dyed hair and his hand shook violently as he ran a hand through it. I wanted to reach down and comfort him, hold him, tell it was going to be okay (because it was. It always was. It had always turned out okay before now), but if he could be that angry towards his own brother--with whom he had never fought or exchanged harsh words with--then he must have been furious at me.
So I stayed in my spot and kept my mouth shut before Brian bent over and whispered in my ear.
"Why don't you go see how he's doing?"
I didn't need to ask who he meant. Within the first two minutes of shutting the hotel door behind us, Gerard had found his shy attempts at conversation with his brother fruitless and had retreated to the other room with all of our belongings, leaving no trace of himself but his fingerprints on the separating white door.
I nodded and left my position on the bed, letting the mattress squeak quietly, and padded softly to the door, opening it and letting myself inside before shutting it closed again.
The sight I was met with caused my blood to freeze and my balance to fail me.
Regaining control of my limbs and using the wall for support, I gazed with wide eyes at him in the semidarkness while he looked back with a similar expression. He stopped his movement, knowing he was caught in the act.
"Gerard!" I hissed, shocked. "What the fuck are you doing?"
He opened his mouth and shut it, opening it again to choke out what would have been a lousy excuse for his actions if his voice had decided to work. But it didn't, and he simply knelt there, one hand propping open Mikey's ravaged-through suitcase while the other held the large clear bottle of vodka that I knew Mikey was saving for when we got home.
I crossed the short distance between us and yanked the bottle out of Gerard's hands, glaring daggers at him. He flinched and drew back.
"It's not...I wasn't thinking--"
"That's obvious," I spat, my hands clenched around the neck of the vodka so tight that I was afraid I'd shatter it. He raised his hand again, an instinctual action to protect himself from the hit he was afraid I was going to throw at him.
"Frank, look, I'm sorry," he sputtered, black hair lying disheveled across his face and black shirt crinkling as he put his hand back down. "I...I was upset. I just wanted something to calm my nerves--"
"Calm your nerves?" I mocked, gripping my hair in frustration. "Jesus, Gerard, do you know what this would have done to everyone? Finding you drunk in the middle of the night? Things are bad enough, and you're just trying to make it worse!"
"No, I'm not. I just wanted something, anything. I--"
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. After all that he had done to revive himself after his breakdown, after all the therapy he had gone through--professional and friends--I would never have believed it would be this easy for him to slip back into old habits.
"You don't have any idea what it was like for us, do you?" I asked quietly, and he looked up. Tears were staining his eyes, but they had yet to fall.
"You have no idea how fucking hard it was for us to watch you blundering around like an idiot twenty-four seven, slipping in lines during parties and killing yourself with that piece of shit McCracken," I said bitterly, letting the name fall off my lips with every ounce of loathing I could muster. "You don't know how much it hurt us, Gerard. How much it hurt me."
I met his eyes, but he looked away, unable to take it. I didn't break my gaze on him as I continued to speak.
"It hurt, Gerard. I was watching you die. And you'd walk around in public, shouting that you were trying to find a pipe to hang yourself from, and I'd laugh. I'd fucking /laugh/, Gee, because I kind of felt the same."
He choked quietly and tried to stand up; he stumbled, and I reached forward to take his hand and help him steady himself. He sniffed and leant into me, his face pressed against my neck. His body was quivering. I was still holding the bottle in one hand while the other wrapped gently around his back.
"Are you mad at me?" he whispered, and I shook my head.
"No," I muttered into the darkness and silence. If I tried hard enough, I might have been able to hear the news in the other room, but I wasn't willing to give myself the chance. I wanted to hear him. To feel him. To comfort him like the alcohol could.
"But I am disappointed."
"I'm sorry, Frank," he said, a sudden sob racking his body even as he tried so hard to prevent it. "I just...I just needed something to get my mind off of it. Something just for me."
I ran my hand soothing up and down his spine. "Then take me."
He shuddered and paused, his breathing still labored and deep, but the sobs quieting.
"Wh...what?" he stuttered, pulling away just far enough to look straight at me.
"Take me," I repeated. "Let me be whatever you wanted this bottle to be. Let me comfort you and help you and get you on the same high this fucking liquid could do."
He bit his lip and gave me a strange look. His face was stained with tears, and he seemed hesitant to answer me.
"Or," I continued, "I can give you this bottle back, turn, walk out of that door, and leave you in peace. I'll keep my mouth shut, and you can drink until you feel numb and whole and complete. It's your choice."
I backed away from him held out the bottle next to me, waiting, matching his eyes with a fiery intensity. He let his hands drop as soon as I had pulled apart from him, and stood there looking rather lost and lonely. I was tempted just to take the vodka outside and dump it all down the sewer, but this was his decision. His choice. I had to know, and he had to understand.
He was still biting his lip and looking from me to the bottle; me, the person he had convinced himself and me that he loved, or the liquor, that had always loved him and had always been there, even before he met me. I felt gross and humiliated being judged with a bottle of vodka, but to Gerard, it was like choosing between a spouse and a mother. To save the world or save his child.
He reached out and grabbed the bottle away from my hand roughly.
My heart stopped, then rose in my throat to choke and suffocate me, only to drop back down into the pit of my stomach. My mouth opened slightly in shock as he opened the bottle and stared at me with a glint in his eyes. A smirk was plastered on his face, contrasting terribly (beautifully) with the tear stains on his cheeks.
And just as I thought he was about to take a swig from the bottle and send me crashing to the ground in disbelief and misery, his hand twisted suddenly and a stream of liquid was cascading down to the floor, splashing and soaking into the carpet, making gulping sounds that slowly began piecing my thoughts and hope back together. The last thing I saw before his lips were on mine was the empty bottle bouncing harmlessly into the puddle and Gerard's smirking face.
The kiss was gentle, but I could feel his itching hands on the hem of my shirt, slowing working up and underneath it. I breathed a sigh of relief and pleasant shock, and he took the opportunity to let his tongue slip across my lips, demanding entrance. I allowed it, and was instantly lost in his mouth as his hands slowly worked in pushing my shirt up my body--and eventually off of it entirely.
He pulled away suddenly, and I had time to see the green fire in his eyes before his lips attacked my neck, hands running along my body, my torso, everywhere, fingers slipping underneath the top of my pants as I felt the heat from his mouth across my neck.
He maneuvered me to the bed and pushed me back, earning an approving moan from me and a protesting sigh from the old, rickety mattress. He let his mouth leave me only to sit up and pull his shirt off, switching positions so that he was straddling me and applying a small amount of pressure against my uncomfortably tight pants. I groaned, and he took the opportunity to meet my mouth for another heated kiss, rotating his hips into mine slowly and adding a delicious amount of friction that I couldn't help but buck up into.
"I thought..." I started, but was cut off as he moved down my body and began undoing my jeans.
"I know," he whispered, breathing heavily as he fumbled with the zipper and kissed my stomach, breathing out the words I had been hoping he'd say this entire time.
"You're all I've ever wanted."
"They're asleep," I said quietly, hitching up the blanket and shutting the door softly on the sight of Mikey, Ray, Bob, and Brian all curled in their respective spots and sleeping quietly. The television was still on, but I didn't bother to turn it off save one of them woke up.
I walked back to the far bed, stepping carefully around the large stain of vodka in front of Mikey's suitcase, and climbed back under sheets. Gerard's arm immediately went around my naked waist as he pulled me closer, kissing the side of my mouth and whispering a small "thank you," onto my lips.
It must have been going on eleven at night, and the owls outside were hooting softly in time to the crickets. His skin glimmered pale and beautiful in the small rays of light coming from the cotton-covered window, and I couldn't help but touch him, letting my finger trace the curve of his chest and hip.
His finger ran across my collarbone (/"Clavicle..."/), and I couldn't hold in my curiosity any longer. I had been shifting it around in my brain for weeks now, trying to figure out the meaning behind his actions, not to mention his motivation. But none of the conclusions and reasoning I had tossed around in my head fully connected with him, and the question was ticking in my mind, slowly driving me insane, like an itch I couldn't reach.
"Gee..." I start, and he simply hums into my neck. I swallow and continue. "Why did you do what you did that first night? With my bones?"
He freezes momentarily before shifting to prop himself up on one elbow and stare at me, his eyes sparkling and dancing in the moonlight.
He was happy, I thought. I made him like this.
I shook myself back to reality and awaited his answer, which came without hesitation from his perfect, pretty little mouth.
"Everything I see on you is dead, Frank."
I blinked stupidly and he smiled so gently that I felt my insides melt and collapse for what felt like the fiftieth time that week. Seeing the look on my face, he elaborated.
"Your hair is dead protein strands. It's nothing. You can dye it and change it and cut it and grow it, but that's always what it is--basically nothing. It's you, it's always you, but it's still nothing."
I nodded slightly, and I don't think he noticed it, but continued anyway. "Your skin--the outside, the parts I can see, it's dead. Dead cells. You can colour it, like you've done, and it adds to your personality. Like your hair. Everything I can see on you reflects your personality. The personality I know better than anyone" He blinked and flashed me a look of pure /art/. "But I wanted more."
He came close to me and kissed my cheek, letting his voice ring into my ear. "I wanted to know you. The real you. The you that moved, that stretched, that ran and jumped and hugged and kissed. You're so alive when you move. You can be dead and I'll still see your pretty face, but your movement overpowers every dead thing about you. I can see you."
I swallowed and rubbed my cheek against his, feeling my own breath against his skin. His last words trigged something else in my memory, and my voice was barely loud enough to hear when I asked him, "And my eyes?"
"They're the only thing alive when I look at you. You are alive, but your eyes are your life."
He pulled away, looking confused with his own statements. I saw his throat move as he swallowed thickly, the sheets rustling as he turned.
"I don't know. It sounds...it sounds stupid, but. I just wanted you to understand...well, /you/, I guess. I wanted you to see what I saw."
I fell back heavily onto the pillow, watching him as he tried to hide a badly timed yawn.
"And what do you see now?" I asked him, holding out my hand; he took the hint and tangled his fingers in mine, resting his head on my chest, looking straight up into my eyes as he answered in the most solid voice I had heard him use all night.
"I see all of you."
I had just finished slipping on my pants and watching Gerard zip Mikey's trunk up gently, straightening all the belongings so that they were packed in nicer than when we had left for tour, when Brian burst in, Ray and Bob at his heels.
"Hey guys," I said calmly, buttoning my jeans. "Finally up?"
But my voice caught at the end of my question as I caught the look on Brian's unusually pale face. Behind him, Bob looked sleepily confused and Ray was on the verge of tears.
"Brian..." Gerard started, with an air of sensed danger and alertness in the back of his throat. "What happened?"
"It's Mikey," Brian choked out. "He's gone."