Chapter 15 - Get Me Out of My Head
Party Poison concentrated on keeping his breathing steady, calm. Maybe then he could trick himself into thinking everything was alright. But the uncomfortable sensations, especially the pain in his fastened wrists, the small glimpse of reality he'd had, they all threatened to overwhelm him. Then, of course, "So, Cherry Top, see you decided I was the better option after all." Saint Jimmy was uncomfortably close, his hands travelling across Party Poison at will, he currently didn't have it in him to tell Saint Jimmy to stop. He knew it'd do no good. Knew he had no way to make him stop. He hadn't before, and he didn't now. "Saint." His voice was quiet, no point yelling. "Hmm, Cherry Top?" Saint Jimmy's voice slightly muffled as he nuzzled his face against Party Poison's neck, contented little sounds vibrating against Party Poison's skin. He just tried to ignore it. "What're they doing to me?" He meant outside, outside of this place, out in reality. He'd seen enough of it to know where he was, he remembered enough from before he'd gone under. He was at Better Living, he was their prisoner. "Oh." Saint Jimmy said, detaching himself from Party Poison so he could smile, wickedly at him, "I think you know the answer to that." Party Poison closed his eyes, groaned despairingly. "Reprogramming me. Gonna make me one of them." That was why he couldn't make himself fight against Saint Jimmy, wasn't it? He was giving up, shutting down, surrendering…"They tried." Party Poison's eyes snapped open at that, suddenly he felt something scarily like hope. "Seems you're tougher to crack than they thought." Saint Jimmy continued. "Now, they're just torturing you, seeing how much you can take." Saint Jimmy was done talking it seemed, hands on him again, everywhere at once, it felt like, then, again, tugging at his belt. Saint Jimmy knew what he wanted, and he was gonna get it. "Why can't I feel it?" Party Poison asked. Yes, he wanted to distract Saint Jimmy, but mostly he just wanted to know. "Oh, you can feel it, Cherry Top." Saint Jimmy assured. "You're just blocking it out, retreated into your head." Self preservation. Somewhere along the line Party Poison's mind had put up a wall, protecting himself, as best he could, from whatever horrors were being dealt out to him. And slowly, slowly, he felt just a little confidence and fight creeping back into him. With the sudden realisation that Saint Jimmy had apparently achieved his goal, and Party Poison had the unwelcome, familiar feeling of Saint Jimmy's hand on him. "Saint." He said again, trying to force some of that confidence into his voice. "Stop doing that."
"I don't think so, Cherry Top."
At least he'd tried.
Rave stood outside, squinting down the road in the direction she knew the boys would be coming. It's taking a while… I hope they're ok. Of course they were ok. They just had a fucking car to fix!
The sun hurt her eyes, but she kept on looking that way anyway. Her sunglasses were in the car. She could wait. Her ears were straining too, knew she'd probably hear them before she saw them.
Of course, with her ears particularly keen, she heard Saint Jimmy stepping outside, following her finally. He walked up beside her, stopped. Rave didn't look at him. "Are you not talking to me now?" Rave sighed, how typically childish of him. She decided to be childish back. "I'm thinking about it."
"Fine. I hope Cherry Top makes a pretty corpse." Whipping her head around to face Saint Jimmy, Rave snarled, "Don't you dare threaten him! Don't you fucking dare talk about him like that!" For once, that grin wasn't there, Saint Jimmy's face was completely blank. He shrugged. "Stating facts, angel. Without my help…" Again, he shrugged. Great. So now he was blackmailing her. She sighed. "Don't do that Jimmy." Then. "Of course I'm still talking to you. Just don't resort to saying things like that about Poison to get that information out of me, alright?" Rave knew Saint Jimmy's silence wasn't him agreeing, but she tricked herself into believing it anyway.
"Why is it you, Saint?" Saint Jimmy had left him alone for a while. Sort of. He was still standing there, slightly too close, but not touching him. He'd left Party Poison's jeans undone, and Saint had been staring at that area for a while now, head titled slightly to the side. He was contemplating what to do next. Party Poison didn't get an answer, so he repeated it. "Saint. Why is it you… Here?" In his head, the place he'd run to, to get away from the bad things happening to him. Why him? Saint Jimmy's gaze snapped up to meet Party Poison's then, and he grinned. Pressed himself close, pressed his hand against Party Poison's crotch. "Maybe it's because you've got the fucking hots for me." Saint Jimmy said. He didn't know if it was the surprise of the sudden contact, or indignation at the suggestion made, but either way, his voice came out as a loud, angry snap, "Saint!" Saint Jimmy pushed himself away, briefly putting more pressure where his hand laid against Party Poison, who closed his eyes and concentrated on not reacting. "I don't fucking know, Cherry Top." Saint Jimmy told him, sounding annoyed. "Maybe that sick little mind of yours can't let you get away with no torture." Party Poison kept his eyes closed, he knew what was coming anyway, he didn't need to see it. But… The only physical contact he felt was a hand, laid gently on his cheek. "Why, was there someone else you'd rather have here?" Party Poison fought the urge to open his eyes at the sound of that voice. No, no. Please. Don't do that… it's not fair…
He could've sworn the voice he'd heard was Fun Ghoul's.
He focused on keeping his eyes closed, knowing that if he didn't, if he opened his eyes, saw Fun Ghoul, knowing this didn't mean he was saved. It just meant the tormentor had changed. And changed to something so much worse… Betrayal. Knowing all this… It would hurt more than…
Suddenly he screamed. The force of it, the unexpectedness of it shocked him almost as much as the pain he'd felt, like something sharp and hot being slowly but deeply dragged down his side. Eventually the sensation stopped, though the pain didn't. "Saint." Party Poison whimpered (he refused to believe it was anyone else standing in front of him) "Please. Stop that. It hurts."
"Sorry Cherry Top." Saint Jimmy's voice again. "That one wasn't me." And he sounded, surprised? Then Party Poison did open his eyes again. Saw the vaguely stunned look on Saint Jimmy's face. And, then, it dawned on him.
The wall was breaking down. Reality was seeping in.
She'd been right. She did hear the car before she saw it.
Rave had eventually sat down on the ground, cross legged, still staring down the road in the direction the boys would be coming in. As soon as she heard the car, however, she jumped up, and couldn't help herself smiling slightly as she saw them approach.
Rave walked forward as the car slowed then finally came to a stop. "Fixed it up then boys, huh?" She said. "Of course." Fun Ghoul said, from the back seat. He allowed himself a small, proud smile. "You ready?" He asked, the smile fading.
Rave didn't hesitate, she nodded. Though, no, she wasn't ready, not to see that place again.
The terror that filled her as she saw Party Poison backed against the wall shot through her like ice, she was paralyzed. She just willed Kobra Kid to get to him quicker. But then
To save Party Poison though? To see him again, to get him back? (to hold him, to kiss him, to ask him for forgiveness) Yes. That she was more than ready for.
Fun Ghoul pushed open the car door, slid across to let Rave in. "Jimmy!" She called out, "C'mon, we're going!" He'd disappeared back inside, though for what reason… He hadn't felt the need to share with Rave. But, at least he appeared again quickly. As he approached, Rave took the time spare to lean forward, to the drivers seat, where Kobra Kid was sat, just like he'd said he would be. "You alright, Kid?" He nodded, though his face was still set, hard. Finally he turned to look at Rave, and smiled softly, "Will be." He answered. "We all will be." Rave agreed. "Soon." Turning to Jet Star now, they simply shared a smile. It was enough. Finally Rave sat back just as Saint Jimmy got in the back next to her, and closed the door.
One more eternal moment, then, finally, Kobra Kid started the car again.
"Oh, no, no, no, Cherry Top. You stay right here." Saint Jimmy was gripping onto Party Poison's arm, just past his elbow with one hand, gripping his shoulder with the other. And the thing was, Party Poison was trying to stay. Trying to focus on this self made protection from reality. But it was slipping from him. He was loosing.
Even from behind his stubbornly shut eyelids he knew the room was too bright, too white. It felt like it was burning through.
"HEY!" Saint Jimmy snapped, angry at being ignored. "What did I just tell you?"
"I'm trying!" Party Poison snapped back, though here, also, he kept his eyes closed. Didn't know which place he'd find himself in if he opened them. "Well fucking try harder." Saint Jimmy told him. "Unless you want them to fucking win." Party Poison shook his head. "Alright, just-"
And the smell. Clean. Too clean. Bleach and chemicals. And… No. It wasn't entirely clean. That just hid something else. But once he caught it… Blood. His blood?
"pay attention." Saint Jimmy carried on, like he hadn't just slapped Party Poison, bringing him back. His cheek stung, but he was oddly thankful. He knew he'd rather be here. "You need to fucking focus." Saint Jimmy continued. "Focus on me, focus on my hold on you." Saint Jimmy squeezed Party Poison's arm. He guessed it was meant to hurt. Somehow it didn't.
Then, suddenly, something did.
A white hot pain to his stomach, but that didn't distract from the small, precise pain to the arm Saint Jimmy wasn't gripping. The unpleasant feeling of something getting into him, under his skin, into his veins, spreading, coursing, contaminating. "GERARD!" Saint Jimmy snapped, angrily, close to his ear. He hadn't realised he'd been screaming until Saint Jimmy's sudden use of his name startled him into stopping. "You fucking get back here, and fucking stay with me, you got it?" Party Poison moaned, it was getting too difficult. His eyes wanted to open, just to open, just to have one thing not to be concentrating so hard on. "I can't." So difficult to admit.
Then the world went still for a second. Party Poison could still feel a dull throbbing in his arm, could hear the sound of his own heavy, painful breathing, but apart from that… Saint Jimmy released his hold on him. Party Poison knew, felt Saint Jimmy still close, felt his breath on his neck.
"Then they've already fucking won, haven't they?"
The world came crashing down, in a blur of bright lights, pain and screaming.
Party Poison opened his eyes.
There was a tenseness in the car. A concentration of emotions. Fear, worry, but, above all that, determination. They might not know what they were going up against, but whatever it was, they'd face it, they'd beat it. And one thing was certain, they were getting Party Poison back. There was no doubt, no uncertainty about that.
Fun Ghoul sat forward slightly, looking to his friends (ignoring Saint Jimmy, who, frustratingly, just looked a little bored) and noting their outwardly calm appearance. That was good, that was what they needed. He gently squeezed Rave's hand, which he'd taken when he saw her hands shaking slightly, the only sign of how nervous she was. Got a small squeeze back. Fun Ghoul, somehow, hadn't expected that. Hadn't expected someone to take note of his concern, of his fear. Should've trusted Rave to see it though.
They were nearing the city now, and that intensity kicked up a notch. Even from Saint Jimmy. Barely noticeable, but this was the place they were more used to running from.
Fun Ghoul found himself thinking to the first time he'd run from the city.
He tried not to slam the phone down. Didn't quite manage it. He was scared, and angry and worried. And, above all else, he was very confused.
Last night he'd received a message from Gerard:
"Don't believe a word they say! Stop taking the pills. Trust me."
He'd talked to Ray, he'd been sent the same message. And, though hesitant, they'd both followed the advice, crazy as it had sounded. But… Then things started going badly.
The headache had kicked in first. And, with it, memories. Memories of things… How could he have forgotten? And there was an overwhelming urge to take more of the pills, make it go away but… But Gerard had said not to. He had to have a reason for that, didn't he? Well, that was why Frank had called him. Tried to call him. For hours now, since midnight, it was now six in the morning. Again, called Ray, he was going through the same. He'd also tried calling Mikey. No answer from him either.
Where the hell were the Ways?
Frank was terrified now. He didn't know what was going on and the only person who should be able to tell him was… Well. He didn't know. Desperately, he picked up the phone again, dialled the same number he'd been dialling for the past six hours. Begging, pleading, willing Gerard to answer this time.
Instead, for the first time, he got a recorded message:
"Hey, this is Gerard Way, do not leave a message, I won't be coming back to hear it. If this is any of my friends calling, get out. Get out now. Put down the prescriptions, get out of the fucking city, and keep running. If this is the company… Fuck you."
Frank didn't know how to react to that. 'won't be coming back to hear it'? What did he mean by that? And… everything… None of it made sense!
The banging on the door finally snapped him out of it, suddenly realising he still had the phone in his hand, dropped it. Went to the door, hesitated. He figured, sometimes, it's best to just let paranoia take over. Headed to the kitchen first, first knife that came to hand. Then back to the door, which still had someone banging persistantly on it. It was starting to join the thumping in his head, so soon he wasn't sure which was which, which was worse. He paused at the door. Wondering who would be knocking on his door so intently, so demandingly. Finally, with a swift, decisive movement, Frank wrenched the door open.
He could've cried with relief. There, standing on his doorstep, with his black hair in un-styled disarray, eyes that looked like they'd been open too long, a face smudged with dirt but with a confident smile on his lips,
"Gerard!" Frank threw himself at him, and Gerard laughed. "What? Thought I'd leave you behind?" Letting him go, and hitting him on the arm, Frank demanded "What the fuck were you playing at? You go leaving fucking messages, then go fucking AWOL on us?" Gerard shook his head, "I'll explain later, Frank, I promise, but right now, we've got to go." When he saw Frank's hesitation, "Please, Frank, trust me, believe me, we have to go!"
Frank nodded, and then Gerard was dragging him down to the car.
They picked up Ray, and then they'd headed away from the city. Away from those lives, which weren't really their own, anyway, for good.
Fun Ghoul remembered it'd taken them all roughly a week to get past the withdrawal symptoms of the drugs, which, they heard from other rebels, was pretty impressive. Kobra Kid had had the worst time of it, for some unknown reason. He'd taken the longest, scaring all of them, not least, of course, his brother. Once he broke through though, he'd come back, like the others, stronger and more determined than ever.
Within the month they had their weapons, they had their name, and they had their leader, as if there'd been any doubt in the matter anyway. Party Poison was the strongest, the more fearless and the most selfless of all of them. Always taking the risks, so the others didn't have to.
Fun Ghoul was prepared that perhaps Party Poison wouldn't immediately be back at the top of his game, might take a while before he could step back into the role. But there was no way he would entertain the idea that he wouldn't be alright, eventually.
He was Party Poison, after all.
Then, almost without warning, the looming presence of Better Living Industries towered before them. Kobra Kid got them as close as they could. Again, just like before the car had started, back at the safe house, an eternal still second.