Summary: "You're stronger than you think, Michael Way."
Authors' Notes: Whee, new chapter! I'm really enjoying writing this. Hopefully this means I won't lose steam.
Disclaimer: Don't own, didn't happen.
Chapter 2: Fearing
Mikey realizes that coffee is probably not the best thing for him to consume if he ever plans on getting back to sleep tonight, but he's pretty much thrown that idea out the window anyway, and besides, he feels the need for some kind of security blanket right now. Alicia hates it when he wakes her up in the middle of the night demanding cuddles, so coffee it is.
As he stands in the kitchen going about the necessary preparations, he hears a noise behind him that makes him jump about twelve feet into the air and spill coffee grounds down the front of his shirt (at least, he thinks, he didn't have a cup of the hot beverage in his hand). He turns around to see who or what is there, and the sight that meets his eyes does nothing for his already considerable anxiety.
There is a stranger in his kitchen. A stranger. In his kitchen.
To be precise, it is a short, squat woman with rumpled hair and squinty eyes. She looks patiently up at Mikey in a way that reminds him of a well-trained English bulldog.
"I. Um. H-hello."
"Are you planning to kill me or rape me or steal any of my stuff? 'Cause I don't have much to steal right now. Not--not that I'm advocating either of the other options."
"Oh. Okay. That's good."
He receives no reply. Obviously it's up to him to get the conversational ball rolling.
"Why are you here, then?"
"I needed to speak to you."
The woman pauses for a moment, apparently thinking. "Do you remember awhile ago, when you used to wake up in the middle of the night...."
...trembling from head to foot, the bedsheets drenched in sweat, that knot in the pit of your stomach that seemed to grow and grow until sobs burst from you like rabid animals tearing out of your chest....
Mikey remembers. Against his own will, he remembers.
"What about it?"
"That was me."
It takes Mikey a minute to wrap his head around this. "You're Despair."
"Like, the personification of an abstract concept."
"Something like that."
He thinks about this for a moment. "Am I dreaming?"
"What do you think?"
He considers the matter. In his dreams, if they take place in what is supposed to be his apartment, it never looks anything like it does in real life. This kitchen is definitely his kitchen, right down to the Andy Warhol print hanging over the sink.
"I'm not, am I?"
"So what exactly is going on?"
"I came to warn you."
"Warn me about what?"
"Don't let me back in."
"You mean you could come back?" The prospect of this makes Mikey's hands start to shake.
"Under the right circumstances, I might."
"So...it's not under my control, is it? If you really wanted to come back into my life, I wouldn't be able to get rid of you."
"Not necessarily. You're stronger than you think, Michael Way."
"I almost wasn't, last time." He doesn't like the way his voice sounds, all thin and childlike. He wishes he could take Despair's assurance of his own strength at face value. "I needed a lot of help."
"That's another thing."
"Don't try to go it alone. Don't hide from your friends. There isn't one of them who wouldn't be willing to help you if you asked."
"They've got enough of their own problems without having to deal with mine."
"Have you paid attention to them at all? Every one of them is there for you. They don't see you as a burden. They want to help you. They'd rather do that than watch you break down." Mikey can't think of a reply to this, and after a few seconds of awkward silence, Despair vanishes from the room.
Mikey is still for a moment, leaning against the counter and pondering his visitor's advice. Finally he goes into the bedroom, retrieves his cell phone from the nightstand, and dials in a number on his way to the living room.
"Gerard? Hey...yeah. I can't sleep."