|On the Road
It's not like Frank doesn't have places he could go when the air conditioning on their bus
breaks down and they don't have time to repair it before getting to the next stop. He
could tag along with Bob, who's retreating back to The Used's bus for the night, or with
Ray, who's formed a strange and crazy friendship with the hardcore assholes in The
Offspring and is planning on getting obliterated with them tonight, or Mikey, although
that would be uncomfortable because Mikey and Pete from Fall Out Boy are practially
holding hands in public they're so close and Frank would be a total fifth wheel. And
there are at least, like, four other bands who he's friendly enough to go hang out with and
crash on the couches of, but he doesn't go any of these other places, all of which have air
conditioning. Instead, he's lying on his back in the middle of the floor on his own stifling
hot broken bus, because he is a good friend.
Because of Gerard.
Gerard hadn't said anything when they were all making plans to split, just sat with his hands folded between his knees and nodded at all of them. "Sounds good," he'd said mildly, but he hadn't tried to tag along. It took Frankie a minute to figure it out, why Gerard would choose to stay behind where there were tons of people he could catch a ride with for the night, people who would be thrilled to have Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance hang with them for an evening, but then he remembered: Gerard didn't party anymore. And almost everyone else did, except for a couple of the baby Warped bands, who were so poor they still were sleeping in their vans and didn't have a couch for Gerard to crash on, let alone air conditioning.
So Frank stayed too, because the thought of Gerard lying in the still air, awake and alone, waiting for the rest of them to come back, made his stomach hurt a little. And lying in the heat feeling sweat ooze from his pores and collect lint from the cheap bus carpeting sucks, but it doesn't suck as bad as thinking about Gerard would have.
At first they had tried to sleep in their bunks across from one another, setting up fans in front of the open curtains so that the air blew right on their faces, but that didn't cool them off at all: the heat and the roar of the fans on high made it like sleeping in a hair dryer. They had gotten up after only ten minutes or so and set the fans up in front of the little refrigerator in the kitchenette and now they are sprawled spreadeagled on the carpeting in just their boxers, trying feel the pitifully faint threads of cool air tangle in the hairs of their arms and legs.
"God, this fucking sucks," Gerard groans.
"Mmm," Frank says. He can feel sweat pooling in his belly button and the creases of elbows. It creeps along his hairline. Gerard has one hand on his own stomach and just looking at it makes Frank feel like hyperventilating. He doesn't want any part of his skin to touch any other part of his skin.
"I'm fucking melting," Gerard says, his voice so low and muddled that it sounds like maybe he's already melted. "Frank?"
Frank turns his head. Gerard is looking at him, his hair stuck to one cheek like a mourning veil. His makeup is smudged around his eyes in black smears and his face is pale. If he weren't already lying down, Frank would be worried that he was about to faint.
"I really appreciate this, man. That you would stay here."
Frank shrugs a little, his shoulders rubbing against the rough carpeting. "No problem," he says. It's really not. Yes, it sucks, but Gerard's his friend and Gerard's done a lot more for him that just staying on a hot bus one night can ever make up for. It's no big deal.
Gerard shifts and then Frank feels his hand bumping against Frank's, covering it then withdrawing. When Gerard finally stops moving they're barely touching, Gerard's index finger hooked around Frank's. Frank can feel them sweating together. It's almost too much and he thinks about pulling his finger away, but he doesn't. The contact is almost too hot to bear, but he likes it. He knows Gerard means it.
He drifts off, a vague half-sleep, his dreams punctuated by the roar of the fan, the scratch of the carpet on his back, the bumps of the road under his hips.
At some point, he really falls asleep, and when he wakes up, he's freezing, his skin puckered in gooseflesh, shivering. The only warm spots are his shoulder, where Gerard has pressed his mouth, his hair tickling Frank's neck, and his stomach, where Gerard's hand rests, and his leg, twined with Gerard's. Frank reaches out with one hand. Gerard's skin is cool to the touch, but his breath is warm.
Frank shifts and Gerard wakes, his hand curling on Frank's stomach.
"Mmm," Gerard says.
"The air conditioning's fixed," Frank says. They're still on the road Ð he can feel it humming beneath him Ð but the sky outside the window's still dark. It's maybe early morning.
Gerard sits up. He shivers, his nipples hard. Frank wonders when he started noticed Gerard's nipples. "Fuck," Gerard says. He rubs his hands over his arms. Frank's even more cold now that Gerard's pulled away.
Gerard pushes himself to his feet. He's just in his underwear and Frank's not sure where to look, so he doesn't see Gerard's hand at first, but then Gerard's pulling him up. "Come on," he says. He herds Frank back toward the bunks and shoves him into one that's not his own. It's Gerard's, but before Frank can protest, Gerard is crawling in after him, pressed up against him, cool skin to cool skin, the sheet fluttering over both of them like feathers. Before he falls asleep again, Frank feels the ghost of Gerard's mouth pass over his, a soft phantom of a kiss.