A cool spring day, and new-found joy. Also, ice cream.
“That'll be twelve dollars ninety, sir.”
Frank smiled at the perky blonde cashier as he dug through his pockets for spare change.
He managed to find barely enough to pay for the record – a used but still pretty copy of The Best Of Muddy Waters - and stepped outside, tipping his head as a salute to the girl behind the register.
He smiled to himself and lighted a cigarette, enjoying the fresh and crystal-clear air of a beginning-of-Spring day in Philly.
It had somehow been a pain in the ass to have to haul all the way down there to manage to get his hands on that record, but, overall, he was happy and content.
Winter was finally melting away, and he'd managed to buy Gerard's birthday present just in time.
Plush, he'd had a reasonably uneventful day at work and being able to slip away for the afternoon, alone with his thoughts, had been a blessing.
Frank started walking down the street, hands buried deep inside his trench coat's pocket, squinting slightly as the wind picked up speed and blew in his face.
Iero glanced at his watch (it was only four) and decided to haul a cab down to Clark Park. He'd just found his old camera (the same one he'd brought with him to Europe during the war, the same one that had taken the picture Alicia had burned) and the light was good. He had at least an hour or so before having to head back to Belleville, so why the hell not take advantage of something like that?
A taxi pulled up on the curb.
Frank got in.
Gerard Arthur Way burst in after him.
“I'm with him.”
Frank stared at him, puzzled, as Gerard grinned while clutching his walking stick. There was a savage glint in his eyes, a light everybody thought was long gone, a glint that meant he was back up on his feet again, ready to fight, ready to bight the world back.
“Where to, sir?” asked the driver.
Frank raised an eyebrow.
“Uh. Clark Park.”
Gerard smiled at Frank as he spoke, and an already magnificent day became thousands of times more beautiful.
Frank hugged Gerard the moment he was sure the cab had driven away. He hugged him and held him and squeezed him tight, because he was happy.
They were both happy: a screaming, heel-kicking joy filled them to the brim. It was the joy of eight year old boys playing in the mud. The joy of lovers whispering sweet promises to each other. The joy of rain after a hot summer day.
But it was also Frank and Gerard's joy: theirs, and nobody else's. A unique joy.
Because, after all, no happiness is the same.
For Frank, it was the joy of warm wool against his palms, the smell of ink and acrylic paints.
For Gerard, it was the joy of rough hands clutching him, the scent of freshly-cut grass and old books.
For both of them, it was the happiness of finally being able to be themselves, even though it was only for a fleeting, brief moment.
Frank broke away from the hug.
“What—what are you doing here?”
“Just trying to get away from everything. Relatives, mostly.” Gerard said, and smirked. He twirled his walking stick a couple of times.
Frank nodded at it.
“Your leg hurt?”
“Like a bitch.”
Gerard shifted his weight to his right leg, and flinched, as if to underline what he'd just said. A bird chirped.
It was a pretty day.
“Could I offer you an ice cream, Frank? As a birthday present to myself?”
There was a small stand right inside the park. Children were crowded around it, as mothers attentively watched over them.
“Ice cream with the old and pathetic owner of a suburban bookstore?”
Frank had said it as a joke, but, deep down, he did believe it a little.
“How about, 'ice cream with the man I love'? Sound better?”
Gerard outstretched his hand towards Frank, who looked at him and then linked his arm with his.
“It sounds marvelous, Gerard.”
They started walking, not caring about the few stares that crept along their back as they paraded by the children and mothers. That moment was all theirs, and they laughed inside as they realized that the women there, horrified and disgusted, were old and tired and disenchanted.
Those women had lost faith in love far too many years before.
Frank and Gerard had just found it again.
Iero smiled at the man he loved, leaned his head against his shoulder.
“Happy birthday, old man.”
"May it be the best one ever. Hell, it already is."
Gerard gave Frank's arm a little squeeze.
Everything was, finally, falling into place.
Slowly but surely, things were becoming okay.