It happens like this:
Mikey calls Gerard at noon on Wednesday. At 12:30, Gerard buys a plane ticket to LA.
"I swear to god," says Mikey, sounding harassed, not even waiting for Gerard to say hello. "If I thought there would be more assholes at label events here than in Jersey, I would never have taken this job."
"I don't know why you took this job," Gerard mumbles through a mouthful of pop-tart. "You don't know anyone in LA and now you're a six-hour torture flight away and I don't have anyone to watch movies with."
"Fuck off," said Mikey. "You know why."
Gerard swallows the pop-tart and tries not to feel guilty. Mikey took the job now so he wouldn't be stuck in Jersey later, when Gerard inevitably moved. "Sorry."
Mikey breathed out impatiently. "Why are you three hours ahead of me and still barely functioning? Don't you have deadlines?"
"I submitted the script yesterday," says Gerard with pride. "Well. Today. It was a few hours ago, I think? I'm not sure."
Mikey's voice softens. "Hey, awesome."
"Thanks." Gerard scratches his head and gulps down the rest of his coffee. "Mikes, I have meetings all day. What's up?"
Mikey sighs gloomily. "There's a label event on Saturday. I need a date. Like you said, I don't know anyone here - yet, I don't know anyone here yet - and you have to come and be my date."
"I have to come and be your date because you don't know anyone? I know you just moved there, but dude, everyone likes you. I'm pretty sure you could find someone local."
"I'm flattered, but between moving and the job I've only met industry people and talent, and they're all going to be there in a non-date capacity. I also met a Starbucks barista, but I'm pretty sure asking her out would be creepy."
"So you need me."
Gerard takes a deep breath and gears up for more questions, but Mikey interrupts. "Look, Gee, it doesn't have to be weird. You'll refill my fucking drinks, we'll hang out, and I'll drive you to the airport."
"Mikey..." says Gerard. He's pretty sure he has meetings on Saturday too. He definitely has plans, and work to do.
"Please?" Mikey's voice breaks. "It's fucking weird being here all alone. I had to get the super to help me get the goddamn SVELVIK into the elevator, and I haven't even put it together yet."
Gerard presses his lips together and pulls up Kayak on the laptop.
* * *
Gerard gets to LA very late Friday night. Mikey meets him in the pick-up lane and hugs him tightly until the drivers behind them honk angrily. Gerard doesn't want to let go even then.
Mikey's apartment isn't completely bare - "I got some stuff delivered," Mikey explains - but the only things in the bedroom are a mattress lying crooked on the floor and a stack of flat IKEA boxes that all say SVELVIK on the side. Gerard gets on all fours and turns his head. The picture is cute.
They crash on the mattress. Gerard wraps his arms around Mikey because his eyes look a little red. They put the SVELVIK together on Saturday morning and hoist the mattress, sheets and pillows and all, onto it.
The room is large, and when Gerard drops the allen wrench on the floor, the noise echoes. The bed stands in the middle of the room, inviting, and they nap in it.
* * *
"We didn't think this through," says Gerard, getting out of Mikey's company BMW. He eyes his reflection in the mirrored windows and adjusts his tie. He looks good. "Nobody knows me here now, but when I move here they'll remember."
Mikey shrugs. His jacket pulls across his shoulders and Gerard grasps it by the lapels, adjusting it so it sits better. "So we won't say who you are now. Or tell them later that we were joking. Who cares."
The label shindig is at a club, a fancy one with couches lining the walls and hidden corners for couples and about a million kinds of alcohol. Gerard's teeth hurt just looking at it.
There are people everywhere, label suits and musicians, and the dimness of the club makes it hard to make out how many of them there are. It feels like a sea of people, like there's an unending supply of them coming out of the darkness. Gerard tenses up for a second until Mikey whispers, "Pretend this is a comics gig. Same thing, okay?"
Gerard straightens his shoulders and Mikey leads him lightly by the elbow to some important-looking guy. He doesn't know how Mikey can see anyone in this light, but he knows how to do this.
Mikey introduces him to everyone as "and this is Gerard," carefully adding neither "my brother" nor "my boyfriend." Gerard feels confused, kind of knocked off-balance. There's champagne everywhere. Gerard tries not to look at the waiters with trays full of the pretty flutes, because even though he drinks occasionally now, it's not in this kind of situation, with unlimited booze and people he'll never see again.
Gerard's not contributing much to the chitchat, and, honestly, kind of falling down on the job of being Mikey's date. He's still jetlagged, too, and they'd been running late and hadn't had time to stop for coffee. He's tagging along behind Mikey from suit to cocktail dress to suit, waking up briefly in the moments when they're talking to someone actually cool.
He looks closely at Mikey. Mikey looks both nervous and not, like it's not quite his scene but like it could be and like he knows the rules. He's not drinking either, but he's pretending to. His iced water is fizzy and garnished with lime and a stick like it's vodka or a G&T.
Mikey takes the last sip in the middle of telling a story about Eyeball to a group of men in suits and women in little black dresses, and glances sideways at Gerard. Feeling kind of dumb, Gerard asks, "Refill?"
It’s not convincing, and Mikey glares at him as he hands over his glass. No one can probably tell, but Gerard can. "Please."
Gerard hurries away to the bar and quietly orders another club soda, glancing sideways to make sure he's not overheard.
When he gets back, Mikey's eyebrows are saying, "try harder," and Gerard touches Mikey's waist and says, "Here you go. Baby." The ice clinks, oddly loud in the din of the room, and the condensation-slick glass almost slips through his fingers.
"Thanks, honey," says Mikey dryly, and Gerard's heartbeat moves from someplace wrong in his chest back into his heart.
Gerard leans in and kisses his cheek. "Sure thing."
Point made, he turns and swans off in the direction of a cool-looking woman with red lipstick and a full sleeve he met three rotations around the club ago. She's a comics nerd, and the next thing Gerard knows, it's forty-five minutes later, Mikey's nowhere to be found, and he desperately needs to pee.
The hot comics nerd slips him her card, and if Gerard could, he'd be whistling at the urinal. When he comes out of the bathroom, Mikey's there, between the wall and some sleazy-looking type. The type isn't doing anything but standing too close, looking expectant like he's waiting for a reply, and Mikey is quiet and strained.
Gerard wants to punch the douchebag in his fucking face, but he's an adult and doesn't do that anymore, so he says, "Baby!" really loudly and shoulders in when the guy steps back in surprise.
Gerard glares at him and tugs on Mikey's lapel. Mikey stumbles away from the wall and the guy and falls awkwardly against Gerard's chest. He's really warm. Gerard feels himself flush. It's fucking ridiculous. Mikey moving away fucked everything up in Gerard's brain.
"There you are, baby," says Mikey, eyeing the guy, who's still kind of staring. Gerard helps Mikey regain his balance, but Mikey doesn't try to move back, and they end up clutching each other awkwardly there in the restroom corridor with the water fountain digging into Gerard's side and Mikey's breath hot against his cheek.
* * *
The ride back home is quiet. Mikey drives. Gerard pulls his visor down and stares into his own eyes in the mirror, trying to figure out what's happening.
Mikey throws the car into park when they reach his building. It's 3am and even in LA no one's around to see them.
Gerard puts the visor up and looks straight ahead.
"I didn't say anything to them that can't be taken back," Mikey says after a while.
"Did I do anything that can't be taken back?" asks Gerard quietly.
"You only did what I asked you to."
"I just. Mikey." Gerard's heart is beating funny again, and the car feels stuffy.
Mikey covers Gerard's hand with his and Gerard freezes. "I'm saying that it's up to you."
Gerard bites his lip and gets out of the car. Mikey's face falls, but Gerard walks around the car to Mikey's door and opens it for him, stretching out his hand until Mikey gets with the program and puts his hand in Gerard's, letting Gerard help him out of the car.
Gerard keeps a guiding hand on Mikey's waist across the parking lot and opens the door for him. He lets him into the elevator first and keeps his hands to himself, clenching them behind his back.
Mikey unlocks the door to his apartment and stands back, letting Gerard hold this door open for him too. He's not wearing a jacket, but Gerard steps up behind him, close enough to smell his hair gel, and runs his hands down the Mikey's arms in his suit jacket.
"Can I help you take that off?" asks Gerard softly.
Mikey shivers and nods almost imperceptibly and undoes the button, shrugging the jacket off and letting Gerard catch it. He turns around, looking at Gerard with dark, inscrutable eyes. Gerard has decades of experience reading Mikey's face, but he can't believe what he's seeing in it now.
Mikey backs into the bedroom, not taking his eyes off Gerard's, unbuttoning his shirt on the way, and Gerard drapes Mikey's jacket over a box and follows him helplessly.
Mikey leaves a trail of clothes on his way to the bed. Gerard trips over the SVELVIK boxes trying to toe off his socks and not lose a single glimpse of Mikey, naked and leaning back against the pillows. Mikey laughs at him brightly and Gerard suddenly feels lighter, like it's going to be okay in the morning even if he gets on that bed and covers Mikey's naked body with his own.
Mikey looks at him and blinks slowly, his hand dropping to his cock, and Gerard crawls onto the mattress.