Start the song whenever.
I wish we had never come here in the first place
It reminds me of him.
I don't want to be reminded of him. It hurts too much.
But I guess we owe it to him. So...here we are.
Gerard said he wanted to visit this place...probably told us a thousand times. But we never had the time, you know? Too busy touring, performing, life-saving.../living./
Now I wish we had come. I wish we had flown back here from whatever foreign country we were in every time he said, "I still wanna see that theater...y'know, that one, remember, Frank? The one that always used to scare us when we were kids..."
We've been afraid of this place for as long as I can remember. Me, him, and Mikey, anyway. It's been abandoned for God knows how many years, but they never tore it down thanks to the activists. Those people have nothing better to do than organize protests for old, run-down buildings that are "part of our town's history." For once I'm thankful for them. Gerard would be thankful, too. It looks dead and ghostly on the inside. Just like he always imagined it would. He would love to see this now, all of us wandering around and exploring like little kids. Bob's already gone to the second floor, Mikey immediately went to the stage, Ray decided to stay by the entrance and wander the corridor just outside the main theater.
As for me, I'm currently waiting backstage. It's something I haven't done in a long time. It's something I know Gerard would want us all to be doing, right now as a matter of fact. Probably in some foreign country.
I've kept my own opinions out of everything, though. We're not a band anymore. We're just friends. Four friends. Four friends missing the most important part of their lives.
I remember every time Ray and Bob would 'talk' to each other... Their talks usually ended in bloody noses and nearly broken bones. I think it all started going downhill once Ray said we needed to get another singer. Bob threatened to leave the band because of it.
It doesn't matter anymore. There's no band to leave.
I walk over to the left wing of the stage, not quite ready to step out onto the floor just yet. I want to, though. I want to walk out there and play guitar so badly it hurts. My heart has been shattered because we haven't done what I know we were born to do. Because we haven't followed through with our own preaching.
We will carry on.
It was Gerard's sentiment. It was the one line that pulled us through that impossible, dark time at the Paramour when I thought one of us was going to die. It's what's saved so many of our fans from themselves.
It's the one line that tore us apart. Because of Gerard.
Because I refused to let go and move on. Everything he's ever cared about, everything he's ever meant to anyone... It was all summed up in that one line. And because it's so much like him - because it is him - we haven't been able to do it. I know why, but I still don't say anything. I know it's because it would seem like we're trying to bring him back. The guys would disagree...but I know it's true.
I call Mikey's name, seeing him standing in the middle of the stage. He's so brave to do that. He tells me he wants to be alone. I don't really blame him. I don't leave, though. Ever since it happened I've been worried he would do something stupid, something that would only reopen the painful scar Gerard left for us. I watch over him like he's my little brother...even though he's older than me. We've stopped caring about our ages long since. I learned early on never to mention anything related to the number thirty. It's considered the new "Way Curse" amongst us. We're all dreading the coming December. Its end will mark Bob's thirtieth year on this earth. He tried to joke about it one time, but all it earned him was a broken nose, courtesy of my curly-haired counterpart.
Maybe it was the curse of being the Black Parade.
Maybe it was a ghost from the Paramour that had never left us.
Maybe we just got unlucky.
I'm still watching the stage, having retreated just far enough into the wings that Mikey won't be able to see me. He turns around, and after a few moments, he begins speaking. His words freeze my heart.
"Hey, Gerard. When did you get back?"
I want to run out there. I want to comfort him and tell him it's all just been a bad dream, like the nightmare he must be going through now, imagining his brother is standing before him.
There is no response, as I expected. But he thinks there is. It looks like he's listening to someone, eyes focused on a being that isn't there. "You can't leave!" he cries suddenly. "We need you here." I take a step forward, about to leave the comforting darkness I've become so accustomed to, but I refrain from doing so. I don't think I can take it, being on stage again. Not yet.
"How could you do this to me?" he asks the empty air. "It's not fair."
Then, a few moments later...
"You never will. I could never forget you. Not if I lived for another hundred years."
I can't take it anymore. I've always suspected he's been having mental problems; I know he did during our stay at the Paramour. I also knew something like this was bound to bring some of that back, but strangely enough...nothing happened. He became depressed for the first few months, but there wasn't one of us who didn't. Even my dad came to the funeral, even though I hadn't seen him in years. It affected everyone.
I can feel that strange sensation again. I always used to feel like I was being shocked with electricity right before we went onstage...along with nausea. My brain thinks I'm about to go perform another concert, that I'm really waiting backstage in Newark and looking out at a dark field filled with camera flashes and screeching girls. If only.
I walk out towards Mikey, telling him it's time to go. We can't stay here much longer. Something's wrong with him. And suddenly I have to know.
"Do you remember it?" I ask him as the memories begin to overtake me. "The excitement we'd always feel on stage? The electricity? The /people/?" He looks at me with some kind of forced emotion. I can see tears in his eyes.
"Yeah. I do. But it was a long time ago. A lifetime ago." I embrace him as tears begin to fill my eyes, tears of longing, tears that tell me we need to perform again.
For his sake. For both their sakes.
And then he tells me something that takes it all away from me.
"The echo never fades."
It hits me like a freight train. That's the reason we're not performing anymore. Not because we couldn't decide if we needed a new singer or just four separate bands. Not because we almost lost Bob's friendship, something I know we'd all die without. Not even because he just doesn't want to.
It's because he can't. It's killing him inside. He remembers it as well as I do, the feeling of playing our hearts out before countless people. It's pure ecstasy.
I guess I didn't know, after all.