"Ray," Gerard said, scratching his stomach. "I want to be in love."
Ray didn't look up from the neck of his guitar. Dude was more into chord phrasings than anyone Gerard had met before, and that was counting all of Mikey's contacts in the scene.
"I heard you. But you won't be falling in love with this song until I get this right."
"I don't mean band love. I mean person love." He'd been giving this some thought, between lyric writing and the zombie sketches he scribbled when he wanted to get a little high on marker fumes. "I want to make shitty mix tapes and play them on boom boxes, you know? Dedicate songs at shows. Get the best bouquet of carnations I can afford. That crap."
Ray finally blinked up, pushing his sweaty 'fro out of his face. "Then why don't you go out? We don't have to be chained to these demos."
Gerard sat up. Ray hadn't said anything like that since they'd started writing together. It was the opposite, really. "Shit. Are you drinking fluids, dude?"
Ray kicked out with a foot. "Fine. After we get these done. Then we'll hit all the parties."
Parties weren't what Gerard had in mind. But it was the best any of them could do right now, so he sighed and nodded, settling back into the sofa. It was going to be another long night.
The crowd was shoving, and Gerard was shoving back. Mostly because he didn't have a choice. He was usually into pits, at least a little bit, but tonight, it was more annoying than anything. He didn't even have the demos as an excuse to run off. He'd promised Mikey he'd come out since they had three minted songs to pass around, so here he was.
Except that Mikey got approached by some hot, androgynous scene kid not three songs into the second band's set, and they went off, hands in each other's pockets. Gerard was on the opposite side of the room and too penned in to get out without a decent fight, and he just wasn't in the mood for that. He was close to the beer, so it wasn't a total loss, but still. The band playing sucked, Mikey sucked, and Gerard's life sucked.
He was rebuilding his tower of crushed red Solo cups for the eighth time when another asshole bumped into him, and it scattered into the crowd. "Motherfucker! What the fuck is your goddamn..."
"Sorry! Sorry, there's no room."
Right. Gerard knew that hair anywhere. Or he would, if the pills hadn't made his eyes blurry. "Toro. Shit. Sorry."
"You wanna get out of here?"
Gerard waved a hand, and he wasn't sure what he meant by it, but apparently Ray took it as a yes. He slung an arm around Gerard's shoulders, and the crowd mostly parted for him like he was a fucking punk Moses or some shit.
"Fuck you and your fucking magical..." Gerard cut off as he got an elbow to the stomach. Ray shoved the asshole back and pulled Gerard to the stairs.
The night air was...something. Gerard was sweating, and he couldn't tell if it was cold enough to see his breath. Ray wasn't wearing a huge coat, so it probably wasn't winter. At least he wouldn't get frostbite before they played another show.
Ray propped Gerard against the wall and lifted his shirt. He ignored Gerard's flopping hands, probably because they made it nowhere near his arms.
"You don't look bruised yet." Ray touched his stomach. "This hurt?"
"Feelin' no pain."
Ray sighed. "Of course not. Come on, my car's about a block out."
He braced Gerard most of the way there, which was good because Gerard didn't have the balance to say upright. He ended crawling the last couple feet because Ray was trying to dig his keys out of his pocket, but at least he couldn't really feel the gravel under his palms. Tonight, at least.
"You okay?" Ray asked, frowning down at where Gerard was half-slumped against the car.
Gerard shook his head. That was a mistake. The road spun around him, and he waited for it to balance somewhat before saying, "Mikey left. Mikey gets t'be in love."
"Don't think that's love, man." Ray helped Gerard to his feet again so he could open the door and get him inside. "Move your foot. It's caught in the seat belt."
Gerard did his best, and judging by the way Ray hauled him up, it was enough. He settled into the car seat, leaning against the head rest. The upholstery felt good on his cheek. "Everyone loves Mikey. N'one loves me."
Later, he thought he remembered feeling Ray's hand patting his arm, but he passed out a few seconds after. It seemed like something Ray would do, anyway.
Frank was hanging out with Mikey on the couch in the living room again. His dreds still sucked, but he seemed a little cleaner and not as herbal as usual. Not that Gerard could talk. He was definitely past a week since his last shower, and he was a few hours into his latest hangover.
"The demos sound great!" Frank beamed as he waved to Gerard. "Your voice is fucking unreal."
By accident, Gerard stepped into one of the few beams of sunlight in the room. Big mistake. He winced, putting a hand over his eyes.
"There's coffee in the kitchen," Mikey said.
Gerard immediately regretted every mean thought he'd ever had about Mikey. Clearly, he was the best brother ever.
Except, when Gerard lowered his hand again - he always banged up his legs if he tried to walk around without seeing - Mikey was enthusiastically sticking his tongue down Frank's throat. That was bad enough, but Frank was cradling Mikey's head like it was the greatest thing he'd ever touched. Like it was precious.
Gerard sighed and went for the kitchen. And he made a mental note to tell Ray just how wrong he was about Mikey being in love.
"Can I, uh. Can I play you something?"
Gerard flopped his hand around. He was very busy staring at the ceiling of the basement. Such things couldn't be interrupted.
Except that Ray started playing - Gerard hadn't noticed him lugging a guitar and amp through the crap on the floor, but it wouldn't be the first time Toro managed to sneak it in - and it was different. Not anything metal, not anything punk. It was more classic, almost with a Spanish sound to it. Gerard couldn't tell if it was supposed to be a melody or an instrumental, but it was something. Something that would probably sound better on an acoustic guitar, but definitely something.
Ray stopped playing after about a minute. Gerard sat up and gaped at Ray when he finished. "What was that?"
"That was." Ray's cheeks were so flushed, it looked kind of painful. "Me wooing you? If you don't mind. If you do, it was just me playing around, and we can put it on the album if..."
Gerard squeaked. Then he lunged forward and kissed Ray, ignoring the way the strings of Ray's guitar dug into his stomach. Ray made a similar kind of noise and kissed back. He had really good lips for kissing.
He made himself pull back quickly. There were other things to do. "My turn."
But Gerard pushed him up the stairs and closed the door behind him without another word. Or another kiss. It was sad, but necessary.
He had work to do.
"What're you doing?"
Gerard scoffed quietly. His desk might be messy, but even Mikey could tell when Gerard was drawing.
"Ray's waiting upstairs? He was wondering if he could get his guitar back."
That was enough to get Gerard to tear his eyes away. "Oh. Can you take it up to him?"
Mikey rolled his eyes, but Gerard could tell he would do it. "You're smudging your paper."
Gerard lifted his hand away quickly. "Shit."
Mikey saluted and grabbed Ray's amp.
Gerard rocked back and forth on his heels and hit Ray's doorbell again. He didn't think it would take Ray this long to answer. Maybe he should have gone the boom box route after all.
But Ray finally opened the door, looking out through his screen with blurry eyes. "Dude. You know what time it is?"
"Uh." It was nighttime. Which meant Gerard was up. He was up even when he had work. "No."
Ray sighed and opened the screen door. "My parents are gonna kill me if they wake up."
Gerard flushed. But he shoved the paper in his hands in Ray's direction. "I just finished."
That wasn't entirely true. Gerard had finished five other versions of the drawing over the past two days, but none of them had been good enough. That wasn't counting the version that had been nearly perfect except for the huge coffee stain on it. It did count the version Gerard had fallen asleep upon. He still had a red mark on his cheek from the marker that wouldn't entirely wash off.
Ray blinked down at the drawing. Gerard held his breath.
And then Ray grinned, the smile spreading slowly. "We're vampires?"
"Vampires in love," Gerard said, pointing at the hearts floating above them. "Although I just woke you up, so I guess I'm the only vampire here."
Ray very carefully set the drawing on the table beside him, and then he fisted his hand in Gerard's shirt and pulled him in for a kiss. It was just as good as the one in the basement, even with Ray's sleep breath. Gerard probably still tasted like booze, although it had been a couple days since he'd had anything. He couldn't judge.
They only pulled apart when Ray tipped his head around to yawn. When he was done, he asked, "Can you woo me when I'm awake for it?"
"Maybe." Gerard grinned.
Ray pecked his lips one more time before going back inside.
Gerard showed up during daylight hours with a box of donuts and a steaming cup of coffee in his hand. Ray grinned and stepped outside.
"You wanna go to the practice space?" Ray asked. "We can try those lyrics you had the other day."
He held out his hand, and Gerard beamed.
"Absolutely," he said as he laced his fingers with Ray.
Neither of them let go the entire way there.