"Take your time," Spencer said. He was smiling, but it wasn't a mocking smile. Gerard really, really wanted to hug him. It took him a second to remember that that was allowed, now, and he did. Spencer laughed, "Oh, okay," and hugged back. Then he let go, just as Gerard was ready to pull away, and Gerard bounded off into the store.
He spent some time passing his fingers over the tips of the brushes and smelling the different colored pencils and considering the new, sleek easels. Then he made himself get serious and figured out what the center could buy with the budget they had that would be quality enough for Gerard not to feel like he was teaching with crap. He brought his final purchases to the counter, where Spencer was talking with two guys who looked a lot alike. Too alike, actually, to be anything but twins.
Spencer said, "Hey Gee, this is Gabriel and Fabio, they own the store."
"You keep really nice products," Gerard said wistfully.
"Spencer says you draw," one of them--Gerard was fairly sure it was Gabriel--said.
Gerard smiled. "Just for fun. I was doing a BFA through CUNY before I went to prison, but," Gerard shrugged, "I fucked that up."
Both twins eyes widened in exactly the same way. Gerard wondered if he and Mikey did things like that. Probably. Gerard said, "So, um, you probably don't wanna give me an application for that job you have posted, huh?"
The twins looked at each other. Fabio asked, "What were you in for? Stealing?"
"Dealing," Gerard said. "With a side of using."
"You still use?" Gabriel asked.
"No," Gerard said, low and serious and like the promise that it was to Bob and Mikey. Bob had gotten him through that. Mikey had forgiven him it. He wasn't going to make it mean nothing.
"Willing to work for peanuts and pretty much no benefits?" Fabio leaned in a little.
Gerard opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again to say, "Wait. Are you serious?"
Gabriel shrugged. "We watched you in the store. You obviously know your stuff. Spencer likes you. You're clearly pretty honest; I mean, you told us about the whole prison thing before we even asked, so, yeah, you're worth a shot."
"Wh-- When can I start?" Gerard asked.
"Does tomorrow work for you?" Fabio asked. "Because we're seriously short-staffed. Our best worker just left for RISD, the asshole."
"Holy shit," Gerard said, and hugged Spencer again, mostly because he was right there, and the twins were behind a counter.
When he broke the news to Mikey and Linda, Mikey clapped his hands and hugged Gerard so hard it hurt. Gerard didn't really want him to let go, but then Linda asked, "You know what this means?"
Mikey and Gerard broke apart just enough to look at her and she smiled. Gerard thought about the way Gabriel and Fabio had looked at him and knew that was what Mikey and he had just done. Gerard asked, "That I have a job?"
Linda rolled her eyes. "That it's a chance to celebrate."
"Um. I haven't actually started my job," Gerard felt the need to point out.
"And I'd kind of suck as a mom-like figure person if I let you pay for your own getting-a-job celebration party. Car, boys, now."
Mikey and Gerard had learned better than to argue with her when she used that tone.
"...and I get twenty percent off all my supplies, which, okay, is really bad, totally bad, because I have shit willpower, but I've asked Mikey and Linda to keep an eye on me, and they will, I mean, Mikey kept an eye on me when he totally shouldn't have and I hadn't even asked and it was a much bigger thing, right?" Gerard nodded. "It's a good job."
Bob smiled slightly, mostly a quirking of the right side of his mouth.
"I should shut up. I-- It's not that I don't want to know what's going on with you, I just, I feel bad asking, because it seems," Gerard stopped, chewed at his lips. "I don't know what to do, Bob." I don't know how to be good for you, now. I don't know.
"Tell me." Bob looked down briefly and then up again. "Tell me how the brushes felt, and what you want to buy first, and what you ordered when Linda took you out to dinner. Tell me."
"Can I start with the last?"
"Because she took us to my favorite burger place and I got one with pepper jack cheese and red onion and it was awesome."
"You like spicy stuff?" Bob asked.
"I never told you?"
Bob shook his head.
"Oh man. Mikey always makes fun of me. He says I'd eat fire straight if I could. I always thought that would be cool, being one of those fire-swallowers, but that's not what-- Oh, right, no, I love spicy food. When we were kids, my grandma used to take us to this Chinese place down the street, and I would order the hottest thing on the menu and then I would put hot oil on it. I would cry it was so hot, but it was so, so good." Gerard closed his eyes to just remember. Bob made a sound into the phone and Gerard's eyes flew open because he knew that sound, he knew it the way he knew his own name.
Bob said, "Maybe we should save the brushes. For next time."
Gerard shook his head. "No. I'll just have to bring you something new."
The picture I gave Bob this week is of Spencer. Bob'll fill you in on the details, but this is what you get to share with Bob: I drew that picture while Spencer was talking to Brian about this new film series he wants to run. That's really more Ryan's area, but Spencer wants to do documentaries, like "Hoop Dreams" and stuff, see if he can inspire some of the kids in the neighborhood to follow their dreams. Spencer acts all blase, but he totally believes inside. I really like that about him.
Anyway, I only drew it then because Spencer was standing still, which really doesn't happen all that often, but, well, you see what you think. I know what I see.
Bob says to tell you you're a fucking menace with those pencils of yours. He didn't use that many words, but I could hear the sentiment.
Spencer Smith is totally hot for Brian Schechter. I told Mikey what to do.
Gerard showed Mikey the letter and asked, "What does he mean?"
Mikey opened up his own letter. At the bottom there was a P.S.
P.S. Tell Spencer he should figure out what candy bar Brian likes best. It worked for Ryan.
Gerard said, "Really?"
Mikey said, "Well that, and some vegetation."