A tour in the UK brings Frank closer to something intoxicating, and something utterly life-threatening. Rated R for overall storyline of violence, romance, science fiction, and all those fun little...
"We need to think this through. What did Lincoln say to you the first time you met him, Frank? Behind the venue?"
I shifted, brow furrowed in though. Trying to recall that time was like trying to look into a past life; it felt so foreign. I felt so naÃ¯ve. I glanced at Mikey, still positioned uncomfortably against the foot of the bed. We had thought about moving him onto the other covers earlier, to ease the pain of the floor, but with my inability to touch him without sizzling the flesh to the bone, coupled with Mikey's intensely chaotic reactions towards me, Gerard was helpless. And the fact that Mikey's eyes now constantly held a glimmer of humour--the omnipotent aura he had always possessed now turned into something potentially harmful and utterly nerve-wracking, was enough to deter anyone from the task.
Mikey looked back, Lincoln's smirk reflected in his lips as his eyes bore into me with a bemused hatred I could never imagine anyone (any/thing/) being able to combine into one expression. But Mikey managed it. And it cracked my body to the very core.
Swallowing, I looked away and back up to Gerard, who was sitting on the bed opposite of mine, close to Mikey, but not close enough to put himself in harm's way. It was heartbreaking to look at. Cruel to witness. Gerard's inner mechanisms and nostalgic daydreams urged him closer, closer to the one person he shared his entire life with. But he was unable to touch him without being lashed, unable to speak to him without being stricken down, unable to look at him without deteriorating at the sight of his brother's body inhabited by a creature that wanted nothing more than to rip up his flesh and drown itself contently in his blood.
He wanted his brother back.
I wanted my life back.
He just wanted Mikey. Little brother Mikey. Sweet Mikey that laughed at my worries in the coffee shop; sweet Mikey that held Gerard for hours as he cried; sweet little Mikey that let me have his brother; sweet Mikey that had always moved over and shared the covers.
I couldn't shake the feeling that he was already dead.
"Something about a Prophecy," I replied quickly, before he could question me again. "Some stupid crack about me being the only thing standing in their way, or whatever. You know. Complete bullshit."
Gerard was looking at me, his face down and his eyes raised. His voice lowered considerably as he asked, "Complete bullshit, Frank? Bullshit?" I sensed the unpleasantness in his voice and winced, regretting I said anything at all. "Look at my brother. Fucking look at him."
I didn't, but it didn't matter; Gerard had proved his point nonetheless. I couldn't look at either of them, but for drastically different reasons that were both swirling around together somewhere in my lower stomach and making me nauseous. He was right, I knew, denial no longer had a place here, and Gerard was making it clear that all thought of it be abandoned immediately if we were going to try and figure this whole thing out.
"That's all you can remember?" Gerard asked after a moment of silence, during which I stared guiltily at the ground, Gerard kept his eyes shut, and Mikey huffed arrogantly on the floor, twitching his wrists against the bindings.
I nodded quickly, swallowing the lump in my throat. "Nothing else."
I paused, glancing up to look him over. His full concentration was placed on the floor in front of him, his eyes open and full, processing the little information that we had and trying to make sense of everything. His legs were curled against him and his hands were in his lap as he thought, black hair sticking up in random places, still wet from the shower of my tears, cool water, and metaphorical blood. The TV was on, but muted, and every flash of bright light reflected off of his eyes, giving them a new colour, a new form, a new characteristic. His body was seated in a clumsy fashion on the bed opposite of mine, but he seemed almost elegant; a portrayal of something he would draw. Something beautiful, gorgeous, morbid and happy and insane, but you just couldn't describe it. Words couldn't. You'd have to see it to experience the body, the light, the dark. It was something so like pure raw beauty, so...out of place. Like snow in the heat. Like. Like...
Like birds in the sea.
He looked up, catching my glance. I must have seemed odd, because his head tilted and a look of concern placed itself on his facial features. The light behind him added something almost comical to his expression and I grinned manically.
"Frank, are you alright?"
"That's it, isn't it?" I said, eyes wide. I stared at him. He stared back. I licked my lips. "It's why we met. It's why...why we happened."
"/What/ is why? What are you talking about?"
"Birds of a feather flock together, right Gee? You've heard that. Everyone's heard that."
I was getting excited; I could feel the adrenaline starting to flow through my veins. Even Mikey had looked up in interest, dark hair matted to his forehead while his new acute hearing played its part. Everything was falling into place. Making sense. "Birds of a feather flock together. That's why he's been calling me Bird. Because...we. You and I."
Gerard stood up and crossed the short distance between us, sitting down on the bed and facing me, his mouth open slightly in a mixture of confusion and curiosity.
"Frank, I don't... get what you're saying. Slow down. Talk clearly."
I reached out and touched his shoulder. I could hear the crickets outside, a quick-paced tune that matched each breath from our mouths and each hidden tick in the mechanical clock; I could hear the static from the neon sign, buzzing contently high above us, the 'A' flickering on and off from time to time; I could feel his pulse. Through his skin, through the fabric of his shirt, through me. Inside of me.
"What would you say," I started, my voice low, "if I asked you why the bird sings when it's about to die a lonely life?"
He looked utterly bewildered, but let the words pour from his mouth nonetheless.
"Because there always were too many fish in the sea."
He looked even more shocked after he said that, even reaching up to touch his lips, as if to make sure they were indeed under his control. He watched me, eyes glimmering with confusion and slight amounts of fear. I smiled.
"Don't you see?" I asked. "This is why. Birds of a feather flock together, Gerard. But birds can't swim in the sea. It's you and me. It's always been you and me."
He opened his mouth, but no words came out. I continued.
"It's why they call me Bird. Why I have sparrows."
"My dreams," he said suddenly. "The dreams I had of you. Your death. Because I wasn't--"
"Because you weren't there with me," I finished eagerly. The light from the television was flashing and mirroring my thoughts. Wild. Jumpy. Building. Mikey was shifting closer to watch the scene playing out, the fabric cutting stinging marks into his wrists that he paid no mind, eyes locked with our lips as I continued. "It was all because I needed you /here/. With me. By my side. Remember what Lincoln said?"
"Yeah," he breathed, "Yeah, yeah, it's... it makes sense. But, fuck, it's..."
There was another pause as we stopped to digest the information. Mikey was staring at us like he hadn't seen another living thing in years, but we ignored him for the moment, caught up in the sudden revelations. Our thoughts were focused. Our minds were reeling. Our hearts were hammering. I could feel his, two feet away from me; could feel his blood pulsing through his veins; could feel each movement of every breath that he took; each little current that came with a new electrical thought or emotion. Christ, could I feel him.
"So let me get this straight," he said after a moment, staring at the shabby bed comforter. "You and I are these fucking 'birds' in the mass of population known as 'fish', right?"
"Wrong," I corrected, and I felt him shift in surprise. "You're only a... bird because I took you as...well...you know."
"Your /mate?/" he finished, snickering cruelly.
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah...I guess."
"Okay, so let me try again." He cleared his throat and started over. "You're this bird in the mass of population known as fish, and when you let me fuck you--" he paused, calmly waiting for me to finish choking in my embarrassment before continuing, "--we became mates, or life partners, or what-the-fuck-ever, and now--/now/, you're finally starting to take action because you're some guy this prophecy predicted would be able to eradicate these little fuckers that call themselves vampires?"
I mulled that over in my head, trying to abolish the thought of how... strange it sounded, before nodding. "I...guess so."
"And what about your tattoos?"
I looked down at my stomach, which was a dumb thing to do as I had put on a clean shirt from my suitcase as soon as I had dried off, but I could sense them there, positioned carefully across my abdomen and along the lower portion of my back. "I don't know," I answered truthfully, chewing over my own words even as they were falling from my lips. "They seemed frightened of them, though."
Gerard cocked his head at me and reached forward, tugging up the hem of my shirt to trail his eyes over the sparrows. "You still don't remember getting them?"
I shook my head. "No, they've...they've just been there. I don't remember."
He pulled my shirt up further and shifted to the right slightly to get a closer look at the wording on my side, throwing my body into the small amount of light from the ceiling above us.
Then came an awful hiss, causing Gerard to whip his head around towards Mikey and throw a hand across my chest, blocking me from any danger.
But there was no need. Mikey was still tied to the floor, his bindings tight and secure as he hissed and squirmed at the sight of my exposed midriff.
"Bird!" he spat out, putting such emphasis on the word that it came across with the same blasphemy and vulgarity as a swear, dripping in hate and desire and fear.
Reaching behind him quickly, his heart beating twice as fast, Gerard yanked down my shirt in an attempt to calm his brother's incessant shrieks of agony and anguish. Loathing and spite. Anger and resentment. Mikey instantly calmed, his eyes narrowed to slits as he glared daggers at each of us, as though we had done it purposely to infuriate him.
Gerard looked back at me, and when our eyes met, we mentally slapped ourselves; we should have thought of it sooner. Of course, the possibility that Mikey would shun us with insults and venomous stares was high, we still had a golden opportunity. A prisoner. A chance for interrogation.
"Mikey," Gerard said slowly, his voice calmer than usual as he moved across the bed slowly, edging closer to his brother. "What do you know about this?"
Mikey was panting, still recovering from his sudden bout of rage and terror, but managed to spit out his words as cruel as ever. "He's mad, you know. Lincoln. He's mad about what Frank did to Jeremy."
I had only a moment of stinging pain when I realized that this was still part of Mikey and he was still referring to me as Frank and not 'Bird' before Gerard glanced back at me, and I subconsciously clenched and unclenched my hand, remembering what it was like to watch the kid go down, his fingers scraping at the burning flesh on his face, screaming in agony. Remembering what I did.
"You mucked up his pretty face, he said," Mikey continued, staring at the ground in a vacant, uninterested way. "And he's not too happy. Oh, Jeremy's better now," Mikey interrupted himself offhandedly, as if recovering from a life-threatening burn was an everyday occurrence, "but Lincoln's still pissed. Promised Jeremy a little present, he did, as an apology for letting that happen."
"And what's the present?" Gerard asked timidly, not liking where the conversation was going. Admittedly, I wasn't too happy at the moment either. I narrowed my eyes at Mikey, daring him to speak. And when he did, he even had the nerve to look up at me, the devilish smirk present on his face as his piercing hazel eyes struck chords deep inside of me..
"I hope he keeps you alive," Mikey said to me, "Just so you can watch, chained to the wall, as your Gerard here gets handed off to someone obviously more capable than you. I hope you get to watch as Jeremy makes him scream, over and over again, until his pretty little voice is /gone./"
Gerard jumped up and grabbed my arms as I struggled against him, flaming eyes set on Mikey's throat. I wanted to touch him. Hurt him. Kill him. Kill him for screwing with us and our heads and our lives. Because that wasn't fucking Mikey anymore; it was Lincoln, and Jeremy, and Sylvia, and all the rest of the sick freaks that had done this to us.
"Frank, stop," Gerard attempted to help me settle down, but I had none of it.
"You motherfucker!" I screamed. "You goddamn. Mother. Fuckers! Leave us the fuck /alone!/"
"Frank!" Gerard cried again, pinning my arms to my side as Mikey chuckled at my outburst, obviously relishing in his superiority. Even on the floor, tied to the bedpost, and outnumbered, he was still in control of this room.
It took a few minutes for me to relax, but soon enough Gerard had his hand on my back, kissing the top of my head and murmuring soft things to me as I glared at Mikey over his shoulder, but made no attempt to attack. The air now hung heavily with a static, smouldering electricity, just waiting for the spark to reignite. And sadly, I couldn't wait for it to go off again, giving me an excuse to take out the pent up fear, pain, and shock via enragement towards the body formerly known as Mikey
"Nothing's going to happen to me," Gerard whispered in my hair. "I'm right here, I'm alive, I'm fine, and so are you. It's okay. I'm right here."
When he finally trusted me enough to let me go, he released me and kissed my lips gently, staring at me--/into/ me--for the longest time before returning his gaze to Mikey.
"All right, my dear sweet fuck of a brother. Tell us what you know."
"Oh, but why?" Mikey whined. "It's so much fun to watch you figure it out yourselves."
I snarled in agitation.
"I'm fucking sick of your games, Mikey. Just tell us what you know and I'll continue to blow you off, sound reasonable?"
"Is that an invitation?" Mikey smirked, and I glowered. Gerard, sensing the danger, interfered and sat down in front of his brother, a daring move that sent Mikey's line of vision straight into Gerard's.
"Mikey, listen," he started softly, the atmosphere in the room suddenly switching. "Just...help us understand. We just want to understand. We haven't hurt you, and we don't want to. We just want your help."
Mikey watched Gerard, his eyes dancing viciously, and I couldn't understand how Gerard could stand there and take it without breaking down; how he could watch what was left of his brother decay and lie and cheat to his face, mocking Mikey's death in a rancid display of affection and complete omnisciency of the situation.
"You're doing a fine job by yourselves," Mikey said sweetly, his voice low. "It doesn't take a genius to figure out how to read."
Mikey rolled his eyes, "The tattoos, my dear brother, the tattoos."
Gerard winced at the reminder of their kinship and sighed audibly. "Right. Search and Destroy. Right. Yeah."
I got up and started pacing, unable to sit still any longer. Gerard and Mikey watched me, and it almost felt safe again, both of their actions mirroring each other, just like they used to. Except now, I no longer knew Mikey's eyes. And right then, I needed them most.
"This is so stupid," I said finally. "I mean, what does all of this have to do with Lincoln? So what if I am some prophecy thing...who cares? I mean, what's the point? I don't give a shit."
"More talk like that and you'll be sending yourself six feet under," Mikey grinned. "And god knows where Gerard will end up, as we can undoubtedly see who's taken a fancy to him."
I clenched my jaw and ignored the lithe body on the floor. He was only doing it because it would please Lincoln, and that, of course, was on the top of Mikey's current to-do list.
"Shut up the fuck up, Mikey," I answered through clenched teeth.
"You really are clueless, aren't you?" Mikey continued, encouraged by my willingness to respond to his threats and insults, and Gerard's unsteady movements away from him and towards me. "You're incapable of doing anything right. I don't know why Lincoln's so worried, really..."
I felt my fingers twitching, but tried to ignore it. It's what Mikey wanted. Breakdowns. Back lashing. Acknowledgement.
"I mean, what about Ray? How am I supposed to help him?" I asked out loud, trying to rid my mind of Mikey's voice and vocalize my hurt about my incapability to save anyone. "I can't help him."
"Is that all you can do?" Mikey snarled, laughing slightly. Gerard shushed him urgently, but Mikey tossed aside his comments and continued to fix me with that eerily familiar gaze. "Pace around and worry like a fucking mother?"
I was done.
I snapped again.
My hand was over the gun on the end table faster than Gerard could grimace at the thought of bullets nestling themselves into his brother's body.
"No," I said, raising the gun to aim at Mikey and cocking it. "I can put this gun to your head and blow out your fucking brains, if you prefer. God knows I do."
"Frank!" Gerard hissed, starting forward with a look of utter shock on his face, but I set my eyes on him before he could get to me.
"Don't, Gerard," I said calmly, but forcefully. "Don't."
He stopped. His heart was hammering. His eyes were wide and full of felt more like love than fear, and it only infuriated me more. His voice shook as he tried to bring the situation back under his control. "Frank, if you kill my brother, I swear to God--"
"GERARD! This is not your fucking brother!!"
"That doesn't mean you can just blow his fucking head off!" Gerard shouted back, gesturing wildly to Mikey. "He's still got two more days left!"
"And just what the fuck do you suggest we do?! Wait around for two days and then blow his fucking head off?!"
Gerard opened his mouth to answer, but promptly shut it again as his brother made a loud groan of frustration at the end of the bed. Mikey was gazing at me furiously as words hissed like venom sliced through his mouth, and my gun lowered slightly at the lyrical quality.
"the blood that was taken
is the blood that is spilled
else the end of the line
the Bird must be killed"
He stared at me. I stared at him. The words triggered something in the back of my brain and in my lower stomach, and I couldn't decide if I wanted to save the world or hurl across the bed sheets and settle into a drunken stupor. The gun was shaking in my hand so badly that I probably would have missed even if I did pull the trigger. My vision was blurred. Was I crying? Was it fear? I could barely even see Mikey anymore. Just the gun and my hand and Gerard's pulse.
"What was that?" I asked, my voice shaking before I steadied myself and took better aim, screaming as loud as I could. "WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!"
"Frank, stop! We can fix this! We have two more days, we can--"
What exactly we could do, I never found out, as Gerard's voice was cut off by a piercing knock that echoed throughout the room. My finger slipped from the trigger as I turned. Gerard inhaled. Mikey smiled.
A soft, sing-song voice came from outside the door, the tone achingly familiar.
"Birdy Birdy, can I come in?"