Category Linkin Park

Beyond the event horizon by vei

A/N: my neuroesthetics fic (which means I win a bet o_o)

A/N2: companion fic to `Oranges are purple` much ?


"It's been over three days. As in seventy six hours." Rob states, thoughtlessly reaching his hand out to steady Mike on his feet.

"I have some forty arrangements on this. You better like one of those." Mike says, flashing a tired smile Rob's way, taking a small portable hard disk out of his pocket.

Rob can't help thinking that Mike's perfectionism is going to kill him one day.

"Fuck." Mike mutters, bending down to reach for the cigarette packet that has slipped out of his pocket.

Rob is faster though. He straightens up and looks at the battered packet in his hand, noting how it's the brand Chester's smoking. There are only two cigarettes left inside. He looks up at Mike questioningly.

"Chester left those at the studio." Mike explains with a shrug.

"That's no reason for you to take up smoking." Rob says, putting things together in his mind and instantly understanding why Mike's clothes and hair are smelling so strongly of cigarettes fumes.

"Well... I just kind of grabbed... whatever I could reach. Give me one ?"

"No. Cigarette addiction is the last thing you need with your lungs." Rob says, hiding the cigarettes in his own pocket. "Brad's bought crazy amount of takeout, come on."

"I'm not really hungry."

"How can you not be hungry after three days in there ?"

"Gallons of coffee tend to do this to one's stomach."

Rob quirks an eyebrow at Mike before leading the way towards Brad's SUV, the smell of warm food and greasy paper bags assaulting their senses right after they open the doors.

"God, I'm going to puke." Mike scowls at the smell before getting inside, sinking into the leather seat with a satisfied sigh though.

He has this strangest feeling he only gets after missing two or more nights of sleep, a feeling that something is lurking right beyond the realm of his peripheral vision, big, dark shapes that are impossible to see, moving away along with his eyes and always staying out of reach of true perception.

"So ? How did the rescue mission go ?" Chester's voice flares out of the car audio speakers Brad's cellphone is connected to.

"He's barely alive, but there." Brad answers. "We'll force feed him some curry and he'll be fine."

"Great." Chester remarks with contempt. "Mike, you're there ? I've been worried sick about you, you fucker. Me and Anna both. Who in their right mind locks himself inside a studio for three days ?!"

"Let him be for now, Chester. He's falling asleep on you anyway." Brad interjects, nudging Mike's side to wake him up from the stupor he's fallen into. "We'll see you in the evening."

"Yeah, bye." Chester says quickly, apparently forced to end the call for whatever reason.

"I needed some time away from all this mess." Mike explains even though nobody asked him yet.

"Yeah, we all do sometimes. Just... do you have to do this like this ? It's putting Chester so on edge. We've almost all gone crazy with him going all paranoid on us."

"Come on, eat some." Rob urges Mike, forcing a paper bucket of lukewarm curry into his hands along with a plastic fork.

"Fuck, why are you feeding a rockstar such shit ?" Mike asks no one in particular before digging the fork into the food and proceeding to stab it repeatedly.

"Just because curry looks like shit doesn't mean it is." Brad states philosophically before starting the car.

Mike thinks that it's mildly interesting, the way the plastic fork is digging into the food, piercing the greasy surface of the pieces of meat encountering only minor resistance and disappearing inside them. It's vaguely reminiscent of many things.

"Don't stare. Eat." Rob nudges his shoulder encouragingly.

Mike vomits stale coffee all over the car's interior instead of eating, for some reason taking care to keep the bucket of food out of harm's way. His stomach's content is out within a minute, but he goes on dry heaving and as soon as Brad stops the car, he's out of it, on his knees on some littered lawn on the side of a busy street, dry heaving over the ground with not a drop of vomit leaving his lips anymore even though he can almost see all his insides slipping out through his mouth, greasy intestines and pale blue organs looking like deflated balloons and gallons and gallons of blood. There is a scene like this in Akira, he suddenly remembers, where a guy imagines all his insides falling out of him.

"Haven't we been telling him this isn't going to do him any good ?" Brad asks the thin air with a sigh, staring at Mike doubling over on the lawn through the car window, leaving it up to Rob to collect him off it.

It's the strangest thing.

"Come on." Rob whispers soothingly by Mike's side.

Mike's fists ball on the ground, grasping handfuls of soil and dry grass and small pieces of newspaper and sweets' wrappings. He has a sudden moment of perfect clarity. The dark shapes hunting the borders of his peripheral vision move sideways right in front of his very eyes, their shapes too complex and alien to remember. Things get huge. And then they get small, as if he was burning with fever. Fever comes with another strange sensation for him, one he suddenly remembers. It's as if his head was getting huge, huge, huge, huge, but something even bigger was being forcefully stuck into it, put there from behind and pushed inside until it's all there, hurting so fucking much. It's a strange abstract nightmare he was only ever getting while burning up with fever as a kid. There was one more nightmare hunting him years ago, of people in long black cloaks coming to cut his stomach open...

His life is passing right in front of his eyes, he realizes, replayed once again like a bad movie, only not his day life, but all the wisps and scattered pieces of all the nightmares his memory has ever retained for him being put back together and laid out for him to see in all their gruesome glory.

"Mike, you honestly want some paparazzi to catch you looking like that ?" Rob resolves to attempting to drag Mike up to his feet forcefully, looking around uneasily.

Is this an epiphany ? This one moment in life when everything just clicks into place in an order you've been unconsciously feeling existed all your life, even though you could never tell it ever before.

"Mike ?"

"I'm fine." Mike utters weakly, words feeling strange in his mouth after this. He looks up into Rob's concerned eyes and doesn't see understanding of any of this in them and just wants to show him all of this so fucking much and almost feels like wailing when he realizes on a second thought that's impossible.


"He did what ?" Chester asks incredulously, having just choked on the diet Coke he's been sipping for the last half an hour, looking so utterly cool while at it it was all kinds of wrong.

"He got himself admitted into Berkeley. Cognitive science major or something."

"What ?" Chester blinks stupidly.

"That's awesome. We will have to cancel some tours if ever Mike fails some exams." Joe snickers.

"How will we tour in the first place ? During summer break ?" Phoenix asks incredulously, wondering if what he said was a joke or not.

"Come on, guys. They will surely accommodate to his needs somewhat, if he pays them enough."

"That's still one hell of a strange idea."

"Midlife crisis ? Or something ?" Phoenix suggests meekly.

"He's thirty and on top of the fucking world. I'll talk him out of this." Chester states, finishing his Coke in one gulp and standing up from the table.

"He won't listen to you." Brad says patiently. "I've been at it whole last week even before telling you guys. He's head over heels for neuroesthetics. Expect to listen to our next album in a fMRI tube before it hits the market too."

"You mean that tube into which they put you to scan your brain ?" Rob asks hesitantly in a somewhat scared voice.

"I liked him better back when he was obsessed with design too." Brad says with a sigh. "But you know how he is." He adds with a shrug, locking eyes with Rob, who nods reluctantly.

Chester looks at them quizzically, thinking how he of all people doesn't know how Mike is anymore.


Considering he's wanted a degree in design and not illustration in the first place and considering that there is a straight line going from design to usability studies and another one from usability studies to cognitive science which is encompassing neuroesthetics, which is in turn having to do so much with what he's ended up doing for a living, it is all forming a circle and making perfect sense in his mind at this point.

There's sudden clarity about many things in there and he's thoroughly enjoying it while it lasts. Somehow an idea that his intelligence could serve other purposes than thinking up witty comebacks in interviews comes along with it.

"How is it at the university ?" Chester asks half-heartedly when they happen to go out of the studio to have a smoke at the same time.

Chester notes how Mike's still stuck at the brand he stopped smoking three months ago, as easily bored as he is.


"Different to what ?"

"To everything. The way I remember Art Center being, real life, outside world. It's so different it's almost unreal." Mike says, moving his cigarette around, drawing something scattered and huge in the air with the fumes. "They are looking down on me there. Exactly because I'm a successful artist."

"You shouldn't give shit about them." Chester snorts. "Fucking eggheads."

Mike smiles patiently. Something is broken and he can no longer understand how it was possible for him to be on such friendly terms with Chester in the first place. Chester doesn't get the books he's reading now and the talks he has with people and he doesn't even care. They get down to writing lyrics together and between Mike musing over Braitenberg machines and Chester rereading Grey Daze lyrics to get himself depressed they only come up with blank pages.


Mike doesn't sleep anymore, though he's not sure if that's because of his nightmares having become so utterly, devastatingly perfect in their scariness, the amount of books and words and sounds the outside world suddenly proves to have to offer which he feels he absolutely must absorb or waiting for another strike of this something.

He thinks back to these three days he's spent in the studio, the locked door and the utter darkness only illuminated by the double LCD monitors and the LEDs of the mixing deck, the hours becoming minutes and eons and the arrangements he's been supposedly making proving to be nothing more than transforming his band's songs into an unrecognizable pulp of sounds, so utterly random it doesn't show signs of being crafted by a human hand, over and over again.

"When have you last slept ?" Brad asks him in an agitated voice, walking in circles around the small cluttered dressing room at the venue where they're supposed to be playing in ten fucking minutes.

Mike merely shrugs.

"Are you aware of how awful you sound ? I understand that you have exams to pass, but studying something you took up as a hobby can't be getting in the way like this..."

Mike smiles a small smile thinking back to the last night he's spent reading "The glass bead game", having long since passed all the exams there were.

"How is he ?" Chester asks from the doorway of the dressing room, looking as stunning as he tends to look right before a show.

"See for yourself." Brad motions to Mike with a sweeping hand gesture.

Chester rolls his eyes, taking into Mike's haunted gaze, somewhat grayish skin and untidy hair and hands trembling in his lap despite how hard he's attempting to cover that up.

For days now, Mike's been feeling as if he had more coffee in his bloodstream than he had blood. This couldn't be good for him at all, he presumed.

"One can't live on books and work alone, Mike." Chester notes in a mildly concerned voice before reaching into his skinny jeans pocket with a sigh. "See what you're making me do ?"

He fills the syringe up with practiced ease, approaches Mike and shoots the drug up into the vein of his right arm without as much as a second of hesitation. Brad looks away the moment the needle disappears in Mike's flesh.

Mike can't help but remember the plastic fork piercing the pieces of meat in the curry.

"Oh fuck, what's that ?" He asks Chester a few minutes later, taking a deep breath with quite a bit of difficulty, the image of the world in front of his eyes getting ten times sharper all of a sudden, turning impossibly intense and hurting his eyes.

"Speed." Chester answers frankly, disposing of the syringe. "Now get out on stage. And go to sleep once it wears off for fuck's sake."

"God, I feel as if I was standing behind me." Mike mutters, getting up to his feet.

"You ain't seen nothing yet, buddy. And you won't see. We'll get you fixed. Come on."

Mike follows Chester on his way out of the room, laughing stupidly. There are so many more people out there than usually at a concert, so many actually there is not enough room for all of them around the stage anymore and they're all over it, all around him, sweaty bodies pressed up tightly together, all sporting the very same face.

It's ironic really, because Mike hears an actual crack the moment his sanity snaps.


He's not sure how he's even gotten himself into this in the first place, but he's attending an anatomy course. It's actually pretty cool, the people gathered in front of the dissection room's door acting so anxious and fearful while nothing this bad is awaiting them in there, just a few corpses picked apart to show off their insides.

Mike thinks back to the potent vision of his own insides leaving his body through his mouth. He wonders if they are indeed alike those displayed on the section tables, letting his gloved hand wander inside the thorax of a corpse and picking out an organ after an organ only to place those back inside in a twisted reverse order. It makes him feel the slightest bit like a God.

The thought that he'll never know how he is inside himself feels strange. The very thing that's making him go on proves to be staying out of reach of his direct perception forever.

"She's had nice hands..." He mutters to himself, looking over the corpse's nails curiously, noticing the faint remnants of pink nail polish.

It is more macabre than anything else, the somewhat normal, albeit cold and stiff and deadly pale human hand, complete with skin and chipped nail polish changing smoothly into the mauled corpse with the skin removed to put the discolored muscles on display, the thorax hanging open and the head missing or lying loose next to the body, small and dry like a raisin and cut in two halves.

The brain's missing.

Brains are brought in the other day, lying in a heap in a plastic container, washed one by one in washbasins and placed on metal plates so everyone can poke them to their heart's content.

Nobody gets lyrics Mike writes after completing his anatomy course with an A.


"I've never told you to try every fucking drug on the market !" Chester's shouting at Mike, exasperated, the collection of pills and powders and dried mushrooms adorning the table in the dining room of Mike's house scaring him shitless.

Anna is staring at it with badly conceived curiosity.

"There is something..." Mike utters thoughtfully, his throat perched from swallowing pills lately without bothering to drink some water to go with them.

"What ?"

"Something snaps in my mind at times and I fucking love that." Mike attempts to explain, pointing to the side of his own head.

Chester squints while looking at him.

"Do you know what an epiphany is ?" Mike asks urgently. "Do you know how much sense everything is making during one ?"

"I don't care." Chester shrugs. "Quit this, Mike, this is going to kill you."

"I don't want to." Mike whispers weakly, suddenly sounding at a loss.

"Since you're studying brains now..." Chester speaks up and his words make the sight of cold dead brains lying on metal plates move in front of Mike's eyes. "...Can't you tell what's wrong with yours ?"

"You want me to name it ? Attaching labels to things doesn't really make them any less potent. It's just an illusion..."

"Fuck, no. I mean... get some help ? Get some medication, maybe ?" Chester suggests.

Mike's staring at him for a long time after hearing that.

"You know Chester... If there was a medication that could make you go through this too, I would've forced it down your throat."

"Ha ha... That's not funny." Chester states humorlessly, fear flashing in his eyes.


"Names. All names." Mike speaks in a voice that makes him sound amazingly sure of himself and intent on proving to anyone who hears that listening to him is worthwhile indeed. "Both you and I have been through psychological diagnosis course. You're surely better at that." He gives the psychologist that, making her blush the slightest bit. "But we both know the principle well enough. Mental illnesses as listed in the DSM don't even exist in reality. These are just labels to put on people who prove to be nothing like descriptions of the typical cases, aren't they ?" He tilts his head and smiles a truly fascinating smile at her while asking this question and she can't help but nod. "Well, I'm an artist." He confesses with a hand gesture hinting at something grandiose. "All artists are a little bit insane by nature. Rock star's life is a such a rollercoaster too, countries, faces, support bands passing by in a blur and only shows every evening feeling real after a while with all the emotions floating in the air over the crowd at those. It's really intense, you know..." She nods again, glancing at the papers scattered on the tabletop in front of her. Yes, most rock stars are probably worse than him. All that was found in his blood were faint traces of marijuana and LSD. How innocent does that sound ? "Honestly, I'm afraid of what your medication could do to my creativity." He confesses matter-of-factly. "I can't afford to tweak my brain too much to fit some standards or others when what it's secreting into the outside world in its current state is something so many people are waiting for and looking up to. I wouldn't like a misdirected dose of Prozac to destroy my band."

"He's a very intelligent man." The psychologist tells them after the evaluation. "His ways of thinking may seem unconventional, but there's nothing inherently wrong about it. The psychological standards with their limitations shouldn't be forced upon minds like his. You need to understand that."

All Brad really understands is that she's fallen in love with Mike's bright smiles and shining eyes and he curses him for being the smug bastard that he is before getting down to their every day routine of making him swallow sleeping pills one by one before taking him home.

Mike's out cold by the time Brad places him in his bed next to Anna sleeping peacefully in a frilly nightdress, as if he were a lifesized doll. He can't help but stare at the ruined naked mannequins standing in rows along the walls of the bedroom, Mike's newfound interest in dolls scaring him quite a bit. Him and Joe have made a short movie staring all those mannequins, cow's brains and intestines bought cheap in a supermarket put into their skulls and stomachs.

It's won some award at some festival.

"It's how humans are." Mike told Brad at the final video shoot for that movie him and Joe made him visit even though he wasn't really into cow's intestines. "A lot of shit inside covered up by a thin layer of skin that we find attractive. But it's going to shrink and peel off in the end and everything's going to be revealed."

"Yeah, that's... interesting, I guess." Brad utters weakly, the guts sticking out of a mannequin's stomach making him feel kind of weak in his knees.


"What is that ?" Chester snorts, taking the headphones off and throwing them on the table angrily.

Rob shrugs. Phoenix is looking mildly interested. Joe seems amused by this. Brad motions to Mike, who is sitting there, attempting to play a badly tuned violin, the bow trembling along with his hand.

"That's what Mike's calling music nowadays." Brad explains.

"Just because it doesn't sound like Top 40 doesn't mean it's not music." Mike says defensively.

"Hello there, welcome to your mainstream band and your fans not really expecting you to go industrial or whatever the fuck that is on them." Chester says accusingly. "Warner Bros. is going to replace you with a body double if you keep on acting like this. And I won't even blame them, you know ?"

"How do you know they haven't done that already ?" Mike asks in a challenging voice, starting to play something that's vaguely reminiscent of some classic piece Chester can't remember well enough to name it. "Maybe the old Mike is rotting in a smelly basement somewhere while I plot here how to take over the world ?"

Chester throws his arms in the air, exasperated, before leaving the room not to be seen anymore on this day.


"And if you give me half a chance..." Mike's singing to himself in a hushed voice while walking down the corridor of the Machine Shop building, a violin case in hand and a black trench coat flapping behind him. "...I'll drag you down and leave you lying down there with no arms and no legs..."

He's wondering what that is too. This thing that's making him like this. Not like he isn't asking himself this question every single day. He can't sleep, he can't eat, he can't keep still and he can't keep going, he can't make music like the one he used to and he can't paint the old way. Studying all the eyes that consist his newest paintings, eyes all covered in eyes all covered in eyes all covered in eyes he puts a name on it. Schizophrenia. But he dismisses it soon enough.

Whatever it is, it's making everything around feel so real and so unreal all at the same time.

He stops by the window. There it is again. The sky is blood red and rain is falling, rain made of shards of glass, hitting the glass pane of the window in dozens with a scraping sound unlike any other he's ever heard before. He looks down at the streets, all covered in the crystalline mass of the glass shards already, giving off faint red glow under the red sky.

Whoever was down there is long since chopped to pieces. Rivers of blood are flowing down the streets. And he yearns to be outside, even though this outside isn't even there.


"I see rains of glass." Mike says simply one day over the morning coffee. "Like... shattered glass raining down from the sky instead of water. Sometimes, at night, I think these are stars falling down on Earth too."

Anna stares at him open-mouthed, holding a toast halfway to her mouth.

"It's really... haunting ? Would be the word ?" He asks hesitantly.

"You mean you see those on drugs ?" She risks the question.

"No, I just see those. Even now." He motions to the window behind her back, the blood red sky and the glass scraping on glass with a sound that's familiar to him now.

He's brought plethora of strange things to the studio to replicate this sound, has shattered glass bottles and ashtrays and figurines and plates next to a sampler, but never quite captured this. He told Chester to scream as if he was chopped to pieces alive. That came out better, but it could be better still.

"Mike, don't you think..." Anna speaks calmly, looking at him with that tender care in her eyes as if he were a small child. "...that at this point this is really getting out of hand ? Maybe you should..."

"Let someone cure this ?"

"Yes, yes, that's what I mean."

"It doesn't hurt. It doesn't bother me..."

"...But it isn't normal."

"What's normal anyway ? Supposedly, we're all some kind of unique." Mike points out with a shrug.


"Eventually, I could get enrolled into the music perception research..." Mike muses, scrolling through dozens of versions of vocals of one of Linkin Park's songs in the works thoughtlessly.

"As in: when ? Aren't you busy enough ?" Brad asks unenthusiastically.

"Classic neuroesthetics claim that art is possible because the perceptive system of humans is faulty, as it is in every other living being." Mike ignores Brad's question and goes on with thinking aloud. "The only difference being the level of intelligence of humans that lets our species develop artists. People who play around with the imperfections of the brain. But... Isn't it such a scientific view ? Art and emotions seen as an aberration... The study of emotion is long since past that stage, neuroesthetics will come to understand that too. There is a specialized part of the brain devoted solely to music perception. It's not a mistake. It's fucking there. You are born with it. You come into the world expecting music to be there."

"34 is nice." Brad points to the screen. "That's the one in which Chester decided to sing with British accent."

"You don't wonder what purpose does it serve ?"

"What ?" Brad asks off-handedly.

"Music. And the mechanism for its perception that's built-in into our brains. At first glance, it doesn't have adaptive value..."

"Because God made it that way."

"What ?" Mike blinks as if woken up from a trance.

"You heard me."

"Stop kidding me, you're not really thinking that. Besides, there's no God in science."

"But he's there for normal people." Brad shrugs. "So they don't have to wonder about things like that and can go on living. Get back to work, Mike."


"In there ?" Chester asks, motioning towards the door of the recording studio with a move of his head.

"Yeah, he's there since what ? Tuesday ?" Brad asks.

"Three days again." Phoenix mutters, looking at the closed door uneasily.

"How was it on tour ?" Brad bothers to ask Chester, referring to his side-project, taking up more and more of his time, what with Linkin Park getting gradually messed up by Mike developing insanity.

"Fine." Chester dismisses him with a grunt though. "You've ever thought of breaking down the door ? How can we know if he gets out on his own at all ?"

"What other choices does he have ? Not like he's going to stay there for the rest of his life..." Phoenix points out, only afterwards realizing that his logic is somewhat flawed. "Fuck, no..."

"He's never done anything to himself." Brad notes. "And he's not that kind. He's not depressed, I mean."

"He's messed up. He can do whatever." Chester says, motioning towards his head pointedly. "Listen, Mike !" He shouts through the door. "Either you get out or we get in. You choose."

"I don't think he hears you. It's all soundproof."

"Fuck soundproof !" Chester exclaims, kicking the door in frustration.

There's no answer. In the end, they don't break down the door. Mike gets out on his own almost two days later. All their demos are gone and all the hard drives prove to have been covered with endless strings of 0s and formatted time and again.


"I don't get you anymore." Chester says, sitting down at the table in the dining room of Mike's house, his fingertips moving over the polished tabletop, as if searching for the traces of all the drugs that once lay on this table.

"Did you ever ?" Mike asks.

"What do you mean ?"

"We come from too different places for the two of us to get each other. Ever."

"I thought..."

"Well, you thought wrong. It's always been all about our differences. Rock and rap. You get it." Mike says with a sweeping hand gesture.

"Well, okay." Chester agrees reluctantly. "Okay. But you've changed. Not in a good way, too."

"I'm supposed to be sorry ?"

"For destroying half the material that was supposed to be our next album ? Hell yeah."

"It was all wrong."

"As in ?"

"I have things to tell to the world." Mike says, his eyes skimming over Chester's face and the wall behind him and stopping at the window and the blood red sky behind it. "More important things than this bullshit about feeling a little low lately."

"We are supposed to say things people dig, you know."

"I don't really care about people anymore."

"Well, I see."

"You can't tell what they want anyway. Maybe one day. Maybe one day we'll be able to engineer ultimate art that will render people delirious in seconds. As it is, we only have our intuition to guide us."

"Okay, and what is yours telling you ?"

"It's telling me disturbing things. I guess because I went crazy."

"It doesn't have to be like this though. You should get some help. You can be back to normal, Mike." Chester's almost pleading, as much as that doesn't suit him.

"This is me though. Otherwise, where has normal me gone to when I became like this ? In a way, he's dead. And you can only bring him back by killing myself. I don't want to die like that though."

"Then... how are things going to end ?" Chester asks uneasily.

"As tasteful as it would be for me to slit my wrists, there are too many things that still interest me around here for me to go."

This renders Chester speechless.

"I'd like to show you something." Mike says and stands up from his place at the table before heading towards the doorway.

Chester follows reluctantly. They head down to the basement and into the studio, completely empty at the moment, no canvas and no paints and no brushes in sight, just the four freshly painted white walls, the wooden floor and the light getting through the windows taking up half the ceiling, showing the blue sky over their heads.

Sky that's blood red and raining glass in a morbid vision that Mike's mind is intent on making him stay inside forever.

"You know that..." Mike speaks up, watching Chester look around the empty room uneasily. "...in a way you are my greatest work of art."

Chester squints when he turns to look at him, opens his mouth to speak up, but Mike's faster.

"I've put you into my band and my idea of how its vocalist should be. I've persuaded you to market your darkness to the world and I've helped you to make it that attractive in the first place, haven't it ? You have a name of my band and a winged soldier I drew and flames I thought up etched into your skin forever. I've made you, Chester. And I'm pretty much proud of myself."

Chester only stares at him, seeming almost entranced with how wide his eyes have gotten.

"But still there are parts of you I haven't explored and touched."

Chester's frozen to the ground, his breath coming in short gasps when Mike walks around him and approaches him from behind.

The feel of cold metal against the back of his head is the last thing he ever feels.


"The gun in your back is a gat, and if you move, I'll blow your brains through your hat." Mike's humming to himself with a brilliant smile on his face, upsetting the guards escorting him to his workplace within the prison quite a bit.

"God, I feel like kicking his mouth shut every time he sings that song." One of the guards speaks to the other when they go away, having handcuffed Mike to his place, getting a nod for an answer.

"You mean Shinoda ?" Another guard asks from behind them, approaching down the corridor with a single cigarette hidden in his palm.

"He's so fucked up. He must have hated that other guy quite a fucking lot to exchange all that fame and fortune he's acquired for a lifetime in prison because of him."

"Nah, they say he's just not right in the head."

They walk away, cigarettes changing hands and keys clanking together as they unlock the door leading outside to go out for a smoke.

Mike's at his workplace, the notorious rapist handcuffed opposite him, a safe distance away, leering at him and staring with hungry eyes. There are plants placed on the table between them. Tangled stems of ivy they are supposed to cut into hundreds pieces and plant back leaf by leaf. It's a tedious task, supposedly relaxing one that's going to calm them.

There's so much time to think while at it, Mike thinks, getting down to cutting the leaves too tiny to be planted off a stem. So much time to reminisce about how Chester's insides were looking and feeling under his hands, to stare at his brain splattered on the floor, forming the most intricate design he's ever seen. His best friend's very soul, dirtying the floor of his studio in such a fascinating way, ideas and dreadful memories transformed into a splash of gray goo with a single movement of his finger on the trigger, so little pressure needed to destroy so much.

Works of art are such fleeting things, in a way. But then again, that's a trait of all the humanity. Soon enough there will be no traces of humans left on this planet, they will be gone, the scars will heal in time and nobody will be able to tell anymore if anybody has ever been here.

The ivy is going to cover it all.

There are still things he doesn't understand. Later on, with Brad breaking apart right in front of him, no more than a bulletproof glass between the two of them and the tears running down Brad's face and his questions of why echoing over and over again in Mike's ears he notes how he doesn't really know why.

But now that he's here, he has all the time in the world to figure that out.

He looks down at the ivy in his hand, its delicate leaves all red. Red like everything around him. Red like the canines of the rapist in front of him, red like eyes and red like Mike's own skin. This is how the world as he sees it turned when he killed Chester.


But at least the rain of glass has stopped to fall. It's quiet now. Quiet and peaceful and dark in his mind, the echoing question of `why` being the only sound.


He'll think about that. Today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that. It's all that's left in his life. He's going to wonder even though he knows right away there is no answer.

There are rarely answers.

If there are any at all.


A/N: (that one's going to be long because I need to disclaim half this story)

The title is a title of Ian Boddy's song.

The lyrics are from Acumen Nation's `No Arms No Legs`, the demo version.

The line "Just because curry looks like shit doesn't mean it is." is borrowed from this fic --> http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1550523/1/Crossing_Lines (and yeah, I actually remembered it and needed to search for the fic afterwards to disclaim properly - I scare myself with remembering lines from fics I've read three years ago o_o)

Over and out.