If I don't post this now I'll chicken out.
This is my entry for picfor1000, a challenge to write a story in exactly 1000 words, based on a picture prompt. It's one of them anyway, the popslash one is coming soon.
This is MCR gen, Mikey and Gerard, and man, this feels like I'm posting my first The Sentinel story way back when. *gnaws fingernails*
Thank go to ephemera_pop and frausorge who both reassured and helped give me the confidence to actually post. I've changed and added stuff since then, so all mistakes are mine and mine alone.
Mikey finds the bottles in a dumpster; a glinting light against dusty glass, and some instinct has him leaning in – plastic digging into his chest, his nose wrinkling at the scent of decay.
They feel old, look old, and he’s carefully lifting, pushing them into his bag, surrounded by folders and the half eaten remains of his lunch.
When he gets home he nods to his mom and hurries upstairs, heading for the sanctuary of his room. Once there he shuts the door, places his bag on his bed and takes off his coat, shedding the layers of his day.
He doesn’t look at the bottles; not then.
Instead he rubs his grimy hands on his pants, looks out of his window and watches the boys next door. They’re playing ball, smiling faces and laughter, and he has to look away. Movements quick and awkward, his hip connects with a haphazard pile of CDs, making them clatter to the floor.
He steps over them, folds himself down onto his bed, onto rumpled jersey sheets and stained pillows. Lying back, his head resting on his bent arm, one ear close to the wall. He listens; hopes.
Within minutes he knows. Too sharp laughter and a series of thuds and he’s already pushing himself up when the door opens and Gerard stumbles into the room.
Gerard’s eyes are rounded, pupils blown and he’s grinning. A jagged brittle smile.
He moves forward, steps deliberate, and Mikey’s skin is itching as he remains still, not shrinking away when Gerard sits and slings one arm around Mikey’s shoulder.
“Mikeyway. I have had the best day.”
Gerard’s breath is alcohol and cigarettes and his voice is shattered shards covering a misery that plunges bone deep. Mikey knows. He knows. Except Gerard got there first and Mikey’s nothing but a spectator now.
He watches, intercepts, covers up for and smoothes, all the while wondering if that’s the right thing to do. He doesn’t even know anymore, lost in a tangle of love and hate and a thousand sleepless nights.
“It was the best, the best day.” Gerard’s smile fades, slipping as his eyes lose focus and he slumps to the side, heavy and warm and Mikey blinks as he hooks his arm around Gerard’s waist, holding on.
They sit, quiet, breathing, and Mikey is hyper aware of the sensation of Gerard’s hair against his neck. He looks at Gerard’s hands, lax against the covers, nails bitten and yellowed. – and Mikey bites at his bottom lip as he moves, easing Gerard onto the bed with the ease of practice.
It takes moments to pull off Gerard’s boots, letting them drop to the floor with a thud, and Mikey tugs at the blanket, freeing it from under Gerard’s body so he can carefully cover him up.
When Mikey slides to the ground he reaches for the bowl, putting it toward the head of the bed, then settles back, knees bent, spine pushed against the edge of the mattress, listening to his brother sleep. It’s then he reaches for the bottles, pulling them out of his bag. The glass feels tacky, covered in dust and Mikey uses his finger to carve a path, a ribbon of gleaming glass exposed through the dirt.
He writes his name, Mikey around one bottle, Gerard on the next. The third he leaves blank, holding it in both hands marvelling that something so fragile has survived so long.
It gives him hope, that something so battered, so delicate and easily broken has survived, because Mikey worries, only able to watch as Gerard’s drinking damages him a little more each day.
Gerard’s voice is rough, spiked like it’s lodged somewhere deep in his throat.
When Mikey tilts back his head and looks along the length of blanket, he sees Gerard looking at him. Face pale and eyes damp, and there’s awareness in his expression. It’s suffocated within the manifestation of his demons, but still, it’s there.
It’s why Mikey sticks around, taking the swinging emotions, the silences, the too bright smiles, spends hours waiting for Gerard to push through the haze and become his real brother once more.
“Hey,” Mikey says softly, and the tightness in his chest eases as he hears Gerard breathe.
“I drew. I drew something today, it was good. It was.” Gerard blinks, his forehead wrinkled and he’s staring, as if there are answers hidden in Mikey’s face. “Something.” Gerard smiles, genuine happiness without the bolster of drink and Mikey remembers hours spent watching Gerard draw, sketch books and fingers stained with ink.
Then it’s gone, this moment of normalcy fading as Gerard sighs, giving into sleep.
Carefully placing the bottles near the wall, Mikey kneels and tucks the blanket more securely against Gerard’s chin; taking a moment to rest his fingers against Gerard’s neck, his touch gentle, feeling the beat against his skin.
Reassured yet again, Mikey looks away, fighting anger and frustration, but mostly fear. Useless emotions that he’s learned to conceal. It’s then he turns, reaching for his dresser, pulling open the bottom drawer. Blindly he reaches inside, groping for the bottle – new, no age to this one at all – which is tucked at the back, hidden behind underwear and odd socks.
Fingers clasping around plastic, Mikey sits back against the bed, knees up, head down. He rolls the bottle between his palms -- vodka disguised as soda -- because Mikey isn’t Gerard, displaying his vices for all to see. Instead he keeps his demons internalised, locked away so he can keep on going and always be there as support.
A last look behind and Mikey slowly untwists the top of the bottle. He brings it to his mouth and takes a sip, welcoming the warmth in his throat, his belly, a comfort as he sits and waits. Because Mikey loves his brother, loves him deeply, and if that means watching, making sure Gerard doesn’t destroy his own life. That’s exactly what he’ll do. Whatever it takes.