He lifted his face, flicking the hair out of his eyes, and sent a grateful glance over to Mikey.
Yeah, there was nothing fair about the situation. Would Gerard ever go out and buy Alicia something behind Mikey's back? No. He didn't even give her birthday presents, which might add to the long list she had compiled about why she hates him so much. But, as much as he wanted to stamp across the room, kick Mikey's shins a few times, and pout the rest of the day, he wasn't giving his brother the satisfaction of knowing he was annoyed. That was something Gerard wanted to avoid at all costs.
Worse of all, it was his own fault. After weeks of knowing wiL, living with him, how could he not have asked the kid whether he played an instrument? It was like a fucking pickup line in Jersey, embedded into every boy and girl at birth to seek out others who played instruments and were soulful and could get them out of the swallor their lives were, into the limelight.
Okay, so he failed at being a husband. Epically.
He left his spot leaning on the wall, intending to go into the kitchen and just wallow in his own self-pity for a few precious moments before anyone noticed he was gone. It was a long-played scene, he was always doing this as a kid. It was just easier to think when he was alone. He was so paranoid that when he was thinking about something serious, people would just know, they would pluck the thought right out of his head and make fun of him for it. So he would leave the room, usually going down into his bedroom and brooding in the dark, with a blanket over the tiny window and all the lights off. But he neither had the time or the patience to dig out his blanket from his closet and fix his room just the way he liked it for thinking, so he ventured into the kitchen, holding back a groan when he saw his mom leaning against the counter with a mug of tea in one hand.
She smiled at him warily, the sort of smile that Mikey gave when he was only at a half-emotion, and he was all too aware why his mother wasn't very happy with him right now. He gulped, stuffing his hands into his pockets, not really knowing why he suddenly felt so guilty. Sure, he was imagining doing horrible things to his brother with a branding iron, but that was normal. That was brotherly shit. This? The pounding in his stomach that felt like one of his friends had dared him to eat a frog whole was causing him to wince.
"Hey, honey," his mom greeted him, raising her mug as some sort of weird stand in for something affectionate. "Why aren't you up there with your brother?" It seemed like she was choosing her words carefully, gauging Gerard's reaction like he was going to go off on her for not mentioning wiL.
Gerard put on a smile and shrugged, hopping onto the counter and laying his head on her shoulder. "You know me, the anti-social one." His mom's hair tickled his neck when he shrugged again, and it was getting quite itchy, so he sat back up. He started kicking his shoes against the counter.
There were unasked questions swirling around their ankles, crawling up their legs and heading for their mouths. Gerard wanted to know why his mom didn't really seem to like wiL. She didn't come out and say it--which was a good sign, because his mom didn't sugar-coat anything, if she didn't like someone, she told them--but she still seemed to regard him with suspicion.
"So..." he sighed. "You don't like wiL."
The mug, on its way up to her mouth, stopped and a little of the liquid sloshed over the side. "What? Gerard, I adore wiL," she said in a way that might have been sarcastic. Gerard didn't get some people's sarcasm. They always made it sound too real, and he already had enough trouble separating the real from the fabricated.
"That's not--are you sure? You seemed really mad when you first found out. Like, even madder than me. And I was pretty fuckin.." shit, he forgot to edit himself, because, 31 or not, this was still his mom. He glanced sheepishly up at her frown and crossed arms, muttering a little apology. "I wasn't happy. Like. You know, 'member that time that Mikes snuck into my room and cut my hair? And I tried to throw him off of the roof? Well, if he didn't live in an apartment, I would have when he told me what he did. It sucked. But..." He looked up at the lights in the ceiling and made a face at them. "It doesn't suck anymore...um, is that weird? Because I'm not gay or anything," he picked up his mom's abandoned mug and took a little sip, wincing at the taste. He wasn't very big on tea, but he was suddenly aware of his mouth feeling somewhat like the desert after a nuclear war. And a drought.
"But sweetie, you do know that you're not actually married to him, right? He's not your responsibility."
He didn't let his shock show--much, just a little quirk of his eyebrows and his bottom lip jutting out a bit more than usual, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Really? How do you know?"
"You weren't present for the signing of the marriage license. Now, I know you may think that Mikey signed it for you, but--that's not how it works. You need proof of I.D., birth certificates, the works. You're not married to him. He can go back to Italy."
"France," Gerard corrected her before letting it sink in. It was...quite a shock. He could send wiL back, but really? They weren't married? Gerard suffered for weeks over nothing?
"When are you going to tell him?" his mother asked, pushing herself off of the counter and taking the now-empty mug over to the sink. Gerard followed, taking the mug out of her hands and running it under the water himself. She gave him an incredulous look--Gerard? doing the dishes? What the hell?
"Tell him what?"
"That you're sending him back."
Gerard's mind was a blank for a total of two seconds before a red light went off in his head. Sending wiL away? He never fucking agreed to that, he didn't want him to go, to be completely honest. His house sucked without wiL there, his bed was cold and itchy, he couldn't make breakfast worth a shit, and wiL made him feel loved when no one else would give him the time of the day. Why the hell would he ever let him get away?
"I'm not sending him away. I want him to stay." Gerard delved into the sudsy water and rinsed off a big plate that had some kind of green sauce on it.
"He's not legal."
Gerard scrubbed his cheek on his sleeve and shrugged. "I'll get him a Green Card." That was easy, right? There had to be an easy way to keep wiL around.
"It's not easy. He'll have to take a test, and his English isn't all that good, and you'll have to provide a reason why he should be here, and--"
Before his mother could round off her list with a thousand other reasons why wiL shouldn't be here--he knew she didn't like him, knew it--he sighed loudly and banged the plate down on the counter top, efficiently shutting her up. "Fine," he snapped, wiping his hands off on the duck-print towel that was laying on the counter. "I'll fucking marry him, alright? Then he can stay." His tongue darted out to fill the dry creases in his lips. "Why the fuck don't you like him anyway?"
He was filled with indignant anger towards his mom, because, at this point, insulting wiL was like insulting him. Whatever flaw she could see in wiL that Gerard couldn't, Gerard was surely ten times worse. He couldn't be bubbly and sweet like wiL, he was always so fucking selfish, he cussed all the time, he was a pretty shitty son, a pretty shitty brother, and a pretty shitty whatever-he-was-to-wiL.
"He--he's amazing, you know. I don't know how you could come up with a reason not to love him; everyone else does. Mikey does, Alicia does, I do, I'm sure that if he met any of my friends, they would too..."
"Gerard..." He didn't turn around to see her face, didn't need to because he could imagine it all in her sigh. The deep outpouring of breath was akin to the wrinkles in her forehead rising mountainous, the little snort at the end was one hand coming up to hide her face and her other hanging limply onto her hip. "I like him, okay, that's not what I meant. He's fine, okay? He makes you happy."
"He does," Gerard agreed, saying nothing more. Let her continue if she must.
"But this is going to destroy your life. Think...baby, I know we don't talk about your popularity much, but you are famous, like it or not, and what do you think people will start to say about you when they find out that you have husband? The backlash from Mikey's marriage was hard enough on the family. Do you really want to put us through this as well? Knowing how much worse it's going to be?"
"We don't have to announce it, sheesh. We can keep it secret, okay? No one will have to know unless I tell them." But he knew it was undoubtedly going to leak out anyway. With Mikey and Alicia always in the 'scene', they are bound to tell someone, as a joke or as a told-you-so, because he was about 80% sure there was a bet going around about his sexuality. And sure, they could hide out in Maine for as long as their break lasts, but what about when the band starts recording again? He couldn't think of leaving wiL behind at their house for months at a time.
To his mother's silence, he said, "And besides, you're supposed to love me, you're supposed to accept whatever makes me happy and not always focus on the negative bits. So...so let's say I marry wiL, and people find out? Nobody's going to be surprised, are they? Mikey says all the time that I'm gay, and all the fans think I am, and--I can just pretend to be, okay?" Everything he said was starting to come out as questions because, no, he had no fucking clue how it was going to be if that ever happened.
"Shut up, I'm not gay." He blushed down to his belt and hid his face. Really, he wasn't gay. He didn't want to jump Frankie's bones. He wasn't in love with Bert, and if he had ever had buttsex, he didn't remember it. Ignoring the fact that the last possibility could be true--consequences of spending his whole Warped experience fucked up, sigh--he told himself, again, that he was not gay.
"Right. You're just in love and want to marry a boy."
"...I'm not in love with him, I just love him. Mikey does too. Go pressure him into being gay, I know you've always wanted a fruity son. And we can get rid of Alicia too. Win-win situation." He reached into the soapy water and reached around on the bottom of the metal sink until he found the plug.
He winced at Alicia's voice, hunching his shoulders up and worrying about how much of their conversation he had heard. "Alicia," he mumbled with his back still turned to her. It gave her the chance to stab him in the back, but Gerard figured that was a pretty boss way to die.
"You will not pressure my husband into turning gay. He can be bi, but that's as far as I'm swinging." The funny thing is, he was pretty sure she was addressing his mom.
How the hell could his mom like Alicia better than wiL? Just--how?
"Alicia, dear, calm down. Gerard was just defending his sexuality."
He really hated how they talked like he wasn't glaring at them and listening to every word.
"What? There's nothing wrong with being gay."
Really, really hated it.
"He's straight, sweetheart..."
At Alicia's snort, he decided that if he didn't get out of the kitchen, which had suddenly become the evil den of estrogen, that he was going to go Jack Nicholson on their asses. Yeah, his mom too.
Nah, not his mom. But Alicia. Okay, he didn't hit girls. Or boys. Dammit, he needed to get a life.
He jacked a popsicle from the freezer--cherry, because he simply did not eat purple, and the other flavors were too icky--and stomped upstairs, crumpling the wrapper from the popsicle and stuffing it into his pocket on the way. The door to Mikey's room was standing slightly ajar and he could hear faint rings and deeper thrums when he stood outside, leaning in the doorway.
When he pushed open the door and saw how happy wiL looked, putting all of his concentration into playing and matching the beat Mikey was laying out for him on his unplugged bass, he couldn't be annoyed that he wasn't the reason wiL was happy. As long as he was happy, it didn't matter.
He was content to lean on the wall and watch, study the way wiL's hair flopped into his eyes and covered everything but his nose peeking out of the dark curtain, the way his fingers just knew where to go (the way Gerard had never seemed to be able to master), the way when he lifted his head up his smile was sure and uninhibited, even the way Mikey was smiling freely like he never did when he knew people were watching. He didn't even notice what song they were playing until the chorus came and then--yeah, he knew that chorus, fucking wrote that chorus, found himself humming along with it.
"Hm hm worst hm hm hm hummm....hm hm better off this way...."
There were mixed feelings about wiL learning this song. He was proud that wiL could play--he wasn't up to Toro's capacity, but, who is--but this song? Their song? He didn't even want wiL knowing about My Chemical Romance. To stop himself from belting out the next verse, he stuffed the popsicle into his mouth and melted into cherry bliss.
Popsicles were as good as sex. He wasn't even exaggerating. Okay, a little bit, but what's a good analogy without a hyperbole? Anyway, they were totally better than sex, and he slumped to the floor, leaning his head up against the wall, closed his eyes, and just fucking melted into a little puddle. When he opened his eyes up again, wiL's face was inches from his own and he was pouting. Behind him, the guitar laid on the bed on its front, forgotten in favor of Gerard.
"Hey," Gerard greeted, stretching out his legs so wiL could fit in between them. He fell into Gerard's chest, curling his fingers into his shirt and kissing his chin.
"I want one..." WiL pouted up at the popsicle in Gerard's mouth, tugging a little on Gerard's shirt and whimpering. His big dark eyes blinked dolefully up at Gerard until he sighed and popped the treat out of his mouth. WiL grabbed for it and bit off the top of it, grinning blissfully and curling up fully in Gerard's embrace, tucking his knees up to his chest.
Gerard reached out to tuck wiL's hair behind his ears, pressing saccharine, open-mouthed kisses along his hairline until the popsicle he'd taken back started to drip onto his fingers and coat them with sticky red gluck. He tilted the popsicle on it's side and slurped up the liquid quickly.
"Mmm, Gerard?" wiL's voice came floating out of Gerard's chest, so close to his heart that he wondered if wiL could feel what he was feeling now, a sense of--nostalgia for something he never really had. He didn't have high school relationships, and all of his adult life was spent getting with the entirely wrong people, but wiL felt like their home now, new but essential.
"Yeah?" he asked, picking at the ends of wiL's hair and ignoring the fact that his little brother was still in the room because he hadn't said anything, he didn't seem to be bothered with their little display of affection. He nosed into the top of wiL's head and sighed, waiting for him to speak.
"Love you," he breathed out, the words sounding like home now too, because it wasn't like they meant anything other than 'I'm really glad you're here'.
And Gerard was glad wiL was here too, so, quietly, he muttered it back where Mikey couldn't hear, clutching wiL's body closer to his own because he really was fucking glad he was here. He didn't know what would happen if he didn't have wiL living with him now. His life would be blank, just like it was before the band.
"Yeah, I love you too."
"You're fucked," Mikey told his brother with a smile. And yeah, he was right, Gerard was completely and utterly fucked, his world might as well be crashing down around his ears, but he couldn't help smiling back, his whole face lighting up with the silly little grin. He chuckled and nodded.
"I'm fucked," he agreed.
They were outside on what had started out as a cigarette break but had morphed into them climbing up onto the roof and cracking jokes at one another. Gerard was content to lean on Mikey and stare at the sun as it was at half-mast. It wasn't as pretty here as it was at home, but it was...okay. It was yellow, bursting with energy and pain, stinging Gerard's eyes when he tried to look. The sky around was orange, like construction signs.
He dug his big vogue sunglasses out of his hoodie pocket and slipped them onto his face. They made him look like a fucking rockstar, but he thought he could pull it off. Sort of. Until Mikey started singing, "I wear my sunglasses at night".
"Shut up, asswipe. The sun is burning my eyes."
"Stop looking at it, fuckwad." Mikey nudged Gerard with his elbow and laughed. "You know, I'm actually relieved that you have someone to look out for you now. You're so dumb. Maybe wiL can keep you alive until the next tour."
And he had to bring it up.
Gerard turned his mouth into Mikey's coat and sighed, biting into the material. "When do you think that will be?" he asked around a mouthful of fabric. Because he seriously needed to introduce wiL to Frank and Ray and Bob and all the others. Oh god, and Brian. He wasn't going to be happy. He specifically told Gerard not to get spastically married while they were on break.
He felt Mikey shrug and the coat slide out from between his teeth. "After we make our new record, Gerard. As soon as you start writing again. As soon as Frankie gets done with Leathermouth." He sighed. "I don't know, Gerard. When...when things settle down."
"Are you losing faith, Michael?" Gerard didn't even mean it as a joke. If he had--maybe his heart wouldn't be jumping. Maybe he wouldn't suddenly feel so much shittier than he already did, than this day had already seemed to dump on him from the moment he woke up. And Mikey knew that, because he threaded his fingers through Gerard's hair and sighed again. This was real, they were really going to talk about this? Because Gerard hadn't really thought about it, he just assumed that when it stopped he would know, they would all know. It would just crack through their minds like a connected telepathic bolt and then that was the end. That hadn't come yet, so...they were still okay?
"Things are different now. We're grown up. Most of us are married. How long do you think we can stay like this? Already, people are starting to think of us as old news, and--I mean, if we're all tired, and no one even wants us back, what's the point?"
Gerard was about to reply, but Mikey held up his hand. "How many kids are we really saving anymore? All the good ones came a long time ago. Now, we're just a punch line. Or, like, a discussion on Youtube. I hate this, you know? I love to tour, but I always miss my family when we're gone."
Gerard picked his head up off of Mikey's shoulder and nodded. He did know, he didn't want to leave wiL behind, however far in the future that was going to be, but-- "I don't like to stand still."
He was confused at Mikey's smile, because weren't they just talking about sad topics, and since when did Mikey smile anyway? Mikey leaned in and pressed a kiss to his cheek.
"I love ya, Gerard."
"I love you too..." He wiped at his cheek. "But I told you I'm not gay."
Mikey smiled at him with hooded eyes, and he didn't even have to mention wiL.
"We're...we're not really married, you know. We never were," Gerard said softly, looking back out into the sky. He half-hoped that Mikey would ask him about it, ask what the hell he was going to do about this and give him some doubts. But he already knew. It was solidified. And fuck if that wasn't scary.
Gerard was committing himself now. On his own, he had a chance to get out, but no. No, wiL needed him, and he sort-of needed wiL, and this was going to work.
It took some clever thinking, but Gerard finally got Alicia to stop hugging wiL to death by threatening to put up pictures of her kissing wiL and letting her deal with the backlash of all the Mikey-lovers who just knew she was going to cheat on him. She was a bitch when she wanted to be, but even she couldn't hold up to the ranting power of thousands of little girls. So wiL and Gerard made it into Gerard's car eventually, and Gerard started it up and let wiL pick the radio station.
An hour into the trip, wiL was leaning with his cheek pressed up against the window, the half of his face that Gerard could see graced with eyes closed and a serene expression that he hadn't seen the whole time that they were in New Jersey. WiL really hadn't slept much there. Because of him, of course, because he was so fucking selfish he couldn't let the kid sleep, but he thought it had to do with something else entirely. He was always waking up at odd hours at home and it never bothered wiL.
Another glance over in the passenger seat showed that wiL was at least partially awake. His head lolled on the headrest, one eye squeezed tight against the sun and the other half-open and shining underneath dark eyelashes, one of his arms tucked behind the seat and the other laying outstretched on the seat. A suspender hooked into his pants on the left was coming undone and his shirt had pulled itself free from where he'd tucked in into his pants, and he was looking disheveled but content.
It was Jersey. He didn't like New Jersey, that was all.
"Y'okay?" Gerard felt the need to ask, sliding his free hand over the seat until it rested over wiL's.
His answer came out as a garbled mess that Gerard only just barely understood. "Je manque notre maison." It just confirmed what he already knew. What he felt as well.
"I know. We're almost home, though."
It shouldn't have been weird. When he climbed into bed later on that night, curling his arms around his pillow instead of wiL, he knew that he needed to get over himself and just act normal, for wiL's sake. But it did bother him, it made things just a little bit different.
WiL wasn't his, not now, wasn't ever, and touching was weird. He couldn't sidle up to wiL and tug him into his chest and press his nose into his hair. It seemed invasive all of a sudden, sort of presumptuous. What made all of this okay for wiL? What if he didn't want this? He'd acted sweetly enough, but that's how he was trained to act, right? And it didn't mean that wiL really wanted Gerard cuddling up to him all the time like he'd suddenly taken to doing, acting like wiL was his own personal teddy bear.
WiL rolled over in place on his own side of the bed--they had sides. No, Gerard still wasn't over freaking out about all of the sharing--and stared into the darkness where Gerard would be. Where he knew he would be because the bed dipped that way, so he couldn't trick himself into thinking that Gerard was just downstairs and not cowering at the edge of the bed or whatever wiL really was thinking.
A hand curled itself around Gerard's waist and tugged a little, drawing him closer to the center of the bed. "Gera-rrrrd..." wiL groaned, and he Gerard could just imagine the pretty, wet pout that must be there. "C'mere..." he drawled in a whisper slurred with sleep, tugging and groaning until the two of them were finally resting chest-to-chest.
Gerard could only imagine how wiL looked, whether his expression would be annoyed or sleepy or just I-don't-care. Whether he was smiling now that he finally got Gerard where he wanted him, with his arms locked around him in a vice and his face smushed into his neck.
Sometimes, Gerard liked the dark better. His own face was too expressive, and his sensors to dull to pick up on other's expressions, so he was always unfairly disadvantaged in conversations. When he bit his lip, it didn't mean a thousand things, no one could write a book on the many ways his eyebrows eloquated his emotions, he was very simple and open, and no one else was like that. They tended to be guarded and selfish with their expressions.
He was sort of glad that he couldn't see wiL's face when their lips slid across each other's.