They're in New England for Halloween, somewhere chilly and autumnal, and the air smells of woodsmoke and leaves and, like, apples, or something—Frank's a city boy, shit, he doesn't know. It's nice, though. "Dude," Gerard had said the first night, rapt, staring up at the sky, "look at the stars," and, yeah. Pretty amazing. Kind of a long walk to get anywhere, but whatever. It's not like they have anywhere to be til tomorrow, he can afford to wander. He kinda wishes he'd brought gloves, though.
When he gets back to the bus Bob's sitting at the table, reading a magazine. "Hey, man," he says. "You going to the party tonight?"
"Party, huh?" Frank says. Yeah, the next town's only a few hours away, he should have figured. "What's the deal?"
Bob grins. "Andy knows somebody who knows somebody," he says, wiggling his eyebrows. "With an empty house, apparently."
"Uh huh," Frank says, grinning back. "Nice. I expect cake. Cake, and maybe strippers. You seen Gee?"
Bob jerks his head towards the lounge. "It's a costume party," he says. "He's preparing."
"Oh, god," Frank says, and Bob laughs.
"Yeah," he says. "Last I heard, he was asking Mikey about glitter. I think you need to go save him from himself."
"Oh, god," Frank says again, with feeling. He can't decide if the idea of Gerard and glitter is a turn-on, or just plain terrifying. Actually, that's a lie. It's totally a turn-on. He's just not gonna tell Bob that. "No way, man. I'm gonna go find somewhere to shower. I'll see you later."
He kind of falls asleep after his shower, and when he wakes up everyone's gone. Bob's left him a note, though—hey, asshole, it says, you'd better not have fallen asleep, because we'll totally eat your birthday cake without you—so Frank shrugs into his coat and sets out across the field. It's completely quiet, just the wind rustling in the leaves, dead stalks crunching under his boots, no other sound. And yeah, not gonna lie, it's kinda creepy in a hey-maybe-there-are-animals-behind-that-wall kind of way. He'd totally deny it if anyone asked, but whatever. Frank really isn't a country boy. He can see where he's heading, though—every window in the place is lit up, and he can hear laughter in the distance. At least if something came after him people would hear him scream. Maybe.
The place is packed, random locals mixing with people from the tour, and from what he can see everyone's feeling pretty damn good already. Andy waves at him from one corner, and jerks his head towards the kitchen at Frank's mouthed "Gerard?" so Frank heads in that direction, sliding his way through the crowd.
Mikey's leaning against the counter, deep in conversation with someone, but Gerard's nowhere in sight, so Frank tosses off a salute in Mikey's direction and snags a drink from the table before wandering away in search of someone he knows. These things are always weird, at least until he's had a drink or two.
And, whoa—maybe weirder than usual, 'cause there against the far wall is Pete and Patrick kissing. And, yeah, not like he hasn't seen that before, but usually it's in the context of, like, Pete laying one on Patrick to get the fans riled up, or Gabe and William egging Pete on and Patrick doing it to get them to stop talking about it, or something. Not, like, Pete laughing at something Patrick's said and crowding him against the wall and leaning in slow, and Patrick pulling him closer and tucking his hands in Pete's back pockets. Nobody else even seems to be paying attention.
"Oh my god, I totally missed that one," Frank says to nobody in particular, shocked. Or, well, not shocked, because—yeah, it's Pete and Patrick, who hadn't at least wondered about the two of them? But, like, he's not completely unobservant, or anything, and he never really thought they were anything more than sorta-codependent best friends who occasionally made out on stage. Not that that's familiar, or anything. But, whatever, man. More power to them. He's totally ignoring the little prickle in his stomach that he thinks is probably jealousy. Just 'cause he kinda wishes he could drag Gee back outside and maybe kiss him in the middle of a fucking New England cornfield under the stars—
Patrick, he notices, is wearing a pink princess hat in honor of the occasion, the kind with a trailing streamer. Pete doesn't seem to mind. Frank grins. He's really gotta find Gerard.
He sees Bob and Joe across the room (Joe's gesticulating wildly, telling some story; Bob's looking distinctly skeptical), then waves to Andy again, and almost runs into Bill Beckett, only narrowly avoiding disaster with the pitcher of beer Bill's carrying. "Heeeey, Frankie!" Bill slurs happily, and kisses him on the lips. "Happy birthday, man."
"Thanks, thanks," Frank says, laughing. It's hard not to like Bill. Even if he is freakishly tall and had to fold himself practically in half to kiss Frank. "Hey, you seen my lead singer?"
Bill looks thoughtful for a moment. "Gerard?" he asks, like he's unsure who Frank means, and Frank rolls his eyes and nods. "Yeah, man, he's over there." Bill shrugs one shoulder toward the other end of the room. "He kept on asking where you were, earlier."
And, yeah, that's the thing; Gerard is seriously his best friend in the whole fucking world, even if he hasn't figured out how to say that out loud without sounding like a total girl, and he needs that. He is seriously fucking grateful for that. But every time someone says something like this, every time Gee grins when Frank walks into the room like he's the best thing Gee's seen all day, every time Gerard calls him at three a.m. when they're in separate hotel rooms "'cause I haven't seen you, like, all night, man," Frank can't help but wonder what it'd be like if they were more than just that. Because Gee swings both ways, Frank knows; "discreet" was never something he was good at when he was drinking. And Frank—well, it's not like he makes a habit of it, but apparently he's at least a little bit gay, 'cause when he looks at Gerard he sometimes wants to kiss him until he starts making little noises against Frank's lips, and yeah, that's not the straightest thing ever, no.
But Gerard's either a lot more discreet these days or else he's just totally celibate, Frank can't figure out which, and either way he's apparently completely fucking clueless, so, okay, Frank's got a pointless crush on his best friend, whatever, he can deal with that. He shakes his head, laughs a little, 'cause hell, this is totally not where he thought he'd be when he joined this band, playing to sold-out crowds and partying in random people's houses, and, yeah, thinking about kissing his best friend. Crazy.
Which is when he spots Gerard. He's leaning against the wall in the corner, eyes wide and a little amused, and he's staring straight at Frank. And damn if that doesn't make Frank blush, just a little. Not like he really thinks Gerard can tell what he's thinking, but—hell, it's Gerard. "Yo, Gee," he says, raising his voice to be heard above the noise.
"Heya, Frankie," Gerard says when Frank's finally made his way through the crowd, and punches him gently on the shoulder. "Happy birthday."
"Hey, yourself," Frank says, smiling back. "What the fuck was that, you guys leaving me behind on my birthday, huh? Some friends you are." Gerard, he can't help but note, has glitter smeared on his cheekbones and a little more in his hair, like he'd had it on his hands and then gotten distracted.
"Aw, we're totally the best, Bob got you cake," Gerard says, looking pleased with himself. "Chocolate, Frankie, chocolate. We love you."
"Oh, man," Frank says, settling against the wall next to him. "Okay, I take it back, you totally love me. Also, what's up with the glitter?"
Gerard giggles, there's no other word for it. "I totally wanted to dress up as a dinosaur, but Mikey wouldn't let me, so." He shrugs. "What about you?" Frank's got Mikey's boa looped around his neck—he'd grabbed it before leaving the bus, not willing to search harder than that for a costume—and Gerard tugs it gently. "Is this Pete's boa?"
Frank raises his eyebrows. "Oh, man, I don't know. Possible, I guess. I stole it from Mikey, though." He jerks his head towards the other wall. "Speaking of Pete—you see that?" Pete's now got his arms wrapped around Patrick from behind, chin tucked into Patrick's shoulder.
Gerard looks over, interestedly. "Huh. You mean...?" He trails off, raising his eyebrows.
"Yeah, I think so," Frank says. "If the way they were kissing earlier is anything to go by. I totally did not see that coming."
Gerard laughs. "Yeah, well, you're not the world's most observant person, Frankie, sorry to tell you."
"Shut up," Frank says, scowling. Gerard's eyes are warm when he looks at him, though, so Frank can't really take offense.
Gerard tips his head down to rest against Frank's shoulder, and they stand there in silence for a few moments. Frank ponders going to get another drink, but Gerard's warm against his side, and there's raucous laughter coming from the direction of the kitchen; he doesn't really want to brave the crowd.
"So, um," Gerard says, after a minute.
"Yeah?" Frank says, when he doesn't say anything more.
"Mikey says," Gerard says, and Frank can feel him take a deep breath. He's got his body turned so he's mostly speaking the words right into Frank's neck. "Mikey says you kinda maybe have a crush on me."
Frank freezes. "Um," he manages after a moment.
Gerard turns to look at him, eyes serious, but he's smiling a little. "I say something like that, and all you can say is 'um'? Lame, Frankie, lame," he says. He taps Frank on the nose. "You're supposed to kiss me or something, not just stand there all tongue-tied."
Frank takes a deep breath. "Pretty confident, aren't you?" he says, 'cause he has no idea what else to say.
"Well," Gerard says. "You're not really pushing me away or anything, so." He strokes the skin over Frank's left hipbone with the tips of his fingers, just gently, and Frank shivers.
"Gee," Frank manages, "I—"
Gerard ducks his head. "You can pretend I didn't say anything, if you want," he offers. "Or pretend it was just a birthday joke, I don't know, whatever."
"A birthday joke?" Frank says. "What the fuck, Gee? No, are you kidding? Seriously, if you're kidding, I'm totally gonna kick your ass." He's crowding Gerard against the wall, a little, but he can't help it, because, god, Gerard. "Seriously, Gee. 'Cause I don't know how Mikey figured it out, but I totally do, and if you aren't kidding I'm totally gonna kiss you."
Gerard's smile is brilliant. "Hey, it's your birthday," he says, tugging Frank a little closer. "I think I'm supposed to be kissing you. I hear a birthday kiss is traditional."
"Yeah," Frank breathes. "Except—" He steals a glance over his shoulder at the crowd. "Maybe, outside."
"You might miss the cake," Gerard points out. He's tracing his thumb over the letters on Frank's knuckles, and Frank shivers again.
"Screw cake," Frank says. "Hell, I've been wanting to kiss you for years, Gee, come on."
"Years, huh?" Gerard's laughing, but he lets Frank pull him through the crowd and out the door.
It's cold out, air sharp with that late-autumn edge. Gerard tries to stop and pull him into the shadow of the house, but Frank tugs him further out, into the dark. "I don't know, Frankie, there might be animals out there or something," he says doubtfully, and Frank laughs.
"Humor me, okay?" Frank says. He grabs Gerard's hand and squeezes. "Come on, it's my birthday." When they're halfway back to the bus, Frank stops. They're standing in the middle of the field, ground freezing even through his boots, the Milky Way a wash of light in the sky above them, just like he'd wished for, earlier. "Okay," he says. "Okay."
Gerard leans against him a little, hip to hip. He's shivering, a little, but his eyes are bright in the moonlight. "God," Frank says quietly, because the night feels still and hushed. "God, Gee, please tell me this isn't some weird once-a-year thing."
Gerard grins at him, teeth a white flash in the dark. "I," he says positively, "would not be good at that, Frankie."
"No?" Frank asks. He rubs his thumb over the glimmer of silver on Gerard's cheekbone, and Gerard smiles.
"Ask me tomorrow," he says.
"Yeah, okay," Frank says, and slips his hand around the back of Gerard's neck. "I'm going to kiss you now," he says, and does.
"Happy birthday," Gerard murmurs, into his mouth.
And, yeah. Yeah. It is.
You were born (I suppose) on a certain day:
So was I: or perhaps in the night: what then?