LPfiction

Category Linkin Park

i don't have to see you right now. by frostfall

This one-shot has been in the works for many months now, an idea that came to me long ago. But no matter what I wrote, I couldn’t string a proper paragraph. But inspiration struck me several days ago and I managed to finish this in a couple of days. I guess going through rough patches and going through the days leading up to Chester’s birthday (which was horrible) helps the creative juices flow.


I wasn’t sure if I should post this today, especially since it’s Chester’s birthday (miss you so much) and I don’t want to put any sad and negative things up during a day where we should celebrate him. But at the same time, it felt right, felt apt. I could be wrong. I don’t know. But I hope you guys like this. It’s been awhile since I wrote something like this. It may be a little pretentious but I've always liked writing like this haha.


Also, one of the inspirations behind this is lpfan503’s fantastic story, Snapshots of Grief. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend it immensely. It’s amazing.


The title is a lyric from “Mt. Washington” by Local Natives.




*****




Mike knows something is wrong the moment his world fades into monochromatic grey.


Then he hears the worst news he's heard in his entire life and everything and nothing makes sense.




*****




It’s funny, how people lets something like colour dictates who you belong to.


On the outside, Mike was never one for things like that, for soulmates. While he can see the point in it (there must be a reason why things like these are set in stone after all), he’d rather carve his own destiny.


He doesn’t need some unseen force telling him who to love and who not to love. Why settle for a person who might hate all the things you love when you have the power to choose somebody who loves all of you?


Mike's seen people torn apart by the power of destiny, who were on the edge of destruction, who tore each other to pieces. It's not a life he wishes to lead.


It’s this kind of belief that he carries throughout most of his life (because fuck he's not soulless but that's a different story altogether). That’s why he dyed his hair. That's why he fell for somebody who saw colour long before he did. That's why he lets the past stay at the back of his mind and flow with the seconds.


Until Chester strolled into his life.




*****




The people who come by daily, Mike doesn't recognise their faces.


Some vaguely resembles people he’s known for decades, others a fleeting moment lost in time. He treats both the same. He smiles and greets them by name and he laughs at all of their jokes, even the shitty ones.


But he doesn't know them. Not at all.


Not like in the way he knew Chester.


"Thank god he wasn't your soulmate,” some insensitive douchebag declares one morning, cold coffee on the table and the sweltering summer around them. If anybody asked him about who that was now, Mike couldn't recall. He's just a faceless man in a sea of assholes. “Can you imagine not seeing colour ever again? I feel so bad for Talinda.”


Mike stiffens, his fingers curling tightly around his mug. It’s black coffee. He hates taking his coffee black. But he’s been taking it each morning since Chester left.


He'd rather have a shot of whiskey but Anna forbids him to drink at any time of the day. It’s stupid but who is he to argue?


He could barely feel her slips a hand in his, squeezing it in hopes of comfort. It does not.


He knows beating the living daylights out of any houseguest is out of question. So all he could is flash them a tight smile and say, “Yeah. I can't imagine what she's going through.”




*****




He’d be lying if he said he never wondered if the both of them could've had something. He’s not sure what that something is.


A relationship? That was definitely out of question. Mike may be a lot of things but he’d never betrayed anybody’s trust, especially his wife’s.


And even if he wanted to be the other man, he could argue that such a thing wouldn't be as well-received as they would now. Not that the discrimination is non-existent presently anyway. But the backlash would have been dire and Mike refused to let Chester go through something like that. He has gone through so much already.


That’s why this destiny nonsense is all bullshit. If Chester and him were meant to be, there wouldn't be so many roadblocks. They wouldn't be afraid to indulge in an affair. They would've met when their hearts were still in their chests and not in somebody else’s hands.


If Chester and him were meant to be, he’d still be here.


Rather, they’ve met when Chester was married and Mike was in a relationship of his own, with hearts of gold.


Their gleaming ticket came when Sam disappeared. By then, Mike was already bound to somebody else. Their hearts never wavered and before he knows it, Chester left with the sunlight.


Because time never stops for fate.


And now he'll never know.




*****




The first couple of months are disastrous.


When his children are tucked in bed, Mike would paw through his kitchen cabinets in search of any form of liquor. He’d wake up hungover on his bed, tucked under the covers.


And he'd do it again and again and again. It's a vicious cycle.


Wherever he is, Chester must be hating him with every fibre in his being. Mike doesn’t blame him.


Eventually Anna intervenes, throwing away every single alcohol in the house. After a huge battle, he breaks down right in front of her.


He's convinced he's babbling, trying to justify his binge. He may have slipped a secret or two. If he did, Anna doesn't make any indication. Neither does she voice it out when he wakes up the next dawn.


“I love him,” he howls into her lap, half a drunkard and half a mess. “I loved him.”


Anna just threads her fingers through his hair. They’re soft and careful strokes. Her hands are too smooth and small for his liking.


“I know, baby, I know you do.”




*****




There is, without a doubt, that Mike loves each and every one of his fans. Without them, he is nothing, only a speck of dust in the vast atmosphere. He wouldn’t be able to afford the roof that shelters him, or the lifestyle he leads.


He’d admit he's come close to disliking them, little phases in his past. Unlike critics and skeptics, it’s much more difficult to reconcile that your supporters have doubts about you and your craft. After all, they worship the ground you walk on. They shouldn't hurl you with any negative critiques.


Like the rest, he’s learnt to dust it off his shoulder. If anything, experience taught him he can't always appease the universe.


But sitting at his desk scrolling through social media feeds, comes an epiphany.


Will the band continue without Chester????? Omg!!!!???!!!


I think the band needs to replace chester. The band needs somebody that can scream and mike sure can’t lol.


Can't believe that trash album is their last one!!! This is bullshit!!!!!!


It’s the first time he can definitely admit that he hates his fans. Not all. Just some.


He thinks he might understand Chester a little bit more now.




*****




It’s his children’s (bless their little hearts) idea to make the paper cranes for “Uncle Chester”.


Mike rolls with it. Anna takes the reins, purchasing stacks and stacks of origami paper. They’re in black, white, and grey.


“I thought it’ll look beautiful,” she tells him when he questions her about it. “Elegant. Unconventional. It’ll look amazing.”


Mike knows she’s lying. He doesn’t deserve her.




*****




They’ve never had sex, never came close to stripping in front of the other in hopes of getting off.


But they had shared a few innocent kisses here and there, all of them fleeting and in a drunken haze.


The first time happened a long time ago when they were barely getting by. Giggling among empty bottles of cheap vodka and bodies leaning against the kitchen counter. Brown orbs shining as their breaths and souls intertwine.


They’ve never talked about it when they’re sober. There wasn’t any need to.


Because they’re meant elsewhere, no matter what their eyes or their hearts tell them.


It was always meant to be a secret for two. Now only one gets to live with it.




*****




Rehearsals are awful.


It's not the fact that he has to balance hundreds of schedules. Mike has done it before. Neither is it due to anybody showing up on time or even showing up at all.


Chester's ghost pops up at untimely intervals, be it during practice or toilet breaks. Most of the time, he has to excuse himself to bawl in the confinements of his dressing room, away from the public eye. It's futile. He could read the pitying gazes that stalk his every move. The dressing room is his only sanctuary.


Even then it’s hard. Everything about the place reminds him of Chester. Half of the time, he expects Chester to be sprawled across the couch or humming a joyful tune. Most of him expects flaming arms to wrap themselves around his shoulders; a sign of comfort. He’d sob harder.


“Nice hair colour,” he tells Kiara as he passes her by in the corridor. He doesn't know what made him say that. He can't figure out the ashen shade that tinges her mane. "Is it new?"


What was it the last time he saw her? Purple? Blue? Brown?


Kiara's frowns, her footsteps faltering. “No, it’s the same colour. Like the last time we met.”


Mike blinks. “Oh. Sorry. I didn't… I forgot.”


Something in his face must have betrayed him. Kiara’s puzzlement morphs into a mix of sympathy, embarrassment, and uncertainty.


“I’m sorry,” she says timidly. “I didn’t know.”


He brushes it off. Most of the world doesn’t know either. He doesn't hold it against her.


A thought conjures itself in his head. He doesn’t know whether this is crossing a line. But if there’s one thing he's learnt throughout the whole ordeal is that time slips by faster than anybody has a chance to comprehend.


“Can I ask you something?” When she prompts him to continue, he blurts out, “Why did you dye your hair? I mean, I’m assuming you haven’t meet your soulmate and…” He stops at her crestfallen expression. “I'm sorry. That was thoughtless for me to say. I didn't mean it in a bad way. I just...”


He expects fiery words from her, even a sharp slap. She’s capable of worse. Kiara just flashes him a sad smile. “I think you know why. It’s the same reason you did.”


Then, Sydney Sierota is grabbing her by the arm and dragging her into a conversation, leaving Mike to his troubled thoughts.




*****




People would come up to him or send him messages, regaling him about how Chester saved their lives.


Mike hates that Chester could save everybody but himself.




*****




He unlearns the colours at his own pace.


While it isn’t as quick as he would like it to be, it’s a much faster process than when he was bestowed with the sight. It’ll be easier if he went with his younger mentality ― everything dark is "black", everything light is "white". If he’s in doubt, he’ll just coin the shade “grey”. Everything was duller and simpler then.


But now that he’s older and hopefully wiser, he notices things ― the flaws and beauty in greyscale. He notices the gritty calluses of Brad’s knuckles, the dramatic flair certain clouds bear, the contrast of skin tone when shone on.


The twinkle in Chester’s eyes.


Mike still drinks his coffee black.




*****




The last crane was folded on a gloomy Saturday afternoon.


Mike watches his wife and children scoop them up, organizing them carefully. He makes a wish.


He doesn’t know whether he wants it to come true or not.




*****




Mike is halfway through his second cigarette when the stick is snatched out his hand.


This time, it's Brad.


"What the fuck are you doing?" he demands, stomping over the roll of cancer. Mike watches it spit out ash before dying. "Are you fucking insane?"


Unlike with Anna, Mike doesn't scream. He should. Brad has always been obvious with his overbearing tendencies. Anna is not. Brad is one of his best friends. Anna is both his best friend and wife.


But Mike is tired so he doesn’t make a sound.


"It tastes like him," he muses after a wordless moment. His lifts his gaze up towards the night sky. Since he's in the heart of the city, it's pitch black. The moon has decided to hide behind the clouds tonight.


Maybe he should get away for awhile, chase a couple of stars. It'll be nice for a change.


"Mike," Brad sighs. The anger has diminished, replaced with a weary expression. Mike doesn't bother asking. "Go home."


He shakes his head. Home is long gone.


That's the last time he smokes.




*****




Sometimes, he tries forgetting him.


His mind travels back to the early days ― of playing basketball in a neighbour’s backyard, of loving a woman without a care in the world, of plucking his guitar in a bandmate’s garage.


But it’s difficult to do that when Mike hears his voice, devilish screams and angelic coos haunting him wherever he goes.


It reminds him of better times. It reminds him of dark times.


It reminds him of yellow, brown, and red.


He tries and tries and tries to forget but fate has it out for him.


Well, he’s always loved time more, even if they’ve fallen out now.




*****




Mike almost cancels the whole fucking thing an hour before he’s due on stage.


His stomach lurches again. The urge to empty its contents is terribly tempting.


Instead, he writes about it. It’s almost as bad.


More words of comfort floods in when he releases it months after. He thanks them, his apparent appreciation as strong as his desire for them to disappear.




*****




There’s a part of him that misses colour. Just like his feelings for Chester, they jump at him randomly. He’d pass a taxi by and wish he could recognise its marigold paint job. He’d search through his countless tubes of acrylic and hope that the one he’s holding is indigo and not crimson.


But as much as Mike misses seeing Los Angeles’s azure skies, passing by his mauve orchids in his dining room, watching his children’s cheeks turn a rosy shade, he’d give it all up in an instant if he could keep Chester.


Hell, he’ll rather go blind than live a day without Chester by his side. He can’t imagine there was a time he lived through years without him. He must’ve been stronger then because all he feels like doing is screaming into the void.


That’s the magic and curse of soulmates, he thinks.




*****




“He told me, you know,” Talinda tells him between strawberry shortcake and smooth jazz. “About the both of you.”


The blood coursing through his veins turns cold.


Chester must love Talinda so much that he’d tell her that. Mike hasn’t even told Anna yet.


His jaw is heavy. He's caught between running away and ignoring her. All he could do is muster an apology.


“Don’t be sorry,” she assures him, sipping her tea. Lipstick stains the rim of the cup. Mike wonders if she’s wearing scarlet or coral today. “I’m just happy he had somebody there for him. During those...times. He…” Her voice quivers. His ears tell him she’s crying. “You saved him, Mike.”


He averts her gaze, his own tears threatening to spill from his eyelids. A gentle touch on his shaking fist forces him to meet her at eye-level.


“He loved you,” she murmurs, eyes glistened. “So much.”


Mike inches away and stabs his fork into his cake, slipping the tiny piece between his lips.


It tastes of hope.


Of Chester.




*****




Most nights, Mike's dreams are plagued by him.


Seeing Chester in black and white feels wrong. Chester isn’t a blank sheet or murky ink. He’s the roaring flames in the hearth, the sweet blush of cotton candy, the silver light cast by the moon at midnight.


Mike often turns up a sobbing mess when he wakes. Anna is always stationed next to him, ready to offer her shoulder. Rarely does he take her up on it.


“Stop blaming yourself,” Chester chides him once. “It's not your fault.”


Mike shakes his head furiously. “But it’s true. I wasn’t enough. If I was, you would’ve...you wouldn’t...”


His body quakes, his voice faltering into the abyss.


He knows that this is a dream, like the rest of the conversations. The real Chester would’ve pulled him close, warming him in an embrace. The real Chester would’ve whispered comforting words in his ear. The real Chester would’ve have chocolate for eyes, not ebony.


This Chester just beams at him. For a moment, Mike could almost see the resemblance between the two. The pain hiding behind his broken smile is uncanny.


“You were enough. I was nothing.”


Mike closes his eyes. “No. You were everything.”




*****




Sometimes, Mike wants to let go.


It's hard to be strong, to portray himself as strong. Every time he finds a fan down in the dumps, he props them up. Every time he hears their song on the radio, he presses onwards. Every time he sees a similar-looking face on the street, he strides on by.


Every time, he wants to jump off a cliff and never try to spread his wings.


But then Chester would come to mind. Chester wouldn't want him to pursue an angel. Angels are untouchable.


So he climbs out of the ocean and tries again.




*****




Beneath all his rational and determination and composure, Mike is a romantic at heart. As much as he hates to admit it, even to himself, he was always waiting for the right person to waltz into his life.


Why do you think he dyed his hair in ridiculous shades of red and blue?


If he could turned back the clock, he would’ve dyed himself yellow instead. Yellow like the sun.


Chester would've liked it. But he would've liked anything Mike made. If Mike bled himself out, slashed wrists and all, Chester would still think him a masterpiece.


Mike shares the sentiment about him.




*****




It’s been six months, maybe less. As usual, he wakes in the morning, expecting colour and a text. A tiny part of him hopes for a call.


Nothing changes.


Instead of wallowing, he gets up and dresses in navy and khaki. He kisses his wife and children good morning and drinks his coffee with a teaspoon of milk.


He only cries thrice. Mike thinks of releasing the batch of songs hidden in the depths of his laptop.


It’s progress.

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