Okay, so Gerard is this champion ballroom dancer, right, and his mom and dad own this dance studio, but there’s no way that they actually earn enough from just running that, even though they have classes all the time and three couples who are actually competing, but it’s not like you really make any money from that, you know? And so downstairs is Mama Way’s hair salon, and Gerard is always trying to escape because she just wants to play with his hair and TRY things because he has such nice thick beautiful brown hair that would react SO WELL to hair dye and he can wear his hair in so many different ways.
But every time she almost gets him to sit in the chair for her he’s all MOM I HAVE TO DANCE. And it’s hard to argue with that. Besides, Mikey is always willing to let her do whatever the fuck she wants to with his hair, even when it means that sometimes he ends up with like a bird’s nest with rhinestones as a hairdo. Somehow he makes it work.
And so Gerard’s been dancing since forever, right, like he was a five-year-old with patent leather shoes and a miniature tux and a bowl cut (which he still hasn’t forgiven his mom for, this is why he’s still not letting her cut his hair anymore, GOD) with a huge gap-toothed grin. He really really really loves it, is the thing -- it’s like how he communicates with the WORLD and he doesn’t really like people looking at him all that much EXCEPT for when he gets out onto the floor with his partner Lindsey who he’s been dancing with since they were like seven and they have so much fun and he really really loves it, okay.
But lately! THERE’S BEEN A PROBLEM. Because Gerard still loves dance, okay, but he’s starting to feel LIMITED by the restrictions of ballroom dance and the way that the guy's part is one thing and the lady's part is another. Why can’t HE be the one to be lifted? Why can’t the GIRL sometimes show off amazing feats of strength? And sometimes he just wants to shine like the girls, okay, and that's not how it's structured and he doesn't understand and so he keeps on throwing in these new moves, little ones at first, but then they get bigger and bigger and he can't even help it, you guys.
Lindsey is TOTALLY UNDERSTANDING, like, she gets it, she wants him to have his best dance experience too. He really loves her, you guys, she's his best friend. <3______; but it's not really what SHE wants! like, she wants to break down barriers and be all BETTER and DIFFERENT and all the rest of it, but the issue for her is about what KIND OF LADY can be a ballroom dancer, you know? And so they're just not really a match on that! And she's starting to think that maybe he needs a different partner altogether, which makes her a little ;_____; but it’s what they both NEED in order to GROW.
Okay so they perform at this competition, along with everyone else in the studio, Mikey & Alicia and James& Jamia and then this like weirdo dude with really thick glasses and not-great skin and a kind of chubby face with some weird neck beard stuff going on which is TOTALLY not standard issue for ballroom dancers, Gerard would know, and he's like SWIMMING in his dance costume, just, it's hanging off of him and his hair is all floppy and weird and holy shit, are those DREADS, wtf. Gerard totally doesn't pay any attention to him and his partner who he's pretty sure normally dances with Ray, so he's not even sure why he's out there. Maybe Ray is sick?
WHATEVER IT'S NOT LIKE THAT DUDE IS IMPORTANT OR ANYTHING.
And so they're doing the waltz, and it goes great, and Gerard is TRYING, okay, he knows his mom really really really wants him to do well at this competition, and he does too because he knows that it's the best fucking studio in the entire world and that it's really up to HIM to make the whole world know that it’s the best fucking studio, because if he does well it reflects well on the teaching and everyone gets better and blah blah blah. But then it's time for the samba and he TRIES, he really does, but suddenly he's just like FUCK IT and he breaks the hold with Lindsey and shifts into the girl's frame, and she's good enough that she can handle it and picks up the men’s part, and he can FEEL the audience responding, can just TELL that they know he's doing something better and different and SPECIAL and that he's CHANGING THE WORLD OF DANCE with all of this and then the music stops and he looks over at Lindsey and she's grinning back at him but with a little furrow between her brows that he's never seen before after one of their ~experimental dances. And then fucking THAT TEAM who aren't important except for how they SUCK win AGAIN, he will NEVER UNDERSTAND IT, they are SO MUCH LESS INNOVATIVE THAN HE AND LINDSEY ARE, and he looks over at his mom and she's angry, he can SEE it, and his dad is just filming them like always so that he can show Gerard's grandma back at the house, and when he looks over at Mikey he's all :| and Gerard is just :( :( :( back at him. Because this was NOT what his plan was, okay.
Okay, so the next day they’re back at the studio, and Mama Way is trying to act like everything is normal, like Gerard didn’t just get PUNISHED and like PUBLICLY SCOLDED for dancing all ~different, but she’s not doing a great job at fronting because this lady is scary when she’s NOT half-mama-bear-protective, half-mad-as-hell-at-her-first-born, so right now she is kind of FEROCIOUS. But she’s TRYING, okay, and she’s watching Gerard and Lindsey talking in the corner and she has HOPE, because she knows that Lindsey’s on her side.
But tragically for Mama Way, Lindsey’s only SORT of on her side, is the thing. Lindsey is all, Gerard, what do you really WANT and Gerard’s all, to push the boundaries! Make people THINK! Shake people up through the power of DANCE! And Lindsey stares at him, posture somehow simultaneously defeated and still graceful as a motherfucking swan, and then she’s like OH. Gerard’s like, don’t you want the same? And she sort of demurs, and then he asks her again and she kind of shrugs all meh? And Gerard kind of full body shudders and finally says What DO you want?
And Lindsey says honestly? I kind of want to light stuff on fire and wear inappropriately short skirts and dance with Jimmy Urine, who I hear is kind of into that sort of thing. I WONDER IF HE’S AVAILABLE AT THE MOMENT.
Gerard’s all...I think he’s actually looking for a new partner. Word gets around. And Lindsey looks at him with her big brown eyes and Gerard KNOWS, okay, he knows this is what’s next for her, and that if he’s going to revolutionize the world of ballroom dance it’s going to have to be with someone NEW, because Lindsey needs to go off and like burn a couple of dance studios down. THAT’S HER VISION, OKAY, AND GERARD SUPPORTS THAT.
Mama Way basically loses her SHIT when Lindsey leaves, when Gerard hugs Lindsey tight and whispers into her ear that he can’t wait to see what crazy-ass shit they get up to before letting her go. Mikey helps Mama Way a bit, dancing with her so that she stops overcorrecting all of the students and like traumatizing them way too early, before they can really appreciate her methods of teaching for the genius that they are.
Okay, and so Gerard is all MY LIFE IS HARD AND TRAGIC and Mama Way is still being all SCARY SCARY SCARY because her baby BOY, what is he DOING and also if Lindsey has broken his life dreams she will find her and cut her UP, she does not care, that is her BABY. And so Gerard does that thing where he's being really showy and out there, helping people out and adjusting dancers who are all simultaneously like *_________________* because it's GERARD FUCKING WAY and also a little o___________O because this is some serious fucking family drama going down in front of errybody. And after a certain point Gerard can't TAKE it anymore, can't keep pretending and so slinks back off to the side and just stands there, brooding, as the class finishes up.
He's a really accomplished brooder, you guys.
The room starts to clear out, Mikeyway and Alicia trying to keep Mama Way calm but it's HARD, because she loves Gerard, okay, and Mikeyway is amazing but he doesn't have the REACH, the DESIRE like Gerard does. And Mikey comes up to Gerard and is all 'sup? And Gerard shrugs back at him miserably and looks at Mama Way, and Mikey's eyebrows tell him not to worry, he'll take care of Mom, he just needs to find a new partner, to which Gerard's shoulders reply yeah but from WHERE.
Neither of them notice the tiny dude in the giant sweatshirt with a pile of puppies silkscreened onto it in the corner. Nor do they suspect that he's FLUENT IN WAY BROS BODY LANGUAGE AND KNOWS EVERYTHING.
Mikeyway leaves and Alicia comes back in to give him a sisterly punch to the upper arm, and Gerard smiles sadly back at her because without Lindsey for a partner, who even IS he? ;_____; And she tells him to buck up, little camper, Mikeyway's on the case and Gerard knows this, and he knows his mom'll come around once she knows that this is IMPORTANT, but god it's just so hard sometimes, the life of a top dance sport amateur competitor in his prime.
And she leaves, and he sighs to himself forlornly, but he starts to feel the rhythm and the music in his SOUL before he realizes that there's actually some music being piped in from SOMEPLACE, but no matter, because it is time to DANCE, motherfuckers.
AND DANCE HE DOES.
He stares at himself in the mirror and really challenges himself like never before, taking off his favorite poncho and dancing in his black tank top that shows off all the lines of his body and black pants and his BOOTS that he loves, he doesn't CARE that they're not regulation, he is here to show that you can dance NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, even if you want to do the girl part one minute and the boy part the next. And so he's leaping around and watching himself in the mirror all FIERCE and CHA-CHA and WHO'S YOUR DADDY IN A NOT CREEPY SEXUAL WAY UNLESS THAT'S YOUR THING IN WHICH CASE OKAY. And then finally he all SLAMS UP INTO THE MIRROR and the music cuts off and he looks over his shoulder in the mirror and GASP THAT BOY WITH THE PUPPY SWEATSHIRT THAT'S KIND OF ADORABLE AND KIND OF--NO WAIT IT'S JUST ADORABLE IS WATCHING HIM.
Gerard turns around, all flustered, and then the boy is all UH I AM TOTALLY GOING TO WIN THIS FLUSTERED AND AWKWARD CONTEST, JS and Gerard is like IDK I'M PRETTY ACCOMPLISHED, I'VE BEEN TRAINING ALL MY LIFE and so they just STARE at each other all O_______O and then finally Puppy Dude is like so um, that was pretty cool.
And Gerard doesn't know who the fuck this kid is, okay, like there used to be this short fat kid who was constantly hanging around for AGES who would like get a step one minute and then be FLAT ON HIS BACK the next minute, like what the fuck was that about, and ALL OF A SUDDEN GERARD PUTS IT TOGETHER. HE'S THE SAME DUDE.
But the thing is that even if Gerard doesn't know who this kid is, or what he wants or whatever, he's always happy to have people tell him that his dancing is cool, and it's like RUDE to not say thank you or acknowledge them, so he's all UM THANKS. And they look at each other and then Gerard is like uh SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE and Puppy Dude is like dunno what are YOU doing here and Gerard is like WELL DANCING OBVIOUSLY also I'm a creepster who likes to dance by myself in the dark except for one strategically placed spotlight that will make me look wicked cool, what. And Puppy Dude is all WELL ME TOO and Gerard is like wuh?
And it's not that Gerard thinks that he's the only one who might enjoy the simple pleasure of dancing by one's self in the dark--he's pretty sure there's like a song or fifty about that very concept--but THIS kid? He's not even sure how he stays up on his feet long enough to actually like be ABLE to complete a ballroom sequence.
But! To just dismiss him would be RUDE and like JUDGING SOMEONE BY THEIR LOOKS and it's not that Gerard DOESN'T judge, of course he does, everyone does and also he's a DANCER, that's kind of his training, he still tries to counteract that judgment by asking really awkward questions.
"So you, you know, dance?" he asks.
The kid with the puppy sweatshirt and like seventeen other layers (seriously, Gerard is overheating just LOOKING at him) nods, a little shyly. "Yeah, and I mean, I know how you feel with all this, because I make up my own steps, too." Wait, WHAT? "And you know, Lindsey's an amazing dancer--"
"She really is," Gerard interrupts, because TRUTH.
"--But I think it's probably a good idea for you guys to go your separate ways, because you want to do different stuff with your dance, and also now you need a new partner, and uh, I'm kind of without one too. So."
O_________O and bah?: A Gerard Way's reaction. And THEN the babbling gets REALLY bad.
"Well. I mean. It's not that I don't think that you should be going for your dreams, because you TOTALLY SHOULD, but, I mean, I'm not sure how well we'd fit? Like, haven't you been dancing with a girl for the last two years? How will you even know how to partner with a guy in the first place?"
Puppy Dude points at him all accusing. "I thought you were more open-minded than that! How can you be all 'You've got to BE the change you want to see in the dance world' and yet dismiss me over gendered pairings like that," and Gerard is all OH SNAP! and also DAMMIT because he's pretty sure this means he's got to give this kid a tryout, and he's seen enough dance movies to know what THAT means.
And so he walks closer to Puppy Dude and is like, "okay, so what's your name then."
Puppy Dude looks up at him through his giant glasses, and Gerard can't believe he never noticed how beautiful his eyes were before this moment. He blames the dreads. "Fran...k."
Gerard doesn't know where all these bells going off in his head just came from, but he tries to ignore them. "Fran...k what?"
"Well, Frank Anthony Iero, but really. Just Frank."
Gerard may not really know what's going on, but he isn't willing to blow up this entire story by not giving him a try-out. So he takes one step closer to Frank and holds out his arms, and Frank looks over him for a second before he places one hand in Gerard's and puts his other hand on his shoulder.
The first fifteen minutes involve lots of toes being stepped on and the push-pull of two dancers used to leading trying to forge a new path together, and Gerard's frustration isn't helped by Frank's BEAUTIFUL EYES GAZING UP AT HIM FROM NOT VERY FAR AWAY, which is distracting as FUCK. But Gerard knows that revolutions don't happen in an instant.
And then there's this moment when Frank breaks the hold and switches on him, and Gerard stops thinking and just goes, lets his body respond to the slight pressure of Frank's hand on his back, allows his feet to follow Frank's movement. They move together, Frank's steadiness supporting Gerard's flashier steps, but he can't quite get something he's trying, it won't come together with the rhythm and the energy--
Frank breaks away from him and MOVES, body spinning in a way that Gerard's never seen before.
Gerard stares at him, eyes tracing over his face, trying to see where that came from. Frank's blushing now, a hand on the back of his neck. "We could do that?"
Gerard nods, his mouth dry and heart pounding in his chest. "Show me again?"
He never wants to stop watching Frank move.
Of course, Gerard and Frank continue having all these SECRET DANCE SESSIONS at night and during the day he tries to audition new dance partners but they all feel WRONG, SO WRONG, and he tells Mikey about Frank but that's IT because Gerard still doesn't know if this is going to WORK, doesn't know if he can trust the joy in his SOUL every time he's dancing with Frank and they switch holds SEAMLESSLY.
Gerard can barely take his eyes off Frank's face whenever they dance together, seeing in his expression where to go next, how to create the dance together, but one night he catches a glimpse of them moving across the floor in the mirror, their arms fitting around each other, feet gliding across the floor. Frank's face is close up against his jaw, too close for a proper dance hold, but Gerard can't make himself fix the hold, relishing the closeness. He forces himself to focus back on the steps, but his heart is swelling in his chest with the knowledge of what they're creating together.
And so Gerard is all ANGSTING AROUND during the day and then FLOATING ON AIR every night, and then one evening when he gets home from one of his dance sessions with Frank he runs into his mom in the kitchen when he heads in there for some orange juice.
Mama Way's all Gerard, I love you, but wtf is going on, we have THREE WEEKS to TRAIN and you don't even have a partner and you're rejecting all of the lovely potential partners I throw at you, no matter how many tattoos they have. And Gerard doesn't like this conversation topic at ALL and so gets all existential and cries out WHAT IS IT EVEN FOR ANYWAY, and Mama Way rasps out "uh, it's for winning, YOU'RE A COMPETITIVE BALLROOM DANCER" and he's all "but I don't CARE about winning the Pan Pacific Grand Prix!"
Mama Way stares at him for a moment before punching him hard in the motherfucking arm. "Ow!"
"Oh, suck it up, you were born in motherfucking Jersey."
He stares at her all okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.
She lights up another cigarette. "Okay. Let's meet this new partner of yours, then."
He stares at her SOME MORE. "But, like, didn't you hear me? I don't CARE--"
"Yes, Christ, I heard you, okay, the ENTIRE WORLD HEARD YOUR PAIN. So you want to change the world and dance with a boy--oh, don't give me that look, I wasn't born yesterday--and make a DIFFERENCE THROUGH DANCE and winning comes second. It's all about publicity, my boy. Let's get this going." She peers at him before patting him gently on the cheek. "Have another cigarette, you're looking peaked." And Gerard numbly takes out a pack of cigarettes from SOMEWHERE and listens to his mother.
Mama Way waves a cigarette around. "You should have just told me that this is actually MEANINGFUL to you and that it’s not just a whim or something," and Gerard'’s all HDU, I don’t just have WHIMS and she’s like ORLY and he’s all okay maybe you have a point.
He's still not ready to show off Frank to his mom and to Mikey though, and while he SAYS that it's because he doesn't think that they're READY yet, it's really because he sort of enjoying having Frank all to himself still >:) Which is just one of MANY inappropriate thoughts Gerard keeps having about Frank, who is clearly THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PERSON ALIVE even with the glasses and the fifteen layers and the neckbeard, and Gerard keeps wanting to be like uh hey Frank maybe wearing TWO shirts instead of twelve would help with the DANCING, that's it, but he CAN'T because he's already coming way too close to taking advantage of Frank as it is :( he is the more experienced dancer, it's his responsibility to not make things awkward and also okay maybe Gerard isn't really ALL THAT GOOD at this stuff, okay.
And Frank is making this DIFFICULT by being all FUNNY and sweet and REALLY GOOD AT DANCING, like it turns out that all those times he would fall onto the floor were ON PURPOSE because he just became overcome with FEELINGS, and Gerard totally gets that and they work it into their routine and it's MAGICAL. And they talk about how the rumba is the dance of LOVE and Gerard is like WE NEED TO FEEL IT and Frank is like *_______* and Gerard is like HA HA RIGHT I MEAN IN THAT JOKING JUST ON STAGE SORT OF WAY, YES and Frank just keeps on gazing at him and Gerard is very proud of himself when he doesn't FAINT.
His life continues to be a constant trial.
AND unbeknownst to him, Mama Way and Mikey and Frank are in cahoots together! Mikey obviously already knows about Frank, and Mama Way figures it out in like five seconds because Frank and Gerard keep STARING at each other with BIG COW EYES during the normal dance lessons. And so they take Frank under their wings and are like so dude, you know you're like the prettiest boy in this room, right? And Frank is all o___________o what.
And Mikey nods. "It's true, dude. You just need the right look." Frank squints up at Mikey's latest hairstyle creation, and Mikey pats him on the arm, all reassuring. "It's cool. Not everyone can handle this. The buzzcut is working for you, don't worry." Mikey looks at him critically. "I'm still not sold on the neckbeard though, I'll be real."
Frank keeps losing layer after layer of shirts, and he even gets himself some contacts, and he finally shaves off the facial hair even though he's pretty sure it was the only thing that didn't make him look TWELVE. And none of it has any impact at ALL, Gerard just keeps looking at him in the exact same way. Frank changes and changes, and Gerard doesn't even seem to notice. ;______; Clearly he is IMMUNE to what few charms Frank possesses, that is the only explanation.
Meanwhile Gerard is about to strip his dick raw from how unbelievably gorgeous Frank is, because if he looked ridiculously good before, he is unfairly beautiful now, and Gerard's self-control is going to snap REALLY SOON and he is going to like DIP FRANK in the middle of a dance and ruin the choreography just so he can KISS HIM FINALLY.
Gerard tries to keep his head (heh heh) in the game, tries to just FOCUS on the DANCING and making a DIFFERENCE, and even though it's KILLING HIM to keep dancing with Frank and holding him SO CLOSE and SMELLING HIM (what, it's a thing), he knows it's time. They're going to audition for Mama Way and everyone!
Frank is super duper excited! Except that he realizes that the date and time conflicts with a FAMILY THING that he cannot miss! And so instead of telling Gerard like a normal human being, he just HIDES and STANDS GERARD UP and Gerard is like bwah, I THOUGHT THIS MEANT SOMETHING TO FRANK and so he finds out what Frank's address is through shady means and runs all the way across town, forgoing sensible things like CARS or even a BUS, and he gets there and sneaks to the back and
THERE IS SOME SORT OF CRAZY DRUMMING THING GOING ON. AND IT IS AWESOME.
Frank is all GERARD WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE and Gerard is all DUDE THIS IS AWESOME and Frank is all WELL YES BUT AREN'T YOU MAD and Gerard is all HOLD ON, I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF A REVELATION and Frank is all okay then I'll wait.
And Gerard watches, mesmerized, realizing that this BEAT, this connection to the EARTH is what his and Frank's dancing has REALLY been missing, and once Frank's dad and granddad finish playing he is all omg it is so great to meet you, Frank is an AMAZING dancer and now I know WHY--
And Frank is all IXNAY ON THE ANCINGDAY JESUS CHRIST.
But Frank's family is like it's cool, dude. And Frank is like um it's ballroom dancing? With a dude? :D? And they're STILL all yeah, and that's cool! You might want to try out this new step, though. HERE LET US SHOW YOU BOTH.
GERARD CAN'T BELIEVE HOW AWESOME HIS LIFE IS.
Frank is still stuck at the "his family isn't going to turn him away for being a dancer" bit though, and he's like...soooooooooooo this isn't going to the Capulets vs. Montagues place?
And his Granddad waves his hand at him, all no man, that's this dude's NEXT movie. Nobody dies in this one! Also, we all love you and support you and IF ANYONE SAYS ANYTHING TO YOU ABOUT DANCING WE WILL PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE.
And Frank is like OH OKAY, GOOD TO KNOW.
So they DANCE while they play the DRUMS and it is triumphant and AWESOME, and then Gerard and Frank enter themselves into the Pan Pacific Grand Prix Open Amateurs Latin THING, and it's the FIRST TIME anyone has seen them dance together, and they are TRANSCENDENT and GLORIOUS and it doesn't MATTER if they beat the evil couple that is stuck in the past or NOT, because they are sharing the wonder of DANCE WITH THE WORLD, and Jimmy and Lindsey are off in the corner wearing costumes that actually LIGHT ON FIRE and Adam Lambert is in the audience pointing at them all, YES THAT. THAT IS WHAT I WANTED MY HEADDRESS TO LOOK LIKE. TOTALLY SUBTLE.
Frank can't believe how HAPPY he is, and he can't help it, he can't wait any longer and so he goes up onto his tiptoes and kisses Gerard right there, right on the dancefloor, and Gerard doesn't even BREATHE before he dips him down into it, putting everything he felt like he couldn't say into the kiss.
When Frank finally breaks away, gasping, he looks up at Gerard and BEAMS at the hearts he sees in Gerard's eyes. "But I. I thought it was all just pretend?"
Gerard shakes his head, kissing Frank again quickly before pulling away. "You had me at the puppy sweatshirt."