Actions

Work Header

all your hopeless heart

Chapter Text

The first day back after summer was always, in Frank's opinion, the hardest. Yeah yeah, all his friends at the sixth form at his old school had been back for weeks already, and his friends who work full time never got off in the first place, so he supposed he was lucky. Still, he was tired as hell. He read the time on his grainy alarm and groaned. 6.30. He rolled over and tried to block the incessant beeping out with his pillow, before accepting that yep, he was awake. 

Frank sat up and swung his legs over the side of his small single bed and set his bare feet on the grimy carpet. Stretching, he stood up and padded to the shower. He jumped in and winced at the cold sting of the water on his shoulders. Shit it was cold. He quickly shampooed his short hair and washed it out as soon as possible, just wanting to get out of the cold. 

Twenty minutes later Frank was standing in front of his wardrobe, adjusting his tie in the mirror so it was just short enough to be considered rebellious but not short enough to get yelled at by every strict teacher in that place. Frank and his mum, especially his mum, had considered it a miracle when Frank had been accepted into St James' private school to do A levels in art and design, fine art and English literature. Frank had always been talented, and he did know it, but to see his talent recognised by a prestigious private school in Kensington... it had been incredible.

Only, when he had got there, he'd found it different to his dreams. The other students, instead of respecting him for his intelligence, looked down at him for coming from a poor background. His mum was a nurse and worked night shifts, so she wasn't around all that often and when she was she was usually asleep. Even though his mum was the hardest working person he'd ever met, the job didn't pay well and they lived in a small flat in a sprawling estate in Brixton. Even scraping together the money needed for the textbooks and uniform had been a struggle. Because of this, Frank had started taking shifts at the takeaway shop in the estate. He worked from seven until eleven every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, and because of this he was always tired and he could never get the stench of rancid kebab grease out of his skin. 

Between his height- Frank had always been small- and his background he was the prime bullying target at St James' School. He had a couple of friends, also outcasts and losers, who he hung around with in a table in the corner of the canteen at lunchtimes, but they didn't actually get along that well. That's the thing, being a loser is the only thing they actually had in common, apart from that they were completely different, but sometimes hanging around with people you don't like is preferable to hanging out by yourself. Makes you harder to pick on. 

Frank was startled out of his thinking by the noise of someone stirring in the next room. His mum was probably waking up. She had a shift until eleven the night before and had another one starting at midday. Frank checked the alarm clock again. Fuck; 8.10. He hastily chucked his stuff into his Sports Direct backpack, grabbed his art folder and put on his fake leather brogues before running out of the door, not stopping to grab anything to eat, probably nothing in the house anyway, yelling a quick goodbye to his mum who answered only in a confused grunt. Smiling, Frank ran down the twisting stairs; he hadn't used the lift since that old lady got stuck in there for like five hours when he was five and had to pee in her handbag. Rumours are the smell had never left the plastic flooring...

Only a few minutes later (their flat did have the benifit of dung very close to an underground station) and Frank was on the graffitied tube to South Kensington station, standing like a sardine in a can between an elderly Chinese lady and an American tourist with a frankly ridiculously large camera hanging around her neck. She was wearing Crocs and khaki shorts even though this was late September in England and even in London it rarely got above 16 degrees. He was so caught up thinking about this random woman's fashion choices he only just noticed it was his stop and had to push past the American in order to get out of the Automatic Doors Of Doom before they slammed shut.

He got out of the station and checked the time on his to be honest, crappy phone. 8.40, fifteen minutes until lessons. He swore under his breath. He'd been emailed his timetable a week before and he knew what he had first period- art and design with a new teacher he hadn't heard of before. His name was Mr Way, which conjured up an image of an old, old man who was more turtle than human. No matter how bad he was he couldn't possibly be as awful as last years teacher; Mrs Worth. She was the living embodiment of the word bland. An ancient, wizened old lady who shuffled around making comments nobody could decipher and generally was pretty useless.

As Frank hurried through the white streets of Kensington, buildings towering on every side, he hoped for something that would make this year at least a little interesting. He couldn't deal with another year like year twelve.

Chapter Text

As Frank neared the school gates, he was pulled back down to reality, his hopes of a good year thirteen ruined. As usual, the girls in their rolled up skirts got out of their daddy's porches and jaguars, and linked arms with each other as they squealed and screamed about what had happened in the short space of time between they'd last texted or whatever. Frank rolled his eyes. And of course, the boys were getting out of equally fancy cars, slamming the doors of them like they weren't probably worth more money than Frank could ever dream of having. Amongst all the arm linking and hugging and shoulder clapping there were a few scattered year sevens, with their too large blazers and huge bags, standing like islands in the sea of teenage hormones. It wasn't like it was that much of a change for them; most went to St James' prep school from the age of three, which is literally next door.

Frank entered the obnoxiously fancy main building, not even caring about the elaborate trophies and paintings covering every surface. Only a year ago this had awed him, but now it just further highlighted the fact he didn't fit in. So he kept his eyes down as he headed through the building, stopping at his locker to discard some of the extra books and folders that he wouldn't need until later in the day, and left by the back entrance to go toward the arts block. Back entrance conjures the image of a small and maybe a bit grimy door, but not at St James'. The 'back entrance' was still a large, carved oak door. It took a lot of Frank's strength to open it, especially when he was this tired after working all night.

He stifled a yawn while walking to the arts block. Shit he was tired, how would he make it through the day? He hurried up a bit once he realised that he was one of the only people still not in lessons. 'Nice one Frank, first lesson with a new teacher and you're going to be late.' He mumbled to himself, sticking his hands in his blazer pockets. He made it to the art room- a3- and pushed open the door as little as he could to try and avoid people noticing. He mumbled a quick apology for being late and plopped down in the only available seat, right by the back in the corner. Suited him just fine. As he frantically was unpacking his pencil case and sketch book, he heard a small cough coming from the front of the classroom, and looked up, only to make eye contact with one of the most handsome men he'd ever seen.

His thick, dark, angled eyebrows were drawn together in a quizzical expression, above gorgeous hazel eyes, eyes which were fixed on Franks. His youthful, face was pale, which was emphasised by his jet black hair. It was quite long and messy, but in a way that made it look artfully tousled instead of plain knotty. The man had a fantastic bone structure and jawline and defined, pink lips. He was thin and not too tall, but not short like Frank, and wore tight, maybe even unprofessionally tight, black trousers and an equally tight black waistcoat which defined his tiny wait. Under this he wore a white shirt, sleeves folded up to the elbows to reveal toned but not too muscular forearms, which right now were crossed over his chest. He also had a skinny black tie around his neck.

Frank had obviously been staring a little too long, as he heard sniggers from across the room. He tore his eyes from the man's to try and figure out the source of the sound. Predictably, it was Charles Henry, the poshest, richest, most obnoxious boy in the school. Rumour it that his dad worked high up in MI5, but who could know for sure. Any way he was the most popular, probably because the school would be sued of not or something. Frank caught Charles Henry's eye, and he mouthed the word fag at him. Frank rolled his eyes for the second time in a very short space of time. He'd had a year to think of a better insult and that was all he could do? Pathetic.

Another throat clearing from the front had Frank's eyes locked with the man's again, and he felt himself going red. 'Well,' he said. His voice was softer and more feminine than expected, and definitely not a London accent, but with an underlying growl that made even the word well sound undeniably sexy. Frank gulped. 'since you've missed introductions, I'm Mr Way, the new arts teacher here at St James'. We were just about to do a get to know me exercise and, as you've interrupted my lesson so rudely,' a wink then, lazy and so, so hot. Frank's heart fluttered and he felt himself going even redder. 'I think it's only right that you should start us off.' He broke eye contact then to address the whole class. 'I'd like you all to tell me your name and something you're interested in, starting over here.' He unfolded his arms, gestured at Frank and leaned against the desk, crossing his feet over casually. 

Frank stuttered, wracking his brains for something interesting to say about himself. 'I- I'm Frank and I like to play guitar.' A spark of interest in Mr Way's green flecked eyes, before he moved onto the person next to him, a blonde girl who answered confidently, 'I'm Becky and I ride dressage.' The sharing moved around the classroom, but Frank wasn't listening. He couldn't take his eyes from his teacher, who nodded after every person's introduction, sometimes making an interested noise or small comment. When he was facing the opposite side of the room to Frank's seat, he could admire the way the muscles and tendons moved in his neck when he swallowed or spoke, and of course his magnificent jawline. Frank gulped again.

Frank had never considered himself gay, but he knew he wasn't straight either. At his old school he'd had experiences with both genders and enjoyed them equally. The only people he'd really told were his best friends Ray and Mikey, who were totally fine with it. They loved him whatever. Frank missed always having them around to rely on, but after they finished year eleven they'd all went in different directions. Ray had stayed at their secondary school to do a level film studies; he wanted to be a director. Mikey had quit to go and work in the huge Waterstones in the city centre, he wasn't anything much, just working on the floor making sure that books were replaced on the shelves after they were sold. Still, he seemed to enjoy it, though Frank did get the odd pang of jealousy sometimes when Mikey talked about his friends and things they had gotten up to at work.

Frank had to rip himself from his thoughts yet again. God he was exhausted. He stifled another yawn and tried to focus while Mr Way finished up the introductions and stood up. 'Wonderful!' He said, clapping his hands and starting to pace along the front of the room. 'Now, I know you've been working on this course for a year already and, because of that, you already have half of your coursework completed. Before she left, your previous teacher told me where it is and I've got to confess I've already had a sneaky look. All I'm going to say now is how amazing everyone's is, but I know we can get it even more amazing by the end of the year. I'm not criticising your previous teacher here,' this was met by more sniggers and giggles. Mr Way shrugged and flashed the most adorable smile Frank had ever seen, his teeth were so tiny and cute! 'Okay maybe I am a little. I know this is fine art and it does focus on traditional pieces and styles, but I still think that we can push the boundaries of your imaginations a little more.' Frank grinned, both in excitement for the coming year and because of how animated his teacher was becoming. 'Your work is very good, but one thing I have noticed is that, last year, when you were given a task for coursework, we ended up with twenty very similar pieces. Again I'm not saying it was bad, but I can tell your old teacher didn't let your creativity off of it's leash as much as she maybe should have.' Lots of nods and 'yes sir', and Mr Way grinned again, making Frank's heart flutter faster. 'We have a double period today, and we've spent about half of the first one talking, so the plan for the rest of the lesson is you getting your portfolios in order and checking you have everything, and I'll come around and talk to you all individually.' He stopped pacing and, when nodody made moves to collect their stuff, he let out a small, sexy chuckle and gestured to the door of the storage cupboard. 'Go on then!'

Chapter Text

The room was a flurry of movement for about ten minutes before everyone settled down and started to look through their work from the previous year. Mrs Worth had always been hyper critical of their work and taught her students to be the same, so Frank cringed as he looked through stuff from the start of year twelve, work that, to be honest, he hadn't looked at for months. All he thought of when he saw work like this was ways that he could have improved it if he'd known then the skills he had now. Most of which he'd taught himself using online information and YouTube in the school library. He yawned again. If he was going to do well in his exams he'd have to stop taking these late shifts, but then how would Frank and his mum do without the extra money coming in? And it was unfair to ask his mum to take on any more work, she already worked too hard.

Frank watched Mr Way again. I mean, it would have been rude to miss the opportunity right? His face was so expressionate as he examined each student's work. Frank rested his head in his hands, propping his elbows on the desk. He had tiny, faint lines of the sides of his eyes, the only sign that showed he may not have been as young as Frank first thought. Frank feels like he has weights attached to his eyelids, he's so tired and they keep drifting shut against his will. He tries to busy himself with shuffling through the various loose sheets he has in a wallet in his bag, seeing which ones belong with his work and which belong in the recycling. But this isn't enough to keep him awake. What harm can a quick nap do anyway? He's slept before in class with Mrs Worth and she never noticed, and it does really help him get through the rest of the day. So Frank lent back on his chair and closed his eyes, promising himself he wouldn't sleep for long anyway.

Frank felt a hand on his shoulder and the presence of someone crouching next to him. He woke up with a jolt, whipping his head to the side, and found himself making eye contact with a concerned looking Mr Way. 'Are you okay Frank? Are our feeling ill? Do you need to see the nurse?' He looks genuinely concerned about Frank, and a guilty feeling floods him. 'No no I'm fine just, just tired that's all.' Mr Way's beautiful eyebrows draw closer together in confusion. 'Oh, okay. I'd appreciate it if you didn't fall asleep in my class in the future though, Frank.' Hearing Mr Way say his name like that makes Frank feel kind of flustered and suddenly very aware of the hand resting heavily on his shoulder. He gives a sheepish grin. 'Sorry, sir.' Mr Way, apparently also aware of the hand that's been on him for a little too long removed it and stands up. He brushes the creases out of his trousers and turns towards the desk. 'Anyway, you've done some amazing work Frank.' He says leafing through his folder. 'Some of the best in the class actually, your use of colour on this piece is fantastic.' He pulls out a stormy seascape done during his studies of water near the end of year twelve. 'Thanks sir.' Frank says, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck while his teacher continues to examine the artwork, tracing the shape of a wave with his slender finger. Frank notices something, the telltale callouses on the fingers of his left hand that indicate a guitar player. A shiver runs down Frank's spine; that's why Mr Way looked interested when he told the class about his hobby, he was a guitar player too.

Just as Frank had almost gathered up the courage to ask his teacher, he put down the painting and glanced at the thin, leather strapped watch on his wrist. 'Damn, look at the time.' Frank looked at his own crappy watch and blushed. It was the end of the double, meaning he must have been asleep for longer than he'd planned to be. Mr Way raised his voice and addressed the class, strolling into the middle of the room. 'Right guys, it's been great meeting you all but it's the end of the lesson, please put your stuff back in the cupboard and have a great rest of the day.' He gave a cheery smile that lit up the room, which filled with the sound of scraping chairs. Frank pushed his own chair back and started throwing stuff into his bag, when Mr Way turned back and started walking towards him again.

Frank pretended not to notice and swung his bag onto his shoulder, desperately trying to squash the butterflies in his stomach. 'Frank,' he looks up, again looking into those captivating eyes. 'I'd like you to come back here at lunchtime to have a little chat.' A million possibilities passed through Frank's mind, far too many of them involving Mr Way wearing a lot less clothing than would be considered appropriate. 'It's nothing to worry about, just want to talk about some of your work, that's all.' Mr Way reassures him with a smile. Frank smiles back. 'Okay sir.' He says, still considering what this could mean. Mr Way turns back to his desk, conversation obviously over, and Frank leaves the room, full of a potent mix of anticipation and nervousness about their meeting ahead. And he still has a break time and a whole two periods to get through before lunch.

Chapter Text

Frank struggled to concentrate in English lit, partly from his exhaustion and partly from his mind being consumed by thoughts of his new teacher. Why did he want to talk at lunch? Had Frank done something wrong? Was his work not up to standard? Or was it something completely different? Had Mr Way noticed Frank staring and wanted an explanation. He chewed on his lip, and the small scar where his lip ring used to go, before he had to take it out for school. He could still put it in, and often did when he was hanging out with Ray and Mikey, but it reminded him of a completely different time in his life. A time when it wasn't about where could he stay at lunch so he didn't get food thrown at him and instead about hanging out and having fun with his friends. In a way, this lunchtime meeting was a blessing in disguise: he didn't have to hide from all the dickheads. And would get to spend more time with Mr Way.

Period four was a free, so Frank went up to the library do some reading for English. The class had been instructed to read chapters six and seven of The Great Gatsby before tomorrow's lesson. It was a lot to do and he wanted to get on top of it before he got home, but he just couldn't concentrate. Instead of thinking about Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby, Frank just thought of Mr Way's piercingly beautiful eyes. He thought of the way his hand felt on his shoulder, the way he showed his teeth when he smiled, the way his waistcoat defined his already slim frame. He found himself rereading pages over and over again, the words not sinking in. 

'Snap out of it Frank.' He mumbles and tried to lose himself in the book. It's strange, not being able to get absorbed in it, because The Great Gatsby is one of Frank's favourite novels. He's read it about five times on the past, all during years nine to eleven when he really should have been reading up on GCSE texts. He just found the story fascinating, the way Fitzgerald mirrored events from his own life in his writing. In his opinion, writing was another form of art, but a subtler one, and one Frank had never really been able to use effectively. He still loved reading though, and he loved the way books could transport him to another time and place. 

The bell jolted Frank out of his thoughts and he buried his face in his hands, rubbing his eyes. A whole fifty minute period and he'd read less than ten pages. He groaned. He'd have a lot of reading to do tonight. Stuffing his battered book into his rucksack (Frank preferred to use his own copy in class rather than the slightly sticky one they all were given) he put the bag on his back and strolled out of the quiet library. 

On the way to the art room he passed by Charles Henry and his group loitering in the hallway. Frank looked down at the tiles on the floor, trying to avoid being noticed by the crowd. He was so intent on staring at the floor that he didn't notice the leg stuck out by one of the group. Casual enough so nobody would notice anything had been done on purpose, but far enough out to trip Frank up and send him sprawling on the ground. He landed with an 'oomph', hitting his forehead on the stone and bashing his knee. He struggled to his feet and winced at the pain in his leg and the sudden wave of dizziness and turned to the group. 'What the fuck guys?' He yelled at them. A few choked down laughs as they faced him. Charles Henry stepped forward. 'What do you mean gay boy?' Frank narrowed his eyes at the insult. 'You know exactly what I mean, asshole.' Charles Henry just laughed. 'If you're looking for someone to blame for your clumsiness just go to the bathroom. There's mirrors there.' He turned back to his friends and they all walked away towards the canteen, laughing and high fiving their leader for his crappy attempt at an insult. Frank just sighed and set off, limping, to the art room.

Chapter Text

Frank's knee ached like hell as he limped his way to art, muttering some pretty inventive insults under his breath. He was also feeling slightly dizzy, but he just assumed that was from a combination of nervous excitement and having not eaten all day. He breathed deeply as he approached the art room, steeling himself before seeing his teacher so he didn't go into a state of shock at the utter gorgeousness of the man, like earlier. He chuckled to himself. Pathetic really. Taking one last deep breath he put his hand on the doorknob and opened the door.

Walking in and shutting the door softly behind him, Frank was faced with the sight of Mr Way sitting behind his desk with his feet crossed up on its surface, sipping from a coffee mug and engrossed in something on his phone. Frank took the opportunity to just watch him for a few seconds, before, feeling slightly awkward, clearing his throat. Mr Way looked up suddenly, saw Frank standing there and made a slight surprised noise as he swallowed a mouthful of coffee. He set down his mug, put his phone in his pocket and took his feet from the desk. He gesture to Frank to come over. 'Hi Frank! Come pull up a chair.' He said this with one of his adorable smiles and Frank grabbed a chair from a desk and took it over to where Mr Way was sitting. He positioned it on the same side of the desk as Mr Way, but not behind it. He did this so they'd be close but not so close that their knees would touch. It occurred to Frank that this was his teacher, so he really didn't need to think about that, but whatever. He put his bag by his chair and sat down, wincing at the protest from his knee.

'So Frank, would you like to explain why you fell asleep in my class earlier?' Mr Way's voice was firm but kind, and he leaned forward and clasped his hands between his legs, leaning his elbows on his thighs. Frank had no choice but to look up into those stunning eyes of his. Any excuses he was planning melted away under his gaze. Frank also noticed how long and dark his eyelashes were. He started talking. 'Well, if you hadn't noticed, I'm not exactly like most people here. I'm from Brixton you see, I came here on a scholarship at the start of year twelve. My mums a nurse and she works night shifts and no matter how hard she works the pay isn't amazing and she can't take on any more shifts or do another job alongside it because she'd be too tired. And money's been pretty tight since I started here what with my oyster card and uniform and supplies and the rent and all that, so recently I've been working late too. I've been taking on some work at the fast food place down the road, from like seven till eleven, usually it's later than that though, because Kayliegh who has the next shift never helps me clean up even though she's supposed to. She usually leaves me to do it and then I'm there until like twelve at least.' Frank was suddenly aware that Mr Way hadn't said anything, just intently looked at him, and he felt a wave of self conciousness crash over him.He knew he was rambling. 'And yeah, I had a late one last night. After my shift I had to sort out a bunch of stuff for today so didn't go to bed until like two. And I'm really sorry for falling asleep in class.' 

Frank didn't know why he was telling all this to a relative stranger, he hadn't told anyone at school, but there was something about Mr Ways manner that was just so calming. He didn't need ask questions or nod or interrupt. He just sat there and listened. 'You don't need to apologise, Frank. I understand, I really do. Have you told anyone else at school about this so you can get some support?' A simple shake of the head was all it took to tell him no. 'Have you got any close friends here? Anyone you can confide in?' When Frank kept shaking his head Mr Way sighed and leaned back in his chair, running his hands through his tousled hair.

'So who do you hang around with during breaks? Who do you eat with?' Frank found his voice. 'I- I just keep myself to myself I guess. There isn't really much point in making friends now anyway, I'm leaving in less than a year anyway...' Mr Way sighed again. 'So you're meaning to tell me that a guitar playing, good looking boy like you doesn't hav eany friends? Because I find that hard to believe.' Frank's mind spun. Good looking?? He probably didn't mean anything by it, but he couldn't help but read too far into Mr Way's comment. 'I- I'm not lying, sir.' Frank blushed. 'I just never fit in with anyone here, I guess I'm too different.' 

Mr Way looked deep in thought. Then he rubbed his hands together and sat up straight. 'Anyway Frank, I didn't call you here just to talk about that, I asked you to come and talk about your work.' Frank gulped, worried. Mr Way reassured him with one of his beautiful grins. 'In all the time I've been teaching art and even just looking at art, I've never seen anything of a standard like this by someone so young. You're seventeen aren't you?' Frank just nodded again. 'With work like this you should be able to achieve A* if you keep working hard, and with those grades you could go to almost any university or art school you want. I couldn't help but notice you're in my art and design class too, and your work in that is just as impeccable.' Mr Way's eyes were filled with light and enthusiasm, but all Frank could do was say what he knew would probably drown it. 'I- I wasn't actually planning to go to university...' Mr Way's face fell, as he knew it would.

'Oh. Is there any particular reason why?' Frank grappled with his words for a minute, trying to find the best way to articulate his thought process. 'I've seen friends and family members go to university, spend all that money on tuition and rent and whatever, and the quit their courses after a year or less, and then come back having thrown all that money down the drain and come back with nothing. And also, when I was little, university seemed like a dream, like a far away land that would be beautiful and magical and life changing. But then again, so did a school like this,' Frank gestured around the room 'and now that I'm here I realise the reality doesn't quite match up to the fantasy. And I guess... I guess I just don't want to be disappointed again, because the childlike view I have would be ruined forever and I know I couldn't ever get it back.' By the end of saying this, Frank was gesturing wildly around him, and his voice had gone from timid whisper to confident, even a little angry. Mr Way had been doing listening to him in that calm way of his, and he left Frank to breath deeply for a few seconds and cool down before he spoke. 

'Do you not think, Frank, if you let it, being here could be what you imagined? If you let people in before you write them off? If you at least tried to make friends? I know it's not easy to open yourself up to people, but once you've done it isn't it so worth it? And you should consider university, I think. It might be good for you to be forced to like people.' A sheepish grin, maybe because of the slightly horrified look on Frank's face, and he laughed. Frank did too, it was infectious. 'I didn't mean it like that, but you understand me don't you Frank?' Suddenly serious again, he grasped Frank's hands. Taken aback by the intensity of the man in front of him, Frank gulped and nodded. Mr Way relaxed again and let go of Frank, who couldn't help but miss his hands' warm presence. He glanced at his watch the back up at Frank. 'Damn, we've been talking for a long time! Twenty minutes until next period, you should run off now if you want to grab something to eat for lunch.' Frank wanted to say no, that he'd rather spend the rest of his lunch talking about anything and everything with Mr Way. 

Instead, he mumbled a 'yeah' and grabbed his bag from its place on the floor. He stood up suddenly, probably too quickly, and turned to leave. His conversation had made him forget the events of earlier, being tripped over and banging his head on the floor. But shit he remembered it now. Suddenly overcome with a feeling of dizziness and nausea, his bag slipped off his shoulder and back to the floor as he swayed. This caused Mr Way to stop what he was doing and drop his phone to his desk with a clatter when he whipped his head around. The last thing Frank remembered was the feeling of a strong pair of arms catching him and laying him gently to the floor, just before he blacked out.

Chapter Text

'Whoah, man!' Ray said after Frank had explained the days events to him. After Frank had fainted, he'd woken up in the nurses office. Apparently he'd been out for less than ten minutes, but it would have been longer if he hadn't been caught by Mr Way. Frank wanted to go and thank him, but the nurse said it would be best not to. She was kind, and asked him why he thought he'd fainted. Instead of telling her the truth, he'd just smiled weakly and told her he probably hadn't eaten enough. It would have only caused more trouble anyway.

Now he was sitting on a swing in the park with Ray and Mikey, having stayed in the nurses office until she said he was okay to go back home. He didn't tell her he'd be going on the tube, just mumbled something about calling his mum to get picked up. The nurse wouldn't have let him go home if he'd told her the truth. 'Yeah,' Mikey said, swinging his legs. 'isn't that everyone's dream, swooning into the love of your life's arms like oh, I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me, I just can't stay normal around you, sir.' He fluttered his eyelashes and said the second part in a stupid, high pitched voice. Then him and Ray both stood up and Mikey pretended to faint into Rays arms, and Mikey sighed and put the back of his hand on his forehead. 'Shut up guys,' Frank shoved Ray, causing Mikey to tumble to the ground. The boys all laughed. 'you know it wasn't like that. I actually fainted.' Ray shot Mikey a look, as if to say 'yeah sure'. Frank shoved him again, and they all chuckled again. 'I did!'

Ray suddenly turned serious- Frank swore he could see his afro actually deflating, and he stifled a giggle at the thought- 'I'm kinda pissed off that you didn't stand up to those arseholes though.' Frank shrugged and kicked his legs. 'What good will that do? They'll still call me short, and dumb, and a chav.' His friends both mumbled in agreement. Frank tried to brighten the mood. 'Plus, if they stop taking the piss out of me I won't have anything interesting to tell you guys!' It worked. The guys were laughing again. 

'Anyway, tell me more about your mysterious new crush.' Mikey demanded. He always loved gossip. 'Well what do you want to know? I've already told you about his pale skin and dark hair, and his teacher-but-not-too-teacher style, and his plush lips, and the way his eyes fix on you and don't let go, and oh god his eyes are so pretty. Have I mentioned how much I love his eyes?' Frank sighed as the others laughed. 'God you're so soppy when you're in lurve.' Laughed Ray, drawing out the last word. 'I'm not in love guys, I just... I can just appreciate a fine man okay?' They all chuckled again.

Frsnk loved spending time with his best friends, even though they saw each other at least twice a week it was still so good to catch up with them. And they enjoyed spending the rest of the evening together, staying out until way after it got dark, talking about anything and everything. But the whole time, all Frank could think about were those hazel eyes...

Chapter Text

The next day, Frank woke up for school bright and early, and actually looking forward to it. He got ready and got his bag packed, and actually had about ten minutes before he had to leave. A thought made its way into his head, and Frank headed for the bathroom, stopping by a rarely opened draw in his dresser and fishing out a black eyeliner pencil he'd bought once on a whim. Mikey went through a phase of wearing eyeliner in year eleven, and Frank had to admit it had looked kind of cool, in a gothy, emo kind of way. 

Frank got into the bathroom and switched on the light. He took the lid off of the pencil and looked at it, concerned that an object that sharp would going so near his eye. He took a death breath to steady his hand, and put the pencil to his eye. He dragged it along the lower eyelashes of both eyes, and then used his finger to smudge it around. He'd seen Mikey do it countless times before parties in year eleven, and, stepping back from the mirror, he had to admit it looked pretty cool. There was a strict no makeup policy for the girls at St James', but Frank couldn't remember seeing anything on the uniform policy about boys.

Slinging his back over his shoulder, he yelled yelled goodbye to his mum and headed out of the door. He was in such a good mood he didn't even get annoyed when a tourist asked him for directions to the natural history museum even though it was literally the huge gothic building down the road, pretty damn hard to miss. He just pointed it out to her and continued on his walk to school. He smiled at the pigeons on the way, at the big issue sellers, at all of the bumbling tourists taking photos of the impressive white buildings around them that were literally just offices. He knew the reason for his good mood- Mr Way.

It wasn't even like anything had happened between them, just a talk, but Frank immediately felt better. Even the confidence to put on makeup had come from it. Well, maybe it was also because he thought it would make him more appealing to Mr Way. God, he was talking about his teacher here! His teacher who was probably not at all interested in him, who was probably in a relationship, who maybe had a wife, and maybe even had kids! His face, which Frank only then realised had been smiling, fell. He'd only just considered the fact Mr Way might be married. I mean, he was an attractive man, who probably made decent money judging by the school he'd just got a job at, and he looked well old enough to have had children. Bloody hell. Frank gulped. The weight of his crush was just settling in.

But the maybes kept him walking, smiling at the feeling of the warm September air on his face, summer insisting on holding on for a few weeks longer. He strolled into school, hands shoved deep in his pockets, humming along to the music on his earphones. He said hi to people he barely knew in the hallways, getting a few funny looks and some giggles from the girls about his makeup, but it didn't bother him as he made his way to art and design.

The lesson was in the same room as his fine art class- and with the same teacher-so he walked into a2 and plonked down in the same seat as yesterday. He kept his earphones in as he unpacked his stuff. That was why it took Mr Way three times saying his name to get Frank to notice. On the third try, Frank looked up to where Mr Way was sitting at the desk at the front, sipping on a takeout coffee from the artsy coffee shop near urban outfitters on the high street. His eyebrows were raised, partially hidden underneath his artfully tousled hair. It was then Frank realised he was the only person in the classroom.

Mr away swallowed a mouthful of coffee. 'Any particular reason you're ten minutes early, Frank?' Shit. Frank had been so lost in his positivity that he hadn't paid any attention to the time. 'I... um...' He had to think up a reason so he didn't look like a complete idiot. An idea sparked in his mind. 'Actually sir, I wanted to thank you for yesterday. What with, you know, saving me from dramatically crashing to the floor and all.' He scratched the back of his neck, grinning sheepishly. Mr Way laughed. 'Ah, no problem, Frank,' he said. 'I couldn't exactly let you flop to the floor in the middle of my classroom without helping could I? That wouldn't have looked great on my first day!' Frank couldn't help but chuckle. Mr Way had such a dad sense of humour that clashed with his 'young edgy hipster' image, but it suited him somehow. 

Mr Way studied Frank for a moment from behind his coffee. 'Are you wearing makeup Frank?' He asked, seeming more curious than annoyed. 'Um, yeah, I guess...' Frank replied, expecting to be told to take it off. Instead, Mr Way grinned. 'Looks cool, but maybe next time put a little more on the outside and less on the inside, it'll bring out the colour of your eyes more. Oh and maybe go to the bathroom and break and blend it out a little more, you'll look a little less like an emo raccoon.' Frank just looked at his teacher, stunned. Mr Way gave him a little wink, before gesturing to the group of students gathering outside the classroom to come in. As the trickle of people started to enter the room. Mr Way looked at Frank again. 'If you want to come hang out at lunch, the offer's still there.' 

Chapter Text

The rest of the morning passed by without incident. As suggested, Frank did go into the bathroom at break and smudge his eyeliner around a bit more. He did have to admit it brought out the green in his eyes.

Frank decided to take up Mr Ways offer of staying in his room at lunch. I mean, it didnt mean anything, just a teacher offering to help his struggling student. Nothing was going to happen, and Frank couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed at that. He shook his head, he was being completely ridiculous. Frank had had a free fourth, which meant he could spend it in the library again, reading. Well, reading and answering all the ridiculous texts he got from Mikey. On the way to art, he felt his phone buzz again in his pocket. He pulled it out and looked at what Mikey had to say; 'you know he's probably a vampire right? hanging out to gain your trust and then one day without warning he'll just go for your neck.' Frank chuckled. His friend had such an obsession with vampires and zombies and werewolves and anything horror, that Frank though he'd began to get confused between what was real and what wasn't. He sent a message back. 'you wish mikes, you creep.' He laughed again and put his phone back into his pocket, not wanting to get it confiscated. 

He got to a2 just as the bell rang, and was nearly caught in the flood of year sevens that came bustling out. They were all talking and laughing, pushing and shoving each other on the way to the canteen. It never ceased to amaze Frank that they could all walk with bags bigger than them. He swore under his breath as he tried not to be swept away. As he was in the middle of a particularly creative curse, he caught Mr Way smiling at him, leaning against the doorframe. Frank's heart skipped a beat. 'Inventive, I'll give you that.'

Frank blushed and Mr Way laughed, strolling back into the classroom. Frank took it as a cue and followed him, jamming his hands back into his pockets. After a moments hesitation, he closed the door behind him, unsure wether it was the right thing to do. Mr Way didn't look up from where he was clearing away dirty paintbrushes and pallets, so Frank stood their for a couple seconds, wondering what to do. He spoke up, 'Do you want me to help with that?' Mr Way looked up and around at him, as if just remembering he was there. 'Oh yeah, that would be great, thanks.' So Frank busied himself for the next few minutes, gathering mugs of painty water and pouring them out into the sink, and cleaning the dirty brushes.

Wanting to get to know a bit more about Mr Way, Frank asked him a question. 'So, Mr Way, these are some pretty cool mugs, are they all yours?' Mr Way laughed and looked at the mug in his hand, a black one with a cartoon Frankenstein's Monster on it. 'Yeah, I guess you could say I'm a bit of a mug collector.' He laughed again. Frank did too. 'I figured I may as well put them to some use, so here they all are.' He gestured at the area by the sink where they were all stacked. 'Oh, also,' he looked up at Frank from his mug and made eye contact across the room. 'when we're in here, at lunchtime I mean, you can call me Gerard.' His eyes crinkled as he smiled. Frank smiled back, his heart fluttering like it did when he was six and drank some of his mums coffee. 'Okay, Gerard,' he said, stressing his name and making him chuckle, 'I think I'm done clearing this stuff up.' Mr Way, no, Gerard, looked over and saw that he'd finished and put the mug he was still holding with the rest.

'Great! And thanks for the help Frank.' Gerard went to sit down at his desk and Frank followed, pulling up a chair as he had the day before. 'God, what is it with year sevens and poster paints? Give them something simple to do and they all end up with their arms coloured bright blue or something.' Gerard groaned and buried his face in his hands as Frank giggled. Bloody hell, he actually giggled. 'I was a right twat in year seven. I was so annoying it makes me cringe just thinking about me then.' Gerard didn't say anything or even acknowledge his use of the word twat. That was something Frank really liked about him. Unlike those teachers who tried to get along with the kids and be like a friend, he didn't flip when a student did something not strictly appropriate. He genuinely liked his students and was happy for them when they succeeded.

'Ah, weren't we all?' He agreed. 'Anyway, Frank, what is it that got you into art?' Frank pondered his answer for a moment, thinking about the actual root of his love for it. 'I think it was comics. I mean I've always been reading them. Nothing too niche, only the classics, Batman, Doom Patrol...' Seeing the spark in Gerard's eyes, he trailed off. 'Are you kidding? I love comics! Especially Doom Patrol, I just think all of the characters are so different and they all fit together so well, and I love that. It's such a parallel for life, and it makes it so incredible.' Frank was stunned at his sudden outpouring. 'Yeah, totally! I see exactly what you mean.' They shared a smile then, the smile only two people who have just found they have the same niche interest can share. Gerard grinned harder. 'Actually, I've been working on a concept for a series that I think you might like. I've made up a few character profiles and some panels, would you like to see?'

Franks insides burned with happiness that Gerard wanted to share this with him. 'Yeah, that would be so cool!' Gerard pulled out the drawer underneath his desk and pulled out a scrappy pile of paper. He dumped them on the surface and leafed through them, pulling out certain ones and laying them flat on the desk. Frank read the title on top of the first one out loud. 'The Umbrella Academy.' Gerard looked almost embarrassed at hearing the title read aloud. 'Uhm, yeah...' He seemed really nervous, like Frank's opinion really mattered. Frank looked through the sketches, drawings and snatches of text. 'I like it. I really like it.' Gerard looked up into his eyes and Frank was suddenly aware of how close they were; he'd lent closer to lean over the desk and examine the art properly. 'Would you like me to explain the story to you?' Now Gerard was like an excited little kid, enthusiastic to share his ideas. Frank smiled. 'I'd love that.'

Twenty minutes later and Gerard had explained to Frank the whole concept of the Umbrella Academy. He now knew the backstory of all the main characters; born in an unexplained worldwide event when fourty seven women, none of which had shown any previous signs of being pregnant, gave birth, and some were adopted by a mad scientist, who raised them as superheroes and now they went around saving the world. Frank's impression was that it was quite funny, but also with some more serious and sobering moments. It was such an interesting concept. So different from anything he'd read before, but still so original and clever.

At the end of lunch, Frank didn't want to leave. But he had to. As he walked out of the classroom, Gerard again offered for him to come the next day. He didn't hesitate this time. He smiled at Gerard. 'Of course.'

Chapter Text

The rest of that week passed, for Frank at least, in a mix of lessons, seeing Mikey and Ray, and spending every lunchtime with Gerard, talking about whatever came to mind. They'd known each other for a week, and yet already had the kind of relationship that meant you could be excited talking one minute and sitting in comfortable silence the next. They had been developing ideas for Umbrella Academy, talking about people in the school (mainly complaining) and just chatting about whatever was going on i their lives. Gerard had told him that he lived in a small flat he was renting from a friend in Hammersmith. He had also told Frank that he was an only child, and spent most of his childhood in his bedroom or in the basement of his family home in a village outside of Oxford. One person he spent a lot of time with was his grandma, Elena, but when Frank had asked where she was now, Gerard had simply shaken his head, looking at the ground. He looked like, he was about to cry, so Frank had leaned in and hugged him. Gerard had explained that she'd passed away four years previously, and that he was in America when it had happened. Frank had hugged him again, and they'd stayed like that for at least a minute, just appreciating each other's nearness, when the bell had rung and Frank had to go out, only to come back three minutes later for his period five lesson. 

That was Friday, and Frank had been thinking about it all weekend. Probably too much. Ray and Mikey had both come over on the Saturday, and they'd spent most of the time playing video games and chatting about Gerard, as well as Rays new film project. Both of the guys told Frank that he should probably stop hanging out with Gerard, in case his crush deepened into something he couldn't ignore. Frank knew they were probably right, but he also couldn't help the feeling that he and Gerard had some sort of... connection. He knew it was stupid, but he couldn't ignore that ridiculous flicker of hope that his teacher might feel the same about him. God, the situation was so messed up. Frank was almost happy when he had to leave to go to work with moody Kayleigh, just so he had a dull, monotonous task to take his mind from his thoughts. 

Even though he knew he probably shouldn't, Frank still ended up in Mr Way's room at lunchtime. 'Hey, Gerard!' He said brightly, strolling into the classroom and shutting the door behind him. Gerard was, as usual, drinking from a takeout cup of coffee. Starbucks today. He waved and put the coffee down, swallowing. 'Hey Frank.' Bloody hell, he looked as tired as Frank felt. Frank pulled his chair up as usual. 'Are you okay?' He asked. 'You look tired?' Gerard smiled weakly. 'Yeah, I'm good. Just a lot of marking, you know? I've had a bunch of stuff from year nine. They're picking their GCSE options in a couple months and I've asked them to do a big project on environmental art, just to gauge where they're at, you know?' Frank nodded and Gerard ran his hands through his jet black hair. 'Well, it seems that nine b are all very enthusiastic about environmental art, hence all this work.' He gestured around to his cluttered desk. Frank did have to admit it looked like a lot of work. He picked up a couple of pieces covered in writing. Gerard looked over. 'Ah, the essays analysing a piece of their choice. I asked them to do that for homework and about half of the class actually handed it in, which is pretty good. But now I have all that to mark too.' Gerard made a noise of frustration. 'I could help if you wanted? Marking the essays I mean, just reading them through and checking they have all the aspects you want, I did do year nine art you know.' He ended the sentence with a wink. 

Gerard looked up at him, the stressed lines of his face softening. 'You have no idea how helpful that would be. Thank you so much Frank.' He looked so grateful and sincere that it made Franks heart melt a bit. Frank smiled, and Gerard returned it with a smile of his own. There was an energy crackling between them, a line of static connecting them. Frank was suddenly aware of how close their faces were. There was heat radiating off of Gerard, and Frank could feel every breath on his face, see every pore on his perfect skin. Frank leaned in closer, and Gerard seemed to too. His heart beat faster, almost bursting out of his chest. His eyes flickered between Gerard's own, which were locked on him, and his beautifully plush lips. Frank was terrified, and he knew that what he was doing was so, so wrong. But that didn't stop him from closing his eyes and placing his lips on Gerard's. 

His lips were soft and warm, and Frank wanted nothing more but to sink into them further. But it was wrong. Gerard didn't respond by kissing him back, and Frank opened his eyes and jerked backwards to see him just sitting there, hazel eyes wide in shock. Or was it horror? Or was it disgust? Either way, Frank's fairytale was shattered. He scrambled to his feet, grabbing his bag from where it was dumped on the floor. He mumbled something incomprehensible, something close to an apology and ran out of the classroom. If he had looked back at his teacher, he would have seen him still sitting there, expression of shock on his face, following Frank with his wide eyes as he ran from the classroom. Then he would have seen his face crumple in confusion. He was scared, and worried for Frank, and also confused. Confused as to why he didn't kiss Frank back.

Chapter Text

Frank ran to the bathroom, eyes blurry with tears. He ran inside and ducked into a cubicle, slamming the door and locking it. He sat on the closed toilet lid, rested his head in his hands and let himself, for the first time in too long, cry. He cried silently, angry at himself. How could he be so stupid and naive to think that his teacher could ever like him back. Just because Mr Way had let him call him Gerard, and just because he let him stay in his room at lunchtimes...

And Frank had taken that to mean something it didn't, and now he'd ruined any chance of a friendship with Gerard. He swore under his breath. How could he be so stupid? Another silent sob wracked his body. What was he going to do? He couldn't exactly go up to Gerard and say 'oh, sorry I kissed you Mr Way!' The situation would be funny if it wasn't so awful. But it was awful, and Frank had no idea what he'd do. Never mind ruining his friendship with Gerard, he'd now have to find somewhere else to hide out at lunchtimes. Shit. He sobbed again, pressing his hands to his mouth to keep from making a noise. The toilets were blessedly empty.

So Frank stayed there for the whole of lunchtime. He didn't turn up to his next lesson. He waited until he could be sure the corridors would be all but empty and walked out of the toilets. Then he just kept on walking, feet carrying him through the school, out of the gates, and to the underground station. He found himself at home a while later. Frank barely remembered the train ride home, he just remembered holding in all his tears and his emotions, bottling them all up until the got home.

As soon as Frank got into the flat, he shut the door behind him, and slid down against it and sobbed. The crying wracked his entire being, physically shaking him until he was lying on the floor gasping for breath, eyes clouded with tears. At some point, he crawled into bed and pulled the covers over his head. At some point the crying stopped, leaving Frank feeling empty. At some point, his mum came home, looked around the door and saw her son seemingly asleep after a long day. The sun set, the moon rose, stars obscured by the London pollution, and the room went dark. And eventually, Frank fell asleep, Gerard's horrified face when he kissed him inscribed into his mind.

Chapter Text

The next day in school was awful. Frank managed to get by in his first and second period English lit class, eyes skimming the pages and not taking anything in. He had woken at around five, so he looked even worse than usual, dark circles under his eyes looking like bruises. He even managed to survive break okay, hiding in the sixth form study room, which was the hangout of the geeks. But he knew that periods three and four he had fine art. With Gerard.

He dragged his heels all the way, and arrived just before the bell. He slumped into his seat in the corner, and avoided looking up. When Mr Way was calling the register, his voice hardened on Frank's name, and he only mumbled a 'yes' in response. He knew he got a few funny looks, after all, his was usually the brightest answer, but he couldn't bring himself to care. Frank spent as long of the lesson as he could looking at his desk, but there came a point where he couldn't help but look at Gerard.

Gerard had spent the whole of the lesson asking questions about things he new Frank would be enthusiastic about, that he would usually answer. But this time he asked the question looking directly at Frank. 'So, what other ways can art and music influence each other? Frank, you haven't answered anything today.' Frank looked up at him. His tone was clipped and professional, a world away from the jokey tone he'd used when it was just him and Frank. He looked the same as usual. At least to anyone else. But Frank could tell something was off by the way his mouth was set in a hard line, and by the way he stood; posture a bit more straight than usual. Frank forced himself to meet Gerard's eyes, almost wincing at the flint in them. He kept his voice steady. 'Well, sir, the moods and emotions in a pice of art can influence the moods and emotions in a song or piece of music.' Frank was proud of himself for keeping his voice steady, but it was a bittersweet feeling. As soon as Frank had finished speaking Gerard turned away from him and started talking to the rest of the class. 'Yes, right, does anyone else have anything to add?' He hadn't added Frank's suggestion to the board with the rest.

Frank managed to avoid talking for the rest of the lesson, keeping his head down. All he saw of Mr Way was his legs every minute or so as he paced up and down. This didn't stop him sensing the vibes in the room, though. The whole atmosphere was tense throughout the lesson, and Frank was one of the first out of the classroom when the bell rang, running out without looking back. He was walking aimlessly down the corridor, looking at his feet, when he bumped into someobody.

'Oi, watch it mate!' He looked up, mumbling an apology, when he saw the sneering face of Charles Henry. His face split into a grin. 'Ah, little gay boy, just who I wanted to see!' Shit, shit, shit. Charles Henry gestured to his friends to come over, and soon Frank was surrounded by a circle of guys, who all had about a foot on him. 'Look guys,' he said, trying to act unbothered, 'I really don't want to fight, just let me go.' James Henry laughed and the others did too, as if on a cue from their leader. 'Nah, I don't think I can let that happen.' Frank clenched his fists, so they couldn't see the sweat forming on his palms. 'We want to know what happened between you and your little boyfriend.' The guys continued laughing and looking at each other. 'I- I don't know what you mean.' Frank stuttered. 'I think you do, Frankie. You and your boyfriend Mr Way, I've seen you two hanging around, the looks you give each other, and now both of you are in a mood the same day. Too much for a coincidence isn't it?' They had all moved closer, cutting off any ways that Frank could get out. He swallowed. 'I have no idea what you mean.' He said, choking on his words. 'For fucks sake, stop lying.' Snarled James Henry. 'Everyone knows he's a total fag, I mean look at him right?' They all laughed again, and James Henry basked in the attention. 'And we know something is going in between you two, which makes him a nonce and you a dirty, dirty little pest. And pests have to be squashed, Iero.'

Frank gulped again. He didn't know what to say. James Charles was so close to his face that he could feel the flying spit when he spoke. 'I- I-' He didn't know what to do. 'Oh, you don't have to say anything, we'll find out eventually, don't worry.' And with a menacing smile James Henry was out of his face, and him and his friends were sauntering down the corridor, barging past people, and talking and laughing about him. 

Breathing deeply, Frank unclenched his fists and continued walking down the corridor. He tried to ignore the looks he was getting, tried to stop his hands from shaking. He headed towards the toilets. Once he got there he leaned against the cool porcelain of the sink and splashed his face with water. He breathed deeply and looked at his reflection in the mirror. The person who looked back was tired, and sad, and scared, and he was also defeated. And defeated was something Frank had promised himself he'd never be.

Chapter Text

The next days passed so slowly, dragging on in monotony. Frank missed Gerard, and he missed being able to enjoy his art. He hadn't done any coursework over the last week, any time he tried he just thought about Mr Way. He just wanted things to be okay again between them, but knew they wouldn't be. It was incredible how much you could miss somebody you'd known for a week. He also felt isolated from Mikey and Ray. He hadn't answered their calls or texts, and the last time they'd come over he'd pretended to be out. He just didn't think he would be able to face them; they'd notice something was wrong, and he'd have to explain what happened, and he just didn't think he'd be able to do that, not without getting upset. He also didn't want to admit that they had been right.

so Frank's self imposed isolation continued, and the days blended into one another. He hadn't had any other run ins with James Henry and his friends, but he had heard them laughing and making comments behind his back. He'd ignored them. He had decided he wouldn't let himself be defeated by them, and he was going to stick to that. So, on Wednesday and Thursday he had walked into his fine art and art and design classes without looking at the ground, and answered the register like normal, and answered questions when asked. One thing he hadn't done was made prolonged eye contact with Mr Way. He just couldn't. 

On Friday period three he walked in to a2 for his art and design class. He got there well on time and sat in his usual place, waiting for the lesson to start. Students trickled in, filling up the room, and still Mr Way didn't arrive. The bell rang, and he still wasn't there. The volume in the room was getting louder and louder, as everyone spoke louder and louder, competent to be heard. Frank rolled his eyes and turned his music up louder.

Five minutes later, and the door opened again, Mr Way bustling in. Frank glanced over, and saw Gerard wearing the same exact suit as yesterday, only more crumpled. And he had larger bags under his eyes, and his hear was even greasier and messier than usual. Frank tried to be slightly disgusted by this, as a normal person would be. Instead, he just found it hot. He looked down and yanked out his earphones, suddenly finding the surface of his table very interesting. Mr Way dumped all the stuff in his arms on the desk, and plopped down into the seat behind his desk. He buried his head in his hands and groaned. Then, like he'd suddenly remembered where he was, he jerked up. 'Oh my god you guys, I'm so sorry!' he glanced at his watch. 'Oh wow, that is late. That's, like, impressively late...' he trailed off. Mr Way was obviously tired. Frank tried not to care, but he still looked up to watch Gerard speak.

'Long story short, I've had the crappiest night, which involved getting a set of keys chucked at me, and ended with me sleeping on the sofa of a friend I haven't seen for about three years. Who lives in Brighton. So I haven't marked any of the year nine environmental projects that need to be fully evaluated by period six today. So what I was thinking for this lesson was you could all work on coursework or whatever while I mark these and also try to find some coffee from somewhere, that sound good?' There were nods and various scraping and shuffling noises as people got up to go and get supplies and got stuff out of their bags. Gerard looked visibly relieved. 

Frank tried not to be curious, but couldn't help but wonder what Gerard had done to get a set of keys checked at him. He chucked, imagining the look on his face. That earned him a few sideways glances, but he didn't care. He shoved his earbuds back in, and put on the new Fall Out Boy album. He hadn't really listened to them since year eight, back in his awful emo phase, but their new albums were so different to what they'd put out back in the day, that Frank found himself really getting lost in it. The fifth song, The Last Of The Real ones, really spoke to him. He found himself zoning out, not concentrating on the work and instead concentrating on Patrick's voice, Pete's lyrics, and Joe and Andy's playing. It was pretty incredible, along with the rest of the album, and it took him back to such a happy time in his life.

He'd been at that perfect age in year eight; old enough to be able to go and hang out with his friends at skate parks until late, but not quite old enough to feel the pressures of growing up and becoming independent. The most important thing in his life had been hanging out with Ray and Mikey, whom he'd only known for a year, and crowding around one of their iPod touches to see the latest music video from whatever band they were obsessed with at that point. Now it was all exams and coursework and 'how can I avoid these dickheads in the hall today' Suddenly, the bell rang, jolting Frank from his thoughts. He scrambled to put away his stuff and zip up his bag. He jumped up and joined the crush to get out of the room. As he was walking over to the door, he felt a familiar grip on his arm. He spun around to come face to face with Gerard.

Up close he looked even worse. His undereyes were cast into deep shadow, his face was all shiny, his hair greasy and knotty. Frank still couldn't find it unattractive, in fact it had the opposite effect on him. He backed away from his teacher, struggling for words. Mr Way spoke first. 'Hey, Frank, um, could I maybe see you at lunch? There's something I'd like to talk to you about...' he ran his strong hand spthrough his hair. At this point, everyone else had left the classroom. Frank swallowed, avoiding his eyes. 'Um, yeah, I guess...' Gone was his confident attitude. Gerard nodded like an awkward teenager. 'Cool, see you here in an hour I guess?' Frank nodded. 'Good, yeah, okay.' Gerard stood there awkwardly for another second before giving Frank a shy little wave, and turned to walk back to his desk. Frank took this as his way of dismissing him and left the classroom. His hand lingered in the doorknob for just a little too long.

Chapter Text

Frank had a free fourth period, and spent it in the library stressing about what was going to happen at lunch. It reminded him of the first day back, only so much had changed since then. He cringed thinking about how his last lunchtime with Mr Way had gone. God, it was going to be so awkward. He looked at his watch nervously: still twenty minutes to go.

Feeling restless, Frank got up and left the library. He had an idea and headed for the toilets. Once there, he shoved each of the cubicle doors open just to check there was nobody there. When he was certain, he went to the sinks and dumped his bag on the surface, hunting around inside until he found what he was looking for. Once he had found it, he took the lid off of his eyeliner. He hadn't used it since what had happened, but why not put some on now? He brought the carbon pencil to his eye and dragged it along his top and bottom waterlines and lashlines, then did the same for the other eye. Then he smudged it around with his index finger, trying to get that 'I haven't slept in a week' look. Once done, he stepped back. He looked good. More than good actually. With a five o clock shadow on his jaw, and the deep shadows on his eyes, he looked like the protagonist in a crappy copy of twilight. In a good way though.

He checked his watch again. Five minutes. He grabbed his bag and left the toilets. He shoved his earbuds in again, this time listening to Surfer Rosa by the Pixies. He trudged towards art, trying to master his unbothered, 'too cool for this' walk. He waited outside a2, leaning against the wall outside as a bunch of stressed looking year tens walked out. As soon as they had all gone, Frank took out his earphones and went into the room, turning and shutting the door behind him.

He felt arms on either side of him, pinning him to a space on the door. He turned to find Mr Way right in front of him, staring with burning eyes. 'Gerard, what the fu-' Frank didn't get the chance to finish his sentence, because suddenly his teachers mouth was on his. Frank's eyes snapped open in shock, to see Gerard's closed as he kissed him. Frank sunk into the kiss. He tasted like cigarettes and coffee and something manly, like stale sweat and testosterone. It was so, so sexy. Frank heard a click and realised it was the door locking. Gerard's hands moved from the door to Frank's arms. He was so strong, and Frank was pinned in place by the taller man. He heard a groan and realised it came from him. Mr Way laughed into his mouth. His tongue went into Frank's mouth, exploring and claiming it. Frank sank further into it, not stopping to think of the implications of what was happening. Mr Ways hands moved from his arms to his chest, and from his chest to cup his face. This left Frank's own arms free, and, before giving himself time to regret what he was about to do, he used them to push Gerard away.

His mouth immediately missed the feel of Gerard against it, and he momentarily considered pulling Mr Way back again and screwing the consequences, but he knew that would cause more problems than it would be worth. He looked up to Gerard, who was intently staring at him, eyes clouded with lust, already plush lips swollen and pink; he had an expression close to grief on his face. 'Gerard, what the fuck is this? I mean, I kissed you, you didn't speak to me for like a week, and now this? What the hell is going on? Also, I don't know if you'd noticed, but you're my teacher, and this is your classroom.' Gerard's eyebrows knitted closer together in confusion. 'I thought... I thought you wanted this, Frank?' Frank backtracked. 'I do,' and bloody hell, he wasn't lying. 'I just thought, because this week...' Mr Way shook his head. 'I haven't been avoiding you Frank, you've been avoiding me. And the expression on his face made Frank realise that it was true, and that it had been as painful for Gerard as it had been for him. 'God, I've been such a dick.' He said, and pulled Gerard back towards him by his tie. His teacher complied, and they were kissing again like they hadn't stopped. 

Frank kept hold of his tie and started to work it loose as he was again crushed against the door. Gerard pushed one of his legs between Frank's, making him gasp into his teachers mouth. Gerard laughed, mouth still on his. Suddenly, he pulled his face away, and Frank yearned for the contact back. They just looked at each other, faces shining with sweat, lips puffy, hair a mess. Well, more of a mess than usual in Mr Way's case. With one last glance at Frank's lips, Mr Way turned and sauntered away, back to his desk. He looked over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow, telling Frank to follow. And he did, like an eager puppy.

Frank reached where Mr Way was standing behind his desk. Frank leaned sweetly over and planted a kiss on him, sweet and closed mouthed, like a thirteen year old. Gerard smiled slyly and sat down at his chair, gesturing to Frank to come over. Frank walked around to stand in front of him, casually strolling over like his body wasn't combusting with the effort of restraining himself. This time it was Gerard's turn to pull Frank down towards him by his tie. Then they were kissing, deeply and slowly, savouring the taste of each other. Then Gerard's kisses grew more urgent, needy, and Frank brought his legs around to straddle Mr Way, sitting in his lap on the flimsy office chair. 

When their kiss finally broke apart, Frank couldn't hold his curiosity in any longer. 'So, Mr Way, what changed in you to do this, and how the hell dis you end up in Brighton with a set of keys thrown at your head last night?' Frank said this playfully, with messing with Gerard's hair, but he did really want to know. Gerard chuckled. 'Well, the keys were probably my fault to be fair, I fell out with the guy who's flat I'm renting. So he kicked me out and I had to find somewhere else to stay, hence Brighton, and also hence why I stink.' It was Frank's turn to chuckle. 'You know, I like it, it's all kind of... manly.' Gerard joined his laughter. 'Well maybe I should not shower more often. Anyway, I think the jets were just a nice final 'fuck you' from Bert.' Frank nodded, still playing with his hair. 'Bert being the guy who's flat it is?' Gerard nodded. 'Would it be a violation of our strictly professional teacher/student relationship if I were to ask what you did to get kicked out?' 

Gerards face went from easygoing laughter to more serious and thoughtful. 'Well, uh, that's where it gets a little awkward.' He looked straight into Frank with those incredible eyes. 'I, um, I wouldn't sleep with him.' Frank nearly choked. 'Ya what?' He spluttered. Mr Way became slightly more relaxed again. 'Well, we had a sort of... a thing... I guess. A while ago now. We were both going through similar stuff and we found each other and we had a friendship that developed quickly. And then it developed into something... more, I guess. But then I guess I got out of that dark place and he didn't, and it sort of stopped. Well, when I say sort of...' he trailed off then, and gave Frank a sly little wink that made him blush and remember he was sitting in his teachers lap. Mr Way picked up his story. 'And I needed a place to stay he offered me this flat. He said I could have the rent cheep too, and I obviously accept. But sometimes he'll come round late at night, when he's all vulnerable, you know? And he'll ask me to, you know, sleep with him. Usually I'm fine with it, I mean, we did used to be together, and we never strictly called it off, I guess. But last night... I realised I couldn't. Because I realised my feelings for you.' Gerard looked up into Frank's eyes, looking partly like a lost little boy. 

And that was the moment Frank realised he may be falling in love with Mr Way, and falling hard.

Chapter Text

Frank was glowing as he left the classroom. He felt as if something that had been missing had clicked back into place. He and Gerard had spent the rest of their time chatting, sneaking in kisses where the conversation lulled. It felt so natural, being with Gerard, like they'd been together forever. Of course they weren't actually together now, not officially. Before Frank had left the classroom Gerard had pulled him in for one more kiss, gripping his hands. Frank had smirked and casually opened the door, strolling out of the room and towards his fifth period English lit. When sitting in English he'd unfolded the piece of paper Mr Way had put in his hand. On it was a phone number and a signature. Frank smiled at it. It was a really cute signature; 'xoxo g', and it made Frank smile just by looking at it. 

Once out of lessons and on the tube, Frank punched the number into his phone, simply naming the contact 'G'. He smiled again and sent a text. 'hey x' he had debated adding the x, wether it was too flirty, but then he'd remembered lunchtime, and decided that it definitely wasn't. He'd pressed his phone against his chest, smiling to himself in the middle of the cramped underground carriage.

Once out of the station back in Brixton, Frank's phone buzzed. The message back said 'hey Frank x'. Frank grinned widely again as he typed his reply. 'I had fun today, what about you?' This time the reply was instant. 'Yeah it was good, different but good'. Frank reached his block of flats and sprang up the stairs like a little kid. He got to his flat, flung open the door, dumped his bag and flopped down on his bed. He sent off another text to Gerard. 'It was, we should do it again sometime ;)' He briefly regretted the winky face, but then realised it didn't matter that much. Without waiting for a reply, he called Ray and Mikey.

Thirty minutes later and they were all sitting in Frank's living room, drinking coke and half watching the Jeremy Kyle show. After a few slightly awkward minutes, Mikey asked the question they were all thinking. 'So Frank, what brought you into and now I guess out of, your little self imposed isolation? Was it a hippy thing or...' Frank and Ray both laughed, Mikey had this magic ability to make anything seem so much easier. Frank dipecided the best thing would be to tell them everything...

'And that is how I ended up spending my lunchtime making out with my teacher and sitting on his lap.' Ray snorted into his coke, Mikey looked shocked more than anything else. 'Well Frank, looks like you've been a bit busy.' Mikey gave Frank a fake patronising look. Frank and Ray both laughed again. 'Apparently I have.' Frank looked down at his coke and frowned. What had he gotten himself into? Noticing his change in mood, Mikey punched his shoulder, making some coke spill and fizz on the carpet. 'We were just teasing Frank, really. We're happy for you, aren't we Ray.' Ray nodded, his afro making him look sort of like a sheep. The compassionate looks on both of their faces made Frank glow again. 'Thanks guys.' They all smiled at each other.

Just as they were settling down to watch the lie detector test results on Jeremy Kyle, the door clicked open. Frank jumped up; his mum wasn't supposed to be getting home until seven. But still there she was, shuffling into the living room, keys in hand. She saw Frank, Ray and Mikey and a grin split across her face. 'Frankie!' She rushed over and cupped Frank's face in her hands, kissing both cheeks. 'I thought you were supposed to be at work tonight?' Frank broke free of her grip and checked his watch. Quarter past seven. 'Shit,' he murmured, rushing to go and grab his jacket. 'I've got to run, see you later guys.' Ray and Mikey grinned at him and waved before turning back to the telly- the very pregnant girl was yelling at her cheating boyfriend, and Jeremy was having to stop them from physically fighting. 'Bye mum, have a good night.' Frank hugged his mum again before rushing out of the apartment.

On the way down the stairs, Frank pulled out his phone. Two new messages. He opened the first, from Gerard. 'Yeah, we should do it again. How about lunchtime Monday, in my room? x' It took Frank a few seconds to remember what Gerard was referring to, but when he remembered it made him groan, because Monday was so far away, but it gave him something incredible to look forward to. He opened the second message. 'Don't forget to wear your eyeliner ;)' A thrill rushed through Frank. He found himself looking forward to Monday.

Chapter Text

Frank spent the rest of his weekend feeling lighter than usual. He spent a lot of time texting Gerard. They discussed the new ideas Gerard had for Umbrella Academy, some guitar pieces Frank had been working on, and just generally flirted. Sometimes, when Gerard said something especially sweet, Frank had to actually pinch himself to make sure this wasn't some sort of elaborate dream, and that he wouldn't go back to school on Monday to find just an average teacher in Mr Way's place. He even found work bearable, and, on Monday morning, he jumped out of bed already smiling.

He pulled on his suit and rushed to the bathroom, eyeliner in hand. Once his makeup was perfectly drawn on and smudged, he ducked back into his room to grab his bag and headed for the door. On the way down the hallway, he bumped straight into his mum, who was in her dressing gown, bleary eyed and clutching a cup of coffee. Her eyes widened when she saw Frank's. 'What have you got on your face Frankie?' Frank stuttered for a second, not quite knowing what to say. His mums expression changed from one of shock to one of concern. 'Oh, Frankie, you've been so odd recently. You barely talk to me, you're always smiling at your phone and now you're going to school looking like this. Is there anything up?' Before Frank had a chance to respond, his mum started talking again. 'Because you know if there is you can tell me? You know that right? Is it because I work too much? Or is-' 

Frank put his hands on his mums shoulders and smiled what he hoped was a reassuring smile. 'Mum, honestly, I'm fine. I know you have to work and it's fine, honestly.' His mum softened a little. 'And the makeup?' Frank tried to come up with a decent response. 'I'm just experimenting with something, that's all.' He looked at his watch. 'Look, mum, I've got to run so I'm not late for school. See you later yeah?' Frank planted a kiss on his mums cheek and ran out the door.

As he suspected he would be, Frank was five minutes late for fine art. He slunk into he classroom, going around the back of the desks to reach his seat. He didn't make eye contact with Mr Way until he spoke to Frank. 'Well Frank, you're late.' Gerard came over and rested his hands on his desk, sleeves turned up so Frank could see the muscles and veins moving under his skin. He looked down into his eyes. 'Sorry, sir.' said Frank with a smirk. He could see Mr Way trying to resist the temptation, but he gave in and winked. Subtle enough that nobody else would notice, but Frank certainly did. 'You'll have to come back at lunch Frank, this can't happen another time. Oh, and we'll discuss that stuff on your face.' His voice dropped to a low, gravely pitch as he referred to the eyeliner, and Frank gulped. If it was any other teacher, Frank would have been embarrassed and pissed off, but having Mr Way say this to him made his body tingle. It was from anticipation, and he also realised, lust. Lust for this powerful but inwardly sensitive man that was currently towering over him.

Gerard smirked once more and turned away, leaving Frank feeling bare without the presence above him. The rest of the lesson passed relatively uneventfully. Gerard was clever. He spoke to Frank more often and more casually than anyone else, but not so much that it would cause anyone also to be curious; he knew that he had to keep it hidden and he was doing a spectacular job of it. That didn't stop him from dropping Frank the occasional subtle wink, and every one made him look forward to lunchtime more and more.

Chapter Text

Frank made his way to a2 as soon as the lunch bell rang. He waited eagerly for the class to finish fling out, anxiety riddled year elevens dragging their polished leather heels down the hall. As soon as the last one was out, Frank practically jumped through the door.. He instantly found himself in a position just as compromising as the last time.

Gerard's mouth was hot against his and he quickly moved down, planting kissed on his jawline, then slightly undoing his tie and nipping at his neck. He didn't bite hard enough to leave a mark, but God Frank wanted him to. Frank arched his head back and sighed, taking in the pleasure of what Gerard was doing. Mr Way pulled Frank's face back towards his by his shirt and kissed him roughly on the mouth again, tasting amazing and new and of something slightly salty. Frank pushed him away when he realised that it was tears. 

He held Mr Way at arms length, gently but strong enough that he couldn't try and kiss Frank again, though they both ached for it. 'Gerard, what is it?' He started stroking his face with one hand, which just made him start crying harder. 'Gerard, what's wrong? Is there something up?' And awful thought made its way into Frank's head. 'Is it me?' Gerard shook his head, breathing heavily to overcome the sobs that were taking over his body. Frank had never thought to see him in this state. Or anyone really. Once Gerard had slightly composed himself, he reached up to the hand on his face, took it in his own and led Frank over to the desk. Frank could only comply as Gerard sat down in his chair and gestured for Frank to sit in his lap. Frank started playing gently with Mr Ways hair, not saying anything, just encouraging him through gentle actions to open up.

'I, um, I lived in New York for a while. When I was a teenager. My mum got a job out there with this big corporation in the Worlld Trade Centre and we moved to New York City in early 2000.' Something awful jolted through Frank's mind: the date. It was the eleventh of September today. The sixteenth anniversary of the falling of the twin towers. He murmered 'oh my god.' As if Gerard had read his mind, he nodded to himself. 'Yeah. On the eleventh of September I was in the city. It was a Tuesday but me and a couple friends decided to skive and go into the city so we caught the subway. We got out of the station and everything was fine for a little while and then there was this huge noise, like the sky was falling.' Gerard looked up at Frank, tears leaking their way out of the corners of his eyes, which were wide, almost panicky, as he relived the memories. 'The whole city looked up and saw the first plane. It had crashed into the first tower and it felt so surreal, like a movie. Then a woman screamed and we saw the second plane and it crashed into the second tower. Everything was crashing and burning and falling. I saw bodies, Frank, falling from the sky. I was fourteen years old.'

Frank didn't know what to say. 'I-' He had no idea how you could say anything when somebody had been through something that awful. 'I'm so sorry.' Something even more terrible occurred to him. 'Was your mum okay.' Gerard nodded. 'Yeah, she'd left to go and meet a client. I didn't know that at the time. But I've never been able to stop thinking about what would have happened if she wasn't?' Frank just nodded his head. He felt himself choking up too. Gerard continued. 'The police started to shove people away from the towers. Not that people were hard to get away. People were just running through New York. In the street, in the road. They just dropped what they were doing and ran. Nobody had any idea what was going on, only that it was bad. There were children crying, and adults crying, it was chaos. The police were just loading people onto subway trains and getting them anywhere, just out of the city. I got split up from my friends. I was alone and so, so terrified.' He looked again into Frank's eyes. 'Just imagine it Frank, I was fourteen, alone in New York City, without a phone, during the biggest terror attack that's ever happened.'

Frank couldn't. As of he was just remembering who and where he was, Gerard attempted to compose himself. 'Well, um, I found my way back home, and my mum was fine and she told me my friends parents had called and they were safe. Then she told me that we were leaving New York, that she'd booked flights back for the Friday and that we were coming back to England. I'd always been a sensitive kid, so in tune with others emotions, but that just sent me over the edge. When we got back home I just shut myself away in the basement, working on art, making music. It was really, really hard. Obviously I was in a lot of counselling, mainly for the grief. I became really depressed during that period. I was really chubby as well, so I didn't have friends at school. I was just so cut off from the rest of the world. And I've barely told this to anyone before, ever.' Frank was properly crying with him now. He just felt so awful that something like this had happened to Gerard. He enveloped him in a hug, squeezing him tight to try and make him feel better. Gerard hugged back, and they both cried onto each other's shoulders.

The hug broke apart, and Frank used his thumb to wipe away some of Gerard's tears. They both sniffled, and then nervously laughed. Frank took the opportunity to say what he thought might be the most heartfelt thing he'd ever said. 'Gerard, I'm so sorry this happened to you, but I feel so blessed that you chose me to open up about it to. Thank you.' Gerard looked up into his eyes and smiled sadly. 'Oh Frank, what have I gotten into with you.' Frank smiled back. 'I don't know, but I do know I never want it to stop.'

And then they were kissing again, happiness and sadness mixing equally in the weight of all that had been said.

Chapter Text

Frank left the classroom reluctantly at the end of lunch. He didnt want to leave Mr Way while he was upset like this, and it was obvious Gerard hadn't wanted his too either, but they parted on the promise that they'd text each other when Frank got out of lessons. Throughout the afternoon Frank's concentration lapsed, going back to what Gerard had said.  It amazed him that someone could have seen so much and go through so much and yet still be as cool and seemingly relaxed as he was. It also reminded Frank that there was so much he didn't know about Gerard. I mean, he'd lived in New York! What else could he have done that Frank didn't know about.

That brought Frank back to thinking about something bad. Bert. Frank couldn't help but feel a bitter twist in his gut when he thought about Bert and Gerard together. Even though Gerard had said he no longer had interest in Bert, they had been together at some point. And Gerard obviously wasn't living on his friend's sofa anymore, meaning he was probably back at home in the flat he rented from Bert. Even though Mr Way had never explicitly said anything about Frank being his boyfriend, he couldn't help but feel a bit threatened by Bert. Really it was ridiculous, but Frank couldn't help but feel a bit jealous; Gerard and Bert went way back, and Bert obviously knew so much about him, stuff that Frank had no idea about. Just basic stuff, like his favourite food, his favourite colour, his favourite song. But that stuff did matter. Kind of.

Frank survived the rest of the afternoon, his lapses going largely unnoticed. He went back home straight from school to get on with homework. He said hi to his mum when he got in. She was watching something on the telly, but she turned around on the sofa and grinned at him. 'Hey Frankie, this new Italian place opened down the high street, I wondered if you'd like to go tonight?' This took Frank by surprise, as usually on her rare evenings off she prefered to get a takeaway and doze of in front of the telly. 'Sure, mum.' Frank replied. His mum grinned wider and reached for her phone. 'I'll book us a table. Seven okay?' Frank shook his head slightly. 'Maybe a little later, I have an English lit essay to do, so that might take a while. Seven thirty?' Franks mum smiled and punched the number into the phone. As Frank went to his room and settled down on his bed with his laptop on his lap he heard her chatting to the guy at the Italian.

He also heard a buzz on his own phone: a text from Gerard. He grinned, all thoughts of Nick and Gatsby put aside. 'Hey, sorry earlier was a bit heavy xx' Frank's reply was instant. 'Don't worrry about it, if there's anything you ever need to talk to me about it's chill xx' He glowed inside. A couple of seconds later his phone buzzed again. 'Thanks Frank' Not wanting the conversation to end, Frank sent another message. 'See you again same time tomorrow? ;)' The reply came quickly. 'Of course x' And then another one. 'You looked really good today by the way Frank. The eyeliner definitely suits you ;)' A shudder ran through Frank, he hadn't thought Gerard would notice. The next text he sent was probably a bit too flirty, he just hoped Gerard was in the mood to play along with it. 'Oh did you like it Mr Way, maybe I'll try it again tomorrow.' Another message made Frank's phone buzz. 'Of course, Iero, of course' Frank was relived Gerard was playing along, and also slightly thrilled at the more flirty direction the conversation was taking.

'Well, I guess I'll be seeing you tomorrow sir?' He grinned, thinking of Gerard smirking as he opened the message. The reply came back. 'Yes Iero, and don't be late.' Frank smiled again as yet another message came through. 'x' Plain and simple. Frank sent one back, and then put his phone down and tried to concentrate on his essay. The question was about Analysing Fitzgerald's conception of the American dream. They had to consider wether he thought it to be completely dead, or wether he believed it could be revived. The kind of essay Frank usually wrote and passed with flying colours. He didn't get that A* at gcse for nothing. So why was he struggling so much to think of themes and ideas tonight?

After much thinking and typing, Frank had a reasonable frame for his essay down. He still had to flesh it out and add more detailed analysis, but he reckoned he could do that easily during frees. He closed the lid of his laptop and headed over to his wardrobe. The clock on the wall said 7.10; only twenty minutes until him and his mum needed to be at the restaurant. After a bit of digging around, Frank managed to find a relatively clean pair of jeans and an only slightly crumpled Iron Maiden tshirt.

He stripped off his uniform and got into the clothes. Going to the bathroom he put on a bit more eyeliner and ruffled up his hair. Then he had an idea. Heading back to his room he went straight toward his bedside table. He dug around in the top drawer for a minute and then found what he was looking for: his lip ring. Frank smiled and went back to the mirror in the bathroom. With a bit of teasing he managed to get it back in. He grinned at his reflection in the mirror. The guy staring back at Frank was the emo but not too emo guy that year eight Frank could only dream of being. Something else was different too, not just the eyeliner and lip ring. Frank seemed to glow from the inside. He was more confident as well, posture higher and prouder. In short, he looked like the young man he'd needed to grow into for a long time.

Chapter Text

Dinner was good. It was nice to sit down and properly chat with his mum. Often when they talked one of them was on the way out and they didn't have a chance to properly chat. But tonight they had as long as they wanted to just sit down and chat, and it reminded Frank of dinner times with his mum and dad when he was younger. The warm glow inside him was amplified by the great food, and they chatted and ate for hours. Frank's mum didn't quiz him too much about earlier, all she asked was wether there was anything bad going on. Once Frank had reassured her that yes, everything was fine, and yes, the eyeliner was just something he was doing for him, not because of pressure from anyone, she was fine. After that, they talked about his art, his music, her job. They talked about Mikey and Ray and how they were doing. They talked about anything and everything, and it made Frank incredibly happy.

They got home, full up with pizza, and flopped down on the sofa. Frank reached for his phone, and his mum reached for the tv remote. 'Frankie, you're on your phone all the damn time now. How about a movie?' Frank looked up from his mobile. 'Yeah mum, sure. Movie. Sounds good.' To be honest, Frank was more concerned about his phone. He clicked onto his texts. He noticed the new one from Gerard and smiled. The text read 'interesting plot development in the Umbrella Academy, can't wait to show you x' Frank's smile stretched wider; he loved hearing about Gerard's comic. He sent a quick message back. 'Can't wait x' and put his phone down to concentrate on the movie.

The film in question was some new soppy chick flick, and Frank excused himself halfway through, claiming tiredness. It was true, he was exhausted. Also, he wanted to get lots of sleep so he looked nice and fresh for the next day.

-

Tuesday came around all too quickly, but lunchtime couldn't come quicker enough. He'd decided to wear his lip ring to school and he got some shit for that. Mainly just little comments behind his back, but of course Charles Henry had to take it to the next level. Frank was getting his English text out of his locker in the common room before he went on see Gerard when a group of people walked in and the door slammed behind them. Frank sighed and turned around, really not in the mood for a conflict. As he did, Charles Henry sniggered, like Frank's existence was the single funniest thing in his world right now. To be fair, it probably was. 'Hey, fag boy. Cute lip ring. Where'd you get it? 2005?' On cue, the guys all laughed. Frank sighed and tried to figure out the best response that would get him the least hate. 'Yep, that's exactly it. Since when didn't you become so insightful Charles Henry?' He looked angry. Maybe sarcasm wasn't the best route to go down. 'And since when did you become such a cheeky fuck?' The guys gathered behind Charles Henry all laughed again. Sighing again, Frank decided to just say screw it and to shove through the guys. He saw a gap between two of them and decided to make a run for it. He breathed in, breathed out, and went for it. 

He shoved past Charles Henry and his idiots, and into the relative safety of the hallway. Part of him wanted to lean around the door and see their dumb faces, but the clever side of him told him to get his ass down to art. Plus, he wanted to see Gerard, and that always overruled anything else. The thought of seeing Gerard put a smile back onto his face, and he headed over to a2.