..................................................Heartache Every Moment........................................
............................................................Chapter 11 ....................................................
....................................................'The Face of God'..............................................
Much to his distress, Mick had to leave Joey sleeping on the couch as they played. It was the right thing to do, but as he sat getting ready in the dressing room, he felt as though he'd left a part of him on the bus. He was short and flippant with the others, and they left him to himself, figuring he was missing Joey.
He paced the dressing room, trying to suppress the desire to run back to the bus, until Shawn stood up suddenly and pressed his arms to his shoulders.
"Mick. Sit down. He'll be ok. If he's not, someone will come get you. I promise."
Mick felt like punching the percussionist, and his hands tightened into fists. Shawn just didn't understand what he was going through right now. It was the first time he'd really been seperated from Joey in 3 days. Even last night, Joey was just backstage. But today, he was too far away.
Jim saw his clenched fists, and stood up to back Shawn up.
"He's right, Mick. I know it's hard, we all do. It's one show Mick, and then we'll be on our way home. We'll get Joey better. But for now, we just have to get through this gig. We need you, and you need to concentrate. There's thousands of kids out there who have been dying to see us. Don't screw it up for them."
Mick felt his hands relax. He knew they were right, and he knew he had to pull through for everyone else.
"You do promise me, that if anything happens with Joey, ANYTHING, I will be allowed to go to him? Even if it's the middle of a song? Cos if I find out he's been sick, or in pain, and no-one's told me, I will fucking kill someone. Promise me that, and I will promise to play, no matter how much I wish I didn't have to." The threat and veiled anger in Mick's words chilled the band.
Shawn sighed. "I promise. I will tell the medic to send someone for you if there's something wrong with Joey. He's in good hands, Mick. They'll know what to do." With that, he squeezed Mick's shoulder and gave him a quick smile, before walking back to his place. The others went back to their preparations, and Mick sat down. He bit his lip, and tried not to think of Joey. In a way, that made him feel worse. Knowing that he was trying to delibarately not think of Joey? It was like he was betraying him, and it cut him to the bone.
The vast sea of fans spread off into the darkness. They were all screaming, all singing along, and for a while Mick lost himself in the music. He closed his eyes and just played, knowing each song brought him closer to the end. Looking back afterwards, he remembered little of the time he played - just the anxiety and anguish that clawed at him. Every time he saw someone moving behind him, he tensed, waiting for the tap on the shoulder that would tell him instantly that Joey was in trouble.
It came during the last minutes of 'Left Behind'.
There was only two songs left in the gig when Mick stopped playing, leaving the others in the lurch. He was gone quickly, his heart thumping in his chest and breath catching in his throat. Some sort of fuzziness was descending on him, and he could hardly hear anything, just muffled shouting and the dim noise of a confused crowd.
He pulled his mask off roughly and threw it over his shoulder. Goddamn, why was it taking him forever to get to the bus? He was sure it wasn't this far from the bus before, but now, it seemed like a ever-ending journey, like he was walking but going nowhere.
As he started to curse in frustration, the sky suddenly appeared above him and he was outside. The bus was ablaze in light, and he started to run. He could see people inside, moving around. The door was open, and he thundered inside. He could hear something, someone crying and gasping in distress.
It was Joey.
Taking the stairs as quickly as he could, he burst into the living room. Joey was writhing in agony on the couch, a medic desparately trying to hold him down. Another was struggling to insert an IV, but Mick ignored both as he crossed the room quickly to Joey's side.
He tugged Joey from the medic on the couch, who quickly relinquished his grip. Holding Joey tightly, Mick tried to comfort him, but nothing he could do seemed to help.
"I need to get a line in! Can you get his arm still?" the medic asked, urgency lacing his voice.
Mick tried to still Joey's arm, and was forced to tighten his grip. He felt like crying as Joey screamed, fighting Mick's hold. "Baby! Baby, shhhhhhh...!!!" Mick whispered in his ear, but Joey was in so much pain he couldn't hear.
The other medic came up to help, and so did someone else who Mick hadn't seen when he was coming onto the bus in his hurry. Together, they found a vein and inserted the catheter. Conversing, the medics quickly agreed on the right course of medication to give to Joey, and it appeared several moments later in a syringe. Mick tightened his grip again as one of the medics injected through the catheter, and then attached a bag of saline.
Joey's attack seemed to have gotten worse through those moments, and Mick hoped it wasn't because of the way he was holding him so tight. The smaller man was spasming now, sweat rolling off his skin and his legs thrashing on the couch. His eyes were shut, but they couldn't stop the flood of tears that poured down his cheeks. Mick willed for the medication to work quickly.
Mick heard pounding feet on the stairs, and looked up to see Shawn and Corey enter the room. They stopped still at the sight and Mick could see the despair on their faces. Joey screamed again and Corey flinched. Shawn knew there was nothing they could do, and motioned Corey to head downstairs again, out of the way. Mick could hear voices and he assumed the rest of the band were down there too.
Joey's eyes sprung open and he gasped, struggling to breathe. An oxygen mask appeared and was quickly clamped on his mouth. Mick held it on, now ignoring his own tears that blurred his vision. This was so much worse than last time. Why the fuck had he left him? Why had he let himself be talked into this by the others? He felt no anger, only incredible remorse.
He hoped Joey would forgive him.
Slowly, imperceptively, Joey decreased his movement, and he stopped writhing. His legs still moved about, alternating between trying to ease the pain in his stomach by raising his knees to his chest, and then trying to find a comfortable position, stretching them out. A medic held them still, and Joey arched his back in response. He was whimpering now, distressed and tormented.
"Joey, Joey it's ok. It's ok babe, I promise, I promise everything will be ok. Relax, please baby, just relax," Mick whispered desperately in his ear. "I love you so much, Joey, it's ok, I swear."
He choked down a sob, trying to be strong for Joey. He brought a hand up to brush the wet hair out of Joey's face, and he stroked his hair over and over, rocking him in his arms.
"It's ok, sweatheart, it's ok. You're gonna be ok," Mick continued softly, trying to reassure himself at the same time he was trying to comfort Joey. The medication seemed to be seemed to be working, and soon Joey lay still in his arms. Mick could see he was clenching his teeth, and felt fingernails digging into his flesh, and wondered if he was still in pain.
"Is he hurting?" he asked the medic, who nodded.
"Most likely. The dose I gave him should help him feel better, but I don't have the right medicine to treat this properly."
Mick remembered something. "Something like this happened the other day, only not as bad. He threw up afterwards. Is he going to throw up again?"
One of the medics stirred at this. He knelt down by the couch.
"Joey? How are you feeling?"
Squirming, Joey didn't respond.
"Baby? Do you feel sick?" Mick asked.
Joey's eyes opened slightly, and he stared up at Mick. The bigger man recognised the look on his face.
"Yeah, he's gonna be sick!" Mick blurted. He took the mask off Joey's face, and one of the medics was quick-thinking enough to reach for the bin, just in time. Over and over again Joey vomited, Mick holding him close. Like last time, the gagging was never-ending, and one of the medics desperately scrounged through their kit for medication. Mick could feel Joey was totally exhausted, and each time his stomach heaved he was closer to giving up. Mick willed him on silently, not trusting his voice to speak.
Something was injected into the saline line, and Mick prayed to God it would work promptly. One of his hands was rubbing Joey's stomach and he could feel the spasming and contraction of his muscles. There was nothing left to throw up now, but Joey continued to retch, moaning his discomfort. Then the medication seemed to work and he was able to ease himself back onto Mick, sobbing.
He was absolutely drenched in sweat, and Mick could feel him shivering and shaking. A medic laid two blankets over him, and tried to get him to drink. Joey refused to open his mouth, obviously still upset. Mick took the water bottle, and gently pulled Joey up slightly. "Baby? Can you drink a little for me? Please?" Mick asked quietly.
He tried the bottle again, and Joey opened his mouth a little. Mick praised him as he swallowed a couple of mouthfuls, and then eased off as Joey indicated he'd had enough. He replaced the bottle with the oxygen mask. Joey's trembling didn't seem to be lessening, and Mick was worried.
"He's shaking," he said to the medics.
"He'll do that for a while. It's the shock," one of the medics replied.
"Will he be ok?" Mick asked.
The medic sighed. "Ideally, he should be in hospital. We can take him now."
"Which hospital?" Mick questioned.
"KU Med Center is closest."
"What about Des Moines? It's our home. We were going to go back tomorrow."
The medic shook his head. "It's too far for him to travel now. Maybe stabilise him at KU Med Center and then you can think about getting him home. But I wouldn't risk it now."
Mick nodded. He cradled Joey, now trying to doze, the sweat drying on his skin.
"Can we take him?" he asked.
"I'll call an ambulance. We'll have him there within the hour." The medic stood up, and headed out to make the call. The other medic took Joey's temperature, and started to clear up their equipment.
The room suddenly felt very small. Mick felt stifled, desperate for fresh air. The shock of what had happened was washing over him now, and as much as he didn't want to leave Joey, he needed to move. Carefully laying Joey down on the couch, Mick stood up, wobbling slightly.
"Look after him?" Mick half asked, half stated to the medic on his rush out of the room.
The stairs seemed to make it worse, and he was glad when he was down. He vaguely saw the others standing and sitting around in silence, but ignored them. He passed Craig standing by the door as he exited. His head spinning, he suddenly stopped, hands on knees. Nausea cramped him, and he vomited onto the grass.
He heaved several times, and spat. Someone came up behind him and offered a water bottle, which Mick took gratefully. He washed his mouth out before gulping down a few mouthfuls, and squirted his face. The cold water seemed to wake him up, and his vision cleared. Whoever it was led him away and sat him down. Mick pulled his knees to his chest, and pressed his hands to his temple. He didn't want to think about what just happened, but it was consuming him.
Chris knelt down in front of him. "Mick?" he asked softly. "Is he ok?"
Mick looked up. They were all there, all with white faces and standing silent. Corey and Shawn had obviously told them what had happened.
"Yeah. No. Yeah. Ummm.... They're gonna take him to hospital. So I dunno. He's sleeping. He got so bad....." Mick shook his head and fought the tears that threatened to come back. He was not crying in front of his bandmates.
He squirted his face again in an effort to hide the tears. As suddenly as the desire to be outside had come over him, the desire to be back with Joey was upon him. He didn't want to stay here and answer a million questions. Fumblimg, he stood up, and pushed through the group and back onto the bus.