I woke up to the sound of rolling tires and the smell of marker fumes. The latter didn't surprise me in the least, since our bus had the idiosyncratic ability to pick up the most random (and usually entirely unpleasant) scents that we've all learned to know and love. The sun was already up; I could tell by the light leaking in through the closed curtains; I imagined that I could see through them into the mess of a hallway outside it, but either my eyes were still too asleep and hazy, or I was finally spending too much time on this bus, because the curtains were thick and allowed for very limited breathing room.
Which made me wonder why the hell my bunk smelled a bit like sharpies this early in the morning anyway.
That's about the time I noticed that I couldn't move my legs.
"Mmph...Gerard? What are you doing?"
He was bent over my stomach, his face close and a look of peaceful concentration etched on the parts I could see. "Hmm?"
I picked my head up and looked down, a small shiver passing through me when he pressed his finger against the skin of my left sparrow tattoo. Or--was it his finger? Suddenly the smell made sense. Scattered randomly next to my side were sharpies of eight different colours, which were laid out in a rainbow pattern.
"Are you..." I snorted and let my head fall back against the pillow. "...colouring on me? On my tattoos?"
"I'm not /colouring/, Frank," he said, with an air of indignant amusement. He made another swipe against my skin with his marker and I felt my flesh clench at the contact. "I'm...I'm marking art."
"So...you're making art...on art. Okay. Sounds reasonable. And how long have you been arting my art?"
He giggled and shifted, easing his weight more evenly on my legs. "Since about...oh, five minutes ago. I think it woke you up."
"Oh, yeah, because it woke me up, not /you/..."
He smiled. "Just...shut up and let me finish, okay? Okay. Fantastic."
I did as I was told and make myself comfortable against the pillow, my hands up by my head so that they wouldn't obstruct him (or possibly cause him to transfer his artistic talents onto my inked arms, which would be much harder to conceal against curious fans). Of course, it also allowed them hem of my shirt to be pulled up that much further from what Gerard had already done to get to my tattoos, and the warm air from the heater against my flesh felt too fucking good for me too care too much.
Every now and again I would hear the capping and uncapping of a sharpie, accompanied by a soft movement from Gerard before he would press the felt tip against my skin again. It felt odd, mainly because I wasn't the one drawing on myself for once, but also because the liquid was cold against my warming flesh, and the first few strokes caused my muscles to tense slightly, against my will. I got used to the feeling a few minutes in and had finally given myself over to full relaxation, wondering whether this was the bliss in tattooing without the pain, when his fingertips gently slipped under the hem of my pants, pulling them down slightly.
I shuddered but remained quiet under closed eyes, waiting patiently.
"I just need this one part..." I heard him mutter, before the ink was being applied to my skin once again, and I imagined that I could feel it spreading across my flesh, running through the tiny indentions, with the flow of my blood, and across my veins. It felt good. Pleasurable. I ran my fingers down my pillow gently.
"When did you get these? I remember you doing the "and," but how old were you when you got the sparrows?"
I shrugged, thinking about it only momentarily before giving it up as a lost cause. I didn't care right now. "I don't know. Ask me later."
He looked up. "But I want to know."
I smiled. "Are you done yet?"
He sighed, "You can't rush art, Frank."
"I'm not rushing art, I'm rushing /you/. I would like to regain the use of my limbs, you know, eventually."
It looked like he was finishing anyway; his strokes were small and random, like finishing touches, and he was squinting his eyes and scanning my abdomen, looking for mistakes.
"Oh, whatever. You don't need your legs to play."
"No, but I need them for walking, running, jumping--I mean, how lame will I look just sitting on the stage for the entire set? You guys would have to kick me out, and then you'd get some replacement guy named Ted and he'll smell like five-day old chicken all the time, and demand that his pet dog come along every tour, and the dog smells like it eats live chickens--"
"Frank!" Gerard laughed. "Jesus! Shut the hell up!"
I smirked. "Why don't you make me?"
Smiling, he said "No way, man! That's the oldest trick in the book, and there's no way I'm playing along to that bullshit." He capped his sharpie and gathered all of them up in his hand. "And I'm done, by the way."
I ignored him and grabbed his wrist, sliding my hand across the warm material of my comforter; he stopped his movements and looked down at me curiously, while I kept my mischievous smile plastered on my face. "You didn't seem to mind the night before last."
He swallowed and I felt his fingers twitch lightly against my skin. "Yeah, well--"
He did, leaning down after swallowing a second time, until his face was only inches from mine. "Frank..."
My smile turned into a scowl and I grabbed his throat--/gently/--with my left hand, while keeping me right around his wrist. "Why the fuck did you do it?" I snarled.
He didn't look surprised. Or angry. Or hurt. Or any combination of the emotions I might have expected if I didn't already know Gerard to be a surprising bastard when it came to portrayal...and everything else in the world, for that matter. I could feel his pulse beating only slightly faster than normal in his neck, and found it strangely comforting. But I held my grip strong and stared directly at him, waiting for the brilliant bullshit he was destined to pull.
Calm as hell. I wanted to strangle him just for being so nonchalant about this whole fucking thing. Didn't he find anything /weird/? I mean, even someone as abnormal as him would have to admit that our current situation was--however far from unexpected--still surprising.
"You called her. You called her and told her everything, and now she's done with me," I hissed at him, tightening my fingers and pulling him closer. "She told me, Gerard. She fucking told me that you've called her. And do you know what she said? She said she didn't wish us ill/. That I /need you. That you need me. Isn't that fabulous? I just love it. I just love that you can ruin a perfect relationship with something that everyone "knew" was going to happen. Fuck that. Fuck /you/. I can't believe the shit you pull, I really can't. You've really got nerves, you bastard."
He remained motionless through my entire whispered tirade against him, staring at me calmly and looking me dead in the eye. I hated him for that. That even in my control, he won. Even when I had the upper hand, he could come out from under me at anytime and take the lead. And yet... I found comfort in that as well. That I would always have that to back me up.
But he was finally speaking, so I quickly drove that thought from my mind.
"'Perfect,' Frank? Is that what you would call that relationship?" he said, and I shot venom through my glare; he met it full on and continued. "None of us can perfect relationships, doing what we do."
He looked like he wasn't done, but I didn't care. "Listen, just because you can go and randomly break up with Kel after ten years for no good fucking reason doesn't mean that you're entitled to do that to my relationships. I was going to marry Jamia, Gerard, doesn't that mean anything to you? /Anything/? I was going to spend the rest of my life with her, and now...she would never trust me again. Do you even realize what you've /done/?"
My anger had lessoned slightly; I just wanted to hear what he had to say. I needed to know why. The heater clicked off and I could almost hear the television up front, and when Gerard spoke, I felt his warm breath against my neck, keeping the temperature from really changing at all.
"There's three things wrong with what you just said, Frank, and you're going to listen to each of them, and you're only going to argue with me if I'm wrong."
I snarled and glowered at him, shifting my fingers slightly and tightening my grip on his wrist, just so he would remember who was in control here. Or, who would like to continue thinking that, at least. He got the hint and moved on.
"One: You know why I broke up with Kel. I don't need to explain that to you again, and I think you're just trying to make me sound like a bitter jackass. I'm not a person for a relationship like that. And I know she wanted marriage. I saw her asking me with her eyes almost every night we were together. Two: If you really wanted to marry Jamia, you would have done it already. Mikey and Alicia have only known each other for seven months, tops, and they're already planning this wedding. They actually have a date set, unlike you, who's been with Jamia since...six years ago? Give me a fucking break, Frank. And three: The blame for this doesn't lie solely on me. As I recall," his voice was lowering now, more of a growl than anything else, and he kept our eye contact with startling intensity, the hazel seeming to glow with an acidic green behind brown flakes. "You were the one who asked me into the back room, you were the one that stayed on that fucking couch, and you were the one that invited me in here. And I also distinctly remember a certain three words falling from your mouth not once, but three times."
"That's a lie," I blurt out. "I only said that twice."
He gave me a stern look before shrugging, "You're right. The other three words happened to be something different, didn't they? Something like "I want--"
"Shut up," I said, my voice dangerous. He leant in closer, challengingly.
"Or /what/, Frank?"
His eyes. His eyes were goddamn fucking gorgeous. I bit my lip in frustration.
"Or I'll make you."
He scoffed. "That's rich." He lowered his head so that we were almost touching and added an alluring amount of poison in his words, until his entire sentence soaked with attainable desire. "I'd love to see you try."
"You really need to learn," I growled, "that when someone tells you to shut up--"
"You really need--"
"--to shut the fuck up."
His eyes gleamed; his voice was barely a voice at all, but a manifestation of our frustration, denial, and love concealed badly behind false anger. It was low and harsh and bitter and inviting.
And I did. I crashed my mouth against his and he replied immediately, placing his hand on top of the one I had on his throat and holding it there momentarily before bringing it around to the back of his neck, while my other hand gripped desperately against the ratty Black Flag shirt that he's had for /ages/.
"Hey faggots! Time to get up!"
Oh Mikey. Bless your little shriveled black heart. Gerard pulled away from me and opened the curtain just a tiny bit, calling back to Mikey, "Yeah, yeah, asswipe, we'll be right out. Frank, stop it," he added to me as he pulled away from the curtain and attempted to push me away from his neck. "You heard the little bastard. You have been asleep for a while, you know. Time to get your ass up!"
"Hey," I replied defensively, tearing myself away from his skin. "You've been back here with me, remember?"
"Ah, not true!" he giggled. "I was up, made coffee, bullshit with everyone, and then came back here."
"Oh yeah," I mused, "to turn me into a human canvas, right? What did you draw, anyway?"
He smiled. "You'll find out. But first, I think you should go eat breakfast. But no coffee--you have enough energy."
I shifted guiltily. "I didn't...hurt your neck, did I? I didn't mean to be rough, I just..." I trailed off. I hadn't really meant to blow up like I did, but one thing led to another and it got out of hand--like most things in my life right now, actually.
"No," he laughed lightly, leaning down to speak into the flesh on my neck, making me shiver. "But even if you did, I don't really think I would have minded."
"Gee..." I said, hoping to turn that into some form of verbal request to get off in case Mikey wandered back here--which I seriously doubt he would do, but I had no other excuse. It didn't work, and my voice trailed off as I felt his hot breath and lips against my skin. He hummed, and it vibrated through my spine and instead of pulling back, my hand shot to the back of his head and urged him further into my neck. His hand trailed up my side as his teeth nipped gently against my skin. Then harder.
I let out a soft whimper.
Horrified, I immediately clapped a hand to my mouth as Gerard's head shot up, his face grinning at me wickedly. He pointed an accusing finger and burst into laughter.
"I knew it! I fucking knew it! No wonder that Lincoln kid tried to bite you--you have a vampire fetish!"
"I do not!" I shot back.
"Oh, you so do!"
He gave me a doubtful look, and before I could stop him, he had leant back down and sank his teeth into my neck again, It was gentle, but hard enough to leave little marks. I gasped lightly and gripped his arms. He kissed along my pulse before biting down again, albeit harder, and I bit my bottom lip, crying suddenly, "Okay! Okay, I give! You win!"
He pulled back and did sort a mini victory cheer in the tiny space of the bunk. I glared at him and ran my fingers across the little marks on my neck. "But to be fair, you have very sharp teeth."
"Yeah, yeah, uh-huh. Just...go eat. Or take a shower. Or be a brat to someone. I don't care where you go, but you can't stay here."
"What the hell are you talking about?" I said, looking at him like he was insane, which wasn't doubtful. "This is my bunk."
"Yeah, and it smells as bad as you do."
He wasn't paying attention anymore though; his eyesight was fixed on the blank wall, and he was studying it carefully, the gears in his brain turning. "Yeah, okay, just...get out of here. I'll tell you when it's ready."
"When what's ready?"
He smiled and tore his eyes away from the wall of the bunk to look at me. "Frank, go /away/!" he laughed, the tone in his voice feeling almost amazed that I hadn't left yet.
"Alright, alright! Jesus..." I muttered before moving back the curtain and stepping out. As soon as I did, he pulled it right back, hiding himself from view. I flipped him off, despite him not being able to see me and turned to leave.
But I didn't.
"Hey, Gee?" I whispered through the curtain.
A pause, before, "Me too. Except, you know, not really. But really, yeah. You know."
I smiled and turned, leaving the bunk area and opening the little cabinet by the bathroom, where I found some towels, along with random shit that we had stuffed in there, including a fake stuffed ostrich, a bottle of water, and a bag of puzzle pieces. I grabbed a towel and made my way into the bathroom where I took off my shirt and turned to face the mirror, hoping against hope that there wasn't something crude written across my stomach.
I let my mouth fall open slightly as I gazed at my transformed tattoos, seething in jealousy and awe at Gerard's talent. Across the sparrows' wings and underbellies he had written words in variations of colours, which blended in flawlessly with the mixtures he had used. I stared at it with a small smile, glad that he had used sharpie. I didn't want this to ever fade.
'Search' and 'Destroy'
"Alright, spill it."
"Mikey...are those my clothes?"
I stood there awkwardly, a towel wrapped around my waist and my hair dripping wet. As usual, I had forgotten to get clothes before jumping into the shower, and had only taken a step outside of the bathroom to find Mikey blocking my way, a very familiar bag clutched in his grasp.
He smiled deviously. "Why yes, Frank, I do believe they are."
"Alright, well...you want to give them to me?"
He shot me a sarcastic look. "Well, of course I do!"
I reached out to grab them, but he pulled away from my reach and scolded me. "Ah, ah, ah, Frank, you have to tell me what happened first."
"What are you, some kind of stalker? Give me my clothes!"
"I'm not a stalker, Frank, and I demand that you apologize for that remark right this instant, unless you want to perform naked tonight."
The bus had stopped while I was in the shower, and I had figured everyone would have been long gone by now, checking out the area and getting ready for sound check, but apparently I was wrong.
"Alright Mikey, sorry, but you are kind of weird. Especially since you should already know that nothing "happened"."
"Reeeaaaaally," he said, drawing out his words. "Then would you mind explaining why Gerard has been drawing on your skin? Dangerously close to your waistline, might I add."
I hitched up my towel and blushed. "Mikey, give me my damn clothes!"
I leapt at him and he squeaked and took off running. I followed him out into the main part of the bus, where I caught a glimpse of him disappearing behind the driver's door, slamming it shut.
"Damnit Mikey!" I shouted, pouting and keeping a death-grip on my towel.
It was about that time that I noticed I wasn't alone.
Bob was staring at me with a calm "what the fuck are you doing?" look, his arm around the pretty redhead Gerard and I had seen him with at that hotel. She was blushing and looking away, trying to hide her laughter and embarrassment. Personally, I didn't care one way or the other that she saw me in a towel, I was just worried about having to beg Mikey to come out with my clothes in front of an audience; especially Bob, who would give me hell for it in the weeks to come.
Luckily, my solution walked right through the door.
"Hey, Bob, we've got about thirty minutes before sound check, so..."
He looked up and spotted me, his head tilting slightly.
"Frank...? What are you doing?"
I huffed and shifted my towel slightly. "Your stupid brother took my clothes while I was in the shower and he said he wouldn't give them back unless I told him about stuff that never really happened, and I don't know why he cares so much since he probably knows anyway, since, he like, knows everything. And so I chased him out here and he hid in the driver's compartment like a little PANSY!" I shouted the last word in the direction of where he disappeared, hoping he heard me.
He did, and shouted back. "Yeah, look who's talking! That's a nice towel you're wearing, you five foot two girls-cut fanatic!"
"I'M FIVE FOUR!"
"Alright, alright, calm down you two," Gerard said, holding up his hands. Which was stupid, in my opinion, because Mikey wouldn't see them, and he was the one who started all this in the first place. "Now Mikey, why don't you be a good friend and return Frank his clothes so that he doesn't have to go to sound check in the nude, all right?"
"Not until he apologizes for calling me names."
"Frank, apologize," Gerard said, motioning to me.
"I already did apologize, you bastard! Now give me my fucking clothes before I rip your face off!"
"Not with that attitude!"
"Frank!" Gerard said, glaring at me playfully. "You're not helping!"
"Shut up, Gerard. You're not helping either!" I spat. "Mikey, dude, I'm /cold/. Now if you come out right /now/, I'll let you off free, no harm done. But if you make me fight for this, the first chance I get, I'm going to cram your eyeballs down your pants so that you can watch me kick your ass. Is that clear?"
"Ooooh, them's fightin' words," Bob muttered, and both Gerard and the redhead--Melony?--giggled. I tried to figure out whose was more girlish, but I couldn't rightly decipher the difference.
There was a short silence before, "Frank?"
"...You're a pansy."
I bit down the yell I wanted to throw at him, and took a deep breath. "Alright Mikey. I'm a pansy. But I'm an increasingly cold pansy, so could I please have my stuff back?"
The door slowly opened, and the bag was tossed at me from behind it. I couldn't even see Mikey when he said, "Remember, I get off free; that's what you said, and I trust you to stick by it."
I opened my mouth to say something crude in reply, but Mikey wasn't done blabbering yet. "Gerard!" he whispered harshly, like the rest of us might not be able to hear him. "Gee, come here!"
Gerard shook his head and muttered something undecipherable under his breath before disappearing behind the door along with Mikey, a small smile spreading across his face. I watched the front of the door for a minute, holding my bag of clothes in one hand and my towel in the other, before finally turning back to Bob, who still wore the same expression. He looked at me calmly for a few moments before stating, quite casually, "You both are dicks."
Melony broke out into laughter again and I flipped him off, yelling, "Go back to Chicago, Bob!" and stalking off towards the bathroom, trying to hide the smile that was breaking onto my lips.
"Hey, see any sign of Lincoln tonight?"
Gerard slung his arm around my shoulder as I handed my guitar off to a waiting roadie. The crowd was still screaming behind us as we walked away, green light pouring over our skin like a layer of thick mist. Bob was tossing his drumsticks to the crowd while Ray continued to let out severe feedback for the crowd, and Mikey was slipping his bass off of his shoulders, looking over the crowd, which he could only do after the show due to his slightly overwhelming stage fright.
I laughed, the sound barely audible from everything else around us. I looked at him, bathed in a acidic looking glow that matched his eyes, and noted the way his hair changed colour with each slight tilt of his head. He was sweating, like I was, and the high from being on stage still hadn't worn off yet, so the grin plastered on his face most likely mirrored mine as I sighed and threw my head back, staring at the ceiling and allowing him to lead me offstage.
"Not a damn thing."
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