They’d been approached, in the beginning. A well coiffed man had asked them if they wanted to sell their souls for their chance to be heard. After it had been established that he didn’t mean losing their attitudes and values in order to be marketable, that he truly meant selling their souls, they’d called a band meeting. Frank had had experience in bands that only circled the drain slowly, he and Mikey both had seen promising bands on the Eyeball label go nowhere. No one in My Chemical Romance wanted that fate, to be just another band no one had ever heard of. The general consensus was it was worth it; who knew if there was even a Heaven or a Hell? Depending on what version of God was right, they were all fucked anyway. Might as well get something out of it. And so each had signed the contract, pulling a hangnail for a rush of blood to drip beside their name. Frank wanted to sign the entire thing in blood, but apparently the devil didn’t have quills.
Mikey’s probably the one that realises first. It should be Gerard, who’s throat must be getting dry. If not him, Bob; his arms must ache. But Mikey knows he’s right when later claims he was the first to notice they’d been playing way too long.
He has the thought and figures he should probably say something. Their set can only be so long, while a long encore is fun, and the fans always appreciate it, the hard truth is they only have so much time to get to the next venue. Then Bob starts the drums for Vampires and Mikey positions his fingers and drifts back into the music. Ray or Frank will say something the next time Gerard drifts over to them, or the techs will cut them off. It’ll work out.
Some time later he thinks it again. He’s pretty sure they’ve been playing too long. He doesn’t really know how long it’s been. He doesn’t wear a watch on stage, it doesn’t go with the Black Parade look. Mikey repeats it several times to himself so it stays in his head, but doesn’t stop playing.
Early Sunsets over Monroeville starts and Mikey starts playing. It’s weird. It isn’t a song they normally play, and it’s not a song they play when they’re The Black Parade, and Mikey’s fully clad in his uniform but he thinks he can remember playing it recently. As in earlier tonight. The next time Frank comes near him he asks “haven’t we already played this?”
Frank shakes his head, letting his hair fly before it hits his cheeks wetly, strands clumped together with sweat. Mikey’s sure though. Even as his fingers keep playing he does his best to catalogue each song. They keep wanting to slip away, so each time it starts to fade he stamps on his own foot.
Once they’ve played more than a set’s worth -and he knows that they played a lot more before he started counting, even if he can’t remember any of it- Mikey says something. Shouts, really, a loud voice is needed to overcome Gerard’s signing. “We haven’t stopped playing.”
Ray’s the first to respond, a single yelled “What?”
“We’ve played twenty songs. We’ve played more. Don’t you remember?” He can lower his voice as they get the middle of Demolition Lovers and Gerard stops singing for a minute. “I think this is it. This is the deal we made being cashed in.”
Frank snorts. “Yeah, because Hell is playing a great set.”
Ray and Gerard just look at him, and Mikey thinks Hell is maybe not being believed about things you know are true. That’s when Bob stands, and immediately bends so he can still hit his drums. “I don’t think I can stop playing. What the fuck is going on. What do you mean Hell?”
Gerard’s back to singing again, but it’s Ray who shouts over him to explain. Bob doesn’t take it well. “I wasn’t in the band! I didn’t sign shit! I shouldn’t be here. Where the fuck is Otter?”
“Matt’s not dead. You are. Maybe in sixty years when he dies of old age he’ll replace you.”
Frank’s shaking his head again, this time crying. Mikey can’t hear all of what he’s saying over the music, but it sounds like a repetitive ramble of ‘I don’t want to be dead. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. What about Jamia? And Mom and Dad? I don’t want to be dead’ and Mikey plants his feet firmly on his side of the stage. He can’t handle crying right now, it’s every man’s sanity for themselves. If there’s anything melting down at the Paramour taught him it’s sometimes you need to take care of your own shit first.
“How do you think we died? I mean it must have been all together, for us all to be here. Do you think the bus turned over? Or maybe one of the crazy protesters bombed a stadium.”
Gerard’s the one that eventually answers Ray at the end of a song, frowning. “Oh, I hope they didn’t. Doesn’t seem fair to the fans.”
Bob stands up and roars, “Fuck the fucking fans! It’s not fair to us! To me! I wasn’t even a part of your fucking deal!”
“Yeah, I think it’s a bit late for protesting now.” Ray answers.
“Fuck this!” Bob kicks the drums as violently as he can. The kick drum comes flying forward and it’s TRL all over again; it smashes into Ray and he goes down. Even as he kneels Ray continues to play, and Mikey can’t help but stare. He’s never seen Ray play on his knees on stage. Frank, every night, among other positions, but not Ray. Moments later Bob’s drums are back on the riser and he’s sitting on his stool.
“That would be cool if it wasn’t so fucked up,” Ray says. No one answers him. Gerard’s busy singing, Bob is red with fury and Frank is still crying.
Mikey doesn’t say anything either. He’s pretty sure Ray and Gerard are going to snap out of their calm soon, and when they go they’re probably going to be worse than Bob and Frank. Mikey doesn’t want to see either explosion so he lets himself sink back into the music.
He comes out of it, sometimes. They all do, sometimes. It’s Frank that eventually figures out as long as they’re playing they can play anything, not just their own songs. Gerard is the first to jerk off as he’s singing, he’s also the first to help out Bob when he decides it’s not fair he can’t put down his drumsticks. It takes Mikey a while to let Gerard help him, but at some timeless point he decides why not? There are no taboos in Hell. He likes the quick kisses Gerard can sneak in between lyrics better though. Regardless of how long it’s been, Gerard’s mouth always still tastes like orange juice.
Mostly though, he just floats in the music. Eternity is easier that way.