“Uh Gerard this is Frank, he’s staying here for a bit. Frank this is my brother, Gee”
Gerard paints for a little while and considers watching some TV, except he has no idea where the remote is and he’s kind of tiered so he just ends up going to bed. His bed’s cold when he first climbs in and Gerard really misses Otter right now because he doesn’t want to be alone anymore. He always feels like this after the day is done because his only and best friend is a seventy-eight-year-old woman with a lacking memory and though, most days, he thinks that is kind of cool in a weird way, he still really needs someone to hang out with someone that was born in the same decade as him.
Gerard tries to think of the dinner party tomorrow and almost convinces himself that it will be a good night you can hang out with people your own age.
He falls asleep eventually and dreams about this elephant that has to work in the circus.
Every day the elephant has to lift it’s leg in order for one of the girls dressed in feathers to climb onto his back. When the elephant lifts it’s leg he’s given a peanut, so everyday the elephant raises it's leg even when he’s old and it hurts to do so, then one night when all the crowds have gone home and all the performers are back in their trailers, a lamp is knocked over by one of the monkeys and a fire begins to spread. At first the elephant is too tiered to notice the approaching flames but soon they lick against the steel bars of his cage and the smoke comes in to rouse the elephant from its sleep. The elephant tries to move away from the fire and the bars, but the cage isn’t big enough for the elephant to run away so he simply stands and watches as the heat spreads though the tent. The last thing the elephant thinks is ‘my leg really hurts’ then Gerard wakes up.
Gerard doesn’t know why the dream bothers him like it does but he has woken up in a cold sweat and he has to push the hair out of his eyes with a clammy hand and just sit and breathe for a little while because he really is shaken up.
It’s around ten and Gerard has just about let the dream go, I’ll paint it later but first he has to do washing because he’s pretty sure the guests later wont want to sit next to a human ash tray even if they will be too polite to say so. He decides he should probably wash his hair and make an effort for once because he hasn’t hung out with anyone but Mrs Harte in weeks.
So, Gerard takes his shower and jacks off amongst the soapy water not really thinking about anything or anyone just wishing that it wasn’t his goddamn hand again. It’s been too long since Gerard’s had a lover and though it’s not surprising since the only people he ever sees are Mrs Harte and his brother he still blames his lack of action on his body. His awkward angels and pale skin that’s always stretched too tightly across his bones, so much that he can feel all of them working against one another and it makes him want to throw up.
Gerard lets out a shaky breath and just relaxes back into the water watching it skim and drip over his knuckles and his hips and all those other places Gerard just wants to be touched. Eventually, he gives it up, because even if he wasn’t the awkward fag artist that he is, he still would find something else to get frustrated over and he just doesn’t see the use in it anymore.
It gets to around five and Gerard is completely ready because he kind of panicked earlier cause he’s always late but now he’s early and he doesn’t know what to do. He considers painting for a little while, perhaps but then he will spend the rest of the night smelling of paint and that’s sort of worse than the cigarettes. In the end he decides to check a few emails because even though he spent forever saving up for a laptop so that he could actually manage his money and work without leaving the house, he hasn’t actually bothered checking the MacBook in forever.
The only things new are a couple of emails from Mikey about god knows what written in explicit text talk that Gerard can’t even begin to decipher let alone actually take the time to understand what the hell his little brother is getting at. There are a few junk messages and a couple from possible clients that he ignores because even the idea of these people coming to critique his work makes his skin crawl. In the end he logs out of the computer and decides that he will just have to be early, at least that way he will get to spend some time with Mikey before everyone gets there.
He grabs the car keys from the bowl by the door and races down the few flights of steps into the garage. Gerard can’t remember the last time he drove the beat up old Volvo but it must have been a while ago because there’s a thin layer of grey dust distorting the former red clad of the bonnet and even the locks feel old and stiff as he pushes in the key. However, Gerard realises, driving is one of those things that no matter how long you have avoided it, like riding a bike, it always comes back with ease.
Gerard feels the full force of this philosophy as he drives along the quiet, Sunday evening, New Jersey streets. His hands grip the wheel loosely and everything feels okay.
For the time being Gerard doesn’t have to worry about meeting new people or eating in front of everyone later or about if there will be wine or if Mikey has thought of him and told everyone not to bring drinks. No, instead Gerard thinks about driving, and driving something fast that isn’t an old Volvo, he thinks about going far away, and just running for the sake of getting away. He thinks about how, if he wanted to, he could just leave right now and never turn back, he could drive into the sunset and no one would ever see him again.
Of course, as Gerard nears his brother’s place all those thoughts evaporate into the car fumes that drown and smother the suburban skyline and Gerard just has to sit and breathe for a second because he’s going to see Mikey!
Gerard knocks kind of timidly then taps his foot until Alicia opens the cobalt blue door, the bags under her eyes evidence of the sleepless nights yet under the purple haze of weary moons she looks happy, more alive than Gerard has ever seen her.
“Gerard!” She sings before pulling her brother-in-law into a quick but heartfelt embrace and leading him inside.
Mikey and Alicia have a nice house thanks to them having sensible jobs. Originally they had wanted to move to Brooklyn or Midtown but Mikey was wary about leaving Gerard back in Newark so they ended up staying close by. The house is all modern and spacious and everything is always kept neat and orderly from the toothbrushes tucked away in the medicine cabinet to the bookshelf running from poetry to plays, to classics to horror, and now, into kids books about ducks and aliens and stuff.
Gerard always feels a little out of place around their house but somehow now it feels more homely; now that there are child locks and colouring books and teddy bears adorning the modern creams and blacks of the house Gerard can really see the benefit of children.
“How are you?” Gerard asks once the door is shut and he’s sitting on the beige couch, his posture still stiff although the soft cushions beg for him to crumple into the new setae.
Alicia smiles easily and takes a seat opposite to Gerard a strand of her dark hair falling loosely across her face “I’m good, really good” She adds another small smile to her words before asking, “And what about you? It’s been a while”
Gerard’s ghost of a smile falters slightly and he apologises; his voice sincere, “I know, I’m sorry. That’s why I came early so we could really catch up”
Alicia nods and Gerard knows that she hasn’t held his absence against him “Well, it’s good to see you. Mikey’s just dropping the little one off at my mom’s” her face goes soft when she mentions her daughter and Gerard can’t help a smile tugging at his lips. “He’s missed you a lot, you know”
“He worries about you” and of course, Gerard knows this too, Mikey’s always worried about his big brother and Gerard guesses it’s kind of his fault for being so reckless.
“I don’t mean to worry him” Gerard looks down a little guiltily because he knows that even if he doesn’t mean to, he’s still in control of his actions.
It’s at this point that Mikey returns home his mousy hair is greasy and sticking up at awkward angles, his glasses esque, he looks worn down but as his eyes land on his big brother perched like a bird on the couch they light up and a shadow of a smile ghosts his chapped lips. “Hey” he says moving more into the room.
“Hi” Gerard gets up then so that he can greet his brother properly “Surprise!” He waggles his hands a little a crooked grin spread across his face.
“I know, I wanted to hang out before everyone gets here. If that’s okay” Gerard gestures attentively to nothing in particular and for some reason feels a little embarrassed.
Mikey bights his lip and looks sheepish for a moment and Gerard feels like laughing because it’s really awkward and he’s not sure what else to do when another figure appears in the doorway.
As the figure becomes less of a figure and more of a human Gerard has to catch his breath because this human is beautiful. He can’t be more than nineteen Gerard guesses, judging from his height and big doleful eyes and even though Gerard knows that he shouldn’t just sit there with his mouth ajar he can’t seem to bring himself to do anything else.
“Hey,” Greets the kid moving more into the hallway and kicking off his shoes. Mikey turns to him and smiles fondly.
“Uh Gerard, this is Frank, he’s staying here for a bit. Frank, this is my brother, Gee” Frank gives a tiny flex of his fingers though most of his focus is on undoing the navy duffle coat wrapped around his tiny body.
Gerard’s breath hitches slightly on his “Hello” but no one notices, or at least if they do they don’t comment on it.
Gerard spends the next forty-five minutes doing his best not to stutter or get caught staring at the little punk guy but its’ really hard when he keeps blinking and cracking his knuckles and yawning because he’s really fucking adorable and Gerard just wants to fold him up in his arms and rake his hands through his long hair.
And he knows it’s kind of wrong because he’s only just met the kid and as far as he knows Frank might not even me legal yet but he also can’t bring himself to care because as long as it’s just in his head it’s fine. Right?
Gerard gets himself kind of worked up about Frank and he gets stuck in the loop of wondering how much he can stare at him without it being creepy and if he thinks he’s weird because he just hasn’t spoken in like half an hour and maybe he should try saying something, but no because it will just be something stupid that no one cares about and then Frank will think he’s even weirder.
Gerard is even glad when the other guests start to arrive, though it’s no surprise that he doesn't really know any of them
The first is a girl about his age, he can’t exactly remember her name but he’s pretty sure Alicia called her Zee at some point, so she sits next to Gerard and they exchange a few words, Mikey telling him that “She’s an artist too, Gee!” like that will automatically make them best friends.
The next to arrive is a guy Gerard’s met a few times when Mikey still thought it would be possible for his brother to have a social life. His names Brendon and he’s kind of crazy in that eccentric artiste way and Gerard remembers him being pretty cool except all he seems to talk about is his two kids like some kind of 'My child's an A student' soccer mom.
The final couple of guests arrive together and Gerard can’t for the life of him pin anything special on them but he greets them witch a warm smile and they all sit and chit chat until it’s time to move into the dining room.
They’re half way through dessert now and though none of the conversations have been particularly entreating so far, Frank’s now talking and Gerard can’t get over the way his words roll around the air like marbles on a silver tray
“-cause people seem to have all these little loops and settings in their heads and like some of it’s the simple stuff like not walking under ladders or keeping the volume at an even number on your TV, but then it’s the same for bigger things too like how everyone thought for so long sitting next to someone with AIDs on the bus could kill you and no one seems to even notice how stupid our brains are”
And Gerard totally knows what Frank’s saying because he feels the same, like, how one person or a rumour can change the lives of hundreds of people without them even questioning it. So he actually speaks up for the first time that night and Frank kind of looks shocked to hear that Gerard actually has a voice but then he also looks really pleased because he didn’t just make a total ass of himself. And the two chat kind of separately from the rest of the party and Gerard notices that Mikey is giving him approving looks, which makes him feel less guilty about everything.
Again edited so that it's a little more readable