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Promises, Promises (Don't Send Me Back In 30 Days)

Chapter Text


+ 1 hour

Mikey wasn't in the habit of watching the news channels during the day; he preferred MTV or Cartoon Network in the mornings, before all the high-budget drama shows came on, but since he'd moved back into his mom's house, she was exercising her parental rights of controlling the television.

Donna wasn't actually in the kitchen at that moment, but her habits were rubbing off on Mikey and he didn't mind flipping to the local news station while he poured himself a bowl of cereal. He suffered through the sports and weather, waiting for the entertainment news, but there wasn't anything Mikey hadn't already read online. The cycle began again at ten o'clock, starting with the breaking news, and suddenly Mikey was very glad he hadn't changed the channel. He froze with his spoon halfway to his mouth, dripping milk and soggy Cocoa Puffs onto the table.

"…hostage situation has developed at the Bank of America in Belleville, New Jersey. The authorities have released this photo of the perpetrator, but they haven't identified the man yet, as he hasn't given his name to the police."

The screen was filled with a blurry, black and white security camera screenshot of a man in a long black jacket and gloves, with a striped scarf tied around the lower half of his face. He was turned towards the camera, but his eyes were hidden by a mess of dark hair.

"Shit," Mikey breathed. He dropped his spoon and turned up the volume.

"Sources on our investigative team say this was a bank robbery gone wrong, and that, when faced with a police task force surrounding the building, the suspect grabbed the nearest person and is now holding that young man at gunpoint as he makes his getaway. The hostage's name has not yet been released to the media. All of the hostages at the bank appear to be unharmed…"

"Oh, shit, Gerard."


+ 23 days

"How did he hurt you?"

"What?" The boy's eyes were wide and frightened, and Ray felt a sharp pang of sympathy. He softened his tone when he asked a second time.

"How did he hurt you, Frank? It's okay, you won't ever see him again. We'll protect you. Just tell me, how did he hurt you?"



- 36 minutes

Frank pushed the glass door open with his hip, hands full with his paycheck, bus pass, wallet, house keys, driver's license, cell phone, and bits of pocket lint. He was already trying to do the math in his head: how much could he keep in his savings account, how much could he afford to spend on groceries, and how much of the pitiful remnants would go towards his long overdue student loans. He dumped all of his shit onto the narrow counter and fished out a deposit slip.

He didn't notice the person who came in after him until he felt the slight brush against his arm. Frank looked over; the man had a scarf wound around his neck, pulled all the way up to his nose, and he huddled into his jacket like he was cold. Frank was in a t-shirt and ripped jeans; it was a little chilly inside the bank, but outside it was almost uncomfortably warm for Jersey at this time of year. The dude's long black hair looked like it hadn't been washed or brushed in days.

Frank looked back down at his own paper and continued to fill it out. He noticed the guy beside him was wearing gloves. Maybe he was sick or something. Or a leper. Or a vampire. Frank rolled his eyes and told himself to shut up. He gathered his stuff and got in line. A moment later, the man stepped into place behind him. Frank forced himself not to turn around and stare. The guy was just too weird to let slide.

He and the other guy went up to tellers side by side and Frank was too focused on his own affairs to realize what was happening until the girl helping Vampire Dude screamed. Frank whipped around; Vampire Dude was holding a fucking gun.

"Oh, fuck," he whispered, then dropped to the ground with everybody else when Vampire-Now-Bank-Robber Dude fired a shot into the air.


- 10 minutes

The teller had apparently hit a silent alarm when the dude—now known as Gee—handed her the note, because there was a cacophony of sirens and helicopters outside. Gee wanted half a million dollars. Frank thought the amount was kind of low, considering the economy these days. He would've asked for, like… five million. Ten. Something to give him some negotiating room. But maybe Gee had other plans.

Frank hadn't moved since the shots rang out. He was on his stomach with his fingers laced behind his head, just like everyone around him. There was a girl crying near the door, and a couple of guys whispering to each other at the other end of the room. The bank employees were all beneath their desks.

Gee was sitting on the counter, his feet swinging just above Frank's head, and not doing anything. Waiting. Finally, one of the tellers' phones rang.

"That'll be for me," Gee said. "I'll put it on speakerphone for you. I'm all for honesty between us."

Frank wasn't sure if Gee was talking to the teller or everyone else. He turned his head and glanced up.

"Hello?" Gee asked casually.

"This is Special Agent Bob Bryar of the FBI. Who am I speaking to?"

"Call me Gee. Are you the guy who can make things happen for me, Bob?"

"I sure hope so, Gee. Tell me what's going on in there."

"I'm holding up a bank."

Frank rolled his eyes. He could practically hear Agent Bryar doing the same. "Is anybody hurt?"

"Hey, guys, anyone hurt?" Gee asked the room. Nobody replied besides the one girl near the door whimpering. "Doesn't seem like it. And if they are, it's not my fault yet."

"You should know, Gee, that unless you negotiate with me and nobody gets hurt, you're not coming out of that bank alive," Bryar replied.

Gee hopped off the counter. "We'll see about that," he said simply, and hung up the phone. His feet were inches from Frank's face. His shoes were scuffed, and the bottoms of his jeans were frayed. Gee squatted down and cocked his head, hazel eyes glinting with amusement. "What's your name, kid?"

"Frank. And don't call me 'kid'," Frank answered stiffly, fixing Gee with a glare.

"Hi, Frank. I'm Gee. You're coming with me." Gee grabbed the duffel bag full of cash with one hand and Frank's wrist with the other, yanking him to his feet. "Where's your cell phone?" Gee asked.

Frank stared at him with wide-eyed innocence.

"C'mon, Frankie, I know you have one, I saw it earlier. Get it out and smash it."

"What? No!" Frank objected shrilly.

Gee let go of Frank's arm to grab his gun, which he then leveled at Frank's forehead. "Smash your phone and empty your pockets, Frank, I'm not going to tell you again."

Frank dumped everything out of his pockets and stomped on his phone until the keypad and screen both crunched under his heel. He stared at the gun. He wasn't familiar enough with them to know whether the safety was on or off, or if it was cocked, or what that even fucking meant. Gee didn't exactly seem like the most stable person on the planet, and it looked far too easy for his finger to slip on that trigger.

"Do you have a car?"

Frank shook his head. "I take the bus," he said quietly.

"Fine. Take the money. Come with me." Gee handed Frank the duffel and put his free hand on the back of Frank's neck. With the other, he pressed the gun against Frank's cheek. Frank's heart felt like it was about to explode, it was beating so fast.

Gee guided him to the front door and ordered him to stand against the glass with his hands in the air, and then he told one of the bank employees to get that detective on the phone.

"Hey, Bob," he said, once the call was patched through. "I've got a hostage. His name is Frank and he's coming with me. Introduce yourself to Agent Bob, Frankie."

Gee held the phone up for him. "Hi, Bob," Frank said. He scanned the crowd of police officers and FBI guys, trying to pick out this agent.

"You okay, Frank?" Bob asked. Frank nodded and hoped Bob could see him. "I'm gonna help you, okay? You're gonna be okay." Gee took the phone away.

"Me and Frankie are leaving now. If anyone tries to shoot at me, or stop us, or basically piss me off in any way, I'll kill him. Got it?"

Bob must have understood, because Gee hung up the phone and started dragging Frank to the back exit. They paused in the middle of the room for Gerard to shout, "Who's got a car parked on the street?"

A guy offered up his keys and resumed cowering against the wall.

"Once we leave, the police are going to come in here and save the day, so don't do anything stupid like try to follow me. Nice meeting you all, and have a pleasant day!"

Gee steered Frank to the door and pushed the gun up against his throat. "Okay, Frankie," he murmured, his voice muffled through the scarf, "let's blow this popsicle stand."


+ 12 minutes

Gee kept Frank in front of him until they reached the car and instructed him to get in the driver's seat. Gee passed him the keys, trained the gun on Frank's head, and buckled in. Frank followed his lead.



"I can't drive a stick," Frank admitted meekly.

"It's not that hard," Gee mumbled. "Just go."

Frank tentatively started the engine and tried to pull out of the parking space, only to have the transmission grind and crunch disturbingly. He immediately let go of the wheel and held his hands in the air.

"Shit," Gee hissed. "Move over. Switch with me, c'mon."

They climbed over each other and switched seats, Gee fumbling with the gun and the steering wheel while Frank tried to twist his way into the right position.

"Don't try anything, okay?" Gee asked him. He waited for Frank's nod and then stuck the gun back in his jacket pocket. They sped off down the street towards the turnpike.


+ 42 minutes

Gee had finally taken off his gloves and scarf. He was paying a fair amount of attention to the road, but he kept glancing over at Frank warily. Gee's face was kind of unremarkable; his skin was clear and very pale, and his teeth were relatively straight, if rather small. Frank sat pressed against the passenger-side door and stared at him. They hadn't driven all that far because Gee doubled back a few times and went in circles, and Frank was still familiar with the area.

He finally got up the courage to ask, "Where are you taking me?"

Gee grinned; the effect was somewhat frightening. "I've got a place for us to stay tonight," he answered, "but we have to make a pit-stop first."

Frank wasn't sure he liked the sound of that, and he crossed his arms tightly over his chest. He glared at Gee for a few minutes, but Gee didn't seem to mind, so he turned to fume at the dashboard instead. He tried to guess at how fast the car was going; he could just undo his seatbelt, open the door, and jump out. He probably wouldn't die.

Frank moved one hand to the seatbelt buckle. He'd have to be quick.

Gee moved one hand into his pocket. He pulled out the gun and placed it carefully in his lap.

"You don't want to leave before things get exciting, do you?" Gee asked casually.

Frank wedged both hands beneath his thighs and mumbled, "I've had enough excitement for one day."


+ 1 hour

Gee finally pulled the car into a spot along the street. Frank couldn't see why they would stop at any of the surrounding stores: a bike repair shop, a candle shop, a restaurant that didn't open until evening, and a jewelry store. Unless maybe Gee wanted to rob the jewelry store. He picked up the gun.

"Get out. Don't worry, we haven't been followed. We're going for a little walk."

Frank reluctantly stepped out onto the sidewalk and waited for Gee to join him. Gee stuffed the gun back into his pocket and took Frank's hand.

"C'mon, sweetie," he cooed.

"What the fuck?" Frank asked shrilly.

Gee leaned in close to whisper in Frank's ear. "Listen, Frankie," he said, "it doesn't really matter if you like it or not. You're going to play along, got it?"

"Yeah," Frank sighed, "I got it."

Gee squeezed his hand and kissed his cheek. "This way," he continued happily, leading Frank down the sidewalk. The street wasn't very populated, and they only got a few looks, which Frank interpreted as disgust at them playing a gay couple in the middle of Jersey. They walked for a few blocks, then crossed the street. Gee stopped in front of a building with blacked-out windows and a discreet sign on the door.

"No fucking way," Frank groaned.

"Shut up, Frankie," Gee sing-songed. It was a sex shop. Gee pushed open the door.

Predictably, Gee led him to the far wall, which had a display with several kinds of handcuffs. Some were padded or lined with fuzzy materials, others were metal with complicated locks, and still others were thick and clunky, like real shackles. Gee pointed out a few different styles and said, "Which one do you want, baby?"

Frank glanced around, but not only was the store deserted, it was also the one place such pet names wouldn't be considered weird. He turned to Gee. "Why are you doing this?" he whispered pleadingly. "Just let me go, please, I won't say anything."

"Pick one or I'll pick for you," Gee shot back. He raised an eyebrow. "I'm giving you a choice here, Frankie; I suggest you take advantage of it."

Frank pointed to a pair of padded, faux-leather cuffs. They looked the most comfortable. Gee plucked two sets from the rack.

"Take these to the check-out; I'll be there in a minute," Gee said quietly. "Trust me, Frankie, you don't want to run off. Bad things might happen if you do."

Frank swallowed. "What kind of things?"

"You don't want anybody to die, do you?"

His eyes widened and he shook his head quickly. "I'll wait for you."

"Good boy." Gee gave him a nudge in the right direction and headed down a different aisle. When they met up at the counter, Gee was carrying a box of latex gloves and, to Frank's dismay, a blindfold and a gag. Gee smiled at the cashier as he put the items down and nudged Frank's side. "You're not allergic to latex, are you, baby?"

Frank shook his head, chancing a glance at the cashier. She just looked bored.

"Is this all together?" she asked easily. Gee nodded and handed over a few bills to pay.

"Get the bag, sweetie," Gee said when she'd finished. Frank's face burned and he didn't look at the girl as he took the paper bag from her hands. Gee guided him towards the door with a firm hand at his lower back. Frank kept his head down.

"Which do you think is more conspicuous in a sex shop, Frankie," Gee murmured, taking Frank's hand as they walked down the street. "A happy gay couple, or one man who obviously doesn't want to be there and another man forcing him? It's a legitimate question. What do you think?"

"I think you're fucking crazy," Frank hissed. He wrenched his arm out of Gee's grasp and took several steps away. "What the fuck do you want with me?"

"You really want to argue with the guy who's got a gun in his pocket?" Gee asked coldly.

"You're a fucking lunatic!" Frank cried. "You don't need me. I won't tell. I'm done with this shit, I'm leaving."

Gee's arm shot out, blocking Frank's path. He crowded Frank against the brick storefront and leaned in close. "You'll leave when I say you can fucking leave," he spat.

Frank whipped the bag around, aiming for Gee's stomach, but Gee just took a step to the side and stepped on Frank's foot, hard enough that Frank hunched over in pain. While he was down, Gee grabbed a handful of Frank's hair with one hand and his gun with the other. Frank felt the cold metal pressed against his neck and he froze. Gee's hand loosened slightly in his hair. Frank's heart raced. The street was nearly deserted; Gee could pull the trigger and kill him, and nobody would even notice until they stumbled over his body.

"I'm sorry," he said shakily. His voice was breathier than he'd intended; he couldn't force out enough sound.

Gee bent down and kissed the top of his head. "Very good. When I say, you're going to stand up, and we're going to walk to the car. We'll get the money, then find a car you can drive. You're going to get in the driver's seat, I will get in the passenger seat, and we're going to get out of here. Understand?"


"I need you, Frank. I don't want to kill you. But if you act up again, I will not hesitate to hurt you. I just need you alive, for now. I don't care if you're beat up."


"Alright," Gee said, his voice cheerful again. "Let's go."


+ 7 hours

Frank had lost track of the roads. The one they were on now was long and straight, and Frank was zoning out. He yawned and glanced at his captor. They hadn't spoken in nearly an hour, and before that, Gee had only broken the silence to give Frank directions.

They'd been driving for long enough that Frank felt it time to ask where they were going. He thought it was an okay question. He was the one driving, after all.

Gee gave him a suspicious look, but answered, "A motel. We'll be there in about half an hour."

Frank didn't want to sink into silence again. "What town?"

"I'll tell you when we're closer."

Frank waited a moment before speaking again. This time he was pleading. "Talk to me, please. I'm going to fall asleep at the wheel."

"Oh," Gee said, sounding surprised. Frank looked over at him; he sat up straighter. "I can talk."


+ 10 hours

Gee had him park two blocks past a dingy little motel, and then they doubled back and went straight to one of the rooms. Frank made a mental note of the room number in case he could contact the police or something. Maybe scream out the window, "Help, I'm being held hostage by a head case in room 36!" In a place like this, though, Frank didn't think anyone would come to his rescue.

Frank sat down on the bed—there was only one, and Frank had pretty much resigned himself to having sex with this guy; why else would he still be a hostage? Gee didn't seem to want to ransom him, not that anyone would even pay—and watched cautiously as Gee took a backpack out of the closet and started laying things out on the floor. A stack of blank envelopes, a roll of stamps, a Lisa Frank folder with unicorns on the front.

"Come down here," Gee said when he finished. Frank sat down on the floor next to Gee, in the middle of the semicircle of supplies. Gee handed him a pair of latex gloves and a pen, and then fished out a crumpled list of addresses from his backpack.

"You're addressing the envelopes. Put a stamp on them and put 'em in a pile over here, okay?"

"Um, okay. Why?"


"That's not a reason, dumbass," Frank snapped, clicking the pen viciously.

"Listen, motherfucker, I'm the one in charge here, so you do what I say, got it?"

Frank grumbled something that he hoped passed for a response and started copying the list. He was angry enough that he was indenting the paper with the pen, and his letters were uncharacteristically spiky. He was probably lowering any chance he had of getting his handwriting recognized by the police or something. He didn't even know if they looked at things like handwriting. He should've watched more cop shows on TV.

Gee put on a pair of gloves as well and began sorting the money into equal piles. He folded up a typed letter from the Lisa Frank folder to go with each one. They looked the same, though Frank was never quick enough to read them.

When nearly an hour had passed, Gee looked up sharply, his eyes narrowed on Frank. "You must be hungry," he said, which wasn't what Frank was expecting at all. "I didn't even think," he continued. "I didn't eat anything before, 'cause of the nerves, and then it was all just kind of fast, so… but you must be starving. I might have—"

"I'm not," Frank broke in quickly. "And I'm vegetarian. But I'm not hungry." He didn't think he could keep anything down if he did eat. He was a nervous wreck.

"Oh. Got the envelopes done?"

Frank nodded towards the stack he'd finished. "I didn't know what to put for a return address."

"Blank is fine. We'll stick 'em in the mail tomorrow. I'm just gonna go to the bathroom. Don't… do anything stupid," Gee said casually. He pushed himself to his feet and gave Frank a hard look before going into the bathroom. He left the door open a crack.

Frank sat stupidly on the floor for a moment before it dawned on him that he could just leave. The door was locked from the inside; Gee was in the bathroom; the gun was on the bed. Frank glanced at the bathroom door and rose slowly, silently. He was halfway to the front door when he realized it would probably be a good idea to take the gun.

He tip-toed back towards the bed, but as soon as he passed through the beam of light coming from the bathroom, the door swung open and Gee barreled into him. They fell onto the bed, and then Gee yanked Frank up and slammed him into the wall by his shirt collar. He pinned Frank there, knee grinding into Frank's thigh, and grabbed for Frank's wrists.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing, Frankie?" Gee hissed.

"Let me go!" Frank cried. He thrashed around, trying to get free, but Gee just sandwiched him against the wall. "Let me go or I'll scream."

Gee chuckled. "No one will care."

"You don't need me! Let me go!" Frank shouted. He pounded his fist against the wall, hoping someone would hear him, though with his luck, the next room was probably empty.

Gee took a step back. Surprised, Frank stumbled and fell to the floor; he hadn't realized how much Gee had been holding him upright. Frank scrambled to his feet and made a dash for the gun. Gee cut him off with a knee to Frank's stomach, sending him to the floor again, coughing and gasping for air.

"And you wonder why I don't trust you," he said breathlessly. He pushed Frank onto his back and buckled one of the cuffs securely around Frank's left wrist. "I think we're done for tonight." He dragged Frank over towards the bed. "I don't think I want you in bed with me," he muttered. "You'll probably kick me or something."

Frank struggled as Gee hooked the cuffs around the foot of the bed, but with one hand already tied and the other tight in Gee's hand, there wasn't much he could do to resist. He kicked out at Gee every time he walked by and stepped over Frank, but then Gee climbed into bed and turned out the lights, and there wasn't anything more for Frank to fight.


+ 21 hours

Frank woke up sore from sleeping on the floor with his arms locked at a strange angle, and he could feel a bruise on his ribs throbbing. The shower was running, and the bathroom door was cracked open again.

"Gee?" he called. "Hello?"

A moment later, Gee poked his head out of the bathroom. The shower hadn't turned off, and his hair was still dripping. He smiled when he met Frank's eyes.

"Oh, good, you're up! I'll be out in a second."

Gee disappeared again and Frank yanked at the cuffs around his wrists, thinking that maybe, in the light of day, he'd have better luck wiggling out of them, but no, they were locked tight. All Frank managed to do was pinch a nerve and he cradled his hand helplessly for a minute.

Gee found him like that and knelt down, appearing concerned. "What happened?" he asked kindly.

"Nothing," Frank replied stubbornly, lifting his chin in defiance.

"Well, okay," Gee said brightly, giving Frank a grin. "I was thinking about Waffle House for breakfast, what do you say? Ready to get out of here?"

"Uh," Frank hedged, "could I take a shower first?"

"Oh, yeah, sure!"

Frank sighed gratefully when Gee pulled the handcuff key out from beneath his shirt, where it was hanging around his neck by a thin chain. Gee stroked his thumb thoughtfully over the redness around Frank's wrists when he unlocked them, but didn't say anything.

"I'll pack up," he said, pushing Frank towards the bathroom. "Don't take too long, I'm hungry."

After washing his hair and body with the little soaps and bottles provided by the motel, Frank sat down in the shower and let the hot water pound on his back. The fucking motel had better water pressure than his own damn apartment. He wrapped his arms around his knees and pulled them to his chest. Maybe Gee would get frustrated with him and just leave him here.

"Frank?" Gee called, pounding on the door. "You didn't drown, did you? Come on, let's go!"

Frank reluctantly twisted the taps from hot to cold, until he started to shiver, and then turned the water off. He didn't move from the tiny bathtub, though, and a moment later, Gee came in and opened the curtain.

"Frank," he said, "come on."

Frank looked up at him blankly.

"Frank," Gee repeated sternly. "Get up." Frank pushed himself to his feet. Gee grabbed his upper arm and yanked him out of the bathroom. "Put your clothes on and let's go," Gee ordered, tossing Frank's jeans at him while Frank just stood in the middle of the room, naked, dripping wet, and shivering so hard his teeth were chattering.


+ 22 hours

Frank sat in the corner seat of their booth and stared out the window, keeping his expression carefully neutral while Gee attempted to start a conversation. When the waitress finally came to take their order, Gee asked for eggs, bacon, pancakes, and coffee. The waitress turned to Frank, and he looked back at her, bewildered. He hadn't even looked at the menu.

Across the table, Gee clenched his teeth and kicked Frank's shin. "Order whatever you want, Frank," he muttered.

"Do you have vegan pancakes?" Frank asked uncertainly.

"No," she replied shortly.

"Uh. A salad?"

She rolled her eyes and said, "Sure, honey."

"Vegan?" Gee asked, once she had gone.

"Yeah," Frank mumbled, and hoped Gee would leave it at that. He was already feeling sick to his stomach, and he didn't want to get into all the things that turned him towards veganism.

When their food came, Frank hardly touched his. He pushed his fork around his plate nervously, glancing out the window and down at his lap.

"Frankie," Gee began quietly. "You need to eat something, okay? You haven't eaten at all since yesterday. I don't want you to pass out or anything."

Frank munched obligingly on a slice of cucumber. Gee continued acting cheerful and pleasant, but Frank kept thinking of how it could all turn on him, if he said or did the wrong thing. Gee might kill somebody. Gee might kill him.

Gee smiled at him and nodded at his plate, and Frank took an actual bite of his salad, stomach twisting as he forced himself to swallow it.


+ 25 hours

Gee drove them around until he spotted a payphone at a gas station. He parked next to it and told Frank to get out of the car. Outside, he asked if Frank wanted anything from the convenience store, and Frank shook his head, twisting his hands in the hem of his t-shirt.

"Come with me, then," Gee said, and pulled him into the phone booth. It wasn't big, and Frank was pressed into the corner with Gee right against him. He felt a little faint, like he was being slowly suffocated.

Gee picked up the phone and dialed a number he knew by heart, and Frank was close enough that he could hear someone pick up.

"Hey, Mikey," Gee said softly, "it's me."

"Gerard, what the fuck?" the person, Mikey, squawked. "What the fuck did you do?"

"Shh," Gee—Gerard?—hissed into the phone, glancing quickly at Frank. "Does anyone know anything yet?"

"No," Mikey answered. "I've been watching the news, too."

"I haven't had any trouble," Gee said. "And I've had Frank with me the whole time."

"Frank? That guy? You still have him?" Mikey asked shrilly, and Gee sighed.

"Yeah, he's here. He's fine. Aren't you fine, Frank?"

Frank, eyes wide and scared, nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine," he echoed.

"He says he's fine," Gee said into the phone. "I wanted to see how you are. Are you okay, Mikey? Seriously."

Mikey lowered his voice to answer and Frank couldn't really make out the words. Gee made a few "mmhmm," and "huh" noises while Mikey talked. Eventually, though, he started to sound angry. Frank watched his face closely.

"You have to know—" he said stiffly.

"I don't care," Frank heard Mikey reply.

"I did this for you!" Gee finally cried. "It's all going in the mail today, you'll be finished with all of that shit as long as you keep your fucking nose clean and mind your own fucking business. I did this all for you, Mikey."

"I didn't ask you to," Mikey shouted back. "I could have done it on my own."

Gee banged his fist against the glass and said, "I know I'm a shitty brother, just let me fucking fix this so you can get on with your life!"

"By ruining yours?" Mikey replied coldly.

"You did so much for me, Mikey. I want to help you, that's all. You helped me."

Frank couldn't hear Mikey's answer, though he was now very interested, and Gee hung up the phone without saying anything more.

"C'mon," he muttered to Frank, tugging at his wrist, "we have to go."


+ 26 hours

It took them longer to find a public mailbox without going to a post office. Frank was sure they weren't even in New Jersey anymore. Gee had Frank mail all the letters they'd prepared the night before, and once they were all in the mailbox, Gee sighed and seemed to deflate.

"What happened with Mikey?" Frank asked carefully. "How are you helping him?"

"He was in trouble, and now he's not," Gee replied shortly.

"What kind of trouble?"

Gee whirled on him and Frank cowered against the side of the car. "The kind you'll be in if you don't shut up and mind your own fucking business."

"I'm sorry," Frank breathed.

Gee softened and said, "Get in the car, we're leaving."


+ 30 hours

Frank sat cross-legged on the bed with his hands cuffed in his lap. He fiddled with the chain, but didn't make an effort to try and get himself free. Gee was across the room, chatting with Mikey on the cheap laptop they'd bought earlier in the day. Gee was smiling, and that made Frank feel a little better about his situation. If Mikey made Gee angry, Frank would have to deal with the fallout.

Frank was too far away to read whatever was on Gee's screen, but every now and then he caught glimpses of a site logo he recognized. He sighed and looped the handcuff chain around one of his feet, utterly bored.

"Want to watch TV?" Gee asked, and Frank shrugged. Gee didn't turn the TV on. Frank sighed again.

"I'll order a pizza," Gee said a few minutes later. "You hungry?"

Frank shrugged again. He flopped backwards on the bed and sighed, staring at the ceiling.

The pizza came about half an hour later. Gee stood up to answer the door, and he stuck the gun in his pocket. "You say a word to this guy and I'll shoot you," he warned, and waited for Frank's nod before opening the door.

Gee paid with cash. The delivery guy gave Frank a weird look—probably because he was wearing handcuffs, Frank realized belatedly—but Frank just stared back at him defiantly. He was glad when the man finally left and Gee joined him on the bed. The pizza was vegetarian with no cheese.

Frank smiled at Gerard. They ate in silence, and when the pizza was gone, Gee turned the television on and found a Star Wars marathon.


+ 34 hours

Bored with the movie, bored with sitting on the bed, bored with staying in the stupid motel room all day, Frank asked Gee, "Why did you even take me with you?"

"You have pretty lips," Gee answered casually, not even looking away from the TV. Frank stared at him.

"I what?"

"I like your lips."

"That's it?"



"Shut up, Frank."

Frank sighed again, but he really couldn't concentrate on the movie after that. He kept looking over at Gee, but Gee never looked back at him. If Gee wanted to use him for sex, why hadn't he done anything yet? Maybe Gee had been waiting for tonight, though he didn't seem to be in any particular rush. He was pretty engrossed in Darth Vader's badassery, actually. Frank bit his lip and watched Gee watch the movie.

Nothing happened at all. When it was over, Gee turned off the television. Frank stared at him, but he still wasn't making any move on Frank. Gee got up to turn off the computer and the desk lamp, and then the overhead light, but then he just sat back down on the bed, backlit by the bedside lamp. He was mostly in shadow, but the light was crawling across his face and glinting in his eyes.

"What?" he asked, presumably because Frank had been staring intently at him for the past five minutes.

"I get it, okay?" Frank muttered. "Can we just get it over with?"

"What?" Gee asked again, and he looked genuinely confused, a little wrinkle appearing between his eyebrows as he frowned.

"I get it," Frank repeated, "I understand."

Realization seemed to dawn and Gee began to smile. "You really don't."

"I understand enough," Frank replied soberly. Gee raised his eyebrows and the wrinkle disappeared. "You want I should blow you?"

Gee did a hilarious double-take.

"I'll do it."

"Why?" Gee asked. "Are you trying to trick me into something?"

"You won't hurt me if I suck you off, right?" Frank asked, hoping like hell he already knew the answer.

He breathed out a quiet sigh of relief when Gee replied, "Okay."

Frank slid off the bed and onto his knees, wobbling a bit as he tried to balance with his hands cuffed together in front of him. He licked his lips and looked up at Gee. After only a few seconds' deliberation, Gee scooted forward on the bed and started to unbutton his jeans. Frank stared at the quick, practiced motions of Gee's fingers and his mouth went dry. He was suddenly very nervous.

"How do I know you'll keep your word?" Frank asked shakily.

Gee paused with both hands over the bulge in his crotch and Frank still didn't look up. Gee finally reached out and tilted Frank's head up with a firm hand under his chin. He waited until Frank met his eyes before speaking. "My name's Gerard Way, and I stole that money to save my little brother's life from a handful of angry loan sharks."

Frank blinked. That wasn't what he'd been expecting.

"I didn't plan on kidnapping you, but once I saw your face at that bank, I couldn't get you out of my head. You're right, Frankie, I wanted you. I still do. And now I have you, and you're going to suck my dick because it's what I want you to do, and I get what I want from you. Got it?"

Frank nodded. Gee—Gerard—lifted his hips off the bed and forced the tight jeans down his thighs. Frank helped him push the denim to the floor, and when Gerard spread his legs, Frank moved between them and pulled the tip of Gerard's cock into his mouth.

Gerard put one hand on the back of Frank's head and used the other to brace himself on the bed. "Go down," he ordered, and gave Frank a slight push. Frank slowly lowered his head, taking more of Gerard's dick into his mouth until he didn't think any more would fit, and Gerard kept that gentle pressure at the base of Frank's skull so he couldn't move back.

"More," Gerard said. Frank made a muffled, panicked noise in his throat and Gerard pushed him down farther. Frank felt like his mouth couldn't possibly open up any more; he was going to choke, and Gerard's other hand came around and grabbed the chain holding Frank's wrists together. He pulled it tight, so Frank couldn't flail his hands around, and he pushed Frank down forcefully.

"Swallow," he said, and Frank huffed out a quick, labored breath through his nose and swallowed around Gerard's cock. His throat opened just enough, and Frank still felt like he was choking, but it was easier to manage. He held himself down—Gerard held him down—for a few agonizingly long seconds before Frank spluttered and jerked his head back, desperate for air.

He chanced a quick glance up at Gerard's face and found him smirking. "Good boy," Gerard murmured. "Ever done this before?"

"Yeah," Frank replied, his voice rough. He'd gone down on guys before, yes, but never like this. He decided not to mention that. Gerard's hand was loose and gentle at the nape of his neck and Frank felt Gerard playing with his hair, but then Gerard moved his hand up to Frank's skull and guided him down again.

Frank went with less fuss and Gerard didn't push him quite as far. It was easier for Frank to establish a rhythm, and Gerard wasn't trying to force it, which helped. He even seemed to hold himself back from pushing into Frank's mouth. Frank didn't know why, but he was grateful nonetheless.

His mouth was wet with spit, all the way down to his chin, and Frank's focus narrowed to Gerard's dick and the muffled little noises Gerard was trying to hide. He wanted to make this good for Gerard, and so what if he didn't have a whole lot of practice, he still wanted to do his best and keep Gerard happy, satisfied.

Frank's hands were going a little tingly from where the cuffs dug into his skin, and Gerard didn't let up. His fingers tightened and tangled in Frank's hair, a nagging distraction, and he finally pulled Frank up and off, both of them breathing heavily.

"Wha…" Frank asked, or tried to. His throat felt raw and abused, and there was an excessive amount of spit clinging to his lips; his whole face felt wet and sticky. He had to force himself to open his eyes fully and look up at Gerard's face.

"I want to fuck you, Frankie," Gerard replied breathlessly. "I want to come in your ass."

"But I—"

"Get up," Gerard commanded. He yanked on the chain of the handcuffs, pulling Frank awkwardly to his feet, and steered him onto the bed. Frank didn't have the breath to object before Gerard was tugging Frank's jeans off his legs and his shirt up over his head.

There was a tedious few moments while Gerard unlocked the handcuffs from around Frank's wrists, but then he just looped one set around one corner bedpost and locked him back up, then fastened the second set of cuffs around the other bedpost, so that Frank was lying spread-eagled on his back. He was stretched enough that he could barely move his arms, and he could feel the cuffs pressing against the veins in the underside of his wrists with every pulse of his heart.

Gerard kicked his pants the rest of the way off and knelt between Frank's spread thighs. He reached forward and stroked his fingertips across Frank's cheek, down to his chin, and then between his lips, three fingers at once. "Get them wet," he said, and held Frank's jaw open while Frank licked and sucked.

His eyes eventually slipped closed, and Frank's focus narrowed to Gerard's hand in his mouth, like it had been before with Gee's leaking cock. Gerard's fingers fucked his mouth for what felt like several minutes before Gerard took them out and dragged them down Frank's naked chest and stomach, leaving a wet, rapidly cooling trail in their wake.

Gerard didn't touch Frank's cock, and Frank was glad. He hadn't consciously acknowledged the fact that he was hard, that whatever Gerard had done to him was turning him on, and as much as he wanted to come, he didn't want Gerard to acknowledge it either. He wanted Gerard to ignore him, really: do what he needed to do. Frank didn't even need to be involved; he just needed to do what Gerard ordered of him. It was that simple. This wasn't about him at all.

Gerard's wet fingertips circled Frank's entrance, smearing spit along the cleft of his ass, and Frank pressed back against him.

"You've done this before, too," Gerard said knowingly, and Frank opened his eyes to see Gerard smirking.

He pressed two fingers into Frank's ass without further warning. Frank's shoulders tensed, stretched more than was comfortable, but he ignored the ache and concentrated on relaxing and letting Gerard in. It took several of Gerard's slow thrusts for Frank to get comfortable with the intrusion; he didn't want to think about how long it had been since he'd been laid. Gerard eventually added his third finger, and by then, Frank was bearing down and muttering wordless encouragements. He could feel the flush of embarrassment on his face, but he pushed it from his mind and hoped Gerard didn't notice.

After that, Gerard didn't spend much more time prepping him. He withdrew his fingers and lined up his cock, and then pushed in without pause. Frank opened his eyes, inhaling sharply. Gerard leaned over him, a smug, lazy grin sliding over his face. Frank could see the keys to the handcuffs outlined beneath the shirt Gerard was still wearing. He'd put the keys back on the chain around his neck, where Frank couldn't get to them. Frank watched them for a moment, how they moved as Gerard rocked his body forward, then gave up and looked back at Gerard's face.

"Fuck, fuck, Frankie," he murmured. "Yeah."

"Gee," Frank whispered. He trailed off into an indecipherable groan and arched his back, arms straining against the cuffs.

"Frankie, look at me," Gerard said. "Frankie, listen to me."

Frank forced himself to obey, locking his gaze on Gerard's. Gerard smiled at him, but it was less comforting than before, more suited to the man who'd taken him hostage.

"Nobody knows you exist anymore, Frankie," Gerard began in a smooth, quiet voice. Frank couldn't look away, transfixed by the powerful intensity in Gerard's eyes. "Nobody cares, Frankie. Nobody's coming after you."

Frank wanted to object, but he couldn't find his voice. He went limp and Gerard leaned down, thrusting deep inside him with a groan.

"You know what that means, Frankie? You know what that means?"

Frank shook his head. Gerard pulled out, almost all the way out, and paused. His next thrust was steady and hard and deep, and when he was buried in Frank's body, he caught Frank's chin in his hand and whispered, "That means you're mine."

Frank closed his eyes. Gerard let him go and resumed the constant, slow pace he'd built up. Frank arched up off the mattress, ignoring the pull at his wrists, and let out a low, shaky moan. His dick was throbbing and dribbling precome onto his stomach, and he just wanted to come, he wanted Gerard to come, he wanted something to build up and finish, because that slow rhythm was maddening and completely unsatisfying.

"You want to come, Frankie?" Gerard asked, as if reading Frank's mind. Frank nodded, thrashing his head up and down frantically, and he felt Gerard lean low over him again. "No," Gerard said, his voice crystal clear and calm. "I won't let you."

"No," Frank whined. "No, please."

"You're mine, Frankie," Gerard said. "I'm gonna come in your ass, and you get nothing, because you don't deserve anything yet."

"No, Gee, please," Frank cried. Gerard picked up the pace, his thrusts becoming shallower, and Frank could feel Gerard's arms shaking with exertion.

"You have to… earn it," Gerard explained between labored breaths. "Earn it, Frankie… Oh, fuck. Fuck, Frank, fuck."

Gerard pushed in deep and came inside him, barely able to hold himself up. Frank wrenched his eyes open to watch Gerard's face. After a moment Gerard opened his eyes, too, and they stared at each other for a few long seconds. Gerard's normally hazel eyes were so dark, his pupils blown wide, that Frank could barely distinguish any emotion in them.

Gerard pulled out of him and reached over to the nightstand in the same motion. Frank didn't see what he picked up until Gerard was tying it around his head. Some kind of fabric, a folded bandana or something, maybe the scarf Gerard wore to the bank—Frank didn't think it was the blindfold Gerard had bought—tied securely over Frank's eyes, effectively blocking out all the light in the room.

"Comfy?" Gerard asked.

Frank turned towards his voice by instinct. "Yeah," he replied, though he wasn't sure why. His arms were stretched painfully wide and he couldn't see. He'd just been fucked raw and Gerard hadn't let him come. His dick was still hard and aching. He wasn't comfortable at all.

Gerard leaned over him and kissed his lips quickly, not even enough for Frank to taste him. "Good boy," he whispered. "You're okay. Sleep now."

"Gee?" Frank asked, timid even to his own ears. He flapped his hands in the cuffs uselessly.

"Sleep now, Frankie."

Frank felt Gerard get up off the bed and close himself into the bathroom. He heard the shower run, and a long time later, the white noise let him sink into an uneasy sleep.


+ 44 hours

When he woke up, Frank realized three things in this order: he was still naked, but covered by a blanket; Gerard wasn't touching him or lying next to him; he couldn't move his feet. His arms were tingly and his shoulders ached, but Frank ignored that. He also couldn't open his eyes, but he hadn't really been expecting to, after last night.

His legs were crossed at the ankles and bound by some kind of fabric, maybe an extra sheet or a towel. Frank twisted and turned as much as he was able, but he couldn't work his feet loose. His arms were spread too far to be any use; he couldn't even dislodge the blindfold.

Basically, he couldn't move at all.

Frank licked his chapped lips and asked, in a horribly sleep-roughened voice, "Gee?" There was no reply. No sound at all. Frank tried again. "Gee? Gerard?"

He fell silent and listened for any muffled movements, rustles of fabric, or Gerard breathing. All he could hear was a maid vacuuming a few rooms away and a brief ring of ambulance sirens outside. Frank began to panic.

"Gerard?" he cried. "Gerard?"

He was alone. Tied up on a bed, locked in a seedy motel room, and alone.

"No, no, no, no, no," Frank mumbled, feeling the thick ache in his throat growing. "Gee, please, no, no, don't do this, please…" He couldn't stop himself from crying, and he couldn't move to wipe away the tears that escaped the blindfold. There wasn't even a ticking clock to give Frank an idea of how long Gerard had been gone. Time stretched on.


+ 47 hours

Frank couldn't fall asleep again, but he drifted into a blank doze. He wouldn't allow himself to keep thinking about Gerard. He had no concept of time, and his thoughts ran around in circles, neither comforting nor useful.

The sound of the lock clicking open was surprisingly loud in the silent room and Frank flinched. He turned his head toward the noise. He heard the door open and someone—he assumed it was Gerard—walked in. He followed the person's progress around the room but didn't say anything. Neither did the intruder. Frank was helpless, naked and tied to a bed; he hoped it was Gerard.

"Gee?" he asked.

The rustling of whatever the person was doing stopped. It took four footsteps for the person to reach the bed, and the mattress dipped as they climbed on. Frank held his breath for a few seconds and nothing happened.

He broke. He mumbled a stream of "Gee" and "please" and "don't", and he was ashamed to feel tears he couldn't control dampening the blindfold again.

Gerard peeled away the fabric—and it was Gerard, Frank was relieved to finally see—and gently wiped the tears from Frank's cheeks. He wasn't smiling, but his eyes had a glint of amusement that Frank didn't understand.

"It's okay," Gerard whispered.

"Don't do that," Frank replied. "Don't leave me."

Gerard did smile, then. He stroked his thumb down Frank's cheek, brushing over his lips briefly and then repeating the motion.

"Will you untie me, please?" Frank asked. Gerard nodded and untied the sheet from around Frank's ankles, then leaned over him and unlocked the cuffs. Frank's arms were shaking and weak, but he reached up and clung to Gerard's neck. "Don't leave me, please don't, please…"

Gerard's hair was clean and smelled like apples. He wrapped his arms around Frank's back and lifted him upright. Frank grabbed a handful of Gerard's black t-shirt in his fist and held on tight.

"Shh, shh," Gerard soothed, "it's okay, you're okay. I'm back, I'm here. Shhh, Frankie, shhh. It's okay."

Gerard held him until he stopped crying. He wiped Frank's face again and smiled at him.

"Where were you? Why did you leave?"

"Shopping," Gerard replied brightly. "I bought you things. And breakfast! Are you hungry?"

Frank nodded dumbly, eyes wide. Gerard hopped off the bed and returned with a take-out Styrofoam box of pancakes and fruit salad. "I found a place that makes vegan pancakes," Gerard said. "It took a while, but here they are. Do you like pancakes?"

"You got me vegan pancakes?"

"Oh! Fork. Here you go." Frank took the fork and stared at him. "Go ahead," Gerard prompted. "I ate while I was out. Let me show you what I bought."

Gerard went back to his collection of shopping bags and started rifling through them, searching for something. Frank took a bite of his pancakes. They were still hot. They were also much better than the microwavable shit Frank usually ate for breakfast, when he ate breakfast at all.

"I didn't know your sizes, so I had to guess, but I think these will work…" Gerard said. When he turned around, he was holding a purple shirt and a black skirt that looked like it belonged in Frank's old high school.

"Is that a skirt?" Frank asked, though it obviously was, and Gerard obviously meant for him to wear it. Gerard nodded. "Why did you get me a skirt?"

"Your face is all over the news, Frankie. You probably made the paper, too, but I didn't have a quarter to spare."


"We have to get out of this room, Frankie. You need a disguise," Gerard explained. "Eat your pancakes."

Frank took another bite, and with his mouth full, asked, "What about you?"

"Nobody ever saw my face. Don't worry; by the time I'm done, you won't even recognize yourself. I went to school in drag, once. Nobody recognized me except my brother." Gerard tossed the clothes onto the bed. "Finish your breakfast. We have to get you dressed and then check out by eleven."


+ 2 days

Gerard let him take a shower by himself, though he did insist on leaving the bathroom door open, and when Frank emerged wearing just a towel around his waist, Gerard smiled at him.

"I'll help you get dressed," he said. Frank nodded.

First came the padded bra, which was the most uncomfortable thing Frank had ever worn. He held still while Gerard tightened the straps and pushed the small cups into the right position. Gerard told him they could buy something to stuff it with later if Frank needed it. Frank doubted very much that he would really need anything of the sort, but he kept quiet.

Gerard then helped him into a pair of black stockings, which he said would work for now. Frank asked what that meant.

"If we keep doing this, you'll have to shave your legs. It's just easier," Gerard explained, and held up the skirt.

Frank rolled his eyes and stepped in. Gerard pulled it up to his waist and buttoned it as tight as it would go, but it still slipped down a few inches when Gerard let go.

"You're smaller than I thought," Gerard muttered to himself.


"It's not an insult! Shut up and put this on."

Gerard handed him the shirt and Frank pulled it on over his head. It had a V-neck, but it wasn't low enough to make it obvious that Frank didn't really have breasts. There was a purple and blue pattern on the front, and when Gerard positioned him in front of the mirror, Frank saw that the design gave the illusion that he actually had curves.

"Nice shirt, huh?" Gerard asked rhetorically. He grinned and Frank gave him a weak smile in reply. "Okay, hair and makeup."

Gerard didn't really do much to Frank's hair besides brush it and just let it fall and curl however it wanted. Frank worried about the makeup, though. He'd experimented with eyeliner before, and he'd once tried on an ex-girlfriend's lipstick, but Gerard had a whole makeup kit with brushes and colors and things Frank didn't even know what to do with.

Gerard brushed powder over his cheeks and eyes, and outlined his lips with a pencil. He put on mascara and the eyeliner, and Frank watched his tongue poke out from between his teeth as he concentrated. Last was lipstick, which tasted like cherries.

"Okay," Gerard finally said. "Look."

He backed away and gave Frank room to look in the mirror. Frank really did feel like he was looking at a different person, a girl, through a window. His eyes looked brighter and bigger with the makeup, and with the clothes Gerard had picked out, none of which covered Frank's tattoos, he just looked like a punk chick.

"Wow…" he breathed.

"I know, right? You're a pretty girl, Frankie."

Frank felt very conspicuous when they left the room. He went with Gerard to return the room key to the office, and the fat guy at the desk gave Frank a very obvious once-over. Frank stepped into Gerard's shadow. Gerard cheerfully waved goodbye and led Frank to his car.

"You want to drive, or should I?"

"You," Frank replied quietly. He pulled at the hem of his skirt; it felt way too short, skimming his thighs. Frank wasn't sure he even could drive in the clunky heels Gerard had given him.

"Alright. Don't freak out, okay? I still have the gun."

"I know."

Gerard smiled. "Good boy."


+ 23 days

"How did he hurt you, Frank? It's okay, you won't ever see him again. We'll protect you. Just tell me, how did he hurt you?"

"He—" Frank stopped short, apparently fumbling for words.

"It's okay, take your time," Ray encouraged. He wondered if touching Frank's hands—clenched into tight fists on top of the table—would be the right move. The boy looked like he could use the comfort.

"He didn't hurt me," Frank finally finished.

Ray looked down at his folder. Besides the bruises around Frank's wrists and arms that he could see with his own eyes, there were photos of others: various bruises and abrasions from Frank's back to his thighs; a much larger, yellowing bruise on his stomach; a gash on his upper thigh that had been bleeding profusely when Bob finally picked him up.

Perhaps Frank had been traumatized enough that he wasn't even aware. Ray decided not to touch him.

"Frank," he said, "you have bruises all over your body and a deep cut on your leg. How did you get those?"

"He didn't hurt me," Frank repeated sternly.

"How did you get hurt, then?"

"He didn't—"

"Okay. It wasn't Gerard. Frank, will you please tell me how you cut your leg?" Ray asked carefully.

"I scraped it," Frank replied.

"On what?"

"A piece of glass."

Ray nodded and made a note of that. "How did it happen?"

"I fell through a glass door."

Maybe that particular wound really had been an accident, then. Ray remembered Bob mentioning chasing Frank and Gerard through a broken door. He flipped back to the other pictures and set them on the table for Frank to see.

"How did you get these bruises, Frank?"

Frank shook his head.

"These are photos of you, Frank," Ray said gently. Frank shook his head again and wouldn't meet Ray's eyes. "Tell me how you got hurt, Frankie. Explain it to me."

"He gave me them," Frank said.

"He gave you the—Gerard gave you the bruises? Tell me, Frankie." Frank nodded and looked down at his hands. Ray wondered what he'd said that made Frank answer him, and he replayed the conversation in his head. He'd called Frank Frankie. He hadn't asked, he'd commanded. It was a subtle difference in normal conversation, but it must have been the key to how Gerard treated him.

Ray felt awful for manipulating the poor kid, but he had to know. "Frankie, tell me about Gerard."


Chapter Text


+ 2 days

Gerard's hand was nearly crushing Frank's as they walked together through the grocery store. Frank hadn't been able to stop playing with the hem of his skirt, and Gerard had grabbed his hand and held tight, hissing, "Don't do that," in Frank's ear.

Frank felt like all eyes were on him, or on them, and he didn't know which was worse. "Everyone's looking at me," he whispered nervously.

"It's 'cause you're so fucking pretty," Gerard replied, tugging Frank along. "Come on, Frankie. Swing your hips a bit, you're a girl."

"Is this fucking fun for you?" Frank snapped.

"Fucking is fun, yeah," Gerard answered blithely. "Now shut up and come on, we shouldn't stay too long."

"Then let's just go!"

"No." Gerard let go of Frank's hand and instead grabbed his wrist and twisted. "We haven't finished shopping, and I want to show off my sexy girl."

"Gee, please," Frank whispered. He tried to yank his arm out of Gerard's grasp.

Gerard pulled Frank into an empty aisle in the frozen food section and slammed him up against the cold glass doors face-first, grinding his hips on Frank's ass. Frank was sure the skirt was riding up far enough to give him away. Gerard slid one hand up beneath the skirt and dug his fingernails into the crease between Frank's ass and his thigh, painful even through the thick stockings.

"Don't fucking test me, Frankie," Gerard hissed, "you know I don't have a problem with hurting you."

Frank nodded, his cheek sliding against the glass. His breath made a foggy cloud of condensation.

"I'm gonna fuck you in that fucking slutty little skirt, Frankie, and you're going to fucking love it, you hear me? Answer me."

"Yes," Frank replied.

"Turn around."

Frank did, still pressed up against the cold glass, and avoided Gerard's eyes. Gerard took Frank's chin in his hand and forced him to look up.

"I don't need you, Frankie, and you're just lucky that I want you. Do not disobey me. Understand?"

"Yes," Frank whispered. Gerard tapped his cheek sharply—not quite a slap, but close—and let him go.


Half an hour later, Frank was on his knees in the passenger seat of Gerard's car, leaning over the center console with Gerard's dick in his mouth. Gerard held both of his wrists tight behind his back, and his other hand was in Frank's hair, pushing him down. It was uncomfortable and Frank was probably showing his ass to everyone who walked by the car, but he understood that this was punishment for not cooperating.

"Take it, Frankie, come on, fucking take it, yeah, there," Gerard muttered, thrusting his hips up and holding Frank in place. Frank tried to relax his throat and concentrate on not gagging. He could barely breathe. "Fuck, yeah, Frankie, take it."

Frank's spit was sliding down his chin, like before, and it caught and stuck on Gerard's dark pubic hair every time he pushed Frank down far enough. It didn't take long for Gerard to come; he laced the fingers of both hands through Frank's hair, tugging and holding him in the right position and ordering him to swallow. Frank did, if only because he couldn't spit with Gerard's dick still in his mouth, and Gerard let him up.

"You're a fucking mess," Gerard said.

Frank could feel it, sticky wetness all over his face and throat, and his hair tangled and standing on end. His eyes were wet with tears and his lip was bleeding. He nodded.

"Should I let you clean up before we get out of here? Or do you want to walk around like this?"

"Please let me clean up," Frank whispered.

"Maybe I should just leave you tied up next time I go out," Gerard mused.


"Why shouldn't I?"

"No, don't, please," Frank cried. He remembered vividly the horrible ache in his chest from being abandoned like that, the loneliness and the uncertainty, and the more physical ache in his shoulders from being unable to move for hours on end. "I'll be good, I promise," he said. "Please don't leave me like that again, please."

Gerard reached around to the back seat and pulled out the makeup kit. He tossed it into Frank's lap. "Clean yourself up," he said coldly, "and don't piss me off."


+ 23 days

"Frankie, tell me about Gerard."

Frank looked up and smiled like he was trying not to but couldn't keep it off his face. "We had sex the first time on the fifth night."

Ray really shouldn't have been surprised. He'd suspected, of course, but to hear Frank say it… Ray made a note and asked, "Did anything happen before the fifth night?"

"Yeah," Frank said, shrugging, "but that was the night we slept together."

Ray scribbled down that Frank didn't want to talk about what happened before the fifth night and smiled encouragingly at him. "How did it start? Who instigated it?"

"I did," Frank replied immediately.

"Did you kiss him?" Ray asked carefully.

"No…" Frank said. "We didn't kiss."


+ 4 days

"Gee, please, can't I wear something normal?" Frank asked while Gerard was getting dressed. On the bed, there was a pink t-shirt and the same black skirt as yesterday, waiting for him.

"I told you why you have to wear it; do you really want to start a fight with me right now?" Gerard snapped. Frank chalked Gerard's bad mood up to the six hours they'd spent driving to a new motel.

"Nobody knows me here," Frank replied reasonably.

"I don't care if anybody knows you," Gerard said. "I care if they recognize you. Now get dressed and cleaned up, I don't have time for this."

"Come on, Gerard, nobody's going to recognize—"

Gerard grabbed a fistful of Frank's hair and forced him to his knees. He leaned over him, ignoring Frank's shout, and took his chin in his other hand, wrenching his mouth open and holding him still. "Damn right nobody's going to fucking recognize you, because nobody fucking cares about you anymore. Nobody gives a shit about you, least of all me. Shut the fuck up and get dressed, I'm not gonna tell you again."

Frank knew even before the words left his mouth that he was pushing his luck. "So I can wear my jeans, then?"

Gerard slapped him hard across the face.

Frank let out his breath and took a moment to calm down. His hair was hanging over his face and his left cheek felt like it was on fire. He looked up at Gerard through the clumpy mess of hair.

"I told you not to fucking test me," Gerard spat. "I don't have to keep you, you know."

"Then let me go."

"Not a fucking snowball's chance in hell," he laughed. "Next time it won't be your face I'll be slapping."

Frank thought he could probably take Gerard in a fist fight. He'd been in a few and done alright, and Gerard wasn't exactly a body builder. But Gerard had a gun. That weighted the odds a little bit. Frank picked the skirt up off the bed.

"Good boy."


+ 5 days

Gerard left Frank cuffed to the bed while he showered and dressed, and then while he set up his laptop and chatted with Mikey on his headset. Frank waited quietly; Gerard wouldn't leave him tied up forever. He watched Gerard eat breakfast and brush his teeth, write in a spiral-bound notebook, and read the music news blogs. Then Gerard put on his shoes and leather jacket and headed for the door.

"Wait," Frank cried, breaking the silence. "Please don't leave."

"Is there any reason I should stay?" Gerard asked, not even turning around to look at Frank.

Frank licked his lips. "I'm sorry."

Gerard glanced back at him.

"I'm sorry about yesterday; I don't know what I was thinking. It won't happen again, I swear. Please don't leave me."

"You swear?" Gerard asked. He walked over to the bed and looked down his nose at Frank. "Why should I trust you, Frankie?"

Frank licked his lips again. "I won't disobey you again, Gee, I promise."

"Shut the fuck up," Gerard said. "We both know that's not true."

"I'll try, please, I'm trying. I'm going to try."

"What do you even want, Frank?"

"I just don't want to be alone. Everything else… I don't care."

"You want me to untie you?"

"I don't mind it, as long as you're here," Frank answered truthfully.

"You hungry? Want something to eat?"

Frank shrugged as best he could with his wrists cuffed to the headboard.

"You want to get dressed?"

Frank shrugged again. "I'm sorry," he said. "I won't do that again."

Gerard pulled the necklace with the two handcuff keys out from underneath his shirt and flicked them back and forth on the chain. He stared down at Frank but didn't make eye contact. Finally, he came to a decision. He unlocked Frank's hands.

"Take a shower and get dressed. There's leftovers from last night in the fridge. When you're done, maybe we'll get out of here."

Frank nodded and waited for Gerard to let go of his wrists, but Gerard didn't. He brought them together and locked the handcuffs around them again.

"I'll let you out to put a shirt on and that's it."


They stared at each other for a moment before Gerard nodded and said, "Go."


+ 23 days

"We'd just gotten back to the motel," Frank explained in a low voice that Ray had to strain to hear. "I was wearing the skirt he bought me."

"He bought you a skirt?" Ray prompted gently.

"To wear out," Frank said. "Because I couldn't wear pants. But I was teasing him. I don't even know why, I guess I just wanted to provoke a reaction. I baited him, and he slammed me into a wall in the bathroom at the mall, and he asked if I wanted him to fuck me right there, where anyone could walk in and see us, and me with my skirt."

Ray watched Frank's face as he told the story, watched how Frank lost himself in it and seemed to relax. Most likely comforted by memory and not reality, reliving the past because it was a known quantity rather than face the uncertain present, where he had no control.

"I said no," Frank continued, staring down at his hands. He started to smile. "He told me he'd fuck me back in the room, so we left."


+ 5 days

Gerard swiped the key through the lock and pushed Frank into the room. He stumbled, and then Gerard was there behind him, pressing him up against the wall as he kicked the door closed behind them.

"You just like to fucking push me, don't you, Frankie?" Gerard asked, biting down hard on Frank's earlobe and then dragging his teeth down Frank's throat to his shoulder, where he bit again.

Frank didn't answer, just pushed back against Gerard's body, and Gerard grabbed his wrists and stretched them over their heads against the wall, grinding his dick against Frank's ass, hot even through the denim.

"Get on the fucking bed and take your shirt off," Gerard growled. Frank did as Gerard asked and lay down on his back, waiting. When Gerard joined him on the bed, he was holding the handcuffs and the blindfold he'd bought at the store.

Frank started to shake his head when he saw the blindfold, but Gerard just glared at him and fitted the mask over his face. It fit better than the piece of cloth Gerard had used before, and it didn't slip when Frank rubbed his head against the pillow, which Gerard yanked out from underneath him. Unable to see, Frank listened closely for clues as to what Gerard was doing, where he would move next.

He wasn't quite prepared for Gerard to cuff him to the headboard, although he knew it was coming. Gerard snapped the cuffs tightly around Frank's wrists and bit Frank's jaw, muttering, "I should've bought the handcuffs without the padding, I don't know why I let you fucking choose…"

Then Gerard disappeared and Frank heard the distinct sounds of his jeans unzipping and falling to the floor, and then the rustling he presumed was Gerard taking off his shirt.

"Put your fucking legs up, Frankie," Gerard hissed. Frank lifted his legs, knees bent, and spread them, guided by Gerard's insistent hands.

"You're a fucking tease," Gerard continued. "You were teasing everyone in that fucking store, Frankie. They can't fucking have you. You're mine, and you shouldn't fucking tease me."

"Sorry," Frank breathed, tilting his head back against the bed. The blindfold made him disoriented, even though he could feel the bed beneath him and the solid, firm wall against his hands.

"You're not sorry," Gerard said. "You wanted this; you love this, don't you? You're hard already, Frankie, don't fucking lie to me. You can't lie to me."

Frank shifted back and stretched out one leg, searching for Gerard.

"Nuh-uh-uh," Gerard admonished, batting Frank's leg away. "You're my fucking whore, Frankie; this isn't about what you want."

Frank groaned and moved back into position, tugging uselessly at the cuffs. He wondered if begging would help. "I'm yours, Gee, please," he said quietly.

Finally, he felt Gerard kneel between his legs, and then Gerard lifted the skirt up around Frank's waist, pointedly ignoring Frank's cock.

"You fucking love this skirt, I can tell," Gerard murmured silkily. "I'm not sure you even have a dick, the way you walk around in these fucking clothes, like they were made for you. Or like you were made for them. I bet you fucking wish you were a girl, don't you, Frankie? Such a pretty fucking girl, with a fucking wet cunt and no underwear on underneath this short fucking skirt. Ready for anyone to stick it in, aren't you, you fucking slut."

Frank exhaled loudly and concentrated on Gerard's voice. He didn't really sound angry anymore; he was off in a fantasy, and Frank was part of that, and reality didn't matter. Frank liked that, he liked forgetting about the things he didn't like. He moaned and urged Gerard to continue.

"Tell me how much you want it, Frankie? How much do you want my cock in your cunt? Tell me."

"I want it," Frank whispered.

"Tell me."

"I want your cock in my cunt," Frank cried. "I want you in me, please!"

"What if I want to fuck your sweet little ass, Frankie? I should've bought a fucking dildo for you or something."

"Mmm, please, please fuck me," Frank moaned. "Fuck my ass, please, Gee, please—"

"Shut the fuck up," Gerard hissed, and then he was pressing his cock against Frank's perineum and Frank was pushing back against him. "I'll get the gag if I need to."

"No, I'll be good, I promise," Frank said quickly. Gerard thrust against him for a moment, the head of his cock up against Frank's balls, and it was really fucking hot and so fucking good, and Frank arched his back and moaned again. Then, because he knew Gerard wanted it, he said, "I'll be a good girl, I promise."

He was rewarded with the sound of Gerard actually moaning Frank's name and grasping Frank's knee tightly. Gerard didn't waste any time prepping Frank, just reached down with one hand and pushed his cock into Frank's ass without further warning. Frank whined and squeezed his legs together around Gerard's body. He considered crossing his ankles and pulling Gerard further into him, but then thought better of it. Frank was sure Gerard wouldn't appreciate the gesture in the way it was meant.

Gerard reached up with his other hand and stuck three fingers into Frank's mouth. Frank sucked them in and wrapped his tongue around them, even when Gerard pushed too far back and Frank felt like he was choking. He gagged and a thick drop of spit slid out the bottom of his mouth.

"Fucking dirty slut," Gerard murmured, withdrawing his hand, and bent down to lick his way into Frank's mouth. Gerard's tongue was much more welcome than his fingers, and Gerard kissed him fiercely. Frank didn't do much of anything but take the onslaught, barely able to focus at all with Gerard's dick hot and hard inside him.

"You want to fucking come, don't you?" Gerard asked.

Frank had actually forgotten about his own cock, ignored as it was between them. Gerard was just so much more important than that, in Frank's mind. He demanded Frank's full attention, and Frank gave it without thinking. It was so much easier to concentrate on what Gerard needed from him, because he wasn't even sure what he wanted for himself. He couldn't remember ever feeling that way about the other people he'd fucked. It was always about getting himself off and then getting the fuck out.

Gerard slid his wet hand down Frank's chest until he reached Frank's dick and closed his fist around it, and then, yeah, then Frank wanted to come. He wanted Gerard to jerk him off, wanted to suck Gerard's cock, wanted Gerard to finger him open until Frank was ready to come again.

"Yes, yes, please," Frank finally answered with a short cry. "I want to come, please let me come."

"Not until I'm done," Gerard said, and Frank felt a little thrill of satisfaction. He spread his legs wider and forced himself back to meet Gerard's thrusts.

It didn't really take long for Gerard to come inside him. He kissed and sucked and bit Frank's chest and throat, muffling his own noises, and Frank just stayed pliant and took it, took everything. Gerard left his cock inside Frank after he'd finished, and, breathing heavily, finally kissed Frank on the mouth again.

"You better lick it all off my fucking fingers," he said when he pulled back, and for a second, Frank didn't know what Gerard was talking about.

But then Gerard stroked him once, fully, up to the tip and then down to the base, fingers tight and brutal and exactly what Frank needed, and Frank remembered. His hips came up off the bed of their own accord as he thrust into Gerard's hand, but Gerard just pushed him down and held him there.

"I don't fucking think so," he said with a breathless laugh.

Frank was so wired that he was ready to come already, as long as Gerard didn't disappear. He wanted it to last, though. It was the first time Gerard had really touched him, certainly the first time Gerard had ever paid any attention to Frank's dick when he fucked Frank.

"You love being my girl, don't you Frankie," he whispered. "How much do you want to come? Should I let you?"

"Yes, please let me, Gee, please let me come, Jesus Christ, I need it," Frank cried shrilly as Gerard twisted his hand and squeezed.

"You need it?" Gerard taunted, and Frank could hear the grin in his tone.

"I need it, I need you, please let me come, please…"

"Then come," Gerard said simply. It was enough for Frank. He arched up off the bed, following Gerard's hand on the upstroke, and came with a loud shout that Gerard silenced with his tongue between Frank's lips.

His orgasm left Frank feeling weak all over, completely boneless, and Gerard kissed him through it, keeping him grounded. Frank's hands relaxed on the bed; he couldn't even feel the cuffs anymore. After a moment, Gerard pulled away and wiped his fingers through the mess on Frank's stomach and brought them to Frank's lips.

Frank poked his tongue out and tasted himself on Gerard's fingers, and waited for Gerard to push them into Frank's mouth. He didn't, though; he left a sticky mess on Frank's lower lip and let Frank take his time sucking his come off Gerard's skin. He continued to lick and suck long after he'd cleaned Gerard up, and Gerard murmured appreciatively.

"Go to sleep, Frankie," Gerard ordered softly. He gently planted a kiss on Frank's sweaty forehead and left him tied up and blindfolded while he went to shower.


+ 8 days

Driving through the desert was boring as hell. The monotony gave Frank too much time to think, and his own mind was driving him crazy. Frank's hands shook even as he clasped them together in his lap. He thought he was hyperventilating, but Gerard wasn't acting like anything was wrong, so he suspected it was only in his head. The brown, dusty sand whizzed by outside his window, making him dizzy. He didn't stop staring at it.

Then Gerard did look over at him with a confused expression. "Frank?"

Frank clutched his stomach, suddenly nauseated. He groaned. "Pull over," he mumbled. "I'm going to be sick."

There weren't any other cars on the road; Gerard pulled off into the dirt, tires kicking up a cloud of dust as the car jerked to a halt. Frank opened the door and tumbled out, scrambling away as quickly has he could manage on his knees.

The dust tickled Frank's throat and he coughed, trying to clear his lungs; it progressed into dry heaves, but nothing came up. Frank heard Gerard running over to him.

"Frank? Frank!" He stopped a few feet away.

Frank turned around, still huddled on his knees, and stared tearfully up at him. Gerard's brow was wrinkled with concern and he stretched out a hand to Frank.

"You okay?" he asked carefully. He closed the distance between them.

Frank reached past Gerard's hand and into the pocket of his jacket, fingers closing immediately around the gun. He yanked it out and crab-walked backwards. Gerard didn't move, and his expression didn't change.

"If you aren't going to let me go, just fucking shoot me already," Frank cried. He looked down at the gun and wiped tears from his cheeks with the sleeve of his shirt. "Are there even fucking bullets in this fucking thing?"

"Yes," Gerard answered.

"If you don't fucking kill me, I'll just do it myself," Frank said. He stroked the handle of the gun with his thumb, getting a feel for the weight. It was heavier than he expected. He held it up against the side of his head. "Please just kill me."

"Why?" Gerard asked. He didn't seem particularly worried about Frank waving the gun around.

"Why?" Frank screeched. "My life is shit. My parents are dead. I'm a month late on my rent already, and I got fired from my shitty minimum wage job at fucking Wal-Mart the day before I met you. I don't have any family left, and none of my friends remember me, ever. I'm drowning in student loans and I didn't even finish two years at college. My dog died last week. I got kidnapped in a fucking bank robbery. Should I go on?"

Gerard cocked his head to the side thoughtfully. After a moment, he crossed his arms over his chest. "So you want to die."

"The only reason I'm still alive is that you want me as some kind of—of—of sex toy or something, I don't fucking know. You don't need me anymore and you're not going to let me go. Just put me out of my fucking misery."


Frank lifted his head. Gerard held his hand out again, this time reaching for the gun. "You'll do it?"

Gerard nodded. Frank handed the gun over and wiped furiously at his eyes. He could feel the dirt caking his skin, gritty in his eyes when he rubbed them. Sniffling didn't make it any easier to breathe, and his heart was pounding erratically in his chest. Frank sat back on his heels and stared up at Gerard. He didn't know what to do with his hands.

Gerard calmly aimed the gun at him, face blank and eyes clear. Frank didn't like staring down the barrel, so he closed his eyes. The gunshot was louder than Frank expected, a deafening bang that echoed in his ears. He jumped, his entire body tensing at once, and his eyes flew open. His throat closed up and he felt sick again, but this time he couldn't breathe even to puke.

Gerard was still holding the gun in front of him, aimed down at the dirt, and it was smoking slightly. The grey smoke mixed with the dust that was gently blowing away from the small crater the bullet left in the ground.

"You don't want to die," Gerard said slowly. "I've been suicidal before. You're not there yet. Get up."

"What?" Frank gasped.

"All that shit you said? None of it matters anymore. Get up and get back in the car."

Frank stared at him. His hands were shaking worse than before. Gerard's hands were perfectly still.

"Get in the car, Frank."

Neither of them moved for a full minute, and then Frank nodded and wordlessly rose to his feet, walked past Gerard, and sat back down in the passenger seat. He buckled his seatbelt, closed the door, and exhaled slowly. The adrenaline rush was making him jittery, and he took another deep breath to calm down.

Gerard put the gun in the trunk of the car. He climbed in and turned the key. The car stuttered to a start and Gerard pulled back onto the road. They didn't talk, and Frank kept taking deep breaths.


+ 10 days

Gerard hadn't touched him since the incident with the gun, except to handcuff him to hotel beds at night. They didn't talk much, and it wasn't about what happened when they did. Frank couldn't let it go.

"Hey, Gerard?" he asked hesitantly. "Back there, in Texas or wherever-the-fuck, you said I didn't want to die." Gerard nodded and didn't look away from the road. Frank licked his lips. "How did you know?"

"If you really wanted to, you'd have just done it. Why ask me to do it for you?" Gerard answered simply.

"What if I wanted you to choose?"

"What?" Gerard asked. "You want me to look at your life and tell you whether or not it's worth living? That's just stupid, Frank."

"No, it's not," Frank protested. Gerard threw him a look he couldn't read. "You said you've been suicidal before," he prompted.


"What saved you?"

Gerard looked over at him. "Nothing."


+ 12 days

Frank didn't pry any more after that, but he was still curious. He wanted to know more about Gerard, more about all the things Gerard knew about himself and about Frank. Because he actually knew a lot about Frank, a truly surprising amount about Frank's feelings. Frank started to think that Gerard knew him better than Frank knew himself. He wanted to know Gerard in the same way.

Things he knew about Gerard: sometimes Gerard slept fitfully, but he never woke up from his nightmares; Gerard drank a lot of coffee in the morning and at night, and Frank wasn't sure if Gerard ever actually slept some nights; Gerard liked quiet while he was driving; Gerard liked Frank's tattoos.

Frank knew that last one because Gerard had said so, during one of their more candid conversations. Gerard was still very vague, though, and it was frustrating to ask questions and get ambiguous answers. Gerard was a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a sexy leather jacket, and Frank just wanted more.

That night, Gerard fell asleep early while curled up in his pajamas, watching TV, and he'd forgotten to lock Frank in the handcuffs, which he'd done every single night previous. Frank figured Gerard must be exhausted, keeping up with Frank while on the run from the police, staying at crappy motels and driving all day. He reached carefully over Gerard for the remote and switched the TV off, then took off his clothes and slid slowly between the sheets.

Gerard didn't move. He was sound asleep. Frank figured he could probably get away with kissing Gerard goodnight, but he played it safe and just kissed him on the cheek. Gerard didn't even stir. Frank put his head down on the pillow and watched Gerard sleep until his own eyelids closed. He didn't even glance at the door.


+ 13 days

When Frank woke up, he was curled against Gerard's side with an arm over Gerard's chest, and Gerard's arm around his shoulders. He looked up and saw that Gerard was awake, cup of coffee firmly in hand.

"I forgot to cuff you," he said, and Frank nodded. "I'm sorry."

"You needed the sleep," Frank replied.

"Next time, cuff yourself." Gerard said. "Understood?" Frank nodded again.

"I should've—"

"It's fine," Gerard cut him off quickly. "You didn't know. I'm glad you stayed, though."

Frank was confused for a few seconds. He glanced at the door, but the feeling of longing was gone. "I didn't even think of leaving," he admitted quietly.

Gerard petted his hair. "Good," he whispered.


+ 15 days

They settled into a routine, of sorts. Sometimes Gerard talked to Frank, and sometimes he ignored him; Frank still couldn't pinpoint any particular reason, but on the days Gerard didn't feel like talking, Frank stayed quiet and obedient. He'd learned that quiet Gerard meant Gerard was deep into his own head, and he got angry when interrupted.

Frank liked it when Gerard talked to him, though. He'd gradually become comfortable enough with Gerard to reply without working himself into a panic about what Gerard would think or do or say in reaction. Surprisingly, he and Gerard actually shared interests, especially in comic books, a topic that fueled several long hours' worth of conversation and debate.

As awful as it was, Gerard was Frank's best friend. They'd connected at some point during their time together. Frank didn't know when it had happened, but the more he thought about Gerard, the more he couldn't imagine them not becoming friends. Gerard had never been mean to him without reason, and he'd always kept his promises. And most of the time, he was a great conversationalist.

Frank's other so-called friends were people he'd met at work, or in his short time at Rutgers, and he'd yet to find anyone as intelligent and charming as Gerard. Frank's other friends told him all about parties and clubs they frequented, while conveniently forgetting to invite him, not that Frank could afford cover charges or expensive cocktails anyway. Frank's other friends didn't share or appreciate Frank's interests or passions, they didn't like the same kinds of music, and they didn't care about him.

Frank and Gerard had only had sex a few times, and Frank had to admit it was the best sex he'd had in… years. Which was kind of pathetic, Frank knew. Sometimes Gerard caught his gaze and held it, even as he came, moaning and thrusting hard into Frank's ass or his mouth. He didn't look smug about it, and Frank thought maybe it was because he was offering himself up to Gerard voluntarily, sometimes eagerly. Truthfully, Frank looked forward to the times Gerard yanked him close for a biting kiss that left Frank's lower lip bloody, and then pushed him down to his knees. The sex was satisfying even when Gerard didn't let him come. Sometimes it was even more satisfying, to be left wanting more of Gerard. He'd been worrying about himself all his life, and this was different; he could finally let go of that tension and concentrate on Gerard.

Frank felt that connection between them intensify whenever Gerard fucked him, and he thought Gerard could feel it too.

Frank was on his knees, sweaty forehead resting against Gerard's bare hip as they both caught their breath when he blurted it out. He nuzzled against the top of Gerard's thigh, eyes closed and hair sticking to his cheeks, and whispered, "I love you."

Gerard wasn't moving, but Frank noticed when he froze stiff, muscles tense.

"You don't love me," he said firmly.

Frank hadn't quite realized he'd said that out loud. He blinked twice, eyelashes brushing Gerard's skin, and replayed the moment in his head. "I love you," he repeated, more sure of himself the second time.

Gerard lifted his hand to Frank's cheek and brushed aside the wet strands of hair. His thumb swiped over Frank's cheek a second time, and then again, and Gerard sighed and backed away without answering.

Frank told himself sternly not to be upset. Of course Gerard didn't think of him that way. He'd picked Frank up by mistake. He didn't want Frank with him anyway.

It still hurt, though.


+ 23 days

It was becoming increasingly obvious by the way Frank talked about Gerard that something had developed between them. Ray still wasn't sure whether Gerard shared Frank's feelings or whether it was all in Frank's mind, if he was forming connections and imagined relationships where there was really nothing.

"The first time you slept together," Ray began slowly, "was that the first time you had sex?"

"No," Frank answered simply, finally looking up and meeting Ray's eyes. He apparently still didn't want to talk about what happened before that night, but Ray was sure that if he commanded it, Frank would tell him. He hated to manipulate the kid like that, though, after all he'd been through.

"Why was that the first time you slept together, then?"

"He let me come. He made me come. He kissed me."

"He hadn't kissed you before that?"

"It was different."

"Okay." Ray nodded. "Okay. So then how did things evolve from that point?"

"I fell in love with him," Frank replied candidly.

"You fell in love with him," Ray echoed. It felt like something was stuck in his throat. What had Gerard done to the poor boy that made him think this was love?


+ 19 days

"I talked to the director," Brian began softly, closing the office door behind him. "Bob, maybe you shouldn't be getting so involved, you know?"

"Bri, don't give me that."

"No, listen. You got emotionally attached to this kid, and we're just afraid…"

"Afraid of what?" Bob snapped.

"We're afraid that we'll have to start looking for a body," Brian finished calmly.


"Bob, it's been over two weeks," he reasoned. "We haven't seen a trace of either of them, and we haven't gotten any demands. Why would the guy keep him alive after all this time?"

"He's counting on me, Brian," Bob replied vehemently. "I saw him, that day at the bank, I saw his face. He was so fucking scared, Brian, and I told him I would help him. I have to help him, I promised. You didn't see his face at the bank. He needs me. I promised I would fucking save him."

"Bryar, what the hell are you going to do when the kid turns up in a fucking body bag? I'll tell you what you're going to do: you're gonna go to pieces. It's tragic, okay, but you don't know him, and you can't start putting the blame on yourself. It's that psycho we have to catch."

"He's not dead."

"You don't know that," Brian said quickly. He softened, though, and conceded, "He might not be dead. But chances are small, and they're getting smaller every hour."

"We have to catch him," Bob replied.

Brian sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Bob… Promise me you won't blame yourself when this all goes wrong."


+ 20 days

They were on their way back to Jersey. According to Gerard, enough time had passed that the spotlight was off them, and if they were careful, they could maybe stop running. Frank wasn't so sure, but he trusted Gerard's opinion. They avoided major roads and cities; they weren't in any great rush. Gerard said that he needed to see his brother, and that's all there was to it.

Frank drove for a few hours up the coastline, the ocean on their right, until they finally reached a beach town with a decent-sized convenience store. Gerard told him to pull in.

"What do you need?" Frank asked.

"Food for tomorrow," Gerard replied shortly. "We can't make any stops once we get closer in case we're seen."

Frank nodded and handed Gerard the car keys. Neither of them moved. Frank swallowed and, staring at the top of the steering wheel, asked, "What are you going to do when we get back to Belleville?" Frank could feel Gerard's eyes on him but he forced himself not to look up.

"You mean what am I going to do with you?"

Frank nodded.

Gerard hesitated for a moment before answering, almost long enough to make Frank look up. "I can't let you go," he said finally. "You'll come with me."

"To see Mikey?"

"I'll find somewhere to take you. I can't let you go."

"I know," Frank whispered. He didn't say, I don't want you to. He was afraid of Gerard pulling away from him, and it felt like he had been ever since Frank let slip the L-word.

Gerard took a breath and determinedly stuffed his wallet and the keys into his pockets. "Come on, let's get some food for tomorrow."

Nobody gave them a second glance inside the store, which was almost deserted anyway. Gerard headed towards the snack aisle, Frank trailing dutifully behind carrying the basket, and started pulling things off the shelves as he passed them. Frank hurried after him and organized the chips and crackers and sodas into the basket so nothing would squish and crunch. Gerard then pointed Frank to the produce section.

"Go pick out whatever you want and come to me in the freezer aisle," he murmured under his breath. "You'll come to me, won't you, Frankie?"

"Yes," Frank replied, just as quiet.

Gerard gave him a tiny grin. "Go, then. You have eight minutes."

Frank darted away and began throwing things into the basket. Apples were easy for road trips. Maybe carrot sticks, too. Grapes? Tomatoes? He wondered whether he should bother with lettuce; if they were making meals, Frank wanted it, but if they were just eating on the road, it was a little cumbersome. He lifted a prepackaged bag of shredded lettuce and weighed it in his hand.

"Can I help you with anything?"

Frank whirled around, surprised. He almost dropped the lettuce. "Sorry, uh. No. I'm good."

The man was wearing a green apron and he looked pleasant enough, but something about him rubbed Frank the wrong way. He had thinning grey hair and some scraggly stubble, but he was smiling. "You sure?"

"I'm sure," Frank said quickly.

"You didn't sound too sure to me."

Frank put down the bag of lettuce. "I'm all set, actually," he said stiffly. The guy took a step closer and Frank backed up.

"You're with that other man, right? Where are you two from?"

Frank bristled. "None of your business," he snapped.

The man shrugged. "I'm just making friendly conversation. It's not exactly tourist season, and we don't get a lot of new faces in here."

Frank nodded and shifted the basket from hand to hand. The man was making him nervous and Frank couldn't pinpoint why. He thought of Gerard waiting for him in the other aisle and tried to make his excuses.

"You guys just passing through, or are you staying in town?" the man asked, a little too insistent to be considered polite.

Frank's hand tightened on the basket handles so they ground together. "I don't know," he said.

The man laughed. "Where're you coming from, then?"

"I have to go see if he needs anything," Frank replied awkwardly, and tried to push past. "He's waiting for me."

"I think you should get some of this, if you're looking for good lettuce," the guy said, stepping deliberately into Frank's path and picking up a head of lettuce. "It's a local brand. Good produce."

"No thanks," Frank spat. "I need to go." The man looked at him and didn't move. "Let me go."


Frank looked over the guy's shoulder and saw Gerard at the end of the row. His hands were clenched into fists. He came over to them.

"Is there a problem?" he asked Frank. He reached up and wrapped one hand around Frank's bicep and squeezed.

"No, I was just… having trouble deciding," Frank replied quickly. "I'm sorry."

The guy watched them with a weird expression. Frank didn't like it. He looked back at Gerard's face, his angry eyes, and licked his lips. "Are you ready to go?" he asked.

"I told you to meet me in the frozen food section," Gerard said in what Frank thought of as his bedroom voice. Every sound, every line of Gerard's body exuded confidence, even arrogance. Dominance. Frank nodded and leaned into Gerard's touch, trying to communicate that it wasn't his fault; he'd wanted to meet Gerard, he'd tried.

Gerard pulled him away from the man. "Come on, we need dinner for tonight."

When they rounded the corner of the freezer aisle, Gerard swung Frank around and pressed him face-first against one of the cold glass doors. Frank was vividly reminded of the first time Gerard had done that, but it felt different this time.

"I told you to come to me," Gerard hissed, flattening his body against Frank's back to hold him there.

"I tried," Frank whispered. "I'm sorry, I tried, I really did. He wouldn't let me, he kept asking… I don't know why, please, I did try to come."

Gerard dug his fingernails into Frank's arm. "I don't care what you tried," he said. "I want you to fucking obey me, understand?"

"Yes," Frank breathed. It fogged up the glass in front of him. After a long moment, Gerard stepped away and Frank relaxed.

Frank stuck to Gerard's side as they finished shopping. The man from earlier was at the register when they went to check out, and Frank stayed in Gerard's shadow. They didn't talk while the guy was checking them out, and the guy didn't try to start any more weird conversations. Probably because Gerard was glaring at him.

The man did keep his eyes on Frank, though, and it made Frank nervous. He traced his fingers over the magazines, touched the candy bars and gum, picked up a pack of batteries and read the warnings, then put it back.

He heard Gerard pick up the bags and walk to the door. Frank looked up. Gerard was almost outside, and he called to Frank over his shoulder without even glancing back. The creepy guy was still watching him closely. Frank put down the TV Guide he'd picked up and started to follow Gerard.

"Stop right there," the man said suddenly. Gerard had his hand on the door handle; he froze. Frank turned back around.

"What?" he asked.

"I saw you take it. Either give it back or I'm calling the police."

"Take what?" Frank asked, thoroughly confused. "I didn't take anything."

"Frank, come on," Gerard hissed under his breath.

"Thief!" the guy shouted. "Don't you even think about moving, you son of a bitch."

"What the hell?" Frank cried. He held up his hands. "I didn't take anything!" Gerard gave him a hard, angry look and Frank shook his head. "I didn't, Gee, I swear."

Gerard looked from Frank to the creepy guy. "He didn't take anything, I paid for it all. Come on, Frank, we're leaving."

Quick as a flash, the man yanked the phone off its post and dialed 911. "I'm calling the police. Don't you fucking lie to me."

Gerard stared at Frank and shook his head. He looked nervous, scared. It was the first time Frank had ever seen that expression on Gerard's face, and his heart sped up. Gerard opened the door and backed out, still not breaking eye contact with Frank. Frank could see the command there, the silent Come with me, now. He took a hesitant step in Gerard's direction.

The guy reached below the register and pulled out a gun. "Nobody gets away with stealing from my store, you little punk."

Frank froze again. Gerard was still backing away from the building.

"No, don't," Frank whispered. "Don't leave me."

He watched Gerard get into the car and sit there with his hands on the steering wheel. Gerard wasn't looking at him anymore.


The creepy guy grabbed Frank's arm and yanked him over to the checkout counter. "Empty your fucking pockets." He'd put down the phone, so Frank assumed the police were on their way. He hoped Gerard would just leave. Why was he still sitting there?

"I don't have anything!" Frank cried. "Let go of me!"

"I fucking saw you." The man pushed Frank's head down so he was bent over the counter and leaned over him, twisting Frank's arms up behind his back.

"Get off me!" Frank thrashed but the man was bigger than him and he couldn't break free. "Let go! I didn't steal anything!"

"Stop lying, you son of a bitch." He twisted Frank's wrist and dug his fingernails in.

Frank screamed. "Let me go!"

"Get your fucking hands off him."

Next thing he knew, the guy was on the floor with a bleeding cut down the side of his face. Gerard grabbed Frank's shoulder and pushed him forcefully toward the door.

"Get the fuck out," he shouted. He was holding his gun. Frank couldn't make his legs work; he stared at Gerard.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" the guy yelled back. He pushed himself to his feet and reached for Frank again. "He's a fucking thief. Nobody steals from me."

Gerard lifted the gun and aimed it at the man's head. "He's not a fucking thief. He's mine, and you will not lay one finger on him, do you understand me? Get in the car, Frank."

"You crazy son of a—"

"Don't think I won't kill you."

Frank heard sirens off in the distance. "Gee," he whispered.

"Get in the fucking car!"

"Don't even think about it," the man hissed smugly.

"Gerard!" Frank cried.

That seemed to pull Gerard out of his staring contest. He flinched and fired the gun into the air. It left a perfect round hole in the ceiling. He grabbed Frank's wrist and yanked him along. They ran to the car; Gerard pushed Frank into the driver's seat and Frank crawled over the center console while Gerard clambered in after him.

There was a cop car coming down the street, lights flashing, and it turned into the opposite side of the parking lot. Gerard turned the key forcefully and stepped on the gas.

"Shit," he breathed. "Shit."

"Why'd you come back?"

"Shut the fuck up."

"Why did you come back for me? You were out."

"Shut up, Frank, I'm trying to get us out of here alive. Shut the fuck up."

Frank twisted around in his seat. The cop car was parked in front of the store with the door open. A few seconds later, the cop in his shiny black uniform and the creepy guy ran outside. They drove around a corner and Frank lost sight of them. He didn't think they'd seen Gerard's car.

"Why did you come back?" he asked again, once Gerard's grip on the steering wheel wasn't turning his knuckles white.

"I can't let you go," Gerard said stiffly.


"They'll catch me if I do."

Frank crossed his arms over his chest. "I wouldn't tell," he shot back defiantly.

"I don't care what you think. I'm not letting you go."


Gerard didn't answer. Frank was quiet for several minutes, and Gerard eventually turned on the radio. They were getting closer to Jersey, but they still wasn't close enough to pick up Frank's favorite radio stations back home, and Gerard fiddled with it until they were listening to something other than static.

"You love me," Frank whispered confidently. "That's why you came back for me."

"I don't love you," Gerard muttered.

Frank stared at him. "Yes. You do. You saved me."

"Hate to break your heart, Frankie, but I saved me."

"I love you, Gee."

"No, you don't."

"Yes, I do," Frank shouted. "I fucking love you, and you love me back, just admit it! I know you do!"

"I don't."

"Gerard, come on. You do, I know it."

Gerard swerved violently off the road and slammed the car to a halt in an empty parking lot. He turned in his seat to face Frank and grabbed Frank's chin.

"Listen to me," he hissed. "I don't love you and you don't love me. It's all in your fucked up head. I went back for you because I don't trust you and I don't want to get caught, do you understand that? Now, shut the fuck up so I can get us out of here." He glared at Frank, then said, "I don't fucking love you."

Gerard's thumb was pressed to the corner of Frank's mouth, and when he licked his lips, his tongue lingered there for a moment as he tasted the saltiness of Gerard's skin. He opened his mouth slightly and Gerard traced Frank's lower lip. Frank didn't miss the way Gerard stared at his mouth. He licked Gerard's thumb again.

"Stop it," Gerard whispered.

"Stop what?" Frank asked. His lips pressed against Gerard's thumb in an accidental kiss. Gerard just closed his eyes and shook his head. After a few seconds, he pushed Frank away and turned forwards again. He didn't speak again until they pulled into a motel parking lot.


Gerard spread Frank out on his back, arms and legs stretched to each corner of the bed. His hands were light and gentle as they moved up Frank's calves, his thighs, his hips, to his stomach, just beneath his ribs. There was a bruise there from being slammed into the sharp counter. Gerard glanced up at Frank's face and pressed a finger into the bruise until Frank inhaled harshly. He wouldn't make a sound, though.

His hands continued up to Frank's arms, both of which had a series of mottled bruises beneath the tattoos. Some of them were Gerard's, from when Gerard jerked him around and pulled him along, but some of them weren't. Those were from the creepy guy; Gerard pressed down on them like he had the one on Frank's stomach, pushing hard enough to make Frank gasp.

Frank stayed completely still and tried not to flinch away from Gerard's touch. He wasn't handcuffed, and Gerard wasn't really holding him there. It was almost like a test of Frank's willpower. He knew Gerard wanted him still, and he was determined to do just that.

"What do you want from me?" Gerard whispered.

Frank looked down and held his gaze. "Anything you'll give me."

"What if I don't want you?" Gerard bent down over Frank and rested his chin on Frank's stomach. "What if I want to tie you up and leave you here?"

Frank bit his lip and didn't answer. The thought of Gerard abandoning him like that made his heart hurt.

"What if I want to fuck you every night and never let you come? Or make you always dress like a girl? Or sleep on the floor?"

Frank didn't answer. He said, "I love you."

Gerard pinched Frank's side hard enough that he flinched. "Why do you think that?"


"Answer the question, Frankie."

Frank closed his eyes. He wasn't sure if he could explain it to Gerard's face. It hurt too much to think about, so he just didn't, usually. "You're the only person who's cared about me," he began quietly. "You like the things I like, and you remember everything about me, so I know you pay attention. You're beautiful. You're a good person. I just… I love you."

"I kidnapped you, Frankie," Gerard pointed out softly. "You can't love me."

"But I do," Frank replied earnestly. He opened his eyes and saw Gerard watching him. Gerard tilted his head and his hair brushed Frank's skin, tickling him.

"Was your life really so awful that this is better? Being on the run, handcuffed to beds, dressed in girls' clothes? How is that better than living your own life?"

Frank moved his arms. He reached down and touched Gerard's shoulder tenderly, brushing Gerard's dark hair out of the way. "I need it like that."

Gerard's eyes flicked over to Frank's arm and he pressed his lips together tightly. He took Frank's wrists and crawled over him, stretching Frank's arms up to the headboard. "I thought you could stay still, Frankie," he murmured. "Apparently I was wrong."

Frank rolled his shoulders as best he could and clasped his hands together. "I'm sorry."

Gerard let go of him and leaned close, but he just looked down at Frank for a moment. His hair was falling down around his face and brushing Frank's cheek, like a curtain around them, a secluded little bubble.

"Now, stay like that and don't fucking move."

Frank nodded without breaking eye contact. Finally, Gerard leaned in and kissed him. It was just enough to leave Frank wanting more; Gerard then moved down to Frank's throat, then his chest, laying kisses and bites all over Frank's skin.

Frank held in a moan; Gerard hadn't said to be quiet, but Frank thought it was implied. But then Gerard's teeth grazed his nipple and Frank couldn't resist any longer. He arched his back and whined. Whatever Gerard gave him, it wasn't enough. He pushed his hips up, begging for friction, and Gerard moved out of reach; he arched his back to follow Gerard's mouth and Gerard just moved with him. All the gentle half-touches were driving him crazy and he needed more. He craved more.

Gerard swirled his tongue around the bruise on Frank's stomach, pushing hard enough for Frank to feel the sharp throb of pain beneath it. Frank couldn't take it.

"Oh god, Gerard, please… Please, more, I need you."

Gerard grinned wickedly up at him. "I'm right here, Frankie."

Frank closed his eyes. "Please touch me."

Gerard wrapped his hand around Frank's aching cock and Frank was so surprised that he cried out, his hips jerking up to meet Gerard's motions.

"Weren't expecting that, were you?" Gerard asked, sounding amused.

Frank shook his head. "Please…"




Chapter Text


+ 23 days

"That was the first time we made love. We really connected that night," Frank explained. "That's when I really knew he loved me back."

"Why do you love him, Frankie?"

"I need him," Frank said softly.

"Frankie, I think…" Ray began. "I think you may have misjudged your relationship. Do you understand what I mean?"


"Gerard kidnapped you."


"He held you hostage, Frank. You did what he ordered you to do."


Ray hesitated. "Because you were with him for so long," he said slowly, "I think you forgot what it was like to be on your own." Frank was shaking his head before Ray had even finished. "You disagree?"

"I didn't forget. I couldn't forget. Gerard can't even make me forget that."

"Maybe not your life, but I'm talking about how you lived it, Frank. You made your own choices, you lived on your own, you had a job and friends."

"I made bad choices," Frank shot back angrily. "I didn't want to live alone. I had a shitty job and I didn't have friends. I didn't have anything. Gerard gave me all of that."

"Gerard turned you into a slave," Ray cried. He instantly regretted it. He'd shocked Frank into silence. The look on his face was one of betrayal.

"I thought you understood," he whispered.

Ray nodded. "I do. It's you who doesn't understand."


Ray couldn't stay with the kid; he was getting too attached. It hurt his head to think about all the ways that bastard abused Frank, and it hurt his heart to think that Frank was brainwashed enough to believe he wanted it. The federal interview room was creepy enough, so dissimilar from his own office, and Ray made a mental note that he should take more sanity breaks in the future. It was times like these that Ray wished he smoked.

Bob was outside smoking, though. Ray sighed and went over to keep him company.

"What's up?" Bob asked. "You were interviewing Frank, right?"

"Yeah," Ray said sadly. He leaned against the brick wall and crossed his arms.

"Can you tell me?"

"He's fucked up," Ray said. "He's in love with Gerard. He thinks he is, anyway."

"You've got to be shitting me."

"I wish."

"Gerard kidnapped him. He… He raped him. Didn't he?"

"Frank claims he wanted it. He says he even instigated it a lot of the time. There's no way he'll testify against Gerard for anything."

"God-fucking-dammit," Bob muttered. He dropped his cigarette and stomped on it. "What the hell is wrong with him?"

Ray sighed again. "Have you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?" he asked. Bob shook his head. "It's when a hostage and his captor form some kind of emotional bond during their time together. Sometimes it manifests as what the hostage believes to be love."

"What the fuck—"

"It's the same sort of thing you see in abusive relationships. The abused one makes excuses every time the bastard hits them or threatens them, because they believe it's all out of love."

"That's not right," Bob said sharply.

"I know."

"Frank's fucking brainwashed?"

"That's all I can see," Ray replied, nodding.

"I'm going to kill that fucking son of a bitch."

Ray put a hand on Bob's arm. "He's guilty as hell, okay," he murmured. "No judge or jury is going to let him off. He's going to jail."

"I want him to fucking pay," Bob said vehemently.

"He will."

Bob kicked the wall, and Ray could see the pain flicker across his face. It didn't seem to relieve the frustration, though; random bursts of violence never did. "I'm going to talk to him."


+ 21 days

Frank was nervous about going to Gerard's apartment. They'd been back in Jersey for a whole day already, but they'd stayed in the motel the entire time. This felt like their first test, whether they'd really get away with it. Frank didn't know how Gerard planned on staying here; Frank didn't have any friends, but he did have people who would recognize him.

"It'll be fine," Gerard assured him again. "You're the only one they know. They never got my name or what I look like, so they don't have any reason to be looking at my place. Trust me."

Frank smiled at him. "I do trust you."

Gerard shook his head in mock exasperation, but he was smiling too. "Shut the fuck up," he said.

They pulled up to the building and parked on the street, close to the entrance. Frank glanced around. "Are there always cars around here?"

"Yeah, Frankie, calm down. There's not a good parking lot, so we just use the street. It's fine. Nobody's going to pounce on us."

Frank sighed and got out of the car. The street was deserted. Gerard was probably right. He was usually right. Frank followed him to the door, which Gerard opened with one of his keys.

"Elevator to the left," Gerard murmured, nudging Frank in the right direction.

"Nice place. You have an elevator."

"Building code, I think," Gerard replied, grinning. "You like elevators?"

"Not really," Frank said. "I'm claustrophobic. But I don't like climbing stairs."

They went in and Gerard crowded Frank against one of the walls. "Claustrophobic, huh?"

Frank took a deep breath, his chest flush with Gerard's, and nodded.

"Fourth floor," Gerard whispered.


"Push the button, Frankie."

Frank reached to the left and jabbed at the button until number 4 lit up. His stomach lurched when the rickety elevator began to rise. Gerard bracketed Frank's head with his arms, trapping him against the wall, but Frank actually didn't mind. He was close enough to smell Gerard's breath. He wanted Gerard to kiss him, because he couldn't make the first move.

The elevator dinged and the doors opened with a rush of fresh air. Gerard stepped out and didn't wait for Frank to follow.

When they reached the door numbered 428, Gerard waved his key-ring and Frank waited for him to unlock it. He had to admit he was excited to see Gerard's place. Gerard seemed excited to show it to him, too.

"Go in," Gerard said, opening the door.

Frank took the first step over the threshold and stopped short. There was a small balcony immediately opposite the front door, and a kitchen with a real stove, and a lumpy couch with a blanket thrown over the back. It was a million times better than Frank's apartment already.

Gerard came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Frank's waist. He squeezed tightly and bit Frank's earlobe. "Bedroom's to the right."

Frank looked at the door, which was open just a crack, and saw the end of Gerard's bed. But there was something moving in there. Frank tensed and grabbed Gerard's wrist.




"Gerard, shh."

The door inched open with a loud creak and Gerard froze.

"There's someone in there," Frank whispered unnecessarily.

"There's a fire escape out on the balcony. Run when I say. Understand?" Gerard breathed. Frank didn't answer. "Do you understand me? Do as I fucking say, Frankie."

He waited for Frank's nod and let him go, pushing him further into the room. Closer to the fire escape.

"Hey," Gerard shouted. "Who's in there? Come on, don't try to fucking mess with me."

He reached into his pocket for his gun and slowly approached the door.

"Come the fuck out of there," Gerard said warningly.

The door swung open and a guy in a suit raised a gun and aimed it at Gerard. "FBI, don't fucking move, you son of a bitch."

"Frank—" Gerard said quickly. The blonde FBI guy took a step closer. "Go!"

"Stop!" cried the agent.

Frank ignored him and ran to the door. It took him a few seconds of struggling to yank the sliding door open, and then he threw himself out onto the balcony. The fire escape was to his immediate left, but on the other side of the railing. Beneath him were four stories of thin air.

"Oh, fucking fuck!" he shouted. He looked back in and saw Gerard on the floor. The blonde guy was racing towards him. "Shit!"

Frank made up his mind and swung one leg over the railing. He felt sick. Gerard was inside, hurt, maybe dead, and he was about to fall to his own death by pavement-splatter. He closed his eyes and reached for the escape ladder, leaning much farther than he was comfortable with.

Something yanked him back. He fell to the metal grating and felt his palms scrape open and start to bleed. The FBI agent was beside him, holding tight to Frank's t-shirt.

"Stop!" he shouted. "I'm trying to help you!"

"Let me go!" Frank screamed. He pushed himself to his feet and ran at the door, but missed. The blonde guy slammed into him and the glass door shattered. Frank fell forwards. He had time to think, This is going to hurt, and then he was on the ground again, this time with shards of glass scattered beneath him.

His leg was on fire—it was probably scraped all to hell—and there were tiny pinpricks of pain all over his body. The blonde guy was groaning, half on top of Frank.

Frank looked up and saw Gerard there. "Get up, get up," he said quickly, reaching for Frank's hand. "Fucking hurry, come on."

Gerard hoisted Frank partway up, and then nearly dropped him when Frank screamed again, this time in pain. His leg was more than scraped up, he finally realized. There was a big-ass piece of glass sticking out of his thigh.

"Fuck!" Gerard cried. "Can you walk? Come on!"

They hobbled towards the front door, but of course they didn't make it very far. The blonde guy had gotten up, and Frank and Gerard weren't very hard to catch. The three of them tumbled to the floor again in a tangled heap, each of them shouting curses at the other.

"Don't even fucking think about moving," the blonde guy finally said, pointing his gun at Gerard. Gerard had apparently lost his own gun, so he didn't move. Frank did move, but only to curl his body protectively over the piece of glass sticking out of his leg. He felt sick.

He glanced back at the balcony. There was a thick trail of blood from the shattered door to where they sat, and Frank's leg was completely soaked.

"Fuck," he muttered. "Ow." Then his head felt weird and fuzzy and he slumped sideways.


+ 23 days

The agent who brought them in introduced himself at the hospital as Bob Bryar, who Frank vaguely remembered talking to on the phone that first day. Gerard had been taken somewhere else, probably straight to jail, and Frank was stuck getting his leg stitched up with a police guard. Agent Bryar had apparently been searching for him. Frank didn't know whether to be flattered that he actually mattered to this guy, or to be annoyed about finally getting caught.

He got Gerard caught. Gerard was in jail or somewhere equally unpleasant, and it was Frank's fault. Frank still felt like he was going to throw up, and it wasn't just from the painkillers. He'd been there a day and a half already, and everything was just getting worse.

"Hey, Frank," Bob said gently. "How do you feel?"


"It's just the painkillers," Bob assured him. "The doctor said your cut isn't too bad, and you'll be released in just a little while. Okay?"

"Okay," Frank replied dumbly. His brain wasn't working and he didn't like it. He worried about himself, and then felt selfish for doing so. He worried about Gerard.

"I need you to give a statement when we get back. Can you do that, Frank?"


"There will be someone there to help you. He's a doctor, a psychiatrist. Is that okay?"

Frank didn't want to answer questions. He wanted to find Gerard. He wanted to go back to Gerard's nice apartment and sleep. "Okay," he said. He didn't care.


The interview room Bob put him in was really boring and slightly creepy. There was a one-way mirror along one wall; Frank faced away from it.

It wasn't long before the door opened and a man came in with a notebook and a tape recorder. He had a suit jacket over a plain blue t-shirt and jeans, and he had curly hair that hung almost to his shoulders. He didn't look like a doctor.

"Frank Iero?"

"Who are you?"

"I'm Doctor Ray Toro, I'm the psychiatrist. Will you talk with me?"

Frank shrugged. "Okay."

"You can call me Ray. Can I call you Frank?"

"Sure. Ray."

"What were you doing at the bank?"

That was a stupid question. Frank stared at him. "I was depositing my paycheck."

"Did you know Gerard before he took you? Had you met him anywhere before?"

Frank's eyes widened and he shook his head.

"So it was the first time you'd ever seen him?"

Frank nodded.

"How did he hurt you?"

Frank's jaw dropped slightly. "What?"

"How did he hurt you, Frank? It's okay, you won't ever see him again. We'll protect you. Just tell me, how did he hurt you?"

No, Frank thought. No, please. "He—" Oh god, Gerard.

"It's okay, take your time," Ray said gently.

Gerard never hurt him. Gerard loved him. Gerard was going to keep him. Gerard was in a federal prison because of him. Frank felt nauseous again. He hunched over the table and breathed deeply through his mouth. "He didn't hurt me."

Ray looked down at his folder at some pictures Frank couldn't really see. He looked disbelieving. "Frank," he said, "you have bruises all over your body and a deep cut on your leg. How did you get those?"

"He didn't hurt me," Frank said again. Those were that agent's fault. Or that creepy shop clerk. Gerard never hurt him.

"How did you get hurt, then?"

"He didn't—" Frank insisted.

"Okay. It wasn't Gerard. Frank, will you please tell me how you cut your leg?" Ray asked slowly.

"I scraped it," Frank replied.

"On what?"

"A piece of glass."

Ray nodded and wrote something in his book. "How did it happen?"

"I fell through a glass door," Frank said. Ray should know this, unless Bryar was lying about him. What if they thought Gerard cut him? That wasn't his fault, not at all.

Ray took out a few photos and put them on the table between them. Frank recognized his body not by how it looked, but by his tattoos. The actual arms and legs didn't even look like his.

"How did you get these bruises, Frank?"

Frank shook his head. If it weren't for the tattoos, he would flat out not believe the photos were of him. He'd never seen himself this way. Was this how Gerard saw him? Mottled colors and soft skin?

"These are photos of you, Frank," Ray said, as if he'd read Frank's mind. Frank shook his head again. "Tell me how you got hurt, Frankie. Explain it to me."

"He gave me them," Frank answered numbly.

"He gave you the—Gerard gave you the bruises? Tell me, Frankie." Frank nodded and looked down at his hands. "Frankie, tell me about Gerard."


+ 23 days

"Alright, you son of a bitch," Bob exclaimed, bursting through the door with enough force that it slammed and bounced against the wall. Brian stared at him. Across the table, Gerard looked equally bewildered.

"Bryar," Brian began slowly. "Sit down."

Bob shot him an angry look and pounded his fist down on the metal table. Gerard jumped, but he just met Bob's gaze and stared right back. Brian almost rolled his eyes. They did not have time for a fucking staring contest right now.

"You motherfucking bastard," Bob continued vehemently. "What the hell did you do to him?"

Gerard shook his head. "What the hell?"

"What did you do to Frank?"

Gerard's expression smoothed into a blank mask and he looked straight ahead. Brian raised his eyebrows at his partner. "I'm not saying anything without a lawyer."

"Yeah, we get it," Brian said, and actually did roll his eyes. It was only the sixth time Gerard had repeated that exact sentence, and his lawyer still hadn't shown up.

Bob sat down in the chair next to Brian and leaned far across the table, getting into Gerard's face. "You fucking brainwashed him. What did you do?"

Gerard continued to stare blankly at the wall past their heads. "I'm not saying anything without a—"

"Without your lawyer, yeah, shut the fuck up," Brian muttered. He could only take so much. Bob, apparently, had a much lower threshold.

"Did you fuck him?" Bob asked. It was a tone Brian hadn't heard in a long time, and if he didn't know better, he'd think Bob was jealous. But it was Bob's protective voice, which he used when he needed to stand up for the little guy. The little guy, in this case, being Frank.

"I'm not saying—"

"Shut. The fuck. Up," Brian said, cutting him off.

"He can't have wanted it in the beginning," Bob continued angrily. "You forced him, I know you did. What did you do, did you beat him first? Did you tie him down? What did you do to him?"

"I'm not—"

"Oh my god," Brian shouted over Gerard's monotone. "If I have to tell you again I'm going to punch you in the face."

Gerard fell silent and ground his teeth together, still staring past them and avoiding eye contact.

"You fucking raped him," Bob hissed. Brian saw both his hands clench into fists, and he almost wanted to cover them with his own hands and make Bob calm down, but Gerard needed a good punch in the face. "You raped him, and you kept doing it until he broke down and claimed he liked it—"

"I gave him what he fucking wanted!" Gerard yelled, finally meeting Bob's gaze.

Brian sat back in his chair. Maybe all they needed to do was get Gerard mad enough to talk.

"You tricked him into wanting it—"

"I didn't fucking trick him into anything," he said in a low voice. "I gave him what he needed."

"And what's that?" Brian asked, nodded his head slightly in Gerard's direction. Bob continued to stare Gerard down.

Gerard took a deep, slow breath, and when he exhaled, he resumed staring at the spot on the wall, silent and avoiding them.

"He was scared of you. He was an innocent kid, you fucking son of a bitch—" Bob muttered.

"I think that's all for the moment," Brian said, and preemptively grabbed Bob's arm to lead him out of the interview room.


+ 25 days

Frank trudged up the stairs to his fifth-floor apartment only to find that someone else was living there. They called the landlord, Matt Cortez, who told them to send Frank back down.

"There's people living in my apartment," Frank said plainly, when he and Matt were safely inside Matt's place. "Why are there people living in my apartment?"

Matt twisted his hands together nervously. "You were already a month late on your rent…"

"Did you think I was dead?"

"I kept the place for a week and a half, Frank. But I needed the money. I'm really sorry?"

"What about my stuff?"

Matt guided him to the couch and sat him down. "Most of it's in the basement. I didn't know what to do with it, and I wasn't going to do anything until I knew for sure if you were…" he trailed off awkwardly.

"What am I supposed to do?" Frank asked him. He didn't know. He was tired. His body ached. He missed Gerard, and Gerard was in jail. Gerard probably wasn't thinking of him, unless it was to blame him for putting Gerard in jail in the first place. Frank wanted to curl up and sleep for the next year, or maybe just cry. It'd been far too long since he'd had a good cry.

"I'm sorry," Matt said, and he sounded more sincere. "You can stay here, if you want. Until you find somewhere to live."

Frank leaned over until he fell onto his side on the couch, then pulled his knees up to his chest. His leg hurt a lot, still. He felt miserable.

"I don't have a job," Frank admitted quietly. "They sent me a letter saying I was fired. And I don't have a place to live. I don't have any money."

"You can stay here, Frankie," Matt said gently. He knelt next to the couch and rubbed Frank's shoulder. "It'll be okay. At least you're back, though. Safe and sound. That's good, right?"

Frank shook his head. "No."


+ 26 days

Matt helped him look through apartment listings, but there was nothing Frank could afford, and he didn't have a job, so he wasn't going to be able to afford anything anytime soon. Matt directed him to the job ads, but Frank either wasn't qualified enough or he was overqualified with his two years of college.

Frank thought of Gerard every other minute, it seemed like. He hoped Gerard didn't hate him. He wasn't sure he could stand it if Gerard did hate him. He felt awful for putting Gerard in that position, for getting him caught. But Bryar wouldn't let Frank see him and make sure he was okay.

Frank wished he had someone to call. None of his friends were even his friends anymore. Matt was the only person who gave a damn about him, and he was sleeping on Matt's couch and eating Matt's food and just generally being a nuisance.

Frank slept a lot.


+ 27 days

Frank had to admit that Matt was a nice guy, really. It wasn't his fault he'd had to find new tenants. Frank felt bad for taking advantage of his hospitality now, and he felt bad for falling behind on his rent before. He just felt bad all the time, for everything.

He kept having dreams about Gerard.

None of them were good dreams.

Frank tossed and turned on Matt's old, lumpy couch. Even after a month of motel beds, Frank couldn't get comfortable. There was nothing to distract him from his thoughts, and he always, always wound up thinking of Gerard as he fell asleep. A lot of the time it was a stark, vivid memory of Gerard telling him to handcuff himself if Gerard forgot. Frank almost wished he could. Maybe it would keep his mind off his worries.

His stomach twisted every time he pictured Gerard in a cell. It wasn't fair. Gerard had tried so hard to keep them safe, and then Frank had ruined it all. And yet, Frank was the one sleeping on a couch while Gerard was stuck in jail.

He woke up one night with tears on his cheeks and Matt petting his shoulder, saying, "Frankie, Frankie, it's okay, wake up, man. You're okay, you're in my apartment, remember?"

Frank couldn't remember the details of his dream. He turned his back to Matt and rubbed his face on Matt's scratchy blanket.

"Go away," he mumbled. He felt bad when Matt did, though. Matt was a nice guy. He was only trying to help.

When he was alone again, he whispered, "I'm sorry."


+ 28 days

Matt took him down to the basement to sort through his things. There was shockingly little there; most of his furniture had come with the apartment. It was depressing, seeing his entire life stuffed into three boxes and a suitcase.

He just didn't feel connected to any of his belongings anymore, though. Spending so much time on the road hadn't made him miss the clutter, and now that he had access to all of his junk again, he found he didn't really want it.

The first box had all Frank's sheets and towels, and a pillow with a tear in the side and the stuffing coming out.

There was a box just of clothes: mostly t-shirts and ripped jeans, a pair of slacks that had only been worn to job interviews, and two stained white dress shirts. There was a jacket that didn't match the slacks, and a jean jacket that was almost torn in half, along with a stack of sweaters and cardigans. Frank didn't count the handful of socks and underwear.

The last box had letters, a few photos of his parents and friends, Frank's various official documents, two first aid kits and an almost-empty bottle of anti-nausea drugs, a full pack of cigarettes, and a CD player with a short pile of CDs. He didn't have a TV, but he owned a ton of DVDs anyway, for whenever he had enough money to buy a TV.

He popped the last two pills in the bottle, hoping it would calm him down. There was really nothing he cared about. He stuffed the first aid kits, photos, and paperwork into the box with his clothes and stuffed the cigarettes into his pocket. Everything else could go to Goodwill, or maybe he could try to sell it.

Gerard's voice popped into his head. Something about Mikey.

Frank put the CDs and DVDs into a separate pile.


Matt was hesitant about Frank borrowing his car, especially when Frank made the excuse of visiting a friend, but he gave Frank the keys anyway. Frank looked Mikey up in the phone book; he wasn't very far away. It was almost funny that he'd never met Mikey or Gerard before.

He rang the doorbell and wrung his hands nervously. He had no idea what Mikey even looked like, or if this was the right house.

A guy about Frank's age answered the door. Everything about him was thin: his t-shirt, his jeans, his glasses, his waist. He didn't really look like Gerard, but there were enough similarities to tell Frank he had the right person.

"Mikey?" he asked.

"Who are you?"

"I'm Frank."

Mikey shrugged. "Do I know you?"

Frank opened his mouth but couldn't think of how to explain. "Gerard—"

"You're Frank," Mikey said suddenly. "Oh."


"Why are you here?"

Frank shrugged and stuck his hands in his pockets. "Gerard said you liked stupid horror movies."

"Yeah, so?"

"I have some."


"I want to give them to you."

"Oh," Mikey said again. "Come in?"


Mikey gave him a soda and a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips, and they sat down to watch one of Frank's movies. They both threw out comments as they watched, and it was almost like talking with Gerard, but other than that, they were both quiet.

"Why are you here?" Mikey asked as the credits rolled. "Am I supposed to apologize or something?"

"No!" Frank shook his head quickly. "No, no, nothing like that. I just… came to see if you wanted my movies and CDs. I don't want them anymore."

"Why me?" Mikey asked suspiciously.

"Because… Because Gerard's my only friend and you're his brother, and he loves you so much."

"It's not my fault he—"

"No. He did it to take care of you. He's just… kind of amazing, and… I miss him."

Mikey crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow at Frank, but he didn't look anything but curious.

"What happened between you and my brother?"

"I love him," Frank whispered. "The shrink with the FBI thinks I'm crazy, but I swear it's true."

"Did he say he loved you?" Mikey asked.

"No. He probably hates me, now. I put him in jail."

"He put himself in jail," Mikey said dismissively. "When I visited him, he told me he loves you."

Frank perked up. "He said that?"

"Mostly. He doesn't like to use that word, but I could tell."

Frank stared at Mikey. "Why are you telling me this?" he asked quietly.

"Because you look really sad about it, and he was really sad about you. He thought they might've changed your mind or something. But you didn't, and I don't think you should be all broken up about it. Gerard still loves you."

Frank slid off the couch and sat at Mikey's feet. He felt like a kid at story time. "What did he say?"

Mikey shrugged, looking a little uncomfortable. "It was really sappy. Something about being really happy about you wanting him, and he liked giving you what you needed, because he needed it too, or something lame and romantic like that."

"Mikey," Frank began, "do you think there's any way he can get out of jail?"

"He said there's no way. He didn't confess or anything, but everyone knows it was him," Mikey explained, his brow creasing. "Are they going to make you testify?"

Frank shook his head. "The shrink said I wouldn't be helping. If they just let me explain—"

"They'll think you're a crazy person," Mikey interrupted smoothly.

Frank looked down at his hands and picked at a hangnail. "Do you think… Mikey, do you think there's any way we could get him out?"


+ 29 days

He ate breakfast with Matt and stuffed almost everything he owned into his backpack.

"I'm leaving," he called to Matt.

"You want dinner later? I can order a pizza or something."

"No." Frank put a twenty dollar bill on the coffee table. It had been a lucky find, stuffed in the pocket of a pair of jeans. "You don't have to keep anything this time."

"What?" Matt asked. He came into the room. Frank was already at the door.

"You were really nice to me, even when I was a flake and couldn't pay you. And you let me stay on your couch."

"Frank, what's going on?" He caught sight of the twenty. "Frank…"

"You don't have to keep anything, this time. I have everything I need."

"Where are you going?"

Frank shrugged. "I'll figure it out."

Matt shook his head. "Don't do this, Frankie. You can stay, you're not in the way…"

"I need to go," Frank replied simply. "Thanks for being nice to me."


Ray made him sit in the very back of the courtroom. He couldn't even see Gerard, unless Gerard was standing up. If he leaned to the right, practically into Ray's lap, he could catch a glimpse of the back of Gerard's head.

Watching the proceedings nearly gave Frank a panic attack, though. When he started to feel like he was going to puke, Ray took him out to the hallway for some fresh air, and then he wouldn't let Frank back inside.

An hour or so after Ray was called in to testify, the doors opened and everyone came pouring out. Frank tried to push his way in, but Gerard was already gone. Ray and Bob found him and pulled him out of the crowd.

"What happened?" Frank asked hurriedly.

"We don't know the sentence yet, but I think it went well," Bob replied. Ray watched Frank with a worried expression.

"I wanted to be there. I wanted to see him."

"No," Ray broke in. "You were almost hyperventilating in the back row, there's no way any of us would let you get close to him."

"It was just the trial and everything, making me nervous," he said to Ray. "I wanted to see how he was reacting to all the things he did." Frank put on his best innocent face and looked at Bob. "Please, can I talk to him? Alone?" he asked, and when Bob began to shake his head, Frank added, "I can see how much he hurt me, now. I just want to ask for an apology. He won't do it with anyone else there, but maybe if it's just me, if he sees the damage he's done to me… maybe then, he'll give me what I need."

"And what's that?" Bob asked, visibly wavering.

"Closure," Frank answered, glancing sideways at Ray, who nodded encouragingly.

"I think it might be a good thing. It makes sense," Ray put in quietly, "for Frank to at least try to put his whole ordeal behind him, and regain some amount of control. It's good that he's taking those steps."

Bob exchanged several pointed glances with Ray, but then he nodded and mumbled something about finding the officer who had Gerard in his custody. Five minutes later, Bob returned and led Frank and Ray to the door of an office. Bob squeezed Frank's shoulder encouragingly, but Ray only frowned.

"We're right here," he said. "Shout if you need us."

"I doubt he'll try to hurt you, considering there's cops all over this place," Bob added. "But be careful, Frankie."

Frank nodded, took a deep breath, and opened the door. He slipped inside, closing it quickly behind him, and saw Gerard sitting at the far end of a conference table, cuffed hands clasped in front of him and his hair hanging messily in his face.

"Gerard…" Frank whispered. His voice cracked. Gerard looked so sad. He lifted his head at the sound of Frank's voice with a surprised, grateful expression.

"Frank?" he asked hopefully. "Frankie?"

Frank was around the conference table in seconds; he dropped to his knees next to Gerard's chair and pulled him down for a kiss. "I missed you so much," he said in between gasps for air. Gerard's hands circled Frank's neck, high up with his thumbs brushing gently over the corners of Frank's jaw. Frank melted into his touch.

"What did they say to you, Frankie, what did they do? Are you okay?"

"I'm okay, I'm okay," Frank assured him quickly. "I couldn't stop worrying about you." He brushed Gerard's hair away from his eyes and asked, hesitantly, "Are you okay?"

Gerard smiled sadly and whispered, "I shouldn't have kept you."

"No!" Frank gasped. "No, Gee, please don't say that. I love you."

"They're going to put me away, Frankie. Lock me up and throw away the key. I won't be able to… to take care of you, to give you what you need anymore. I'm sorry, Frankie, I'm so fucking sorry, but I… They won't let me see you."

Gerard looked so heartbroken that Frank had to kiss him again. He petted Gerard's hair to soothe him. "It's okay," he said.

"I promised you something," Gerard replied stiffly. "I may never have said it out loud, but everything I did… It was all a promise to take care of you, and now I can't."

"Come with me to the window," Frank said, trying to hide his wide, happy smile at Gerard's words. They were so much more than a meager declaration of love, they were a commitment. He took Gerard's hand and squeezed once. "I'm yours, Gee, don't worry about me."

"I have to worry about you."

Frank tugged him to the window and parted the blinds. The room overlooked the back parking lot, and there, parked beside the dumpsters, was Gerard's mother's car. Gerard gasped. "What?"

Mikey was leaning against the hood, arms crossed and sunglasses covering half of his face, with a lit cigarette dangling from one hand. Frank reached into his pocket and a button on his phone. Across the parking lot, Mikey jumped to attention and answered.

"Straight ahead, second floor," Frank murmured. "Do you see us?"

"Frank," Gerard began seriously. "What are you doing?"

"I need you," Frank told him. "But Mikey made me realize how much you need me, too. So we're rescuing you."

Gerard shook his head. Frank glared at him.

"No, listen, Gerard. I fucking love you. Please, just let me do this for you."

It took a long, tense moment, but Gerard finally gave him a short nod. "Yes."

In no time at all, Mikey had the window open and was helping Gerard climb out onto the roof of the car. Once on the ground, Mikey reached into the back seat and took out a pair of wire cutters to free Gerard from the Flexicuffs. He looked up at Frank while Mikey set to work.

"You've got this all figured out."

Frank nodded. He swung his leg over the window and prepared to jump onto the car.

"Wait!" Gerard said suddenly. "Wait for me."

Mikey finally cut the plastic cuffs open and Gerard climbed back up onto the roof, not even bothering to be quiet. He reached for Frank, fingers brushing Frank's calf. Frank lifted his other leg to the windowsill and lowered himself down as far as he could, and then Gerard grabbed his waist and caught him, breaking his fall. The cut on his thigh throbbed, but it wasn't too bad. Frank had to concede that simply landing on the car would've hurt like a bitch.

"Okay?" Gerard whispered, holding Frank against him.

"Yes," Frank whispered back. "Thanks."

Gerard squeezed his hip and helped him down to the ground. He looked at Mikey. "Are we just leaving, then?"

"Get in," Mikey said. Frank and Gerard both slid into the backseat, and Gerard noticed Frank's backpack. He raised his eyebrow at Frank.

"Mikey packed you a suitcase."

Gerard nodded and put his hand on the back of Frank's neck. Frank tilted his head forward slightly, pressing back into the touch, and Gerard idly fiddled with Frank's hair while Mikey drove.

Mikey got out of the car to hug Gerard when they reached the bus station. Frank saw his mouth move as he whispered in Gerard's ear, but he deliberately didn't try to eavesdrop. Gerard wrapped his arms tightly around his brother and kissed his cheek.

"Thanks," Gerard said. Mikey nodded.

He then turned to Frank and pulled him in. Frank was thrown off, but he hugged Mikey back.

"I'm glad he found you," Mikey whispered to him.

"Me too," Frank murmured. He caught Gerard's eye over Mikey's shoulder.

They got on a bus headed for North Carolina. Gerard ushered Frank into the window seat and put their bags in the rack above them, then scooted in next to him.

"What else does your plan include?" he asked in a low voice.

Frank shrugged. "It's up to you." He could tell Gerard had something in mind, and Frank was ready to let Gerard take charge again.

"We're getting off in Virginia."

"And after that?"

"We'll go west."

Frank smiled. "I've never been out west."


+ 30 days

From the bus station in Richmond, Gerard bought tickets to Cincinnati and they hopped on another bus. He murmured to Frank that they would eventually need a car.

"I can't keep buying bus tickets," he said, glancing around at the other passengers with frustration. "It's too easy to be recognized."

They stopped at a motel. The carpet was dingy and stained, and there was one bed. Frank smiled. He sat down cross-legged on the bed while Gerard looked through his suitcase.

"Wait here," he said, and went into the bathroom.

Once Gerard had closed the door, Frank unzipped his backpack and dug around in the bottom for the handcuffs he'd bought before they left Jersey. There were padded ones, like the kind they'd used before, but Frank had also found a pair of metal ones and another pair made of faux leather. He also pulled out a blindfold mask like the one Gerard had used on him before, and a thin, simple, black collar with a silver buckle. He put them all on the bed where Gerard would see them as soon as he came out of the bathroom and waited.

When he did finally come out, Gerard's hair was cut short and bleached white. Frank stared at him. Gerard nodded. "You're next," he said, and beckoned for Frank to come to him.

Gerard decided to leave Frank's hair long, but he held up a bottle of black dye. Frank took off his clothes and bent over the sink. Gerard's hands were gentle as he massaged the dye into Frank's hair, careful to keep it out of his eyes, and when he rinsed the dye out, he combed his fingers through the long hair that clung to Frank's cheek and smiled.

"Pretty," he said, and Frank beamed at him. Gerard scrubbed a towel over Frank's head.

"I brought something for you," Frank said nervously. He bit his lip and tilted his head toward the door. Gerard gestured for Frank to lead the way out.

Gerard spotted the handcuffs immediately, and he curled his hand possessively around Frank's shoulder. Frank felt his nails digging in and he kept perfectly still, waiting for Gerard to decide.

"You bought these?" he asked.

"For you," Frank whispered.

"Turn around," Gerard ordered. He turned Frank and walked him backwards until his legs hit the edge of the bed.

"I love you," Frank blurted out.

"Are you sure?" Gerard asked calmly.


"What do you want from me, Frankie?"

Frank licked his lips and smiled. He looked up and met Gerard's eyes. "Anything."

Gerard smirked at him. "What does that mean to you?"

"Whatever you want it to mean," Frank answered smoothly. "I want anything you'll give me. I'll take anything from you. For you."

Gerard put his hand flat on Frank's chest. He inhaled as Gerard slid his hand up to Frank's throat, then tilted his head up when Gerard moved to his jaw. He closed his eyes.

Gerard kissed him.

It was perfect. Frank relaxed into Gerard's touch and into the kiss, opening his mouth for Gerard's tongue. He moved with Gerard's hand and held still when Gerard finally broke the kiss and pulled back. He left his hand tenderly circling Frank's throat.

"Stop planning everything," Gerard said softly. "Stop thinking. Stop worrying. I'm in charge now."

Frank nodded. Gerard took a step closer, crowding him against the bed. Gerard's t-shirt brushed Frank's stomach, almost tickling, and he smiled.

"Get on the bed," Gerard murmured. "Arms over your head, eyes closed. Don't move."

Frank sat down and hurried to arrange himself how Gerard wanted him. He closed his eyes and stretched his arms up until his knuckles brushed the wall. He listened to Gerard moving around the bed, taking off his shirt and jeans. He heard the muffled clatter of Gerard moving the handcuffs to the nightstand.

The cuffs that Gerard buckled around Frank's wrists were the familiar padded ones, and Frank gave them an experimental tug, pulling the chain taut, then relaxed his hands, palms up. He kept his eyes closed. He could feel the heat of Gerard leaning over him and he arched his back, searching for him.

"I told you not to move," Gerard said sharply. He put his hand flat on Frank's chest and pushed him down. His hand slid up and he brushed his thumb over the prominent angle of Frank's collarbone. Frank tilted his head back and bared his throat for Gerard. He could almost sense what was coming next.

Gerard slid the collar under Frank's neck and buckled it at his throat. The pressure was enough that it went tight when he swallowed, and he could feel his own pulse jumping. Gerard hooked one finger underneath it and tugged a little.

"Look at me."

Frank opened his eyes.

Gerard was staring down at him, hazel eyes glinting. He looked really different without the long, dark hair framing his face, almost more suited to his role. He was captivating.

"I take care of what's mine, Frankie," he said.

Frank nodded, not breaking eye contact. He held his breath waiting for Gerard's next words.

"You're mine."