Nothing is going according to plan this morning. Not when his alarm had failed to go off, not when he’d spilt coffee on his dress shirt, juggling his bag and phone and mug as he launched himself into a cab and especially not when his editor called him into his office, a frown creasing his forehead as he waved his hand.
“I’ve got your first assignment kid.” The folder slides across the hardwood of the conference table, stopping far enough away that he has to stand up from his chair and reach across the long table to grasp it. He opens the folder, eyes widening as they catch sight of the picture clipped to the first page. “Mr. Gerard Way.”
“I…are you sure?” He nearly coughs, blinking hard between his editor who’s frowning even harder into his coffee mug and the picture before him. “I mean, no, I’m really excited, this is great!” He back peddles quickly. “I just meant, you know, this is pretty high profile. I just thought you might want someone, more experienced…” He cards his fingers roughly through his dark hair, biting his silver lip ring as he chances another glance upwards to the heavily mustached man across the room.
“Who’s the boss here Iero?” Wincing, he quickly answers with a “you, sir” before grabbing his pencil and notepad out of his bag as he jots down what he’s supposed to be angling towards, when and where the interview will be and an unnecessary reminder to make sure he’s read up on Mr. Way, as if he hasn’t been following the man’s work since he first appeared.
Standing outside of the Waldorf Astoria, he checks the address and time, yet again, conscious of the way the door-man is eying him curiously, no doubt scrutinizing his lip ring and unruly hair; he’d tried to dress appropriately at least, donning his best and least torn jeans and a black dress shirt, forgoing the tie at the last minute; he’s got his “Press” badge clipped to the pocket of his shirt, feeling heavy and cheap. Taking a deep breath he marches forwards, stepping into the foyer of the nicest hotel he’s ever set foot in and bypassing the front desk in lieu of heading for the bar where he’d been told the interview would take place.
His eyes sweep around the room, lifting up onto his toes to look across the room, brow furrowed as he continues to investigate the room, feeling more and more unsure of himself as the seconds go by with no sign of the man he’s supposed to be interviewing. He can feel a line of sweat forming at his hairline as he takes another desperate glance around the room, fingers twisting together as he pulls his notebook swiftly from his bag once again, checking the date and time and location for the thousandth time since he wrote them down; it confirms what he already knows, where he already is, except Mr. Way is nowhere to be found.
Frank can already hear his editor firing him, assuring him that he’ll never work in this industry again, can see himself losing his shitty apartment and moving back in with his mother, can see everything he’s worked for his whole life swirling down a drain of despair. Frank has a real tendency to escalate, quickly, and he’s well aware of Mr. Way’s absolute abhorrence for all things media.
There’s a warm touch on his shoulder, fingers curling over his shoulder, “Are you here from the Star-Ledger?”
Frank nearly trips over the chair he was holding onto as he jerks forwards, unceremoniously whipping his head around to face the blonde man who’s holding his hands out in front of his face; a peace offering and a smirk barely hidden behind his outstretched fingers.
“Shit” he mumbles the curse, holding his hand up to his chest for a moment to calm the heart that seems to be trying to escape his chest.
“Sorry man! I didn’t mean to scare ya!” There’s barely concealed laughter as the tall blonde man before him continues to smirk easily. Frank shakes himself, brushing down his shirt nervously before outstretching his hand.
“I’m Frank Iero.” The long thin fingers easily wrap themselves around his own, “from the Star-Ledger.” The man before him nods minutely, lips still curling until they almost form a smile before flattening out until his expression is unreadable once again.
“I’m Mikey. Mikey Way.” Frank’s brow furrows for a moment before Mikey continues as though he can see Frank working through his confusion. “I’m Gerard’s brother, and also his agent-slash-manager, I guess.” At Frank’s nod, Mikey adds, “Gerard decided that he didn’t want to sit down here, would prefer to stay in his room, so I came down here to find you.” Mikey inclines his head towards the door and they make their way towards the elevator.
Mikey leans his head comfortably back against the wall of the elevator after jabbing at their floor number, eyes carefully taking in the young man before him; Frank tries clearing his throat, his teeth pulling on the corner of his lip, eyes carefully averted to the floor.
“Nervous?” Frank wants to shake off his obvious discomfort, wants to reassure Mikey that he’s a professional, that he’s done interviews with far more important people and that is going to be a cake-walk for him, parts his lips to bolster himself and the agent-slash-manager up.
“Yes.” Shit. Shit. Frank cringes against the wall as Mikey snorts out a laugh, eyes twinkling across the small space.
“You’ll be fine.” Frank nods at the back of Mikey’s head as he leads them down a hall, sliding his key into the door before easily making his way inside, indicating the two chairs set between a small table. “You want something to drink?” Frank nods again, requesting water before Mikey disappears with a promise to return.
Glancing around the room Frank is surprised at the elegance and size of the room, the paintings that adorn the walls; he knows that Gerard doesn’t really do interviews, rarely takes part in events, is often referred to as a hermit and a mystery because of his elusive and secretive nature and Frank can’t help the small thrill that goes straight down his spine at what he’s about to do, what he’s often dreamed of doing. Gerard is one of Frank’s favorite authors and he’s suddenly inexplicably grateful, albeit still confused, to his editor and whatever interview gods decided to grant him this.
He’s still looking around the room when someone sits across from him, sighing heavily as they drop themselves into the plush chair. His eyes dart up immediately, widening at the sight of the man before him; hair a vivid unnatural red instead of the black he’d expected, a loose black shirt and leather jacket, despite the summer temperature and being inside, accompanied by the tightest black jeans Frank can remember seeing since college. The smirk that curls across the face of the man slouched before him makes the resemblance to his brother suddenly obvious.
“Mr. Way.” Frank can hear the slight awe in his voice, the way his eyes are still taking up too much space in his face.
“Mr. Iero.” There’s a bite of laughter in his voice, eyes dancing within his pale face and Frank can’t help the twinge deep in his gut; Gerard is much prettier in person, appealing in a way that’s making Frank squirm in his seat under Gerard’s gaze.
“I um…thanks for doing this interview Mr. Way.” His fingers waver in empty space momentarily before grasping onto the clasp of his bag, pulling out his notebook and pencil, flipping through the pages until he finds the questions he’d jotted down the day before. His hands shake as he takes a deep breath to calm himself down. When he looks back up Gerard is still slouched in his seat, observing Frank with that smirk firmly in place, his own hands gracefully lighting a cigarette that he’s placed between his lips, inhaling deliberately before inclining his head in Frank’s direction.
Frank clears his throat again, jabbing his pencil a bit manically against the page before spewing out his first question in a rush.
“What uh-inspired you to write your latest piece, The Umbrella Academy?” He forces the pencil into paper, doing his best to assuage the tremble that seems determined to persist; the tip breaks off under the pressure, skidding across the page, leaving a smear of lead before there’s a resounding crack that leaves Frank with his pencil in three pieces, his cheeks burning and his lips parted in shock.
Chancing a look up he watches as Gerard exhales smoke easily, one eyebrow lifted in question or perhaps mockery and Frank can feel his whole face going up in flames; his throat feels tight with the embarrassment, his fingers scratching nervously at his neck before he tries desperately to swallow down the constriction.
Mikey ghosts soundlessly back in the room, hands Frank the glass of water he’d requested and a pencil, mutters something about a phone call before he pauses at the door, expressing something Frank can’t decipher to Gerard using just his eyebrows before he’s swept out of the room as though he’d never re-entered.
Frank wants to shake himself, wants to run out of the room and turn back time but he resigns himself to that impossibility, at least at the moment and instead turns his attention back to the man before him who still hasn’t said more than two words since he appeared. Frank keeps his eyes locked on him, pencil poised much more delicately.
Gerard smokes the remainder of his cigarette, in no apparent rush, languidly crushing the filter before crossing his legs and fitting himself even deeper into the chair, fingers pulling on his bottom lip.
“I’d had the idea for a long time, you know? It came in pieces, over a few years. First the characters and then the story.” He looks contemplative for a moment before continuing and Frank’s jotting down the words as quickly as he can. “Mikey and I always wanted to be superheroes when we were growing up…” Frank nods, encouraging him to continue but he appears finished for the moment, lighting up another cigarette.
“Ok, so what made you want to become a writer?” Frank knows it’s a generic question, hadn’t even wanted to include the question but his editor had insisted, saying, “The people want to know this sort of thing Iero.”
Gerard looks disappointed in the question, forehead creasing momentarily before seeming acquiescent. “I was always creating; drawing, painting, writing. I never understood why I needed to choose, so I didn’t. I like the freedom of putting something I created out there.” Frank has to write quickly having been staring at Gerard as he spoke, transfixed by the way he spoke out of the corner of his mouth, hands gesturing to encompass his feelings more clearly.
Frank knows that the next few questions could get him into some trouble, he hadn’t bothered revealing them to his editor, sure they would be nixed and yet, there’s a part of him that says that he’s going to get more out of Gerard if he ventures outside the box.
“How do you respond to negative criticism and press?” At the slight quirk of Gerard’s brow Frank continues on as bravely as he can. “Despite your books, and your art, selling extremely well the critics seem to love condemning you and your work…how does that make you feel?” Frank can feel his heart beating wildly in his chest, eyes riveted on the man before him in nervous anticipation.
“How would you respond?” Frank sputters in confusion but Gerard eyes him curiously, head tilted in his own expectation.
“I – well, I guess…” He takes a moment to seriously consider the question, eager to offer Gerard something that he might approve of, oblivious of the way Gerard’s staring at his lips wrapped around the end of the pencil in contemplation. “I think I’d probably try my best to ignore it, not let it affect my work and the way I lived or created.” He twists his own lips up into a small smile, “I’d try to surround myself with people who I could trust and that support and love me and tell everyone else to go fuck themselves.”
Gerard’s laughter is sudden and loud and honking and Frank’s in love with it, desperate to incite it again. Smiling widely Frank can see all of Gerard’s tiny teeth, bright white and childlike and that stirring is erupting in Frank’s stomach again, swirling and building.
“That’s a good answer Mr. Iero. What’s your next question?” Trying to ignore the fact that Gerard hadn’t actually answered Frank’s question, he moves forwards feeling both delighted and uneasy.
“What do you consider to be your biggest failure?” Gerard’s smile disappears immediately, pressing back into the chair as his arms fold across his chest, eyes narrowed. Frank swallows feeling his hands shaking once again. “I’m sorry…that was inappropriate of me to ask. I’m sorry.” Gerard’s still looking strangely at him but Frank’s too busy imagining how he’s going to talk his way into keeping his job after Gerard calls his editor to demand they fire him.
“Is this your first interview Mr. Iero?” Frank doesn’t bother making eye contact, keeping his gaze affixed on his shoes as he nods minutely, embarrassed yet again. Gerard hums softly across from him. “I don’t like interviews.” Frank looks up, surprised at the admission, though it’s not information that he’s unaware of. Gerard smiles crookedly, “I hate people prodding into my personal life.” Frank opens his mouth to apologize again before Gerard raises his hand to stop him. “You’re doing your job and I’m making it difficult for you. Hardly fair.” Frank can’t help the smile creeping onto his face.
“Why’d you agree to this interview Mr. Way?” Gerard laughs a bit, quieter and more subdued than before.
“Call me Gerard.” Frank nods. “I didn’t agree to it…I asked Mikey to arrange it.” Frank feels lost as he tries to process this information, tries to align what he knows of the author with this new admission.
“I don’t understand,” Frank admits. “If you don’t like being interviewed, why would you ask for one?” Gerard’s blush is both unexpected and strangely attractive and Frank can feel the thrilling in his belly again.
“I read your article, the opinion piece about art and music and personal expression. You were so passionate and honest…I asked Mikey to make the call and ask for the interview, but only if they’d send you.” Gerard is grinning at him again, wide and toothy and Frank can’t help the blush that’s once again covering his cheeks or the smile that’s pulling his lips upwards as he ducks his head, hiding beneath his hair for a moment, muttering a thanks.
“Plus, I may or may not have looked you up and found your picture, which, I mean, since I’m being honest here, seemed like even more incentive to invite you here.” Frank swallows hard against the slight insinuation but Gerard seems content to continue as though he’s merely talking about the weather. “I wasn’t sure before I met you, I mean, it’s not easy to read someone’s sexual preferences with a simple employee picture and an unrelated article, but when you started this interview, well, I had a pretty good idea and I’m rarely wrong about these sorts of things.” He winks at Frank then, all twinkling golden eyes and devious smiles and Frank knows he’s way too far-gone for a man he just met almost an hour ago.
Frank tries his best to concentrate on his last couple questions after the admission, his hands twitching and unable to stay still long enough to jot down anything legible, his face flushed the entire time; he can feel Gerard’s eyes fixed on him, the way they never quite leave his face but Frank can feel the searing gaze all over his body as he wraps the interview up.
“Thanks…” Frank doesn’t want the interview to end, doesn’t want to walk out those doors and perhaps never see this man again because he’s made this grand admission and Frank’s still sitting in his chair like some idiot, missing his chance, instead of pressed up against him.
Rising from his seat Frank gathers all of his papers and the broken pieces of his forlorn pencil, replacing the borrowed one onto the table before swinging the bag over his shoulder and glancing up from under his hair at the author; Gerard’s looking disappointed again, the slight furrow of his brow evident on his pale skin, the slight downturn and purse of his pink lips. When he catches Frank looking he quickly schools his features back into that of a professional, lips stretched tight in an unconvincing smile before he gestures to the door and Frank feels like his stomach is bottoming out as he shuffles forwards.
“I hope you got what you wanted Mr. Iero.” Gerard’s hands reach for the door, and Frank frantically thinks ‘I want you!’ before he spins on his heel to face Gerard and they’re too close, breath fanning over each others face but neither of them are backing away, staring into each others eyes for a moment too long.
“You were right Gerard.” Frank’s own admission is lost as he crashes his lips against those of the taller man, swallowing up his surprise as their lips scrabble for a moment and then Gerard’s licking into the younger man’s mouth, desperate to taste and explore.
They’re both trying their bests to keep themselves in control; Frank’s trying to keep his hands relaxed and twined gently into the back of Gerard’s bright disheveled hair, trying to resist the desire to roam and touch everything he can reach but he feels like he might be gripping the hair just this side of too tight if the moan that slips from Gerard’s lips is any indication. Gerard himself is quickly losing the battle to keep his hands firmly stationed at Frank’s waist, unpresuming, but the way that Frank keeps shifting infinitesimally has his long fingers twitching to grab hold of the younger man tighter, to press them together and perhaps never let go.
Gerard pulls himself back after what seems like an eternity and nothing at all, gazing with a small smile at the boy before him who’s breathing heavily, eyes blown wide and lips bruised and Gerard can’t help thinking that Frank must be the prettiest boy he’s ever laid eyes on.
Smirking once again, Gerard steps back from Frank. “I’ll be requesting that only you interview me, Mr. Iero.” Frank’s answering smile is brilliant, all bright white teeth and big eyes.