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you're never all alone

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The first time Frank hears the new transfer student sing, it’s a complete accident. 

He’d left his guitar in the music room after band practice with the guys, and only noticed after he was already halfway home. You’d think he’d have been aware of the lack of weight strapped across his shoulder, but he’d been kind of preoccupied with trying to get Pete to stop touching Ray’s hair without the other guys noticing him muttering under his breath. He’s the newest addition to the group, and the shortest. He doesn’t need to stick out any more by announcing that he can see ghosts.

He jogs all the way back to school to get the guitar. By that time it’s already past sunset, and the school is vacant. He doesn’t expect to see the shadow of a lone figure sitting amidst the plastic chairs, strumming a guitar and singing a pleasant melody. Frank recognizes it as an acoustic cover of a Smashing Pumpkins song.

Gerard’s guitar skills aren’t exactly up to par, but his voice is nice, soothing. It’s wrought with emotion, and has an almost dreamlike quality to it. 

That’s when he notices that the figure isn’t exactly alone. Frank’s gotten so used to the ghosts hanging around that he kind of tunes them out, but it’s impossible not to notice the way that Gerard’s singing has, incredibly, gotten all the rowdy pests to sit down and just listen. The looks on their faces are of attentive awe, something Frank has never seen before. He’s even managed to break up the perpetual ongoing fight between Brendon and Ryan.

“Damn,” says Frank, leaning against the doorframe.

Gerard looks up. His face flushes a bright pink. “Oh, I didn’t see you there.”

“Hey, no need to be shy,” says Frank, striding across the room and sitting down next to Gerard on the bleachers. “You’re really talented. Do you ever perform?” says Frank.

“Oh, no, I haven’t thought about doing that,” says Gerard. “I only sing to make the ghosts feel better. They get lonely, after a while.”

Frank’s eyes widen. “You can see them too?”

Gerard shrugs. “Yeah. I noticed you talking to Patrick in art class, the other day. I thought of telling you, but I guess I was kind of shy.” He chuckles softly.

Frank nudges him with his shoulder.  “You don’t need to be shy. There’s only like, fifty students in our school, anyway. We’re all going to get to know each other way too well for our comfort.” Frank looks up at the ceiling, at the lights flickering on and off due to lack of repair and lack of public school funding. “This town is pretty much dead. That’s why I’m in a band, trying to get my feet off the ground, so I can see the world. I don’t really get along well with the other members, though. Me and Ray are always butting heads with the other guys, so we’ve been thinking of leaving and doing our own thing.”

“I lied,” says Gerard with a half-smile. “I have thought about performing. A lot, actually. My brother Mikey— he plays bass, and he’s great at it. I even, um. I even made a little comic series about our fictional band. It’s kinda stupid.”

“Hey, that’s not stupid,” says Pete, piping up from the corner. “Bass is a great talent. And so is drawing.” 

“Thanks, dude,” says Gerard.

“I second that,” says Frank. He finally remembers what he came for, and picks up his guitar from the corner of the room. “And hey, if you're serious about the band thing, I play guitar, and so does Ray. All we’d need is a drummer.”

“You play?” Gerard’s eyes light up. “Let’s hear it. And I think these guys want to hear it, too.”

“Only if you sing with me,” says Frank.

The ghosts sit in a circle around the two of them, watching expectantly. 

“Oh, what the hell,” says Gerard. “Let’s do it.”

They pick up right where Gerard left off in his earlier song. For some reason, it feels like things falling right into place.