Frank's arms are bleeding, covered with criss-crossed scratches from the thorns, but there's a feeling of satisfaction as he reclaims each rose bush. Exposing buds that have continue to grow despite the choking weeds.
Dropping a limp vine onto the pile next to him, he wipes his arm across his forehead and pushes back the hair that's falling forward into his eyes.
"You should get that cut."
Frank looks over at Bob. He's crouching in the middle of an old pond, grimacing as he pulls out a fetid mixture of old leaves and slime from the top of a dolphin fountain that's awesome in its hideousness. Frank doesn't envy him the job. Though the water looks cool, it's also green and covered with algae. Already Bob's t-shirt is soaked up to his chest, and his arms are covered in green spots.
"My hair is perfect, thank you very much," Frank says, and he shakes his head so he can see strands fly past his eyes. Though admittedly, it is very pink right now, which is everything to do with the stupid colour he picked, and not the fact he got distracted while making out with Mikey at all.
"You look like Gardening Barbie, all you need is the chest."
Frank stands, indicates his body with a swipe of his hand. His jeans covered in hand-drawn flowers, his skull painted boots and pale blue t-shirt, Mikey written across the chest. "Like Barbie could pull this off."
"Are you suggesting you can?" Bob looks at Frank, his mouth curled into a hint of a smile. "Because you look like you've survived an explosion in a paint factory."
"I look awesome," Frank says grandly, and he pulls off his gloves before sitting down on the grass. Bending his legs, he rests his chin on his knees, and looks at Bob for a long moment. "There's a flower festival this weekend. I was thinking about taking Mikey."
Still fishing debris out of the dolphin's open mouth, Bob scowls a little as he stares across at Frank. "What did I tell you?"
"No more details. No more talk about how soft Mikey's mouth is, how he's got the best smile, how he's the prettiest boy in the world…."
"One more word…" Bob holds up a handful of green slime and Frank grins right back at him, because baiting Bob has to be one of his most favourite things in the world.
"Stopping now." Frank mimes zipping his own lips, then unzips them again as soon as Bob throws the slime into the open trash bag at the side of the pond. "I do want to go though, I could get some ideas while I'm there, the displays are supposed to be great and I could buy seeds."
"You know, it's okay to go just because you want to take Mikey somewhere," Bob points out, and uses the hem of his t-shirt to wipe at his face.
"I know," Frank says, and he does know. Except the times they do manage to be together they go to the movies or hang out with Gerard. Going to the flower festival is none of those. It seems more formal somehow and while Frank desperately wants to go, he's nervous about asking too. "What if he doesn't want to go?"
"Mikey would watch paint dry if you asked," Bob says. "He would just sit next to you and stare at the wall; you both would because you're both idiots. So take him already."
Frank grins. "You're a good agony uncle. I'll leave him a note tonight."
"You do realise that phones exist, and that Gerard will be in," Bob says slowly, looking satisfied when he peers into the dolphin's mouth. He begins to wade out of the pond, the water rippling around his knees.
"I do, and I'll be going to see Gerard anyway," Frank says, and he can feel his cheeks heat as he looks at the grass. "The notes are a thing."
"A thing? Right."
Frank looks up, sees Bob looking amused as he steps onto the grass, one leg on the ground, the other still in the water. It's the perfect opportunity. Frank springs to his feet, charges, and ends up flying through the air when Bob steps smartly to the side.
Resigned, Frank relaxes as he hits the water, bubbles tickling past his head as he strikes bottom, then pushes back up, ending up sitting chest deep and surrounded by slime. Picking a string of clinging green off his face, he shakes his head and looks at Bob. "You suck!"
"And you're all wet," Bob says, and takes a step back when Ray appears around the side of the house, pushing a wheelbarrow filled with a motor for the fountain and an assortment of plants.
"One time. One time I'd like to take a job that involves water and have no one fall in." Ray sets the wheelbarrow down and stares at the pond, but his mouth is already curling into a smile. "Is there a reason you're in there?"
"Yeah," Frank says. "Bob sucks."
"If you say so," Ray says, giving into laughter. "You may as well finish cleaning the pond, being as you're in there anyway. Bob, you can finish the rose bushes."
Bob strips off his t-shirt and begins to wring it between his hands. "That's fine."
Frank shrugs, while the pond smells and the green really doesn't match his hair, he doesn't mind cleaning it out, especially when he needs a favour. "Ray," he says, and plasters on his best smile. "Can I use the van on Sunday?"
"Oh, hell no," Ray says immediately. "I told you, no solo driving until you've passed your test."
Which is what Frank expected, still, it was worth a try.
"Is there a reason you want it?" Ray asks.
Frank shrugs, making water ripple around his arms. "I was going to take Mikey to the Flower Festival. I thought it would be fun." Ray looks uncertain, and Frank understands. Mikey really isn't cut out for gardening, or the sun, or for wandering around looking at displays. Seeing Ray's doubts just amplifies Frank's own and he sighs and turns in the water, pushing himself up onto his knees. "It doesn't matter."
"Give me strength," Bob growls, and pulls on his damp t-shirt. "Last time we were at the Ways Mikey sat and watched you plant for almost two hours then shared his coffee with you. What more do you want?"
Ray shudders "I picked his coffee up once and his glare could have brought on the next ice age."
"Exactly," Bob says, and pulls on Frank's discarded gloves, frowning at the bones painted along the top.
"So I should ask?" Frank stands, water dripping down his back and face as he looks between Ray and Bob, seeking reassurance. Which is ridiculous he knows, because normally he has no self-doubts at all. It's just, this is Mikey.
Bob picks up a pair of secateurs and brandishes them threateningly in Frank's direction. "Yes, you moron, ask him, and if you mention it again I'm going to drown you."
It's a threat Frank takes seriously, but he can't help his grin, because Bob's right. Mikey did watch him plant, and did share his coffee, and that has to mean something. "I'm going to ask him."
"Good," Ray says, while looking resigned. "What time do you want to go?"
"You're the best!" Frank jumps up, water flinging everywhere as he climbs onto the grass, paying no heed to Ray's frantic back peddling, just grabbing him in a tight hug and not letting go.
Carefully, key scratching against the lock, Mikey lets himself into the house. Dropping his bag to the floor, he clicks on the light, then jumps back when he sees Gerard sitting at the table, an open sketch book in front of him and his pens scattered across the page.
Gerard looks tired, his eyes shadowed and half hidden by his hair as he sits with his chin propped on his fist. Mikey doesn't ask if he's okay, that answer is still only varying degrees of no.
It takes moments to see that the dishes are washed, the garbage bagged, and there's a plant sitting on the windowsill. It's in a black painted pot, one circled with grinning skeletons dancing on a sea of flowers, and while it's not to a Gerard standard of art, Mikey can see Frank's hand in every touch.
"Ray says it's a Chinese Evergreen, all I have to do is make sure I don't over water it."
Mikey reaches out his hand and runs his fingers gently over a green leaf.
"He also said it's an air purifier. I think he was trying to tell me something." Gerard smiles then, a slight quirk of his lips.
Mikey picks up a glass and fills it with water. He takes a drink, long practiced in the processes that help ward off hangovers the next day. "Did they stay long?"
"Not really," Gerard says, and he pushes listlessly at one of the pens on the paper, making it spin. "I was tired."
"Yeah," Mikey says softly, because Gerard's always tired, craving sleep that continually eludes him. It makes Mikey tired too, exhaustion ever present as he helps Gerard through the insomnia or the other multiple side effects he battles each day. Still, at least the exhaustion helps dull how helpless he feels.
"Frank said… Well he said lots of things, but he left you something, under the unicorn."
Mikey stares at Gerard and deliberately doesn't make for the door.
"Just go already." Gerard shakes his head, but he's smiling for real now. "I know you want to."
Which is true, but Mikey likes to think he retains a little bit of cool as he casually places the glass in the sink and walks to the door. Then runs the last few feet when he steps outside. Bending, he carefully picks up the unicorn; a scrap of blue ribbon still tied around its foot, and picks up the piece of paper that's lying underneath.
Mikey squints trying to read, but it's too dark outside. He carefully replaces the unicorn and goes back inside.
"What is it?" Gerard asks, and the interest is so surprisingly obviously genuine that Mikey goes to the table and crouches at Gerard's side. So close their arms touch, Mikey places the note on the table.
It's an invitation, Frank wanting to take Mikey to some flower festival. A carefully drawn flower for the 'a' in Frank's name and a reassurance that Bob can stay with Gerard and Ray will drive them in the van.
"It sounds nice," Gerard says, and he rubs at his eyes and then presses his hands hard against the table top.
Mikey can still see the tremors, and he stands, resting his hand on Gerard's shoulder. "Come on, it's time for bed." Not sleep, just bed, because Mikey knows Gerard will catch a few hours at best. It's been the pattern for the last week. He waits as Gerard stands, so slow, movements uncertain, and Mikey holds on, stays close as they walk downstairs.
It takes moments for Mikey to unbuckle his boots and kick them to one side. He leaves on his jeans and his t-shirt, because it's cool down here and when Gerard's lying in bed, eyes wide open as he stares into the darkness, Mikey takes off his glasses, crawls onto the bed and curls against Gerard's side.
"You should have seen the band tonight, the lead singer was terrible," Mikey says as he looks into the darkness too, feeling Gerard's breathe. "He was hot though, kind of had a Bowie thing going on."
"Mikey," Gerard says suddenly, and he's lying still, not moving at all. "You should go."
Mikey can think of multiple reasons to say no, but despite the worry, the guilt, there's one overwhelming reason to say yes. Still looking up, he says softly, "I'm falling for him… have fallen for him."
"And?" Gerard prompts, when Mikey says no more.
"And I guess I'm scared." It's an admission that's meant for darkness, Gerard's hand closing over Mikey's own. "He's so happy, and I'm just; not."
Gerard squeezes Mikey's fingers. "You can be happy, Frank will make you happy."
He sounds just this side of frantic, and Mikey turns, looks at Gerard's face which is little more than a fuzzy pale shape in the dark. "He'll try."
"Yeah, he will," Gerard says, sounding sure, and Mikey shares that confidence. Because he knows even if he's not happy himself, Frank will always have some to share; it's one of the things Mikey loves the most.
"I'm going to go," Mikey says.
Gerard squeezes his hand again and says, "good."
Franks runs his hand down his shirt after he steps out of the van. His hair is freshly dyed with a sweep of green and he's wearing his sneakers with the skulls, carefully pressed jeans and a green t-shirt, this one with two self-drawn entwined flowers above his heart. Which admittedly, is sappy, but Frank doesn't care, because he's been looking forward to this since he'd found Mikey's note. Plain white paper, musical notes and a scrawled 'yes'.
"Will you go in already?" Bob presses his hand against Frank's back, pushing him toward the door. When they move Frank can smell the doughnuts Bob is carrying, an assortment of kinds, all arranged carefully in a ribbon tied box. Frank knows, because despite Frank's urging to hurry up, Bob had spent almost ten minutes picking them out.
"I'm going," Frank protests, and then stops dead, patting at his pockets. "Did I remember my wallet?"
"How would I know?" Bob pushes Frank again, harder this time. "The festival will be over if you don't hurry up."
As if they're a tag team for punctuality, Ray rolls down the window of the van and rests his arm along the edge of the door. "If we don't go soon traffic will be a bitch."
"Okay, okay," Frank says, because Ray's right, he's also doing them a huge favour, especially as he's not actually staying at the festival, just dropping them off and coming back for them later. Not that Frank would have minded if he had stayed – much.
Giving the unicorn a look as he passes, Frank knocks on the door. Both Mikey and Gerard have told him to just come in without knocking, but it doesn't seem right, not yet. Not without knowing what's happening on the other side of the door. Because Frank likes Gerard, a lot, but he always worries about doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong words. He's not Bob, or Ray, or especially not Mikey, so Frank knocks and hopes one day he'll be confident enough to just walk inside, able to face any situation he finds.
"You could just walk in you know." Gerard's already talking when he lets Frank in, giving him a flash of a small smile before going to the sink. When he looks, Frank sees that Gerard is carefully pouring water out of a mug onto the plant, pressing his finger tips against the soil to guess the amount.
"It's looking good." Bob stands between Frank and Gerard. Reaching out, he runs his fingers over a leaf and nods approvingly. "You've been taking care of it."
"I don't want it to die," Gerard says, and he puts down the mug and looks at Bob. "I make sure I water it every day."
Bob nods again, rests his hand briefly against Gerard's arm. "I brought doughnuts for breakfast." He looks at Gerard then, considering. "You look tired."
"I am," Gerard says, and he screws up his face as he leans against the sink. "I've got a bitch of a headache too."
"Have you taken anything for it?" Bob asks.
Gerard shakes his head, his forehead creased in a frown. "Not yet, I've been helping Mikey get ready." He holds up his hand, showing off the stripes of grey shadow painted on the back. "He looks good."
Which is something Frank doesn't doubt at all, because Mikey always looks good. He has since the first time Frank saw him, hunched over and sneaking a cigarette under the bleachers, the sound of their respective classmate's cheers above their heads.
"He's looking forward to this, even if he doesn't show it." Gerard sounds anxious, and looks intently at Frank. "He doesn't show things well sometimes, and he's tired and you're the best thing that's happened for him in a while and…"
Impulsively, Frank pulls Gerard into a hug, holding him tight around the waist. "It's okay, I know."
Which is when Mikey appears. He's dressed in jeans that barely skim his hips, a tight green t-shirt, and hair that's been teased into something resembling a bird's nest. Frank wants to wolf-whistle or break into a dance, neither of which seem appropriate when he's snuggled in close to Gerard's chest.
"Hi," Frank says. "We match," and his smile widens as he resists the urge to twirl Gerard around the room.
"We do," Mikey agrees, and he smiles slightly at Frank and moves in close so they're touching at the side, at the hips. "Are you sure you'll be okay?" Mikey's looking at Gerard, and this close Frank can feel the anxiety that surrounds them both. It's a feeling he's resigned to now, despite his idealistic moments where he wishes he could share his happiness with them both. But Frank can't, and he settles for reaching out and squeezing Gerard and Mikey in a double hug.
"Bob brought doughnuts," Gerard says, and he reaches out, takes off Mikey's glasses and gently runs his thumb under Mikey's eye. "You had a smudge."
Mikey smiles again, then steps back, letting his hand slip down until he can entwine his fingers with Frank's. "You're taking me to see the flowers."
"I am," Frank says, squeezing Mikey's fingers and he can't resist reaching up his free hand, cupping it against Mikey's cheek before standing on tip-toes, brushing a kiss against Mikey's mouth.
"Ahem," Bob says pointedly, and Frank feels his cheeks heat as he sees Gerard watching them, his eyes wide.
"Sorry," Frank says, but he's not sorry at all, especially when Mikey tightens his grip, his mouth curled into a smile.
"Isn't it time you were gone?" Bob says, busy filling the sink with hot water and gathering the dirty dishes that are gathered on the countertops.
"We're going." Frank laughs, and tugs Mikey toward the door.
"Good," Bob says. "Because we're going to deadhead some flowers once Gerard showers."
Frank tugs harder, pulling them outside, and once the door is shut he reaches up and places a finger across Mikey's lips. "He won't push, you know that."
"Yeah," Mikey says, but he's still looking back as Frank steers them toward the van.
Mikey doesn't mean to look back, but he can't help himself. He knows Gerard can look after himself, and that Bob will stay as long as he's needed, but Mikey can't help feeling guilty. Not because he's leaving for the day, but the fact he's looking forward to it so much. Time spent with Frank where he'll have a break from worrying about things that are out of his control. It's a vicious circle, guilt for not feeling guilty and he needs this time, away from the house and work and the multiple things he holds together each day.
Frank runs his thumb across Mikey's hand. "He'll be okay, and you've got your cell."
"I know," Mikey says, and he waves a greeting at Ray when he sees him looking out of the van.
"About time," Ray tsks, but he's smiling as he leans across the seats and opens the door.
Frank gets inside first, and when Mikey follows he rests his hand against Frank's thigh, squirming a little until he's comfortable. The van is warm and smells of soil and the heavy scent of flowers and when he looks around he sees carefully stowed tools and some kind of green plant with wispy leaves that brush against his neck. It's a nice van; it reminds him of Ray, Bob and Frank, the same feel of sunshine and earth.
"Ready," Ray asks, checking that they're belted in before driving away. When he does he turns up the music, and taps his fingers against the open window as they drive. He also sings, loudly, to a variety of songs from Anthrax to one surreal moment, Britney Spears, and Mikey loves how the wind catches Ray's hair, making it move and brush against his face.
When Frank joins in too, Mikey can't help smiling, because Frank puts everything into the songs, wiggling in place and playing the air guitar with no regard for the people watching when they stop at lights. It's kind of adorable, and Mikey enjoys listening to them sing, because they're good, and he loves that Frank keeps looking at him, his grin wide and his happiness filling the van like a physical thing.
They slow when they hit the festival traffic, crawling along after a SUV, one with two little boys in the back who giggle as Frank waves and sticks out his tongue. Then they turn a corner, and Mikey sees his first glimpse of the site. Flags fluttering high in the air, crowds of people and flowers; there are flowers everywhere.
"It's something, isn't it?" Ray says, and he glances across at Mikey as he slowly feeds into the lines of cars heading toward the parking lot. "I came last year."
"You should come with us today," Mikey says immediately, because spending time with Ray would be nice. Still, he can't help feeling relieved when Ray shakes his head.
"I need to go study, thanks for the offer though." He spots a space close to the entrance then, and pulls in, then looks at Frank. "Have you enough money, you'll be here all day."
"I know, and yes." Frank leans forward and brushes a quick kiss against Ray's cheek. "Stop fussing, we'll be fine."
"You're a freak," Ray says fondly. "Go on, get going. I'll be back at six, and no being late. I won't wait."
"Sure you won't," Frank says, and leans across Mikey to open the door. "Come on, we've got flowers to see."
Which is nice and all, but as Mikey steps out of the van he knows nothing he can see will be as beautiful as Frank's smile.
Frank insists on paying for both tickets. Mikey just looks at him, but Frank can tell he's pleased by the way he bumps Frank with his hip as they slowly follow the crowd. They don't hold hands, not here, they stand out enough already, but Frank can't resist brief moments of contact. His hand against Mikey's back to steer him a specific way, their fingers brushing together as they walk, he takes all he can get.
The festival is everything Frank imagined, and he wants to show Mikey it all. They start next to a stall selling spring bulbs, a line of tubs filled with different bulbs, and Frank grabs Mikey's arm, pulling him close.
"These are spring bulbs." Frank crouches down and carefully picks up a bulb, the outside papery against his skin. "This one's a daffodil, you plant them and they come back every year. We should plant some in your garden, they'll look fantastic." Frank imagines the Way garden filled with yellow daffodils, the sunny yellow petals signifying spring. "Come see."
A brief hesitation and Mikey steps close and holds out his hand, looking unimpressed with the bulb Frank places there.
Frank laughs. "I know, it's not that impressive right now." He takes back the bulb, carefully replacing it in the tub. "Come on, I can see a sunflower stall."
He makes sure Mikey's following before moving onto the next stand. This one is more visually impressive, full of sculptures of sunflowers in addition to the miniatures that are arranged in pots, and the full sized sunflowers that are at each side of the stall. Frank immediately steps close, looking up at the bright yellow petals and brown centre that ends high above his head. Unable to resist, he runs his fingers over the velvety stalk, and then reaches for Mikey's hand, holding on and guiding so Mikey can do the same.
"Doesn't it feel cool," Frank says, and he's smiling again, because plants are just amazing, then he notices that Mikey is on the verge of laughter, his mouth quirked in a smile as he looks at their hands.
"What?" Frank demands, confused but smiling right back anyway, because Mikey laughing is something that Frank treasures, it doesn't happen enough not to be.
It's all Mikey says, and Frank's still confused, until it clicks that he's holding onto Mikey's hand as they both stroke up and down the stalk.
Frank can't help laughing too. "Pervert."
"Would you boys like a sticker?"
Letting go of Mikey's hand, Frank turns to the woman who's manning the stall. She's smiling at them and holding out a roll of stickers, big bright sunflowers, and immediately Frank says yes. Taking the two stickers she hands over, he plasters one on his chest, and quickly does the same to Mikey.
Mikey frowns a little and looks down, but he doesn't peel it off, just looks resigned as Frank smiles approvingly and heads for the next stall.
In the next few hours they visit multiple displays and stalls. They've both got multiple plastic bags hanging off their wrists, holding leaflets and free pencils and a tiny fruit bat figurine that Mikey bought for Gerard. They're also covered in stickers, an assortment of brightly covered flowers covering their t-shirts, and two on Mikey's ass. Not that he knows about those two.
Frank's never been happier, especially when they're wandering through one of the display gardens and Mikey points to the bedding flowers which are spreading across the ground and says. "Pansies, right?"
Frank beams, because Mikey may still mistake hydrangeas for bluebells but at least he knows these, the flowers that Frank secretly thinks as theirs.
"They are," Frank says, and he looks around before bending down, and quickly pinching off a blue pansy. "For you." He stretches up and threads the flower through Mikey's hair, tucking it behind his ear.
Immediately Mikey picks another blue pansy, moving in close so he can place it behind Frank's ear. "Thank you," he says, and brushes a quick kiss against Frank's mouth.
Heart speeding, Frank wants more, he wants to cling to Mikey and not let go, but what he does is take a step away, all too aware of being in public, and the family who are following behind.
"I think it's time to eat," Frank says, knowing they need to break the mood, and cursing his jeans as they wander out of the garden and toward the area dedicated to food.
There's a line of stalls, selling everything from Chinese to fish and chips and Frank's stomach rumbles as they walk, checking out each stall until as one, they stop next to a stall with steaming vats of noodles and a selection of different sauces.
"You want?" Frank asks, and he's already digging his wallet out of his pocket despite Mikey's protest. "It's my date, I'm paying." Frank tries to look stern, but it's difficult when he's feeling so happy. Still, Mikey stops trying to pay and just shrugs.
"I'll have the hot sauce."
Within minutes Frank and Mikey are both holding a box filled with noodles topped with a spicy sauce and a bottle of water. They look around, looking for the best place to sit.
"Over there," Mikey says, and he points with his bottle of water, toward a clear area of grass in the shade of a marquee. Agreeing with the choice, Frank makes for the spot and sits, tucking up his legs as Mikey settles at his side.
It takes Frank moments to realise that maybe noodles wasn't the right choice. When he tries twisting the strands onto the stupid plastic fork, they fall off back into the box. It's like trying to control sauce-covered, slithering snakes, and there's no way he can eat while looking cool. Which normally he wouldn't care about, but Mikey is right there.
"Shovel them in, it's what I do," Mikey says, sounding amused.
Frank looks up at that, and sees that Mikey has his box close to his mouth, using his fork to pull the noodles to his mouth. His glasses have steamed up, and there's a splash of red on his top lip as he purses his lips and sucks, his cheeks hollowing as sauce drips from his mouth. It's both the hottest and most disgusting thing Frank has ever seen.
It's also an effective technique, though Frank's a little put out when he sucks extra hard and is smacked across the nose by the end of a noodle, which makes Mikey laugh so hard his eyes are scrunched into little lines. Something that makes Frank so happy he could burst, because if Mikey being amused is wonderful, him laughing out loud is even more.
"Yeah, funny," Frank grumbles good-naturedly, and he wipes the back of his hand across his face. "Do you want anything else? I can get ice cream."
Mikey groans and lies down on his back, eyes closed, his knees bent and feet planted against the grass. "I couldn't eat another thing."
Frank takes time to just look, because for the first time in weeks Mikey looks relaxed.
"I can feel you staring," Mikey says, and his lips twitch into a smile.
"That's because I am," Frank admits, and he lies down too, shading his eyes against the sun so he can look at the sky, at the wisps of cloud. While also listening to the chatter of voices, the flap of flags and all around, the scent of flowers.
"This is nice," Mikey says suddenly, his voice soft. His eyes are still closed, and Frank moves so he can lie on his side, his head propped on one hand. "I think I needed this, things have been sort of tough."
Which even from Frank's position of looking in, is an understatement. "I know," he says, and waits, wondering if Mikey will say more.
"Better in some ways, but harder too. Like, he's getting the help he needs, but sometimes it feels like that help is making things worse." Mikey turns his head then, opens his eyes and looks at Frank. "What if he never gets any better?"
"He will." It's the instinctive thing to say, and Frank suspects Bob would kick his ass for offering false hope, but he can't say anything else.
"Yeah," Mikey says, and he pushes himself up. "Come on, where are we going next?"
It feels like they've visited every stall and display possible, and Mikey thinks he's seen every flower in the world. It's worth it though, especially when Frank is so delighted with everything they see, his eyes gleaming as he smiles and explains. It's those moments Mikey loves the most, when Frank looks at him from where he's kneeling on the grass, his back covered in stickers, his green hair shining as he looks at Mikey over his shoulder, his face alight with yet another find.
It's how he looks now, but he's not looking at flowers. This time he's watching the carousel, tapping his foot to the music as the painted horses gallop up and down. Mikey can tell he wants a ride, has even started to ask twice, stopping himself each time. Personally Mikey can't see the appeal, but he'll do anything to make Frank happy, which is why he starts forward and says, "come on."
"Are you sure?" Frank asks, looking longingly at the ride. "Because I know it's not your scene."
Mikey keeps going before he can change his mind.
Up close the horses shine in the late afternoon sun, their tails brightly coloured and fluttering in the wind. Mikey winces a little as he steps up, because his jeans are tight and the steps are high, but soon he's following Frank, who seems to have specific horses in mind, or horse, because he stops next to one with a flowing green mane and tail, and says, "we'll share."
He looks determined, and Mikey doesn't have the heart to say no. Or the breath, because it takes all his time to bend his leg enough to climb on, feeling slightly ridiculous as he sits behind Frank. When he's settled, his feet on the rests, Mikey's knees are almost chest level, and he wraps his arms around the silvery pole as Frank leans back so he can briefly rest his head against Mikey's chest.
"Hold on," Frank says, and he lifts up his hands, showing that he's holding the green reigns.
"I will," Mikey says, and he stares blankly at the people who blatantly look their way, like they've never anyone share a horse.
They start to move then, the sound of organ music filling the air, and their horse drops to the ground, then up again, getting faster as they circle, round and round. Mikey holds onto the bar, listening to Frank laugh, and when they're at the back of the ride, where there's no one standing watching, Frank twists around and looks at Mikey. His hair blown across his face and there's no laughter now, just Frank waiting until they're at the back again. He moves in then, snatching a kiss, his tongue sliding across Mikey's lips, and Mikey feels dizzy, and not just from the ride.
"I think you're fantastic, Mikey Way."
Happiness blooms, and Mikey shifts so he can rest his chin on Frank's shoulder and says, "I think you're great too." Which says everything and nothing at all; because this has been one of the best days of Mikey's life, and somehow he knows there'll be more.