AUTHOR: emmawatson, formerly scared_of_this
COUNT: 8,978 words
SUMMARY: Frank lives a simple, lonely life. He's painfully awkward and unaware, but a rainy day can change things, if slowly.
NOTE: Used the word 'umbrella' as a prompt and went with it. First finished story in a long time.
Frank knew the weather called for scattered showers today, but it was so sunny outside when he left for work in the morning that he didn’t see any reason to leaden his bag further with an umbrella. Frank works inside anyway, the AC on blast at all times so that it creates a deep chill within his bones whenever Frank sits at his desk for more than a few minutes. He brings a sweater to work for these times when his body isn’t doing much work to generate warmth. But as soon as he starts moving around and walking to the other side of the floor or up to the tenth floor and back, he feels better and can shed the stretched-out sweater for later.
It’s summer and it’s nice some days, but most days it’s either too hot or too cold. Frank wishes it was a perfect 75 degrees everyday with a light wind. Warm enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt, but maybe in the shade he could pull out his favorite hoodie from his bag and slip it on as the breeze goes by and cools him to just the right point.
Frank’s favorite part of the summer is that it doesn’t get dark until really late, like eight or nine o’clock, and it feels like he can do whatever he wants after work because he has so much time to do it in. But usually, Frank just goes home to his single-bedroom apartment, turns on the cable and dozes off on his beaten-in leather couch. Eventually he’ll get up, turn the lights off and get some soda from the fridge before he heads into his bedroom. He only has a fan in there that blows humid air around his head, so it’s quite uncomfortable for a long time before Frank finally falls out again.
Frank likes his job, mostly, or most days, but some days it’s boring and repetitive and probably just like every single entry-level job out there. Frank doesn’t really know what he wants to do with his life. He guesses he hasn’t found his “calling,” so to speak. He doesn’t really like getting up early but on Thursdays Frank does get up early so he can see his shrink at 8 am and not end up having to stay too late at work later on.
He doesn’t really have any friends. Well, he doesn’t like to put it that way. He has people from home, from high school, that he hasn’t talked to in years, but he could probably call them if he wanted to and catch up. He has some people he talks to at his job, but they’re older and interested in their own things. Maybe if Frank had someone to sit on his couch with at night, drink a beer or two and talk about stuff with, he’d be happier. Well, at least it might be nice.
Frank didn’t bring a umbrella with him today despite the forewarning. It started to get dark fairly early and suddenly Frank is terrified that it is winter again. But the sun is just behind a cloud. Twenty minutes later it’s time to leave, so Frank pops in his headphones and starts to walk to the bus stop for a long wait and a long ride. Not two minutes out the door that the winds kick up to top speed, the sky becomes black and it begins to pour sheets of cold rain. Frank is surprised, and then worried as he thinks about his laptop in his bag and his iPod in his pocket and his cell phone in the other one. He grabs a free newspaper from it’s box and pathetically spreads it out over his head. It immediately blows away, but it wasn’t working anyway.
Frank begins to sprint to the bus stop, frantic about his electronics and becoming utterly soaked through his clothing when he stops to turn around to the closer direction of work. But he bumps into someone. Someone with a big, red umbrella.
“Hi, need cover?” the man with the umbrella asks.
“Um,” Frank is nervous, but, “Yeah, I have a computer in my bag and it’s not waterproof, so.”
And he stands underneath the red umbrella with this young man as the rain pounds on down around them.
“Which direction are you headed?” the man finally asks.
“Well I was going to the 64 bus stop down the road, but my work is just that building up ahead,” Frank responds. Frank is still a bit nervous, strangely sharing an umbrella with a stranger.
“We can walk that way, to the bus stop, I take the 67, same place,” the man answers, “By the way, I’m Gerard.”
“Oh. Um, Frank, is me,” Frank says. Frank shakes his head at his utterly perplexing response but Gerard doesn’t seem to mind.
“Okay then Frank, follow me,” Gerard smiles.
Gerard and Frank walk clumsy together under the umbrella as the rain continues to fly and they bump into each other several times. They get to the bus stop and the rain stops. Just like that, in every crevice one minute and completely absent the next. The sun even comes back out. Gerard closes the umbrella and shakes it out, finally looking at Frank head-on.
“Well, that was interesting,” Gerard says. Frank takes Gerard in and maybe mumbles something in return. But Frank is interested in Gerard’s dark scraggly hair and his slightly up-turned nose and the weird twinkle in his eyes. The twinkling thing makes Frank’s stomach flip-flop and he feels weird for feeling that about a weird eye twinkle.
The 64 bus pull up and Frank fingers his back pocket for his bus pass.
“Thank you, Gerard, the umbrella helped,” Frank says, stepping onto the bus. Frank sits down in an empty sit and realized the umbrella didn’t really help as he is completely soaked and so is his computer.
The next day Frank lingers at the bus stop to see if a 67 bus pulls up. But it doesn’t. So he walks to work, the sun shining again and thinks about Gerard. It was nice of him to offer his umbrella to a stranger, he thinks. Maybe Frank can return the favor.
Frank doesn’t see Gerard for a few weeks until the next rainy day. He is in the coffee shop by work and he sees a large, red umbrella folded up and leaning against a table. Gerard is sitting there by himself and blowing on a cup of hot tea. Frank thinks getting Gerard a scone or a cookie would be a nice way to repay him for his kindness, so he gets in line and orders a black coffee and two blueberry scones. Frank isn’t sure where he’s getting this braveness from, to walk up to a stranger and offer him baked goods, but maybe it’s the rain and the way it gets dark out during a decent storm and how it makes Frank feel cold and lonely and wanting to curl up somewhere with someone.
“Um, hello Gerard, it’s Frank, oh, do you remember me? You shared your umbrella with me last time it rained, and uh,” Frank frowns as he looks down at Gerard, “I just got you something to repay you for your kindness, I hope you like blueberry,” he says and sets the wrapped scone down on the table.
Frank is about to walk away embarrassed, but Gerard is beaming up at him and pulling his arm to sit down at the table with him.
“Thank you so much, of course I remember you,” Gerard replies, and wow, his smile is big, “So sit, drink your coffee, you work around here?”
“I work in the building right across the street, office stuff, you know,” Frank replies, shy and kind of speechless. He takes a sip of his coffee, forgetting how hot it is and tries to hide back a wince.
“Nice, I manage the bookstore down the street,” Gerard says and he takes a big bite of his scone. Crumbs fall from his mouth and he doesn’t seem the least bit self-conscious. Frank finds it endearing and decides to open up.
“How come I’ve never seen you before, you know besides on rainy days?” he asks.
“I don’t know, maybe the red umbrella is good luck or something,” Gerard replies and conceals his smile with a sip of tea. Frank takes a sip of coffee and smiles too.
They agree to meet up again for coffee or lunch. Gerard tells Frank to come down to the bookstore and he’ll give him his employee discount on whatever he wants. They don’t set a date to meet up and that makes Frank nervous. Perhaps Gerard was just being polite to Frank. An extremely polite person who is interesting and bold and just very polite.
But Frank does need a book and a discount wouldn’t hurt. He could just act like he forgot Gerard worked there or something. Maybe he can get some more moleskins too as he filled his last one.
So Frank wanders around the store and knows what section to go to, but he’s not in any hurry. He just looks at everything, books, magazines, pens, accessories to scrapbook with but no scrapbooks. Finally, Frank gives up and brings his items up to the cashier so he can leave. But that’s exactly where Gerard is.
“Hi Frank, good to see you, I didn’t know if you’d come in, so here it is, this place is practically my home,” Gerard laughs and pulls a strand of hair behind his right ear.
“Yeah, this place is great, my place has nothing on it at all, except maybe a bed and a great couch,” Frank replies. His face reddens to the color of Gerard’s umbrella. What he meant was that a bookstore is a cool place to have as a home except there is no where to sleep. Not anything else that could be construed about a bed or couch, no matter how great they are.
“Oh yeah, you’ll have to show me sometime,” Gerard answers as he bags each item and Frank hands him his debit card.
“Oh, sure, it’s not much, but it’s my home, you know, so…” Frank punches in his pin number, “But you can come over on Friday if you like, we could just hang out or whatever,” Frank shrugs and has to retype his pin number again because he typed it in wrong the first time.
“Well why don’t we meet up after work on Friday at seven, sound good?” Gerard smiles.
“Yeah, I’ll see you outside the coffee shop,” Frank answers and takes his bag.
“Yeah, see ya Frank,” Gerard waves goodbye and begins to ring up the next customer. Frank has trouble turning around except when he stumbles over a nice, little lady.
Friday is really only the next day and Frank is nauseous. He thinks maybe he should cancel his plans with Gerard, but then he’d have to do it in person since he doesn’t have Gerard’s phone number or email and that would be awkward. So Frank is outside the coffee shop at 7 pm precisely and he rocks back and forth on his heels as he waits for Gerard.
Gerard comes twenty minutes later, practically running down the street as he sweats and stuffs his jacket into his bag.
“Sorry, they just wouldn’t let me go there, always need my help closing up, yadda yadda,” he answers to the question not asked.
“Oh, that’s all right, I almost got some coffee, but decided not to,” Frank says.
“You want coffee? We can stop, I don’t mind, I thought you would of left or something, I didn’t expect to see you still here,” Gerard tells Frank. Gerard looks at Frank in the eyes and Frank hopes that Gerard doesn’t pity him or something.
“We’d said we meet up, so why wouldn’t I wait? Let’s just go to the bus, is that okay?” Frank replies, trying to ignore the awful feeling he has in the pit of stomach and backbone.
Gerard doesn’t answer, just walks along side of Frank to the bus stop. It’s a nice day that is turning into a nice evening and Frank appreciates that. They get on the 64 bus and sit next to one another on the hard blue seats. Gerard talks about the bookstore while Frank remains quiet. His job is not nearly as exciting as Gerard’s job.
“So did your computer survive the rain storm that day?” Gerard asks.
“Oh no, it didn’t, it’s at a repair shop now, but I think they’re just pulling me along and it’s not actually repairable,” Frank answers and hopes Gerard doesn’t think that he has a lack of skills with umbrellas or anything.
“You should let my brother see it, he’s real good with those things,” Gerard mentions, and maybe Frank will let Gerard’s brother take a look at it and maybe meet his brother too.
They get off at Frank’s stop and walk a few blocks to his apartment. Gerard is the type of walker that doesn’t seem to take into account other people’s personal space because he walks real close to Frank and keeps bumping into Frank as he waves his arms around while he talks. Frank doesn’t know if that’s weird or not.
Frank spent all night cleaning his place so it would be presentable for a guest. He even did his laundry just so it wouldn’t be sitting in the hamper. Frank also went grocery shopping in case Gerard got hungry and he got the menu to the pizza place down the street in case Gerard didn’t like Frank’s cooking. Frank purchased two kinds of beer since he didn’t know Gerard’s preference.
Frank unlocks the door and welcomes Gerard inside. Frank shows him his whole apartment from just from a single spot in the room. Well, Frank doesn’t show Gerard his bedroom because that may seem inappropriate.
“This is it, I have cable and X-Box, so you know, or I can make us dinner if your hungry or I might have Scrabble somewhere in the closet,” Frank mutters off. Scrabble? Frank thinks.
“Dinner sounds nice, I can help,” Gerard says. Gerard puts his bag down on the floor and steps over into the kitchen and opens the fridge. Frank stands there.
“Did you have something in mind I should know about?” Gerard asks, “Can I have a beer?”
“Yes and no, I mean no and yes, or maybe,” Frank responds. Frank hasn’t had a friend over in a long time. Frank shakes his head clear and walks over to the fridge and tells Gerard to drink all the beer he likes and that he doesn’t have anything in mind for dinner but to just throw some things together and see if they work. Frank hasn’t cooked in a long time either.
Frank and Gerard work along side one another in the kitchen as one chops up vegetables and chicken and the other cooks it in this wok thing that Frank’s mother sent for his last birthday. It’s actually fun and it surprisingly tastes decent and Frank is happy for the first time in a long, long time.
After dinner they sit on the leather couch and drink their beers as they watch Terminator II on television. Gerard is really into the movie and Frank is too, but he can’t help himself from smelling Gerard and looking at Gerard’s hands and Gerard’s smile. Gerard looks at him from the corner of his eye and turns the television off even though the movie isn’t over yet.
“So what do you want to be when you grow up Frank?” Gerard randomly asks, setting his drink down, hands in his lap and leaning back.
“I don’t know yet,” Frank pathetically replies. But it’s the truth so what else would he say?
“What do you want to be?” Frank retaliates and leans back on the couch too.
“Maybe an actor, or a singer, I don’t know, something fun and creative, maybe I’ll own the bookstore one day and I’ll expand it or have my own club,” he spouts off and Frank kind of feels like shit. Why didn’t Frank think of something like that?
“Maybe I’ll be your partner, you run the shady basement club underneath the bookstore and I’ll do the bookstore thing or you know, something,” Frank says as he tries his hardest to be creative.
“Yeah, I like that idea, you could be the Sonny to my Cher or fucking whatever, you get me,” Gerard replies and gets closer to Frank. Frank gets Gerard, but not really. Maybe he’s drunk.
Gerard appears restless and keeps moving around on the couch until he settles his head on Frank’s leg near his lap. Frank moves a pillow underneath his head.
“Run your fingers through my hair,” Gerard says, “Come on, my mom used to do it to me when I was younger and it’s so relaxing.”
Frank complies and runs his fingers through Gerard’s hair even though it’s kind of tangled and greasy. But Gerard gets a slack look on his face, his eyes closed and is practically purring. Frank is about to stop because he is feeling uncomfortable with Gerard this close to him and he doesn’t want Gerard to know.
“Frank, kiss me?” Gerard asks as he peaks an eye open. Frank’s face must not have the correct facial response because Gerard sits right up and starts to apologize.
“I’m so sorry, I thought this was maybe a date, but I guess I’m wrong, I’m so embarrassed, can we just forget this ever happened?” Gerard babbles and Frank just sits there in silence.
“I’ll guess I’ll go now,” Gerard says and gets up and walks toward the door, “But um, the bus has stopped running by now and I have no idea where I am and I’m kind of drunk, so…”
“You can stay here, if you don’t mind the couch,” Frank says and Gerard seems to calm down a bit, although he’s still frowning.
“That’s fine, I’ll be out bright and early,” Gerard answers.
“You don’t have to be, there’s cartoons on in the morning,” Frank replies and tries to get Gerard to smile again. He doesn’t like how frowning-Gerard makes him feel.
Later on Gerard is settled on the couch and Frank is settled in his bed and Gerard sounds like he is asleep if the snoring is any indication, but Frank is wide awake. He feels bad like he deceived Gerard into thinking it was a date. But maybe, maybe he feels bad for not kissing him when he asked.
Frank gets out of bed and takes his blanket and pillow with him. He gets down on the floor next to the couch and falls asleep.
When Frank wakes up Gerard is gone. Frank hopes he found his way home, but kind of wished that he had stayed for cartoons. The rest of the weekend goes by in a horribly, boring blur. Frank thinks about calling his shrink, and then remembers it’s the weekend and it would probably be rude to use the phone number he was given in confidence. Frank can’t even call Gerard.
Monday arrives with even less fanfare and Frank wonders when he’ll see Gerard next. Should he go down to the bookstore or hope that it rains? Frank doesn’t have to do either because he ends up seeing Gerard in the coffee shop the next morning.
“Hi Gerard,” Frank says from behind Gerard in the coffee line.
“Oh, fuck, you scared me,” Gerard laughs as he turns around, and then gets suddenly serious, “What are you doing here?”
“I’m getting something to drink, just like you,” Frank replies and wonders what is up with Gerard. He is usually the smooth one here.
“So do you want to hang out again?” Frank asks. He wants to make sure they’re still friends.
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea, I mean…” Gerard says and trails off.
“Really?” Frank asks, because shit. Frank hasn’t had a friend in so long and maybe things were a little confusing the other night but now that they are clear why should it be a problem? Frank hasn’t put himself on the line like this in practically forever.
“Well,…I, I’m free on Thursday, if that’s okay,” Gerard answers and turns around to give his order to the cashier. Frank places his order after Gerard before he gives him an answer.
“Yeah, Thursday is fine. Why don’t we exchange phone numbers or something to make things easier?” Frank replies and blows on his plain black coffee.
“Yeah, sure,” Gerard says as he take out a pen and writes his information on a napkin. Frank takes the pen from him and does the same.
“I’ll call you before Thursday then,” Frank says.
“See you Frank,” Gerard says and walks out, turning his direction down the street while Frank turns the other way.
Frank spends Tuesday and Wednesday at work in a total haze. All he can think about is Gerard and the things he wants to show him or tell him, or he thinks about just sitting in silence with Gerard next to him on his couch. He thinks about his smile, his teeth, his hair. Sometimes he thinks about Gerard asking him for a kiss. He plans to call him on Wednesday night and he thinks about the conversation and what he will say.
Frank calls Gerard at 8 pm on Wednesday but Gerard doesn’t answer. Frank doesn’t let it bother him since there is still time to get in touch and make plans for the next night. Frank tries again at 9:30 pm and Gerard still doesn’t answer. Frank leaves a voicemail this time.
It’s midnight and Frank can’t sleep. He thinks maybe he should try Gerard again, but perhaps it is too late now.
It’s 3:30 am and Frank has only marginally slept, which isn’t good since he has to get up early and see his shrink. But the phone rings. At first Frank is surprised to see Gerard’s number light up the screen, but then he remembers that he did say to call back anytime because Frank would be awake. Frank picks up the phone and tentatively says hello.
“Oh Frank, it’s Gerard, sorry to be calling, um, this late, but I got your voicemail a few hours ago and I was out and fuck, I’m kind of drunk, or really drunk and I wanted to call you back,” Gerard mumbles into the telephone. Frank isn’t sure what to think.
“It’s okay, I just wanted to set up plans with you for tomorrow night,” Frank says. He’s sitting up in his bed, and then realizes he is uncomfortable and lies back down.
“What are you doing now?” Gerard asks.
“I’m in bed, just you know, I wasn’t sleeping or anything, but I’ve been trying and it’s not working, you know…” Frank answers. He almost feels like he should have a long, curly telephone cord to twirl around his finger.
“Yeah, I just got home and I can’t find the cat, oh wait, there she is, and um, I just like you Frank and I shouldn’t be saying that but I’m drunk so fuck it and I don’t know if I can see you tomorrow, I don’t want to get hurt or confused, so maybe this should be it, so umm…” Gerard says at once without taking a breathe.
“What are you talking about, Gerard? I haven’t had a friend in a while so if I did something wrong, just tell me, I don’t know how I’m suppose to act,” Frank offers lamely.
“Frank, you kill me, you’re so nice and special, really, you didn’t do anything, it’s all me on this one, so,” Gerard replies. Frank is even more confused.
“I, so, we’re not hanging out tomorrow?” Frank asks.
“Ummm, okay, look come to the bookstore, is 8 pm okay?” Gerard sighs in the background and possibly knocks something over.
“That’s fine, see you then Gerard,” Frank replies and the smile is evident in his voice.
Frank doesn’t sleep the rest of the night. He tries to decipher what Gerard was talking about, and maybe he’s too naïve or purposely blind to what Gerard actually meant, but he’s happy right now so long as Gerard doesn’t stop being friends with him.
Frank gets up early to go to his doctor’s office and he feels like shit after not sleeping but he supposes he should talk anyway since he pays for someone to listen to him.
He mentions to his doctor that he made friends with someone named Gerard and how he is really happy. The doctor is happy at this news too. He tells him all about Gerard and mentions that Gerard wanted to kiss him and thought they were on a date when Frank invited him over and made him dinner and watched a movie with him.
“Oh, Frank, I don’t think we’ve ever talked about your sexuality in here. How did Gerard asking to kiss you make you feel?” the doctor asks.
“Uh.” Frank keeps his hands knotted in his lap.
“Have you ever dated someone of the same sex before?”
“No, definitely not,” Frank answers, his mouth going dry.
“Well, I think Gerard has a crush on you and it sounds to me like you really like him back, it might be something to consider. You’ve never mentioned the opposite sex before or anyone in particular but you’ve gone on quite a bit about this man and I think he might mean something to you, which is a great thing,” the doctor says and looks at Frank in that ‘I’m a doctor, so of course I’m right’ look. Frank glances away, blushes and doesn’t say anything. It seems kind of silly to Frank, he’s never been with guys before, or that many girls actually. But still. It doesn’t have to mean anything.
Frank leaves and goes to work and can’t stop thinking about Gerard and what his shrink said and what Gerard said last night and it’s all very confusing and weird and Frank doesn’t want that. He just wants to be content with life, that’s all.
At 8 pm Frank walks over to the book store, but it closed an hour ago as stated by the sign on the door. Frank can’t even step away from the door, thinking maybe the sign is a error but the dim lighting and empty store probably aren’t mistakes.
Suddenly, Frank sees Gerard running to the front door wiggling keys in his hand.
“Sorry, I forgot to tell you the store would be closed, glad you didn’t bolt, you know how I am with timing and things,” Gerard says and ushers Frank inside the empty store. Frank feels relieved and silly.
“Wow, this place is kind of creepy when it’s dark,” Frank exclaims as he studies the darkened book shelves and stays far away from unexplained shadows.
“That’s what I like about it, I’m almost done anyway, just counting money,” Gerard replies and walks Frank to the backroom and into the manager’s office. There is a small desk, a gray safe under the desk and an aging computer. Gerard takes the money out of the safe and begins to count and bundle it.
“I got my computer back from that place today, it’s totally toasted,” Frank says as he shakes his head. He leans back against the wall as there isn’t any place to sit.
“Oh, we should stop by my brother’s place and drop it off to him, you have it with you?” Gerard asks.
“Yeah, that would be nice,” Frank replies and is pleased again.
“Well, I’m done here, let’s go,” Gerard winks at Frank and Frank’s stomach flips to that confused place again.
Frank follows Gerard down the street to the bus stop they normally go to, but this time they get on the number 67 that takes them to Gerard’s side of town.
“My brother lives a few blocks from my place, so it’s easy to drop by, even when I’m not welcomed, which is like never,” Gerard states. This only slightly eases Frank’s worry that they may be intruding in on his brother who probably doesn’t want to spend his time on some useless computer charity case.
“Are you two close?” Frank asks. Frank doesn’t have any siblings of his own, so he really has no clue as to what it’s like to have one.
“Oh, the closest. He’s younger than me, but I swear I look up to him most of the time, smart kid, really,” Gerard talks.
They get off the bus and walk about two blocks and step up in front of a house-apartment building. It seems like a nice, quiet place from the outside.
“Here it is, Mikey’s abode that is, but really it’s back here,” Gerard says and motions for Frank to follow him to the back of the house and into the overgrown backyard.
“He lives in the basement, cheaper that way,” Gerard answers to Frank’s wondering look. They step down into a small concrete stairwell and knock twice on the door that has its shades pulled down. When no one answers, Gerard screams for Mikey to let him the fuck inside.
“I swear I should just get my own keys, I’m here enough of the time,” Gerard sighs as a tall, lanky kid opens the door. He looks like he’s been sleeping, even though it’s only about 9 pm.
“Mikeeeyy,” Gerard squeals as he pulls his brother into a bear hug, “This is my friend Frank, he needs your help, nothing you can’t handle,” Gerard assures him.
Mikey hasn’t really said anything yet, and that’s fine for Frank since he’s still taking him in, seeing where he looks like Gerard or not. He has the same straggly hair as Gerard, but in his own lighter-colored way. It looks like he might actually try to style it unlike Gerard. He wears glasses, and it makes Frank wonder if Gerard wears contacts that he didn’t notice before. And he’s a lot more lankier than Gerard, wearing tighter shirts and pants. But there’s a resemblance still, and Frank likes that.
They walk into Mikey’s bedroom and it’s filled with computer monitors and server racks and other things that Frank isn’t sure about.
“So what is it you need fixed?” Mikey asks to Frank, startling Frank out of his musings.
“Um, my laptop got wet through my bag in a rainstorm, so it’s probably worthless by now,” Frank trails, feeling kind of stupid.
“No, I can do this, if not Bob, he’s better at this shit than I am, so,” Mikey replies and sets aside the computer Frank handed him from inside his bag.
“Who’s Bob?” Frank asks, curious.
“Mikey’s roommate slash lover, oooh yes,” Gerard teases as Mikey’s face colors pink.
“Shut up Gee, let me not embarrass you in front of your guest,” Mikey retorts and returns to his normal pale shade of skin.
“I have nothing to hide if you’re trying to imply something, it won’t work, right Frank?” Gerard laughs and hands Frank a beer as he opens up one for himself.
Frank notices another side of Gerard when he is around his brother and is glad to be a part of it. Something very light and carefree, teasing and loving, comes out and shines.
“So Frank, you being good to my brother? I’ve heard a lot about you…” Mikey says as he raises an eyebrow toward Frank and kind of giggles.
“Like what? I’m a perfect gentlemen at all times,” Frank laughs and turns to see Gerard actually blushing and hiding his face.
“Maybe that’s the problem, Frank,” Mikey giggles again and now Frank is totally lost.
“How about some weed? Got any left Mikey?” Gerard asks as he starts digging through Mikey’s dresser drawers.
“Well, I do, but if you’re going to be like that then maybe I don’t have any for you, only for Frank,” he retorts and pushes Gerard out of the way of his things.
“Okay, okay fine, so where is Bob anyway?” Gerard asks as he sits down next to Frank in the tiny, dirty loveseat couch.
“I’m right here, what the fuck is going on in my place?” Bob gruffly asks, but is all smiles as he walks inside the apartment. Bob sets his bag down and Mikey stops what he is doing to come over and give Bob a kiss on the cheek. Frank kind of heats up all over at the sight, or perhaps it’s because there is no ventilation in this musty basement and Gerard is flush against his body within the confines of the couch.
“We were just about to roll a joint,” Mikey tells Bob. Bob pushes Mikey’s plastic baggie of pot away and pulls out his own baggie.
“I’ll do all the work, you just entertain our guests like a good little wifey,” Bob laughs and turns to Frank, “I’m Bob and you are?”
“I’m Frank, a friend of Gerard’s,” Frank answers. And he likes Bob right away, he immediately seems strong and nice and down to earth.
“Well, since we’re having an impromptu party, does anyone need refills on refreshments? Cigarettes? Cigars? Lottery tickets? I don’t fucking know,” Mikey laughs hysterically and lays back on the other couch to light a cigarette.
Frank starts to get twitchy as he watches Bob roll a huge joint. Frank hasn’t smoked anything since high school and that was a total of two times. Gerard leans over onto Frank and asks him what’s wrong.
“I just, um, haven’t done this shit since like high school, so um,” Frank lamely whispers into Gerard’s ear.
“So you cough a bit and that’s it, not too bad, I promise,” Gerard says and squeezes Frank’s hand and doesn’t let it go.
“So who is first?” Bob asks as he waves the joint in front of everyone so they can admire his handiwork.
“You go first, it’s your work, enjoy it babe,” Mikey calls out as he stretches his lean body backwards over the side of the couch.
Bob lights up the joint and takes a couple puffs before handing it to Mikey. Mikey does the same and passes it to Gerard as Bob and Mikey start arguing over something. Gerard whispers to Frank to do what he does, but when Frank tries to do it, it burns his lungs for one second before he’s coughing it forcefully out and his face is turning bright red.
“It takes practice,” Gerard consoles as Mikey and Bob try to stifle back giggles. The second time it gets to Frank he does a little better, but he is still embarrassed.
Gerard kindly goes to get Frank another beer so he can wash down the burning and coughing sensation with something cold. Mikey and Bob drift off over to their computers and start fooling around with things, leaving Gerard and Frank still sitting on the loveseat. Frank feels a bit high and maybe woozy or hungry and definitely hot and sweaty. Gerard is stuffed up against him and appears sleepy or content and he lets his head fall down into Frank’s neck.
“Why do you smell nice? You shouldn’t smell nice, it makes me feel bad for smelling horrible,” Gerard mumbles into Frank’s neck.
“You don’t smell horrible,” Frank replies and pulls Gerard into his arms as if to prove him wrong. Frank isn’t sure what is going on, but it seems nice and elating and different. They sit like that for some time, just listening to each other breath as Mikey and Bob playfully bicker in the background.
Frank gets the next round of beers as Mikey tries to roll another joint but fails. Bob huffs and acts like it’s an inconvenience for him to do it, but Frank can tell he actually enjoys it.
They smoke and drink, making jokes or lying quiet and Frank can tell it’s getting late and he’s so totally out of it right now. Frank looks at his watch for a third time when Gerard places his hand over it and tells him not to worry - he can crash at Gerard’s place just a few blocks down. This makes Frank nervous, but he doesn’t think he’s in a position to refuse.
At 2 am they hobble outside the door when they realize it’s raining. Gerard curses at not having his red umbrella, but really only winks at Frank as they run out the door together and into the rain as fast as they can. They keep going until they reach Gerard’s place that is thankfully not a hot and musty basement apartment.
Gerard gets out clothing for Frank to sleep in since his clothing is completely drenched. Frank changes in the bathroom into a t-shirt and flannel pants. He wonders how many times Gerard has went to sleep in these same items and how they feel against Gerard’s skin as opposed to his own.
Gerard is already changed into pajamas when Frank gets out of the bathroom. That’s when Frank realizes there is no furniture but Gerard’s bed as the rest of the space is filled with canvases and art projects and all kinds of odd and resourceful items.
“Sorry, but it’s a queen-sized so there’s plenty of room, no need for you to sleep on hardwood floors with paint and glitter stuck to them,” Gerard says and looks at Frank for his response.
“It’s fine, really, it is, I’m so tired,” Frank says and he’s not lying. Frank gets under the covers and practically melts into the mattress. He feels really good right now.
Gerard hesitantly gets under himself and lays on his side with his back facing Frank. Frank lays on his back, looking up at the painted starry ceiling. It reminds him of a teenage girl’s bedroom.
“So why haven’t you had friends in a long time?” Gerard mutters, “Oh shit, that’s not really any of my business, forget I asked that, it’s just you mentioned it the other night and I didn’t know what you meant,” Gerard apologizes but doesn’t turn over to face Frank.
“I, uh, I don’t know, I just kind of separated myself when I moved here and I didn’t meet anyone interesting, or at least that’s what I like to tell myself, I’ll have to get back to you on it when I figure it out myself,” Frank replies and turns on his side facing Gerard’s back, curling the covers up to his mouth.
“But you made friends with me pretty easily,” Gerard points out.
“Yeah, it was time for a change, I guess, and there you were with a red umbrella and the rest is history,” Frank explains. Gerard turns over on his back and inches closer to Frank. Frank slides over a bit without being obvious, he thinks.
They get closer to one another until their arms are wrapped around one another. It’s comfortable, natural, and not awkward for Frank. Gerard has the AC on full blast so heat isn’t an issue and it is really satisfying to have a pair of safe arms around Frank’s tiny and tired body. They fall asleep like this, a pair of snores echoing throughout Gerard’s small bedroom.
Frank is awaken by a set of paws kneading into his stomach like it’s a slab of dough. It’s kind of nice until Frank realizes it’s a big, black cat that looks hungry enough to eat this so-called dough.
“Trixie, get off of him,” Gerard voice comes from somewhere as his hand shoos the cat off of Frank’s stomach. Suddenly Gerard is by his side still in his pajamas, and his hair is sticking up at every ridiculous angle possible that Frank can’t help but burst into laughter.
“Hey, I’m not laughing at your little Buddha belly there or the fact that these flannel pants are like six inches too long for you,” Gerard retorts as he tries to straighten out his hair.
“So do you want any coffee?” Gerard asks as Frank calms down and begins to feel sleepy again.
“Mmm, coffee, of course,” Frank answer and it hits him. It’s Friday morning, not Saturday and he needs to be at work right this moment.
“Fuck, shit, I need to be at work Gerard, I forgot to set an alarm and shit and fuck,” Frank screams as he gets up and spins around looking for his clothing. Frank rarely misses a day of work unless it’s an emergency.
“It’s all right Frank, it’s cool,” Gerard announces and Frank doesn’t understand it one bit – how can it be all right? It’s already 10:30 am.
“How can it be all right? Have you seen my clothes, you think they’re dry by now? Maybe I can borrow something kind of respectable?” Frank mutters off, still dazed from last night and wondering if Gerard actually owns anything respectable.
“It’s okay because I, uh, I looked through your cell phone and called you out sick for work today, okay?” Gerard admits, looking around his room and not anywhere near Frank.
“You what? What did you say? Who answered?” Frank states, clearly bewildered and upset.
“I don’t know, someone named Jim, told them you were pretty ill and I was taking care of you and they said it was fine, they even said it was about time you got some rest and they hope you feel better,” Gerard claims, walking over to Frank to grab him by the arms so he could stop freaking out.
“Really? Jim said that? Wow,” Frank muses and slides down onto the bed.
“Yeah, so relax, go back to bed if you want, I’ll make breakfast when you’re ready and then we can prepare for a full Friday night of debauchery if you so please,” Gerard announces as he pushes Frank back onto the bed and falls on top of him.
Frank just sighs and relaxes as he curls into Gerard’s arms again. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing right now, but for some reason he’s just letting it take it’s own course. Maybe this is what he has always been missing.
Gerard curls right back into Frank and pulls him under the covers. It doesn’t take long before they’re back to sleep. Frank has dreams of unicorns that paint and act and dance and they’re the most coveted, most beautiful creatures in the land.
Later on Frank wakes up while Gerard is still sleeping wrapped around Frank. Frank suddenly gets scared and wonders if it’s okay for him to be doing this, perhaps leading Gerard on and confusing him and maybe Frank should just leave now before things get deeper than Frank can get himself out of.
So Frank slips out of Gerard’s arms and tries to quietly find his clothing that he knows is thrown about somewhere in Gerard’s bedroom. He steps into the bathroom to change once he finds his still damp clothing and he hears Gerard moving around outside the door.
“You know, if you’re going to sneak out, just borrow a pair of clothing that isn’t still dripping wet, I don’t really mind that part,” Gerard yells through the door.
Frank steps out and mumbles something about not sneaking out, but just not wanting to overstay his welcome. Which is a lie, mostly.
“Look, I know you’re maybe straight or something, I don’t really know your past, maybe it’s a bad past relationship or maybe it’s just me you don’t like, but I guess just don’t pull me along and get my hopes up, it’s not cool,” Gerard says as he pushes clean clothing into Frank’s arms.
“Gerard, I, it’s just, I’m not all there, I don’t know, I’m sorry for being a fuck-up, but things aren’t simple for me,” Frank mumbles as he lamely tries to make up for Gerard’s hurt feelings.
“Well get back to me when things aren’t so fucking confusing Frank, I think my feelings are clear, so,” Gerard retorts as he tries to be uncaring but fails.
“Okay, so should I go?” Frank asks, back to his bewildered and humble ways.
“Yeah Frank, call me when you’ve figured things out.” Gerard walks off into the living room and starts shuffling around pictures made with glitter and glow-in-the-dark paint. Frank steps into the bathroom and changes into the clothing Gerard practically threw at him. He steps out and Gerard is still cleaning things up, feather boas being hung off the window corners and large sunglasses and scarves being wrapped around plastic dummy heads.
“I guess I’m going now,” Frank announces.
“Yup, be safe or something,” Gerard says without looking up. Frank gets the feeling he is really pissed. Frank can be so dumb sometimes without really trying and that’s pretty much the story of his life.
So Frank walks outside into the blinding afternoon light and realizes he’s not sure where he is, but maybe he can find a bus stop and end up going to work anyway.
Frank doesn’t talk to Gerard for the rest of the weekend, or most of the week following that. Frank supposes he’s the one that should call, but he’s not sure what to say without sounding like the complete idiot that he is. But Frank should really return Gerard’s clothing to him, which he already washed, dried and folded the night he took them off. Frank spends his time taking naps and trying not to think of Gerard and how angry he was when Frank last saw him.
On Saturday night Frank gets a call from a number he doesn’t recognize. He’s hesitant to answer, but then wonders if maybe it’s the hospital or someone calling to tell him his mother got hurt when crossing the street or putting away the groceries on the top cabinet shelf.
“Hello?” Frank answers.
“Frank? This is Mikey,” Frank hears laughing in the background, “Oh and Bob, remember us? Anyway we have your computer here, it’s all fixed and ready but you’ll have to come pick it up, we don’t do deliveries, so we’ll see you in an hour?” Mikey sputters off amid his giggles.
“Uh,” Frank responds.
“Yeah, that’s right, see you then!” And Mikey hangs up.
Frank is surprised the his computer is fixed and surprised that Mikey has his phone number and panicky that Gerard will be there and will be angry at him. But he guesses he should get his laptop since it’s practically a miracle that it’s even fixed. Maybe if Frank just retraces his steps back to Gerard’s place he can find the basement Mikey lives in around the corner.
So Frank gets dressed and gets on the bus to Gerard’s neighborhood and tries so, so hard not to think of Gerard in his pajamas or with his arm around Frank’s shoulder but it’s useless. Gerard lives in Frank’s thoughts no matter what he does and maybe Frank should just sweep aside some room so Gerard can fit comfortably and forever.
Frank almost misses his stop but gets off in time and starts walking. He thinks it’s the nice peach house with the front porch, but he has to peak behind the house to get any sort of idea if he’s close. Finally Frank finds what appears to be Mikey’s home and he goes to knock on the door when Bob pulls it open on him and Frank almost knocks on Bob.
“Hello there, you’re shorter than I remember, come on in,” Bob says and turns around so Frank can follow him in. The place is just like Frank remembers it from a week or so ago – computers, smoke, abandoned cheese curls in the corners.
“So before we give you you’re laptop back, we need you to repay us,” Mikey says, and Frank curses himself for not stopping at the ATM beforehand.
“Not with cash, but with my brother,” Mikey answers and Frank is confused and freaked out, “My brother is clearly smitten with your little face here and he’s annoying the shit out of us with whatever drama you have going on, right Bob?” Mikey yells over to Bob for confirmation.
“Right,” Bob confirms.
“So you need to go over there and I don’t know, seduce the fucker or something, do a strip-tease, confess your undying love, shit, just stop being all freaked out about being gay and get on with the good stuff, I promise you it’s way better on this side anyway,” Mikey expands like he is the expert on all love.
Frank just kind of stands there with his eyes popping out of his head and his mouth hanging open. No one has ever talked this candid with him and what could Gerard have possibly told them? They push Frank out the door without his computer and send him on his way. They are totally serious about this, Frank thinks.
Frank eventually comes upon Gerard’s apartment, but it doesn’t look like anyone is home since the shades are drawn down and the lights look off. Maybe Frank can say he tried but there was no clause that Gerard had to be home in order for him to get his computer back. Maybe Frank will just buy a new computer and avoid this all.
Frank stands on Gerard’s porch for a few minutes when suddenly the door whips open and Gerard comes out hauling a large garbage bag behind him. Gerard stops when he sees Frank and Frank can’t help but giggle a little at the red bandana Gerard has pushing his hair back.
“Come over to laugh?” Gerard seriously asks.
“Oh, no,” and that stops Frank, “I’d just, um, can I come in?”
“Did Mikey and Bob send you?” Gerard inquires, eyes narrowing.
“Um, I might have run into them, but I came here all on my own,” Frank answers, proud that maybe he finally said something kind of all right.
“Well, okay, go inside, I’m just cleaning,” Gerard huffs as he finishes pulling the garbage bag to the trash cans lining the side of the house.
Frank walks inside and sees the place even more disheveled than when he was last there; this time there are paints and paintbrushes on the floor, CDs and records in mile-high piles, notebooks thrown in every direction and of course, shiny glitter is covering just about everything. Frank isn’t sure Gerard actually knows how to clean.
“So why are you here? Want to cuddle with me and then leave?” Gerard asks as he stuffs his red bandana in his back pocket and deliberately doesn’t look at Frank.
“Um, no? I just, look Gerard I don’t know what is going on, but I’ve never been with a guy or that many girls in my life,” Frank has to stop here and try not to blush, cry, or vomit, “And I don’t know these things, but I think, well, I like you a lot, so there,” Frank finishes.
“So there, huh?” Gerard says as he quietly walks up to Frank, “I like you too Frank,” Gerard continues and puts his head against Frank’s forehead. Frank jumps about a mile into the air as Gerard starts muttering something about how this is going to take a lot of work.
“Sorry, you caught me off-guard, maybe we can try that again?” Frank asks. Frank is really trying not to be so ridiculous; supposedly he’s a grown man that can make these kinds of decisions and enjoy them.
Gerard comes up close to Frank again and warns him that he’s about to touch Frank and Frank sighs, closes his eyes and lets Gerard touch his lips to his own. Gerard pushes slightly harder when Frank doesn’t flip out and Frank enjoys the swell of his lips against another pair and this time he pushes back too.
“That’s not so bad, huh?” Gerard smiles and pulls Frank into his arms. Frank keeps his cool and hugs Gerard back and takes in his smell and the feel of his crinkly hair against his cheek.
Frank feels brave and alive and happy. Frank feels so outside himself, but in a great way because he’s doing something new that is nice and maybe it’s scary and that could be enough to make Frank run away from it, except he’s trying so hard not to, to just let it be.
Gerard pushes Frank back on the wall and continues to kiss him. They push into one another and Frank is excited, but yelps when Gerard tries to stick his hand down Frank’s pants.
“Um, one step at a time?” Gerard asks with a smirk.
“Yeah, one step at a time,” Frank replies and goes back to kissing Gerard.
It’s another one of those days, the kind that deceives you into thinking it’s a luminous and perfect summer day, when it only ends up dissolving into humid seas in order to break the sweltering heat.
Frank doesn’t bring his umbrella with him even though he knows better than to trust the currently smiling sun. He doesn’t need one. He knows at the end of his work day his boyfriend will be waiting for him with his great red umbrella to shield him from any stray splashes. They’ll go to the bus stop together but instead of getting on separate buses they’ll get on the same one and take it home. Once inside they’ll make dinner and watch TV and go to bed together. This time Frank won’t be wary or timid or painfully blind to his lover’s advances, but will merely accept Gerard’s love and love him back.