Title: In Which Gerard Is a Quirky College Professor and Frank Is the Best TA Ever, 1/2-or-3
Fandom: Bandom AU, primarily MCR but cameos from others.
Rating: PG-13 for this part, possibly higher later.
Summary: ...It's all there in the title, really, except to tell you that it's the fault of this photoshoot, and that inspiration/enabling was provided by blondiusmaximus .
The beginning of the semester always gets Frank jittery, but in a good way. It's one of those times when everything seems new and possible, and the stress of exams and term papers seems a lifetime away.
TA-ing for a new professor, on the other hand, just gets him jittery. He's been a TA since he was an undergrad, and had some really good experiences with it, but he's also got his share of horror stories. You can never tell what you're going to end up with. But the course is something he's genuinely excited about being involved in, and as long as Professor Way isn't a complete asshole, they should be fine.
He checks the office number written in his planner one more time, but he doesn't really need to. The newest professor always gets the tiny office in the corner. The door's ajar when he gets there--Frank can see a bit of desk, a loose stack of papers, and a Starbucks cup, and he hears someone moving around, more papers being shuffled.
He moves forward to knock at the same moment the door opens wide, leaving Frank with one fist in the air, face-to-face with a guy who doesn't look all that much older than Frank himself.
...Okay, no one warned him Professor Way was ridiculously hot.
"Can I help you?" the man asks after a moment, which is Frank's cue to stop staring like a creepy person.
"Yeah, sorry," Frank says, and holds out a hand. "I'm Frank Iero. Your TA?"
"Oh, right, they said you'd be coming by," Professor Way says as they shake. "Gerard Way. And call me Gerard, please, it's going to be weird enough hearing 'Professor Way' in class."
"Whatever you say." It might be a weird thing to be fixated on--especially when there are hazel eyes and a mouth that looks like it sort of needs to be thoroughly kissed that Frank could be fixating on instead--but the guy's handshake is perfect, warm and firm, but not uncomfortably so. "Er. Did I catch you on your way out or something?"
"Hm? Oh, no, I was just going to photocopy some things for class." Gerard holds up the papers he's got in his other hand.
"I can take care of those, if you want," Frank offers. Might as well get a head start on the job.
Gerard smiles and, okay, Frank will be the best TA in the history of higher education if it means he gets to see that smile every day. "Would you? That'd be great. I've...kind of still got a lot to get done before the first class."
He punctuates his statement with a vague wave back toward the desk, which Frank can see is practically covered in stuff. Aside from piles of none-too-neatly stacked papers, Frank spots at least three volumes of different graphic novels, a bunch of pens (including one that's about to roll off onto the floor), and another Starbucks cup that Frank can tell is empty because it's tipped over on its side.
Absent-minded professor, he thinks, the idea only helped along by the way Gerard's hair is sort of all over the place (all over the place and dark and glossy and looks like it'd be soft if you slid your hands into it). Absent-minded, young, hot professor.
"Right," Frank says, taking the papers (the syllabus, it looks like) as Gerard holds them out to him. "I'll just. Get on that copying for you."
Gerard flashes that smile again as he thanks Frank, then darts back into the tiny office, rifling through the mess on his desk for something.
...Yeah, this semester ought to be interesting.
Gerard loves his job.
He loves the subject, not to mention still being kind of gobsmacked that he sold the administration on it. The students seem like a good bunch of kids--one or two he might have to keep an eye on, but nothing he can't work with.
He's also got the best TA ever. Two and a half weeks into the semester, Frank knows exactly how Gerard takes his coffee, has begun a methodical but stealthy campaign of actually organizing Gerard's desk, one stack of papers at a time when he thinks Gerard isn't paying attention, and joins Gerard for cigarette breaks outside and doesn't call him on his bullshit when he talks about quitting.
It doesn't hurt that he's gorgeous, or that his hair's just slightly too long for his clean-cut look and curls around the back of his neck, or that Gerard knows from seeing him with his sleeves rolled up one time that Frank has a tattoo on the inside of one arm. Which is a weird thing to be turned on by, because Gerard's never much been one for tattoos (tattoos involve needles), but on Frank it sort of makes Gerard want to see if tracing his fingertips along the outline of the ink would make Frank lose some of the composure he always seems to have in spades during office hours.
(The composure is an office-hours thing, Gerard knows, because a conversation about music tastes led to a conversation about how Frank used to play in a punk band in high school and still goes to shows his former bandmates do with their new bands, and occasionally stage-dives or even crowd-surfs and Gerard should totally come some time, and Gerard might have to actually develop a social life if it means an opportunity to see Frank throwing himself around a room in a sweaty t-shirt.)
Not that Gerard is going to do anything like trace Frank's tattoo with his fingertips, because he's a professional and Frank is his TA and it would be inappropriate. And even if he were going to, he wouldn't do it today, because he has to give a lecture on Gaiman's use of Shakespeare in Sandman in twenty minutes and he's misplaced his copies of relevant pages from The Kindly Ones. He finally finds them having migrated under the desk somehow, and bangs his head retrieving them, and that's when Frank, bless him, shows up with coffee.
"Hey, sorry I'm so late," he says. "It was 'every person in the tri-state area go to the one Starbucks that's between my apartment and campus' day, apparently."
"Oh god caffeine," is Gerard's only reply as he holds out a hand for his, still rubbing the back of his head with his other hand. "I love you."
It's imagination that makes Gerard think that Frank blushes for a second at that. Yes. Imagination and lack of caffeine. He's making a good start on correcting the latter when Frank says, "Hang on, your tie's crooked."
"Huh?" Gerard glances down at himself, blinking. He doesn't even remember tying his tie this morning.
"Yeah, just let me--" And just like that Gerard's personal space is full of Frank, Frank's fingers moving quick and nimble on the tie and Frank's head tilted downward so his hair is close enough that Gerard can smell the shampoo he uses.
"I went to Catholic school, I know all about ties," Frank mutters as he pulls the striped silk into a quick, sturdy knot, and Gerard bites his lip and tries not to have ridiculously inappropriate thoughts, and that's before Frank's hand grazes the skin of his throat.
"You're the best TA ever. I've told you that, right?" He could kiss the top of Frank's head right now, if he just leaned forward a little. Or just bury his nose in Frank's hair and inhale deeply.
And then he would have to find a new TA, and possibly a lawyer to defend him against harassment charges.
"You take a lot of looking after. I've told you that, right?" Frank glances up at him with a quick grin, then tucks Gerard's tie back into his vest and smoothes it down with one hand, and incidentally Frank's hand on his chest is not helping Gerard maintain his composure. "There you go. All set."
Gerard mumbles a thank you, and busies himself with his coffee.
The thing is, okay, that if Gerard were just hot, Frank could handle it. Hotness alone would not have Frank teetering dangerously close to the brink of falling for him. But Gerard persists in being...well, the kind of guy Frank could really fall for.
Like the way he's so damn earnest, for one thing. Gerard doesn't seem like the kind of guy who should be earnest. He went to art school and he wears three-piece suits with Converse sneakers, for crying out loud. By rights, he should be pretentious and annoying and trying to pass off his attitude problems as being hip and ironic.
But he's got this...unguardedness, and he's passionate and enthusiastic about the course, like he really believes that things like Sandman and Watchmen are great literature, and that if he convinces kids that it's all right to think so and say so, he'll be making a difference in their lives. As long as Frank's been a TA, he doesn't think he's ever worked with a professor who cared this much.
He's also--and this goes in the category of things Frank didn't even know he had a weak spot for until now--kind of a loser. Through subtle and not-at-all-stalkerish efforts to finagle personal details out of their conversations before and after class, Frank has learned that Gerard lived in his parents' basement until he was twenty-six, has had exactly one serious girlfriend and one not-so-serious boyfriend, and that the most excitement his weekends usually involve is take-out Chinese and maybe a zombie movie from Netflix.
Not that Frank would turn down something like eating take-out and watching zombie movies with Gerard, but he hasn't given up hope of getting Gerard to go out somewhere with him some night. Not 'go out with' as in a date, because he's still worried Gerard would be a little freaked out if his TA started hitting on him, but 'go out with' as in 'hey, some friends and I are going out for drinks, want to tag along with absolutely no strings attached and I promise not to embarrass us both by throwing myself at you?' Only that last part would maybe not be said out loud.
They've traded cell numbers, which is supposed to be in case they need to get in touch for anything class-related, but it's Friday night, and Bob's band has a show, and Frank doesn't think Gerard will mind Frank calling him to inquire about the possibility of strings-free group activities. Plus, Bob and Jon-from-next-door and Andy-and-Joe-from-down-the-hall have a betting pool on how long it's going to take Frank to call Gerard, and none of them seem to think he's going to get up the nerve to do it before November, and fuck that.
The phone rings four times, and Frank's expecting it to go to voicemail in a half-disappointed, half-relieved kind of way, when Gerard finally says, "Hello?"
"Hey," Frank says, glad that Bob is in the other room and can't see the smile he's fighting down now. "Is this a bad time?"
"No, it's fine," Gerard says, even though Frank knows the sound of frazzled Gerard by now. "What's up?"
"Well," Frank begins, feeling predictably awkward now. "I was wondering, and this is pretty last-minute and all, but I was wondering if you're busy tonight?"
"Oh." Gerard sounds surprised, and Frank hears him moving around a little, probably getting a cigarette. "Um. I sort of am, yeah."
--Well, he made the call, at least. "With what?" Frank asks before he realizes that might sound nosy.
"Grading papers until I die," Gerard informs him, with proper dramatic emphasis, and Frank grins. Gerard may not be pretentious, but he's still kind of diva sometimes. "Why do you ask?"
"--Oh, my roommate's band has a show tonight, and I was going to ask if you wanted to come or something, but...seriously, grading papers on a Friday night?"
"I meant to get started last night," Gerard explains, sheepishly. "You know, not have it hanging over me all weekend."
Frank weighs his options for a moment, then blurts out, "I could come over and help. Maybe. If you want."
There's a pause, and he wonders if he's screwed this up, and then Gerard says, "That's...really great of you to offer, but I don't want to spoil your Friday night, too."
"It'd be fine," Frank presses. In for a penny, in for a pound. And it's maybe a little sad, but he really wouldn't mind trading a night out with the guys for a night in with Gerard, even grading papers. "I don't mind, seriously. And they play a lot, no one's gonna mind me missing one show."
"Well..." Gerard says, a slightly drawn-out, 'I-am-open-to-further-persuasion' well, and Frank plays his ace.
"I'll bring coffee. Or hey, maybe food. Did you eat dinner?"
"--Dinner." That's a mutter, probably Gerard talking to himself. "Food, right, I should--Frank, you're sure you don't mind?"
"I'm sure," Frank assures him. "Just give me directions."
"You're my favorite," Gerard says, with feeling. "Seriously, if they don't let me have you again next semester I'm going to have to kidnap you or something."
Frank manfully restrains himself from saying anything about the various ways in which Gerard can have him any time he wants, and writes down the directions Gerard gives him, and hangs up with a stupid grin on his face.
"His place on the first date, huh? Go, Frankie!"
Frank does not yelp. Okay, maybe he yelps a little. He hadn't even realized Bob was in the living room. "Dude, what are you, a fucking ninja?"
"Maybe," Bob says placidly, lacing up his sneakers. "But if eavesdropping while you're on the phone with your boyfriend isn't cool, just, y'know, say the word."
"Fuck you," Frank suggests cheerfully, and then covers his face with one of the couch cushions until he's stopped blushing.
Several slices of pizza and a Red Bull each later, Frank and Gerard are sprawled in Gerard's tiny living room with papers all around them and formality pretty much gone by the wayside. Gerard's stretched out on the couch with his feet on the armrest, the paper he's ostensibly working on over his face, and Frank's on the floor with his knees drawn up, leaning against the couch. Occasionally, Gerard's arm brushes the back of Frank's head.
"How're you doing?" Gerard asks eventually.
"Man, I thought grading papers was supposed to be easier than writing them," Frank replies. "You?"
That's about what Frank figured. "Cigarette break? Coffee run?"
"I don't think even coffee can help me now," Gerard says, lifting the paper off his face so Frank can see that he looks properly horrified at such a turn of events. "I am beyond the help of caffeine, Stan Lee have mercy on my poor benighted soul."
Frank reaches back to pat his arm sympathetically. Ends up patting his hip instead, and Gerard twitches. Oops. "So maybe we should call it a night? We probably got through enough that we can finish by Monday."
"No 'we'," Gerard insists. "I've taken up enough of your weekend with this already. It's too late for me, save yourself, et cetera."
Frank doesn't think he's ever heard anyone actually say 'et cetera'. "If you say so. I'll just...straighten up a little, and then go."
Gerard mumbles something about how Frank doesn't need to straighten up, but Frank has a feeling that if he doesn't, no one will. Sure enough, by the time he gets the room into something that vaguely resembles order, Gerard's fast asleep on the couch. Frank grins dopily some more, pulls the afghan off the back of the couch and drapes it over him, and resists the urge to smooth a hand over Gerard's mad-scientist hair before letting himself out.