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Gerard arrives back from work. Drops his bag to the floor, kicks off his shoes, digs out a pizza from the freezer and sips coffee as it nukes.

He eats at the small kitchen table, radio on for company, opens bills and pushes them to one side to join the ever increasing pile. He's on the verge of eviction, has already lost heat and he knows the electricity will be the next thing to go.

Sometimes he suspects he should care.

Dinner over, he puts his plate in the sink -- joining the others that are already stacked there -- drinks more coffee and finally, allows himself to go to his bedroom.

His sketch book is lying on his bed and he crawls onto the messy covers, pulling them up over his knees. Gerard reaches for his supplies, the finest pencils and pens, an eraser that fits perfectly between his fingers. He touches them all, preparing himself before opening the page.

Each time it feels like the final step home.

Mikey's drawn on the page, perfection built up line by painstaking line. The barest hint of a smile, eyes alight, hat pulled low and ridiculous hair. Each new line, new graduated shade, Mikey becomes more real.

Gerard can feel him, talks about his day as he sketches in long legs and knock-knees.

Sometimes he imagines Mikey talks back. Wisps of words from an unfinished mouth. Moves his fingers close to Gerard's, tilts his head so he can see.

Gerard says, "Soon." And he works faster. Adds in a love for comic books, dry humour and dorky laugh. A slim waist and hips, a passion for music and loyalty that never wavers. Everything that Gerard is and wants to be.

It's not always perfection. A slip of his hand and there's a black smudge over Mikey's eyes. Angry one day, Gerard's careless and scores in temper with his usual lines.

But usually, it's everything Gerard loves. And each night he settles down to sleep, the sketch book open at his side. Says, goodnight, and pretends he hears it in return.

~~~~

Gerard wakes, opens his eyes and yawns. The sketch book has moved overnight, slipped close and Gerard carefully rolls over, blankets tangling tight around his legs. He rests his fingertips over Mikey's hand, says good morning, enjoying this time -- long lazy moments before facing the realities of the day.

Eventually, reluctantly, Gerard closes the book and sets it safely away.

~~~~

Hours at work -- cups of bitter coffee, a sandwich made of peanut butter and stale bread, time spent on drawings that mean nothing at all -- and Gerard finally returns home.

He drops his bag to the floor, kicks off his shoes, digs out a pizza from the freezer and sips coffee as it nukes.

He eats at the small table. Sorts through his mail. Junk to one side, adds another red letter to the pile. Gerard shivers and curls up his hands, pulls on a hoodie and drinks more coffee. Considers washing up but instead puts his plate with the others in the sink.

Vows to himself he'll wash them tomorrow.

It's then Gerard goes to his bedroom, the realities of the day slipping away as he crawls on his bed and burrows under the covers. He reaches for his pens, his pencils, lays them out carefully at his side then picks up his sketch book.

Opening it he's confronted with bare gut-twisting space.

Unbelieving, Gerard frantically flips past every page. When he reaches the end he goes back to the beginning and starts again. There are other sketches, indistinct figures and scenes, but no Mikey. It's like he was never there at all.

Shaking, Gerard lets the sketchbook fall and it slides to the floor, the pages creased against the ground. Head in his hands he closes his eyes, then hears a sound. Soft breathing in the quiet of the room.

Gerard opens his eyes and sees Mikey.

Mikey who's walking close.

Mikey who's alive.