Notes:

Co-written with [info]imogenedisease for the [info]bandombigbang challenge. Many, many thanks to [info]adellyna and [info]quettaser for beta.

See the fanart for this story by [info]redheaded_itch, who also came up with our summary, here.

Download the fanmix by [info]thousandjulys here and [info]belladonnalin here.
 
 
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They go to Mikey's to get ready, because Mrs. Way doesn't care what they wear or how loud their music is, and she lets them borrow her hairspray.

Also, Mikey's house has Gerard and Gerard's cool basement bedroom and his cool posters and cool art stuff all over the place.

"I like The Smiths," Ryan tells him, leaning in a totally seductive manner against the wall. He lets his hair hang in his face a little, like Gerard's, and ignores the way Spencer and Jon are rolling their eyes at him from their seat on the big beanbag in the corner. "They're awesome."

Gerard smiles at him and Ryan's stomach does a stupid swoopy thing, but then Frank says, "The Smiths are a bunch of whiny bastards, man," and Gerard stops looking at Ryan and looks over at Frank, instead. Ugh.

"Frankie, man, don't mess with that."

Frank is messing with Gerard's bags, packed and ready by the door. He's going on this retreat for aspiring artists for the summer which sucks because he won't be around when Ryan comes over to hang out with Mikey, but at the same time it's awesome because Gerard's an artist and really, what's cooler than that?

Frank, who totally does not appreciate Gerard the way Ryan does (and Gerard will realize this by the end of tonight, Ryan has promised himself) is unpacking Gerard's bags whenever Gerard isn't looking, and even when he is.

"What, I'm not doing anything," Frank says, and then like, blatantly takes a stack of T-shirts out of the bag and crosses the room to shove them back in the closet. "Go back to perfecting your eyeliner."

"Frankie," Gerard says again, rolling his eyes but not sounding annoyed, which Ryan totally would be (and is), and Ryan goes over to the closet, takes the shirts back out. "Thank you Ryan," Gerard says, and Ryan beams back at him, ignores Frank, who's immature enough to stick his tongue out at Ryan. Why Gerard is friends with him, Ryan doesn't understand.

"How do you get your eyeliner so straight, anyway?" Ryan asks, even though he already knows, because Gerard starts smiling again, wide.

Frank goes back to the suitcases, ignoring them.

Gerard never gets the chance to tell Ryan about his eyeliner, though, because Brendon chooses that moment to come back from the bathroom and throw himself down on the bed next to Gerard, without even like, asking.

"Look!" he says, and starts pulling stuff out of his dorky backpack. He's so lame. "I am so getting laid tonight, you guys. I'm prepared. I'm like a boy scout."

Spencer pipes up, "Most people don't want to have sex with boy scouts, Brendon," which makes Ryan laugh, but Brendon acts like he didn't even hear.

"Look," Brendon says, holds up a box of condoms.

"I really don't think you need extra large," Ryan drawls, and Spencer snorts, but Gerard doesn't even seem to be listening, lying back and lighting a cigarette, and, when Frank leans down, lighting one for him, faces close to one another's.

"Hey, could I have one?" Ryan asks, mostly so he can stare into Gerard's eyes as Gerard lights one for him, but Gerard smiles and throws the pack at him, and then his lighter. Ryan sulks and tries to work the lighter.

"Look, Jon Walker," Brendon's saying. "I have a pocket Kama Sutra so I know what to do!"

"Wow, yeah. You can't go wrong," Jon says. Ryan tries to light his cigarette and draw breath to make a brilliant and cutting remark at the same time, and ends up choking like a loser.

Frank, the bastard, saunters over and thumps Ryan on the back really hard. "You okay, kid?"

Ryan tries to hold the coughs in (it's so embarrassing, he's going to die, oh God) but ends up sputtering even more and his eyes sting and he's probably fucking purple in the face, and Brendon is dying with laughter on the bed and Ryan can't believe he's sitting there with a scented candle in his hands and Ryan's the one looking like an idiot.

Gerard actually looks sort of concerned, sitting up a little. "Ryan? Do you want a glass of water or something?"

Ryan tries to say "I'm fine," but it doesn't really work with all the coughing. When he finally manages to stop, he tries to save with "That doesn't usually happen."

Brendon starts crying, which is really undignified.

"Okay," Gerard says, nodding understandingly even as Frank snorts, and Ryan tries to inhale the smoke without actually, you know, inhaling.

"Where's your brother's scrawny ass, anyway?" Frank asks Gerard, as if he thinks that'll distract from the fact he's digging stuff out of the suitcase again. Ryan immediately goes over to stop him, but then Frank holds up a hoodie and says, "This is mine!"

Gerard smiles sort of sheepishly. "What, I thought I might miss your stupid face, okay?"

Frank holds his gaze for a minute, and it's totally ridiculous because it's Ryan's face that Gerard's going to be missing, if he has anything to do with it. Ryan's not-stupid, very pretty face, but then Mikey comes clomping down the stairs and into the room.

"Hairspray," he says, thrusting the can at Ryan. Then, "Brendon, why are you on my brother's bed holding a bottle of Astroglide?"

"I'm getting laid tonight!" Brendon tells him, and Mikey nods seriously, even though Brendon's being an idiot, and that doesn't warrant serious nods at all.

"Okay," Mikey says, and then takes the pack of cigarettes out of Ryan's lap. Which, hey, Ryan could totally still be using those. He takes another drag and leans miserably into Spencer. He's feeling a little dizzy.

"Are you going to use that?" Mikey says, pointing to the hairspray, mumbling around his cigarette.

"Are you, Mikeyway?" Jon says, grinning. Spencer smiles too. "While you're smoking? Really?"

Mikey's brow crinkles very, very faintly. "Oh. Yeah. No, I guess."

It's weird how Gerard is so expressive and then Mikey's like, working on becoming the dictionary definition of disaffected, or whatever. Mikey has like, no facial movement and his voice is even more devoid of intonation than Ryan's (and Ryan works pretty hard at it) but Gerard is like, so dramatic.

Maybe Gerard used up all the expression genes, or something. It's so awesome. Ryan wishes he had a big brother like Gerard, but not Gerard himself, obviously, because then he wouldn't be able to seduce him, and he totally is. Going to seduce him.

Spencer pats Ryan's knee like he can hear what he's thinking. Maybe he can.

"Spencer, I'm dizzy," Ryan mumbles, low so Gerard won't hear, and Spencer pats his knee again. He isn't even looking at him, is smiling at Jon, who's smiling back, and it's. Kind of cute, maybe, but mostly gross. Ryan focuses on Gerard instead, who's still smoking, and it's pretty hot.

He's comfortable staring at that for awhile, but Frank continues to move from the suitcases to Gerard's closet, and that's ruining Ryan's concentration.

"Frankie," Gerard says at one point, laughing, and tugs Frank down onto the bed beside him.

Ryan glowers from behind his stupid cigarette. Spencer pats his knee again, still not looking at him.

"I can't believe you're abandoning me for our last summer ever," Frank is saying, rubbing his head against Gerard's shoulder. "You're the worst best friend in the world."

"We're going to college in the same place," Gerard says, and he sounds exasperated but really like, fond. It's so annoying.

"Not the same school, though," Frank pouts, and Gerard puts his arm around him. Gross.

"Look," Brendon says to Mikey, pointing to a page in his stupid Karma Sutra. "See, I don't even understand how that's possible, but I can't wait to try it."

Mikey looks obediently, and Frank leans over Gerard, like all in his lap, so he can look too. "That might be a little ambitious for your first try," he says, and Gerard looks too and he and Frank both start laughing in that way that makes it clear they both know what they're talking about.

Brendon looks kind of crestfallen, but Ryan is too busy thinking about Gerard having sex to do anything about it.

"Can we go?" Ryan says, because Frank needs to get away from Gerard now, and Spencer needs to stop smiling in that way and not paying attention to him, and Brendon needs to stop looking crestfallen, because he's ruining things.

Gerard looks at him (finally), says "Ryan has a point," because of course he does.

"Wait, my hair," Mikey says, and that reminds everyone in the room about their own hair, of course, so there's a flurry of passing combs and hairspray and eyeliner back and forth (Gerard does Frank's for him, which ugh) and then they're ready.

"This reminds me of my old school," Jon tells - well, everyone, but he's looking at Spencer. "I can't wait for you to meet my friends."

"Hey!" Brendon says, catching Jon's hand. "We're your friends, Jon Walker!"

"Yeah, don't second-class citizen us," Mikey adds as they all troop up the stairs.

"My other friends," Jon amends. He and Spencer smile at each other some more. It's like they're retarded, Ryan thinks meanly, and then feels bad about it.

"Don't forget we have to pick up Bob," Frank says as they all pile into the car.

Ryan blinks. "The scary new guy?"

"He's not scary!" Frank says, rolling his eyes in a way that makes Ryan feel stupid and like five years old. "He's just new, he doesn't know anyone."

Ryan disagrees; Bob kind of lurks and glowers and always looks mad, which Ryan would probably find admirable, but it doesn't add up to cool in his case, just scary. Frank gets behind the wheel, and Ryan would use that as his chance to get beside Gerard, but Mikey gets there first, and Ryan ends up pressed against him instead. His hipbones are sharp. Ryan would like that more if they weren't pressing into his spleen or something.

"To Bob's," Frank says, and Brendon cheers from the front.

Jon and Spencer don't say anything in the row behind them, but Ryan figures that's probably because they're busy smiling at one another.

On their way to Bob's, Brendon talks the whole way about all the sex he's going to have. "What's better, missionary or doggy style?" he asks Gerard, twisting around in the front seat.

"Dude!" Mikey puts his hand over his eyes. "Seriously, you and the sex talk with my brother, it has got to stop."

Ryan really agrees. Brendon is so embarrassing, but it's like he doesn't even realize what a dork he is. Sometimes Ryan wishes he could just not care what people think like that, but apparently it leads to carrying around scented candles and too-big rubbers, so he's probably better off the way he is.

Except, okay, Ryan wouldn't mind hearing what Gerard would like better, maybe, just so he knows. It could save him some important decision making, later. "You're gross," he says instead, looking over to Gerard for approval. Gerard's looking out the window.

Ryan scowls, and shifts to find a spot where Mikey isn't killing him with his hip. Ryan wouldn't kill people with his hips like that. He knows how to use them. He would have thought Mikey did too, but apparently he was wrong.

Frank pulls up and leaves the car running while he runs in to get Scary Bob. Ryan entertains a brief fantasy about getting behind the wheel and just driving to the party without Frank, but he thinks pretending not to hate Gerard's best friend is probably key to getting him into, not bed necessarily, but at least a dark corner somewhere.

"Hey," says Bob gruffly when Frank brings him out. He gets into the back with Jon and Spencer. "Hey, Spence."

Spence? And then Spencer starts talking to him about drumming, and from their conversation Ryan gathers that Bob was in marching band with Spencer despite being at their school for seriously the last five minutes of his senior year, and nobody thought to tell Ryan about it. What is this thing with Spencer having like, connections with people who aren't Ryan? It has got to stop. He's still brooding about it when they finally pull up outside Gabe Saporta's house.

***

Ray is sitting by his door.

He has been sitting by his door for the past twenty minutes, waiting. Waiting, but no one has come. He peers outside, through the window, but the street's empty. Ray is kind of tired of being forgotten. He thinks, maybe, his hair is drooping, a little. He picks up the phone and calls Frank.

"Ray Toro!" Frank says.

"Frank," Ray says, very patiently. "Frank, where are you?"

"I'm at the party," Frank says, and then "Oh, shit, right. Um."

Ray sighs. He really needs new friends, except probably after you graduate from high school it's too late to make them. He's stuck with the asshole ones he has. "I'll ask my mom to give me a ride."

"No! Man, I'm sorry. I'll come right now. Gee! Gee, we forgot Ray, dude."

Ray hears Gerard say, "Again?" and start laughing, because he is a bastard.

"I hate you!" Ray yells into the phone, and Gerard laughs even more.

"You coming?" Frank asks, and Gerard says something about going in to find Patrick - oh, sure, Patrick he remembers, and Frank says to Ray, "I'll be five minutes."

"Make it four," Ray says, and hangs up.

***

Almost as soon as they're inside, Frank's going away, which is maybe exactly what Ryan has been wanting to happen, but then Gerard's going away too, off to some of his friends, people Ryan doesn't know well enough to follow behind.

"Ryan, come on," Brendon's saying anyway. "Help me find someone pretty," and Ryan's really good at finding pretty people, so he guesses he can do that, especially since Spencer's disappeared somewhere.

Probably with Jon Walker. That's where he always is, lately.

They don't get very far before Gabe Saporta looms wildly from around a corner, seventeen feet tall and wearing an unzipped purple hoodie and no shirt. "Fair virgins!" he booms, grabbing Mikey Way around the waist and spinning him in a circle. "Welcome to my lair, motherfuckers!"

"Gabe, don't scare the kids," Gerard calls from the kitchen, grinning, and Gabe lopes off to put his hands in Gerard's hair and mess it up. It's weird how Gabe's a total jock but he's friends with Gerard and everyone, too. Gerard once told Ryan (this awesome day when Ryan went over to see Mikey and he was out and Gerard let Ryan hang out with him until he came home) that Gabe only plays basketball because he can.

"Not because of any clique bullshit or whatever," Gerard had said, exhaling a perfect smoke ring. "Don't ever let him get you alone, though, Ryan. I really mean that."

Ugh, though. Gerard just called Ryan a kid.

"Let's go, Ryan," Brendon's whining, tugging on the hem of his shirt. "Let's prowl," and Gabe comes back to squeeze Mikey around the waist again.

Mikey's grinning up at him, so Ryan thinks maybe, yes, they should prowl. Away from here. So he lets Brendon tug him into the living room.

"Hey look," Brendon says, "it's Jon Walker!"

"Jon Walker isn't pretty," Ryan says. "And Spencer would kill you with his bare hands."

"Jon Walker has friends," Brendon says gleefully, and tugs Ryan forward again.

***

Andy is awesome to go to parties with. He can always be counted on to take up residence on a kitchen counter, which means he's in prime position to launch stealth vegan manifestos on unsuspecting party-goers, but more importantly means that Patrick always knows where at least one of his friends is.

And of course, the kitchen is where the beer is. And it's always good to have a friend by the beer.

"The thing is," Andy's saying now to a kid Patrick doesn't know, "It's not just about food. It's not just about ethics. It's about - Gerard!"

Patrick, who's only half listening, blinks. "Veganism is about Gerard?"

"Most stuff is about me," Gerard says importantly, coming into the kitchen. "I'm a big deal."

"You're a big dork," Patrick tells him, and hands him a beer. "Where's Frank?"

"We may have forgotten Ray," Gerard says, kind of guiltily, and Andy turns from his conversation.

"Again?" he asks, and Gerard shrugs, takes a sip of the beer.

"Where's Joe?" Gerard asks, once he's swallowed.

"Joe is," Patrick says, looking around. "Um. Joe is no longer in the kitchen."

Gerard nods solemnly. "Did your charm lose out to drugs again?" he asks.

"Fuck you," Patrick says, laughing. "Give me that beer back."

Gerard holds it tightly to his chest.

Patrick asks about the retreat thing Gerard's going on - he's totally jealous, not that he can draw worth a damn but he'd kill to go and like, play jazz music in the woods for two months or whatever - and he's working up a nice, calm beer buzz when Andy jabs him in the thigh with his toe.

"Incoming," he says urgently, and Patrick turns to follow his gaze.

Oh, God. "Why does Gabe encourage him?"

The person Gabe is encouraging (with his tongue, which is totally unnecessary) is Pete Wentz, Patrick's best friend until eighth grade and sworn enemy ever since.

"Is he wearing a sun visor?" Gerard asks, incredulously, which is kind of rich coming from a dude who dresses for his own funeral on a daily basis. "And what's up with those glasses?"

"Just ignore him," Patrick says, turning away, finishing his beer and waiting for Andy to hand him another. "Maybe he'll just disappear."

"Isn't it go away?" Andy asks, but Patrick keeps his back to Pete, hisses, "Is he gone yet?" Andy coughs loudly, and then someone's pushing past him, nearly knocking his beer out of his hands.

"Whoops, sorry," Pete says, smiling widely, like Patrick wouldn't get that he actually isn't if he didn't smile as insincerely as possible. "Didn't see you there."

"Yeah, I'm pretty inconspicuous," Patrick says, taking a giant step back. Onto someone's foot, but whatever. "Next to you, anyway."

He's not even joking. Pete is wearing a bright green jacket and a sun visor, an actual yellow plastic sun visor, seriously. And ski goggles perched on top of it. His jeans are washed almost white and sprayed on by the looks of it, and then he has these giant, blindingly white sneakers that make him look like he was in a horrible accident that involved his feet -- and only his feet -- in a chemical fire.

"You just can't keep your eyes off me, Stumph," Pete says, still grinning like a lunatic.

"Right," Patrick says, "I'm totally planning on going blind."

"At the sight of my beauty?" Pete asks, and Patrick rolls his eyes at Gerard from around Pete's stupid, obnoxiously bright head.

"Yeah," Patrick mumbles, taking a sip of beer. Maybe the alcohol will dull some of the colors. "Something like that."

Pete goes away then, two beers in his hands; Patrick has no idea who would actually take a beer from Pete Wentz, but maybe weirder things have happened.

"Ugh," Patrick says, when he's left the room. "He touched me."

Gerard laughs, and then catches Andy's eye and laughs some more, and then fucking Frank comes in with Ray, who looks kind of pissed until Patrick gives him a beer and Gerard tells them about Pete, and then they're all laughing, and Patrick hates them all. "I hate you all."

"Ryan's out there doing his best impersonation of you, all brooding and shit," Ray tells Gerard. "Can't you just kiss the kid once, put him out of his misery?"

"And go to jail, no thanks." Gerard's grinning though, happy and relaxed. "Besides I'm leaving tomorrow, you want me to break the poor kid's heart?"

"You're breaking our hearts," Patrick says, pressing a hand to his forehead dramatically.

Gerard turns at the sound of feet stomping in the next room, then Jeph and Dan come stumbling in, beaming. Their smiles drop after a second.

"Um, just here for some beer," Jeph mumbles, not looking at Gerard, and Patrick hands him two.

"Or do you need more?" he asks, and Jeph holds up two fingers. Patrick hands him two more, and Jeph hands them over to Dan.

"So we'll be going," Jeph says loudly. "Have a great night." He nudges Frank with his hip on the way out, and Frank gives him a small grin that changes to a solemn face when he turns back to Gerard. Patrick snorts into his beer.

"So," Gerard says loudly. "Stuff."

***

Jon sometimes remembers why he was only a little sad to be moving. The reason is, right now, that Bill is standing in front of him, hands waving, telling him how he's met his star-crossed love.

"He was really hot," Bill says. "Really, really hot." Jon nods. "And tall, JWalk, he was tall."

Beside Jon, Spencer snorts.

"I really actually meant you should meet Tom," Jon says, quiet, into Spencer's ear, when Bill's turned away, attention on Mike, who comes into the room with beers.

"Where is he?" Spencer whispers, and Jon shrugs.

"You're not listening," Bill says, sounding pained. He grabs Jon's shoulders and shakes him a little bit. "JWalk, I've met the love of my life! Congratulate me!"

"Congratulations," Jon says automatically, because most times it's best to just give Bill what he wants. Usually. "So does the love of your life have a name?"

Bill sighs, looking off into the distance. "Travis."

Beside Jon, Spencer makes a strangled noise that might have started out as a laugh. "Travis McCoy? Big guy, stoned?"

"Yes!" Bill gathers Spencer to his chest gleefully. "JWalk, this one you may keep."

"Thank you," Jon says, and he isn't blushing until Spencer's blushing.

Bill presses forward to pat his cheek lightly, and then Mike's handing Jon a beer, free arm looping around Bill's waist.

"Sorry," he says, tugging Bill back slightly. "He got out of our hands."

"Travis," Spencer mumbles under his breath, his cheeks still kind of pink. When Jon offers him his beer he shakes his head and says, "I'm designated driver," Spencer says.

Jon blinks. "But you don't drive," he says, and Spencer shrugs.

"Mikey appointed me."

"Okay," Jon says easily, and Spencer smiles, with that little sideways tilt to his head. "So yeah, my friends."

"We're not all like this one," Mike offers, ignoring Bill's deep and pointed sigh of protest.

Spencer just smiles some more and points to where Ryan is striking a serious pose by the window, obviously trying to pretend he's not with Brendon, who is telling a pretty animated story about - Jon doesn't know what. The arm movements could indicate giraffes or the sins of man, it's not clear.

"Yeah," Jon says. "Yeah, I get what you're saying."

"He didn't say anything at all," Bill points out. "Anyway, so Travis was trying to get his hands in my pants-"

"Who wouldn't?" Jon says, looking at Spencer to make sure he knows that Jon wouldn't.

"Quite," Bill agrees. "But they were too tight. So he's going to take them off later instead. Isn't that just so?"

Spencer's coughing beside Jon, trying really hard not to laugh, and not exactly succeeding.

"Where's he now?" Jon asks, and Bill shrugs, slow and lazy.

"I don't know," he says. "I'll find him later."

"True love," Spencer mumbles, and Jon nudges him slightly. Spencer smiles at him.

"Rabbits," Brendon exclaims loudly, and Siska, who he is talking to, nods excitedly

Spencer scrunches his mouth up. "Um, I think Brendon's trying to, you know, recruit your friend."

"Recruit him for what?" Mike asks interestedly, eyeing Brendon like he thinks he might suddenly whip out a pamphlet on Scientology or something.

"For his quest," Spencer explains. "Um, his quest for sex."

Bill laughs, and Jon knows that laugh. That's his enchanted laugh. With a side of the laugh that makes Jon think 'uh oh' as well. "A sex quest? That's amazing!"

"Don't," Jon says, and Bill turns the hurt face on him. "Seriously, Bill. No."

"But--" Bill says. "I wasn't going to--"

"Bill," Jon says, and Bill pouts slightly.

"Rabbits," Siska's saying now, brandishing a beer.

"Should we, you know, help him?" Spencer murmurs to Jon.

"I think Ryan has this one," Jon says, looking over at Ryan, who's watching them and kicking at the floor kind of petulantly.

Spencer stares at him disbelievingly.

"I think Brendon's kind of harmless?" Jon rephrases, watching Siska shake Brendon's arm.

"I'm on it," Mike says, and goes off to run interference.

Bill sighs his sigh again. "So what you're telling me, JWalk, is that you drag me all the way out here and now I'm not allowed to have any fun? False pretences. False pretences!"

Spencer says, "Didn't you say Travis McCoy was the love of your life?"

"That doesn't mean I don't want to make out with many, many other boys," Bill says sort of condescendingly, but Jon doesn't get a chance to tell him not to talk to Spencer like that because then Bert McCracken, who Jon only knows as The Ex They Don't Talk About in Front of Gerard appears out of nowhere, grinning at Bill.

"I'm another boy," he says.

Bill smiles. Spencer groans.

Jon drinks his beer.

***

Gerard is telling Patrick a story about using lube for art and the hijinks which inevitably ensued, and it's pretty funny but Frank has heard it oh, ten thousand times. He looks through the open door into the living room - he can see Mikey's friends, and they're talking to some really tall, angular dude Frank doesn't know, and also, he can see Jeph and Dan.

They're laughing, and Frank really wants to go over, elbow Jeph in the side or headbutt him in the shoulder and ask him to share the joke. Jeph's had some new ink on his neck but from all the way in the kitchen Frank can't see what it is, and he can't go over there, of course, because standing next to them is Bert McFuckingCracken, who ruins everything.

"What're you looking at?" Gerard asks, apparently having finished his story, and follows his eyes. Then he scowls.

Frank's pretty sure Gerard's scowling, anyway, even though he hasn't bothered to turn around. He's watching as Dan leans into Jeph, says something into his ear, and then Jeph's laughing again. Frank kind of pouts. He wants to know the joke.

"Turn around, Frank," Gerard says, and Frank sends Jeph and Dan a longing look that they totally miss, before turning away.

"You know he got the word 'fuck' tattooed over my name," Gerard reminds everyone. Frank was right, he's totally scowling.

"We know, Gee," Patrick says quietly.

"We all know," Ray adds. "People at different schools know. People in Alaska know. In space, even. They all know."

Gerard rolls his eyes all 'whatever', but Frank knows him better than that and he lets Gerard lean against him, tucked into Frank's arm. "Don't even worry about, it, Gee. We're here to have fun, right? Not let fucking Bert ruin your last night."

"My last night," Gerard scoffs. "Life doesn't end in high school."

"Shut up," Frank says, good naturedly, then tries to sneak another peek into the living room. Gerard shifts a little closer, and Frank turns his attention back to him.

"I'm going to the bathroom," Patrick says, and Frank waves him off distractedly, takes Patrick's beer as he hands it to him. "I'm trusting you not to drink this," Patrick says, and Frank grins at him before raising it to his mouth. "You suck," Patrick scowls.

"Should've given it to Andy," Frank says around the bottle.

"Rookie mistake," Gerard says into Frank's ear, because he's squished right up against Frank now, like he thinks Frank will forget whose side he's on if they're not touching in every place possible.

Frank isn't complaining, necessarily. He puts his other arm around Gerard and hugs him properly.

"You're not going to start crying, are you?" Ray's got his arms folded and his long-suffering expression on. "Can you at least wait for me to leave?"

Frank gives him the finger and doesn't let go of Gerard, who is totally looking over Frank's shoulder into the living room at Bert, the sneaky, masochistic bitch.

Frank follows Gerard's eyes, skips over Bert. He sees Bob in the corner, leaning against a wall, stone-faced.

"Did you forget Bob too?" he asks Gerard, and Gerard looks kind of guilty.

"Not forget," he says. "Lost. I lost Bob."

"Maybe we should save him?" Frank suggests, but then Bert's wandering over to Bob, and Gerard's shaking his head. Totally sneaking glances.

Frank really likes Bob, but he's only known him for a few weeks, and Gerard's got years of 'do this irrational and/or impolite thing because it will make me happy' best-friend privileges built up. He also thinks Bob might actually get on pretty well with Bert, because he can be cool when he's not, you know stomping all over Gerard's heart.

Frank gives Ray the big eyes. Ray sighs. "I so need new friends."

He goes, though, and Frank forcibly turns Gerard around so he's not facing the door. "Fuck Bert, man. Let's talk about what an asshole you are for leaving tomorrow, and how you're going to make tons of annoying arty friends and start wearing a beret."

***

Patrick had just wanted to go to the bathroom. That's really all he'd wanted to do.

Except he'd opened the slightly ajar door, walked in, and promptly gotten an eyeful of Pete Wentz's dick, a sidekick in his hand, and slammed the door shut behind him. When he tried to get out, tried to find someplace to gouge his eyes out, the door wouldn't open.

"Oh, hey," Pete says, sounding unbothered. "That lock doesn't work."

"What?"

"Like, that's why the door wasn't locked. The lock doesn't work. You locked us in, dude." Pete hasn't pulled his pants back on yet.

Patrick takes two deep, steadying breaths. They don't help.

"Are you okay?" Pete asks, pressing a button on his Sidekick.

"I don't know, Pete, are you wearing pants?" Patrick waves his arms for effect, and then goes back to trying to open the stupid goddam fucking door. "This is unbelievable."

There's a noise which sounds like Pete pulling his pants back on - although knowing Pete, not that Patrick really does, anymore, it could just as easily be him taking his shirt off as well. "Yeah, you wouldn't be my first choice for seven minutes in heaven either, Stumph."

Patrick grits his teeth. "Give me your phone."

"What?"

"Your phone, I want to call my friends so they can get me the fuck out of here."

"Oh." Pete starts to hand the Sidekick over, then glances down at it and grins that stupid shit-eating grin. "Wow, look at that. No reception. What are the odds?"

Patrick makes an inarticulate sound of rage, and Pete appears to have the minimum of intelligence it takes to be afraid of it. Which, good.

Patrick glares at him for a moment before he starts to bang on the door. Pete Wentz looking kind of fearful is better than Pete Wentz grinning at him, but it's still pretty much the last thing Patrick wants to be locked in a bathroom with.

Pete hops up onto the counter. "No one can hear you, you know," he says, and Patrick feels like he's caught in some kind of horror film. A stupid, sleazy horror film. Which will end in him drowning himself in the toilet.

Banging on the door actually hurts after a while, though, and Patrick slides down it instead, drawing his knees up to his chest. "Why is this happening to me?"

"Incredibly good karma, I guess." Pete drums his heels against the under-counter cabinet doors. "How did you even end up here?"

Patrick puts his head in his hands. "Pete. Even you must understand why people traditionally use bathrooms, right?"

Pete laughs, like this big dorky 'ho ho ho!' as if Patrick's the funniest thing ever. "No, I mean, what'd you do for Gabe? He's pretty elitist about upstairs bathroom privileges, usually."

Patrick wants to point out that there is no elite on earth that includes Peter Wentz, but then he remembers Gabe putting his tongue in Pete's mouth, which Gabe totally takes a sign of true friendship. "The line downstairs was huge."

Pete grins like he knows something. "Did you let him rub on you?"

He doesn't even sound like he's joking, is the horrifying thing. "No. No, I did not."

"You didn't tell Gabe you were using this bathroom, did you?" Pete asks, sounding kind of scandalized.

"Sure I did," Patrick says, but Pete doesn't look convinced.

"You're so in trouble, Stumph," he says, sounding delighted. "Who knows what Gabe will do now."

Patrick would really, really like to believe that Pete's just being melodramatic, but he's pretty sure he isn't. "Be quiet," he says, wearily, but Pete's sort of giggling to himself. "Go away," he adds, and Pete just giggles harder.

Maybe this will end with Pete being drowned in the toilet.

"So, you wanna see?"

Patrick looks up, and Pete is waving the goddam useless fucking phone at him. "No!" he says, really emphatically. "No, Pete, I do not want to see pictures of your crotch, okay."

Pete says, "Oh, unclench. They're artistic!"

"Why do they exist at all?" Patrick really does not understand how this is his life, all of a sudden. "Why were you even taking them? In a bathroom? At a party? Seriously, I don't even know what explanation there could be."

"They're artistic," Pete says again, like that's some kind of proper explanation. Like that's even true.

"They're your dick," Patrick says, and Pete looks down at his sidekick contemplatively.

"True," he says, and Patrick grinds his teeth. "But that doesn't make them less artistic. It's about vision, Stumph."

Patrick would like to never, ever share Pete's vision.

"Besides," Pete continues, "Gabe asked me to take some to remember me by."

Patrick didn't need to know that. "I didn't need to know that."

Pete rolls his eyes. "You're just jealous nobody wants to remember your dick."

"Yes," says Patrick, "That's exactly right. I'm jealous that none of my friends need me to take photographs of my genitals in order to remember my name. Wow, traditional methods like phone calls and emails and actual conversations must seem so provincial to you."

Pete's face sort of drops for a second, like there's this flash where the Pete Wentz Show is put on hold and Patrick sees the old Pete, the one he used to know, the one who played the best game of Pretend ever and always cried at Homeward Bound, but then there's a flicker and the bravado slides back on. "Whatever, Stumph. Look, are you gonna piss or what?"

"I am not pissing in front of you," Patrick says, eyeing the sidekick. "Since you have a vision." And Patrick isn't particularly interested in Pete sending pictures of his genitals to Gabe.

Pete scoffs. "Right, like I'd want to take pictures of your dick anyway," he says, crossing his arms.

Patrick would argue, except, he kind of does have to piss. "Give it to me," he says, holding his hand out, and Pete eyes him for a moment before handing it over. "And turn around."

***

Bill is having a marvelous time. He's already acquired three phone numbers, a very nice young man named Bert has asked Bill to make out with him in front of somebody else later, which Bill loves doing, there seem to be at least three separate cases of love thwarted/unrequited/unconsummated simmering in various rooms, and even better, the love of his life is still sprawling on the back lawn, just like he said he would be.

"Bill!" Travis calls, beckoning with a lazy curl of his hand. "Man, get over here."

Bill goes, not because he is told, just because it pleases him to do so. Travis' friends are sprawling too, blinking and giggling and exhaling great plumes of smoke into the air.

"You're tall," one of them (with fairly alarming hair, it must be said) says. "I'm Joe."

"I," Bill says, then waits until Joe of the alarming hair is paying proper attention, "am Bill Beckett."

"Cool," Joe says, bobbing his head.

"Wonderful," Bill says, because he is, but he's interrupted from Joe when Travis pulls his head up from the ground again.

"C'mere," he says, and Bill comes, because he looks comfortable to sprawl upon. He is, in fact. "Hey," Travis says, and tries to slide his hand down the back of Bill's pants again. "It doesn't work," he says, sadly.

"I know," Bill soothes him.

Travis settles for running his hands up and down Bill's thighs, instead. "What'd you do, spray these on?" He tugs a little bit at the pocket, like he might do something frightfully reckless and naughty like just rip them off in front of everyone. Bill is almost disappointed when he doesn't. "They look good on you, though, can't lie."

"They look fabulous," Bill corrects, and he holds his face up to be kissed, and does his best purr when Travis obliges. "So, Joe," he says, not turning away from Travis, "What do you do, when you're not basking in the glorious company of my intended?"

Joe takes a while to think about it. Bill sighs. Drugs can do terrible things to one's rapier wit.

"I play guitar," Joe offers, finally, and Bill nods a little, allows Joe to know he is listening, even as he explores Travis's neck with his tongue.

Joe doesn't say anything else. Bill is vaguely worried that that is all Joe does.

"I garden," Joe says, just as Travis manages to get a hand into Bill's back pocket, and while that is an admirable sport, and Bill would say so, he's busy.

Travis is laughing beneath him. "You do not," he says.

"I could," Joe says.

Bill is tired of Joe. He should probably go away now. Or - goodness, where are Bill's manners? He's the guest. He should be the one to seek out greener pastures.

"Until later," he tells Travis, disentangling himself and standing up. "I must share the wealth, you understand."

Travis smiles lazily and waves again, that same curl of his hand. Easy come, easy go. Bill is enchanted. "I'll be around."

Bill blows him a kiss, and then skips back into the house to see if he can't find himself some mischief.

***

Ryan can't take his eyes off Mikey.

"When did he learn to dance?" he asks Spencer, who's standing so close to Jon and smiling so stupidly that they might as well have matching T-shirts saying 'Just Married' and tin cans tied to their belts. "Seriously, has he always been able to do that?"

Mikey is…writhing is probably the only word that really describes it, Gabe Saporta's hands all over his ass. It's so fucking disturbing.

Also disturbing is Ryan's view of the kitchen, where he can see Frank, like, snuggling with Gerard. Frank doesn't even date guys, as far as Ryan knows. Where does he get off hogging Gerard all to himself like that? Obviously he does not want Gerard to be happy.

Ryan tells Spencer this, and Spencer looks into the kitchen. "I don't know, Ryan. Gerard looks pretty happy to me."

Jon agrees. Ugh.

"You don't know him like I do," Ryan says, looking back at Mikey, and then at Gerard, and then back at Mikey again.

Oh. Of course. Why didn't he think of it before?

"I'll be back," he tells Spencer, and Spencer waves a hand at him then goes back to smiling at Jon. Ryan is disgusted.

He leaves them to their...thing, then goes into the kitchen. "Gerard," he says, taking a step forward, practically stumbling into him.

Frank snorts. Ryan doesn't understand; he's a very good actor. "Gerard, it's horrible."

"What's horrible?" Gerard asks understandingly, putting a hand on Ryan's shoulder.

A hand. On Ryan's shoulder. Ryan briefly forgets his plan and smiles at Gerard.

Frank snorts again. It snaps Ryan back into action, though, so ha ha, Frank.

"It's Mikey," Ryan says to Gerard, making his eyes as big as possible. He leans into Gerard and lowers his voice, all conspiratorial and confiding. "He's dancing."

Gerard sort of blinks and smiles. This close Ryan can see the crinkles at the corner of his eyes. Oh, wow. "Um, yeah, Mikey dancing can be sort of alarming, I guess."

"He's all angles," some guy in glasses on the counter agrees.

Ryan ignores him and screws up all his courage and puts a hand on Gerard's arm, and plays his trump card. "He's dancing with Gabe."

Gerard stops smiling. Ryan sort of misses it, but it's worth it for the cause.

"What?" Gerard asks, all stiff under Ryan's arm. Ryan wants to melt into him.

"And Gabe's hands," Ryan breathes.

"Gabe's hands what?" Gerard asks.

"They're everywhere," Ryan says, blinking at Gerard as seductively as he can manage, and sways into...the counter, as Gerard moves. "Ow," he says faintly.

"I'll kill him," Gerard's saying, already across the room.

Ryan thinks, maybe, his plan isn't working out.

Frank jumps in front of Gerard, hands on his shoulders. "Gerard, calm down. Come on, it's probably nothing."

"Did it sound like nothing to you?" Gerard shoves him out of the way (Yes! Ryan thinks gleefully) and grabs Ryan's hand. "Ryan, come on, show me."

Ryan is having heart palpitations from the feel of Gerard's hand in his, but he manages to squeak out, "Follow me!"

Mikey and Gabe aren't in the living room when they get there, but Brendon, in a seriously rare moment of lucidity, points with his chin to the door on the side.

Ryan tugs Gerard's hand and Gerard turns, just in time to see Mikey's skinny frame disappearing behind the door.

"Fuck!" Gerard says, setting off towards it. "Fuck, I'm going to rip it off with my bare hands, I swear to god."

"Where is Gabe taking him?" Ryan wonders aloud, trotting to keep up with Gerard.

Gerard says, "The basement."

***

Ray is sitting in the corner, watching the party go on without him. Bob is in the corner, and Ray was sent to get him. Now Ray is in the corner too. Ray really hates his friends sometimes.

Bob hasn't said a word. Ray's kind of afraid to talk to him.

"So," Ray finally manages, after ten minutes of saving up his resources and preparing to be ignored.

"Do you ever wonder," Bob rumbles, as they watch Gerard chase after Mikey and Gabe, Ryan trailing behind him. "Why this school is so gay?"

"Yes," Ray says. "Yes, I do."

***

Gerard is in full-on homicidal big brother mode as he charges down the stairs, Frank hot on his heels with Ryan clattering down behind them.

"I'll kill him," he keeps saying. "I'll kill him."

The thought of Gerard actually causing someone physical harm, especially someone like Gabe, who is enormous and has actual upper body strength, is sort of hilarious. But Frank's seen Gerard get into some pretty violent rages before, and at the very least, he doesn't want to have to pull Gerard's hand out of a wall. Again.

"Get away from him," Gerard says, once they get down, and Gabe raises his hands innocently from their place on Mikey's ass.

Mikey turns around. "You're ruining everything," he says.

"But Mikey," Gerard says. "He's taking your innocence."

Ryan lets out a large snort at that, then promptly looks horrified by himself.

Frank leans against a wall. This is all kind of hilarious, but he needs Gerard to be in grabbing distance in case he goes for Gabe.

"Mikey," Gerard says, holding his hands out like he's trying to calm down a wild dog. Frank snorts himself, then, because Mikey is the least wild-dog person ever, and Gerard glares at him before continuing. "I'm not trying to ruin anything, I'm trying to keep you safe."

"Dude, we're just dancing," Gabe says lazily, grinning in a way that makes it clear he was planning to do a lot more with Mikey than just dance. "You need to chill."

"You need to stay away from my baby brother!" Gerard yells.

"I'm not a baby," Mikey says, sounding completely mortified. "Gee, I'm sixteen!"

"My point exactly!" Gerard is totally windmilling his arms around, getting all red in the face and working himself up into a self-righteous fury. "You're too young for Gabe!"

"He's not too young for me," Gabe says, sneaking a hand around Mikey's waist again.

Frank sort of thinks that everyone, ever, is too young for Gabe, but he stays quiet, because this is a Way thing.

"And Mikey's innocent!" Gerard says.

It goes silent then, only broken when Gabe coughs.

"Maybe we should go," Ryan suggests, and Frank thinks that's maybe the first time Ryan's ever said something that he agrees with.

"Yes," Mikey says, as Gabe shoves a hand into the back pocket of his jeans. "Please, please go."

Gerard stares at Mikey like he's been slapped in the face. He spins to look helplessly at Frank, who can't even remember a time, ever, that Mikey hasn't done what Gerard told him. Not in a creepy way, but just, this is probably the first time Mikey hasn't thought that Gerard knows best.

Frank does not have a big brother, but he imagines that if he did, he would not have wanted them around when he was trying to get laid. Even with Gabe. He steps forward and touches Gerard's arm. "Gerard, maybe like, maybe you need to let Mikey make his own decision, here."

"But," Gerard says, but Mikey's taken the wind out of his sails. He turns back to him. "Mikey, I just don't want you to do something you'll regret."

"Gerard." Mikey hesitates for a minute, obviously trying to find words that won't hurt Gerard's feelings too much. "I'm not - I can take care of myself. You worry too much."

"I don't, I--" he says, then turns back to Frank, looks at him helplessly.

"C'mon," Frank says, wrapping an arm around Gerard and steering him towards the stairs. Gabe's already maneuvering Mikey to a couch, so Frank is careful to make sure Gerard keeps his eyes forward.

"I didn't--" Gerard's saying.

"I know," Frank says, and stares Ryan down when he tries to flank Gerard's other side.

He gets Gerard up the stairs and back into the kitchen without too much trouble. Gerard only turns around and tries to march back to the basement a couple times, and Frank's totally expecting it, so he has a firm grip.

"Beer," he says firmly to Andy, still on the counter.

"Already on it." Andy opens a bottle and hands it to Gerard, who's staring kind of crazily into the distance. "Do you want me to kick Gabe's ass?"

Gerard actually laughs at that, and then sighs heavily and sort of sags, leaning back against the counter. "Who's going to look out for him when I'm not around?"

"All right, now who's acting like life ends in high school?" Frank gets a beer for himself and wraps his arm around Gerard again. He meets Andy's eyes. Andy nods. Frank takes a deep breath. "Dude, I'm not sure I should be the one to tell you this, but there's something you should know about Mikey."

"What do you mean?" Gerard asks, clutching his beer.

"Gee," Frank starts, then looks at Andy again for moral support.

"Gee, Mikey's sort of a--"Andy starts waving his hands enthusiastically, shaking his head.

Frank rephrases. "Mikey isn't as innocent as you think," he says, and waits for Gerard to take that in. "He's kind of, um. Not innocent at all."

"That's not true," Gerard says. "I would have noticed."

"Um, you know all the guys that come to your house?" Frank asks. Gerard nods. "Most of them aren't actually Mikey's friends."

"Frank," Gerard says slowly, like he thinks Frank's retarded. "Ryan has a crush on me. Gerard. Not Mikey."

Frank laughs, because Gerard is so cute when he's this deep into denial. "Not Ryan and those guys, Jesus. All the other guys. The ones - the ones who tend to only come around, you know, once. Or twice, maybe."

"Actually, I think he was seeing that kid from chess club for a while," Andy pipes up, but then Gerard turns a horrified glare on him. "I mean, what? Veganism!"

Gerard presses his hand to his head. He kind of looks like he might pass out. "Are you trying to tell me that my baby brother is," his voice drops to a whisper, "Mikey's a slut?"

"I um, wouldn't use that word," Frank says, and Andy snorts, "but uh, yeah. Kind of."

Gerard makes a pathetic sound.

"You should probably drink that beer now," Frank says, and Gerard takes a few desperate gulps, then leans his head on Frank's shoulder.

"A slut, Frankie," he moans into Frank's neck. "And I didn't even know."

Frank feels a rush of tingles where Gerard's breath fans over his throat, which, okay, isn't new, but is not something he can deal with right now. He shifts a bit and Gerard presses in closer, and oh, Andy, the bastard, is giving Frank this stupid knowing smirk, because of how veganism makes him Yoda, or whatever.

"Frankie," Gerard is saying, fingers curling in Frank's T-shirt. "Frankie, you have to promise me you'll keep an eye on him while I'm gone, okay?"

"I promise," Frank says automatically, and Gerard lifts his head up to look at Frank's face.

"You're the best, Frankie," he says in a wobbly voice, and Frank feels that stupid urge, that do something, he's leaving and it'll be too late that's been building for the past however long, but he doesn't know what he's supposed to do and it's all stupid, so he steps back from Gerard and his confusing…confusingness, and points outside.

"Why don't you go and hit Travie up for a smoke, man, calm yourself down." Gerard looks unsure, so Frank tries, "Joe's out there."

"I haven't even said hi to him yet," Gerard says, looking out of the window to where Joe is sitting on the grass with Travis and his stoner buddies, all of them laughing at nothing. "Yeah, okay. Are you coming?"

"Nah, I'm going to stay here," Frank says, and nudges Gerard slightly with his hip. "Maybe I'll mingle."

"Okay," Gerard says after a minute, nods a little like it's helping him convince himself. "Yeah, I'll find you."

Frank waits until he's gone to let out a breath, and Andy laughs at him. "Shut up, dude," Frank says, and Andy salutes him with the nearest beer.

***

"And he just took Gerard away, like he belongs to him," Ryan is saying in an irritated voice, arms crossed in front of him. "Spencer, I am so much prettier than Frank Iero."

"They're best friends, Ryan," Spencer says mildly. "I don't think you're going to win this one."

"How can you say that? You're supposed to be my best friend."

Jon leans away from Spencer a little bit at that, because Spencer is Ryan's best friend, and maybe Jon's been hogging him a little bit. Spencer just follows him though, so Jon leans back in, settling comfortably against Spencer's side. "I think you're prettier than Frank, Ryan," Jon says, as a peace offering.

Ryan eyes him a bit, but then tosses his head and says, "Well, duh," in a pleased voice.

"But that's not the point," Ryan says, after a minute. "The point is that Frank has no right."

"Okay," Spencer says, tone just as mild as before, shoulder knocking lightly into Jon's. "Except for how he does, totally."

"You really should be on my side," Ryan sulks.

"Yeah," Jon says, and smiles as Spencer raises an eyebrow at him. "Moral support, Spencer Smith."

"Oh shut up," Spencer says, and steals a sip of Jon's beer.

"Aren't you supposed to be designated driver?" Jon asks.

"I can't even drive," Spencer says, and takes another.

Ryan makes a disgusted noise. "You two," he starts, and then he's distracted by something on the other side of the room. "Oh my God, Brendon," he says.

Jon looks over to where Brendon is talking to Siska again, but this time Mike is nowhere to be found, and Brendon is kind of…Jon thinks it might be flirting, but it's Brendon, so it's hard to tell. "Oh."

"Jon Walker!" Ryan says coldly, pointing at Jon, "You ruin everything," and he stalks over to Brendon.

"He didn't mean that," Spencer says, giving Jon his beer back.

Jon smiles at him. Spencer's cheeks are slightly pink. "I know."

"Ryan is--" Spencer continues, cheeks going even brighter.

Jon rests the bottle against one of his cheeks, smiles more broadly. "I know," he says again, and Spencer kind of nods slightly. Jon lifts the bottle to his mouth, and Spencer nudges his shoulder slightly.

Ryan's pulling Brendon away from Siska, and Brendon's flailing slightly, brandishing his backpack for some reason.

"I don't even want to know," Spencer mumbles, and Jon nods a little in agreement.

Bill swoops in suddenly and plants an exuberant kiss on Jon's cheek. "JWalk! Are you having a fabulous time?"

"I actually am," Jon says, more to Spencer than Bill. "The best."

"The best now I'm here, you mean," Bill says, and then Ryan and Brendon come back. Brendon looks kind of sulky.

"Ryan's thwarting my quest," he tells Jon, and Bill actually claps his hands together.

"Your quest! How could I have forgotten! Such an admirable pursuit. You must tell me if I can assist in any way."

Brendon brightens. "You could have sex with me!"

Ryan groans and puts his hands over his face, and Spencer laughs, a bright, happy sound that Jon could listen to for the rest of his life.

Oh, he's so completely sold.

"I don't know what you're laughing at, The Fifth," Brendon says, and then he looks back at Bill. "I have condoms, you know."

Bill looks troubled. "He has condoms," he says.

"No," Jon says.

"He's adorable," Bill tells Jon. Brendon's beaming beside him.

"No," Jon says again.

"Adorable," Bill says again.

"No," Spencer says beside Jon, eyes narrowed, and Bill deflates.

"Then I'm off," Bill says, and plants another smacking kiss on Jon's cheek. Spencer makes a disgusted sound from beside. "Toodles," Bill says, and Brendon looks wistfully after him as he leaves.

"Ryan," he says sadly. "He would have."

"Ew," Spencer says.

"Ew," Ryan echoes. They share a best friends look.

Brendon starts complaining to Ryan, and they get into a bickering session about Bill and whether or not he's all that skinny and all that pretty and Jon turns back to Spencer.

"We never, you know," he says, and Spencer looks a little confused. Jon clarifies, "Me and Bill. He kisses everyone."

"Oh," Spencer says, "Yeah, I'm getting that."

"I don't kiss everyone," Jon says. "I think kissing is something you should work up to, you know."

Spencer smiles and looks away a little bit, his cheeks flushing a deeper pink. "Yeah, I kind of think it's one of those things, you know, that should happen-"

Jon leans the last few inches between them and presses his lips to Spencer's. His mouth is warm and sweet and Jon only lingers there a second before pulling back.

"Naturally," Spencer continues, his smile widening. "It doesn't have to be all awkward, or whatever."

"Yeah," Jon says, "Yeah, it doesn't have to be awkward at all." Spencer smiles, leans in again.

"That's gross," Ryan says loudly from beside them. "Please don't do that."

"Shut up," Spencer mumbles, half against Jon's mouth. Jon closes his eyes.

"Spencer," Ryan says, and Spencer shifts slightly. "Hey," Ryan says, affronted, and Jon opens his eyes to see Spencer's given Ryan the finger.

Spencer pulls back, licks his lips. He smiles, and Jon can't help but smile back.

***

Patrick can't believe he just peed in front of Pete Wentz.

Well, not in front of him, exactly. Pete stood facing the tub, and then halfway through he was like, "I can't listen to this," and turned on the faucets, like Pete hasn't heard much grosser things than that doing whatever it is he does with his time.

Like taking naked pictures of himself, for example. Patrick is not getting past that any time soon.

Right now Patrick is sitting with his back to the door, listening desperately for footsteps that might signal his release. Pete is back on the counter, scribbling something in a notebook.

"What are you writing?" Patrick asks, finally, because Pete Wentz or no, the silence is kind of stifling.

"Lyrics," Pete says without looking up.

"You write music?" Patrick asks, interested despite himself.

"No," Pete says, giving him a 'duh' face. "I write lyrics."

"Without music."

"Right."

Patrick takes it all back. Silence is wonderful.

"You write music, though, right?" Pete says, still not looking up.

"Well, yeah," Patrick says, making a 'duh' face himself. "Everyone knows that."

"Right, because everyone's so interested in what you do with your time." Pete scratches something out violently, then turns the page. "I know I never think about anything else."

"You don't have to be an asshole all your life, you know," Patrick says, losing patience. "You can take a day off."

Pete looks up. "But it's all for you, Stumph," he says, grinning that stupid grin. "If I wasn't an asshole, you wouldn't know what to do with yourself."

Which is probably true. Pete was an asshole even when they were friends.

"Well thanks so much," Patrick says. "I'm glad you're thinking of me."

Pete smirks a little bit then goes back to his notebook.

"Who brings a notebook to a party anyway?" Patrick wonders. Pete doesn't answer.

It goes silent for a bit, and when Pete speaks, it's in a new voice, quieter and sort of hesitant. It's a voice Patrick actually recognizes. "You can see. I mean, if you want."

Patrick's instinct is to say no, say something cutting about how Pete can keep his no doubt disturbing poetry to himself, but Pete's not smiling, or posturing, or doing anything but holding the notebook out, looking a little unsure of himself.

"Okay," Patrick hears himself say, and he crawls over to sit with his back to the tub, opposite Pete. "Sure."

Pete hands him the notebook and draws his feet up onto the counter, hugging his knees.

It's. It's pretty good, actually. "It's pretty good," he says, and when he looks up, Pete's kind of smiling at him, not the stupid one, but one that Patrick's also familiar with.

"Thanks," he says, then holds his hand out. Patrick gives him his notebook back. He holds it to his chest. "So. You write music."

"Yeah," Patrick says. "Yeah, I do."

***

Frank wanders around for a little bit after Gerard goes to find Joe. He's sort of looking for Patrick, who seems to have been in the bathroom since, like, the beginning of time, but he's nowhere to be found.

So he exchanges glares with that fucking Ryan kid for a minute, then watches Mikey's friend Brendon throwing himself at pretty much anything that'll move. What he really wants to do is take advantage of his temporarily Gerard-less state and go hang out with Jeph and those guys, but then he'll have to deal with all the Bert bullshit, so instead he goes to find Ray and Bob.

Who solve all his problems by being with Jeph and everyone, and Gerard can't blame Frank for that, right? Even if Bert's there. Which he totally is, fuck.

Whatever. Frank launches himself at Jeph, leaping onto his back while he's not looking. "Motherfucker, I know you didn't get new ink without telling me, man. What the shit?"

"Frankie," Jeph says, trying to turn around with Frank on him. They end up in a pile, and Jeph wraps his arms around Frank. "Dude, dude, fucking forever," he says, and Frank squirms up, tries to see Jeph's tattoo.

"Boypiles, my favorite," Frank hears, dimly, and then extra weight on him, a smacking kiss on his cheek. "Frankie, we missed you," Dan says. "You're still holding out on the threesome."

"And we just keep hoping," Jeph says. "But you never show."

"You see, and Frank doesn't even date dudes. This is what I'm talking about," Bob says to Ray.

Ray nods seriously. "For real."

"I leave you with him for five seconds and you're already busting out the sage commentary?" Frank accuses Ray, but then he's distracted by Jeph's ink. It's an angel, Frank can see now. "Man, that's awesome. When did you get it?"

"Few weeks ago. It hurt like a bitch."

"Yeah?" Frank touches Jeph's neck, then his own, jealously. "Man, I want a throat piece so bad. I think my next one's gonna be on my forearm, though, Gerard came up with this kickass design the other day, it's like…uh..."

Frank trails, off, suddenly very aware of Bert, standing next to Bob with a carefully neutral expression on his face. Jeph looks at Dan and then they both look at Frank, miserably.

"Shit," says Frank.

"Hi," Frank says, after a moment, when Bert doesn't say anything. Bert's wearing a sleeveless shirt, and Frank can see the tattoo, ugly black spelling 'FUCK'. It used to say 'Gee'.

"Mmph," Bert says, then, "Could you not say his fucking name?"

"Right," Frank nods. "I'll totally get on that."

"Relax, Bert." Jeph takes his arm from around Frank's shoulders and moves closer to Dan. "You got us in the divorce, okay."

Bert rolls his eyes and says, "I don't care if you and Frank need to lick each other's faces, okay, I'm not going to break. I'm not him."

Frank would like to see Bert's face breaking around his fist, right about now. Bigger person, bigger person he thinks desperately, trying to signal 'help!' to Ray with his eyebrows.

Dan leans over Frank to lick Jeph's cheek, and Ray lets out a sigh, but steps forward. "Guys," he says, but Bert interrupts.

"Where is he anyway?" he asks. "He can't even be in the same room with me?"

"Guys," Ray says again.

"I mean, that's kind of pathetic."

Bigger person, bigger person. "You couldn't even hear his name," Frank says, and whatever, he's a small person. He's okay with that.

"Guys," Ray says, a third time, kind of desperately. "Guys shut up."

"I can hear his name," Bert takes a step forward, getting in Frank's face. "I'd just rather not."

"Yeah, well, I'd rather I'd never heard your name at all, McCracken," Frank takes a step of his own, because fuck if he's going to be intimidated by Bert. "And for the record? He's not broken. You don't know shit about him."

Bert smiles dangerously. "I know shit about him you can't even dream of, Frank. Or maybe you do dream about it. Maybe that's your problem?"

Okay, no. Frank is absolutely not having this conversation. He curls his hands into fists, ignoring Ray's frantic shake of his shoulder. "Shut your fucking face."

Bert tips his head to the side, still smiling. "You want to hit me, Frank, hit me. I'm sure your pussy best friend would love that."

"I'm sure he would," Frank says, tries to figure out whether Bob would be on his side or not if he did hit Bert, and whether it'd pull in other people. He really doesn't want to hit Jeph or Dan. He's also kind of wondering where Quinn is, because he's pretty sure he'd throw a killer left hook.

"Frankie," he hears from behind him, insistent, and looks back to see Gerard, arms crossed over his chest.

Fuck. Frank makes a conscious effort to relax his hands, but keeps one eye on Bert, who's staring at Gerard like his dog just got run over. "I wasn't-"

Gerard waves his hand sharply. "Yeah, you were." He looks at Bert, then, and he doesn't even look mad, just really fucking bummed. "You got something to say, Bert, say it to me, don't pull Frank into this."

"I don't have shit to say to you," Bert scowls, leaning back against the wall, hunching his shoulders. "Your buddies here came to us, okay, I was just minding my own fucking business."

"I really doubt that," Gerard says, and Bert smiles sarcastically at him.

"Let's just go, Gee," Frank says, but Gerard just keeps looking at Bert.

"So what, Bert, am I a pussy, a girl, what?" Ray's got his head in his hands, mumbling something about giving up. "Tell me, I'm curious."

"Guys," Jeph says now, taking up the refrain. "Stop it."

"Please," Gerard says, as Frank tugs at his arm half-heartedly. "It'd make my night."

Bert cups his chin in his hand, looking Gerard up and down like he's considering it. "No," he says eventually. "Girls have bigger balls."

"All right." Gerard shakes Frank off and walks right up to Bert, who sort of shrinks back into the wall, like he wasn't expecting it. Frank wasn't expecting it either. "You got all the answers? Clear something else up for me, okay, because I'm confused. You're the one who fucked us. Aren't I the one who gets to act like a total dick?"

Bert stays pressed against the wall but he meets Gerard's eyes, looking defiant and pissed off and, somewhere in there, sort of sad. People are looking, and there's this weird moment where nobody seems to breathe and everyone's tense and frozen, and Frank doesn't know what's about to go down but he's so fucking ready to jump in if Gee needs him. Then Bert speaks.

"It takes two to fuck," he says quietly, and shoves out from the wall and walks away.

Gerard stays where he is, quiet, not moving.

"Gee," Frank says, after a minute. "Maybe we should just--"

"No, right, yes," Gerard says, nodding a little. "I think we need another beer, maybe."

"Okay," Frank says, wraps an arm around him. He nods at Ray.

"Sure," Ray says as they're walking away. "I'll just stay here, that's fine."

He's whining over nothing though, because when Frank turns back to give a wistful look at Jeph and Dan, Ray's already talking to Bob again.

"Look on the bright side," Gerard says dully. "You can hang with Jeph and Dan all you want this summer."

"Shut up," Frank tells him, and his stomach hurts suddenly because for a minute there he'd actually forgotten about Gerard leaving. He pulls Gerard in as they walk and kisses his cheek, and tries not to think about what Bert said, about Frank's dreams.

***

"So you play bass."

"Yeah, like, not well or anything, but. Yeah."

Patrick doesn't know how or when, but at some point Pete moved from across the room to beside him. Patrick really, really doesn't know why, but he doesn't actually mind that much. "But you can't write music?"

"Other people's music is hard enough, dude."

Patrick has Pete's notebook back in his lap; he flips idly through it. "You can write though."

"Yeah, not music."

"I can't write lyrics at all," Patrick says suddenly, like, when did he just become someone who confesses his failings to Pete Wentz in a bathroom? "I've tried, but they come out all, you know. Don't leave me, don't deceive me, oh, my heart, how it burns for you."

Pete laughs. "All the classics. Who's your heart burning for, anyway?"

Patrick thinks about it, then tells the depressing truth. "Nobody."

"Well, there's your problem." Pete says seriously. "It's gotta come from the heart."

"Well, who does your heart burn for?" Patrick asks.

"Everyone," Pete says, just as serious, like that's not the most ridiculous thing in the world.

"Everyone," Patrick repeats.

Pete shrugs. "Yeah, kind of. I mean, sometimes it's someone in particular, but, yeah, everyone."

"Have you ever even had a girlfriend?" Patrick asks. He doesn't mean it in an insulting way, for once; he's barely had one himself, but Pete bristles.

"I totally have," he says. "Tons."

Patrick has never seen any of these girls.

"What about you, anyway, you're not exactly Don Juan." Pete looks away and sort of smiles when he says it, though, like Gerard when he comes up with a really good burn but he's worried he might hurt your feelings.

"I do better than you," Patrick insists, smiling back, and he taps his shoe against Pete's stupid giant white sneaker. "Probably these hold you back though, huh. All that extra weight."

"There are cool," Pete protests. Patrick raises his eyebrows and Pete rolls his eyes. "Fine," he huffs, and kicks the sneakers off.

"Dude, by all means, keep your stupid shoes on," Patrick says, and Pete snorts, knocks his foot back against Patrick's.

"I can't be held back," Pete says grandly. "I have to start right away."

"You could wait," Patrick suggests. "Maybe until we leave this bathroom."

"No," Pete says, with the stupid, stupid grin. "No, I am totally going to woo you."

"Oh, thanks for clearing that up," Patrick says.

"Remember when we were kids?" Pete says suddenly, looking hard down at his socked feet. He tips them together so the toes touch. "Remember how I used to sleep over at your house, and you'd always make me tell a bedtime story?"

Patrick does remember that. He remembers a lot of stuff from when they were kids, before high school, before Pete decided he needed to be cool. "Yeah. Long time ago."

"Yeah," Pete says softly. Then he looks at Patrick out of the corner of his eye. "Why do you always wear that stupid hat?"

Patrick blinks. "Headgear? Seriously, you want to go there, Goggles?"

"No, hey," Pete says, nudges him with his foot again, and Patrick's starting to think it's just his version of poking him repeatedly. "Does it have like, special meaning or something? What?"

"No," Patrick says, and leaves it at that, but Pete kicks lightly at him. Patrick moves his foot away, but Pete shifts closer so he can still kick him. "No, dude, no special meaning. Stop kicking me."

"Tell me," Pete whines.

Patrick laughs despite himself, and looks pointedly at Pete's stupid visor/goggles combination. "You tell me why your head is going skiing and your legs are getting ready for a night working a street corner."

"What, these jeans make my ass look good."

"Nobody is looking at your ass, Pete, they're all distracted by this." Patrick reaches up before he knows what he's doing and tries to tug the visor off Pete's head.

It gets tangled up in the goggles, of course, and Pete is laughing and trying to duck away and pull Patrick's hat off at the same time, which, uh, no, and they end up struggling for a minute before Pete says, "God, FINE," and yanks them off his head himself.

He throws them into the tub behind them and smoothes his hair down a little self-consciously. "Now will you tell me about the hat?"

"I've got my dad's hairline," Patrick says finally, awkwardly. "It's no big deal." Except for how it's totally a big deal, and Pete's met his dad, so he knows. He crosses his arms and waits for Pete to laugh.

Pete doesn't. "Wow, shitty deal, man," he says. "Can you take your hat off?" he adds. "I mean, now that I know."

"No," Patrick says, but he uncrosses his arms. "No way, the hat does not come off."

"Like, ever?" Pete asks, and now he's kind of giggling to himself. "Like, even when you shower?"

Patrick rolls his eyes. "Obviously when I shower," he says, and Pete totally is laughing now, the asshole.

"Or when you take a bath!" Pete says between giggles, making a weird triangular movement with his hands that Patrick supposes is meant to represent his hat. "And you're just sitting there all up to your chin in bubbles, and the hat's still on!"

Patrick watches Pete laugh for a minute and okay, that is pretty funny, but he bites the inside of his cheek so he won't start laughing too. "I just remembered why I hate you, so thanks."

"You don't," Pete says, but he's sobered up. "Dude, you think I'm totally awesome and shit."

"No," Patrick says. "No, I think you're totally delusional."

"And awesome," Pete adds, before poking Patrick with his toe again. "Awesomely delusional? Delusionally awesome?"

"You're the word guy," Patrick says, rolling his eyes, but Pete just beams.

"Awesomely delusional," he decides. "I'm awesomely delusional."

"Yeah, yeah you are."

***

Bill is a wonderful kisser. He knows this is a rare and special gift, and he's properly grateful for it. He likes to show his gratitude by sharing this gift with as many people as possible, and if he can share with a whole room full of people by kissing someone in front of them, well, that's just efficiency in motion.

He tries to explain this to Bert, but Bert doesn't really seem to be listening. He seems more concerned with positioning Bill in the doorway to the kitchen.

Bill is only too happy to oblige. Two rooms full of people is even better than one.

Bert is not quite the wonderful kisser Bill is. He is, in fact, mediocre, but his hand on Bill's ass is not unwelcome, and Bill is rather tickled by the "Oh, for fuck's sake," he can hear from the kitchen. He loves that reaction; it usually means more people are looking.

When Bert pulls back, he looks into the kitchen, hand remaining where it is. Bill peers in after him, to see if the person Bert is trying to upset is attractive. He will be all too happy to assist them in revenge, if that is the case.

"Why can't you just drop dead, McCracken?" a short (but not unattractive) young man is saying heatedly. Bill eyes him up and down. It'd be murder on his poor back, of course, but if this boy requires Bill's services, Bill will do the honorable thing and accept.

Then a slightly taller but no less attractive boy puts his hand on the short one's arm and says, "Leave it, Frankie, he's just trying to get a reaction."

Bill would say Bert is succeeding. He's thrilled he could help, and even more thrilled at the prospect of two possible revenge partners. Maybe they come as a pair, he wonders, looking at the way the short one - Frankie - gazes at the other.

Bill loves threesomes. Like making out in public, they're efficient, and Bill always makes sure he is in the middle, of course. Bill tries to convey this message with his eyes, and then, when no one looks at him, by leaning suggestively against the doorframe.

Bert is saying something tedious involving a lot of 'screw you's, and still, no one has looked at Bill. He does not appreciate that, so he unslinks from the doorway, prepares to go find Travis again. Travis, at least, will look at him, even if his lisping little friend is still there.

He's pushed aside by Bert, who stalks out, saying something about it serving someone right as he leaves, but rights himself. He has places to go.

"If you should change your minds," he says to the short boys, trailing off at the end enticingly.

Frankie says, "Change our minds about what?" and The One Who Isn't Frankie says, "Who the fuck are you, anyway?" and that's really the last straw. Bill has only so much patience.

"You'll regret this," he says, and sweeps past them.

Bill is a very good sweeper. The short boys are probably too stupid to appreciate it, but he shares this gift with them anyway, because Bill is nothing if not generous.

Travis will appreciate that too, he's sure.

***

Ryan has had enough of Spencer and Jon and their ridiculous smiling, so he passes by the kitchen to see if Gerard's inside. He is, and Ryan walks in, trying to make for the fridge in the most casual way possible.

"Calm down," he hears Gerard say, then sticks his head in the fridge and pretends he isn't there.

"He's being a fucking asshole," Frank says, and Ryan tries to make himself smaller. "I don't see why you're not more pissed off."

"I don't see why you can't just let it go," Gerard says. He sounds like he might be getting pissed at Frank. Ryan raises an eyebrow at a yogurt.

"Because he hurt you, so I hate him," Frank says. Ryan is sort of with Frank on that. He hates agreeing with Frank. He frowns at the yogurt. Frank says, "Seriously, do you want me to beat him up? Because I totally will."

"Frankie, Jesus Christ." There's a banging noise that might be Gerard slamming a beer bottle down on the counter. "It's not your fucking problem, okay? I just want to relax and have a good time, I don't need all this fucking drama."

Frank says, "I'm not causing drama! I'm trying to make sure you have a good last night!"

Ryan reads the label on a carton of juice. A two hundred and fifty milliliter serving contains twenty five percent of his recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, apparently.

"Thanks," Gerard says, voice going a little soft, and Ryan turns his frown back to the yogurt. "But it doesn't have anything to do with you. Let it go, Frankie."

"Fine," Frank mumbles, sounding kind of petulant, which Ryan doesn't get, because Gerard was being very generous with him. "Whatever, I'm going to go find Patrick."

Ryan can hear him retreat, and he pulls his head out of the fridge. "Oh, Gerard," he says. "You're in here too?"

Gerard is looking in the direction Frank's footsteps went in, how annoying. He looks sort of wistful, and then he kind of blinks and looks at Ryan and smiles sideways. "Ryan, hey. You having a good time?"

"It could be better," Ryan says as airily as possible. The guy Ryan doesn't know, who was on the counter earlier, has disappeared, so now Ryan is alone. With Gerard. He closes the fridge and sidles over to him. "I couldn't help, um. Hearing. Are you okay?"

Gerard grins. "I thought you didn't even know I was here."

Shit. Ryan turns around to hide the fact he's blushing, and picks up the nearest beer. He takes a sip. It's awful, he can't understand why people drink it, like Jon Walker and ugh, even Spencer, like it's a rule they have to share drinks because they're boyfriends or whatever.

He doesn't have time to think about that now, though. Frank is gone and Gerard is sad, or angry or something, and Ryan knows enough to know that vulnerability ups the chances of kissing happening by like, a lot of percent. He leans into Gerard and pitches his voice low and sympathetic. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"I'm fine," Gerard says, smiling bravely. Ryan loves that he's being brave. He respects that. "But thanks."

"Anytime," Ryan says, puts his hand on Gerard's arm. "Anything you need, I'm here for you."

"Thanks," Gerard says again. "Listen, I really should go find--"

"Gerard," Ryan interrupts. "You're feeling too vulnerable for that."

Gerard blinks. "What?"

"You're feeling vulnerable," Ryan repeats, because Gerard doesn't need to be brave. Not for Ryan. Ryan will respect him even if he cries. "I respect you, you know."

"Well." Gerard looks around a little wildly. "Thanks."

This is not going to plan. Gerard was supposed to have his head on Ryan's shoulder and be pouring his heart out by now. Ryan decides to switch tack and remind Gerard of how sad he's feeling. "Frank's pretty bummed that you're leaving, huh?"

Gerard sighs and rubs his hands over his face. "Yeah," he says quietly. He drinks some beer - ew - and then looks at Ryan and says, "Do you ever like, feel like someone wants to say something to you, and maybe you want to say it too, but you need them to say it first, because if they don't want to say it and you say it then it'll ruin everything? And if they can't even say it then maybe they don't really want to, maybe they just think they want to, and that's, you know. That's not the same at all."

"Yes," says Ryan. He has no idea what Gerard is talking about. "All the time."

"How do you know when it's too late?" Gerard asks. He's looking right at Ryan, right into his eyes, and Ryan realizes, with a sudden shock, that he's talking about him.

He takes a deep breath. "You should just say it," he says. "I bet they want to say it to you too."

"You think?" Gerard asks, smiling a little. "I just. No, I think they need to say it first."

Ryan takes another deep breath. If Gerard can be brave, so can he. "Gerard," he says, "I really--"

"Okay assholes," some guy says, coming in with Gerard's ex in tow.

A third guy comes in dragging Frank. "We are fixing this," the guy with Frank says. Ryan really can't remember his name. He just knows that he's short.

"I didn't sign up for fucking couples counseling, Dan" Bert says, shaking off his guy's - Dan, apparently - hand. "Jesus, you think you can throw a bitch fit and we'll get back together?"

"I can't think of anything I want less," Gerard says. "Just for the record."

Ryan is fizzing with glee. Gerard doesn't want to get back together with stupid ugly Bert! He's kind of pissed at the interruption, but he's also not really man enough to yell at a bunch of seniors he doesn't really know. He keeps quiet for the moment, but doesn't move away from Gerard's side.

"Neither can we, for the record," the short guy with Frank says. "But we're sick and fucking tired of feeling like we can't talk to our own fucking friends, okay. This bullshit has gone on long enough."

Gerard folds his arms and looks at Frank. "Was this your idea?"

"No!" Frank shakes off short dude's arm, now.

"I thought I told you this wasn't your problem?" Gerard says, sounding unconvinced.

"It wasn't Frank's idea," Dan pipes up.

Frank gives Gerard a look, as if to say 'see?' Gerard looks right back at him. Ryan shifts and waits for whatever drama it is to be over so he and Gerard can have their moment.

Dan goes on, "Jepha and I are tired of this."

Short guy-Jepha, and god, what a stupid name that is-nods. "We'd like to actually be able to talk to you, Gee," 'Jepha' says. Bert snorts. "Shut up, man," Jepha says, still looking at Gerard.

Gerard is kind of softening. "You can talk to me," he says. "I don't want things to suck for you guys."

"I don't want things to suck for you guys either!" Bert says hurriedly, like he doesn't want Gerard to look better than him. Ryan narrows his eyes at him.

Frank makes a hilarious chopping gesture with both hands and comes over to Gerard. "Gee," he says quietly, looking really like, intensely at Gerard's face. "I've got your back, you know that. It's just, it's going to be a long fucking summer, you know?"

"Yeah," Gerard says, looking at Frank with the same kind of intensity. Ryan thinks, just maybe, things are really not working out the way he wants them to again. "For me too, Frankie."

They keep looking at each other. Ryan feels a little sick. He wants to go, but Dan and Bert are kind of blocking the door.

"Yeah, right." Frank touches Gerard's hand a little, like he doesn't even know he's doing it. "You're going to be off having the time of your life, pouring paint on some guy called Julian, or whatever."

Gerard rolls his eyes, but he's smiling, sort of. "Julian?"

Frank shrugs. "Or whatever," he says, and they just look at each other some more, and Ryan realizes there was never going to be a moment with Gerard. Not for him.

His stomach feels cold and horrible, and it lurches when he thinks about how close he came to making a total fucking fool out of himself. He wants Spencer, and Brendon, and Mikey and Jon. He wants to not be here in this kitchen, for real. He prays desperately for a distraction so he can get the fuck out of there.

"As touching as this is," Bert says loudly. "I have other places to be."

Gerard looks away from Frank, rolls his eyes.

"Can you guys, just, like--" Dan starts, then stops talking.

"Declare a truce, or something," Jeph finishes for him.

"A truce?" Bert asks, disbelievingly. "Are you kidding me?"

Ryan doesn't think they look like they're kidding.

"Like, shake hands," Dan says, then looks over at Jeph and smiles a little.

"Yeah," Jeph says. "C'mon, how hard is it to do that?"

"You don't have to be buddies!" Dan sort of nudges Bert further into the room. "You just have to be, like, civil."

"You're out of your fucking minds," says Bert.

Ryan feels both Frank and Gerard tense up, next to him. Gerard says, "Obviously this isn't going to work," and then Jon's stupid tall skinny friend Bill comes fucking prancing into the room, just when Ryan thought things couldn't get any worse.

"Pardon the intrusion," Bill says, tossing his hair over his shoulder in a way Ryan is totally going to practice in the mirror later. "But I couldn't help overhearing, and it so happens that I am an expert in matters of the heart, and pants. May I be of some assistance?"

Ryan takes advantage of the ensuing shocked silence to make a break for the door. He's pretty sure nobody notices him leave.

***

Jon gets another bottle of beer pushed into his hands, at some point. He thinks it's number four, maybe five, and gives it to Spencer first, watches his throat move as he swallows.

Spencer grins at him, eyes bright, as he passes it over. "So," he says into Jon's ear, "think Brendon's going to score this one?"

Brendon's traipsing his way over to Bob and Ray. Jon turns his head to grin at Spencer, catches the corner of his mouth.

Spencer leans back, which wasn't really what Jon was going for. Then Spencer steps back, which is definitely a new turn of events, but then Jon looks over his shoulder and see Ryan coming towards them.

"Ryan, what," Spencer moves towards him quickly, ushering Ryan into the corner next to Jon. Ryan doesn't actually look all that upset, but that doesn't always mean anything, Jon knows. "Are you okay?"

Ryan makes a sharp gesture with his hand, and shakes his head a little bit, and takes a deep breath, holds it, and lets it out.

Spencer rubs his shoulder a little bit. "Gerard?"

Ryan sort of rolls his eyes, and then nods and drops his head onto Spencer's shoulder.

Jon watches, kind of helpless, and takes a swallow of beer, watches Spencer rub slow circles on Ryan's back.

"Frank?" Spencer asks then, and Ryan nods against Spencer's shoulder. "Sorry," Spencer says.

"Did everyone else know?" Ryan asks, muffled.

Jon opens his mouth to answer, but Spencer catches his eye, shakes his head. "Of course not," he soothes.

Ryan's quiet for a minute. Then he says, "Frank doesn't even date guys," and Jon has to concentrate on not laughing. It's not that he thinks Ryan being upset is funny, it's just he sounds so mad, like Frank has deliberately gone around masquerading as a straight dude, just as part of some scheme to mess with Ryan's love life.

"I know," Spencer says quietly. "I know, Ryan."

"You don't know," Ryan says, still muffled. "You and stupid Jon Walker. You're all oh hey, let's meet and be perfect for each other and smile disgustingly all the time. You don't know what it is to feel this pain."

Okay, maybe Jon thinks Ryan being upset is funny a little.

"Sorry," Spencer says, and smiles at Jon a little over Ryan's head.

Jon smiles back. "Hey," he says gently. "Hey Ryan, Brendon's hitting on Bob."

Ryan finally raises his head. "Really?" he asks. "You're not just trying to make me feel better?"

"Look," Spencer says, and nudges Ryan slightly. "Look, he's over there." Ryan leans into Spencer, but he turns to look.

***

"No," Bob says, and he says it so firmly that Brendon doesn't even try again, just zips off in the other direction, like a pinball bouncing off one of those things that makes a negative 'wharrk' sound.

Unfortunately, Ray is in the other direction, but Bob says, "No," again and off Brendon goes, towards some shirtless guy on the other side of the room who has some serious ink going on, all over his back.

"Dude," Ray says. "How'd you do that?"

"Do what?" Bob asks. He lights a cigarette.

"Say no like that." Ray is seriously impressed. "I've seen that kid hit on everyone in this room tonight, and they've all lost like, minutes of their lives that they'll never get back."

Bob shrugs and says, "So, anyway, Iron Maiden."

Ray thinks maybe he wants to be Bob's heterosexual lifemate. "Iron Maiden," he says, and settles in for a good long conversation that at no point involves anyone's love life.

This is like, the best party he's ever been to.

***

"No seriously," Pete's saying. "You're the one who gave up on me."

Patrick doesn't remember it happening that way. At all. "No," he says. "No, you wanted to be like, popular."

Pete looks kind of guilty. And mostly embarrassed. Which is fair, since they both know how well the attempt to be popular worked out. "Whatever," Pete says. "That's not the point."

"Um," Patrick says, since that's what this whole thing's about.

"Shut up," Pete says, and kicks at him.

"What are you, eleven?" Patrick asks, and Pete grins.

"I bit when I was eleven," he says.

"I know."

Pete laughs and draws his knees up to his chest, hugging them and tapping his feet on the floor the way he used to when they were kids. "You're the one who went and joined the Better Than Brigade."

Patrick rolls his eyes. "Don't start."

"I'm serious!" Pete says, but he's smiling. "Your little group of vegan artist musician potheads. That many superiority complexes in one little clique, it's a miracle you don't all end up shooting each other."

"We don't have superiority complexes," Patrick says automatically.

Pete makes a face. "You all think you're better than me."

"We are," Patrick says, also automatically, and Pete's face falls and Patrick feels like a dick. "I didn't mean that."

"Yes you did," Pete mumbles, going into himself, small, like he always did as a kid whenever his feelings were hurt.

Patrick feels about as bad about it now as he did back then, which is. Kind of surprising. "Seriously," he says. "I didn't."

"Okay," Pete says. "Whatever, it's fine."

"Pete, I didn't."

"Okay," Pete says again, and Patrick sighs.

"Were you this annoying when we were friends?" he says, shoving his hand under his hat to scratch it.

"Were you such a bitch?" Pete fires back.

"I told you I didn't mean it," Patrick says again, trying really hard not to just…punch Pete in his stupid face or something. "I'm just used to you being an ass, okay?"

Pete scowls. "So what, you just assume everything I say to you requires a biting comeback?"

"Pretty much." Patrick tucks his knees up too, mirrors Pete's posture. "It's like…Pavlovian."

"Dude, you're an ass to me too," Pete says.

"Yeah," Patrick says. "There's this thing called hurt? It happens when your best friend dumps you so he can be cool."

"Oh," Pete says, kind of quiet. "Um. I'm really sorry about that."

"Uh huh," Patrick says.

"No," Pete says. "No, I am. Like, that was a shitty thing to do."

"Yeah," Patrick says. They sit quietly for a moment, then Patrick kicks out a little, catches Pete's foot, and smiles at Pete's stupid grin.

"It didn't work," Pete blurts out suddenly. "I'm not cool."

He doesn't say it like Frank would, wanting Patrick to say 'yes you are!' and he doesn't say it like Gerard would, like he's proud of it, and he doesn't say it like Andy or Joe would, because Andy and Joe both think they are cool, and Patrick doesn't like pissing on his friends' parades, even if they're, you know, misguided.

He says it simply, like it's the truth. Patrick kicks his foot again. "I got some news for you, Pete. You never were."

Pete laughs and drops his head on his forearms. "You hung out with me, didn't you?"

"Well," says Patrick, linking his hands and stretching them out in front of him. "Your mom bought the good cookies."

"She still does," Pete says, with a bit of a grin, leans forward, all teeth.

Patrick's about to tell him to back up before he blinds him, but then Pete's leaning even closer, and his lips are against Patrick's before he can say anything.

"What the fuck?" Patrick says, when Pete pulls back a second later, because, seriously, what the fuck.

"Sorry," Pete says. He doesn't sound very sorry at all. He's grinning again.

"You." Patrick touches his mouth, just to make sure it's…still there, or something, he doesn't know. The last thing he expected to happen to his mouth tonight was to have it kissed by Pete Wentz, so he needs to make sure. "Uh, is this still part of the apology from before?"

Pete shrugs, shifting around so he's closer to Patrick than before. "Maybe," he says. "Not really. Sort of? I just wanted to. Did you like it?"

Patrick touches his mouth again and thinks about it. On the one hand: Pete Wentz. On the other, his lips are totally tingling and his stomach feels sort of tense in a not-bad way. And they're locked in a bathroom. It's not like anyone ever, ever, ever has to know. "I don't know," he says, finally, taking his hand away from his mouth. "It was over kind of fast."

"Sorry," Pete says again. He's grinning again. It's kind of grating. "I can um. We can try again, and then you could see."

"Um," Patrick says. Pete's sitting really, really close to him. "Um. I guess. I guess that would be okay."

"Okay," Pete says, and he's not grinning any more. It's kind of weird, but maybe Patrick misses it. He doesn't even know. "Okay," he says again, not moving, and this time it's Patrick who has to lean forward to kiss him.

It's not much at first, just a warm press of lips. Based on the first two seconds, Patrick does like it, in the same way he likes bread, or cushions, or getting mail, but then Pete makes a little noise and opens his mouth a little, and Patrick opens his too because that's what you do when you're kissing someone, and Pete grips Patrick's hand suddenly and his tongue touches Patrick's sort of hesitantly and Pete makes a little hiccuppy sigh.

"I like it," Patrick tells him, not moving his mouth away, so his lips move against Pete's. "And not just in the way I like bread."

"What?" Pete laughs, and then says, "I don't even care, never mind," and kisses Patrick again and this time his tongue is a lot less hesitant. Pete's not hesitant at all, actually, once he starts, one hand around the back of Patrick's neck, the other sliding under Patrick's shirt, even as he tries to bat it away. He curls his fingers in the waist of Patrick's pants.

Patrick thinks maybe things have gotten a little out of hand. He finds himself kind of not caring.

Pete is a really good kisser. Patrick has only kissed a handful of people before, and it always seemed to be about striking a balance between opening your mouth wide enough to get your tongue out, and keeping it closed enough so you didn't just drool all over your face. Pete knows what he's doing, though, sucking on Patrick's bottom lip and licking into his mouth all deep and Patrick has no idea who Pete's been kissing to get this good, but he wants to shake their fucking hand. Or their tongue. Or whatever.

He's so busy concentrating on giving as good as he gets and not just sitting there with his mouth open like a loser that he doesn't notice Pete getting Patrick's pants undone, until Pete's fingers are already tucked inside Patrick's zipper. "Oh. Um."

"Can I?" Pete asks, asking against Patrick's mouth, kind of muffled. He isn't really waiting for an answer, though, already getting his hand inside Patrick's boxers, and if Patrick was ever going to say no, that ended right there, with Pete's hand, kind of rough, wrapping around him.

"Okay," he kind of squeaks out, then abruptly flinches in embarrassment. Pete grins against his mouth.

"You've done this before, right?" he says in this gravely porn voice which is equal parts sexy and sort of stupid.

Patrick says, "Yeah," but Pete chooses right then to move his hand, and Patrick's voice leaves squeaky behind and sails right on into fucking bat sonar, or something. He doesn't even care about being embarrassed, he decides. Someone not himself is touching his dick. "I mean, to myself."

"You're a virgin?" Pete says, sounding a little disbelieving and a lot like he might be laughing, the asshole.

Patrick finds it in himself - oh God, that feels so good, why is it so different when it's someone else's hand? - to say, "You're not?"

"Hey," Pete says. "Of course I'm not. I have slept with all sorts of people."

Patrick tries to summon a disbelieving look, but it maybe doesn't work. He's distracted.

"Okay, one person," Pete says. "But it was totally awesome." Patrick manages another disbelieving look. "What? Mikey's great."

Patrick thinks, briefly, of how heartbroken Gerard's going to be, but then Pete does something with his thumb and the head of Patrick's cock, and wow, um, he isn't thinking anything at all anymore, actually.

Pete dips his head down and kisses Patrick's throat under his ear. Then he sucks the same spot hard and Patrick makes a completely humiliating noise and his hips jerk up towards Pete's hand as if they're just independent from Patrick's brain, like, bye motor control and voluntary movement! Don't worry, your dick can take it from here!

Pete laughs softly and his breath feels cool where Patrick's throat is wet, wet because Pete Wentz has been sucking on it, fucking hell. He puts his lips on Patrick's ear and says, "Traditionally, sex is a two-player sport."

"Oh." Right. Because Patrick should do something, touch Pete maybe, instead of just sitting around with his hands lying open on the floor. He lifts them and puts them on Pete's back, and Pete sort of tilts them and the room slides sideways and the next thing Patrick knows, he's on his back with Pete's knee between his thighs and his hands are under Pete's shirt. "Oh, God."

"Can I?" Pete's asking. "Can I, Can I?"

Patrick doesn't know what he's talking about, what he wants to do, but he figures "Yes," is a good answer for whatever Pete wants. It seems like a really, really good answe r when Pete's dragging his jeans down, waiting for Patrick to kick out of his shoes before he tugs them off. Yes is a totally, totally great answer, right until Pete sits back on his heels and starts scrutinizing him. "What?"

"Seriously," Pete says, and he pulls his shirt over his head and wriggles out of his pants so fast he's practically a blur, like he thinks Patrick might change his mind any minute. "Seriously, is the hat staying on?"

Patrick reaches up and oh, yeah. Hat. It occurs to him that he probably looks ridiculous, lying on the bathroom floor, naked from the waist down with an erection and his hat still on. "Well, it's never come up before, you know."

"It's coming up now," Pete says, and Patrick hesitates a minute.

"If you laugh, I'm putting my pants back on," he warns, and finally pulls it off.

Pete doesn't laugh. "It's not that bad," Pete says.

"Okay."

"No, really," Pete says, hand stroking up Patrick's inner thigh. "It isn't."

"Okay," Patrick says. "Can you just--"

"Oh, right," Pete says, then laughs kind of nervously.

He stretches out over Patrick and kisses him, and that's even better than before, being pushed down like that by Pete's weight. It makes Patrick feel like he won't just fly apart at the seams from nerves or weirdness or whatever, and Pete rubs all his naked skin against Patrick's and moans into Patrick's mouth, and then he pushes up suddenly and scrambles away.

"I think I have," he says, digging in his jeans pockets. "Come on, come on - aha! Score."

Patrick cranes his head up to see Pete waving a condom, which, wow, the plot of Patrick's sex life is advancing faster than it even does in his dreams. Pete's holding something else, too. "Pete, do you just carry lube around in your pockets?"

"Not usually," Pete says, fiddling with the wrapper for a minute before he finally opens it. "But like. It's a party tonight."

"Uh huh," Patrick says.

"Gabe's party," Pete stresses. Patrick makes a face. "Shut up," Pete mumbles, then rolls the condom on.

"Don't you have to--" Patrick starts.

"Duh," Pete says. "Give me a minute, okay? I do know what I'm doing."

Patrick drops his head back down onto the bathroom floor. Pete knows what he's doing better than Patrick does, probably. Patrick's seen a lot of porn, though, and he knows porn isn't realistic (his bastard friends who have had sex are fond of telling him that, in knowing tones) but he's thought a lot about having sex, and what he's seen in porn has backed up these thoughts: that there should probably be more in the way of touching before anyone puts on a condom, and Pete should not have just assumed he would be on top.

Maybe Patrick gives off some kind of Bottom vibe. He certainly hasn't been doing it on purpose. And he thinks Gerard would have mentioned it if he was, right?

"Okay," Pete says, kneeling between Patrick's legs. "I'm going to put my fingers in you now."

"Thanks for the warning," Patrick mumbles, and then, wow, okay, that's kind of weird. Pete has this concentrating face on, and it'd be funny, maybe, but. "Huh," Patrick says.

Pete looks up. "Okay?" he asks, and kind of moves his finger, and.

"Huh," Patrick says again. "That's kind of weird."

"It gets awesome," Pete says, with enough enthusiasm that Patrick almost believes him. He wouldn't believe he'd had sex at all, but. Mikey. Pete's probably telling the truth.

Pete sticks another finger in. Patrick wonders if it's supposed to be awesome yet, because it just feels really weird. Also he's just lying there with Pete kneeling between his legs, really disconnected from each other except for the part where Pete has his fingers, um. There.

Is Patrick supposed to move, maybe? Or is he just supposed to wait for - "Ow!"

"Sorry," Pete says. He withdraws his fingers and puts more lube on them. "I forgot."

"You--" Patrick starts, then shuts his mouth, looks up at the ceiling. "I've changed my mind," he says. "I don't want to anymore."

"Hey, no," Pete says, not listening at all, fingers pushing back in. "No, it gets really good."

"Okay," Patrick says, squints a little. He waits. Pete's breathing kind of unsteadily, which Patrick sort of likes, thinking that he might have done that. He focuses on that instead. "Ow!"

"Sorry!"

Patrick puts his hands over his face. "Just - just do it, okay," he says into them. "I feel-"

Pete says, "Okay!" and yanks his fingers out and lies down on top of Patrick while his hands are still over his face.

"-like a fucking science project," Patrick finishes, taking his hands down, but Pete's not listening, he's too busy shoving one of Patrick's legs out to the side and tugging the other one so Patrick has his foot planted on the floor and his knee pressed against Pete's waist.

Everyone was right; this really isn't like porn. Patrick thinks, maybe, they meant it was better, but, "Ow, ow, ow, fuck, stop."

"Okay?" Pete asks, sounding kind of high pitched and far away.

"No," Patrick says, trying to communicate how not okay this is.

At least Pete's stopped moving. "Gimme a sec," Pete mumbles.

"I will give you two," Patrick says, staring hard at the ceiling. "I will give you five. Take all the time you need." Pete starts moving again. "Ow."

"Look, it'll get better, okay?" Pete says breathlessly, his eyes closed. "It hurts the first time, I know."

"You should have told me that before you put your dick in my ass," Patrick says. He tries to shift a little, make things easier, but that just makes Pete gasp and push forward again and that, knowing Patrick did that, made him sound like that, is sort of great.

What is not great is the way Pete shoves a hand between them and touches Patrick's dick and says, "You're not hard!" like he's pissed about it.

"Did I not mention ow?" Patrick asks. He is really pretty sure he did. "Because ow, Pete, what did you expect?"

"I can," Pete mumbles, hand curling, which is good, like, totally good, then he moves his hips and forgets to move his hand and Patrick squeezes his eyes shut.

This isn't porn. This isn't even bad porn.

Pete moves his hips some more, and it fucking hurts and Patrick grits his teeth and closes his eyes and then, thank god for the teenaged hair-trigger thing Patrick hears about all the time, thank GOD for that, he goes, "Oh," and shakes all over and collapses, all his weight on Patrick.

So now Patrick can't even breathe, and it still hurts. This sucks. "Sex sucks," he tells Pete. "Everybody lied."

Pete just lies there, breathing, because he's had a good time, the fucking bastard. Then he pulls out and even that hurts, but at least it's over. Patrick starts to sit up, feeling a little sick and kind of dirty, but Pete puts a hand on his chest and says, "Whoa, where are you going? I'm not some asshole, come on."

Patrick starts to say, "I beg to fucking differ," but then Pete is sliding down between his legs. "Oh."

And okay, Patrick is pretty sure, almost positive, that Pete is not good at the whole sex thing, but he's also almost positive he's pretty fucking good at this, because his tongue curls, and he hums something, and "Holy shit," Patrick says, faintly, and Pete mumbles something against him, which just makes things better. And then maybe not thank god for the teenage hair-trigger thing, because he doesn't exactly last long, and Pete's kind of laughing at him when he pulls back, he thinks, and "Fuck you," Patrick manages, even though his head feels kind of fuzzy.

"Fucked you," Pete says, grinning, oh god, he's so fucking lame. He stretches out next to Patrick, then, and kisses him and that's sort of weird, tasting himself in Pete's mouth like that, but it's not bad.

It's really not bad at all, and Patrick thinks maybe if they'd done more of this first it wouldn't have been so awful. Pete's arms are around him and they're sort of clinging to each other, kissing really deep and soft and this is sort of like porn, the really good kind where you feel like the guys in it actually give a shit about each other.

"You're so fucking lame," Patrick mumbles at Pete when he pulls back a little anyway, because he is, and just because he can kiss doesn't make that not true.

Pete kind of makes a face at him, maybe a little hurt, but Patrick leans forward again, and then he just hums into his mouth.

***

Bill has never been in a room with so many attractive people looking so unhappy. It is unpleasant. He does not like it.

"Listen," he says. "This problem needs solving." He is really not entirely sure what the problem is, but he is sure it needs solving. "I will help you, friends."

"Who is that?" a moderately tall boy whispers to yet another short one.

Bill is unsure why this party is populated by short boys. It displeases him.

The One who Isn't Frank says, "Are you going to help by sucking my ex-boyfriend's face in front of me again?"

"If you like," Bill says graciously, but the Other Short Boy says,

"Jesus, Bert, you can really pick 'em," and he doesn't sound like he's being complimentary.

This displeases Bill also. But it is not uncommon for his gifts to be misunderstood by those less beautiful than himself (Travis, for example, understands them completely, Bill is sure) so he presses on. "We can settle your various disputes like gentlemen, I'm sure. We are all very attractive. There's no reason we shouldn't all get along."

The Other Short Boy, the new one, with a tattoo on his neck that Bill would not mind examining closely, kind of giggles. Bill looks to him for agreement, smiling his most charming smile (which is very, very charming indeed), but the little giggly boy just hides his face in the moderately tall boy's chest and continues to giggle.

"So what is the issue, gentleman?" Bill asks.

They all just stare at each other for a moment. Bill waits patiently, because he is used to people becoming tongue tied when in his presence.

Finally Frank says, "Fuck it. Bert and Gerard," he motions to the One who Isn't Frank, "broke up and now me and Jeph and Dan," the short giggly boy and the moderately tall one, respectively, "aren't supposed to talk to each other and it sucks."

"Aha!" Bill says, clapping his hands. It's all becoming clear. "And you are Gerard's new love, I assume?"

No one says anything. Frank coughs. Gerard coughs. Jeph has stopped giggling.

"Is there a cold going around?" Bill asks. He wouldn't want to catch ill.

"No," Frank says finally. "I'm not."

"What a pity," Bill says. They would make a marvelously attractive couple. But there is always a bright side. "You are single, then?" Bill asks, and again uses his most charming smile.

"For fuck's sake," Bert says, throwing his hands in the air.

Bill turns away from Frank and Gerard, who are both looking at the floor instead of Bill, which is very odd. Bill gives Bert the charming smile instead. "Bert? Is there something you'd like to share?"

Jeph starts giggling again. Dan squeezes his shoulder, grinning, and says, "Bert, for fuck's sake, just shake Gee's hand so we can all get the fuck out of here."

"Fine, just, fuck, fine, I'll shake his fucking hand," Bert says.

Bill does not feel all this profanity is necessary.

Bert takes a step towards Gerard, and then Gerard looks up. Bert sticks out his hand. It is not very elegant, for a handshake, rather jerky in fact, but for some reason Jeph and Dan are smiling at them.

"I still don't like you," Bert says sulkily, letting go of Gerard's hand and shoving his own hand into his pocket. "But I like my fucking friends, so you know."

Gerard does the same. "I don't like you either," he says. "But yeah, me too."

Jeph and Dan seem inordinately pleased by this turn of events. Bill thinks about trying the smile on them, but it is becoming rapidly and distressingly clear that his talents are wasted amongst these confusing, short boys.

Bill supposes he will have to use his talents where they are appreciated. "Well," he says, clapping his hands. "I am glad to have settled this. As you were," he says, then makes his sweeping, grand exit.

Travis, he thinks gleefully as he goes. Travis, Travis, Travis.

***

Everyone just stands around for a minute after Bill leaves. It's like a bomb went off. A tall, vaguely British bomb of embarrassment and awfulness.

Also, Frank can't seem to force his neck to move so he can look at something that isn't the kitchen floor. He wants to say something to Gerard, who's tense as fucking steel next to him, something like 'hey, I'm so proud of you for doing that' or 'Jon Walker's crazy fucking friends, right?' but it's really quiet in the kitchen and he doesn't want everyone else to witness his voice inevitably cracking or something.

Then Bert says, "Well, are you fuckers happy now?" and Jeph starts laughing, pulling Bert in towards him and Dan. He hugs Bert and says something Frank can't hear.

"Whatever," Bert says. "See you losers later." He pats Jeph's shoulder before he leaves, and Frank watches, because it's a lot safer to watch that than Gerard, who's quiet beside him.

"Well," Jeph says loudly, then comes over to Frank, leans down a little. "Go get your guy, dude," he says, low in Frank's ear, but not low enough that Frank doesn't look nervously over at Gerard, makes sure he hadn't heard. Jeph pats his ass. "Pity about the threesome," Jeph says, and Frank laughs despite himself, looks over at Gerard to see a reluctant smile on his face.

"You guys can resurrect that mutual appreciation club now, huh," Gerard says, rolling his eyes a little.

Jeph pinches Gerard's cheek. "How'd you get so pretty, baby?" he coos, and Gerard laughs and shoves him away.

Jeph turns to Frank and says, "Don't you think Gerard's pretty, Frankie?" because he is made of pure evil. Then he raises a meaningful (and obvious, god, how does Jeph even know? How does everyone fucking know?) eyebrow and grabs Dan and drags him out of the kitchen.

"Um," Frank says, once they're gone.

"Mm," Gerard says. Frank starts staring at his feet again. Someone comes into the kitchen; Frank doesn't look up to see who. "Okay," Gerard says finally. "Okay, so--"

"This summer's going to suck without you," Frank blurts, which is better than just about anything else he could have said, since all he's doing is stating the obvious. "Like, a lot."

"Frankie," Gerard has his frustrated face on, chewing his lip and a little line between his eyebrows. "I'm not going to get a new best friend, if that's what you're-"

"That's not-" Frank interrupts, but then someone else comes into the kitchen, and Frank is just not going to have this conversation in front of a guy wearing a shirt that says, 'The Best Part of You Dried Up on your Mother's Thigh.' "The room with the booze in is maybe not the place for this."

For a horrible moment Frank thinks Gerard is going to say, "What do you mean, this?" or something, but he doesn't. He just says, "Yeah, probably," and jerks his head towards the door. "You wanna find someplace, like, quiet?"

Frank doesn't know where exactly Gerard thinks they're going to find someplace quiet, but he leads, going up the stairs and mumbling something about Gabe and violating and using the bathroom he said not to.

Frank follows two steps behind and lets Gerard mumble, and opens the bathroom door for him with a little flourish, trying to get a smile.

Gerard's eyes go wide. "Oh," he says, and Frank looks inside.

Patrick's on the floor.

Patrick's on the floor, not wearing pants, with Pete Wentz beside him, also not wearing pants.

Frank stares.

Pantsless Pete and Patrick stare back.

"Patrick," Gerard says in a little shocked voice. "You're not wearing your hat!"

Gerard's voice seems to spur Patrick into action. He gropes around for his hat and jams it onto his head and then sits up and yanks his jeans towards him. "Fuck," he mutters. "Fuck, fuck, fuck."

Pete sighs and gives Gerard a dirty look. "Do you know how long it took me to get that thing off his fucking head?"

"Oh my god," Frank says, kind of giggles, almost against his own will. "Oh my god, you fucked Pete Wentz?"

"Hey," Pete says.

"Dude," Frank says, lets out another giggle. "Dude, put some pants on."

"Close the door, Frankie," Gerard says from behind him.

"No, don't!" Patrick yells. Frank freezes with his hand halfway to the handle. "It jams," Patrick mumbles. "I've been stuck in here."

"Can I like, close it enough so I can't see your dicks anymore at least?" Frank loves Patrick, really he does, but he doesn't love him this much.

Patrick finally gets his jeans on - Pete makes no effort to put clothes on at all - and stands up. "Where were you guys going, anyway? And please, God, can I come with you?"

"No," Frank and Gerard say at the same time, and Patrick looks a little hurt and confused and a lot like he really needs their help, but for fuck's sake. Frank just wants to get Gerard to somewhere other people aren't, already.

Gerard angles his head a little, back downstairs, and Frank nods, closes the door almost all the way.

"Guys," Patrick says from inside. "Frankie, Gee, please, wait up."

Gerard starts down the stairs. Frank follows him, since he, at least, seems to have an idea of where to go. Gerard leads them outside, where the noise cuts down considerably, and Frank catches up, wrist brushing against Gerard's as they walk.

"We're assholes," he says, still thinking about Patrick - Patrick without pants! Patrick without a hat! Patrick and Pete Wentz, what - asking them to stay.

"Yeah," Gerard says, shrugging. "I'm okay with it." He smiles a little bit when he says it, looking at Frank out of the corner of his eye.

Frank feels this giant rush of fucking relief when he does, because all this awkward tense bullshit is making his stomach hurt again. Frank smiles back and lets his hand bump against Gerard's again. Totally casually. "Where are we going?"

"Gabe has a pool house somewhere around here, doesn't he?" Gerard says, squinting through the night. "Didn't he have that orgy there or something?"

"Oh, right," Frank nods. "The orgy. Well, I know exactly where it is."

Gerard gives him a half smile, smacks his arm lightly. "Let's not talk about Gabe and sex," he says after a second, making a face.

"Hey," Frank says, raising his hands innocently, then dropping them down, hand skimming over Gerard's arm. "You're the one who brought it up."

"And now I'm the one, like," Gerard waves his hand in a circle, dislodging Frank's fingers from his wrist. "Putting it down."

Frank doesn't know whether Gerard's talking about the orgy or Frank, so he shoves his hands in his pockets and follows Gerard to the pool house.

They have to navigate past Travis (who lifts like three fingers off the ground, because he's probably too stoned to wave) and Joe (who only lifts one) and that fucking William Beckett guy (who is too busy tonguing Travie's ear to notice them, thank God) to get there. It's cold inside and it smells vaguely like the locker room and distinctly like bleach, but there's a door that locks and…fuck.

A giant bed. In…the pool house.

"Wow," Gerard says, staring at it. "Like parents, like son, I guess?"

"I thought we were putting this down?" Frank asks innocently.

Gerard scowls. "We are," he says, then goes to perch on the corner of the bed.

Frank doesn't know whether to join him or not, so he just shoves his hands in his pockets and stays where he is. "So," Gerard says, then looks at Frank like he's expecting him to finish the sentence.

Frank really has no idea what he's going to say, so he just looks back.

"So," Gerard says again. "Uh." Gerard isn't at a loss for words often. It's kind of scary and wrong.

It's as scary and wrong as feeling this awkward with your best fucking friend since kindergarten, Frank thinks. Gerard's seen him piss and cry and vomit and fall down on his fucking face more times than he can count and he's never felt like he didn't know what to say, before. And now that he thinks about it, maybe he's pissed off that Gerard's making him do all the fucking work. He's not stupid and he can read Frank better than anyone else and if fucking Andy and fucking Jeph have figured it out, then Gerard must know.

"You gotta know," he says out loud before he knows he's going to. Fuck, fuck, fuck. His mouth is totally dry and it's a lot of work to get the words out. "Gee, come on, help me out. You gotta know."

Gerard looks really small, hunched in on himself with his hands twisted in his lap. He doesn't look at Frank when he says, "Know what?"

"Gee," Frank says again, and Gerard's not going to make him say it, he can't. "Please."

"What?" Gerard asks, raising a hand to push his hair back, keeping his eyes down. "Please what?"

Frank resists the urge to say 'never mind', to drop it, to not talk about it again, fights it. "You know I-shit."

Gerard takes a deep breath and rubs his hands over his face before letting it out. He looks up at Frank, finally. "Remember when we were fourteen?" he says, not smiling like he usually does when he starts a sentence with 'remember when.' "Remember when I came out?"

"Sure." Frank does remember. They were in his tree house and Frank was totally not surprised.

"Yeah," Gerard says. He spreads his hands wide and gives this little humorless laugh. "Remember when you didn't?"

Oh, god. "I don't-"

"Remember how you've never dated a guy ever?" Gerard goes on, and Frank can tell he's warming to his topic because he's pointing at nothing and leaning forward. "Remember how you've never at any point in the last fifteen years ever said anything about anything like that? Remember how you've had girlfriends since like the beginning of time?"

"I, um," Frank starts. He's really not sure what the right response to this is, or if there is one, if Gerard has written this all off without even checking with him. "Shit, I, you knew."

"Yeah," Gerard says, with another bitter little laugh. "There's a difference between me knowing and you telling me. Kind of a big one."

"Gerard." Frank makes his feet move, makes them carry him across the room to Gerard even though it feels like he has cement blocks in his shoes. He crouches down so he's on Gerard's level, but it's really uncomfortable so he settles on his knees - carefully not thinking about what the hell might be on the floor - and looks up at him. "Is there any room for me to be a little confused, here?"

Gerard hesitates for a minute, and then he reaches down and takes one of Frank's hands. When he speaks his voice is gentle and quiet. "We've been best friends for so long, Frank. A little confusion makes for a lot of fucking risk, don't you think?"

Frank looks at their joined hands. Gerard's nails are bitten right down to the quick and the nail polish is chipped off on his thumb but nowhere else. Frank feels like Gerard must be able to hear his heart beating, it's thumping so hard in his chest. He's sweating and he feels dizzy and sick and like he wants to run away, kind of.

"Frank," Gerard says, even quieter. His thumb rubs over Frank's knuckles the way it has a million times. "It has to come from you."

Outside, someone yells, "Midnight, motherfuckers! Everybody get laid!"

The doorknob rattles, once, from outside, and Frank looks over, can hear the low rumble of Travis's voice through the door, saying something about pants, and the now totally unforgettable voice of Bill Beckett, saying the exact same thing, but whinier. Frank watches the door until he can hear their footsteps retreat, just for something to look at other than Gerard.

"Frank," Gerard says, softly, and Frank finally tears his eyes away from the door.

He looks up at Gerard and thinks about all the times he's said Frank's name before: playing soldiers, playing video games, buying CDs, trying cigarettes, getting drunk, doing homework, sharing secrets, nursing hangovers and coughs and colds and crushes and bruises and broken bones and broken hearts, and it's all the same fucking thing, isn't it? Nothing's really changed, except for the way in which at some point, without Frank noticing, it totally has.

He takes Gerard's other hand.

"You say my name better than anyone else," he says carefully, watching Gerard's fingers close around his own. "I like the way it sounds when you say it, better than anyone else in the world."

"Oh, God," Gerard says, and Frank thinks 'oh, fuck this' and surges up onto his knees and kisses him.

Gerard doesn't move at first, but Frank can't pull back, can just think 'fuck fuck fuck fu--', and then Gerard's mouth moves against his, light and tentative and then not, and this is what Frank needs, this is exactly what he needs, possibly until the end of time, until someone finds their bones in the stupid pervy weird smelling pool house.

That, he decides, is a plan, because he really doesn't think he needs to move, like, at all, except closer.

Gerard pulls his hands out of Frank's grip and cups them around Frank's face - it's sort of weird, because with girls Frank has always been the one doing that, but it's great, it's just Gerard, it's familiar.

What is not so familiar is Gerard's tongue in his mouth, and Frank pulls back before he can stop himself. "Whoa."

"What?" Gerard is breathing kind of fast and his mouth is wet and Frank thinks I did that and shivers all over. "Frank? Do you not want-"

"Shut up," Frank tells him and kisses him again. He's done this with girls plenty of times. How different can it be?

Gerard's moving slow now, trying to keep the kiss chaste, which Frank knows is probably for his benefit, but fuck that. He can totally handle this, born for this, he-that is Gerard's hand sliding under the hem of his shirt, and his tongue, in Frank's mouth again. But. But Frank can totally handle this. He's wanted it long enough.

"C'mere," Gerard mumbles against his mouth, and he tugs at Frank because - because he's trying to get him onto the bed with him.

Frank moves with him because yeah, beds. That's - that's where this stuff happens. On beds. Okay.

Gerard's got both hands under his shirt now and his tongue back in Frank's mouth and it occurs to Frank that he's not really doing anything and that Gerard might think Frank is bad in bed.

"I'm not bad in bed," he says breathlessly when Gerard ducks down and - oh God - starts sucking kisses into Frank's neck. "It's important that you know that."

Gerard laughs against Frank's throat and says, "Show, dude. Don't tell."

Show. Frank can totally show. Frank is good at showing. The best. He just needs to. Hm. If he. He tries to think.

Gerard's still sucking on his neck. It's making it kind of difficult to.

He finally manages to slide his hands down Gerard's back, push his shirt up a little, just enough to span his hands over his back, all warm skin that isn't intimidating at all, and an ass that-okay, Frank's thought a lot about his ass. Frank should maybe get to know it a little better. Frank appears to be incapable of moving his hands, however, and they stay on Gerard's back.

Gerard's hands aren't having any kind of mobility issues though, oh no. They're stroking over Frank's stomach and up his sides and across his back and down over his chest again. He gets up on his knees between Frank's legs and kisses his mouth again, really deep and intense in a way it's never been when Frank's kissed girls, and it makes Frank's head spin and he has to pull his mouth away for breath and lean his forehead on Gerard's chin and admit,

"Dude. I got no fucking clue what I'm doing."

Gerard's hands stop moving, fingers spread wide over Frank's belly. He pulls back and looks into Frank's face. His cheeks are pink. Frank has a weird urge to bite them. "Honestly man, I'm sort of getting that."

"It's just I feel like I don't know you," Frank struggles up onto his own knees, Gerard's hands slipping out from under his shirt and resting on his shoulders instead. "I've known you practically my whole life and suddenly it's like, like," Frank feels like a virgin, this is ridiculous, "I just realized there's this whole side to you I don't know. Like I don't know what you like, man. What do you like?"

"Well," Gerard says, kind of smiling. "I wouldn't mind like, you know. You touching me. That might be nice."

"Like," Frank tries to clarify. "Like the kind of touching--"

"Like the kind of touching where you seem less like you're freaking out?"

"Oh," Frank says. "That kind of touching. I can try that."

"Good," Gerard says, squeezes Frank's shoulders, pulls him forward. "It's just me," he mumbles against Frank's mouth, but. But that's the point. It's Gerard.

He tries to remember if Gerard's ever told him what he likes during one of their ten million conversations about sex - he must have, he must have - but he can't think, he feels all fizzy and hot and like an idiot. He hates feeling like an idiot.

At some point his hands have gotten tired of waiting for him, because they're both twisted in Gerard's shirt, up near his collar. Frank makes himself let go and spreads his fingers carefully, touching Gerard's jaw and his ear and his throat. Gerard makes a little noise when Frank presses his thumb into the hollow under his ear, so Frank ducks down and puts his mouth there, just to see what'll happen.

Gerard goes, "Nnngh!" and his hands tighten on Frank's shoulders. "That," he pants, "I like that."

That, Frank can do, pulls back a little and traces his tongue over the shell of Gerard's ear, hears his breath stutter.

"That too," Gerard says, kind of breathlessly, his hands kneading Frank's shoulders. Frank pulls back for a second to look at him, all wide eyes and bitten lips.

"I'm seriously not bad in bed," he tells Gerard, just in case things suddenly suck.

"No," Gerard says. "No, I believe you."

After that it's easier, it's like something clicks in Frank's brain and it stops being all about boundaries and freaking out and more like hey, sex, now I remember. He knows there's stuff they need to talk about still, important stuff, and maybe the night before Gerard leaves for the summer isn't the best timing in the world but whatever, the important thing is that at some point Gerard's pushed him down onto his back and he's got Frank's shirt off and his mouth on Frank's chest and Frank is having the time of his fucking life.

"I can't believe we've never done this before," he says, and then gasps and arches because Gerard does something to his nipple involving tongue and teeth, oh God he's good with his mouth. "Dude, why haven't we done this before?"

Gerard laughs under his breath and sits up enough to get his own shirt off. "I honestly can't remember."

Frank pulls him back down, hands sliding down over his back, his sides, Gerard's chest pressed against his. It's a little different than usual, but not really, not in anything other than a good way, Gerard's heart beating too fast against him, his heart beating too fast right back. Gerard's hands are skimming over his stomach, light touch, almost not there, and then his hands are on Frank's hips, tight, and that is really there. Frank pushes against him, experimental, but Gerard pushes back, and. Oh.

"Oh God," Frank says, his hands tightening on Gerard's back. Oh God, he thinks as the whole room spins. That's Gerard's dick.

"I know," Gerard mumbles with his face buried in Frank's neck. He pushes down against Frank again and it's like, on the one hand it feels pretty fucking good because hello, someone rubbing against Frank's dick, but on the other it's like oh my God that's Gerard's fucking dick, for real.

Frank's body is like totally divorced from his brain - he's rocking up against Gerard without even thinking about it and now he's wondering how many times he thought a girl saying 'Oh my God' and clutching him meant they were having a great time when really they were just freaking out.

"Frank?" Gerard doesn't stop moving but he pulls his head back to look down at Frank. His hair is a mess. "You still with me?"

"Uh huh," Frank squeaks. He maybe isn't so convincing, because Gerard pulls back entirely, which is kind of a relief.

"Sure?" Gerard asks.

"Yep," Frank says, and apparently that's more convincing than before, because Gerard pushes back against him, and look, that's Gerard's dick again.

Frank may have forgotten about that part of the gay sex thing. He will clearly learn from his mistakes, but in the meantime, Gerard's dick. Right there. His hips are still moving, completely ignoring him, and Gerard's kind of panting in his ear, which is hot, but. Dick.

"Frank," Gerard says in a really small voice. "Have you changed your mind?"

"No!" Frank tries to sit up, but obviously Gerard is like right there, so they end up rolling onto their sides. Gerard's arm goes around Frank's waist, holding him closely. "I really haven't. I want this so bad, Gee. It's just-"

He breaks off, because what's he gonna say? It's just you've got a dick? It's not like Gerard can do anything about it. While he's thinking about how to phrase things he gets distracted by the way Gerard's mouth is right there, so he kisses it and Gerard sighs and bites Frank's lip and sucks his tongue and Frank completely forgets what he was worrying about until they roll again so Frank's on top and oh, yeah.

Dick.

"You've got a dick," he tells Gerard.

Gerard blinks a few times. "Yes," he says. "I knew that. So did you."

Which, yes, but not really. "It's like, right there," Frank stresses.

Gerard blinks a few more times "Where else would it be?"

Not poking Frank, is where it would be. "Never mind," Frank says, a little desperately.

"No, hey," Gerard says, squeezes his arm. "Do you want to stop? We can stop."

"No, it's cool," Frank says. His voice is still a little shrill. "It's cool. You have a dick. That's cool."

"Okay," Gerard says a little warily. Then he visibly resets his face into Sage Advice mode and says, "Look, I know it can be weird the first time, all right? Just…we'll go slow."

Slow. Okay. Frank can do that. His own dick, by the way, is totally happy about the whole situation. And to get all fucking rainbows and flowers about it, so is his heart. It's Frank's stupid traitor brain that's the problem. "Okay."

Gerard tips Frank off to the side again and slides his hands into Frank's hair, kissing him all slow and deep like on TV. He rubs his fingers over Frank's throat, down over his back and his ass, pulling Frank in tight against him. He makes a little throaty noise that does ridiculous things to Frank's insides and then rests his hands on Frank's belt and says,

"Can I touch you?"

Frank's brain has absolutely no problem with that. At all.

"Yeah," he says, and his hips, which need to stop having a mind of their own, push up slightly against Gerard's hands. Gerard grins a little, and Frank grins back, and it's kind of a ridiculously nice moment. Frank even forgets to freak out, and then Gerard's undoing his belt, his zipper, and his hand is sliding inside Frank's pants.

Frank forgets to think at all, then. It's probably an improvement.

"Oh," Gerard sighs, like he's the one getting the handjob. "I've thought about this, Frank, you have no idea."

He's right. Frank has no ideas except for ones which revolve around how fucking good this feels, the way Gerard's long fingers wrap around his cock with no hesitation and he's not too careful or too light. He jacks Frank twice, firm and just the right speed and then on the upstroke he slides his palm over the head and Frank makes a stupid noise and clutches at Gerard's shoulders.

"Good?" Gerard breathes and Frank can't do anything but nod and push up into Gerard's hand, fucking shockwaves rippling through him and he thinks he might actually be shaking.

Frank is pretty sure he used to have stamina, or like, more stamina, stamina enough that he doesn't feel like he could come if Gerard just, like, licks his lips or something.

Gerard isn't licking his lips, but his hand's still moving, perfect, like he's somehow learned everything Frank likes (Frank would really like to remember the extended talks about sex right about now), and Frank just holds on and tries really, really hard to breathe.

Gerard does some insane twisting thing on the next stroke and Frank actually like yells and he really hopes fucking Travis (or anyone else) isn't still lurking outside because they totally would have heard that shit. He rubs his face against Gerard's shoulder and bucks up into his hand and bites his own lip and then everything starts tensing up inside him but it's way too soon so he summons up some fucking Herculean strength from somewhere and says, "Stop, stop."

Gerard takes his hand away immediately, jerking it back like Frank's burned him or something. "What, too much?"

"No, no." Frank kisses him to take his mind off how much he misses his hand, and then says, "I don't want to come yet."

Gerard smiles at him, pretty and pleased looking, and Frank manages to smile back, even though, really, he misses his hand, who cares about coming soon? That's what recovery speed is all about.

Except then Gerard is ducking forward, smiling against his lips, and no, this is totally fine too, especially Gerard's hands sliding down his back, smooth, slow movements that would be calming if Frank wasn't so wound up.

"You feel amazing," Gerard murmurs, kissing Frank's mouth and his cheek and his jaw. "Talk to me, Frank, tell me what you want."

Frank has trouble getting his mouth to work, partly because Gerard's using this porn voice he's never heard before, and partly because he still feels like he could come if he just thought about it hard enough, but mostly because he's fucking terrified again all of a sudden, but he wants to do this and he wants to be better than fucking Bert.

He says, "I want to touch you."

Gerard makes a pleased noise and smiles up at Frank from under his lashes. God, he's pretty. It's like Frank's never seen him before, or something. "Thank God."

Frank goes for Gerard's belt, which is easy, and his fly, which is a little scarier. And then there's Gerard's underwear, and. His dick. But Frank can do this. He really can. He reaches into Gerard's briefs, closes his eyes, mumbles a Hail Mary under his breath.

"That better not be what I think it is," Gerard says, but his breath hitches when Frank's hand wraps around him. Frank's breath hitches too, but it's actually more like hyperventilating.

"Oh, Frankie," Gerard moans, pushing up and that's his dick, okay, and it's really hot and really hard and really like Frank's own so this shouldn't be weird except for the way in which it really, really is.

Frank tries. He really does. He keeps his grip tight and he tries not to move in a way that contradicts the thrust of Gerard's hips but the angle's all wrong and Frank is freaking out and in the end he just loses it and yanks his hand out of Gerard's pants and says,

"Oh, God. Oh, God, I'm touching your dick."

Gerard stares at him, looking totally heartbroken which is sort of hilarious and sort of not. He breathes in really deep and says, "Not anymore, apparently."

"I'm sorry!" Frank looks down and yeah, there it is. That's a dick, all right. And not his own. "It's just - that's your dick."

"Okay." Gerard rolls onto his back (leaving Frank cold and confused and wanting him back) and presses his hand over his eyes. "Remember when I said we could stop?"

"Yeah?" Frank's heart is like beating in his throat.

"We still can." Gerard's chest rises and falls rapidly, flushed and damp. "But you're going to have to give me a minute with my hand, here."

Frank doesn't say anything. He's too busy thinking about how he's so not better at this than fucking Bert.

Gerard adds, "Also, you're a douche."

"No, I can." Frank doesn't know what he can do, actually. "Maybe we can just--" Actually, Frank doesn't know about that either. He takes a deep breath. "I can totally do this," he says.

Gerard doesn't move his hand from over his eyes. "Sure," he says.

"No, I can!"

Gerard lowers his hand, looks over at Frank. "You can touch my dick?"

Frank kind of flinches. He doesn't mean to, but.

"Right," Gerard says. He puts his hand back over his eyes and sighs.

"I want to do this," Frank says, rolling closer to him. He puts his hand on Gerard's stomach and rubs a little. Gerard's skin is really soft, and really pale, probably because he fears the sun like Frank fears spiders. "Gerard, I do. It's just new, is all. I'll get used to it."

"Will you get used to it in the next sixty seconds?" Gerard rolls closer too, facing Frank again. "Because not to pressure you or anything, but I feel like if you don't touch me I'll fucking die."

For some reason Gee saying that sends this bizarre ripple of yes through Frank and he rubs against Gerard's hip a little bit, almost against his will. "You still want me to touch you?"

Gerard rolls his eyes. "Of course I do, dumbass. But you staring at my dick like it's gonna bite you isn't exactly the stuff my fantasies are made of."

"Right," Frank says. "Um. Sorry."

Gerard rolls his eyes again, then pushes his hips up, just a bit. Frank stares. "Frank," Gerard says. "It really won't bite you."

"I know that," Frank says, because he totally does. It's just. Dick. There. Kind of staring at him.

"Frank."

"Okay!" And this time he manages to keep his eyes open as he wraps his hand around Gerard, gives a tentative stroke.

"Yeah," Gerard says, biting his lip. "Yeah, Frankie, just like that."

Frank keeps going, and the angle is still weird and his wrist sort of hurts and it's still like oh my god dick but actually, maybe it's not that different from doing it to himself?

"It's almost like doing it to myself," he says out loud, because of how he apparently has no brain/mouth filter anymore.

Gerard says, "I want to see that," all deep and rough and yeah, now that Frank's into it all the panicky stuff is sort of getting drowned out by the way Gerard sounds, breathless and desperate.

"Yeah?" Frank asks, sounding kind of breathless himself.

"Some other time," Gerard says, and yes, other times, there are going to be other times, hopefully lots of them.

"Yeah," Frank says, "Yeah," and twists his wrist like he likes it, just a little more breathless when Gerard moans, throaty. Frank is pretty much willing to do anything to get him to do that again.

Gerard is loud as hell, actually, which really shouldn't be a surprise - Gerard is loud as hell all the time - but for some reason it is. He's like totally shameless, not self-conscious or shy and okay, if he keeps up the porn soundtrack Frank is going to come whether anyone's touching him or not.

"I can't believe you're like this," he grits out, trying to move his elbow so he can get some fucking friction, something, but he can't figure out how to do it without letting go and there's no way he's doing that, in case he loses his nerve. "I can't believe you're like this and you kept it from me all this fucking time - Gerard, please, I need, I don't know how-"

Gerard tips his head back, all throat and hair falling back, half lidded eyes that are looking at him, hips pushing up. "Frankie I don't--" he says, moans, and his voice is like, Frank doesn't even know, like sex. "Close," he says, and Frank's scared all over again, unsure, but that doesn't make him stop.

"Okay," he says, and twists his wrist like before. "Okay, do it."

Gerard doesn't stop pushing into Frank's hand, but he sort of laughs and his eyes open a little bit. "No pressure, right?"

"What?" Frank is just focused on his own dick and how much he needs Gerard to just come already so it can be his turn and now Gerard is slowing down. "Dude, you didn't come yet."

"I know that," Gerard groans, and he fumbles his hand down between them and puts it over Frank's, stilling his movements. "Dude," he says, and then he squeezes Frank's fingers around his dick and groans again, shoving his face into Frank's neck. "You sound like you do when you ask me to rip off your Band-Aids."

"I don't," Frank protests, tries to move his hand again, to get on with it, but Gerard's hand is in the way, and he doesn't move it.

"Okay," Gerard mumbles, "Sure," but he lets go of Frank's hand, gives him room to move it again.

"Okay?" Frank asks, doing the twist thing, trying to speed it up.

"Frankie," Gerard says, all breathy, and Frank just hopes that's a good Frankie, and not like a 'I'm on to you, Frank Iero' Frankie.

Either way, Gerard is getting into it again, his hand hooked around the back of Frank's neck and sliding into his hair. He pulls Frank in for a kiss, deep and wet, and then presses his forehead against Frank's and whines when Frank experimentally presses his thumb under the head of Gee's cock.

"Come on," Frank tells him, moving his hand faster and rocking his hips against…nothing, why the hell isn't he double-jointed or something, God, he needs to be touched so bad. "Gerard, come on. I like, want you to?"

Shit, that wasn't supposed to come out as a question.

"Shut up," Gerard moans, throat moving, and that, that is hot. Frank focuses on that. "Shut up, oh my god."

His hips push up though, even as he says it, and Frank shuts up, because seriously, anything to help. He moves his hand, does the little tricks that are apparently awesome for Gerard too, and then Gerard's coming, and oh. Hm. That's.

"Oh, God," Gerard is saying, eyes closed and shuddering and all pink in the face. He shoves his hand over Frank's again and squeezes really tight and moans some more, his hips jerking and seriously, there is come all over Frank's hand and Gerard's jeans and some of it's smeared on his stomach and it is equal parts totally bizarre and the hottest thing Frank has ever seen.

"You came!" he says, staring down at the mess. "And I could tell!"

Gerard takes his hand off Frank's and starts laughing, so Frank takes his hand away too because it's weird to be lying there holding Gerard's dick while he presses his face into the sheets and giggles like an idiot.

"Um," Frank says, shifting his hips because seriously he has waited long enough. "Are you always like this after you get a handjob?"

Gerard wheezes and flaps his hand around, and then pulls it together enough to choke out, "Dude, I love you, but you gotta promise me you'll never take a job on a phone sex line, okay?"

"Okay," Frank says, instead of like, something that isn't 'okay', because seriously, maybe if he agrees with Gerard and like, is very, very still, Gerard will stop laughing and maybe touch him. Frank waits for the laughter to stop. And waits.

"Gee," he whines.

Gerard looks at him, still giggling a little, but then he stops. "Oh," he says, and he's smiling, why is he smiling? "Right."

He kisses Frank, which is great, and his hands are moving in a definite pants-wards direction, which is awesome, and then he rolls Frank onto his back which - Frank wasn't expecting, but okay, and then he slides down the bed and yanks Frank's jeans all the way down to his knees in like one movement which seriously, when did Gerard turn into this like sex ninja?

Frank tries to ask, but all that comes out is, "Gnargh," because Gerard is kissing Frank's stomach and his hip and wrapping his hand around Frank's dick and Frank sends up another prayer, but this one's a thank you. He settles back into the bed and feels Gerard's breath fan over his dick, oh God he loves getting blowjobs, and then suddenly everything screeches to a halt and he yanks his head up and stares down at Gerard and says, "You love me?"

Gerard sighs and drops his forehead onto Frank's hip. "Jesus Christ."

"No, like," Frank says, waves a hand, trying to illustrate his point. "You just kind of threw that out there."

"Frankie," Gerard says, muffled against Frank's skin, then he looks up. "You're my best friend. I say that all the time."

"Not when I have your come on my hands," Frank says, waving both hands now. "That's a little different!"

"Frankie," Gerard says. "Would you like a blowjob or not?"

That. Frank is pretty sure that's a trick question.

Gerard looks up at him, waiting, looking totally comfortable with his face right next to Frank's dick (which is seriously tired of waiting, by the way) like they have conversations like this all the time. He rolls his eyes when Frank opens and closes his mouth without saying anything. "I'm going to take that as a yes."

Then he pushes himself up a little, wraps his hand around Frank's dick again and goes down.

"Fuck!" Frank falls back against the bed again and just reels, Gerard's mouth so fucking hot and wet and perfect, Jesus he's good at this. "Gee, oh, fuck."

Gerard looks up at him, not slowing down, which, whoa, that is some major multi-tasking, and Frank really approves, because that means he gets to look at Gerard's eyes, which, for the record, are really fucking pretty, while Gerard's mouth (which is Frank's new favorite thing) stays tight around him. Frank thinks this is worth touching a dick. Totally worth it.

Gerard's eyes close and Frank misses them but then Gerard like gets down to business or something, moving his hand and doing something crazy with his tongue and somehow defying gravity to get his other hand on Frank's balls and did Frank say he loved blowjobs? Because that was a lie. He didn't know what a blowjob was, apparently.

He wants to touch Gerard but he can't make his hands move, they're just fisted in the sheets and he can't stop his hips from jerking up. "Sorry, sorry," he breathes, but Gerard just hums and sucks harder.

Frank thinks stamina is a very important thing. He is, in fact, sure of that. But. But stamina isn't exactly important right now, or, like, possible, with Gerard's mouth hot around him, Gerard's hair brushing his thighs, his fingers doing...something, Frank doesn't even know what, something amazing. So. Stamina. Not nearly as important as coming like, right this second, Frank thinks. Or, really, he thinks something like 'nrrrgh.'

"Gee," he manages to blurt out, and Gerard goes 'Mmmhmm' around Frank's dick and then Frank isn't aware of anything except coming like he's being hit by a truck.

He's still blinking and gasping for breath when Gerard pulls off, gently, and rests for a minute with his head on Frank's thigh before coming back up the bed to lie next to Frank and put his arms around him. Frank curls into him, too blissed out to get his limbs to move. He just nuzzles at Gerard's face and then they're kissing and Gerard tastes of Frank, fucking hell, and it makes Frank shudder all over and groan into his mouth.

"Don't go," he whispers, when Gerard pulls back a little. "I mean I know you have to, and I want you to, you're going to kick everyone's ass and it's going to be awesome, but I just. I just wanted to say it."

"It's going to suck without you," Gerard says, quiet, his breath against Frank's lips. "I'm going to miss you the whole time."

"Good," Frank says. "Good, me too."

Gerard sighs, drops his head against Frank's neck. "Yeah," he says. "Nice timing."

"Me?" Frank splutters, "You totally--"

"Shut up, Frankie," Gerard mumbles.

"Yeah," Frank says. "Okay."

***

Bill no longer wishes to be wearing pants.

"I no longer wish to wear pants," he informs Travis, who is currently acting as a man-shaped vertical recliner against which Bill can lounge.

Travis nods slowly. "I hear that."

Bill does not know who is thwarting his pool house plans - he hopes it is some of the short boys. Maybe all of them! That would be thrilling - but he is nothing if not resourceful. "Come," he says, taking Travis' hand in his own. "If there is one thing I can do, my love, it is find suitable locations for the removal of pants."

"I'm so glad I met you," Travis says happily, following Bill inside.

Bill squeezes his hand. "Of course you are!" He uses his superior height to look around the living room, packed with party-goers. "There," he says, gesturing expansively with his free hand. "There is a door."

"We should go to the door," Travis says. Travis is really such a terribly smart person. Bill is lucky to have found him.

"Yes," Bill says. "We should."

The door, it turns out, leads to a basement. The basement has a bed, which Bill approves of, but there appears to be a man already lounging on it. He sits up, and Bill revises his statement. There is an attractive man lounging on it.

"Hey," the attractive one says. "Welcome to the basement."

"Glad to be here," Travis says, because he has beautiful manners, Bill has always thought so. Ever since they met a few hours ago. Then Travis looks over at the corner and says, "'Sup, Mikey Way."

The corner says, "Hey, Travis," and then a boy emerges from the shadows, looking delightfully rumpled. "Hey, Bill Beckett."

"You're not leaving, are you?" the attractive lounging man says, holding his hand out to Mikey Way.

"Yes, don't go on our account!" Bill leans up against Travis again, giving Mikey Way his second most alluring look. "I hope we're not interrupting anything glorious."

"No, that's okay," Mikey Way says. "I should go find my brother."

"Intriguing," Bill says, for it is.

Mikey Way gives him a confused look. "Um," he says. "Bye."

"Call me," the attractive man says, then returns to his lounging position. "So, gentlemen," the attractive man asks. Bill very much likes him already. "What brings you to my basement?"

"I no longer wish to be wearing pants," Bill informs him.

"Oh," the attractive man says. "Don't let me stop you."

Travis immediately unzips Bill's jeans, then looks up and says, "Oh, Bill, this is Gabe."

Bill looks down. "Is that a synonym for fabulous?"

"You bet it is." The attractive man slinks to a standing position and spreads his arms wide. "Gabe Saporta, at your service."

"Bill Beckett," says Bill. "Charmed."

Gabe grins and slinks closer - Bill himself is a champion slinker, of course, but this Gabe is certainly no slouch. "Well, now we're all introduced, maybe I can help Travis here with those pants of yours?"

***

Joe finds them just as someone runs by, screeching about his cheating boyfriend and his awful best friend and how he's going to kill everyone.

"Hi," Joe says, rubs at his eyes a little. "Sup?"

"Hey," Bob says. "Do you think this school's really gay?"

Ray smiles at him. It's like they're a reservoir of strength and heterosexuality.

"Yeah, dude," Joe says. "Travis left me to, like, take some dude's pants off."

"Sucks," Ray says sympathetically. Bob nods.

Then Mikey shows up, his hair sticking up crazily and two giant hickeys on his neck. "Hey guys," he says, wobbling a little.

"Basement?" Joe says.

"Yeah." Mikey's moving really slowly - slower than usual, even - and sort of tugging at his shirt and staring around everywhere like he can't remember who he was before Gabe dragged him down to his lair of things Ray doesn't like to think about. "Have you guys seen my friends? Or Gerard?"

"I don't know about Gerard, but Ryan and those guys are in the kitchen," Ray tells him. "Brendon tried to hit on Bob."

Mikey laughs and it's like he's shocked back into himself. He starts flattening down his hair. "Dude."

"Gerard's in the pool house," Joe offers. "With Frank."

Mikey nods. "Figures."

Andy appears from nowhere, looking calm and placid. "Hey."

"Where the fuck were you?" Joe accuses him.

"I was," Andy pauses for dramatic effect. "Elsewhere."

"You always pull that fucking vegan parlor trick disappearing bullshit at parties," Joe grumbles. "You know I hate that."

Andy just shrugs. Ray is sure he got laid, but Andy's like a steel box of kiss-and-tell, in that he doesn't. Lame.

"So guys," Joe says. "I've got some stuff, if you want to blow this off."

"Oh, dude, yes," Ray nods.

"Let's blow this popsicle stand," Bob rumbles. Ray stares at him. "What?" he asks.

"Heterosexual lifemates," Ray says. Bob nods.

***

Frank doesn't know how long they've been lying there, trading kisses and soft touches and 'I-didn't-know's. Everything's gone quiet outside, and the garden lights which filter through the shades are flickering on and off, leaving them in intermittent darkness.

Gerard has both hands on Frank's face, and is sort of rubbing his forehead against Frank's cheek. They're been quiet for a long time when Frank asks, "What time's your train?"

"Early," Gerard groans, letting go of Frank so he can flop onto his back and rub his hands over his face. "At least I already packed. No thanks to you."

His voice is light, but Frank feels like maybe the unpacking Gerard's bags thing is lame in light of all the sex, like no longer an annoying best friend thing but a desperate…something else…thing, so he stays quiet.

"We should go," Gerard says. "I'm Mikey's ride home."

"In a minute," Frank mumbles, trying to pull Gerard that little bit closer.

"Frankie," Gerard says, then after a moment, mumbles a 'kay', presses his lips to the corner of Frank's mouth. "Just a minute."

Frank closes his eyes and nods. "Yeah," he says around a yawn. "I promise."

***

Patrick hates everyone. Everyone in the whole fucking world, but especially fucking Frank and fucking Gerard, fucking leaving him when he asked for their help.

Most of all, though, he hates Pete Wentz.

"I cannot believe I did this with you," Patrick says, trying to pull on his shoes. "In fact, I don't believe it. I refuse to believe it. It didn't happen."

Pete is yanking his own clothes on, finally. "You made that pretty fucking clear when you practically clung to your little friends' legs, Stumph."

"Wow, I wonder why I did that," Patrick says, raising a hand to tug the brim of his hat closer to his face. "Did you think I was going to hang around?"

"Huh, I guess I did," Pete says, "you know, a lot of people do when they lose their virginity."

"You taken a lot of people's virginity, Pete?" Patrick asks, and then moves for the door. Pete stands in his way. "Move," he says. Pete just looks back at him.

Patrick folds his arms and stares back. God, he feels gross. His skin is cold and sticky and doesn't fit right, like he just put it back on after leaving it in the freezer all night.

Pete says, "I guess we solved the whole who's ashamed of who thing."

"I was naked in front of my friends!" Patrick yells at him, fisting his hands under his elbows so he won't just punch Pete in his stupid face. "Some of us don't file that under things to do on a fun weekend, okay?"

"You had a shirt on!" Pete yells back, like that's the point, God, he is so stupid. "And for the record, no I haven't, because I don't use people for sex!"

Patrick laughs because otherwise he might throw up. "Not well, anyway."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Pete asks.

Patrick laughs again, and it sounds really ugly right then, his laugh. "It's not hard to figure out," he says. "Telling you stop probably was a good clue."

Pete flushes. "Sorry I made losing your virginity such a sucky experience, next time maybe you shouldn't be such a slut about it and do it on a bathroom floor."

Patrick's fist connects with Pete's jaw before he even realizes he's swinging.

Pete slams backwards into the wall and slides down it, both hands pressed over his mouth. Patrick stares at him, then down at his own hand which is still curled tight and really fucking hurts, too. He uncurls his fingers and shakes his hand out, swallowing heavily. "Shit."

Pete takes his hands away slowly, staring warily up at Patrick. He moves his jaw from side to side, wincing. "You fucking suck."

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Patrick babbles, holding his hands out in front him, reaching for Pete. "Shit, Pete, fuck. I don't know why I did that. I've never done that. I didn't know I could do that. Shit, shit, are you okay? Did I break anything?"

"Don't fucking flatter yourself," Pete rolls his eyes. "I've taken harder beatings from pillows."

"Right," Patrick says, reminded suddenly of why he'd punched Pete in the first place. "Right, of course. Now if you could just get out of my way, I won't--"

"Won't what?" Pete laughs. "Won't punch me again? Won't go around telling everyone I'm a lousy lay? What?"

"Pete," Patrick says.

"Patrick," Pete says, mimicking him.

Patrick laughs for real then, covering his face with his hands and cracking the fuck up because this is his fucking life? Seriously?

Pete is quiet but when Patrick sneaks a glance at him he's smiling, and Patrick takes a deep breath and tries to stop laughing and says, "You are a lousy lay!"

"You're a perpetrator of domestic abuse!" Pete fires back, and that makes Patrick laugh even harder and Pete joins in this time, leaning his head back against the wall and chuckling quietly. "Patrick Stumph: Bruiser."

"Shut up," Patrick says, between spurts of laughter, kicks out at Pete's feet.

"See, that's exactly what I mean," Pete says, with something that sounds almost like a giggle. "That is totally uncool, Stumph."

"You're totally uncool," Patrick says, and Pete lets out another giggle. "What are you, five?" he asks.

"Seven," Patrick says, and kicks at his foot again.

Pete giggles some more, and when his hand comes up and he starts touching his face a little, Patrick crawls towards him.

"I seriously didn't hurt you?" he asks, taking Pete's chin in his hand and tilting his face a little into the light. "Seriously, no jokes."

"I'll live," Pete sighs dramatically, and then he sobers and says, "I deserved it."

Patrick says, "You really did," and strokes over Pete's jaw a little with his thumb. Pete sighs and closes his eyes. "But I was pretty much being a raging bitch, so."

Pete opens one eye. "Call it even?"

"Yeah," Patrick says. "I guess, yeah."

"Okay," Pete says. "Okay, don't punch me again, but--" he leans forward a few inches, brushes his lips against Patrick's. "You're not a slut," he says, then a beat later, "Is this okay?"

"You're such a romantic," Patrick mumbles, but this time he leans forward.

After a minute Pete says, "You wanna see if the diner is open? Get some pancakes, maybe?"

"In a while," Patrick says, and kisses him again.

***

Ryan is miserable.

"Stop that, Ryan Ross," Brendon commands, and then a beat later, "Hey, you wouldn't have sex with me, would you?"

"No," Spencer answers for him, so that he can continue to silently sulk. "No, he won't." Ryan looks up at Spencer. "Not in a million years," Spencer adds.

It's times like these that Ryan remembers why Spencer's the best guy in the whole world, even with Jon Walker monopolizing him with his hands and his smile and his nice.

"Ugh, fine," Brendon pouts. "But he should still stop being miserable."

"Why's Ryan miserable?" Mikey says, sliding in through the door and making a beeline for the beers that are left on the counter. "Oh, because of Frank and Gee in the pool house, right?"

"Wouldn't coffee be more appropriate at this hour? And for the state of your hair?" Ryan snaps at him, and then he like belatedly hears the rest of what Mikey said. He blinks. "The pool house?"

"Yeah, Frank and Gee went there. Probably to. Oh." Mikey's looking at Spencer. "I probably shouldn't have said that, huh?"

"No," Spencer says. "No, that was a bad idea."

Ryan stares at the counter. "Frank is straight."

"Apparently not," Brendon says cheerfully, then wilts as Ryan glares at him.

"Frank is straight," he says again.

"Frankie's been gay for Gee forever," Mikey says, with a stupid little giggle.

Ryan turns the glare on him. "You are no longer my friend, Mikeyway. My friends all have great hair. And souls."

Mikey giggles stupidly some more, and it sets Brendon off too. Ryan dismisses them both and puts his head on Spencer's shoulder.

"It hurts," he says quietly.

Spencer touches his face. "I know. You want me to punch him or something?"

"Maybe later," Ryan says, and Spencer nods, forehead against Ryan's hair.

"Hey," he says. "C'mon, let's go get you some french fries."

"And onion rings?" Ryan asks.

Spencer kind of smiles. "Yeah, and maybe a burger."

"Okay," Ryan says, and Spencer squeezes his shoulder before letting go.

"Okay guys," he says. "We are exiting the building."

"But Spencer, my quest," Brendon whines.

"Now, Brendon Urie."

Jon puts his hand up like in class - ugh, why is he a nice guy - and says, "Um, we have no driver. Or like, keys. Or car."

Everyone stands and stares at each other for a minute, lost in the confusing sea of having no transport. Then Brendon says brightly,

"We'll walk! Maybe there'll be someone along the way who'll have sex with me!"

"Ew," Ryan says. "To both the sex and the walking."

Jon slings his arm around Ryan's shoulder. "We can bitch about Frank the whole way."

"I'm listening," Ryan says, and Spencer laughs, and slings his arm around Ryan's other shoulder. Jon and Spencer are practically holding hands over his chest, but it's kind of nice anyway.

"Let's go, let's go," Brendon says, grabbing Mikey's hand and dragging him towards the front.

Ryan follows, Spencer and Jon on either side of him.

***

Ray has learned the hard way that you never enter one of Gabe Saporta's bathrooms once the party has been going for, oh, ten minutes. And Gabe was totally the one who put Nair in Ray's shampoo that time, so he refuses to feel bad about peeing in a plant pot in the backyard.

When he gets back to the living room, everyone is gone. Well, not everyone: there are five people passed out on the floor and two chicks making out on the couch, but Mikey and his friends aren't in the kitchen, and Ray is not going to check the pool house for Frank and Gerard, and Joe and Bob are not waiting for Ray like they said they would.

Ray just stands there for a minute, staring at the girls. He can't even enjoy it, though, because he's too pissed about the fact that his friends are all bastard cocksucking assholes who leave him behind all the time.

He figures he should probably call a cab, since he obviously doesn't have anyone who could drive him home, so he steps outside, pulls out his cell.

"Who're you calling?" Bob says, from where he's standing on the bottom of the stairs.

"Oh," Ray says. "Um. No one, I guess."

Bob kind of smiles at him. Ray is pretty sure Bob is maybe, like, a knight in shining armor, though he will pretty much kill himself before he says it out loud. "Do you want to get--" Bob says.

"Yes," Ray says quickly. "I do."

***

Bill does not normally do the following things: go to diners (so vulgar), eat pancakes in a diner (you simply can't be sure nobody unattractive has handled them), eat pancakes at all (so fattening!).

But Travis seemed to think doing these things was some sort of ritual behavior, and Bill will deny Travis nothing. Especially not if Gabe is also part of the festivities, because Bill has decided, after the last few marvelous hours, that Gabe is also worth following to plebeian eateries.

Jon and all his pretty new friends are also in the diner. Bill would wave, but he is being distracted by the delicacies placed in front of him; not so much the pancakes themselves, because they are disgusting carbs, but more Travis and Gabe's faces swimming in front of his face as they feed him carefully cut (he made sure) portions of pancake.

"Delicious," he informs them.

"The pancakes?" Travis asks.

"Travis," Bill says. "You should know me better than that by now."

The door to the diner swings open and a very pretty blond boy walks in. He pushes his sunglasses up onto his head and looks around, and Bill is about to suggest to Travis and Gabe that they invite him to join them when a voice Bill vaguely recognizes calls, "Quinn! Over here, fuckface."

Bill turns around and is delighted to see Bert and his friends sitting in the booth (ugh, Bill is somewhere with booths) behind. "Bert!" he says warmly. "How good to see you."

"Who's your friend?" pretty blond Quinn asks, sliding into the seat next to Bert.

"This is Bill Beckett," Bert says. "I put my tongue in his mouth to piss the Gerard Tard off."

"Oh, nice, man," Quinn says to Bill.

Bill smiles at him, his third best smile, and turns back around when Travis's hand settles onto his thigh. Bert and Quinn are talking rather loudly behind him, so he cannot help but overhear Bert speaking about the pretty ex of his, and Quinn's sympathetic expletives.

"Excuse me boys," he says, turning back around, "I cannot help but think that you would make a marvelous couple."

The boy Bill remembers as Dan starts to snicker, and then the boy with the strange name Bill cannot recall begins as well.

"Um," Quinn says. Dan starts laughing harder. Bill looks at him expectantly. He cannot begin to understand what is so funny. "I'm straight," Quinn says.

Oh, now Bill gets the joke. "You are most certainly not," he says, and turns back around, for Gabe's hand has insinuated itself in his front pocket, somehow, and Bill is dying to know how he managed to do that.

"I'm Latin," Gabe is explaining to Travis. Bill is most interested to hear how this affects the amount of space in his pockets, but then he gets distracted by Bert saying,

"So anyway, then these fucking Hallmark motherfuckers made me shake his fucking hand, and then I had to wash it with Lysol because he touched it."

"You wash the inside of your ass with Lysol too?" Quinn says, then makes a squawking noise which Bill recognizes as the squawk of someone whose mouth has just been unexpectedly filled.

Bert says, "I just really hate that guy."

"I know," Quinn says sympathetically, "But dude, I'm kind of with the Hallmark motherfuckers on this one. You don't need to pull shit like that to feel good, man. You're like fifteen million times more awesome than Gerard mothercunting Way anyway, right?"

"I love you," Bert says, and Quinn squawks again while their friends jeer.

Bill is quite curious as to the developing romance he is sure Bert and Quinn are experiencing, but he is distracted again by Travis, who is offering another forkful of the pancakes. Gabe also raises a fork, with a leer, and Bill manages to grin at both of them as he wraps his mouth around both forks.

***

Ryan pokes Brendon's arm, and when that doesn't work, he reaches up and forces his mouth closed. "Brendon, you look like the village idiot."

"But," Brendon says, still watching the Beckett guy fellating two forks at once. "Ryan, that - that looks really dirty."

"Uh huh," Jon says, also staring a little bit. His arm is around Spencer. God.

Brendon blinks twice, slowly, then asks, "But what does it mean?"

"You'll find out when you're older," Spencer supplies, sipping his coffee.

Jon had taken a sip of his drink just as Spencer had spoken, and he starts coughing. Ryan pats his back, maybe a bit hard, but there will be no kinky stuff happening to Spencer while Ryan is still his best friend. Ryan forbids it.

"No," Brendon whines. "Tell me now."

"When a mom and a dad, and a friend of dad's love each other very much--" Spencer starts, but then Jon starts coughing again, and he stops.

Ryan picks moodily at his breakfast. Gerard has still not shown up. "You think your brother might show?" he says super-casually. He's still holding out some vague hope that Gerard might have yelled out Ryan's name in the middle of stuff he doesn't want to think about with Frank, and realized that Ryan is his intended.

"Oh, he's gone to catch his train already," Mikey says, because he apparently always psychically knows where Gerard is. Then he ruins that theory too by adding, "He texted me."

Ryan hates Mikey Way. Not as much as he hates Brendon, who's giving big cow eyes at everyone who walks past their table, apparently hoping one of them might have sex with him. "Stop it, Brendon Urie. You can't have sex with someone you meet in a diner."

"Who says," Brendon mumbles, but then he turns back to his plate. Ryan considers this a mission accomplished, until Brendon grabs at the sugar dispenser, fiddling with it, then raising it.

"Don't you dare," Spencer says, but Brendon's already pouring it into his mouth, swishing it around his mouth loudly.

"Ryan Ross," he says, muffled, sugar on his teeth, and Ryan starts laughing as Spencer wipes wet sugar off his face, disgruntled. Brendon says something which is either, "I'm going to keep doing this until you laugh so hard you piss yourself,' or, "Blargle rargle mnaaaaah."

Ryan doesn't piss himself, but he does laugh so hard at Jon trying to use the napkin dispenser as a mirror to get sugar out of his eyes that he falls against Brendon, giggling.

Brendon puts the dispenser down, and his arm around Ryan, and squeezes. "This is where you make a pun about me being sweet enough already," he says, more sugar splattering onto Mikey's glasses.

"This is where you get arrested for being too weird to live," Ryan says, but Brendon just squeezes him again.

Ryan won't say it out loud, but he feels better.

***

Somehow, for some reason, Pete is wearing his goggles again.

That would be bad enough, but Pete is wearing his goggles and standing close to Patrick and shoving his hand into Patrick's back pocket. People are going to assume Pete's with Patrick, which he is, but they're also by extension going to assume Goggle Boy is with Patrick, and that is kind of horrifying.

"Take your goggles off," Patrick hisses, and Pete waggles his eyebrows at him and doesn't.

"Ashamed to be seen with me?" Pete grins obnoxiously.

"Yes," Patrick says, rolling his eyes. Pete's face falls, so Patrick amends, "To be seen with you in those goggles."

Pete rolls his eyes and goes back to reading the menu. "You take yourself way too seriously, my man."

"Ugh." Patrick can see Ray and Bob and Joe and Andy hanging out in a booth at the other end of the diner. He can also see the open-mouthed faces of shock and glee they're making, even from here. "Oh, God."

"What?" Pete follows his eyes and then kneels up on a stool at the counter and yells, "Hey guys! Me and Patrick totally had sex!"

"Mazel Tov," Joe yells back, and Patrick buries his face in his hands.

"I really hate you," he mumbles into his hands.

"You don't," Pete says, hand settling on the back of Patrick's neck. "You totally don't, man."

"I do," Patrick insists.

"I totally took my goggles off," Pete says.

Patrick turns his head slightly. He hasn't. He turns his face back into his hands. "You suck," he says.

"And I'm so good at it," Pete says. He squeezes Patrick's neck and grins at the waitress. "Whatever's the biggest. Two of them. And coffee." When the waitress leaves, he leans into Patrick's ear and whispers, "They have a bathroom here, you know."

"Aargh," says Patrick, but he can't help checking where it is.

Pete crows, but before he can get too into his victory dance, Frank comes crashing through the door, looking totally disheveled and wildly panicked.

"Patrick!" he says, rushing over. "Dude, dude, have you seen Gerard? Is he here? Is Gerard here? Do you know Pete's wearing goggles? Have you seen Gerard?"

"Yes, I know," Patrick says, shooting a look at Pete, who doesn't look even remotely abashed, then back at Frank. "Isn't he supposed to be catching his train?"

"That means you haven't seen him?" Frank asks. He seems to deflate.

"Sorry," Patrick says. "Maybe Mikey has?"

"Yeah, but where am I going to find--" Frank starts.

"He's right there, dude," Pete says, pointing, and Frank practically twists his body into knots, he turns around so far.

"Oh!" he says, and moves off, then spins back and says. "You had sex with a dude who wears goggles."

Patrick scowls at him. "I'm still mad at you for abandoning me, you know."

"We told you where Mikey is and everything!" Pete chimes in. Frank makes a strangled noise and races off towards Mikey, and Pete turns back to Patrick. "So about that bathroom."

"I don't go to bathrooms with people who wear stupid goggles," Patrick says.

"No, you do, you're totally lying," Pete says.

"I'm totally not," Patrick says, and crosses his arms.

"Okay," Pete says, nodding a little bit, and then gets up. "Well, I'm going to go to the bathroom. Join me any time."

He starts to walk away, and Patrick grumbles to himself for a minute, just until Pete's actually in the bathroom, then gets up as well.

Joe yells something obscene as he walks past, and Patrick is surprised to realize that he totally does not care.

***

After Mikey confirms that Gerard has indeed gone to catch his train (he texted Mikey, apparently, but not Frank, even though Frank totally has a cell phone too, what the FUCK, Gerard) Frank busts what feels like every major organ in his body trying to get there. He doesn't have money for a cab and he just can't bring himself to call his Mom and ask for a ride, not for this, so he gets on a bus which immediately gets stuck in traffic, then decides fuck it and gets off and just starts running.

By the time he gets to the station all his muscles are cramping and yelling, and his lungs feel like they're on fire. He sees Gerard loitering by the Starbucks concession almost immediately, but he can't get enough breath to call his name, so he just leans on a wall and wheezes and watches him, praying that the barista takes a little while to get his order ready.

The barista's handing over Gerard's coffee just as Frank gathers enough breath to yell. Gerard turns a bit, then turns more, nearly splashing coffee all over himself, the way the cup is tilted. He looks kind of surprised, and Frank thinks maybe that was because he left without telling Frank, so of course he didn't expect Frank to show up.

"Frankie?" he says, all innocent and bewildered.

Frank yells, "You jackass!" and has to jump over two sleeping hobos and a huge pile of baggage to get to him using the shortest route possible. "You were just gonna leave without saying goodbye? What the fuck is that?"

Gerard's forehead scrunches. "I was - I was gonna call you from the train."

"From the train?" Frank fists both hands in his hair so he won't punch Gerard in the face. "Why the fuck didn't you wake me up?"

"I tried!" Gerard insists. "You said 'just five more minutes' and you thought I was your Mom!"

"You should have tried harder!" Frank says, "What the fuck, Gee, saying goodbye doesn't matter?"

"No, I, of course it does," Gerard says, hands tightening on his coffee cup. He doesn't say anything else.

"So what?" Frank asks, lowers his hands just so he can curl them into fists against his thighs instead.

"I--" Gerard says.

"Is that what you do, just leave people you hooked up with without saying a fucking word?" Frank says, stepping closer. People are starting to stare. Frank doesn't care. "Is that some gay sex thing I don't know about?"

"Don't do that," Gerard snaps, frowning. "Don't say that shit, that's not you."

"Yesterday I would have said this kind of bullshit wasn't you," Frank snaps back. "Maybe we don't know each other as well as we thought."

Gerard's face does that closed-off thing Frank hates. Quietly, he says, "Frank, you knew I was leaving, don't start this again. You think I'm just going to cancel something I've worked my ass off to get, just because you decided last night was the perfect time to experiment with your sexuality?"

Frank shoves him backwards; not hard enough to hurt, but hard enough Gerard stumbles a little and scowls. "Fuck you!" Frank says furiously, digging his nails into his palms to try and keep his voice steady. "An experiment? Did you listen to anything I said last night?"

"I seem to remember a lot of freaking out about my dick, yeah!"

"Oh, well, thank you for being so fucking patient with me, man, I really appreciate the crash course," Frank spits. His stomach feels cold and empty, and his chest aches, but he tries to cover it up by scowling. "I'm sorry my lack of experience was such a trial. I wasn't looking for a pity fuck."

"Stop it," Gerard says, kind of quiet, but Frank doesn't really feel like it.

"No, you stop it. If you regret it then at least have the balls to say it to my face."

Gerard looks off into the distance and says tonelessly, "I'm gonna miss my train. I have to go."

Frank backs off, folding his arms. "You know what, I'm glad you're leaving. Two months without you is exactly what I fucking need right now."

Gerard says, "Whatever," and turns to leave, and it turns out Frank's not done after all.

"No!" Frank grabs him and yanks him back. Gerard's coffee falls to the floor and spills everywhere. "No, come on, what. Did I not live up to your imagination? Did I not live up to fucking Bert? Was I-" Frank stops and swallows hard, because he doesn't really want to ask the next question, but he can feel it rising in his throat anyway, undeniable. "Was I that bad?"

Gerard's just staring down at the coffee, ignoring Frank's grip on his arm. He takes this big breath and says, "You were incredible."

"Well," Frank starts hotly, then rewinds what Gerard just said. "What?"

Gerard mumbles something.

"What?" Frank asks again.

"I didn't want to go," Gerard says.

"I," Frank says. "What?"

"You were sleeping, and I tried to wake you," Gerard says. Frank stares at him. He's pretty sure they've already established that. "And you, just, you thought I was your mom, and I still didn't want to go. So I left."

"You didn't want to go, so you left," Frank repeats, and it's weird how he can feel the anger dissipating, like a physical thing, getting replaced with this tight stretchy feeling in his chest instead. "That is some Special Gerard Logic, right there."

"I thought if you woke up, if I actually had to say goodbye, you know." Gerard gives a little embarrassed shrug. "That I wouldn't be able to. And what if you'd changed your mind, if you regretted it, or you were really hungover and then it would have just been about being drunk, and what if I had to listen to you say you didn't want, you know."

"That I didn't want what?" Frank says. He's still gripping Gerard's sleeve. He makes himself uncurl his fingers and rub Gerard's arm instead, gently. "Gee, what could you possibly think I didn't want?"

"This. Us. I don't know," Gerard rolls his eyes at himself and clarifies, "Me."

"I--" Frank's chest feels like it's getting tighter, too tight. "No, Gee, I do. I just. You're an idiot," he finishes lamely.

"Me?" Gerard asks. "You thought it was a gay sex thing."

"Okay, fine," Frank says. "We're both idiots."

"That sounds a little more accurate," Gerard says, sounding kind of rueful. "So - is that all you came here for? To yell at me?"

"Well," Frank clears his throat, "In my head there was actually much less yelling."

"Uh huh," Gerard says, starting to smile a tiny bit.

Frank takes a deep breath and steps closer again. "And a lot more embarrassing declarations of fidelity."

Gerard ducks his head and grins. "Anything else?"

"Way more public making out," Frank says, stepping right up into Gerard's space. He doesn't even feel the pain when Gerard totally drops his bags on Frank's foot. "Way, way more."

"Um," Gerard says. Frank continues to wait. Gerard rubs a hand through his hair.

"Okay, Gee?" Frank says. "I'm gonna kiss you now."

Gerard kind of smiles. "Okay."

"You dropped your bags and everything, you big drama queen," Frank says randomly, and Gerard gives him this giant grin and Frank isn't even aware that he's moving until he's wrapped up in Gerard's arms, kissing him so hard he's pretty sure Gerard's cheek is gonna have a permanent imprint of Frank's nose in it.

Someone starts clapping. Frank does not care.

"I can't believe you thought I was your Mom," Gerard laughs against Frank's mouth when he breaks off for air.

"I can't believe you still wanted to stay," Frank replies, and Gerard laughs again and kisses him some more, in front of everyone and it's awesome.

Gerard breaks from the kiss after a minute, mumbles, kind of against Frank's cheek, "I really have to go though." Frank just holds him tighter. "Frank."

"Yeah, okay," Frank says, buries his face in Gerard's neck for a moment, and then lets go. "Okay. Call me when you get there?"

"Duh," Gerard says, and grins.

Frank watches him go, just standing there staring like a giant loser until Gerard disappears from view.

When he gets back to the diner, Pete and Patrick have disappeared. He can see Ray and Bob though, sitting with Mikey now at a different table, so he heads on over.

"Hey guys," he says as he passes Jeph and Dan.

"Hey fuckface," Quinn says, and Frank's about to snarl something back when Jeph grabs his arm.

"We like them again now," he admonishes Quinn. "Right, Bert?"

Bert rolls his eyes. "Fine."

"Oh," Quinn says, chewing a piece of toast. "Okay. Hi, Frankie!"

"Hi," Frank says warily.

Dan grabs his other arm. "Details later," he whispers, waggling his eyebrows, and Jeph smacks Frank's ass as he leaves.

Frank wanders over to Mikey and Ray and Bob, slides into the booth beside Mikey.

"You find him?" Mikey asks.

"Yeah," Frank says. He's maybe grinning a little too much, because Mikey kind of wrinkles his nose. "What'd I miss?"

Mikey giggles to himself for no obvious reason. "Well," he starts, "First of all, you might want to avoid the bathroom…"
 
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