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Dreaming and Waking

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Much as Matt's a good bassist and a good friend Gerard misses having Mikey at his back, at his side, bitching on the bus. He misses caring for him, misses watching him wince about the taste of the Wolfsbane and misses 'magically' (not really) producing something sugary, generally a frosted Poptart, to take away the taste.

Gerard, when he wakes, draws. Never really things he knows in life, more things he knows in dreams. His dreams have always been vivid, both a blessing and a curse and with the recent loss of Mikey there are times when he only knows he's asleep because he's somewhere unfamiliar with people he almost but not quite recognises in the way photos of your parents are always a little disturbing in their familiarity/unfamiliarity.

But Mikey needs this time. The last few years have been tough what with caring for Gerard and then finally *finally* having to care for himself. The meds and therapy were good, the difference they made was visible to everyone who knew him. But. There was only so much conventional medicine could do, especially for Mikey. In the end Gerard had had to take him to one side and point out that the things he couldn't discuss with his therapist also needed dealing with for this to be a true healing, a clean new start.

Gerard's never designed a tattoo. He's been tempted to from time to time, but he's never wanted one for himself, and has never really had anyone he's wanted to design one for, though some lovers' skin has tempted him he thinks there's always been a barrier in needing more than skin and ink in the action of a tattoo. When he thinks of tattoos he thinks of fire and ice and marking life on skin, equal parts celebration and desolation.

So Mikey and Alicia had headed off to the wilds (in more ways than one) of Scotland.

He doesn't sleep less after Mikey leaves, which he'd half expected, in fact he feels more rested and more energised as he wakes, taking the time in the dawn hours to scribble faces and animals and images on any paper he can find. He draws many things, and sometimes, looking at the results, he has no idea where the images came from, what they represent. He takes pleasure, mostly, in the not knowing, in contrast to the constant need to think which his daily life involves.

And Gerard. He'd never cared for the idea of himself leading the rest of the band, he saw himself as a figurehead, representing all five members of the band. He didn't *lead*, God forbid. If he led then during his worst years the band would probably have fallen off a cliff. But he did know the value of doing the hard thing, of short term pain for long term gain, and he preferred to sacrifice himself than any of the others.

One night, near the beginning of the separation, he dreams of being towered over, almost overpowered by plant and metal and stone, moving things, small and shining things, and dark and looming things which shatter around him. When he wakes though he draws … other things: brown frogs and a hairy man and a bed covered in blankets, warmth.

But he missed Mikey. And this was now the three millionth time in his life where Gerard couldn't make things better, where he had to stand back and let others heal the most important person in his life.

There are times, when he wakes, that the need for family, the need for his band is almost overwhelming. On those days he doesn't disturb them from their rest, instead he makes sure the bus is clean and tidy and then he goes and finds the nearest bakery and brings home pastries and coffee and chocolate and ham and cheese croissants and … they wake, his family, one by one but within five minutes, and crowd around him talking and hugging and teasing. These are good mornings when he feels at home.

It didn't help that the others were affected too, perhaps not equally (though he was sure they'd argue with him on that one) but still.

Other times he dreams of loneliness, of being trapped in small dark places uncertain if anyone knew he was there or if he was likely to be rescued or able to rescue himself. Noise thunders above him, voices whisper at him, and accusing eyes follow him as he walks with no path and no destination. The worst times he dreams of pain unimaginable and he knows, in his dream, that those he cares most for are in equal agony which he cannot take away from them, though he would in a heartbeat, because he can take no more than this and this has to be taken for things to be well again.

Ray watched Gerard more closely as if willing him not to fall apart, hovering like a big hairy angel ready to whip out a flaming sword and decapitate anyone who pried too closely. (Gerard is careful not to share this mental image with anyone, he values his and Ray's sanity.)

Gerard wakes and sketches once again. He gives Ray more exaggerated features and more wildly coloured hair and scars on his arms and the friendliest smile Gerard's ever seen. Occasionally he draws himself held safely in Ray's embrace, a rough picture of messy hair entangled and arms wound around bodies.

Bob was more solemn, his dour camera face more genuine than the press realised. He smoked more and smiled less, even in private. This wasn't helped by Frank who normally could tease him to smiles or profanities or both.

Sleeping, Gerard runs through fields and woods, free and joyful in that freedom, and in the friends who accompany him in his headlong rush and who collapse with him into a heap of panting bodies and miscellaneous limbs.

Because Frank was scared and his teases rarely occurred, and when they did, often it was the wrong thing or the wrong time.

Gerard is used to fear, both asleep and awake, but recently he dreams of terror and determination in equal measure and wakes certain that Mikey needs to be where he is, that sacrifices have to be made in order to make the world right again.

Frank shouldn't be scared, Frank was meant to be fearless. Instead he seems simply reckless.

Sometimes the fears he wakes with fears he's almost embarrassed about, spiders, which never scared him in the past, for half an hour terrify him at the very thought of one being on the bus. Sometimes it's even more odd, books with no words in, a mouth which cannot speak, a robe which contains nothingness. Rats. A trophy in tarnished gold.

But even Jamia couldn't seem to shift Frank's edginess, which was logical really, since she shared many of his fears. All she could do was hold him, which she did.

Sometimes Gerard thinks he almost knows what he's dreaming about, almost recognises what he's drawing. His latest sketch is a Mourning Woman. Her dress is white, stained from the inside with blood, the shapes of which almost make images on the fabric. Her hair is long, wet and wavy, hanging down over her shoulders and hiding her face, falling almost to her bloodstained fingertips.

Gerard never wonders, well, no, that's not true. Gerard often wonders how his brother got into such a complex relationship. Actually, that's not true either. He knows how Mikey got into it. He got into it by being Mikey, loving and lovable and complex and broken and strong.

There are sketches he knows he would be teased about mercilessly, not many of them, but one in particular he hides. It's simple and slightly abstract, a four-poster bed, drawn as if observed from the end, with a messy pile of covers and six feet sticking out of the end of it. The guys would talk of porn and his brother and Frank and fantasies, but for Gerard it conveys safety and love which is limitless.

Mikey has a piece of paper saying that Alicia is his wife.

Gerard never seems to be able to draw what he wants to when he wakes, whatever his brain is thinking is not necessarily what his hand creates. This morning he wakes and draws a teenage girl with messy blonde hair, a dreamy expression and ill fitting clothes talking to a confused scruffy looking boy whose hair rivals Gerard's morning bedhead in its disarray. It is much later that Gerard looks again at the picture and thinks of Alicia talking him through a bad morning or two.

Frank has one saying that Jamia is his wife.

Occasionally Gerard dreams of ritual and rite, the giving of life and the taking away of it too. He is careful not to draw after those dreams, some of the patterns and symbols he may recognise from parchment and book and he doesn't want to go down that path, he chose freedom, not judgement, a long time ago.

Hidden in a box which no one can find unless the owners want it found, is a piece of parchment which declares that a piece of magic binding the four together had been performed without the knowledge or permission of the proper authorities who could probably have done very little about the matter but who could have been spiteful in their impotence.

Gerard rarely dreams of magic, and when he does it is often commonplace. Flying on a broomstick where a Muggle would simply dream of flying, waving a wand and seeing coloured sparks come out of the end of it in the way others dream of fireworks. When he wakes from those dreams he often draws abstract, dreamlike images of smoke obscuring a countryside view, or of a lake emerging from the mist. Peaceful.

Performing in Britain had been a trial this time, even excluding the hail of bottles and Frank's surprise tongue attack, which was, Gerard supposed, a symptom of the tension all of them felt. Because by that point only Gerard's will and Ray's steadfastness kept the band from cancelling the gig and racing to be with Mikey, to hold him and know that he was safe, not from physical harm, but from the mental depredations that came from trying to rebuild attitudes to self.

Gerard never dreams of being a wolf, but sometimes he dreams that he is somehow nebulous, and yet also tall and noble and able to fight with hooves and horns, able to protect those weaker than himself from others and those equal to himself from themselves.

Instead Gerard, who, while never the kind of guy who tells people what to do (except when it comes to artistic vision which is a totally different thing) but rather the guy who does things and hopes that the rest of the guys want to do the same, limits himself, and them, to one call, phone not Floo as he doesn't think he can stand to see Mikey and not *see* him. It's a very long call.

Occasionally he wakes and draws Frank as two people, alike, not a mirror image, but two parts of a whole both with his wicked eyes and mock innocent smile. On those days often Frank's soda has added salt, or his bunk looses its bedding. Frank's revenge is often swift, but never nasty.

At the end of the day Gerard has to have faith. Faith that the school can help Mikey see how to be all he is and how not to mourn the things he isn't. He has to have faith that the combination of meds works with and continues to not interact with the Wolfsbane. He has to have faith that Alicia, Mikey, Frank, and Jamia don't break any more hotel beds and that they remember who's meant to be hugging who in photos (well, he doesn't have to hope that for Frank, Frank hugs everyone anyway).

In his dreams people change but stay the same. Strangely Gerard rarely dreamt of Bob before this rash of dreaming and creativity. Now he often catches sight of him out of the corner of his eye, rarely straight on. When he wakes he pauses and then draws William Morris inspired vines and flowers which writhe and repeat until they cradle whole worlds in their branches.

The day Mikey returns the five members of the band lock the rest of the world out and spend the day talking and eating and swearing and telling tales on one another. At the end of the day a haphazard arrangement of mattresses and duvets create one giant bed and, interspersed with guy talk and teasing, they fall asleep together. And Gerard dreams.

In his dream he looks in a mirror and sees that he's wearing Patrick Stump's glasses. They don't suit him. And they're broken. He is also wearing pink bunny slippers and there are elephants … doing something. He wakes, shakes his head, and doesn't draw anything for a while.