LPfiction

Category Linkin Park

Finding Closure by sheena0929

A/N: What a relief it was to finally post this. I am floored by the tremendously kind words 3 of my faves here have given to me. Penelope_Ink, squashie, lpfan503, your reviews mean so much to me as I've read, re-read and re-read your works so that I can get a feel of how writing LP fiction is like. I feel so encouraged to write more. Thank you!


BTW, changed the rating for language, FYI.


If you've just stumbled upon this, enjoy! Leave a review, let me know if its good or needs improvement. :) Thank you!



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Smiles were floating all around him, hugs being thrown like balloons tossed, kinda like that time when...


Mike shakes his head, beginning to be inwardly annoyed with himself for recalling, involuntarily, yet another memory of him. As if playing Looking for an Answer was already a tremendously difficult decision, here he was, surrounded by a multitude of people he called friends and all his mind could drift to were of times when he was still here.


The rest of the evening went by in a blur. As the last of their guests left, Mike found himself standing in front of their shared dressing room, staring at the mirror, his reflection piquing his curiosity like a moth to a flame. He had never looked at himself that closely in front of one before. At home, it would just be quick glances to see if he'd put his outfit right, that he didn't look like an aging musician trying to look cool. During shows, despite sitting in front of one, he'd either be looking down on his phone, or he'd be too busy bantering with the make up artist or one of the guys that he really wouldn't take notice as well.


But never like this. Stepping closer to his illuminated reflection, he realized he had lost some weight, as evidenced by a slightly more pronounced neck line. Calloused, almost numb fingers found their way to the area around his eyes, ghosting over more lines than he cared to see. Running them over his religiously cared for facial hair, he was a little shocked to find his face had shrunk a little, as he could just barely feel his jaw bones underneath all the stubble. So this is why Anna had been badgering me to eat more, he thought to himself. He made a mental note to raid the fridge as often as he could, promising himself to get back to a more ideal weight so his wife would stop worrying any further.


"What's next, Shinoda?" he spoke quietly to himself, breaking his own self-intrusion. He noticed how his lower lip quivered at his own question, realizing for the first time that he doesn't have an answer for it. After they laid Chester to rest, the label reassured them that they'd be 100% behind them whatever step they'd like to take next, whether it's to continue on as a five-piece or to just go their own separate ways. Back then, just a little over a month after, it was a difficult, yet seemingly inevitable decision to mount a tribute show for Chester. Rick had convinced them it would be a good thing for them to do, not just for their fans, but more so for themselves. He had insisted that it was something that Chester would have wanted, and Mike and the rest of the guys agreed to do it.


But now that the show was over, that feeling of being lost has bubbled up to the surface once more, this time, making him feel like swimming against a current, kicking and flailing arms and legs but not getting anywhere. Panic started rising from his chest, but before his mind zoomed off to a million different directions, a soft creak from the door sliced through his reverie. He turned around to find Brad peeking through the slightly opened door.


"Hey," he said. "You ready to go? Anna left with the girls, we're meeting them at Birch."


Mike blinked a few times before he realized what Brad had just said and haphazardly grabbed his bag and walked to the door.


"Sorry, yeah, I'm uh...I was just..."


"Mike, stop for a sec," Brad put a hand on his best friend's shoulder which made him stop and face him.


"That song took a lot out of you, didn't it?"


"Brad..." was only what he could say in response, his voice breaking.


"Stop fucking lying to yourself, Michael, please," Brad said, trying to mask the pain he felt for his friend. He knew he had to be strong for him, God only knows how much pain Mike’s been enduring since their beloved vocalist died.


Mike's shoulders slumped and Brad caught him before he crumpled to the floor. All the pent up frustration, grief and everything in between caught up to him in one sweep, and the tears that had never come since learning of Chester's death streamed out like a floodgate had opened.


Brad slowly sat themselves on the floor and held Mike as he cried, each sob that came out from him breaking his heart little by little. That day came rushing back to his memory vividly; Joe had been the one visibly shaken by what happened as he was supposed to pick him up that afternoon, kept muttering how he should have followed his instincts and drove to see Chester way earlier than what they agreed. Rob, all six feet four of him, held on to a smaller Dave as he cried his eyes out, his whole being shrinking as if he was a child.


They had all gathered at Mike's house, but Mike just sat there, as if having an out of body experience, watching blankly as his friends cried and sobbed and cursed at the unfortunate and unexpected end to their dear brother's life. Closest friends and family kept coming in and out of the Shinoda residence, telling him words of reassurance and support, but Brad saw a side of Mike he rarely saw. It was like he went on auto-pilot and nodded and smiled and said thanks to anyone who talked to him, including his wife, Anna.


"I..don't...know if...if..I could...do this...a--nymore..." Mike's voice crackled in between hiccups. "I can't...I don't..."


"Hey, ssshhh," Brad's voice sounded surprisingly steady and smooth as he stroked Mike's heaving back. "We got you, alright? We got you..." His phone vibrated in his pocket, Joe texting him that they'd left for the restaurant as well and that their driver was waiting for them. He slipped it back inside, grateful that he and Mike would have a few more minutes.


He waited until his sobs died down to the occasional hiccup, not caring how wet his shirt had gotten from Mike's tears. They broke away, Brad still holding Mike on his sides, carefully appraising him.


"Better?" Brad asked, offering up a handkerchief.


Mike sniffled and wiped his face. He took a deep breath and let out a small smile.


"A little," he breathed, feeling like a weight has been lifted off of him. He still felt like a ton of bricks, but he was relieved he had been able to let out a good cry after so long.


“Good,” Brad replied, pulling themselves off the floor and back to the dressing room. He looked around to check if anyone had seen them before locking the door. He shook his head afterwards, no longer caring if someone had seen Mike’s unexpected breakdown.


Offering him a water bottle, he watched as Mike took it in two long gulps, steady his breathing and lean back on the couch. He took the opportunity to text Joe and Anna to let them know they’d be running a little late.


For the first time in the history of their friendship, Mike suddenly felt conscious at how Brad was now looking at him. He chanced a glance and he was right, he was looking at him with something he couldn’t quite understand. Worry, perhaps? Very likely, seeing as he’s never opened up about how he truly felt about Chester until that song earlier. It could be a number of things, and before his friend could go into full interrogation mode, he spoke.


“Brad, look,” he began tentatively, his voice still weak from his cry. “I’m sorry if I haven’t brought up the song to you and the guys until yesterday. Until then, I didn’t know what to do with it. I just…” he trailed off, not having thought of what to tell him next.


“You just what, Mike?”


Mike’s head fell and he buried his face in his hands. He knew the 15 years he’d kept his secret are up. It probably didn’t even matter to anyone else now, seeing as the man he saw as his ultimate “person” is gone.


If there was one thing that Brad always found easy about his and Mike’s friendship, it’s that he didn’t have any problems reading his body language. Mike could easily mask his feelings with carefully crafted words in conversations, but the way he moved was something of a dead give away, at least in Brad’s eyes. And right about now, the way Mike’s shoulders slumped, how his hands covered his face, only confirmed what Brad had suspected all these years.


“It’s okay, Mike, I know,” Brad said gently, laying a hand on his shoulder. “You can never hide how much you loved him from me. You can fool Anna, but not me, Shinoda. We got too much history.”


“It doesn’t matter what I feel about him anymore, Brad, he’s gone. I fucked that one up royally and I’m shit because of it,” Mike responded, his voice getting traction, sounding a bit angry this time.


“You both fucked it up,” Brad responded quietly.


Mike’s head whipped up so fast it could’ve snapped off his neck. “What did you say?!”


“You heard me. If you both hadn’t been so stubborn in keeping up your charades, we wouldn’t be here,” Brad said, surprised at how he’d gotten quickly riled up. “You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to knock some sense in both of your thick skulls because you had to come to that decision yourselves. Chester never admitted it too, but damn, that fucker was sickeningly in love with you as well.”


Mike felt defeated, and whatever energy he felt he had left his body, slumping backwards in the couch and sighing deeply.


“I’m sorry,” was all he could say, and even that felt contrived; perfunctory even, like nothing else could ever be said after all that passed.


***


Brad was knocking bright and early at the Shinodas’ door. After last night’s events with Mike, he realized he had to be the one to do something about his two friends, even if the other wouldn’t be able to reciprocate anymore.

Mike was still rubbing the sleep off of his eyes when he opened the door, a curious Anna behind him.


“Brad, what the…”


“Morning, Mike, Anna,” Brad said. “Mike, get dressed, we have to be somewhere quick,” he ordered. He turned to Anna, still holding a curious look at her husband’s high school friend.


“I’ll uh, I’ll return him after a few hours, I promise. Elisa and the kids will be over in an hour, we’ll all have lunch together.”


Fifteen minutes after, Mike sat shotgun in Brad’s car, eyes furrowing at the man nearly breaking the speed limit as buildings blurred behind them. His eyes widened when he recognized the direction they were taking.


“Brad, are you taking me where I think you’re…”


“Yes,” Brad replied, cutting Mike off. “Now shut up and think of what you want to tell him. Not the saccharine shit at the funeral, Mike, you have to be fucking honest this time. I really regret not pushing you two to be together, so consider this me making amends.”


The next thing he knew, Mike found himself standing in front of Chester’s tombstone, hands shaking with trepidation at what to say to the greatest love of his life. Once again, with a reassuring squeeze of his shoulders, it was Brad who gave him a light nudge.


Mike heard Brad slowly walking away from him, and it was all the encouragement he needed to talk to Chester.


“Ches, I…”

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