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Chapter Text 2 . Gerard couldnt help but shiver, and not from the cold this time





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Gerard couldnt help but shiver, and not from the cold this time. Fuck, that sounded miserable. He drank straight from the bottle again and Frank made a face.

Dude, that shit is foul. Its like drinking pine tar.

Nah, s good. Gerard grinned and exhaled pointedly in Franks face, breath coming out as a white cloud. Tastes like Christmas.

Christmas is not a beverage, Frank said, rolling his eyes. Anyway, yeah, it took me a while to figure out how to be, um, corporeal? I was pretty scattered right after I died, and I couldnt leave my corpse for, like, the longest fucking time. And can I just say, that was sorta weird.

Creepy, he commented, and drained half the bottle in one go, because holy shit.

Oh, you totally love it, you freaky fuck, Frank giggled.

Gerard was about equal parts fascinated and fucking disturbed, to be honest. And one hundred percent sure he didnt want to be sober for this conversation. He was such a crappy scientist.

You, uh, watched yourself decompose? Gerard asked, voice maybe squeaking a bit as Franks fingers spiderwalked along his side, only marginally warmer that the wind.

Watched fishes eat my eyes, Frank agreed, and Gerard made a noise he hadnt known was humanly possible. It was just my body, chill out! Frank said, sounding a bit affronted.

Gross, gross gross gross grossssss, Gerard moaned into his hands. He hadnt brought enough alcohol for this. There wasnt enough alcohol in the world for this. Gross. I am never eating fish again.

Damn straight, Frank sniggered, poking Gerard in the side, because he was an asshole and Gerard was never letting him leech body heat ever again, even if he did have dimples. Meat is murder.

Gerard flailed out a hand and smacked Frank in the side of his head.

Oh, come on, you want to see my body. Dont lie, Frank leered, snickering. Gerard sort of did. But now that the reality of Frank sleeping with the fucking fishes had just been shoved into his face, Gerard was a little less confident about the whole thing.



Anyway, those first couple weeks, if I tried to get a few fucking feet away from my body, Id just wind up back in the same place. No matter how hard I tried. Always the same place. Frank hesitated a moment, propping his chin on his hand and furrowing his brow. Gerard furtively reached down for his notebook and pen. I think its sort of how I remember dreams being, Frank said finally. I havent dreamed in ages, but you know the way you suddenly go from standing in the kitchen making, like, a gumball pie, and then all of a sudden youre cutting a piece and youre serving it to Bon Jovi on stage at Madison Square Garden and hes blowing a bubble and climbing into it? Stop laughing, asshole. But its like that. No transitions, just. Youre one place, then youre not.

Bubble gum pie, Gerard said, trying not to giggle. Okay, right. Does that still happen? The, uh, yo-yo effect back to your grave?

Its not so much a grave. And nah, Im better at concentrating now. I can walk further, obviously. Cant go on forever, but I dont get poinged backward, either, Frank said, waving a hand nonchalantly. And I dont lose as much time as I used to, but it still happens, you know?

Not really? Gerard laughed disbelievingly. Sounds sort of like being fucked up. Hardcore fucked up, I mean. Heavy duty shit.

Only without the potential fun parts, yeah, Frank agreed. Actually, thats a lie, theres fun parts. I rode a bear once. That was pretty fucking awesome. And theres always campers to dick around with, but itd be more fun if I wasnt stuck in a goddamned forest, I bet. I shouldnt complain, though. If theyd actually found me and buried me, Id be stuck in a graveyard somewhere like Sally.

Gerard startled upright. Sallys real? he spluttered, outraged. Shes a ghost too? Why didnt I see her?

Oh, shes shy, Frank replied offhandedly, blowing his bangs out of his eyes. The wind was really starting to pick up. And shes, you know, really fucking old, both of youd probably have to be concentrating really hard for you to see her. Even I dont always see her. Shes just not always there. Frank got kind of a blank look on his face. I hope she doesnt leave soon. There was another girl, for a little while, but shes gone now, Frank said flatly, then looked at Gerard and beamed. But I have you now, at least.

Gerard looked at him and felt a faint twinge of unease. Frank didnt seem to notice, sitting up and peering at the fire.

Hold up, needs another log, he said, and stood. Gerard still felt cold.

So, you said Im, what, better at seeing you than other people? he said, fiddling with his hoodie and leaning in closer to the coals, holding out his hands.

Better than most, Frank said absently, stacking the logs in some bizarre arcane configuration. Its different for everyone I run into, like I said. Some people see me but dont hear me, some people hear me but dont see me. Some sad fuckers just get a weird feeling and freak out and run away. When Gerard stayed silent, he glanced up and then sighed, long-suffering.

What? Frank asked, sounding bemused, and reached into the fire to adjust a log. Cmon, Gerard, weve been over this. Just spit it out. We dont have all night.

It might help us understand more, what makes me able to see you normally, if, um. You could. Can you go more ghostly around me too? Gerard asked, excited and nervous at the same time. As long as Gerardd known Frank, hed looked pretty much normal, like any other teenager. He didnt necessarily act normal, and he sometimes looked subtly off. But nothing like what other people had seen, apparently. Like, could you go see-through or something? I dont know. Nevermind.

No, sure, Frank said. Youre so cute. You want me to float, too, Princess?

Oh shut up, Gerard said, mouth twitching. If youre just gonna make fun of me.

Frank scrunched up his face, and at first Gerard just thought it was more mockery, but then he noticed the edges of Franks t-shirt blurring, and when Frank opened his eyes, he lookedlike glass, like if Gerard held him up to the fire hed throw Frank-colored gleams of light.



Holy shit, Gerard breathed, and reached out a hand before drawing it back, hesitant. Frank rolled his eyes and reached out and grabbed Gerards wrist. Gerard could feel his own pulse, beating faster and faster, and then the strangest fucking sensation. Like getting cold all at once, but not cold, exactly. And it was focused in one place in his pulse. Frank was looking at him with half-lidded eyes, and Gerard could feel his veins throbbing. Holy shit, he repeated, weakly, and Frank took his fingers out of Gerards skin. In the next breath he was firm and solid again.

I dont have to try as hard with you, he said, flexing his fingers. Gerard stared at his own wrist. To look alive, be solid, all that, Frank clarified. I dont have to concentrate as hard.

Why not? Gerard swallowed. His wrist looked perfectly normal. Gerard felt like it should look different, now. Whatwhys there a difference?

Frank grinned, showing all his teeth. You tell me, Gerard Way. Then he sighed, and rubbed his head. I better get you home, he said. Theres storm front coming in. It wasnt supposed to be here until tomorrow, he scowled.

Gerard protested and whined and brandished the travel umbrella hed stowed away in his bag, but to no avail. Frank was adamant on Gerard not dying a miserable, snot-related death, and so Gerard had to submit to being hustled home beneath the quiet trees. Before Gerard left, Frank reached out a hand and touched Gerards cheek, fingertips melting into his skin.

Just, Frank said, eyes bright. Thanks. Seriously. I cant believe I met you. Im never letting you go.

Youre about to let me go right now, Gerard grumbled, and wondered if he should kiss Frank now. It would be the perfect time, right?

Its a metaphor, jackass, Frank laughed. I just, you know, dont want you ending up like me. Youre going to SVA. Youre gonna be fucking famous, Gee.

And Gerard didnt even know what to say. Hed told Frank about how hed applied to SVA earlier that week, the first day theyd met. He didnt realize that Frank thought it was such a big deal.

Well thanks, he said, and leaned into Franks touch, and it felt so weird, the cold spreading beneath his skin, into his bones, intimate, andFrank yanked his hand away and Gerard nearly fell over.

Youre gonna get fucking soaked if you dont hurry, Frank said, and shoved at Gerards back. Get going, genius.

Okay, okay, Gerard muttered. Jeez. But he couldnt keep up his indignation when Frank was leaning up against the edge of the path, watching Gerard with huge eyes.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Bye, Frankie, Gerard said, giving in and offering Frank a small smile, and Frank smiled back, all dimples and shiny eyes, and Gerard didnt feel cold at all.

He got home just in time, hurrying down the empty streets in a daze and feeling the wind pick up, cold and cutting, and fell asleep listening to the first raindrops hitting his window, the light from the TV flickering against the rain-streaked glass.

***

Rain made the classroom darker, full of strangely flung shadows and watery light. Gerard had slouched to school beneath his useless umbrella, feet cold and wet, face numb, and arrived with smudged eyeliner spiderwebbing down his cheeks and his clothes thoroughly, miserably damp.

It was like a totally different room now, gray and filled with the sound of the wind flinging rain against the windows, as if the storm was trying to reach inside the building and find Gerard, make sure he was completely and thoroughly soaked. Fucking rain.

Mrs. Hall was graphing something on the chalkboard, the grating of the chalk blending with the white rain noise into a seamless gray whole. He wondered if the rain bothered Frank, if Frank even went solid when Gerard wasnt there to see him. If it felt strange to have water slide through your skin. Shit he shouldnt be thinking about right now, probably.

Ted seemed to be in a particularly foul mood that morning, hair plastered to his head and flannel dripping. Hed shaken himself when hed wandered past Gerards desk, spattering his notebook with watery blue splotches. Then he spent the rest of class kicking at the back of Gerards chair, an irregular jarring thump Gerard had just managed to force himself to endure when it ceased abruptly.

Your make-up is running, fag, Ted sneered, leaning over the back of Gerards desk. Gerard fought the urge to scrub at his cheeks.

I know, he said, gritting his teeth. Fuck, it was cold in here. It was hard to concentrate, to acknowledge reality after last night. He rubbed at his wrist absently, felt the delicate bones. He wondered what Frank was doing now, if he didnt ever sleep, didnt dream. Did he juststop being? Or was he always there, always half awake. Maybe being dead was like dreaming all the time.

He caught himself doodling Franks HALLOWEEN tattoos on his own knuckles and had to stop before Ted or Isaac noticed. Fuck, Frank. He wished he could have skipped school, stayed with Frank in the forest all day, even if it was raining and cold and miserable. He had to stop thinking about it, or hed start beaming and being ridiculous and fiddling with his hair and recreating that blowjob scene from Ghostbusters in his head, and that wasnt healthy for anyone.

He wound up entertaining himself by drawing the girl across the row from him, which seemed safe enough. She was sitting in front of the window and looking like she might doze off at any moment. The rain was throwing strange shadows over her tanned skin and corkscrew curls. She was totally stacked, Gerard noticedhe wasnt blind. But more than that, there was something about her face, broad and clear, with swooping arched cheekbones like Japanese calligraphy. It caught his eye and glimmered in his hindbrain. He bit his pen, thinking. There was something about it that reminded him of the scroll of a violin or a viola.

What the fucking hell are you doing, Ted said in his ear, chair screeching forward. Gerard froze, hunched over his paper. What are you goddamn drawing my girlfriend for? What the fuck, youreyoure supposed to be gay!

Bi, actually, Gerard said, mind totally blankand holy fuck, that had been the wrong thing to say. There was actually a throbbing vein in Teds forehead, Jesus. But I wasnt, I was justshe has interesting lines, its not like

Dont look at my girlfriends lines, you sick fuck! Ted said incredulously. Mrs. Hall was going to notice what was going on any second now, and then Gerard was going to beat a quick retreat to the highway and hitchhike back to civilization. Or maybe, like, hide out in the Trumbull Research Center and feed off the extra pudding cups the nurses brought Mikey.

The lines of her face, Jesus! he hissed back, trying to scoot his chair as far forward as it would go. The girl in front of him was pointedly ignoring this attempt, but Teds chair followed Gerard forward until all Gerard could do was lean up, away from Teds looming, hateful face, the edge of the desk pressing in a hard bruising line against his ribs. The lines of her face are just, you know, interesting, and different

Different?

Gerard had never heard someone whisper and bellow at the same time before. And oh, fuck, of course the girl in question noticed something was going on, and yeah, Gerard finally got on the clue bus, because she was in fact the girl who sucked face with Ted every day in the hall. Hed just never actually noticed her face during those occasions. Teds groping hands sort of tended to dominate the tableau, and plus, Gerard tried not to look too closely at that particular clinch if he could help it. The girl was frowning at both of them, now. Gerard couldnt blame her.

Baby, dont you pay him no mind, Ted said immediately, in a surprisingly syrupy voice. The girl ignored him, shooting Gerard a cool look.

You like my lines? she said to him, raising an eyebrow, and holy shit, okay, she really was gorgeous and this was awful. Gerard should totally have stayed in the forest and caught pneumonia and avoided this whole clusterfuck.

Of your face, Gerard moaned and tried to duck his head as far down into his hoodie as possible. Not other, uh, lines, or curves or whatevernot that your other lines arent nice, I mean, its just. I.

Ted made a low growling noise behind him and Gerard tried to edge further up in his seat, but his ass already had bare minimum contact with the chair; he was holding himself upright purely by clutching at the desk.

Settle, class! Mrs. Hall trilled without turning away from the board.

Can I see it? the girl asked, pursing her lips. The drawing, I mean.

I, uh, Gerard said intelligently, and oh Christ, Ted was literally breathing down the back of his neck.

Tanya, let it be, Ted growled. Gerard glanced over furtively to see if anyone else had noticed what was going on, and yes, sure enough, Noltes was staring at him, face terrifyingly blank. Tanya took advantage of Gerards rodent-like paralysis to snag his notebook.

Hey now, she said, and Gerard turned, startled at the tone in her voice. She looked at him from under her lashes, twirling a curl with one finger. Gerard, if possible, felt himself tense up even more than he already was. This is real niceGerard, right? she drawled, smiling slow at him. Can I keep this, Gerard?

Gerard literally wanted to hide under his desk or pull his hoodie over his head and scuttle out of the room. He made a vague gesture with his hand that he hoped conveyed this, but apparently Tanya either missed the subtleties or chose to ignore them, because she carefully tore the paper from the notebook and folded it into her purse.

What the fuck, Tanya! Ted exploded behind him, thunderous and outraged, and apparently not even Mrs. Hall could ignore it.

That will be enough, Mrs. Hall said frostily, peering at the room over her spectacles, a tiny ineffectual Mephistopheles. Like Clarence from Its A Wonderful Life, only on the other side, the side of the fallen angels and cheerful sadists. Gerard really shouldnt have ever been born. It would definitely have been better that way.

Ted leaned even farther forwardseriously, by this point neither of them were even in their desks any more. The rain had picked up, and thunder, almost too low to hear, thrummed through the room like a counterpoint to the adrenaline and dread in Gerards veins.

Youre fucking dead, Way, Ted said in Gerards ear, quiet enough that Mrs. Hall only glanced at them briefly before turning back to her asymptotes and away from the unfolding disaster.

Yeah, Noltes said, and leaned on his desk, biceps flexing menacingly. Way dead.

There was a long pause. Christ, shut up, Noltes, Ted said, slumping back in his desk and grinding a palm into one eye. Gerard would have been sympatheticgood minions clearly were hard to findif Ted wasnt such a mouth-breathing homophobic murderous prick. Ike, Ted hissed, clearly disgruntled. Ike, what the fuck, man, wheres the support? Wheres the back up? Noltes is fucking useless over here.

Gerard kept his head forward, but he heard Noltes grunt noncommittally and Isaac whisper back, Im taking notes, idiot, shut the fuck up.

Ted made an outraged noise, but Gerard was busy trying to look subtly out of the corner of his eye, hoping for an opportunity to snag his notebook from Tanyas desk and bolt while the Jock Trio was distracted. Tanya noticed Gerards glance, and her eyes widened as she smiled at him. Ted, attention apparently recaptured, made an awful noise behind him.

Tanya, he hissed. Youre encouraging him!

The bell finally, finally rang and Gerard shot to his feet before getting dragged backward by Teds hand on his hoodie.

Where you goin, he snarled.

I heard some girls like guys with that whole nonlinear sexuality eyeliner thing going on, Isaac said, sounding interested as the class swirled around them, students pouring out into the hallway. Gerard looked longingly after them. Didnt know it was true, mind.

Tanya stood up, statuesque and lovely even in the gray morning light. She rolled her eyes and tossed Gerard his notebook. She pointedly ignored Teds attempts to get her attention, looking supremely bored.

Shut the fuck up, Ike, Ted said, turning to look at his minion, betrayal written all over his face. Et tu, Brute? Gerard thought, and then had to work really hard on not bursting into hysterical giggles. What the fuck do you know, shes just trying to rile me up, arent you, baby? S real cute, actually.

Thats totally it, probably, hah, I mean, thats the only thing that makes sense, right? Gerard babbled, tugging his hoodie free of Teds grip and backing away. Straight into the brick wall that was Noltes. Fuck fuck fuck. Noltes looked down at Gerard and smiled big and white, like a fucking shark. He had surprisingly nice teeth.

Oh, I dont know, Tanya said, examining her pink nails, cool as a fucking cucumber, and she was clearly evil incarnate. Gerard was sort of in awe. I think hes cute. Sweet, too.

Gerard could literally feel his will to live draining out of him. Which was lucky, because judging by the shade of apocalyptic red Ted was turning, his life was about to end anyway. Maybe he could go haunt the forest with Frank.

Get out of my way, Noltes, Tanya said, sliding past Noltes with her friend.

Baby, Ted said, chasing after her. Baby, you gotta be fucking kidding me, right? Right? Baby, hes leading you on! He doesnt evenlike girls, goddammit! And Tanya sailing off, back ramrod-straight and head high, totally ignoring him.

Isaac laughed and hiked his bag on his shoulder.

Run along to class now, Gerard, he said, nodding at Noltes. Noltes moved out of the way, slightly, enough that Gerard could edge past him towards freedom. Im sure well be seeing you later, though. Teds a little touchy about his girl.

Noltes just kept smiling, eyes following Gerard across the room as he bolted out the door.

Gerard spent a really fantastic English period with Ted staring murderously at the back of his head the entire time, completely silent. It was really, really fucking creepy, especially since Gerard had sort of gotten used to the whole constant droning of insults and condescending pet names. This silence was new and terrible. Gerard was starting to think he could hear Teds eyes bulging.

And fuck, even though Gerard had about a thousand other things to worry aboutranging from how to get to English without one of the goons next to him shoving him in a locker to how hed get out of the school building later without being beaten to a pulp and shoved in a coffinhe still couldnt get Frank out of his head. Which was really stupid, since what he should be thinking about was how to rectify this godawful situation. Tanya, now that hed noticed her, was everywhere, and she apparently was having a great time waving languidly at Gerard and winding up her Neanderthal boyfriend, which, super. Thanks for that, Tanya.

Gerard was pretty sure she was just winding Ted up, anyway.

Mostly sure.

The rest of the day sucked serious ass. Gerard had never been so grateful for a Friday in his entire lifehe was looking forward to a weekend respite from being shoved into water fountains and having his notebooks stolen and generally fearing for his life.

You call this lying low? Ray hissed at him disbelievingly, as though it was in any way Gerards fault hed just gotten tripped into a mud puddle. Oh God, he was totally going to get ringworm and go bald, he just knew it.

Well, technically, I am, Gerard said, pulling himself into a sitting position. And, anyway, this is not my fault!

Ray just clucked his tongue and dragged him upright. You take him outside, Ill get the food, he told Bob, who shrugged and pulled Gerard to his feet and out of the mud puddle with a disgusting squelching noise. It wasnt even worth the effort to go inside to one of the bathrooms and try to clean up. Gerard would just bask in misery and mud for the rest of his classes; it was that kind of day.

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