ladyfoxxx: (Ray smiles like the sun)
ladyfoxxx ([personal profile] ladyfoxxx) wrote2013-01-14 08:01 pm
Entry tags:

Fic: On Air (1/2) (Frank/Mikey, Repost from bandomstuffsit)

Title: On Air
Pairing(s): Frank/Mikey, (Ray/Christa)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: None
Word count: 15 500 words
Summary: Frank's a radio DJ at an alternative station, spinning punk tracks and talking shit. When he gets handed the most popular show at the station to host, his first guests are independent horror filmmakers Gerard and Mikey Way. Written for [livejournal.com profile] lucifuge_5 in the [livejournal.com profile] bandomstuffsit exchange. (Original post)
A/N: Huge thanks to my amazing betas who I can now unmask! [livejournal.com profile] akamine_chan for betaing the crap out of it and inside info on what Luce likes, [livejournal.com profile] pennyplainknits and [livejournal.com profile] fabu for early brainstorming help and [livejournal.com profile] halfeatenmoon for forcing me over the finish line kicking and screaming!

Available on AO3 here.



"For any of you out there who didn't already know - that was the Misfits with Astro Zombies. And if you didn't already know that, what the hell are you doing listening to this show? I've got some classic Ramones coming up in a bit, but first here's little three piece all the way from Sydney, Australia. This is Zombie Ghost Train with Go Go Mummy."

Frank pushes up the faders on the CD player and grimaces when there's a tell-tale crackle. It's only a few seconds, but he heard it, so the listeners did, too. He pushes down the fader on his mic and rolls his chair back across the studio, throwing his hand up to tap on the glass. He spins his chair around and points at the mixing desk, "Bob! The fucking thing is-"

Well, fuck. The tech room next to the studio is completely empty. Bob is totally not supposed to go for cigarette breaks during the show, but try telling him that. Frank frowns and stomps over to throw open the door of Studio A and leans out into the hall awkwardly.

"Bob! Motherfucker, where are you? My channel one and two is crackling again, you've got about two and a half minutes to work your magic! Bob!"

Of course it isn't Bob who comes around the corner at Frank's impassioned call. It's Brian. Because if Frank's doing something he's not supposed to be doing, Brian is going to be the one to be there to witness it. Frank should fucking know this by now.

"Frank, you're on air. You see that flashing light? You cannot open this door when you're on air!" Brian's glare could melt steel.

"I'm still in the studio!" Frank argues, pointing at his right foot that is totally still planted on the peeling linoleum inside the studio. "I'm not in the hall! And my fucking fader is crackling. You want that on air?"

Brian rolls his eyes so hard they look like they might fall back into his head. Luckily, Bob comes rushing in at that moment, nearly pushing Frank over in his haste to get inside. Frank gets a noseful of cigarette smoke which only proves he was totally right about where Bob was.

Frank lets Bob slide into the booth first, hunkering down in front of the mixing desk with a spray bottle of some kind of wonder solution in his hand. His jeans are riding nearly low enough to give him plumber's crack, which is always the sign of a good tech. Frank leans past him to check the countdown until the end of the song - they've got a minute and a half. They should be fine.

Frank turns around to close the door, since Brian's being so damn specific about how the door needs to be closed he supposes he should fall in line. Except Brian's still standing there, right in the way.

"In or out, Schechter, don't you know I'm on air?"

Brian shoots him an unimpressed look, but takes a step back. Except he catches the heavy door when it's halfway closed, telling Frank, "Look don't disappear after your broadcast, okay? I've gotta talk to you. It's important."

He doesn't explain further. Frank's about to ask for more details when Bob nearly knocks him over in his hurry to get out of the studio.

"Fixed?" Frank asks. Bob doesn't answer, just shoots him a look that says duh very loudly. "When are we gonna get a new mixing board anyway? This one's only being held together with safety pins and duct tape."

Bob shrugs, "We're not exactly rolling in dough, dude."

Frank casts a glance around the studio, taking in the peeling linoleum floor, the giant desk covered in aging gear that takes up way more room than it needs to because is actually dates back to the 80's, the tangled cables held in place with gaff tape and string. The cracks in the wall that have been spackled over only to crack again. Yeah, the place isn't exactly the most shiny radio station, but, "We've got character." Frank says cheerfully.

"Character doesn't get you a new mixing board," Bob says, his voice full of sombre wisdom. He leaves the words to hang in the soundproof room, puling the heavy door closed behind him with a familiar sucking noise.

Frank slides back into the booth, fitting his headphones back on just in time to catch the totally awesome solo near the end of the tune. He closes his eyes and listens, foot and fingers tapping until the song ends.

He fucking loves his job.

*

After a little Cramps and some Stooges, Frank's nearing the end of his three hour slot. He fades down Iggy (there's no crackle at all this time, Bob's a fucking wizard) and leans into his mic.

"That's about all we have time for, kiddies. Stick around though, Jurassic Jeff's up next taking you up to the witching hour with a whole lot of swampy music you forgot you knew. Or maybe you'll just wish you did. I'll be back same time next week, with more of your favourite monster music. Don't forget you can listen in on Wednesday's at 7pm when I'll be spinning all the best new punk and hardcore, and if you're really committed - or you need to be committed - then tune in for the Carnival of Horrors that is my graveyard shift on Fridays from midnight til 3am. Even I don't know what I'll be playing then, you'll just have to pay attention. Yeah, I know, I'm crazy, right? But you love me anyway. This is Frankenstein saying 'sayonara suckers' with the help of some dudes called the Velvet Underground."

Frank stretches out his goodbye a few seconds longer to make sure he misses the skip in the CD that always happens right at 0:31, then fades up the song. It's a little bit of a sombre tune to end his set on, but he's feeling it tonight. It's a longer day than usual for him and he's about ready for a beer and maybe a goddamn bubble bath. He really needs to spend less hours of his life working. What kind of a sucker chooses to have two jobs anyway?

Now he just needs to book it out of there before Brian shows up. Frank knows what "I need to talk to you" means. Last time he was calling out Frank for accidentally cursing on air. The time before that it was to give Frank an earful about the correct way to treat the gear. In short, nothing good has ever come of those words leaving Brian's mouth and Frank's got to make a quick getaway.

Frank grabs up his possessions that he's managed to scatter all over the studio, as usual. He's kicked his shoes off under the table and he's left a bunch of papers all over the mixing desk. Bob gets cranky if he leaves the place in a mess, so he wriggles his feet back into his shoes, shoves the papers into his backpack and heads for the door. When he opens it, Brian's waiting on the other side.

"Oh shit, Schechter, give me a goddamn heart attack!" Frank says, because there's nothing more unnerving than skulking station managers stalking hallways.

"I thought I said stick around after?" Brian says, raising an eyebrow at Frank's backpack because it's totally obvious Frank's on his way out the door.

"I um… forgot?" Frank lies.

"You're still a shitty liar." Brian tells him, "You're gonna have to work on that."

"Nah, it's fine. I don't think being a good liar is on my list of childhood dreams." Frank tells Brian with a charming grin.

Brian doesn't comment, just shoulders his way into the room and drops onto the couch, waiting for Frank to follow suit.

Frank dithers by the door. "Do we have to do this now?" he whines. Frank's a little tired and a lot hungry and he doesn't really feel like a lecture right now.

"It won't take long. Sit down." Brian is being misleadingly nice, and there's been no sighing or face rubbing yet which would usually precede one of his lectures. Frank's starting to get suspicious. He perches gingerly on the arm of the couch down the opposite end to Brian.

"Oh god, you're pushing my timeslot back, aren't you? The goths are taking primetime and I'm gonna be doing the late shift two nights a week and I'll never sleep again? I swear I have an audience, man, just because the phone doesn't ring off the hook every show doesn't mean they're not listening! Punks don't like to talk on the phone."

"Frank, shut up." Brian tells him, holding up his hand like a word-shield.

Frank bites his lip. He occasionally gets bouts of post-show verbal diarrhea. After three hours of filling air between songs with whatever's in his head, sometimes it's hard to switch it off.

"Okay," Brian says, when Frank's petered off into silence in the extra-quiet of the soundproof studio. "So you know how Gabe put together that godawful audition tape for the Chicago station?"

Frank nods, because of course he knows, the whole station has been giving Gabe shit for it ever since he sent it off.

"Well, I don't know how, but it fucking worked. Or maybe he just knows somebody. He's been picked up for a show on WDKD."

"Wait," Frank says, raising a hand like he can stop the flow of words with his fingers. "You're fucking with me. That piece of shit audition tape actually worked?"

"Apparently stations in Chicago have very low standards." Brian says with a shrug and a grin. The thing is, as much as they all loved to give Gabe shit for his very mainstream, very energetic audition tape, it was actually pretty good. Comparatively. If you're actually someone who's interested in mainstream radio. Which Frank is most definitely not.

"So what, he's gonna bounce between the two places, or is he gonna fuck off to Chicago and leave us high and dry?"

"Option two." Brian says, pressing his lips into an unimpressed line.

"Right," Frank says, still trying to get his head around it. Gabe does three shows at WZZZ and they're pretty damn varied. He spins 80's, 90's and other flashback-inducing tracks on his Tuesdays Retrovirus show and he also does the Hot Mess on Fridays before Frank's graveyard shift. The Hot Mess is exactly that - Frank's never been able to describe it in terms of genre, it's a really weird and wacky mix-up that somehow works.

Skeletons In The Closet on Thursday nights is by far Gabe's most popular show. It's part interview, part guest DJ as Gabe hosts a celebrity guest (or as close to celebrity as one can get in a radio station with WZZZ's audience) who selects a playlist of songs that hold meaning for them. Between songs Gabe picks their brain about why each song is special or meaningful and he has a real knack for making it interesting. It's easily the most popular show on all of WZZZ and it'll be the hardest show to keep running if they're going to lose Gabe.

"When's he leaving?" Frank asks, wondering how much time they have.

"This weekend."

"Wait, what? That's like, not even a weeks notice, man. Is that even legal?" Gabe's a good guy, and sure it's a big opportunity, but it's a bit dickish to leave Brian in the lurch like this. "You gonna let him?"

"I kinda have to." Brian shrugs, "I'm not gonna be the guy to say, no, you have to stay, when he's only got a tiny window to take this. Anyway, it's not like he'll be giving it his all with a new job on the horizon. May as well let him do it."

Suddenly the impromptu meeting makes more sense and it has nothing to do with Frank being in trouble. In fact, Brian is the one who's in trouble.

"So, what, you need me to cover one of Gabe's shows?" Frank shrugs, "I can probably fill in on Retro til you find someone, but I don't think-"

"Nah," Brian interrupts with a flap of his hand, "I'm getting Richmond to fill in on Retro. With all that new romantic shit he keeps putting in on Oh My Goth he's more than qualified to spin the 80's. If he does okay I might let him take it permanently."

Frank nods, it makes sense, Richmond pretty much lives like it's still 1985 from day to day. So if it's not Retro then, Brian must mean… "Oh, so what, you want me to cover Hot Mess?" Frank pulls a face, "I don't know, I mean that's right before the Carnival of Horrors, I don't know if I could do them both back to back like that-"

"No, Frankie, I don't mean Hot Mess either, Jesus, do you really think I'd do that to you?"

"So what? I don't get what you want from me. The only other show is Skeletons." Frank says, dismissively, because there is no way Brian wants him to host their flagship show. That's ludicrous.

"Yes." Brian says, with that oh my god how can you be so stupid expression on his face.

"Yes, what?" Frank asks, still totally not getting it.

"Yes, Frank, I want you to take over Skeletons In The Closet. I want you to host it."

Frank doesn't actually process that straight away. He blinks at Brian and plays back the sentence in his head. Wait, what? Brian actually seems serious about this. Brian is insane.

"Are you insane?"

"I think you'd be a good fit for the show."

"No way, man! That is an interview show. I don't do interviews. I just spin tracks and talk shit."

"You talk to callers all the time on Carnival of Horrors, and you're really good at it." Brian says, turning that no-shit stare on Frank.

Frank throws up his hands, because Brian is just not getting it. "That doesn't count! They're all stoners or students trying to avoid writing their term papers. I can't interview actual guests. No way, man, try again."

"I don't need to try again, I know I'm right about this. You'd be good for the show, you've already got a following among the listeners, and you're here pretty much every Thursday anyway, even though it's not a show day for you."

Frank shrugs, Brian makes him sound like a such a loser when he puts it that way. Frank totally has friends and places to be, it's just, "Bob brings beers on Thursdays," he explains, even though it sounds weak to his own ears.

"C'mon Frank, I need you on this one. Don't desert me like Gabe, I'm fucking begging here."

"No. No way, not doing it." Frank is steadfast. Frank is a rock. "Why don't you ask Jeff? He'd go nuts for it."

Brian levels a look at Frank that would wilt grass, "No way would I expose our guests to Jeff. You know he'd hit on all the chicks in that creepy way he does."

Okay, so Brian has a point.

"Well, you should give Richmond a try. I'm sure he'd be up for it." Frank is maybe just throwing random names out now. So what?

Brian is unimpressed and he lets it show. "Setting aside that Richmond would probably frighten off half the guests, can we try to remember that this is an interview show? Which means that his inability to hold a conversation with a living human being might get in the way?"

Frank takes a breath to offer up another name, but Brian talks over him, "And before you say Alex, I'd like to remind you that he's a spitter - which Is why you don't do shows right after him anymore - and James is stoned all the time and Nate? He actually fell asleep on air last week and snored over the Smashing Pumpkins' Tonight, Tonight, which was a pretty damn special display of professional inadequacy in my book, to be honest."

"You know this little pep talk is really boosting my confidence here." Frank says, because there's telling a guy you want him to do your show and then there's telling him you basically have no other reasonable choice.

"What do you want me to say? Help me, Frank-Kenobi, you're my only hope? Jesus Frank, half the guys at the station would leap at this opportunity."

"I'm not half the guys at this station." Frank points out.

"Which is one more reason why I think you're the right person. You actually love this station Frank, and you love to play music. You're not here build up a following or try to get noticed by some flashy commercial station. And I think that's why you'd be good for this."

It's funny, Brian isn't even saying the words like it's a sell, just honest fact, and it has so much more resonance because of it. Brian pushes up off the couch, dropping a light hand on Frank's shoulder and giving a brief squeeze, "Just think about, okay Frankenstein? Let me know tomorrow, if you can."

"What'll you do if I don't do it?" Frank asks, genuinely curious.

Brian shrugs, "I'll figure something out." He says it like it's no big deal, but then, that's Brian all over. That's pretty much the story of WZZZ. Brian's been figuring it out for years, keeping a station running on a shoestring budget and somehow convincing sponsors that it's not about ratings, it's about loyalty. With Bob keeping equipment alive that should have been retired years ago and Brian's canny management skills, WZZZ stays on the air. The team who work there a mixed up mess of subcultures and backgrounds but they're dedicated as hell and what they lack in technical know-how they make up for in sheer enthusiasm and a love of music.

Frank certainly wouldn't still be here otherwise.

It feels like Brian really needs him on this one, enough that when Frank says, "I'll think about it," he actually means it.

*

When Frank's alarm goes off at ass-o-clock in the morning, he hits snooze and rolls over to face-plant the pillow.

What kind of an idiot takes on a night job at a goddamn radio station - and one that doesn't even pay, at that - when they have a day job that starts at 7:30am every day?

"This kind of idiot," Frank mumbles to himself, rubbing a hand over his face before dragging his ass out of bed. Peppers is jumping around his feet before he even makes it out of his bedroom and he coos at her in a distracted way, making sure she doesn't squeeze into the bathroom behind him. She's adorable, sure, but it's just weird to have her bouncing around his ankles when he's peeing.

He feels vaguely more human after he's showered and nearly ready to face the day once he's had a few sips of coffee, armed with a thermos and a brown paper bag of apricot and sunflower muffins. He feeds Peppers, gives her some pets and cuddles then he's got to get going.

He turns the key in his cherry-red Mustang, listening to the engine purr happily to life, the leather of the bench seat cool under his fingers as he waits for her to warm up. He gets a few more sips of coffee and wolfs down half a muffin before she's ready to face the road. He winds down the window in lieu of air conditioning, appreciating the roar of her engine as he shifts her into gear.

It's not a short drive, but it's a nice one and Frank prefers to get to work under his own steam than be at the mercy of trains and buses. Plus, it's a good drive in an excellent car, even if he does say so himself. He'd know, after all - Frank knows cars.

He pulls into the lot at Ray's Auto and counts the number of cars already parked in the receiving area. It's going to be a busy day. He locks up the Mustang and heads inside, saying a cheerful good morning to Ray's ass that's hanging out the front of a bumblebee-yellow Triumph.

"Morning, Frankenstein! You've got a special guest in bay one." Ray sounds altogether too cheerful for this time of morning but what else is new? Frank dumps his jacket in his locker and strolls over to bay one, where it's love at first sight all over again.

"Oh, Izzy, you are such a tease," he coos at the camo-green Trans Am with yellow racing stripes. He takes in her gorgeous lines before walking over to lean in the driver side window and stroke his fingers over the leather of her steering wheel. "One day you'll figure it out. Run away with me, you fox, Dewees doesn't appreciate you. I'd take such good care of you, you sweet, precious thing." Frank croons, trailing a finger down her dashboard.

"Stop hitting on my car, Frank." a droll voice sounds behind him and Frank turns to see the owner of his dream car glaring at him. Dewees has been bringing Izzy here for years for regular tune-ups and Frank takes very good care of her.

Frank shoots Dewees a shit-eating grin, "She started it."

"Stop victim-blaming and tune her up."

"I thought that's what I was doing." That gets a laugh out of Dewees, so Frank calls it a win. "Regular tune-up then?"

James tosses his keys at Frank, who manages to snatch them out of the air through sheer luck. "I want her back by the end of the day."

"Oh Dewees, why won't you let me spend the night with her?"

"'Cause you'd give her back all sticky."

Frank giggles and clutches his chest like he's been shot, "You wound me."

"Nothing you don't deserve. Now, I think she's idling a little low and I'm getting a rattle in the back when I corner."

The conversation switches gears and then it's all business. Frank gets the lowdown on Izzy and assures Dewees, however reluctantly, that he'll have her back before close of business. Then he straps on his tool belt and gets down to business changing her oil.

It's a busy day, but not a stressful one and by the time they break for lunch, Frank's hands are black with grease. He washes the worst of it off, annoyed when he can't get black out from the line of his fingernails. He complains to Ray as they settle in on the set of outdoor furniture tucked up in the corner of the parking lot with their sandwiches.

"Why don't you just paint them black? You are the resident punk, after all."

Frank frowns at his hands thoughtfully, "That might actually work."

They dig in, eating in a comfortable silence but for the sound of passing traffic and the radio blaring. It's tuned to WZZZ of course, Frank made it a rule years back and no one at the garage has bothered to challenge him on it. The music appeals to most of their regular clientele, anyway - the car enthusiast population definitely crosses over with plenty of rockabilly types - a style of music that gets a lot of spin on WZZZ.

Ray didn't actually set out to run a specialist auto shop. He just happened to be really fucking good at what he does and word got around. People who care about their cars tend to come to Ray's Auto to keep their street machines, show cars and hot rods in good working order. Ray knows his shit and he's a good guy to work for, he's very supportive of Frank's second job at the station - and not just for the free shout-outs he gets.

Between songs, a promo for Gabe's last-ever Hot Mess show airs and Frank nearly spits his sandwich. Guess it's not a secret anymore.

Ray's eyes widen and he rushes to swallow what's in his mouth, "Dude, Gabe's leaving? When did that happen?"

Frank lowers his sandwich, "I only found out yesterday."

"Wow, that's late notice. Brian's really letting him go like that?"

Frank shrugs, "Doesn't have much of a choice. He got a gig at WDKD."

Ray's looks thoughtful, "Isn't that that big Chicago station?"

"Yup."

Frank wills Ray to drop the subject so he can go back to ignoring the decision he promised Brian he'd make today. Unfortunately, Ray is far too canny, "So wait, who's gonna do Skeletons In The Closet now?"

"Oh god," Frank moans, dropping his head onto the table next to his sandwich. Life just isn't fair.

"What?" Ray asks, giving Frank a gentle shake.

"Brian offered it to me."

"What, Skeletons?" Ray's voice pitches a little higher with intense interest.

"Yeah."

Ray's fingers tighten on Frank's shoulder, pulling him upright. Frank gets an eyeful of Ray's giant, proud smile, "Dude, that's so great! Congratulations! That's like, the most popular show at the station!"

Frank closes his eyes before he goes blind from all the sunshine Ray's spouting, "I didn't say yes."

"Why not?" Ray sounds confused, the are you nuts goes unspoken.

"Well, I didn't say no yet either."

"Why would you say no? It's like, the best show on the-"

"No, no, no, no, no, no. Ray. Dude, you are not getting it. It is an interview show. I would have to, like-" Frank does something with his hands that might be the word 'interview' in sign language (if you were blind or didn't know sign language,) "-interview people."

"So?" Ray asks, and Frank is certain that Ray's being dense on purpose.

"So? This isn't my thing, man. I can't do it."

Ray considers that for a moment and counters with, "But Brian thinks you can?"

"I guess," Frank shrugs, picking some lettuce out of his sandwich and eating it.

"I don't know, Frank, why don't you just give it a try? What's the worst that could happen?"

Frank sighs, a big lung-stretching sigh. "Oh, nothing big. Just public humiliation and failure and the end of my career in radio. Nothing major."

"Not that you're over exaggerating or anything." Ray rolls his eyes at Frank.

Whatever, it's Frank's crisis. He can be dramatic if he wants to.

*

Frank's dramatic existential crisis lasts until roughly the end of his work day, at which point he is beset by a strange calm about the whole situation.

He calls Brian when he gets home from work.

"Okay, I'll do it, but you're not allowed to get shitty with me when I fuck it all up."

"Sure, Frank, I'll remember that." Frank can hear the grin in Brian's voice, the asshole.

"Who am I interviewing anyway?" Frank asks, suddenly wishing he'd thought to ask before he said yes. With his luck it'll be someone he can't stand and he won't be able to lie his way through it.

"You ever heard of the Way Brothers? They make horror films."

Well, shit.

"The Way Brothers? You mean, Gerard and Mikey Way?" Frank asks, feeling suddenly lightheaded and kind of tingly in his arms like his fight-or-flight response is kicking in.

"You know them? They made that film, You Sent Me Your Bullets I Sent You... Something."

"I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love," Frank corrects, because he maybe saw that film three times at the cinema and got it on DVD the day it came out.

"Right, of course you'd know them, you're like a horror film bible. They're from Jersey, right?" Brian doesn't even sound that interested in the conversation anymore and Frank is maybe freaking out a little.

"Yes, they're from Jersey. They shot that whole film in a month for like, no money and it's the best new horror film to be released in at least a decade." Frank tries to keep his voice level and probably fails.

"Wow, this is great Frank, you don't even have to do research for this, you already know so much about them." Brian sounds mildly amused and Frank wants to reach through the phone and smack him upside the head.

"Brian-" he interrupts, a take-back already on the tip of his tongue because fuck, he can't do this. It's one thing to face an unfamiliar situation you're probably going to be shit at, but it's totally another thing to fail completely in front of a couple of dudes you have a medium level of hero worship for.

Brian, the asshole, doesn't let him get a word in edgewise, "Oh look, Bob's here! Looks like an emergency - gotta go!"

The line goes dead before Frank can get another word out and Frank glares at the phone in his hand. Brian totally did that on purpose.

*

Frank hits the button to play the intro music for the show. It's weird to be the one playing it rather than just listening to it. When it ends he takes a breath, leans into the microphone and says, "Hey folks, Frankenstein here and no, you don't have the time wrong. Yes, this is Skeletons In The Closet and no, I'm not Gabe Saporta. Our tall friend has skipped off to Chicago and left me with some pretty big shoes to fill - and you know what they say about big shoes. Big feet. So please bear with me for the next couple of hours as I try to figure out how this whole talking to people thing works."

Frank finally nerves himself to look up from the mixing desk display to where the two guys dressed in black sit across from him. He takes a breath and just keeps talking.

"We've got a real treat tonight for all you horror fans out there - the Way Brothers, Gerard and Mikey, are joining us in the studio. Now for those of you who don't know who I'm talking about, let me ask you - when was the last time you saw a movie that actually made you jump, or itch 'til you want to peel off your own skin? If it's been longer than a year then you really need to watch I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love - a really creepy, true mind-warp of a horror film that's being compared to the likes of Dario Argento and John Carpenter. And it was made by the two dudes sitting right in front of me now, for probably about the same cost as Tom Cruise's food budget on Rock of Ages."

"So guys, or do you prefer the Way Brothers? Or the Brothers Way? Or just like, Gerard and Mikey?" Fuck, he's not even a few minutes in and he already knows he's talking too much. Luckily the brothers seem to like his half-assed joke. Gerard - the one with shaggy dark mane - giggles, throaty and high pitched, and Mikey - the one with the distracting cheekbones and blond hair, smiles in a way that lights up his whole face.

Gerard answers, "Gerard and Mikey is fine. Though if we do have to be addressed collectively I think the Way Brothers sounds nicer than the Brothers Way. That makes us sound like a couple of priests."

"Or a folk duo," Mikey adds with a small smile.

"Yeah, but also, the Way Brothers sound like the Cohen Brothers, or the Hughes Brothers," Gerard adds quickly.

"So, this is like a standard format for co-director brothers, then? Or just the good ones?" Frank interjects, the words coming way too easily.

"Just the good ones," Mikey states firmly, with a nod.

Frank finds himself grinning, already charmed by both of them. "So, you guys are from Jersey, do you ever listen to WZZZ? Are you familiar with the show? Do you know how this works?"

"We get to pick five songs and you play them and we tell you why we picked them," Mikey says, and Frank is once again surprised by how deep his voice is.

"Well put, Mikey. So do you guys have your list ready?" Frank asks, even though he's already seen the list to cue up the songs - this part is more for the listeners.

Gerard laughs and leans into the mic. "We've been arguing over it all last night. I can't believe we got it down to five."

"And you're not allowed to just choose songs that you think will make you look cool - you have to have a connection with them, or a story for why you picked them," Frank adds, even though they've been over this, too.

Mikey laughs, "I don't think anyone's gonna think we're cool based on this list."

"I'll be the judge of that, let's see, what's the first track?" Frank glances at his own copy of the list even though he already knows what it says.

"Run To The Hills, by Iron Maiden," Gerard says, and then immediately launches into a spiel about how underrated Iron Maiden is, complete with wild gesticulating hand motions. Mikey just looks on, smiling fondly at his brother and nodding occasionally.

Frank lets Gerard finish his sentence before jumping in - jeez the guy can talk - "That's quite the sell, Gerard. Shall we see if the song lives up to it?"

"Oh, yeah," Gerard grins and rolls his eyes, like he realises he's been rambling. Frank cues the track and fades it up, pulling down the mic feeds.

"You're safe to speak off-air, if you need to, like, cough or anything." Frank tells them, and is met with relieved smiles.

"I'm talking too much, aren't I?" Gerard asks, looking pained. It's so close to what Frank was worrying about earlier he has to stifle a laugh.

"Don't worry about it, I get the same thing when anyone puts a mic in front of me. Mikey, feel free to jump in whenever you like." Frank sends Mikey a smile, telling himself this is just part of the gig, this is his work persona. He's just making sure Mikey is at ease and it has nothing to do with how cute he is.

Mikey laughs and Frank is struck by how gorgeous he looks when he smiles. He swiftly tells that part of his brain to shut up because he needs to keep his concentration for the show.

"I'm not gonna try and interrupt Gerard when he's talking about Maiden. I like my face the way it is."

"It's a very nice face." The words are out of Frank's mouth before he's even finished thinking them, and fuck if Brian were here he'd be getting so much shit for this. As it is, he doesn't dare a glance through the glass to the tech room where Bob is no doubt making a face at him. Bob is such an asshole.

Luckily, the song is getting close to the end so Frank has a reason to get back on topic. He lets the guys know he's bringing the mics back up and they listen to the end of the song together.

"So Bullets was a bit of an underground hit for you guys. Has it opened some doors for you? Got any new projects on the horizon?"

"Oh, we've always got tonnes of potential projects whirling around," Gerard says, "There's one script in particular we're trying to get up, and we've got some interest from places, but Hollywood hasn't exactly come knocking as yet."

"Is that the plan? Do you want Hollywood to come knocking?" Frank asks, actually interested.

Gerard looks at Mikey and they exchange small smiles, "I don't know if Hollywood is really ready for us." Mikey says with a droll kind of humour. It pretty much says it all.

"Well, if Hollywood's not interested I'm pretty sure I will be," Frank says and then immediately wants to take it back. He really needs to work on not just saying everything he's thinking out loud. He switches tacks quickly, hoping Gerard and Mikey don't notice and ignores Bob through the window behind them, making kissy faces at him. "So, the next song you've chosen is pretty old school as well. Why the Misfits?"

Gerard and Mikey both fight to talk over each other to tell Frank exactly why, and their enthusiasm is endearing. Frank might even go so far as to say they love the Misfits more than he does, and that's saying something.

After the Misfits is Blur, followed by Morrissey. Frank has to admit he's impressed - these guys have good taste. Every song has a charming story to accompany it - The Misfits as a right of passage, Blur for nostalgia, Morrissey for breakups.

Gerard definitely does most of the talking - the guy could fucking talk underwater when he gets going - but when Mikey speaks it's always quietly confident and he has a knack for summing everything up in a few words. Frank finds he agrees with the bulk of Mikey's opinions about music, which is a rare thing. In fact, after spending the last few days dreading the broadcast, Frank finds himself checking the time remaining on the show clock and willing the numbers to tick down slower.

When the mic feeds are down again and Morrissey is crooning about a double decker bus, Mikey notices the little stack of business cards Frank keeps on the mixing desk for Ray's Auto and picks one up. "Where's this? Are these guys sponsors or something?"

Frank laughs, "Sort of. It's my day job. They keep me gainfully employed fixing cars so I can keep up the pretense of being a radio DJ. This job doesn't really pay well. Or even, like, at all."

"Wait, you do this for free?" Mikey asks, shocked.

"Most of us do. There's no way the station could run if it had to pay all the announcers, and most people are just doing it for the love."

"Wow." Mikey leans back, looking at Frank like he's trying to figure him out. It makes Frank shift in his seat to be the centre of Mikey's focus. "Don't you do, like, three shows?"

"Four now, since I'm filling in for Gabe on this one." Frank keeps the words as neutral as possible, glancing down at the mixing desk display, unable to bear Mikey's reaction. God, he must think Frank's such a loser, hanging around the station all the time and not even getting paid for it.

"That's really cool," Mikey says, and Frank looks up, startled, meeting Mikey's level gaze, "You must really love it." Mikey states it like it's fact, and his voice is warm with approval.

Frank can feel blood rushing to his cheeks, but he shrugs like it's no big thing. "Or maybe I'm just a sucker."

"I doubt that," Mikey says, just before the end of the song, so Frank doesn't have time to reply. He doesn't know how to reply anyway, because something about Mikey pushes his buttons backwards and he feels excited and jittery and uncomfortable all at the same time.

He lets the last few bars of the song play out before he slides the mic feeds back up again. "Ah, Morrissey. Probably not someone I'd like to meet in real life, but he makes good music."

The comment earns him a chuckle from Gerard and another smile from Mikey. Frank has to remind himself to ask a question before he leaves dead air for too long. "So, one more song, guys - why this one?"

Gerard leans in, "Mikey has to talk about the one. This is Mikey's choice."

"Gee-" Mikey whines, but Gee keeps talking.

"It's the Smashing Pumpkins. My brother is a Pumpkinhead." Gerard seems oblivious to Mikey's glare and Frank can't help being amused

"Is that right, Mikey? Big Smashing Pumpkins fan?"

"Voices like that don't come along very often. Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was my jam for a really big part of high school."

"That's not a very upbeat jam."

"I wasn't a very upbeat kid." Mikey confesses, "Gerard and me, we didn't really have it easy in high school. It's funny, when one part of your life isn't working, maybe it's not the right solution, but you just need a place to escape to in your own mind and this was one of my places."

"So which song have you chosen from that album?" Frank asks, knowing it's his job to ask but it still feels invasive. Mikey's really throwing himself open with this one.

"Zero. I know, so emo, right? But it really spoke to me and clicked with a lot shit I had going on in my head at the time, so I keep coming back to it."

"That's a good enough reason for me, let's hear it."

Frank cues the song and slides up the faders. He kills the mic feed again but this time none of them speak, they just listen to the song play through their headphones. Even though Frank's heard this song before, he can't help feeling like this might be the first time he's really listened.

About halfway through, he dares a quick glance at Mikey. His eyes are closed, and the set of his mouth seems tense. Frank gets stuck looking at him for a moment, wondering exactly what he's thinking, what happened to him all those years ago that he sought solace in this song. Frank didn't exactly have a stellar time at high school himself - he's seen the inside of a lot of lockers. He wonders if Mikey can relate.

When the song starts to wind down, Mikey shifts, blinking his eyes open and it's only then that Frank realises he's been staring like a creeper. He glances at Gerard and then at Bob to see if either of them noticed. He can't tell if Gerard did, but the way Bob is smirking at Frank through the glass, he totally did and Frank is absolutely going to hear all about it later.

Bob better have brought beer tonight, Frank's gonna need it to deal with this shit. He slides the faders back up and back announces the song and show, starting the wrap-up.

"Thanks so much for coming along and hanging out with us, guys. When are we going to see another film from you?"

Gerard leaps in, talking excitedly about… Frank's not sure what. Two hours ago Frank would have been hanging on every word, but now all he can do is nod and make appropriate noises while he watches Mikey in his peripheral vision. Mikey hasn't exactly been talking his ear off during the show, but his silence feels louder right now.

When Gerard stops for air, Frank rattles off the thank you's and promos the next show - two hours of rockabilly with their resident greaser, Jack - and plays to a commercial. He glances up, waiting for the ON AIR light to go dim before letting out a long breath. He feels suddenly exhausted.

He shakes himself out of it, reminding himself he's not alone. He slips off his headphones and stands up to shake hands with the Gerard and Mikey. "Thanks for coming along, guys, that was way less terrifying than I thought it was gonna be."

Gerard laughs, "Maybe for you! God, I need some kind of muzzle, I couldn't shut the fuck up."

"What else is new?" Mikey asks with droll sarcasm before turning to Frank. "Are we really that terrifying?"

"No, not you guys," Frank assures him, "This is just a new experience for me, and Gabe's pretty popular around these parts, it's kind of a big thing for me to take over his show."

"Well, I thought you did great - don't you think, Mikes?" Gerard asks, looking to Mikey who says, "Yeah," in a startled way before shooting a raised eyebrow at Gerard that Frank can't read. It's on the tip of his tongue to ask the two of them to stay for the post-show beers, but suddenly Brian's in the room, shaking hands and talking a mile a minute. Bob buzzes through on the internal phone to ask Frank something technical and by the time Frank hangs up, the Ways are gone.

Ah well, it's probably better this way, there's no telling how obvious Frank's crush could get with the addition of a little alcohol.

*

Part Two

Post a comment in response:

From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.