They’ve tied him to the flagpole, arms bound behind his back. He’s soaked through, his hair plastered to his face, his nose bleeding. But as Gerard approaches, he looks up and attempts to smile.
"Fuck you, rain!" he yells, flipping off the sky as if to add emphasis to his already emphatic statement.
Beside him, Frank giggles quietly. "I don't think that's gonna help, Gee," he says.
Gerard turns to him, his annoyed expression dissolving slowly until he's grinning at his best friend. "Probably not," he says, shrugging. "But it was a good way to release the anger I felt at being rained on while waiting for my fucking brother."
"Yeah, where the fuck is he?" Frank wonders. "It's been fifteen minutes. Mikey never takes fifteen minutes to get out of school, especially not on a Friday."
As he says this, the door to the school swings open. The two boys look up from across the courtyard, wondering if Mikey's finally coming.
A group of jocks swagger out, laughing and looking all full of themselves, the way they always do. Frank sighs and looks down at the ground, therefore missing the worried expression that flashes briefly across Gerard's face. He hopes the reason they're looking so smug isn't because they've done something to Mikey. It's happened before.
"You know what? I'm gonna go look for him," he decides. "Coming?"
"Nah, I'll stay here. I like the rain."
Gerard snorts and walks back into the school. He checks Mikey's locker, the nurse's office, the bathrooms and the library, but doesn't find his brother. Finally, he checks the detention room. He peers through the window in the door and there he is, sitting in the second row. Gerard groans. Fuck. He'd just waited outside for fifteen minutes in the rain for no reason. And left Frank waiting an additional fifteen minutes.
He hurries back out, hoping Frank won't be mad at him for taking so long. But when he gets to where he left him, he's not there.
Gerard stands there in confusion. It's not like Frank's gotten tired of waiting and gone home, because he's sleeping over at Gerard's house tonight.
He has a very bad feeling, even before he remembers that there'd been that group of jocks still hanging around when he'd gone inside. And then he sees Frank's stuff lying on the ground a few feet away and his eyes widen. "Shit!" he hisses, looking around frantically, his feet starting forward without him really realizing. He stumbles towards the field, the only place on school grounds where the jocks could beat you up safely without sounds of pain being overheard by staff members. Gerard knew this from his experience in being the one making the sounds.
Yet Frank is nowhere in sight on the field either. Although... there is the rain. If Frank's on the ground, Gerard realizes he's not going to see him.
"Frank?!" he yells, hoping for a response. He doesn't get one. "FRANKIE?!"
That's when the tears start, mixing with the rain on his face. It's bad enough that he's pretty sure that Frank is lying, bleeding and unconscious, on the ground somewhere, but it's twice as bad when mixed with the feeling that it's his own fault; the feeling that he should have made Frank come with him when he saw the jocks, that he shouldn't have left him alone.
"FRANK!" he screams one more time, and then, listening intently over the rain, he finally hears an answering call of "Gerard?!"
It's faint and he can barely hear over the downpour, but he knows which direction it's coming from- the very end of the field, where the flagpole stands.
His heart lurching, he runs as fast as he can, slipping and sliding in the mud. When he gets close enough, it becomes painfully obvious what's happened.
They've tied him to the flagpole, arms bound behind his back. He's soaked through and covered in mud, his hair plastered to his face, his nose bleeding. But as Gerard approaches, he looks up and attempts to smile.
Gerard prays Frank can't tell through the rain that he's crying.
Without a word, he starts fumbling with the rope, his trembling hands making it difficult to untie the knots. But they eventually fall off and Frank steps away from the pole with shaky legs, rubbing at his wrists where the rope had dug in.
"Thanks," he says faintly, obviously trying so hard not to cry, and Gerard wants to hug him, to hold on to him, but he doesn't, not at first, because there's an overwhelming feeling in his chest that if he hugs him now, he will never be able to let him go.
But then Frank frowns, concern etched on his face, and asks, "Gee? Gee, why are you crying?" and Gerard decides to ignore this strange feeling and pulls Frank to him, hugging him tightly and marvelling at how his best friend is so fucking brave, and Frank hugs him back, burying his face in Gerard's chest and clutching at his sopping wet hoodie.
"I'm so fucking sorry," Gerard mumbles. "I'll never do that to you again, I swear."
Frank looks up at him, confused. "What are you talking about? You're not the one who beat the shit out of me and then tied me to a pole."
"But I left you all alone when there were a bunch of jocks in the vicinity."
"If you'd stayed, they would've just hurt you, too."
Gerard is silent. He knows Frank's right, but that doesn't stop him feeling guilty.
They walk back to Gerard's house, Gerard half-supporting Frank. When they get in the door, Gerard starts peeling off his wet clothes before he even gets to his room. By the time he gets down the stairs, he's down to his boxers. He quickly strips them off and chucks all his wet clothing into the bathtub in the adjoining bathroom. He pulls on a dry pair before turning his attention to Frank, who, he notices, is blushing a bit while keeping his gaze firmly fixated on the floor. Gerard finds this a bit odd. Frank's seen him naked before; after all, they have pool classes together, and they've never really had a problem changing in front of each other at sleepovers. But he brushes it aside and digs around in his drawers for something that Frank can wear, seeing as his change of clothes was in his backpack, which is also soaked. After a minute, he finds some things that won't fall down on his much-smaller friend.
Frank goes into the bathroom to change. Gerard finds this a bit odd, too, but thinks that maybe he got a bit messed up by the bullies and doesn't want him to see. And Frank's chest covered in bruises and scrapes is not something he particularly wants to see, so he's rather relieved. He doesn't want to cry again. Especially since Frank still hasn't cried, and he was the one tied to the flagpole in the pouring rain.
By the time Frank emerges from the bathroom, swimming in a pair of drawstring pyjama pants and an old T-shirt, Gerard has found dry clothes, and they decide to go upstairs again and watch a movie.
They sit on the couch the way they always sit when something's happened to Frank- sideways, Gerard's back against the armrest, Frank between his legs, his head resting on Gerard's shoulder, Gerard's arm wrapped protectively around him, clutching him to his chest. They've done this so many times over the years, it's become instinctive. Gerard likes to sit like this. He likes the way Frank seems to melt into him. It makes him feel like his best friend is safe.
Today, though, Frank doesn't melt at all, doesn't relax. His body is rigid, his eyes fixed on the TV, and it scares Gerard. Something is off, and he doesn't know what, and he doesn't know what to do about it.
Ten minutes into The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mikey walks in. He stands in the doorway to the living room and Gerard turns his head to look at him, meaning to tell his brother off for not letting him know that he had detention and to go ahead. The words die in his throat when he sees the small smile on Mikey's face, the knowing look in his eye. Before he can find his words again, confused as he is by that look, Mikey says, "I'm really sorry I left you waiting. I'll find a way to let you know next time."
Gerard nods mutely and Mikey wanders out of the room. Gerard stares at the screen, the images passing in front of him but not registering, the sound of Frank's breathing creating a somewhat reassuring rhythm near his ear.
When they go to bed several movies and a cheese pizza later, Gerard can't sleep.
He lies awake on his back, wondering. Wondering what's going on with Frank, wondering why Mikey was looking at him like that, wondering what that very strange feeling is that keeps filling his chest until he feels it will explode.
From the floor beside his bed, there comes a sniffle. Gerard thinks nothing of it at first- he's heard Frank make some very strange noises in his sleep- but then comes another, and then what is clearly a stifled sob and Gerard rolls over, pokes his head over the side of the bed and says, "Frankie? What's wrong?"
There is a small silence and Gerard wonders for a moment if Frank's crying in his sleep and if he should wake him up, but then Frank says, "I- I didn't think you were awake."
"Get up here," Gerard says, shifting over to make room in his bed. Frank hesitates but after a moment, he climbs onto the bed, lying down beside Gerard, and Gerard's got that feeling again, but he ignores it because Frank needs him and he can't be worried about silly things like feelings in his chest.
"What's wrong?" he asks softly, and Frank cries harder, yet when Gerard tries to pull him closer, to hug him, he goes tense, refusing to let himself be pulled. Gerard frowns into the darkness. "Frank, please, what's going on?"
"Bullshit," Gerard says, starting to get angry. He tries to calm down, because Frank needs him to be supportive right now, not angry, but he can't help Frank if Frank won't let him in. He sighs. "Look, it's not nothing that they tied you to a pole in-"
"I don't give a shit about that," Frank snaps.
"Well then, what- Frank!"
He grabs for Frank's wrist as Frank pulls himself off the bed, but his hand is shaken off. "I can't do this," Frank says, almost to himself, wiping at the tears on his face as he walks across the room.
The bed feels empty and lonely without him, which is strange, and he wants Frank to come back, but instead Gerard gets up and follows him. "Can't do what?" he asks as he catches up.
Frank looks at him, eyes flooding. "I'm so sorry," he breathes. He backs up against the wall and allows himself to slide down it until he's sitting curled up on the floor. "I can't help it..."
"What can't you help?" Gerard kneels down next to him and bites his lip. "Frankie, please, tell me what's wrong."
Frank sobs. "I can't."
"Why the fuck not?"
"You'll h-hate me."
"Frank, I'm not gonna hate you."
"Yes, you are!"
The feeling is still there, and whatever it is, it pounds insistently in his ears and causes his throat to constrict and his heart to hurt.
"Honest to God, Frank, you're my best friend. What could you possibly tell me that's so bad that I'll hate you if you tell me?"
"That I love you!" Frank bursts out.
Gerard's mouth drops open and Frank cringes. "Sorry," he says, somewhat wildly. "I didn't mean to say that, I didn't mean for you to know, I'm so sorry, Gerard, please don't hate me..."
His babbling barely register as Gerard turns the words over in his brain, and then it clicks. It's as though the feeling in his chest has suddenly had one of those name badges stuck on it, Hello, My Name Is: Love, and he snaps his mouth shut and stares at Frank, who looks back at him fearfully and whimpers, "Please don't hate me..." and without even really thinking about it Gerard leans over and kisses him, and after a moment of surprise, Frank wraps his arms around Gerard's neck and kisses him back.
Eventually, they break apart for air, but they still stay close, foreheads touching. Frank's breath crashes over Gerard's lips and his heart still hurts, but now it's in a good way.
"In case it's not already fucking obvious," he says, "I love you, too."
His fingers find Frank's and their hands lock together, and somehow Gerard can tell that his Frankie is back, that what was off earlier is no longer off, and he is so fucking glad, and honestly, he could just stay like this forever.
"Hey, Gee?" Frank whispers. "Can I tell you something?"
"It's gonna sound stupid, but... when they tied me to the pole earlier..." Gerard makes an angry little noise and Frank pauses briefly, concerned, but Gerard motions to him to go on. "It was weird. They kept saying stuff like, 'oh, you scared, faggot, you scared?' you know? But... I wasn't."
"You weren't scared?"
Gerard once again marvels at how Frankie is so fucking brave. "Why not?"
Frank leans in and kisses him again, softly. "Because I knew you would come find me," he murmurs against Gerard's lips. "And you did. I couldn't care less about being tied to a flagpole as long as I have you to untie me, you know?"
Gerard does know, and he has so much he wants to say to Frank now, in the darkness when everything is finally right, but he can't find the right words for them, so instead he says, "But the next time someone tries to tie you to a flagpole, I'm going to beat the shit out of them, okay?"
Frank laughs. "Okay" he agrees. "I'll help."
Gerard does eventually fall asleep that night, Frank snuggled up to him under the covers, and he falls asleep knowing three things. One, he loves Frank. Two, Frank loves him. And three, the next person to attempt to tie Frank to a flagpole is going to be very sorry they did.
A/N: -cringes- I suck at endings, sorry. Anyways. Rate and review, my lovelies? :) I would especially appreciate ratings, but reviews are awesome too.