September 15, 2015
Mikey's 35 and still single. He's had a hard time getting close to anyone beyond a few people - his brother, his bandmates, and a few people in the music scene. Two things really get in the way of him letting anyone in: the fear that he'll find out someone only wants him for his fame or money or both, and the inability of people to understand his gender identity.
"Look, I'm not transgendered or anything," Mikey says to the interviewer, who's wearing way too much foundation and not nearly enough eyeliner. The rest of the guys are silent around him, including Gee, who's doing that twitchy thing where he keeps pushing his hair back out of his eyes even though it's barely long enough to do so at the moment. Gee's hair changes just about as often as Frank gets tattoos. A person would think that Frank would have run out of available skin by now, but he hasn't. It's kind of miraculous. "Not that there's anything wrong with being transgendered."
"Well, if you're not transgendered, then what are you? You've said you don't identify as a man."
"I don't. I don't identify as anything," Mikey explains. "I don't fit into either traditional gender. I'm just me."
"So you're saying you don't have a gender?"
Mikey would roll his eyes if he didn't care about not being rude. Why does he have to repeat himself in every interview? "Exactly," Mikey agrees. "At least, not one they have a name for."
"Isn't that hard? Wouldn't it be easier to just say you're trans?"
"Sure," Mikey says with a shrug. "But it would be a lie."
"Look, we all have things about ourselves that some people wouldn't understand," Frank interjects. "Like me being vegan. Would it be easier to eat meat? Yeah. But I wouldn't be being true to myself. And that's what we're all about."
"What he said," Ray adds, laughing. Mikey half-smiles at the sound of Ray's laugh, picturing Ray's face since Ray is directly behind him and he can't see him. "We're all different. No point denying it."
"It's our differences that make us beautiful," Gee interjects. He's always a fucking romantic like that, but that's one of the things Mikey loves about him. Mikey cuts a glance over at Gee, grinning at his brother. Gee grins right back.
The interview ends soon after that. They all get up, stretching their limbs before walking off the set, herded by their techs. The interview lasted a couple of hours, but it'll probably get chopped down to fifteen minutes or less. Mikey bets his part of the interview will be cut. People don't get his neutral-gender thing, so they tend not to address it. Not publically, at least.
So he's surprised when, two months later, the interview shows up on MTV with a full four-minute segment about his gender identity. Mikey watches it on the tv monitor in the back of the bachelor bus with Frank and Bob, who rejoined the band about a year ago after they all got over the Killjoy issues that split them apart. Brian is back, too, organizing their lives down to the minutest detail. It's comforting, in a strange way.
Frank is only on the bachelor bus because his bus is in the shop; he and Jamia and the kids have been staying with Gee and Lindsey and Lee (who refuses to answer to Bandit anymore, by the way). But Frank said he's been missing just hanging out with the guys, and since Jamia and the twins are taken care of, Frank's been staying with Mikey and Bob for the last two days. Mikey wonders when Jamia's going to get pissed at him and make him come back "home".
"Hey, it's your segment," Frank says, bouncing on the edge of the couch. He still has as much energy at 34 as he did at 24, and it's been rubbing off on his kids. Mikey doesn't know how Jamia's been handling them on her own - although she can handle Frank, so maybe it's not that bad. Mikey's just glad it isn't him.
"Solidarity," Bob says, reaching over Frank to offer Mikey a high-five. Mikey high-fives him back and grins, then tucks his hands between his knees. It's pretty awesome to watch himself on screen, talking about an issue that's important to him while his band backs him up and supports him.
Frank pulls his phone out of his pocket and immediately starts typing, probably one of his inanely polite-dash-excited twitter posts to celebrate Mikey on getting publicity for his gender-neutrality. Mikey rolls his eyes, but deep down he's a little queasy, thinking about how people are going to react to this. It's not like he's not out about it - but only so many people actually know. The interviews in which he's mentioned it before have been so obscure or glossed over or upstaged by other events that most of their fanbase hasn't reacted to the news.
The web boards explode that night, calling Mikey on his "bullshit" and saying it's just a call for attention while others question what it actually means. There are a few posts that ask, "Genderqueer?", and Mikey smiles at that, because it's the closest to the truth out of anything anyone has said. For the most part, though, people are just ignorant assholes.
Mikey's phone rings at ass-o-clock in the morning, but when Mikey sees who it is, he wakes up right away. One of his very favorite musicians, and the only other gender-neutral person he knows - Pete Wentz. Pete came out years before Mikey did, and encouraged Mikey to do the same. Together, they were, well, fabulous.
"Pete!" Mikey squawks, excited to hear from his old friend. Pete has been really busy with Fallout Boy and Bl4ck C4rds for the last few years, and their tour schedules never mesh. He and Pete keep up on Twitter, but it's not the same as hearing his voice.
"Hey Mikey, he likes it!" Pete replies, and giggles. Mikey rolls his eyes good-naturedly. "Mikes, hey Mikes, I saw your interview on MTV. Awesome, non-dude!"
Pete has more energy in the middle of the night than Frank does on a stage in front of a thousand people. Mikey's tired just thinking about it. "Yeah, non-dude. Dude, are you inhaling caffeine or what?"
"Nah, just a little manic, you know how it is. I'm really bouncy, like. Yeah. So, how'd you get them to put it on this time? I thought you had multiple failed attempts."
"I did. I don't know. I guess they just decided it was newsworthy," Mikey offers. "Where the fuck are you?" Maybe Pete is close by. Maybe they can hook up.
"Bumfuck, Canada. It's not as fun as it sounds," Pete says somberly. "I mean, I'm not getting fucked. In the ass."
"Yeah, I get it." Mikey laughs. "Man, we have to get together."
"I will make that happen, Mikeyway," says Pete. "Take my word. I will make that happen."
Pete is true to his word. Three months later, on a carefully arranged hotel night, Mikey finds himself in a hotel room with none other than the fabulous Pete Wentz. The room isn't so fabulous, but then, they can work with that.
"Shitty wallpaper," Pete announces, picking at the blisters on the brown paper on the walls. "And the curtains are so drab. Natural light, people! We need more natural light!"
"Uh, it's night time," Mikey points out, even though he's pretty sure Pete knows that. He has a feeling Pete's just doing this routine to amuse him. "Outside doesn't even have natural light."
"Shhhh, Mikeyway," Pete whispers, and there's an honest-to-god gleam in his eye. Mikey gets on board, grinning enthusiastically at his friend. "You'll scare the unicorns away."
"Okay," Mikey agrees, giddy. Pete's the only one who ever really understood him. He still is. There's a part of him that wonders, isn't he too old for this kind of stuff? But when he takes in Pete, who's a whole 15 months older than him but is acting like he's 15 years younger, well, Mikey's so there. He can be himself with Pete. He can be real.
"Ahhh," Pete sighs, going to the other end of the room where he dumps his bag on one of the beds. He unzips it so it falls open, nail polish and makeup and boas exploding out of the bag. Mikey wonders how he got it all in there in the first place.
Pete plugs his phone into a pair of portable speakers, and says, "I'll be the Nicky to your Richey. Just don't disappear on me, okay?", and the Manic Street Preachers pour out of the speakers as Pete settles himself on the middle of the bed.
Mikey joins him, folding his lanky legs under himself as Pete reaches for the eyeliner. "Scoot closer," Pete says, grabbing hold of Mikey's chin. "I'm gonna make you fabulous."
"I thought I was already fabulous?" Mikey asks, but obeys, shifting closer to Pete on the bed. He likes the warmth and firmness of Pete's fingers on his skin, the steady swipe of his hand as he applies eyeliner to Mikey's lids. It's a delicate process, contrasted by the cheerful instrumentals underlying the dark lyrics of the Manics. "You're so easy to dehumanize," Mikey hums along, making a conscious effort not to bob his head. He taps his hand against his thigh, instead. "Pay for it..."
Pete grins, stretching his face into strange shapes that resemble Mikey making himself makeup-ready. Pete finishes up with one eye, then moves on to the other. Mikey hasn't been this happy in a long time.
"Lip gloss," Pete announces, going for Mikey's lips. Mikey stretches his lips wide, watching Pete's face as he makes his own funny face. Pete laughs, his hand shaking over Mikey's lips. "No fair, Mikeyway."
"Pretend prayer, pretend care, makes everything seem so fair," Mikey sings. It clashes with the song that's currently playing, but it doesn't matter. Mikey laughs when Pete pouts. "Okay, okay. I'll behave."
"Don't ever behave," Pete says earnestly, leaning forward to press his lips to Mikey's half-lip-glossed ones. Mikey kisses him back, sucking Pete's lip into his mouth. Pete whimpers a little when Mikey pulls away.
Mikey stretches his lips out again, without making a funny face this time. Pete sighs, shoulders slumped as he leans forward and finishes Mikey's lips, leaning in to kiss him barely a few seconds after he's done. Mikey twists his fingers in Pete's thick black hair, tugging him closer to deepen the kiss. Pete tastes like artificial fruit snacks and soda, his teeth smooth against Mikey's tongue.
"Need to belong, oh the roads are scary, so hold me in your arms, I wanna be your only possesion," Pete sings softly, his voice almost a sigh. So Mikey wraps his arms around Pete and kisses him deeply, because he feels the same way. He connects with Pete in a way he's never connected with anyone before, and it makes him feel light-headed and wonderful.
The kiss gradually slows, Mikey's slick lips sliding against Pete's drier ones until they part. Mikey fumbles the lip gloss out of Pete's fingers, gliding the brush tip over Pete's full lips. "Your lip gloss smile," Mikey whispers, calling back to Gerard's own lyrics rather than the Manics'. "Your scraped up knees, and..."
"If you stay, I would even wait all night," Pete continues, looking soul-deep into Mikey's eyes. Then he skips a few lines, singing, "You can run away with me any time you want."
"You remembered," Mikey murmurs, his fingers still over Pete's lips. Pete smiles slightly and nods, eyelashes fanning out over his cheeks and leaving a curved shadow underneath. Mikey picks up the eyeliner and works carefully on Pete's eyes, lining them with black. There's something beautiful about the way Pete's eyes darken and gleam between the thick black lines.
"Of course I remembered," Pete says, blinking once Mikey pulls his hand away. He blinks rapidly a few times, then presents his face for Mikey to do the other eye. The tender moment drastically changes when Pete sits up straight and sings along with his playlist, "All your slut heroes offer is a fear of the future,", then, "Sorry - it was a shoutalong moment."
"'s'all good," Mikey says, laid back and relaxed. "I thought we were going to get fabulous, anyway."
"We already are fabulous!" Pete says with a flourish, hopping off the bed. He grabs Mikey's hands and pulls him with him, wrapping a feather boa around each of their necks as he wiggles his hips and bounces in place. "Dance with me, Mikeyway! Dance!"
And so they dance, spinning around each other while their boas fly alongside them and the Manics pump out an energetic beat. Pete's pretty in his eyeliner and lip gloss, but it's his smile Mikey really loves, that and the mischievous spark in his eyes. Pete is so fucking full of life, so real. Around him, the idiocy of gender-ignorant fans doesn't matter. Pete gets him, and that's all he cares about.
Once they're worn out (really, once Mikey is worn out, and Pete supportively sits down beside him, jiggling his leg), Mikey takes Pete's hand in his and turns to look at him. "I wish we could do this more often," he says, looking down at their linked hands. "I really love it when we're together."
Mikey doesn't think he could admit that to anyone else, so it really means something that he can say it to Pete. Pete's the one person who's more than a friend, more than a brother, the one person besides his bandmates that Mikey knows isn't into him for his fame. It's easy because Pete has his own fame, his own money. Pete's with him because he likes him, and that's all Mikey wants out of life. He just wishes their schedules allowed for more time together.
"Me too," Pete admits. He squeezes Mikey's fingers with his own, a thoughtful look crossing over his face. He seems to hesitate, then says, "Hey Mikey? How about, when we retire from the music biz, we get married. You and me. Then we can always be together."
Mikey chuckles sadly. "You know we're never gonna quit the music biz," he says softly, but he appreciates the thought. They both have their own lives, and they're both going to go on living their own lives.
"Yeah, well." Pete leans over and gives Mikey a peck on the cheek. "We'll figure it out. This isn't the last of it, you know? We have a lot more time together."
"I know, but like, we don't," Mikey says. "We're always on different ends of the country, or opposite sides of the world..."
"Then I'll just have to have my people talk to your people and arrange a dual tour," Pete says logically. His hand is still firmly in Mikey's hand, and Mikey can't help be amazed that Pete feels as strongly about him as he feels about Pete. Really, if Mikey were not to be single, he'd want to not be single with Pete.
"We'd have to get the labels to agree. And maybe have a bus for just the two of us," Mikey says, getting on board with the plan. "But then, that would leave Bob all alone..."
"Then we just have to find Bob a man. Or a woman. Man?" asks Pete. Mikey shrugs. "Someone. We'll find him a person."
"Bob would like that," Mikey says softly. What he really means is that he would like it... he's kind of smitten by Pete right now, and the thought of Pete wanting to make the effort to find someone for Bob? That just makes Mikey even more smitten. "Actually, I think he'd be good with Brian."
"Oooo," Pete says enthusiastically. "I could make that happen! Take my word, Mikeyway..."
"I know," Mikey says flatly. "You'll make it happen."
"I will," Pete says determinedly. "That's my next project."
Mikey grins, because "You'll have to be nearby to do that." Pete nods solemnly. "So you...?"
"I'm going to find a way to stay," Pete says. "I'll make it happen."