The Archives are old. Old stories, old artifacts, old blood. Gerry sticks out as a sore thumb as the newly appointed archivist. Nothing says “new head archivist of an institute so old the walls are crumbling in spots” like about 15 piercings, box dyed black hair, and limited run metal band tees. Gerry doesn’t particularly care about fitting the aesthetic, exactly, as this job wasn’t even one he wanted. He wouldn’t wish this job on his worst enemy. Too wrapped up in the things that be, in direct service to the most annoying one of all.
Money doesn’t grow on trees, though, and his last gig wasn’t quite a moneymaker. Burning books was fun. It gave him a rush. It was a rather big fuck you to his mum and the big eye in the sky, so it satisfied him. But. Money. He kind of needed food to survive! Wild. Being strong armed by Elias into taking the late archivist’s position wasn’t one he was keen on, but it was a necessary sacrifice for survival.
He hadn’t known the last archivist. She burned a book for him, once, but she wasn’t really more of an acquaintance. She turned down his offer to help her in her work in return for the burning, citing the fact that she did already have an assistant to help. Named Jon, or something.
So he finds himself sitting in an old, stuffy chair in an old, stuffy office. His assistants- he’d met Melanie and Tim so far- were great. Shared the same disdain for this place and its Head that he had. Gerry does wonder why they came here, though. There must be some reason. They both have such a dislike for this place already, yet they’re staying. He’s twisting his hair in his hands, thinking of how to ask them about why they’re working here, when he hears the door creak slightly open.
“Hey, I wanted to introduce myself! Can I come in?”. Gerry turns towards the oddly familiar voice, and sees Michael Shelley’s face through the small crack of the open door.
“Wh- Michael? You work here?”
“ Gerry? You’re the new archivist?”
Michael quickly opens the door and sits down in the chair across from Gerry. He sets down the tea he made on the desk, and pushes it towards his friend.
“It’s not quite like I wanted this job, you know. Beggars can’t be choosers though, I fucking guess, ” Gerry takes the mug of tea, staring at the steam raising from it. “Why are you here, though? Didn’t think this is where you meant when you mentioned an archiving job.”
“It seemed interesting!” Michael says, wringing his arms. “Spooky stories are cool, you know, and figuring out the legitimacy of any supernatural experience I’ve had is a fun bonus.” He looks over the statements riddling Gerry’s desk with searching eyes.
“I think you’re much too enthusiastic about this job for that to be the only reason, but I won’t pry,” Gerry responds flatly, taking a sip of the freshly made tea. He sputters it back out into the mug, it was scalding . Setting it down too fast, he watches some of the tea splash onto his desk and arm.
“Jesus, Gerry, hold on,” Michael shoots up and sprints out to the break room to grab some paper towels. He comes in, arms outreached to hand Gerry a roll. His hand brushes against Gerry’s as he hands it over, and he makes a noise that could almost be a small whine. Face red with embarrassment, Gerry snatches the roll, rips off a few, and cleans up the little spill.
“Uh. Thanks for the help. You can- you can go if you want.”
“Are you… okay?”
Gerry puts his head in his hands, and groans. “Yes. I’m fine. Was there anything else?”
“N- no. I’ll… go. See you around?” Michael quickly makes his exit, giving Gerry a quick smile as he leaves, clicking the door shut.
“Fuck!” Gerry exclaims to no one, still feeling the light bump of Michael’s hand on his. He hadn’t been touched by anyone that didn’t want to kill him in, hm, almost ever? He raises from his chair, and paces around the cramped, tiny room.
This job is going to kill me , he thinks. If an avatar doesn’t get to me first, embarrassment will. Shit. He shakes his arms in the air to get some of his emotions out. Sighing, he sits back down in his rickety chair. Grabbing a random statement from his desk, a scowl on for no one to see, Gerry starts recording.
“...The woman who opened the door wasn’t at all what I was expecting. She was very old and painfully thin, but her head was completely clean shaven, and every square inch of skin I could see was tattooed over with closely-written words in a script I didn’t recognize. She stood at the bottom of a flight of stairs and from the top I could hear the sound of death metal blaring out of some powerful speakers. I wondered for a moment if she got compla-“ Gerry burst out into laughter, setting the statement down on his desk. He rubs at his eyes, laughing so hard he’s tearing up. He sighs, amused, and takes a sip of some water he had on his desk.
“Well, suppose I’ll have to rerecord this one, huh,” He says to the tape recorder. “Don’t really think you’d want me laughing at a statement on record. Only the facts, no reactions, even at the fuckin' funny ass things. God, how’d they think Mary was the one who enjoyed my metal?” He lets out a little giggle at the thought, some poor sod thinking this horrifying woman happened to enjoy blaring death metal at two in the morning. His amusement is interrupted by a rapping at his office’s door.
“Heya, boss? What’s happening in there? There a killer statement I haven’t heard of yet?” Ah. Tim. Gerry immediately straightens, quickly tries to make sure his necklaces are in place and his hair isn’t too messy.
“Oh- uh, come in, I’ll tell you!” Tim lets himself in before he’s able to finish, and he’s already blushing. Tim… well, Gerry’s not great with words, but Tim makes him want to be well versed. Only so he can describe all the ways he makes his heart flutter.
“So! There a real banger of a statement? Some real chucklefuck came in and treated the institute as a practice for their stand up?” Tim asks, making his way over to the chair across from Gerry, flopping down onto it.
Gerry blushes, looks away from the fixed point he was staring at (it was the middle of the chair, he would’ve been staring at his chest, that’s so forward, oh my god- ) and starts shuffling a stack of statements around in his hands. “Ah. Not quite. It was one that mentioned me- well, I’m guessing it will, ones that mention Pinhole or my mum usually come round to me at some point. Statement giver thought dear old mum was the one blasting death metal at 2 in the morning.”
“Jesus,” Tim snorts, laughing. “Why would anyone think- I’ve read descriptions of her, seems more the type to blast pained screaming soundbites from games than any type of metal.”
Gerry huffs out a laugh, and smiles, saying, “Yeah, no, that’s horrifyingly accurate. She would,” Gerry grimaces, suddenly realizing That’s probably what I sounded like to outsiders! Oh! I don’t like this! and quickly steers away from talking more about his mum.
“Anyway, have you done any… interesting research?”, He sputters out, and immediately thinks of a better thing to change the topic with. “Or have you found another garish button up to wear? They’re getting increasingly creative every day I see you.”
“Of course I’ve found new button ups! Found one with knives on it, think Melanie would like it. May buy it and wear it just to infringe on her aesthetic a bit.”
Gerry laughs, “That’s evil! You can’t just absorb an aesthetic. There won’t be enough for the rest of us.”
“Boss, I can and will buy some chains to wrap around my neck and buy a little button up with some skulls on it to absorb your aesthetic. Mine now.” Tim slowly lifts up from the chair, making as little noise as he can. Walking towards Gerry, he shuffles around the desk in the opposite direction of where Gerry’s staring, maneuvering about books and statements littering the ground. Gerry doesn’t notice his approach, too tired and focused on the movement of the stack of papers fluttering from the ceiling fan’s movement.
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Oh, I would.” Tim says, grinning, reaching down with a “Hah!” to snatch a necklace off Gerry. He yelps in surprise, and laughs. When taking off the chains, Tim’s arm brushes against Gerry’s head. His laughter abruptly stops, and he makes a small noise.
Tim, chain necklace in hand, looks at him, worried.
“Did- was that too much?”
Gerry sucks in a breath, saying, “No. It was okay. Sorry, I’m. Not used to this!” He gives a shallow laugh.
“Hm, okay, just tell me if I’m ever overstepping, okay? You… are my boss. Boss.” Tim flashes him a crooked smile, handing back the necklace. Their fingers brush, and Gerry makes a small noise again. He manages to stifle it, though, and Tim doesn’t notice.
“Stop calling me boss, Tim. Elias is more your boss than I am.” He pauses. Quieter, he adds, “Just… call me Gerry, okay?”
“Alright, well, at some point that will be shortened. I can’t stick with a two-syllable name, it’s too much!” Tim makes his way around the papers and back to the door. “I will absorb your aesthetic one day. G’bye!” Tim rushes out and slams the door before Gerry can object, leaving him to stew in his thoughts.
He flops his head in to his hands, whisper-screaming, “Aaahhhhhh.” He waves his legs around, trying to get his emotions in check. He just. Embarrassed himself in front of the hottest man he’s ever met. What, and might he add, the fuck is wrong with him!
Oh. That’s what’s wrong with him, Gerry realizes.
Tim had just brought him some coffee, as he’d made a little too much and wanted to share. As he handed Gerry the mug (it says #1 Boss on it. Why is Gerry blushing at that. He’s so gay.), their fingers brushed, and a shock wave of emotions ran through him. More than they should at just a simple touch. Ah. I Have A Crush. Coming to finally understand he’s got a crush as he’s staring directly into Tim’s chest is just cruel, in his opinion. Why did Michael’s touch do the s- Oh. Having frankly too many realizations in such a short amount of time, he thinks, I’m touch starved. His eyes are still locked on Tim’s chest (AAAA) but he’s zoning out, now, dealing with these realizations all at once. Sasha… did open a door to specifically tease him about his crush on Tim. That he vehemently refused he had. But. No. Huh. Okay. His mind’s racing, and he needs to stim. He starts shaking his hands, still barely here, and is violently wrenched back into reality when Tim yells his name.
“Gerry! Mate! You’ve got a mug of coffee!” Tim exclaims, grabbing his hand to steady it.
He shoots up, trying not to melt under the touch of Tim’s hand wrapped around his. “Huh- oh, shit- yeah, I zoned out really. Really bad there.” Sheepishly, he removes his hand from Tim’s and sets the mug down on the table. He sticks his hands down by his side, out of sight, and starts to wave them in a pattern.
Tim gives him a worried look, glancing around the table to make sure nothing got wet. “You positive?”
“Mhm. It happens a lot, it’s alright. Usually not at such an inopportune moment, though. Thanks for helping.” He looks up at Tim and gives a weak smile. Tim returns it, award winning as always. Gerry doesn’t understand how a man could be so perfect.
“I wanted to ask you about something, as well, Ger.”
“Why do you keep shying away when people come close?” Gerry blanches, and goes still. “I dunno, you seem like the type to like a nice hug! You also look like you’d give nice hugs, you know?” Noticing how still Gerry went, Tim hurries to back track, “If you don’t want to tell me that’s alright, I mean, we’re friends right? But we’ve only known each other a few months, so-“
“Tim- uh. I-“ The words get caught in his mouth, turning to acid on his tongue if he tries to speak. His throat feels like there’s a brick wall in place, and nothing can break it down. The Cask of Amontillado is real , and his voice box is pounding on the brick walls that have built themselves in his throat. He scowls, swiping up a sheet of paper. He writes, i cant talk right now this happens sometimes but i don’t really have a non-embarrassing or traumatized answer to your question so maybe ill answer it at some point but not now .
Tim leans over the table to read his writing, and grimaces. “Yeah, okay. Sorry, Ger. I’ll be going now, hope the coffees not shit!” He gives a little wave goodbye and sprints out the door, slamming it behind him, leaving some statements to flutter to the ground.
Well, royally fucked that one up. Great one there, Keay, suspiciously going nonverbal right when he asks you something personal. Cool work. Great, even, masterclass. Shoving his head in his hands, he pulls on his hair, wishing someone else would play with it. (Wishes Tim would play with it. Gayass.)
Sometimes… statements bad, Gerry thinks, as he’s narrating one about himself. God, he was so stupid. Why did he rush into those tunnels? Why was he so insistent on getting that stupid fucking Leitner? Some guy died because of his rash moves. He’s only half paying attention to the statement. He cannot believe his own hubris. He rationalized it at the time. Said it was a necessary sacrifice so no one else could be harmed. So his mum would be proud of him, for even a moment. Her approval, of course, never came, and the weight of his actions was heavy on his back- is. Heavy on his back.
“…Against the walls were old bookshelves, decayed and empty, save for a few moldering pages. They were stained and rotten, and one of them looked like it had a mummified hand laying on it. In front of it, in almost the center of the room, lay Alf. He… was dead,” Gerry stops reading. Heaving a heavy sigh, he presses stop on the tape recorder.
“Done that twice now haven’t I? You gonna get start spewing out tape, all angry at me for not finishing the statement?” He pushes the tape recorder to the side and stands, quickly stretching his arms.
“No. Course not. You’re- I’m talking to a tape recorder. Christ, I need some coffee.”
He steps over some papers, walking through the door and out to the hallway. He hated it there. He always feels beheld , always being stared at in the Institute. In this fucking hallway, however, it’s the worst of it. The past Institute Heads follow his steps, eyes boring into his soul. He fucking despises this hallway. Eye contact is one of the worst things that ever- no, no its simply one of the Worst Things. Why did Gerry get wrapped up in the one entity where eye contact is a regular and encouraged thing? Why does he do these things. He doesn’t know.
Entering the break room snaps him out of his tangent. He sees Melanie sat on the couch, on her phone. She looks up and brightens when she sees its him.
“Hey, Gerry! You have got to see these new poisoning techniques I’m learning about.” Coming from anyone else, Gerry may have worried that this new knowledge may have been used against him (sue him, he’s been poisoned before and anxiety’s a bitch), but he knows she’d only poison him if he did something uncool, like… like Elias. Which would never happen. So, only that man himself is the subject of her terror for now.
“Yeah, sure,” He grabs a mug down. Most of the letters have been crossed out or scrapped off, leaving only ‘f r o g’. “Any of it mention tips for how to know if somethings poisoned?”
Melanie hums, thinking. “Hm, no. Why would you need to know? Some asshole after you? I’ll stab them.”
“Nah. Just useful to be prepared, y’know?”
“Mhm, like being an archivist is such a high-risk job!”
“It is, yeah,” He starts making himself a cup, taking out sugar and cream. “Researching information on these statements can genuinely be incredibly dangerous sometimes.”
“Oh. I was joking. I had no idea it was actually that dangerous?”
“Uh. Yeah, Tim does highly illegal shit pretty often for follow-ups, and god knows how many times I’ve gotten injured searching after some book or otherwise mentioned in a statement.”
“The more you know, I guess! Anyway, do you happen to have any cumin on you?”
Gerry turns to look at her, confused. “Why cumin?”
“You know that episode of Drake & Josh where their… dad, or something, eats waffles with cumin in it and almost fucking dies? I want to see if Elias will die by cumin.”
“Melanie. I’ve never seen any shows ever,” Gerry says, turning back, hearing that the coffee maker has finished spitting shitty coffee into his mug. “I literally don’t know what the fuck Drake & Josh is.”
Melanie, in a fake outrage, gasps. She shoots up and stomps over to him, putting her hands on his shoulders, shaking him slightly, staring into his face (not the eyes- he’s told her he despises that.) “You fucking heathen. We are going to binge watch some shows together- have you even heard of iCarly? My Life As a Teenage Robot? Jenny’s trans. Spongebob? Scooby fucking Doo?? ”
Gerry is overwhelmed with the sudden touch- he hasn’t been grasped by the shoulders like That in… maybe a decade? He doesn’t know. Last time, though, it was his mum . Dragging him towards… something. He doesn’t remember. It’s a too much, and he pushes her off his shoulders. Is he shaking? Melanie looks concerned- is she saying something? Gerry can’t hear anything she’s saying. He’s just standing there, in shock, thrown back into a memory he would’ve rather completely erased from his mind. In a practiced motion, he walks his way over to the couch and sits down, stiff. He’s moving like he’s made of wood. Large, stiff motions instead of any precise ones. His hands are at his side, rubbing circles into the couch. He closes his eyes, and breathes. Trying to calm himself down from this mini flashback, he gives slow breaths in and out.
Melanie’s by his side, her eyes shooting all over him as he comes back down from his panic. She sees him loosen, falling into a more natural position, and beings rambling, “Gerry- Jesus Christ, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I-“
“Its okay! Its fine,” He reassures her quickly, wanting to just make a quick joke out of this and escape to his office and scream for 17 years. “Really. I didn’t know either, to be honest. Not even that bad, a mini flashback a day keeps the therapist away.” He shrugs, and immediately realizes that sounded wildly depressing. Oops! “‘Sides, you were just enthusiastic about some shows. I’ll watch that robot one with you, if she’s trans I legally have to watch it all.” He lets out a small laugh and raises, a little wobbly, and grabs his mug. He dumps some sugar and cream into it, not giving a singular care about the amount.
“I’m- okay. Still, I’m sorry, and I’ll buy you… some McDonalds for lunch today! To say sorry.”
“Jesus fuck no, Melanie, we can just watch that show- I hate that shit.” He picks up his mug, walking towards the door, eager to leave.
“Wow. You have no taste. I’ll get you some sweets, then. I have no god damn clue what they’ve got at the nearest shop so you’re getting whatever I think you’ll like.”
“That’s fine! Text me when we’re gonna watch it okay bye- “ He quickly strides out the break room, closing the door behind him as fast as he can. God, he hopes Melanie doesn’t think that was rude. He is just. So overwhelmed, and he fucking swears, if Elias even sets his stupid little twink ass into his vicinity for even a moment he’ll go ham.
Elias, did, in fact, set his stupid little twink ass into his vicinity. He did so about a week later, but, hey, Gerry’s never up to talking with that bastard. The fact of the matter is that Elias is here. In his office. Talking to him. But he is hearing approximately none of what this stupid little man is telling him. Gerry’s too busy thinking about how badly he wants to beat this evil manlet to a pulp to even consider paying attention to his words- not that they’re worth listening to, anyway.
Gerry’s detailing the exact words he’ll say to Elias as he finally succumbs to Melanie’s poisoning when he waves his hands in his face. Rude.
“Gerard, are you even paying attention to a word I’m saying to you?” He says with a sneer, staring right into Gerry’s eyes. Creep.
“Nnnope.” Gerry says, popping the p, turning away from Elias’s overwhelming gaze.
“Such a lousy excuse for an archivist. I honestly cannot fathom any reason the Beholding has taken such an interest in you, besides perhaps those horrifically tacky tattoos you have plastered all over your person. You know you don’t have to be so literal in your devotion, yes?”. Was that a fucking jab at his trouble with sarcasm versus literalism?? Oh, what a little prick .
“Say, is that really what you think about my tattoos?” Gerry gives an over dramatic sigh, and shakes his head. “Rude. Not even correct in the slightest, but rude nonetheless.”
“I am an avatar of the Beholding, of course my information is correct!” Elias insists, indignant.
“A tower can’t see into itself, idiot. I got these for protection. You strong-armed me into serving the eye full-time. Honestly, by how you just are , I’m surprised you’re not a spider freak. Still. These tattoos weren’t some shitty tactic to win favorites.”
“Beholding, I wish you weren’t the best pick for archivist. You’re insufferable.”
“Thank you! I try my hardest. Also- did you just,” he chuckles. “Did you just say Beholding instead of god? Are you fucking serious? Its boot is that far down your throat?”
“It is what I serve. The Ceaseless Watcher has provided and helped me, and I will treat it with only the highest respect.”
“And you say I’m the insufferable one! It’s a bloody eye, who gives a shit ! It, along with the rest of the merry bunch, ruined my life ! I don’t owe it shit, and you’re just one of its bitches.”
“Gerard. I am still your boss .” He stalks over to Gerry’s front, glaring down at him. He reaches out an arm, placing a steely grip onto his shoulder. Despite it being fucking Elias , he still feels a twinge of serenity when his hand grips him. He feels like he can feel Elias’ touch on all of his tattoos, which freaks him out while also being strangely comforting?? Being touch starved is hell. “You should at least treat me with a grain of respect. You do know how the last archivist met her end, yes?”
“No. But you probably killed her, didn’t you? Sick fuck. Get yourself off me .” Gerry wrenches Elias’ hand off himself, and spins his chair to (once again) escape Elias’ gaze.
“You wouldn’t want to meet the same end, would you Gerard? No, no, too young to die. Still so much… potential. ” Striding over to the door, he says with finality, “Wonderful chat Gerard. See you around.”
Elias slips out and quietly shuts the door. Gerry is drained, but still so angry . He gets up to pace around, but ends up bumping against something, trying to get around his desk in the horribly cramped space, and falls to the ground. He’s so annoyed that he just flops down onto the ground fully, laying down on some statements. He doesn’t care. It’s sensory hell. But he doesn’t care. It took all his energy to not snap earlier than he did, and not with as much ferocity as Elias undoubtedly deserved. Being called Gerard was just. It got to him. He’s Gerry . His mum ruined his first chosen name for him, and his second will not be slandered by this twink , so he’ll have to endure it for… Time. Gerry doesn’t know how long he’ll work here. He scowls at the thought of working here for as long as he’s sure Gertrude did, decades of this shit would tear him down until all that’s left is a piercing and ripped up trench coat.
Trying to distract himself from the situation, he thinks of his assistants, who are no doubt insulting Elias to his face as he walks back to his over-sized office. Thank god for them. They’ve been working with him for a few months, and they’re the best (and only!) friends he’s ever had. That corruption attack probably would have ended his life without their help and quick thinking. He’s so grateful for them but has absolutely no idea how to express it so he will just sit here, making weird noises whenever they show him affection! It’s great. He’s fine. He does- he does wonder, though, how nice a hug from Melanie would be? A nice pat on the pack from Michael? Tim playing with his hair?? (Gay. Ass.)
Instead of doing anything about any of that, he elects to lay on the ground and wish he had the energy to turn the light in his office off.
“This is a little pathetic, isn’t it?” He says to the statements lying beside him. “I’m a grown man. Well. Not a man. Ugh. Laying on the floor after a row with my boss. Christ.”
The lights in his office flicker as he stares into space for an indeterminate amount of time, only to be snapped out of it by the sound of a door creaking open.
Melanie and Tim walk into his office to see Gerry sprawled on the floor, face bunched in a scowl. He’s too tired to be embarrassed. Complaining out loud to himself drained what little energy he had left.
Tim sounds kinda worried, I should say something.
“Christ. Okay. Take my hand, we’re taking you for lunch.”
He’s surprised it’s time for that- he could’ve sworn it was just 9. In the time it takes for him to be annoyed at the concept of time, Tim and Melanie have both grabbed one of his hands. He lets out a small whine as they hoist him up, and they share a concerned look as Gerry stands there, embarrassed.
“I’m. I talked with Elias. Was bad.” Gerry managed to get out, slumped over while standing. He is so tired.
“Okay you’re coming to lunch with us literally right now.” Melanie keeps her hand laced in Gerry’s, as does Tim (AA), and they walk out of his office.
“I’m not a child, I can walk. I’m just. Drained. That’s all.” He sounds so strained, even to himself, the hands in his making it hard to focus.
“Yeah, obviously you’re drained, Ger, you were nearly passed out on top of statements. You need to relax today!”
“This calls for a My Life As a Teenage Robot binge after work.” Melanie pauses, and looks Gerry over, noticing his thousand-yard stare and exhausted position. “Y’know what, actually, let’s just get some Wendy’s or something. You lot can come over to my flat and we’ll watch it. Fuck work.”
“Ah. Okay? What about Michael?”
“He’s off today. Said he was going to hang with his fake wife, but I think he’s actually just taking his ferrets to the vet or something.” Tim shrugs, and Gerry’s hand moves up with Tim’s. He blushes (it was just a small movement why is he blushing he is SO gay).
“Said Ponk had something wrong. Or was it Pank? Their names are literally all the same, I can’t remember.”
Gerry gives a tired laugh, and they leave the institute. The three of them pick up some Wendy’s, and head to Melanie’s place. They’re comfortable enough with each other to be able to let themselves be once they’re out of work. They slip more into their own skin, feeling calmed now that it's just the three of them without the overbearing presence of the Institute and the Beholding plaguing their consciousness.
Tim and Melanie finally let his hands go, and he immediately starts stimming with them, shaking them in a circle. They all sit down on Melanie’s couch, with Gerry off to the very side and Tim and Melanie leaning on each other. She’d already had the show’s disc in, so she selects the next episode from where they’d left off last binge. She glances over at Gerry, and goes over to grab his arm and pull him towards her. He lets out a small gasp, and Melanie pauses the show before the intros even over.
“Gerry, why do you always do that?”
“Those little noises! When we touch you! Is it bad? You can let us know if you don’t like being touched, we’ll understand.”
Tim nods, and chimes in with, “Yeah, Ger, it’s fine. Though, you did say you’d explain why a month or two ago. Are our hearts together enough to unlock this cut scene now?”
Gerry chuckles, “You know I barely get those jokes right? I’ve played like, 2 games in my entire life?”
“For shame! I’m going to buy you Stardew Valley. You’d like Sebastian.”
“I don’t know who that is, but cool!” He stares at the TV, trying to seem like he’s interested in getting back to the show. His ruse isn’t clever enough, apparently, and Tim’s at it again.
“But! My question still stands. I’d really like to know if you’re just not comfortable with touching. Melanie said already, but, we can stop!”
“No, no. I,” He goes quiet. “Really like it? I’m just not used to it.”
“When’s the last time you had a hug, Gerry?” Melanie asks. She’s scooching over, trying to get closer without overwhelming him.
“Oh. Gerry.” Melanie dives over and wraps him in a hug, and Gerry nearly melts. Tim shoots up and over to Gerry’s side, hugging him tight as well. He’s never felt so loved in his life. He can feel his eyes watering, and he leans into their touch more. He wraps his shaky arms around them, pulling them closer.
“Oh, my- god. Oh. I’ve- I’m. I. Guys…” Gerry’s mumbling into Tim’s arm, starting sentences and cutting them short, feeling so much at once. Tim takes a hand and starts playing with Gerry’s hair, and he lets out a gasp, burying his face deeper into the crook of his arm.
“I can’t believe it’s taken me months to give you a hug. You really needed this, huh?” Melanie asks, swaying them slightly.
Gerry’s too choked up to muster a reply, but he nods quickly.
“I have. I’ve never been touched in a good way before. This. Is. So nice.” He shakily whispers into Tim’s arm, after thoroughly soaking in the moment, committing this touch to memory.
“I am never going to stop hugging you. You know this right? You can’t escape my love. We’re best friends now and you are going to cuddle with me and that’s a threat and a promise.”
“ Melanie …” Gerry makes noises that sound like a verbal key smash, and hugs her tighter. “I’m. Yeah. That’s cool. You can do that.”
“Good! If it wasn’t, I was going to threaten you until you let me give you affection! You clearly need it!”
Gerry gives a small laugh, and shakes his head.
“You know this applies to me too, yeah? Ger, on god we’re gonna get you used to physical affection even if I have to come hug you for 5 minutes on the hour every day for the next year.”
He blushes, and hums in approval into Tim’s arm.
“Good! I’ll kill you with kindness, you bastard.”
“Not a bad way to go. Prefer it to worms. ”
“Mhm. If I never see a fucking worm again it’ll be too soon.”
Melanie unwraps a bit from Gerry, who makes a noise of protest, immediately stifled down by embarrassment.
“Don’t worry Gerry, I’ll get back to it, but I don’t particularly think Tim’s in a great position to binge an entire show.”
Tim takes his hand from Gerry’s hair, making a noise despite himself. Tim takes the rest of himself from Gerry as well, giving his hair a ruffle as he does so. Gerry blushes, hard.
“Fuck no. Hugging you for the first time was wonderful of course but holy shit I cannot keep that position if we’re gonna start the show. Ger, scooch over, you’re in the middle now.”
He does just that, and Tim flops himself down and on to Gerry, curling his arms around him. Melanie entangles her arms around Gerry as well, after pressing play once again. Gerry wraps his own arms around them too, and just melts in their touch. He’s barely paying attention to the screen, just reveling in the sensation of his first real hug from his first real friends.