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Breakdown on the L.I.E.

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Frank jerked awake when his dream was interrupted by a squealing banshee, which turned out to be the van grinding and squealing to a halt.

"Fucking fuck me, what the fuck?!" Hambone's voice pitched high and Frank would have made a crack about his balls finally dropping, if he wasn't busy freaking the fuck out because they were now careening across three lanes of traffic on the motherfucking LIE and about to die. He heard urgent beeping all around them, then the swish of cars doing 80 in a 65 zone.

The van was dead by the time Hambone managed to maneuver it halfway onto the shoulder. After that, it wouldn't move, wouldn't make a fucking sound, and Frank wasn't nearly fucking stoned or drunk enough for this. The inside was now filled with the stench of panicked dudes trying not to breathe too much, as if they'd stopped dead out in space instead of in Long Island. Frank managed to turn his head enough to catch Gerard's gaze where he was pressed up between Frank and the window, probably seriously regretting his decision to come along for the gig and get "the whole touring experience." Everyone was dead silent.

Tim was the first to react like a human, for which Frank was grateful, because there really was nothing to do but get the fuck out of the van and literally go play in traffic, trying to move the fucking piece of useless Astro metal out of the fucking lane. The air bit against his arms and across his back where the sweat gathered as he worked. It smelled like exhaust and dead leaves, and wasn't that just fucking Long Island through and through, Jersey's uppity butt-ugly cousin.

"Dude, this is, like, hardcore," Shaun muttered behind him, and Frank heard Gerard's giggle scatter across the wind as they pushed.

"Yeah, man," Frank ground out between his teeth. He could have sworn he was the only one doing any fucking work, even though he knew it to be a lie, but the fucking van weighed a million pounds even before being crammed full of their crap. "This is so awesome for my lungs, fucking - fucking made of steel," he panted.

"Tiny bitch, you'll outlive us all," Tim grunted from somewhere on the other side out of the van, just as Hambone ground out, "Frankie, shut the hell up, you pussy," around his cigarette. Frank couldn't actually manage an eye-roll without bursting a blood vessel, but it was the thought that counted.

After they finally managed to steer the ass end of the van onto the shoulder, for a full five minutes, all Frank could do was try to catch his breath and attempt to explain to his lungs that it was okay to unseize any time now, thanks, fuckers. He fumbled for a cigarette even though it was a dick move, but he needed to chill the fuck out, and they had no beer with them. Gerard probably had a joint on him, though, because he always managed to, despite never leaving the basement. Little brothers were awesome for obtaining weed, apparently. Frank had had to grow pretty fucking resourceful early on to satisfy his own weed-related requirements.

"Yo, Gee," he wheezed from where he was slumped against the van, squinting against the passing headlights. The shape of Gerard's head sidled away from the dark shapes of Frank's conferring band and loomed over him. The sun had set on them completely while they huffed and puffed.

"Hey, Frankie, hey," Gerard sing-songed as he sidled over. "This is fucked up, right? Like, dude, we're kind of totally fucking stranded out here. What's up?" Frank couldn't make out Gerard's face in the shadows, but he could hear the manic glee rising in his voice, like he was having the best fucking time of his life. Frank rolled his eyes even as he grinned, twirling the Zippo in one hand.

"Yeah, this is fucking awesome, man. You packing?"

"Oh! Now?" Gerard tilted his head, not like he was judging – because one of the best things Frank had discovered since meeting Gerard was that the dude never judged – but just considering Frank and his needs. Then without waiting for an answer, Gerard shrugged. "Sure, gimme a second," and went for his pockets.

"Yo, Iero, get your pansy ass over here!" Hambone didn't sound too happy, and Frank sighed, pushing away from the van. Not like he didn't know they were in deep shit, but it was pretty fucking rich of them, mouthing off to Frank when they barely even cared enough to show up to rehearsals on time anymore, much less getting to gigs. Though he supposed the "nearly dying" part of it had something to do with the bitchiness.

"What?" he barked when he got closer. They were all a clump of shadows outlined in passing lights, kind of freaky and awesome at the same time. Gerard could probably draw something like that for him if he asked. Could be a poster for another gig, maybe.

"Just trying to figure out what to do here, man, wanna join us?" Neil asked in his usual bored pitch. Dude was seriously mellow. Frank kind of admired that, even if it was seriously fucking irritating on the best of days. "Any bright ideas?"

Frank looked back at the dead van, Gerard slumped against its side and turned back. "No one's got Triple A?"

He could almost hear Hambone rolling his eyes. "Use your head, Iero, we're too far to use anything, and we're fucking broke. Neil's got, like, three fucking miles on his card or something."

Where they were standing, it was a lot farther to home than three miles. "How far's Farmingdale from here?"

Hambone shrugged. "I don't know, twenty miles, maybe?"

"Fuck." Frank had really been looking forward to this gig. He kind of hated Long Island, really fucking despised the very road they were stranded on, but on the other hand, the crowds could be really good out here, the kids starving for something more real than they were getting from home bands. He had kind of been thinking it might jumpstart them into energy, get their blood going again.

"Could call a tow truck, or something." Gerard's voice in Frank's ear made him jump like a fucking armadillo and he was eternally grateful for the spreading dark.

"Jesus, warn a guy," he muttered and popped his jaw to get rid of the echo of Gerard's voice.

"Dude, no Triple A, remember? That shit would cost, like, a million fucking bucks," Tim pointed out. Everybody sagged.

"Uh, I've got my dad's card? My name's on the account, I think it's still good," Gerard mumbled around a cigarette, frowning and going for his pockets.

Frank saw everybody turn towards Gerard at the same time with identical looks of being impressed despite themselves. Frank blinked. "You've got your dad's Triple A card?" His voice came out a bit more disbelieving than he'd meant it to, but seriously. "Dude!"

"What?" Gerard looked at them all like being a knight in fucking shining armor was nothing on a random Friday night in the middle of the LIE.

"Gerard, you're a fucking genius!" Neil crowed and pounded Gerard on the back, causing Gerard to puff out an entire cloud of smoke. "So, what, we get it towed to, like, the gig?"

Tim bit the side of his cheek and shrugged. "Yeah, I mean, not like we've got any other place to be, right? And we don't have the time to get this fucker fixed at a garage, anyway."

Everyone was quiet as they considered this, Gerard nodding along. Frank thought about how out of range he was for his cell service. Technically, it was supposed to be all up and down the coast, but if he was roaming – he couldn't afford the fucking bill as it was – but he could probably call it in, whatever, a gig was a gig. They might even be able to get the van to a garage after getting paid, even though it'd totally suck to blow their measly earnings on the fucking Astro.

"Yeah, but there's a bit of a flaw in the master plan, not that I don't admire it," Shaun finally broke their deep-thinking silence. "We're not all gonna fit in the cabin of the tow truck. What are the rest of us gonna do? I'm too pretty to hitchhike."

Hambone grunted in acknowledgement when Neil piped up with a stupid Eureka-type "Aha!" and pointed a finger in the air for extra emphasis. Frank snorted. "Some of us could stay in the van!" He looked around him expecting praise.

"Dude." Even Frank was smarter than that. "That shit's, like, ten shades of illegal."
Out of the corner of his eye, Frank saw Gerard drop his head closer to Frank's. "But awesome," he whispered in that dramatic, people-can-hear-you-in-China kind of way. Frank rolled his eyes and elbowed him, grinning.

Neil wasn't going to be put off, though. "Yeah, and what the fuck else are we gonna do? Guys, seriously, it's our best bet. We can still make the gig if we call, like, right fucking now."

Hambone had somehow become the de facto leader of the operation in the five minutes they'd been hemming and hawing, because he looked around at all of them, shook his head, spread his shoulders, and sighed. "All right, yeah, fine. Frank, you wanna do the gig, right?"

Duh. "Duh."

"All right. Littlest people go in the van and stay quiet as mice. Adults in the tow truck. I'm calling it in, Gee let me see that card. What's your father's name again?"

Frank could totally get behind an illegal plan he hadn't quite agreed to, and he really didn't want the fucking roaming charges, anyway. He didn't even mind the short joke this time. He tugged on his hair and turned to face Gerard once he was done giving Hambone his account details. "Seriously, that's awesome. Sorry to get you into this, man, told you it wouldn't be that much fun, but you're a fucking life saver."

He would just make out Gerard's squint and grin in the grey light. "No worries. I wanted to know what touring was all about, so, you know. It's kind of fun, right?" He shrugged again and laughed at himself, looking every bit the awkward geek that he was.

Frank grinned back. "Yeah, it's all partying and champagne and fun, fun, fun out here, let me tell you."

"How do you even keep up with the excitement?" Gerard giggled again and then fumbled in his pocket. "Oh, yeah, here – for you."

Frank liberated him of the joint gratefully. He'd almost forgotten. "Oh, man, awesome."

"Dude." Tim was, like, right on his ass. Frank gave him a glare over his shoulder. "You are so not smoking up when the van's getting towed."

Frank rolled his eyes and elbowed him in the stomach. "You're such a fucking pussy, mom."

"Your mom's got an awesome pussy, and I'm totally right," Tim replied without missing a beat. "And I'll sic Hambone on your ass, fucker, don't think I won't."

Dude was such an obvious mama's boy. So was Frank, and make no mistake about it, but seriously – Frank needed to Not Be Sober if he was going to spend the rest of the ride becoming intimate with Tim's drum set. What was one more illegality in the face of hitching a ride in a dead van? He rolled his eyes, then gave Gerard a quick look, and tucked the joint into his back pocket, hoping to sound convincing when he answered, "Fucking fine, no smoking up in the van."

"Damn straight," Tim breathed out and sidled even closer. "And you're sharing afterwards."

Frank snorted despite himself and pushed Tim away with a final thump of elbow to the chest. "Fine, Jesus, needy bitch."

Tim giggled and sidled away, walking backwards into Shaun and resting his head against the side of Shaun's. "Hey, baby, how's it hangin'?"

Frank left them to it and turned back towards Gerard. "There is no fucking way I'm getting in that van sober," he informed him, took the joint back out as Gerard's eyes grew wide and shimmered in the lights of the passing cars. Frank lit up. The first hit made, like, every bone in his body melt right out of its skin.

"Oh, fuck, that is good shit, man," he wheezed through the smoke. Gerard swiveled around to look down the shoulder of the road at the others while they did shit like call in the tow truck and get some bags out of the van. Frank giggled and handed him the joint as soon as Gee turned around and made grabby hands at him.

"Awesome." Gerard took a hit and when Frank met his eyes, they both busted out laughing. "Dude, Frankie," Gerard whispered and widened his eyes dramatically.

"I know!" Frank answered, trying to make his eyes as big as Gerard's. He didn't know if he succeeded, but Gerard gave him a huge grin, and then they just slumped against each other, giggling. Frank barely noticed Shaun until the dude practically jumped on Gerard's back and forced him to almost drop the joint and yelp.

"Shit, fucker!" Frank wheezed and clutched at his belly.

"What're you ladies doing out here so furtively?" Shaun asked and pointedly looked at the joint still – thankfully – clutched between Gerard's fingers. Frank squinted at him and tried to look stern.

"We're getting ready to hide in the fucking van for the rest of days, and you better not breathe a fucking word to Timmy," he warned.

Shaun made a who, me? face and plucked the joint right out of Gerard's grip. "Not a fucking word if you share." He inhaled, and it took a moment, but then he got that look on his face. "Oh, fuck. That is good."

Frank cracked up and reached for it back. "Yeah, man, I fucking know."

Gerard nodded along. "Mikey knows the best guy up in Nutley," he enthused.

They appreciated the weed for a little while longer, and Frank knew he probably should have cared more about smoking up before a gig, but if he was honest with himself, he really kind of didn't. He was fucking glad for Gerard's company, and really grateful for his weed, and hey, they'd almost died. He had a legitimate excuse here.

Hambone's voice cut through his high like a fucking megaphone. "Yo, bitches! Get your fucking asses over here!"

Frank swore, put out the joint, and quickly stuffed it in his back pocket after exchanging glances with Gee. He hiked up his pants for good measure, then remembered that Hambone wasn't his fucking daddy. He giggled all the way down to the van, Shaun and Gerard shuffling behind him.

Hambone was kind of pissy and Frank had to squash the urge to hide behind Tim, even though Hambone was usually the biggest, most laidback pussycat around. But he was on edge, and Frank wasn't supposed to be high, but was, so he just made a little "yes, sir!" salute in his direction when Hambone had commanded that, as the smallest bastards around, Frank, Gerard, and Shaun were to hide themselves in back of the van behind where the equipment was stored, and "not a motherfucking peep out of you fuckers, or I'm leaving you to rot in the Farmingdale slammer and become bikers' bitches until your assholes get loose, got it?"

Climbing back into the van and trying to figure out how to fit himself, Gee and Shaun around the equipment in the back was an adventure all its own. Between all the amps, guitars, drums and cords, there was barely any space left for three children, much less guys in their twenties. Eventually they somehow settled in, though, him and Gee in one back corner, Shaun barricaded behind his keyboards on the other. Hambone slammed the door behind them with a glare and a bang.

"Well, this is a tight squeeze," Frank muttered, trying to unwedge his foot from under an amp.

"Your mom's a tight squeeze," Shaun muttered and burst into giggles. Frank snorted, because seriously, mom jokes, never not funny, and flipped him the bird. Gerard laughed so loudly, Frank almost jumped. He had to stifle his own giggles in order to shush him. "Dude, dude, shut up!"

"Okay, but scoot over," Gerard whispered and tried squeezing himself in next to Frank. He got stuck between the tom and an amp and that looked seriously uncomfortable.

"Dude, come here," Frank whispered, and scooted forward just enough for Gerard to fit himself right next to where Frank sat up against the wall. It wasn't exactly the most comfortable position, and Gerard was surprisingly awkward with his knees and elbows all up in Frank's business, but Frank didn't take up much space himself, so he guessed it'd have to do for the time being.

The whole thing was so seriously fucked up though, Frank could only grin at Gee and Shaun as they sat in the dark and waited for the other shoe to drop. He could mostly see Shaun's head, the rest of him hidden behind equipment. His eyes were closed and he looked like maybe he was meditating, but was probably already passing out, the weed-waster. Gerard looked like the idea of not talking was physically painful, eyes darting all over the place, hands tucked safely into his lap, but he grinned back at Frank when he saw him. He mouthed "Dude!" at him and Frank went, "I know!" without making any sound, and then they both broke into giggles again.

Somebody slapped their side of the van hard enough to make Frank jump and curse. They did it again, but he was expecting it this time and clamped his mouth shut. Gerard was looking at him with huge eyes, and Frank just shrugged and tried to settle in more comfortably. He wondered how long it would take the tow truck to get there and make it to the club. He really wanted to get this over with.


They'd been sitting there for what felt like a total eternity, but Frank's watch showed to be about twenty minutes. It also showed him that they were on in just under an hour, which was worse.

Shaun had conked out like Frank had expected, but Gerard was, like, wide awake and still totally high, which was a hilarious combination to observe. Frank was getting kind of Not High, which was not as awesome. He figured that once the tow truck came and they were en route, he could take another gander at the joint. Not like anybody was going to see, right?

Then Frank heard it, the rumble of the tow truck coming closer, the flashing yellow lights moving across the van's ceiling and walls. Hambone said something indistinct to the driver, the driver murmured something back. Frank couldn't see anything, the windows were too far out of his eye-line, so it was kind of freaky. Gerard turned his head towards Frank and made an exaggerated scared face, and looked so hilariously awesome, Frank had to work really, really hard at not cracking the fuck up. Instead, he clamped his hand over his own mouth and bent over as much as the amp would allow.

Suddenly, Gerard's arms wrapped kind of awkwardly around Frank's middle and shoved at him until Frank was sitting right in between Gerard's legs. He nearly yelped. Instead, he tried twisting in Gerard's grip and miming "what the fuck, dude?" to his face. He didn't, though, because the next second Gerard hid his face in the crook of Frank's neck and started shaking all against him. It took Frank a second to connect the dots and realize that Gerard was fucking cracking up and using Frank as a human shield for giggles.

Which kind of set Frank off again, too, because this whole thing was fucking ridiculous, and he shook, hand still clamped over his own mouth. He figured that they were probably quiet enough, because nobody slapped the van again, and then he didn't really care.

He really did almost yelp, though, because while both he and Gerard had been busy trying not to piss their pants laughing, the van was suddenly lifted up and started moving, or, actually being moved, and then he heard the unmistakable sound of that huge metal claw being thrown over more metal. Not being able to see any of it going down made it feel hyper-real, like he'd been inside the Matrix and was now awake and hooked up to machinery in the real world.

Frank's laughter died in his throat kind of quick and he elbowed Gerard in the side, barely breathing. "Shh, Gee, shhh!"

Gerard hiccupped his way to silence and gripped the hell out of Frank. Frank didn't really mind, because he didn't need to breathe, anyway. Through the haze of this being equal parts weird and awesome, he thought about how one wrong move and they'd be totally fucked, Matrix or no.

He heard car doors slamming, then the rumble of the truck engine growing louder, and then Frank's whole world tilted as the van began making its ascent onto the truck bed. He swallowed a few times, just to make sure he wasn't going to throw up. He fucking hated being this delicate about moving cars, but this was a seriously strange feeling, like a rollercoaster without any of the free air or power, plus he couldn't scream.

Gerard's hands tightened around his stomach and Frank gulped for air. He shifted a little, wanting to loosen Gerard's hold on him without breaking it completely. It kind of felt nice, being all wrapped up in Gerard like that. He waited while the van stalled at the top of the truck bed and then chanced looking back at Gerard's face.

His eyes were huge, especially this up close, and Frank gave him a grin and a thumbs-up just as the tow truck jerked forward and Frank's skin hummed along with the dull throb of giant wheels rolling on pavement. It wasn't the smoothest ride Frank could imagine, but at least they weren't stuck in the middle of the LIE anymore, so he took what he could get.

He forced himself to relax a little and enjoy the rough ride. He spread himself out as much as he could with Gerard still holding onto him from behind and breathed deeply through his nose. Then he remembered the joint.

"Shit." He hadn't meant to say it out loud, but shit. Gerard hmm'ed in question. "I totally left the joint in my back pocket, man, it's fucking getting crushed."

"Shit," Gerard agreed kind of breathlessly behind him. "That sucks."

"Yeah." Frank slumped against him. He also totally didn't make any noise when he felt Gerard's fingers fumbling in the vicinity of his ass, even though he really, really wanted to, what the fuck. "Uh, Gee?"

Gerard's voice sounded strained when he answered, "A man's gotta do what, ugh, hang on, a man's gotta do."

Frank felt Gerard's fingers, like, inside his pocket.

"Dude." He had to admire Gerard's ambitious need for weed and lifted his ass up in a bid to help, digging his heels into the ground for support. "Get it yet?"

Gerard gripped Frank's shoulder with his free hand. "Almost there," he grunted, and then finally lifted his fingers out of Frank's back pocket. "Ta-da!" he whispered and giggled. Frank slumped back and wriggled his ass a little to get comfortable again.

"Is it workable?" he asked in a hushed voice. He wasn't a huge dude or anything, but joints were fragile things.

"Think so, hang on," Gerard whispered. "Eh, it'll do. Got a light?"

That one was easier, and Frank slid the Zippo out of his front pocket with minimal effort. "I can fucking do magic, too!" he announced in a stage-whisper and passed it to Gerard's waiting hand, all do your thing. Gerard did his thing and passed the joint to Frank after his first hit, because his mother had clearly taught him how to share.

The joint was slightly worse for the wear, but man oh man, that first hit was still fucking sweet. Frank held the smoke in for a bit, let his head fall back onto Gerard's shoulder, and exhaled. Gerard slipped the joint out of his fingers and Frank heard him inhale. The smoke filled the van as they passed it back and forth. Frank felt too good to care about that, though.

Shaun was still out like a light across from them, and Gerard's neck smelled good. Not like sunshine and daisies, but warm and human, a kind of unshowered, soft smell. Frank smiled into it as he twirled the roach between two fingers, burying his nose deeper into Gerard's neck and inhaling the scent of his skin.

Gerard stilled behind him. "Frankie?" Frank obviously knew how close they were, but Gerard's voice still surprised him when it went right through Frank's whole body. Gerard had sounded kind of unsure, and Frank was about to tell him that all it was, was that Gerard smelled kind of nice underneath all the weed, but then he felt it – hardness against his ass, where there hadn't been anything but Gerard's hips before.

Oh. Frank closed his eyes and focused, feeling around with his skin-brain just to see if it really was what he thought it was, and – yeah, that was definitely Gerard's dick, hard right up against Frank's ass.

No fucking way, he thought, giddy. His mind shifted, tilted a bit, and then it was like – there was a new Gerard behind him. Different. A clearer Gerard, maybe, a Gerard who got hard when he was high, or when someone breathed on his neck, or maybe a combination of both, Frank didn't know. But it was – cool. Not exactly in Frank's plans or anything, but then his stomach got fluttery and – yeah, anticipatory. He started buzzing with it.

"Gee?" he whispered, and the word got caught in his throat. Gerard hummed in reply, just a quick low sound, like acknowledgement, floating heavy between them. Frank felt his heart speed up. The butterflies in his stomach increased tenfold and he prodded his mind for what could happen next. Maybe he could make something happen.

He inched his ass just a bit further back, and even through the many layers of fabric, he could feel the heat coming off Gerard like he was a furnace. Fuck yeah, he thought. He fucking wanted this.

His dick agreed and Frank's jeans got a little tighter. His boxers felt rough against him now, itchy, like he – well, like he really wanted them off, could maybe make something of this mutual state of hard dick.

Gerard was quiet behind him, totally still, but pressed up oh so close, breathing a bit uneven. Frank lifted his head to peek across the equipment at Shaun. Yep, still down for the count.


Frank slowly pinched out the joint, set it down by his sneaker and made a vague promise to remember to grab it later. Then he ran one hand over Gerard's fingers where they were clasped tightly around Frank's middle, just to see the reaction. The reaction was a hitch of breath, and Frank slowed down, deliberate, running another finger over Gerard's knuckles, a bit firmer, testing things out. Gerard was totally and completely still behind him. It felt like he maybe wasn't even breathing at all.

Frank shifted his ass a little and heard Gerard make a tiny hiccupping sound, like he was missing air. It almost got drowned out but the vibrating of metal and road beneath them, as did his questioning "Frankie?" but Frank had heard him, anyway.

Instead of answering, he chose to demonstrate his new intentions by grinding back against Gerard's crotch, making it slow and dirty and deliberate. Gerard's hands tightened and splayed across his belly, fingers hot across the fabric. He breathed Frank's name again, but this time it wasn't so much a question.

Frank felt the moment like it was waiting for him, then turned his head, nosed at Gerard's jaw and bit it, lingering a bit with his tongue on skin.

"Mmm, yeah," Frank whispered and shifted his ass until he felt Gerard's dick right where he wanted it, and then ground against him again. Gerard gasped against his neck, hot breath puffing out and sending shivers all down one side of Frank's body. Frank closed his eyes and did it again, tried moving his hips further out and deeper in, and then he did it again. Gerard buried his nose in the crook of Frank's neck, and Frank heard him whine low in his throat, felt it all the way down to his fucking toes. Frank braced himself on the amp with one hand, reached back and grabbed Gerard's shoulder with the other, and moved against Gerard again.

He did it again and again, growing desperate and so fucking hard, until, fuck, it was Gerard pulling Frank back against his cock, hands gripping Frank's hips, legs wrapped tight around Frank's legs, chest hot up against Frank's back. It felt like they were fucking with clothes on, connected everywhere, and Frank felt sweat gathering between his shoulder blades and pooling at the base of his spine.

He was so dizzy, he couldn't see straight. Gerard's hands wrapped around his hips and Gerard's hard dick right up against his ass like a fucking promise, shit, it was turning Frank on so hard, he could barely remember to breathe. He pushed back against Gerard, and hated that there were so many layers between them, chafing and getting in the fucking way, but still, he never wanted it to fucking end. He already wanted to do it again, but this time with no clothes and not in the fucking van surrounded by bulky fucking amps.

Gerard was mostly quiet behind him, for once, but even his uneven breathing was a fucking turn-on for Frank, fuck. Frank's skin zapped with heat and he was panting quietly, he was so very quiet, until he couldn't stay quiet at all anymore.

"Fuck, Gee," he gasped and, like in answer, Gerard swore under his breath and bit him, bit Frank's neck. Frank shuddered, saw fucking stars behind his eyelids, pressed a hand to his crotch without even meaning to, and came. He shook through it, snapping for air.

"Fuck!" His throat was dry, his entire chest was heaving, heart beating hard against his rib cage. Gerard was still thrusting up against him, frantic now, lost in it, and Frank helped, shoved back, and chanted under his breath, totally forgetting to be quiet, like the lid came off, "Yeah, oh fuck, Gee, yeah, yeah."

Gerard groaned, wrapped one arm fully around Frank's chest, and shuddered as he came, shoving Frank back against his dick one last time. "Oh, yeah, oh, fuck, Frankie," he panted, shaking, and his breath sent shiver after shiver down Frank's skin, confusing the hell out of his spent dick in the process. "Jesus."

Frank breathed through their aftershocks, and then felt the euphoria kick in on a slight delay, welling up in his belly, making him giddy and stupid. He didn't even care about how gross his boxers felt now, though he did do a quick check of the front of his pants. Not a lot of damage as far as he could tell, so maybe he could actually still go onstage with – come in his pants. "Dude," he whispered and finally allowed the giggles to spill out. "Dude, dude, Gee, Gerard –"

Gerard was still for a moment, and then Frank felt his chest rumbling with the beginnings of his own giggle. "Frankie, Frankie, shit. Oh, fuck me," he whispered back and collapsed across Frank again, shaking with laughter.

Frank barely managed to ask, "Was that a request?" before Shaun's monotone cut right through the air.

"I fucking hate the fucking both of you, I hope you know that."

Frank cracked up for real this time, wheezing with it. He felt so fucking good he didn't even care that Shaun had apparently gotten his shit together enough to at least catch on to the happenings two feet away from him. Gerard, Frank noticed after a second, stopped making any sound altogether, and his arms kind of jerked and let Frank go so quickly, he almost fell face-first into the amp.

"Dude –" he began, but then he had no time to finish the sentence, because the tow truck came to a sudden loud halt and the van shook a little on the flatbed. Frank blinked and bounced up to chance a peek out the back window. The neon sign of the club blinked seedily back for a second until his ass hit the ground again. He barely registered the weird wave of disappointment before they all stilled in a kind of round of freeze tag at the sound of the truck door opening.

They hadn't exactly covered the logistics of this end of things, he realized. The smoke still hung in the air a little. "Shit, what –"

"Shut the fuck up, Frank," Shaun hissed, and oh yeah, at least one of them was no longer high. He shrank back into Gerard's chest, and felt Gee's hands settle a bit tentatively on his knees. Frank found one of his hands and squeezed it. Gerard squeezed back after a moment.

They waited.

The other guys' voices filtered in one by one, Hambone's rumble, Tim's clear pitch, and Frank held his breath like a kid, waiting to see what would happen.

The lowering of the van back onto the ground turned out to be one of those experiences that Frank never wanted to repeat ever, whether high or stone-cold sober. The equipment shifting was probably the worst part, though the nauseating feeling of falling both backwards and sideways was no picnic, either. Frank got away with only one squished toe, while Gerard got a serious bump on the shin from a drum. Shaun didn't make a sound when his keyboard pinned him up against the wall, but then he did always love that thing like it was his lady. Frank scrambled to rescue the joint before it fell into a crack in the door.

It seemed to take forever for the truck driver to un-tag the van and fuck off into the night, but after the yellow flashing lights receded once again, oh, sweet relief – Hambone was throwing the van's back doors open and even the stale and gasoline-infested air of Farmingdale smelled like heaven to Frank. He inhaled gratefully.

"Frank, you cocksucker, seriously?" Tim yelled as soon as the smoke cleared. "Did you even fucking save any for me?" Hambone just glared, because he knew it was all he could do.

Frank just gave them both a shit-eating grin and held up the remains of the roach. "All yours, baby," he said brightly. Tim glowered at him.

"Uh, Frank? Gerard?" Neil lifted an eyebrow and Frank became incredibly aware of what he and Gerard must look like right now, wrapped around each other with their clothes all askew. "Anything you girls wish to share?"

Frank really wasn't prepared to share a fucking thing, even though he guessed Shaun might have that particular desire if that exaggerated cough was anything to go by.

"What, never seen two dudes snuggling before? I had the frights, Gee had the smelling salts." He pushed himself up and managed to give Gerard's knee a quick squeeze before hopping out of the van and landing right in front of Hambone and his glare. "Oh, yeah," Frank groaned as he stretched his arms above his head. "That's the stuff."

"Like you even needed room, stumpy," Hambone managed before pushing Frank out of the way. "Gerard, need a hand?"

Frank turned around just enough to see Gerard's panicked gaze lock with his own and nearly cracked up. Instead, he just shrugged and grinned. Sorry, Gee! When Gerard managed to unfold himself and step out of the van, he looked all right, just kind of mussed around the edges. Frank did a quick inventory, but Gerard's jeans were so stained all over that not even the new stain on the front stood out. Frank threw him a quick thumbs-up when no one was paying attention, and got a tiny smile in return.

After that, there was barely room to breathe. Between lugging shit in, setting shit up, and pretending like their van was totally parked, man, it's not taking up two unmarked spaces at all, he didn't get to even see Gerard, much less exchange a single word.

That was all right, though – Gee wasn't going anywhere. Frank got the usual stage jitters about five minutes before they were supposed to go on. It was a small club, but packed on a Friday night. He'd managed to grab a beer on account of being lead singer and the bartender being susceptible, but he was still all nerves, all over.

He was still zinging when they finally walked out on stage, blinded by the spot lights and deafened by the crowd. And like a switch being thrown, his stomach unclenched and Frank grinned, bright and happy and ready to go.

He felt Shaun pass behind him and give him the usual quick nudge in the back, and when Frank looked back at Hambone, he got a wink in response. Tim grinned from behind his kit and twirled his sticks while Neil tuned his guitar with a slight frown.

Frank's eyes adjusted to the lights and began to make out the details of the floor. After a sweep across the audience, he finally spotted Gerard all the way in the back, mostly distinguishable from the rest of the crowd by his dark shock of hair and pudgy slouch. Frank's belly gave a tiny excited kick.

"Yo-yo, Farmingdale!" he yelled out at the crowd. They cheered back. "What's up? We are Pencey Prep from New Jersey, and we're about to knock your fucking socks off! Think you're fucking ready?" More cheering, and he bounced a little in preparation, grinned like his face was splitting in half. "First, though, I got a thing I wanna say, all right? All right?"

The crowd split into a chorus of "go for its" and jeering shouts of "we want some jams, man!"

Frank cracked up. "All right, you'll get your jams in a second, babies! Hey, Gee?" He could sort of make out Gerard snapping to attention and he waited until every eye in the audience was on him before winking and blowing Gerard a kiss across the entire club. "Let's do it again after the jams!"

He ripped into "P.S. Don't Write" and didn't come down until the end. It was their best gig ever.