Gerard Way was a student at The Umbrella Academy.
The Umbrella Academy was, as the title suggested, a school. But it wasn't just any school. It was a school for the truly gifted – a school for those with, well, superpowers.
So then, you might ask, did Gerard Way have superpowers?
Yes. Well, one superpower. The thing was, though, it was only a Class 1 power, common and laughable. He could become invisible with a thought, but the problem was that anything on his body, including his clothes, would remain visible. And since he didn't fancy walking around naked, it was practically useless unless he just wanted to use it for shits and giggles.
It wasn't that Gerard was ungrateful, though. He was a huge comic book nerd, and to be in a school of supers, even if he was kind of the loser among them, was more than he could've ever asked for. Sometimes, when he was alone in his dorm, he would walk around invisible just to remind himself that yes, he was special, even if he was only a Class 1 super with a Class 1 power.
Not like Frank. Frank Iero was practically Gerard's idol. And, okay, maybe he kind of liked him a little. A lot. Whatever. It wasn't like Frank noticed, or cared. Frank was a Class 3 super because he had three powers, and none of them were Class 1 powers – mild telepathy (he could sense strong emotions and hear thoughts if they were repeated often enough), telekinesis, and super strength. Gerard was the school loser; Frank was the school, well, superhero. It was all terribly cliché, Gerard thought.
Gerard thought that Class 3 supers were the best ones, because Class 4s and 5s did have a lot of powers, but more often than not, they were all Class 1 or they couldn't control them at all. Like Robert Bryar. He'd been a 4 (5s were incredibly rare) with control over fire, water, air, and earth. It was pretty badass, but ended very badly. All of the elements canceled eachother out, and he was left powerless and basically brain-dead. It was terrifying for the teachers and students alike. Robert had left two years ago, and nobody ever talked about him since.
Gerard knew from that and from comics that too much power was bad. So he was content with what he got, even when he was shoved against his safe (yes, they had safes instead of lockers), when Bert McCracken who sat behind him in Villain Defense Studies called him names constantly and flicked the back of his head with tiny shocks of lightning, when for the third time this week someone stole his lunch, and when Frank didn't even spare a glance for him in the hall. He didn't mind, because at the end of the day, Gerard would stand in front of the mirror in his ratty old Metallica T-shirt and boxers, and he'd watch as he flickered out from sight. He would think, I am a super. I belong here. I know I do.
And that was how he'd survived The Umbrella Academy up until now, in his senior year. Frank was a senior, too. Gerard knew this because he'd gone through four whole years watching as Frank was praised by all his teachers as having real potential for being a real hero, watched as he went through a seemingly endless supply of girlfriends (Kendra, Emily, Jennifer, Violet, Victoria, Angelina, Jamia, Danielle, Lily, the list went on), and now he watched as Frank stood on the auditorium stage, beaming as the dean of the Academy told him what they had selected him to do.
"Frank Anthony Iero Jr.," said the dean, a tall, thin man with silver hair and equally silver glasses (he could detect lies and dishonesty), "everything you have done thus far has led up to this point. You have applied yourself to your studies – granted, you needed a little push at first," (everyone laughed at that), "but you have remained a diligent and talented student of The Umbrella Academy. So," said the dean, smiling, "we have a mission for you."
Frank's eyes went wide and everybody in the room turned to each other, whispering. Gerard couldn't believe it. Or, well, actually he could. Frank could go on a mission, he was powerful enough. "A mission?" Frank gasped, seemingly unable to believe it.
"Yes," said the dean, nodding. "We have received a request from a friendly supers base in the Pacific, on an island there. They created a prototype of a machine, a robot of a sort, if you will, and it went rogue, learning to think and function on its own. They were forced to evacuate all personnel to a safer place on the island while the machine lurks in the forest."
Frank looked determined now. "And my mission is to destroy it?"
"Ah, not precisely. If you must, then do that, yes. But they would much prefer if you kept it at least somewhat intact as it is a very expensive piece of machinery. If you accept, you will be flown there tomorrow morning. You will also be given a suit." There were more murmurs at this, and Gerard had to blink several times before he could think clearly again. A real superhero's suit! Gerard was so happy for Frank. He did deserve it.
Frank thought for a moment, but it was clear he'd already decided. "Yes," he said breathlessly, nodding fast, "I'll do it! I accept! I accept the mission."
There were cheers, but the auditorium dutifully went silent again as the dean added, "Excellent! This means that there is the matter of an escort for-"
"I'll do it!" Gerard shouted, and everybody went even more silent, turning towards him. He swallowed nervously and said in a much smaller voice, "I-I'll be his escort." Because of his anxiety, he flickered in and out of invisibility, and there were a few snickers and mutters of, "Little 1 can't even control his stupid power."
And then he almost became permanently invisible because holy shit, Frank was looking at him too, really looking at him, his green eyes wide and curious. The dean looked doubtful, crossing his arms and saying to Gerard, "Mr. Way? Are you sure you'll be able to…well, keep up with Mr. Iero here? You're…ah, you're just a…"
"I know," Gerard said bravely, and he stopped flickering, though it was hard to because Frank was still staring at him. "I'm just a Class 1. But I know I can. Please, just give me a chance."
The dean still appeared dubious, but he knew Gerard wasn't lying. He turned to Frank. "Well, Mr. Iero? What do you think?"
Gerard trembled, once again under Frank's scrutiny, though his expression wasn't unkind. Gerard tried to close off his mind as much as possible (he'd paid extra attention in Thought Shield labs in science), leaving behind only the immense desire to go on this mission. Frank looked surprised and hesitated. Gerard bit his lip. Frank narrowed his eyes a little as though in concentration, and then said, "Yes."
The room went into an uproar, everybody was either shoving Gerard or trying to ignore him, and then the dean said in a thunderous voice, "QUIET! Mr. Iero has made his decision. He chooses to accept Mr. Way as his escort on this mission. You are dismissed, follow your teachers and resume class, please – except for you, Way, and you, Iero. You're coming with me."
People glared at Gerard as he slowly pushed through them and stumbled to the stage. Bert almost pushed him down, chuckling meanly and saying something about Gerard being a desperate little faggot. Some of the younger kids looked at him with adoring eyes, and one girl, Lindsey, also a Class 1, with the power of creating heat, patted him on the arm and smiled encouragingly before she was pushed away with the surging crowd.
Finally, it was just Gerard standing on the stage with Frank and the dean. Frank offered him a small smile, and Gerard just about had a coronary. He had to calm down. Damn Frank for being somewhat telepathic. Eventually he succeeded and just smiled meekly back, turning to the dean, who was still looking unconvinced.
"Mr. Way," he said slowly, "are you positive that you'll be able to be Mr. Iero's escort?"
"Why would he not be able to?" Frank asked evenly.
"I'm just a Class 1," Gerard muttered. "I'm not…like you." He cheeks flamed and he glanced away. "But I can, sir. I'll be the best escort ever, I promise."
The dean raised an eyebrow and then said, "Alright. Well then," he clapped his hands, "you two are to report to the hangar tomorrow morning at seven a.m. sharp! There will be a jet there ready to take you to the island."
"Sir, what's the island's name?"
"It's called Mirage. I warn you boys, this is not training. This thing is dangerous."
"Don't worry, sir," Frank said confidently, "I'll defeat it."
Yes, you will, Gerard thought very clearly, and he could've sworn Frank smiled.
"It's too early," Frank moaned, sprawled out on the sumptuous couch in the jet. Yes, a couch, in a jet. There were also rooms in it, and everything was insanely high-tech, and Gerard was so, so out of his league here it wasn't even funny. None of this stuff was meant for him. So he just huddled in the corner on a soft beanbag chair, making his hand and each of his fingers individually go invisible. He had to concentrate for it to work, but eventually it did and he felt stupidly proud.
When he looked over at Frank, though, he felt like he shouldn't have even tried. Frank was directing a fruit from the bowl across the room over to him with just a twist of his wrist, his fingers stretching out. Gerard could almost see the bands of energy coming from his fingertips, the fruit caught somewhere in the middle. It settled neatly in the palm of Frank's hand and he looked over at Gerard, feeling his gaze. He grinned. "Pretty cool, huh?" Gerard nodded, smiling a tiny bit. "Hey, you want one?" Gerard's eyes went wide and he started to shake his head, but Frank just smirked and a banana went flying straight at Gerard.
"Hey!" he exclaimed, going invisible on instinct, flailing his unseen arms around in front of his face. Frank giggled and then stopped when Gerard caught the banana in his still invisible hand.
"Dude," Frank said, "that actually looks awesome."
Gerard blinked, peering at where his fingers connected with the fruit, making the yellow shimmer with his own energy, making it as though the banana floated just as it had with Frank's telekinesis. He didn't think it really looked awesome, but…if Frank did, then that was good enough for him. Shyly, he went visible again, his cheeks noticeably red. Frank just giggled again and sent another fruit his way, this one a strawberry. Gerard tried to get away, but Frank just kept sending fruits at him, until Frank had managed to pick up a pineapple and toss it with his energy towards Gerard. Gerard looked at him, their eyes connected, and Frank's eyes flickered. The pineapple fell to the floor.
"Oh," Frank said, hurriedly glancing away. "Uh, I just…lost my concentration, sorry," and he scooped up the pineapple in his arms, throwing it towards the trash and directing it into the bin with his mind. Gerard blinked, unsure of what had just happened, and scurried off, going invisible and closing the door to his room. He looked down at his arm and the energy hiding it rippled in response, glowing faintly blue before returning to its normal color of…clear? Gerard flexed his hand and then picked up a small flashlight on the armoire. Frank was right. It did look sort of awesome.
The flight was a long one, from New York all the way to a little island in the middle of the Pacific. Gerard woke up blearily, disoriented at first, and then remembered everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours and smiled. Then he remembered that Frank was also on this jet, and Gerard had a very strong urge to take a shower, because his hair was a greasy mess and he didn't smell so great either. Plus, he could bet that the showers here were amazing.
So he got up, peering out the small window and seeing that they were almost to the ocean, which meant that he had plenty of time. It was dawn, rays of sunlight coming up over the horizon, where the water touches the sky. Gerard would have watched the sun rise, but he couldn't be derailed from his current task, so he turned away and towards the shower, which was just a little space off to the side, it didn't even have a door. The shower door was sliding and glass, and there was what seemed like hundreds of small dials and buttons near the showerhead, all different colors and with tiny labels on them. Gerard grinned and gingerly pushed the one to turn the water on. He startled back when it came on with surprising speed.
He felt awkward with this shower right out here in the open, facing towards the door no less, but sighed and stripped, pulling his shirt up and over his head, his pants and boxers following, and he immediately went fully invisible. He didn't like being so out in the open and bare, it was more comfortable like this, to remain unseen even by himself. He thought maybe that was sort of sad, that he was that that shy, but hey, at least he wasn't an exhibitionist.
Gerard stepped into the shower and couldn't help but be intrigued at how the water droplets clung to him even when there seemed as though there was nothing to cling to. Maybe some would have said that made his power all the more useless, but Gerard didn't think so. He thought it was entrancing how the water sort of formed a second skin around him, slicking down his hair and dripping down his chest and back. After a while, relaxing in the spray, he started fiddling with the dials, and found one which dumped colored soap on him, another which made the spray so hard it was painful (but got the colored soap off) and one which was just normal warm water but with different colors, so that a line of blue water would hit him, then green, yellow, red, orange, pink, purple. Gerard was enjoying that so much that he allowed himself to be visible again, reveling in the darker colors splattering like ink on his pale skin, and the lighter colors making it somehow paler. He was so wrapped up in this that he didn't hear the door open and Frank walk in.
"Gerard, we have to get ready to-" Frank froze, and Gerard stared at him, before going entirely invisible in a flash, face burning. Fuck. Frank had just…Gerard backed up against the shower wall so that the water wouldn't cling to him so noticeably anymore. "Um," Frank said, voice a little shaky, "Gerard? Fuck, man, I'm sorry. I didn't…I'll just…I'll just go now. Are you…" And then Gerard just went totally still, because something was nudging against his mind, and he gasped and tried to push it away. But Frank kept nudging, and then he pushed and Gerard's defenses shattered, much to his dismay. He breathed hard and concentrated on staying invisible, staring at Frank, who was looking bewildered, and then…smirking. Oh, fuck, no. He hadn't – had he?
But Frank didn't say anything, and he was gone from Gerard's head, thank god, but then he was raising an arm and twisting his wrist, and all the towels from the shelf came whooshing towards Frank. He caught them all in his arms and grinned devilishly at Gerard, backing out of the room with the towels. Gerard's eyes widened when he realized what he was doing, and he scrambled to get out of the shower. "Frank!" he protested. "No! Stop it, come back – dammit, I need those!"
He shook himself off like a dog to get rid of the sheen of water on his skin, but he was unfortunately still soaking wet. "Frank!" he cried, slipping and sliding over the floor to get to him, leaving nothing but wet footprints behind. Frank was standing in the middle of the large main room, towels still cradled against his chest, still smirking like he knew something that Gerard didn't. His eyes were flicking around curiously, though, which meant that he couldn't see Gerard. Then he looked down at the floor and saw the wet puddle Gerard was standing in (except for the shapes of his feet) and giggled, holding up the towels. "Oohh, Gerard!" he called, releasing them and letting them hover inches from his fingertips, "come and get them!"
Gerard could not believe he was doing this, standing stark naked and dripping wet in front of Frank, invisible, while the other waved towels at him. Seriously, this escort thing was like Gerard's personal circle of Heaven and Hell so far. But he played along, because what's the worst that can happen if you can't be seen? He made a soft growling noise and stepped forwards onto the rug so that his feet would stop leaving tracks. Frank was still watching the floor, the imprint on the rug when Gerard stepped on it, but when he stepped back onto the wood floor and left no traces behind; Frank stopped and instead narrowed his eyes, searching for shimmers in the air. Gerard focused as hard as he could on not making shimmers, not making anything, not a sound, not a breath. And it worked. It worked better than he expected.
He wasn't Gerard anymore, he was simply a collection of fragments, particles, pieces of energy, shifting silently as he crept around Frank and then, behind him. He was part of the air, part of the floor, part of the couch behind him, and then…then something strange happened which had never happened before. Frank reached out and shouted, "Gotcha!" and…and put his hand directly through Gerard's chest. Frank looked puzzled and drew back his arm, but Gerard was in shock. That wasn't his power! Dematerializing…that was a Class 3 power, wasn't it? What the fuck. What the fuck! Delighted, he stepped forward again and tapped Frank's shoulder. He spun, wild eyed, but Gerard knew he'd just felt a shiver, not a real touch. He had no idea how he was doing this, but it was incredible. He felt weightless, he felt free, and he felt powerful when he leaped upwards and grabbed the towels.
Except he couldn't grab them, his hand went right through them, and he panicked and tried to change back to just being invisible again, but ended up going the whole way and changing back to solid and very visible. Luckily for him, at the same moment that Frank whirled around, he succeeded in yanking all the towels out of Frank's energy and he fell and they fell, scattering on top of him.
Frank was staring at him and Gerard blinked up, and then Frank just started laughing. Gerard blushed and turned invisible so he could stand up and wrap some towels around himself in an attempt to appear at least somewhat decent.
"You," he said to Frank, "are an asshole."
"Am not," he giggled madly. Then he paused. "Although…what happened just now? I couldn't feel your mind for a little bit."
Gerard had somehow forgotten that. "Oh, right," he said, "I don't know. I kind of just…" he waved an arm around vaguely.
"Dematerialized?" Frank's eyes were huge. "Are you serious?"
Gerard shrugged helplessly. "Do I look like I know? I'm a Class 1, that wouldn't even make any sense." Suddenly Frank was quiet and Gerard was quiet and things were awkward and Gerard wanted to go invisible or dematerialize or whatever the hell he could do all over again. Because Gerard was a Class 1, at the bottom of the food chain, and Frank was a Class 3, right up near the top, and Gerard had just made that blatantly clear.
Frank sort of ahemed and then said hesitantly, "I'm, you know, sorry. For…all that. I shouldn't have."
"N-no," Gerard said, and great, he was back to a stammering mess again, "it's…it's okay. Really. Um."
"So…we need to get ready for the landing," Frank said quietly, not looking at Gerard, which stung a little, and Gerard's visibility faded noticeably, his body translucent.
"Yeah," Gerard muttered, edging past him and back towards his room. "Right." He paused before going back through the door and turned back to Frank, flushing deeply. "Next time…please knock." Frank gave him a weak smile and a thumbs up before he closed the door behind him and slid down it, burying his face in his hands. Frank had seen him naked, and Frank had gone through his mind. How much worse could this trip get?
He had no idea.
"I'm surprised they allowed a Class 1 to be a 3's escort," said the red-haired woman, Hayley, for what seemed like the thousandth time. Gerard gritted his teeth and tried to resist the urge to go invisible and smack some sense into her. Hayley was a Class 2, capable of flight and excellent vision, like an eagle. As cool as that was, he was finding it difficult to spend time with her. And that was most definitely a problem, because she was in charge of fitting him for his suit.
Yes, Gerard apparently got a suit, too. He'd be accompanying Frank on the mission to destroy the prototype, which was called a S.C.A.R.E.C.R.O.W., and that stood for something long and complicated which had disappeared from Gerard's mind as soon as they'd told him.
The person making their suits was a Class 3 named Tom who had the power of transmutation, teleportation, and fire creation. Because all of his abilities often destroyed his clothing, he'd put his life work into designing a suit for himself which could withstand all of these things. He succeeded and went on to be one of the most famed super suit makers in the world. Tom was fitting Frank in the other room, since Frank's powers were easier to make a suit for than Gerard's. Or so he thought.
Tom had made many other suits for supers with the power of invisibility, so it wasn't really as hard as Gerard had expected. When, a few hours later, Hayley poked her head in the room again and handed over to him his suit, he wanted nothing more than to go die in a hole somewhere because there was no way he was wearing this suit around Frank.
For starters, it was made of spandex, making it very, very skintight. For another thing, it was pure black with a soft shine of blue when he moved, washing out his visible skin and making it even paler, so that he had the appearance of a ghost. In spandex.
But the thing which made him brave enough to wear the suit was that when he became invisible, so did the suit. He wasn't sure how that worked and he didn't really care – it was much better than going to watch Frank fight that thing naked. He did not want to repeat that experience, thank you very much.
When he and Frank met up afterwards, both in their suits, Gerard nearly swallowed his tongue because why, why, why did Frank have to be so hot?! His suit was spandex, too, a dark green color with whorls and swirls of dark red and light gold catching the light when he shifted. Gerard guessed the material was probably a little stronger than spandex because of Frank's super strength, but it was thin enough to cling to every curve of his body in a way which should not have been as attractive as it was. Gerard thought he sort of looked like a male version of Poison Ivy, and that of course did not help his train of thought at all.
"You look good," Frank smiled, and seriously, seriously, was he kidding? Gerard wanted to tell him he looked absolutely amazing and should never ever take that suit off unless it was for Gerard, but refrained and instead mumbled a soft "thank you" and hoped that would suffice.
"Well, boys," said a man from the opposite side of the room, "you both look marvelous. Care to join me for some lunch?"
Gerard blinked and stared at him. He was standing with his arms crossed in a fashionable suit (not a super suit, a real suit) with a tie. He wasn't very tall, and his hair was dark and a little spiky, with large dark eyes and rounded features. But his skin – his skin appeared to be changing colors, flashing blue and green and yellow and orange and red and pink and purple just like the shower water on the jet. The man cleared his throat and said, "Ah. Yes, one of my powers is to change the color of anything with a touch. Quite useful, actually."
"Wow," Frank said, just as wide-eyed as Gerard.
He chuckled. "Anyway! My name is Pete Wentz. I'm your host on this island and I daresay I ought to give you two a huge thank you for offering to take care of our…not so little problem."
"It's our pleasure," Frank said, dipping his head. Pete smiled and Gerard just blushed. Frank was being hot and polite now? Was he trying to kill him?
They followed Pete through a set of huge, burnished wood doors and into a large dining room with a long table. Gerard sat down at a random chair and couldn't help but smile when Frank sat next to him, their hands resting on the table inches away from one another. Pete sat across from them and clapped his hands. Gerard wondered what exactly he was doing, until the table started to hum and vibrate, and then their place settings appeared as they were lowered…from the ceiling. The technology here was insane.
Frank was a vegetarian and lactose intolerant (don't ask how Gerard knew that, he forgot long ago how he'd found out), so Gerard wondered if he would refuse the food, but as it turned out, the robot cook (that was what Pete called it) could read their minds and catered to what they liked to eat the most. Frank got a plate laden with pasta and a salad, with bread and cilantro on the side and two chocolate peanut butter cups with it. Gerard's plate had cheese pizza, French bread, chips, and, to his utter delight, the almond cookies that his grandma always used to make. He and Frank both had Cherry Pepsis to drink, and Frank grinned and gave him a sideways look, holding up the soda can and motioning for Gerard to do the same. Pete laughed and joined in, and Frank said, "A toast! To saving the island!" They clinked their cans against Pete's wine glass and then drank, setting upon their food and finding it even more delicious than it looked.
Shortly after the meal, Gerard was in his room, not on the jet but in the island complex, doodling Frank on a piece of fancy parchment paper that he'd found tucked into a book on the bookcase. He wasn't doodling him in his suit, though he really wanted to, just his face, trying to capture his likeness so that when all of this was over, he'd have something to remember Frank by. It was a little weird and sappy and maybe even slightly creepy, but Gerard didn't want to forget him. He was sure that in the days to come, Frank would become a superhero, his photograph on all the newspapers for saving so and so and defeating whatshername. But Gerard didn't want to remember him in that way. He just wanted to remember Frank from right now, before all of that, the Frank he'd adored from a distance for so long.
"Gerard? I'm knocking this time," Frank said from outside the door.
"Come in," Gerard called back, scrambling to shove the drawing of Frank under the weird little desk fountain sitting on the table. Frank stepped in, still in the suit, still beautiful, wearing a crooked smile.
"Hi," he said, standing unsurely in the room. "Nice to see you're not naked this time." Gerard coughed and went red, and Frank giggled at him. Gerard flickered like a candle in response, and this time, all of him, even the suit, disappeared for the few seconds he lost control. Frank tilted his head. "Why d'you do that?"
"Like…become invisible really quick and then visible again. Like, why does that happen?"
Gerard shrugged. "Um. I get nervous?"
Frank raised an eyebrow. "So…you always do it around me, does that mean I make you nervous?" Gerard flickered again in response and Frank's brow lowered. "Why do I make you nervous?"
Gerard wrung his hands. So…what had Frank found out when he'd sneaked into Gerard's mind this morning? Did he know how Gerard felt about him? Gerard cleared his throat. "Uh…because you're you?"
Frank blinked, looking unclear as to whether he should be offended or take that as a compliment. "So then why did you volunteer to come if I make you nervous?"
Gerard could have facepalmed. Things were about to get very awkward, very soon. "Because you're you," he repeated, and this time Frank sort of smiled, and then he was full on beaming at Gerard.
"Yup," Gerard mumbled, playing with the sleeve on his suit, "that's me."
"No, really," Frank insisted, sitting on the edge of the desk and swinging his legs, "it is! I mean, I just thought you wanted to come because it's like, an adventure, you know?"
"Well, that too," Gerard admitted, taking his chances and looking at Frank. Their faces were level now that they were both sitting; even though the desk was higher, Frank was such a short bastard that it just happened to work out so that they were looking right at each other. Gerard's heart sped up and Frank blinked.
"See, you're nervous again now," Frank pointed out, nudging against Gerard's mind again, but he was not going to let him in this time. Frank furrowed his brow and tried to get in again, but Gerard wouldn't budge. "Fuck, you're good at that," Frank said, sweating a little and his presence fading from the outskirts of Gerard's mental barriers.
Gerard grinned. "I try."
Frank grinned back and then asked, "So…you've been at The Academy since freshman year, right?" Gerard nodded. "But I don't think…I hardly ever saw you. Why's that? Maybe we just didn't have any classes together?"
No, Gerard thought, we had Arithmetic 1 and The Dangers of Capes Honors and Physical Endurance in a Fight together, all in freshman year. And then three more classes in sophomore and junior, and two in senior. But all he said was, "Yeah, that must've been it."
"It must suck," Frank said, taking Gerard by surprise.
"Being…y'know, a Class 1 with a Class 1 power. I bet the higher classes make your life a living hell," Frank said sympathetically.
Gerard wasn't sure what to say to that, because it was true. But instead he said the next most truthful thing, "I survive. I mean, I'm happy with what I have; most people don't even get that. And I think it's awesome that there are supers like you with powers that can actually help people, because the world really needs that, right? And of course I got bullied, and I still do, but it's okay because even though I don't have super strength like you, I know I can get through it. I figured that someday things might change and the world might need a super like me, but if it doesn't, then that's okay too, because there will always be other supers to save the world, even if that's not my specific destiny. I just feel lucky growing up with all of them, all the ones like you who will be heroes someday."
Frank was staring at him and Gerard was aware he'd rambled and he flickered again, apprehension building in him, and then Frank leaned forward and hugged him. Gerard made a surprised little "oh!" sound and flailed his arms around before cautiously curling them around Frank, still flickering faintly. Frank hummed and said, "Calm down," and he was beside Gerard's mind again, but this time his energy just sort of stroked and rippled, effectively stopping the flickering.
Frank pulled away after a while, looking fondly at him. "You know what, Gerard?"
"What?" Gerard croaked, still in shock.
"I wish there were more supers like you. I really do." And then he slid off the desk and started towards the door, and Gerard didn't notice the piece of paper with Frank's face sketched on it drifting through the air behind him, guided by energy, until it had slipped out of the room, the door closing behind it.
They had another sumptuous meal with Pete, and then went off to their respectable rooms for the night. In the morning, the mission would begin, and Frank had been so excited during dinner that he'd sent Pete's potatoes flying around the room and almost spilled Gerard's milk all over his head. He also couldn't stop bouncing in his seat, his aura of energy thrumming and glowing green at certain points. Gerard thought maybe it was his imagination, but he could've sworn that his own blue aura sparked in reply.
Frank had returned the picture, it had slipped under Gerard's door and fluttered over to the bed where he was sitting, falling into his lap. Frank had written in the corner, this is rad, you have mad skills and signed his name below it in all caps, the F a little crooked. Gerard totally did not tuck it into his suitcase in a place where he'd never ever lose it.
And now it was morning, and he and Frank were hurtling through the air towards the portion of the island where the S.C.A.R.E.C.R.O.W. resided, and Gerard's stomach was a fucking colony of butterflies, and it had nothing to do with the speed and height their pod was falling from.
Then there was a thunk and it hit the forest floor, the door falling open and the two of them stumbling out. Frank looked a little pale and Gerard, because he was his escort and it was his duty to make sure Frank was okay, asked him, "You alright?"
Frank looked at him and reached out, squeezing his hand, releasing it, almost to reassure himself more than Gerard. He smiled. "Yeah. Let's find this son of a bitch." He bounded off through the trees, and Gerard stumbled to follow, becoming invisible just in case the machine was right behind him or something. This would hopefully be over fast. He was nervous, but he was also really damn excited. This wasn't training. This was real life and even though it wasn't really his mission…he was here! He would get to see it.
He skidded to a stop beside Frank, who had frozen, eyes searching for something and head cocked to the side. Frank had a line between his eyebrows. "I can hear it," he mumbled. Gerard listened. He couldn't hear anything. "No, no," Frank said, "I can hear…I can hear its thoughts. Feel its mind. It's…strange. It feels so close, but I-" Gerard felt something move in the air behind him, he couldn't quite explain it, and spun around, only to see a single, glowing red eye from the ferns, watching them. Gerard slapped Frank's arm and he turned, too.
Gerard's mouth opened as the red eye rose up, higher and higher, attached to a round metallic body and with eight mechanical legs. It looked like a –
"Spider," Frank breathed, blanching. "Fuck, why did they have to make it a spider?"
Any other time, Gerard would have comforted him and told him he had an unreasonable fear of needles, but this time he just stood there, feeling utterly helpless. Frank was squaring his shoulders beside him, though, holding a hand out and closing his eyes, and Gerard watched as one of the metal spider's legs twisted the wrong direction. It made a hissing noise and the metal screeched as Frank twisted it further, bands of energy wrapping around it, forcing the wires the wrong way and finally pulling the leg free from the body, where it fell and lay, twitching and falling still.
The spider made a distinctly angry clanking sound, and Gerard, feeling it would now be a very responsible thing to do, grabbed Frank's arm and said firmly, "Run."
Frank did, and the spider scurried after them, parts clanging and crunching and making a lot of goddamn noise. Gerard was running and running, but then Frank wrenched away from him, and Gerard had to force himself to stop, looking desperately for the other, finally spotting him going towards the monstrosity. Gerard's eyes widened as he leaped upwards, energy swirling around him, using his own telekinesis to lift himself high onto the back of the spider, so that its red eye swiveled around, looking for the culprit to blame for its missing limb.
"Frank!" Gerard cried, running towards him, and the red eye swiveled towards him. Oh. The spider took off, and Gerard , body full of adrenaline, sprinted away, zigzagging through the undergrowth to confuse his pursuer. He just needed to buy Frank some time to do whatever he was doing – and then a shot was fired just feet away from him. He turned and stared at the spider, which was…shooting bullets. Fuck. If it was shooting bullets, then that meant –
The spider stopped, and the red eye swiveled fully around to where Frank was clinging to its back, eyes closed in what looked like intense focus. Gerard was horrified. The spider's gun clicked, and Frank sprang off just before the bullet hit, prancing away towards Gerard, seeming to avoid every bullet the spider fired. Frank was reading its mind, not just strong emotions, but actually reading it! Gerard was delighted, or as delighted as someone could be in this situation.
"Gerard," Frank panted, finally catching up to him, "I need to get under the spider." When Gerard looked at him like he was crazy, he rolled his eyes and explained, "There's a way to get into it from there, if I manage to do that, I can destroy its core and shut it down."
Gerard nodded. "So what do you want me to do?"
"Distract it. Go visible and then confuse it, okay? I promise I won't let it touch you, I just need a little time."
Gerard hesitated, then nodded. He could do this, his power was perfect for this. Frank grinned and hugged him again quickly, which made his deciscion totally worth it. Then Frank was summoning up more energy and rising off the ground, until he was level with a branch in one of the nearby trees, perching in it. The spider was momentarily bewildered, but Gerard knew it wouldn't be long before it looked up and saw Frank above it.
"Hey!" Gerard shouted, going fully visible. The eye glowed brighter in astonishment, then darkened in robotic fury, scuttling towards him. Gerard vanished and it stopped, puzzled again. Gerard made himself like a ghost, so that the trees and forest were visible through his skin and clothes, an illusion which danced teasingly mere feet from the spider. It clacked its legs and then decided to charge, which made Gerard's smug expression fall at once. His power was purely defensive, he had no way to fight back, so he just whipped through the forest, the heat of the machine at his back. It started shooting at him, so he flickered on and off like a broken television, breaths harsh and blood pounding in his ears, heart in his throat as his legs pumped faster and faster, a blur of skin and spandex and then nothing the next moment, bullets spraying around and past him, though the spider was just shooting blindly, unable to pinpoint its target.
Gerard was tiring quickly, and he chanced a look back, relieved when he saw Frank there, leaping from the tree and landing silently behind the spider. Gerard went fully invisible and the spider stopped to regain its bearings on his position, which gave Frank the chance to slip under the spider's metal belly. Gerard grinned, because it was going to work, Frank was a fucking genius – he could see him reaching for the trap door on the machine's underside, and the red eye was still attempting to focus on Gerard – and then it went wrong, and the spider went completely still before one of its legs poked under itself, touching Frank's shoulder, trying to feel its prey. The eye got distinctly darker, so that it was almost black, and Gerard saw how Frank, panicked, shot a tendril of energy out to force the leg back, but it was too late, it knew he was there, and knew just how to destroy him. It lowered its body so that the space between the metal belly and the ground lessened, trapping Frank in between. Frank shouted something that sounded like, "Smashed by a spider! Of fucking course."
A choked noise came from Gerard's throat and the spider didn't even notice, still forcing all of its bulk down against Frank. It was going to kill him. Kill him.
Gerard couldn't actually remember seeing Frank use his super strength – it wasn't exactly something one needed on a daily basis, but now Frank was in danger of being crushed, and Gerard saw it the moment his arms and legs braced themselves against the spider's armored belly, his muscles straining as he kept it where it was, gasping and face twisting up with the effort. The spider's eye just darkened further and it pressed down, and Gerard wasn't even sure what he was doing, running towards the spider and rolling down beneath it to where Frank was fighting with its weight, every line of his body taut, his head thrown back and his Adam's apple trembling, eyes squeezed closed. He heard the huff of breath beside him and his green eyes flew open, staring at Gerard disbelievingly.
"Gerard!" he choked out, shaking from exhaustion and effort. "Get out of here! You can't – you need to go!"
"No," Gerard said, and even he wasn't sure why he was saying it, but he just… "I'm not leaving you."
Frank stared. "Gerard-" and then he screamed as the spider slammed down, unable to hold the creature away from them anymore, and they were both about to have every bone in their body broken, and rage and fear and pure fucking energy coursed through Gerard, and something white and hot exploded behind his eyelids, and when he opened them, he wasn't dead, and neither was Frank.
No, instead, a dome of webbed blue light stretched over them, stopping the belly of the spider from coming any closer. Frank, who was curled defensively against Gerard, slowly uncurled and looked at the force field in awe, before turning to Gerard, mouth agape. "How-"
Then Gerard's whole body spasmed as the spider struggled against the force field, but Gerard steeled himself, added another layer of blue light, sparking and pushing back against the spider. And he knew it wouldn't last, didn't even know how it'd gotten there, but what mattered was that he knew what he could do to get rid of the spider.
He closed his eyes and went invisible, and then he went further, so that he wasn't just invisible – he wasn't there. He wasn't Gerard any more. He was just a collection of fragments, pieces, particles, moving and vibrating and connecting with thousands, no, millions of other particles – the solid particles of Frank beside him, the hot, energy particles of the force field, and then above that, the massive bulk of the spider.
But it wasn't a spider, it wasn't even a machine. It was just like Gerard, just like Frank, just like the force field – a collection of bits and pieces which could be moved and manipulated. They appeared as a picture, a map of a sort in Gerard's head, and he moved the entirety of the spider's map away from them, off of them, the particles resisting at first, and then giving way when he sucked in more energy – Frank's energy, maybe, but he couldn't be sure. The spider's particles moved as it did, the long legs and the fat, round body, the frantically blinking eye. Gerard looked deeper, though, sifting through the map in his mind until he saw the center of the spider.
It was a mess of tightly bound fragments, curling wires of quickly moving pulses, and then, in the center, a solid collection of particles, sending signals to the creature, telling it to move, to attack. Gerard took more of Frank's energy, and felt the other go slightly limp against him, but it was a distant feeling, as though a sensation in a dream. He pulled at the particles in the heart of the machine, but they wouldn't budge. Maybe he wasn't strong enough to destroy them. But he knew what was.
Maybe he could've done what he did in a way which left the spider more intact. But he didn't feel much like mercy right then.
Gerard took the pieces from the wires, the pieces from the machinery – just tiny bits, but the wrong bits, and he arranged them in between the particles of the spider's clockwork heart. He put the electricity pulses where they shouldn't be, he stuck the iron fragments where they'd hurt the most, he curled the copper wire around the outer shell like veins, and then he found a spark of heat, just the smallest bit, and touched it to the whole set up.
The spider exploded. Gerard knew, because he saw the map in his mind change, the particles still there, but morphing, flying outward. They tried to break through the shield Gerard had created, but he used the last of his energy to ensure that didn't happen, Frank's warmth against him shaking and trembling as they almost died again and again, the force field quivering and almost shattering countless times.
And then it was over, and Gerard was Gerard again, and the force field was gone. Gerard hurt all over, and his head was pounding, spinning, barely able to function. He thought of Robert Bryar and what had happened to him, and he wondered if he would meet the same fate.
"Gerard," Frank whispered raspily, leaning over him, his face pale, drawn, and shaken. "How did you – I didn't know -"
Gerard just shook his head. His throat felt too dry, and his vocal chords wouldn't work. He tried to go invisible, but he couldn't. He couldn't even flicker anymore.
"You saved my life," Frank said, cupping Gerard's face and leaning closer. Gerard closed his eyes. It was too much. Everything was too much. He just wanted to disappear. "No," Frank murmured, "come back." Then he was closing the last few inches, and he was kissing Gerard, and Gerard could hardly even find it in him to move his mouth back against him, and all he could think was that his first kiss was happening right before he died. He was losing his glow, losing his energy. Gerard parted his lips minutely, and he gave Frank the last thing he had left – the remaining spark of energy which he'd taken from Frank. The rest he'd used to cause the explosion. He'd used all of it to create the explosion, he realized. He had none left, and there was no time to replenish it. He felt too heavy, and too light, all at once. He saw the map in his head again, a field of puzzle pieces which he'd ripped apart, and then the explosion was happening all over again, and he was falling, Frank softening his descent with his kiss, and then the energy passed between them and Gerard was swallowed up by the blackness.
"I don't understand; he was just a Class 1."
"Well, obviously not! He's a 3 at least, and a powerful one at that – dematerializing is one thing, dematerializing animate objects is another entirely! He could kill with that power…he could bring people back with that power, given a lot of practice."
"And force fields? How did The Academy not find those powers before?"
"I suppose they never fully manifested themselves."
Gerard was aware of two things – one, his head was still pounding; and two, somebody was holding his hand. He was more interested in the second thing than the first, and with some difficulty opened his eyes and tried to see the face of the person grasping his hand so tightly.
Frank was standing there, and he looked terrified but relieved at the same time. "Gerard," he said, "you need to hang on. The doctors – they're trying to-"
Then Gerard felt something cold against his arm and turned to look, curious, only to find that it was thin, sharp, and metal, and oh, did he mention it was a fucking needle?! It was an instinctive reaction when he took in a pulse of energy from Frank, who gasped, startled, and then pushed the doctors and the needle away, keeping them out with a glowing web of blue. One of the nurses screamed and a doctor said, "My god, the kid wasn't joking. That's a force field, all right."
"Gerard," Frank whispered urgently (he was trapped inside the force field, still holding Gerard's hand), "calm down. They're trying to help." Gerard just shook his head and tried to say that they were trying to stab him and kill him with needles, but then Frank kissed him again, and he went limp, giving all the energy back in a rush and falling against the pillows, force field crackling away into nothingness. The doctors set upon him at once, and the needle pushed through his skin, but with Frank beside him, everything suddenly seemed okay.
One Year Later
Gerard had survived the huge loss of energy after defeating the spider called S.C.A.R.E.C.R.O.W. and saving Frank's life. They went back to The Academy and it was discovered that Gerard had had the ability to create force fields and dematerialize himself and the things around him before, but it was only when he'd been close to Frank and used his energy that he'd had enough power to do it. After more training, he was able to do both on his own, and he was recognized as a Class 3 super with Class 1, Class 3, and Class 4 powers.
Frank trained with him, because it was also quickly discovered that they were stronger together, due to the intriguing fact that their unique types of energy were perfectly compatible with eachother and could combine to make an even stronger force. It was like nothing The Academy had ever seen before and considered miraculous by all.
They both graduated from The Umbrella Academy with high honors, and their official super names – Frank was Fun Ghoul, and Gerard was Mirage, after the island where everything had truly begun. They fought together using their six powers against the forces of evil which plagued the Earth, and though they both showed up in countless headlines and had their faces in photographs in newspapers everywhere, Frank kept that first drawing Gerard had done of him for as long as he lived.
And as for their relationship, well, Frank politely dismissed all of his past girlfriends and all the girls who had suddenly taken a great interest in Gerard and kissed him on the lips onstage at their graduation, making them the first publicly gay couple at The Academy. What can I say; it was a very old-fashioned school. Gerard had actually gone invisible in embarrassment when he did, but when he heard cheers instead of jeers, he went as visible as he possibly could, and when they pulled apart and Frank playfully nudged against his mind before hugging him happily, Gerard whispered into his ear, "You're incredible."
Frank laughed against his hair and pulled away, eyes shining and skin sparking with green where it touched Gerard's blue. "No," he said, smiling bright, "we are."