"Frank, get in here, I have to talk to you," Mom calls out from the den, and Frank drops the pop tart he was eating like a hot potato. He follows her directions kind of slowly, trying to figure what he's done wrong, because she sounds weirdly tense. When he gets there, she's curled up under her favorite afghan in front of the TV, but it's off, and she's clutching the phone in her hand like she's forgotten it's even there.
"What's up?" he asks casually, like he isn't waiting for the other shoe to drop.
She nods for him to sit next to her. "This is kind of serious, Frank."
Frank's heart jumps in his throat, and he wracks his brain for what she could possibly be talking about. Then he thinks back on school; Gerard; their closet. His swallows and numbly sits down on the couch as far away from her as he can get.
"Baby, are you running fever?" She makes a move like she wants to touch his forehead, frowning. "You're kind of flushed."
He shakes his head without opening his mouth, then when he is certain that he won't vomit the first chance he gets, he asks, "What is it? You're kind of freaking me out here."
Her expression immediately switches back from concerned to serious, hand retreating. "Right. Okay." She takes a deep breath, and Frank thinks, this is it, he's done for, he's getting the gay sex talk. "Your Aunt Josephine is really ill."
For a second he thinks they've switched records mid-way, because none of the words that just came out of her mouth make any sort of sense to him. "Wait. Who?"
She rolls her eyes, but kind of cracks a smile. "Okay, my Aunt Josephine. She's the one in Delaware?" Frank knows he looks like a total idiot right now, but he's pretty sure he didn't even know they had relatives below Atlantic City. "I told you about her, I know I did! She's the one who – well, never mind now, never mind." She draws an impatient hand across her forehead. "The point is, I have to get down there as soon as possible, and I have no idea how long I'll be away. I might even be staying for a funeral, once I'm down there."
Frank nods slowly, still trying to figure out how this is serious, apart from sad, of course, because Mom's aunt he didn't even know about is dying. And then his mind races ahead of him to the days he'll have to be master of his domain, and it catches up with him the next second. "Oh. Oh, shit!"
He immediately slaps a hand over his mouth, but she doesn't even blink at the swearing, just nods, mouth pinched. Frank notices how the dim lamp is throwing her wrinkles into deep relief. He never noticed she had so many.
"Yeah," she sighs. "I just called your father to see if he can make it down for the full moon, at least stay the night, but he's on a business trip, Melanie says. Won't be back till next week, at the earliest."
Fuck. They can't exactly ask Melanie, because no other Iero in existence knows about this shit. "What are we gonna do?"
She sighs and curls up more under the covers. "I don't know, Frankie. Marilyn would never forgive me if I didn't go. Josephine was a huge help to me when I was in college, and first met your father… I would never forgive myself if I didn't say goodbye." She looks so far away and sad that Frank drops his gaze. He's doing this, making a difficult thing even harder. "I don't suppose I could take you with me and rig something up on the fly, huh?" she jokes, but Frank suddenly has a brain wave.
"Wait, wait. I think –" he swallows the rest of the words with the dread welling up in his stomach. He could. He could ask Gerard to lock him up for the night and throw away the key ‘til morning, but Mom doesn't know. She doesn't know anything about Gerard, except that he's Frank's friend who came breaking down her door and saved Frank's backpack from being lost to goons forever.
"What is it?" she asks, eyebrows drawn.
Frank swallows hard and thinks, this is it. This is the gay sex talk. His heart pounds heavily in his chest as he opens his mouth. "I want you to go, okay? But I gotta, uhm. I gotta tell you something first, all right?"
If possible, Mom looks even more serious, but he's glad now. She should. He swallows again and when his hands begin to hurt, he looks down and watches them wringing the afghan on the couch, twisting it into a tight rope. He frowns, vaguely wondering when that happened, and takes a deep breath. "Okay, so. I could get Gerard to help, I think."
"No, Mom, wait." He looks up at her briefly, just to make sure she doesn't interrupt, then drops his gaze back down to his white-knuckled hands. "He knows, he – he kind of found out. By accident."
He checks on her again, and whoa, she just went ten shades of white in front of his eyes. He lunges forward and grabs onto her knees without thinking.
"It's okay, Mom! I really – I think it's okay. He's not gonna tell anyone, okay?" Apart from the guys, but Frank squashes down the thought. He tries to relate to her his own blind trust in Gerard through the power of his mind. "He kind of thinks it's cool, actually." Nervous giggles well up in his belly, and he tries to stop them, he really does, but how can anyone ever fight that shit?
"Frank, this isn't – it's not funny, this is serious!" she snaps. "What do you mean he found out by accident?" She sits up, finally dropping the phone, and Frank falls back into the couch, clutching his stomach. His life is insane and he can't stop laughing. "Frankie!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he stammers and tries to compose himself. When he lolls his head against the back of the couch, still giggling, Mom is watching him expectantly, still pale as a sheet. He sobers and faces her fully. "Okay, so. He… I don't know why, he was going to stop by, I guess, on the night of the last full moon, and he – walked by the basement window?"
He waits for her to ask him why Gerard was wandering around their backyard after dark, and Frank really doesn't want to get into the whole "cemeteries are also cool" thing with her, but all she does is go, "And?" in a tightly controlled sort of voice he's been scared of from birth.
He forces his throat to unclench. "And – he saw me, you know… The wolf, I – I must have lunged for the window or something, I don't know… Anyway, he saw, and, like – asked me about it in school next time he saw me." The laughter's gone now, all he feels is a sick kind of free-fall in the pit of his stomach. He thinks it might be growing.
"Frankie," she breathes, then rubs her forehead with one hand, before drooping sideways against the back of the couch. "Baby, he – how do you know he won't tell?"
Frank shrugs and picks at the fuzzies shed by the afghan. "Because he knows it's important. To me."
"You haven't known this boy that long, how can you trust him?" she asks quietly, but something about her tone makes Frank look up at her and really look. She's watching him back a little too calmly, waiting for the answer.
Frank has no idea what it is, though. He doesn't fully trust Gerard not to spill – it's already happened once. But Gerard's got a code about friends, like they're a part of him; he couldn't have understood it fully unless he told his guys. But parents and adults don't count like that. That, at least, Frank knows.
"Because he's – because we're – I'm -"
"Yeah, baby?" she whispers, and Frank sags down like a deflated balloon.
"We're, you know." He swallows against the dizzying free-fall of the drop that blooms out in his stomach, making him want to vomit. He mans up after he shuts his eyes. "We're, like. Together."
"Is he your boyfriend?" she asks quietly and Frank nods slowly without opening his eyes.
"Kind of. I guess."
She doesn't answer, but reaches out to grab his hand and gives him a hard squeeze. He squeezes back and only then dares to look up. She's got a small smile on her lips and she's giving him such a sappy Mom look that he squirms and looks away, but doesn't drop her hand.
"Baby, were you scared to tell me?" she asks after a while, and he says, "Yeah. Duh."
"Well, I obviously understand why, but I'm glad you did, okay, Frankie?" He nods, still not looking at her, and she shakes his hand a little and goes, "Hey, kiddo. Look at me, will you?"
He rolls his eyes, but of course he obeys, peering at her from under his eyebrows. "What?"
"I'm saying, I'm very glad you told me," she answers, watching him like a hawk. "I can't say that I'm all that – surprised, I suppose."
"Oh, come on," she chuckles, rolling her eyes at him and letting go of his hand. "He practically beat the door down to look at you when you were home sick. Not exactly the silent type, is he?"
Frank cracks up despite himself, and settles back against the couch. "So, you're. Okay?"
"With you having a boyfriend? Yes, I am. With him being the one to watch over you when I'm away?" She pauses and watches him for a while, head tilted, like she's considering him, Gerard, and maybe the entire planet Earth. "I don't know, Frankie," she sighs. "Let me think about it. And you ask Gerard, I suppose." She sounds just a little bewildered, but Frank will take it. He will take it and run with it. "But," she adds in a firmer voice, pinning him with a stare. "If I say yes, and his parents agree to a sleepover, God help them –"
Frank bites his lip, insides churning. "Yeah?"
"He is only to stay over the one night." She pauses, not looking away or even blinking. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Frank really, really does. And he is really, really wishing he wasn't in the room with her right now. And he is really, really sorry in advance. "Uh. Yeah," he says.
"Yeah?" she asks, grabbing his wrist. "Let's say it anyway, to make me feel better, ‘kay?"
Frank pleads silently that she doesn't. Her grip is cutting off the circulation to his entire arm.
"No sex," she declares in a tone that would make a general proud and makes Frank swallow his tongue. "No sleepover the night before or after. And, no need to say this, but I – I hope you're careful, Frankie," she adds in a quieter voice, forcing Frank to seriously wish the ground would open up and swallow him whole. He looks anywhere but at her and feels his entire face flushing.
"Frankie? I'm serious," she snaps, and he can feel her leaning forward, looming over him. "You are only seventeen years old, you got me? You're not an adult yet. You're not even in college."
When he finally forces himself to look her in the eye, she's watching him with her eyebrows drawn tight. She's pale, with tiny wispy wrinkles rising over her top lip. He forces himself to nod and agree, knowing that he's a lying shit, but the less she knows, the better off she'll be.
"Got it, Mom," he finally agrees after he clears his throat about a thousand times.
"Okay," she sighs, sounding a little calmer. She lets go of his wrist and gathers the afghan back around her lap. "Let me think about it, baby, okay?"
"Sure. Okay." His heart is pounding, and he feels vaguely sick, so he legs it out of the room as soon as she slides her book off the end table and settles it on her lap.
Then he slams his door shut, flops down on the bed and composes about a million texts before finally settling on "call me I got a question" and hitting send.
He can barely sleep that night. She knows. She knows. Would she tell Dad? Would she make Frank tell him?
She knows. She's fine. She knows.
Gerard is his boyfriend, and Mom knows.
At some point, between the relief and the fear, he snags on a welling up of an enormous sort of embarrassment. Jesus. His mom knows he likes dick. That is a thought Frank wishes had never ever crossed his mind. Gross.
It takes Mom until the next night to admit that there is no better option, and by then, Gerard has agreed a million times, and made the sleepover a solid deal with his parents.
Some sleepover, but at least Frank can let Mom go and rest kind of easy without feeling like the world's biggest douchebag. Well, mostly. He'll just get Gerard to lock him up before the sun even thinks of setting, or the moon of rising. It'll be fine. He'll be totally fine.
The door shuts behind him with a hollow bang, and the hallway is pretty deserted. That's good. That's really fucking good. Frank's running past lockers and skidding across the linoleum floor, and then he's at the bend that'll take him to his closet – just a little more, it's just a little –
He can barely get the lock wiggled open, but it finally gives it up and he's in, the door banging behind him, and his fingers fumble to latch that shit as soon as he's in.
He curses and shoves at his pants, almost crying with how much he fucking needs to get off. He's at the boiling point again, his skin is crawling right the fuck off his body. Once the zipper's down, he shoves at the whole set-up until his dick's exposed enough, and goes for it.
The first stroke feels like a punch to the face. He moans and braces himself on the wall with one arm, pressing his hot face against it. His hand is flying over his dick, his heart pounding a heavy erratic beat against his ribs, when Gerard's scent hits him – is it real or imagined? – and before he knows it, his balls are drawing up, his gut wrenching from the free-fall, and he's shooting all over the wall. He muffles his shout with a bite to his arm and then freezes.
It's real. Gerard's near-by, and Frank sniffs, testing the air. Whatever Gerard's feeling, he isn't focused on class.
One-handed, Frank flips open his phone. where r u, he texts.
where r U?
Frank answers, then pushes himself away from the wall. The deep buzzing of desire in his belly has already started, and all he has to do is run his hand over his dick before it's hardening back to life, sticky with his come and jonesing for more.
He bites his lip in an attempt to stifle his moan, then gives his dick another stroke. It jumps in his hand and he squeezes the base, down boy. He can do this. He can wait. His heart hammers in his chest, his own breathing way too loud to his ears in the dark room. Fuck. Gerard. Gerard. He blinks to get the sting out of his eyes.
By the time Gerard knocks twice on the flimsy door, Frank is so fucking desperate for it, he's just barely hanging on. He flicks open the hook and Gerard barges in, back-lit, already hard.
"Thank God –"
"What do you want, Frankie?" Gerard whispers immediately, shutting the door behind him and cutting off the strip of light from the hallway. He's a breath away from Frank in a second, his clammy hands gripping Frank's face. "Tell me what to do, I'll fucking do anything –"
Frank whimpers and claws at him, reels him in by the shoulders and shoves his tongue in Gerard's mouth, practically hanging off of him. Gerard makes a noise that travels all the way down Frank's throat, and kisses him back. His mouth tastes so fucking good, like pheromones or something, sexy as hell, and Frank has to force himself to pull away so he can speak.
"I need - suck me off, please, please," he begs, but before he's even gotten all the words out of his dry throat, Gerard is already sliding down to his knees in front of him, both hands reaching for Frank's hips and pulling him in. Frank slaps a hand over his mouth so he doesn't give them away and all but shoves his dick down Gerard's throat.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. Gerard's so fucking good at that, better than when they first started going at it. His mouth is tight-tight-hot, and so fucking wet, Frank's dick meets with no friction and no obstacle. Gerard's fucking deep-throating Frank, lips stretched wide and taking it without a sound of protest.
Frank grabs fistfuls of his hair and doesn't even try not to fuck his mouth, he's too far gone. Gerard's hot even in the dark. The closet reeks of them, a reverberation of sex pounding over the walls like ping-pong balls, setting Frank's skin and guts on fire. The sounds of his dick sliding between Gerard's wet lips are obscene, ratcheting him up even higher. He tries to hold off and enjoy the best fucking blowjob of his life, but his mutant blood is stronger, and quicker.
He squeezes Gerard's hair just to give him some warning and doubles over with how hard he comes, mouth open in a wordless shout. He's still trembling when Gerard pulls off and collapses with his face smushed into Frank's bare hip. He wraps his arms loosely around Frank's waist and just pants against him, gulping in air, while Frank holds on and tries to get his breathing back to a semblance of normal.
For a long moment, they just breathe in the waiting quiet, then Gerard moves his head until he's looking up at Frank with huge stark eyes and licks his cracked lips. "Frankie –"
Frank nods frantically without knowing what he's agreeing to and pushes away from him enough to pull up and zip his pants and slide down to his knees. The need's not so immediate after two rounds, but it's there, and it's his turn to get to some dick.
"Come here," he rasps and butt-walks until his back hits the wall. "Come here," he repeats and prods and pulls at Gerard until he gets the idea and slides between Frank's knees, his back to Frank's chest.
Gerard's hard as a rock, breathing kind of erratically, and when they both fumble his pants open, he gives a quick shout before Frank can shut him up with his hand.
"Shhh, Gee, shh, please –"
Gerard whimpers into Frank's palm, his head thrown back onto Frank's shoulder.
"I know," Frank whispers and almost whimpers himself when his hand closes around Gerard's hot cock, already leaking. "Fuck, you're so fucking hot," he mumbles, burying his nose in the crook of Gerard's neck and latching on with his mouth. Gerard scrambles against him, shoving himself closer, and his dick jumps in Frank's hand.
Frank doesn't let go of Gerard's neck as he jerks him off. Frank is probably breathing, but it doesn't feel like it, because his entire body is pounding with focus on Gerard. All he can smell is Gerard all over him, all he can feel is his hard, silky smooth dick sliding quickly in his hand, wet and getting wetter. The angle's so fucking good like this, because his arm doesn't cramp, he can go and go and go.
Gerard's body tenses too soon and he grabs onto Frank's thighs and squeezes before Frank feels the surge through his cock, and then Gerard's keening under his hand and shooting all over Frank's quick-moving fist, again and again, until Frank's pumping him through nothing.
Gerard shakes off the hand clamping down his mouth and hisses, and only then does Frank drop his other hand from his dick. While Gerard takes quick breaths, every inhale reverberating through Frank's chest, Frank licks his hand clean, relishing the taste of Gerard on his fingers.
"Oh, fucking hell," Gerard whimpers and sprawls until he's boneless between Frank's legs. "Jesus, Frankie."
Frank squeezes his arm with his clean hand, and doesn't answer. He knows.
He's kind of hard again, too – he could go again. But they're in fucking school and even when he's a fucking lunatic, he sort of knows better now.
"My mom's already gone," he says after he's licked Gerard's come off his whole hand.
"Wait for me at the gate," Gerard responds immediately, and Frank squeezes his arm again.
Fuck yes, he will wait for him by the gate.
Gerard's moans are getting soaked into Frank's pillow, and Frank is losing his fucking mind. Gerard's ass is so fucking tight, and Frank used enough fucking lube to ensure that the slide was easy, and it fucking is – easy and hot and better than before, better than anything.
Better, because he can drape himself all over Gerard's back, plaster himself to his naked, sweaty skin, and let himself go. Gerard's cries get louder every time Frank pounds into him, again and again, tiny staccato ah's wrenched out of his throat, and maybe their bodies are falling apart and disintegrating because he can feel the vibrations of Gerard's voice wracking his own chest. He's a fucking dog in heat, he can't stop, he can't stop.
Gerard moves his head enough to gasp out, "Frank – Frankie, God," and then he's coming under Frank, his ass spasming and twitching, squeezing the fuck out of Frank's cock, Jesus, he will never get used to this, never.
Frank moans and drops his head enough to feel Gerard's hot face, his hair stuck to his forehead and cheeks. When Frank comes, Gerard's broken voice echoes in his head like a loop of an infinite moment. Frank couldn't get his breath back if he tried.
They're both still breathing a bit too hard and uneven when something jogs Frank's memory and he turns his head on the pillow to look at Gerard.
"Hey, I think that chick, what's her name – Rose's blonde friend?"
"Becky?" Gerard asks, looking surprised.
"Yeah!" At least Frank thinks that's her. "Yeah, I think she was, like – after that thing with Warner, you know, I think she was flirting with me?"
Gerard grins a little, turning his body fully towards Frank, the sheets rustling around him. "Oh, yeah? D'you run away?"
"Haha," Frank answers drily. That's not his point, not really. It's been bothering him a bit at the back of his mind since then, and he's never put a finger on why, not until today. "What was weird is…doesn't she know I'm a fag?" Gerard's eyebrow flickers. "I mean, the rest of them do, that's why they're all – you know –"
"All over you?" Gerard asks carefully. His hand twitches a bit on the pillow.
"Yeah," Frank answers, frowning. "Like…if I'm such a fucking fag, why was she flirting? I mean, it probably wasn't that – fuck, whatever, but just –"
"They don't really think you are, is the thing," Gerard says quietly, looking somewhere beyond Frank. "That's kind of why they're such assholes. I mean, not just -"
"What?" Frank frowns. "Of course they fucking do. Why would they –"
Gerard shakes his head and when he looks back at Frank, he almost looks sad. Sad and weirdly old - not like an 80 year old grandpa or anything, but like someone who's been around a thousand years, a fucking Ent, maybe. "If they really thought you were a fag, they wouldn't touch you with a ten foot pole. They're fucking scared of us, you know?"
Frank is pretty sure he's staring like an idiot, but he can't help himself. "Gee, that doesn't make sense, of course they –"
But Gerard doesn't let him finish. He's animated now, eyes kind of flashy and greener than normal, his face stark and pale except for the bright pink spots on his cheeks. "They push you around because you're, like, amorphous, they don't know what the fuck you are, but they don't actually believe you suck dick either, okay?" he says, every word precise and hard. "It's, like – Becky whatever-her-face can't imagine that you'd be gay because she's probably never met an out person in her whole life, not in this fucking school."
"So, like, she knows you get called names, maybe, but that's just ‘boys being boys' – when it comes down to it, she can't imagine you wouldn't be into her. She's pretty, right?"
Frank can't make heads or tails of this, it's so bizarre. What else has he been getting the crap beaten out of him if not for sucking dick? Or, like, wanting to suck dick. Or – "I don't know if I buy that," Frank says finally, but gives Gerard a quick smile. "But I wouldn't touch Becky what's-her-face with a ten foot pole, either."
"Fag," Gerard shoots back, but his face is almost back to normal, softer around the edges.
Frank snorts and cracks up. "Same to fucking you," he tells him in between bouts of giggles, then leans in to press his lips against Gerard's, carefully touching his naked hip.
But even afterwards, after Gerard finally leaves to go back to his own house – Frank barely able to let him slip out of his arms, much less disappear out into the dark – he can't help thinking maybe Gerard is onto something. Maybe all those asswipes are fucking terrified that he'll snap one day and suck their dicks, and maybe they fucking should be. Or should have been. Frank isn't in the habit of blowing random dudes in bathrooms anymore. Good thing he only tried it the once.
It's the day of the moon, and Frank is on the verge of losing his mind. He texts Gerard from World History.
meet me @ west exit need 2 make a run for it
There are two more classes to go, but he can barely last through the last ten minutes of this one. He's been vibrating for the last forty minutes, and it's felt like forever. Rain pounds on the windows, and he isn't looking forward to getting wet in this cold, but it's still better than trying to suffer through school like this.
Gerard's answer is pretty instantaneous and brief. Y.
Frank races to his locker, exchanges his books, grabs his good headphones, drops his good headphones, picks them back up, stuffs them in his bag, and tries to blend into the walls as he creeps along and out of the school. He gets soaked in nature's cold fucking shower almost instantly, but the rain works in his favor. Nobody is outside, or even patrolling the exits at all. He waits by the furthest gate until he sees a dark figure sprinting in his direction. He's shivering so hard by the time Gerard gets to him that he doesn't even say anything. He just grabs Gerard's hand and they take off at a run, pounding against the driving wind.
He's gulping in more water than air as he runs, and he can hear Gerard panting behind him, smelling like raw ground and adrenaline. Frank feels a rush of joy at the wind and all the smells around him. He aches with how much he just wants to run until he changes, run until he hits the graveyard, and then weave in and out between the gravestones, feeling the cold damp ground beneath his paws, and then – deeper into the woods, running until the morning comes.
He tamps it down. He can't.
But he will take this.
He gets a stitch in his side just as they round the bend of the cemetery. His feet slip and slide on the wet grass, and he almost skids off the path when he staggers to a halt to try and catch his breath. Gerard is bent over with one hand over his belly when Frank turns to check on him, and Frank would probably hear him panting if it weren't for the downpour. Gerard looks like a wet dog, and he pretty much smells like it, too.
Frank doesn't make the decision consciously only because it happens so fast, but he's instantly aware of Gerard's cold wet hand pressed into his, and Gerard's equally freezing and soaking mouth against his lips. It's more frustration than pleasure, really, but Frank can't stop himself from trying to burrow deeper. He presses his entire body up against Gerard's, their clothes squelching against his chest and thighs and instant hard-on. Gerard gasps into his mouth – maybe from the cold, or maybe just from the contact. Frank can't tell. He's breathing in Gerard's scent, that raw, hard smell that he can never seem to get enough of. Gerard exudes it, and as they stand there, dripping and stupid in the rain, Frank gorges himself on the freedom of getting to do this.
When Gerard finally pulls away, he's smiling, and Frank gets caught watching the way the drops stream from his forehead and eyelashes and drop off his nose.
"We should, like, get inside, right?" Gerard asks, still smiling. "I'm so fucking wet, I can't handle it."
Frank shakes his head and the way the rain beats against his ears reminds him that he kind of hates getting caught in the rain like this. So weird. "Yeah, fuck, sorry."
He tugs Gerard by the hand and leads him through the brush that edges the cemetery. When they finally jog up to his house, there are three damp-looking figures stooped under the front awning.
"Uh, I kind of – asked the guys to be here? I figured you might want, like…reinforcements." Gerard shrugs as he tells Frank this, and doesn't quite look at him. Neither do the guys, really, they just stand there, shifting foot to foot, giving him silent waves and nodding their heads.
Frank thinks that maybe Gerard wanted those reinforcements, but he wouldn't blame him one bit. If he bristles at the thought that maybe they were all curious about his moon habits, he chooses not to dwell. And he's always felt uneasy about his mom always being alone up in the house while he tore the basement all to shreds. It's probably better that Gerard not be by himself.
"Fine with me," he answers with a slightly heavy heart, and goes to unlock the door.
Once everyone's inside and dripping on the linoleum in the hallway, Frank tries to figure out what next. Are they planning on staying the night? Does he even have enough space to put them all? Why can't he be a normal human being who has sleepovers for actual fun, and not to make sure he doesn't get out and eat someone by accident? Jesus, Mom might actually kill him over this.
"Uh, so, like. I guess I'll get you guys towels and shit?"
They grunt in assent as they start to strip off all their wet shit, which is when Frank notices that Toro's got a sleeping bag on his shoulders, and Bob is holding onto a duffel the size of Frank's torso. Mikey droopily slides off his kicks while dropping his own backpack onto the floor. Frank swallows and after stripping off his coat and disgusting sneakers, heads down the hallway to the bathroom.
He has to stop and take deep breaths for a minute; his lungs keep constricting. While he was running, the pain had lessened, receded to the background when it was just him and Gerard. It slams back into him full force now, in the warm, quiet bathroom of his warm, quiet house, and he can't stop the cry from escaping.
"Shit, fuck, fuck," he pants and screws up his eyes, biting his lip so hard he makes it bleed. His spine billows and he rocks through it, feels like he's been set on fire. It's – it's too early for this shit, it's not even four, what the hell. Fuck, he hates the short fall days.
His hands ache and he tries to unclench them where he'd grabbed onto the doorframe. Shit. The towels. Right.
"Frank, you okay?"
Frank jumps and turns around. Gerard is hovering right behind him, a dark looming shadow. Frank pushes away from the door and turns his back to Gerard, pretending to look for towels. "Yep, just, you know. Yeah."
Gerard is still behind him when Frank turns around, a stack of towels bundled in his arms. "Here, take these to the guys, I'll go, uhm. Stuff," he mumbles without looking at him, and runs off in the other direction. He needs to get them sheets, right? They're guests. They're gonna need sheets.
He's maybe got a good twenty minutes in him before it really hits, and then they're on their own. What a crappy host he's turning out to be.
He roots around the back closet for a while, groaning through the short bursts of pain that start coming faster and harder. Maybe not even twenty minutes, now.
When he finally makes it back to the living room, the guys have already toweled off and everyone except for Gerard is wearing dry clothes which look suspiciously like the stuff they sleep in. Gerard, on the other hand, is standing around sheepishly, by the looks of it trying not to get the rug wet.
Frank barely stifles a laugh. "Mikey, you didn't bring him an extra shirt or anything?"
Mikey shrugs. "He didn't pack his bag in time, so no."
It really clicks way too late. "How long ago did you plan this?"
He's asking Gerard, but it's Ray who pipes up first. "He told us last week, so we thought we'd, like, tag along and see what –"
Bob punches Ray on the arm, and Ray immediately trails off, looking kind of scared. Frank can probably guess how the rest of that was going to go. He shrugs it off as much as he can. "Well, cool. Wouldn't want Gee to be holed up in a weirdo house with a wolf howling in the basement or anything."
"Shit, will we really hear you howling?" Ray asks, eyes wide, and Frank almost hates to disappoint him.
"Sorry, dude, that shit's soundproofed." He wants to add something else, like maybe about all the extra fucking crap his dad's done to the basement to make sure Frank doesn't get out, or how they should feel free to call out for pizza because he's got no food for them or anything, but then it hits him. For real, this time, he can feel the pain blooming up from his toes up, the quicksilver flash of it, hitting him from every angle. He doubles up and drops to the floor, the sheets spilling out of his hands and cushioning his fall like an afterthought.
Shit, he's waited too late – he won't – he's not gonna make it, Jesus, he can feel it – what the fuck was he thinking -
"Shit, grab him, get him downstairs –"
Frank vomits right onto the rug his mom loves so much and all over the sheets, the bile bitter and stifling. He gasps and tries to struggle to his feet, but he can't force his legs to move right, they're shifting too much, resetting into a shape he can't control –
Before he can yell for them all to get the fuck away, he's grabbed on all sides and hauled upwards. The rush of cold fear hits him hard and he wants to lash out, he's salivating. He wants to snap his jaws and grab that fear by the throat, but he's not strong enough yet, everything's spinning and filling with darkness; he can't get a grip on a single thought, not a single action.
"Where is –"
"Down here, I think, fuck, fuck, I didn't –"
He's being dragged fast and hard down the hall, then shoved down the stairs – the silver door handle slides against his skin and he howls out in pain, his teeth creaking in his mouth, puncturing the gums. He can feel his own blood flood his mouth, the dull metallic taste overwhelming his senses.
The panicked voices all around him begin to fade, no longer making any sense; they're nothing but a nuisance, just an echo of the sharp scent of fear billowing out all around him.
The claws tear through by the time he's on the cold cement floor.
His vision fills with red.
The door slams and he jumps against it, rattling it, but it's useless, it won't budge.
The wolf tries to chase that other scent, familiar and necessary and so very, very close. When the scent starts to recede further and further away, the wolf lunges at the door, howls, and begins to tear at itself in desperation.