'Maybe if he would just back off a little I would actually have some friends and we wouldn't even have this problem. I can handle myself.' A sickening thought came to him. 'What if one day everyone decides to get back at me for everything he's done to them? Then I actually would need protection. This is confusing.' He slowly walked to the farthest corner of the room to their usual table. He neared it, and his own thoughts slipped out of his mind as he heard murmured bits of a conversation. A conversation between familiar voices.
"I'm really worried about him. He hasn't shown up to lunch since last Wednesday. And that was only because of the prank," said Frank quietly, trying to keep his words from reaching the nearby teacher's ears.
"I know, but it's not like we can really do anything. You know how he gets," Ray responded.
"He only gets that way because he's high," Frank growled through gritted teeth.
"Hey guys," said Mikey listlessly, letting his backpack fall off one shoulder and land on the ground with a thud. He sat in his usual place, which normally would have been next to Matt. Frank sat beside him now, as opposed to being next to Ray. It was like Matt had already been replaced. "Anything new?"
"Nothing unusual," said Ray, hoping he wouldn't end up worrying Mikey with their concerns for his brother. Mikey nodded in acknowledgment and stared at the table in silence, his usual activity this time of day. The wheels in Frank's mind were turning as he quickly concocted a plan to make the younger Way brother laugh. He wouldn't stand for so much negativity at the lunch table.
"Mikey, a word of advice: When you get to be a sophomore, don't take Chem. It might kill you," he said with a hopeful smile. He received a sad silence in response.
"Aw, we know how much you love that class, Frank," said Ray. "You're the only one in the whole school actually getting an A in it."
Frank glared at him. "I do not love Chem. That would be disturbing."
"No, really, it's Frankie's Chemical Romance!" Mikey broke in suddenly, smiling. Frank merely stared at him in disbelief while Ray laughed, but he soon caught on.
"You are correct, Mikey. It is My Chemical Romance," he said in a deeper, more serious tone. He was unable to keep a smile off his face and burst into laughter. They were all laughing now. Mikey's eyes were watering.
"That would be hilarious if it were true, Frank," he said as he calmed down. Frank nodded.
"If it were true."
"Hey, Mikey," said Bob as he stopped in the doorway of Mikey's last class. Mikey nodded and walked over to him.
"Can we go to your house today?" he asked the eighth grader as they slowly walked down the hallway. "I don't feel like getting yelled at by Gerard today."
"Sure," Bob said with a smile. Just as they got out the door, however, Mikey stopped and smacked his forehead with one hand.
"I forgot something! I'll be right back, Bob. Don't leave without me," he said hurriedly, letting his backpack fall to the ground. He abruptly turned and flew down the hallway once more. Bob raised an eyebrow in confusion, but decided not to question it. He picked up Mikey's black backpack and carried it just around the corner of the school building, sitting on the concrete. He let out a sad sigh.
'This was where Gerard beat me up,' he thought to himself, looking around. The intimidating sophomore was nowhere to be seen.
"You," said a voice from the shadows. Bob looked toward it and watched as a dark figure seemed to melt away from the shade of the building, as if it were appearing out of nowhere. It stepped toward him, and he automatically wanted to back away, but he felt frozen. "What are you doing here?" the voice asked venomously. Bob refused to speak.
"Don't worry, kid, I'm not gonna hurt you," said Gerard as he took another step toward Bob. To the eighth grader's surprise, the black-haired teen sat down next to him. He pulled a box out of his backpack. "Now answer my question. What are you doing here?" he asked slowly.
"I was meeting someone," Bob managed to say, still in shock that Gerard wasn't trying to kill him. "You?"
"This is where I smoke," he responded without hesitation. He slid a thin cigarette out of the box and lit it with a practiced hand, offering one to Bob. He shook his head and shrank away from Gerard, who raised an eyebrow in question. "Why?"
"Because it's bad for you. Those things kill people," Bob said warily, thinking it was a known fact. Gerard shrugged lazily and dropped the box in his backpack, inhaling and exhaling deeply. He felt more relaxed almost immediately.
"Why do you hate me?" Bob asked softly. Gerard remained silent, biting hazel eyes locked on the wall not far away from him. Bob frowned at his lack of a response and grabbed his iPod, placing both earphones in his ears. He was surprised when Gerard took one from him and placed it in his own ear. Bob swallowed nervously as he selected a song. He knew it would have to be good if he wanted to avoid being killed.
The song began with a consistent, soft drum beat. That was probably Bob's favorite part of it. He quickly became lost in the song, one of his favorites.
He never saw the glowing cigarette fall from Gerard's pale, limp fingers.
"I...I love this song," the older Way brother said breathlessly. They sat there in silence for a while, listening to the angelic music.
"I don't remember what album it's from," said Bob. Gerard muttered a word, but it came out as a jumble of syllables. "What did you say?"
"Mezzanine," he said more clearly, though the word was still very quiet. "It's from /Mezzanine/." Bob nodded.
"Mezzanine," he repeated. He liked the word.
Mikey was gasping for air by the time he arrived outside. He couldn't believe he had just run the equivalent of half a mile. He placed a hand against the wall and leaned on it for support, breathing heavily and feeling like he was going to fall. A full minute passed before he was able to stand and look around for Bob.
"Bob?" he called. He only heard the sound of his own voice echoing through the now deserted grounds. He walked down the steps and towards one side of the school, then the other. He froze when he heard voices.
"I don't hate you," Gerard said quietly. Mikey heard the click of a lighter and knew that his brother was smoking again. He would have rounded the corner and said something if it wasn't for the next words he heard. "I just miss my best friend."
"If you don't hate me, and I've never done anything to you, then why-"
"Why do I beat the crap out of you? Do the math, kid. I have anger management issues, according to my brother."
"You're really mean to him, y'know?" Bob said suddenly. He immediately regretted speaking, fearing Gerard would slam his face into the wall, but nothing happened. An uneasy peace had come to rest between them.
"I know." Gerard's voice cracked on the words. Before he knew it, icy tears were sliding down his face. There was nothing he could do to stop them.
"I had to leave my best friend, too," Bob said softly. Mikey stepped closer the edge of the wall so he could hear better. He could be silent when he wanted to. "It wasn't easy for me to move here. Chicago's way different than this place."
"That's because Chicago's an actual city," Gerard said. The smirk was audible in his voice. He began humming along to the song. Mikey felt his heart rate increase when he realized what song it was. "I'm sorry about your friend, kid. I know it's not easy." There was a pause while he took another drag off the cigarette.
"I'm sorry," Gerard repeated. "For everything." His words seemed foreign, especially to himself. Gerard Way never apologized. Not for anything. "You seem like a good kid. And you like good music," he added, smirking again.
Mikey knew what his brother was about to say. He had to stop it.
"That's enough, Gerard," he said coldly, stepping around the corner. Both of them looked up at him with shock. "Bob, let's go."
"Mikey-" Gerard began. Mikey interrupted him.
"I don't want to hear it, Gerard. Being in this gang has already ruined your life. And mine. I'm not letting that happen to anyone else." Bob took that as his cue to stand, and Gerard reluctantly handed him the earphone he had temporarily stolen. Bob hurriedly stuffed the music player in his backpack, and he and Mikey began to walk.
Gerard sat there in a dazed silence, missing the sound of the music already. He didn't know what to do. 'I ruined his life...I ruined his life...' It was the only thought running through his mind. 'I've lost him.' He slowly stood and walked home at a snail's pace, finding the house completely void of life. It seemed cold.
'Cold is good,' he thought as he let his book-laden backpack slam into the floor like a lead weight. He walked up the stairs to his room and shut the door. 'I like the cold.'
He picked up the knife.
He brought it to his wrist so he could feel its icy blade. It was comforting.
He put the knife down.
"I can't," he told himself. "He's my brother. He shouldn't have to see me like this. No wonder he hates me so much." He stared at the knife as if he expected it to do something of its own accord. Now would be the perfect time to smoke a joint...or cut..."Maybe...maybe if I could stop...he wouldn't hate me anymore," Gerard whispered to himself.
"But I can't stop." He crawled over to his desk and reached a hand up to grab a piece of paper, and several fell to the floor when he took one. He began to write, not even looking at the words. The only thought on his mind was that he had to stop.
Minutes passed, and he finally set the paper aside. His mind was screaming at him to do something. Smoke, get high, cut...something, anything, /everything/. He couldn't stop.
He picked up his phone and pressed a single button, one of four on speed dial. He spoke into the phone with a shaky voice.
"Gerard, is that really you? You sound horrible," Frank said with concern. Gerard nodded, not even realizing Frank couldn't see him. A migraine planted itself in his brain.
"Gerard, you're at home, right?" he asked hurriedly. Gerard muttered an affirmative response. "Don't go anywhere; I'm coming over."
The line went dead. Gerard dropped the phone to the floor, not even bothering to close it. His brain was starting to hurt more with each passing second. He took his hooded jacket off, thinking he had a fever.
He picked up the knife. He brought it to his arm. This time he dug the metal into his own skin, feeling his fingertips start to feel numb as warm, red life flowed out of his arm. He made several small cuts, all facing the same direction, perpendicular to his veins. Like short tally marks, counting something. How many times he had done this to himself, or maybe how many times he had contemplated quitting but never done anything about it.
Gradually, the slices began to turn sideways. The knife dug in deeper each time, and more blood began to snake down his bone-white skin as it exited his veins. He saw his skin becoming paler still, but he didn't care. It didn't matter. He had already ruined his life.
His entire arm was red, covered in criss-crossing marks and saturated with blood. Gerard grabbed the knife in his hand that seemed covered in red ink, and clumsily brought it to his other arm. The hand wielding the weapon protested in mind-numbing pain. He buried the knife into his one clean arm, trying desperately to steady his hand.
He missed. He slit the tendons cleanly and completely with a single slash following the full length of his forearm. Crimson flowed from his injuries like water. He leaned back against his bed and let his arms sprawl out to his sides. His headache was getting worse and worse.
He saw something that had rolled under his bed and picked it up thoughtfully. It was aspirin. Perfect. Maybe his head would stop hurting, and spinning, he was getting so dizzy...
He pried the bottle open with his teeth and downed two or three pills, he wasn't sure exactly how many. His arm went limp, spilling the bottle's contents on the lead gray carpet, but he didn't care. It didn't matter. He had already ruined his life.
He heard the soft sound of a door opening, and the world before him became a dizzying shade of lurid orange. He found it strange, but funny at the same time, and laughed as it changed from the bright color to a brilliant lime green. It dulled to a more forest-like, emerald color, before adopting tones of brown and becoming hazel. He liked the colors. He hoped they would keep changing. For the first time in a long time, he was happy.
He blinked, and the colors were gone. He tried to frown, but his brain wouldn't listen. It still threatened to explode. The strange hazel-green color was still in front of him, and he smiled as it formulated into two perfect circles reflecting light back at him. He felt sleepy.
He blacked out.