Three Cheers for Tragic Ends

Chapter Four

August 9th, 1997

Gerard really loved days like these– when the autumn wind crept in and surmounted the summer heat; and knocked down a few rusted leaves in the process. He loved the days where he could rest himself on the chip-paint back porch of his grandmother’s house and listen to the damp breeze and watch the leaves drift down– and map everything out for drawing later; because the colors were absolutely magnificent in the border-on-fall weather, and Lord knew the artist was one for the beauty of the seasons, even if he did stay inside for most of them.

Gerard really loved these days, because he could escape. But as his grandmother’s voice carried out of the house and unwilling into the range of his hearing, dreaded words like doctor’s office and tests, pneumonia and getting worse, he supposed he should stop escaping for the time being; and get back to the reality in which he would so rather not be.

He pushed himself up off the porch steps and ran the top of his thumb against his nails to remove any lodged chips of paint, and he walked in through the backdoor, into the kitchen. He passed Elena on the way, who was flitting about up and down the halls looking worried and serious and oh, God, Gerard only wanted to scoop the woman up into a hug and find some sort of cure for the simple diseases that came much worse to old age.

He gave her a sad smile, which she returned wholeheartedly– and he wished to himself that she would stop faking it as he made his way to the coffee pot.

The artist prayed to whatever deity was up there, thank God that there was already some of the rich black liquid made and waiting for him– so he poured himself a cup and leaned against the kitchen counter, and let his thoughts wander from his grandmother to less pressing matters.

Like Mikey– which, where the Hell was Mikey; because he’d gone out a quarter to an hour ago on a walk around a town that was maybe a mile in diameter, and the artist hadn’t seen him since. He took another sip of his coffee as he contemplated the timing of his brother’s arrival; and then the timing of telling his brother that Elena was actually sick, bambino, that’s why we’re up here.

Gerard threw his head back and sighed, deeply, and wished, really wished that he could just snap his eyes open and be home and not here; because not that he didn’t love his grandmother but his grandmother was dying, really, even if she wasn’t now she would be and his brother was missing in action, Jesus, this may have been a small town but small towns are normally abandoned and the housing of creepy serial killers, and–

The door opened, suddenly, causing Gerard to snap out of his never-ending profusion of mental drama and he looked up; and there was Mikey, a palm to one eye and blood out the corner of his mouth and maybe his nose and Jesus, indeed.

Gerard dropped the mug in shock, the porcelain shattering against the old, wood floors and he rushed in haste to his brother, who weakly held out a hand to stop the older boy from bombarding him with Lord knew what.

“I don’t need… help,” he coughed out, weakly; and he raised one hand to wipe at his now steadily-dripping nose. Gerard narrowed his eyes and said flatly, sarcasm dripping from his words, “You don’t need help. Really.”

“I don’t,” he wheezed, and then hunched over, gripping at his stomach. “Nope, m’gonna vomit. Need help, I need help,” and he clung to his brother and growled, “Move,” and Gerard didn’t really bother thinking before hastening himself and his brother to the bathroom.

The door slammed behind the two boys and Mikey gripped at the toilet seat and lurched forward again; and Gerard’s nose scrunched up in distaste because oh, how he hated vomit, he’d done it enough himself to know– and he looked away before coming to realize himself, and his situation. This was his brother, Jesus; and so he lodged himself beside the younger boy and held matted, blonde curls away from his bloodied face and shut his eyes and pretended he was in his happy place as his brother retched into the toilet.

“Oh, piccolo,” he muttered pitifully, and he stroked his hand through the younger boy’s hair. “What happened, kiddo?”

“I’m a bit busy, Gee,” the younger one grumbled, and then gagged again, and whined, “Oh, all things holy–” and vomited again.

Gerard sighed and ran a hand through his hair as he continued stroking his brother’s with the other, and was about to return to trying to help with more than a few words in Italian which clearly weren’t, when a voice interrupted him.

“Gerard, bambino? Is everything okay in there?” Gerard’s eyes widened at Elena’s voice and he looked to Mikey, who shook his head, eyes mirroring the older boy’s.

“Nu-uh– oh,” he moaned, and then threw up again, and the same time Gerard fake-coughed, loudly.

“Everything’s fine, Nonna,” he called, voice sickeningly sweet. “We’re just taking a–” and he cut himself off, and added, disgruntled, “shower.” And his face pulled into a disturbed grimace, and Mikey rolled his eyes.

“Together?” the old woman asked hesitantly.

“Oh, all the time,” the artist called back pathetically, expression still etched into his features. He hoped to God Elena didn’t hear it when Mikey threw up again.

“Oh, you know that’s not normal, right?”

“Yup.” And he looked down, and closed his eyes tight and said, “We’re not the weird ones, Grandmama, I swear,” and Elena hummed in response.

“Well, okay. I’m going to head over to Angelique’s now, sweetie. Be good bambinos while I’m gone, please dears.”

“Tell Mrs. Haverdash I said hi,” Gerard called back weakly. Elena hummed again; and the artist sighed with great relief as he heard her footsteps dissipate down the hall.

“In the shower? Really?” Mikey whined. He was sat back from the toilet and when Gerard gave him a skeptical glance he waved him off, and said, “M’good for now. But really, Gerard? You couldn’t think of anything better– and all the time, oh. Great, now she thinks we shower together all the time.”

“Well I didn’t want her worrying ‘bout you being sick, and then coming in and seeing you all blood– which, speaking of, what the Hell happened?” Gerard’s mood changed rapidly back into Big Brother mode and he began fretting over the blonde boy; he pushed the younger one’s blood-matted hair back and frowned. “Where are your glasses?”

“In half,” Mikey carped, and sniffed. “Ugh, it tastes like blood and acid. I wanna go home,” he whined pathetically.

“We are home,” Gerard said softly as he reached up and wetted a tissue, and then brought it to his brother’s face, trying to get the blood off. “Oh, you will need to shower though, if you want this stuff out of your hair.”

“I want to go home-home though,” he whined. “Like, momma home.”

“You sound five,” Gerard said, but he took pity on his brother. “I know. But we’re here with Nonna now, okay? We’re gonna be visiting for a while and it won’t be so bad, you’ll see.” And he wiped the end of Mikey’s nose with the wetted tissue before planting a soft kiss there.

“Ew,” the younger boy cried. “You’re babying me.”

“You’re being one,” the artist retorted. “But now, tell me what happened?”

“I got beat up by Troy LeDouche,” he said angrily, voice raising at the mockery of the boy’s last name.

“What, the mayor’s son? The nineteen-year-old mayor’s son beat up my sixteen-year-old brother, really. That’s fucking illegal, the little cunt–” and Gerard threw the wet tissue onto the floor with more than the originally needed force. “I’ll make him eat his insides–!”

“Gee, please,” Mikey cried, and reached out and brought the older boy’s arm back down to a safer, less threatening level. “Please, don’t do anything about it. He won’t do it again, okay, but don’t make this a big deal?”

Gerard huffed; but he took a deep breath, and said, “Okay, I’m calm. I’m calm. Ah, jeez, but what did he do? Tell me–” Mikey looked at him disbelievingly, “I won’t get mad!”

“I was walking ‘round wherever, looking on the edge of town and by the churchyard, y’know? And I dunno. He called me a ‘scrawny little faggot’ and then asked if I’d suck his cock for a five, to which I said that I wouldn’t suck anything on him ever for all the money in the world, and then he punched me in the nose. Twice. And the eye– and then like seven times in the stomach. And he laughed, and I laid there in a miserable blind ball for like three minutes, until I decided I was better off home and not dying in front of a church, Jesus. That’s why it took me so long to get home,” the boy mumbled. Gerard growled.

“I promised I’d be calm, so I won’t scream. But–” The artist bit his lip and puffed out a haughty breath of air, and laughed. “Ooh, the little shit.”

Mikey looked at him pleadingly. “Please, just– don’t tell anyone. Okay? I sound like a little bitch, I know, but–”

“But it’s illegal, Mikey. By law. Like, I could put his ass in jail because he touched you, oh–” and the artist brought his brother into a tight hug, and said, “Don’t you ever fucking leave anywhere without me again, okay? God, you’ll worry me straight to an early grave and I’ll be a ghost trapped in this stupid house forever.”

“I’m not a baby,” the younger one began to protest, but Gerard cut him off.

“You are, you’re my baby, you’re my little bambino baby brother and it’s my job to protect you, and I fucking failed–”

“That’s all well and good, Gee, but I can still taste last night’s chicken noodle whateverthefuck and it’s pretty fucking gross, and there’s blood in my hair– can I get cleaned up now, please?”

“Oh, duh, yeah. Sorry.” Gerard let go of his brother then, and stood up. “Sorry, I’ll just–” but he stopped himself, because Mikey was still sat on the floor, looking helpless.

“Am I actually going to have to shower with you?” Gerard laughed; but Mikey looked serious from his spot on the floor, and so the older boy sighed, and helped him up. “Ah, jeez. Okay, okay. Well okay. Can you get undressed by yourself?”

“I’m not incompetent,” the younger boy growled. “Just help me up and stay here, okay, in case I fall over or something, damn.”

“Okay, well. I’ll just look intently at this conspicuous wall stain while you get all your clothes off. Wow, what a nice wall stain. Did you know this wall stain was here? I wonder how long it’s been here, and what caused it? Wow, this wall stain actually has a history, man. Isn’t that weird? Something so simple as a wall stain has all this back story. It’s pretty cool, actually, it kinda looks like a cactus–”

“Gee. Please. I’m fucking undressed already. Stop orgasming over your wall stain and help me?” Mikey pleaded. Gerard looked around surprisedly at his younger brother, who stood boxer-clad with his arms crossed, looking unamused.

“Well hold up!” the older boy cried, and pulled his shirt over his head. “M’not getting in in all this,” and he kicked his pants off, and thanked the holy Lord he didn’t fall and crack his head against the wall stain because that would be just like him, man, and then there would be an even bigger wall stain, and– oh, great. Mikey was looking at him all grumbly now. “Okay, fine.”

There was borderline more than a tolerable amount of complaining on the younger Way’s part as Gerard helped him into the shower; and then he let out a pretty un-masculine shriek when the artist turned the water on and the spray shot out hellfire hot against his back, and he jumped up into Gerard’s chest and cried out, “I hate this stupid old house.”

Gerard didn’t mind the ‘stupid old house’. Sure, the floorboards creaked, and the paint was chipping off; and he was sure they had rats, or a ghost, or something– but it was just as much his home as his real home was. Plus, he had learned long ago that the world was an ugly place, so you had to appreciate the beauty in the simple things. They weren’t corrupt yet.

“Okay, can you wash your hair by yourself?” the artist asked. Mikey narrowed his eyes.

“Not incompetent,” he reminded. “I just need you here for like, steadiness. Hold me in place, or something. Plus you gotta help me out the damn shower, too.”

“So what, am I just supposed to stand here and like, watch you then?”


“Then why am I in here?” the older boy cried.

“Moral support,” Mikey retorted. Gerard just sighed and thanked God he wasn’t getting too wet, particularly, because the water was mostly hitting Mikey; and he distracted himself with a semi-interesting crack in the wall.

It wasn’t a terribly long time before Mikey was snapping his brother out of a cute-boy-named-Frank-and-wall-crack-filled trance and whining about how he wanted to get out now, please, so assistance would be nice.

Gerard sighed and turned the water off –which only scared Mikey again, and the artist mocked him for it– and helped his brother out of the shower, and squeezed the water out of his hair and sat on the sink counter in damp boxers and a damper attitude while Mikey huddled himself under a fuzzy towel.

“Thank you,” he mumbled into the fluffy yellow material. “I’m a bitch to deal with.”

“You got fucking beat up, kid,” Gerard said, and he leaned out a hand and ruffled his brother’s slowly-drying hair. “You get a pass today.”

“Oh, oh thanks for that,” the blonde said sarcastically; but the corner of his mouth was turned up in a smile. “So before I came home all ew, what were you doing?”

Gerard pushed himself off the counter and stood behind his brother, and as he opened his mouth to respond he opened the door to none other than his grandmother, who turned and gave a raised eyebrow.

“You really did shower together? I thought you were joking. Well, I didn’t know what you were doing, but I didn’t think you were telling the truth,” she said thoughtfully, and smiled warily at the two boys.

“Thanks, grandma,” Gerard said disdainfully, and he ushered Mikey out the door. “Go get dressed, piccolo, and I’ll be in there in a second.”

When Mikey had made his way up the stairs and out of earshot, Gerard turned to his grandmother, and sighed. “So, how bad is it this time?”

“Oh, bambino. They want to do tests on me– I’m going in tomorrow, in fact– that call was just a reminder call, but yes; so I will be gone all of lunch tomorrow, and I’ll probably stop in town for a meal, don’t worry about feeding me. But I’ll be home before dark, okay?”

Gerard blinked slowly, and then took his grandmother into a hug. “They better make you fucking well again,” he mumbled into her shoulder, ignoring her protests at his foul language. “Ah, jeez, Elena.”

“I’ll be fine, dear. Don’t worry about a vecchia like me.”

“You say that a lot, but it never helps,” the artist sighed, and pulled away from the hug. “Okay, well I’m gonna go coddle the sourpuss baby for a bit, and then I’ll be down to make dinner, okay? Don’t fret yourself over anything, now. Read a book, take a nap, get better,” he pleaded. Elena just smiled.

“Okay, bambino, okay.” And the old woman made her way down the hall and into her room.

Gerard smiled sadly after her, and turned toward the staircase, and began to ascend it. As a frequent, he let his fingers trace over all of the divots in the wood; until one made him stop, and question. He looked down where his hand had been previously and sure enough, there was something carved into the wood– FAI.

Gerard blinked, and ran his hand over the markings. He didn’t remember having ever seen them before, but they looked old– years old. Lots of years old.

Whatever. Gerard shrugged the thought off and took the rest of the steps two at a time. He had to wrangle his kid brother down the stairs again, and figure out a way to get the poor by to help with dinner because there was no way Gerard was doing that all by himself.

He ignored the vanilla scent that wafted along with him in the hallway. After all, it didn’t really bother him.