AN: Hooboy, the document manager does NOT like direct copypasting from AO3. Speaking of which, it's where this and my other fics are! I'm sticking to an upload schedule of once a week for this site. It might be part of a multichapter fic or a standalone oneshot, but it'll be here. Note that this, and the rest of my fics really, have a judicious amount of headcanons. I respectfully disagree with parts of canon and replace it with my own.
This fic in particular was written in July of this year, and I think the you can kinda tell it's the first real thing I wrote in a long while
So when you're an overemotional teen, you better hope you have some healthy habit to vent said emotions. Be it a writing in a diary, playing music or just plain crying it out, there was something to act like a pressure release valve. Some people blew up every week while others could hang onto it for ages and ages. It was like the difference between a tea kettle and a water heater about to go atmospheric.
Trina Riffin's diary modes acted as that safety measure when it comes to emotions. It wore her out, but it's nothing a short nap or an energy drink couldn't fix. It was something to take the extreme edge off and let her continue about her day. Corey, on the other hand, had nothing of the sort. Why would he when he could simply strum some chords and forget about it with his band? That was what he did to chill out, up until he broke his playing arm with a whole month of summer left to go before high school. In front of the whole town, including the dreaded Newmans. If that public humiliation wasn't enough, his OCD and ADHD weren't happy at all with the loss of his main coping mechanism. The new school year only added fuel to the fire.
And to top it all off; it was elevator music of all things to push him over the edge, when his friends decided to spend a day shopping at the mall in an attempt to cheer him up. Not his proudest moment. Especially so when he's stuck in said elevator having one hell of a meltdown, enough so to give himself his own version of diary mode. The one bit of good news was that they got enough lyrics from that angst to last them for a while! The bad news is that he may have caused a city wide blackout, he hasn't shown his face since and he whacked the door with his cast on the way out. It was like the universe was rubbing salt on the wound.
Trina has been enjoying the silence, but a week of it was unheard of. Even if her obnoxious brother decided to mute himself, his clique sure didn't. They had been trying for days to get him to respond. It was obnoxious. She wasn't home all the time, but not once did she hear him open the door no matter how they pleaded. Maybe, with both arms twisted behind her back and her car on the line, she would admit that she was concerned. Not so much with Corey, but with her father's disappointment that she didn't help. That was where she drew the line. Which brought her here, glaring at his dumb band form the inside of her car.
"Listen up losers, Dad's going to be checking in on us tomorrow and you need to get my dumb baby brother back to his regular dumb loud self. Me and Mina will be having some shopping time so I won't have to hear all your gross feelings. Later!" With that she chucked the house keys at them and drove off in a cloud of smoke.
"Do you think we'll have any lucky today?" asked Laney after coughing up a lungful of smog.
"We can't not try!" was Kon's reply. A weeks worth of ignored calls, muffled go away's and dead silence was enough to curb even his enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, Kin was already unlocking the door. The house still looked the same as their previous visits - a domestic normal that didn't reflect the world tipping event of Corey going diary mode and then some. Other than a few more scuffs on the corners it wasn't different than how it was from when they were kids. Even the stains from Jammie were still there on the ceiling.
The trek up to the lead singer's room was short and silent. They've gone through every plan they could get away with and some that they didn't trying to pry him out of his room. Trina still hasn't given them their blowtorches or crowbars back. Desperate times called for desperate measures and all that was the band's justification.
"I'm sure that I can-"
"Uncle Riffin said no lasers after last time", Laney absentmindedly replied as she focused on lock picking the good ole fashioned way. Bobby pins were all kinds of useful. "No breaking the door down either."
Kon not so subtly put the golf club back in its case.
It took a few minutes of cursing and jiggling, but the poster covered door popped open. The first thing that they noticed was that it was dark, even though it was nearly afternoon. Drawing the curtains, blinds shut then draping a blanket over the window tended to do that. The second thing they noticed, revealed after flicking on the lights, was the sorry state the whole thing was in. Corey wasn't exactly neat or clean, but he was better than this. There was a method to his madness that kept him from being distracted by every little thing. This was like the floor after any hardcore party - crumbled inkstained paper everywhere, empty pens lodged in the wall, crumbs littering the carpet, even his precious record collection in dissary. Said singer himself was passed out in bed, just a lump with arg and a cast covered arm poking out. It looked like he hasn't moved much from the position all week. Even his trademark beanie was tossed carelessly on the floor by an empty cracker box.
"Yeesh, this is worse than I imagined", whispered Kin with a wince.
"No shit", was all a shocked Laney could come up with. She knew him through all sorts of ups and downs, but never a down this low.
"Should we wake him up first or try to clean up?" was Kon's contribution to the discussion. Not helping his friend grated against every sense he had.
"Nah, you know how he gets when people mess with his stuff." People usually meaning Trina, but the point still stands. Not that it wasn't tempting. A hissing, pissed off frontman was better this depressed lump. Gingerly did the ginger step across the minefield mess of a floor, before settling on the edge of the bed with a little bounce. Corey didn't even twitch. "Hey, asshole, we've been worried about you."
No dice. The mattress dipped on either side as the twins joined her. A worried but determined glance was exchanged between the trio. Time to get serious. In hindsight, they probably shouldn't have shaken him that hard.
"The fuck?", was what he meant to say, but it came out as rattled "Thdfc?"
Between the oversleeping and undereating, it was no wonder towards why his head and mouth felt like they were crammed full of steel wool. That still didn't explain how or why his eyeballs were wriggling. Or what those blurry figures were doing. Wait, was this going to be another bad dream? The iron grip on his sides quickly dispelled that notion and nausea.
"He's coming to!"
"You can stop shaking him now."
"What the fuck, guys!?" was the first thing he managed to say coherently. "I told you I wan'd to be left alone!" The hell week he subjected himself to made his voice hoarse and slurred. The on and off crying didn't help either.
"It's been a week!" Laney just about shouted, somewhere between concern and frustration. "Even Trina was starting to worry. Trina!"
"Uncle Riffin's going to be checking up on you tomorrow too", Kin injected 'helpfully'. He knew that would get the singer's attention.
"Oh, shit, Dad can't- I gotta- " Several different priorities did a pile up within Corey's mind. He didn't want to let his father down, when was the last time he had something more than a bag of snack foods in the dead of night, he needed to shower pronto, where's his beanie, what happened to his room, how'd they even get in!? The end result was him trying and failing to flop off his bed like a caught fish in his haste to do something. Laney's iron grip on his shoulders prevented him from going anywhere. Kon helped with that by sitting on his legs.
"Not so fast mister", growled the bassist, "You're not going anywhere until you explain yourself. A whole week of nothing! No practices, no schemes, no texts, no calls, not even your face out the window!" Worry overcame anger as her shoulders slumped. The grip on his shoulders didn't relax, but shifted from 'restraining' to 'hanging on'. "Talk to us, Core." I miss you, she carefully didn't say.
For a brief second it looked like he was going to try to be bullheaded about it. The fight went out of him as soon as it went in. It was hard to stay angry when presented with a triple combo of concerned looks. Hunger gnawing wasn't the only thing gnawing at his insides as he looked at his friends. Even then, it was like pulling teeth to get the words out his throat. So much so that he pretty much mumbled into his shoulder rather than actually look at them.
"Use your words, man!" Kon burst out, unable to handle the tension.
"Don't make me use the truth serum", Kin threatened. He meant it, with a glare like that.
"Because I had a freakout like I was a dumb kid again, in front of you guys!" Even with two and half limbs out of commission Corey managed to a sweeping gesture, nearly bonking his cast against Laney's side. A flush rose to his cheeks as he continued. "All because of that stupid elevator music and I can't play anymore because of this thing, can't even get out of homework with it, the Newman's are getting all the gigs in town and, and I should have kept my cool instead of freaking out like I was Trina! I...I nearly hurt you guys by going all zappy."
The last part took the wind out of his sails more than the hunger-guilt combo did. He didn't remember much from the whole ordeal, but the scorch marks inside that elevator might as well be burned into the back his eyelids. The nightmares loved to remind him what would have happened if they were just a little bit unlucky. A knotted bramble of feelings rose to his throat. Corey couldn't look at them after spilling his guts like that, staring at the littered floor and trying to blink the tears out of his eyes. No way was he going to cry in front of them again.
That was all the warning he got before he was smooshed in a group hug.
"You were super stressed, dude!" Kon started, "There's no shame in crying even if you did cause major property damage! You didn't get us, and that's what matters. You were really worried about us even in when you were all raahh!"
"And", Laney cut in as her grip relaxed, "I- we're sorry for not noticing how fucked up you were in the first place. Things kept happening and... Not to make excuses but we really should have noticed how tense you were getting." Tense was one thing, occasionally putting off so much static electricity to instantly make hair poof no matter how much product in it was another. No matter how it was funny at the time. Even if it was Trina.
"I'll be starting the one arm guitar when I get home", Kon promised, "Really should've started that sooner, come to think of it. You deserve the best!"
Corey very pointedly did not sniff. "It's o-okay guys, I was hiding it in the first place. It's my whole thing to be the cool guy with the crazy ideas that just might work. Not being able to do that messed me up big time. I just... Couldn't take not being able to do anything fun anymore."
It took some wiggling, but he did his best to return the hug with one and a half functioning arms. "You guys are the greatest, you know that?"
"Can you shower now? You fucking reek."