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A Milkshake With Two Straws

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There's paint all over Gerard's hands. Fresh, sticky red overlaps with dried-hard blue and yellow. He waves the brush in front of the canvas, planning his next brushstroke, where this next line needs to land.

There’s a soft cough from the vicinity of the doorway. He ignores it. The cough becomes a loud throat clearing, and Gerard's hand wavers. Reluctantly, he looks away from the canvas to see Frank standing in the doorway to the college art studio holding two takeaway cups of coffee, a deep furrow between his brows. Gerard glances back at the painting, and then back at Frank, the need to memorise that last planned brushstroke warring with the all-powerful pull of coffee. A few more furtive glances later, the coffee wins.

"Hey Frank." Gerard says, his voice sticking. He hasn't used it since yesterday. He steps forward and his foot comes down on an empty can from one of last's night's energy drinks. He winces at the loud crunch it makes. "What's up?"

"Um," Frank's eyes skitter around the room, taking in the detritus of Gerard's all nighter - empty pizza boxes and crumpled cans that once held precious energy-giving fluid. He blinks, looking a little dismayed, before meeting Gerard's gaze with a tight smile. "I was uh, just, you know, on my way through, thought you might want a coffee." He holds up one of the cups weakly and glances at the scattering of empty Red Bull cans. "But I'm guessing you don't need any more caffeine."

"Lies!" Gerard says, louder than he means to, and he knows his smile is a little manic as he holds out his hand for one of the cups. Frank hands it over, looking a little unsure about it, but Gerard doesn’t care. He presses the cup to his lips, taking a long, mouth-burning sip and sighing deeply as all the little dials in his brain flip to 'happy'. There's no such thing as too much coffee.

Frank turns his gaze to the canvas Gerard's working on. "Is that um... is that your final piece? I thought it was due yesterday?"

Gerard blinks at Frank stupidly for a moment. He can't remember telling him that. Of course, he doesn't really know Frank that well; he can't even recall how they started talking. Does he know Mikey? He can't remember. Somewhere along the way Frank just started appearing in the studio doorway, sometimes with flyers for his band, sometimes - very, very awesome times - with coffee. Of course, when Gerard's In The Studio his head is in a creative place, not a talking and remembering place, so he can't really be expected to know what he has or has not told Frank.

"Oh no." Gerard says, waving a hand at the mostly-red-splattered canvas. "I only started that last night. I'm thinking of like, a living room in hell? Or like, underneath a bridge over the River Styx. Or something." He turns to look at the canvas again, waiting for it to speak to him.

"Oh." Frank says, his voice sounding soft and a little weird, but Gerard can't figure out why. He's thinking he really needs to work in some more texture in the upper corner, when Frank adds, "When's it due?"

"Huh?" Gerard asks, eyes still locked on the texture-less upper corner. Fuck he needs to figure that out.

"This piece, when's it due? I mean, it's end of term, I thought that Thousand Souls thing was your final piece."

"Oh, Thousands Souls was my final piece." Gerard says brightly. Thank fuck he got it in on time. He'd gone pretty much nocturnal from doing all nighters to make the due date. "I just," He waves an arm, forgetting he's holding the coffee cup and a little sloshes out over his hand, "I just, I mean after I got Thousand Souls in I still had all this like, creative energy, you know?" he pauses, sucking his fingers, tasting as much paint as coffee. "It's like I finally got the faucet turned on and now it's all rushing out, so like, I'm trying stick a bucket under while I can, yeah?"

Franks looking at him like he just confessed to being a Born-Again Christian. "So this isn't an assignment? You're just doing it for what, for fun?"

"No, not for fun." Gerard corrects him, because oh my god, it so isn't fun. "It's just, I finally got my muse talking to me and now she won't shut the fuck up, you know?" Gerard scratches a hand through his hair before he realises that hand has a paintbrush in it. He switches it to the hand that's holding the coffee and grabs at a clump of hair, pulling it in front of his eyes to try and see if he got paint on it. It's too close to his eyes for him to focus on it though, and he frowns.

"Gerard, have you slept at all?"

Gerard refocuses his gaze to Frank's concerned face. "Hmm, what? Oh yeah, um, I got like, an hour?" His eyes fall guiltily on his crumpled coat on the floor in the corner - which made a terrible blanket - lying next to his lumpy knapsack - which made an even worse pillow.

Frank, who is entirely too switched on and has obviously had way more sleep than Gerard, glares at the coat and bag. "Napping in the corner doesn't count."

"Um." Now would be a great time for Gerard to have a witty comeback about nosy dudes coming into his art studio and being disapproving little shits. Unfortunately, he’s got nothing.

Frank steps forward, prying the paintbrush from Gerard's hand. Gerard's fingers tighten protectively around his coffee, but thankfully Frank doesn't try to take that, too (Gerard would totally fight him for the coffee). He walks over to the table holding Gerard's acrylics and drops the paintbrush into a jar of water.

"Pack up your shit, do whatever clean up you need to. Is there a drop sheet or something-?"

"What?" Gerard grips his cup with both hands. "What's going on?"

Frank gives Gerard a very serious don't fuck with me look. "We're getting breakfast."

"But-"

"I'm not taking no for an answer. Pack up your shit," Frank puts his hands on his hips like he’s daring Gerard to argue.

Gerard opens and closes his mouth a few times, staring at Frank and wondering what happened to the nice chatty guy who used to bring him coffee.

When he finally opens his mouth to answer, he surprises himself.

"Okay."

***

A few hours later, with a belly full of pancakes, Gerard flops down on the not-too-fresh sheets of his way-too-narrow dorm room bed. He's full and warm and suddenly so sleepy he can barely keep his eyes open. Obviously, what he needed to achieve sleep was pancakes. Frank is a fucking genius.

Frank is also amazing because he not only took Gerard to the best diner in the entire world, with milkshakes that would make a lesser man cry; he didn't let Gerard pay, walked him back to his dorm room and helped him get out of his suddenly-way-too-complicated boots.

Gerard's so sleepy and content he doesn't even think to be embarrassed as he fumbles out of his jeans and crawls under the covers in only his boxers and paint streaked t-shirt. He blinks up blearily at Frank, licking the stray stickiness of maple syrup from his lips. There's a beam of sunlight that's escaped between the folds of the curtains and it's painting gold light all over Frank, making him look like an angel. If Gerard wasn't so floppy he'd sketch it out with colour pencils.

"You're a genius, Frankie. That was the best breakfast ever." He stifles a sudden yawn into the back of his hand.

He can't see Frank properly through the blur of his fingers, but he's pretty sure he rolls his eyes. "Not what I had planned for our first date, but fine, whatever."

Gerard's eyes pop open, and he sits up, his brain scrambling after the words. "Date?"

That wasn't a date, that was Frank being a good Samaritan and stopping Gerard from killing himself with lack of sleep and a caffeine overdose. Gerard would know if it was a date, right?

"Yeah, a date." Frank says, rolling his eyes again. The mattress dips as he sits down beside Gerard. "Wow dude, Ray said you were lost in your head most of the time, but I didn't think it was that bad."

"Huh?" Gerard sputters, still stuck on the date thing, and hey, wait- "You know Ray?"

"Dude, we do a musicology elective together. I'm pretty sure I've told you that already."

"Huh." Gerard blinks at Frank, who is suddenly unfamiliar, because he's not just the cute guy who sometimes brings him coffee and talks about music like there's too many words in his mouth and he can't get them out fast enough. He looks at Frank's perfect eyebrows, his scruffy adorable hair and his bewildered smile and can't really get his head around the idea that they just went on a date. A date.

"You know, I've only been trying to ask you out for like, a month now." Frank admits, his hands twitching in his lap.

Gerard can't close his mouth. He's pretty sure he's not breathing. "You have?"

Frank snorts out a laugh, "Yeah, I mean as fun as it is hanging out in your studio and talking cubism with you, I was kind of hoping you might come to one of those gigs I kept giving you flyers for. I mean..." he hesitates, "I know you had your big art piece you had to get in, so I figured I'd wait until you'd submitted it. I didn't realise you were just gonna keep painting forever. If that's your way of saying you're not interested well, I guess I'm a little slow on the uptake."

If Gerard stares at Frank any harder his eyes might just pop out of his head and roll onto the floor. Fuck, he can’t even remember the last time he went on a date. Maybe he’s forgotten what constitutes a date.

"Oh my god, please say something, you're killing me." Frank shoves a hand over his eyes, frowning.

Gerard blinks at him a few more times, his mind still chanting "A date. A date!" at him. Apparently eating pancakes and talking about Misfits versus Black Flag qualifies as a date. They didn't even share a milkshake with two straws or anything. Strangely, Gerard can't bring himself to be upset by this new information, he just wishes he'd known at the time that's what it was.

Resolute, he presses his palms to the mattress, pushing himself fully upright. Well, if it really was a date, then he needs to end it the right way.

He pries Frank's hand away from his eyes, linking their fingers and offering him a gentle smile. Frank still looks really, heart-breakingly unsure, right up until Gerard leans in and kisses him.

Frank responds immediately, his mouth opening and his free hand flying up to grip Gerard's shoulder. He sighs into Gerard's mouth, pressing closer until their chests touch, pressing his tongue into Gerard’s mouth and pulling a small moan from him. He tastes like maple syrup and lightly of cigarettes and he kisses like a motherfucker. It's such fucking rush, Gerard's pretty sure he's getting a headspin. It's unexpected and awesome and wow, Gerard had no idea this was how his morning would go.

Fucking best morning ever.

When they break for air they're both panting and Gerard's heart is beating way too hard. He gives Frank a wobbly smile. "I think I'm the one who's a little slow." He admits, his voice low and throaty, "Um, I'm sorry? I really had no idea."

Frank shakes his head, but he's grinning so hard his eyes are creased up. "You know what? Next time you can organise the date."

"Yeah?" Gerard's smiling so wide he's getting a cheek ache, "Next time?"

"Hell yeah, next time. I expect something fucking classy too." Frank quirks an eyebrow in him, his smile fucking radiant.

Gerard smiles back just as hard, because fuck yes, there's gonna be a next time.

 

(end)