"Hey, Gee, come upstairs for a sec," Mikey says stomping down the stairs to the basement. He dives into Gerard's mattress with the true spirit of a kamikaze pilot, stomach hitting the backs of Gerard's calves like dead weight. Gerard's sprawled half on the mattress, half on the floor in an awkward position. He cranes his head like an old owl and peeks at Mikey over his shoulder and through the mop of his hair. He throws Mikey a suspicious look to which Mikey responds by rolling his eyes and biting down a grin.
Frank is in the kitchen, digging through some cupboards above the sink. His knee is supporting him on the counter and his hoodie has risen up revealing a patch of skin on the small of his back. Gerard quickly focuses his eyes on Frank's shoulder and keeps them there instead.
Gerard has never officially met Frank, but Mikey has talked about him enough for him to know the essentials.
Frank's in a band called Pencey Prep; he listens to the same music Gerard listens to and some that Gerard's been meaning to listen to; and he gets sick a lot. Gerard's always thought it a funny thing to call attention to, getting sick, so he figures Frank must have a shitty immune system since it’s worth even mentioning.
"Um," Mikey says with the kind of patience Gerard wishes he possessed. He is looking at Frank through his bottle cap glasses, head up in an awkward angle to keep them on the tip of his nose. Frank starts and pushes his upper-half out of the cupboard, grinning sheepishly at Mikey before landing his gaze on Gerard, looking at him with curious eyes. "Frankie, meet Gerard, the best brother in the world."
"Hi," Frank waves. He's got a Star Wars action figure in his hand, thumb rubbing against the belly of what looks like a Geonosian warrior. "Mikey said I could get some cereal if I was hungry,” Frank explains in earnest. “And, er, I was hungry? So I was trying to find some. I'll just. Put this back."
Gerard blinks at Mikey while Frank shuffles on the counter, gets his sneaker stuck in the sink before finally sliding down with a thump and a squeak. Gerard is still staring, but Mikey digs his fingers in his armpits and just shrugs. He keeps smiling, though.
The summer of 2001 and the sky looks like lace.
Frank is sitting on the porch steps with Mikey, twin holes in his jeans baring a pair of scabbed knees. Gerard's inside by the kitchen table, scowling at his empty sketchbook. It's brand new and he's got the blank first page problem. The book is too clean and doesn't fit right in his hands.
Gerard picks his head up from the table when a loud shriek bellows from the porch. Through the kitchen window he watches as Mikey play-wrestles Frank down the steps.
Frank's on his back on the ground, laughing, bare kneed and rolling around as grass rains down on his pretty face. When Mikey finally lets Frank pick himself up, Gerard can see through the window that Frank's noticed him looking and he's grinning wide, mouth twisted in a lopsided smile. Gerard gives him a quick thumbs up, then digs his fingers up in his hair like he was just scratching an itch all along.
Pencey Prep's playing shows all over Belleville without any clear schedule, arranging shows in parks when night's fallen over the town. It's not like they get to play bars every week, but these dudes are fucking world-beaters when it comes to the talent of improvisation.
Frank's got his hands busy with setting up amps when Gerard and Mikey arrive. The park is mostly empty aside from the regular bum bunch by the oak tree, Gerard and Mikey, Frank and his band, and some kids that circle around shows like this, getting drunk and making out with other kids while the music plays.
One of the bums raises a hand in greeting when Gerard and Mikey walk by. Gerard kind of likes these dudes; they're those free love, free world hippies from the sixties that never really adjusted back to the real world. They're always happy to have somebody to talk to, and they don't really have all that much room to judge, either.
"Mikey," Frank yells over the practice beats of Hagevik’s drums. "Gerard! You came!" He jumps over an amp and skids over to them all gung-ho and shit.
Frank before shows is always buzzing, almost bursting with nerves and energy. Frank after any show is beatific and bone tired, dirty and bruised and kind of Gerard's absolute favorite.
Frank's still more Mikey's friend than Gerard's, he chats with Frank when Frank's around, but it's always Mikey Frank comes to see.
The show is pretty great. Hambone’s kept Frank in hysterics the whole evening, and Frank is trashing around, bumping into everything like an overwrought animal.
Frank has made Mikey and Gerard step into the VIP Box, which means that Gerard gets to stand by Frank's amplifier while Frank rocks and rolls on the night-damp grass in front of him for a full set and a couple of 'Souls covers.
Sometimes Gerard dreams about being in a rock band instead of doing art. Most of time he just dreams about Frank.
August third and Gerard's drunk on the front yard of the Iero household. He stumbles on the lawn, collecting pebbles that he then chucks at Frank's window with unsteady aim.
It started to spot with rain hours ago, and Gerard's hair is stuck to his eyes and cheeks. Frank pushes his window open and sticks his head out, blinking to adjust to the dark.
Gerard starts. Now that Frank's actually noticed him, he feels a little foolish standing here. He's got that six pack of beer he purchased from the corner shop days ago in his system, and it’s probably fucking up with his reasoning. "Frankie! I’ve come to see you," Gerard greets him with arms spread-eagle.
Frank whisper-yells, "Just. Stay where you are, don't. Don't move. And try not to puke on my mom's lawn," with a hurried voice, but Gerard's sure he can hear a snicker in there somewhere.
Then Frank is out of Gerard's view, and Gerard slumps down on the wet grass carpet with a sad squeak.
Frank comes out the front door in his pajamas. Gerard had no idea it was pajamas-late. What the fuck is the time anyway?
"Fuck, it's raining. What the fuck're you doing here?" Frank doesn't wait for Gerard to reply, just drags him up and starts steering him inside the house.
Gerard babbles about playing Dungeons And Dragons the whole day and getting bored as fuck with it. It has been happening more often than not lately, and it’s kind of freaking him out. “I mean, what am I supposed do when D&D doesn’t even do it for me anymore?” He asks, sad all of a sudden, leaning heavy against Frank’s side. Frank shushes him when they pass a closed door that Gerard figures leads to Frank’s mom’s bedroom.
Up in Frank's room, Frank makes Gerard sit on his bed and throws him a towel from the back of a chair. It lands on Gerard's head like a sack and everything is dark. He tries not to get claustrophobic over this one.
Frank's sigh sounds a bit weary. He sits on the bed next to Gerard and starts ruffling his hair with the towel, drying his neck and face, too.
"What're you doing here, Gee?" he asks again. Frank's got that look, the one that could make Gerard move mountains, but he's having a hard time to think.
"Jus' -- I just wanted to visit since I never done that before, and Mikey’s magic eight ball’s told me I should ask again later, which wasn't a total rejection," Gerard slurs his words, finding it hard to articulate himself. Inside the house he feels more drunk than out in the rain.
Frank grins at him, looking at him adoringly like Gerard's a wet puppy. And yeah, that doesn't feel like a total rejection either.
Frank kisses with his eyes closed, fingers against Gerard's nape and cheekbone.
It's the end of August, the end of summer. Frank's not going back to school in September, instead, he's going to circle around the nearby states with Pencey Prep in a tiny van that Gerard has named 'shithole' and 'that thing', as in, 'you really wanna travel around the states in that thing?' In reality, it's not that bad, but Gerard's really gonna miss him. He doesn't want Frank to go.
"You should come with us, with me," Frank's started saying. Gerard thinks he really should, but life and his parents have made him feel cynical about doing spur-of-the-moment things, and he’s got a job interview in two week’s time.
Frank sleeps curled up in Gerard's lap, eyebrow furrowed against Gerard's clavicle. If Gerard knew how to freeze the moment, there would be no time better than this.
Gerard doesn't know how to handle long goodbyes. When Frank gets in the van, he cups Frank's cheek in his palm and tells him to call whenever he misses home. Frank says to keep his phone on because he will probably call in like five minutes, then huffs a laugh and nuzzles his face into Gerard's hand.
Gerard presses his mouth hard against the corner of Frank’s eye and slips his Geonosian warrior action figure into Frank's hoodie pocket. He watches as Mikey waves them goodbye. There's a lump forming in his throat even as he knows it isn't really goodbye at all.