On the Road 8
by Synchronik

The writing has been gone for a long time. For a few months, it was a compulsion of Gerard's, scribbling something on his arm in permanent marker before every show. Sometimes the writing was happy, and sometimes the writing was sad, and sometimes Frank had no idea what the hell it meant, but he was always relieved when Gerard's sweat erased it.

So Frank's not exactly thrilled when Gerard walks by him on the way to the stage and Frank catches a glimpse of a black smear along his neck. He doesn't see what it says until just minutes before their supposed to go on. Never so alone. Great, Frank thinks. He knows that things have been going like shit for G lately, that he's broken up with the latest girlfriend and that he misses Mikey and that he's not happy with the way the tour's been going, but the writing seems like a bad sign. The writing means that there's something Gerard can't say out loud.

Normally, Frank gets lost in his own world when he plays. He knows that Gerard does some crazy shit and says some crazy shit and the crowd eats it up, but he doesn't pay attention to exactly what. That's not his job, anymore, thank god.

But tonight, Frank watches Gerard carefully. He doesn't know what he's looking for - it's not like Gerard's going to do anything more outrageous than he already does - but he can't stop glancing over.

When Gerard doesn't do anything unusual for about fifteen or twenty minutes, Frank heads over to the center of the stage and stands behind him. Gerard glances over and smiles between lyrics. When he turns back to the crowd, he shakes his ass at Frank. He seems fine. Frank returns to his mic stand, but he can't stop himself from wandering back to Gerard over and over and over again. When Gerard falls to his knees during a verse, Frank stands next to him and presses his leg against Gerard's back. Gerard wraps an arm around his thigh and sings another verse with his head against Frank's hip. Frank doesn't know why, but this makes him feel better.

A couple of songs later, he goes back to Gerard's area of the stage and presses his head to the center of Gerard's back. I'm here, he thinks. Gerard doesn't react, but Frank thinks he understands.

Gerard sits down on the edge of the stage during "I Don't Love You," and Frank goes and sits behind him, lining his back up with Gerard's, facing away from the audience. While he plays, he turns his face into Gerard's sweaty hair and presses his lips against Gerard's neck. Maybe I can lick it off, he thinks, and swipes his tongue against Gerard's skin, once, twice, three times. He doesn't know if any of the ink comes off, but he likes the feeling of the song under his tongue. As the song ends, he lifts his head and sees Bob looking at him. He smiles. Bob does not smile back.

As the set comes to a close, right before Frank leaves Gerard alone onstage for Cancer, he walks up to Gerard and pushes his guitar around behind him and kisses Gerard on the cheek. Gerard turns his head, surprised, and Frank kisses him again, on the mouth this time, his hand on Gerard's face. Gerard kisses him back, and when they break apart his smile at Frank is amused. He swats Frank affectionately on the ass as Frank walks away.

Bob's swat is not affectionate at all.

"Ow!" Frank says, rubbing his shoulder. "What the fuck?" He hands his guitar off to the tech and scowls at Bob, who is standing, blond and scowling, behind the stage curtain.

"What the fuck do you think?" Bob says.

"Don't fucking hit me!" Frank says. "Why'd you hit me?"

"You aren't helping him," Bob says. He turns his face to Gerard, who is singing his heart out in a pool of white light.

Frank blinks. "What?"

"When you do that stuff to him. You aren't helping him."

"I'm not doing anything to him, man. It's just fucking around."

Bob looks at him with eyes so filled with disgust that Frank actually takes a step back. "You're so stupid," he says. He walks away.

Frank stands there for minute as Gerard finishes the song, pulling the crowd along with him. He comes running backstage, beaming, sweat flying from his hair. He looks the same way he always looks when he comes off the stage _ happy and free. It's like Gerard sheds himself the minute he steps onstage and it takes a minute or two after he comes off to find his old coat of worries and slip it back on.

"Hey," he says, grinning at Frank as he towels off his hair. His eye make-up runs in black streaks down his face, but his eyes sparkle.

"Hey," Frank says. He steps forward and hooks his arms around Gerard's neck and kisses him again, slowly this time, until Gerard stops trying to pull away.

The next night, the writing on Gerard's neck reads "never more alive." Frank doesn't mind that so much.

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