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Well, We Kiss Like Painted Tigers

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Gerard is falling-down drunk, laughing-drunk, flying-drunk, warm and pliant, and Bert is only a few drinks behind. Together, they stagger away from the noise and the lights of the main stage, stumbling to a halt on the grass in the shadow of the MCR bus. Gerard sways slightly, his smile guileless and liquid in the dark. He's still wearing his stage makeup, deathly pale with a thick, dramatic band of black across his eyes. It looks like a superhero's mask, or maybe a bandit's, the ends disappearing into his tangled mess of dark hair. The edges are still sharp and crisp and perfect, like he's only just finished painting it on.

Bert frowns. There's something wrong, he thinks blearily, with Gerard looking so – so clean when he's this fucked up. Gerard dodges interventions and gets away with murder because he's pretty, because he cleans up so nicely, and that's somehow deeply unfair. If you're a mess, you should look it. Without thinking, Bert reaches out and runs his finger through the sticky black facepaint, dragging a long streak of it down over Gerard's bright white cheekbone. It looks a little like a tear track.

"We match," he says. It's true and it isn't. It's – symbolic. Of something. Probably. He doesn't know. It's three a.m. and he's drunk and the cut-grass-gasoline smell of the air is making him dizzy.

Gerard has gone very still, lips parted, eyes big and dark. He doesn't look away. Instead, he swipes a finger along just under his own eye, and draws a slightly unsteady stripe on Bert's cheek.

"S'like war paint," he explains solemnly. "Now we match."

Bert has a sudden moment of clarity and wants to laugh; god, look at them, they're fucking ridiculous. As messes go, they're a disaster.

Gerard's forehead creases up with puzzlement. "What?" he says, and Bert realizes he was laughing out loud.

"Nothing, nothing," he says. "Just – us. Fuck." It shouldn't be funny. Maybe it's not.

Gerard still looks confused, like he wants so badly to understand it and doesn't know why he can't. He looks surreal in the dark, like an escaped character from a Tim Burton movie, pale and unearthly and that little bit wrong. There's a still, suspended moment, and Bert wants to kiss him, wants to taste the smoke and the cheap beer on his tongue and the sweat and paint on his skin just to reassure himself that Gerard is flesh and blood.

He doesn't do it.

The thing is, Bert isn't stupid or deaf, both of which he'd have to be to avoid hearing what everyone's saying about them: that they're fucking, that if they're not then they're doing everything short of that. I wish, he thinks, bitter-plaintive, every time he hears it. They aren't, they don't, they haven't. Not even when Gerard is so wasted his feet aren't even touching the ground anymore, not even when he's got more booze-powder-pills singing in his veins than Bert and Gerard's warm and willing, all shy-sly-sloppy smiles and splayed limbs and Bert knows it'd be so easy. He knows exactly what Gerard's brother and their little psycho guitarist think of him (although it doesn't take a genius to work out what said psycho guitarist's problem is; really, those big starry eyes are so painfully obvious), and it kind of hurts. Sure, he knows he's loud and obnoxious and kind of a douchebag sometimes, but he's not that guy, never will be.

Gerard makes a low, blurred noise of annoyance, practically pouting, Jesus. "'R thinking about kissing me again," he says. "'Kin' – fuckin' do it, if you're gonna."

Fuck it, Bert thinks. He's been resisting for too long, he's fucking sick of it. He's so tired and Gerard looks so good like this and it's just a fucking kiss, right?

So he does, and his movements are as slurred as his words and he only gets the corner of Gerard's mouth at first, but then Gerard lets out a breathy little laugh, warm against his skin, and pulls him in. It's messy and a little desperate, Gerard whining softly and pressing up against Bert, Bert licking hungrily into Gerard's mouth, his hands curling around the back of Gerard's neck and working their way into his unwashed hair. Gerard's skin tastes strange – painted – salt-sweat and something harsh and chemical and cloying-sweet. Bert is acutely aware of everywhere his own skin is touching Gerard's; he's burning with a sick, shivery heat and he tells himself it's just the booze.

When Gerard pulls back, his lips are slick and swollen and his eyes are dark, pupils blown. His smile is thin and wan. "Don't worry," he says quietly. "S'not like I'm gonna remember anyway."

I hope you do, Bert thinks before he can stop himself. He runs a finger through Gerard's makeup again, only this time he smears it untidily across Gerard's lips so he'll see it, taste it when he wakes up. I hope you do.