It's pretty much all Joe's fault.
Frank has just finished unpacking the rest of his stuff - mostly by throwing things into various corners of his room - when Joe IMs him around midnight with hey come here for a sec in that blocky, dark blue font.
why , Frank replies.
deep dark confessions
Frank sighs, puts up his away message, and walks across the hall into Joe's room. The carpet in there still vaguely smells like last Friday's 'Once More Before School Starts' rager, when Joe had polished off about 50 bowls with his friends and Frank had woken up on the couch with two empty forties duct-taped to his hands.
"What," Frank says in a bored voice. Joe's lying on the bed, and Frank swats at his legs as he passes and collapses onto the leather desk chair. He points his toes into the carpet and spins from side to side, waiting for Joe to speak.
Joe bites his lip and then says, "I'm dropping chem."
Frank's TA pulls him aside as soon as he steps into the lab. "So, your partner dropped the class," TA Mark says while observing the roll sheet. He scratches his goatee with a frown as if he had no idea why someone would drop a class called Organic Chemistry: Introduction to Functional Groups.
"I know," Frank replies darkly. Joe had claimed it was because he was already buckling under the pressure of Honors Physics and Genetics. He was "really feeling it, man, really feeling it."
"What," Frank had said. "What. Seriously?", because Joe was pretty much the smartest person he knew. He could do absolutely nothing and then cram for maybe three hours the night before to end up aceing a test.
Then Joe had admitted that it was mostly because he'd bought a vaporizer the weekend before. Frank had thrown several pens and a used apple bong at him, but more or less forgot about the whole thing when he'd come home last night and seen Joe with his hands buried in his hair, staring down at his physics problem set.
That is, he'd forgotten about the whole thing until right now, the first wet lab, when he realized that he would have to do all the experiments by himself. Experiments that took a minimum of three hours with two people doing them.
"Yeah," Mark says slowly, still frowning at the roll sheet. He makes a note on it and looks up. "But don't worry about it, I already added someone in from the waitlist."
"Oh. Cool, thanks." Frank feels a flare of annoyance at the fact that Mark hadn't opened with this information. He makes his way over to his station, where some dude with black hair is already occupying one of the two stools. He shifts and looks up through dark, clumped eyelashes when Frank dumps his backpack on the floor.
"Hey," he greets. "I'm Gerard." He points to a weighing boat on the table; Frank notices that his finger is smudged grey with pencil matter. "I already got our unknown and the sodium bicarb." He smiles, as if he knows that Frank's the lab-hating type, and the sight is very easy on the eyes and Christ, Frank likes this guy already.
"Awesome. I'm Frank." He prays he won't do anything stupid in the name of impressing his fucking lab partner. There's a loud screeching noise as he hops onto his stool. "Have you read the lab yet?"
"All I know is we're supposed to figure out what's in our unknown solution."
They both look down at their lab books. Frank glances over the mechanisms and all he sees are meaningless dots and arrows before the chemical structures inexplicably change from one step to the next. He tries to read through the procedure four times and he still can't wrap his mind around it.
"Okay, so...." he trails off.
Gerard snorts. "Dude, I don't know."
"Ten more weeks of this?" Frank starts hooking up the condenser, although he has no idea if they're supposed to use it or not. "This quarter's gonna be a bitch."
They'd only broken one beaker in three hours, which wasn't a bad track record for Frank. He had a habit of basically throwing everything - glass or not - back into the assigned drawers. Everyone else was still working when he and Gerard were packing up their stuff, thanks to Gerard's insightful shortcuts. Turning up the heat on the hotplate to '10' when it said '3' in the lab manual, throwing salt into their icewater bath to make it colder, pouring 1ml at a time when it said to add two drops per minute. Frank was okay with anything that got him out of the chemistry building before 10:00 at night.
"Hey, would you mind if I e-mailed you about some stuff with the lab report?" Gerard asks on their way out. They both smile at Mark, who gives them a suspicious look about leaving so early but doesn't say anything.
"Oh sure, no, go ahead. Just do a people search on the school website, I'm too lazy to get out a pen right now," Frank says as they step into the hallways of the basement, making his voice echo against the cinderblocks and over the whirring noise of fumehood fans.
"What's your last name?"
"Iero." Frank spells it out.
"Iero," Gerard repeats thoughtfully. "Okay." They say goodbye at the end of the corridor where there's a T-junction leading to opposite ends of the building.
Frank looks up Gerard on the school website that night. There are seven Gerards at the school, but only one in the Biology department. Gerard Way, Major: Biochemistry, Art Studio.
Frank closes the window, feeling strangely satisfied.
Even his aviators don't block out the worst of the sun at noon during the spring, and so Frank is walking around the student union while squinting behind his sunglasses. His eyes scan lazily through the crowds of people until a familiar mop of hair catches his attention and he jogs to catch up.
"Hey," he calls, hefting up his backpack a little. Gerard turns around just before he's about to cross the street and grins behind his own sunglasses once he recognizes Frank.
Gerard tilts his head to the side. "Do you wanna go grab something to eat really quick, then? I was just gonna go get a coffee before class."
Which is how Frank ends up at some weird hipster cafe just outside campus. It's complete with mismatched furniture, a bunch of artsy magazines strewn over the tables, and some guy is actually wearing a beret.
"What?" Gerard asks with a small smile.
Frank shakes his head and takes a sip of his coffee. "Nothing, I just didn't know that these places actually existed."
"Sorry it's not hardcore enough for you, man." Gerard looks pointedly at the tattoos that cover Frank's arm, but then he laughs and yeah, Frank's pretty much got a crush by this point. Frank makes a face and calls Gerard a pretentious art bastard, which makes him laugh again.
"But really though, you're an art double major, right?"
Gerard nods. "Yeah. How'd you know?"
It seems vaguely stalker-like to say that Frank looked him up online, even though he's done much worse than that for other people, and so he says, "Nah, I just figured. You're always covered in smudges and stuff, and not like, the chemical kind that burn through your clothes."
"It gets pretty messy, yeah." Gerard smiles again, open and happy. Frank flexes his fingers underneath the table and tries not to stare. "So, Frank. What do you plan on doing with your all mighty bachelor of science degree after you graduate?"
Frank takes another sip and puts on a serious face as he says, "Probably body reanimation. Some Frankenstein type shit, although I wouldn't say no to zombies."
And it goes on like that, with Frank making terrible jokes and Gerard responding to practically all of them. Neither of them notice that Gerard misses his class.
Joe pokes his head around the doorframe. Frank can see the puff of brown hair pop into his periphery, but he doesn't acknowledge him.
"How's it going," Joe asks loudly, when Frank doesn't say anything.
"Overcaffeinated," Frank responds. He types something a little madly, letting his fingers hit the keys with hard clicks.
"O-kay," Joe sings. "Lay off the Rockstar dude, it just makes you twitchy." He slaps the wall twice and moves on down the hallway, probably to rummage through the kitchen cabinets again in hopes that something new had appeared there since the last time he'd checked.
But Joe had been right. Two Rockstars and a canned Starbucks Espresso later, Frank is beginning to see tiny black dots swishing across his vision every once in awhile. He pulls up his hood to try and constrict his sight to the cursor on the computer screen. It blinks at him innocently before he gives up and clicks on the internet icon to check his e-mail for what seems like the nintieth time.
There's a new message now, though. (no subject), from Gerard Way. Frank clicks on it with a buzzing finger, which he blames on the Rockstar. The message reads: hey. what the fucks our melting point?
Frank clicks reply and types: 104 C. dude, have you finished this yet?
He presses 'Send', then maximizes the Word document again.
He opens his e-mail and there's another new message. i wrote my name, the fact that this is lab 1, and i just wrote the melting point.
Reply. well then. i guess you're fucked more than i am.
He laughs to himself when Gerard replies with the subject line ' fuck ', and, Frank sees after he clicks it open, the message 'you '. After drumming his fingers against the keyboard with light, superficial taps, he attaches an Excel file with data and sends it with the subject ' out of the goodness of my heart '.
"I can hear you going crazy in there," Joe calls from his room.
"Fuck off," Frank yells back.
Throughout the night, Gerard sends him more one word e-mails until they both agree to unhook the internet. Frank finally finishes his lab report around four in the morning, at which point he collapses into bed, kicks off his pants, and doesn't bother to change his shirt. The glamorous life of a college student.
Gerard's eyes are rimmed with red when Frank sees him the next day. They mirror his own swollen eyes, which is pretty much a staple of Frank's appearance once it gets to be halfway through the quarter.
"Stayed up late too, huh?" he asks, although it was obvious that he had, judging by the time on their e-mail war.
"I had a cell bio test to study for after I wrote this crap." Gerard waves vaguely to the pile of papers on the table as Mark comes around to collect their prelabs. Gerard's reaction looks like some geometric art, all straight lines and equal angles. Frank's looks like a dead and mangled marionette puppet. Gerard holds back a smile.
"Don't say it," Frank warns.
"I was just going to say thanks for helping me out with the report, I owe you one."
Frank considers making an innuendo about "owing" him "one", but it doesn't seem like safe territory yet, so he just smiles as he hooks up the condenser again.
Turns out that they do have to use it this time, except that Gerard forgets to turn off the faucet before unhooking the tubes and consequently, blasts of water starts shooting all over the place until Frank, while yelping, reaches a hand against the waterfall and turns it off. It's suddenly silent - he and Gerard stare at each other as water drips off them.
Frank takes a breath and starts laughing hysterically.
"Fuck," Gerard mutters, flushing a deep red. Frank's still laughing, slumping with his elbows against the table. He can't even accept the paper towels that Gerard offers him.
"Fuck you, man," Gerard says, but Frank can hear the smile in his voice. He presses a paper towel against the top of Frank's head, soaking up the water from his hair. Meanwhile, Frank continues to burst into fresh spurts of laughter as he replays the event in his mind.
"Hey," Frank finally coughs, still giggling a little. "Hey."
Fuck the safe territory rule. "My roommate and I are throwing a party tomorrow night. You should come," Frank suggests. He licks at a water bead that's making its way past his mouth and adds, "I mean, if you want to spray water all over everyone again, at least you can use the excuse of being drunk."
Gerard squeezes out the hair matted against Frank's forehead, pushes the wet wad of paper towels against his eye, and says, "Fine. Asshole."
Frank's pretty sure the cops are going to be called on them in the next hour or so, if things keep up. Every entryway to their apartment is hanging wide open as crowds of people shift in and out. The buzz of conversation occasionally gets louder and then wanes, but it's a constant stream of noise as Frank navigates his way toward the kitchen for a refill.
"Yooooo," Joe yells. Frank can hear his voice, but he has to stand on his tiptoes to see Joe leaning against the corner next to the dishwasher. He has an arm stretched toward Frank, apparently pointing him out to a group of girls. Frank eventually manages to worm his way through the crowd and into Joe's armspan, which he immediately uses to his advantage as he brings Frank in for a pseudo-headlock.
"Beer me," Frank says obnoxiously, laughing as he tries to pull Joe's forearm down and away from his neck.
Joe hands him a beer, which he cracks open and lifts to each girl that Joe introduces - Melissa, Diane, Janelle, and Kristine. Or it might be Carissa, Cheyenne, Danielle, and Debbie. The volume of the party and Joe's apparent inability to pronounce consonants pretty much butchers all chances of Frank getting their actual names, but he doesn't really care.
"Look how cute," Joe says loudly. He holds Frank's chin between his fingers and shakes it gently. The girls seem interested though, as much as Frank wants to ignore it. He swats at Joe, who slurs out, "No no no, ladies! Sorry, but Frank is totally into dudes," while tipping a beer can toward them.
Gerard chooses this moment to step into Frank's view. He waves at Frank with his hands still shoved into his jacket pockets.
"Oh, god," Frank groans. He chugs his drink.
"Joe Trohman," Joe says, and shakes Gerard's hand.
The noise of the party abruptly becomes dampened out when Frank clicks shut the door to his room. Gerard is gazing up at the two walls that are covered with posters for movies and shows. Most of them have horror fonts with blood dripping off the letters; Gerard points to one.
"I like that," he says.
Frank nods silently. He's done worrying about whether or not Gerard had shown up in time for Joe's big announcement. He had been done anyway, until Gerard had asked where his room was while Joe wiggled his eyebrows from behind him and then Frank had started worrying again.
Things sway a little when he makes his way over to his chair as Gerard continues to browse through his stuff, occasionally poking at things as if unsure of the etiquette for visiting someone's room for the first time. After a few minutes, he tips out a CD case from the stack on Frank's dresser and holds it out.
"I like Blur," Frank says defensively.
"No, I like them too, I just wouldn't have pegged you for the type," Gerard shrugs. He places the CD back on top of the stack and lays down on Frank's bed. "I like Placebo better, though."
"Brian Molko is a woman," Frank declares, just to push Gerard's buttons, but it apparently doesn't work because Gerard just pillows his head under one arm and says, "Yeah. But he's a hot woman," he adds. He stares up at the ceiling and plays with the hem of his shirt. Frank watches the material fold up and under Gerard's fingers, over and over.
He snaps out of it when Gerard says, "You're so tanked," a little triumphantly.
"What?" Frank looks at him blankly. "No I'm not." Except he kind of was. They had shotgunned a beer each before coming in here, and it kind of wasn't fair that it didn't seem to be having an effect on Gerard at all.
"Please. That's what everyone says."
"Who's everyone?" Frank feels inexplicably jealous, but whatever, he doesn't really feel the need to justify it right now.
Gerard laughs. "Everyone as in everyone. A blanket term."
"Right. Got it." Frank tries to act casual. What he wants is to just blurt out, "this is sort of awkward," but then that would make it even more awkward. What he really wants is to just get on top of Gerard and kiss that stupid smirk off his face, maybe give him a messy handjob or something that he can chalk off to being drunk, but then. Yeah.
The sounds from the party have died down by this point. Joe has some magic tactic of getting everyone out in a calm and quick manner, and Frank usually lets him do that by himself. Gerard cranes his neck to glance at the clock on Frank's desk and then sits up. "I should get home."
"Okay," Frank agrees.
"Okay." Gerard stands up but just stays there motionless, like he's waiting for something.
"Okay," Frank repeats, looking up at Gerard. There's silence for a moment, then:
" - okay," Gerard says again, smiling a little. He shakes his head. "I'll see you later." He turns and starts walking toward the door, but Frank gets up swiftly and hooks his fingers over the top of Gerard's belt, tugging at an angle to turn him around.
"Okay," Frank mumbles, and then he kisses Gerard with his thumbs still hooked over the back of his pants. They stumble until Gerard's back hits the door and he says, " Oomf ," against Frank's lips.
"Am I being way too forward?" Frank asks a little dazedly. A chunk of hair is hanging over his eye and Gerard pushes it out of the way. "I haven't had time to get it cut," he explains.
"I like it. And you haven't fucking been forward enough."
Gerard kisses Frank again, walking them away from the door until the edge of the bed hits Frank's knees and he falls onto it, hooking his arms around Gerard's neck and bringing him down, too.
"Wait." Gerard pulls back. "I'm totally about to take advantage of drunken you."
"I am open to the idea, yes. You might say that that's actually the point." Frank lifts his hips a fraction of an inch; the corner of Gerard's lip twitches.
"You're not just using me because of my awesome chemistry skills, are you?"
"Hey, I'm the one who's drunk here."
"Point." Gerard works his fingers against Frank's belt and smiles against his neck; Frank breathes in the faint smell of tempera paint from Gerard's hair.
Frank leaves a note for Joe on the whiteboard the next day.
thanks for dropping chem.