You and Your High-Top Sneakers and Your Sailor Tattoos (1/2)
High school AU. Frank seemed not to like Gerard at all, which made Gerard feel slightly uncomfortable even though he wasn't sure if Frank liked anything at all. (Featuring Gerard as the social outcast, Frank as the rebellious punk who hates everyone, lots of swearing, and a tipsy make-out session in a graveyard.) Title by The Gaslight Anthem.
Gerard did not condone violence. In fact he really, really despised violence. Admittedly, he was somewhat partial to blood occurring in comic books, but he hated to stumble upon anything violence-related outside of the drawn world. It made his stomach turn. It made his hands clench to fists and his heart thump angrily in his ears. Sometimes, a little voice somewhere inside of Gerard – the vigilante, the superhero – would yell at him to help, to do something.
But Gerard was just Gerard, the slightly pudgy art fag with greasy hair who smoked too much and always wore black. Gerard was not a bringer of justice. He was more of a lurker on the sidelines of social life, nursing the simple yet strong desire to graduate without being noticed by anyone other than his little brother.
And so it happened that, when Gerard turned the corner around the gym and nearly ran head-first into four guys beating up some tiny kid, he didn't do anything. His heart jumped into his throat and his nails dug into the palms of his hands, but he didn't do anything. Gerard just ducked his head and wavered. Would he be able to pass without being noticed and upgraded to a punch bag himself? As he stared at the ground, Gerard noticed an iPhone lying in the mud. The screen was broken.
Just then, the bell rang to indicate the end of the school day.
"Let's go," Gerard heard one of the guys mumble, and the others seemed to agree because they gave the tiny kid one last push and disappeared around the corner, laughing. None of them paid any attention whatsoever to Gerard. That's what he'd expected.
The tiny kid scrambled back to his feet. From up close, he looked a couple of years older than Gerard would have given him at first. Blood was dripping steadily from his nose and the corner of his mouth. His clothes were disheveled, tie ripped, and he looked – he looked severely pissed off.
"Uhm," Gerard said, and pointed at the ground. "Is this your phone?"
The guy's glare deepened.
"I was just wondering," Gerard explained.
"Fuck you," the guy said. His voice was deeper and – again – more mature than Gerard was expecting it to be.
"Excuse me?" Gerard said, surprised.
"Fuck you," the guy repeated, with a little more vehemence in his voice than before. Gerard felt something coil in his stomach. "Fuck everyone in this goddamn place. You're just trying to humiliate me now, aren't you?" The guy made a sound that was midway between a laugh and a snort. "Or are you just like them?"
"I-" Gerard stammered. This was not at all what he had been expecting. He had expected the kid to just grab the phone and run off, or to start crying or whatever. He hadn't expected him to engage in a swearword-ridden conversation with Gerard. No one in this 'goddamn place', as this guy had put it, ever engaged in conversation with Gerard.
"Well? Are you expecting me to bend down and pick up my phone, which is fucking broken anyway, and then you wanna, whatever, kick me in the fucking face or something? Is that what you wanna do?" The guy shook his head so that the blood running from his nose wouldn't seep into his mouth, which made him look somewhat like a dog shaking off water from its fur, and continued, "Do you have any fucking idea what that can do to a person? You could hit me in the nose and my nasal bone could dislodge and shoot into my brain and kill me. Is that what you want? D'you wanna kill me, fucker?"
"I – no. No, of course not," Gerard mumbled. He didn't want anyone's death to answer for. Gerard picked up the phone and handed it to the guy. "Here."
The guy scoffed, and strutted off.
That was the first time Gerard met Frank.
The second time Gerard met Frank was in a much less compromising situation. It was in a record store in town, after school, far away from any potential bullies. Mikey had wanted to go there. Gerard had grudgingly agreed to drive him, only because he had run out of cigarettes. He was standing outside, tearing off the plastic wrapper and the silver foil off his new pack. There was no garbage bin around, so he casually let them drop from his hand – it wasn't littering if you acted like you didn't do it on purpose, was it? – and lit a cigarette.
Gerard did hear the door slide open, but he still jumped a little when suddenly a voice near his elbow said, "Can I use your light?"
"Sure," Gerard said, turning around. He vaguely recognized the guy's face, but it wasn't until the guy ducked his head and cupped the flame of Gerard's lighter with one hand that it clicked.
"Hey!" Gerard said before he could stop himself. "You're – oh."
The guy – FRANK!, according to his name tag – raised his eyebrows. He had nice eyebrows, pretty, thin arcs of dark hair. "I'm 'oh' what?" he mocked, handing Gerard's lighter back.
"Nothing," Gerard said. He felt his cheeks burn up. "I just. I recognized you from, eh, school? It's just, you look different, without. Uhm. All the blood."
"Well, you look different when you're not trying to blend into the fucking wall," the guy snapped back. He inhaled angrily – too angrily; his face contracted and he seemed to be having trouble choking back a cough. Gerard turned away politely to give FRANK! a moment to recollect himself. When he turned back, the guy was watching him from underneath his dark bangs.
"So you work here, huh?" Gerard said, if only to postpone the moment when the conversation bled to death and he would have to break out the awkward turtle.
The guy rolled his eyes and pointed to his name tag.
"Right," Gerard said, nodding. "My name's Gerard."
Frank shrugged and leaned against the wall, sucking on his cigarette. Gerard stored his in the corner of his mouth and did the awkward turtle, to his side, so that Frank wouldn't be able to see. Through the window of the record store, he noticed Mikey holding up a CD and raising his hands in an exaggerated gesture of exasperation.
"Uhm," Gerard said. "I think my brother wants to buy something."
Frank pulled a face and mumbled something underneath his breath. It sounded distantly like "Fuck you," to Gerard, though he wasn't sure. It could have been a 'thank you'. Either way, Frank snubbed out his cigarette on the wall and stalked back into the store without granting Gerard as much as a split-second glance.
As it happened, Gerard was unable to get Frank off his mind after these two clumsy encounters.
Gerard had not been aware of Frank's tiny and tattooed existence before this. They went to the same school, apparently, but it was a big school and Gerard generally didn't pay a lot of attention to the people there anyway. He didn't usually get charmed by punk dudes with an obvious and fierce hatred of the world, either. They never really liked him much. Frank seemed not to like Gerard at all, which made Gerard feel slightly uncomfortable even though he wasn't sure if Frank liked anything at all.
Given the facts, it would've made sense for Gerard to decide he disliked Frank in return, and store him into a little corner of his brain labeled 'avoid' and let him dust over.
But that's not the way adolescent brains work, and the rest of the week Gerard kept catching himself thinking about Frank and his pretty eyebrows and the way he had sucked on his cigarette much harder than necessary, cheeks hollowing slightly, skin stretching around his cheekbones. Gerard tried extra hard not to think about it during his morning showers.
It seemed to be working, until one night he dreamed – he wasn't even sure what it had been, all he could remember was Frank, Frank being everywhere, licking and sucking and biting and thrashing and moaning, and oh fuck Gerard had come in his pajama-bottoms. Great. Just fucking great.
Trying really hard to ignore Frank's presence in his mind was not working after all. Gerard abolished the method, and went on to a second one: obtaining information. Gerard reasoned that, if he were to find out more about this guy, eventually he would stumble upon some fact (or rumor; Gerard wasn't fussy) that would put him off immediately. Maybe Frank kicked puppies, or never showered, or was a raging heterosexual. Or a eunuch. The plan was flawless.
"Frank is great," a guy with lots and lots and lots of hair and a friendly face (Ray? He was a friend of Mikey's) told Gerard. "He plays the guitar like you wouldn't believe, he's amazing, seriously. If I ever start a band I want him to be part of it."
"Isn't that the kid who always gets kicked out of Math class because he picks fights with the teacher?" some kid Gerard didn't even know asked. "Stay away from him, he's crazy. I heard he slashed up someone's tires once because that guy had tripped him up in the hallway when everyone was watching."
Girls' opinions about Frank seemed to be divided: half of them just giggled and flicked their hair upon the mention of Frank's name, half of them frowned and repeated what most people had told Gerard: Frank was aggressive and weird and not the kind of person you'd want to befriend or even approach. Strangely enough, this didn't put Gerard off – it just made him more curious.
One day after school, there was a knock on Gerard's door, followed by Mikey trailing into the room.
"Hey," Gerard said, and put the TV on mute. "What's up?"
"Why are you asking around about Frank Iero?" Mikey asked with a frown.
Because I think he's really hot and I've had a couple of wet dreams about him. Gerard coughed and said, "Because whenever I run into him, he tells me to go fuck myself." This wasn't completely truthful (mainly because Gerard didn't run into Frank half as much as he would like to, and whenever he did, Frank just glared at him) but it was completely in line with everything Gerard knew about Frank.
Mikey nodded and said, "Yeah, that sounds like him."
"I know, right," Gerard said absently. Then, "Wait, what? You know him?"
"He's in my class, Gerard," Mikey said with an exasperated eye roll. "He was elected 'most rebellious' for the yearbook."
"He's in your class?" Gerard swallowed. "But that makes him like, what, fourteen?"
"I'm sixteen," Mikey said, and scowled. "But no. He's like, seventeen? I think? He had to repeat a year or something because he was sick, or because his parents got divorced, or whatever. He's weird."
"So I heard," Gerard said. He felt strangely excited. "So, do you talk to this guy a lot?"
"No," Mikey said. "No one does. He's scary. He has tattoos and shit. Our mentor says he's a lost cause."
"Is that so," Gerard said.
He had another dream about Frank that night. He didn't remember much of it, except for Frank's dark eyes, and his low voice whispering swearwords into Gerard's ear, and fuck, Gerard had certainly been ruining a lot of boxer shorts lately.
Gerard liked to go to the cemetery to draw. He knew that this kind of behavior was the reason people called him a freak. He had to admit it was somewhat of a morbid environment, and he did get spooked out sometimes (especially when the wind was strong; it whistling around the gravestones made it sound like whispering voices), but most of the time the place just made Gerard feel calm and peaceful. He liked to draw the tombstones that seemed like they hid an entire story; tombstones of babies who'd never made it past their first year, or those of shared graves. He liked to imagine what their lives had been like while he drew them.
Gerard had been wandering around with his sketchbook clasped to his chest, looking for a new place to sit, a new stone to draw. The sun had already started to set, and the place was quiet; not a lot of people came here anymore. Most bouquets of flowers were wilted and turning brown. Gerard hadn't expected anyone to be around, and so his heart just about jumped out of his chest when he suddenly heard a noise to his side.
It was Frank. Frank Iero, sitting against a gravestone with a bottle of vodka in his hand. For a second Gerard thought he was making this up (God, was he so obsessed with this guy that he was hallucinating about him now?), but then Frank glanced up at him and rolled his eyes in a depreciating and exasperated way Gerard never could've made up. "Jesus fuck," he said, tongue stumbling slightly on the first 's'. "What, are you stalking me now?"
"Uhm," Gerard said. He wasn't, not really, but then again, he'd been asking around about Frank a lot, so he couldn't convincingly say no, either. "Are you drunk?" he asked instead.
Frank snorted and made a weird little movement with his arms which caused the liquor in the bottle to slosh around. A little bit of it splashed onto his pants. "So what if I am," he said, and gulped some vodka down.
Gerard shrugged. He didn't really know what to do or say. Maybe he should just walk away.
He was doing just that – walking away – when Frank's voice stopped him. "Are you the one they call the art fag?"
Gerard stopped and turned back. "Yeah." There was no point denying it. They did call him that, and besides, he did like art, and cock. He didn't really like the word fag, but hey. What did you do.
Frank stared at him with hazy eyes. "Cool," he said. "What's that like?"
Gerard shrugged. "At least it's not in the yearbook," he said.
"I'm in the yearbook," Frank said, a hint of pride in his voice. "I'm the most rebellious."
"So I heard," Gerard said. "What's that like?"
This time, Frank was the one to shrug. "I don't really care. I think. I'm not sure." He held out the bottle to Gerard. "Want a swig?"
Gerard was not going to say no to free alcohol. "Sure," he said, accepting the bottle.
"Come sit down," Frank murmured. Gerard did. They sat, and drank vodka. Frank was quiet. Gerard didn't want to admit it, but his heart was pounding just a little. It made him nervous, sitting this close to Frank, with the sides of their thighs touching. He could smell his aftershave and the vodka on his breath. It was all just a little too real to Gerard.
"I'm hiding," Frank suddenly said.
Gerard looked at him. "What?"
"I'm hiding," Frank said, with a little scoff.
"Why? From who?"
"Everyone," Frank whispered.
"You're not hiding from me," Gerard pointed out.
Frank's perfect eyebrows furrowed into a confused frown. "From everyone," he said again.
"I hate to say it, but you're not doing a very good job."
Gerard had expected Frank to break into "Fuck you," just about now, but he didn't. He just sighed. "I never do a good job," Frank said. "Ever." He took another swig from the bottle. "I'm pretty useless when it comes down to it."
"Well, now," Gerard said. He thought Frank did a pretty good job at being gorgeous. And making Gerard come multiple times a night. That would probably be a little weird to say, though, so he settled for, "Apparently you're doing a good job at being rebellious."
"Hoo-fucking-ray," Frank mumbled. They remained quiet for a while, until Frank spoke up again. "I'm doing a pretty good job at getting everyone around me to hate me."
Gerard could never hate someone as pretty as Frank. Unless he kicked puppies. "Is that so?"
Frank nodded vehemently. "My mom hates me," he said. His voice sounded completely different – not bitter and drunk, like before, but quiet and pained, and older somehow. Gerard glanced over, but it was still the same person sitting next to him – Frank just seemed smaller now, less invincible. He'd dropped his wall, Gerard realized.
"I'm sure that's not true," Gerard said, because he was pretty sure moms were pre-programmed to love their child. He'd heard about the horror stories, of course, but all moms he knew were of the pre-programmed kind.
Frank sighed and dropped his head onto Gerard's shoulder. "That's very nice of you," he murmured. "But you don't know me."
I wish I did, though. Gerard sat very still. "Why does she hate you?"
Frank laughed. "I don't know. I stole her car once. I smoke and I drink and I skip school all the time and I set fire to stuff-"
"All kids do that shit," Gerard said. "Promise, she doesn't hate you for that."
Frank laughed again and petted Gerard's thigh. He left his hand there, apparently forgetting about it. It made Gerard's skin feel all warm and tingly. "That's very comforting and only slightly condescending of you, but the last thing I set fire to was my mom's boyfriend."
Gerard blinked. "Say what?"
Frank giggled. "That's what she said. I mean, literally. What she said. And then she put him out and said she couldn't tolerate that kind of behavior. And now I'm here."
This kid was completely fucked up. He was also completely fucking irresistible, and his hand was on Gerard's hand, and his head on Gerard's shoulder, and fuck, Gerard couldn't help himself. He reached up and touched the side of Frank's face. Frank hummed.
"Frank," Gerard whispered, and he intended to tilt Frank's face up so that he could kiss him, but Frank beat him to it. He turned his head and smushed their mouths together all awkwardly, and kind of painfully. Gerard felt the back of his head knock against the tombstone they were leaning against and made a protesting noise, but by then Frank's hand was on the back of his neck and his tongue in Gerard's mouth and he was a little too busy concentrating on that.
Frank kissed exactly the way Gerard had imagined him to – rough, eager, and sloppy. It was totally hot. Gerard put his hand on Frank's cheek to calm him down, but that didn't work, so instead he fisted his hand into the hair at the back of Frank's neck and pulled him back a little. Frank moaned, eyes half-lidded, and suddenly Gerard was rock hard in his jeans, harder than ever. He grabbed Frank's biceps, pushed him back against the tombstone, and bit down on his neck. Frank moaned again. "Fuck," Gerard breathed against the skin of Frank's neck. It was all red and angry now.
"Fuck," Frank agreed. He set the bottle of vodka down beside him (it tipped over, of course, but that didn't matter because it was practically empty anyway) and looped his arms around Gerard's neck. "Do that again, please."
Gerard was dumbfounded. "I didn't know you knew that word."
Frank arched up against him impatiently. "Shut up and kiss me, you fag," he breathed, and, okay, Gerard wasn't down with that word at all but when Frank said it, it sounded almost sweet, like a pet name.
Gerard kissed the red mark he'd left on Frank's neck, and nibbled on it for a bit, because that seemed to be what Frank liked. Frank wriggled and squirmed, and Gerard thought it was with pleasure but then suddenly Frank said, "Stop," and pushed his head away, snapping into an upright position.
Gerard was completely ready for the big 'oh my God, what am I doing, I'm not gay, leave me alone, you fucking fag,' freak-out, but then Frank winced and bent over and threw up all over the tombstone. Gerard held his hair back.
"Thanks," Frank murmured when it was over, and leaned back against Gerard a little.
Making out would be totally gross now. Gerard felt his boner go down. He also felt realization creep up his spine. I made out with Frank Iero, he thought, and turned the thought over in his mind because he could barely believe it. He was starting to feel all giddy, and he couldn't bite back a smile. "C'mon, I'll walk you home," he said, getting up and dragging Frank up by the waist.
"Hmm. No," Frank said, leaning into Gerard's arms with his eyes closed. "No. I can't go home. Not like this. Not – ever."
"Oh, come on," Gerard said. "She doesn't actually hate you. You don't believe that."
"But he does," Frank murmured, and he sounded so sad that Gerard said, "Well, you can sleep over at my place tonight."
He picked up his sketchbook, and the empty bottle of vodka, and started toward the exit with one arm around Frank's waist.
"You're a real nice person, Gerard Way," Frank murmured into his shoulder.
"What is Frank Iero doing on the living room couch?"
Gerard opened one eye and groaned. "I'm fucking asleep," he groaned.
"Not anymore you're not." Mikey crossed his arms. "C'mon. What the fuck is he doing there. I want to eat breakfast."
"Why can't you eat breakfast with him around?"
"Because he'd impale me on my own butter knife. Gerard, seriously. What the fuck."
Gerard groaned again and rolled over. "He's not that bad, Mikes. He's just going through a rough time."
"Well, he can do that at his own house," Mikey said angrily, and stomped off.
By the time Gerard had gotten upstairs that morning, Frank had disappeared. That was the last of Frank he saw for a couple of weeks. Frank wasn't in school, as far as Gerard knew; he'd asked Mikey to keep an eye out, and Mikey had grudgingly agreed as long as Gerard bought him three new CDs. Gerard happily agreed, but Frank wasn't at the record store either. He had just vanished.
Just as Gerard was starting to make up horror stories about the situation (what if Frank's mom's boyfriend had decided to get back to Frank? Or what if he'd run away? Or, worse, had committed suicide? In the cemetery? With a butter knife?), he passed Frank in town one day. He was pretty sure it was him, except – except his hair was a little longer now, and he'd gotten his nose and his lip pierced, and. Fuck. He looked good. Gerard felt a warm tug in his stomach and his brain chanted, cheerfully, I made out with him! He kind of wanted to scream it out loud for the entire street to hear.
"Frank," Gerard called out instead, and broke into a little sprint to catch up with him. "Hey, Frank, wait up."
Frank looked up. There was something in his eyes, something was different – he looked sad, or resigned, or something along those lines. Gerard couldn't quite put his finger onto it. He wanted to, though. He wanted to put his entire hands all over-
"Hey," Frank said.
"Uhm." Gerard had been waiting for this moment for a couple of weeks now, but he hadn't thought past this point. He didn't know what he had expected Frank to say or do, or even what he expected himself to do. He just stood there. "How are you?"
Frank shrugged and stepped aside a couple of steps, so that they weren't standing in the middle of the sidewalk anymore. He leaned against the wall and fumbled around in his pockets for a pack of smokes. He found one, and held it out to Gerard. Gerard took one and grabbed his lighter, lighting Frank's cigarette as well. Frank looked up at him when he leaned in, all large dark eyes and eyelashes, and Gerard felt it all the way into his toes.
"Where have you been?" Gerard asked. He had to ask. For all he knew, Frank was going to evaporate again, leaving Gerard with nothing more but the memory of vodka on his tongue and the cold marble of a gravestone against the back of his head. It was now or never, and Gerard was choosing now.
Frank shrugged again. "Been living with my dad."
Gerard felt his heart sink a little. "You're not in school anymore," he said.
Frank frowned, but one corner of his mouth curled up into a tiny, lopsided smile. "True," he said. "My dad lives on the other side of town. New school. Y'know, fresh start and all."
"So you're lying low, huh?" Gerard said. "No swearing, slashed tires, burning stepfathers, drunken make-outs in cemeteries…"
Frank's face changed color so fast, Gerard could barely refrain from bursting into laughter. Frank scratched the back of his neck. "So you remember that, huh," he said eventually.
"I wasn't as out of it as you were."
Frank's cheeks turned an even darker shake of red. "I'm sorry," he said. "For leaving. I thought-"
"That the art fag had better things to do than make out with the hot rebel from his little brother's year?" Gerard said. "Yeah, wow, you really were second choice, dude. I still can't believe I went for you. Hold up, one of my many boyfriends is calling me-" Gerard took his phone out of his pocket and pretended to take a call.
Frank cracked up with laughter. "Fuck you," he said, with a fond smile.
"Oh, see, now this is the Frank I remember."
Frank gave him a little push. "You're mean." He looked at Gerard, squinting a little, as though he was trying to assess something. Gerard waited.
"You know," Frank said, "I never really gave you the chance to get to know me at all, did I?"
"You were too busy keeping up the whole 'fuck you' act," Gerard assented. Frank made him feel giddy, which made him say things he usually probably wouldn't. Whatever. It was still now or never. "Little did I know you meant it in such a literal way."
"Oh my God, shut up." Frank rolled his eyes and pushed Gerard's shoulder again. This time he let his hand linger, and let it drop down Gerard's sleeve slowly. His fingertips rested against Gerard's wrist, not quite touching, but not not-touching either. "I wasn't sure I'd see you again," he said, quietly.
"I also wasn't quite sure if I wanted to see you again," Frank continued. "I wasn't quite sure of anything. But…" He sucked his bottom lip into his mouth and bit his lip ring. It was an unconscious thing, but also probably the hottest thing Gerard had ever seen, and he had to concentrate hard on Frank's words. "Things are different now. My dad isn't as much of a douche bag. Hell, I'm not as much of a douche bag." Frank took a deep breath. "And, it seems I've been thinking about you a little these past few weeks."
Gerard raised one eyebrow.
Frank rolled his eyes. "Okay, so maybe I've been thinking about you a lot. And maybe I want to see you again. With less vodka involved."
"And no cemeteries," Gerard said. "I had a huge bruise on my head for days."
"You're a fucking dork," Frank said. "Now give me your fucking phone. Jesus. Do I gotta spell this out for you, or what?"
He programmed his number into Gerard's phone, and called himself from Gerard's phone, and then programmed Gerard into his. "I'll call you," he promised, and he looked so sincere that Gerard just had to lean in and kiss him. It was soft and chaste, no tongue involved, but Frank still looked a little dazed and happy when Gerard pulled away.
"You better," Gerard said.
Inspiration appears to be on my side. I'm basking gleefully in this unknown but totally amazing sensation. (As always, specific feedback/concrit is much appreciated!)