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Halloween 2019

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So, as you can see, this isn't Chapter 1. Not really anyway.
I just wanted to take the opportunity to sort of explain what I'm doing and why for anyone who might be curious.
Back in August my sister suggested I make a collection of spooky stories centered around our favorite band members. Naturally, I sat down and combed Pinterest and Tumblr for any takers. My current list is about 25 or 26 prompts/sentence starters and I am honestly extremely excited to share them.

This is a project I've been working on for a while and I have about 8 one-shots already written and waiting on being posted. Like I mentioned in the summary, I'm gonna update once a day every day of October. Some of the chapters in this will be short, others rather long. I have one right now that's so long I'm probably gonna split it into three or more updates! It's one of my favorites so far, though it probably won't be posted until week two as it's not quite finished yet.

Also, I don't have any plans for this to be particularly bloody or anything but if inspiration strikes, I will be putting chapter specific warnings before each new chapter!

So, yeah, this was just a 'why the heck am I doing a Halloween prompt thing when it's been proven over and over again to never be finished'. I've been reading on archive a while, I see all the abandoned challenges like this one. I have nothing against those authors, sometimes writing every day, or on a set schedule, isn't as important as other things. But If you know me, I normally end up apologizing for posting things Early rather than late. That's why I chose to make this a challenge for myself. No one's forcing me, other than my sister who told me she'd pick my Halloween costume for me if I miss an update. Coming from a 13 year-old kid, that's terrifying. XD

Expect this to actually be finished, if I don't finish it I've probably fallen down the bottomless pit of year three college life.

Final note from me tonight: send me prompts? Plz?
But seriously, if there's a spooky or Halloween idea you have that you want to see, just ask! I will say that I will not accept prompts that are asking for incest or smut but other than that, the gates are pretty much open. That's gonna come back to bite me isn't it? For real though, don't be shy dudes. I love interacting with you all, even though I'm an awkward mess and I'm just gonna apologize in advance for that. ***YOU can suggest prompts by either leaving a comment on this fic or by messaging me on my tumblr honestmouse20 ***

Alright, I will see you all in a little less than two days when I post The Real chapter 1. Hint: it's called "Cemetery Drive"
<3

Chapter Text

Gerard leaves work early that day.
He puts it off as a migraine to his boss, who just shrugs and tells him to be on time tomorrow. The only person who seems even mildly concerned is the older lady two cubicles down. Gerard can never actually remember her name but she always smiles at him and has seasonal M&M’s sitting on the corner of her desk. She’s the definition of ‘that one old lady in the office’ but Gerard sees her as a friend, someone he’s gone to on quite a few occasions when he’s needed help.
Plus, she’s one of the few people who didn’t immediately lose interest in him or begin treating him differently after he brought his husband to a work dinner. God forbid there’s a gay guy in their office or something.
But he’s not as bothered by that as he used to be.
The older lady though, she’s one of the few more accepting people he works with. She’s not treated him any differently and has even covered for him when he has to check his phone every hour when Frank gets sick. Which is unfortunately rather often.
Today though, he doesn’t have time for one of their long conversations, not that he doesn’t enjoy those talks endlessly. They talk almost every day, about random things mostly, but Gerard somehow has never caught her name. As he packs the final few things into his bag, she does kindly ask him if he’s okay in that soft old lady voice that reminds him so much of his grandma. If it were anyone else in this office, he’d probably shrug them off in a heart beat. This old lady though, he feels like she deserves an explanation. He feels connected to her in a way.
They both stand out in the sea of straight guys in their mid-thirties wearing designer suits that makes up their office.
“I’m fine,” he explains, shoving a stack of papers into his bag carelessly. “Just a migraine.”
From the corner of his eye, Gerard watches her nod wisely, as if she can see right through his lie. She then tells him to feel better soon.
Okay, so it’s not exactly a lie. He does have migraines several times a month that are intense enough for him to have to go home and suffer through them rather than behind his desk. There’s no throbbing today but he’s certain that if he stays until quitting time that there will be.
And just like that, Gerard’s walking out the front door and out onto the sidewalk. It’s not quite lunch time yet but the traffic is still terrible. Cars are bumper to bumper and Gerard takes the time to be thankful that he walks to work. It’s a good thing most of the time actually, means that he can get actual fresh air and maybe even a bit of exercise. If he had it his way, he’d be a hermit but Frank cares about him. So he’s inclined to not look like that old dude in a cave from that one episode of Spongebob. Even though he sorta wants to.
Working an office job isn’t as cracked up as people make it out to be. He’s proof of that.
And even the bitter October air is a welcome comfort in comparison to the stuffy interior of his office. Gerard’s never really been claustrophobic but sitting in that tiny desk for eight hours a day really does take its toll.
As he walks, he notices how the sun is completely blocked by the heavy clouds overhead, further engraving the chill of the fast approaching winter. If they lived further away from the city, Gerard’s certain that the leaves would already be changing colors.
That’s one thing he truly misses from home, aside from his baby brother of course. It’s watching the leaves as they turn into such vibrant shades of red and orange along with the changing of the seasons. Gerard has always loved the fall months more than the summer ones and he longs to be able to hear the crunch of leaves under his feet. And while there are crunching sounds as he steps, most of it is because of food wrappers and other things that he probably should burn his shoes just for stepping in.
All the same, Gerard makes it home reasonably quickly, after briefly stopping into his favorite coffee shop on his way home to grab a quick lunch. He knows Frank has class until about 2pm so he’s got the time to kill anyway.
Their apartment is nothing special, just another set of square windows halfway up the grey, brick building. Every building on this street seems to be apartments and Gerard can’t help but think that they all look too much the same. The same windows, the same stains of rust along the gutters. And his and Frank’s apartment is just like all the others. It’s tiny, only one bedroom and a microscopic kitchen with an equally small living room, but it’s home and Gerard wouldn’t trade living in it with Frank for anything. The rent is outrageous though, but his job coupled with his husband’s part time one is enough for them to get by.
Finally upstairs and on his floor, after dealing with chatty receptionists and annoying children who seem to spawn in the lobby downstairs, Gerard puts his key in the door and pushes it with his foot to open it.
Instantly his senses are hit with the smell of one of Frank’s favorite wall plug-ins, one that's ridiculously named ‘’pumpkin spice dreams”. But, honestly, it’s one of Gerard’s favorite things to come home to, aside from his husband himself, and he finds himself smiling as he places his things on the floor beside the door. The scent is distinctly home and reminds him so much of his husband that it makes a soft feeling flutter up in his chest.
Anxiety and stress has faded to the background for now, just the simple peace of returning home to reminders of Frank enough to help him calm down. The beginnings of his migraine have faded.Frank’s pumpkin smelly-thing and the promise of coffee is also helping greatly in melting the stress from his bones.
Unbuttoning his dark blue jacket that’s a few sizes too big on him and draping it lazily across the back of their couch, Gerard goes in search of the TV remote. Thirty minutes later he’s plopped down on the couch still in his work clothes, sketchbook balanced in his lap with a mug of coffee in his free hand. The TV is mostly just for background noise as he gets solely lost in the shades of ink on the slightly textured paper.
The front door opening has him looking up suddenly and he watches his husband shuffle inside. Frank must not notice he’s home yet because he’s got his back to the couch as he slings his backpack down beside the door. Gerard watches fondly as he realizes that his things are by the door too. Frank makes a downright adorable ‘huh?’ as he turns around to face the couch.
“Hey Frankie,” Gerard calls to him, taking a sip from the mug in his hand as Frank’s face lights up in recognition at the sound of his voice.
Setting the sketchbook down on the coffee table, Gerard wastes no time scooting over enough for his husband to have room to sit as well. And Frank does come over, albeit slowly. He sits down rather heavily and instantly curls up into Gerard’s side, a soft sigh of content escaping his lips.
Gerard’s fingers find Frank’s hair on instinct as he gently begins tugging at the numerous tangles already in the long strands. He is able to feel the chill still clinging to Frank’s clothes, to his skin where it touches against his own. Wrapping an arm around the small body pressed close to his, he does his best to try and chase the remnants of the frigid air away. The last thing they need is him getting sick again. Not so soon to midterms anyway.
“I hate my life,” Frank mutters bitterly into Gerard’s shoulder.
Fighting off a laugh at the overly dramatic statement, Gerard just hums and waits for Frank to continue.
“I was late for my Chem class at 10,” he continues, sitting up and moving enough to where he can talk without being muffled by Gerard’s clothes. “I fell asleep in the coffee shop this morning after my 8am and I barely made it before Chem was over. The professor was so mad Gee; he made me stand in front of the class and explain why I was so late before I could go and sit down.”
“I thought college professors didn’t do that kinda shit? It’s too high school of them,” Gerard tries to assure him, watching the way Frank’s face scrunches up in frustration and the embarrassment coloring his cheeks from simply talking about it.
“Me fuckin’ too. But this bitch hates me and I dunno why.”
Frank doesn’t say anything else but he does return back to his little cocoon against Gerard’s side. He looks so small, all curled against Gerard like this and his heart hurts with the thought of Frank having such a bad day.
They’ve bitched about this particular professor many times but no matter what Frank does, he seems to have something against him.
“Hey Gee?” Frank asks, voice muffled by the fabric of Gerard’s clothes that his face is currently pressed into.
He hums, continuing to play with Frank's hair as he waits for him to continue.
“What’re you doin’ home early?”
Oh right.
Looking down at his watch, Gerard realizes that it’s only shortly after 3 and that he’s normally at work for at least another 2 and a half hours.
So he tells Frank about how he was so tired from staring at the same three damn papers all morning so he faked a migraine to leave early.
Instead of getting mad, Frank just laughs a little and steals a sip of Gerard’s coffee as reparation.
“Smart plan. Until you actually have a migraine and you’ve already used up all your days.”
“Shut up with your- your sound logic,” Gerard teases back halfheartedly, even as he laughs at the truth behind Frank’s statement.
Frank just laughs with him, snuggling up again as Gerard pulls the sketchpad back up and starts drawing again.
It’s nothing really fancy, just some ideas for his costume this year. Ray and some other friends of his from college are doing a small party on Halloween and he’s taken up the task of designing costumes for him and Frank. Naturally, they’re gonna be gory as he can get them and probably matching or themed if he can. He’s been working on these ideas for a while but he’s still not quite sure what they are gonna be. Maybe zombies or something?
Or ghosts?
Or is that too predictable, too overdone?
“Oh!,” Frank says suddenly, “so, since you’re home early you can get your surprise early too!”
Looking at him warily, because Gerard knows from experience how out of hand Frank’s surprises can be, he idly plays with the warm wedding band on his hand and waits on him to continue.
“I wanted to have a date night tonight! I’ve been planning something really freaking rad and since you’re home we can get a head start?”
It’s worded like a question and Gerard can hear the uncertainty in Frank’s voice. Like he’d ever be able to resist a date night, not even one planned by Frank. Gerard loves him to death but sometimes his husband can be a bit… over the top.
But even the ‘bad’ dates sit as fond memories in Gerard’s mind, as reminders of why he loves this small chaotic man as much as he does.
“Sure, I can’t wait, Frankie. Lemme go change into something less stuffy okay?”
He’s wearing his work clothes still and he’d rather not go out in them any more than he has to. Besides, Frank’s more practically dressed in a flannel, hoodie, and a bomber jacket- that may or may not be Gerard’s that Frank had ‘borrowed’- and jeans. So, if Gerard went in his dress pants and shirt, he’d stick out like a sore thumb.
“Kay,” Frank agrees, wearing a soft smile and instantly claiming Gerard’s spot on the couch as soon as he gets up to steal the warmth he left behind.
An old t-shit and hoodie coupled with a pair of black jeans and Gerard is ready to go. He doesn’t even glance into the small mirror hanging on their door to fix his hair, even though he knows it’s probably a disaster.
When he goes back into the living room, Frank zips up his book bag quickly before turning towards Gerard. Suspicious now, he notices that all of Frank’s books are dumped onto the coffee table.
Shooting him a questioning look, Gerard just receives a smug shrug in response.
“If you’re gonna murder me in the woods or something can you make sure none of the blood gets on my hoodie? I just washed it.”
“I can’t make any promises,” Frank deadpans back before shouldering his bag and grabbing his keys. “Ready?”
And just like that, Gerard is back in the freezing city air.
It’s not miserable though, not with Frank’s tiny hand in his as he leads them down the sidewalk. They pass plenty of people, apparently no one deterred by the bitter chill to the air. Some people give them looks, judgemental eyes flickering down to his hand connected in Frank’s but Gerard could care less. This kinda thing used to bother him but really, the gentle weight of the wedding band on his finger and the love of his life pressed up next to him makes it worth any odd looks they may get.
“Where are we going?” Gerard asks at last as they pass another unfamiliar street sign.
They’ve been walking for the better part of an hour, steadily getting further and further away from the city. Small shops and coffee houses have faded into modestly sized houses as they reach the edges of the suburbs. They reach the two story, white picket fence houses shortly after he asks this.
Frank doesn’t answer but Gerard doesn’t mind too much. Besides, some of the houses have larger trees in their yards, already turning into fiery reds and soft oranges to accompany the chill to the air. It’s honestly, genuinely, really pretty and something Gerard wishes that he had his camera with him to take pictures of.
“Getting close,” Frank tells him as they turn down a seemingly random street.
It's starting to get dark now, the beginnings of the sunset already streaking across the cloudy sky above them. Gerard’s getting cold now and so he’s certain that Frank is too. He always does seem to get cold really easily and Gerard worries momentarily about Frank getting sick.
But that thought is pushed away as they stop dead in the middle of the sidewalk. Instantly, Gerard’s attention is pulled by the looming metal gates on the right side of the walkway. The old iron is painted black and it twists towards the top in intricate spirals that hold menacing spikes on the top.
Just beyond the gates Gerard can see a well-kept field, the grass dead and brown because of the cold. It’s littered with headstones, so many that he can’t begin to count them all as he notices they seem to roll along the soft hills just inside.
Some, the ones closer to the gates, appear more recent, with polished stone and clear letters engraved into it. The ones just a few rows back are obviously older, some even appearing broken as Gerard looks a little longer.
“Here?” he asks because why would Frank chose this place for a date?
“If that’s okay?”
And Gerard can hear the uncertainty again, the hesitation and softness to Frank’s voice. It’s not conventional as far as dates go but honestly, they’ve done weirder so really, why the hell not?
“Yeah, sorry,” he says, quick to apologize. “Was just shocked at first.”
“That’s the point. It’s supposed to be weird!”
The enthusiasm is back and Gerard lets Frank drag him inside. It’s a bit odd that the gates weren’t locked but he doesn’t question it.
He’s led down the main path, his sneakers making only the slightest sound against the old concrete beneath his feet. Gerard is pleased to find that there’s more trees here. Though, most have already lost their leaves, leaving just the bare skeletons of empty branches and rough bark.
The air is silent save for the sound of their shoes and the whistle of the wind as it passes gently through the trees. Gerard takes a deep breath, letting the crisp air fill his lungs, and holds it for a moment.
He loves living in the city but it’s things like this that he only realizes he misses when he finds himself doing something like this.
He releases the breath, watching as the cold air makes it visible for just a moment before it fades into the shadows surrounding them.
Frank pulls a flashlight from somewhere, using it so they don't stray from the path.
And this should be creepy. He should probably be freaked out by the hundreds of decaying bodies right beneath his feet.
But he’s not.
They can’t hurt him and probably wouldn't want to hurt him anyway. He and Frank aren’t causing trouble or anything, just going on a romantic date in the middle of a graveyard.
Gerard laughs a little to himself, earning a knowing sort of smile from Frank as he turns around.
His life is weird but he wouldn’t trade this for anything.
“Here we are!” Frank says at last, leading Gerard over to a seemingly random cluster of gravestones.
Looking around as Frank pulls his bag off his shoulder and busily begins pulling random things out, Gerard notices that they’re in the very back of the cemetery. The back gate is only a few feet away, nothing but thick, dark forest lying beyond the black and twisting metal. With the sun now completely set and nothing but shadows surrounding them, Gerard gladly accepts the extra flashlight that Frank hands him.
Letting the beam pass over a few of the headstones closest to them, Gerard’s barely able to read the inscriptions carved there. Most here are weathered so badly that it’s impossible to tell what they used to say or who’s body it is slowly decaying only a few feet beneath them. More than half of the closest headstones are nothing but cracked, crumbling pieces of stone.
It’s rather sad, Gerad thinks, being forgotten like that.
“Okay, it’s ready.”
Frank’s voice is right beside him, his hand sliding into Gerard’s effortlessly. Recovering from being startled by the suddenness of Frank’s voice, Gerard lets himself be lead over by the cold hand that’s dragging him. He wonders briefly where Frank’s gloves are and why he didn’t bring him with him.
But soon all thoughts are pushed to the back of his mind as he takes in what Frank has set up for them.
There’s a literal nest of blankets resting snugly against a nearby tree, with a few candles scattered about the immediate area. The weak light that they provide somehow adds to the atmosphere Frank was going for and Gerard feels his knees threaten to go out beneath him.
He can even spot a large bag of his favorite flavor of chips and a thermos sitting off to the side, making his stomach grumble at the idea of a snack.
“I didn’t know what kinda food was normal for graveyard dates so I just improvised. But I’ve got coffee and it’s still warm and I know that this is weird and you can totally say no and we’ll go right home and-”
Gerard stops his rambling by capturing Frank’s lips against his own. Frank melts instantly against him, wrapping his arms around Gerard’s waist and kissing back eagerly. When they pull apart they’re both smiling and he gets a little lost in the candle light flickering in Frank’s eyes. The flashlights have been forgotten… somewhere. But it doesn’t matter.
He can see everything he needs to right now.
“So you like it?” Frank asks him breathlessly.
“I love it.”
He accentuates this with another kiss, this one brief before he lets Frank guide them down onto the blanket. Gerard grabs the chips as Frank pops open the thermos and produces two mugs from his bag.
They settle back against the tree, Frank leaning with his back against Gerard’s chest as they dig into their snacks. Gerard makes sure to keep Frank close, lingering worries about him getting sick still bouncing around in his mind, but his husband doesn’t seem to mind all that much. The chips crunching feel impossibly loud against the stark silence of the cemetery around them. As Gerard sips his coffee, he can hear himself swallow. But once again, even though this should be creepy or unnerving, it’s just not.
Living in the city means that this sorta quiet just isn’t a thing. There’s always cars and horns and neighbors and just noise. It’s faded into the background now, something he hardly even notices, until it’s gone. Until times like right now.
After the food is finished and they’re just sitting in the comfortable silence, sipping on the last of their coffee, Gerard simply listens as Frank tells him about his day. He’s not complaining this time, even though Gerard wouldn’t mind if he wanted to tell him more about his asshole of a professor.
But Frank mostly just rambles, talking about this really tiny dog he saw on his way to class and how he actually managed to tell the person who was walking it that he thought their dog was adorable. Then he goes on about this one chapter of his textbook that was super weird because it was written in second person or something.
Gerard is honestly paying more attention to the sound of Frank’s voice and the emotion in the way he speaks, rather than the actual words themselves. He listens for the way Frank will laugh to himself before telling something he thinks is really funny and how he stutters sometimes when his mind is going faster than his words can keep pace with.
The way that he can feel Frank breathe, can feel the heat gradually increasing as they warm the air beneath the blankets with their body heat. He notices how soft the blankets are, how they smell of their detergent.
Frank’s wearing something pumpkin, the sent faint but all so familiar.
“I love you,” Gerard says as the conversation tapers off a few minutes later.
There’s no car alarms or construction going on just outside, it’s only the gentle fall breeze meandering through the top branches of the trees above them and the sound of Frank munching on a few handfuls of chips from a new bag.
“I love you too,” Frank tells him, smiling gently and leaning up to press their lips together.
He tastes oddly of sour cream and onion mixed with the hazelnut creamer in the coffee, but Gerard doesn’t mind. Truthfully, he’s not sure he would mind if Frank tastes like spoiled milk. Not that he’d ever expect that or anything.
What he means is that it’s just Frank.
Gerard may only be 22 years old but he considers himself one of the lucky ones. He doesn’t have a high paying job or big house, nor does he have a fancy law school degree under his belt. But what he does have is this.
He has Frank, the love of his life. The guys who comes up with things like graveyard dates and thinks to pack chips as the food because he knows that it’s what Gerard likes.
It’s not normal but then again, neither are they.
The two of them stay there long into the night, morning classes and work schedules forgotten. They talk, about anything and everything.
Gerard tells Frank about the old lady again and how he’s gonna miss her when she retires.
And Frank talks about school some more before mentioning this really cool guitar that one of his classmates brought to the cafeteria. He tells Gerard about how the girl let him play it, how he spent hours playing until she asked, very politely, for her guitar back.
As Frank talks, as their conversations dissolves into nothing of real significance, Gerard finds himself falling.
Each time Frank’s voice spills out over the darkened hills and gravestones just beyond the candlelight, Gerard can feel it blooming warm in his chest. He twists the ring on his finger idly, savoring being able to embrace Frank like this, being able to hear him talk about nothing.
As the night grows towards its end, Gerard falls all the more in love.

Chapter Text

Dragging himself up the school steps, Mikey tries to wake up enough to remember if he has Geometry first today or World History.
The travel mug of coffee clutched tightly in his hand is his saving grace, a lifeline as he remembers that today is Tuesday so it’s math that he’s heading to at 8:30 in the fucking morning.
With a groan he plops down into the desk in the far corner of the math room. He’s almost late and so the room is already mostly filled with other students. Thankfully, no one tries to talk to him, or even really notices how he’s nearly falling asleep in his chair.
It’s not his fault he’s so tired, you can blame his older brother for that one. Gerard had insisted last night that they stay up and binge the horror movie marathon that was on TV and he’d, like an idiot, joined in gladly. Mikey had honestly had a good evening, his time spent just sharing a large pizza with his brother and laughing at the shitty gore effects. But now he’s exhausted and he’s certain that there was something he was supposed to do today. He feels like Neville in that one Harry Potter movie that he's too tired to remember the name of, where he knows he’s forgotten something but has no clue what it is.
The beginning bell rings, loud and piercing enough to wake Mikey from where he’d nearly fallen asleep.
He sits up blearily as the seat next to his is suddenly occupied. All four feet eleven inches of Pete Wentz compacts instantly in the cheap plastic school chair and he lets out a sharp breath as he gets settled.
Mikey watches through the corner of his eyes as Pete reaches into his bag and pulls out a very disorganized math binder, papers falling out everywhere as he flings it onto the table.
He looks terrible but that's everyday so Mikey doesn't worry too much.
“Sup,” Pete mumbles once he notices Mikey watching him.
He has to look away, focus just outside the window to his left as he watches the rolling fog cling to the school grounds as the sun fights to pierce the low clouds. It’s cold out, nearing the end of October, and it’s undisputedely Mikey’s favorite time of year.
There’s many reasons that he loves October. Things like haunted houses, horror movie marathons with his brother, and badass costumes are high up on that list. There is just something about this entire month that makes everything feel a bit more in focus. Maybe it's the sharp bite to the air and the way the fog looks on lazy mornings as he nurses a coffee by his bedroom window.
“You good dude?” Pete says, craning his head a bit to the side and whispering quietly so that Mrs. Eaton won’t tell them off for talking during her lesson.
Funny, up until Pete moved here in August there were rumors around the school that Mikey was mute. They’re wrong of course, he can talk and he does, often at great length, but only when he’s around someone he’s comfortable with.
Mostly it’s just his brother but Pete’s really grown on him in the few months that he’s known the older kid. It’s strange but Mikey doesn’t mind getting yelled at by frustrated teachers for talking, so long as it’s Pete he’s talking too.
And oh-
That’s what he was going to do today.
“Yeah ‘m good. Gee convinced me into a movie night last night,” Mikey answers quietly, rolling his eyes.
There hadn’t been much convincing on his part. Gerard works, a lot, and it’s hard to find time to hang out like they used to. But Mikey gets it, supporting a 16 year-old kid when you’re only 19 is not an easy thing to do. Gerard does good though, always making sure Mikey’s got enough for lunch money and occasionally a little extra for a new comic he’s had his eye on.
Even though Pete’s response is extremely mumbled, so much so that Mikey can’t make out what he actually says, they both earn a rather harsh shush-ing from Mrs. Eaton.
But Mikey’s not concerned by whatever the math teacher thinks they’re talking about. And yeah-sure this is technically small talk but Mikey can never get enough of talking to Pete.
Looking back down at his desk, Mikey tries to focus on the lesson and not the plans that he somehow managed to forget this morning.
He’s going to ask Pete out, as in totally not in a platonic way.
Obviously he’s freaking out but after some help from Gee, he’s got a plan.
See, the school is doing some stupid Halloween party on the 31st to discourage kids from going out and drinking or some shit. Normally Mikey would steer clear of anything school related that he’s not required by law to attend but the thing is, there’s supposed to be a group of kids putting on a haunted house out in the old gym building.
The flyer taped to the bulletin board in the main hallway had said costumes were required to enter but there was no fee.
This was his chance, Mikey could totally ask Pete to come to the stupid party with him and then they could go to the haunted house thing together.
But first, he had to actually ask Pete out. Which was proving more difficult than he’d realized.
Gerard had told him to just ask, to find a moment of pause in a conversation and go for it. Of course, his brother is a bit overly romantic and so Mikey’s fairly certain that it’s not going to be that easy.
That is, if his anxiety has any say in this.
Like always though, Geometry seems to drag on. It feels like literal hours rather than 45 minutes before the bell rings.
Most of the students fly to pack up their things and rush out of the classroom, but Pete and Mikey both have a free period in here next. It’s just them since no teacher has this period free to watch them and Mikey knows that now is his chance.
Risking a glance over at his friend, Mikey finally notices how tired Pete looks. More so than normal.
There’s dark bags under his eyes and he’s resting his head in his palm like it’s too heavy to hold up. Mikey knows about Pete’s insomnia, knows already how bad it can get if he goes too long without sleeping.
Instantly the worry surfaces.
“Pete? You still with me?” he asks, placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder.
Pete looks up through tired eyes but flashes him a smile all the same.
“Don’ worry Mikeyway.”
The slur to his voice makes Mikey worry anyway, pun not intended, and he’s quickly scrounging around in his bag for his cellphone. He should call Gee, his brother mentioned he had today off for some reason, and get him to come pick them up. Pete looks too tired to actually function today anyway. Mikey doesn't know how he hadn't noticed it before.
He's laying his upper half completely on the desk now, using his math binder as a make-shift pillow. And Mikey is fairly certain that if Pete could be asleep right now, he would.
After firing a quick text to Gerard and stuffing his phone in his hoodie pocket, Mikey turns back to Pete. He’s got his own jacket wrapped tightly around him, like he's freezing. Pete's eyes are half-open and glossy as they stare off into space.
“Pete, when’s the last time you slept?” Mikey asks carefully, keeping his voice quiet in case Pete has a sleep deprived induced headache.
They’d had a long weekend for some reason and so the last time he’d seen Pete had been on Friday, during this period. One night without sleep was nothing new or abnormal for Pete but Mikey can vaguely remember him telling that he hadn’t slept last Thursday night.
If Pete still hasn’t slept that’d make it… five days?!
“Pete,” Mikey says, louder than before as he shakes his friend’s shoulder a bit to gain his attention.
“Hmmm?”
Pete raises his head a little, squinting against the harsh light of the empty classroom around them.
“When’s the last time you slept?”
“Uh… dunno. ‘Day’s t'day?”
“Tuesday,” he supplies gently, worry beginning to twist in his gut even more.
“Since ‘for long weekend.”
“Shit. Pete why didn’t you text me over the weekend? I could’a sat with you and made sure you got some sleep!”
He’s not mad, knows that it’s not Pete’s fault but still-
Mikey was complaining earlier about how tired he was when Pete’s gone almost a week without sleeping.
“Didn’t wanna bother you,” Pete admits at last, not able to meet Mikey’s eyes. “Didn’t want you to waste yer weekend on me.”
With a sigh, Mikey reminds himself that Pete’s severely sleep deprived and probably won’t even remember admitting this later if he were to ask.
Still, the implication that he'd be bothering Mikey by asking for help is a sharp blade in his heart right now.
“Gee’s on his way, we’re gonna go back to mine okay?” he says instead, already digging through Pete’s bag for his emergency stash of meds.
Mikey feels both privileged and terrified to know that he’s the only one, other than the school nurse- an older woman who’s super sweet but useless, in the nicest way possible- who knows that this is here.
He does breathe a sigh of relief when he finds the small container of sleeping meds stuffed into one of the side pockets. Pete hates having to take them, has told Mikey many times that they make him feel weird.
So, he won't force Pete to take them if he doesn’t want to but knowing they’re there in case they can’t get him to sleep is comforting. If a little concerning that it gets this bad often enough for him to need them.
A few minutes later, right as Mikey finishes packing up their things, the intercom comes on, telling them that they’re both being checked out for the day.
By some miracle, Mikey manages to drag Pete out of his seat and down the hallway to the main office. He’s waking up a bit now and Mikey doesn’t have to actually carry him so things are definitely better than what they could be.
They find Gerard standing awkwardly in the office waiting area, holding tightly onto his own travel mug and looking like he just woke up. But he smiles as Mikey guides a semi-conscious Pete into the room and waits on Gerard to sign them out.
The car ride is silent, no music blasting from the radio for once as they try and make sure Pete stays relaxed. If he gets too worked up he’ll never get to sleep, even with the meds.
___________________________
Three hours later, Mikey crashes on the couch in the living room. Pete has his bed, falling asleep after about two hours of Mikey talking quietly to him to try and get him to sleep while they waited for the meds to kick in, and Gerard’s doing something in his room. But Mikey doesn’t mind. He just curls up with the old, ratty crochet blanket, that still somehow smells like his mother even though it’s been years, and falls asleep.
He’s woken up around dark by something falling down gracelessly onto the couch with him. There’s some muffled cursing and then an arm draping around his waist. The person is warm, tiny and Mikey slowly begins to realize that this is Pete, not his brother.
His breath catches as Pete hums and snuggles closer.
“Pete?” he whispers into the dark room surrounding them.
There’s a rustle as Pete quickly begins to pull away, mumbling half formed apologies as he does so.
“Sorry- sorry I just- I know you were asleep but I woke up and I was alone and I-”
“Hey,” Mikey interrupts, noticing how frantic Pete’s tone was getting. “I don’t mind.”
“Really?”
He sounds so unsure, so hesitant and it breaks Mikey’s heart.
“Absolutely. C’mere.”
Opening his arms and lifting the blankets so Pete can slide up against him more easily, he waits patiently for his best friend to accept the invitation. It takes a few seconds but soon enough, Pete’s curling up against him and wrapping his arms hesitantly around Mikey’s waist.
“Thank you,” he says after a while, so quietly that Mikey barely hears it.
He’s nearly asleep again, lulled under by the warmth of Pete pressed so close to him and the soft sounds of him breathing into his neck.
“Don’t gotta thank me,” Mikey mumbles, fighting through the sleep clinging to him.
As he inevitably falls back under again, Pete falling right along side of him, Mikey doesn’t hear Pete whisper three precious words into the skin of his neck.

Chapter Text

Pete’s still asleep when Mikey wakes up a few hours later, energized and wide awake even though a quick glance to the clock on the far wall tells him that it’s nearly 2am.

He can see the light still on under his brother’s door, can faintly hear music playing low from Gerard’s speakers. The whole house is bathed in shadows, the walls blending together and the only light is moonlight shining down onto the carpet by the window.

Pete’s deeply asleep, his breaths even and slow, and Mikey knows better than to try and wake him. If they’re lucky he’ll be out until it’s time to go to class but he’s not completely sure he’d be willing to wake Pete if he’s still asleep by then.

So Mikey lays still and tries to think of anything else other than the dude he’s been crushing on since August sleeping literally on top of him. He longs to wrap his arms around Pete, to pull him even closer. 

He even goes as far to wonder what it’d be like to wake up like this every day. With the warm weight of Pete right beside him and his soft snores filling his ears. Eventually he drifts back off, warm despite the chill clinging to the air and completely at ease in Pete’s arms.

_______________________________

BRRIINNGG!!!

“Shit!” Mikey exclaims, sitting abruptly as he fumbles to turn off the alarm on his phone. 

It’s in his hoodie pocket from yesterday and it takes considerable effort for him to wiggle enough to reach inside his pocket to turn it off. It wouldn’t be so difficult if Pete didn’t have a death grip on him. Actually though, even as groggy as he is, he’s so far from complaining about it. 

“Mmhm? Waz goin’ on?” mumbles Pete, clearly still half asleep.

Mikey rubs a hand down his face, wiping away the sleep from his eyes as he tries to figure out what time it is. He can see the coffee pot on, half-empty, in the kitchen and a discarded pop tart wrapper lying on the counter beside it.
Clearly Gerard’s already come and gone, so Mikey knows he needs to get himself and Pete up soon. Before they’re late to school.

“C’mon Pete. Time for school.”

“Nooooooo,” Pete whines, nuzzling even closer to Mikey and groaning loudly for dramatic effect.

“You slept like 14 hours and you need food and coffee.”

That earns him another groan but Pete does open one bleary eye at the mention of coffee.

“C’mon. Up,” Mikey says again, tapping Pete’s shoulder lovingly.

It does the trick, Pete flings himself up and stretches wildly as Mikey stands to go over to the coffee pot. It appears that Gerard left them a good bit of coffee. Thank god.

Though, Mikey’s not as happy about the sticky note taped to the handle. A hand-drawn smiley face winks up at him, making his face heat up at the thought of his brother walking through and seeing him and Pete curled up on the couch 

Mikey can hear the pad of his bare feet on the kitchen linoleum so he quickly chucks the note in the trash before Pete can see. To avoid looking suspicious, he gets to work pouring their cups.

“Thanks,” Pete says earnestly, grabbing his and taking a long sip, before all but moaning into the mug.

Instantly Mikey’s face heats into a blush yet again and he has to rush to hide it by opening the refrigerator door in a pretend search for breakfast food. Pete should probably eat something anyway. But all he can see is condiments and not much else. It must be time for Gerard to go shopping again.

“Mikey, really, thank you,” Pete says again as Mikey closes the door empty handed.
He notices how Pete’s expression is so earnest, genuine as he stares down into the mug in his hand. But there’s a shy smile fighting it’s way through Pete’s expression. 

Mikey puts a hand on his shoulder, smiling too now as he realizes what Pete means.

“Always Pete.”

He means it. Pete’s like his only friend, not to mention his first crush for fucks sake, and Mikey plans on being there for him whenever he needs him. As stupid and cheesy as that sounds.

In this moment though, they’re just sorta... smiling at each other, Mikey’s hand still on Pete’s shoulder as neither of them try and move. They’re gonna be late soon if they don’t hurry up but Mikey doesn’t care. The way Pete’s looking at him, if he didn’t know better he’d say that there was a fondness in his eyes. Maybe even affection… 

And, actually, that serves to remind Mikey of the question he’s been trying to ask Pete since he realized that he was in love with him. And no. It’s not just a crush. It’s something so much deeper than that. But Mikey has no clue what that means or how the hell he’s supposed to do this because just looking at Pete right now is distracting him.

He’s never even had a crush on someone before Pete. He’s in entirely new territory and it’s terrifying. Especially as Pete continues to smile at him, eyes so freaking soft and brown. He’s lost in them really. In the deep, chocolate brown that’s staring right back at him. Like Pete can’t bear to look away either.
Mikey’s not sure what Pete is thinking right now, if he’s on the same train of thought as he is, but Mikey knows that he needs to do this now. He needs to ask before he can sike himself out.

He takes a deep breath, watching Pete’s expression morph into one of confusion. 

“Will you be my date to the Halloween party?” he spits out, words tripping over each other in his haste.

Mikey prays that Pete understood him though, he isn’t sure if he could say it again.

The room is completely silent as Pete blinks at him, clearly not following. 

Shit.
“I- I uh- I was wondering if you’d -if you-”
Great, now Mikey is stuttering. Of all the times that it has to act up, of course it’s right now!

He looks down at his feet, trying to slow his thoughts down so he can actually get the words out. But it’s hard. All Mikey can think of is Pete saying no, laughing at him, or- or… worse.

What if Pete’s homophobic?

Despite the anxiety swirling in Mikey’s mind, Pete doesn’t push him away, nor does he start laughing and trying to play it off as a joke or something. 

“Your date?” Pete asks quietly even though he’s grinning like a little kid when Mikey looks back up.
There’s that sparkle in his eyes that Mikey loves so much, the hint of mischief and humor that never fails to make his knees weak. 

Does this mean that Pete wants to go with him?

“If you- if you’d wan-want to,” he manages, cursing his stupid speech impediment for choosing now of all times to make its self known.

But just like Mikey knows about Pete’s insomnia, Pete knows about Mikey’s speech and how when he’s really anxious the stuttering returns. 

Slowly he realizes that he’s an idiot for thinking Pete would make fun of his stuttering, especially when Pete’s always been so patient with him whenever it acts up.

That still doesn’t mean that he likes him back though, doesn’t mean Pete would want to go on a date with him.

“Like I could say no Mikeyway,” Pete admits in a low tone, one that makes the heat return with full force to his face.

“It’s a date?” he adds shyly, surprised that he’s able to get the sentence out with how fast his heart is beating in his chest.

Because if they’re gonna do this, he wants no chance of Pete thinking that this is just a ‘we go as friends’ thing. If that’s the case, Mikey is honestly, probably, going to die on the spot.

“It’s a date,” Pete confirms gently, lips pulling into a soft smile.

~~__________________________~~

The final days of the month feel like they fly by, all of Mikey’s time spent doing homework and going to class. Well, actually that’s a lie. He tries to do those things, knows education is important or some shit, but mostly he’s just freaking out about actually going to the dance with Pete while trying to do his homework. 

Class is harder, especially Geometry with Pete sitting right next to him. It’s more than a little distracting.

Even so, Mikey is so beyond prepared as the two of them walk up the school steps as dusk on the night of the dance. He’s been planning this for what feels like forever. All the things he should say, how he’s gonna get Pete punch after they dance for a little while, how they’ll hold hands in the back of Gerard’s car as they drive home. To say he’s thought about this for the majority of the month is an understatement. With all of his plans, he’s actually, almost feeling confident for once. He’s got a plan and if it goes right, this night will be perfect. And will hopefully lead to more dates. 

As his brother’s car drives away, Mikey wonders if this is a dream.

It doesn’t feel real. After all the planning, standing here is strange.

Pete is right beside him, maybe inches away, and they’re both wearing their own costumes. Smiling a little to himself at the memory of the three of them making those costumes, lets just say a lot of fake blood was spilt trying to make Pete’s zombie costume perfect, Mikey tries to suppress the urge to reach out and just hold Pete’s hand. It’ s like right there and he really, really wants to.

He’s not sure if he should though.

Because even after Mikey asked him out, nothing’s really changed. They're both a bit more touchy, Pete literally leaning over Mikey’s shoulders sometimes in class and hugging him much more often than before, but it’s not awkward or forced like he’d worried would happen. But Mikey’s never even kissed anyone before and he has no idea how fast this is supposed to go. Are people supposed to kiss on the first date? Would it be weird if he kissed Pete at the dance?

Mikey tries to slow his thoughts as they walk through the front doors, knowing that freaking out will only lead to him not getting a chance to see how this evening goes. They’re met instantly with at least 20 other students packed into the hallway outside the cafeteria, where the dance is being held. Some people are in costumes but a good deal more are dressed in crumpled tuxes and super short dresses. 

Normally, Mikey can fly right under the radar, no one even looking up at him as he walks into a room, but with Pete right beside him and Mikey’s zombie hunter costume, every head seems to turn. Instantly, under the weight of so many judgemental stares, Mikey freezes. 

This is exactly why he doesn’t do things like dances or clubs or-or anything! They’re all staring at him and they can probably tell that Mikey and Pete are together and-

Pete’s hand slips into his, the action so sudden and breathtaking that Mikey nearly forgets the way people are staring at them. It mostly just shocks him enough to be able to tear his eyes away from some girl on the cheer squad glaring at him and actually look at Pete.

“They’re just scared cause we look like legit monsters,” Pete assures quietly, obviously trying to comfort him.

 Somehow, Mikey does manage to laugh.

Although he’s definitely still shaking a little as Pete guides them towards the cafeteria. Right, the dance is in there. Not the hallway.

Mikey’s not sure what he was expecting but it wasn’t this.

It’s… It’s honestly kinda shitty.

The lights are off and there’s a hand-made backdrop depicting some shakily drawn tombstones and smiling ghosts. Some copy/paste pop song is literally blasting over the speakers in the corner, loud enough to make Mikey’s head hurt. There’s a lot of people too and he’s certain they’re all staring again. He can feel the weight of their eyes on the two of them.

But Pete keeps his hand in Mikey’s and guides them through the crowd, to a nice, secluded spot beside the folded up lunch tables. It’s a bit quieter here, further away from the speakers, and Mikey takes a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been putting off. 

“Good?” Pete asks him gently as he rubs his thumb over Mikey’s knuckles, his voice somehow quiet even with the loudness of everything around them.

He manages a nod, not sure if he’d be able to speak without stuttering right now anyway. But Pete never minds, he just plops down on the floor beside Mikey and begins pointing out the few people who don’t have short dresses on, going on about their costumes like a sports commentator.
There are a few people dressed as Mario and someone as a mad scientist or something but other than that, not too many people have costumes. Unless you count ‘sexy  _insert non-sexy thing here_’ as a costume. In that case there’s a girl who’s Cookie Monster (you don’t even wanna know how she made that ‘sexy’) and someone in puppy ears and a tail.
Mikey wonders sometimes when that kinda thing ever became more fun than making your own costume. He, Pete, and Gerard had spent days working on these and Mikey’s certain he’s gonna smell like liquid latex and fake blood until freaking Christmas. But it was so worth it to see the costume when he stood in the mirror this evening.

“Want some punch?” 

“Uh…” he mumbles, caught off guard by Pete’s question.
“C’mon,” Pete presses, his smile bright as ever. “You can’t be at a dance without punch, dude!”

Mikey lets Pete’s good mood lift his own, knowing that he can probably manage to not be miserable during this, if only because of Pete, if he lets himself. It’s not like Mikey actually hates social events, he’s just not very good at them. All the same, he puts on his best smirk and jerks his head towards the line for the punch bowl.

“You spiked it didn’t you?”

Pete mock gasps but they both break out into laughter the next moment. As if he’d had any time at all to pour alcohol in the punch bowl. Not when he’s been babysitting Mikey and keeping him from freaking out on the cafeteria floor.

“Man I wish but no, sadly,” Pete says, still laughing. “This is just gonna be shitty high school dance punch.” 

So Pete goes and gets him the punch, but Mikey ends up not even being able to drink it because it tastes like literal soapy water. Leaving the plastic cup on the floor by the table, Pete grabs his arm and drags him towards the center of the room. There’s a lot of people here, everyone dancing, but it’s slower than how fast everyone was dancing just a moment ago. Actually taking a moment to listen to the music, Mikey recognizes it as that one really fucking sad Green Day song that they seem to play at every dance. People are slow dancing to it all around them and Mikey damn near has a heart attack when Pete grabs his other hand.
“May I have this dance?” he asks, voice soft and careful like there’s nothing else he wants to do other than dance with Mikey.

The room around them has fallen away, all Mikey can see is Pete. He’s watching Mikey carefully, a hint of the uncertainty swirling in those beautiful brown eyes of his. Once again, all he manages is a nod, his mind entirely too caught up in the fact that he and Pete are actually about to dance right now.

Pete pulls him close, wrapping one arm around his waist as they just sort of sway to the slow beat of the music around them. Up close, Mikey can see the individual brush strokes of the fake blood smeared over Pete’s face, can see the fake wounds already beginning to peel and fall off. He can see the softness in Pete’s eyes, the colors muted in the shitty lighting but still so mesmerizing. 

Mikey can feel the heat coming off of him from all the layers, the way his hand is a pleasant weight against his skin. Their eyes are only on each other, just like every stupid romance novel Mikey will ever deny reading. It’s just them and really, he’s starting to understand why people would write books about this feeling.

He never wants this moment to end.

But the song doesn’t last forever and the two of them are standing there still when the next song starts. 

People are giving them looks, Mikey can feel their eyes on him, but for once he doesn’t care. All that matters is that Pete is right here. 

He’s safe.

Mikey’s eyes flicker down to Pete’s lips, so incredibly soft looking and inviting and parted ever so slightly and-

He leans forward suddenly, pressing their lips together as much as he dares. It’s innocent and closed mouthed, but Mikey doesn’t know what to do. He’d just acted and his heart is racing, his mind screaming that he’s read this wrong and that Pete won’t kiss back, that he’s doing this wrong and-

Slowly, Pete begins kissing back. His movements are more sure, guiding Mikey through it as he pulls him even closer. 

It’s somehow even better than Mikey had imagined it would be, not that he’d ever admit to thinking about this moment beforehand. His knees feels like absolute mush by the time they finally pull apart. It takes Mikey a moment to realize he hasn’t even opened his eyes yet. 

When he does, he’s met with that blinding smile that only Pete can pull off sincerely.

He blinks slowly and realizes that they’re still at the dance, in the middle of the room, and Mikey finally notices how almost every eye is currently on them. There’s teachers giving them a glare for public affection, while there’s straight couples basically naked in the corner, but the band teacher is smiling and giving them a thumbs up when Mikey catches his eye. Some kids are smiling, other’s glaring, but no one makes a move to interrupt them.

Mikey’s still flush against Pete, chest to chest as he fights to get his senses back. He feels pleasantly warm, content and safe. Just kissing shouldn’t be this big of a deal. Should it? But then again, it is Pete and he always does seem to make Mikey feel everything a little more sharply.

“Wanna go to the haunted house Mikeyway?” 

“Please.”

As soon as the eyes are off of them, Mikey lets himself take a breath. He doesn't regret kissing Pete, he actually would like very much to do that again, as soon as possible, but he also basically just came out to the entire school. He’s honestly shaking a little just thinking about what Monday is gonna be like.

But Pete has his hand held tightly and Mikey thinks that maybe it’s going to be okay.
They approach the doors of the old gym and find it far less crowded than the cafeteria, for which Mikey is unbelievably thankful. Pete nods to the girl standing at the entrance and she smiles, thanking them for showing up and complementing their costumes, before waving them inside. 

It turns out to not be that scary. Just a few kids jumping out at them wearing homemade masks and the soundtrack to a popular horror movie playing over the speakers. Mikey’s been in quite a few haunted houses before, so he knows this shit, and this one’s nothing compared to this one haunted corn maze he went to a few years back. Now that was scary. 

Even so, he does get surprised a few times. He jumps when people pop out of fake walls and even gets goosebumps when they walk into cobwebs at one point. Not scary exactly but not bad either. It’s nice actually.
Pete on the other hand, jumps at everything, every sound, and his grip is so tight on Mikey’s hand that he’s certain he’s losing circulation.
He doesn’t mind at all, especially not afterwards as they’re sitting on the steps waiting for his brother. They’re both tired, the long night finally over and the conversation dipping a bit with their fatigue. But then Pete leans over and kisses him again, kisses him like there’s no where else he’d rather be. Mikey allows himself to melt into it, letting Pete guide him again as they both get a little lost in the feeling.

A car honking makes them pull apart quickly and Mikey is both pissed and amused to see his brother waving at them. But it’s cold outside so he’s also grateful for the promise of a warm drive home.

As he slams the car door shut, Pete climbs into the back with him and starts snoring on his shoulder. Running his hand through Pete’s hair as he sleeps, Mikey and Gerard make eye contact through the rear view mirror.

“Have fun?” Gerard asks innocently, no trace of mocking in his tone.
He looks proud and Mikey has to fight down the blush at the reminder that Pete kissed him twice tonight.

“Yeah. We did.”

Chapter Text

Tucking the awkwardly shaped box into his bag is harder than expected but he’d already refused the plastic bag the cashier offered him. He feels entirely too awkward to ask now anyway.

Frank fights the zipper on his back pack for a few agonizing seconds before it finally gives in and zips up on his final tug. The people behind him in line practically sigh in relief as he smiles as politely as he can and grabs his receipt.
Frank is thankful for small town security as he walks out without even having to show his receipt to anyone. Whenever he goes into the city he’s always one of the people getting stopped because he looks ‘suspicious’ with all of his tattoos and layers and shit hair dye. But not even recalling his horrible anxiety at the thought of pissed off store clerks can kill his good mood today.

He’s got plans for tonight, big plans that he only just came up with as he stood in the board game aisle twenty minutes ago. 

The crisp fall air engulfs him the moment he exits the automatic doors of the store. He smiles, glancing down to his watch and realizing it’s only 6pm. Though it’s already getting dark, the soft wind containing the first hints of frigid winter air. Frank wraps his jacket a bit tighter around himself, chilled even through the flannel and leather jacket that he’s currently sporting. 

Turning left at the end of the small parking lot, Frank jams his other earphone back in his ear and turns the volume up for his walk home. 

The sidewalk beneath his feet is littered with the faded reds and oranges of the decaying leaves that have fallen there. A deep breath through his nose gives him the familiar scent of fall rain and dirt.

This is his favorite time of year, hands down. Not just because of his birthday, not just because of Halloween, but because of views like the one he has right now.

Most houses along his way have small fires already burning in their fireplaces, the chimneys on their roofs guiding soft, grey smoke up into the atmosphere. The smoke mixes in with the similar grey of the clouds above, filling Frank’s mind with thoughts of his own cozy fireplace at home. And his very warm, incredibly soft boyfriend who’s hopefully off work by now.

But he doesn’t pick up his leisurely pace, doesn’t rush. He’s always been captured, drawn in by the colors and shades of the leaves this time of year. There is something in the way they each seem to be so unique but also blend into such beautiful works of art when looked at from afar. Frank takes time to look at each tree he passes, most of the houses on his road having at least one planted in their yard. 

His walk home takes longer than normal but that’s okay, his playlist is long and his ability to stare at nature as he walks a well known fact to his boyfriend. Gerard wouldn’t be worried unless he stayed out after dark because they both know that the steadily cooling air is not good for his weak ass lungs.

Pushing his front door open a good 45 minutes later- they never bother locking the front door, even if they’re both gone for the day- and hanging his backpack on the on the wall beside the entranceway, Frank hears the muffled music coming from their bathroom. 

Gerard must be in the shower then.

Smiling to himself, Frank pulls the box out of his bag along with the couple of household supplies he’d gone to the store for in the first place. 

Discarding the boring adult things like dish sponges on the dining room table, Frank begins gathering all of the things that he’s going to need for his surprise. 

Twenty minutes later the bathroom door opens down the hall and the sound of Gerard’s music grows louder. Frank can hear him singing along quietly to the song and the uneven footsteps that carry through the house as Gerard goes into their bedroom tells him that he’s probably dancing too. 

When Gerard emerges a few minutes after, sporting a thick hoodie and some batman pajama pants while still singing quietly to himself, Frank waves at him from the living room floor. 

Finally noticing that Frank is home, Gerard breaks out in a smile and comes over to lean over and kiss the top of his head. With him this close, Frank can smell the shampoo that Gerard uses and the constant coffee scent that lingers on his boyfriend's skin. 

“Evenin’ baby. Didn’t know you were home,” Gerard says, taking a place on the floor beside Frank.

He doesn’t even question the thirty-something candles spread out around them on the ground, nor does he blink at the wikipedia article pulled up on Frank’s phone that's resting on his knee. Gerard is used to his strangeness and love for spooky shit, but Frank can tell he’s waiting on him to explain today's weird idea. 

The candles and articles about ghosts and shit aren’t new but the ouija board resting on the ground a few feet away most definitely is.

“We’re gonna talk to some spirits!” Frank tells him excitedly, letting some of his enthusiasm peak out as he waves his hand to the board between them. 

The air displaced by his wild gesture causes the candles to flicker as Gerard just laughs in that soft little laugh of his and connects his hand with Frank’s. 

“Wanna help?” Frank adds, turning to watch Gerard’s face for any sign of hesitation.

“Why the fuck not. This one guy at work has a brother who’s a preacher so if we get haunted we won’t have to worry.”

“Fuck yeah!” Frank says, squeezing Gerard’s hand once before letting go and motioning for him to take a spot directly across from him.

After Gerard’s in place, Frank glances down at the article on his phone, briefly skimming it before carefully placing his hands on the little tear shaped dial-thing in front of him. The article says to close their eyes and then ask the questions they want the spirits to answer, so Frank instructs Gerard to follow his lead.

They wait a beat of silence before he’s asking his first question, keeping his voice clear and strong like the article said to do. 

“Are there any spirits who can hear us?”

After he speaks, Frank waits a few seconds before he glances down at the dial under his and Gerard’s fingers.

It’s moved, without him even realizing it the little plastic dial is now resting over the printed “yes” on the board.

“Holy shit, Gerard open your eyes. Look!” he exclaims in a loud whisper.
Gerard looks down hesitantly, looking rather pale in the light of the candles and weak dusk sunlight that lingers outside their windows. 

“Did you move it?” he asks Frank, his voice just as quiet but holding a slightly panicked edge to it.

“Nope. I wanna ask another; close your eyes!” 

Gerard looks hesitant but he complies, his eyes flickering shut as he takes a calming breath. Frank waits again for the quiet to settle before speaking again.

“Can you tell me how many of you there are?”

This time, Frank opens his eyes quickly. But the dial has already moved, once again without him feeling it slide across the cheap cardboard.

 It rests over the “1”.

Frank smiles, laughing a little to himself and making Gerard open his eyes too. His boyfriend looks down even more hesitantly than before, his hands slightly clammy against Frank’s. 

“We’re talking to a real life spirit! Holy shit Gee!”

“Yeah- yeah that’s-”

The candles all flicker out at once, a cold draft from seemingly nowhere chilling Frank even through all of his layers. It’s completely dark now, the only light coming from the dim screen of his phone as it rests on his knee.

“Frankie?” Gerard whispers, voice higher than normal and betraying his fear.

“It’s fine, just a breeze,” he tries, hoping his voice sounds more sure than he feels.
“Inside?” 

Frank can hear the sarcasm even though he can’t see Gerard’s face. 

This time, he feels the dial as it moves. It moves without him asking anything and he has to hurry and grab his phone with his free hand. With the screen shining on the board in front of them, Frank watches the dial spell out three words.

“I’m already here.”

Chapter Text

It’d be an understatement to say that Gerard was a busy dude.

Not that he’s always partying or whatever, it’s just that his work life and social life are basically one and the same.

Now, he absolutely loves the comic book store that he owns. He chose to run it himself, alongside a couple of close friends rather than hiring out a bunch of random people. It’s tiny and simple, and that’s the point. But because of the small number of staff, Gerard is there almost every day. 

This has been a dream of his, owning a comic store that is, since he was young and he honestly couldn’t imagine doing anything else with his life. Not at this point anyway.
Because Gerard loves comics, they’re his thing. He could honestly probably fucking recite Doom Patrol at this point since he’s read it at least a billion times, give or take. In fact, most of his high school days were spent curled up somewhere, hiding away while reading. Just ask his brother, or his parents. They’d all agree that comics and art were just about the only things that Gerard ever seemed to be doing. Not that there was anything wrong with that, he assured himself.

He’d found his passions at an early age and was lucky enough to be able to grow up with them. It’s relaxing, almost therapeutic the way his paintbrush feels going across the page or the unique ‘new book’ smell whenever he gets his hands on a new release. 

But, between running his store, which is actually even more stressful than it sounds- trust him-, and trying to keep things interesting for the short attention spans of his regular clientele of 12-18 year olds, Gerard doesn’t have much time for anything else. Especially things like friends or parties.
Sure, on the days that his manager, Ray, borderline orders him to go home and get some actual sleep, Gerard sometimes does listen. His walk of shame consists of the trudge up the steps to his apartment to get a nap after being scolded by Ray for not sleeping enough. He always does tell Gerard that he should be getting more sleep since work is literally only a flight of steps away from his home.

And, truthfully, he’s not entirely sure how he got so lucky in finding this place. It’s more than a little old and definitely classified as “run down” when he’d first looked at it. But now, after a billion new coats of paint and some basic repairs, it looks more like a cozy bookstore rather than an old witch’s hut. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, Gerard just prefers something less covered in cobwebs and leaking ceilings. 

The upstairs living area isn’t grand or anything either. It’s not like Monica and Rachel’s apartment in Friends with all that open space for seven people to hang out comfortably in. 

It’s just home.

It’s cluttered and small, well overdue for a good dusting but it’s entirely his and he loves it. Besides, when does Gerard have time to actually clean?

But today happens to be one of the days where Ray absolutely insists that he goes home early because, and I quote, he looks " like someone jumped on the side of your face while you were trying to sleep last night.”

Gerard has no clue what the hell that’s supposed to mean but he gets the point. He looks like death warmed up in a shity microwave from 1970 and he needs a nap. 

And maybe a shower.

Throwing his keys and bag down carelessly onto the sofa, Gerard trudges into the kitchen. He’s starving because he was an idiot and didn’t set an alarm this morning, causing him to have to rush out without grabbing anything to eat.
It’s his own fault, but breakfast was the price to pay if he wanted to open up the shop on time.
Gerards finds himself pausing as he steps through the archway that leads to the kitchen. The sharp cold from the linoleum floor seeps the heat from his bare feet, causing a shiver to run up his spine.

Something’s… different.

The lights are off and so all Gerard can make out is the hazy outlines of his kitchen appliances, most of which he have hardly used since he moved here.

But the darkness isn’t odd, it’s normal actually. 

What’s weird is that- it- it actually smells… good in here.

Gerard had been preparing himself for the stench of the pile of dishes in the sink and the trash that probably needed to be taken out sometime last week.
Now, make no mistake. Gerard’s not like a hoarder or one of those people who just live in their own filth.

He’s not. Promise.

But it’s just that these past few weeks have been increasingly hectic with trying to find a new company to supply his most popular comics after the old one went out of business. Then, on top of that steaming ball of stress, was the fact that Bob just got up and quit one evening.

He’d not even said why, just closed up early, locked the door, and left.

So Gerard’s been taking over his shifts this week on top of everything else and-

And yeah, so his apartment is currently more than a little disgusting.

Except, there’s no eye watering smell of ruined food that has been sitting in the sink for five days too long.

There’s nothing but a warm, almost Italian, sent lingering in the air. It smells amazing and Gerard fumbles with the lightswitch to his right in a hasty attempt to see what the hell smells so good. 

With the light finally on, and a sharp twinge in his ribs telling him he should probably take of his binder before actually investigating what the hell is going on, Gerard steps into the kitchen.

He gasps audibly, eyes darting from counter to counter.

It’s spotless.

The dishes are all stacked up on the drainer, clean and shining, and the counters look scrubbed down. Even the floor has been swept and the trash taken out, a fresh bag already in the can.

Who the hell…

There’s no way that Gerard did this, he’s certain that he hasn’t spent more than 10 minutes in here in the past two weeks. He’s only really been in the kitchen for coffee or leftover pizza.

Maybe it was Ray?
He has often told Gerard that needs to hire a cleaner or something since he’s always too busy to do the cleaning up himself.

But Ray wouldn’t like- break into his apartment and clean his kitchen for him. Would he?

Well, okay, it wouldn’t exactly be breaking in. Gerard had given him the key ages ago. They’re friends, like best friends, and so yeah- maybe he was sick of Gerard’s filthy kitchen and decided to do something about it. That’s a normal thing that friends do right?

But wait- 

Did Ray cook for him too?

There, on the stove sits a large, red pot with a lid covering it. On the counter to the side, Gerard spots a pastel sticky note. He picks it up, reading over what it says and only growing more confused.

It’s vegan spaghetti!! 

Just below the words is a little smiley face drawn at the bottom.

That’s definitely not Ray’s handwriting. It’s too scratchy, almost as if the person writing it was almost too shaky to be trying to hold a pen, and Gerard knows that Ray has the penmenship of a fucking god.

Okay, wow. That’s weird, Gerard is weird. He needs to go to sleep now.

Making himself a bowl of the mystery spaghetti, Gerard retreats to his room. Binder discarded and comfortable pajamas in place, he slides into bed with a content sigh.

Maybe Ray’s right, maybe he should get some more sleep.

It’s barely past 3pm but Gerard is exhausted. He’s fairly certain he went to bed at like three-am today so it’s better than normal at least. But still probably not a good thing when he had to wake up at six to be able to open by seven.

After a protesting grumble from his stomach, Gerard remembers the bowl in his hand. He digs in, finding quickly that this is probably the best fucking spahgettii that he’s ever had.
Don’t tell his mom, she’d kill him.

 It’s true though and he finishes the food in record time. Discarding the bowl to the bedside table for future him to deal with, Gerard clicks off his table lamp and the room falls into darkness.

He’s thankful he bought the blackout curtains now. The sunlight would definitely put a damper on his nap if he hadn’t.

Wow… a damper… he’s turning into an old man.

Laughing quietly to himself, Gerard rolls over. He falls asleep instantly.

--~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~--

It’s happened again.

Another two weeks, another long list of shit he has to get done that’s entirely too stressful, and another filthy apartment.
Except, it’s not. 

Everything is spotless and not just the kitchen this time. He is certain that it was dirty when he left this morning but now it’s as clean as the day he moved in.

Gerard had ended up deciding to not ask Ray about it the first time his place got cleaned. He’s not sure why but it just felt like something Ray wouldn’t want him bringing up.  It was weird that he’d want to clean Gerard’s apartment for him but maybe it was like a thing that people did that he was just oblivious about. That sorta thing has happened before.

Regardless, here he is again, coming home early from work and finding his apartment clean. Gerard can smell food, once again the spices in the air distinctly Italian.

Curious now, he walks across to well vacuumed floor of his entranceway/living room and into the kitchen. 

It’s spotless too, swept and mopped, with another pot simmering quietly to itself on the stove. Making a bee-line towards the food, he’s starving yet again, Gerard finds it full of… something.

He’s never been good at naming Italian dishes- is that even a thing? Are people just able to look at a food-thing and know what culture it’s from?- but he’s almost positive it’s Italian.
Which is odd because if this is Ray making him meals, shouldn’t they be things he’s learned from his family, who Gerard knows to mostly live in Puerto Rico, rather than Italian?

Now, Gerard knows that Ray can cook whatever the hell he wants, regardless of his nationality, but like- he’s also fairly certain that Ray does actually cook the food his family prepared when he was younger.

Whenever they both have some free time, which sadly isn’t too often, they sometimes go over to Ray’s for dinner and he’ll cook these homemade, traditional meals that Gerard can’t even begin to try and pronounce. 

The food never fails to be delicious, always making him feel like he’s eaten Ray’s mother’s home cooking. 

So that only serves to make the obviously Italian food sitting on his stove even more strange. There’s another note, this one not naming the dish but instead having only a crooked smiley face take up most of the space.

With a shrug, because who the hell would turn down free food, Gerard grabs a plate and diggs in. It’s amazing, just like last time, and he goes back for seconds.

Sitting at the kitchen table for once while he lazilly flips through the comic that he’s currently reading, Gerard doesn’t see the newcomer enter the kitchen until they speak.

“You should take care of yourself more.” 

Startling, Gerard drops his fork and winces as it clunks loudly on the ceramic plate. 

Standing in front of him about two feet away is… a kid. They’re small, hard to see in the dingy light coming from the living room behind them.

With long, unruly hair and a dark, baggy hoodie that quite literally swallows the person’s body, Gerard has no clue who the hell they are or their age.

But they seem to be… distant, out of focus in a way. 

“Who are you?” he asks lamely, standing from the table to get a little closer.

The kid takes a step back, the fear flashing across their face enough to make Gerard hold his hands up reflectively.
“I’m not gonna hurt you. I just- how the hell did you get in my apartment?”

All Gerard gets is a soft smile, the kid seemingly flickering out of view for a moment before reappearing. 

“You should take care of yourself more,” they repeat, voice sounding further away than before.
Actually, the kid looks tired and Gerard can clearly see dark circles under their eyes. He’s slowly trying to figure this out but if the kid runs off before he can ask questions then he’s not gonna learn anything. And this is like the most interesting thing that has ever happened to him. So he has to get to the bottom of whatever is going on.
Gerard has a boring life, it’s fine.

“I know,” he agrees in an attempt to keep the strange kid here a little while longer. “Did you clean up for me?”

That earns him a nod and Gerard feels himself fighting back a smile. 

Progress.

“I’m assuming you cooked too,” he continues gently, afraid of scaring the kid away. “You’ve got talent, kid.”

The kid flickers but rather than fading out like they have been, they seem to get brighter all of a sudden. There’s something unreadable written across their face and when they speak again their voice is much stronger than before.
“I am not a kid.”

There’s fury under there, something terrifying in the glint in their eyes that makes Gerard take a hurried step backwards.

“Shit, sorry,” Gerard mumbles under his breath, honestly ashamed at himself for making this person upset with him.

He’s not good with people, why else do you think he runs a comic store and has exactly 1 (one) friend?

“I’m 23,” the person admits quietly, again something unreadable in their tone.
But it has Gerard looking up from his socks and actually taking a moment to really look at the person in front of him. The stranger does look like an adult if Gerard squints again but it’s hard to tell with how fucking tiny they are. Maybe it’s the hoodie, maybe it’s that Gerard is actually pretty tall if he doesn’t slouch but-

Gerard’s pretty sure he’s figured it out. All the signs are there, Gerard’s just an idiot.

He knows ghosts are real, spirits of people who don’t want to move on for whatever reason. They’re fairly common but they generally keep to themselves because interacting with the living is exhausting to them. That is unless they are assisted by a witch or someone who has a fine knowledge of magics.

And here Gerard is, keeping this kid- sorry, person talking after they’ve literally cleaned his whole apartment. No wonder they’re short tempered with him. 

“What’s your name?” he asks quickly, afraid suddenly that his time is going to run out soon.

“Frank.”

The ghost, Frank, has a soft voice, gentle and rough at the same time. It’s definitely strange hearing them talk, listening to the way that Frank’s voice cuts in and out like a bad signal on the radio.

“I’m Gerard, or Gee depending on the day,” he offers, smiling slightly.

He’s been kinda shit towards this ghost, Frank, and so maybe he can make up for it.

“I know I’ve kept you a while but- thank you. You didn’t have to clean and cook for me, dude.” 

Gerard shakes his head, wondering why him of all people Frank decided to help.

But Frank doesn’t answer. He just fades back into the wall and leaves Gerard alone in his own kitchen once again. 

He hadn’t even realized how cold he’d gotten until Frank left. Though heat is quickly returning to his body, he's absolutely freezing. A simple sweater fixes the problem until the heat returns to his apartment and so Gerard doesn’t dwell on it too long, instead deciding to actually be productive for once.

If Frank’s doing chores from beyond the grave, Gerard can handle cleaning up while he’s still alive.

Getting to work in actually cleaning up his mess, Gerard quickly does the small amount of dishes he’s dirtied and puts the food Frank made into a container before finding a spot for it in the fridge. 

Satisfied that Frank won’t try and clean again tonight, Gerard flicks off the lights and heads to his bed. 

As he’s falling asleep, he makes a mental note to ask Ray if he knows of any witches in the area. Surely there’s one close by who wouldn’t mind helping to make an anchor or something to help Frank channel himself so that he and Gerard can talk more.

Is it weird that he is strangely excited to talk to the ghost that’s haunting him?

Chapter Text

“So- yeah, long story short, there’s a ghost in my apartment and he’s started cooking for me,” Gerard tries to explain, nervously tugging at the string of his hoodie.
Ray looks… not disinterested but definitely skeptical. Sure, ghosts are common knowledge but that doesn’t mean they show up often. They normally keep to themselves. 

It’s a slow day in Gerard’s shop today, meaning that he and Ray are able to have this conversation behind the counter without much interruptance. Which Gerard is grateful for. He’s been driving himself nuts trying to figure out how he can help Frank. 

Because why would Frank randomly chose him to haunt? And why would he clean up for Gerard rather than do normal ghost shit? 

To him, it’d be a better use of his energy to actual haunt or scare someone than to do their chores. 

But the sentiment behind that, just the fact that Frank cared enough to help Gerard out even when they didn’t even know each other existed… it’s really sweet. Maybe that’s why he cares so much, why he’s so eager to figure out how to talk to Frank more easily.

First though, before all of that, Gerard has to get someone else helping him with this. Because clearly, trying to find actual witches is harder than it sounds. 

He’s checked newspapers, bulletin boards around town, even freaking Yelp but there’s nothing but actors and fakes. Even a call to Mikey had proven useless. Gerard’s brother had mentioned anchors might work, or focal points as he’d called them, but he wasn’t sure how to go about creating one. Which basically led Gerard back to square-fucking one.

A fresh mind, i.e. Ray, is his next best bet because Gerard is running out of options. Then again, it’s not like Frank’s shown up at all this week anyway.

“Seriously?” Ray demands, clearly waiting on Gerard to say a punch line or something and reveal this all as a joke.

Just then, the doorbell chimes and a pre-teen kid in a bomber jacket wonders in. Gerard watches for a moment as they weave between the aisles, browsing quietly. When it’s clear they’re not about to come up front right away, he turns back to Ray. 

“I swear!” he says defensively, unconsciously waving his arms as he does so. “He cooks for me and he even cleaned up too!” 

“Why would this ghost start all of a sudden cleaning up after your ass? I’ve known you for freaking years and you know for a fact that I am not touching your dirty dishes unless someone’s dying.”
“I dunno,” Gerard admits with a shrug, glancing around the shop in a pitiful attempt to see Frank.

Even though he knows that the chances are slim.

He never see’s Frank anywhere but in the kitchen or living room if he’s lucky, so it’s dumb to look for him down here. Even though this is technically the same building and so by Gerard's knowledge, Frank should be able to appear here. If Frank’s spirit is tied here, then shouldn’t he be able to manifest in any part of it?

But Gerard’s not an expert so he can’t be sure either way. 

“Okay,” Ray says diplomatically, running a hand down his face as if trying to collect his thoughts before continuing. “So a random ass ghost just shows up and starts making you dinner out of the blue?”

“Yeah. I think my eating habits are being judged, honestly. But like- he told me his name and we’ve actually talked a little!”

“Okay, and you’re telling me this…”

Ray waves his hand in a ‘keep talking’ motion.

“Oh!” Gerard exclaims, making Ray jump a little as he suddenly remembers that there was in fact a point to this conversation. “I need your help finding a local witch.”

“Seriously?”

“Yep. You know how like- talking to us- living people I mean- is really hard on ghosts ‘cause they have to like manifest and project themselves or whatever?” Ray nods slowly, clearly making a valiant effort to follow Gerard's train of thought. “well, witches are able to give the ghost like a- a uh...focal point or something. Basically, according to Wikipedia and my brother, you’re giving them a path of sorts to follow. It makes it loads easier for them to talk and interact with us.”

“You’re serious about this aren’t you?” Ray asks, exasperation rolling off him in waves.

Gerard nods eagerly.
He doesn’t have many friends and so just talking to someone other than Ray, or his brother, or his brother’s boyfriend, is nice. It’s new and refreshing and Gerard hates to admit it but he was getting lonely. 

Ray’s awesome, Gerard would do like- anything for him, but he’s also extremely excited to have another person to add to his small list of friends. 

Before he or Ray can continue though, the kid that came in is over at the counter. He rings them up quickly,with nothing more than polite smiles because Gerard can clearly see the headphone cords poking out of their bright red hair. He gets it, headphones mean they don’t want to be talked to so he’s not about to try and make them. 

“Okay, I’ll help you look,” Ray says as the kid leaves through the front door, his tone almost defeated.

There’s that familiar look in his eyes though, fond amusement as Gerard calls it. Ray likes to pretend that he doesn’t enjoy his weirdness but at the same time, Gerard knows that he really does care about him. Especially as he brings Gerard in for a quick side hug to assure him that he does actually want to help. 

_______________________________

“You wanna do what now?”

Frank’s voice tonight is quiet, faint as if he’s speaking through layers of curtains rather than standing right beside Gerard. He’s thinner too, his form not quite translucent but far weaker than the last time he’s seen him.

“I want you to meet my friend, Ray,” Gerard explans. “He’s gonna help me find you an anchor. Then we’ll be able to talk much more easily. I can tell how much this takes out of you and I don’t want you to have to suffer like that just to talk to me.”

Frank smiles but it doesn’t reach his eyes. They’re deeply sad tonight, tired.
Still, Gerard waits on Frank’s response. 

He won’t force Frank to do this if he doesn’t want to but fuck- Gerard really, really wants Ray to meet him. The chance to be able to talk to Frank more often, free of the guilt building in his gut for being the cause of him expending so much energy, is more than worth it.

Maybe he gets attached to people way too quickly.

“Dunno how long I can talk to ‘im,” Frank admits at last, flickering dangerously right before Gerard’s eyes.
Normally it takes much longer for Frank to get this tired and he knows that he hasn’t even cleaned or anything today.

“Can you like- go and rest or something, and then pop back in when he gets here?” he asks, just to be sure.

Frank shakes his head, crossing his arms over his chest like he’s chilled. Which is odd because normally Gerard is the one freezing during their conversations. Today though, he’d been prepared with an extra layer and a blanket just in case. The blanket is rather cozy draped over his shoulders.

He sorta wants to offer it to Frank, even though he knows that it wouldn’t do him any good. 

“Did you clean?” Gerard finds himself asking, even though he knows the answer already.

If Frank uses all of his energy, what will happen?

Will he just like- fade out of existence or something? 

That thought alone makes Gerard’s skin tingle as a shiver runs through him at the idea of Frank simply ceasing to exist. It’d be Gerard’s fault if that happened. Especially because Frank had already looked exhausted when he showed up a little bit ago.

“No. Someone’s- someone’s doing a cleansing-thing next door or somethin’ and it-”

Gerard’s never seen a ghost cough before but it’s no less terrifying than watching a living person practically hack up a lung. 

That's exactly what it sounds like, though. 

He goes forward, making to steady Frank as he hunches over, before remembering that he can’t actually touch him. They’ve touched just once, only to see if they could, but it’d been one hell of a drain on Frank.

 They haven't tried it since.

“Frank?” Gerard asks, concern dripping in his voice as Frank finally stops coughing.

He straightens up but Gerard can barely see him because his form is just so... so faint.
“Bout time I told ya I guess?” Frank says weakly, shrugging a little.

“What- what do you mean? Tell me what?”

“Finding a thing to anchor me, it won’t work. I’m- I’m not a ghost in the… traditional sense, I guess,” Frank explains quietly as he fades in and out for a moment while Gerard just tries to process what he’s being told.

“What do you mean?”

“Like- I just end up here. I dunno why or fuckin’- fucking how it happens. But it does and it sucks. The thing is though,” Frank adds, flickering into complete focus for just a moment and making Gerard’s eyes cross from the strain. “I never died.”

“What?”

Something drops in Gerard’s stomach.

If he’s not dead then all that research Gerard’s done was for nothing. And as far as he knows, no living person can just eject their soul or spirit. He may be getting answers but Gerard’s honestly just getting more confused the longer this conversation goes on.

“I never died,” Frank repeats, emphasising the words so that they stick in Gerard’s mind. “I have a life, a job and music, but my spirit or some shit- my ghost maybe- goes on a fuckin’ joyride sometimes.”

“How- how does that even-” he pauses, realizing that he truly has no idea how that would even be possible. 

From the look on Frank’s face, he clearly doesn’t have an explanation either.

“But you follow the same rules as spirits do. Dead ones I mean,” Gerard insists, because there’s no way a living person could just have their soul exist away from their body. 

It doesn’t make sense, shouldn’t be possible.

Everything he knows about magic, which again isn’t everything but it’s still enough, says that this isn’t possible. 

Shit. Gerard needs to call Mikey; he’s bound to know something or have some sort of explanation for all this.

“Yeah,” Frank agrees, his form beginning to fade badly once again. “It- it happens without my control. And I’m learning how to do things, like cleaning and- and interacting with you, but I still can’t- can’t figure out what pulls- pulls me back or makes me like this in the first place.”
Frank is truly fading now, even his words flickering in and out as Gerard begins to see the outlines of the couch that Frank is standing in front of. It’s like he’s becoming fully transparent. 

Gerard realizes that he’s never actually watched Frank disappear before, it’s always just been a sudden absence. But right now it’s like he’s fighting to stay, fighting to talk for just a bit longer.

Ray’s not here yet but Gerard knows that Frank won’t last long enough to talk to him. Not today.

“Go home, get some rest,” he tells him instead, watching the way Frank’s shoulders sag.

He looks so relieved but there’s a hesitance too. 

“I- dunno when I’ll be back-”

“It’s okay. I’ll see you soon, yeah?”

There’s no response as Frank disappears completely.

~~_________________________________~~
“So he just left?” Ray asks once he gets to Gerard’s apartment, 

He’s made the trip, on Gerard’s insistence, only to learn that Frank hadn’t stayed to meet him.

To make things worse, Ray’s literally soaking wet, dripping icy rain drops down onto the welcome mat just inside of Gerard’s door. 

He feels absolutely horrible for making Ray come all this way for nothing, in the freezing rain no less.

But it’s not like it's his fault. Frank had been exhausted and, if Gerard’s understanding what he said correctly, he really has no control of when he comes and goes other than having to leave when he expends too much of his strength. 

That thought makes Gerard worry, a pit of dread beginning to form in his stomach as his mind wanders. 

If Frank’s not dead yet then that means he can still die.

And since Frank’s alive, using up too much of his energy talking and interacting with Gerard could seriously hurt him. Kill him even. 

That’s the other thing that’s eating him up about this, he and Frank are both at a loss as to what’s actually going on. 

Maybe Gerard’s worrying to much. Maybe if Frank gets too exhausted he’ll just sleep for a bit and then will be fine. 

Besides, you’re supposed to look on the bright side of things right?

“No Frank?” Ray prompts, pulling Gerard from his thoughts. 

He manages an apologetic smile, which he hopes is sincere looking, and nods slowly.

“Yeah, it’s a long story if you wanna stick around. I’ve got some tea if you want something warm? Probably coffee too but I haven't been to the store yet so I dunno. But if you want to go home that’s okay too ‘cause I know I like dragged you out for nothing and-”
“Gerard. Gerard,” Ray interrupts him, his hand coming to rest on Gerard’s shoulder.

The touch is icy, the cold and damp seeping through Gerard’s sweater and sending unpleasant goosebumps down his arm.

“Tea would be great,” he says with a warm smile.

So Gerard just nods, his mind running through all of the ways he could try and explain this to his friend. It’s hard though because not even him and Frank are sure.

Ray ends up grabbing some basic english breakfast while Gerard decides on a cup of his favorite chai spice.The steaming mug feels amazing against his hands as it fights away the chill. Ray sighs, quiet but contently, into the mug he’s holding, so Gerard’s fairly sure he’s enjoying the warmth just as much.

Once again, as the two of them sit in comfortable silence, Gerard’s mind drifts.

He thinks about the cold, about the odd feeling of the warmth returning to his fingers.

Again he finds himself thinking of Frank, something Gerard does rather often these days. 

He’s not a real ghost. 

It’s a strange thought on it’s own, especially when he thinks about how Frank has similar abilities to a “normal” ghost.

But even though Frank’s not a normal ghost, he still quite literally drains the heat from Gerard’s apartment every time he appears. Because it’s the very end of fall, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, the temperature outside is bitter and provides little help in warming his apartment back up. 

Now, normally, Gerard just bundles himself up beforehand and prepares to freeze his ass off for a few hours until his shitty old thermostat is able to bring the temperature back up once Frank leaves. The blanket is still on his shoulders from earlier but he does feel rather bad because Ray is clearly freezing, even with the tea in hand.

As the two of them relax for a few more moments on the couch, Gerard finally thinks to pass Ray one of the blankets that was folded and waiting for them there.

“Thanks,” he tells Gerard with a nod, maneuvering the blanket to cover everything but his shoulders and head.
“Frank steals the heat, I forgot to tell you that.”
“He does?” Ray asks while taking a careful sip of his tea.

The room around them is silent as Gerard thinks over his response, the world seeming as frozen as the air.

“Yeah. Like- it’s normal for ghosts to make rooms more cold when they’re there. It’s like- uh shit- how’d Mikey put it? It’s like they use the energy, or heat I guess, from the air to help them stay here.”
“It’s as cold in here as it is outside,” Ray remarks, “how long did Frank stay this time?”

“Almost an hour? But he had to leave.”
“He say why?” he asks but there’s no bite to his words.

Gerard assumes Ray’s just being curious, rather than him being actually upset that he walked here for nothing. 

“Well actually…”

Gerard does his best to try and explain Frank’s situation, even though he’s still fuzzy on some bits. Like how the hell this sort of thing can even happen. Or how long Frank’s been having his soul just, in his words, eject itself without his consent or control. 

Thankfully, Ray listens the entire time Gerard fumbles through his explanation. He nods often, looking lost in thought. 

“So- uh, yeah. He’s a real person, like alive, but he can visit me too,” Gerard finishes, taking an anxiety driven sip of his tea to fill the awkward space of time while Ray thinks it over.

“Astral projection. Huh,” Ray says at last, his tone actually making Gerard think that he believes him. 

He’s never heard of astral projection, though. It sounds almost familiar, like the tune to a song you heard when you were very small. He recognizes it but can’t place anything else about it.

“I mean, obviously it’s possible but there’s no documented cases or anything. And the person behaving like an actual ghost, which makes sense because a ghost is just a dead person’s spirit, is so freaking cool man!”

Maybe Gerard should have gone to Ray sooner because from the sound of things, he knows what he’s talking about. Or at the least, he’s got a better explanation that anything Gerard or Frank could have come up with.

“Yeah?” 

“Yeah. Definitely,” Ray says again, nodding sharply. “Next time he pops up, get his cell number or something.”

Gerard laughs, finding the idea amusing for some reason, but he agrees all the same. 

By the next time he sees Frank, Gerard might just be able to talk to him in person. 

Chapter Text

It takes three weeks this time before Frank re-appears.

Gerard is in the middle of a well earned day off, spending his day lazing on the couch with a pizza arms reach on the coffee table. The TV is playing his favorite movie series and he sometimes mouths along to the words in between bites. Since he’s bundled up in about eight separate blankets, he doesn’t feel the temperature of the room drop suddenly. 

Gerard does however take notice when Frank materializes right in front of him. His back is to the couch as his form slowly takes shape, so he’s not looking at Gerard. Frank lets out a little giggle, bouncing up on his feet.

“Hey Frankie!” Gerard calls, a smile coming to his face at the sight of his friend.

“Shit!”

He startles before spinning around to face Gerard with a tiny, exasperated smile.

“Sorry! Sorry. I just- I thought you knew I was here,” he says, feeling guilty for scaring Frank so badly. 

Frank takes a deep, calming breath and his smile brightens.

“Don’t worry about it,” he tells Gerard nonchalantly. “Sorry it took me fucking forever to come back.”

Shaking his head, Gerard reaches over to grab the remote and pause the TV.

“It’s not your fault. I was getting worried though. Are you sure you’re alright?”
He takes in Frank for a moment, carefully looking over him to see if there’s any sign of the exhaustion that was there before. 

Of course, Frank is still tiny, swallowed up by the oversized hoodie, but he looks fine from what Gerard can tell. His eyes are bright and his smile energetic, so that must mean he’s gotten some rest. 

It has been three weeks, so really Gerard would have been very worried if he wasn’t so healthy looking now.

Despite the way Gerard can see the definite blur to Frank’s form, he almost looks to be in the same room as him. His hair, for once, isn’t hidden completely by the hood of his jacket. It’s long, reaching just past his chin and the fringe suggests Frank has a bit of a rebellious streak. 

Perhaps unconsciously, feeling Gerard’s attention on his hair, Frank tucks a longer strand behind his ear. Gerard has to take a deep breath to steady himself as he realizes that there’s a tattoo inked onto Frank’s skin. It’s dark, clearly still new.

 It’s some form of insect, the legs and head really the only part he can see. 

And, yeah, sure he’s absently noticed that Frank was attractive, his eyes always seeming pulling Gerard in, but like- he has a tattoo too?! 

It really suits him though, Gerard thinks. The dark ink against his slightly tanned skin is a nice contrast. Suddenly he wishes that the hoodie Frank was constantly in was gone. If only so Gerard could see what other nice little surprises Frank has.

Is that a weird thought for someone he’s only talked to a few times?

Gerard isn’t sure but he does know that he feels… something for Frank. At the very least he wants to get to know him better.

“What?” Frank asks, catching Gerard’s stare and looking down at himself. “I got mustard on my jacket or some shit?” 

Laughing a little, Gerard just shakes his head.

“No, you idiot,” he says fondly. “You just look better.”
“Thanks?”

“Shut up,” Gerard retorts with no actual anger. 

Though his face is heating up and he has no idea why. 

“Lazy day I see,” Frank says, probably to change the topic, gesturing to the mess Gerard’s made of the living room.

Okay, so yeah there’s like four separate mugs laying scattered around the room and he’s fairly certain he dropped a pizza crust somewhere, but it’s not like it’s that bad. 

“Yeah…” he says a little defensive.

He’s been trying to do better with keeping things clean and if he wants one day to be a slob there shouldn’t be an issue. 

“Not judging,” Frank amends, though he’s laughing as he raises his hands in surrender. “It’s actually kinda adorable. Plus, you’re like fuckin’ swallowed by those blankets.”
Gerard glances down at himself, eyeing the cozy blankets that are keeping the chill away from him. Never mind the pajama pants and hoodie he’s got on as well.
He gets cold easily, no big deal.

“You’re one to talk Frank. That hoodie is bigger than you are!”

“Hey!” Frank gasps with mock offense.

“Sorry, it’s almost as big as you are.”

They’re both laughing so for once Gerard doesn’t worry about Frank actually being upset with him.

“So,” Frank says suddenly, his tone serious now. “Do you still want me to talk to your friend?”
Oh shit. 

How could Gerard have just forgotten about the one thing he’s been thinking about constantly for the past couple of months.

Yeah, these occasional visits from Frank are nice, more than nice really, but Gerard longs to be able to actually talk to him. In person. 

To be able to share a pizza with him and make him sit through the entire Avengers movie series with him. He could show Frank his favorite coffee place down the street and sit there for hours, just sipping their drinks and talking. 

“Yeah, yeah lemme text him real quick,” he says, already taking his phone from his pocket. 

Ray replies instantly, for which Gerard is grateful.

“He’s on his way.”

“Good. I’ve got a better connection today but I don’t wanna risk staying too long ya know? I slept for like 15 hours after the last time I overdid it,” Frank explains shyly, his hands stuffed in his hoodie pocket.

“No it’s fine. I understand. Ray lives a like- 10 minute walk from here so he shouldn’t be long.”

They spend the wait catching up. 

Gerard tells him about the newest Avenger movie that’s coming out soon, of which Frank somehow has no idea about. Has he been living under a freaking rock?!

“You’ve seriously never seen any of the movies?”

“Nope. I don’t really watch movies that much. And when I do it’s normally like horror or something,” Frank replies, shrugging as if unconcerned by missing arguably the best movie series in existence.

Or at least it is, in Gerard’s opinion.

“Okay, that’s it, I am forcing you to watch all the movies either the next time you pop in or when you’re here in person.”

Frank laughs, his head tilting back as his face scrunches up. 

“Yeah. Okay sure. But I pick the food,” he compromises and Gerard makes no move to argue.

Frank’s an amazing cook so Gerard has no doubt that whatever he decides on will be better than delivery pizza. Though there’s also the pleasant thought of the two of them sharing a large pizza. They could cocoon themselves in blankets on the couch, Frank looks small enough to stay constantly cold, and get sick off of greasy food and soda.

“Deal. So, you can see what I’ve been up to. What about you?”

“Oh, uh…” Frank’s face falls, his beautiful, forest green eyes growing troubled and deep with sadness. “Nothing really. I- I uh... lost my job so I’ve been just kinda… hanging out ya know?”

“What? Oh Frankie that’s horrible. What happened?”
“I uh- well I told you I slept like almost an entire day after I saw you last. But I had to call in to work and ask for an extra day off ‘cause I still felt like crap and- and they just- they told me not to come back.”

His voice cracks at the end and Gerard can see just how big of a deal this is for him. Frank’s trying to play it off too but Gerard notices how wet his eyes seem all of a sudden before he’s quickly swiping a sleeve over them and removing the evidence.

“Shit,” Gerard breathes, trying to find something to say. “That’s… it’s just-”
Gerard doesn’t know what to say to him. Because it's not like there’s anything he can do about it; nothing he can say can fix this. 

“Yeah, but I mean at least now I have more time to do music I guess,” Frank tries, something close to a smile forming on his face but it’s too strained.

Seeing him so clearly torn up about this breaks Gerard’s heart and he wishes that he could help somehow. A million thoughts swirl in his mind, scenario after scenario of how Frank might be struggling. He mentioned he was 23 when they’d first met and Gerard had gotten the impression that he was living on his own.

 If that’s the case, then is Frank going hungry?

Even worse is the fear that he’s not going to have a place to stay, that he’ll end up on the streets or-.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he pleads, voice cracking once again.
“I- Frank I-”
“I’m okay. My mom’s helping me out until I can find something else it just- it sucks.”
It’s a huge understatement, the situation clearly bothering Frank more than he’s letting Gerard see. But before he can think of anything else to say, there’s a quick knock on the door.

Frank looks up, startling once again, as Gerard goes to let Ray in.

“Hey,” he greets, smiling genuinely as he closes the door behind his best friend.

Thankfully, it seems like it’s not raining outside for once. He wasn’t sure until he saw Ray but the clear lack of soaked rain gear means it must be a dry day. Gerard does have windows  but he just always has them covered with blackout curtains. 

“Hey Gee. He still here?”
Ray tuggs off his beanie and stuffs it in his pocket, though he keeps the jacket on and zipped up tightly. The air of Gerard’s apartment is definitely as cold as it is outside then.

“Yep,” Gerard agrees enthusiastically, guiding Ray into the living room.

Frank’s right where he left him, standing by the couch with his hands tucked into his pocket. He’s got a wide smile though as Ray comes over.

They just stare at each other for a moment, long enough for Gerard to begin to worry.

“I’m uh- I’m Frank,” Frank tries, taking a hand out of his pocket and extending it towards Ray.

Instantly, Ray’s face lights up and he shakes his head as if to clear it.

“Sorry, I was being rude,” he explains before carefully shaking Frank’s hand. “Ray.”

Frank flickers as they break contact, his expression growing tired for just a moment before he’s smiling again.

“ ‘s nice to meet you. You and Gee seem really close.”

“Yeah, we’ve known each other for ages,” Ray agrees rubbing his hand to probably bring the warmth back from touching Frank.

Gerard watches Frank a moment, concern pooling in his gut. Frank was definitely affected by the contact. He can tell because his form is slightly thinner, a bit more hazy around the edges too, but overall Frank looks fine. 

“So, you like- know how to fix me then?” Frank prompts as Gerard and Ray sit down on the couch.

“Well, I know what’s happening to you. It’s not necessarily something to fix though.”
“What do you mean?”

“Basically, I think that you have an ability that you didn’t know was there. Astral projection.”
“An ability? You mean like magic or something?” he asks, brows knit in confusion.

“Yeah. Normally it’s a lot more subtle than this but yes, that’s my educated guess on what’s going on.”
“But- but wait,” Frank holds his hands up. “Why now? This shit like- just started a few months ago. I go to sleep or lose focus and boom! Here I am in the middle of Gerard’s apartment.”

“Well, typically there are rules and shit to this kinda thing but they’re not strict. Like magic for the most part runs in families, parents have it so, so do their kids. But you get times when the kids have no abilities at all, other than a vague sense of energies maybe. That’s me, by the way.”

Gerard’s mind hangs on that. He hadn’t known Ray’s family had magic…

“And sometimes kids develop abilities without it ever being in their family at all.”

“That’s my brother,” Gerard chimes in, relieved to do something other than just listen to the conversation. “He’s gotta learn it all on his own ‘cause no one in our family can help him.”
Ray nods, “Yeah, so that’s my guess as to what you’re going through. Surprise magic basically.”
“Okay… so like this isn’t something I can fix?”
“No. But I mean you can learn how to control it. That’d leave the uncertainty part out of it,” Ray supplies kindly, in the same gentle voice he uses for Gerard when he’s having a particularly bad day.

It seems to work for Frank too. He visibly relaxes, shoulders dropping as he looks over to Gerard.

“Can you guys help me control this then?” he asks, his voice so soft and unsure that Gerard finds himself nodding before Frank’s even finished talking.

“Absolutely. I’m sure Mikey could give us some pointers and there’s bound to be something on the internet to help.”
“Yeah,” Ray agrees, “of course we’ll help you. But,”  both Gerard and Frank look over to him, confused. “But, it’s gotta be in person. I- we can’t help you when you’re not in physical form.”

“Shit.”
“What is it?” Gerard asks, suddenly and irrationally afraid that Frank doesn’t want to actually meet him.

“I sorta don’t know where you guys are.”

“But you like- come straight to my apartment?”
“Yeah but it’s almost… instinctual. I can’t go anywhere else. I’m just drawn here,” Frank explains helplessly.

“So you aren’t aware of how far you’ve traveled or where you are, you simply appear here?” He nods, answering Ray without words. “Well that’s okay.”

“How is that okay?”
Gerard agrees, how is Frank not knowing where he is right now okay?

“We’re in a little town called Belleville, New Jersey. Where do you live. Is it close?”

Oh. Gerard’s following Ray’s train of thought now as he waits on Frank’s answer.

“New York, as in like the city,” Frank tells them, his voice layered in relief.
Gerard feels the same. They’re close by, maybe a few hours apart at the most.

“Good,” Ray says enthusiastically. “How soon do you think you could make it here?”
“Uh…”
Frank’s face falls at this and Gerard remembers how he said he’d lost his job. He probably doesn’t have money to drive, let alone catch a flight if it’s far enough. The idea hits him instantly and he’s speaking before it’s even finished forming in his mind.
“We’ll come to you.”

Ray just blinks at him, his confusion clear but Gerard just ignores it. He focuses on the relief that’s pooling on Frank’s face.

“You’d do that?”

“Of course. I need a vacation anyway. Right Ray?”
He knows he’s won Ray over with that one. Ray is constantly telling Gerard he works too much. 

“I hate you,” Ray says seriously.

“Sure you do.”

Gerard laughs a little, already making plans to clean out his car and deciding which clothes he should bring. There’s no way in hell that he’s flying and really, Gerard doesn’t mind driving. It’ll be fun. Just him and Ray and a few hours of good music and pleasant conversation to keep them entertained.
________________________________________

New York is nothing like Belleville. 

It’s loud and noisy, so much so that simply walking down the street is enough to make Gerard shake with anxiety. There’s too many people, everyone everywhere all at once. He fears they’re watching him, judging the lost look on his and Ray’s faces as they try and find the apartment complex Frank lives in.

“Gee,” Ray says, seeing his discomfort and connecting their hands. “Are you good?”

It has the intended effect, grounding Gerard enough to where he’s able to form something close to a sentence.

“Yeah. yeah I just- I just wanna find Frank.”
“We will. According to GPS, we’re almost there.”

It’s another two blocks until they get to Frank’s but it takes the better part of an hour for them to do so. The sidewalks are packed with people, everyone intent on their own agenda. Gerard gets pushed, shoved, stepped on- you name it.

If Ray wasn’t holding onto him, or him onto Ray, then Gerard is certain that the crowds would have swallowed him whole. He would have drowned in the sea of people.

But finally, finally, they reach the right building. It’s tall and looming, stories upon stories reaching up high into the skyline. 

Dizzy now, Gerard lets Ray do something with the buzzer. Someone that might be Frank answers, though Gerard’s not sure because the street is loud. 

Walking up the steps and inside is a blur, a blur of faces and people and Gerard knows he’s probably squeezing Ray’s hand too tightly but he can’t bring himself to let go. 

Frank answers the door, Gerard not even realizing that they’re standing there until the dark, grey door swings open. He looks exactly the same as in his spirit form- disheveled and tired.

 But he’s smiling so brightly that the corners of his eyes are wrinkled as he’s waving them inside. The moment the door is closed, Ray is turning around and wrapping Frank in a tight hug like they’ve known each other their whole lives.

Gerard can see Frank melt into the embrace, his smile gentle and relaxed as they pull apart.

Frank’s eyes meet Gerard’s but he doesn’t move to hug him. And Gerard wants to, rather desperately if he’s honest, but there’s something holding him back. Maybe it’s the way he’s suddenly lost in the way Frank’s looking at him.

He looks genuinely relieved, excited even, and it makes something unexplainable bubble up in Gerard’s chest. It’s a good thing though, a pleasant, if unfamiliar, feeling.

“I-I uh-” 

“Hi Gee,” Frank says, likely noticing Gerard’s struggle.
This shouldn’t feel different but it does. It feels like meeting him for the first time and Gerard should hug him because he’s right fucking there. Frank is literally right in front of him and solid and alive. There’s no consequences to hugging him. Frank won’t be drained.

But before he can get his feet to move, Ray’s already talking to Frank about what they plan to do.

Most of it goes over Gerard’s head, even though he tries desperately to understand. Again, he knows the basics, not whatever it is that Ray’s suggesting. 

But Ray had bugged his family for tips and helpful things that they could use for Frank. Gerard hadn’t been expecting much but they’d received a flood of information and knowledge. Ray’s family knows their shit and for a moment Gerard had wondered why they hadn’t gone to them first.

The way Ray had looked though, the clear sadness on his face as he’d talked to his mother on speaker phone, was enough for Gerard to understand. He might have grown up without magic but Ray had been raised with it, only to find out that he couldn’t do it himself. The thought alone makes Gerard’s chest ache and so he has no clue how it must have felt for Ray.

All the same, his family was a huge help. Mikey had only really given them good wishes, still confused as to how his own abilities worked and therefore unable to be of true help. They have a small corner store notebook that they’d quickly jotted down the mass of information onto. It’s tucked under Gerard’s arm, colorful little tabs sticking out to bookmark things they felt were more important.

“-sicaly, you just gotta practice,” Ray says as Gerard tunes back into the conversation.

He looks over to Gerard, silently asking for the book. Handing it over, Gerard watches as Ray turns to a page and pushes it into Frank’s hands.

“This is sorta the headspace you gotta go into. It’s different for everyone but this is the basics ya know? Calm and relaxed, preferably some place familiar and safe. That kinda thing.”

Frank nods without looking up, his attention fixed firmly on the pages in his hands. 

“Okay. I wanna try.”

“Right now?” Gerard asks, making both of them turn to look at him. 

“I mean, I got plenty of sleep last night like you told me to,” Frank starts, looking over to Ray. “and I've already had breakfast. Plus you guys drove all the way here for me so we might as well get started right away right?”
It’s good logic and Ray seems to agree.

So Gerard finds himself watching quietly from the corner of Frank’s living room as Ray tries to teach him how to work his power. It’s slow going, that’s for sure.
The first three hours, nothing happens. 

Frank tries to get into the right mindset, struggling at first before finally becoming relaxed and easy. He sits on the couch now, eyes closed and legs bent underneath him.

Gerard watches him breathe, the way his body moves with each full inhale. He’s been completely still for almost twenty minutes now, their longest stretch yet. Ray catches his eye, nodding once to say that they’re finally ready to try. 

“Frank?” Ray asks softly. 

He gets a very quiet humm but Frank doesn’t seem to move at all. 

Ray then begins leading him through the process, or what should be the process. It’s mostly vague, just a sense of feeling his own aura or something and willing it to be projected. But all they have to go on is that little scribbled book in Ray’s hands so it’s not like Gerard can do anything to make this easier.

In fact, he feels positively useless, leaning against the wall and just watching Ray and Frank work so hard. The room does get cold however on Frank’s sixth try.

Gerard watches his breath crystallize in front of him as he wraps an arm around himself to try and hold some of the warmth in. 

But Frank is still in his physical form, despite the cold. Gerard watches him sigh heavily, clearly getting frustrated as he sags a little. 

He’s tiring, Gerard can see it in the tension forming along his shoulders and the way his hands shake a bit when Ray hands him a glass of water. 

“Okay, maybe we should call it a night,” Ray begins, using that same diplomatic tone he uses with Gerard so often.

“No! No. I almost had it. We can’t stop now,” Frank protests, setting the glass down on the table and nodding sharply as if to tell them to continue.

“Frank, are you sure? You’ve made a lot of progress already and-”
“We’re so close,” he interrupts again, making Gerard smile despite himself at the fire dancing in Frank’s eyes. 

It’s the same intensity he noticed that first night when he’d called Frank a kid. That burning energy and fight that Gerard is starting to see more often. But it’s not a bad thing, it’s actually really, really attractive. 

Shit… does that mean-

“Fine,” Ray agrees at last, rolling his eyes even as he picks up the book again. “Relax Frank. See if you can find something to focus on, like a sound in the room or a feeling.”
This time, Frank goes still quickly. The little crease to his forehead the only telling of his concentration. Slowly, the temperature drops once again.

Gerard shivers but doesn’t take his eyes off Frank. Nothing happens, at least not obviously.

But the temperature falls further until Gerard’s certain that it’s below zero as his fingers begin to tingle. Then, all at once, Frank falls forward.

Ray rushes to catch him, book hitting the floor with a thud as his arms wrap around his shoulders to keep him from falling. It’s impossible for Gerard to tell if Frank’s passed out from pushing himself too far or he’s actually managed to do it.

For a long moment there’s nothing but quiet.

Oh shit… Frank normally appears in Gerard’s appartment, said he was drawn there, so what if he’s there right now?

Before the thought can take hold and truly make Gerard panic about Frank being there alone, something catches his eye from the corner of the room. Slowly, Frank’s spirit shifts into view. 

It’s definitely hazy but it’s also somehow much stronger here as well. He has a moment long enough to think that maybe they were wrong, maybe Frank’s not tied to the apartment, then Frank’s spirit is laughing.

“Holy shit it worked guys!” he exclaims, walking over to watch Ray lay his unoccupied body down onto the couch. “Thanks dude.”

“You almost fell face first. Don’t thank me.”

Frank laughs again before turning to Gerard.

“I did it,” he says again, much more softly than before.

Though his quiet tone isn’t from exhaustion this time and it brings that warm, pleasant feeling back into Gerard’s chest.

“I knew you could.”
Frank smiles, his eyes getting bright again.

“Now we just gotta get you back into your body,” Ray says then, thumbing through the book once again.

“Can’t I just hang out for a while? I worked hard for this shit!” 

“Oh hush,” Ray scolds with a chuckle, causing Gerard to laugh as well. “You’re already gonna be exhausted, doing this manually is harder than it just sorta happening. Don’t waste all your strength on your first try.”

Frank grumbles something but goes to stand by Ray all the same. He reads over Ray’s shoulder, chewing on his bottom lip in concentration. 

“Okay,” Ray says, presumably after he’s read over the page. “ready?” 

“As I’ll ever be.”

“Fuckin’ weirdo,” Gerard jabs, making Frank laugh breathily and Ray glare at him for being distracting.

Frank’s laugh is worth it though.

It takes a long few moments once again for anything to happen after Ray explains what Frank is supposed to do. Then, just as slowly as he appeared, Frank fades out.

Gerard holds his breath, taking a few steps closer to the couch as he watches Frank’s body for any signs that he’s waking.

He doesn’t move. 

“Ray,” Gerard says desperately, fear beginning to climb into his throat and suffocate him.

“Give him a moment. It’s not easy.”
“But- but he’s-”
“He’s breathing Gee, see his chest moving? He’s okay,” Ray assures, smiling gently to Gerard.

And yeah, Frank is breathing but Gerard hadn’t paid enough attention to see if he’d stopped earlier when he’d activated his ability.

There’s a low groan from the couch and Gerard’s eyes flick suddenly back to Frank. He watches as he stirrs slowly into consciousness, first his head lulling a little to the side and then his eyes fluttering. Frank fights to wake up, that Gerard can see clearly, but it takes time.

He moves over beside him, crouching down next to the couch with increasing worry the longer it takes Frank to come back.

When finally, finally, Frank’s eyes open and he manages to push himself up onto an elbow. Gerard’s moving before a single thought crosses his mind, already pressing his lips to Frank’s.

The kiss is gentle though, soft and learning and that feeling explodes in Gerard’s chest again. Frank’s lips against his own feel like tiny little sparks of that feeling, soft shivers running through him. And Frank’s actually kissing him back, just barely deepening the kiss.

They separate soon after, Gerard’s face flushed and his breathing heavy as he tries to catch his breath. But Frank’s the same way, except he has a softness to his smile that Gerard hasn’t seen before.

“I knew you could do it,” Gerard repeats quietly, not even looking to see if Ray’s still in the room. 

“Me too.”

Chapter Text

“Oh. My. God.”

Gerard jerks his head up in surprise, nearly dropping the glass bottle that was in his hand in the process.

He tries his best to not look suspicious as Frank takes the final step and his boots hit the cement floor of the basement. Gerard’s breaths feel entirely too loud as he stands here under Frank’s gaze. Because he knows exactly what this looks like, what Frank is probably thinking. But it’s not like he’s doing anything illegal. Mostly.

“What’s uh- what’s all this?” Frank asks, his tone unreadable as he gestures to the rest of the room.

Gerard takes note of the bookcases lining the walls, each filled with age worn novels and guides, the occasional grimoire is not uncommon though. It’s a large collection, one that he can thank his ancestors for. 

Each book he has was passed down for generations and holds the knowledge that each person gained in their lifetime. Truthfully, he’s not a hundred percent sure how old some of the books even are. There’s no printed dates on any of them, no publishing company or copyright like you see today. Most are hand written and very carefully describe whatever spells and rituals were deemed important by the writer. But, despite the fact that he will never know their true age, Gerard knows that they’re ancient. 

It’s a feeling, one that seeps up his arms and into his chest every time he holds one of the oldest books in his collection. 

It’s a sense of age, of countless years and innumerable spells. Of hard work in the original owner’s life. Then, ultimately, their death. He can feel that too.

Holding the books is almost similar to being in contact with their spirits. Like Gerard can feel them but he can’t communicate or anything. 

Which is a shame because he could really use some afterlife advice as his best friend crosses his arms over his chest and waits on Gerard to answer him. 

Alas, it seems there will be no dead ancestors telling him how to fix this. 

“Uh- what- what do you mean?” he tries, attempting to look as inconspicuous as possible.

He doubts he’s doing a very good job.

Frank just scofs and raises an eyebrow, almost as if to say ‘really?’. 

Seeing that playing dumb won’t work in this situation, Gerard sighs and trys to think of a way to explain all of this.

He glances towards the book that rests forgotten on his podium, the open pages displaying a familiar spell. The book is his own, barely even started really, but it’d be a good start for this right?
“C’mere,” Gerard urges, attempting to wave Frank over.

He gets a skeptical look but Frank does walk over. Good. 

Taking a deep breath, Gerard realizes that he has absolutely no idea of how to start this conversation.
There’s reasons why he has never shared this part of himself with Frank. Very important reasons. 

For all Gerard knows, Frank could freak and go yelling to the cops. That’d get the hunters on his ass in record time.
He’d have to move away for sure, try and outrun them. Or, the more likely option, they'll kill him before he even realizes that Frank’s told on him. 

Gerard might be able to fight off a few hunters on his own but if they realized that Mikey was a witch too then they’d truly be screwed. The kid’s only in his third year of practicing; there’s no way he’d be able to defend himself. 

“Gee?”

Frank’s voice is quiet, almost concerned. It snaps Gerard out of his thoughts. Though, he doesn’t answer. Instead he actually looks at the page he’s been staring at for who knows how long.

His own handwriting describes the ingredients and step by step process to the spell he was doing before Frank walked in. The words are shaky on the page but he’d tried his best to make it more neat than normal. Still, he doubts that Frank could read any of it.

“So uh, this is my book,” Gerard begins, trying to keep his voice from shaking.

“Your book?”

“Yeah- yeah uh it’s where I put the- the spells that I use most often and ones that I’ve made that aren’t in my other books. Uh- this one,” he points to the open pages, “is for sleeping. One of my customers is having trouble with nightmares and I make this for her once a week.”
“And what is it that you’re making right now?”
Frank doesn’t sound suspicious, thankfully. He sounds more confused but slightly curious at the same time. Gerard decides to count it as a good thing.

“It’s a spell. I uh- I do spells and brews but never curses. They’re not part of white magic unless it’s for a very specific reason. And that’s what I do. White magic I mean.”
“And white magic is....?” 

“Oh! It’s magic that’s… pure? If that makes sense? No sacrificing chickens or making voodoo dolls or anything. Just my own energy and the natural essence that comes from the ingredients,” Gerard explains, watching for Frank’s reaction

“So you’re like a… witch or something?”

“Yeah,” he takes a deep breath before continuing. 

Gerard’s never told anyone this. He mostly talks only to his family and the other members of their coven. They’d been little, Gerard only in second or third grade, and Mikey had noticed that the other kids in his pre-school didn’t have parents who floated things down off the top shelves of cabinets. It’d taken some explaining but their mom had managed to help the three-year old understand that they were different. Not bad. Just different than the other kids and their families.

Calling on that memory, Gerard nods his head. 

“I’m a witch. We’re not like you’d see on TV though. No green skin or kids in the oven or anything. And it runs in the family. So, my mom’s a witch and so’s my dad, and they gave it to me. But it’s not a bad thing. Just like…,” he pauses, trying to figure out how to word it. “Like a talent I guess? Some people call it their gift but- yeah…”
“So Mikey’s one too?” 

That makes Gerard smile. His brother’s still new to learning how to use his powers but Gerard couldn’t be more proud of him and the progress he’s already making. Mikey is shaping up to be a strong witch, maybe even as strong as their mother, and Gerard can’t wait to see what he’ll be able to do with a couple more years of practice.

“Yeah. He’s only in his third year, you start actually practicing at 13, but he’s smart. Like freaky smart and we can work together for some really cool shit already.”

Frank nods in understanding, a soft smile on his lips as the tension seems to break all at once. With a wave of relief, Gerard lets out a sigh, realizing that Frank’s not going to call him nuts. He leans a little against the podium, looking down at the page. 

The smile fades from his face as he realizes that Frank might not think he’s crazy but he still very well could call the hunters on him. 

“Frank,” Gerard starts suddenly, shocking him enough to where he jumps. “Sorry. Look uh- there’s a reason that I never told you about this. There’s people out there who hate people like me, think I’m basically the devil manifested into a physical form or some shit. Those kinda people, they kill people like me. They track witches down and they kill us. Horribly.”
Frank takes a sharp breath, fear spreading in his eyes as he glances nervously towards the open basement door. The light from upstairs spills down, illuminating the room in an offsetting contrast to the candlelight. 

“I have protection spells up constantly,” he assures, noticing how Frank seems to be waiting for hunters to burst through the doorway. ”They keep me safe from anyone accidentally finding us but if someone knows I’m here they won’t do much good.”
The fear never leaves Frank’s face and maybe, Gerard thinks, that’s a good thing. If Frank’s scared of the hunters then maybe he and Mikey will be safe. 

“So you have to keep this a secret. You can’t tell anyone or even talk about it outside of this house unless I’m there and I say it’s okay.”
Frank nods but Gerard needs more, he needs proof that Frank’s going to keep him hidden. It’s not just his life on the line. If they find him, they’ll find Mikey too and then possibly even the entire community. There’s hundreds of lives on the line and Gerard’s only barely able to keep his voice from wavering as he begins to speak again.

“Frank you have to promise. Promise me you won’t tell anyone.”

Looking startled, Frank opens his mouth only to close it a second later. But then he nods determinantly, looking up at Gerard with ernest eyes.

“I swear, Gee. I’ll keep your secret safe.”
Gerard lets out a deep breath he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding. Lifting his hat and running a hand through his hair, he tries to wait for the tension to dispel. It’d gotten thick again, almost tangible in the air due to his own anxiety about this whole situation. He gets now why the others in his community tend to keep to themselves. 

“How’d I never figure this out? You’re like shit at keeping secrets,” Frank says at last, a smile worming its way onto his face and Gerard finds himself mirroring it.

“I dunno.”

“I think it was the pointy hat,” Frank continues, pointing a finger towards Gerard’s head.

Oh. Shit.

Instnatly his face burns because with all the worries about hunters and death and shit, Gerard had complelty forgotten about the fucking pointy witch hat he was wearing.
“I- I have a very good explanation,” he manages, feeling his face heat up even further as Frank tries to conceal a laugh.

“You mean that’s not standard issue?”
“No!” he exclaims, hot with embarrassment. “Look, when we were little, Mikey was convinced that this was what made the spells work.” He gestures to the hat awkwardly before continuing. “Mom would wear one whenever she casted just to humor him ‘cause he was small and it was kinda adorable ya know?”
Frank nods, still fighting back a smirk.
The bastard.

“When I- when I started to practice, Mikey was like 10. He knew that the hats weren’t real magic but he got me one as a gift when I had my first practice. I wore it and it just kinda… stuck.”

There’s a beat of silence before Frank cracks up, his eyes squinting shut as he laughs deeply. 

A flash of hurt hits deep in Gerard’s chest.
It may be a silly hat but it reminds him of his brother, how sweet he’s always been and how much he means to Gerard. The hat was a gift and it honestly means a lot to him. And Frank’s just laughing at him.

His face burns still but for an entirely different reason now. 

“Hey,” Frank tries but he begins giggling again. 

Gerard can’t even look up at him, can’t bare to see whatever judgement is clouding his eyes. 

It’s not that dumb. Lots of people have sentimental things that they wear when they do magic. Except, a lot of them probably don’t use a piece of a Halloween costume from Walmart. But there’s actual logic behind it and if Gerard could ignore the way his chest aches he might be able to explain that to Frank.

“Hey,” Frank’s voice is serous now and Gerard manages to look up into the hazel eyes watching him. “Look I- I didn’t mean to make fun of you. It’s a nice hat dude, I swear.”
Somehow, this doesn’t help and Gerard has to look back down before Frank can see the tears beginning to pool in his eyes.

Maybe this is why no one really tells non-magics about this sorta thing. 

Sentimental items can help a lot in spell casting and no one has even batted an eye at him until Frank. And it hurts that his best friend, that the person he thought was his best friend, would be so quick to laugh in his face. 

“Gee?”

He scrubs his eyes, compelling the stupid tears to fuck off, but doesn’t look up. Truthfully, Gerard kinda wants Frank to leave. 

The sleeping drought that he was trying to make still needs to be completed or his customer won’t be happy. And getting distracted by Frank is a sure-fire way of him not getting paid this week. 

He mostly just wants this to be over though.

“It kinda suits you,” Frank adds gently.

There’s no teasing in his voice and Gerard allows himself to look back up. 

Frank’s smiling at him, eyes gentle and apologetic.
“It just means a lot to me Frank and you fuckin’ laughed at it,” Gerard admits, more venom in his words than intended.

“I know. I’m an asshole. Please forgive me?” 

He does that stupid pouty face, the one where his eyes could rival Disney princesses’ with how big they are as he sticks out his bottom lip ever so slightly. But there’s actual regret in his eyes as well and Gerard must really be a sucker because he already forgives him.

“It’s fine,” he assures with a sigh, unable to hide his smile as Frank shouts and tackles him in a hug.
“It was the cauldron actually,” Frank tells him as they pull apart. 

“What?”

“What made me realize you were a witch or somethin’. And yeah- I mean, you’re weird, but you’re not ‘pretend to be a witch in my basement’ weird,” he teases, earning a playful shove from Gerard. “But seriously, the first thing I noticed was the cauldron...Which is now smoking a little. Is it supposed to do that?”
“What?” Gerad asks before his mind catches up. “Oh. Shit!” 

Spinning around, he finds that it is, in fact, smoking. Quickly waving his hand to put out the fire, Gerard tries to fan the smoke away from his face. He’s not sure how he didn’t smell it before.
Burned herbs never smell good, especially not now. 

“I take it that it’s not supposed to do that?” 

“Oh fuck off,” Gerard spits back but it’s teasing and he’s got a smile on his face. “You distract me asshole.”
“Is it salvagable?” 

“Nope. Burned to a crisp.”
“Shit,” Frank breathes, looking remorseful and slightly guilty. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine. I just gotta make it again once this cools off and I clean it out. If you want,” he adds, “ you can watch this time?”

Frank’s face lights up and he nods eagerly. 

It takes forever, Frank asking questions about every single ingredient and step as he works through the spell a second time today. But it’s not tedious. Gerard finds it rather nice actually, having someone to teach.
Mikey’s being taught by their mom so Gerard never gets to give him lessons. And it’s sorta like teaching a little kid with Frank, but in a good way.

He’s just so... excited about everything, every spark and every word of the enchantment. 

Maybe Gerard should have told Frank sooner. 

Frank leaves that night with a smile

Chapter Text

“Come on, lets go upstairs,” Mikey suggests, nodding his head towards the stairway just in front of them.

“Wait- you mean the half-rotted stairs that lead to the dark, creepy as hell, and probably haunted attic?”
“Yep.”

There’s a pause where Gerard just stares at him a long moment, waiting for how dumb of an idea this is to click in. “What?” Mikey presses, clearly not getting the same vibes from the dark shadows of the attic that seem to send chills down into Gerard’s bones.

Gerard can sense it when he looks up. It’s in the way the ceiling seems to open and nothing but darkness, cobwebs, and a distinct dust smell lies beyond. At least, if he’s lucky that’s all that will be up there. 

There’s a… well he’s not sure how to word it really. It’s not quite a presence but there is definitely something up there. And Gerard has no plans to find out what it is.

“We don’t need to go up there,” Gerard counters instead of voicing his fears. “I doubt I have anything up there anyway.”

“Gee.”

“C’mon, Mikey. It’s givin’ me the creeps.”

Mikey sighs deeply, though he does glance up for a moment as if to search for whatever demons Gerard is convinced are there.

“You sleep in the basement, the scariest part of the house dude, why is the attic any different?”

“I-”

He trails off as he realizes that he’s not sure.
“It’s just… got something wrong,” he tries instead. “Like I can sense it, Mikey. This is the part of the horror movie when the dumb blond goes into the creepy room and gets murdered. And I’m not blond and I’m definitely not dumb enough to go up into an obviously haunted attic,” Gerard finishes defensively, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Dude.”
“What?” he demands, annoyance slipping out more than he’d intended.
He’s actually not mad at his brother but he just… wishes he’d understand that Gerard really does not want to go up those steps. Something’s not right. 

“Fine. I’ll go. Your scaredy ass can stay down here.”
Gerard mumbles an ‘you’re an asshole’ but doesn’t protest as Mikey begins climbing the ladder. Each step he takes makes the decaying wood pop and crack, dust and mold filling the air. 

As Mikey gets closer to the top, Gerard does have a selfless moment where he fears for his brother getting killed by whatever demonic spirit might be inhabiting his parents' attic. But it passes quickly.

Besides, Mikey’s the dumbass who willingly went up.

When Mikey is finally at the top, Gerard watches his brother’s figure blend into the shadows. He loses sight of him almost instantly and he’s already feeling hot with anxiety. What if the ghost kills Mikey and then comes after him?

Something thuds loudly, the sound enough to startle Gerard. He ends up biting his tongue when he jumps and has to spend a few minutes trying to keep the tears prickling at his eyes at bay.

Stupid fucking nerves…

Wait. 

That thud had to come from something. Was it the sound of Mikey’s body hitting the floor? Was the demon after Gerard now? 

Sure he knows some things about ghosts ‘cause he’s the stereotypical ‘goth art kid’ but reading about it in mock-serious books is way different than the real thing.

“Yo!” Mikey’s voice calls from above him. “You dead asshole?”

Feeling almost like a cool breeze has passed by him when he hears his brother’s, not dead, voice, Gerard laughs a little with how jumpy he’s being. He watches horror movies for fun. He should not be this freaked. 

“Still alive unfortunately! What about you? You dead?” he calls back, doing his best to contain his laughter.
Gerard’s still not about to go up and join Mikey, but he does realize he’s been kind of an idiot. 

“Help me carry this shit down!” he yells down to Gerard after a moment, his head popping into view for a second. “I don’t wanna break my back carrying your heavy shit.”

“What’d you find?”

He’s genuinely curious, seeing as he didn’t even know any of his things were up there to begin with.

“Your old cassette tapes dude! There’s like a bajillion boxes of the fuckers.”

Oh wow. He’d nearly forgotten about those.
With all the ways to get music on his phone, even old shit that originally came on cassettes, he’d no longer needed the older methods. But they were valuable, at least in the sentimentale sense, and Gerard’s glad his mom kept them. 

Even if she did store them in the creepiest place possible.
And he does manage to help Mikey carry each of the boxes down without freaking out once. Sure, his hands are a little extra clammy and his shaky knees threaten to send him tumbling once or twice. But all the boxes make it to the hallway floor in one piece.
Mikey claps a hand on his shoulder, “Told ya there was nothing to be afraid of.”

“Yeah. Yeah I know. You’re right.”

As he turns down the hallway to go into the kitchen, a slice of leftover pizza his only train of thought, Gerard misses Mikey’s eyes glow black. 

Chapter Text

It’s a well known fact that Gerard is ‘the art kid’.

In high school, he was the kid who sat at the back of the classroom drawing for the entire lesson rather than paying attention to whatever bullshit was being taught that day. Let’s just say he got made fun of for it and leave out the gritty details. 

Long story short, kids thought he was weird, like a hermit or a crazy person. And while he wouldn’t claim to be the most sane individual, he’s not as horrible as the other kids thought he was.

So what if he enjoys drawing zombie versions of comic book characters and spends most of his time watching shitty horror movies.Why does it matter that he likes putting his hair up with hair ties and wearing lipstick? Truthfully, it shouldn’t matter. That’s just what he likes and you’ll never find him pushing other people into lockers or beating them up for liking football or women.

But high school is long behind him. Thank fuck.

Gerard’s an adult now, if only according to his driver’s license that says he’s at least old enough to drink. And so, with age, he doesn’t have to deal with bullies or high school or any of that other shit. What’s worse though is when people fucking lie to you  about it, cram it into your head that it’s the best four years of your life.

So he’s a little bitter. It’s fine. 

He’s an adult now so it’s not like he has to worry about that shit anymore. There’s no one here to make fun of him, unless you count his brother or something. But that’s different. Mikey never actually means it when he’s a dick to him, it’s just teasing. And he’d be lying if he said he didn’t give his brother hell right back.

Even though high school is over, he still looks the part of a typical art kid. Gerard’s skin is ghostly pale because of how much time he spends inside, hunched over a drawing pad or canvas or tablet screen. More often than not, his hands are filthy, covered with a mix of paint and pencil led that he can’t seem to wash off. Not that Gerard tries too hard. It’ll just be replaced in the next hour anyway. 

He looks the part, there’s no lie about that. With dark, long hair that is often a mess of tangles and grease coupled with his multiple layers of hoodies and jackets and flannels. But there’s nothing wrong with that, not in Gerard’s opinion anyway. Why should he wear nice things if he’s not going to leave his house?

Besides, everything he owns has at least a little paint splattered or smeared on it.

So, basically, Gerard doesn’t just do art, he lives it. 

When he’s in public, say on the train or waiting on a friend to meet him at a restaurant, he often will bring a small notepad with him. Social anxiety is a bitch and it screams at him that the nice middle-aged waitress who asks him what he’d like to drink is actually repulsed by him. He knows it’s irrational, that the lady probably won’t even remember him come the end of her shift, but having something to do while he waits helps a lot.

But tonight, he’s home. 

Gerard’s not sure when he got to the kitchen, the day passing in a bit of a blur as he worked diligently on various projects. A good thing about being a hermit, you can spend all day inside working, so long as you find a job willing to pay you for it. And he did. Find a job that is.
But for whatever reason, this week has been a nightmare of commissions and copies and designs. If Gerard didn’t love art, didn’t love the feel of his pencil gliding across the paper as the image in his mind slowly takes form on the off white paper, he wouldn’t be able to do it.

Art is art.

It’s a way for him to project the mess in his head onto paper in something actually productive. Sometimes he even gets paid for it.

For now though, he’s taking a break. 

The microwave hums lowly in the background, heating up some take-out from the other night as Gerard sits with his legs crossed on the seat at the kitchen table. His pad is open in front of him, pencil flying across the page.
This isn’t for work, just a mass of scribbles and shading and mess but it’s helping him get rid of the tension setting shop in his shoulders so it’s okay. He doesn’t hear the microwave ding, nor does he hear the sound of a car alarm going off somewhere just outside.

All that there is, is Gerard and the paper, the pen in his hand.

“Uh… hello?” 

Snapping his head up at the strange voice suddenly filling his kitchen, Gerard is met with someone sitting on his counter. Whoever it is, whatever it is, has its feet hanging off the side, beaten up sneakers hitting the cabinets with dull thuds as the Thing kicks its feet.

Whatever this is, it’s most definitely not human.

Not with the small, yet extremely sharp looking horns that protrude from it’s messy hair. The thing is short, sort of hunched over but there’s an air to it, like electricity biting the air around him. 

It’s looking right at Gerard, its wide, pointed smile aimed at him. 

The hair on his arms stands up.

But there’s no evil, no malice in the creature’s eyes as it studies him too. Instead it’s something… almost curious. 

“Um… hello?” he finds himself mumbling, trying to keep the shake from his voice.

His hands feel clammy, his heart pounding in the tell tale signs of his anxiety spiking. 

This thing on his counter, he doesn’t know what it is or what it wants. He doubts that it’d be anything good.

“You summoned me,” it supplies kindly, a pale, tattooed, hand reaching out and pointing towards him. 

It’s voice is softer than he would have suspected, not grating or hoarse like you’d think some sort of demon would possess. 

Looking down at his notepad, Gerard can make out some sort of… symbol. It's basically circles and triangles that he doesn’t remember drawing connected together by thick, black lines. 

“So I have,” he says under his breath, staring a long moment at the page before him.

He doesn’t remember drawing any of this and yet, in a way, he does. Gerard remembers his hand gliding over the page, the pencil seemingly moving on his own as he let his mind run free. But he’s fairly certain that he didn’t consciously summon this creature.

“What is your name human? You seem almost… surprised that I am here,” the demon asks, it’s voice just as soft as before.

Now that he’s listening, Gerard is first class for studying a person instead of actually participating in whatever conversation they’re trying to engage him in, he can definitely hear a rasp to the creature’s voice. But it’s not harsh or strong, just barely there on the tinges of its breaths. Almost like the hints of a rasp in his own, caused from years of smoking. 

Somehow, it makes the creature feel just a little more human.

Forcing himself to look up, away from his pad and towards the thing sitting in his kitchen, Gerard takes in more details. 

It’s smaller than he’d first expected, especially compacted as much as it is, with a head full of dark, rather fluffy hair and bright green eyes. Save for the sharp teeth that poke out of its hospitable smile and the horns rising from it’s head, it might just be human.

“Your name?” it presses, gesturing a little to try and prompt Gerard into actually answering.

“I- I uh, I’m Gerard… why… are you… in my kitchen?”

He has to put actual effort into not stammering but all in all he’s proud he was able to say this much to a total stranger, let alone one who’s obviously not human.

“You’ve summoned me but I’m beginning to believe that it was an accident, yeah?” 

It’s voice is just as soft as before, gentle and calming like it can sense Gerard’s unease.

He finds himself nodding.

“No harm, human. It happens from time to time. But I see you are an artist, with your pen you must have allowed your soul to wish for things that you did not know were needed.”
Blinking a little, Gerard tries to make sense of the demon’s riddles.

“I am Frank, not exactly a demon but not quite human either. I’m sure you’ve noticed that though, aren't I right, little human?”

Despite the oddity of the demo- Frank calling him small, Gerard finds himself nodding.

“Right. Well all that I ask of this visit is that you keep a sharper eye on your mind, you cannot allow it to wonder so. And, perhaps you would be able to offer me a meal for my travels?”

“Yes,” Gerard agrees instantly, then he shrinks back down in his chair, embarrassed by his enthusiasm.

He’s not sure what it is about Frank but he just wants- needs to know more. 

“I uh-” he begins, standing abruptly to go pull the forgotten take-out from the microwave. “I have this.”

Frank smiles a Chelsea smile, lips pulled thin and teeth completely on display. If it weren’t for the relief and curiosity brimming in those forest green eyes, Gerard would fear for his life. As it is, Frank simply takes the container, accepts the fork given to him, and digs in. He eats quickly but not grossly, not like you’d expect something- or someone- half demon to eat like. All Gerard can do is watch.

“Thank you,” Frank tells him as he finishes, carefully setting the empty container and fork down before hopping off the counter. 

He is short, Gerard was right.
Frank, standing at full height, barely reaches his shoulder and if Gerard knew him better, he might just feel inclined to rest his arm on the top of his head. But he doesn’t know Frank, doesn’t know who he is or what he can do. 

“Like I said, be a bit more careful when you’re drawing. Unless you wanna end up summoning me again.”
“Wait,” Gerard says with a pause. “What happened to you talking in riddles and like- old English grammar?”
That smile returns, growing less and less creepy the more times Gerard sees Frank do it. It feels like a gesture shared between friends, something kind and reassuring.

“Who says this isn’t all for show?”

And with that, with Gerard still standing speechless in the middle of the kitchen, Frank disappears. 

Chapter Text

They say that living alone is what kills you.

Though, Frank’s not sure who “they” really is. Nor does he understand why everyone seems so eager to just jump into relationships so they don’t have to live alone.
He’s comfortable like this. There’s no one to wake him up early, no one to bitch at him for not cleaning up. He can do all those dumb things 14 year old him wanted, like staying up entirely too late just for the hell of it or eat his dinner in bed rather than in his kitchen.Living alone is vastly underrated in his opinion.

Maybe one day, sometime far in the future, he may settle down with someone nice, have a couple of dogs and a shared Netflix account or whatever. But for now he’s content with the peacefulness of living alone. 

He goes to bed at 2am tonight, something not uncommon since he works the evening shift at his job. Snuggling up in the warmth provided by the freshly dried bed sheets (it was the odd occasion where he was feeling like an -actual- adult long enough to wash his sheets earlie), Frank falls asleep quickly. 

Tomorrow he will wake up, probably waste a few hours on the internet or on Netflix and then drag his ass to work at 3. But for now he is lazy and content. 

His dreams are nothing of importance, just hazy backgrounds of swirling leaves and hushed voices. As he drifts further, the dreams fade into nothing but blackness. He snores, not that he’d ever know that, and the sound fills the small confines of his bedroom.

The window is shut tight, the curtains drawn so that the early morning sun and crisp January air can’t get in and disturb his sleep. Frank’s phone lies on the bedside table, charging and on silent. 

At the foot of his bed lies the work uniform he peeled from his skin, having not bothered to shower before crawling into bed.

All is quiet, almost like that Christmas story with the mice. The moonlight outside can’t penetrate the harsh fabric of the curtains, nor can it seep under the small hole between the door and the bedroom floor.

Frank rolls over in his sleep, mumbling to himself as he holds some invisible, and soon to be forgotten, conversation. The sheets tangle around his naked form, twisting firmly but not uncomfortably tight. 

His tattoos are dark, harsh against the weak light of the room. If there were anyone there to see him, they’d surely be entranced by the way the ink seems to spread over every inch of his skin as if it were liquid. 

Floorboards creak in the hallway beyond his room, the sound faint enough to keep Frank from waking. It happens again, two soft creeks as the wood shifts and settles.

Footsteps, fast and hurried, echo down the hallway. They pass by his door, then pause. 

Three steps backwards and then it stands before the door to Frank’s room. His loud snoring remains the only sound.

A pause, long and fat as it waits. 

Then, at last a sound.
High and sweet, loud enough to wake him.

Frank sits upright, frantically searching the dark room for the source of the sound. His phone rests where he left it, on silent and charging. 

The sound comes from outside the door. 

Standing on shaking legs, Frank grabs his phone and hurriedly turns on the flashlight. Each step is silent, nothing but the sheer sound of it on the other side. 

He recognizes the sound but it still does not register. There are no infants on this floor, no expecting couples.

Just him and some senior citizens who are already asleep when he leaves for work. But it’s there, clear as day. 

Laughter.
An infant's laughter, loud and shrill and piercing.

It sends ice up his spine, his fingers tingling with the sensation.

As he takes the final step, the door handle in reach, Frank pauses for a quick breath. He doesn’t know what will be on the other side but he has to be ready. 

The only weapon he has is his phone, maybe if he throws it hard enough he’ll have time to escape. 

With that plan in place, Frank reaches forward to twist the door handle. The metal knob is cold, frozen, yet it clicks as he opens the door. 

Beyond the door frame lies nothing. 

Nothing but pitch blackness and dead silence. 

Chapter Text

“There it is again!” Pete shouts, pointing excitedly towards the dumpster to their left.

Mikey looks over, easily hiding his amusement behind his sunglasses as he notices the small black cat wonder out from behind the dumpster. 

“Leave it alone.”
“But Mikey,” Pete whines, pulling on his hand to lead him off the sidewalk and down into the alley.

This is how people get murdered, being led into unknown alleys by suspicious animals. Of course Pete would be one of the idiots to fall for it.

“Look at it! Mikey, it’s so tiny!” Pete exclaims though his voice is more quiet as he crouches down. “Besides, it ran like- over  me. It’s a black cat and next week’s fuckin’ Halloween.”

Mikey shakes his head but doesn’t answer as Pete continues to ramble.
“Maybe I’ve been blessed by the Halloween gods or some shit. Makes sense right?”

“Uh huh. That’s totally logical,” Mikey grumbles, wrapping an arm around himself.
It’s cold out and he was really hoping to already be home by now. But of course Pete had spotted a helpless creature he could bother and- well here they are.

He watches Pete extend an arm towards the cat. It watches them warily from behind an old cardboard box, the only part of it visible is it’s tiny head.

“Here kitty, kitty. C’mon. I’m not gonna hurt you,” Pete prompts quietly, hand outstretched.
The cat doesn’t move and Mikey rolls his eyes. It’s probably feral and there’s no way that it’s gonna just jump into Pete’s hands that easily.

“Come here kitty. I just wanna pet you,” Pete coos, leaning forward to extend his hand a little further.

This time the cat does move, taking one tiny step towards them. It still looks suspicious, it’s tail low and ears down. 

But then, as it comes out from behind the box, Mikey’s able to see just how small the cat really is. Small is not even the right word. It’s absolutely tiny, nothing but fucking bones.

He can see each of its ribs, the bumps of its spine. It looks sick, starving and he can’t help but notice how its fur is matted heavily.

Instantly, Mikey’s heart aches for the poor thing and he knows that Pete’s seen it’s condition too. 

They’re gonna end up going home with this cat, aren't they?

“Mikey…” Pete breathes, shock and sympathy pouring through his voice.

“I see it.”
“Can we- can we keep him?”

The cat wonders closer, moving to hesitantly sniff Pete’s outstretched hand. It’s black fur isn’t shiny but is long and tangled instead. Mikey isn’t sure if it has ever been brushed or lived anywhere but on the streets. Each of the steps it took were slow, almost as if it was painful.

But, somehow, despite its condition, it's warming up to Pete quickly as it now moves to rub against his knee. Apparently deciding they’re not a threat.

“He looks sick, Pete.”

He’s not exactly saying “no” but he wants Pete to fully understand that they’re going to have to help this cat recover if they take him home. Pete likes to rush into things and Mikey at least wants to make sure he thinks this through.

“That’s why we gotta help him,” he presses, reaching over to carefully pet the cat. 

“Okay. We’ll take him home,” Mikey relents at last, knowing that he never really intended to leave the cat here. “But I get to name him,” he adds with a smirk, if only to take his mind off of the suffering cat.
“What? No fair,” Pete whines, though his attention is mostly on the cat now as he pets him.

“My apartment, my rules.”
“Fine.”

The cat limps closer and  Pete scoops it into his arms. Without any prompting the cat curls up and is even beginning to purr quietly as they both step back onto the sidewalk.

“See, he loves me already,” Pete tells him proudly, watching the cat with wide eyes as it yawns.

“I can see that.”

It’s not that Mikey doesn’t care, or that he doesn’t also feel the need to take the cat home with them. Trust him, it’s not that. 

It’s just… looking over and seeing how sick the poor thing looks, Mikey doesn’t know how to get Pete to understand the gravity of this situation. They’re now gonna be responsible for vet bills, food, medicine, you name it. And even if they do pay for all of those things, there’s still the chance that the cat might not make it.

From the way Pete’s holding the little black cat, pressing it up against his chest to stave away the worst of the cold as he looks down to it every so often…

God. Mikey can tell that Pete’s already attached, and so is he if he’s honest. He can only imagine the way losing the cat would break Pete’s heart. Just then an image flashes almost violently against his mind. It’s of darkness, of Pete’s watery eyes, hands carefully holding an unmoving black lump as his voice begs Mikey to bring him back. 

It snaps away as quickly as it appeared. Mikey stumbles but Pete thankfully doesn’t notice.

Shit, this is bad.

He’s not sure if it was an actual vision or just his worries manifesting. Though he’s praying to every god he believes in that it’s not. But he can’t voice this to Pete, can’t crush any of the giddy happiness that’s in the way he’s looking down at that small cat in his arms. 

Fuck.

He tries to think rationally.

If that was a vision, which it felt so real and chances are it was, he needs to let Pete know. At least so they don’t go through the pain of having their hopes crushed. 

Right, he needs to tell him. Pete will understand. He’ll probably be sad but at least they can make the cat comfortable before it passes.

Steeling himself, Mikey looks over to Pete.
He’s got a soft grin on his face as he speaks, the words never registering in Mikey’s mind. Vaguely he wonders what Pete’s saying, if it’s important, but mostly he thinks about that happy bounce to his step. The way Pete’s absently petting the cat’s ears as they walk.

Mikey hesitates, watching Pete wrap his jacket around the cat to keep it from a particularly bitter wind gust. But he’s still smiling, going on about which toys the cat likes. 

“Maybe we could get one of those fuzzy things,” Mikey hears him say distantly.

He needs to tell him before they get home, before Pete calls the vet and sets all this shit up. It’s not worth it. It’s-

“-can go to the store later and-”

“Pete.”

“Yeah…?”

He glances over to Mikey, the excitement in his eyes dwindling.

“I- I uh-”

“Shit,” Pete breathes out, looking down at the cat now as they both come to a stop. “You had a vision thing didn’t you?” 

It doesn’t sound accusing, though Mikey feels like it should. It’s his fault Pete’s sad now.

“Yeah… I-”
“Are you okay?” Pete asks, surprising him.

He figured Pete would demand to know exactly what he saw, examine every detail so they could try and change things. Then Mikey would have to tell him that’s not how things work and they’d deal with things from there.

And Pete does look concerned but not for the cat. No. He’s looking at Mikey with those wide, hesitant eyes that he had just moments ago trained on the animal in his arms. Mikey doesn’t know what to do under the gaze so he watches his boots.

The sidewalk is pale from the salt thrown there to keep the ice at bay and he can still see the remnants of the crystals. There’s a puddle to his right, murky and brown with dirt from the road.

“Hey,” Pete’s hand is on his shoulder. “Hey are you okay? Do you need to sit down?”

Oh. Right.

Yeah, so Mikey’s visions normally hit him like a train wreck. He’s been so focused on how to break the news to Pete about what he saw that he hadn’t really paid any attention to how shitty he feels.
There’s a definite headache forming behind his eyes, already annoying enough to make him squint his eyes. But other than that, and the way his hands are still shaking, Mikey’s fine.
Loads better than the cat, he thinks bitterly. Though he doesn’t really mean it.

Pete doesn’t answer, just wraps his arm around Mikey’s shoulder and guides him forward once more.

“Shoulda’ told me when it happened idiot,” Pete chides him gently.
“I- look Pete- it’s about the cat and-”
“I don’t wanna know. Fate changes all the time. Sometimes you’re wrong or you interpret it weird. I mean, I still haven't gotten any pineapples screaming at me in French so.”

Mikey can’t help the laugh that bubbles up, Pete’s encouragement somehow helping more than he’d expected.

“Besides,” Pete continues, “we can just scour all your books and shit and find a way to help little Garbage.
Mikey opens his mouth to tell Pete how good of an idea that actually is, until the last part sinks in. 

“Oh god.”

“Hey,” Pete stops walking, a chilled hand coming up to cup Mikey’s face as he inspects him. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine but- fucking- please tell me you’re not planning on calling the cat Garbage?”

Pete blinks for a moment but then he’s smiling wide, eyes glimmering as he cackles.

“It’s a fitting name for our little trash bug dontcha think?”

“No. No I do not think. What the hell kinda name even is that?”

“A damn good one if I do say so myself,” Pete replies cockilly, jutting his hip out and gently patting the cat. 

“I thought I’m naming him?”

“Okay, fine. What totally normal name do you have for him? And if you say smokey I’m legit gonna stab you right here on the sidewalk,” Pete warns, poking a finger at Mikey accusingly.
He scoffs, playfully batting Pete’s finger away from his chest.

“Threatening murder are we now Mr. Wentz?” 

“Oh fuck off. You know I could kick your ass any day Mikeyway.”

Rolling his eyes, Mikey playfully shoves Pete’s shoulder. 

“Hey, precious fuckin’ cargo asshole,” he shouts in a mocking tone.
People glare at them for obscuring the walkway, and for yelling curses in the middle of the sidewalk on a Tuesday, but Mikey pays them no mind.

“What about Trash Goblin?” Mikey ventures with a shrug, deeming it no worse than fucking Garbage.

“Yes! We can call him Goblin for short!”

Pete’s almost bursting with excitement, bouncing on the heels of his feet like a little kid as he beams up at Mikey.

“I’m fine with that,” Mikey admits casually, though he has to agree that Goblin is a good name for a cat.

“Okay, c’mon. Let’s get inside before you and the cat freeze.”

“What’s that supposed to mean asshole?” Mikey retorts as they finally make it to their walkway. 

“The cat’s as fuckin’ skinny as you are. I’m gonna have to get some meat on your bones before you both freeze to death.”

Mikey resists the urge to actually punch Pete, though it wouldn’t be the first time, and instead swats him on the back of the head as they walk inside. He ignores the fact that he has no less than 8 layers on right now and Pete, who does, as he puts it, have some meat on his bones, only has a jacket over his long sleeved shirt. 

Pete’s voice travels from the kitchen, where Mikey can hear him dropping shit and cursing rather loudly to himself. Rolling his eyes once more, he closes the door behind him. 

His hands still shake a bit from the vision, his head already reaching the first stages of actually painful. It serves as a reminder to what he saw but he tries to focus instead on the way Pete’s already made a bed of sorts out of dish towels. The cat rests lazily on them as Pete runs around the kitchen in search of something that it can eat.

“Can Goblin eat peanut butter like dogs do?” Pete calls to Mikey, his head stuck in the pantry. 

With a sigh, Mikey goes over and helps Pete search for some food for the cat. Maybe his vision was wrong, maybe it was just a warning. 

Chapter Text

The first week passes in a blur.

There’s at least two vet visits that Mikey can remember, though he’s sure that there were more than that according to the hefty bill that he opened in the mail the other day. On top of that, they’ve been to the pet store no less than four times. First to get essential things like a bed, food, and a litter box for Goblin. But then Pete had said the cat looked sad, which Mikey had to agree on, and they’d gone back to the pet store for toys. 

Then the vet recommended a special kind of flea medicine and they’d gone back once again. Mikey’s not sure why they’re here today though.

The muggy weather outside gives the city a sleepy feeling. It’s one of those days where you feel like you should be snuggled up inside, a warm drink in hand while you do something relaxing. If he were home, Mikey’s pretty sure he’d either be drawing or reading up on some of his books.

But sadly, Pete had practically dragged him out this morning. They’d gotten coffee on their way so they could drink it while they walked. That had been nice, warm coffee in one hand and Pete’s hand in his other. He’d laughed when Pete let Goblin curl up in his hoodie pocket, though it’d been insanely adorable how his little head poked out occasionally. 

The weather, or perhaps tomorrow’s holiday, has kept the pet store from being too crowded right now. Mikey’s nerves are grateful for that.

There’s so few people really, just the occasional kid holding onto their new kitten or someone letting their dog pick out a special toy. 

He’s gotta admit, this place isn’t too bad. The prices are cheap and they’ve literally found everything that they needed, and then some. 

“Green or yellow?” Pete asks, prompting Mikey to actually pay attention to him.

He looks over, watching Pete hold two identical collars out for him to inspect. One’s a bright, neon yellow and the other is a softer shade of winter green. Either would stand out against Goblin’s black fur but Mikey doesn’t point that out.

The cat in question is currently napping in Pete’s arms. He’s been sleeping a lot with all the meds the vet put him on, which does make Mikey worry, but he is doing better. 

Mikey still sees that horrible image of Pete holding Goblin out to him, dead. Every time he closes his eyes that image comes back. He has to blink it away to forget the pain in Pete’s eyes and focus on where he is right now.

He can hear the shitty pop music playing low over the speakers, the scuff of someone walking down the next aisle over. Somewhere off to his right a dog barks excitedly. Pete’s standing in front of him, the two collars dangling off his fingers on his free hand and Goblin is snuggled safely in Pete’s arms.

“Dude, green or yellow? Cause like- I don’t want him to look like a fuckin’ highlighter but I also don’t want him to get lost either,” Pete insists, catching on to Mikey’s drifting thoughts.

“Green.”
Pete nods and puts the yellow one back on the rack before holding the green one against Goblin’s fur to compare. 

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“I know,” Mikey admits, fighting back a smirk as Pete holds the collar up to his own neck. 

“Think I should get one for me too? Me and Goblin can match! And that way neither of us will get lost!”

Mikey rolls his eyes and walks away, not in the mood to deal with Pete’s shit today.

He turns down the next aisle, one that apparently contains every form of litter imaginable. It smells weird, too clean, like the brands are trying to cover a smell that isn’t even there yet.

Pete speed walks over, his shuffling feet and cackling laugh a dead give away. Even so, Mikey is startled as he all but pounces on him and nearly takes him to the floor.

Shoving him off, a bit more forceful than necessary, Mikey realizes that he’s bitten the inside of his mouth. 

He resists the urge to spit out the nasty, coppery taste, if only so that some poor cleaner won’t have to mop it up later, and glares harshly at Pete.

“The fuck was that?” He demands, though, the look on Pete’s face makes it hard for him to stay mad.

“You walked away.” Pete explains with a shrug, adjusting Goblin as he wakes up. 

“Great. You woke the cat dumbass. He’s supposed to be sleeping ya know, not going on fucking sneak attacks,” Mikey scolds.

He’s not sure why this bothers him as much as it does. He knows Pete wouldn’t actually hurt the cat,  he is probably the last person who would ever hurt Goblin. Pete had fucking tackled him while holding the still very fragile cat. The thought alone of something happening to Goblin makes icy fear leak into Mikey’s veins. He shutters, trying to get that stupid vision out of his mind once more.

Before Pete can come up with some bullshit excuse or Mikey can drag him home, another vision sneaks up on him. Maybe it was triggered by him fighting off the memory of the other one or something but as soon as he realizes what’s happening, Mikey tries to prepare himself to see Goblin hurt or- or worse. But that’s not what he sees.

It’s really blurry, as if it’s not quite set in motion yet, but he can definitely see Goblin. He looks healthier, well-fed and happy. Mikey watches as Goblin walks across a familiar table, carefully missing the pages scattered there. He watches as he comes to a stop at the edge, head butting someone on the arm. 

That jacket sleeve looks familiar…

And then it fades and Mikey’s back in the pet store with Pete. This time when he stumbles and his knees threaten to give out, Pete catches him.

Mikey clings to Pete’s arm, squeezing his eyes shut as he wills the headache to just hold off long enough for him to get his bearings again. 

Slowly the spinning room stills and his legs don’t shake beneath him. The headache doesn’t lessen but it’s not like he expected it to. Still, he takes a few steadying breaths and tries to focus on not collapsing on the stupid pet store floor.

“Shit, are you okay?”

Pete’s concern is really nice, as is the warm arm that’s holding him up, but Mikey shrugs him off anyway. 

He stares down at Goblin, the cat’s eyes finding his. The vision was about Goblin, that much is certain, but he’d been in what Mikey now recognizes as his practice room. The room is nothing fancy, just the spare bedroom turned into a safe place of sorts for Mikey to practice his magic in. 

He gets his best visions in there, the clearest and most focused. 

But even Pete’s barely allowed in there, for obvious chaotic reasons, so why would Mikey let a cat just wander over his things? 

“Mikey,” Pete says again, more forcefully. “Are you okay? What did you see? You’ve gone really fuckin’ pale and you’re scaring me, please-”
“I’m fine. I just, it was nothing.”
Mikey wraps his jacket around him tightly, despite the heated air blowing down on them through the vents. He’s cold now, goosebumps rising up along his arms. Or maybe that’s from the magic, he’s not sure. 

“It didn’t look like nothing,” Pete says matter of factly before lowering his voice and asking, “What’d you see?” 

With a sigh Mikey tries to figure out what to say. It’s hard enough with the shaky image of the vision in his head, let alone trying to form it into words for Pete.

“I- basically, I saw Goblin. Again. It’s not in focus, like it’s not set in stone or whatever, but he was in my practice room. That’s- that’s about it.”

Pete looks at him in slight disbelief. 

“Seriously? You have one powerful enough to damn near drop you and you just see the cat in your room?” he asks incredulously, one eyebrow raising as if to challenge Mikey.

“Yeah I- that’s what I saw Pete. I dunno wh-why.”
Pete’s expression softens and he wraps an arm around Mikey’s shoulder just like before. The warmth radiating off of him is pleasant and Mikey leans his head against him for a moment, resting his eyes. 

Even with his eyes closed, the harsh white of the artificial lighting makes his head throb as he realizes that his hands are definitely shaking now.

“C’mon. Let's get you home,” Pete says gently, guiding Mikey towards the front so they can pay. 

The walk home is both an eternity and a blink. 

Mikey remembers Pete trying to talk to him, hopefully about nothing important, but it’s all muffled. He’s fairly certain that he’d answered him, or at least acknowledged him. Still, Mikey is dead on his feet as they walk through the front door.

He doesn’t even take off his jacket, just toes off his shoes and flops face first down onto the nearest soft surface. Mikey seems to have gotten lucky, it feels like it’s the couch.  

It’s still absolutely freezing but Mikey can’t find the effort to get up and grab a blanket or something. Sleep first and then he can get warm. Priorities or something.

“Hey,” a warm hand presses onto his back and he manages shift enough to look over at Pete. “You can sleep in just a sec, you should take these before your headache gets worse, okay?” 

Mikey manages to take the pills and Pete even tucks him in with the warmest blanket they have, without him asking. Warm now and suddenly so very sleepy, Mikey drifts off.

___________________

Another week passes, this time more slowly.

Goblin settles into their routine nicely. He trips Pete up by somehow ending up right under his feet as he tries to head out the door for work in the mornings. Pete’s fallen no less than three times already this week, though he’s managed to not actually step on Goblin somehow. 

Mikey no longer needs an alarm on his phone to remember to feed him or give him his medicine. He just sorta finds himself doing it. But he doesn't mind at all.

Goblin is doing better, already getting some of his strength and personality back. He likes to curl up in Mikey’s lap as he’s drawing and he’ll lick Mikey’s arm or purr until he gives in and pets him. 

And Goblin has even started coming to Mikey during his visions. It’s so odd, to be stuck in whatever he’s seeing and then suddenly there’s just a cat brushing against his leg or in his lap. What makes it even stranger is that it helps, Goblin actually helps Mikey recover more quickly. Or maybe just not strain himself as much trying to get the picture.
Whatever it is, Goblin ends up being there at Mikey’s side during every vision that week. He doesn’t see anything major, just something about a traffic delay in the summer and then himself doing laundry. 

Sometimes he wonders why he’s seeing things like that, why his power would choose to show him himself folding shirts for a good minute and a half. There’s bound to be something much more useful that he could see. 

But he knows better than to question his gift. 

What's odd though is that having Goblin there helps him, even with the little visions. 

He’ll come up to Mikey sometime during it, snuggle up and let him pet him as he recovers. And maybe Mikey’s nuts, but he swears the headaches are getting less intense. 

A soft head butting against his calf draws him from his thoughts. He doesn’t have to look under the table to know that Goblin’s the culprit, though he does reach down and give him a soft scratch on the head. 

It’s so easy for him to drift off into thoughts with the house quiet like it is. Pete’s at work and Mikey genuinely has no good reason to be outside today. If he did go out, he’d just end up getting McDonalds and an iced coffee or something. 

So he’s stayed in, taken up his normal spot at the table and started doodling. He definitely wouldn’t call the squiggles covering the page in front of him drawing, that’s for sure.

But- wait…

He was fairly sure he’d closed the door behind him when he’d come in. Most of the books and things in his practice room are valuable, and he really doesn’t want to risk anything getting torn or broken. 

Normally not even Pete is allowed in here but seeing as he’s left the door open, and Goblin is just being so damn adorable as he weaves between Mikey’s legs, he decides to not kick him out. Besides, the company is nice as he continues to doodle and drifts off into thought once more.

________________________________________

Mikey’s so focused on the book in his hands that he doesn’t even hear the knock on the door.

He’s gotta figure out this spell and he’s going to. 

Even if it freaking kills him he’s gonna figure out why he can’t do this. 

It should be simple, say the words, guide his magic, make the thing happen. But it’s not working and he’s tried the first part of the spell at least eight times today. 

At first he thought that maybe it was because he was distracted. So when Pete took Goblin for his, hopefully, last vet visit, Mikey hid himself away to try and figure this out. 

Hours have passed and he’s still lost.

All he wants is to find a way to actually activate his visions rather than waiting on them to just happen. Waiting sucks and he’s very rarely shown anything worthwhile anyway. 

It’s been like a month since he saw anything that’s come true. Though, he’s honestly relieved that the first one he had about Goblin didn’t come true.

Something jumps up into Mikey’s lap without warning. He startles, cursing and flailing as a mass of black fur is suddenly on him. Intelligent green eyes stare back up at him and Goblin meows once as if to mock his reaction.

“Sorry,” Pete’s voice comes from the doorway.

Mikey can hear him trying not to laugh but it’s clearly not working. He can’t stay mad though, not with the soft fur under his fingers as he pets Goblin.

“What’d the vet say?” he asks after motioning Pete inside. 

“He’s doing much better. Said to make sure he’s eating enough and that he stays warm. Other than that, Goblin’s fine.”
Relief washes over Mikey and he leans over to press a kiss to the soft fur of Goblin’s forehead.

“Ya hear that, you’re all healthy again,” Mikey tells the cat, smiling as he seems uninterested with the news.

“I really didn't mean to bother you. I thought Goblin would just like- headbutt your legs or something. You- you didn't lose a spell cause of me did you?”

“No,” Mikey says with a chuckle, “no I couldn’t get the fucker to work anyway.”

______________________________________

Okay, now it’s just annoying.

Mikey seriously cannot figure out this fucking spell.

It’s so simple. 

He puts the crushed herbs into the little bowl before pulling one strand of hair from his head. Snapping the fingers holding the strand, it ignites and he drops it into the bowl. Mikey looks over to the page next to him, even though he could probably recite this thing by heart at this point. 

Next goes in some honey sweetened milk and a few uncrushed herbs. 

Another snap of his fingers and the first part of the spell is done. Or well, it should be. 

He always does it exactly the way the stupid book tells him and it never works past this point. 

Goblin watches him from his perch on one of the shelves. 

After Mikey had realized that he wasn’t going to knock over anything and that he was actually really good, quiet, company, he’d decided to let him stay. After all, Goblin seems to be a good luck charm.

Sighing, Mikey pours the freshly made potion into a cup, whispering the next part of the spell under his breath as he does. The potion flashes, turning into a sickly green color rather than the muddy brown it was moments ago. 

He pulls the cup up to his lips before turning to Goblin.

“Cheers buddy,” he grumbles, preparing himself for the horribly bitter taste of what he’s about to drink.

It’s thick and bitter but Mikey manages to down it in one go. He shutters and fights off his gag reflex. 

God that was vile. 

He’s not sure how he’s able to pick burned hair out of the mass of equally terrible flavors, but he can. Already planning on practically drinking fucking mouthwash to get this taste out of his mouth, Mikey misses the odd tingle on his hands.

It’s not until Goblin hops down and wonders over, nudging his legs until he sits down, that Mikey notices how he’s shaking.

The book didn’t say anything other than the spell would help him have more control over his visions so Mikey isn’t sure if this is normal or not. But he doesn’t feel bad per se. Just shaky and… and a little dizzy.

Though, it passes quickly after Goblin jumps up to his lap. 

When he feels the effects fade after a few moments, Mikey smiles a little down at Goblin.

“Thanks buddy,” he says affectionately, giving him a few good pets.

For a feral cat, Goblin really enjoys being pet. Not that Mikey’s gonna complain.

“Alright,” he says after a moment. “Lets see if this shit worked or if I drank burned fucking hair for nothing.”

Mikey closes his eyes, trying to focus his energy into that feeling he gets when he has a vision. There’s no way to describe it really.

It’s almost like he’s floating, or maybe dreaming is a better word. He’s detached, watching from an odd perspective as whatever he’s supposed to see happens. He can’t interfere, can’t turn and make himself see a different angle. 

Sometimes it’s more like a nightmare, just flashes of an event or a person. Other times it’s a snippet of a conversation, faceless voices talking about something that often times never ends up making sense. 

Mikey feels when it clicks in, the way his mind is pulled into whatever he’s supposed to see. 

He can still feel Goblin purring on his lap, can feel the long strands of his fur between his fingers. But Mikey is watching something else.
It’s pretty basic, just him and Pete. They’re outside, a few orange and red trees just on the edges of his vision. There’s leaves all around them and they crunch with each step Pete takes towards Mikey.

Pete gets closer, his grin wide and eyes squinted as he laughs at something.

He looks older, maybe in his mid 40’s. There’s bits of grey in his hair, shining silver in the weak autumn sunlight. Something catches Mikey’s eyes, a glint of something on Pete’s hand as he tugs a strand of hair behind his ear.

A ring. A silver, shining ring.

Mikey fades slowly back into reality, thoroughly exhausted but with the stupidest grin on his face. He lazily pets Goblin as he judges how bad this headache is going to be.
It’s definitely not going to be fun but not bad enough to ruin the rest of his day. Goblin yawns, his tired feline eyes meeting Mikey’s.

And then it clicks.

Why Goblin always helped him with the after affects of his visions, why he was so attached to the cat. 

Goblin is his familiar.

And it’s so stereotypical for him to be a black cat but Mikey honestly doesn’t care.

“Thank you,” he tells Goblin genuinely, feeling slightly bad for not realizing this sooner.
Of course the cat doesn’t answer. Even so, the two of them both drift off to sleep in the chair together a few moments later. 

Chapter Text

“Don’t look,” Pete calls from inside their bedroom.

Mikey huffs, checking the time on his phone and rolling his eyes impatiently.

They have to be at the stupid party by 6 and if Pete makes him late, Mikey’s gonna kill him. 

Rather than -actually- getting mad at Pete, Mikey ventures into the other bathroom to do one final check on his costume.

See, he and Gee have a sort of bet going on for tonight.

With their newest album out, and being more well received than Mikey thought it’d be, they’ve had to attend party after party to celebrate. The first few were fun, going in and then talking in interviews about why they did the colorful change and how, yes the costumes were fun as hell to make. But then it’d evolved into the same few questions over and over.

When’s the next album?
Is there gonna be another music video?

And Mikey’s certain his brother is sick of getting questions about his weight loss. 

It all gets old very quickly and even the breaths of fresh air that come from talking to fans who genuinely like the new look isn’t enough.

So, Mikey and Gerard decided to make this one a bit more fun.

It’s Halloween tonight and they’re all being dragged to yet another dumb party. It’s basically a given that they’re gonna dress up, I mean- c’mon they’ve done costumes every other month of the year. Who would ever think they wouldn’t go all out?

So Frank’s naturally going in his Fun Ghoul costume. The fucker practically lives in that thing anyway. And Mikey doesn’t know what Ray’s going as but it’s probably gonna be his Jet Star one so that at least he and Frank will match.

But Gerard has prompted Mikey with a bet to see who can make the goriest costume of the least gory character. 

Mikey ended up choosing Zero the dog from Nightmare Before Christmas. 

Sure, it’s technically a Halloween movie- and a Christmas one too. Feel free to fight him on that one!- but the character isn’t exactly gory so it fits his brother’s rules.

He’s dressed in an all white tux that’s a few sizes too big on him to give the same sort of effect of the sheet that the dog has in the movie. There’s blood splatter all over it though, nearly as vibrant and messy as his brother’s hair. He’d also added hand-made dog ears and a glowing nose to the look. 

Then, Mikey had gone in an added all sorts of fake wounds and bite marks. There’s a nasty looking one on his arm that took freaking hours to get right as well as nearly a whole container of fake blood. He’d put a deep scratch to his cheek as well, also oozing with blood.

Years of touring with his brother meant he knew how to make himself look dead, so some pasty foundation and dark eyeshadow under his lined eyes made him truly look the part.

Feeling rather proud of himself, and certain that Gerard was not going to win this one, Mikey hears their bedroom door creak open.

“Can I see your costume now or am I gonna have to fuckin’ wait until the party?” Mikey calls to the footsteps clicking down the hallway.

From the sound of it, Pete’s got boots on. Which is odd but Mikey doesn’t know what he’s going as so maybe it fits with the character or something.

“Close your eyes,” Pete says mischievously, his voice coming from the right side of the doorway.

Mikey sighs but closes his eyes, knowing it’s not worth it to argue. 

Besides, Pete’s been building this up for like a month.

It’s just been subtle hints as to how much he’s gonna love his costume and sneaky calls to Gerard that Pete probably doesn’t think Mikey heard. Which, he didn’t mean to hear but it was definitely odd to walk into the kitchen and hear your boyfriend asking your brother something about colors of jackets.

Mikey hears Pete step into the bathroom after a moment, though he keeps his eyes closed. He’s curious now, wondering what on earth Pete could be up to.

“Okay, open.”

He opens his eyes half expecting something dumb, like a Sponge Bob costume or some shit. Mikey expects to have to tell Pete to go and change because they’re going to a party for work, not to look like 12 year olds.

But that’s clearly not the case this time.

It takes a moment for Mikey’s brain to catch up. 

Pete stands in the doorway, a shit eating grin plastered to his face as he lets Mikey take this in.

Mikey’s slowly able to recognize the bright red jacket, the logo he helped design standing out on the chest. Pete has the jacket unzipped, revealing a yellow and black tank-top underneath. He was right about the boots too. There’s leather gloves on Pete’s hands as he brushes a strand of hair out of his eyes. 

He can’t tell if the blond color of his hair is a wig or if Pete actually fucking bleached and cut his hair for this. But it’s even styled in the same way Mikey had it for the costume.

All in all, Pete makes a damn good Kobra Kid. He’s even got a real looking ray-gun hooked to a holster on his hip. 

“Fuck…”

“You like it?” Pete asks, almost shyly.

“How the hell- why the hell?”

Mikey’s speechless. It should be weird as hell for Pete to dress up as him. 

But at the same time, the attention to detail and the amount of time Pete must have put into this is astonishing. No wonder he’s been talking about this surprise for over a month. He’s very likely been working on it since summer ended.

“It’s dumb,” Pete mumbles, fiddleing with the straps on the brown leather gloves he’s wearing.

Having none of that, Mikey steps forward and takes Pete’s hand in his own. Nervous brown eyes flicker up to meet his.

“I just- I’m proud of you- ya know?” Pete admits at last. “You went and helped make this insane universe with all these badass characters and like one of the best albums I’ve ever fucking heard. And I know you’re like- not Kobra Kid but you are at the same time. Like that badassery that no one seems to give you credit for and how I know how hard you fight for the shit that you believe in. It just- I wanted to show you how insanely happy I am that you chose me when-”
Mikey cuts his ramblings off by colliding their lips together. 

Honestly, his heart feels fit to burst with the amount of love pouring through him right now. Dressing up as him, or well a character that he played, as a proud gesture is such a stupid romantic thing to do. But it’s such a Pete thing to do and it only reinforces how much Mikey loves him. Moments like this are what makes that soft, warm feeling bubble up in his chest. Because no one else would have thought of this. No one else would have put as much effort and thought into something like this.
And now Mikey could care less about losing that stupid bet with his brother. He could care less about the same four questions they’re bound to get asked tonight for the 15th time. 

All he cares about is that Pete’s gonna be right there with him the whole time. He’s gonna walk into that party and every single person there will be able to see how much Pete loves Mikey. 

They have to pull apart to catch their breath but it feels too soon. 

Pete chuckles, leaning his head against Mikey’s chest as they try and steady their breathing. 

“So you like it?” he asks gently, the arms around Mikey’s waist just a tad too tight to be relaxed.

“God- Pete I- I love it.” 

He pulls back a little, looking down at his beautiful, thoughtful boyfriend. 

“I love you so fucking much,” he adds, kissing the top of Pete’s head and relishing in the soft sigh that earns him.

He tastes bleach and the realization that Pete really did cut and dye his own hair only makes that warm feeling inside him grow more.

“Mmmmh I love you too,” Pete says quietly, squeezing him one more time before letting go and stepping back. “Ready Zero?” 

Rolling his eyes, Mikey switches off the bathroom light. 

“And Pete?” he adds as an after thought, continuing when Pete gives a questioning hum as he links their hands together. “If you start trying to sing again at any point during this, I will not hesitate to leave your ass there and come home.”