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Kids Like Us Don't Get Forgiven

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He used to stumble around the city drunk, scraping his palms and tearing holes in his dirty jeans, looking for something. He doesn't know why he expected to find anything, he was too busy throwing up in gutters and contemplating whether or not throwing himself in front of a silver Audi would kill him.

He'd come home to the humming of his refrigerator and the soft whirring of his bedroom ceiling fan and even though he was refusing to pay the rent in hopes of being evicted he had never loved his apartment more. He doesn’t miss his parents’ basement anymore, well, his mom’s basement now that they’re divorced.

Sometimes, when he's taken one too many pills and had too much to drink, he sees fourteen year old Mikey sitting on the couch in his living room. He's always bloody and tear stained and it took Gerard a month to realize he's just been hallucinating the time when Mikey found him slumped against the bathroom counter, wrists slashed open, blood spilling onto the tiles and running along the dirty grooves like rivers.

He wishes Mikey didn't have to see that and can't decide if he feels that way because that’s the kind of thing responsible adults say or because he still feels like the desperate seventeen year old kid whose parents locked anything he could use to kill himself in a cupboard under the sink. He would spend hours on his knees in front of that cabinet, trying to figure out the fucking combination because the bottle of aspirin in the bathroom cabinet could never be the locked away sleeping pills, the sharp kitchen knives, or the toxic cleaning supplies.

His mom even searched his room while he was at school, confiscating and disposing of any alcohol and leaving a pack of cigarettes behind as some sort of truce offering. No one ever really knew what to say when it was all over. They avoided the subject, like talking about it would cause a repeat.

It was different after he tried and failed. Maybe it was therapeutic. The feelings were still there: emptiness, loneliness, sadness, hopelessness, but less intense. It was almost as if they were feelings he remembered experiencing; emptiness was the painful ache in his chest, loneliness was the unwelcome chill on his skin, sadness was the choking sensation, and hopelessness was suffocating, it made him panic.

He smoked less when it was over and spent a lot of time with Mikey. It was rare for Gerard to leave the house so Mikey acted as the scavenger almost. Mikey would bring him movies, video games, comics, art supplies, anything that could entertain him for a few hours.

Mikey didn't talk about it, he didn't have to, the way he looked at Gerard said more than enough. Sometimes he seemed helpless and scared and the rest of the time he seemed like Gerard was going to disappear into thin air before he could reach out and grab hold of him.

"What do you hate?" Mikey asked quietly after they crawled into his too small bed, hands clasped together on his stomach as he stared up at the ceiling.

"What do I hate?" Gerard wanted to stare at the ceiling like Mikey was, wanted to try to pretend they weren't having this conversation, but couldn't tear his gaze away from his brother's face. He remembers not being able to recognize the resemblance they shared and how it terrified him at the time.

Mikey nodded stiffly, like he regretted asking.

Gerard sighed and chuckled bleakly, "I hate everything."

"Specifics," Mikey whispered.

"Specifics," Gerard repeated, because now that he was put on the spot he couldn't think of anything. He started with the most obvious, "School."

"What about it?"

"The teachers, the kids, the subjects… feeling like I could fail at any moment and ruin my life indefinitely."

"What else?"

"People. I hate the way they look at me... I hate the way they don't look at me. I hate the way I feel like everyone's laughing at some hilarious fucking joke and I'm the only one who hasn't heard the punch line."

"What else?"

"I hate myself." It came out before he could even think of the words, he wasn't even sure if it was true.

"Why?"

He paused, "I don't know."

"I don't hate you," Mikey said, eyes meeting Gerard's.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. You're an annoying idiot sometimes but I still love you, okay?"

"Okay," Gerard whispered, tired eyes closing.

"That means you don't get to die."

Gerard hesitated, a tear slipping down his cheek. "Okay."

"We're gonna make a suicide pact, like the sisters in 'Ginger Snaps'," Mikey smiled.

"I get to be Ginger."

Mikey snorted, "Be Ginger, like I give a fuck. Brigitte's the one with the hot drug dealer boyfriend."

"He wasn't her boyfriend!"

"Only because Ginger kept cock blocking," Mikey huffed, like it actually offended him.

"You wanna get drunk and have a movie marathon tomorrow?”

“Sure, Gee." And he said it in the way that he always did when he was going to do something Gerard wanted to do, like it was exactly what he wanted to do all along but didn't know and was waiting for Gerard to remind him. He loved that.

*

Frank is an eighteen year old boy with a sweet tooth for violence.

There's something about black eyes and split lips and white t-shirts speckled with blood that keeps him from losing himself. It's weird to Gerard because no matter how many fights he's been in, Frank always loses. He starts out strong, getting an advantage from throwing the first punch and being too quick and small to get a good grip on, but always ends up on his back, barely conscious. He’s too stubborn to know when to stop. He remembers how Frank used to be taken down within seconds and now it takes matching split lips before he gets thrown to the ground, wailed on until someone helps Gerard end the fight.

But Frank's in catholic school now and being taught that you're going to hell for being in love with another boy would be enough to enrage anyone. He tries not to think about the fights started over meaningless arguments because in the end Frank's not really punching the guy who spilled his drink on him at a show, he's punching the guy who relentlessly picked on him when he dyed his hair and pierced his nose and lip, the nun who glares disapprovingly at him in class, or the priest who tells Frank he's going to burn if he doesn't cut all ties from Gerard.

The thought of Frank leaving terrifies him; he wants to make Frank promise he'll never do anything like that but he isn't some heartbroken chick in a shitty teen movie, he's the twenty one year old alcoholic in the sad, slightly disturbing documentary about addicts. He's still unsure about what role Frank plays: the boyfriend who stayed with him the whole way through or the one who left when things became unbearable.

*

He wonders what the Iero’s think every time their son fucks off and takes the train to New York to stay with Gerard for a couple of days. It’s not like they don’t know where he’s going or what he spends most of his time doing: fighting and fucking. Maybe they just don't have the kind of energy needed to deal with Frank; they both work full-time jobs and make an effort to have family dinners every night, that's more than what Gerard's parents did.

Frank's mom is a nurse and his dad owns a jazz bar, Il Fantasma, that Frank is more than a little in love with. The walls are a pure white covered in paintings and pictures, the floors are checkered black and white linoleum, and the bands performing on the small stage at the front of the room never fail to keep people dancing happily.

Gerard's only been a handful of times, the place is always packed and crowds really aren't his thing, but Frank works summers there as a waiter which keeps him out of trouble. Sometimes he thinks Frank will end up working there when he's older, maybe owning it when his dad dies. He's seen the way Frank's eyes light up as soon as he steps through the door, sees the way his smile stretches across his face easily and how he doesn't even tug at his dress clothes unlike Gerard who can't even handle wearing a tie for a couple of hours. But, at the same time he’s seen how Frank acts after getting into a fight, even if he didn’t come to him with blood on his shirt and a swollen eye he’d still know; it’s like he’s stoned or something, all loose limbs and easy smiles.

He talks about how his chest loosens up when he decks someone and how he likes hearing his bones rattle when someone throws a really good punch, one that messes up his rhythm. It’s times like those that Gerard’s tempted to suggest being a boxer, but he doesn’t want to trade the crooning guitar and nasally voice for an obnoxious announcer and a machine that lets him know Frank is still alive even though it looks like he was hit by a Mack truck and left to die on the side of the road.

*

They take the grimy elevator up to Gerard’s apartment because Frank is seeing double and Gerard’s too drunk to get them up the stairs safely. He hopes he remembers everything tomorrow; he plans on yelling at Frank until he gets it in his head that you can’t go around picking fights with strangers, especially drunk ones.

He doesn’t really know what happened, one second Frank was smiling up at him with bright eyes and the next Gerard was being shoved out of the way by a guy with dark hair who smelled like he ran a mile and then took a shower in beer afterwards.

Gerard stumbled into a few people, finally regaining his balance when a girl reached out and grabbed his shoulders, blatant concern on her face. He nodded, fixing his jacket before throwing himself in the general direction of the fight. To be honest, he’s really fucking sick of getting the shit kicked out of him in fights that don’t even concern him, like this one for instance. He threw all of his weight into the guy, sending him crashing into the bar, and reached out for Frank who was sprawled out on the sticky floor with a bloody nose and red cheeks.

They were thrown out, forbidden to ever return and Frank had slung his arm around Gerard’s shoulders because he knew – he fucking knew this was one of Gerard’s favorite bars and now he was unwelcome all because Frank can’t keep his fucking temper in check.

They lean against each other in the filthy elevator, careful not to touch the walls because it smells like piss and there’s gum stuck to the rails. Gerard grumbles, “But why – why d’you always have to get in fights all the time, huh? I mean, we were fine and then bam! I’ve got a black eye and you’re on the fucking floor bleeding and shit.”

“I think I have a fucking concussion,” Frank groans, wrapping an arm around Gerard’s waist and letting his head drop to rest on his shoulder.

Gerard runs his fingers through Frank’s hair, searching for something obvious like blood or a bump the size of a golf ball and grunts, “’m not staying up all night with you; I’ve got class in the morning.”

“Gee, anything later than eleven can no longer be counted as morning, how many times do I have to tell you that?” Frank grins, lazy and small, and Gerard lets his hand dangle by his side.

“Just – just fuck off, Frank. Alright? Just fuck off.”

Frank pulls Gerard in closer and breathes, “Yeah, alright.”

*

He can't drown his sorrows in art and music anymore, but it's okay because Frank kisses him greedily, like he wants to take something from him and Gerard's all too ready to give up everything he has. Even though he's rotten inside, made up of the things that go bump in the night and topped off with what middle school kids promise themselves they'll never become, he's sure Frank would take it all from him.

He’d bury it down deep inside of himself, so deep Gerard couldn't even stumble across it by accident, and Frank would smile, licking his lips before murmuring a "thank you". He doesn't know what kind of damage that could do and the thought of poisoning Frank, contaminating him and sucking all of his happiness into that hungry hole in his chest, is enough to make him wake up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat breaking out across his skin.

He can't – no – he won't do that to Frank. But even as he thinks it he curls up closer to Frank so he can rest his head on Frank's chest; they’ll fall asleep on the couch while watching ‘Planet of the Apes’ because they both somehow managed to survive midterms and Frank hasn't fought in over two weeks. Gerard wants to be happy about that, but there's this crazed look in Frank's eyes that's so similar to the one he gets when he hasn't had a drink in days and sometimes it sneaks up on him when he's trying to relax and sends him running to the bathroom, spilling his guts out into the toilet.

*

Suddenly it takes more booze and pills than soft words uttered by pretty boys with secrets hidden beneath the warmth of their skin. He drinks until he can’t hold a pencil and when he finally does throw up he waits until he’s sure he’s done before moving onto the next bottle. One second he’s lying on the couch, wondering if he should pick up the bottle that’s on the floor now to save himself the trouble of picking glass out of his foot later, and the next he’s being violently shaken awake by Frank who’s yelling something he can’t hear with tears streaming down his face. “Wake the fuck up, asshole!”

His vision’s sleep blurred and his tongue feels too thick. He slurs, “What’re you doin’ here?”

“It’s Friday,” Frank says, eyes wide. Oh, right, he was supposed to meet Frank at the train station.

“’M sorry; come…come sleep with me.” He’s not drunk anymore and everything’s starting to ache; he wants to go back to sleep now. Frank ignores him, storming into the kitchen as Gerard tries to get off of the couch without falling onto the coffee table. He can hear bottles clanging and the refrigerator door slamming shut; the fridge has been empty since he ran out of beer two days ago. He watches as Frank takes all of the alcohol out of the house, cradling bottles like a baby, before hurling them at the brick wall on the side of the apartment building.

He can’t hear the glass shattering through his window over the incessant pounding in his head but when Frank comes back upstairs, nose and cheeks pink from the cold, he manages to drag Gerard into the shower with him because Frank reeks of sweat from the walk over and Gerard can’t even take a breath without inhaling the putrid scent of unwashed boy, vomit, and alcohol. Frank’s hands tremble as he reaches up to brush Gerard’s hair out of his eyes, his thumbs trace along his eyebrows and Gerard’s eyes immediately flick down to the scar on Frank’s right eyebrow from when some guy ripped out his eyebrow ring during a fight, he closes them as Frank’s hands continue sliding down his jaw to dangle at his sides. Gerard cups Frank’s cheeks as he kisses his nose and forehead, sighing at the taste of clean water on his chapped lips. Steam swirls around them as Frank shakes like he’s about to fall apart.

“I’m sorry, Frankie.” He breathes; he can’t tell if Frank’s crying or not because his eyes are closed and his stomach keeps seizing up painfully. “Don’t – just – d-don’t leave me. I can’t – I need –” The lump in his throat swells and it hurts too much to try and speak through it.

Frank places his hands on either side of Gerard’s cheeks and gazes up at him intensely. “Don’t ever say that to me; I would never fucking leave you. You’re… you’re messed up right now, okay? But, everyone’s fucked inside it’s – you’re going to get better, okay? You’re going to get better because I know you want to, but you can’t try to drink yourself to death when things get hard.”

The water’s getting cooler now and Gerard’s shitty showerhead is losing force and it was easy to tell when Frank started crying: it happened somewhere around the word “leave”.

*

“You lead,” Frank says softly.

Gerard’s eyes widen as he chokes out, “Me?”

“You,” Frank grins. He grips Frank’s hand a little tighter and takes a step forward, trying to move like he has the slightest idea of what he’s doing. Frank’s wearing the stupid pink, studded belt he found in Hot Topic two years ago along with a dress shirt and tie (turns out casual Friday’s at Catholic school aren’t all that casual) and Gerard’s wearing his waistcoat and dress shirt because now that he’s a host at Sheridan’s, some “classy” restaurant with decent food, he has to dress nicely. Frank Sinatra is playing softly in the background, courtesy of Frank’s dad’s CD collection, and this is the first time ‘The Blob’s’ been on TV in years and they're not even watching it.

"I haven't seen ‘The Blob’ since I was fifteen," Gerard says, spinning Frank easily.

"It scared the shit out of me when I was twelve; I had to sleep with my parents." Frank laughs. "See? You're a natural."

Gerard smiles, "Sure. We should be watching it.”

“We should be dancing. How was work?” Frank asks, letting out a soft “oops” when his shoes squeak obnoxiously.

“It was…pretty good, I guess.”

“Did you freak out at all?”

Since it is a decent restaurant, he’s always got his hands full. The customers and employees all need him to help them with certain things and one wrong move could get him fired. It’s not the most stressful job but for someone with a minor anxiety disorder it’s stressful enough. Gerard blushes and grins sheepishly, “Maybe for like five minutes.”

“Progress,” Frank winks then says, “Dip me.”

“Um – sorry - what?”

“Dip me,” Frank says again, dragging out each word.

“I’ll drop you,” Gerard frets.

“You’re not gonna drop me.”

Gerard starts, “Frank -”

“Too late,” Frank sings, leaning back so as to force Gerard into dipping him. He almost does drop him and it’s a really sloppy dip. His left hand flies down to rest on Frank’s back while his right holds up Frank’s left leg, which he kicked up dramatically, and Frank’s arms are wrapped around his neck.

“You are such a little freak,” Gerard laughs, leaning down a little further to kiss the smile off of Frank’s face.

“And you’re not?” Frank raises an eyebrow, pushing at Gerard a little to get him to let Frank stand up properly again.

“I never said that.”

“C’mon, freak, what would people say about us if they found out we didn’t watch ‘The Blob’?”

Gerard follows him to the couch, falling onto it lazily and shutting his eyes for a moment; he’s been on his feet all fucking day. “You mean, what would Mikey say?”

“Isn’t that what I said?”

He snuggles in closer to Frank and presses a kiss to his cheek before laying his head in Frank’s lap. He sighs happily when Frank’s fingers start combing through his hair soothingly. “Must’ve heard you wrong.”

*

There's something about Frank's crooked ties and bloody noses that make Gerard want to curl up in bed with him, make him want to press his fingers against Frank’s bones to make sure nothing's broken because if Frank’s broken then he won't know how to put Gerard back together anymore. His mind’s fucking unraveling and he doesn’t know up from down anymore but Frank says his name like he wants to keep it in the back of his throat like a juicy secret.

He has this way of breathing that makes the hairs on the back of Gerard’s neck stand up. His fingers ghost over Gerard’s sternum before tracing a path down to his hips where they’re quickly replaced by eager lips, the same ones that came to him bleeding a few hours ago because Frank’s teeth didn’t do a good job at biting back what his tongue wanted to say. He’s small and soft but he strings words together that piss people off and fill Gerard up with buzzing energy that needs to be spent on things like paintings and words and bruised skin. Frank’s breath quickens when he traces his fingers over the bruises scattered along his skin.

Yeah,” he breathes. “Touch me.”

Gerard’s hard the second the words leave Frank’s mouth. He flattens his hands, digging his fingers into Frank's hips, and surges forward to kiss Frank. Frank kisses him back hard, biting his lip and tangling his hands in Gerard's messy hair. He tastes like cigarettes and mint gum.

He palms Frank’s ass, dragging him closer so he can grind against him, if he angles his hips more to the right he can feel the damp spot on Frank's briefs; god, he leaks like a fucking faucet. Gerard pulls Frank’s briefs down, just enough to be able to dig his fingers into the soft flesh of Frank’s ass. He swallows down the breathy noises Frank makes eagerly and moans when Frank breaks the kiss to groan, "Gerard."

“Just – just take those off and c’mere.” It takes him a second to stop moving because he really could come like this, just from rutting against Frank. But, he’s got something even better in mind. He adjusts himself while Frank strips, giving his cock one last squeeze before grabbing Frank’s hand and tugging him forward. He arranges them so that Frank’s back is flush against his chest. He presses sloppy open-mouthed kisses down Frank’s neck and along his shoulder, sliding his hands down Frank’s arms to wrap around his stomach.

Frank’s warm and just a little bit sweaty against him and when Gerard starts pinching his nipples and tracing his tongue along the shell of Frank’s ear Frank’s head falls back to rest on his shoulder, his mouth wide open. His head lolls to the side as he spreads his thighs wider, panting hotly against Gerard’s neck, chest heaving and stomach tensing. Fuck, Frank’s nipples have always been sensitive but this is something else; Frank’s cock gets even harder, it curves up against his stomach and his cheeks are red like he’s embarrassed by it.

He leans in a little closer, smashing their cheeks together and breathes, “Fuck, look how fucking hard you are.”

“Fuck – Gee – it hurts,” he whines, hips thrusting up into empty air like he can’t help it, like he just has to move.

Yeah,” Gerard moans, swallowing loudly because his throat’s gone fucking dry all of a sudden. He was just going to jack Frank off nice and quick but now he wants to draw this out, wants to make Frank beg and squirm and fucking come all over himself.

He wishes he took off his fucking briefs, so it’d be skin on skin, but when he digs his fingers into Frank’s hips and drags him back as he grinds up it’s fucking perfect. He wants to keep going, wants to rub himself off against Frank’s ass and come before he even gets naked like a fucking teenager but then Frank groans desperately and moves to touch his cock so he has to stop.

He grabs Frank’s hands and places them palm down on the bed and whispers, “No touching.”

Gee -

“You touch and I stop,” he threatens, lips curling up into a sinister smile when Frank shudders against him.

“Fine,” he gasps, hands grabbing handfuls of the sheets. “Then fucking touch me already, Christ.”

His fingers dance around Frank’s cock, feather light, never making any contact. When Frank’s hips twitch he moves his hand even farther away. “You gotta… gotta beg for it, Frankie.” And for a second he doesn’t even recognize his own voice, it’s low and throaty like he’s been sucking dick or something and it’s fucking crazy what this is doing to him.

Touch me– fuck – need it; I fucking need it, please.” He begs shamelessly, cock twitching as the words leave his mouth. God, he didn’t think Frank would beg without putting up a fight; he feels this rush of heat zinging up his spine that makes him shudder. One hand slides down to play with his balls while the other wraps around Frank’s cock, squeezing lightly.

He leans back against the headboard, Frank moving with him, to get a better view ‘cause he wants to see this, wants to see Frank’s dick sliding through his fist. “So fucking thick, Frankie.” He pants, like he’s the one getting the fucking hand job. He starts stroking, swiping his thumb over the head to make things a little slicker. Frank’s hips hitch up again, trying to speed things up and he’s moaning like it’s so much more than a hand job and that’s so fucking hot. But, he doesn’t want it to be that easy for him. The hand cradling his balls slides around Frank’s hip and holds him so he can’t move and his other hand stills. “Don’t,” Gerard licks his lips, eyes dark and cock throbbing almost painfully. “Don’t move.”

Frank whines but nods quickly and Gerard starts jacking him again. Frank moans in relief, kissing Gerard’s cheek sloppily.

He mumbles absently, “Sometimes I forget.”

“Forget,” Frank gulps, “Forget what?”

“Just, like, when we’re fucking. When you’re pushing in, you always feel so fucking huge – so fucking big and I feel so full, like I can’t take anymore but you keep pushing in and sometimes it’s like I can’t fucking breathe.” He’s rambling but he doesn’t care and if the way Frank’s head is thrashing back and forth is any indicator he’d say he doesn’t care much either. He keeps stroking, squeezing on every third stroke, and twisting his wrist as he thumbs over the slit.

Ah,” Frank gasps. Gerard wants to look at his face. Wants to see how dark his eyes are and see if he’s bitten his busted lip hard enough to make it start bleeding again, but just seeing Frank lose it like this, completely at Gerard’s mercy, is enough to make him come.

“And when you… when you pull out I feel so empty.” Fuck, as soon as he says it, voice rough and desperate, Frank’s dick swells in his hand.

“Fuck – Gerard – s-stop.” Frank grits out, voice tight like it’s taking all his energy just to get the words out.

“Why? You close?” Frank nods again, letting out this long, breathy moan that goes straight to Gerard’s dick. Fuck, he’s fucking close. He speeds up, jerking Frank off hard and fast. “Don’t you wanna come?”

Yeah, feels – oh god – feels so good.” He grunts, spreading his thighs a little more and planting his feet on the bed like he’s gonna fuck up into Gerard’s fist any second now.

Gerard’s fucking losing his mind.  He’s barely getting any friction and his dick is painfully hard but he’s about to come. And, like always, he loses all control over his brain to mouth filter. “God, you always leak like a motherfucker. Makes me wanna… wanna get you in panties.” he rasps, hips pumping up at the thought. Frank moans, high and strained, his thighs shaking like he’s trying to hold back until Gerard finishes what he’s saying. “You’d get them so wet for me, wouldn’t you? Just get them nice and soaked for me and I wouldn’t even have to… wouldn’t even have to touch your cock.”

Frank curses sharply, voice breaking into a moan, finally fucking up into Gerard’s fist as he loses it, spilling onto his stomach.

“God, yeah,” Gerard groans, teeth clamping down onto Frank’s shoulder as his hips twitch up uncontrollably. He’s coming in his fucking briefs like he knew he would and it still feels fucking amazing, his eyes rolling back and toes curling as his back arches. Frank slumps against him, whining when he gets too sensitive, and Gerard lets his head thump against the wall.

“You fucking tease,” Frank pants, grinning lazily.

Gerard laughs softly, “I don’t even know where that came from.”

Frank snorts, “What the fuck was that about getting me in panties? You got a fetish I don’t know about?” Gerard’s cheeks heat up, fuck, his whole body heats up as he squirms uncomfortably. Frank giggles, “What kind of panties are we talking about here?”

*

Gerard met Frank at a Descendents concert on November 22nd in Sayreville, New Jersey; he was the guy who apologized when Frank punched him in the face (whether it was an accident or not is still a mystery). If he brings it up now, Frank says that was the night he fell in love with Gerard, because Frank’s a sappy hopeless romantic who believes in love at first sight and other bullshit like that.

"Dude," he snorted, looking at the cup of spilled beer on the floor. "Did you seriously just apologize?"

"Um... yes?" Gerard shrugged, not caring if he sounded like an idiot if it meant this kid wasn't going to punch him again. Fuck, he wasn't nearly drunk enough for this kind of shit.

"Wow, where the fuck -" he cut himself off, eyes meeting Gerard's for the first time. "Oh - no - I'm sorry." Gerard raised an eyebrow and the boy thrust a hand up, waggling his fingers in what some people might call a wave. "I'm Frank."

Gerard nodded, already over it; the show was over and if he was going to catch the eleven o clock train to make it back to the city tonight he needed to leave as soon as possible. "Well - um - Frank..." he trailed off, raising his hand to mimic Frank's wave because he didn't know what else to do. He remembers thinking Frank was pretty and short and that maybe Gerard was too old to include the former in his thoughts. "Yeah... See you." he finally said, pushing his way through the crowd to the exit.

His eye was already throbbing and he was kind of excited to see the shiner he'd have for the next week or so; he was gonna look badass. When he finally made it outside, the cool night air feeling fucking great on his hot skin, he stopped to dig his pack out of his pocket. More people exited after him, all having varying conversations about how awesome the concert was. It was only when someone knocked into him as they ran past, making him drop his lighter, that made him look up.

"Fuck, what the fuck?" he grumbled, running a hand through his hair and eyeing the running guy with disdain.

The guy's head snapped towards him and Gerard cursed inwardly at the huge grin on the guy's - Frank's - face. "You're still here!" he smiled, grin faltering slightly when his gaze landed on Gerard's cracked lighter. "Fuck, sorry - 'm sorry."

Gerard muttered a, "It's okay." when Frank handed him his lighter. He didn't know what was wrong with him; he was just standing there watching Gerard smoke with this weird little smile on his face that reminded him of the one his brother sported whenever he killed Gerard in Call of Duty (which happened more than one would think possible). It made him uneasy; he cleared his throat.

Frank jumped. "So, uh, you never told me your name."

Gerard exhaled, "What?"

"Back inside when I - my name's Frank and your name is?"

Frank was blushing and that was how Gerard knew he was too young. "Gerard."

Frank beamed at him and Gerard looked away, flicking the ash off his cigarette. He said, "That's the first time someone's ever apologized to me after I hit them."

Gerard grunted noncommittally and blushed; he was such a fucking loser. He started, "Yeah, well -"

Frank interrupted him, "You ever get into a fight?"

Gerard hummed softly, trying to find a way to tell the truth and not reveal the pathetic geek he was. "If a bunch of guys taking turns beating the crap out of you a few times a week counts, then yeah."

Frank nodded, rocking back on his heels, and made a sympathetic noise. "Ah, yeah, that used to happen to me too."

"Used to?"

Frank leaned in closer and winked, like he was letting Gerard in on some sort of secret. "I kind of have a thing for fighting. People got sick of fighting me when they found out I liked it."

Gerard raised an eyebrow. “You like getting hit?”

Frank shook his head with a small smile on his face and said, “No no no. I don’t like getting hit; I like getting in fights. I like fighting.”

“Why?” Gerard didn’t (and still doesn’t) like getting in fights; Gerard didn’t even get into fights. If someone punched him in the face he either stayed down and took the rest of the beating or apologized.

“I really don’t fucking know,” Frank laughed. “I kinda just go with it.”

Gerard took one last drag off his cigarette before throwing it to the ground and asking, “You any good?”

Frank sighed, eyeing the still burning filter on the ground. “Not really.”

Gerard nodded and started to walk away, “Right. I’ve gotta go; if I miss the last train I’m fucked.” He probably wasn’t going to make the train anyways; he didn’t even know what the fucking bus schedule was and it wasn’t like he had his own car. He tugged on his hair, clearly frustrated, and tried to calm down enough to figure out how he was going to get to the train station. There was no fucking way he was spending the night at his parents’ house, no matter how nice it would be to see Mikey again. He stopped under a streetlight and was about to dig his phone out of his pocket when a car pulled up next to him.

The window rolled down and Frank stuck his head out of the window, “Hey! Um – do you need a ride?”

Gerard heard an exhausted sounding, “Frank.”

All of the windows were down and there were two guys in the backseat as well as Frank in the passenger seat, how the fuck would he even fit? “Car looks pretty full to me.”

“Oh!” Frank scrambled out of the car and yanked the backseat door open. “You can sit in the front!”

“Frank, seriously? There’s barely enough room as it is, dude, c’mon!” Some guy with a buzz cut and a beard complained even though he was already scooting over so there would be just enough room for Frank to squeeze in.

“Ham,” some guy with glasses whined.

The driver, some big guy with overly gelled hair and a high school basketball shirt on, asked tiredly, “What, Shaun?”

Frank mumbled, “Dude, you smell like ass.”

The guy with the beard sniffed his armpits obnoxiously before shrugging and saying, “And you don’t? I was in the fucking pit the whole show what d’you expect?”

Hambone,” the guy with glasses, Shaun, whined again.

“Shaun, you were late one time. One time. By, like, five fucking minutes. Calm the fuck down.” Hambone grunted, rubbing his eyes with the backs of his hands wearily. And fuck you if you thought Gerard was actually going to get in that fucking car.

“And stop punching people; I swear, you fucking decked me like three times.” Beard guy pointed at Frank before rubbing his cheek, “Shit hurts.”

Frank laughed, “Sorry.” He looked out the window at Gerard again, “C’mon.”

So Gerard took a step forward, looked down at the phone in his hand, took another step forward, put his phone back in his pocket, and got in the car. Hambone asked, “Where are you going?”

“The Dover train station?”

Hambone nodded and pulled away from the curb, “The eleven train, right?”

“Yeah.”

“You’ve got plenty of time, d’you mind if we drop Shaun off first? He’s scared his mommy’ll yell at him if he’s late.” Hambone grinned.

“Shut the fuck up, Hambone. Remember who pays for your god damn gas.”

“Ladies, ladies.” Beard guy said, “Not in front of the company.”

He heard this high pitched giggle from the back and since he was positive it didn’t come from beard guy or Shaun it must’ve been Frank. Gerard found himself smiling as he looked out the window. They drove along peacefully for a little while, Frank and beard guy – Tim – chatting about the show.

They dropped Shaun off at some small house with blue shudders and a rose bush and as soon as they pulled away Frank draped his body over the middle console and reached for the drawer by Gerard’s knees. Frank’s arm kept brushing against Gerard’s knee and his whole body stiffened instantly; Frank had this easy grin on his face and he wasn’t even paying attention to what he was doing as he turned to tell Hambone some stupid joke but Gerard was having a mini fucking panic attack.

He couldn’t really see Frank all that well in the dark of the venue or the night but when he turned on the little lights inside of the car, ignoring Hambone’s weak protests, Gerard could see him just fine. He was rocking this reddish orange baby Mohawk and he had an eyebrow ring and a really fucking nice jaw line. His nails were painted black, and his knuckles were red and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Gerard to stop imagining those same hands wrapped around his cock, or fuck, spreading him open.

“Fuck, where’s the CD I gave you last week?” Frank asked, resting his hand on Gerard’s knee to keep his balance as they turned onto the highway. He smelled like sweat and cigarettes and Gerard would be lying if he said the scent didn’t go straight to his dick.

“You give me a lot of CD’s, Frank. Which one are you talking about?”

“The one with Nada Surf on it.”

“The one with Nada Surf and Nirvana or the one with Nada Surf and the Smashing Pumpkins?”

“Nirvana,” Frank said.

“Should be in the mirror thing,” Hambone pointed towards Gerard’s mirror and Frank flipped it down. A CD fell onto Gerard’s lap and Frank took it with a smile before sticking it into the player and pushing himself back into the backseat. Hambone turned the volume up as loud as it could go and Gerard relaxed. It only took them about fifteen, maybe twenty, minutes to get to the train station so Gerard still had a twenty minute wait.

Frank got out of the car when he did and smiled at him shyly for a few seconds before blurting, “Listen, we have this gig, well, I guess it’s not really a gig… we’re just playing at a house party next Friday. You should come. I mean, I want you to come.”

“Yeah, I don’t know, parties aren’t really my thing.”

“Oh, yeah I – okay.” Frank visibly, like, deflated. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a scrap of paper before handing it to Gerard. “If you change your mind this is the address.”

Gerard looked down at the itty bitty piece of paper and squinted to read the address. He snorted, “This is my parents’ house.” Fucking Mikey.

“You’re Mikeyway’s brother?”

“Fuck,” Gerard nodded his head and gave Frank the paper back. “Yeah, I’ll be there.”

Frank perked up again, “Awesome! Okay, so I’ll see you there.”

Gerard nodded, unable to hold back his smile. “Yeah, next Friday.” Frank waited until he got inside the station to get back in the car; the Misfits started blaring as soon as the car door shut and Gerard sank into an uncomfortable plastic chair. Fuck, what a fucking night.

*

He’s buying cigarettes after work when he spots the flyer, it’s light blue and taped to the checkout counter so that when he places the pack down, counts his cash, and picks up his cigarettes again it’s impossible for him to miss. Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings every Tuesday from 6 to 7… and then it spits some garbage about where they meet and that coffee will be provided. When the cashier hands him his change he gives him this guilty, almost apologetic, look like he knows the flyer is affecting Gerard but can’t do anything about it. Or maybe Gerard’s just paranoid.

The meetings are held in some church’s basement; Gerard hasn’t stepped foot in a church since his mom made him when he was eighteen, sleepy eyed and grumpy. He hated it. Everyone did that thing where they made a big deal out of not staring at him that it was so obvious they were staring at him or at least felt the need to stare at him. He isn’t ready for something like that, not today.

*

He sits there at the back of the train with the dirty sleeve of his hoodie pressed to his nose to stop the bleeding while Frank’s leg bounces up and down spastically. His sleeve’s not completely soaked so that’s a good sign, but it’s not doing a great job at absorbing all of the blood; when he smiles at Frank to show him he’s fine he can taste blood dripping down his lip onto his teeth. Whenever the ticket inspector walks by he shoots Gerard a dirty look and Gerard waves back happily.

“If he says something I’m gonna punch him in the fucking face,” Frank mutters angrily, fists clenching.

Gerard raises an eyebrow, “Pretty sure I’m the one who’s supposed to be pissed off, you know, what with it being my nose that’s bleeding all over the place.”

Frank’s eyes widen comically as he leans forward. “Yeah and you’re fucking sitting there like nothing’s wrong; that guy hit you, Gerard.”

“He was drunk off his ass; it wasn’t personal.” It really wasn’t. They were at some stupid party Mikey had told them about and as the crowd in the living room started to spread to other parts of the house again after the band finished playing, Gerard was shoved into some guy’s arm. When he turned to apologize, already smelling the overpowering stench of beer coming from the guy, he was knocked on his ass. It was when he found Frank, blood trickling onto his shirt, that Frank lost his shit.

“When someone punches you in the face it’s fucking personal,” Frank spits, tugging at his hair. He keeps fidgeting, like if he stops he’ll explode from all of the rage built up inside of him. “He’s fucking lucky Hambone and Tim held me back; would’ve broken more than just his fucking nose.”

“When someone makes you spill beer all over yourself it’s personal.”

“That was an accident.”

“Whatever; I think there’s a show at Gramercy, you wanna go?” The only way Frank’s going to calm down is if he gets pushed and shoved around, gets all that energy beaten out of him.

Frank’s legs still as his fingers start drumming against his knees. His eyes narrow as he asks, “Who’s playing?”

“Uh – you remember when you were in that garage band, what was it called?”

“Sector 12.”

Gerard nods enthusiastically, “Right! God, you guys…”

“Sucked?” Frank smirks.

He smiles and laughs softly, “Epically. Fuck, you played at one of Mikey’s parties – what was that one song? The one where you screamed ‘burn this motherfucker down’ a bunch of times while Tim hit the fucking cymbals over and over again until the song ended?” Frank laughs, it’s tight sounding but it’s better than nothing. Gerard leans back a little more, resting his head on the seat as he lowers his hand, and then continues, “You were fucking aggro.”

Frank snorts, “Was?”

Are,” Gerard corrects, shaking his head. “Anyways, they sound like that.”

“Yeah,” Frank sighs, rubbing his eyes wearily. “Yeah, let’s go.”

*

In class he had to sketch a nude model, his first of many, and she had this jagged inch long scar running down the side of her neck like someone had pressed a knife there with shaking hands. He was torn between wanting to marry her and wanting to roll his sleeves up to show her his scars.

Frank has scars and Gerard has scars; Frank’s fade to these tiny nicks that soon become invisible to someone who doesn’t know where to look whereas Gerard’s stand out bright as day, these raised lines that are impossible to miss. Sometimes people stare when they go out and Gerard tugs his sleeves down or sticks his hands in his pockets or hides them under tables; their stares make his skin crawl.

If the scars were on Frank’s arms, Gerard thinks Frank would roll his sleeves up as far as they could go and shove his marred arms in their faces while screaming something like “take a fucking picture”. But it’s Gerard they’re talking about here so Frank snarls at strangers and kisses Gerard’s cheek. Maybe he should just get over himself already; he’s had the scars for four years now and it’s about time he’s learned to accept them.

*

Frank likes to fuck with the lights on and Gerard still takes showers in the dark. Where Frank has tattoos and muscles Gerard has stretch marks and chub; he’s the pale, self conscious artist he always knew he’d become. But Frank has this way of touching him, of kissing him that makes him feel like something prized and delicate and important. And when he’s fucking Gerard, droplets of sweat sliding down his neck as he spreads Gerard’s legs wider, Gerard can’t be bothered to focus on his trivial insecurities.

His hair’s plastered to his forehead and he can’t seem to close his fucking mouth no matter how embarrassing the noises he’s making are and he’s sure he’s tearing holes in the sheets with how hard he’s gripping them but he’s too far gone to care.

He can’t stop though because it feels “So... so good,” he moans, voice breaking on a particularly hard thrust, “F-Frankie don’t – god – don’t stop.” Frank just curses and nods his head which could mean he’s agreeing with Gerard or he’s not planning on stopping and really either one works just fine. Frank’s thick and hard inside him and every drag of his cock makes Gerard’s stomach muscles tense up and his eyes roll back; when Frank shifts and his cock brushes against Gerard’s prostate he squeezes his eyes shut tight and lets out this long, relieved sounding groan.

It’s like this is what he’s been waiting for his entire fucking life and he’s having trouble doubting it because it’s so intense, like, god he can’t – “Oh god – Frank – god, you feel so fucking good.” Frank’s hands slide up from their grip on his hips, one dips underneath his arm to grab onto his shoulder while the other grasps the pillow next to his head. His head drops down, forehead resting in the juncture between Gerard’s neck and collar bone.

Shit.” His voice comes out rough and breathy. He spreads his legs wider as Frank’s weight pins him down and Gerard’s never felt safer in his entire life.

Frank’s this warm, soft solid weight on top of him and he can’t concentrate on anything else. He locks his legs around Frank’s lower back, just trying to take him in as deep as he can and almost can’t fucking breathe through it all.

Frank’s mouth is wide open as he breathes hotly onto Gerard’s neck, and Gerard can only imagine how swollen his lips must look from sucking him off earlier, so pink and slick with spit. He’s panting into Gerard’s ear, words like “god” and “fuck” and “t-tight” slipping out, and god his fucking voice is too much.

His hands fly up to Frank’s back, chewed up fingernails leaving angry red lines as he drags them down, making Frank hiss and scrape his teeth along Gerard’s earlobe. Frank’s belly rubs against him on every stroke and the friction sends these shocked sort of gasps flying from his lips like he can’t believe he’s almost about to fucking come. His hand flies up to tangle in Frank’s hair and when he pulls Frank lets out this soft, weak moan and that’s so fucking hot.

“Gonna – Frankie – come. Gonna fucking comeoh –” he’s coming so hard he’s fucking blinded by it, can’t feel anything but the heat spreading through him as Frank keeps pounding against his prostate. It feels so fucking good and he’s probably close to ripping Frank’s hair out with how hard he’s pulling but he can’t even get his mouth to close let alone getting his fingers to let go. When he finally comes back down, riding out the last of his aftershocks, he can hear Frank whining in the back of his throat as he shakes on top of him.

“Gee,” he whines. “Please – I can’t –”

“C’mon, Frankie,” Gerard breathes, lifting Frank’s head up so their eyes can meet. “I’ve got you; come for me.” Frank’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen in his entire life; eyes fluttering and dark, hair stuck to his forehead, face flushed and lips kiss swollen. Gerard leans up a bit to kiss him and when their tongues meet Frank groans and tenses up, coming inside of him. When he comes back down he rests his head in the crook of Gerard’s neck again and Gerard strokes his back lazily.

“You okay?” he whispers, shivering when Frank pulls out, he can feel come dripping out of him.

“If you are,” Frank whispers back. He’s quiet as Frank gets up to go get something to clean them up with. He comes back with a washcloth, kneeling on the bed as he cleans Gerard first. When they’re both relatively clean Gerard grabs the remote and turns the news on because he hasn’t watched it in at least four days and has no clue what’s going on in the world. He mutes it though; he can’t stand how peppy newscasters always are, no matter if they’re talking about puppies for sale or bombs being dropped. Their corny jokes and unnaturally white teeth make his stomach churn.

He rolls over. “How was school?”

“Okay, I guess. I got an eighty on that math test I was telling you about,” Frank blushes.

Gerard grins, “That’s awesome; didn’t I tell you you’d be fine? You’re smart, Frankie, just accept it.”

Frank smiles and curls up next to Gerard. He whispers, “You look tired; you been having nightmares?” He’s exhausted; the deep purple bags under his eyes have reappeared.

“I’ve just been staying up late to finish this project,” he lies. He doesn’t want to talk about his nightmares, it’s not like they change. Every fucking time it’s the same thing: everyone he cares about – everyone he loves – dies.

“Let’s just – let’s sleep, okay?” he doesn’t call Gerard on his lie and for that Gerard’s thankful so he smiles and nods, shutting his eyes. They’ll sleep, Gerard will start to dream, Frank will wake him when he starts screaming and then he’ll either walk Frank to the train station or half heartedly try to convince him to go to school tomorrow. If Frank leaves he’ll just spend the whole day drinking and for the first time in a long time he doesn’t want to get drunk.

“Stay with me tomorrow.”

“Yeah?” Frank’s eyes don’t open but his mouth twitches, like he wants to smile but he’s too tired.

“Please.”

“Okay – shh – sleep.” He slurs quietly so Gerard does; Frank wakes him up about two hours later and when Gerard buries his face into Frank’s chest, tears still sliding down his cheeks, he doesn’t say anything mean so Gerard’s stuck thinking Frank’s the only one for him again.

“I’ll get better,” he whispers, lips brushing against Frank’s skin.

“I know,” Frank whispers, nodding his head. “I know you will, baby.”

*

He wakes up hung over, head pounding and mouth too dry, and rubs at his eyes for a minute or two because he knows he has to get out of bed today, no matter how shitty he feels. He tries to hit the snooze button on his alarm clock but he’s too clumsy and ends up swiping it off his nightstand, he groans, fuck. It’s too fucking early for this shit, he thinks, even though he knows it’s at least twelve in the afternoon.

His first class of the day starts in an hour. He’s got motherfucking Art History today and he’s got a paper due in a week that he hasn’t even started researching for.

It takes him about fifteen more minutes before he gets out of bed, but the fear of being late makes him rush and by the time he gets around to making coffee he’s got twenty minutes to spare. He still feels like shit and has this undeniable urge to find a nice, dark cave to crawl into and never come back out of. He hops up on his kitchen counter with his coffee mug and opens the cabinet by his head, pushing plates and bowls aside for the half empty bottle of Bailey’s he knows is in there. It’s pretty much impossible to get drunk off the stuff so it’s not like he’s doing any damage. He has three cups of coffee before grabbing his messenger bag and heading to class with a scowl on his face. 

*

He doesn't know what time it is when the knock on his door comes, but it's dark outside and he knows he probably should've went to bed hours ago. He shuffles to the front door, socked feet making soft noises on the carpet, and after he sends whoever this is away he's going to finish watching ‘Star Wars’ and get in bed. The door swings open and all of the air is sucked out of his lungs.

Frank blurts, "Don't freak out."

He's freaking out. His hands fly up, sliding over Frank's chest, belly, and ribs. He keeps tugging at Frank's shirt and when he tries to get his hands to let go he finds he can't, probably because he still hasn't found where all of the blood is coming from. He chokes out, "What the fuck happened to you?"

Frank's wearing his white Bad Brains shirt, the one that's too tight across the chest and rides up a bit whenever he raises his arms, and there's blood fucking everywhere.

His apartment is dark and the hallway lights keep flickering and every time he blinks it looks like the spot of blood right below Frank's left rib is steadily getting bigger, blood seeping through the shirt from some fatal wound he can't see. His hands finally release Frank's shirt and when he looks down they're shaking and covered in blood; he can't see his scars. Frank could be fucking dying right now and he can't get enough air in his lungs to push back the bile he can feel rising in his throat all because he can’t see his stupid scars. If he doesn't look away he's going to be sick.

"Gerard - Gee - look at me," Frank places his hands on Gerard's shoulders, his knuckles are raw and bloody. "Breathe."

He's trying, but it's hard to see anything that isn't the blood on his wrists. It's not your blood, he tries to remind himself, the scars are healed, remember? He doesn't.

"Gerard?" Frank's voice is quiet, frantic.

"I haven't seen this much blood since-" he stops, biting his lip so hard he tastes blood, his stomach lurches.

"Since what, Gee?"

"Since... Since I was seventeen, when I tried to kill myself." he hasn't ever said it aloud, not to Frank. He doesn't know who told Frank; maybe it was Mikey or Frank's mother or some kid at school who, like everyone else, had to sit through assembly after assembly on why suicide was taking the easy way out; if it's so easy, why is he still here?

"There was - god - there was so much blood, Frankie. I couldn't - I didn't think there was going to be so much. I - I didn't think it was going to hurt so much either. There was this - um - stinging?" he can barely hear himself now and Frank's nose is clearly broken and he's still standing in the fucking hallway but he can't stop. "My wrists felt like they were on fire and then it sort of spread. It was like someone shoved something inside of my arms; I couldn't move my fingers. I sat there on the floor, biting my tongue until it bled to stop myself from screaming; my parents and Mikey were talking about some pep rally, I could hear them through the vents."

He pauses, looking at Frank almost curiously. "Did you know people can be saved when they cut vertically? I didn't; I heard something or read somewhere that if you cut vertically they couldn't sew you up, couldn't save you."

Frank's eyes are dark and scared. "Gee, I -" he reaches out to Gerard's wrists, probably to wipe the blood off, make Gerard realize he's okay, they're okay. He flinches but Frank ignores it, rubbing his thumbs over Gerard's wrists until the blood is smeared enough that his scars can be seen again. "You're okay, Gee. See?"

Gerard exhales loudly and nods stiffly.

“Okay,” Frank whispers and then speaks up, “Okay. We – I have to go the hospital now; some jackass broke my nose.”

“Yeah – um – no, I’ll go with you. Let me,” he pauses, glancing down at his wrists. “Let me just go get my jacket and wallet.” He steps back from the door and Frank follows him inside. “Do you want a different shirt?”

Frank looks down at his shirt, like he forgot about all of the blood on it. “Yeah – just give me one of the ones you paint in.” Frank leans up against the wall by the door while Gerard goes in search of his wallet and a shirt; he makes a pit stop to the bathroom to wash his hands along the way. It’s during the taxi ride over that Frank finally tells him what happened.

“These two guys were fighting,” he starts, voice low. “And I was going to ignore them -” Gerard shoots him a disbelieving look. “I was! But when I passed by them I saw that the one guy, some guy in a leather jacket, was getting the shit beat out of him by the other guy. And the guy who was beating the shit out of him, some dude with a Mohawk, wasn’t letting up at all. It wasn’t even that he wasn’t about to stop or anything, but, Gee, the leather jacket guy wasn’t even trying to stop him. I don’t think he could even feel the guy hitting him anymore; his face was fucked.”

“That doesn’t explain where all of the blood came from.”

Frank doesn’t continue though; he gazes out the window, watching the bright lights of the city. A few more minutes pass by and Gerard never noticed how far from the hospital he lives, or maybe the traffic is just really bad tonight.

Frank’s fingers walk down Gerard’s thigh to where his hand is resting by his knee, he tangles their fingers together and starts talking again. “When I finally managed to drag the Mohawk guy off of the leather jacket guy he took one look at me and decked me, fucking broke my nose with one punch. So, then I was the one knocked on my ass, clutching my nose like an idiot, while the leather jacket guy was trying to get away. He was just dragging himself towards the street, like if he could just get to the street someone would see him and save him. And I remember thinking that the Mohawk guy was going to have to pick who to go after when he walked over to the guy on the ground, flipped him over, and punched him in the stomach one last time before running away.” Frank pauses and looks at their joined hands. “When I finally got to the guy to help him up I saw he was… he was bleeding. He fucking stabbed him, Gee. I was yelling for someone to call 911 and was putting pressure on the wound ‘cause that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? I was trying with my hands but it didn’t do anything so I took off my shirt and balled it up and put it there and that worked for, like, ten seconds.” He laughs bleakly, “And then he started coughing and breathing weird, I - I think he was choking on his own blood.” Frank gulps loudly. “It was everywhere, Gee. I couldn’t stop it. And he looked up at me… H-he looked up at me and said, ‘it’s going to be okay’ and then he fucking died. So I put my shirt back on and… and I left.”

“Frank,” Gerard says, tipping Frank’s head up to look at him. “Frank, listen to me. It’s not your fault. You couldn’t have done anything more.”

When he starts crying he buries his face in Gerard’s neck. “He lied; he said it was going to be okay.”

Gerard wraps his arm around Frank’s shoulder and kisses the top of Frank’s head. “I know, Frankie. I know.”

*

He doesn’t like hospitals; he avoids them like the plague and hasn’t been since he tried to kill himself all those years ago and everyone had treated him like he was a nuisance. It wasn’t like in the movies or TV shows or books where everyone, even people you’ve never met before, come up and tell you how lucky you are to be alive and how you’ve got so much to live for. It wasn’t anything like that. He felt this huge wave of disappointment just wash over him, filling him up with resentment and hatred towards himself because he couldn’t even fucking kill himself properly.

He doesn’t remember the paramedics or the trip to the hospital or even being wheeled in on a stretcher; he does remember waking up and only being allowed to see his mother. It was past visiting hours and the nurses had this thing about not giving him special treatment because then they’d have to do the same for everyone else; it was as simple as that. He had foreign bandages around his wrists, light spots of blood not quite seeping through, and he felt like he had the flu.

“That’s from the blood loss, sweetie.” His mom had said, her makeup smeared around her eyes and trailing down her cheeks. He didn’t know what to say to that so he nodded and kept quiet, wondering what the fuck he was going to have to go through now to get this shit over with once and for all. Her hands were shaking when she reached up to brush his hair out of his eyes and she made this soft cooing noise that Gerard hadn’t heard since he was a little kid. They didn’t say much to each other and she left about ten minutes later when the nurse showed up and escorted her to the door.

When the doctor came to talk to him the following morning he treated him like an object and reminded him he wasn’t free to leave until he met with the psychiatrist. He can’t remember if he was excited to see the psychiatrist because that meant he had actual problems and that it really wasn’t all in his head or if he was annoyed. The psychiatrist, Dr. Singh, was great.

He liked how Dr. Singh spat garbage about god and told Gerard to use his brain for things like positive thinking, he liked how he was given a combination of pills that could make him “even worse”.

And then it was all over, he was signed over to the care of his parents and kicked out of the hospital bed so some kid with actual problems could get the attention they deserved. He was unworthy and now he gets to add ‘broken’ to the list of adjectives that describe him.

He’s the kind of broken pretty boys like Frank flock to with their big green eyes and tattooed hips. He wants the hole in his chest to be filled with angry guitar solos that cut through his skin like the razors he tried when he was seventeen, all fucked up with no one to live for, because just like writing his suicide note on the back of a comic book receipt, razors sounded easiest. He could live for Frank though; he could chuck the pills and pour the booze down the drain if it meant waking up to Frank making him coffee in his boxers and being the little spoon and having Frank listen to him talk even though he starts rambling as soon as his mouth opens. And he wants this; he wants Frank.

“Gerard?”

“Hm? Yeah?” his attention snaps back to Frank who’s sitting on a hospital bed, his legs dangling over the side.

“You should go wait out there,” he says, pointing in the direction of the waiting room.

“What? No, I’m fine. I’m staying with you.” He insists, grabbing Frank’s hand with both of his even though there’s a doctor standing there with a bored expression on her face.

Frank brings their hands up, kissing the backs of Gerard’s, and smirks a little when he says, “She has to reset my nose.”

He wants to leave but needs to stay. “No – um – I’m… I’m gonna stay here.”

Frank’s eyebrows shoot up, “You’re going to end up passing out.”

Gerard lets out a slightly hysterical laugh and turns around, “I won’t look. I’ll be fine.”

“Can you take your piercing out?” The doctor asks.

Frank doesn’t say anything for a moment and then Gerard hears a “ready” followed by a muffled scream. He doesn’t pass out, but a shiver runs through him that leaves him swaying unsteadily on his feet. He chokes out, “See? I’m fine.”

*

Gerard stopped drinking on March 10th, 2012 and went to his first AA meeting three days later. He showed up five minutes late and choked back the shitty free coffee they provided and listened to the other men and women in the meeting speak openly about their struggles with alcohol.

He kept his mouth shut and alternated between staring at his coffee mug and some of the twelve step posters hung up haphazardly around the room. Even though he was beyond uncomfortable he still felt welcome, like everyone knew how hard it was for him to just step into the room and they weren’t going to make it any harder. He supposes that’s what’s making him go back now, what’s making him grab a cup of coffee and sit next to the single father of three middle schoolers and the nineteen year old film student who’s been drinking since she was thirteen.

He kind of feels like he’s back in his tenth grade English class when the teacher arranged the desks in a circle to discuss poetry. He always hated it.

The person sitting across from him is Brody, a woman who’s trying to get her life back together after living on the streets for a year, and Gerard kind of wants to hang out with her outside of the meetings because she’s got personality. He doesn’t know how else to describe it. She’s got fucking liberty spikes for fuck’s sake and Gerard’s having a hard time tearing his gaze away from her bright red, pierced lips; she’s gorgeous in that gritty punk rock way that Gerard sees a lot of in Frank with his piercings and weird haircut.

He tries to tell himself the reason he can’t look away from her is because she’s pretty and is also sitting right in front of him but one look at those faded scars on her wrists and he knows the real reason. His hands are shaking, foot tapping, and the lingering smell of sweat in the room is making his stomach roil. He tried not to look in the mirror before he left, already knowing he looked like shit, and that’s probably why Patty, the group leader, is going to try to include him more.

“Gerard?” Patty smiles at him. “Would you like to share?”

No. “Um, I’ve been sober for about three days now.” He’s embarrassed to say it in front of a group of people who’ve been sober for years at this point in their lives, his cheeks burning hot. But when he chances a glance at some of them they’re nodding their heads and smiling.

Brody grins, “Rad.”

Her voice is raspy, whiskey and cigarettes kind of wrecked, and deep, sultry almost. It’s soothing in a way Gerard didn’t expect it to be. He nods and smiles weakly, “Yeah, three days. It’s – it’s harder than I thought it would be.”

He stops and after a few seconds pass Patty nods and smiles at him, moving onto someone else. He didn’t realize how fast his heart was racing until everyone’s eyes were off him and focused on someone else. Well, everyone’s except for Brody’s.

It isn’t until he’s standing outside of the church, lighting his second cigarette, that Brody says something to him. “That’s a pretty morbid fascination you’ve got.”

“Excuse me?” he splutters.

Brody grins and holds up her arms, the sleeves of her denim jacket slipping down enough to show her wrists. She’s wearing a cut off denim jacket, hoodie, and Transplants shirt, Gerard’s in a sweatshirt and leather jacket and he’s still pretty cold. The weather isn’t warm enough for those kinds of clothes: gig clothes. Between staring at her pale wrists and trying not to stare at them he can’t quite figure out what her accent is. “Do you always stare at people’s scars?”

Gerard blushes, because he knows how uncomfortable that can make a person, knows how uncomfortable it makes him. But, it’s like he can’t help himself, like he’s stunned by coming face to face with someone like him. “No I – sorry.”

“Hey,” she shrugs, shirt riding up even more. “An eye for an eye, right? Let’s see yours.”

For a second he considers stuttering out an excuse and walking away but he’s been waiting for this since January when he sketched that nude model in art class. He sticks his cigarette between his lips and rolls up his sleeves, shoving out his arms. He says, “Right.”

She whistles and brings her arms up, aligning their wrists. “How old?”

“Seventeen,” he answers, not taking his eyes off their wrists. While Gerard’s scars are vertical, Brody’s are horizontal and he can tell she didn’t cut as deep as he had. “You?”

“Just a baby,” she laughs. “Seventeen as well.”

He finds himself laughing along with her and takes one last drag off his cigarette before throwing it to the ground. “Do they ever – do you ever…” he trails off, not sure how to say it.

“Get embarrassed by them?” she asks, waiting for Gerard’s nod before continuing. “Why should I? The only embarrassing thing is how I cut the wrong way,” she drags her finger down her wrist. “Vertical was the way to go.”

“That’s what I thought; did you know they can still sew you up?”

“I do now,” she smirks.

*

Frank hasn't come over in just over two weeks and Gerard's a little uncomfortable with how much he fucking misses him. Frank's been spending most of his time with Hambone and his new band, Leathermouth. Frank talks about them with the kind of excitement Gerard hasn't seen since they followed The Bouncing Souls around the east coast last spring. Gerard's yet to hear any music but according to Frank they're a hardcore punk band and suddenly Frank's obsession makes sense. It's not even like they have shows or anything though, their singer keeps fucking off to Philadelphia while promising to come back with lyrics in hand.

"So when do I get to actually hear the band?" Gerard asks, shutting off the TV.

"They - hold on," Frank sighs, and Gerard can hear a door creaking open in the background before Frank whispers, "Ma, I'm home."

Frank's mom's voice is soft and far away but there really isn't any other noise so Gerard can hear her perfectly, "What're you doing here?"

"I was at Hambone's, remember?"

"Who?"

Frank grumbles, "John, ma."

"I don't know why you don't call him by his actual name, I'm sure he doesn't like being called Hambone."

"He was the one who came up with it!" Frank whines and Gerard can’t stop himself from laughing.

Gerard hears another voice, "Frank?"

"Yeah?"

"I thought you were in New York with Gerard," Frank's dad says, sounding puzzled.

"Not this week. 'm just checking in, go back to sleep." A few seconds pass and then Frank says, "They want me to sing for them," Completely unable to mask the glee in his voice, "Well, not really sing so much as scream."

"No shit?" Gerard grins, toeing off his socks before crawling into bed.

"They kicked the other dude out and were gonna quit so I told them to give me a week and I'd have lyrics." Gerard can practically hear Frank’s face-splitting grin and it makes the butterflies in his stomach start acting up.

"I'm so fucking happy for you; I don't even know what to say."

Frank laughs softly and Gerard can hear the muffled sounds of him getting into bed. "This is what I need, I didn't even realize it earlier but this is it." Frank starts talking about the two tracks they gave him to use as a starting point and about how "raw and fucking dirty" the guitar sounds and the way he says it, voice low and a little tired sounding, makes Gerard swallow loudly and grab his dick, not really sure when he started to get hard.

He blurts out an "I miss you" and tries not to cringe when it comes out as more of a whine.

He hears Frank's breath hitch, "Yeah?"

"Yeah," Gerard breathes.

"Fuck – just – wait,” Frank rushes out. He hears some muffled sounds, bed covers sliding against skin, before a soft whirring picks up in the background. When Frank starts talking again he sounds a little out of breath, like he shut the door and turned the fan on and got back into bed as quickly as he could, anxious to keep this going. “Tell me what you miss."

"Miss -" Gerard licks his lips and spreads his legs a little, hand resting hot and heavy on his dick. "Miss kissing you, touching you, tasting you."

Yeah, I - I think about it a lot.” He pauses and Gerard can hear something slide shut in the background and realizes it’s probably Frank’s nightstand drawer where he keeps lube. “Think about you sucking me off, those pretty lips of yours stretched tight around my dick, spit running down your chin ‘cause you always try so fucking hard to fit it all in your mouth.”

He shuts his eyes, picturing Frank with his boxers around his ankles, slicked up hand wrapped around his hard cock, not really moving or anything yet, just squeezing. Gerard moans, throwing any plans of trying to make this last out the window and just inching his sweats down enough to get his cock out. "Fuck – yeah – want that."

"Know you do, Gee.” Frank breathes. “Always so eager for it, like you – oh – can’t wait to get your face fucked.”

"Can't," he moans, finally sliding his hand up his cock. It's too dry though so he licks his hand and kicks the covers off because he's starting to sweat a little. He starts jacking himself again and - ah, yeah - that's so much better.

"Can't wait. You'd make me take it all, right Frankie? Just - just fucking push me down until there's nothing left to take." God he fucking wants that, wants to feel the fucking weight of Frank's dick on his tongue, the salty taste of pre come making his cock throb.

"Yeah - shit - yeah, babe." Frank rasps, and if it were any other circumstance he'd laugh at being called "babe" but he can hear the slick sounds Frank's hand is making as it slides up and down his cock and that's enough to make Gerard's hips snap up. He's cradling the phone between his ear and shoulder, one hand on his cock and the other tangled up in his hair because he needs something to grab onto and the sharp burn just makes his dick leak even more, keeping things nice and slick. Frank lets out these muffled moans, like he's biting his lip to keep quiet and they remind Gerard of the sounds he makes when he's sucking Gerard off, hands clasped behind his back with his pretty eyes gazing up at Gerard. Fuck, he's closer than he thought he was. He's panting, hand dropping down to pinch a nipple, and he can't stop himself from fucking up into his hand anymore.

"Fuck, you're gonna come aren't you?" his eyes snap open, almost expecting to see Frank between his legs.

"Yeah - ah -" he closes his eyes again, balls drawing up at what he pictures. "Fuck, wanna - wanna come on your fucking face, Frankie."

"Oh, fuck." Frank grits out before moaning loud (a little too loud) and long and it's like Gerard's there, can see Frank's dick spurting come all over his belly. He comes a second after Frank does, mouth dropped open to let out a wordless groan as his dick throbs in his hand, come spilling onto his shirt as his back arches.

"Fuck," Frank says, giggling.

"Fuck is right."

"'m sorry I haven't been around."

"No, don't even. You're joining a fucking band, Frankie. I think I can live without you for a couple of weeks." If he’s being honest he doesn’t even really have the time needed to be with Frank. He goes to class, goes to work, goes to AA meetings, and hangs out with Brody when it’s too late to go to sleep but too early to get up at Melrose Diner.

Frank sighs and grumbles something unintelligible before murmuring, "Miss you."

Gerard grins, "I know, babe."

Frank groans, "Fuck you! Excuse me for not being the most eloquent guy around when you're talking about sucking my dick."

Gerard laughs and makes a thoughtful noise, "Ah, eloquent. Did your mom hear how not eloquent you were?"

"I was loud?"

Gerard hums and Frank hisses in embarrassment. "I'm staying at my mom's house for the weekend, d'you wanna do something?"

"Yeah, 'course."

"Show me your lyrics?" Gerard presses.

Frank hesitates and Gerard can tell he's blushing. "Maybe."

*

He expected to feel weird and slightly out of place at his mom’s house, but he actually feels like he never left, like maybe it was all a dream but there are small changes that he doesn’t remember being around for that confirms he did. They're sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and smoking their respective cigarettes, laughing over something stupid Gerard said. His mom hasn't changed much, maybe she even looks better; Gerard moving out was probably the best thing for everyone, no more walking on eggshells. His mom would never admit to that though. She's started teasing her hair again, puffing it up like it's 1986, and her fingernails are black - like Gerard's.

Mikey isn't supposed to show up until midnight and Gerard finds that he doesn't mind, he misses spending time with his mom, plus, he hasn’t been able to fall asleep before five for days. Just because she didn't know what was going on with him all those years ago doesn't mean they weren't - aren't - close. They talk about school for a little while, what his grades are like and if he likes his classes or not, and eventually they get to the topic of Frank, like Gerard knew they would.

"How are you two?" she asks with a small smile, raising her eyebrows as she brings her favorite mug, a robin's egg blue with a broken handle, up to her lips.

"We're good," Gerard smiles back easily, stubbing out his cigarette on the table. It's funny how his father would've had a coronary if he saw him do that when he was a teenager, but after a few seconds his mom stubs hers out as well. They never liked this table anyway; it was a gift from his dad’s sister.

"He’s still getting into fights?"

Gerard shakes his head, "He's too busy; give him something good to focus on and he won't have time for bullshit like that."

She nods. "He's a bright boy, surprisingly sweet too. When you first told me about it, about the fighting, I didn't understand. Perhaps I still don't."

He sighs, fingers tapping restlessly on the table before he gives up and snatches up another cigarette. If he can't drink then he sure as hell is going to chain smoke. "He's angry, ma. He's angry and I don't think he really knows why." he pauses, leaning back in his chair. "I think he keeps everything he feels - no - everything negative he feels inside. Let's it eat at him until he can't see straight, until he's seeing red." It used to make him nervous. He remembers how angry he was all the time before it morphed into sadness, he doesn't want Frank to end up like him.

"You said he's keeping busy?"

"Joined a band," Gerard says, proud.

"When isn't that boy in a band? Seems like every time we talk he's in a new one. What were they? Hybrid, Sector 12, American Nightmare, Pencey Prep, and I Am A Graveyard." she ticks off each one with her fingers, eyes closed as if she's reading off a list in her mind, and maybe she is, she always did have an excellent memory.

"I can't believe you remember all of them."

"I remember thinking it would be important, maybe not to me and maybe not even to you." The unspoken "maybe to Frank" lingers and Gerard knows Frank would love that she remembered them all, that they remembered them all. They chat a little while longer and Gerard wants to tell her he stopped drinking but at the same time doesn't. What if she has no clue it had even gotten so bad? What if no one said anything?

When Mikey shows up around seven he practically trips over himself in his rush to get to Gerard. They migrate to Gerard's old room because it's cooler in the basement and Gerard can feel the sweat on his back making his shirt stick to his skin a little. Mikey shoves a Morrissey CD in the DVD player before flopping back onto the bed.

Gerard grabs one of his old sketchbooks and a pencil because he really needs something to do with his shaky fucking hands. He draws Mikey and finds himself having to glance up every now and then to reacquaint himself with his brother's looks because he's actually changed, the boy who will wear the same shirt every other day for a month has changed.

His hair's darker and shorter, dyed, which makes him look older, and there's old eyeliner smudged around his eyes, probably from a gig he went to a couple of days ago. He's gained a few pounds, hip bones no longer sharp enough to puncture something but still very prominent, and he's grown too. He walks a little awkwardly, like he isn't quite sure how to carry the added inches and pounds. His eyes are the same though and it calms the churning in his stomach a little, knowing he isn't coming to home to a house full of people he once knew. He didn't plan on telling Mikey either, he wouldn't know anything was wrong unless Frank told him, but Mikey makes the decision for him.

"You look like shit," he comments.

"Yeah, well," Gerard replies, distracted. "Withdrawal will do that to a person."

The slow rise and fall of Mikey’s chest stops for a second before picking up again. Mikey’s tone is casual when he says, “Oh?”

Gerard hums then says, “Twenty-five.”

“What about pills?”

“Pills, too.”

Mikey stays silent and Gerard thinks maybe he doesn’t believe him and he never thought it could go that way. If things with Mikey didn’t work out then there was no way in hell he was going to say anything to Frank. Fuck that. But then he’s up and tackling Gerard in a hug. “’m proud of you.”

Gerard beams, relief flooding through him as he takes in a shaky breath. “Me too.”

*

If he’s being honest, Leathermouth makes him nervous. The music is fucking drowning in self-hate, misery, and an anger so strong Gerard doesn’t think screaming and thrashing around onstage all night will be enough for Frank to exorcise it out of himself. It’s unlike anything he’s ever heard, unlike anything he’s ever seen before.

The air is thick with sweat and Frank’s, as well as the crowd’s, screams and Gerard’s shirt is sticking to his back even though he’s just working the merch table. It’s Leathermouth’s first show outside of someone’s house so the lack of people complaining about the “noise” is refreshing and the surplus of people singing along and buying shirts is reassuring. It’s the third stop on the two month long summer tour and even though his back fucking hates him right now for sleeping on the uncomfortable van seat and his eyes are still burning from having to drive for hours on end he’s having the time of his fucking life and he’s sure Frank is too.

Frank’s onstage, mic chord wrapped around his arm as sweat fucking drips off him, screaming about cutting girls up and setting them on fire. His face and neck are red, the tendons in his neck standing out with the effort of screaming; he’s so loud Gerard’s pretty sure he doesn’t even need the microphone. He looks like he’s having a fucking seizure and the fans can’t get enough of it, all eyes are on Frank; Gerard even catches Hambone watching Frank like he’s from another planet, like he isn’t the person he’s spent every waking moment of his life with for the past few months.

He thinks this might be the longest Frank’s been on his feet, it feels like every time Gerard glances up at the stage in between customers Frank’s rolling around on stage, scraping his knees on the hard, unforgiving stage floor. They sound good, fuck, they sound great and even though the place reeks of beer and it’s taking everything he has right now not to go buy a drink he can’t stop grinning like an idiot.

After the show’s over and they’re halfway to Maryland, they drop the guys off at a diner and park a few blocks away so they can fuck in the backseat. It’s fast and frantic and a little cramped and Gerard loves every fucking second of it. They pick the guys back up an hour later and Dewees kicks Gerard out of the driver’s seat with a grin and asks, “Where are we going next?”

“Just wake me when we get to Baltimore,” Gerard yawns, climbing into the back with Frank. “God, you guys reek.”

Frank laughs, breathy and tired, and slings an arm around Gerard’s shoulders, smashing their cheeks together and planting a sloppy kiss on Gerard’s forehead. “We were good, though?”

Gerard nods, pushing Frank away to rest his head on Frank’s legs. “Great, you were great. You looked like you were fucking possessed, though.”

Frank’s head falls back and he spreads his legs a little and Gerard makes an unhappy noise as the movement jostles him. His hand falls to rest on Gerard’s head, fingers running through his hair softly. “I’m taking that as a compliment.”

Gerard’s eyes close and he slurs, “Knew you would.”

He doesn’t dread going to sleep anymore, not since he stopped having nightmares a few weeks ago and he doesn’t know who, or what, he needs to thank for that. They still don’t talk about his drinking, or his lack thereof, and he doesn’t really mind. He sees the way Frank looks at him when he turns down a drink or doesn’t even approach the bar at shows, like he’s proud of him, like he’s something special and that’s enough for him. He still goes to AA meetings sometimes, in cities he’ll only be in for the night, when the itch under his skin travels to the back of his throat and makes him want a drink like nothing else. In other words, they’re okay. Frank’s too busy and tired to go looking for a fight and Gerard hasn’t touched alcohol in just over three months now.

The last thing he hears before falling asleep is Frank’s voice, quiet and amazed, bordering on shocked. “We fucking made it, Gee. We fucking made it.”