quarterturn: (bandom - bob/frank)
quarterturn ([personal profile] quarterturn) wrote2009-03-20 06:20 am

Mundanity in Stereo (Bob/Frank, PG-13)

Mundanity in Stereo
Bob/Frank, PG-13
~3400 words
Frank works at an unnamed electronics retail store. One day he meets a hot dude. Really, that is about all the substance this fic contains. It's pretty much fluff. Written for [livejournal.com profile] snarkyrainbow's birthday, and beta'd by the fantastic [livejournal.com profile] tuesdaysgone.



Frank wakes up to the sound of a broken alarm clock.

A broken alarm clock sounds a lot like complete silence, actually. Complete, blissful silence that lulls Frank into thinking he can maybe get away with five more minutes of sleep. Five more minutes and then he'll get up and submit himself to the hell on earth that is his job, five more minutes and he'll face the fact that his life is not really what he had in mind.

The sun streaming in through the crack in the curtains has other plans, though. Plans that include shining right in Frank's fucking eye, no matter which way he turns, like the beam's bending and following him around. Frank shoves a pillow over his head, and the beam lays a stripe across his shoulder, hot and heavy.

“Fine! Fine.” He pushes himself out of bed and swats at the beam of sunlight that has most predictably stolen his spot.

“Frank, you up?” Mikey pokes his head in the doorway and peers at him. “You want coffee?”

“I would love some fucking coffee, but I'm already late, I'll grab something on the way to work. You need a lift?”

Mikey shakes his head. “Gerard's picking me up. Can you swing by after work and give me a ride home, though?”

Frank's got his head stuck in the arm of his shirt, and his shoes are on the wrong feet. “Yeah, yeah, sure, ok, I'll catch you later.” He hops out of the room and manages to get his head through the right hole, kicks his shoes off and grabs them to put on later. He gets halfway down the stairs and stops, spinning on his heel and taking the stairs back up two at a time.

“Mikey!” He pounds on the door, and when Mikey opens it, confused, Frank pants, “Do not use laundry soap in the dishwasher.”

Mikey frowns. “But we're out of-”

“I know, I know, I'll grab some on the way home. Just. Don't touch the dishwasher until I get back.”

Frank doesn't leave until Mikey nods, and then he flies down the steps, almost slipping on the last one and catching himself two seconds before he brains himself on the front door.

By the time he gets to work, he's twenty minutes late and Brian's there in the doorway, arms crossed. That is almost enough to make Frank shove it into reverse and just wait for the notice of termination in his mailbox.

He manages to sac up enough to park and head inside, keeping his head down and muttering under his breath, “Don't say anything don't say anything don't say anything...”

“You're late. Again.”

Frank stops. “My alarm clock broke.”

“Since this is only the fourth time that's happened, I guess I have no choice but to believe you.” Brian says it completely sincerely, but Frank's not fooled. He's seen men get eaten alive when they fall into one of Brian's traps.

“Look, I'll buy a new one today, ok? Soon as I get off work. Promise.”

Brian doesn't look impressed, but he stands aside so Frank can go in and punch in a half hour late.

“I covered the floor for you,” Ray says, and the “you so owe me” goes unsaid.

Frank sighs, grabs his spare set of work clothes out of his locker, and goes out to sell some stereo equipment.

--

“What I could use,” Frank says at lunch, “Is a vacation.”

“Couldn't we all,” Ray says dryly, peeling his sandwich apart, and then adds with a contented sigh, “I love my wife.”

Frank stares enviously at the egg salad, and has to actually hold himself back when Ray pulls a cupcake out of his bag. It's huge, smothered in frosting, and has a heart made out of sprinkles on top.

Frank looks forlornly at his own vending machine lunch – a bag of Fritos, an apple, and a cup of coffee. He looks at Ray's cupcake, and is in the process of deciding whether Ray's friendship is worth the risk of stealing it when Ray sighs and uses a plastic knife to cut the monstrous thing down the center. He hands it over, and Frank's got the whole half in his mouth before he can even say thank you.

“I love your wife, too,” Frank says around a mouthful of chocolate, and Ray makes a face.

“Yeah, well, you now owe me for covering and for half a cupcake, which, by the way, is the only high point in the eight hours a day I spend in hell, so you get to come over tonight and help me bake.”

Frank swallows the massive lump of cupcake that's congealed into a mud-like substance in his mouth, and shakes his head. “I thought Christa did the baking.”

Ray gives him a hard look. “My wife is more than an E-Z Bake oven.”

“I know, I know!” Frank puts his hands up in defense. “I'm not saying she's not! I just thought-”

“She makes our lunches one week, and I make them the next. My cupcakes are pretty pitiful next to hers, but if you come help, I'll let you take a few home for your lunches.”

Frank would've gone over anyway (Christa's always nice to him and has occasionally set him up with people who don't suck), but Ray doesn't have to know that.

“Ten.”

“What?”

“Ten cupcakes and I'll come help.”

“By 'help', you do know I mean more than lick the spatula, right?”

“Dude, you can get salmonella from eating raw batter. Come on.” Frank does not add that he did in fact plan to help by doing just that.

Ray looks dubious, but doesn't specify exactly how Frank has to help, so Frank counts it as a win.

--

“Can I help you?” Frank's got on his most helpful face, which Brian has said makes him look a lot like a dog that's run into a few too many walls. Frank thinks it makes him look approachable.

“Uh, yeah, I guess. I'm looking for the best headphones you've got." Frank takes a second to appreciate that the customer is really fucking hot. Big, broad shoulders, blond hair, a jaw full of reddish stubble, bright blue eyes, and a lip ring. Frank tongues at the spot where his own used to be.

If this guy were any less hot, Frank would try to sell him the most expensive pair of headphones in the store, which are mostly for professional use. They're great headphones, Frank would probably blow somebody for a pair of these headphones, and they're totally worth the money, but nobody other than a professional would need them. He sold a pair to a teenage girl last week. But since this guy is as hot as he is, and Frank hasn't gotten laid in a month, he directs him over to the moderately-priced section and picks out a pair.

"These are really good. My friend actually has this exact set, and they'd probably meld to his head if I didn't make him take 'em off every once in a while."

The customer turns them over and reads the specs, and Frank shifts, suddenly a little uncomfortable. Most people glance at the specs and nod like they know what the fuck he's talking about when Frank rattles off some numbers, but this guy's actually reading them like he might understand them.

"Yeah, I need something better than this." The guy hands them back, looking frustrated. "Thanks for your time."

Frank shoves the headphones back on the rack. "No, no, hold on. We definitely have better, here, I'll-"

"I was pretty sure I heard myself say I wanted the best you had the first time. Did you think I didn't know what I wanted?"

Frank's suddenly a lot more uncomfortable. "No, dude. I just thought you meant you wanted a good pair for your money, or whatever. I was trying to find you a good deal."

"If I wanted a good deal, I would've said, 'I'm looking for the best headphones you've got within a reasonable price range.'" At least the guy's looking more annoyed than angry, which is good, since he looks like he could probably kick Frank's ass and look for another set of headphones at the same time without breaking a sweat.

"Ok, look. I'm an asshole. Let's just start over. Hey, I'm Frank! I'm here to make your shopping experience the best it can be, and I will take every word out of your mouth at face value. Can I help you with anything?" Frank gives the guy his best cheesy grin, hoping to hell he hasn't blown any shot he had with the guy (and any shot he had at a commission - Mikey left the water running for six hours straight last week and pretended it had nothing to do with the giant spider that kept trying to crawl back up out of the drain. Frank can't really blame him, but their water bill's gonna be insane.)

"Well, Frank, I'm Bob. I don't like to be jerked around, I appreciate honesty, and I like long walks on the beach. I'm looking for the best pair of headphones you've got, regardless of price. What've you got?"

"No beaches, but the walk to the pricier section will be very romantic. All lit up by the glow of the HDTVs, with the soft sounds of Kenny G coming from our top-of-the-line speakers."

Bob inclines his head. "Sounds like a date."

Frank doesn't bother trying to hide his grin as he leads the way toward the professional-grade equipment. Bob trails him pretty closely, close enough that Frank can smell the aftershave he's wearing, and the lingering scent of cigarette smoke, and a little bit of something he can't identify but isn't bad. Just sort of a personal smell, a distinguishing scent. Frank sort of has a thing for smells - colognes, shampoos, laundry detergents. It clashes pretty hard with his love of smoking, and it clashes even harder with the personal hygiene habits of Mikey Way. But Bob kind of smells like a mix of all Frank's favorite things, and it's doing things to him. Unprofessional, likely-to-get-him-fired-or-beat-up things.

Before he can do anything likely to get him fired or beat up, he picks his way around a display of speakers and pulls out a tester set of headphones. He likes to come back and play with them sometimes, hook them into a stereo and listen to The Bouncing Souls or The Damned on full volume. There's a good chance he'll lose his hearing by thirty, but if the last thing he hears is the Souls, fuck, he'll be deaf and happy.

"These are like the holy grail of headphones, dude. Sennheiser HD580s. You may actually give up sex to spend more time with these things." He holds them out for Bob to try, but Bob just leans down a little and puts his hands in his pockets.

"Lay 'em on me."

Frank slides the headphones on, fitting them snugly over Bob's ears, and tries not to let his fingers linger when they brush against Bob's hair, or graze against the scratchy stubble on his cheek. When they're on, Frank turns to the stereo and fiddles with a knob. "What station do you like?"

Bob shrugs. "I don't listen to a lot of radio. Play me what you like."

Luckily for Bob, Frank left a CD of some of his favorites in this particular stereo last time he was hiding from Brian, so he flips it over to CD and pushes play. The headphones are good - he can't hear a single note, even though he's got the volume almost maxed out. Bob nods his head a little to the beat, adjusts the headphones a little, and after a few minutes, takes them off. Frank hits pause and waits for the verdict.

"They're pretty fucking good, I'll give you that. Not sure I'd take up abstinence for them, though." He hands them back, and Frank fiddles with them a little, trying to keep his hands busy.

"Guess it depends on the quality of sex you're having," Frank says, and he is hit with the sudden, absolute knowledge that he has either a) overstepped his bounds and is going to get punched, or b) made a complete ass of himself. Possibly both. Possibly a double order of A if Brian's around.

Bob just grins. "That's a pretty personal question for our first date, Frank."

Frank lets himself breathe out hard, relieved. "Gotta get these things out of the way first thing." He grins back, setting the headphones aside. "Have to know what expectations to live up to."

Bob gives him a sweeping once-over. "I think you'd rise to the challenge."

Frank giggles. "I am not even going to dignify that obvious set-up with a joke." He grabs an unopened box of the headphones Bob had tested and holds it out. "So, are these what you wanted?"

Bob takes the box, but he doesn't take his eyes off Frank. "Oh, I definitely found what I was looking for."

Frank grins all the way up to the checkout.

--

"...and it's not like I haven't showered, you know? I totally have, recently even; I think they're discriminating."

Frank pulls his phone away from his ear and checks the call time. Twenty-six minutes. Gerard has been talking at him for twenty-six minutes. "I think they can actually discriminate against you if you smell bad, Gerard. It's like a health code or something."

"Well it's not like I'm making food or anything. I'm drawing. Unless they lick the drawings, I think they're safe."

"It's probably the principle of the thing."

"What principle of what thing?"

"The normal human principle of being disgusted by smelly fuckers."

"You are no help. Ray says you met someone."

Frank's so startled he almost drops his phone. "Like half an hour ago! Jesus, you guys gossip more than my mother. Also, nice subject change."

Gerard sounds smug when he says, "I thought so. But that doesn't make this any less of my business. Ray says you basically threw yourself at him."

"Ray is a lying liar who lies, and I am totally licking his spatula later."

"...I know that's probably not supposed to be sexual in any way, but could you confirm-"

"It's not sexual."

"So was this guy interested?"

"In headphones, yes. In me, not so much. Don't you have work to do, or people to offend with your smell, or something?"

Gerard sighs heavily over the phone. "Probably. Hey, are we still on for that show tonight?"

Frank smacks his forehead. Leave it to Gerard, the clinically flaky and terminally absent-minded, to remember plans Frank forgot. "Yeah, of course. Meet you there at eight?"

Gerard confirms and they hang up, just in time for Brian to come around the corner. Frank tries for the 'smoothly-sliding-something-that-is-definitely-not-my-phone-into-my-pocket-while-feigning-a-stretch' move, but ends up fumbling his phone and dropping it at Brian's feet, with the helpful light-up display still reading: Gerard - Call Ended - 31 min 14 sec.

Frank stares at it like it might stop saying that and say something else, like Frank was totally working hard just now! You definitely shouldn't fire him! The screen eventually does go black, but it doesn't offer any respite, despite Frank's unblinking stare.

"How's Gerard?"

Frank narrows his eyes at the phone. "Um, good. Pretty good. Still not showering."

"Oh yeah? He must have a really great boss, because I know he never makes it to work on time, and he obviously takes half-hour long unscheduled breaks to talk on the phone. If I had to deal with anything on top of that, I'd probably fire him."

"I sold a two-hundred dollar pair of headphones today." Frank looks down at the phone again, trying to gauge whether he can reach down and grab it without giving Brian an opening to karate-chop his head off or something.

"I'm just saying I'm glad you shower regularly, Iero." Brian gives him one last take-this-threat-for-what-it-is look before he goes, and Frank grabs his phone and heads out to sell some more shit. A lot more shit.

--

Frank does not end up selling a lot more shit. In fact, he only sells two adapters and a DVD cleaning set, but at the end of the day Brian says, "Stop using the store camcorders to spy on Ray in the bathroom," not "You're fired," so Frank's pretty sure he's got a chance to fuck it all up again tomorrow.

He manages to lock up without any major failboating, which is a major accomplishment for the day, and he's just trying to decide where to stop for take-out when someone says, "You guys closed?"

Frank spins around with every intention of punching somebody in the face, mostly because he hates getting snuck up on, but it's Bob, and besides the fact that hey, it's good-looking Bob, it's also someone Frank doesn't think would take a hit and listen to an explanation about itchy trigger fingers.

"Yeah, just closing. Did you need something else?" Frank sort of hopes he does, even if it's a pack of batteries. Frank does not enjoy spending more time at his workplace than is absolutely necessary, but he's willing to be a team player in this case.

"Actually, I had a complaint about something I bought earlier."

Frank's heart sinks a little. First of all, no more commission, second of all, getting his head karate-chopped off, but mostly, he kinda hoped he'd made a good impression on Bob. But he tries to take it in stride, already pulling his keys out of his pocket to unlock the front doors. "Ok. If you wanna come in, I can refund-"

"We might be able to settle this out here, actually."

Frank's heart sinks a little further. Is Bob seriously going to like, fight him over some unsatisfactory headphones? "Um, ok?"

"See, the headphones are great, exactly what the sales guy said they were, but it was a pretty expensive tab for a first date, and I didn't even get dinner out of the deal."

Frank's heart goes skyrocketing into his throat. It makes it a little difficult to say, "That's pretty shitty, dude. Did you at least get laid?"

"You'd think so, right? But no."

Frank shifts, shaking his head. "I think if I were you, I'd request a second date. Make the other guy pay this time, see how he likes it. You know? Even up the score a little bit."

Bob nods thoughtfully. "Not a bad idea. Is that store policy?"

Frank nods emphatically. "Oh yeah, definitely."

"You free right now?"

Frank grins. "Couldn't be any freer."

--

They're halfway through dinner when Frank's phone beeps, too loudly to ignore. He's been trying to ignore it since the appetizer, because fuck Brian and his karate-chopping, Frank is not coming in early tomorrow to do inventory. He plans on being awake late, wearing himself out, and sleeping straight through until the alarm goes- Oh.

The first message is Brian, predictably. "For your sake, you better not be answering your phone because you're too busy comparing alarm clocks."

The second message is, a little less predictably, Ray. "You now owe me for covering for you, half a cupcake, and a night of baking. Oh, and Christa says you're invited for dinner tomorrow night. But I rescind that offer. You- No, honey, he's busy tomorrow. No, I didn't- Frank, I rescind the rescindment. But you better bring dessert."

The third message is Gerard, Frank thinks, although the sound from the show makes it hard to make out what he's saying. "-hole, I...can't even...-get it, I'll...fun by myself. Hope...body in a gutter!" Frank's not sure he wants to know.

The fourth and final message is Mikey. "Been off work for an hour. Still sitting here, alone, without a ride. You better get here soon, the dishwasher wasn't sounding very good when I left this morning."

Frank erases all the messages and looks sadly at his half-eaten dinner. "Hey, you know that awesome sex we're probably going to have later?"

Bob stops, fork halfway to his mouth, and nods hopefully.

"How do you feel about skipping the rest of dinner, running a few errands, possibly fixing a dishwasher, and then getting straight to that?"

Bob sets his fork down carefully and signals the waiter for the check.

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