by Synchronik

I. I'm not sick, but I'm not well.
And I'm so hot, 'cause I'm in hell.

Harvey Danger

It was sort of sick, since Frank was, like, younger than his little brother, but Gerard had wanted to kiss him from the very first second he saw him standing up on stage and smirking into the microphone. "Who's that?" he asked Mikey.

"That's Frank," Mikey whispered back, like it was some big secret or something, hissing the words into Gerard's ear. "That's the guy I want you to meet."

"Figures," Gerard muttered. It just fuckin' figured that the first guy he'd wanted to fuck in, like, a semester would be the one Mikey wanted for the band.

"What?" Mikey asked over the noise, but Gerard just shook his head and watched Frank, whose face seemed designed to convey wickedness and irony and made Gerard's chest hurt in a good way.

They met after the set. Frank was short, shorter than him, and his voice was deeper than Gerard expected, and he was even better looking up close than he was onstage, and his eyebrow was pierced and it didn't look stupid, like it did on most people. "Hey, nice to meet you, man," Frank said, shaking his hand. Frank had strong hands, like Ray did, guitarist's hands, although they weren't as fucking sexy on Ray. "Mikey talks about you all the time. The Infamous Gerard." He slapped Gerard's shoulder.

"He, um. Mentions you, too," Gerard said. The truth was, he didn't know if Mikey mentioned Frank, really, because most of the time when Mikey was chattering on about his scene friends Gerard just tuned him out, but he had mentioned him once, this afternoon when they were riding in the car, turning to Gerard at a stop light and saying "there's this guy Frank that I want for the band," so Gerard supposed that was true enough.

"He says you guys are starting a band," Frank said.

"We are," Gerard answered. Please, he thought, please say that you love your band and you couldn't think of leaving them because they're a part of you and that you're grateful for the offer, but you just can't play with us, no hard feelings. And that you'll sleep with me. Now. Tonight.

But Frank didn't say any of that. Instead he said, "I wouldn't have to sing, would I?"

And Mikey was shaking his head saying "no, man, Gerard sings," and Frank was nodding and smiling up at both of them, the dim bar lights flashing off his lip ring -- he has a lip ring, Gerard thought miserably -- and that was that. Frank was in the band. Gerard had never been so upset by something good in his entire goddamn life.

The first time was an accident, and honest-to-god unplanned accident. They were onstage, playing, and Frank had stepped into the span of his outspread arms, the way Frank often did, and was leaning back against him, his sweaty weight against Gerard's equally sweaty self, and Gerard bent to say "this is fucking amazing" right at the same time that Frank looked up, smiling, and their mouths met.

It was over quickly, in just a flash of a second, but the small crowd roared in approval, like an animal, and Gerard smiled at them despite the erratic fluttering of his heart. "He's hot, huh?" he shouted into the microphone, and the crowd roared again. Frank, busy playing, didn't seem to notice and, after another measure or two, stepped away, back to his side of the stage.

Afterwards, Gerard wondered what to say. His crush on Frank hadn't gone away, not in the slightest, but the problem was now that he loved Frank, too, as a member of the band, as a friend, as a fucking awesome human being, and that got all tangled up in the fact that he still wanted to fuck him at least three nights a week. He'd reached a sort of compromise with himself, that he was allowed to think whatever he wanted about Frank and even maybe fantasize about him from time to time, like that time when they'd had to share a bed in a motel and he woken up curled on his side with Frank's back pressed to his, heat seeping through his t-shirt, breathing in sync, but that he could not ever do anything about it. Never.

And now he had.

Not on purpose, but still. He'd kissed Frank. And it was just like Gerard had always expected; the touch had opened up floodgates in him, and sent his crush from Frank rushing through his blood into his hands, his stomach, his dick. He wanted to grab him and hold him down on the bed and lick the outlines of the bird tattoos on his stomach. And he couldn't. Shouldn't. Wouldn't. He wasn't going to do anything. He was just going to pretend it didn't ever happen, because it had been an accident and --"

"hey," Frank said. He was towelling off his hair, which stuck up like a bird's in little tufts.

"Hey," Gerard said. "I was thinking, um. Maybe. That could be like a thing. A stage thing. The kissing."

Frank smiled an indulgent smile. "Sure," he said. "Sure, a stage thing."

"Great," Gerard said. Frank wandered off, still rubbing at his hair with the towel. Gerard watched him go. He wondered if there were, like, some sort of support group for masochists, and if he'd have to give up drinking if he went.

So after that Gerard could pretty much kiss Frank onstage whenever he wanted. He tried not to do it too often by keeping a die in his bag, just a little red plastic one with white dots, that he rolled each night that he kissed Frank to see how long he would have to wait to do it again, although he wasn't sure what he would do if a six ever came up.

In some strange way, Gerard felt like the die was judging him. Like, if he'd been good that day, nice to people, or showered, or did something kind for one of the other guys, he'd get a one or a two, but if he'd been an ass the die would know and would give him a four or five. It was dumb -- he knew that the die was random -- but he still found himself trying to do things to please it.

On nights when he had permission from the die, he would close his eyes with anticipation. It was pretty much always the same, his hand on Frank's shoulder, Frank's uplifted face and open mouth moving once or twice and then Frank stepping away, his head bent over his guitar so Gerard could see the pale nape of his neck. There wasn't any tongue involved, but Gerard didn't care.

One time, a time he remembered very clearly, he'd done something different. Instead of curving his hand over Frank's shoulder, he'd slid it around Frank's waist, in between his stomach and his guitar, feeling the heat of Frank's sweat-soaked button-down and the flex of the muscles in his stomach and the bang of the guitar against his knuckles. And Frank stilled a little, unsure of what was happening, maybe, and Gerard yanked him backwards until they were pressed together, his leg wedged between Frank's thighs, and Frank fell into him and lifted his head and his mouth, and god.

The kiss lasted longer than they usually did, and maybe, Gerard thought, there might have been tongue had they gone on for a second longer, but the song charged on and Gerard had to sing and for one single second he hated the song and the stage and the fact that this was all for show, but then Frank was playing on, his hands racing over the guitar, and Gerard was singing, his hand still on Frank's waist, feeling him move against his leg and maybe it was okay.

That night, when he rolled the die, it came up a six.

Gerard threw it out the next day, dropping it in the trash in a Howard Johnson's bathroom after breakfast.

He still tried to avoid kissing Frank all the time. It wasn't fair, not to Frank and not to himself, because every night that he came off stage after kissing Frank he wanted to grab him, twist his fists in Frank's t-shirt and push him up against a wall.

"You like him, huh?" Mikey said one night a few minutes after they got off the stage. Gerard still had a towel over his head and thought he was being subtle, sneaking glimpses at Frank's naked back from around the edge of the towel, so Mikey's comment, murmured over his shoulder, shocked him.

"What?" he said. "What are you talking about?"

Mikey snorted. "Whatever," he said and walked away.

The first time he kissed Frank, really kissed him, Gerard had had a completely shitty day. They'd had to spend the night on the bus, traveling, and Gerard had been up most of the night watching the road pass under the wheels. The radio interviews had been stupid, the disk jockeys yelling with laughter and asking about the band's name again and basically saying that only fags wore eye makeup without exactly saying it. Afterwards, one of them, the fat one, had come up to Gerard and slapped him on the back and said "hey, no hard feelings, right man? It's just a show," and Gerard had had to fake a smile at him because that was the kind of bullshit his life was turning into, all faked smiles and tolerance for assholes. He wondered if this is what led to bands selling out, because if you had to put up with shit you might as well get paid for it.

The weather was shit, too, a pissing grey rain that showed no signs of letting up, and the rest of them were fucking driving him nuts with their trivia games and shouting laughter and shoving. Someone pushed Frankie into him when they were heading to the bus and Gerard pushed back, hard, so that Frankie staggered and almost fell, and it was all he could do to choke out a "sorry" and slam the motel door shut behind him.

The door opened a minute later and Frank came in. They were sharing a room. For a second Gerard held his breath, waiting for Frank to say something to him. Frank had a temper and didn't put up with shit and Gerard had been nothing but shit all day and knew it, but Frank didn't say anything, just set his bag in the corner and went into the bathroom. When he came out, he sat on Gerard's bed next to him and said "cartoons, huh?" and that was it. Outside, rain pattered against the window. The lamp light slanted over Frank's shoulder and across his chest, over the hand that lay in his lap, and Gerard was overcome with a desire to touch Frank's fingers and an overwhelming sadness. He shifted and tipped his head to Frank's shoulder, pressing his cheek to the soft material of Frank's worn t-shirt.

They sat like that for a minute or two. The cartoon streamed by in front of his eyes, unseen. Frank shifted and Gerard pulled back, ashamed that he'd given in and been so desperate. "Hey," Frank said softly. "Are you okay, man?"

Gerard lifted his head and Frank's eyes were close to his, so close they were blurry, just a wash of light hazel color, as if he and Frank were kissing and Gerard tilted his chin and then they were.

It lasted for just a second, a warm soft kiss that Frank did not pull back from, just like Frank didn't pull back from any of them, ever, and somehow that fact made Gerard feel even worse, that Frank would let himself be kissed out of pity for Gerard, and he ducked his head, pulling away.

Frank's arm curled around his shoulder and his hand tangled in Gerard's messy hair and he held Gerard firmly against his chest and didn't say anything. Gerard stayed there, listening to the sound of Frank's heartbeat and the squeaks and rumbles of the cartoon on television, his eyes shut against the rain.

He wanted to forget about it after that. "That's it," he whispered to himself in the privacy of the bathroom. "It's over. You should be satisfied." But it didn't matter how many times he told himself that, he still found himself thinking about Frankie's mouth and the blur of his eyes and touching his fingers to his lips to hold the memories there. He couldn't help it.

There was nothing to do, then, but talk to Frank about it. He'd explain the whole thing and apologize and Frank would look at him with sad and pitying eyes and Gerard would be able to let it go. He never could stand to be pitied.

So the next time they stopped for a day and the others were thinking about going to some stupid summer movie, Gerard had put his hand on Frank's wrist and said "if it's cool, we're going to chill here."

He meant to bring it up right away -- "Frankie, I think I'm in love with you," -- but somehow that didn't happen and they ended up playing cards and then watching Unbreakable on pay-per-view, which was Gerard's favorite M. Night movie, even though it was also the saddest in his opinion. There was something so awful about Bruce Willis' superpower, the power to see things only after they had gone wrong. It made his throat ache. He'd given up on saying anything, content to sit next to Frank and be quiet, when Frank cleared his throat.

"So," he said. "What's wrong?"

Gerard choked a little. When he'd been a kid, he'd rarely cried when other kids had teased him. It was a skill he'd learned to protect himself from further torment. He'd been able to stare them down, his face registering nothing, his hands loose at his sides. But when his mother had seen him come up the walk and come out on the front porch and said "honey, what's wrong?" he'd cried. Kindness always undid him, maybe because for a long time it was so unexpected.

"I. I dunno," Gerard said, swallowing. "I don't know."

Frank nodded.

"Sometimes," Gerard said, choosing his words carefully. "It's just hard. I don't know."

"Sure," Frank said. His hand closed on Gerard's shoulder. He didn't mean it that way, Gerard knew. He didn't mean "oh Gerard, I love you, too," but Gerard didn't care. He leaned over and kissed Frank again, closing his eyes so he wouldn't have to see Frank's reaction.

"Gerard," Frank said, leaning away, his hand on Gerard's collarbone pushing gently. "Gerard. This isn't a good idea."

"It's not an idea," Gerard whispered. He still had his eyes closed and his mouth moved against Frank's, almost a second kiss in and of itself. "It's just. Please. I just need to be close to someone." To you, he didn't say. "Just for a minute."

"Gerard," Frank said, but his hand had slipped into the collar of Gerard's shirt and was urging him forward.

"It's nothing," Gerard said. "I'm nothing."

"You're not," Frank murmured and Gerard kissed him again, kissed him until he was dizzy and had to open his eyes and see Frank beneath him, his own eyes closed. He dove in for another kiss, licking Frank's lip ring, slipping his tongue into Frank's mouth. It was heaven, the warmth, the wetness, the movement of Frank's body beneath his own. Frank moved and Gerard moved and then they were together, sharing a pillow, face to face, Frank's mouth touching his even when they weren't kissing. They curled together, one of Frank's legs in between Gerard's, his thigh pressing against Gerard's crotch.

"We should, we should stop," Gerard whispered. His hand was up inside Frank's sleeve, cupping the smooth warm skin of his shoulder. "We have to stop," he murmured, but when Frankie started pulling away Gerard found himself clutching at his arm, pressing his cheek to Frank's chest. "Sorry," he said. Frank didn't say anything, but he didn't pull away either. They stayed there for a long time, Gerard listening to the movie, breathing in the smell of Frankie's laundry detergent and skin, Frank's hand in his hair. "This movie's sad," he said, finally, at a loss for anything else to say.

"What?" Frank said.

"Bruce Willis can't stop anything bad from happening. He's always too late."

Frank's arms tightened around him. "God, Gerard, that is depressing."

"I know," Gerard said. He slid his arms up Frank's back, holding him close. "We're pathetic dorks."

Frank laughed softly. "Hey," he said, and when Gerard lifted his head, Frank kissed him, once. "One for the road," he said.

And that was that. Gerard was never going to try to talk Frank out of his affectionate nature or his willingness to kiss his friends out of love. He settled for a mumbled "I hate you," that made Frank laugh and squeeze him even tighter.

It was an important part of getting sober, Gerard thought, was being honest, so he had to admit that he was pretty much in love with Frank, especially when Frank started letting Gerard make out with him any time he wanted.

"Why?" he asked Mikey, after Mikey had sort of walked in on them, although they weren't doing anything but talking, Frankie standing between Gerard's knees, his head tilted back.

"He likes you," Mikey said.

"No, seriously," Gerard said. "It's Frank."

"He likes you," Mikey said again.

"Shut up."

Mikey folded his arms across his chest. "Maybe you should ask him," he said.

Gerard shook his head. He couldn't. He'd thought about it once or twice, just stopping with his shirt over his head and saying "so, what's this?" But all the possible answers he could think of to that question were things that he didn't really want to hear, so he never said it. Frank would let him know if he wanted to stop. Probably.

In the meantime, he went out of his way to not be too much trouble. He spent a lot of time with the road crew, especially Jamie and Rog, who were hilarious and sort of hot in a burly road guy kind of way. They drank a lot, but they were big enough to keep Gerard away from the booze, and once as sort of a prank, they pinned him down and gave him matching hickeys, one on each side of his neck. There was also a girl on the production side who had a crush on him named Annie. She was cute -- a little too Reese Witherspoon for him, but cute -- and liked to lean in when she talked to him and look up into his eyes, which sort of reminded him of Frank, actually, so he let her.

And he got to kiss Frank. He got to slide into Frank's bed in the hotel rooms and run his hands over Frank's bare skin and peel his clothes off (although not all his clothes, because that was something Gerard couldn't stand to give up, sex with Frank. If he had to stop making out with him, he supposed he could, but he didn't want to think about giving up anything else.) and kiss him.

It was like a secret universe. There was the real world, where he sang and rehearsed and did interviews and wrote songs with Ray and painted pictures and fucked around with video games and called his mother, and then there was the secret world where there was only him and Frank and Frank's hands and his mouth and the many colors of his tattooed skin. It was like a dream.

So when Frank started pulling away, retreating to his bunk and locking his hotel room door, Gerard thought maybe that it was just time for him to start waking up. It was better for the band if he wasn't mauling the guitar player, anyway. They still kissed on stage and once, briefly, off stage, on a night when the show had been fucking amazing and he'd grabbed Frankie and kissed him hard, feeling Frank's hands come up to cup his elbows before Gerard remembered where they were. It was okay. He hadn't expected it to last forever, whatever it was that he and Frank had going on, whatever it was. He knew it was too good to last, so he just tried to respect Frank's decision and just be open whenever Frank would come around and let himself be folded into Gerard's arms.

They were down to hardly ever, maybe once or twice a month, maybe less, when Frankie got sick. It was just a cold or something, nothing serious, the tour doc said, but Frank couldn't seem to shake it and spent most of the time that they weren't playing lying on the couch on the bus, curled up under a blanket to protect himself from the chill of the air conditioning. He seemed to be getting worse instead of better, though, and when he slipped on the stairs coming off the stage and fell back into Gerard's arms, Gerard called the doctor again.

"He needs to rest," the doctor said. "You guys keep these insane schedules, it's no wonder he's still sick."

"I'm fine," Frankie said.

"Call me if he starts vomiting," the doctor said.

"I'm not going to start vomiting," Frankie said, but he looked like he was about to puke all over the doctor's shoes.

"Great, thanks." Gerard waited until the doctor left and leaned in, putting his hands on Frank's knees. He seemed so small, huddled under the blanket. He drew his knees up and curled his arms around them.

"I'm not going to vomit," Frank said. "I'm fine."

"Uh huh," Gerard said. He moved to sit next to Frank on the couch, shifting until Frank's head was against his shoulder. Gerard stroked his hair back out of his closed eyes. "Don't be an ass," he murmured, his lips against Frankie's forehead. "You're not fine." Frankie sighed, and Gerard felt him relax, his body sagging against Gerard's. He was still awake -- Gerard could see the Frank's eyes were still open -- but there was something in his posture that felt like rest.

Mikey and Bob came in eventually, loud and boisterous like a couple of colts, bottles of water sloshing over in their hands. "Oh hey!" Mikey said. He leaned down and touched Frank's forehead. "How's he doing?"

"Eh. He's sick. He's okay."

Mikey slapped Frank's knees affectionately. "Feel better, little man."

Frank smiled faintly and pushed himself up off of Gerard's lap. "I'm going to get an aspirin," he murmured.

"You want me to?" Gerard asked, circling his fingers around Frank's wrist.

"No, no," Frank said, waving him off. He looked so tired as he wandered down the narrow hall, the blanket sliding off his shoulders, Gerard wanted to hug him. Instead, he sat on the couch and watched the narrow column of Frank's neck as he walked away.

Gerard went back to check on him once or twice, but Frank seemed to be sleeping, curled on his side, his face buried in his hands, so Gerard didn't wake him up until two or two thirty, when they had to decide whether or not they would be playing that night. "It's pretty clear we're not," he said to the others, but Mikey had insisted that Gerard go back there and find out for sure.

"He'll be pissed if we don't at least ask him," Mikey said, and Gerard thought he was probably right, even if it meant waking Frank up. He sat down beside Frank's open bunk and touched his hair. Frank liked it when people touched his hair.

"Frank," he whispered, hooking his chin over the edge of the bunk. "Frankie, wake up."

Frank's eye lashed fluttered and then he was awake, his clear pretty eyes close to Gerard's just as if they were kissing. "Hmm?" he said.

"We're going to cancel," Gerard said, pushing Frank's hair back. "You're sick. I'm going to tell Chris we're canceling."

"No, wait," Frank said. He closed his eyes again, and for a second Gerard thought he might have fallen back asleep, but then he realized that Frank was thinking, that he was trying to will himself into getting better so that he could play.

"No," Gerard said. "I'm calling Chris. We're canceling."

"But-" Frank said.

"No way," Gerard said. "You look like death."

Frank's smile was slow and small. "But I thought that was, like, our whole aesthetic?"

"Nice try, Mr. Dictionary," Gerard said. "But no."

"The kids will be pissed," Frank said.

Gerard shook his head. That was the problem with Frank, Gerard thought. He was too willing to do things for other people that he shouldn't do. Like playing a show when he was obviously deathly ill, or letting Gerard make out with him for months out of pity. Frank was too nice about some things. Gerard stroked his hair. "We'll make it up to them," Gerard said. "The rest of us will go sign things for, like, hours. It'll be fine. Get some sleep."

Frank opened his eyes. Their faces were so close together it was like Frank had one big eye. "I was sleeping before you woke me up," he said.

Gerard laughed. "Fuck off," he said. "I love you. Feel better."

"Mmm," Frank said, his eyes drifting closed. "I love you, too."

And even though he didn't mean it in the way Gerard wanted him to mean it, even though Frank meant "I love you" in the same affectionate and brotherly way as Gerard had when he'd said it, the words still made his stomach leap a little. He leaned over and kissed Frank's forehead, but it was okay, because Frank was already asleep.

The kids were disappointed, of course, and someone threw an almost full water bottle at the local DJ who gut stuck making the announcement, but it wasn't like they really had a choice -- Frank was practically dead -- so Gerard made an executive decision to not feel bad about it and resigned himself to a long afternoon of signing autographs. It was hot in the tent and by the time the fans got under it's protective awning they were wet with sweat and beaten into docility by the heat. Gerard signed things and drew little sketches and explained to more than one crying girl that he was really sorry, but Frank was sick -- there was nothing they could do.

Then Frank showed up.

Gerard heard his name first, like the song of distant birds, and then Frank was there, pale and sweaty and hanging tight to the swaying flap of the tent. "Frank?" Gerard said. Frank turned toward the sound of his name, but he didn't seem to see Gerard not three feet away from him. Frank blinked once, twice, and then he was down, fainted.

"Holy shit!" Gerard shouted, shoving his chair back. "Frank!"

Everyone was up and yelling, then, and someone, probably Bob, elbowed Gerard in the ribs and then he was next to Frank, touching his hot forehead, rubbing the smudges of dirt off Frank's face.

Security pushed the rest of the kids out of the tent and pulled down the flaps, so it was only them and Frank's prone body in the dark and breezeless heat.

"Where's the doctor?" Gerard asked.

"On his way," Mikey said, his hands firm on Gerard's shoulders.

"He's fine," Ray said, from Frank's other side. He was patting Frank's hand gently. "He just fainted, Gerard. He's fine."

"C'mon, let's get him back to the bus," Bob said. Gerard wanted to protest that they shouldn't move him, not until the doctor got there, but Bob was already gesturing to one of the security guards, and then Frankie was up, being carried out of the back of the tent, and there was nothing for Gerard to but follow.

The guard walked quickly across the parking lot, panting like a big dog, leaving Gerard to trot after him. Frank's red Converses knocked together with each step the guard took, and their helpless rhythm made Gerard wish, for the first time in a long time, that he was bigger, taller, more muscular, that it could be him carrying Frankie across the baking cement instead of some random security guard. He was the one who was supposed to take care of them, all of them, but especially Frank, who he'd held in the middle of the night in a random hotel room, his hand smoothing over Frank's bare shoulder as he slept.

Frank woke up as the security guard was setting him down, his eyes cloudy and red. Gerard knew he should wait, wanted to wait, but he couldn't stop himself. "What the fuck were you thinking?" he demanded. "Jesus, Frank. What the fuck?"

Frank blinked. His skin was pasty and white and he had dirt on one cheek and Gerard was yelling at him, but he couldn't help himself. "I thought there was time," Frank said, rubbing one hand over his mouth.

"It was, like, one hundred and fifty degrees out there," Gerard shouted. "You could have died!"

"Gerard," Bob said, but Gerard wasn't hearing reason, he was interested in what the fuck Frank had been thinking by going outside in the heat when he was already sick as a fucking dog.

"You could have!" Gerard shouted, unable to stop himself. "You totally could have."

Frank groped for his hand, and squeezed it. His palm was sweaty. "I'm okay, Gerard," he said. "I just wanted to surprise you."

"Yeah, well, next time surprise us by not passing out in the autograph tent," Ray said. He slapped Frank on the thigh. "Are you going to be okay?"

Frank nodded. He hadn't pulled his hand away the way he had been lately, so Gerard pulled it into his lap and ran his fingers over his tattooed knuckles and hoped that Frank wouldn't notice or wouldn't mind.

"We should get back out there," Bob said. "Let every one know he's okay."

"What are we going to do with the escape artist?" Mikey asked.

"We could tie him to the bed," Ray said.

"I'll watch him," Gerard said. "I'll stay and watch him." He was staring at Frank's hand, the black letters appearing and disappearing under his own thumb. Frank said something and everyone laughed, but Gerard didn't hear it.

Frank slept for a few minutes, dozing in and out, his hand twitching in Gerard's. "Sorry," he said when he woke up. "Sorry. I really thought I was better."

"You almost gave me a heart attack," Gerard said. "Sit up."

Frank sat up, and Gerard slid in under him, so that Frank could rest his head on Gerard's thigh. Gerard wanted to grab him up and hold him close, feel Frank's heart beating against his, but Frank had been distant, lately, and prickly, and he wasn't feeling well, so Gerard didn't. He settled instead for running his fingers over Frank's forehead, through his hair.

"You can go with them," Frank said suddenly. He sounded tired. "I'll be okay. I promise I'll stay here and not pass out again."

"I'm fine," Gerard said.

"I said I was sorry," Frank said, suddenly irritable. He shifted around, until he wasn't facing Gerard any more, his cheek on Gerard's knee.

"I heard you, motherfucker," Gerard said, poking Frank gently in the back, then rubbing the poke away. "Chill."

"I wish I wasn't sick," Frank said.

Again Gerard fought the impulse to clutch Frank to his chest and kiss his eyelids. Frank was maybe the first person besides Mikey that he loved so much it hurt. He wished he'd said something before Frank had gotten sick, before he'd kissed him, so there wouldn't be this distance between them now, when Frank actually needed someone. "You'll be okay," he said.

Frank sighed. "Sure, eventually," he said. "Eventually I'll be dead and then everything will be fine."

Gerard rubbed his arm. When Frank was sick he tended to get a little melodramatic. "Yep," he said. "Really, though, how are you feeling?"

Frank shrugged. "Okay, I guess."

They sat in peaceful silence for a couple of minutes, the only sound the whisper of Gerard's fingers on the fabric of Frank's shirt. "We haven't done this for a while," he murmured.

Frank snorted. "We hang out every day," he said. "Every day."

Gerard hesitated for a minute, his fingers resting on Frank's ribcage. He could feel the slow thud of Frank's heart. "Well, sort of," he said. "I mean. You've been busy or something."

"Yeah," Frank said. "Well. You've been pretty busy yourself, so. I've just been staying out of your way. You know. Giving you your space."

"Okay," Gerard said. "This is going to sound cheesy, but. It's. I'm not too busy for you."

Frank snorted.

"No, really," Gerard said. "I just thought, you know. That if you were ... busy with other stuff. That we could. Whatever."

Frank sat up quickly. His hand groped for Gerard's shoulder. "What," he said, blinking rapidly. He sucked in a breath. "What the fuck, Gerard?" he said softly.

"I just --"

"Are you saying that you like me?" Frank asked. "Now you're saying that you like me?"

Gerard didn't know what to say. He'd always liked Frank, since the first day they'd met, always wanted to kiss him and hold him and fuck him. That couldn't be a surprise to anyone. "Um, yeah," he said. "But everyone knows that."

"Since when?" Frank asked. He stabbed Gerard in the ribs with a finger. "Since when have I known that?"

Gerard blinked, astounded. "um. I don't know. Since I first kissed you at least. You didn't know that?"

"You said it was for the show!" Frank shouted. "You fucking liar! You said it was for the show!"

"Well, you didn't seem. I don't know. You didn't seem all that into it, so. I said that."

"You are an incredible fuck up," Frank said, which Gerard took to mean that Fran liked him too, that rank had always liked him.

"Fuck off," he said, meaning "you're awesome." "Do you want to make out or something to prove it?"

"I'm germy," Frank said. "And we have five shows next week."

"Good point," Gerard said. He lifted his arm and Frank relaxed into him, wrapping his arms around Gerard's waist. Gerard felt one of Frank's hands slip under his t-shirt and stroke the skin over his ribs. Gerard pressed his nose into Frank's hair, even though it was a little sweaty and dirty. There were worse things for a boyfriend to be.

The End.

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