I looked up at the sound of a bell ringing, and a girl entered through the doors. I smiled at her as she took her place next to me, a badge clipped to her jacket. She came here more often than I did.
"Visiting?" she asked me softly. I nodded.
"I haven't seen him in a while."
"He hasn't felt like talking much," she said sadly, lowering her gaze to the tiled floor. I rose and returned the form to the person sitting at the desk, and after a few moments she handed me a badge. I looked back at the girl, and she stood up. We walked down the hallway in silence until we reached the room. A white-coated man stood just outside of it, making notes on a clipboard, and looked up when we approached.
"Can we see him yet?" the girl asked softly. The man nodded and opened the door, allowing us inside.
She walked toward him first, stopping about five feet away. He was sitting on the floor, staring at the wall, just like he had been every other time I'd come.
"Hey, Mikey," she said quietly. He didn't respond. "I- I miss you."
"Go away," he said sharply. Alicia recoiled from him, biting her lip as tears came to her eyes. "I don't need anyone." She lowered her head and backed away, leaning against the wall and sobbing. I walked toward him.
"Mikey?" I said. He turned around at the sound of my voice.
"Ray?" he asked in shock. I nodded, smiling slightly. He recognized me. That was good.
"Yeah. Alicia and I came to see you." I saw a flicker of guilt pass through his unnaturally darkened eyes.
"How long has it been?" he asked me. I hesitated to answer.
"...Two years." Two agonizing, painful years. That's how long he had been locked up here. Alicia had lived for two years without him. I couldn't imagine how much worse it was for her.
"Two years," he repeated, as if he didn't believe me. "What's this all about, Ray?"
"I told you," I said patiently. "We wanted to visit you. We miss you."
"Why?" It was getting more and more painful every time I went there. His mind was disintegrating into nothing. I had to wonder how much longer it would be before he fell apart completely.
"Well that's a good reason," he said sarcastically. I knew there was pain behind it, though. He was desperate. Alicia had crumpled to the floor and fallen silent. "Is she asleep?" he asked softly.
"Yeah." She wasn't, but it seemed to comfort him.
"Good. That's the only time I can speak to you. I don't want to talk to anyone else."
"What is it, Mikey?" I asked. He was silent for several moments, carefully thinking about what to say.
"There's something...I've been trying to forget. A memory." I sat down next to him.
"You know you can tell me anything." He nodded slowly.
"Remember when we were first released from the hospital?" he asked with a small smile. "Everyone was so happy we were safe. Especially the fans. They were happy, too, weren't they?"
I bit my lip. "Yeah, they were really happy." They weren't. They were devastated. But he didn't need to know that. He sighed.
"I called Gerard's phone that day. I don't know why; I just wanted to hear his voice, I guess," he said slowly. "It was stupid. I should have known."
"It wasn't stupid, Mikey," I assured him. "You just missed him. We all do." He smiled.
"Someone answered the call and just left the phone on. I waited, hoping I would find out who." I saw tears begin to slide from his eyes. "It was Frank. I heard him talking to my brother, and he sounded like he was about to fall asleep. He said, 'I never had the nerve to make the final cut.'"
My heart fell. That's what had done it. That's what drove him over the edge.
"I'm sorry, Mikey." He shook his head furiously.
"I might as well be dead," he said sadly as the tears flowed more steadily. "It's bad enough you had to go through something like that without some raving lunatic like me."
Alicia stood and walked out of the room in absolute silence. It was too much for her to handle. It was almost too much for me.