Frank finds Gerard in an empty conference room down the hall and around the corner from where they were going to sign the paperwork that could change their lives forever. He was staring out of the window at the Chicago skyline, but instead of appreciating the view, his eyes seemed to be looking at something that Frank was unable to see.
“Whatcha lookin’ at?”
Gerard jumps and looks over his shoulder. “Oh, hey Frankie. Sorry, didn’t hear you come in.” He makes a vague waving gesture with his hand. “Obviously.”
Frank studies Gerard. He looks tense, fingertips red like he has been chewing on them. A habit from when he can’t go out for a smoke. “So, what’s up?”
Gerard makes a few more abrupt movements. He waves his hands, puts his fingers through his hair until finally he just slumps like a marionette with his strings cut and rest his head on the large glass window in front of him. “What are we doing Frank? What if this is all wrong? What if it is the fucking biggest mistake ever.”
“Its not, Gee.”
“But--but what if we tank. What if the label changes us? What...fuck Frank. What if the fans think we betrayed them?”
Frank wants to throw his arm around the other man’s shoulders, but Gerard’s all but jumping out of his skin and Frank’s afraid that if he touches him, Gee would lose it and go beserk. So instead, he moves so his back is against the window and leans his head back against the glass. Tilting his head to the side so his lips are all but against Gerard’s ear, he softly says, “They won't.”
Gerard shakes his head, not violently -- more of a rocking motion, forehead still against the glass. “But--”
Frank doesn’t let him finish whatever he was about to say. “Do you want to save lives, Gee?”
That seems to startle the singer and he lifts his head from the glass and looks Frank straight in the eyes, “Frank, of course!” The sheer conviction that those three words have is awe inspiring, and also just so Gerard .
Frank gives him a small smile and put his hand on the shoulder closest to him. “Then you have to make that leap and get out of the basement sometime, dude.”
Gerard kind of slumps into Frank, letting the smaller man hold him up for a bit. “I’m scared as fuck.”
Frank shifts to adjust his stance to take Gee’s weight. Finding a comfortable position he lets out with a breath, “Yeah, me too, man. Me too.”
They stand there like that in silence, Gee’s head on Frank’s shoulder and Frank’s back against the cool glass until a frazzled Brian finds them and herds them back into the room with the others.
They’re fucking going to save lives.
Gerard had just grabbed his and Frank’s coffees from the barista and was walking back towards the table where Frank is waiting with the drinks for the rest of the guys when his phone rings. Seeing him struggle to with his coffee, Frank stands up, takes the drinks from him, and sips at his.
Hands free, Gee pulls his phone out of too-tight jeans and smiles when he saw the number on the screen.
“Hey Ma,” he answers as he takes his coffee back from Frank, mouthing a ‘thanks.’ “What’s up?”
For a few moments all Gerard hears on the other line are ragged breaths and soft sobs. “Mom?”
Frank looks up when he hears the edge of alarm in Gerard’s voice. Donna must have started talking because Gerard goes from jittery, nervous movements to completely frozen -- a rarity in and of itself and something that makes Frank even more nervous considering the tone of his bandmate’s voice.
Gerard looks all but comatose, eyes wide and scared, freaking Frank the fuck out, and when he hears a raised voice calling Gerard’s name, Franks decides that he needs to do something, so with his stomach churning, he takes the phone and steals himself for whatever is on the other side. “Hello?”
“It’s Don, Frank. Donna had to go lay down.” Frank hears him take a deep, shuddering breath. “It’s Elena. She--she’s dead. She didn’t wake up this morning.”
Frank feels the churning in his stomach stop as the bottom of his gut just drops away into nothingness. “Oh fuck, Don. I’m sorry. I--I...Fuck!” The final word is all but a whisper of pain.
“We haven’t been able to get a hold of Mikey. Is he with you and Gerard?”
Frank shoves his hand through his hair. “No, the rest of the guys are still at the studio. We were grabbing coffee. Mikey probably has his phone off still.”
At Mikey’s name, Gerard snaps out of the time-warp he was in and focuses on Frank, “Mikey. Fuck Frank. Mikey.”
“Don? I’m going to take Gee back to Mikey, okay? I’ll make sure that he knows and they call you.” Frank locks eyes with Gerard, hoping he can make Gee keep it together by just sheer will and eye contact.
“Alright. I need to go and check on Donna.”
Frank nods as if Don was in front of him and not across the damn country. “We’re only a block away from the studio, so they’ll call you soon. Is there anything you need on this end?”
“Just my boys, Frank.”
“I’ll get them back to Jersey asap. I’ll get Brian to make it happen.”
“You boys too, Elena would want you here.”
That hits Frank like a punch to the gut, but his voice is only a little bit wobbly when he says, “Definitely. You bet. Okay, I got to go Don, I need to get Gee to Mikey and out of public. Will talk to you soon.”
“Okay, I’ll be waiting. Take care of them and yourself for us Frank.”
“Will do Don. Bye.”
Frank hang up the phone and put it in his pocket. Gerard’s hands are shaking too much to try to fight with his pockets. He tosses his coffee since was pretty sure he doesn’t have a stomach for it to go even if it could get past the lump in his throat and grabs the tray holding the guys’ cooling drinks. Caffeine will even more necessary when they get back.
Frank wants to wrap himself around Gerard, like he if he holds him tight enough he could keep all the pieces together, but there wasn’t really time for that and they’re in the middle of a fucking coffee shop. He settles for an arm around his shoulder, his hand on Gerard’s neck, just gently squeezing.
“Come on, Gee. Let’s go get your brother.”
Frank feels like shit, but as bad as he feels, he knows he’s not even close to feeling like the worst of the group. “How ya holding up, Gee?”
Gerard groans, head down in between his knees. He passed by the most current bout of twitches and restlessness about 45 minutes earlier and was currently revisiting the nausea stage. Luckily he had only lost it right after take off from Tokyo and even then, only it was just some bile.
Frank rubs the back of his neck, his tattoos peeking in and out between lank hair. “That great, huh?”
“Want your iPod back yet?” This time he gets a small head shake in response. “Alright man, just let me know if I can do something.”
Frank shares a look with Mikey over Gerard’s back. It’s their turn to be on Gee Duty. Well, it’s Frank’s turn but Mikey hasn’t been able to detach himself from Gerard’s side yet. Not that Frank can blame him. He hasn’t been able to do it either.
But they are headed stateside. With Gerard. Who has been going through withdrawal for the past 15 hours. Because the fucker is alive , and god damn it if Frank wasn’t going to do everything in his power to make sure that stayed that way.
Knowing that the fully-body cling wouldn’t be appreciated by someone who was already about to puke up their remaining entrails, Frank sticks to gently massaging Gee’s neck, occasionally running his fingers up through the greasy hair to scratch at the scalp underneath. Most of the time that was enough to draw a deep groan out of Gerard’s chest in appreciation.
A few more minutes pass and Gerard still hasn’t moved. Mikey catches Frank’s eyes again and manages to communicate with a few eyebrow wags and a shoulder shrug that he’s going to take advantage of things being quiet and Frank having things under control. Frank nods his agreement. There isn’t any reason for the two of them to be up while Gee’s being calm. Mikey squeezes his brother’s shoulder, pulls his hoodie up, his beanie down over his eyes, and leans against the window with a little pillow between him and the cool glass. He raises the volume on his iPod a bit, but not as much as he would have normally. He wants to be able to hear. He’s asleep within minutes.
Frank snorts to himself, shaking his head. Mikeyway could always sleep anywhere. The freak.
Time ticks by and Frank manages a few more paragraphs in his book when he notices that Gerard has shifted to leaning fairly heavily against Frank’s knee. “Gee, what’s going on man? You alright?” He didn’t want the guy to pass out or something from being all but upside down for too long.
“‘M tired, Frankie.” God, he sounds so pitiful that Frank is pretty sure it could bring tears to your eyes. But he is alive.
Frank looks around, confirming what he already knows, there is no empty seat around their group. Sighing, he rearranges his legs, “Come on, man.”
“Don’t wanna get up Frankie.”
“Not making you get up. You’re to use the Iero-Way bed and stretch out a bit so you can get some actual sleep.”
“Come on, legs up. You’re going to lay across mine and Mikey’s lap. That way you will be a little more comfortable.” Frank explains as he tries to get Gee’s legs up off the ground and onto Mikey’s lap. The bonus of Gerard being all but a limp noodle is that he doesn’t fight it. The downside is that he is dead weight.
“Shhh, come on dude. Stop fighting me here, or I’ll make you use Mikey’s legs for a pillow instead.”
“Asshole,” Gerard grumbles, but he starts to move. After a few moments of uncoordinated movements, Gerard ended up across the row of seats. Armrests pulled up, his ass is still on his his seat, but his head is pillowed on Frank’s thigh and his legs are folded up in Mikey’s lap where in his sleep, Mikey has placed a hand on Gee’s lower leg to help keep him in place.
Turning his head, Frank sees Ray offering up the thin complementary blanket he had been using as a pillow. “You sure? Want you to be able to sleep too man.”
Ray nods, “Yeah, no worries man, I got another and if I need to, I can just use my hoodie.”
Frank takes the blanket, and smiles his thanks, draping it over Gerard. The small blanket actually almost covers him completely because of how small Gee is curled up. Frank shifts a bit himself, trying to find a position that won’t have his ass numb in 15 minutes. Picking up his book again in his left hand, he replaces his hand on the back of Gerard’s neck. Softs rubs intermingled between head scratches.
“‘M sorry, Frankie.”
Frank squeezes Gerard’s nape just a little bit stronger, “Shh, just sleep. I got you man.”
“The best Frankie.”
Frank chuckles, leaning his head back. “Yeah, you too asshole.”
Gerard is standing at the front door staring down the drive where the car carrying Mikey and Stacy had disappeared. He still has his hand half raised from he waved good-bye to his brother and now former bandmate.
Frank is standing just back a few feet, not quite sure what to do. Thing have been so fucking tense and weird lately and for the first time in a long time, Frank doesn’t know where he stands with Gee. He wants to go and pull a monkey and wrap himself around Gerard, but he is pretty sure he won’t be welcome this time. Things had been so fucking stressful and that was before Mikey said he was leaving.
Gerard lets out a deep breath and turns away from the door, head down and looking defeated. Not even glancing at him or any of the guys, he starts down the hall. “I’m going to go and lay down for a bit.”
“I’ll catch ya at dinner Ray. I’m just tired.” He makes what could possibly be a half-hearted attempt at a wave and continues down the hall to the bedrooms.
Ray and Bob share a look before turning to look at Frank who just shrugs his shoulders. He didn’t know what to do either. He doesn’t know what he was allowed to do. There have been all these fights and boundaries where there never used to be and the entire house filled with tension and anger. It’s making Frank feel lost on more than one level.
Later when everyone else is dinking around in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner and Gerard still hadn’t shown, Frank heads down the wing with the bedrooms until he reaches Gee’s door. Seeing it is just slightly ajar, like Gerard had lacked the strength to even complete the motion of shutting it, Frank knocks on the jamb before gently pushing the door a bit further open and letting himself in. Looking around the door he sees a Gerard-shaped lump under the blankets. He has the sheets pulled all the way over his head, not even a lock of hair showing. “Gee?”
Gerard doesn’t respond, but for a slight tensing of his body before he slowly relaxes a bit realizing who it was.
Frank won’t be deterred that easily. “Can I come in?”
There is still no verbal response, but Gerard does scoot over an inch or so in the bed. An invitation to join him if Frank is being hopeful.
Hope and desperation are about the only things Frank had left at that point.
He crosses the room. Reaching the side of the bed, he toes off his shoes, and liftes the covers. As smoothly as he can he slips in between the sheets, trying not to jostle Gerard too much. He might not have be sleeping, but he is still fragile. It takes a bit but finally Frank gets situated behind Gee who’s curled up on his side facing the wall. The waning sunlight filters in through the sheets, reminding Frank of the days spent in the Way’s basement.
Frank lays on his back, not quite touching Gerard but still close enough to feel his body heat. He keeps his knees up to give them a little more breathing room underneath the blanket. No point in in adding death by smothering to everything else going wrong lately. “Everything will be alright Gee.”
“You can’t say that. You don’t know what’s going to happen.” It is the smallest voice Frank has ever heard Gerard use.
“I might not know somethings, but there are things that will always be true, dude.”
Frank takes a deep breath and resists the urge to get defensive. It’s not about him right now. “Gee, no matter what, you are going to always have Mikey, even if he doesn’t want to be in the band anymore, he’s always going to be your little brother. Ray is always going to want to make music with you, you are always going to draw, and Bob will aways be the most awesome mother fucker alive.”
Gerard lets out a noise that could almost be called a laugh. After a moment he rolls over onto his back. Now laying shoulder to shoulder with Frank, he stares up at the sheets tented above them like a blanket fort from childhood. “And you?”
“Me?” Frank is just a bit confused.
“Yeah, you.” Gerard punctuates with an poke into Frank’s side.
“I thought that was obvious fucker, I’m always going to be here for you. You’re not getting rid of me that easily Gerard Way.” He bumps their shoulders together.
“Oh, good. That’s good.”
Frank chuckles, “Yeah, no shit man.” He bumps his shoulder against Gee’s. “Are you going to be ok?”
Gee, obviously thinking about the question instead of answering automatically, pauses. After a moment he says in a quiet, but by no means small voice, “I don’t know yet, but I think so.”
Frank closes his eyes and lets a little bit of his tension drain out of him. “Good.” He lets himself drift thinking that at least one obstacle had been dealt with for now.
When Frank sees Gerard standing off to the side watching everyone else interact and have a good time, he’s reminded of the Gerard that still lived in his parent’s basement and had to be dragged out by Mikey to go to the local shows. He would go and watch from a back wall, taking everyone in and not interacting with anyone other than Mikey unless they approached him first.
Not something Frank has seen in a very long while, and definitely something that shouldn’t be happening at the fucker’s own birthday party.
He makes his way over after Ray leaves to catch a phone call from Christa. They are in a hotel room in Sweden, and a nice one at that, the label having sprung for it in honor of Gee’s birthday. So now they were having a mini party. Nothing crazy, just the band, Worm, Cortez, some of the techs they had gotten to know over the years. Not even the Rise Against guys were present. They had headed out for some paid appearance at some club or something after the show.
When Frank is a few feet away, Gerard gives him a tight smile and walks out onto the balcony. The crisp air comes up off the ocean and Frank can smell the salt. He sees the lights reflect off the water and it kinda blows his mind that he can see another country, one that they will be playing in the next night.
Gerard leans against the railing, lighting a cigarette. He gives the pack a little shake in Frank’s direction, wordlessly asking if Frank wants one of his, even though he knows Frank bought a pack of his own brand earlier in the day. Frank shakes his head and taps out on of his own. Though he does take Gerard up on the light. He takes a moment to enjoy the burn and rush of the first drag before raising his eyebrow at Gerard. “So, what’s up old man?”
“I thought you said 30 wasn’t old.”
Frank laughs, “Are you admitting to being of the arboreal variety now?”
“You know it.” Frank takes a sip out of his beer bottle. “No really man, what’s up?”
Gerard shugs fingers tapping against the rail, looking out on the harbor lights. “It’s just 30, ya know? I just thought I would have...not more, just different things by now.”
“I don’t know. I just thought I’d be married or have at least a long term relationship. Kids. Things like that.” Tap, tap, tap. “Fuck, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful as all hell about the band and getting to go out like we did tonight. Rocking our asses off. I just, I don’t know, thought that success would have transfered to my personal life by 30.” He shrugs. “Maybe Mikey getting married made me realize I could be missing out.”
Really, Gerard shouldn’t be able to look that small while standing. It makes Frank want to hug the fucking hell out of him, but he resists. Frank isn’t an dick. Well, at least to his friends. He knows he still smells like beer from when Cortez tripped over Mikey’s Legs of Doom and spilled his drink over Frank’s shirt and pants, so he keeps his appendages to himself, thankful that the light breeze helps dissipate some of the stench. Maybe it will help dry him out too. Gee might be okay with being around alcohol now, but no need to shove his face in it by getting it on his clothes. That would be just a douche move. Honesty and humor it is.
Frank looks at him as says in the most serious voice the buzz of the alcohol will allow him, “Dude, you are.”
Gerard just raises an eyebrow at him.
“No really.” Frank should put his beer down before he punctuates his sentences with large arm gestures. “The band is your wife -- talk about sister wives, just ignore the weird possibly incestuous possibilities. The songs are our kids. Your kids. They’re our fucking babies man. Living, breathing entities that are as much of a part of us as any little spawn you might have. And the fans? Those kids are the first steps, the first day at school, the doctor’s visits, first heartbreak, the prom, graduation, and moving away from home, all rolled into one. Everything they experience with our babies are the first of everything.”
It is going to literally hurt Frank’s heart if Gerard doesn’t get this. “Gee, you’re married. Even have the contract to prove it, though I guess we would all get you a ring if you wanted.”
Gerard shakes his head a the last bit. “Fucker.” He smiles. “Does that mean you’re going to make me dinner, sweetheart?”
Frank laughs around the mouth of the mostly-salvageable beer. “Only if you rub my feet, darling. Those heels are such a bitch.”
That gets a full out laugh from the other man. “Asshole.”
“Love you too, sweetcheeks.”
“God, Gerard. Fucking hell,” Frank pants out as Gerard moves over him.
He feels like he’s been on edge for hours, since before the show. Fuck, he’s been on edge all week. He’s so close now. Gerard moving over him, hips stuttering as he approches his own oragsm, hand on Frank’s dick, stroking him in time to his thrusts.
“Fuck Frankie, yeah...come on.” Gerard leans down, pressing his lips against Frank’s for a fleeting kiss before burying his head in Frank’s neck, nipping at the ink there.
Feeling the bites against his scorpion in combination with the hand on his dick and Gee hitting his prostate with every thrust sends Frank skyrocketing towards completion. Gerard is right there with him. With a final thrust he is coming, hips slamming even harder into Frank as he orgasms. It’s enough to push Frank over the precipice and he comes, shooting over his stomach and Gee’s hand in hot spurts.
Gerard braces himself on his elbows, trying not to crush Frank as he catches his breath. Panting hard, Gee rests his head on Frank’s chest, pressing occasional kisses to the sweaty skin below his lips. After a few moments, and they both have mostly caught their breath, Gee rolls to the side and half heartedly cleans them up with a corner of the sheet. Fuck it, they can always move to the other bed if they need to. He wishes he had a cigarette, but it’s too much work to get up and head to the balcony for a smoke just yet.
They are laying curled up on their sides, facing each other. Frank wraps his arms around Gee, holding him close. They will have to get up and move soon -- jump in the shower to get the rest of the smell of show and sex off of them. Maybe he can even convince Gerard to check out the tub with him, but for now Frank just wants to hold the fuck out of him, fiddling with the wedding ring on Gee’s finger, seeing how the once identical rings have become individual over time. Unique, but still a set. Different scratches, but same engraving against their skin where no one but them can see. Always.
Gerard’s face has a post-orgasm flush to it. The fresh dye job still streaking his neck adding to the effect. Frank wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up staining the sheets pink or some shit. “Fucking Reading man.” Gerard mumbles into his shoulder. “Brian fucking May at fucking Reading. ”
Frank chuckles and shakes his head, “Ten years man. Ten years from VFW halls to Brain fucking May.”
“Think we can say we made it?” Gee asks with a giggle and a poke to Frank’s side.
Frank presses a kiss into Gerard’s hair. They can shower in the morning. This is too good to move for right now.
“Yeah, I think we can asshole.”
“Love ya too, sugarnipples.”