ladyfoxxx: (Frank FACEPALM)
ladyfoxxx ([personal profile] ladyfoxxx) wrote2013-01-14 08:01 pm
Entry tags:

Fic: On Air (2/2) (Frank/Mikey, Repost from bandomstuffsit)

Part One

"I think that went pretty well," Brian says, which Frank immediately translates to I was right. The thing is, Frank can't bring himself to disagree.

"Actually, that sucked a whole lot less than I thought it would." Frank says, swirling the beer around the bottom of his bottle. The usual WZZZ crew are gathered down at the back entryway to the station, people spilling down the stairs from the kitchenette into the loading dock, cheap beers in hand.

It's a ritual of sorts on Thursdays, though it feels a little weird to be doing it without Gabe.

"So, do I get to say 'I told you so' now?" Brian asks, leaning on the railing next to Frank, nursing his own beer.

"Sure, why not?" Frank says, with a grin, feeling a little light-headed with relief that it all went okay.

"I told you so." Brian says, drawing out the words like they're a fine wine he has to savour. Frank smushes a chuckle into the back of his hand and takes another swig of his beer. He casts his eyes around the motley collection of crew. Bob's in a deep discussion with Dewees about something that seems to involved a lot of hand motions, which means it's either technical or highly annoying. Richmond and Jurassic Jeff are in an intense argument that Frank would guess is either Bauhaus versus Cradle of Filth or Siouxsie Sioux solo versus Siouxsie and the Banshees. (Frank once got stuck between Richmond and Jeff and the door out when they got in one of these discussions, he wound up having to fake that he was gonna puke to get past it.)

Other than that, people seem to be getting along. All the usual crew have made it - Brandon who does the death metal show, Penny who spins for Saturjazz, Jarrod who fills in teching when Bob's not around. It's a weird mix of people, but somehow it works. Probably has something to do with them all being nuts about music.

They occasionally get career hunters at the station. They're usually pretty easy to pick. They come, they do the announcer's course, they tick all the boxes to get on air and they start trying to get noticed by the other stations. It's not that Frank is against them - he understands there aren't that many ins if you want to be on air in radio - it's just that folks like them come and go, and while it's one thing to keep the place fresh, Frank has got a loyal streak in him a mile wide. It's hard to deal with people who don't.

"It's weird not having Gabe here," Frank admits, taking another mouthful of cheap beer.

Brian shrugs, "Sometimes people have to do what works for them."

"If the words 'when you love something, set it free' leave your lips I want you to know you'll never, ever live it down."

Brian laughs, "I'll keep that in mind." For a moment they're both silent, letting the cacophony of the gathered crew roll over them.

"Anyway, it all worked out in the end," Brian says, pushing up off the rail to toss his empty into the recycling bin. "You were good Frankie, thanks for doing it."

"What would you have done if I hadn't?"

Brian shrugs, "I knew you'd come through."

"How'd you know?"

Brian looks sideways at Frank, like he's considering if he wants to say the next part, then he shrugs. "You're as much of a sucker for this place as Bob and I are."

Brian doesn't wait for Frank to respond, just goes off for another beer.

Frank leans back on the railing, surveying the group. A couple of the guys from the blues and roots show walk past and when their dreadlocked heads clear Frank's field of vision he finds himself looking at Mikey. Mikey Way, who is still here at the station, one hand leaning on the horrid vomit-green countertop of the dated and very 70's kitchen.

Frank sucks in a startled breath, his heartbeat tripling. Mikey finishes talking to the girl with all the piercings whose name Frank can't remember and starts to cross the room. He's heading right for Frank and this is either the best or the worst thing to ever happen to him. He tries to take a breath to calm himself, but he breathes too deep and just winds up feeling dizzy. He grabs at the railing behind him for support, trying to come up with something casual and witty to say - with zero success. He's got nothing.

Luckily, Mikey leads. "Good show," he says with a small smile and raises his beer to clink with Frank's.

"Thanks," Frank wills his skin to stay the right colour. "Glad it didn't suck."

"No, it was really fun actually! I'm usually shit at all this press stuff - Gerard's great at it. He lives to tell the same story to a bunch of different journalists over and over. He knows how to keep it fresh. Most of the time when people want me to talk up the movie I wind up just saying 'watch it'. Which is not exactly a great sell. They should watch it though, then they'd agree with me."

"I wish I had your confidence," Frank says, "I hate promoing my own stuff. Hate it."

"I don't know if it's confidence or just a really fucking low care factor." Mikey counters, "Beside I've got Gerard to do all that stuff."

"He's the mouthpiece, you're the brains?" Frank jibes, and immediately wants to kill himself because insulting a guy's brother is a terrible flirting strategy.

"Hardly,"

"So, you're the looks then," Frank says with a grin, and that totally earns him a chuckle.

Mikey takes a swig of his beer before gently changing the subject. "So that was really your first time doing that show?"

"Yeah. Not my first time doing any show, just this kind of show. You and Gerard are the first people I've had to interview on air."

"Oh, so we popped your interview cherry. Lucky us."

Frank nearly spits the mouthful of beer he has in his mouth. He manages to turn the laugh into a cough, but it's not terribly convincing. "Did you wait 'til I had beer in my mouth on purpose?"

"Of course I did," Mikey answers blithely. Frank grins and wipes off his mouth. He glances up to find they've been joined by Gerard, who grins at Frank.

"Frank was just saying we're the first people he's interviewed on air."

"Really?" Gerard brightens, "Dude, you couldn't tell at all. And the show was so fun! Even if it is cruel and unusual to make us pick only five songs. That's fucking impossible, man."

"Hey I don't make the rules. Blame Gabe." Frank says, throwing up a hand.

"Of course!" Gerard exclaims, like he's just remembered something important. "How is Gabe? When did he leave for Chicago? When does his new show start up?" Gerard races out a slew of questions, but Frank's still stuck on the first one.

"Wait - you know Gabe?"

"Does anyone not know Gabe?" Mikey smirks.

"It was his Gabe's idea to get us to come on the show! We've known him for years." Gerard glances over his shoulder theatrically before leaning in to tell Frank, "Gabe and Mikey used to date," in a conspiratorial way.

"God Gee, dating makes it sound so official."

"What am I supposed to say then? Hooked up? Courted? Oooh, 'courted' sounds nice, I'm just gonna say courted from now on." Gerard clears his throat and swishes his beer around like it's a glass of fine wine rather than a bottle of Bud. "Yes, darling, so Michael and Gabriel courted, sporadically."

Mikey gives Gerard a not-too-gentle shove, "Don't listen to him, he just likes drama."

"Not my fault your love life is so dramatic," Gerard mutters, and Frank's pretty sure he's not supposed to hear it. Mikey sends a fiery glare Gerard's way until Gerard raises both hands and backs away, "Fine, fine, I'm going."

He's out of earshot when Mikey tells Frank, "Brothers," with a put-out sniff. "You got any?" he asks, sounding genuinely curious.

"Only child," Frank admits, taking another swig of his beer because he's not sure what else to add to that.

"You lucky fucker," Mikey shakes his head and sends Frank a small smile.

"I don't know, I always wondered what it would be like to have a brother, someone to look out for you." Frank's not sure exactly why he's admitting this to someone who is mostly a stranger, but there's something about Mikey that puts him at ease. "I was a pretty lonely kid." Frank turns to face Mikey more, remembering what he and Gerard were like during the interview, their shared memories, the way they could finish each other's sentences. Some part of him always longed for that.

"That sucks," Mikey says, understanding. "I guess it's easy to want what you don't have, everything always looks better when it's different to what you've got."

Frank nods, searching for a change of topic - things got really serious all of a sudden. He doesn't have to think too hard. "Okay, so can I ask you a question about Bullets?"

Mikey lets out a startled laugh. "You mean, you didn't hear enough on the show?"

"No way, man. I hate to have to tell you this, but I'm a horrifying fanboy of that film, and if you let me I'm gonna ask you so many questions."

"How about we start with one and I'll see how I'm feeling."

"Okay," Frank agrees easily, he already knows what he wants to ask. "So, given your budget was pretty much nonexistent, how the hell did you pull off the car crash stunt?"

Mikey bursts out laughing. Frank waits for him to stop. It takes a really long time. "Okay, okay," Mikey says, taking a couple of deep breaths, "So here's the thing we-" Mikey blinks a couple of times and somehow manages to set himself off again, hooting and giggling like it's the funniest thing in the world and Frank waits as long as he can - far beyond what is polite - until he finally can't help but ask, "What?"

"Oh man, Frank. If you knew…"

"Tell me!"

"Okay, okay." Mikey takes a breath and manages to stay calm this time. "It really wasn't much of a stunt. We were in our last days of shooting, we'd spent everything and we'd started to put shit on credit cards - things were in really bad shape. We couldn't afford to pay a stunt person - we couldn't afford to pay anyone, right? But we needed this stunt. So, we tried a few things, but in the end we-" Mikey snickers again, shaking his head.

"What?" Frank says, so fucking curious now.

Mikey nods, still snickering, "We… we just kind of… wedged the accelerator down with a brick and um, pointed the car in the right direction."

"You're shitting me."

"No."

"And it worked?"

"Um, well, not exactly the way we expected it to work. It was just supposed to crash. It wasn't supposed to crash… and explode."

"Holy shit."

"Um. Yeah. I mean, we were down to a handful of crew by that stage and everyone was fine, we were all at a safe distance, but fuck, it could have gone so badly. None of our gear was insured and we had a guy up in a tree with a camera who could have been in real trouble. Damn, we were so lucky."

"Wow." Frank boggles at Mikey for a moment, trying to imagine being in a situation like that. "It's good you can laugh about it."

"Believe me it took a long time to get to this stage. Gerard flipped right out and I wasn't much better, either. Fuck, you mind keeping this off the record? I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to talk about it."

"I love the way you're mistaking me for an actual media professional. Dude, I play songs about zombies and change people's oil. I'm hardly the LA Times."

Mikey narrows his eyes and looks sideways at Frank, "Okay, I guess I can trust you then."

Frank giggles, "Trust me enough to tell me about your next movie?"

"You actually want to know?" Mikey sounds surprised.

"Duh, yes!" Frank should probably be embarrassed by how eager he sounds, but the beer has loosened him up enough that he doesn't care right now. Mikey glances around the room with theatrical care, like he's checking for spies before leaning in and whispering, "Demolition Lovers," in a way that sends a shiver down Frank's spine. He's not sure if his reaction is to the words or just having Mikey so close.

"Can you explain that?" Frank asks, hopefully, his eyes lingering on Mikey's neck as he straightens up, "because so far it sounds awesome."

"We're thinking, vigilante lovers, sorta like Natural Born Killers but edgier."

"Natural Born Killers was pretty edgy,"

"Well, less arty then. Gerard has this vision of a bride and groom, spattered with blood."

Frank can almost see in his head, "I like it."

Frank asks Mikey a bunch more questions, hanging on every word as Mikey answers. It's different to talking to him on the show, Mikey's more free with his words off air. He also keeps smiling and Frank's crush is quickly getting out of control. He's not sure how late it is until looks up and suddenly the room is nearly empty. He glances at his watch: it's after midnight.

"Shit, is it that late already?" he asks, and Mikey leans closer to eye Frank's watch.

"Fuck, sorry, I didn't even notice." Mikey says, "I keep pretty weird hours, so this is still early for me. What time do you have to start work tomorrow?"

Frank groans and tells him, "7:30am"

Mikey hisses out a sympathetic noise, "Dude, that's harsh. Sorry, I didn't mean to keep you so late."

Frank shakes his head, "Don't worry about it man, it was so worth it."

Like he was waiting for a cue, Gerard leans in the doorway, calling for Mikey and they say their goodbyes. Frank shakes Mikey's hand and memorises his smile. He's gonna be tired tomorrow, but he wasn't kidding - it'll be so worth it.

*

Frank's tired and gritty, but on time, when he rolls in to work the next day.

"Nice work on the show, Frank! Told you you'd do fine." Ray's voice is muffled by the engine bay, no doubt concentrating so hard on what he's doing he wouldn't dare straighten up. Frank's pretty sure he sees more of Ray's ass than his face on any given day at work.

Ray reaches up from the depths of the car engine he's currently digging around in, stretching out his greasy hand for a high five.

Frank gives slaps his palm to Ray's. "Thanks Toro, it didn't suck that much at all."

Ray says something that sounds suspiciously like "I told you so," into the engine bay as Frank walks away.

He dumps his gear in his locker and checks the run sheet for the day. It's not overly busy, but he heads for bay three, grabbing his tools before preparing to pull this Chrysler's spark plugs into line.

It's getting close to lunchtime by the time Frank finishes the Chrysler. It was tricky - the older ones tend to be - and now he's sweaty and covered in grease. He's wiping off his hands when Ray walks up, his hair stuck out in disarray from the heat and streak of grease on one cheek. He's got the day's runsheet in one hand, checking it, "Hey Frankie, you got time for a drive-up? This guy's not booked but it doesn't look like it'll take long."

Frank shrugs, "Sure."

"Okay," Ray says, looking relieved, "It's Way, in bay two."

Frank does a double take at the name 'Way', but when he turns to ask Ray's already disappeared back into the workshop. It's probably just a coincidence, or Frank hearing the name wrong, he tells himself.

Except, when he walks in to bay two, there's Mikey Way, all sharp lines and angles in skinny jeans, his blonde hair hidden under a grey knit cap. Well, shit.

"Hello again," he says, grabbing a rag from his back pocket to try and wipe the grease off his hands at least. He's probably got streaks on his face too, damn.

"Hey," Mikey says with a grin. "Fancy meeting you here." He sticks out a hand to shake, not seeming to care that Frank's are mostly still filthy. "I stole one of your business cards from the studio, hope that's okay."

"I don't think you can actually steal business cards," Franks says, shaking Mikey's hand way too energetically. "The whole point is to give them out freely. It's good to see you again." He can't help the small smile that crosses his face. He didn't expect to run into Mikey again, especially not this soon.

"Well, I thought you might be able to help me out with this one." Mikey taps the roof of the grey station wagon that desperately needs a wash.

"What's wrong with her?" Frank asks, casting an assessing eye over the vehicle. It's a fairly old model and looks to be in okay shape, if very dirty.

"Well, Gerard says it's been making a noise."

"A noise?" Frank asks, "What kind of noise?"

Mikey shrugs. "Kind of a ka-choonk ka-choonk noise," Mikey says obliquely. "He didn't go into much detail."

'Not going into much detail' doesn't sound at all like the Gerard Frank met yesterday. Frank narrows his eyes and considers. He can't think of a tuning issue that would result in a ka-choonk ka-choonk noise. "Where was the noise coming from?"

Mikey waves a vague hand towards the rear of the vehicle. "Sort of, from back there. I don't know, I didn't hear it."

Frank walks over to the car. "You didn't hear it when you were driving over?"

"Oh, um." Mikey glances at the car and back at Frank, sounding unsure. "I had the music up pretty loud, I don't know."

Frank's stumped. He pops the hood and peers inside, checking a few basics. She's a little low on oil, but not dangerously so, and while everything is a bit old and dusty, it all looks okay. He straightens up and closes the hood, "Maybe we should take a quick spin, see if you can get her to make the noise again."

"Oh, good idea," Mikey says brightly, and climbs in the passenger seat, leaving Frank to take the driver's seat.

He starts the engine and takes a turn around the back block, listening carefully. Mikey's quiet, too, sitting stiffly beside Frank as he waits for the car to tell him what's wrong. Except either the car isn't talking, or there really isn't anything overtly wrong with her.

"I can't hear it." Frank admits, after they've gone several blocks with no ka-choonk, ka-choonking.

"Yeah, I can't either," Mikey agrees, but doesn't offer anything more, so Frank just keeps driving. He's about to ask Mikey if he should just head back when Mikey asks, "So that was really your first time doing that show?"

Frank's glad he has the road to focus on, because it's a little out of left field. "Um, yeah." He glances at Mikey, who looks thoughtful.

"You couldn't tell. You were really natural."

"Thanks. Um, I mean, it wasn't my first time being on air or anything, but it was the first time I've had to do a real interview. I was kinda nervous about it."

"Really? Well you did great. I had fun - I mean, Gerard and I, we both had a lot of fun. Nearly killed each other picking out songs though."

Frank laughs, "Sorry about that. Which one did you agree on first?"

"Morrissey. That one was actually pretty easy. Well, the part where we decided on Morrissey, not the part where we had to pick just one song. That part, I think I've still got bruises from." Mikey talks Frank through the difficult song selection and despite taking the scenic route, he still gets back to Ray's too soon.

He pulls up in bay two again and kills the engine. "So what do you want to do? I mean, I can tune her up for you, just a basic service, but to be honest, it's probably a waste of money. She's running fine."

"Yeah? Um, okay. Should I just bring her back if she starts making that noise again?" Mikey looks somehow hopeful.

"Sure, that's probably a good idea." Frank taps his fingers on the steering wheel. He should tell Mikey goodbye and go back inside. He should. Instead he says, "I gotta say, this isn't the kind of car I pictured you driving."

Mikey laughs, quiet and a little startled. Frank likes what it does for his face. "I know it's not very sexy, but we need the big trunk for our gear! You can fit two cameras, tripods and two four-head lighting kits in there if you stack it right."

Frank turns in his seat and glances over the back seat at the generous storage area, "Yeah, you could fit a lot of bodies in there."

"It's true." Mikey nods sagely, and Frank gets stuck looking at him a little too long again. He shakes himself out of it awkwardly, "I should probably get back," he admits reluctantly.

He's just cracked the door open when Mikey says in a rush, "So hey, are you free tomorrow night?"

Frank's hand spasms involuntarily on the door handle and he tries not to stutter, "Um, yeah?"

"Oh, cool. We're having a kind of Kickstarter party thing for the new film tomorrow night, to like, raise some interest and shit. You should come."

"Oh, um, sure?" It's possible there is a tiny voice inside his head screaming is it a date is it a date is it a date, but he struggles to shut it up.

"You'll come?" Mikey asks, a smile playing at his lips.

"Yeah." Frank says, feeling an answering grin pull at his lips.

"Cool."

*

"You never go home, do you?" Frank jibes at Bob's ass where he's bent over the mixing desk, fiddling with the cables at the back.

"You can talk," Bob retorts, not even bothering to straighten up. "You're not even hosting a show tonight and you're here."

"Details." Frank dismisses Bob with a carefully aimed whack on his ass.

Bob just grumbles. "I thought you'd be off mooning over the blond half of the Brothers Way."

"It's the Way Brothers. And I saw Mikey today, he brought his car in to Ray's for some work."

The comment isn't enough to make Bob straighten up, but he does peer back over his shoulder with a raised eyebrow.

"He invited me to a party at their studio." Frank says, trying to keep his voice casual. "Tomorrow night."

"You mean that Kickstarter shindig?" Bob asks, "I'm going to that."

"You are?" Frank's voice squeaks with surprise.

"We all are, they invited everyone at the station."

"Oh." Frank's not sure why that piece of knowledge makes his stomach drop in disappointment, but it does. Luckily, Bob doesn't seem to notice, he's too focused on his cable spaghetti. His voice a little muffled when he asks Frank, "Want a ride? I can swing by yours and pick you up."

"Nah that's okay," Frank says, "I probably won't go." He leaves the room before Bob can ask him why.

"

Saturday shifts are easily the shittiest part of Frank's job at Ray's Auto. Not that the work is any harder, (if anything, it's tends to be basic upkeep stuff) or that he doesn't understand why it's necessary that they be open one day of the weekend (a lot of their clients can't make it during traditional business hours), but… it's a Saturday.

It doesn't help that Frank's regular Friday night slot at WZZZ is from midnight to 3am. Not that Frank doesn't love doing the Carnival of Horrors, it's definitely the show he has the most fun with. It's his weekly opportunity to torment insomniac college students, try to confuse the stoners, and to play whatever whacked-out music he wants. The thing is, even after Ray slid his Saturday start time a couple of hours later to 10am, Frank still spends most Saturdays running on five hours of sleep or less.

It means he has less fuel to run on when the weekends roll around, and it's a sad thing to admit but he's become a bit boring on a Saturday night - couchtime and DVDs often winning out over actually being social. He'll probably end up doing that again tonight, the other guys can represent the station at the shindig, they don't need him.

Ray's not on his game today, looking pale and not really sparking on all cylinders like he usually does. Frank catches him weaving on his feet after standing up too fast and grabs him by the arm. "Dude, you nearly fell over, I think you better go home."

"I'm fine," Ray insists, but his voice sounds weaker than usual and Frank's not buying it. He's really pale, and sweating even though it's not that hot.

"Seriously dude, how many cars you got lined up?" Frank grabs the runsheet and checks it, it's a medium-busy Saturday, but not too bad. "Man, Hambone and I can take these. You should go. You look like you're about to faint."

"It's cool," Ray insists, "don't be a drama queen." He turns back to the car he's working on and accidentally knocks a spanner into the engine bay with a loud clank.

Frank shakes his head, "Not cool, yo. Go the fuck home, Toro, or I'll drive you myself."

Ray sighs, and Frank knows he's got him. He pushes his advantage, grabbing Ray by the arm and dragging him to his locker to get his stuff.

"Okay," Ray groans, and grabs his keys and his jacket. They start for Ray's car together, but Ray stops, "Wait, I need you to do something for me."

"Call me from home and tell me, just go."

"No, I mean," Ray pauses and Frank's pretty sure that's the most colour he's seen in Ray's cheeks all day. "Look, Christa's bringing the Belvedere in this afternoon at two."

"I can do that one man, it's just a tune up and she keeps that car in perfect condition anyway. Go home." Christa's one of the girls from the rockabilly scene. She's got a gorgeous purple 1960's Belvedere that's probably worth half what she spends keeping it up, and she's cute and sweet and the guys at the shop always take good care of her, Ray especially.

"No, I mean." Ray cuts himself off, and Frank fights the urge to roll his eyes, "Can you just make she knows I'm not here because |-"

"Because you're sick, I know. I'll tell her you were at death's door and I forced you to leave with brute strength, now take your massive crush and fuck off home."

"It's not a crush," Ray argues weakly.

"Whatever. She likes you, too, you know, you should ask her out. But first you should go home and not die." Frank shoves Ray into his car and shuts the door. Ray dutifully doesn't argue and does, in fact, drive off. Frank heads back inside, shaking his head. Sometimes tough love is necessary. Then he chuckles because he totally knew he was right about Ray's massive boner for Christa.

*

By the time Frank clocks out at the end of the day, he's pretty exhausted. As much as he insisted to Ray that they'd be fine without him, being down a guy made for a damn busy day. He climbs into his Mustang and breathes out. Maybe he'll just go home and fall down. No, he should go and check that Ray's not dead first - there's nothing worse than being sick and alone, Frank's been sick enough times to know. He fires the engine up and makes for Ray's apartment.

Ray answers the door, looking tired and pale and a little confused, "Frank, what?"

"I brought soup!" Frank holds up a bag containing some house-made minestrone from his local grocer. He pushes past Ray into the apartment. "Sit down I'll go and heat it up."

"It's cool, Frank, I'm fine-"

"Shut it, Toro, I'm feeding you and you're gonna like it," Frank shouts on his way to the kitchen. He heats up the soup and pours out two portions, because it's fucking good soup and he wants some, too. He knows he's pretty much just invited himself over to Ray's for dinner, and Ray's too sick to argue, but it's easier to focus on playing nursemaid than going home and being faced with the decision of whether to go to the Ways' party or not.

Ray puts up a token protest, but he shuts up once he's tasted the soup. He and Frank settle in with some WWE on the TV and Frank feels less and less like he wants to get off this couch anytime soon.

His phone beeps. It's a text from Bob. Where are you? There is beer here.

Frank ignores the text and keeps eating. About ten minutes later he gets another text, this time from Brian. why aren't you here? mikey way keeps asking where you are

Frank doesn't squeak when he reads that but it's a close thing. Ray peers over his shoulder to read and says, "Dude, if you're supposed to be somewhere you should go. I'm-"

"I know, I know, you're fine." Frank sighs, trying to find a way to explain what's going on without it sounding pathetic. "The WZZZ guys are at this Way party thing tonight. I don't think I'm gonna go."

"So don't go then, what's the problem?"

An image of the little smile Mikey gave Frank in the car flits through Frank's head. "I kind of want to go," he admits.

"So then go, I still don't get what the problem is." Ray makes it sound way too easy.

"It's complicated. I can't figure out if Mikey invited me to go because he wants me there, or if he just invited everyone from the station because he wants more exposure for the movie they're trying to get up."

"Does it matter? If you want to go, then go."

Frank opens his mouth to explain but is cut off by the doorbell. Ray gives Frank a this conversation is not over look and heaves himself up off the couch to get the door.

It's Christa. She's wearing the same cute rockabilly dress with a zombie geisha pattern she had on when she came to the shop this afternoon and Frank assured her quite enthusiastically that Ray was dying of the plague and devastated he wasn't there to see her. She's carrying what looks like a tray of lasagne. Frank's mouth twitches up in a grin, he totally should have seen this coming.

"Oh hi," Ray sounds startled but pleased.

"Hey," Christa says, sounding awkward, "Frank said you were sick and my mom always said feed a cold, starve a fever so…" she glances past Ray and sees Frank on the couch, "Oh sorry, you're already, um, hi Frank!"

"Hey!" Frank waves at her and bounces up off the couch, "I was actually just going." He stuffs his phone in his back pocket as it beeps again, and glances at Ray, "I've gotta be at this party, anyways. Feel better, Toro."

"So, you're actually going to the party then?" Ray asks.

"Why not?" Frank shrugs and heads for the door. Better give the lovebirds some space.

*

The Ways' studio is nothing fancy. It's one floor of a repurposed warehouse in an industrial part of town. Frank knows he's found the right place from the Halloween-themed decorations spilling down the sidewalk from the building. When he gets into the clanky industrial elevator, there's a picture of zombie stuck next to the button for floor four, so Frank dutifully presses it.

Floor four is packed with people already, and Frank dodges down the hallway through the crowd, winding his way through a small rabbit warren of rooms that lead him into a studio about the size of Frank's apartment. One wall of the studio is painted a lurid green, and there's a bunch of weird and interesting props and models scattered around that act as decorations. Frank recognises a few of them from Bullets, but a lot of them just seem to be random interesting items: disembodied doll's heads, tattered parasols, gas masks, replica swords and the like. Frank wants to pour over every one of them, but he should probably find Bob or Brian before he takes such liberties. First though, he needs a beer.

He finds a giant ice bucket full of beers and takes one, putting five bucks in the donation box next to it. He takes a swig of the beer and starts to make his way through the crowd. He hasn't gone far when a heavy hand settles on his shoulder and he turns to find Bob glaring at him. "You're late."

Frank shrugs, "Ray was out sick today so it was super-busy."

Bob looks doubtful, but he grabs Frank by the wrist and drags him through the crush to where a knot of WZZZ crew are gathered. Brian raises his beer in greeting. "Took you long enough."

"Some of us have to work for a living," Frank says, then settles in to listen to the latest argument between Jeff and Richmond, still not quite sure what he's doing here.

He's about to throw himself into the fray on the New Order versus Joy Division debate when there's a light tap on his shoulder. He turns around and finds himself face-to-face with Mikey Way. If there was any hope that maybe his crush on Mikey had faded with time, it's extinguished almost immediately. Mikey is wearing a skin-tight Stooges t-shirt, jeans that might as well be leggings, boots he must have stolen from a stormtrooper and his hair is slicked back in a way that makes his cheekbones look amazing. Frank nearly swallows his own tongue before he manages to stutter out a greeting.

"Nice to see you again, Mikey. Looks like half of Jersey is here."

"Oh, it's just a few friends, and a whole lot of rich bastards we're trying to convince to give us money to make a movie." Mikey says with no real trace of irony.

"How's that going?"

"Not sure so far," Mikey gestures across the room and to where Gerard's talking and gesticulating enthusiastically to a guy in a suit. "That dude Gerard's talking to is Craig Aaronson, he's this guy from Warner Bros Pictures, they're pretty interested in funding us on their independent arm."

"I'd say that's going pretty well then? Warners is a big studio."

Mikey's mouth presses into a line, "Yeah, but that's not always a good thing. Big studio means big power and they might want to have more creative control than we're really ready to give up. Bullets was a rough ride because we had like, no money, but at least we had the final word on everything, you know? I don't know how we'd go doing a studio picture."

Frank nods, "I guess it's a lot like the difference between what we do at WZZZ and those commercial stations with all their corporate sponsorship and high rotation playlist demands?"

"Exactly." Mikey agrees. "So, you want the tour?"

Frank can't even try to hide his excitement, "Fuck, yeah."

Mikey flashes another of those disarming smiles. "This way."

Frank follows Mikey through crush of people, who are getting more rowdy as they get more drunk. Mikey has to shout a little, "So this is the actual studio, it's too small to really shoot in, but Gerard does sketch and model work out here, and you see the greenscreen wall? We shot some pickups for Bullets against it, just some basic keys, nothing big."

"Oh really?" Frank glances back at the bright green wall, "What parts were they for?"

Mikey smiles mysteriously, and taps his nose. "Trade secrets. But maybe I'll tell you later."

"Promises, promises."

Mikey leads Frank through the rabbit warren of hallways and a couple of small offices. He stops at a closed door. "So, if I show you inside here I need to swear you to secrecy. We've got a lot of storyboard and concept art for the new film lying around. I can trust you, right?" There's a smile playing at Mikey's lips as he asks, like he knows he's offering Frank's inner fanboy the Way Brothers' equivalent of his own Hobbit sword.

"I can absolutely keep a secret. I mean, if I were you I probably wouldn't trust me as far as I could throw me, but if you want me to sign something I will." Frank really needs to stop talking now.

"You know, you're not that big, I could probably throw you pretty far if I tried," Mikey jokes. Usually Frank would be put out at insults to his stature, but right now he's having trouble caring. Partly because he's really curious what he'll see on the other side of that door, but mostly because of the way Mikey's smiling at him.

"Okay, fine, I guess I trust you," Mikey flips the lock and slides the door open.

Inside, it's a fairly small office, with a few computers and a drafting table, but that's not even the half of it. The walls are covered with drawings and storyboards, ranging from rough sketches to full colour graphic art and some photographs as well. Frank gets lost looking at all the art, his eyes jumping from image to image. A colored sketch of a guy in a blood-spattered WW2 uniform, a medic bent over him, desperation in every line as he struggles to revive him. A series of storyboards show a somber funeral, a pale beauty in a coffin leaping up and dancing down the aisles of the church before falling back into the coffin, her black clad mourners looking on. A ripped-out sketchbook page features an inked picture of five guys in private school uniforms, bloodied and bruised, raising croquets sticks like weapons.

Frank's transfixed, his eyes skittering over the crowded pinboard to where the pictures and sketches spread onto the wall, held up by sticky tape and thumb tacks. There's phrases scrawled in Sharpie like "this hole you put me in wasn't deep enough" and "thank you for the venom" scattered around the pictures like punctuation. Frank's mind ticks over too quickly, trying to fit the pieces together. The images don't seem necessarily connected, except that each one is raw, emotional and most of them are bloody.

"Wow." Frank breathes, trying to take it all in. His gaze settles on a photograph, his eyes drawn by the WW2 uniform, the same one as the earlier sketch. The picture is warm-toned like it's aged and the guy in the uniform is Mikey.

"Hey, is this you?" Frank asks, even though he's pretty sure it is. Mikey's hair is scraped to the side and he's wearing awkward large spectacles in the photo, "Are you going to be in the movie?"

Mikey laughs. "That's just a concept piece. Though I might do a small cameo if Gerard gets his way."

"Oh really?" Frank asks.

"Yeah, though I'll probably just be some extra that dies in an action sequence, let's be real."

Frank grins and turns around to look at Mikey. He notices suddenly just how small the room is, and how close they're standing. Even in the greenish glow of the fluorescent lights Mikey looks dangerously attractive.

"I think you'd look good on camera," Frank says, and wow, he really needs to work on that filter between his brain and his mouth.

"Yeah?" Mikey says, looking unsure, but there's something in the way his eyes lock to Frank's as he says it that makes Frank heart trip over.

Frank eases a little closer to Mikey, not sure if he's reading the signals right, but hoping, "I think you look good off camera too, just for the record."

Mikey hesitates for a moment and Frank holds his breath, preparing himself for the inevitable smackdown that's no doubt on it's way. He nearly leaps out of his skin when the next sound he hears is a loud knock on the door, followed by Gerard sticking his head in, "Mikey? Mikey! Thank god, I was looking all over for you! I've got Craig Aaronson and he's talking numbers at me, my head's about to explode, I need you!"

He grabs Mikey by the wrist and starts to drag him out the door before he's even finished speaking. Mikey goes reluctantly, throwing a "Sorry, Frank," over his shoulder as Gerard drags him off.

The door slides shut behind them, cutting off the noise of the party and leaving Frank alone with only the sound of his own breathing and too many thoughts. He sighs and leans back against the desk, feeling suddenly tired.

He sticks around at the party for another couple of hours, but doesn't catch another glimpse of Mikey or Gerard. When he's really starting to feel the effects of a too-busy work day on not enough sleep, he gives in and goes home.

It's not like there was a reason to stick around, anyway.

*

Frank zombies his way through Sunday, napping and watching a lot of bad TV with Peppers curled up in his lap. He's had a busy week, he figures he's allowed a day of sloth.

Ray's back at work on Monday, looking a lot less like shit. In fact, Frank catches him humming and whistling a lot more than usual. Frank has his suspicions, which are totally confirmed when Christa comes by at lunchtime to eat with Ray and kisses him hello and goodbye. Frank waits until after she's peeled off in the Belvedere before giving Ray a subtle fist-bump of congratulations.

He rolls up to the station half an hour before his broadcast as usual, and spends the time getting his shit in order. The Monster Show is still his favourite - it was the first show he ever put forward and the only one that was truly his idea from the word go. Over the years it's gotten harder to find new or new-old horror-themed songs, but it's a challenge Frank enjoys. He's glad he took the time to pre-plan his playlist tonight though, he's still not quite running at full speed today. Maybe he should talk to Brian about dropping one of his shows and going back to three. He could probably hand the punk/hardcore hour to some bright young thing.

Bob gives Frank the five minute warning and Frank settles in to play some monster music. He's three tracks in and spinning some Cramps when Bob buzzes through.

"What?" Frank asks, after checking his mic feed is down. "Is my panning off again?"

"No, I've got a caller."

"What are you on, Bob? It's not Friday, I don't do callers on Monster."

"I think you'll want to take this one." Bob sounds serious, and when Frank meets his eyes through the panes of glass between the studio and the tech booth, he nods solemnly and taps the phone.

Frank shrugs. "Okay, fine." Apparently all his shows are interview shows now. Whatever.

He waits for the Cramps to wind up and pushes up his mic feed back up.

"Hey, so I know I don't usually take calls on this show, but Bob is insisting. Hello caller, please don't try to sell me something. Did you have a request?"

"Hi, um, am I on air?" The line is a little muffled, so Frank pushes the volume up and twists a few EQ knobs to try and even it out.

"Yes, you're on air. What can I help you with?"

"Um, I wanted some advice." The caller's voice is still kind of fuzzy and there's a pretty evil-sounding hiss, so Frank winds the EQ back a little the other way.

"I hate to break it to you, but if you're looking for the advice column you've called the wrong show. I'm probably not going to give you great guidance unless you're asking about punk music."

Frank sends Bob a death-glare through the glass. He hates this phonecall bullshit, he should have just said no.

"Could you try? It's important," the caller asks, and Frank probably should have asked him his name and location, whoops.

"Sure man, hit me." Frank says, still riding the EQ in the hope if cleaning up this shitty line. He finally hits the sweet spot and the hiss drops away just in time for him to hear the caller's next sentence, clear as a bell.

"Okay, you see. I like this person, and I've been trying to figure out if they're interested too and I just can't tell if they are."

Frank's mouth drops open and he really hopes the mic doesn't pick up his sharp intake of breath. Because that's Mikey's voice.

He clutches at his headphones and scrambles for something to say.

"You there?" Mikey asks, sounding unsure.

"Um, yeah," Frank says quickly, his voice sounding higher than normal. "Uh, you might have to give me more details. What have you done so far to show your interest in this, um, person?"

"Well, I asked them out on a date."

"You did?" Frank blurts, way too quickly.

"Yes." Mikey's duh isn't spoken aloud, but it's absolutely present.

"Uh," Frank struggles to find an explanation he can say on-air. "Was it obvious that it was a date? Is there any chance they thought it was just some kind of…work related gathering?"

"I guess so? I don't know. I went and saw them at work as well." Mikey sighs and the sound hits the earpiece like static. "Maybe they're just not interested."

"Wait but," Frank jumps in, talking way too fast. "Now, this is just my advice and we've already established that I'm no advice column - but maybe it's worth giving it one more shot. I'd suggest you ask this person out on what is quite clearly a date, to something you know they'll really like to do, maybe a movie, or a show? And if they say yes, I'd say that's your answer."

"I guess that sounds pretty reasonable." Mikey's tone is giving nothing away.

Frank fingers are twitching on the sliders, desperate to say more and reminding himself forcefully that he's on air. "You want to request a song as long as I've got you on the line?"

"Nah, it's okay, I'm sure whatever you play next will be awesome."

"Thanks, sorry, what was your name?"

"Mikey."

"Thanks Mikey, stay on the line, please." Frank's hand is shaking a little as he fades Mikey's line down, scrambling for his professional persona and the next track on his playlist. "Okay guys, that was my attempt at giving life advice live on air, not sure how I did there and please god, don't tell me. How about a little Murderdolls?"

Frank hits play on Gravediggers USA and pushes up the feed, dropping his mic feed down. He glares hard at Bob through the glass, who just laughs at him like the asshole he is, and switches the phone call through the pre-fade mixer so he can hear it off-air.

"Hey Mikey, it's Frank." Frank should not feel this nervous right now, but he absolutely does.

"Hey." Frank thinks he can hear a smile in Mikey's voice, but he's not sure.

"You know, you could have just asked for my number, I'd have given it to you."

"Gerard said I had to do something embarrassing. That was embarrassing."

"But worth it?"

"I don't know yet." Mikey hesitates, just for a moment before asking, "You want to go see a back-to-back screening of Dawn Of The Dead and Day of the Dead with me this weekend?"

"Original?" Frank asks, a smile already tugging at his lips.

"Of course, duh."

"Like, as a date?" Frank presses, because he wants to be totally sure this time.

"Yeah, like a date."

Frank knows he's grinning like an idiot and he doesn't even care when he answers, "Fuck, yeah."


~end

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