Summary: "When a dream recurs like this, it is often because the dreamer is refusing to address a certain issue in his waking life."
Authors' Notes: Finally, the man himself shows up. I like this chapter a lot, but I feel like it echoes bits of the last one. Too repetitive? Contributes to the unity of the story? Pumpkin full of weasels? Lemme know.
Disclaimer: Don't own, didn't happen.
Chapter 4: Dreaming
Lately, Frank has been having the same dream every night--the one in which he's onstage, playing, business as usual, until he looks around and realizes he's alone up there. The audience's confusion becomes restlessness, which turns into violence. Frank usually wakes up just as a bottle is flying at his face.
Tonight, however, is different. Just as people are beginning to throw things, a hand grabs him by the elbow and jerks him off the stage. When they are a safe distance away, Frank takes a look at his rescuer. The man is pale beyond ordinary vampire or scene-kid standards, and his wild, black hair puts Frank in mind of Robert Smith, only minus the makeup and with a hell of a lot more grandeur.
Frank squints at him critically. "I don't remember ever seeing you in my dreams before."
"You may not have noticed my presence, but I have been keeping an eye on your dreams for quite some time." His voice is deep and ever so slightly rasping; it makes the hair on the back of Frank's neck stand up.
"Really? Why's that?"
"I have become concerned about your mental well-being. When a dream recurs like this, it is often because the dreamer is refusing to address a certain issue in his waking life."
"And what would this 'issue' be?"
"My guess is that you fear abandonment."
Frank is growing more and more resentful with the judgement that is being placed on him. He likes to think that, aside from spiders, he fears nothing, and he doesn't appreciate this unsolicited psychoanalysis.
"Where the fuck do you get off jumping to conclusions about my goddamn mental health? How does watching my dreams--which is fucking creepy, by the way--give you the right to decide what I'm afraid of?"
The stranger does not respond to this outburst in kind, but rather remains calm, cold, and inscrutable. "Since you clearly refuse to face your demons consciously, they have invaded your dreams, which are within my dominion. They reveal more about you than you believe, which is why I consider myself qualified to have this discussion with you. Unless you conquer this fear, you will soon find that your mind is not as stable as it once was."
Frank decides to play along, at least for now, until he can gain the upper hand. "So what's this whole fear-of-abandonment thing?"
"I believe you have been deserted by your friends before...."
...like the time Gerard just ran away from the stage and hid under another, and the remaining four of you just stood helplessly, looking around at each other in panic and confusion, wondering how on earth you let things reach this point, and you wondered, irrationally but perhaps with some justification, whether he was ever coming back....
"In a sense, yeah. I never completely lost them, though."
"But you worry that one day you will."
Frank opens his mouth to protest, but then he thinks of how he feels whenever one of his friends succumbs to illness of one kind or another, how he always wonders, consciously or not, if they're going to make it through, and if the band will survive. "I guess you're right."
"Has it not occurred to you that you have all been strong enough to withstand everything that has come your way so far?"
He points a long, white finger towards the empty stage. "Go. Bring them back."
"With faith and concentration. That is all you need to know."
Feeling somewhat lost, Frank makes his way back onto the stage. Faith and concentration.... He closes his eyes and focuses on each of his friends in turn. He thinks about Gerard's blazing enthusiasm, Mikey's buoyant good humor, Ray's quiet diligence, Bob's solid dependability. He thinks of the reasons he loves all of them, and even the things that make him hate them sometimes. He thinks of the unit they form, the kinship forged through shared glories and downfalls. He thinks of the music that binds them together in love and creation.
When he opens his eyes, all of them are there, grinning confidently at each other. All at once, with perfect coordination, they begin to play.