Ray wondered idly to himself if one of the guys had noticed his absence yet. He wasn't betting on it, though, and it was with frustration that he threw his phone into a ditch. He'd look back on this moment later and kick himself in the balls, but in his defence, he was hot, tired, and out of gum. Jesus, those guys... they could be real idiots sometimes. Gerard, who was always moody if without coffee, and seeming distant to the rest of the band recently. Frank, bouncy and giggly, usually too preoccupied with something else to think of Ray. And then Mikey... Gerard's younger brother. Ray smiled slightly. Mikey was different – he listened to Ray, and they were able to talk easily together. Thinking about Mikey, Ray let his mind travel to a scene that he had almost forgotten.

Ray was running his shaking hands through the grass on his hands and knees, trying to block out the jeers and laughing of those stupid jocks and their airheaded blonde girlfriends.

"Something wrong, Toro?" The biggest, most stupid douchebag knelt down in front of Ray. "Has Four-Eyes lost his freak glasses?" His girlfriend howled with laughter, as if this was the most hilarious thing she'd ever heard. Ray didn't look up, but carried on looking.

"Hey," Douchebag said, "hey, I'm talking to you, Toro. HEY!" And he hit Ray round the side of the head. "Are you deaf as WELL as blind, loser?" His friends were all gathering around Ray now; he could just see their blurred shapes, and was about to resign himself reluctantly to his fate, when suddenly he could see. He blinked, realising he was wearing his glasses again, and scrambled to his feet. Mikey Way had given him his glasses back.

"Ooh, if it isn't Little Miss Mikey," Douchebag sneered. "Helping out your boyfriend? Faggot."

Ray blushed furiously, but Mikey's voice was calm and collected. "Huh. I did wonder why everyone calls you retarded, but now it seems obvious to me."

Douchebag's friends had to hide their laughter behind their hands, while the guy himself looked ready to punch Mikey. Instead, he contented himself with a, "Guess you freaks have got to stick together, right? Come on, guys. I wouldn't want to catch anything from these queers."

Ray turned to Mikey. "Uh... Hey. Gerard's brother, right?"

Mikey nodded. "That's me."

"Well... thanks, man."

Mikey grinned. "Hey. Us freaks gotta stick together, right?" And he was gone.

(In The Present)

Mikey sat in the back seat of his brother's van, his arms and legs wrapped around his bass. He wasn't sleepy anymore; in fact, he was thinking. The atmosphere of the van was sleepy; mainly because of Frank's snuffles. Why did Frank have to be so damn cute? It was annoying – he could see the way Gerard looked at Frank sometimes, and it made him want to puke. When those two got all lovey-dovey, he could always rely on Ray for a laugh about it. They would joke about it and annoy their friends, and Mikey liked it. Mikey liked Ray. He realised he could sort of associate with Ray more than anyone else – even his own brother, who has become so distant after his relationship with Frank sparked up. And he had never been close to Frank. His thoughts still trained on Ray, he remembered something he thought he had forgotten.

A thirteen-year-old Mikey was walking down a corridor, thronging his way in and out of the masses.

"Hey – Mikey!"

He turned to see Gerard and Ray running towards him, out of breath. Gerard grinned guiltily at his brother.

"Oh God. What do you want?" Mikey said, knowing that expression all too well.

"Well... I'm going to go back to Ray's house tonight for a little... Band practice, but you have to tell Mom we're studying!"

"So I'll have Mom's wonderful conversational skills all to myself tonight at the dinner table," Mikey replied drily, one eyebrow raised. Ray's mouth twitched into a smile.

Gerard grabbed his brother by the shoulders. "Please, man, I'm begging you! I'll make it up to you, I swear to coffee."

Mikey rolled his eyes. "Well..."

"Hold on a sec." Ray looked confused. "You swear to... coffee?"

"Well, yeah." Gerard held up the steaming paper cup in his hand and gazed at it lovingly. "I mean, with something this beautiful, who needs anything else to swear to?"

Ray glanced at Mikey, looking slightly alarmed. Mikey grinned back. "Well, if I do this, Ray, you'll have to deal with this for a whole night."

Ray sighed and ran a hand over his slicked-back hair. "I guess that's a risk I'll have to take – your big bro's got a wicked voice."

Gerard preened. "Of COURSE I have. And hey – thanks Mikey!" Grabbing Ray's elbow, he quickly got himself lost in the crowds again.

"Hey, wait!" Mikey called angrily. He groaned. That stupid, stupid brother of his, he thought to himself as he walked off. Look on the bright side, added a small voice in his head – isn't Ray's smile the cutest thing you ever saw?