Categories > Celebrities > My Chemical Romance

...And This Is How It Ends

by UnleashTheAwesome 2 reviews

Thirty years after My Chemical Romance's breakup, once-superfan Donovan James has taken up a job in a small, local bar. An unlikely patron wanders in to change his life. Oneshot.

Category: My Chemical Romance - Rating: G - Genres: Drama - Characters: Frank Iero - Published: 2013-03-25 - 3054 words - Complete

Author's Notes: To those who have known me a while, they have seen me grow as a writer, from shitty MCR hetero fics (My first, Vampires Never Hurt...Much) to really fucked up Frerard fics. I have been writing My Chemical Romance fanfiction for 9, almost 10 years and it has been a journey of discovery. Without this band, I would never have discovered my love for writing and for that I will be eternally grateful. As with all things, this too must come to an end. This will be the last MCR fanfic I will write. I am retiring and moving on to other stuff. I intend to focus on my novels which I have been working on for a while and I am branching out into Supernatural fanfiction. If you are interested, those will be posted on ao3 ( under the name TheMaleShipper. You may come across a few of my old MCR fics there as well. Thank you to all my readers, old and new. I hope this story does my continued love of this band justice. Keep the faith.

...And this is how it ends.

Old Oakley Pub was a dim and depressing roadside bar. It was dark with little lighting and the establishment was well known as an ‘old man’s bar’. This was where Donovan James makes his living, as the gatekeeper to the old alcoholics of the area. He was a tall and broad-shouldered man, with shiny burn scars hidden under sleeves of tattoos, albeit faded somewhat with age. He was in his early fifties, though his short, bristly black hair was blessedly free from male-patterned baldness and grays.

It was a cloudy afternoon in mid-June, and the pub was empty. Donovan had been washing and rewashing wine glasses all afternoon simply to stave off the boredom, while he kept a close eye on the saloon-style swinging doors, in the hope that someone may walk through. Typically this strategy never worked, but today luck seemed to be on the old bartender’s side.

The doors opened as an older gentleman eased his way inside. He wore a black T-shirt that read The Banner on it, with a thin dark green sweater over top, and blue jeans with a pair of sneakers. He stepped up to the bar and into the light, allowing Donovan to see his face. It was shocking almost because Donovan was certain he had seen this man before.

He eyed the older man, straining his memory to place his face with a name in his mind. The man looked to be in his sixties, the skin sagging and faded with age and yet his hazel eyes still held the vibrance and energy of a much younger man. His hands were old man’s hands, decorated not only with more ink, but also a gold wedding band—scratched and dinged up with age.

“Can I get you anything?” The Donovan asked while he hooked another wineglass onto the display, eyeing the supposed has-been with a small level of apprehension. He half expected him to grunt and dismiss him, like so many older men of this kind had before.

Instead the man looked up. He smiled—a smile that reached his eyes, crow’s feet in the corners crinkling and the laugh lines deeply inset into his face creasing like the pages of a well-loved book. It had been a long time since he had seen someone smile like that. “I’d love a beer.” His voice was a low monotone, and yet held so much kindness and warmth that Donovan felt a soft pang of regret for having such a hard time placing a name to this man.

He reached under the bar and pulled out a chilled bud, popped the cap before handing it to the older man. He lifted it slightly in his direction, the same smile gracing his features, “cheers, man.”

The man took a pull of the beer, while Donovan picked up a damp cloth and began to mop the bartop. The action was somewhat useless, as the older man was the only person to have stopped by in about four hours, and the bar was more or less spotless, given that he had had little else to do. When the man next rested his beer on the counter, he commented, “you recognize me, don’t you?” The Donovan looked up and his lips twitched into a small smile, for the expression on his face had none of the holier-than-thou attitude of most supposed musicians. It was a statement of fact, and a question. There was no hope of being recognized, just the simple inquiry and almost an attempt to break the silence with light conversation. Perhaps this man was just in desperate need of some company.

“I do,” he replied with a small and sheepish grin that twitched at the corners of his mouth. “I feel like I’ve seen you somewhere before, but I can’t place it.” He laughed to himself and set the rag aside while he helped himself to a beer.

“I’m Frank Iero.” He held out his hand. In that moment, in that brief sentence Donovan was struck dumb with momentary shock. It was a name he had not heard in thirty years.

He managed to force himself out of his state of shock quickly enough to grip his hero’s hand and shake it once, “Donovan James, it’s uh…nice to meet you.” Nice didn’t even begin to cover it, when his brain was shooting off thoughts and reactions like a mass of fireworks in a very confined space. It took every fiber of his being to keep himself calm.

“You too,” Frank replied, taking another pull off his beer. Donovan watched him silently for a moment, resting the lip of his beer bottle against his chin. Memory after memory flashed before his eyes, from a life with and without his favourite band. Frank seemed to notice him staring, and allowed the bottle to dangle above the bar, his fingertips delicately gripping the neck of the bottle, “something on your mind, Don?”

“You could say that,” he replied with a nervous laugh, “Your band—My Chem, they were my heroes growing up.” The words passed his lips awkwardly, but he could think of no other way to phrase it without coming off as a creepy spaz. “I saw you guys seven times before you guys split up.” Donovan watched his words carefully, afraid to slip into his habit of gushing. He did not want to scare him off.

“Thanks man, that’s great to hear.” His words sounded like he had said them a thousand times before, but something in the way Donovan had phrased it seemed to stop Frank short of saying something negative, though dark thoughts seemed to be plaguing his mind. Nervously, Donovan pressed on.

“I’m sorry man, I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times before but you guys really changed my life. And I respect your decision to pack it up.” Donovan watched silently. He could see the small jerk of Frank’s hand as it tightened its grip on the beer bottle, how his opposing hand shifted to his pocket and in the near-silence broken only by bad radio and the ice machine, he could hear the soft jangling of his keys. At Donovan’s words however, he paused and looked back up.

“Excuse me?” His tone wavered between distrust and vain hope. He was watching Donovan with a deep intensity that made him very nervous, as though he was thrust suddenly in front of an audience of angry teen fans.

“I can respect why you hung it all up.” Donovan’s mouth twitched into the smallest of smiles as he observed the anxiety upon Frank’s face begin to dissipate. Frank’s hand returned to the bartop. “Believe me, I clung to every vain hope that it was all some awful hack, prank, whatever. Looking back, I get it. The band had run its course and better to hang it up and remember it fondly than to try and force it, you know?”

“Oh believe me, I know.” Frank smiled and took another sip of his beer. Donovan’s sat forgotten. “You were a fan for a long time, huh?” A little taken aback, Donovan nodded, a small smile twitching at the corners of his mouth.

“Since Revenge.” Donovan reached over and pulled back the sleeve of his black t-shirt, exposing a tattoo on his bicep. It was a black fleur-de-lys, tattered and burned in places and across the centre it said, keep the faith in a delicate cursive. Frank grinned and nodded his head once in approval.

“That’s sick, local artist?”

“Yeah, there’s a small place near my apartment, he does sick tats.” As Donovan spoke, he felt as though he was having some sort of out-of-body experience. His awareness that he was talking to Frank Iero, showing him his My Chem tattoo (well, one of them at least) and talking so casually they could be mistaken for old friends was surreal.

“I’ll definitely have to check it out.” He fell silent and watched Donovan, who had taken an overlong pull off his beer, his embarrassment getting the better of him in the form of having no idea how to forward the conversation. He had dreamed of this moment for so many years and yet now that it had come, he had no idea how to handle it.

“Did we help you?” Frank asked as Donovan set down the beer bottle once more, placing it directly over a ring of already-formed condensation upon the counter.

“I’m sorry?” Donovan was confused by the question, and had hoped that he misheard.

“I’m never sure if people say it because they have nothing else to say to me, or because they mean it. I think you would be honest—did we help you? I’m sixty two fucking years old and I still don’t know the actual answer to this question.” Frank’s voice took on a bitter tone as he spoke, and Donovan felt his stomach knot in apprehension.

“If there is nothing else your band did, it was help people and save lives.” He took a step back and lifted his shirt, stopping just below his pecs and turning to the side slightly. All along the left side of his ribcage were scars. Some were thin, others almost half an inch thick. They marred together and some were indistinguishable from others. He could see the pain upon Frank’s face, and allowed the garment to fall, hiding the obviously self-inflicted scars. “Before you guys I was bullied relentlessly in school. I was verbally harassed at home, I had abandonment issues, bulimia, drug use, and—“ Donovan broke off, his voice breaking slightly. He cleared his throat and returned his gaze to this man, once a hero and now—just another man. “I was so consumed with self loathing for what I was, for what I might become, I didn’t know that there was any way I’d get out of high school outside of a body bag.” Donovan’s voice was bitter, but a slow smile had begun to slide across his features. “And then I heard I’m Not Okay.”

Frank chortled a little, but any negativity could have been present in such a reaction was nonexistent. The reaction was a smile, warm and joyous, as though Frank had been searching for someone to tell them their story for a long time. “You found I’m Not Okay, then what?” He prompted Donovan, smiling at him in a way to signify that he was genuinely interested in what he had to say. His gaze remained focused on the barkeep, who was struggling to keep his cool and not turn into the teenage fanboy version of himself. His voice was remarkably steady as he spoke.

“I found the MCRmy not long after, I started reading your band’s magazine articles, watching music videos, interviews—bootlegged concerts.” Frank’s head bent forward as he laughed, but motioned for him to keep going. Emboldened, Donovan pressed on, “I was sixteen at the time, and I was constantly a mess because of my home life, but you guys gave me a purpose. I saw myself especially in Gerard, and cleaned myself up. I encouraged others to do the same, I became a sort of mentor for other fans having harder times.”

“Did you ever do anything with it? It sounds like you had a knack for talking to people.” Frank broke off when another patron wandered in, eased into the stool at the end of the bar. Donovan cast Frank an apologetic look, headed down to the man who happened to be a regular. He filled a shot glass with top shelf whiskey and left the bottle, knowing that Ted always made good on his bills. He headed back to Frank, who was waiting patiently for him.

“I became a bartender,” Donovan said with a slight shrug of his shoulders, “I listen to people all day, I help them if I can, but given that I’m sort of an enabler for alcoholics I can only do so much.” He drained the last trickles from his bottle and tossed it into the recycling on the other side of the counter. “I focused on my art more. It seemed more important, especially with the influence of your band.” Donovan grinned, an expression Frank matched while he took a slow draw off his beer.

“What kind of art do you do?” Frank asked with a look that indicated that he was genuinely curious, and not humouring him by asking. His self-doubt surfaced for the briefest of moments, then braced himself for the worst while he fished out his phone. He unlocked it and opened up his folder documenting his artwork before presenting it to Frank, the faintest tremble in his hand indicative of his mild nervousness while Frank took the phone and began to slowly flick through the pictures, pausing on each one to study it before progressing to the next one.

What Frank was looking at were metalwork sculptures, composed of scrap metal, primarily from the junkyards near his home, but also from friends and neighbours. Some of the sculptures were up to fifteen feet in height, while others could fit in a small living room. “You don’t have to look though the whole thing if you don’t want to,” Donovan added belatedly, silently cursing his self-consciousness as he did so, but when Frank looked up to him, his expression was one of surprise and mild confusion.

“Why would I not look at the whole thing? Dude, these are fucking incredible.” He spoke earnestly, and Donovan felt a trickle of pride as Frank pressed on, “I really like this one.” He spun the phone around to show Donovan which one he was referring to, and he could not help but smile a little.

The creation Frank had been referring to was a fifteen-foot tall sculpture, split down the middle as half man, half woman. The man side had been made out of chicken wire and kitchen utensils, while the woman side was made of auto parts. “It’s really powerful,” Frank said, breaking through the silence as Donovan stared down at his own work, “And our band helped you accomplish this?”

“You guys did,” he replied, smiling and twitching his head forward in a half-nod. “Before this I hadn’t considered art. I didn’t love it or hate it, and I was only vaguely aware of its existence. After I learned about your band, I began exploring it. Metalwork came way later though.” He grinned a little, one which Frank matched while he pulled back the phone and returned to flipping through the pictures. He took his time with each one, just as before but he did not stop to discuss any of the other statues. When he had finished looking through the album he handed the phone back to Donovan, “You’re really talented dude, I mean it.”

“Thanks,” Donovan replied with a faint smile. He had heard the compliment many times before, though sometimes he scarcely dared to believe it, as the buyers did not seem to share Frank’s sentiment. He glanced down the bar to see Ted had made it about halfway through the bottle on his own and had begun to slowly sway, but he knew better than to try and take his liquor from him.

“Hey, I mean it,” Frank said again, leaning in a little closer as though closing some of the space might somehow reassure him, “You are talented. I know that look. It’s the look of an artist who hasn’t made it yet, but you will.”

While Frank had been speaking, Donovan felt something inside him break. Some wall of self-doubt, of self-loathing, built up after years of abuse from schoolmates, family and friends, he had learned to take anything anyone said to him with a grain of salt, for all he knew they were lying—and usually they were. Now alone, on his own for so long and having never heard words of genuine praise, it was now somewhere between unnerving and amazing to witness his hero sincerely compliment his work.

“Thank you,” Donovan replied, his tone shifting to genuine gratitude, to which Frank grinned and eased back into his stool. He lifted his beer bottle and drained the last of it. Donovan felt tightness in his chest as he did so, desperately not wanting Frank to leave. However, he did not want to come off as some lunatic, and kept his mouth shut.

Frank pulled out his wallet and pressed a few bills against the bartop, and slid them towards Donovan. He took the money, and Frank smiled, “thank you,” he said warmly, his eyes dancing with a sudden joy, as though he was seeing something that he had not witnessed for a long time. “I’ll probably be back sometime,” he said while heading for the door.

“I don’t doubt it Frank,” Donovan said with a smile, “you always come back.”
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