He doesn't even run into Gerard in the halls the next morning. In the last month, he would have been hard-pressed not to see Gerard at least slouching to class between periods by this point. Which means Gerard is taking different routes to class.
Which means he's actively working on avoiding Frank.
Which means Frank was fucking right in the first place, and he was never going to be able to hang onto any friends for the fucking life of him. He is a fucking moron.
He spends Math class trying not to vomit from the knowledge and fear insistently writhing around in his guts.
Shit. Shit. Maybe he needs to change schools. Maybe he can start over somewhere else. Maybe - maybe somewhere where there aren't as many assholes, somewhere where he hasn't fucked himself over yet. Maybe he can not be a freak this time around. But he knows that's stupid, because every other school in every other city and every other country sucks just as hard as this fucking place. People don't change; he can't change.
And, really, what's going to happen now, he thinks, watching the wind rip off the last of the yellow and brown leaves form branches, is that Gerard will avoid him, and Frank's life will go back to being what it was before. Which is total shit.
He doesn't even try to listen as Masters drones on and on about polynomials, just watches the leaves falling to the ground and ignores the sick feeling in his chest as best he can.
He expects not to see Gerard at his locker when lunchtime finally rolls around, but his heart still sinks when he gets there. He flips out his phone, just in case, but he's got nothing.
He beats his head against his locker for a minute, then looks at his lunch and decides he's too fucking sick to eat, and makes his dejected way to the East Wing closet.
He rounds the stairs that lead to the first floor, and suddenly comes face to pale face with Gerard, standing in a crowd of passing-by jocks and their idiotic girlfriends.
Frank freezes on the spot and the moment extends when Gerard does the same. With completely perfect clarity, Frank realizes that he was right. The uncertain fear gives way to a conviction that makes his heart feel as if it's become a time-bomb, ticking heavily in his chest, blooming upwards into his throat, and all the way down to his toes.
"Hey," he hears, then realizes that's his own voice. He clears his throat and looks down at his shoes, where they've been scuffed a million times.
When he lifts his head, Gerard's eyes are darting between him and the crowd and he licks his lips before answering. "Hey, uh. What's up?"
Frank shrugs, watching him carefully. He doesn't meant to, he really doesn't, but he can't fucking wait anymore now that Gerard is here, in front of him. "Are – is everything okay?"
Gerard eyes him in between twitching and runs a hand over his neck, then trails it all the way down his bag strap. "I – I don't know? It's – it's stupid, I think, I just." He pauses while Frank waits, his heart hammering like crazy, and shuffles closer until they're almost chest to chest, standing in the middle of the receding crowds. "Look, Frank," he says, quieter this time, and then the words all rush out of him, a familiar cadence that would be comforting if Frank wasn't busy freaking the fuck out. "I'm sorry I was all – I didn't call. Or, like, text you back and was just…weird about it. I didn't wanna talk about it over the phone, right, ‘cause I just – I don't know, I didn't, I was kind of freaked out? And Mikey thought I was being dumb, but, like – I –"
Gerard pauses, looking up suddenly like he's just realized they're in the middle of a crowded hallway. Frank watches him crazily. "What? What is it?"
"I –" Gerard runs a hand through his hair, looking all around them like a mental patient, and Frank gets it and grabs his arm before he can even think about it.
"Let's go someplace else," he says in a voice a lot more decisive than he's feeling. There's hardly anybody left in the halls by the time they make it to the closet, Frank's mind going a mile a second. What the fuck, what's going on, he keeps repeating inside his head just so he doesn't have to find any answers. He's gotta wait. He's going to wait.
He jiggles the lock open and slips in. He moves aside to let Gerard get in behind him, and locks the door. He doesn't turn on the light, just slides down until he's sitting on the floor, back against the wall. Gerard mirrors him silently.
The quiet dark is pretty stifling, but still a welcome fucking change from the bright halogen lights of the rest of the school.
"So," Frank starts, too loud, and lowers his voice. "What – what did – did I –"
He can't make himself ask it. His throat constricts and he pleads with Gerard silently to just fucking spit it out already.
Gerard breathes a ragged sigh and Frank hears him thump his head against the wall. "I… Okay, it's – it's probably really dumb, but I – okay. So, like. I just." Gerard stutters to a halt and Frank tries not to breathe too loudly and break the tentative thread. Gerard's voice is quiet in the dark. "So, the other day, I went over to your place to see if you maybe wanted to hang out or, like… whatever."
Frank thinks his heart actually stops. He swallows and doesn't say anything because he can't. He already knows.
"And I was walking by your basement window, I think?" Gerard continues quietly. "And, uh. I saw something? And it kind of really freaked me out."
Frank doesn't think he could move if he wanted to. A trickle of genuine cold sweat runs down his back and his spine gives a shudder.
Gerard pauses and Frank can hear him swallow, even though the beat of his heart is so loud in his ears, he has no idea how he's able to hear anything at all. "Like – I mean, there's probably a reason or something, but – Frank, are you –"
"Like, you know –"
"Yes." Fuck. No. What?
"What? You are?" Gerard exclaims.
Frank squeezes his eyes shut, curls up until his face is buried against his knees and stops breathing. Fuck fuck fuck.
Gerard's voice pitches high. "You're keeping wolves in the basement? Why?"
Frank's thoughts come to a crashing halt. Wait. What? "What?" He lifts his head up automatically, and in the dark he can make out Gerard's huge eyes boring into his.
"You said you were – was that seriously a wolf? Why the fuck is there a wolf in your basement? Dude!" Gerard's pushed himself forward and he looks almost excited and Frank's head feels like it's going to explode, because Gerard saw him in the basement. "That's so – oh my God, why?"
"It's not like that!" Frank shouts before he can stop himself, and Gerard freezes, watching Frank with an unblinking stare.
Frank takes a few deep breaths and it's like he can't get enough air into his lungs. He can't. But if he doesn't, Gerard's going to think that Frank and his mom are some kind of heinous sadistic – whatever-the-fucks. Or, worse yet, he's going to want to see the wolf. And Frank can't – he's never – Jesus Christ, why have they never fucking practiced this? Why doesn't he have a lie all prepped and ready to roll out?
"The wolf isn't," he starts, then stops. Fuck. "The wolf, I mean… Shit." He thuds his head against the wall and curses. "Gerard, that wolf is me."
For a long moment, Frank can't hear anything through the pounding in his ears. His hands are shaking so hard, he squeezes them into fists, but it doesn't help. He opens his eyes and stares at the ceiling to some internal clock that ticks in his head, counting the seconds.
One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi…
When it gets to four, Gerard's quietly disbelieving voice breaks the heavy silence. "What the fuck."
Frank laughs. It sounds hollow and forced, but that's all he can do. "It was me, Gerard. I'm. I'm a fucking werewolf."
Spoken out loud, it sounds like a horrible episode of the Twilight Zone, so it's really no surprise that Gerard's first reaction is to laugh right back. "What?"
Frank waits him out. When Gerard stops laughing, he hiccups on the last breath, and breathes out. "Oh, shit."
Frank sighs, toes digging against the soles of his shoes. "Yep."
"No fucking way. There is no way!"
Frank shrugs and picks at the frayed bottoms of his pants with shaking fingers. "Way. I'm a fucking freak of nature."
Gerard laughs again, one quick panicked sound, and then quietly sits up until his face is right up against Frank's. Frank tries to shrink back but there's nowhere to go. He doesn't breathe.
"Frank, that's. You're not fucking with me? You've gotta be fucking with me, I know you – but -"
Frank licks his lips, and tries to hold his voice steady and clear. "Think about every time I've been out of school. Do you remember looking up at the sky?"
Gerard shakes his head slowly, then freezes. "Oh."
Frank nods, watching Gerard's face flit through a series of complicated movements, the last of which is a small uncertain grin lifting his mouth at the corners. "Frank," he says in the same voice Frank's mom would use when he was a kid and trying to convince her he'd seen a monster under his bed at three in the morning. "You –"
"Gerard," he interrupts and tries to make his face look completely passive, even though a nervous giggle is trapped somewhere in his belly, just waiting for a chance to get out. "You saw me. You saw the fucking wolf," he says, his voice almost dead-sounding to his ears.
Gerard bites his lip and his face becomes almost tragic in its expression. "I did," he whispers. "I saw a fucking wolf, I know I did, but – you can't – Frankie," he breathes, and Frank knows he's close, he's almost there. He waits him out, keeping eye contact despite his body revving up to flee. He thinks he might puke. He thinks, bye, Gerard. It's been nice knowing you.
"Jesus. Frank," Gerard whispers, so close, his breath ghosts over Frank's tucked-up knees. For one moment, Frank thinks Gerard's voice might shatter him. He's never heard his name spoken like that. He holds his breath for the next part. "That is the coolest thing I have ever heard."
It's like a record spinning to a screeching halt. "What?" He pushes himself up against the wall, but he can't crawl through brick. This isn't - no. "No, it isn't, it's – no, okay?" he says in disbelief. "It's fucking shitty. It's fucking ridiculous. It's – what?"
Gerard frowns and settles back on his heels, giving Frank at least a little room to breathe where he isn't squished up into himself, panicking and sweating. "Frankie –"
Frank's still panicked and sweaty, but when he takes a deep breath, the air travels where it needs to. He tries to get his brain back together. "Gee," he says, trying to sound reasonable. "I just told you I'm a fucking werewolf, and you think it's the coolest thing ever. What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"I just – you're a – you're a supernatural being, dude," Gerard breathes and looks at Frank like he's the goddamn Messiah. Frank bites his lip and curls his fingers into fists again.
"I'm a freak of fucking nature is what I am," he grits out, like he's stuck in a loop.
Gerard moves suddenly and Frank startles at the touch of Gerard's hand on his knee. He wants to move away so badly, but he's pinned into place. "You're the coolest fucking person ever," Gerard whispers with such conviction, Frank considers getting him checked into a psych ward. Gerard just isn't fucking getting it. He has no idea. If Frank were in his place, he'd be laughing his ass off and running away as quickly as his feet would take him.
"No, I'm not," he repeats, squeezing the shit out of his own shins. "It's –" He stops himself. There's no way he can put into words right now what the hell it's like. How it feels. He closes his eyes and wriggles his toes just to feel blood circulating somewhere in his body. "Never mind. But you can't. Gee, you can't tell anyone, okay?" He wants to add, ‘not Mikey, not Ray or Bob or anyone', but he stops himself. Gerard should get that, at least. Gerard better get that.
"What happens to you?"
Gerard settles cross-legged in front of Frank like he means to stay a while. "What happens to you? When you, you know – turn into a wolf?"
Frank can't help cracking up, because that's so not the first question he ever expected anyone to ask. Not that he expected it at all. He never intended for anyone else to know. He licks his lips and looks away from Gerard's earnest, curious face. Maybe if he breaks it down into parts. Maybe if he tries to hold himself as still as possible. "I - I get…antsy. In the lead-up. And I can't control it, like…at all. As soon as the moon is up, I change. Everything changes. I'm not human anymore."
When he glances at Gerard, Gerard's still staring at him with huge eyes. "And the basement? Why do you get locked in the basement?" he asks.
"What the hell do you think?" Frank laughs kind of bitterly. "I'd rip people to fucking shreds. I can't control it. It isn't me in there."
"Fuck," Gerard breathes. "So your mom – she's gotta know, right?"
Frank nods, sighing. "Yeah. My dad does, too. He paid to soundproof and silver-proof the basement."
Gerard is quiet for a while, and Frank can almost hear the ticking of the questions he's compiling. "Shit, the silver stuff is true?"
Frank screws up his mouth, but can't stop the grin from happening. Gerard's like a kid at Christmas, for fuck's sake. "Yep."
Gerard gives him a stupid grin back, like it got away from him, then stops himself. "Shit." Then his face falls and he frowns. "So does that…the basement stuff, does that mean you weren't born this way?" he asks in a careful tone. "Or, like…the opposite?"
"No, I wasn't." Frank hopes that sounds final enough. He's not ready to open up that particular can of post-traumatic worms.
Gerard seems to accept that and nods, still frowning. Frank drops his head and watches his own hands twisting in his lap. He wishes his knuckles needed to be cracked or something, but he's just wringing his hands like a Victorian fucking lady.
The bell ringing out startles them both into jumping.
"Fuck!" Gerard is up before Frank can even process it. "Shit, Frankie… I can't be late to Bio, my mom and grandma will murder me. My grades have been… Fuck, fuck. Uhm."
Frank gets up slowly, trying to shake his legs out of the pins and needles. His heart is still hammering from the sudden bell, and he has no idea what to even think right now. He just nods dumbly as he gathers up his bag. He can't trust it. He can't trust this. And Gerard didn't get it.
"Okay," is what he says, and reaches for the door.
"Wait, Frank." Gerard crowds up right up against him, bringing back in sharp relief the last time they were in here. Frank breathes in his scent despite himself and stills when Gerard puts a hand over his. "Do you – do you want to come over after school today? Can you?"
Frank blinks. He has no idea. He has a feeling his mom might actually put her foot down for once and force him to make up the work he's missed, but maybe that's just an excuse. Because right now, he doesn't know what he wants. "I, uhm. I don't know? Rain check? Maybe tomorrow night."
Gerard nods a few times, saying, "Sure, cool, okay. Uhm. Text me about tomorrow, I guess."
Frank's voice sounds like a drone's when he says, "Yeah. Tomorrow. Okay."
Neither one of them moves to go, both hands poised on the door. Gerard's is clammy, and Frank can feel his own palm sweating over the chipped paint. Outside in the hall, people are yelling and running and laughing and living their regular lives. Frank licks his lips and finally turns to go when Gerard leans in and catches his lips with a quick peck. He kind of half-misses and lands on the corner of Frank's mouth, but Frank still shivers at the contact. He turns his head just enough to give Gerard a brief kiss back.
He catches a glimpse of Gerard's tiny grin as he leaves, but can barely process it.
Maybe he can hold onto this until it sinks into Gerard's brain what he really is. And maybe. Maybe, for now, it will be enough.
In order to appease his own guilty conscience, he asks Mom if he can go to over Gerard's after school, and feels another twinge of guilt at the sheer relief of her categorical NO, Frank, homework FIRST!!! You can see your friends over the weekend.
He texts Gerard letting him know, then spends the rest of the night pacing his room and climbing the walls. The broken record of "I told, I told, I told" gets really old, really fast, and he attempts to drown it out by playing all of In Utero on his guitar in one go. Mom storms into his room around nine thirty, when he's halfway through "Milk It."
"Frankie. I understand that you are still recovering, and have done all of the work I had told you to do. But do you have to play this when I've got a headache?"
He pauses mid-chord and slides the guitar off his lap sheepishly. He should have maybe thought of that. "Sorry, Mom."
"That's fine," she grumbles, then pauses in the doorway. "That was very good, honey. Just. Not now, okay? Good night."
He bites his lip and grins. "Night! Sorry."
When he finally makes himself go to bed two hours later, after having spent the majority of the time killing zombies on his computer, he can't get to sleep. He checks his phone to see if Gerard's maybe had some middle-of-the-night revelation about his latest comic book or whatever, then tosses and turns until he annoys himself with all the creaking. He finally falls asleep on the living room couch, watching the starless cloudy sky outside.
When Frank shows up at the Ways', his heart is pounding like crazy. He hopes Mikey isn't home, even though he likes Mikey. He just doesn't want to have to worry about anybody else barging in on them, when… Well, he doesn't know. And that's just another worry on top of all the other anxieties writhing around in his gut right now.
Mrs. Way opens the door just like always, giving him her Halloween grin from behind all the smoke, and he wonders, what would she think, knowing the truth?
He shakes himself almost visibly at the thought. Nobody else is going to know. He hasn't allowed himself to wonder this kind of crap in years; it's self-preservation. If you push it down far enough, it won't suddenly spring up out of you without any notice.
He greets Gerard's dad when he walks past him, and takes the stairs to the basement maybe a little bit slower than usual.
Ten more steps, nine. Eight. What is he so worried about? Seven.
On five, a muted conversation filters in from behind Gerard's door and Frank winces. Mikey must be down there, after all. Fuck.
He shakes out his shoulders and stretches his neck like he's readying for battle, then pushes until the door swings open.
Mikey is in there, perched on the bed next to Ray. At the foot of the bed is Bob.
Gerard is cross-legged on the floor, and when Frank walks in, he turns to look at him with a sheepish expression. His hair looks like he's pushed it away from his face one too many times and it's stuck, like that face your mom tells you not to make and you do behind her back every day for a week.
The moment extends just long enough for Frank to understand exactly what he's just walked into. Fucker.
He wants to run, but instead, he's rooted to the spot, watching Gerard for some sign that this isn't what it looks like, that he didn't tell. Not when Frank begged him, above all else, not to. Instead, Gerard is silently biting his lips and wringing his hands in his lap.
"Oh, hell, no," Frank spits out and makes a move to turn right the fuck around and go.
"Frank, please!" Gerard shouts and scrambles up off the floor. "I'm sorry, I just – please don't leave!" Frank feels Gerard's hands on his arm, tugging on his sleeve, but Frank really doesn't feel like being the freak show on display and rips his arm away, accidentally slamming his shoulder into the doorway.
"I'm sorry, okay?" Gerard says, stepping close enough for Frank to feel his hot breath on his neck. His eyes are still watering from the sudden impact and even though the hallway's right behind him, he feels backed into a corner. "I just thought it was really cool, you know? It's, like, the coolest thing ever, and –"
"It's fucking not, you asshole!" Frank shouts and forcibly pushes away from the doorway. "It's not fucking cool, okay?"
"Uh, I think it's fucking badass," Mikey pipes up from the bed, and Frank whirls around to look at him. "So does Toro," Mikey adds, totally nonchalant.
"Me, too," Bob agrees.
Frank kind of wants to laugh, so he closes his eyes and rubs them with the heels of his hands, hoping it might do what Mom claims it does, which is let all the anger out. They're all such fucking idiots.
He stands there for what feels like forever – enough that rubbing at his eyes feels good enough to want to do for the rest of time, and then his eyes begin to hurt, and when he opens them, Gerard's face looks like it's covered in spots.
"Fuck. You are such an asshole," Frank tells him.
Gerard cracks an uncertain smile and drops his head. "Yeah. I know."
Frank shakes his head and forces himself to step into the room and join the party.
"How did it happen? Gee told us you weren't, like, born like this," Toro says after Gerard's handed Frank a tumbler full of vodka and given him an encouraging look. Frank was instructed to knock it back quick, then another followed, and now he's sitting in the middle of the floor like he's a one-man show-and-tell.
"Fuck, you don't wanna fucking hear that shit, man, it's stupid," Frank tries to dodge, but of course it doesn't fucking work.
"Are you kidding? Of course we do!" Gerard exclaims, scooting closer. Frank squirms on the spot, rubbing at his every prickly itch. Mikey and Bob are practically hanging off the bed, their ears perked up like they're the ones with the wolf problem.
"It was the stupidest thing," Frank says finally, and doesn't look anywhere but his shoes. He plays with the shoelaces while he tries desperately not to picture the memories crowding around his brain. "I was a fucking Boy Scout, okay? Like. Literally. It was a camping trip. They were gonna teach us shit like how to light a fire and survive out in the wilderness and whatnot."
"Wow. Ironic, I guess," Bob says quietly to no one and a smattering of nervous laughter goes through the rest of them.
"Yeah," Frank agrees. "Exactly." He takes a deep breath and lets it out. "So, anyway, I had this friend, Joey, and Joey was in the Boy Scouts, but he was not a Boy Scout, if you know what I mean." Frank cracks a smile despite himself. "After everyone had gone to sleep, he was all, like, hey, Frank, wanna do something fun? And I thought Joey was the cat's pajamas back then, so I was, like, yeah, totally!"
Frank snorts, thinking back to Joey Padalucci's deceptively angelic blond curls and mean streak. Frank worshipped Joey's abilities to fly from monkey bar to monkey bar and only break the bones he didn't need for further flying. Joey was a total ninja. He was also a world-class asshole, but ten year old Frank hadn't yet been taught the hard lessons of life.
"Anyway, we went off to search for whatever the fuck it was Joey had wanted to search for, right, and whoops, what do you know! We'd gone too far. Just like in every single horror movie ever, pretty much." Frank pauses to lick his dry lips, but doesn't stop playing with his shoelace. The stupid things they put on each end of it are flaking at the tips and he picks at them while trying to figure out how the fuck to continue. "I, uh, I was pretty scared, I guess, but I didn't want Joey knowing I was close to wetting my pants, so I was all, hey, I think whatever you're looking for is over thataway, where I knew the camp was." They'd walked for what felt like forever. Frank was terrified, jumping at every snapping twig, his blood running cold every time a bird fluttered by. There was an owl that wouldn't stop hooting, too. It was a full-on horror movie set out there.
And then came the howling. "It was kind of far away at first, but fucking wolves, you know? They can smell you, especially when you're scared shitless, and they're fucking fast." Frank's voice isn't shaking, but he feels cold suddenly and draws his arms closer in.
He feels Gerard twitch beside him and when he looks up, Gerard's staring at him, unblinking. Frank realizes that Gerard has already come face to face with it, too, only through glass and iron. He drops his gaze, then closes his eyes altogether.
The wolf was quick, but Frank could have gotten away. Joey had. Fearless Joey Padalucci ran screaming towards the camp, and Frank tried to follow when his foot snagged on a root and he fell face-first to the ground. "I tried to get up, but I'd banged my knee so hard, I thought I'd shattered it." It hurt so much, he didn't feel bad for the tears. He'd knocked out a tooth and split open his eyebrow. He can still remember the warm blood trickling down his face and how terrifying that alone had been.
And then – the wolf's face darting out from between dead branches; the horrifying, dripping muzzle; Frank's screams mingling with Joey's in the distance. Blood everywhere, he was soaked with it, and so much pain. His hands kept slipping beneath him from the slickness, coming away soaked with red. When he'd lost enough blood and screamed himself hoarse, he'd fainted.
"When I woke up, I was in the hospital. I guess one of the leaders had shot the wolf, but it was kind of too late at that point."
The room is silent for a minute. Frank tries to erase Mom's ashen face from memory; she was the first thing he saw when he came to. He can still hear her muffled yelling at the Scout Leader in the hospital hallway; the guy had been fired later.
"Shit," Mikey breathes out, and Bob echoes it. Gerard is quiet, but Frank is intensely aware of his heat, his attention.
"So, uhm." Ray clears his throat and continues, "How did you find out that it was, you know… Uhm."
Frank looks up. "Not your run-of-the-mill wolf?"
"The hard way." He clears his throat. "But I was really young, so –"
"Like a cub?" Gerard interrupts and Frank looks up at him, startled.
"I guess. Yeah," he answers after a minute. "I didn't do too much damage, and my mom… She got away. After that, she told my dad. It was real messy, but he was great about it."
He squeezes his hands together and mumbles into his drawn-up knees. "After all the, you know, what the fucks and this is impossibles, blah blah blah, Dad built up our basement like Fort fucking Knox. For werewolves."
Gerard's eyes are huge in the twilight dark of the basement. All the guys are watching Frank completely enthralled, mouths open. Frank can't decide if the walls are closing in or crumbling around him.
After a minute, Bob gets up and silently pours Frank another shot. "Here. And," he adds after Frank downs it gratefully, "Gee. Here." He refills the tumbler and Gerard downs it even quicker than Frank. "So, what's it like?" Bob asks after he's settled back onto the bed. "Like. Is it just one night or what?"
Frank squirms again. What the hell. "Yeah. But there's, like. Stuff happens beforehand."
"Yeah? What kind of stuff?" Ray wants to know.
"I, uhm." Oh, Jesus. Frank chews on his lips and says, "I get antsy? Like, itchy and – I don't know. I just know it's coming. Can't sit still, everything feels different, that kind of thing." He doesn't mean to catch Gerard's gaze just then, but when he does, Gerard's eyes grow suddenly huge, like a light sparking. No one else seems to notice, but Frank can feel himself blushing down to his roots.
"Dude, you're such a badass," Ray breathes and Frank laughs, because there's nothing else left for him to do.
Frank has talked himself raw. His voice is hoarse from it, or maybe it's that he spilled his guts over tumblers of vodka. Whatever it is, he's lightheaded and exhausted. The guys wanted to know everything down to the smallest fucking details, and somehow, he just couldn't make himself shut up. Everything came tumbling out in fits and starts.
It wasn't until Mom texted and asked if he knew what time it was and was he planning on maybe coming home sometime tonight, that Frank remembered he'd promised he'd be home early. Toro got a similar text the next minute, and in a flurry, everyone dispersed.
Everyone except Gerard, who wordlessly walked up the stairs after Frank, told Mrs. Way he was going out and would be back in an hour, and led them both out into the cold air.
It's already dark, of course, and so cloudy, you can't see a goddamn thing. Frank fucking loves cloudy nights.
"You gonna walk me home like a gentleman?" Frank tries to tease Gerard, and Gerard just shrugs, weirdly quiet. Frank swallows and sways a little on his feet. He shouldn't be going home like this, he thinks in a moment of clarity. When Gerard doesn't say anything still, he runs a hand through his hair and asks, "What? Are you – I mean."
He wants to know if it's okay, but the words keep getting stuck in his head before they ever make it out, because of course it isn't. It might have taken Gerard a while to get there, but Frank can bet it's all caught up with him now. The only question is, why is he even bothering to walk Frank home at all?
Gerard pauses mid-step and rests his hand on Frank's arm, forcing Frank to turn to him fully and look up into his eyes. They're close enough that the height difference suddenly matters.
"Frank, it's – " Gerard clears his throat and lowers his gaze. The street lamp extends the shadows of his eyelashes over his cheeks, and he's so pale, he's nearly a ghost, except for his cheeks, pink and practically glowing. Frank waits, his heart beating way too loud for the relatively quiet street. "You were talking, right, and you mentioned that – well, I mean. The full moon, right, you get – you know," Gerard waves a hand around, and Frank feels the flush come over him from what feels like his belly button up. "Antsy, right?"
Frank nods, wondering how he can squirm out of this conversation.
"Well, I was just – I mean. The first time we, uh." Gerard pauses and shakes his head, looking everywhere but at Frank. He's focusing on some raccoon scrabbling over somebody's porch when he says, "The sex thing. Uhm. Do you – is it a full moon thing? Like. It makes you want it, right?"
Frank's face is radiating with heat, and he reaches up to scratch an itch on his neck. "I mean." Jesus, he's so over this whole talking thing. "I. Yeah? Kind… kinda? It just. I –"
"I mean, it's fine, I was just –"
"I get really, really, uh –"
Gerard looks down at him and Frank is looking up, and he has no idea what is even happening. He's kind of dizzy and uncomfortable and he knows Gerard's expecting an answer of some kind, Frank's brain is just done supplying him with anything. Finally, he shakes his head to clear it and, fuck it. Why not. "Yeah. Like. More than anything, I guess. It isn't – it isn't just that, but…mostly. I guess."
Gerard nods, like it makes total sense, and Frank doesn't know why he thinks Gerard looks like he wants to ask him something else, but he just stands there, looking at Frank, but somehow maybe even through him. Like he's actually really far away somewhere, and not with Frank at all.
They start up walking after a while, quiet again.
They're almost halfway to Frank's house when Gerard pauses and turns them to face each other. It's like he can't chew gum and walk at the same time – if he's talking, he's standing still, except for his hands, flying everywhere. Frank would find it funny any other time, but he's tired, of the day, and of explaining himself, and of the questions.
"Yeah?" he asks, unnecessarily harsh maybe, so he tries to smooth it over with a nice expression. He isn't sure he's all that successful.
"Sorry, I just thought of something else," Gerard says, and he doesn't actually sound sorry, he sounds kind of freaked out. Frank thinks, this is it. "I've been, well. I mean. I read up a little? Not, like, on werewolves, obviously, ‘cause I just –"
"Found a bunch of crap on the internet?" Frank supplies, trying to picture what, exactly, Gerard had time to read up on. When Frank went searching shit out, he just got a bunch of odes to fucking Remus Lupin and even a recipe for Snape's Wolfsbane potion.
Gerard giggles and nods, "Yeah. But, like." He screws up his eyes again and shakes himself out, like he doesn't want to be asking whatever it is he's going to ask.
"What?" Frank asks impatiently. Gerard's never had a problem with asking questions before.
Gerard slaps a hand over his eyes and asks, "Did you mate for life?"
"What?" Frank's jaw actually drops open.
Gerard groans and laughs at the same time, then flaps both hands around and scratches at his head. "I'm sorry, I just – I read up on wolves, and I guess, you know… Packs and – and somewhere, it said wolves mate for life, and you're, you know – of the – age or whatever, I guess, and –"
Frank knows it's probably mean, but he can't help it – the giggles well up in his belly, and run all the way up until they explode out of his throat, and he laughs so hard, his stomach cramps up. He doubles over and giggles himself stupid right in the middle of the fucking sidewalk, with tears welling up in his eyes, while Gerard stands across from him, groaning and laughing along.
It should be a ridiculous, dumb question, but the real kicker is Frank doesn't know.
"Oh, shut the fuck up," Gerard complains through giggles of his own. "I don't know about this shit, come on. Frankie, come on, stop fucking – stop laughing, you jerk!"
Frank manages to right himself again and when he's done laughing at Gerard's bright red face, he wipes at his eyes and shakes his head. "Fuck, Gee. I – I have no idea." As soon as he says it, the hysterical laughter is back and he falls against Gerard's shoulder and laughs until his whole body shakes with it. The thought never even crossed his goddamn mind. "I guess," he says and hiccups, sniggering more, "I guess I'll just have to, oh God, I'll just have to find out, won't I?"
By the time they reach Frank's door, he's done laughing, and so is Gerard. Frank is mostly sober now, really, but the lightheadedness hasn't gone away. He's exhausted. He can't even process anything from today, his brain's switched off, like he's some kind of droid.
He's already on the first step, keys at the ready, when Gerard whispers, "Wait," and tugs Frank back around. The one step that Frank is on brings them directly face to face. Frank swallows.
Gerard's eyebrows are a picture of concern, but the rest of him is almost relaxed. The porch light's been out for a week now, they haven't gotten it fixed yet, so the only light reaching the two of them now is the streetlight from nearly a block away. Gerard looks beautiful even in the dark, his gaze focused directly on Frank.
"Thanks," he says quietly. "For, you know. Telling me. And… I'm sorry I told, I just. I knew they'd be cool about it, you know?"
Frank doesn't, but he's not going anywhere near it right now, so he just shrugs like it's no big deal. "Okay."
A flicker of a frown passes over Gerard's face. "Okay. And, well, just. I." He breaks off, looking frustrated, then leans in suddenly and kisses Frank. Frank should have expected it, probably, but he didn't. His eyes shut automatically at the soft feel of it, nothing like how they kiss when the moon is near, when they're fucking. This kiss, just their lips pressed up against each other, lasts long enough for his chest to start pounding a hollow, steady beat, and for his lungs to lose all breath. He whimpers and presses closer, wondering if Gerard can feel it through their clothes. Gerard opens his mouth and deepens the kiss.
Frank doesn't care what happens tomorrow. He doesn't ever want it to come.