Uh, yeah. Kind of a filler. School's started so finding time to sit down and write is kind of an issue right now.
Frank woke up again.
It was already light: the sun creeped in through the barn's roof. He outstretched an arm, searching for Gerard, and then quickly remembered what had happened during the night: the talk they'd had, and Gerard getting up and leaving him.
He swallowed the discomfort down back into his throat and stood up.
He stretched his back and walked down the ladder. Ray was standing, alone, staring into space.
It bothered Frank, but not too much. The light was too pure, the air was too fresh. Despite the nighttime pain, he felt somehow at peace.
Ray was absent-mindedly nibbling on his lower lip. He barely noticed Frank walking by, his mind was swirling too fast. He didn't notice Frank standing in front of him. The sound of Iero snapping his fingers next to his ear managed to force him back into reality, away from guilt and pain.
His and Frank's gaze met. Iero's eyes immediately hardened, and he looked away without saying a word. Frank walked away, quickly muttering a fucking lunatic under his breath.
But it hurt to see Ray act like that and it made him realize even more that what he'd done had changed everything. He missed his best friend. He missed joking around with Ray, and he missed playing guitar and listening to old records and getting stoned. He missed Ray, genuinely missed him.
He missed Ray the same way he missed Mikey: a heavy pressure on his chest whenever he thought about them, a knot in his throat and deep, lung-crushing longing. Longing for something he knew he would've never have again.
Him, Gerard, Mikey and Ray had always been a gang. They had always done everything together (even though he and Mikey were the youngest), they had grown up together.
And then they'd been ripped apart, wether by emotions too strong to control or by bullets.
They'd been ripped apart by a war so pointless, so ridiculous it made him want to punch walls.
Frank stepped outside. The other men were already there, either eating or smoking or generally just trying to wake up. He searched for Gerard, wasn't surprised to see that he wasn't with the others.
The others, who were torn and battered and bruised and in as much pain as he was right then, if not more.
The others, men who weren't fighting for freedom, or for peace, or for justice anymore. They were fighting to survive, they were fighting so that one day they would've made it back home.
Not seeing Gerard worried him. He still felt a little bit guilty for what had happened in the village, when he'd gotten up and spent most of the night hiding away in the church's confession booth, trying not to think about the nightmares and the pain and the ever-present need for Gerard's body against his. Resisting the urge to run out and hold him when he heard him run by after talking to Ray. Torn between wallowing in self-pity and confronting Gerard, hurt Gerard, weak Gerard.
Confronting Gerard when he needed him the most, and yet fearing listening to him talk knowing he wouldn't have been able to comfort him.
He asked Bob if he'd seen Way.
Frank looked towards where he was pointing. Way was sitting on the ground, his bare back pressed against the wood of the barn. He was smoking.
Frank cleared his throat.
Way's gaze snapped up, they made eye contact. Gerard smiled.
A genuine, sweet smile.
A sad, tired smile.
Iero sat next to him without asking wether it was okay or not. He leaned his head against his shoulder.
Gerard's voice was raspy, like someone's who'd been crying or screaming all night.
Way subtly slipped his hand into Frank's, who delicately started rubbing his thumb against it and grabbed the cigarette with the other and took a drag. He really didn't know what to say, but he could sense Gerard was still in pain.
Gerard kissed Frank's cheek, delicately. His lips brushed against stubble. He'd never done something like that, and it struck Frank. Iero smiled, shut his eyes.
Gerard took his cigarette back. They were quiet for a while, listening to others move and live and organize. Listening to birds and the wind. Gerard felt the freshness of Frank's body mix with the warmth of his nearly sunburnt skin, Frank could feel Gerard's muscles throb and his lungs expanding and his blood flowing.
For a moment, they forgot all about the war.
“You're beautiful”, Frank whispered.
Gerard shook his head.
“I'm serious, Way. You're beautiful.”
“I wouldn't love a man who wasn't perfect.”
“I don't think perfect really-”
“Your mistakes, your insecurities. Your regrets, and your fears. You're perfect, because those things make you human. You're perfect because-”
“Hush – he placed a finger against his lips – Hush. The only thing that makes me perfect is the fact that you love me.”
Frank smiled at him.
“How are you, Gerard?”
“Scared, disenchanted. Tired. And I miss him. I miss him a lot.”
He sighed again, before letting Frank hug him.
“I just...miss him. I realize he's gone, but I haven't grasped it yet. I still expect him to pop up, sooner or later. To laugh or say a stupid little joke and then push his glasses up with his index finer and—and-”
His voice was getting lower and lower, as if it were physically impossible for him to talk about his brother. And maybe it was.
“And just be here. Alive. Because that's how my brother should be, he should be alive.”
“But he's not.”
“He's not. And I wish I could keep on lying to myself.”
“It wouldn't be right.”
“And if I had--”
“No. No. - Frank quickly kissed him - There was nothing you could do.”
Gerard smiled a sad smile. He didn't believe him.
Frank realized with painful stunning clarity that Gerard would've blamed himself for Mikey's death, forever.
He scooped Gerard up against him, cradled him some more.
“We should go.” he whispered finally after a few minutes.
Gerard had lost himself again in memories: he was miles and miles away, gaze brushing against dreams Frank knew nothing about, and probably never would've.
“Yeah, yeah. I'm coming.”
He stood up. Frank couldn't tear his eyes away from him, and it was hard to fully comprehend how much he loved the man standing before him.
He stood up.
“I love you, Gerard.”
And Gerard smiled a nervous smile and hugged himself and tried to speak but his throat had closed up again.
And then he did manage to speak, and he lowered his gaze and murmured “Thank you”, because he knew Frank was the only thing that kept him sane.
They walked back towards the others, and Gerard held Frank's hand in his.
And even though nothing felt truly and completely okay, they were, for a fraction of an instant, finally safe, safe from pain, safe from the outside world.