Because certainly, he would have made some witty comment by now, to which Frank would have uttered a pathetic reply.
Frank is standing outside of the Way’s house, hands shoved in his jacket pockets, head ducked against the wind. He takes a deep, cold breath, feeling inexplicably on edge. During the short walk over, he’d worked out the only possible outcome of this visit…
He was going to die.
Perhaps he’s being a tad over-dramatic but there was just something bone-chillingly eerie about being trapped, alone, with Gerard, in his bedroom, for an arbitrary space of time.
Frank ignores the surge of uneasiness simmering in his gut and knocks on the front door. It’s at least a minute before it opens, revealing Mikey Way balancing himself haphazardly on a pair of thick, wooden crutches.
“Oh… Frank. What are you doing here?” he asks brusquely as he shifts his weight onto his uninjured leg, loosening his grip slightly on the opposite crutch.
Frank lets out a breath, “Hello. I-I’m here to for tutoring… with Gerard.”
Mikey says nothing for a moment as he stares at smaller boy incredulously. But his expression soon softens to one of tacit amusement. “Hmm, interesting,” he murmurs, taking a clumsy backward step.
“Michael?" comes a soft voice, "What are you doing out of bed? You need to rest your ankle,” Donna Way frowns as she steps into the foyer, throwing her youngest son a disapproving look.
Mikey turns to her awkwardly and says: “I want food.”
Donna snorts at him and places her hands on her hips, “I brought you some soup only half an hour ago.”
“I need real food, Ma. Not flavored water,” He grips his crutches again and stumbles into the kitchen, staggering several times along the way.
Donna lets out an exasperated sigh before turning to the brown-haired boy still standing in the doorway. “Hey, Frank. Come inside, it's freezing out there.”
The small boy nods and crosses the threshold. It's been nearly two years since he last step foot inside the Way's home. The previous time was at an early Christmas party. He didn't want to go but his mother had insisted. She also forced him to wear one of her ill-fitting knitted sweaters with Santa's face in the front. Frank had to endure three hours of feigning interest in the drunken retelling of ancient anecdotes alongside the relentless taunts of the Way brothers.
“Long time, no see,” Mrs. Way ruminates as she looks at Frank fondly.
He clears his throat, “I’ve never really had a reason to come over.”
Donna frowns again. “Sorry about that. I know my boys can be… unwelcoming at times. But feel free to drop by any time you want. It’s perfectly fine.”
Frank nods even though he doubts he'll ever take her up on that offer.
"Well, Gerard's room is in the basement. I'll show you to it," She gestures for him to follow along and he does. They end up standing in front of large, white door near the back of the kitchen. Donna shoves it open, revealing a dark flight of stairs. "You can go right down and Gerard will be there," she gives him a heartening smile and steps to the side.
"Um, okay," Frank mutters as he begins his descent. Donna shuts the door behind him, leaving only the dull, yellowish glow of a florescent light bulb on the ceiling to help guide him down the warped steps. He grips the wooden railing for support and takes an uneven breath. There’s an insistent gnawing in the pit of my stomach and he has to fight the urge to go back. Miraculously, the small boy manages to stumble his way to the bottom of the stairs. He comes face-to-face with a smooth red door.
Frank swallows thickly before pushing it open and stepping inside. The room smells of cigarette smoke and peppermint. Tiny dust particles drift in the lone ray of sunlight that filters in through a high, glass window. The balls of crumpled papers that litter the dark carpet are accompanied by a few empty glass bottles and random articles of furrowed clothing. He’s not surprised to find that Gerard is nowhere to be seen. What else is new? There’s a shiny, black acoustic guitar hanging in the corner. Frank walks towards it, careful in avoiding the flurry of discarded items that cover the floor. He runs a tentative hand over the scratched dark wood as he admires the instrument. Frank had always wanted a guitar but after his mother’s continued refusal, he stopped thinking about it.
The diminutive boy sighs before turning around to face the disarrayed room. He considers his options for a place to sit. There's a muddled desk pressed against the wall but it has no chair beneath it. And the floor was simply not an option. So Frank sits on the corner of the unmade bed, trying to take up as little space as possible. He swings his backpack around to rest on his thighs and timidly waits. Several moments later, the bathroom door swings open.
Gerard slinks into the room, skin bare save for a pair of soft-looking, black boxers. He walks over to his cluttered desk and picks up a bottle of aspirin. With a lazy flick of the wrist, he pops the cap off and slips a pill into his mouth, swallowing it dry. He screws the top back on and tosses the bottle to the side. A noisy yawn escapes his throat as he stretches his arms high above his head, forcing his ribcage to jut out sharply.
Frank wonders if Gerard even knows he’s in the room. Because certainly, he would have made some witty comment by now, to which Frank would have uttered a pathetic, stuttering reply, evoking a gush of derisive laughter from the older boy. Frank wonders if he should make his presence known. But all reasonable thoughts have floated off into a very dark and very distant corner of his mind.
He is far too distracted by the ethereal glow of Gerard’s porcelain skin in the dim light -- smooth and palely shining. His large eyes work their way from the jagged, raised scar on Gerard’s shoulder blade down to the slight curve of his backside just before his skin disappears beneath the dark garment covering his lower half. Frank’s gaze follows the sinuous muscles of Gerard’s back as they flex and relax under his pale, blazing skin. He’s so entranced in admiration that he doesn’t even notice Gerard has turned around until he hears the older boy’s shrill yelp.
“Holy fucking hell!” Gerard exclaims as he finally sees Frank perched on the edge of his bed. He clutches at his cold, naked chest, “What the fuck are you doing in here?”
Frank jumps up, standing gracelessly, causing his bag to slip from his thighs and hit the ground with a thud. His throat aches and his cheeks are positively burning. “I- I, you, the tutoring. Math… today… you said that- I don’t--”
A sudden look of understanding spreads across Gerard’s features and he lets his hands slip to his sides. “Oh, right,” He frowns, “I completely forgot about that.”
The black haired boy lets out a puff of air and walks over to his bureau. He says nothing to Frank as he rummages through the drawers and pulls out a few items of clothing before disappearing into the bathroom once again. Frank shakes his head, a futile attempt to clear his frazzled skull. He sits back down and bites the flesh of his bottom lip, trying to compose himself. Several minutes pass before Gerard re-enters the room, now dressed in a pair of wrinkled jeans and a faded denim shirt.
The older boy throws Frank a sideways glance before opening the door to his closet and pulling out a tiny, wooden stool. He sits, places his elbows on his knees, steeples his fingers beneath his chin and glares caustically.
Frank clears his throat: “Okay. Miss Blyton gave me a l-list of your biggest … problem areas. So, I thought w-we could go through those today.”
Gerard nods vaguely before shifting a bit closer to the younger boy.
Frank fumbles through his backpack and retrieves a note book, black gel pen and a sheet of paper. He places the book on the bed and opens it to a blank page but quickly realizes that Gerard can't see it from there. So he shifts and places the book on his thighs. He scribbles out a formula along with a series of questions and sits up so Gerard can see it. But from his position, the older boy would have to read the words upside down. Frank shifts several more times but all angles he tries seem awkward.
“This would be much easier if y-you sat next to me,” the younger boy mutters hesitantly as he looks up at his student.
“You think so?” Gerard asks in a soft voice, feigning ingenuousness.
Frank swallows, “Yes.”
Gerard stands evenly and slips onto the bed beside Frank. He’s close enough to see the notebook but too far to accidentally graze Frank’s skin with his own. The younger boy is all too aware of the distance but he pushes the silly concern to the back of his mind. And despite the session’s rocky beginning, everything goes smoothly after all. Gerard is unexpectedly quiet and attentive, allowing Frank to revise circle theorems and differentiation with confidence and ease. They share a few fleeting smiles and looks of consideration throughout and Frank is oddly surprised.
“What?” Gerard asks abruptly, dark brows furrowed. The younger boy had been staring at him with wide, enthralled eyes for at least a minute.
“Oh, n-nothing,” he mutters, forcing his gaze down to his notebook, “It’s just… you’re not usually this… co-operative.” Frank is surprised by his own vague temerity. He continues: “It’s strange.”
Gerard exhales noisily before rising to his feet, “Well, it turns out I need your help much more than I originally thought.”
Frank nods and starts shoving his belongings back into his bag. Gerard sits down on the stool again and watches the smaller boy bluntly… deliberately. The silence that descends onto them is thick and deafening. Frank takes a shuddering breath before getting up and walking to the door.
A moment passes. Then another.
“So, I guess I’ll s-see you… later?” the younger teen questions, backpack hanging loosely from his shoulder, hands wedged into his pockets.
Gerard glances at his tutor, “Yeah,” A pause. “Later.”
A/N: It took me so long to write this chapter. I don't even know why. I don't particularly like it much either. But as promised, I didn't take too long to update! /gives self pat on the back/ Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it.