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Burns Your Skin

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When Frank stumbles into the lounge that morning, he's flushed and glassy-eyed and unsuccessfully trying to stifle his coughing.

Ray, who's sitting on the couch next to Gerard, looks up from his laptop and sighs. "Oh Frankie, not again?"

"What? I'm fine," Frank protests, "I just got some fluff down my throat."

Gerard gets up and walks over to him, holding a hand to his forehead. "Dude, you're burning up."

Frank scowls at him. "Shut up, I said I'm fine."

Gerard looks at him sceptically. "Yeah, no, you're really not. You need to get back to bed. Do we still have any Tylenol on the bus?" Without waiting for an answer, he starts looking through the cupboards in the kitchen. He finally finds a nearly-empty bottle behind the coffee. "Here."

Frank grumbles, but at Gerard's stern look he takes the bottle and downs a tablet with a glass of water.

"C'mon, bed," Gerard commands, dragging Frank back to the bunks.

"I'm fine, Gerard, come on, I took the damn Tylenol, it'll only take a few minutes to work," Frank argues, "I can't go to bed now, we've got a show tonight -"

"All the more reason to go to bed now so you can get better in time for the show," Gerard interrupts and pulls Frank down into his bunk. "Just lie down, Frank. I'll stay with you."

Frank finally gives in and crawls under the covers. Gerard curls himself around him and wraps his arm around Frank's torso. Frank's tense, his breathing a little raspy, and Gerard rubs his hand over Frank's chest to try to ease it a little. "Frank, sleep," he says, and presses a soft kiss to the back of Frank's neck. "You'll feel better."

"You sound like my mom," Frank complains, but he's relaxing, so Gerard counts it as a win. He continues rubbing small circles on Frank's chest as Frank falls asleep, listening to his breathing and trying not to worry about him too much.

***

Frank's fever hasn't improved by the time they're getting ready for the show. If anything, it's gotten worse, but Gerard can see by the stubborn glint in Frank's eyes that he's not going to sit this one out.

"I'll just take another Tylenol, I'll be fine," he keeps insisting, and Gerard sighs and wraps himself around him, trying to will him back to health.

The show is alright; Frank's not falling over, at least, though he's not moving around much either, seeming totally concentrated on getting his fingers to play the right chords. Gerard hovers close to him for most of the show, checking his forehead a few times to make sure he's okay - he's still hot to the touch, but at least he's not getting worse, as far as Gerard can tell. Still, he resolves to get Frank to a doctor if he hasn't improved by tomorrow morning.

Frank looks about ready to faint by the time the show is over, but he still heads towards the exit where the fans are waiting until Gerard stops him with an arm in front of his chest.

"Oh come on, Gerard," Frank protests, "the fans have come a long way to see us, signing a few things won't kill me." He starts to move forward again, only stopped by Gerard actually grabbing his arm this time.

"Are you insane, Frank," Mikey says flatly, " you are not going out there. The fans aren't going to die if you don't come out to see them this time. Me and Ray can go out for signings, you let Gerard take care of you."

"Seriously, Frank," Gerard says, pulling him away from the door towards the other end of the hallway, "if nothing else, you don't want to infect our fans, do you?"

"Fine, FINE," Frank says, glaring at them. He follows Gerard down the hall to the back exit that's closest to their bus.

As they get closer the adrenaline from the show starts to drains away and he seems to deflate, leaning heavily on Gerard for support.

"I'm really fucking tired, dude," he mumbles eventually.

"That's why we're getting you to bed," Gerard says, now getting really worried. It's as close to admitting he's sick as Frank ever gets, and he'll only say even this much when he's feeling really shitty.

When they get back to the bus, Frank immediately slumps down on the couch, kind of swaying towards the armrest a little. Gerard looks at him worriedly. "I'm gonna make you tea now, okay? And then you can take another Tylenol and we'll go to bed."

Frank just nods, too tired even to argue. Gerard gets a mug out and finds the herbal teabags, trying to make the water boil faster with just the power of his mind. He lets the tea brew for a minute while he gets the honey (and seriously, when did they become the kind of guys who keep honey on their bus?) and then brings it over to Frank, who's got his eyes closed and his
head tipped back against the backrest.

"Frank?" he asks softly. Frank cracks open one eye. "Yeah?" he croaks out.

"I made you tea," Gerard says, "can you drink it for me?"

"Yeah," Frank says again, reaching out a hand for the mug.

Gerard sits down next to him and strokes a hand down his back while he drinks the tea in small slurps, blowing on it in-between every sip.

"'kay," he says when he's done, handing the mug back to Gerard, who takes it back to the kitchen and puts it in the sink. He can deal with it later.

"Come on, Frank," he says, "clothes and bed." He gets Frank to the bunk area and strips them both to their boxers, getting Frank a semi-clean t-shirt so he stays warm. Frank barely reacts, letting Gerard undress him like a ragdoll.

"Bed, Frank," Gerard says, and Frank automatically slumps down onto the bunk and sort of falls over sideways, his head landing on the pillow. Gerard gets the covers out from underneath him and pulls them up to Frank's chin, making sure he's properly covered.

"Sleep," he says softly. Frank answers with a vague "hmm", already half asleep.

Gerard settles down next to him, smoothing his palm over Frank's hair. "Please get better soon," he whispers. Frank snuffles and turns around in his sleep, pressing his face into Gerard's thigh. Gerard smiles and continues petting his head gently. He'll be better tomorrow, and if not, Gerard will do everything in his power to get him back to health as soon as possible.