Marker tattoos, musical ambitions, and the big fight.
We spent several happy hours sitting on the living room floor and listening to music on an old record player. Gerard drew all over my arm with a magic marker, tracing intricate patterns. His hand never faltered. I tried my best to hold still.
“Look, Frankie,” he said with a beaming smile. “You have all the tattoos you could ever need.”
I examined my arm. There were stars and swirls and a pumpkin with my birthday carved into it. The shadows were perfect, and he had a great sense of perspective–there was a beautiful dinosaur skull on my forearm that looked absolutely real. It took me a second to realize something was missing. “You forgot something,” I murmured. He paused.
“I drew everything I could think of. And there’s no more room on your arm, anyway.”
I took the marker from him and walked over to the mirror that hung in the hallway. He followed me and watched silently as I wrote his name on my neck, the marker tip tickling as it passed over my skin. When I finished, the letters were jagged, but it was there. I felt better.
He came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my shoulders. I raised my hands and wrapped them around his biceps. We stared at ourselves in the mirror for a minute before he twisted his head and planted a kiss just under my ear.
“Thank you,” he whispered. His lips just brushed my earlobe as he tightened his embrace, drawing me in closer. “Now do me.”
My heart skipped a half dozen beats. “Pardon?” I managed.
He laughed and held out his arm in front of my face, wrist facing inwards. “My tattoo, Frankie. Don’t be a pervert.”
I screwed up my face in concentration and wrote ‘Frankie’s bitch’ down the inside of his arm.
“Hey,” he protested, turning me around so I could see his pouting face.
“You’re saying it’s not true?” I giggled, moving in so close that his soft hair brushed my cheek. His eyes fixed on mine, bright against his porcelain-pale skin. He ran his tongue over his lips, grinning when I couldn’t look away.
“It’s true.” He tugged on my hair to tilt my head back and kissed me. I could feel the muscles in his jaw clenching as he worked his hot lips, biting me gently, apologizing with more sweet, open-mouthed kisses. The heat was rising inside me as I worked my hand under the collar of his t-shirt and felt the smooth hardness of muscle. He groaned, reluctantly parting our lips. “Not here,” he said huskily. “Downstairs.”
I pressed a kiss to his throat. He let out a hiss of pleasure. “What’s wrong with here?” I mumbled against his neck.
“There’s a bed downstairs.”
I slung my leg over his hip. He nodded in reply to my unasked question and picked me up, locking those toned arms around me as he carried me down the basement stairs. I let my head rest in the hollow of his neck and closed my eyes. He kicked open the door to his bedroom and deposited me carefully on his bed. I lay there, watching him strip off his shirt. When I started unbuttoning mine, he climbed on top of me and swatted my hands away.
“I want to undress you,” he whispered. I shivered at the heat in his eyes. In the darkness, I could just barely see his face. But I could feel his legs straddling my hips. His touch was like a live wire. He rocked back onto his heels, grinding our crotches together and maintaining a steady rhythm until our eyes adjusted. I could feel my blood rushing southward; my already tight jeans started cutting off the circulation. I whimpered as his skillful fingers removed my shirt and traced patterns over my skin. He settled himself between my legs, supporting his weight on his arms. Just then, my stomach rumbled embarrassingly loudly. I blushed when he started to laugh.
“God, Franks, it sounds like Mount Vesuvius in there.” He laid a hand on my stomach.
“I’m fine,” I said. I hadn’t even noticed I was hungry. He bent down and kissed me gently. I could feel his eyelashes fluttering against my skin. He smiled.
“I’m hungry, too. Come on, let’s have dinner.” He got up and offered me his hand.
Soon the little kitchen was filled with warmth. An old blues song was playing in the living room, taking away the creepy feeling of being home alone. Gerard was expertly chopping vegetables; a pot of mashed potatoes was simmering on the stove and the makings of a quiche were scattered across the kitchen island. I’d originally been helping, but after I almost chopped my hand off, I’d been relegated to chief conversationalist. I hopped up onto the counter. Gerard paused to give me a kiss as he passed by with a bowl of eggs.
“It’s going to turn into a fight, you know,” he said. I didn’t know how he could tell I’d been thinking about Jason again. “That’s the only way anything is gonna get solved. But I wouldn’t worry too much about the others. Ray used to be a little league champion, so he’s pretty scary with a baseball bat. Bob used to bite the heads off Barbie dolls. And Mikey’s tougher than he looks.” He smiled tightly. “So get all those sad thoughts out of your head, Frankenstein. Things will be different this time around.”
We were both still shirtless, and I watched the light catch the contours of his body. He was stunning. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening—I’d had dreams about the night he’d crept into Mikey’s room and slept next to me—and here we were, together, with the house all to ourselves. He caught my eyes and grinned.
“If my stomach wasn’t a raging maelstrom, I would love to get you into bed right now.”
I ruffled my hand through my hair and gave him a seductive wink. “Oh, definitely.”
He hummed along to the music, shaking his hips, until the food was done. I set the table and we dug into a crispy, golden quiche, a big salad and mashed potatoes. I paused, mid-forkful, with a sinking feeling.
“Gee, is there—”
He smiled warmly. “It’s all vegetarian, Frankie.”
“You remembered?” I asked, surprised.
“Of course. I’d never forget something important like that.” He looked at me from across the table for a second. “Hang on,” he murmured, rising and flipping off the lights. The room was plunged into near darkness. I watched as he dug his lighter out of his pocket and lit the candle that stood between us. He paused, his face illuminated in the soft glow. “Much better.”
“So you do have a romantic streak,” I mused. The flickering light spilled over his bare shoulders.
He smirked. “Baby, it’s a mile wide.”
We ate for a little bit in companionable silence. Gerard had a way of making me feel at ease that I could never quite explain. We didn’t have to talk constantly to keep it from getting awkward.
I was on my third helping before I remembered to breathe. “Holy shit, this is delicious. You’re an awesome cook, Gee.”
His cheeks turned a radiant pink. He actually stammered. “I—I, uh...thanks. I take it the whole self-deprecating act didn’t fool you.”
I grinned. “Not for a second. Also I really can’t picture you burning toast or...deflating a soufflé or something like that.”
He laughed. “God, I hope not. Mikey would’ve killed me years ago.” He fiddled with his lighter, flicking it on and off. “You don’t smoke, Frankie, do you?”
I shrugged. “On and off. I could never really pick up the habit. I’ve got a fake I.D., but no one in their right mind would believe I’m eighteen. I look like I’m twelve.”
“Really? Oh, I guess not everyone sees you with your shirt off all the time.” He pursed his lips. “You look just perfect to me.”
“Thanks, Gee.” I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. The weight in my chest was still there. I couldn’t look at him without that familiar ache, that happy nauseous feeling. And I thought he just might know it. There was something that crept up into his eyes when he thought I wasn’t looking.
Apparently he’d seen the stacks of guitar books in my room. After dinner, he brought me his father’s battered acoustic and watched, entranced, as I strummed a few chords for him.
“I could never play,” he whispered. “I really sucked.”
I usually got nervous when I had to play in front of people—that sick lurch of hitting a wrong note or fumbling made me feel like an idiot. Playing music leaves you open and vulnerable. It’s scary. But he was so adorable, lying on his stomach with his nose barely an inch away from the strings, staring at them intently. Whenever I stopped, he’d ask for more.
“You’re really good, Frankie. Guitar, I mean. You ever think about playing professionally?”
The clock above the TV read 10:03 now. We were half-asleep, watching a movie in his empty house. He was slumped against my chest. My arm was around his shoulders and he was playing with my fingers.
“I’ve thought about it, yeah.” I didn’t mention that it wasn’t really a possibility, that I’d probably get some minimum-wage job so I could take care of my mom. I didn’t want to leave her on her own and go off to be a starving musician.
“It’s just...I’ve had this idea for a while now. It won’t go away.” His voice was just a low mumble.
“What is it?” I asked. He turned his head and looked up at me, pressing his lips together like he was worried what I’d think.
“I—I want to make music,” he said hesitantly. “That’s what I wanna do. For the rest of my life, Frankie. They talk about college, but I know it’s not where I belong. And I don’t know if I’m any good at it, and I don’t really have anything written down—”
“You’re great, Gerard. I believe you’ll be good at anything you do.” I really meant it.
He smiled and snuggled closer. “Thanks, Frankie. And thanks for not laughing at me.”
“Why would I?” I pressed my face into his beautiful hair. “It’s what I want to do, too.”
We must’ve fallen asleep on the couch just then, because the next thing I knew it was three in the morning and I was lying in his bed with his strong arms wrapped around me and his quiet breathing in my ear. Silver moonlight was filtering through the slanted windows. Everything was calm and still.
We barely made it to school on time in the morning. It took me a while to remember it was Thursday; even longer to remember what class I had. Mikey and I chatted through English. He’d picked up some apple turnovers and coffee on the walk over. I almost died of happiness. Gerard was a toast-and-black-coffee kind of guy. I liked sugar, and lots of it.
Mikey gave me all the dirt on Casey. After ten minutes, I cut him off.
“Mikes, where are your glasses?” I asked in surprise.
He grinned hugely. “Gone. I had an optometrist’s appointment yesterday. I called mom and dad and now I have contacts.”
I clapped him on the shoulder. “God, Mikes, you’re gonna be fighting off the girls. You look really handsome.” I winked at him. “This wouldn’t have anything to do with your new lady love, would it?”
He blushed and tried to hide it with his coffee cup.
It’s been a pretty good day, I thought during Biology. Gerard was drawing an army of wiener dogs across the pages of his notebook. He screwed up his face in concentration, but his hand kept creeping up my leg. He laughed every time I swatted him away.
“Gee, there’s gonna be a quiz on this,” I hissed after the fifth time.
He waved dismissively. “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it. God, you’ve got nice legs.”
I bit the inside of my cheek. His touch sent shivers down my spine. I loved feeling the warmth of his hand through my jeans. Blood rushed to my cock; it throbbed painfully every time his fingers brushed up my thigh. I let my head sink down onto the desk, trying not to make a sound. But my breathing got more and more ragged, and he was merciless. Eventually I got up, muttered “bathroom”, and ran for the door.
Once I was safely locked in the last stall, I leaned my forehead against the cool, scratched metal and tried to slow down my heartbeat. My body was aching for release. I wanted him right now, was willing to accept whatever he would give me because I was so hungry for his touch and his attention. But I couldn’t let him jack me off in class, with everyone else there. There were tears of frustration in my eyes. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how I felt about him—I was way too certain that I didn’t want to spend a day without him, ever. I’d had a couple of boyfriends before. I had never felt like this about any of them.
“This sucks,” I whispered to no one. “What the hell am I supposed to do?”
Normally I would’ve spilled my guts to my mom, but I’d never actually told her I was gay. There was some part of me that still believed she wouldn’t understand. We were a family of two, and I couldn’t afford to screw it up.
Just keep it a secret for a little while longer. I had no other choice.
I went back to class and stopped in the doorway. A tall, freakishly muscular boy was leaning across the aisle and talking to Gerard. Gee caught sight of me and beckoned me over, seemingly at ease. I swallowed hard.
“Ah, Frank. May I introduce you to—”
The boy smiled with crooked teeth. He looked like his hobby was beating up old ladies. “Brendan.”
He paused, confused. “No, Brendan. With an ‘e’.”
“That’s what I said.” Gerard smiled disarmingly. “Brandon.”
“Now you know who to go to if you need illegal steroids,” I muttered to him. He nodded, trying to suppress his laughter. His eyes were glittering.
“Anyway, Brandon here hangs with a certain ne’er-do-well…”
“What’s that?” Brendan asked. He honestly didn’t know.
“You know, Jason? Big guy, likes to...hit me?” I offered.
“And...?” Gerard motioned to him impatiently. “Remember your message?”
“There’s gonna be a fight in the parking lot after school,” Brendan recited dutifully. “Bring whoever’s got a deathwish, because you’re all gonna die. And if you chicken out...” He drew a finger menacingly across his throat.
Gerard gave him a smile that would’ve scared Freddy Krueger shitless. “Oh, we wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
This is it. I’m gonna die in a high school parking lot, I thought as we walked across the tarmac. I’m Frank Iero, I’m sixteen years old and I’m about to be beaten to death by a gang of testosterone-fueled morons. What a way to go.
Gerard was whistling—actually whistling—beside me. He had his hands in his pockets and he was gazing up at the sky, enjoying the sun on his skin. The more dangerous things were, the happier he got. Meanwhile, I was quaking in my high tops. I’m no coward, but going up against these odds just seemed crazy. There was no way the five of us could take down Jason.
I fell back to walk with Ray and Mikey. Ray was twirling an aluminum baseball bat. Mikey was wrapping tape around his knuckles. I elbowed him to get him to look at Gerard, who was practically skipping. Mikey just laughed.
“He doesn’t even look scared,” I muttered.
He raised his eyebrows. The light caught his fading black eye. “Does Gerard ever look scared?”
Bob was carrying a rolled-up magazine. He looked positively murderous.
“Nice choice of weapon.”
“I’m gonna beat their hate mail-sending asses. I figured a slow death would be more satisfying.”
I was abruptly glad Bob was fighting for us. “Good idea,” I said weakly.
“In Fair Haven, we fight like we play football,” Gerard said for my benefit as we neared the edge of the lot. “There’s a face-off first. We spit and swear and trade insults, and establish the terms of the fight. It’s all very civilized. Feel free to grab your crotch and use racial epithets. I absolve you all in advance.” He stopped and pulled a hockey mask out of his jacket. I watched him put it on. He was grinning as he turned to look at me. I patted his cheek.
“Wouldn’t want to hurt your pretty face.”
He smirked. “I intend to headbutt a lot of people.”
We reached the far corner of the lot, where no one ever parked. Leaves blew across the asphalt. We lined up, ready for battle. Gerard cocked his hip and checked his watch.
“They’re late,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Assholes.”
“If getting stood up by a date is an insult,” Ray murmured, “then getting stood up by your enemies is almost a compliment.”
Mikey sighed. “After this, can we get ice cream?”
“If you kick some ass, mini-Way, I’ll buy you a double scoop.” Bob smiled.
“Go for the jugular, my darling Frankie,” Gerard whispered to me as Jason and the others became visible, walking slowly towards us. A crowd was beginning to gather a safe distance away. “If that fails, kick ‘em in the nuts. Hey,” he said breezily as Jason, Brendan and two others squared off in front of us. Jason was as ugly as ever. I idly wondered how it was possible that he and Casey were related.
“Forgive me if I’m wrong, fellas,” Mikey drawled, “but it looks like you’re one member short.”
“Derrick’s out sick today,” Jason said through clenched teeth.
“Kid got lucky,” Gerard remarked.
“We thought for sure you’d run away with your tails between your legs.”
“Naïveté isn’t becoming on someone your size,” Gerard said. “You knew we’d come. State your terms.”
“We win, you get your sad clown faces smashed in. You confess to stealing from the vending machines and take our detention for us. We get to give you a haircut.”
“Good luck.” I rolled my eyes. “Even if we were bald, we’d still be better-looking than you ugly spuds.”
Gerard laughed and shook his jet-black hair out of his face. “I’ve been meaning to take care of this mess for a while now. You’d just be saving me twenty bucks.”
“Did they really just call us sad clowns?” Ray asked.
“State your terms,” Jason growled. He was starting to remind me of the Wolfman.
“If we win, you take all our detentions for this semester. You own up to everything we do, and you never give us any shit again, or so help me god, I will hunt you down in the dead of night with a shotgun. You will apologize to Frank and to my brother for hitting them.”
Jason leered. “Who’s Frank?”
“I’m Frank Iero, bitch.”
Gerard put his arms around me and Mikey. “This is my Frankie, and this is my brother Mikey. He fucks your sister, so don’t forget about him. If you touch them, I will cut you open and turn you inside out.” His voice was so cheerful that he seemed completely unhinged. “Those are the terms.” He passed his brother the brass knuckles and pushed up the sleeves of his jacket, revealing last night’s half-faded tattoo.
Jason appeared to be slobbering. “Let’s go, lover boy.”
“Wait.” Gee held up two fingers disdainfully as he took off his hockey mask. I watched numbly as he walked over to me, taking his sweet time. He stared at me for a second before he tilted my head back and kissed me passionately. His tongue invaded my mouth, and he smiled when he made me moan. The crowd was cheering, but I could barely hear it. “See you on the other side,” he whispered. I nodded. My heart was hammering in my chest. I believed in my friends, and I knew that whatever happened, we would get through this.
Someone yelled, and we started. I was barely aware of who I was punching, but I caught flashes of Ray and Gerard going to work on Jason, sunlight gleaming off of a baseball bat. Mikey executed a perfect karate kick that sent a guy twice his size crashing to the ground. Bob was everywhere, ducking punches and knocking teeth out and just generally kicking ass. The fight was over so fast I barely had time to register what happened. Except there was a guy on the ground in front of me with a bloody face, and I remembered him from my first day. I stood there dazedly as the others whooped and hollered and I realized we’d won.
Gerard grabbed me and did a happy victory dance. There were people all around us, laughing and cheering, and I didn’t recognize any of them. Jason was reduced to a broken, battered heap on the ground. Adrenaline was still surging through me.
“We won!” Gerard yelled and kissed me. I ran my tongue over his lip, tasting coppery blood mixed in with his normal flavor. Everything was triumphant and the world was exploding in gold.
“Come on,” Ray said, tugging us towards a beat-up red sedan. Bob had already called shotgun.
“Ice cream!” Mikey screamed as he raced past us. We all piled in and Ray gunned the engine and sent us racing out of the parking lot and down the street. Gerard and I shared kiss after long, slow-burning kiss in the backseat, fumbling for contact, happy to be alive.
When we got to the ice cream store, Mikey and Bob ran in right away. “There’s no parking,” Ray complained. “I’ve gotta stay with the car. Gee, you know my favorite flavor.”
“Of course. My treat.”
Poor Ray looked so sad that I told him I’d sit with him and we could listen to the radio. I climbed out of the back and sat in the passenger seat. Gerard leaned in the window on my side. His hair was all messy and tangled, and there was a gash on his cheek.
“What flavor, Frankie? Please don’t say pistachio.”
I smiled. “Cookies and cream, no contest.”
“All right. I’ll try to keep Mikey from eating the whole store. Oh. And Frank?” he paused, his head halfway out of the window.
“I’m madly in love with you.” His face split in a wicked grin. “Back in a flash!” He sprinted across the sidewalk and into the store. I just sat there wearing a smile so big I thought my face might burst.
“Shit,” I said delightedly. Ray laughed as he flipped through radio stations. Aerosmith filled the car, shaking the suspension. He leaned back contentedly.
“I think he really means it. I mean, as soon as he saw you he was all over you like bread on butter. He wouldn’t stop touching you. I’ve never seen him like this over a guy before.”
I looked out at the peaceful suburban street. The sun was shining, and birds were singing in the maple trees that lined the road. “You know him well, huh?”
“It feels like forever,” he said. “I mean, I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been like if he hadn’t come along. I’d probably be dead. People come and go, but we always stick together. I’m so glad he’s finally found someone as special as you to be with.”
I tried to smile. This was rapidly turning into the best day ever. I shut my eyes as a beautiful, chiming guitar lick surged from the speakers.
“Oh, I love this part,” I said dreamily, before I could help myself.
“You play guitar?” he asked. I nodded. He laughed and fist-bumped me. “Me too, man! We should play together sometime.”
“Sure,” I stammered, flattered. Bob, Mikey and Gerard came out of the store, double-fisting ice cream cones. They all climbed into the car and we sat there for a while, eating. The ice cream was delicious. Aside from a few cuts and bruises, none of us were seriously hurt. We were all buzzed and laughing as we drove off into the Jersey sunset with the windows rolled down and the breeze playing through our hair.
Things are really taking off! I’m so happy to get this out of my head, this chapter’s been buzzing around for a while now. I’ve been listening to “Sweetest Kill” by Broken Social Scene and Death Cab for Cutie’s cover of “All Is Full of Love”, which seem to fit this chapter pretty well, but let me know if you’ve got something better ;) A good fight song would be much appreciated. It’s hard to write gory violence if you’re listening to mellow music. How do you guys feel about dream sequences? Too disturbing? Nothing too Freudian and weird, I promise. Also it might be interesting to see into Gee’s head...Ah well, these are just ideas I’m toying with. Please, darlings, remember to rate (the color green makes fanfiction writers very happy). I love you all. Xo, b_b