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The Truth Is I'm On My Way

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For the past hour, all he's managed to draw are werewolf fangs. And blood. And a couple of stick-figure corpses with Xs for eyes. Frank has hundreds of similar sketches—notebooks filled with gory doodles instead of class notes. Vampires, Frankensteins, the past month it's been all werewolves. When his classmates ask him if he likes to draw, he says yeah, because obviously it's more fun than paying attention in Chemistry.

But the problem with telling everyone he likes to draw is that they've gotten the impression he's actually good at it. Which is how he got pressured by the Winter Formal Committee (otherwise known as Megan) into designing the poster for next month's school dance.

Another bloody werewolf maw looms over a screaming, pitchfork-wielding stick-figure, and Frank bangs his head on the desk before writing across the top of the page, in huge, block letters, St. Catherine Prep's Winter Formal, December 15th. He adds some strategic blood spatter to the words to make them more appealing.

"Hi, I'm here! Where are you?" a voice shouts, and Frank shoves the notepad away in relief.

"Back here," he yells, and gets up to unlock his bedroom door.

Gerard opens the door a minute later, juggling two Hudson News styrofoam cups in one hand. "Hey, I brought you that coffee you like—oh shit!"

Frank lunges and grabs the cups before they fall and spill all over the carpet. "Ooo," he says, leaning in to sniff at the closed lids. "Man, I love you."

Gerard grins and kicks the door shut behind him, then pops the lids off the cups in Frank's hands and claims one coffee for himself. "You'd better. Pain in the ass carrying two cups on the train all the way from Manhattan."

Frank takes a long sip. It's lukewarm and over-sweetened, but the three extra espresso shots burn Frank's throat just like they did that weekend he helped Gerard move into the dorm at Gramercy Park. Frank coughs a little and hums happily, sitting back down at his desk to savor it.

Gerard flops across Frank's unmade bed, sloshing coffee across the rumpled sheets, and Frank opens his mouth to bitch about it—his mom is already on his case about stains on the sheets—but Frank's mouth goes suddenly dry.

Because there's a bruise on Gerard's neck, just below his left ear, dark and obvious against his pale skin, and Frank has seen enough bruises on the girls in his high school to know exactly what that is. He can't look away from it, can't think of a smooth way to handle his surprise besides blurting, "You have a hickey."

Gerard looks up from the spilled coffee and grins, his lips peeling back over his teeth. "Yeah," Gerard says, and lifts his hand up for a moment—to cover it up or push his hair out of the way, Frank can't tell—before dropping it back into his lap. A blush ignites Gerard's cheeks, and Frank should stop staring, but he's lost all control over his brain.

"So…you got a boyfriend?" Frank asks, and does he have to make it sound like it's the most unlikely scenario on the planet? He totally sucks at the whole 'supportive' thing.

Gerard doesn't take it personally, though. "No," he says a little wistfully—and Frank is such an asshole for rubbing it in, fuck. But then Gerard's chin lifts, and he adds, "It was this guy at a party last night. He was…cute." Gerard is still blushing, but this time when he raises his hand, it's to tuck his stringy black hair behind his ear so the mark is plainly visible.

For a split second, Frank is so jealous he can't think of a single thing to say. He gulps his coffee and stares at Gerard's fingernails instead, bitten ragged and painted with black Sharpie. Gerard's lower lip has a familiar black stain in the center, and Frank isn't going to think about Gerard's lips anymore, or some cute college-guy's lips on Gerard's neck at some artsy-fartsy college party in New York.

"Awesome," Frank says. Because it is. He's glad Gerard is finally getting some.

"I didn't even get his name," Gerard admits. "Which was so fucking stupid of me, 'cause now I don't know how to find him in case I want to do it again. Which I totally do. God, I fail at hooking up." He's still beaming, despite the self-deprecating babble.

Frank bites his tongue and is glad it hasn't occurred to Gerard to ask if he's gotten any in the last week. Because Frank hasn't, obviously. But he suddenly, fiercely wishes he had the opportunity to lie, to brag about how great it was, so Gerard won't look quite so fucking smug. Instead, he listens to Gerard prattle on about the guy's tongue, and how he'd used his teeth more than Gerard would have expected, and Frank tries not to fist his hands around a shaking coffee cup.

"How's your graphic-art project coming?" he asks when he can't take it anymore.

"So cool! I picked what I'm gonna focus on," Gerard says, changing subjects without a moment's hesitation. "I spent all Wednesday at the MoMA tracing these two silent movie posters. They're insane, the surreal colors this guy Madalena used to represent the old black and white movies. But the best thing is how he did the lettering. No screens or rulers, he just painted all these Art Deco lines free-hand, and sometimes they're wonky, but it feels so organic, intentional, like he meant it to be imperfect every time. Like the words are part of the art."

His hands are tracing brush strokes in the air, and Frank wishes he could see what Gerard is talking about, wishes he could see the intentional imperfections that meant more than perfectly straight lines. Most of all, he wishes he could have been at the museum with Gerard on Wednesday, watching him get carried away in person.

"I haven't studied typography before, but it really got to me. So I cleared it with the professor, and she's going to pick some books for me to read."

Frank nods and smiles, looking away from Gerard's ecstatic face toward the sketches he was just failing at so spectacularly.

Gerard notices and grabs up the notepad, flipping through a few pages and grinning at Frank's werewolf fangs. "I love your wolves," he says, and then oo's at a particularly gruesome blood spatter, complete with chunks of ripped flesh.

Frank was especially proud of that one, and he starts to smile back, until Gerard flips a page and his face goes suddenly blank.

"Frankie, what are you doing?" Gerard asks.

Frank blinks, no clue what's got Gerard looking at him like that—like he's someone Gerard doesn't recognize. He hopes to God Gerard hasn't suddenly turned psychic and peeked inside Frank's brain, rifled through all the things Frank's never told him.

"What do you mean, what am I doing?"

Gerard turns the notepad around so Frank can see it—his final half-hearted werewolf attack—and Frank's face goes hot and his fingers cold when he realizes Gerard's pointing to the words scrawled across the top of the page.

"Okay, that was a stupid question," Gerard says slowly, like he's choosing his words carefully.

Gerard is never careful with Frank. And that fucking judgmental look on his face makes Frank want to punch him.

"It's obvious what you're doing," Gerard continues. "But why are you doing it?"

"Because I want to," Frank says, trying to sound defiant, but ending up closer to hopeful, like he's asking Gerard to drop it, instead of telling him to fuck off on his fucking high horse.

"You…want to," Gerard says flatly.

"Yes," Frank says, sharp like he'd meant to be the first time. Because he cannot take another lecture from Gerard about the evils of 'passing' or hiding who he is. Not when Gerard has a goddamn hickey on his neck that he got from a public make-out with some anonymous guy he's never gonna see again.

"Seriously? You want to?" And Gerard isn't even trying to hide his disappointment; he's laying it out there for Frank to see exactly how much Gerard feels let down by all of Frank's choices.

And this is the reason why Gerard doesn't ask him about his dating life anymore.

A few months ago it was still cool to talk to Gerard about the girl he was dating. How they held hands sometimes, how they went to the movies every few weeks, and how his mom had given him money to buy Megan flowers last Valentine's Day. How her hair smells nice, and she paints her fingernails, and she giggles and never asks him if he's really happy or just pretending.

A few months ago, Gerard was still the loser living in the basement next door to Frank's house. Gerard was technically 'out,' but only because when the kids at his high school called him gay, he never denied it, so everyone assumed it was true. And even if it was, it was still fucking theoretical until Gerard moved to New York for the School of Visual Arts in September and started hooking up with no-name cute guys.

And it doesn't matter anymore that Gerard had been too shy to speak up in high school, too terrified of social interaction to talk to anyone but his brother and his neighbor.

Gerard is out, he's always been out, and Frank…isn't.

Frank's gay is still theoretical, sure, but he's jerked off to enough fantasies of Gerard's lips and weird little teeth, big green eyes and ink-stained fingers, to know that it's pretty fucking real for him, too.

But Gerard has freedom now; he got out. He doesn't have to worry about having his lunch tray dumped in his lap, or getting crammed into lockers, or the whispers and stares of his classmates if he stops being exactly what they expect him to be. If he starts looking at David's ass in that baseball uniform, or the too-tight slacks Keith wears every day. There's another year and a half of bullies and assholes before Frank can get free like Gerard; Frank has a lot of shit to worry about.

So having his best friend, the only person in the world he's told, give him shit now that he has the freedom of New York City and anonymity and hot guys who want to make out—it's just pushing him too fucking far.

"Okay, fine," Frank snaps. "Maybe want is too strong a word. But Megan's on the planning committee, she asked me to do it, and it needs to be done. God, I need to do it. So fuck off." He folds his arms over his chest and glares at Gerard's stupid face, at the way he blinks his stupid, pretty eyes in surprise.

Gerard bites his stupid, pretty lip, the one with the Sharpie stain that Frank thinks about more than anything else—more than werewolves—and sets his coffee aside so he can wring his hands. And Frank feels like shit, because Gerard is only back in town for 24 hours, and Frank is starting a fight in the few hours Gerard's set aside for him. Frank is seriously the worst friend in the world.

And then Gerard looks down at the notepad and says, "And you didn't think you could ask me to help you?"

Frank is this close to giving him a word-for-word recitation of Gerard's past rants against the oppression of school social functions designed to brainwash impressionable minds into a static view of heteronormativity…but Gerard looks embarrassed. And it may take Frank a little longer than most people, but even he can recognize an olive branch when it's sitting on his bed making sad eyes.

"No?" he says lamely. "Uh, sorry?"

"You're an idiot," Gerard says fondly, and Frank's heart melts into a sticky pool of coagulated blood on the carpet.

Frank tries to take back the notepad, ready to say 'screw it' and forget the whole thing until Gerard's gone, just so Gerard will stop looking sheepish like that, but Gerard gets a hand on it and refuses to let go.

"Ah ah, gimme that, come on," Gerard insists, tugging it out of Frank's grip and holding it to his chest. "Pen, please," he says, holding out his hand like a surgeon awaiting a scalpel.

Frank picks up a pen but protests, "Really, you don't have to!" Because it feels like the worst thing in the world to let Gerard do this for him just because he feels guilty about hurting Frank's feelings.

"I know," Gerard grins, and snags the pen out of his hand. "Now give me that. Idiot."

"Um, okay. Thank you," Frank remembers to say, because his mother raised him to be polite and appreciative. When really, he kind of just wants to curl up in his closet and cry for a minute.

"It's alright," Gerard shrugs. "Now, sit there and drink your coffee, and I'm gonna make you a poster that won't send everyone screaming."

Frank forces himself to laugh. "Right. Okay. Sitting down, drinking coffee." While you compromise your principles for me, he doesn't say. "You're the best, you know?" Frank says, his voice cracking.

Gerard nods and tucks his hair behind his ear again, a smirk on his stupid, pretty face, and says, "Oh believe me, I know."

Frank tucks his feet under him on the chair, sips his coffee, and watches Gerard's hands as he starts sketching.


Frank stops at the Hudson News kiosk in Penn Station for coffee before pulling on his gloves, wrapping his scarf tight around his neck, and heading up to street level. The wind hits him like a barrage of bullets as soon as he exits the revolving doors. The cold gusts whistle between the skyscrapers of Manhattan as they corner around the side streets and avenues. Almost immediately his eyes start to sting and water from the stink of the hot subway grates underfoot and the grit thrown up by the wind. He ducks his head and starts walking east and south, down the crowded sidewalks flashing with headlights and Christmas displays, until he reaches Gerard's high rise.

He remembers the lock on the main door, remembers the golden rule about never letting strangers into the dorm, so he joins the group of art students huddled on the front patio and bums a cigarette. They nod and smile past chattering teeth, accepting him as one of them, and Frank sucks the cigarette down as fast as he can to catch up. When they finish their smokes and troop back inside, Frank tags along, slipping through the door and up the stairs to the fourth floor before anyone notices he doesn't belong.

He counts the room numbers until he finds what should be room 412. (Gerard had boasted last month how his entire floor had removed the numbers from their doors in protest of the school's arbitrary, two-dimensional definition of space.) There's music coming from inside—The Smiths, so he knows he's in the right place—and Frank kicks at the door with his polished black loafers.

After about a minute, Gerard opens the door a crack and peeks out, his eyes blinking against the hallway's harsh fluorescents. And then his eyes widen, and his mouth drops open, and Frank holds up the cups.


"What the fuck are you doing here?" Gerard gasps, pulling the door all the way open to reveal a wrinkled t-shirt and sweatpants.

Frank grins; he was bound to be overdressed no matter what, but he counts it as a win that Gerard put pants on to open the door.

He hands over one of the cups and scoots into the dark interior of Gerard's room. The walls are institutional beige, and the ceiling is high, but he's reminded of Gerard's gloomy basement bedroom back home. The only light on in the dorm room is a small table lamp at one end of the futon bed, and there are blackout curtains over the window, blocking out city lights and daylight.

It's ridiculous, but also reassuring—the reminder that Gerard is still Gerard, even in a new space surrounded by new people.

Frank steps carefully over the tangle of clothes and art books on the floor as Gerard closes the door and demands, "But…. Isn't the Formal tonight?"

In answer, Frank unbuttons his coat to reveal his best suit and tie.

"What the hell! Why didn't you go?" Gerard asks, and then slurps noisily at his coffee. "Not that I'm not happy to see you. Especially when you're bringing coffee. But, Frank…."

Frank dumps his coat on the floor and sits on Gerard's futon. "I don't know," he lies. "I just…couldn't make myself go. I called Megan, told her I was sick. Then I caught a bus to Newark and hopped the train in. I figured you'd be here."

Gerard slurps his coffee again, and then his face lights up. "Am I your version of running away to join the circus?"

Frank laughs, because if he doesn't, he'll do something worse.

Gerard drinks his coffee and smiles at Frank for a long minute, and then he picks up one of the books and curls up on the mattress next to Frank. He holds the book across their laps and flips through the pages so he can point out all the different artists he's studying for his typography project, the varieties of text design and illustration he's learned about. Frank doesn't really pay attention to what Gerard's saying; he's content to look at the pictures and listen to the enthusiasm in Gerard's voice, enjoying his happiness.

After a while his gaze fixes on Gerard's fingers holding the edges of the pages, and he reaches out and rubs curiously at the black thumbnail. Gerard pulls his hand away. Frank's fingers come back clean.

"What?" Gerard asks.

Frank considers his unstained fingers. "I always wondered if it came off."

Gerard shakes his head. "Nope. I mean, it washes off of skin, yeah. But the nails don't smudge. They fade a little, but not to the touch. Comes off with nail polish remover, though."

Frank takes a deep breath and decides, "I wanna do mine."

Gerard doesn't even hesitate. "Okay." He leans over the edge of the bed and scrabbles through the mess underneath, emerging with his Sharpie. "Here." He takes Frank's right hand and holds it steady in his, Sharpie cap bit between his teeth as he lays down stripe after stripe of black, from the nail-bed to the tip of his thumb.

Frank hadn't meant…he hadn't asked Gerard to do it for him. Frank's been drawing on himself since elementary school, up under his sleeves and pant legs where his teachers and classmates won't see; he knows how to color inside the lines, thank you very much. And this is…. Frank isn't completely sure what Gerard's thinking—he probably isn't thinking at all—but the reality is that they're holding hands. On Gerard's bed.

Frank's hand twitches, but Gerard just hmms in concentration and mumbles around the cap, "You have to do it in straight lines, like this. So it looks best. If you just scribble all over your nail, it's gonna fade unevenly."

Frank nods his agreement and watches Gerard concentrate on his hand like it's one of the amazing sketches in his student portfolio, something worth spending hours on.

On the radio, Morrissey is singing about another girl that got away, and Frank's mind goes to Megan and the picture she'd texted him of her standing in front of her bedroom mirror wearing a shiny yellow dress. He'd felt sick to his stomach at the idea of dancing with her, kissing her in front of everybody at his school and knowing that she thought it was real. He'd thought of Gerard making out with a guy at a party in New York City, and he'd suddenly wanted that so badly he couldn't breathe for nearly a minute, the envy so big it hurt. His mom had found him just then, asked if he was sick, and it was the perfect excuse to cancel, to escape from the lie he'd trapped himself in.

Frank looks at Gerard's dark hair and ghostly skin in the dim light, and he can't help checking for more hickeys. He can't see any.

"I'm gay," he blurts to the back of Gerard's unmarked neck.

Gerard looks up and smiles at him. "I know, Frankie." And he does know—because Frank had told him a year ago, said those same words nervously in Gerard's basement, whispering even though no one could hear them down there; and because they've talked about it a lot—what it means to be counterculture in the suffocating maze of high school.

"I may not have the balls to do anything about it, but I know I am," Frank insists, like he's trying to convince Gerard. But maybe the person he's trying to convince is himself.

"I think you've got plenty of balls," Gerard says, and then snickers over Frank's left thumb.

"Shut the fuck up," Frank snarls playfully. "I've only got two, shithead."

Gerard spits the cap out and makes a face at him. "Well, I think that's plenty. And…you don't need to do anything about it just to make a point. That shouldn't be how you define your sexual identity."

Frank squirms a little at Gerard's gentle lecturing.

"So does this mean I slaved over that poster for nothing?" Gerard teases, pinching at Frank's palm so his hand jerks.

Frank snorts. "That took you, like, five minutes."

"Five minutes and shards of my soul," Gerard corrects him. "I'm an artist. There's a part of me in every piece I make."

Frank laughs it off, but he still feels a pang of guilt for Gerard's complicity in his deceit. "I'm sorry about that."

Gerard ignores his apology. "We're almost done here. Don't move."

He bends his head again, inking over Frank's ring finger, and Frank tries to think of a way to keep this from ending.

He finally blurts, "Would you give me a tattoo next?"

Gerard cocks his head so Frank can see the arch of his eyebrow. "I can draw on you, if that's what you mean."

"Yeah. Yeah, please."

"You wanna be my next artistic creation?" Gerard teases, and he doesn't mean anything by it, Frank knows, but Frank can't help it, because yes, something like that, something like wearing a piece of Gerard's soul.

As soon as Gerard finishes with his pinky, Frank fists his hand in Gerard's hair and pulls his head up and kisses him. It's fast and clumsy, and Gerard pulls away immediately, but it's the most real Frank's felt all night. Possibly all year.

"Frank," Gerard says, leaning back with disapproval on his face.

Frank pulls his knees up to his chest and says, stubborn, "I'm not sorry I did that."

"I told you, you don't have to prove anything to yourself. Or to me."

"I know who I fucking am," Frank whines, and he hates how much he sounds like a desperate, confused teenager. "I kissed you because I wanted to." His face is heating up, and even the deep shadows of Gerard's dorm room won't stop Gerard from seeing his blush.

Gerard looks at Frank's hands wrapped around his knees and says, "Okay."

Frank doesn't know what to say next, but he knows he doesn't want to take any of it back. So he takes a shaky breath and says, "And I want you to draw on me."

Gerard starts to cap the Sharpie.

Frank grabs his wrist and looks him in the eye. Gerard looks scared, he realizes, and Frank squeezes even tighter. "What's the matter with drawing on me?" he demands.

Gerard ducks his head and shakes it. "Nothing, I just…don't think I should. 'Cause you're all…." He flails his free hand, gesturing more at the room than at Frank.

Gerard won't even look at him, so Frank digs in his metaphorical heels, says, "Fuck you," and stands up. He shrugs off his suit jacket and folds it over the pile of clothes that used to be Gerard's desk chair. He unbuttons the cuff of his black cotton dress shirt and rolls it up to bare his forearm. He holds the clean skin out to Gerard, demanding his attention, until Gerard looks up again. "Are you gonna give me a tattoo or not?"

Gerard hesitates, making Frank's stomach drop for a wretched, humiliated moment. But then he reaches his hand up, slides his fingers around Frank's wrist, and tugs him down onto the mattress again.

Frank holds very still, trying to ignore the fact that he's on Gerard's bed again, that Gerard is rumpled and flushed and still holding on to Frank's arm, that Frank's skin prickles hot where Gerard is touching him.

Until Gerard leans down and brushes his lips over the pulse in Frank's wrist.

That is fucking it.

Frank knocks Gerard's hand away and pushes him back so he can get to his mouth again, can kiss him and climb on top of him, hear Gerard groan under him and feel Gerard's fingers catch in his gelled hair. Frank is almost frantic with the need to get as much as he can before Gerard changes his mind and kicks him out; there's no way anything that feels this good will be allowed to last.

Frank sucks at that damn lower lip, trying to taste the ink stain, and Gerard moans and rolls Frank over, so they're crowded side by side on the narrow bed, the wall cold against Frank's back. Frank hooks his hands around Gerard's back, determined to hold on, but Gerard doesn't roll away. He cups his hands hot around Frank's neck and leans in, brushes his lips soft and gentle over Frank's.

Gerard's eyes are closed, so Frank closes his eyes, too, and tries to fight his body's instinct to rush, to run with the thrilling race of his pulse at his first real kiss with someone that matters. With Gerard.

The words tumble out before Frank can second guess them, pressed against Gerard's lips, "I want you to mark me up."

Gerard combs through Frank's stiff hair and nods. "I will."

"No, like—like that guy. Like the hickey on your neck."

Gerard's hips buck against his, and Frank feels an icy rush of adrenaline, his stomach suddenly clenching up with nerves. "Fuck, Frankie," Gerard moans, and kisses him harder. He doesn't press forward, though—doesn't try to rub against Frank—and Frank's pulse gradually slows to a good making-out pace.

When Gerard opens his mouth, Frank pushes his tongue in to find Gerard's and slides them together. Gerard makes a noise, high-pitched and eager, so Frank does it again and again, until his neck is sore from the angle and his dick is hard in his slacks. When Frank finally lets his head fall back on the mattress, Gerard presses his lips to Frank's cheek, to the underside of his jaw, and Frank's heart takes off again in anticipation.

Gerard's lips brush the skin of his throat. "Right here," Gerard says, his voice so soft Frank can't tell if it's a question or a plan. Frank nods agreement to both. Gerard is the artist; Frank trusts him to pick the perfect placement. And then Gerard's lips are settling on his throat, his body pressed all along Frank's as he kisses Frank's skin. His mouth is hot, his tongue even hotter as he licks and then nips.

Gerard's mouth pulls a loud groan out of him. It hurts more than he'd expected. Frank squeezes his eyes shut and breathes through it, the heavy feeling of Gerard sucking on his neck, heat rushing through his body, his dick aching with it.

"Jesus," he gasps. His hips move instinctively, dick bumping up against Gerard's belly. "That's so—"

Gerard mumbles something against his skin. His hand fumbles between them to unbutton Frank's collar, loosen his tie.

Frank keeps his eyes shut and imagines it happening in slow motion, the anatomy of veins bursting, blood spreading and pooling just under the surface, skin turning red and then darkening with the bruise. The thrill in his blood feels like victory. Gerard is marking him, leaving something of himself in Frank's skin, shards Frank can't hide under his sleeves or wash away with nail polish remover before his parents see—

His guts twist up like the moment Jason leaps from the lake, rational thought drowned out by sudden horror and the primal urge to shriek, "Oh shit," as he realizes how fucked he is, what he's just done.

Gerard jerks away, but it's too late, Frank is sure of it. He can feel his pulse pounding through that spot, feel the ache where Gerard's mouth had been. There's no way to hide it, to hide what he did or who he was with, and he can't breathe around the enormity of that.

Gerard blurts, "What is it? Are you okay? What's wrong?" He's sitting up and staring at Frank with wide, panicked eyes, as if he did something Frank didn't ask for—didn't want him to do.

Frank grabs hold of Gerard's t-shirt so he can't run before Frank gets his breath back.

"Frankie?" Gerard asks, and he sounds even more scared than Frank, which is saying something. It helps Frank focus past the adrenaline aftermath.

"Hey," Frank makes himself say, as if he can pretend nothing just happened. "What the fuck, Gee? Why'd you stop?"

Gerard gapes at him. "You almost tore my scalp off, what d'you mean, why'd I stop?"

Frank blinks at him, surprised. "I…I did?"

"You were freaking out," Gerard accuses.

Apparently Frank can't cover that up. He shoves his hand through his stiff hair. "Fuck, sorry."

"Frank," Gerard says. And Frank knows that tone—knows he can't avoid answering the question.

"I just." He flails a little until he can brace his hands against the wall and sit up. "I didn't think." He can't help touching the mark with a morbid curiosity, feeling the swelling of the bruise under his fingertips. It feels huge. "I can't hide this."

"Fuck," Gerard breathes, getting it. "Oh fuck, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have—"

"I asked you to," Frank says, straightening his shoulders. "I wanted it. I think…I think I want it." He still has that hectic, haywire feeling in his gut, like when he knows a movie's about to scare the shit out of him and he can't wait. Like he'd rather just get this over with all at once instead of dragging it out for another year and a half.

Gerard's eyes keep cutting between Frank's face and his throat, guilt worrying at his lower lip.

So Frank forces a smile and says, "It doesn't look weird, does it?" He rubs the bruise again and checks over his fingertips (clean) and his fingernails (black). "You didn't give me, like, a zombie bite or something?"

Gerard huffs. "Nothing that gruesome. It's just a hickey."

Frank sticks his tongue out. "That would've been cool. Zombies are awesome."

"Yeah, ripping a gaping hole in your neck would've been real sexy." Gerard is rolling his eyes at Frank, and he doesn't look like he wants to kill himself anymore. And he's also talking about….

"I liked it," Frank says, and Gerard stops rolling his eyes and stares at Frank's neck again. "Did you?" Frank asks. He can guess the answer, but he wants Gerard to say it.

"Yeah," Gerard says. His gaze drops to Frank's lap.

Frank is still half-hard, and with Gerard looking at him like that, wide eyed and a blush spreading over his pale cheeks, Frank is on his way back. "I'm sorry I freaked out," Frank says. "And…I'd really like to kiss you again, if that's okay."

Gerard nods but stays on the edge of the bed, so Frank has to kick at his hip to get him to move closer. There's a smile at the corner of Gerard's mouth by the time he's sitting next to Frank, and Frank doesn't resist the urge to taste it.

Two breathless songs later, Frank has to pull back for air as Gerard's fingers slip under his loosened collar, Gerard's thumb riding the bruise blooming dark under his skin. Gerard doesn't look sorry anymore; he looks proud. And having that look directed at him feels almost as good as getting the hickey had felt.

Which reminds Frank, "You still owe me a tattoo."

Gerard kisses him again and smiles. "Yeah, okay."

He lets go of Frank to feel around the bed covers. His palm brushes over Frank's dick before he finally finds the Sharpie, and Frank narrows his eyes at Gerard's not-so-innocent shrug.

Gerard bites the cap off with his teeth and spits it over the side of the bed. "Where should I draw it?" he asks, his voice teasing even as he reaches for Frank's left arm with the rolled up sleeve.

But Frank says seriously, "Anywhere you want."

Gerard stops and looks at him with dark eyes. And then his fingers slide slowly up Frank's arm and down his chest to slip between two buttons low over his stomach. "Anywhere?" Gerard asks.

Frank's skin burns, the hectic, heated tension coiling in his stomach again, and he nods. "Yeah."

"Okay, Frankie," Gerard says, and leans in and kisses him again.