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Ray wasn't really into cliches, but when Mikey left to go get himself straightened out, "you don't know what you've got till it's missing" became his mantra.

Of course, he sort of had known what he had. Ray had liked Mikey from the time when his glasses didn't fit right and he couldn't be bothered to wear them on his eyes rather than his nose, and really, if you were going to like someone through that kind of awkward stage, you might as well go right on liking him through all the phases of his completely unexpected hotness.

Ray was, in general, a pretty easygoing guy, so he felt that it shouldn't have been a problem to keep moving forward, simply wait to see if Mikey would come back to them, but it was a problem.

It was a problem when Matt tried to play and it wasn't that he didn't sound good, but he didn't gel right, didn't mold correctly. He wasn't Mikey and they all knew it, even Matt.

It was a problem when Mikey finally called one of them--Gerard--and wasn't ready to talk to the others.

I was just a problem.

Ray knew, he knew that the only thing to do was to be patient, but he couldn't help wishing that there were just some magic pill to get Mikey back to the way he had been when things had been bad, but not really bad, not so bad that Mikey couldn't stand on his own two feet without the help of others.

Or maybe they had always been that bad, and Ray had never noticed because Mikey's others had been the band until now. It was hard to tell.

Mikey called Ray second. It was weeks after he had started calling Gerard and Ray was surprised, to be honest, because he figured Frank to be second on Mikey's list.

But Mikey called him and said, "I'm sorry."

Ray said, "Don't be," and bit off the "come back," that immediately wanted to follow.

"Ray, just let me be sorry, okay?"

Mikey could be anything he wanted to be, so long as he came back. "Okay, but you're forgiven."

Mikey was silent for a bit. "Why?"


"Why do you forgive me for leaving? For possibly fucking up the band?"

Ray thought about it. This was his dream, too. "Because you're more important. Even than that."


"No, Mikey. No, Gee started this to save people. He didn't just mean people he didn't know."

"I miss-- I miss you guys. There's a lot of things I don't miss. But I miss-- I miss you."

"We miss you, too, Mikey."

"No. Ray. I--"

"Oh," Ray said.

"I got myself a plant. They, um. They say to do that."

"Yeah. Yeah. What kind?"

"A ficus. They're easy."

"So am I."

Mikey laughed.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile