Chapter 19. Story's over. If you have the songs, play them when appropriate. If not, well...you lose.
"Gerard...why did you do this?" he asked softly, hearing his own voice crack. Tears threatened to spill from his eyes, but he held them back. He couldn't cry now. What if Gerard saw him crying when he finally woke up? He would be worried. Mikey didn't want his brother to worry.
'The sky cries when an angel dies.'
The words still haunted his mind. He didn't want to imagine his brother dead. It wasn't possible. Yeah, Gerard was messed up...but he couldn't die. Because then Mikey thought he might die, too.
"I know what'll help," Mikey said softly, placing the mug on the coffee table and taking the long walk up the stairs. He found his brother's iPod in its usual place and gently pried it out of the speaker system, then dropped to his knees to see if the earphones were somewhere nearby. He finally spotted part of the white cord snaking out from beneath a pile of comic books, and smirked as he picked it up. He pocketed the music player and earphones and silently crept down the stairs. He approached Gerard, still lying motionless on the sofa, and delicately placed the earphones in his ears, shuddering slightly from feeling how cold his brother was. He chose a song on the iPod, then set the music player on the floor and waited.
Exactly six minutes and nineteen seconds later, Gerard stirred. And it was all Mikey could do to keep himself from tackling his older brother.
"...where's my song?" Gerard muttered to himself, jumping slightly as part one of Another Brick In The Wall began to play. He would have fallen back asleep, lulled by the rhythm of the running bass line, had Mikey not paused the song and taken the earphones out of his brother's ears. Gerard's eyes opened fully, staring into his brother's matching hazel eyes.
"Give me my iPod, Mikey," he growled. Mikey merely smirked.
"Not until you promise never to do that again."
"What are you talking about?" Gerard asked, quickly growing annoyed at the fact that he wasn't listening to one of his favorite songs at that moment. He sat up, feeling himself shiver, and pulled the blanket tighter around his shoulders. "What happened to me?"
"You left, Gerard," Mikey said quietly, the smile falling from his face. Gerard's gaze dropped to the floor.
"Where'd I go?"
"To visit Grandma. Don't you remember?" Mikey asked quizzically. Gerard shook his head.
"I'm sorry," he said suddenly. "I wanted to stop, but I just couldn't..." His words were emotionless, but his eyes were beginning to fill with tears. Mikey wrapped an arm around his shoulders.
"You'll get better. I know it," he said with a soft smile. Gerard only cried harder.
"You don't understand," he said sadly. "I don't want to be like this. I might as well be dead for all the good I'm doing by still being here...and ruining your life," he added with a murmur. Mikey's eyes widened behind his glasses.
"That's not true. I was just...upset. I didn't mean that," he said apologetically.
"Glad to see you're okay," said a new voice. Both Way brothers looked towards it, seeing Bob smiling at them and rubbing one eye sleepily. "Does this mean I get my jacket back?" Gerard looked at his brother in confusion.
"You were freezing when he found you, so he gave you his jacket," said Mikey. Gerard's eyes widened.
"Why would anyone do that for me?"
"You needed it," Bob said, as if it were obvious. "I didn't want anything to happen to you."
"...thanks," the black-haired teen muttered quietly, roughly brushing the tears away from his eyes. An awkward silence filled the room.
That is, until Frank started snoring.
Gerard managed to rescue his beloved iPod from his brother and happily fell asleep once again. Mikey stayed awake and talked to Bob.
"Do you really think he'll be okay?" Mikey asked softly.
"I think so. As long as you're there to help him," Bob responded just as quietly.
"He wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for you." Mikey paused to wipe away a single tear in his eye. "I don't know how to thank you."
"There's nothing to thank me for. I just...didn't want anything to happen to him. He is your brother, after all," said Bob with a shrug.
"You're like his guardian angel," Mikey murmured to himself. Bob didn't respond, acting like he hadn't heard the comment, even though he had. "Sometimes it seems like he's dead inside...like his soul is dead."
"He's going to live, Mikey," Bob assured him. "You'll see."
The sun once again hung high in the sky as Gerard watched the garbage truck drive away with mixed emotions. He knew full well what was inside it. The drugs. He had to get rid of them.
'So Mikey won't end up like me,' he thought silently, thinking of his younger brother with a smile. 'He doesn't deserve to end up like me.'
"Gerard, movie's starting!" Frank called from the living room. Gerard made his way down the stairs at a slow jog. He wasn't really in the mood to do anything but sleep, but Frank was determined to cheer him up. So they chose their usual activity: watching horror movies.
He sat on the floor, next to Frank - and the bowl of popcorn they always fought over. Mikey warned Bob of this beforehand, so the eighth grader made sure to stay far away from them. Ray felt he could protect himself if things got violent, so he also sat by Frank. Mikey and Alicia shared the couch.
"What is it this time?" Gerard asked with a bored sigh.
"/Saw/," Frank responded. Bob suddenly began snickering, and this soon turned into a laughing fit.
"What?" Mikey asked in confusion.
"This reminds me of a song...Arrogant Worms. Malcolm. It's hilarious."
"We'll listen to it later," said Ray. Bob smiled just thinking about it.
The time passed uneventfully, though Alicia jumped several times and clung to Mikey for protection. Not that he was complaining. As predicted, Gerard and Frank fought over the popcorn during the last fifteen minutes of the movie, the latter winding up with a mild bloody nose after an epic battle between the coffee table and his face. By the time the movie was over, all of them were laughing hysterically. Gerard was still hiding his laughter, though it was becoming more and more difficult.
"Can we listen to the song now?" Bob asked almost pleadingly. Gerard began to walk upstairs, but the eighth grader stopped him. "I can figure it out." He walked over to the speaker system next to the TV and began connecting several different wires. About thirty seconds later the first few chords of the song came through the speakers.
"You are a technological genius," said Ray in awe. Bob smiled.
All of them listened with anticipation as the words began. Bob even began singing along.
"Billy solves his problems by calling up his mom, Heather solves her problems with drugs and alcohol, Daniel solves his problems with a doctor and the law, but Malcolm's got his own way and it's better than them all. Malcolm solves his problems with a chainsaw..." Bob continued singing the chorus, and Frank began laughing hysterically.
"And he never has the same problem twice!"
Now they were all laughing. Including Gerard.
"He lives!" cried Frank, tackling his friend to the ground.
"Yeah, but not for much longer if you do that," Gerard growled as he stood up. Mikey was practically in tears from laughing so hard. Eventually they all managed to calm down and listened to other random songs from the iPod.
"We should throw a party," said Frank as he shoved more popcorn in his mouth. His eyes suddenly widened and he nearly choked. "No, a parade! That would be awesome!" Ray rolled his eyes.
"Do we look like parade material to you, Frank?" he asked skeptically. Frank pouted and looked around at his friends, especially Gerard. The black-haired teen was lying on the floor and pretending to be dead, allegedly killed by a chainsaw-wielding Frank. His eyes brightened all over again.
"Yeah," he said in wonder. "A parade. A black parade."
Gerard sat up. His eyes were glistening. He had an idea.
"That is probably the greatest idea you've ever had, Frank," he said in an even voice. Frank smiled and applauded his accomplishment. Gerard's gaze then fell on Bob.
"Thanks, kid," he said with an unfamiliar smile. "You're okay."
"Um...you're welcome...and thanks," Bob responded sheepishly, growing uncomfortable under Gerard's penetrating gaze.
"You can be in our gang...if you want," he said, also somewhat nervously. This wasn't something he was used to. Bob's eyes brightened.
"Really?" he asked. Gerard nodded. Frank then proceeded to tackle Bob.
"Welcome to the Black Parade!" he said excitedly. Bob pretended to suffocate, and Frank released him.
"Welcome to the Black Parade..." Gerard murmured to himself, almost inaudibly. He then stood and raced upstairs to his room. He had some writing to do.
Everyone else stared after him in numb shock.
"You think he'll be okay, Mike?" Ray asked him. Mikey nodded.
"Just give him a few hours to draw...and write...and he'll be fine."
Mikey was only off by about four hours. Around eleven, Gerard practically broke down the door to his brother's room with several sheets of paper and a smile.
"Gerard...please tell me you have a good reason for waking me up," Mikey said groggily. Gerard nodded, though his brother couldn't see it. He tossed the pieces of paper on Mikey's bed and turned on the glaring light so he could see them better. Mikey sleepily reached for his glasses, missing them by about a mile before finding them, and slid them onto the bridge of his nose. He blinked several times and yawned before glancing at the papers.
"...These are...wow," he muttered to himself, leafing through the images. "Is this me? All of us?" he asked.
"Yeah," Gerard murmured shyly.
"This is incredible! I mean, I knew you could draw, but not like this. These uniforms are really cool." Mikey smiled at them in wonderment before a look of confusion crossed his face. "But why is your hair blond in all of them?"
He looked up to see his brother's smirking face. His eyes widened. He nearly tore his glasses off his face, thoroughly cleaned them with the blanket, and returned them to their original place.
"You should probably tell mom not to leave the bleach and scissors lying around anymore."
And with that, Gerard turned on his heel and walked out of the room, leaving his brother in a state of absolute shock. Mikey stared after him for a full minute before grabbing his phone and calling Bob.
"Michael Way, do you have any idea what time it is? Some people are trying to slee-"
"Gerard bleached his hair blond!" Mikey practically shouted into the phone.
"/What/?!" Bob shouted back.
"Yeah, he did. And he drew all these pictures of us as The Black Parade..." He heard Bob laugh on the other end of the line.
"You think our angel's learned to fly, then?" he asked with a laugh. Mikey smiled, forgetting no one could see it. He stood and went over to his window, seeing the moon shining down with full strength. The clouds from the previous day's storm had disappeared.
"Yeah. I think he has."