Gerard was wide awake. All the fucking amazing things that had happened in the last forty-eight hours had him excited and curious. He couldn't shut his brain off—it just kept turning around and around and around in tight little circles.
Plus, it was muggy and sticky, a typical hot summer night in Jersey. With the power out in most of the Tri-State region, there nothing to move the air around. No whirring fan. No wheezing, asthmatic air conditioner. It was stifling and Gerard just laid in his bed, sheets sticking to his sweaty skin, trying not to move except for the occasional excited wiggle.
Sweltering heat and the news of motherfucking extraterrestrial visitors meant that there was no way in hell Gerard was getting any sleep tonight.
He and Mikey and Ray had been glued to the old weather radio their mom had found in the junk drawer, listening to the Emergency Broadcasting System all day long as it had rained and thundered outside. The storm had kept them cool. Once the sun had gone down, though, the breeze had died and the heat had become unbearable.
Ray showing up on their doorstep had been unexpected. His overprotective mother usually wouldn't let him out of the house if she could help it. He must have snuck out while she looked away.
They'd listened to the news reports on the radio with their eyes wide with excitement, whispering to each other partly in shock, partly in disbelief. Space aliens, like out of every damn sci-fi movie that they'd ever watched. Here. On Earth. I come in peace and all that shit.
"Klaatu barada nikto," Mikey had said, giggling, which had set them off on a debate about the relative merits of robot companions. The radio had given conflicting reports of what the aliens looked like, but there was mention of a "pleasing appearance," an "empathic nature," and "tentacles".
"Empathetic? Like to em-pha-size?" Mikey had trouble pronouncing the word, but Gerard knew what he meant. He always did, with Mikey.
"No, empathic, like empathy. Like Counselor Troi from Next Gen."
"Ew." That was pretty much 14-year-old Mikey's reaction to anything involving the opposite sex.
"Just wait," Gerard said. "You won't be saying 'ew' forever."
Mikey just shook his head in patent skepticism, pushing his glasses back up his nose, before moving back to the subject at hand. “How can it have tentacles and look 'pleasing'? The Thing had some tentacles—” He held up a hand when Gerard started to object. “Yeah, I'm totally talking about the Carpenter remake.”
“I don't think The Thing counts. I don't think the tentacles were its natural shape.” In terms of alien anatomy, Gerard wasn't entirely convinced that "pleasing appearance" and "tentacle" went together, either.
"Well, true," Ray conceded. "E.T. was kinda that ugly-cute, though, like those dogs with the smashed-in faces, but he was totally a good guy."
Mikey had scoffed at that, and then the discussion had turned to not-so-friendly aliens until their mom, chain smoking in an effort to calm her jittering nerves, had told them to knock it off.
Ray left before it got dark to face the wrath of his mom, and Mikey and Gerard had cereal for dinner, using up the last of the milk before it went bad. Once it was fully dark, they went into the living room with some candles, trying to remember every movie they'd ever seen or book they'd read that had aliens in it. They argued about extraterrestrial biology and technology levels and reasons that the aliens might want to take over the planet.
Mikey was holding out for the aliens' home planet running out of resources; Gerard was sure they were explorers checking out the universe in the name of science. Mikey fell asleep, glasses askew on his face, before either could be declared the clear winner. It was easier to just leave Mikey on the couch rather than trying to wake him up and get him up the stairs to their bedroom.
Gerard carefully rearranged Mikey's long limbs on the couch, covering him with an afghan and tousling his hair before giving his mom a kiss and climbing the stairs to his and Mikey's room.
He stripped out of his clothes, tossing them toward the hamper in the corner. He put on the loosest pair of pajama bottoms he owned and for once, comfort overcame modesty and he didn't wear a shirt. Hopefully it would start to cool off a little so he could get to sleep.
His fingers twitched to doodle some cool-looking aliens, but none of the flashlights had working batteries and his mom wouldn't let him have candles in the bedroom for fear of Gerard setting something on fire. Again. Like he'd done it on purpose or something. Instead, he drew them in his mind, fish-aliens and penguin-aliens and even a couple of bunny-aliens with big gnashy-teeth that made him giggle in evil glee.
Gerard fell asleep between one alien-doodle and the next.
Gerard jerked awake, unsure what had disturbed him. It had finally cooled down and he shivered with the breeze coming in from the window, his skin chilled and clammy. There was a full moon outside but without the added glow of streetlights, it was dim and shadowed in the bedroom. He could hear the neighbor's dog barking, and the clatter of trashcans.
A weird sense of unease twitched over him. Scanning the room, his breath caught when he realized Mikey's bed was empty, but then he remembered that Mikey was safe on the couch downstairs. "Fuck," he sighed.
Gerard squinted at Mikey's pillow in the dim light; it seemed much larger than he remembered. It squinted back at him with two large eyes, inky black and featureless.
He tried to scream, but all that came out was a loud squeak as he scrambled backwards on his bed, limbs flailing and propelling him into the wall with a muffled thump.
The pillow-creature, likewise, squeaked and flailed away from Gerard, backing itself into the corner of Mikey's bed, staring at him. In the shadows of the room all Gerard had was the impression of a multitude of tentacles and a rounded body.
"Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck," Gerard panted, terrified. He was going to get eaten by a tentacled alien of "pleasing appearance" and "empathic nature" and— His thoughts came to a screeching stop. "Hey, wait a minute,” he said to the pillow-creature. “'Empathic nature'? Does that mean you can feel what I'm feeling?"
Not entirely convinced he wasn't about to get eaten, Gerard tried to think warm, welcoming thoughts toward the pillow-creature. There was no response at first, so he inched a little closer, wishing for more light so he could see. "It's okay," he said softly, hoping to convince it of his benign nature.
Gerard wasn't prepared for the rush of feelings, clearly not his but still understandable, that washed over him, fear and anxiety and longing-for-home.
"Hey, little—" Gerard waffled over a gender and settled on "friend, you lost? And holy fuck, what are you doing in my house?" Gerard kept his voice calm, but memories of the government men in E.T. had him on the verge of freaking out.
The pillow-creature, no, fuck it, Pillow picked up on what Gerard was feeling and squeaked in distress. Gerard could feel the spike of fear.
"Oh, hey, no, no, it's okay," he soothed, holding out a hand. "It's okay. Too much bad sci-fi." Gerard concentrated on the positives of the situation, his delight and awe at meeting an actual fucking extraterrestrial, his happiness that he wasn't going to get eaten, his love for a universe that made all of this possible.
Pillow edged out of the corner and moved closer, reaching out toward Gerard with a long tentacle. Holding his breath, Gerard leaned forward and met Pillow halfway. Pillow wrapped its tentacle around Gerard's hand, squeezing lightly.
Ray's older brother kept a snake, Rosa the Rosy Python, as a pet. Pillow's tentacle reminded him of the way Rosa felt in his hand: dry, firm and muscled, but without scales. Unlike snakes, Pillow was obviously warm blooded, almost uncomfortably so. Its skin radiated heat and it felt good against Gerard's cooler skin.
Gerard turned his hand over, wanting to get a closer look at how prehensile the tentacle actually was, but it was dim, and his night vision wasn't great. He sighed, defeated. Here was a chance to check out an alien life form and he couldn't, because he didn't have a working fucking flashlight.
Pillow wiggled its tentacle and suddenly there was a soft, blue glow coming from Pillow. It was enough light to see by.
"Bioluminescence," Gerard whispered, looking at Pillow, who was kinda...twinkling, spots of blue light shifting on its skin. "The Abyss had aliens that glowed. Pretty."
Pillow looked a lot like an extra-large octopus. Its body was about double the size of Mikey's pillow, wider than it was tall, a rounded head shape with tentacles. Pillow had two really big eyes, no nose that Gerard could see, and a beaky mouth.
He counted ten tentacles, several feet long and thicker than his wrist; at least two of them sprouted smaller tentacles at the end, like fingers, including the one wrapped around his hand. At intervals along the tentacles, there were metal cuffs of various widths. Some looked decorative, like jewelry, with etched designs, and the others looked purely functional.
There weren't any suckers on the tentacles, just smooth, soft skin. "Wow. A tenolandopus." He giggled and Pillow giggled back in Gerard's mind, a ripple of happiness that sent shivers down Gerard's back. "Oh. That felt good."
Carefully, Gerard touched the end of the tentacle in his hand, trying to see the finger-tentacles. It fanned open like a flower, reveling five smaller tentacles. "Cool," Gerard whispered. He held up his other hand, fingers spread. Five. Pillow spread out its finger-tentacles, holding them up to Gerard's fingers. "So fucking awesome." He was totally having his own Close Encounters moment here.
Pillow was curious. It played with Gerard's fingers for a minute, before trailing its fingers up his arm to his face. It examined his hair, tugging a little, seemingly fascinated by it. "Yeah, the dye job's fading; need to get Mom to redo it," he mumbled. From Pillow was only the feeling of touching something new and wondrous.
"What are you doing here, Pillow? I don't mean in my house, though I'm curious about that as well. But here here, on Earth." How did that translate, exactly, into something that Pillow could understand? Gerard really wished he had a better way of communicating than with his feelings; he wasn't exactly good at that.
There was a jumble of confused emotions. It took Gerard a while to sort through them, trying to figure out what they meant. He knew that Pillow was lost, which was obvious because it was in his bedroom, for fuck's sake. But were the rest of Pillow's people lost, too? Maybe like Battlestar Galactica, searching for home?
"I knew it!" Gerard whispered excitedly. Just wait until he told Mikey. "Boldly going and all that shit. So fucking awesome."
Pillow tentacle-walked from Mikey's bed to Gerard, settling itself next to him and resuming its personal exploration. It touched Gerard's face, tracing his features slowly. Gerard made exaggerated faces, showing it how his face could move. Pillow touched Gerard's mouth, then touched its own beak.
"Yes, the same."
Pillow rippled and it took Gerard a moment to realize it was changing the color of its skin, like the camouflage ability of an Earth octopus. Maybe that was what it used instead of facial expressions.
Pillow seemed fascinated by his ears; no surprise, really, since Pillow didn't have anything resembling external ears. Gerard was worried that Pillow was going to explore too much and he was going to end up with a tentacle in his brain, but thankfully, Pillow moved on.
As the tentacle-fingers stroked Gerard's neck, he trembled. It felt nice to be touched, no one ever touched him, really, and Pillow did it in a way that was firm and careful at the same time.
It traced Gerard's collarbones, following the curve of his shoulder and moved down to his side. Gerard had a moment to be self-conscious; he wasn't wearing a shirt and he was so pale and flabby. But Pillow continued sliding its tentacle over Gerard's ribs, making him giggle and jerk away. "Tickles." Apparently Pillow liked making Gerard laugh, because it tickled him again, and Gerard felt the echo of Pillow's joy.
Delicately, Pillow grasped Gerard's hand and brought it over to its own body, encouraging him to touch. "Oh," Gerard said, stroking Pillow. Gerard loved the way Pillow's skin felt under his hand, hot and strong and supple.
Gerard took his time checking out Pillow, feeling the bone under the skin, which he suspected was different than Earth octopi. He examined Pillow's tentacles, noticing now that two of them were much thicker than the others and ended in a flat paddle shape, maybe like a foot? Gerard touched it and Pillow jerked a little against him, glowing brighter and giggling again in Gerard's head. "Ticklish, huh?" He couldn't stop from grinning.
The tentacle closest to Gerard had one of the metal cuffs attached to it, and he wanted a good look, so he shifted a little. It was definitely jewelry, a cuff of bluish metal with an swirly abstract design etched into it. It was the most alien thing that Gerard had ever seen, and he traced the design carefully with a finger as he itched for his sketchpad. "It's beautiful."
Pillow touched the bracelet with a finger-tentacle and Gerard had an image in his head of endless beaches, blue-white sand and pink skies, waves gently washing onto the shore. He could feel Pillow's homesickness like it was his own.
"S'okay," he murmured, stroking his fingers over Pillow's head, trying to send reassurance. "It'll be okay."
Lifting up a different tentacle, Pillow showed Gerard another cuff. This one was made out of a bright red metal with a more dynamic design, somehow evoking endless motion. Gerard closed his eyes, felt how far Pillow had traveled, shared its excitement at discovering new life, new places. Pillow let Gerard see how the joy of exploring far outweighed the homesickness.
Plus—Pillow shared an image of some of its people, grouped together by size, large ones in back, the smaller ones in front. They were all wearing some kind of cloth sash above where their tentacles joined their bodies, along with a dazzling array of tentacle cuffs. Something about the way they were standing seemed very stiff and formal.
That was clear to Gerard, even without Pillow telling him. He had to grin, though. Family portraits were the same no matter where you were—your parents always made you brush your hair and wear your nicest clothes.
The thought made Pillow laugh, a delighted ripple in the back of Gerard's head.
Pillow touched Gerard's face, tracing his smile, while sharing the memories of being lost in the dark, trying to find safety and shelter in the rain, worrying about its family. Pillow had been wet and miserable, huddled against the side of a house, searching with his mind for... And then Pillow found something, a bright presence nearby, asleep but still somehow welcoming. Gerard.
"Me?" Gerard squeaked, blushing. Pillow didn't understand; Gerard was a nerd and a geek and outside of Mikey and Ray and Frank he didn't have any real friends. He got beat up all the time at school because he didn't fit in. He didn't really want to fit in, but that didn't change the fact that he came home with a black eye more often than he liked.
You. Pillow touched his chest in confirmation, showing Gerard how beautiful it found him on the inside, open and warm and accepting. The outsides didn't matter, though Pillow found him exotic and different.
Pillow continued with its exploration of Gerard's body, skimming lightly over Gerard's skin until it touched a nipple and Gerard gasped in surprise at the intensity of the sensation. The touch was electric and he blushed as he realized his dick was hard in his pajama pants.
"Oh God, I'm sorry, fuck, this is so fucking embarrassing," he mumbled, trying to pull away from Pillow's touch. Pillow was surprisingly strong; it wrapped a tentacle around Gerard's shoulders and kept him still, not letting him move away. It petted Gerard's hair in reassurance and made it perfectly clear that it enjoyed making Gerard feel good.
No one ever wanted that before. No one had ever wanted him before. Gerard had never been on a date, had never kissed anyone (Frank didn't count, because it had been a stupid experiment and the results had been inconclusive) and had never been touched like this. He was terrified to admit that he really liked it.
Gerard sank back onto the bed, shifting until he was comfortable. Pillow moved close, a warm, welcome weight against his side.
Pillow went back to touching Gerard's nipple, rubbing a tentacle-finger back and forth over it until the little nub was hard and Gerard was gritting his teeth to keep from reaching down and grabbing his dick. Pillow glowed with happy inquisitiveness and used another tentacle to tease Gerard's other nipple.
"Oh, fuck," he hissed, his back arching a little at the sensations. "Not fair, not fair, so not fair." Gerard shuddered as Pillow used a free tentacle to trace a path down the center of his chest, stopping briefly to investigate Gerard's bellybutton before tugging at the waistband of his pajama bottoms.
Gerard gasped and reached down to keep Pillow from pulling down his pants. He was out of shape and his mom called him chubby and he didn't want Pillow to see—
They wrestled briefly over the issue, with Pillow winning by the simple expedient of showing Gerard again what he looked like to Pillow, someone who shone joyfully in spite of his fears and insecurities, beautiful and alive, someone worth touching.
"Fine!" Gerard threw up his hands and let Pillow pull his pj's and boxers down over his cock, which had lost some enthusiasm while they'd tussled over his clothes.
Pillow grabbed his hand and brought it to his dick.
Gerard blushed. He'd never touched himself in front of anyone before, but the idea of someone watching him as he did was strangely erotic. It would be impossible to hide what he was feeling and that was an uncomfortable thought, being vulnerable like that.
He wrapped his hand around his dick and gave it a couple of slow, easy strokes, watching Pillow watch him. Pillow twinkled and glittered, glowing a little brighter. Gerard could feel its happiness and fascination as it shared the experience.
Pillow watched and pinched his nipples and Gerard threw his head back, gasping at the way he was suspended between the sharp edge of his arousal, three sensations vying for his attention. "Fuck," he gasped. "Oh my God."
Apparently, Pillow was a quick learner. After watching Gerard for a short time, it pushed his hand away from his dick and wrapped a tentacle around it, mimicking the stroking that Gerard had used. It experimented with different motions and pressures, wringing frantic moans and gasps from Gerard.
Gerard couldn't take it, he wanted more. He felt Pillow's interest spike as he stuck two fingers into his mouth, sucking on them before reaching behind. He circled the rim of his hole, teasing himself before pushing in with a finger. "Ah!" After a minute, he pulled back and then slid in both.
Between Pillow, who was steadily stroking his cock and teasing his nipples, and his own fingers in his ass, Gerard was very close to coming. He was sweating, hair clinging to his face as he thrashed on the bed, mostly incoherent in his pleasure.
He felt a tentacle wrap around his wrist, pulling his fingers away, which made him moan in protest. Pillow reassured him, brushing Gerard's cheek tenderly before sliding its tentacle into Gerard's mouth, let him suck on it, getting it wet and slick. Before long, Pillow was caressing its way down, until the tentacle tip was pressing against Gerard, slipping in between one breath and the next.
Gerard pushed back against the tentacle, gasping as it filled and stretched him better than his own fingers ever did. "Oh my God." Gerard shivered.
Pillow glowed brighter and Gerard groaned, his entire body bowing upward as Pillow took what Gerard was experiencing and reflected it back to him, doubling the sensations that Gerard was feeling.
It was intense and blinding and it pushed Gerard over the edge, twisting him up and wringing his orgasm out of him. It hovered on the edge of too much, painful and overwhelming and it would have scared him, except he could feel Pillow in his head, sharing everything with him, every pulse and shiver and moan.
Gerard fell back onto the bed, limp and sated, sweaty and trembling. "Oh," he sighed softly, reaching out to touch Pillow's head. "Thank you." Pillow cuddled close to Gerard, wrapping all of its tentacles around him. Gerard could feel its happiness and contentment, and it soothed him into sleep.
When Gerard woke in the morning, he was alone.
He had a vague memory of Pillow getting out of bed, reassuring Gerard when he'd grumbled sleepily in complaint, its tentacles stroking and petting him until Gerard had fallen asleep again.
But now, there was no sign of Pillow, no indication that it'd been there at all. Gerard searched, looked in the closet and under his bed. He didn't look under Mikey's because there was absolutely no room for Pillow to hide under there.
Nothing. It was like the night before had been an extremely intense and vivid dream.
He tried to tell himself it didn't matter, that there was no way that Pillow would have stayed. It had needed to get back to its family. He knew that.
It didn't help; he still felt alone and abandoned, empty.
Climbing back into bed, Gerard pulled the covers over his head and buried his face into the pillow, breathing in the scent of his own sweaty body.
"Gee, Gee, wake up."
"Go away, Mikey, I'm sulking." He pulled the covers tighter over his head in case Mikey tried to pull them off.
Mikey thwarted him by throwing himself on top of Gerard and tickling him.
"Fuck, stop it, Mikey, you little shit," he said, without any real anger. He pushed back the covers and glared at him. "What the hell?"
Adjusting his glasses, Mikey just grinned at him and snuggled close. "Power's back on and the aliens are on TV. They're pretty cool looking, Gee. You need to come see."
"Great," he said without much enthusiasm. He wasn't sure if he wanted to see Pillow's people; it was a bitter reminder of what he'd had and what he'd lost.
"Gee? Gee, what's wrong?" Mikey looked worried, nose scrunched up and eyes narrowed.
He shrugged. He'd get over this stupid crush. Pillow was an extraterrestrial, for God's sake. It was probably hanging out at the White House or something, being treated like a foreign fucking dignitary. Gerard was...just Gerard. Nothing special.
Sighing, Gerard tried to focus on the good things. He had Mikey, best little brother in the world. He had Ray and Frank and his parents. It was enough. “It's nothing, Mikes.” He hugged Mikey close, not even complaining when he got poked by bony elbows.
"Hey, where'd you get that?" Mikey asked.
"Get what?" Gerard shut his eyes and thought about coffee.
"That bracelet. It looks super cool."
"What bracelet—" Gerard's eyes popped open and he looked at his wrist, the one that had felt a little odd since he'd woken up. Wrapped around it was Pillow's red wrist cuff, the one Gerard called Exploration in his head. He shivered as the hair on the nape of his neck stood up. "Oh," he said. He could hear the bewildered wonder in his voice.
"Hmmm?" Gerard touched the bracelet and felt Pillow, felt its sadness at leaving, and its promise to come back. He sighed, the tightness in his chest melting away. "It's nothing, Mikey," he repeated.
"Secrets," Mikey sniffed.
Gerard squeezed Mikey hard and tickled him, making him squeak and struggle. "Tell me about the aliens," he said, hiding a smile.