cold_clarity: (red hair)
....that time is back. in case someone on my flist hasn't been spammed with the return of that band that knows all about Anthems to Your High School Angst, have an MCR video:



oh look. instead of working on my paintings or writing that paper I should be turning in or doing any of my math homework, I wrote bandslash fic again for the first time in years.

thanks to an extensive discussion with [livejournal.com profile] normalhumanbein (who also beat me to the punch with posting something for this insanity), I now give you some 2,000+ words of emo boys being emo in the post-apocalyptic desert of TREMENDOUSLY unbeta'd, stream-of-consciousness-in-the-bad-way writing. oh yeah. it's a red hot mess.

Title: Untitled
Rating: R
Pairing:
Frank/Gerard, Gerard/Ray, Gerard/Mikey
Summary: an AU disaster.  there was a virus.  the virus makes you crazy.  the vaccine makes you empty. this is mostly like fragments of an idea stitched together under the very very loose definition of narrative fiction.
Warnings: uh, language? mostly, just know that this was written in under 24 hours with no editing whatsoever so....don't take it too seriously or anything. really.


The Hospital complex is the cleanest thing that Mikey’s seen since—well. Ever. And for the first few days that turn into weeks that turn into months, he lays in his bed and stares at the shining white walls and the spotless corners that are never crowded with dust or dirt or spiders.

He wonders how they keep the desert out.

Wondering is the first trick he learns to keep from screaming while they prick him with needles and prod him with instruments as cold and bright and silver as the moon that he’s certain he hasn’t seen in years.

*

Ray is the first person Gerard ever really talks to about Mikey. For the life of him, Gerard can’t say why. Ray, for all intents and purposes, should be the enemy. Ray’s parents were scientists. Ray knows about blood and water purification and about carefully and methodically picking something apart to make sense of the pieces, even if they no longer add up to a whole.

But Ray is also the one who found Gerard on a day so blisteringly hot that he couldn’t see straight. Ray’s family could have sold Gerard for the money or the parts or the meds—but they didn’t. Ray found him in the sand and Ray’s mom gave him water and for awhile the shaded inside of their trailer and the shag carpet under his bare back was the closest thing to safe that he’d felt in a long time.

When Gerard’s heat fever had cooled enough for shapes to make sense and his mouth to build coherent statements out of breath and sound, he saw Ray sitting next to him, brown eyes peering at him through a sun-bleached frizz of dusty hair. And in a rasp, Gerard murmured:

“Who are you?”

Ray sort of shrugged. Gerard remembered and imagined the quiet hazy shroud of sunset-illuminated ozone that surrounded the caravan as it faded into the distance. He remembers screaming after them fuck you I hate you I hope the Greys eat you you fucking cowards and his voice dissipating without echo into the broad expanse of the desert twilight. He spat after all of them and kicked up sandclouds and raged himself into exhausted sleep (which was stupid because he woke up thirsty, so thirsty, without any hope of water at all).

“Ray.”

Gerard squinted around the trailer and felt scared for the first time since he came home to find Mikey gone. “You’re a loner?”

Ray shrugged again. “Family’s in search of a new Caravan to join. Dad says it’s bad luck to leave people out to die in the desert.”

“I could have been infected.”

“We might’ve been, too.” Ray stood up and his feet were bare and dirty. “But none of us are.”

It wasn’t much of an explanation, but the strange logic of it all would characterize the rest of their friendship.

*

Frank has blisters at the corners of his mouth from all the times the Doctors kept him in a fucking muzzle to keep him in place. He halfway smirks now, and sometimes jokes about how the roughened skin matches the marks on his back and the ligature scars on his wrists and his ankles.

He’s manic in a way that makes Ray kind of uneasy (but not uneasy enough to say so). But Mikey wouldn’t go without him and Gerard wouldn’t go without Mikey and so they risked their lives to find kid who turned out to be part feral animal (whose name, at the time, Mikey didn’t even know) because Ray knew with quiet certainty that he’d risk anything that Gerard thought life was worth risking for—and Gerard would risk more than anything for Mikey.

And Ray looks at Frank through the orange light of their fire and realizes that this is how camaraderie adds up for them. This is how their story will play out. He can’t change it, so he accepts it and does his best to keep everyone calm (the next best thing he can to safe).

*

Mikey’s memories of the Hospital are terrifying but comfortable. In the heat of the desert days, he lives in them and doesn’t come up for air ever, unless Gerard touches him.

(and he knows if it’s Gerard and if it’s not, because he’s memorized the feeling of his brother’s hands, knows exactly how Gerard’s palms are supposed to fit over his chest, his ribs his hips…)

The way the sun filters through the windows of their van (bright and blinding and white), the way it reflects off the sand, so they’re sinking in a sea of dazzling heat—it reminds him of the bright white hospital walls and all he has to do is close his eyes and he’s there.

There, on a table, staring vacantly off to one side. The Doctors are asking questions (they’re always asking questions) and he’s never been one to fight, but he’s never been one to comply either—and so he stares and stares and keeps silent.

There’s a figure in a tube off to one side of the room. Like a giant fetus in some external sack of amniotic fluid. His eyes aren’t open and he might as well be dead, but Mikey makes up a conversation with him while a Doctor grabs his arm.

“I need a vein,” someone’s saying.

And there are fingers pressing into the spaces between his ribs.

My name is Mikey he tells the hairless man in the tube (because no one else ever asked him, ever seemed to care, and if he doesn’t tell someone he’s afraid he’ll just forget). How are you?

More fingers on his mouth, pulling back his lips.

“Minor necrosis on the gums.”

On his thighs. His crotch. Someone manhandles his testacles.

“…discolored discharge…”

How long have you been here?

“Any greyscaling?”

“None—”

“The necrosis?”

Do you have a family? I have a brother…

“…debride and biopsy…”

Sharp, thin pain explodes like something electric in his shoulder. The pierce of the syringe nearly throws him out of his conversation. The figure in the fluid blurs. His eyes sting.

“2 CCs…”

And then a hand that isn’t gloved in latex touches his face. He blinks. A thumb traces the ridge of his cheekbone and the curve of his lower lip.

He knows this hand.

And the hospital melts away into the softness of his brother’s palm. He opens his mouth (a quiet kind of beckoning) and Gerard’s thumb tastes like sweat and rust and dirt and blood.

*

“He’s dying, Ray,” Gerard says one night, when Mikey and Frank have fallen asleep in the back of the van.

The broad expanse of nothing reaches from horizon to horizon, silvery and bluish in the light of the full moon.

Ray kicks a rock and doesn’t say anything. Gerard thinks he’s going to be sick, because he can still see the lesions, the giant, gaping, greyish splotches, like alien bruises on Mikey’s back. Irritated at nothing he can explain, Gerard shoves Ray hard enough to send him stumbling.

Fuck you,” he snaps, wanting to blame someone. “Fuck you.”

Ray just gives him a long look. “You know I’d fix it if I could.”

Gerard looks away. “I’m sorry,” he murmurs.

He hears Ray’s footsteps on the sand, hears the van door open and close. Gerard slumps down against the van’s back right tire and, eventually, falls asleep shivering.

*

The problem with the post-pandemic world isn’t really that there are suddenly zombies or vampires or anything like that. The Greys don’t even bother anyone that much (unless someone bothers them first).

The problem is other humans. The Doctors. The caravans. The lack of food. The starvation and the Crazies.

They’re on the outskirts of what might have been Phoenix, once before the infections and the deaths and the Hospitals. No one lives in the cities anymore, except the Greys, and you’d have to be stupid to go back to them—except there are storm basements that got built during the viral “fallout” (if you want to look at it like that).

There is food.

There are supplies.

And they, like everyone else, are starving.

“Wonder what the Greys think this is,” Frank mutters, swinging his flashlight around. Illuminating tins of canned food. Stores of tepid but drinkable water.

Gerard doesn’t answer, so Frank keeps talking.

“Probably tried to gnaw through the cans or something.” He picks one up (it’s labeled ‘peaches’) and tosses it lightly. Catches it. Tosses it again. “Mikey hasn’t eaten much,” he says nonchalantly.

And that gets Gerard’s attention.

“You know, they shot you full of vaccines too.”

Frank grins even though Gerard can’t see it. He tosses the can into his rucksack. “And I’m going crazy while he’s turning Grey. And you and Ray are gonna die in a desert wasteland and no one’s going to miss any of us. Moral of the story: life fucking sucks. Deal with it, Way. You can’t do shit to change it.”

He’s always liked taunting Gerard because it’s so much easier to draw the agony out of him than Mikey. Where Mikey reacts less and less, Gerard is like a live wire, waiting to light up at the slightest touch.

When Gerard hits him, his flashlight goes flying, a beam of yellow light careening wildly off of the shelves, throwing their shadows into long, twisted angles. Frank rolls with the blow and grabs Gerard’s wrist to pull the other man down with him. They tussle and grunt and wrestle in the dark and the dirt until Frank twists enough to straddle Gerard’s hips, pin him on his stomach, and hold him there. Eventually their gasps even out and the tension dissipates into a defeated kind of acceptance (although accepting of what, neither one could say).

Frank shoves off. Gets to his feet. And starts throwing cans into the rucksack. When Gerard grabs his shoulder, spins him around, and slams him up against the dirt-caked, rickety shelves, Frank can’t say he’s surprised.

When Gerard’s hand knots in Frank’s hair, when Gerard kisses him with enough force to leave a bruise, well—

That surprises him a little bit.

*

After they got out, Frank learned Mikey’s name. It was weird, for awhile, not to just know him as an ID number or as “hey kid” or the guy who could really take a beating, but then, there are a lot of weird things about Mikey.

Like when Frank noticed the way Mikey’s gaze always tended to follow Gerard, hungry and constant. As if Gerard might disappear or turn to dust and fade away. Like the way Mikey smiled (and Mikey never smiled) when his hand bumped Gerard’s in the confusion of reaching for the same tin of Spam at the same time.

Or—a constant—like the way Mikey went blank all those times that Frank kicked him and hit him and fucked him sore (which of course made Frank hit him and kick him and fuck him harder, just trying to draw something out—a reaction, a cry, a moan, a plea).

The Doctors used to say it was a side effect of all the tests; this strange detachment from human emotion. Frank knows better. Frank knows the weird, almost unshakable apathy is Mikey’s way of surviving. Because if it isn’t, then Frank can’t justify why Mikey smiles for Gerard and no one else. If it isn’t, then it means that there is some shard of a person that is disintegrating into nothing, that will turn grey and cold just like his skin, and that not even Gerard’s older-brother-hair-tugging and shoulder-shoving will be able to save. Not even Ray’s weirdly extensive knowledge of blood impurities and human bodies will be able to reverse what the Doctors started.

Getting reactions out of Mikey means they aren’t all fucked (yet). So Frank watches how Mikey’s fingers catch Gerard’s when they’re sitting around the campfire at sunset. Frank watches how Gerard sometimes falls asleep with his face buried in the crook of Mikey’s neck. And he thinks a thought that he probably shouldn’t. Builds an idea that is probably a bad one (but he’s given up on having good ideas anyway, so it’s not like it matters, really).

And one night Ray catches him watching and thinking and Frank’s ears get hot because Ray has a way of looking at people like he can read minds or something. Never accusing, and never really suspicious—but knowing. Frank twists away from him (and from the sleeping brothers), but neither the look nor the movement are enough to halt the thought.

Later, the memory of it all isn’t enough to stop the action. He gets a little nauseous with the sense of shame and that whispers in the back of his head Ray’s right about you, you know, but he shuts it up with the retort: who fucking cares what Ray thinks? (and it’s almost enough). He swallows the nausea and the taste of Gerard all together, in one, a mess, a mistake, a broken fast forward.

*

“We were always…kind of a mess,” Gerard told Ray, which was an honest way of putting it, if somewhat watered down.

His hair was still damp from the candy-apple-red dye, and it snaked in glistening tendrils over Ray’s chest. There were Greys some four or five doors down, in the cavernous remains of what might have been an office building or an apartment complex or something, but that night it seemed inconsequential.

Gerard’s eyes fluttered shut, and the rhythm of Ray breathing in and out was almost enough to make the night seem warm.

“Yeah.” Ray’s voice was resonant against his clavicle. Tiny vibrations hummed through Gerard’s cheekbone. “Any family that sells their own blood for some spare parts is pretty messed up.”

Gerard replied with a derisive snort. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.”

“You know?”

“Yeah.”

Gerard could feel his own heart beating erratically out of time with Ray’s. His hand curled in Ray’s shirt.

“I was so mad at them.”

“Yeah—I’d have been too.”

“I still am.”

Ray’s hand found Gerard’s wet hair. His fingers worked through clumped red tangles. He didn’t say anything.

“Ray.”

“Hm?”

“I miss him.”

And Ray shifted to kiss him with chapped lips and he said again: “I know.”

It wasn’t just a platitude. He did know. And he didn’t seem to care. So Gerard smothered the memory of Mikey for a moment and leaned up to kiss Ray again, harder, and with more bite.

*

“That guy, right there.”

Mikey squints in the direction that Frank points. The strip mall is like a concrete oasis in the middle of the brushweed and the sand. If they’re lucky, there will be vending machines somewhere inside, and no one else will have found or ransacked them yet.

“I don’t see him.”

“There, with the beard.”

“I think you’re dehydrated.”

Frank rocks from foot to foot, fingers massaging the rusted curves of his revolver.

Mikey blinks. “I think you’re hallucinating.”

“Shut up. Gerard saw him earlier.”

Mikey starts walking towards the crumbling buildings. “Gerard is sick.”

“We’re all fucking sick, Way.”

“You made him sick.”

It’s the only time Mikey ever acknowledges what Frank does, although the accusation is only halfway true. Mikey knows that between the two of them, he’s the one with oozing craters on his back. He’s the one with fingertips that have gone colorless. He’s the one that looks like he could make someone sick, even though there was never any evidence of mutation getting transmitted through human contact at the Hospital.

*

They’re going somewhere, but they don’t know where. Racing down deserted roads, chasing after horizons they can’t catch.

There are the Greys. There are the Crazies. There are the other caravans and the Hospitals and the Doctors. And half the time they hate each other, but only temporarily, because all that other stuff out there is going to kill them and they’re the only ones that care if any of them lives or dies.

So they keep going, without knowing where or why, because at least the motion provides some sense of certainty about the world.
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