Chapter 1: Takoma Park, Maryland: July 13, 2005, 10:00 a.m
When the sky was that shade of blue, it was hard to have a care in the world.
He meandered slowly across his front lawn, cigarette between his lips, a cup of coffee in one hand. If there was one thing he liked about living here in the summer months, it was his lazy paperboy. The kid couldn't throw for shit, and couldn't be bothered to get off his bike and walk the paper to the front porch, forcing the residents in this four-block area to walk to the curbside for their paper.
But on a nice day like this, he couldn't care less.
He paused on the sidewalk, taking in a slow breath, then another, this time with smoke. Exhaling slowly, he crouched, snatching the paper off the concrete. A self addressed stamped envelope was attached, reminding Mr. Gerald Walsh that payment was due postmarked by the fifteenth.
He tucked the paper under his arm, turning to head back to the house. It was a nice house. A little one bedroom, one bath, small office deal. Just the right size for him.
He didn't notice the bead of red light tracking across him as he turned, but he certainly noticed when the idyllic silence of the neighborhood and coffee cup in his hand both shattered.
The newspaper fell to the ground, forgotten, as he sprinted for the front door, thanking Christ that on a casual block like this, he could leave his door hanging open during his trip to retrieve the morning paper.
Another shot cracked through the air, a patch of grass and dirt two feet behind him exploded. He dove through the door, managing to slam it with his foot. He had the good sense to not stand up, and for good reason, as a third shot blew clear through his front door.
It was silence after that, as he lie in his foyer, dripping with coffee and sweat, staring at the hole in the door for a good twenty minutes, convincing himself simultaneously that he was dead and that he was fine.
He was fine. Warning shots. But he was screwed if he stayed here any longer.
He scrambled to his feet, dashing back into his bedroom. He snatched his cell phone off his desk, dialing a number from memory.
It rang three times before someone picked up. "Detective Iero."
"Detective? They found me."
"Who is this?"
There was a noise that sounded very much like someone rising quickly to his feet from a reclined chair.
"I'll be there in half an hour. Be ready to go."
Chapter 2: Washington DC: January 6, 2005, 10:45 p.m.
Frank awoke with a start as someone knocked on his office door. He hadn't even realized he was asleep. His case was eating him alive, especially with the news waiting for him on his desk after his two weeks vacation in Jersey. Someone else had died, right under his nose, right in his home state, while he was visiting.
He cleared his throat, running a hand through his hair, raising his voice. "Come in?"
The door cracked open, and Jamia Nestor, one of Frank's favorite people in the whole world, peeked in.
"Hey Mia." He shifted, letting the front legs of his chair hit the floor with a crack as he gestured. "Come in. What's up?"
She opened the door further, stepping in, standing in front of his desk with her arms crossed. She was an analyst and psychologist with a second floor office, and since the year before, she often made it a point to check in with Frank when he was at the office past 10 o'clock.
Plus, she willingly acted as his personal therapist.
"Just making sure you're not working yourself too hard."
"Wouldn't dream of it." He smirked as he piled a few file folders and a notebook and pushed them to the side of the desk.
"Oh, I bet." She pointed at the newly constructed pile. "That all one case?"
Frank sighed. "Yes, ma'am."
"You're not going to catch him tonight, Frank. Go home."
Frank rolled his eyes a bit, standing and stretching towards the ceiling before dropping back into his chair, crossing his arms on the desk and giving her a look. "A man can dream, Mia."
She smiled, shaking her head. "It's a lot easier to dream if you're asleep, Frankie. Go home."
He checked his watch. "Oh, come on, it's not even eleven."
"Eleven is far past your bed time, young man." Jamia's voice rose into a mocking pitch, but he could hear the underlying command. He wasn't going to get out of this tonight, but he could try.
"They just found another one in Jersey, Mia. While I was there!"
She raised a carefully tweezed eyebrow at him.
Frank threw his hands into the air, admitting defeat. "You're right. You're right, I won't catch him tonight. I'll go home."
Jamia waited while he shuffled is stuff into his messenger bag, and took the elevator with him to the ground floor.
She hugged him tight just inside the door. "Get some sleep tonight, Frank."
"I'll try, Mia."
They parted ways, and Frank trotted to his Mercedes.
As he waged an epic battle with his way-too-full key chain, trying to find and separate the one key that would open his car, a voice rang out in the quiet parking lot.
Always cautious, he put a hand to his gun before turning around.
He didn't recognize the man approaching him, though there was something familiar about his face.
The man held out his hand. "I'm Gerard Way. Mikey Way was my brother, and I want his killer caught."
Frank blinked. This was strange. He really hoped this man wasn't about to take a swing at him, or rant at him about how The Bull should be caught by now. He knew that. Why would someone come from New Jersey just to chew out one detective? "Yes, Mr. Way. I'm... we're doing our best."
Gerard smiled, shaking his head. "You don't understand. I know who killed him. And I know why. I want Vincent Costello dead." Frank blinked again. The mention of the mob boss, by name even, made a chill run down his spine. It was bad enough that the codename the murderer was using had leaked, but he thought he would have known if any more information were commonly known.
Frank lowered his voice, eyes darting around as he spoke. "Mr. Way, are you in the Mafia?"
Gerard inclined his head, like a little bow. "I was. Until tonight." He smiled, and a small flame sparked in light golden eyes. "I want to be an informant, Detective."
Chapter 3: Washington DC: May 17th, 2004, 8:00 a.m.
Frank dragged on his cigarette, looking up at the concrete side of the building, flicking ash out his rolled down window. The Beatles played on the radio, trying to calm his nerves. He'd never much been one for singing, but he sang along anyway. Love, Love me do. You know I love you. I'll always be true. So ple-ase...
"Love me do." He looked up. Jamia inclined her head. "Morning, Frankie."
He smiled up at her, rolling up his window before pulling his keys out of the ignition, grabbing his bag from the passenger seat and more or less tumbling out of the car, letting his cigarette fall from his fingers as he went, stepping on it by reflex.
She opened her arms, he slung his bag over one shoulder before hugging her gratefully.
"You're gonna be okay, Frankie." She said quietly. He sighed softly, nodding.
"I know, Mia." He pulled back, tilting his head, meeting her eyes. "Thanks. For being there for me."
She leaned in, pressing a quick, friendly kiss to his cheek. "I'm always here for you, Frankie. You're my best friend in the city, and my best client too."
He laughed, looping an arm around her waist and walking with her to the front doors. "Yeah, yeah, rub it in. You still plan on dealing with my pathetic ass every Thursday night?"
She turned, arching an eyebrow, speaking with the discerning tones of a therapist. "Don't call yourself pathetic, Frank."
A bratty smirk crossed Frank's face. "It's not Thursday, Mia."
"I'm not your therapist on Thursdays only, Frank." She stopped walking. One of their co-workers passed, they both nodded in greeting. "I'm your friend, I'm your psychologist, and I may be a little worried about you." He rolled his eyes, she grabbed his chin, forcing his eyes back to hers. "Don't push yourself. I mean it."
She pulled herself from Frank's arm and continued into the building, flashing her badge and ID. Frank winced, and followed after her.
They stood in awkward silence in the elevator, until Frank made himself to speak a quiet apology.
She cleared her throat. "Accepted." She put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "Have lunch with me?"
He nodded, as the door opened on her floor. "Meet you in the foyer at one."
"Let you know if anything comes up." She kissed him on the cheek again before leaving the elevator, leaving him to continue up to the fourth floor.
A younger agent Frank knew, a sweet kid with longer hair named Sonny, was waiting outside his office, shifting from foot to foot awkwardly.
"Good morning, Sonny." Frank said with a smile. Sonny smiled back, but nervously.
"It's... It's good to have you back, Detective Iero."
"I've told you, you can call me Frank."
"Right. Frank. Um." Sonny held out the sheaf of pages in his hands. "I'm supposed to give these to you."
Frank took the pages, and Sonny smiled, bowed his head, and took off as if afraid.
The information on the pages made Frank's heart clench.
Pelissier confessed to the Tarot murders, defining himself as the Mafia hit man The Bull. He knew details from each murder, including details on weapons that forensics had been unable to identify without a launching point.
Frank carefully closed his office door before flinging the papers at the floor with an angry growl.
Someone else had got the bastard.
Chapter 4: New York, New York: November 10, 2004: 6:30 p.m.
Vincent Costello flipped through a sheaf of pages. In the casual world, this document would be considered a will, but in his family, it was more of a blessing. A passing on of the torch. Outlining the power he now had, as the only son, eldest child of the Don.
He was the Don now. Little Vinnie wasn't so little anymore. He was in charge now, and he had plans. He had a list, he'd had a list for years now, of people he wanted got rid of once his damned father died.
First things first.
There was a knock at his office door. "Come in."
The door opened, and the intimidating figure of The Bull entered, crossing his arms over his chest. If there had been one thing Vincent and his father had agreed upon, it was The Bull. The best contract killer they knew of. He wasn't on their payroll alone, of course, but they were one group out of few that had the money to use his skills, and use them they did, to great effect.
If he'd insinuated any other way, The Bull could be a made man in days, even against his heritage. But he didn't want to be in the Family. He simply wanted his money. And he'd get it.
The Bull inclined his head. Vincent stood up.
"You wanted me, Don?"
Vincent smiled. Oh, he could get very used to the title. His papa hadn't been dead three days, and he was already the Don. Everyone knew it, and allegiances were going to change.
The Don picked up a folder. Of course he had folders. One thing his father had never appreciated, the usefulness of files.
The Bull took the folder, opening it, flipping through. A page on each member of the man's family, pictures, addresses. It was almost too easy.
Vincent spoke. "I want Gerard Way dead."
The Bull looked into the file again, flipping pages. "Where is he?"
Vincent shrugged one shoulder. "We don't know." He smiled. "But I know you can find him." He spread his hands. "You're free to use any means necessary."
The Bull smiled darkly. "Any means?"
Chapter 5: Interstate 87, New York: August 2, 2005: 4:00 a.m.
Gerard chewed alternately on his lip and dragged hard on his cigarette, the first of the hour, but the second to last in the pack that he started a few hours ago.
Frank had his own cigarettes, and Gerard found himself needlessly amused that Frank smoked lights. Parliament lights. Bullshit cigarettes.
He realized he was just trying to distract himself from their predicament, but he couldn't let his mind move towards possible resolution. He didn't want to think. Too many people were dead, because of him.
Frank, on the other hand, flicked ash out his window that was rolled all the way down, sending Gerard's lank hair whipping around his face. Frank had the music turned up loud, shouting along with Paul McCartney as Helter Skelter fell down.
Frank was thinking, his mind was reeling. Everything he had ever learned, at school, at Quantico... Everything was whirling in his mind. He was over-thinking, he knew, but he had to do something.
Twenty minutes more passed. Frank flicked the end of another cigarette out his window and rolled it up, turning to glance at Gerard. The sky was just beginning to lighten.
He had to do something. The couldn't run forever, and The Bull, if not on their tail, would certainly be able to find them with no problem as soon as they stopped. The Bull wanted them dead, and Frank sure as hell wanted The Bull dead instead.
They had no help. They had no one but each other. A single FBI agent with a Glock, and a snitch on the Mafia who'd just spent three years in Italy and six months in suburbia.
They had to do something. They both had something, someone to avenge.
He reached across the car, turning down the stereo.
"We have to do something."
Gerard dragged on his cigarette moodily. "Good call."
Frank rolled his eyes. His fingers were already itching for another cigarette.
Gerard turned to look at him, flicking the end of his cigarette out his own window, rolling it up. "What?"
"Gerard, I have an idea."
Gerard sat back, lifting one foot to his seat, shifting around a bit. "Oh, do tell."
"You gotta trust me."
Frank glanced over, meeting Gerard's eyes for just a moment. In that time, their entire, albeit short, past flashed and sparked.
"You've saved my life twice now, Frank. I trust you."
Frank looked back at the road. He lit another cigarette, but only cracked the window this time.
"Alright. Here's the plan."
Chapter 6: Washington DC: July 10, 2004, 1:00 p.m.
Anthony Burns slammed a hand against the wall.
"I don't want to hear that. Don't fucking tell me shit like that."
Frank paused, just returning from his regular lunch date with Jamia. Anthony was holding two sheets of paper, one crumpled in each hand. The Director was red in the face, his jaw set.
"Hey, Tony? You okay?" Frank tried to hold back on his tendency to act like a shrink, but after lunch with Jamia, it was hard not to be the shoulder to cry on (proverbially).
Anthony growled a bit, throwing one of the pieces of paper down.
"Iero? You might be just the guy to talk too." He gestured. "Grab that and come into my office." Anthony turned, stomping angrily into his own office. Frank blinked, crouching to grab the paper, un-crumpling it and reading as much as he could as he followed Anthony into his office.
He held up the page as he closed the door behind himself. Anthony was already seated at his desk.
"Why wasn't I told about this?"
Anthony sighed, shaking his head. "Because you were too close to the first case and you know it. After what happened, I couldn't let you into the security... They got him, didn't they?"
"Then why is there another body in Massachusetts with his MO?"
"A copycat, Frank. Not yours. At least, that's what we thought."
"He wasn't 'mine' after he killed-"
Anthony raised both hands into the air, gesturing. "I know, I know. And we caught him. We thought." He gestured. "Sit down, Frank."
Frank huffed, slamming the page down onto the desk before tossing himself into one of the chairs.
Anthony cleared his throat. "Frank, you spent the most time on the Tarot case before... Well."
Frank growled, crossing his arms. "I almost had him. I almost fucking had him."
"I know, Frank. That's why he-"
"What are you getting at, Tony?"
Anthony sighed, offering the other wrinkled sheet across the desk. Frank took it from him with a raised eyebrow, reading quickly. It only took one paragraph, which was helpfully high lighted, for him to get the picture.
Pelissier was granted KOP Ritalin on June 6. On July 8, he was found deceased from heart failure in his cell. Autopsy suggests he overdosed on the amphetamine-type drug, over-stimulating his heart to the point of failure.
Frank looked up. "The Bull killed himself?"
Anthony sighed, gesturing with one hand, knowing that Frank was going to continue.
"Or this Pelissier wasn't The Bull after all. A decoy?"
Anthony nodded. "That's what we think."
Frank shifted, pressing the heels of his hands to his eyes, rubbing. "And now he's dead, so we can't even question him."
Anthony's voice fell. He was speaking quietly now, to an acquaintance, not an employee.
"Frank. I want you on this case. I know it will be hard..."
Frank lowered his hands, searching Anthony's face. After being taken off the case several months ago, with how personal it had become, what had happened, Tony wanted him back on it.
But Frank did want The Bull dead. Or at least caught. It was personal, and that was going to be both a blessing and a curse.
Frank nodded, standing up. If anyone was going to catch this bastard, it was going to be him.
"I'm on it. He's fucking mine."
Chapter 7: Washington DC: July 13, 2005, 11:00 a.m.
Frank glanced across the car as Gerard lit another cigarette off the butt of the first.
"It's okay. We'll relocate you." Frank laughed, mostly to himself. He wasn't surprised Gerard wasn't in a laughing mood. Not after being shot at. Frank had been shot at enough to know that it was a pretty numbing experience, every time.
"I can't let them get you, Gerard. I need you."
Gerard glanced over at Frank. The detective had been very vague with most of how he felt about the case, why he took it so seriously, even more seriously than was typical for the straight-laced detectives Gerard knew. Frank got emotional where The Bull was concerned, almost too emotional. Something was up with him. Gerard could feel it.
"You need me?"
Frank glanced at him, lighting a cigarette for himself. "Yes. I need you."
"Not the Bureau?"
Frank pursed his lips, setting his jaw. "Well, yeah, them too."
"You can call me Frank."
"Why do you wear a ring, Detective? You've never mentioned a wife, or a fiancée even."
Frank sighed, raising an eyebrow. "Do you even want me to save you?"
"I was just wondering." Gerard sat back in his seat. Frank remained silent. Gerard looked out the window; eyebrows furrowing a bit as they parked in the familiar lot, where Gerard had first met this little emotional detective.
Frank turned off the car, reaching for the door handle. Gerard put a hand on his arm. "Frank, wait."
Frank looked over his shoulder. "What?"
Gerard shook his head slightly, lowering his voice. "Something's not right."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean when I see guys sneaking around it makes me nervous."
"You're paranoid. You just got shot at, it's understandable. I work with these people, Gerard, we're safe."
Frank pulled away from Gerard's hesitant hand, opening the door. Gerard winced, moving to follow.
Frank was only half out of the car when a threatening voice echoed across the parking lot.
"Put your hands on the car, don't move!"
Gerard pulled back, closing his door again, folding down, trying to avoid being seen.
"Do it now!"
Frank shifted, reaching for his badge.
"Don't move, Detective!"
Frank blanched. A colleague, a man named Quinn, approached, gun drawn. Frank's heart rose to his throat. "Quinn, what are you doing?"
"Get against the car, Iero. You're under arrest."
Quinn shoved Frank against his own car. Frank groaned, exhaling at the hard hit. Cuffs ready, Quinn slipped one around the wrist of Frank's left hand.
Gerard, still somehow un-noticed in the car, reached out the still-open drivers side door, taking Frank's gun from its holster.
He took careful aim.
Chapter 8: Washington DC: July 13, 2005, 10:25 a.m.
Director Anthony Burns almost felt bad.
Emphasis on the almost.
He wanted to feel bad, he honestly did. He was, after all, being threatened for his life. And the life of his wife, who he'd only been married to for two and a half years, and was seven months pregnant.
But, Tony thought, as he sat back at his desk, pressing the tips of his fingers together and taking a moment to think before taking the necessary action...
But, if it came right down to it, he realized, somewhat guiltily, the threats weren't entirely necessary.
For half a million dollars, he'd arrest one of his own agents.
It's not like Frank would actually end up in jail or anything. No. He'd get arrested, and so would that little mob kid that they were protecting. Which, truth be told, Tony didn't care if The Bull got the kid. Jared or whatever his name was.
Tony had always hated that the government was willing to protect former members of the Mafia just for information.
Frank had almost caught The Bull without anyone's help. He didn't need some little snitch that was only working for them to gain his own revenge. Frank was a great detective, and once they got him in cuffs, they could let The Bull get rid of that snitch and Frank could get back to his case.
And it would all work out in the end, that's what Tony told himself. One less snitch living on the government's dime, one less hit man prowling the streets for the mob. A double hit, two birds with one stone.
And for half a million dollars, too.
Anthony stood up, putting on his game face. He was Director Anthony Burns, now, and he was in charge.
There was one person who would never go for this, though, and he was pretty damn glad that she worked on the second floor.
"Kids!" His voice boomed out across the floor. Agents turned, some quickly finished up phone calls, eager to pay attention to their leader. His voice was carrying command, something important was about to happen.
"I've got some bad news, about Frank Iero." A few people exchanged glances at this, but no one made any move to question. "I need him in here, now."
Anthony let a sort of sad look cross his face. The man was certainly an actor, and a good one at that. "And I need him in cuffs."
An agent, last name of Allman, stood up from his desk. "Director?"
Anthony gestured. "Yes?"
"He just left not long ago. He should be back within the hour. You want me to stake the parking lot?"
Anthony checked a smile. "Sounds good, Allman. Get to it."
Chapter 9: Washington DC: July 13, 2005, 11:15 a.m.
He didn't want to kill a cop. Not now, after a few months of normalcy, a few years of escapism.
After becoming something approaching... acquaintances with the exact type of person he'd been raised loathing, the exact kind of person who he had a handgun pointed at right now. Sort of. Frank was different...
Still, he didn't want to kill a cop. Not one of Frank's colleagues, even if this blonde bastard was handcuffing Frank, shoving the smaller cop against his own car violently.
Frank turned, growling, managing to get his right hand away from Quinn's hand. He was speaking with loud authority, despite the fact that no one seemed to be listening.
"Get the hell away from me, Quinn. Get this fucking cuff off my wrist. If you want me, you'll take me like the fucking agent I am. No. Tell me what I'm being accused of, Quinn, or don't you know?"
Gerard grit his teeth, taking a quick glance around the parking lot. He didn't want to do this, but he had to save Frank or they were both screwed.
When it came right down to it, he didn't want to die. That's what he told himself, why he was saving this cop that he only sort of knew (and he ignored the fact that he wanted to know Frank better). Frank could save his life, but not from a fucking jail cell, handcuffed to a desk.
Gerard re-aimed. He wasn't going to kill a cop, though. He didn't need that following him around for the rest of his life.
But he'd shoot a cop. He had no problem shooting a cop. Especially such a bitch of a cop, who was even now slamming Frank against the Mercedes again.
The gun roared in Gerard's grip, pushing back with a kick he hadn't expected. The cop groaned as the bullet tore through his left shoulder, sending him spinning away from Frank, who froze in shock.
Gerard sat up in his seat again, and as good as screamed.
"Frank, get in the car."
Frank stuttered for a moment. "Q-quinn..."
"He's going to be fine, Frank, but you are not if you don't get in the fucking car."
Frank blinked, touching his chest, where a small spatter of blood stained his shirt. "I..."
Gerard grabbed Frank by the belt, pulling hard. Frank stumbled, falling back into the driver's seat of the car. Gerard slammed the handgun into Frank's lap, making the smaller man jump, blinking, wide-eyed at Gerard.
Frank snatched up the gun, returning it to its holster. "We're screwed." He put the car in gear. "We're fucking screwed." He slammed his door.
The back wheels of the car squealed as they shot out of the parking lot, heading straight for the highway.
After about twenty minutes and two cigarettes, Frank turned to Gerard again. "Where are we going, Gerard?"
Gerard hesitated. "Where do you want to go?"
"Gerard, you just shot one of my co-workers, with my fucking gun, and you're on the run from the mob. I don't fucking care."
Gerard sat back, lighting another cigarette. "Then turn around. We're going to New Jersey."
Chapter 10: Belleville, New Jersey: January 2, 2005, 6:30 p.m.
Gerard climbed out of the taxicab, stretching towards the sky with a yawn. A long flight, a long drive, and just enough people asking him to repeat things due to his adopted accent to drive him insane.
He took his suitcase from the driver, paying with a heavy tip. He couldn't care less right now. Bad news, no, terrible news had a tendency to make him generous.
"Thank you, sir."
Gerard nodded, thanking the driver reflexively in Italian before correcting himself. The driver laughed, used to the myriad of languages he got taking the airport route so regularly, nodding and climbing back into his cab, driving off.
Gerard sighed, approaching the door.
It flew open before he was halfway up the walk. His mother's face was spotted in red and pale, heavy black circles under her eyes. She'd been crying for days, that was obvious, and probably not sleeping either.
Gerard didn't cry. He hadn't cried in years, and even with the news that his brother was dead, he couldn't muster tears.
He knew why Mikey was dead. And for that reason, he couldn't cry.
He gathered his mother into his arms, pressing a soft kiss to her forehead, speaking quiet reassurance into her ear in Italian, looping an arm around her waist and walking with her back into the house.
As they sat down on the dark green couch from Gerard's childhood memories, she wiped her cheeks, taking a steeling breath, trying hard to regulate her words.
"Carmine is dead, my Gee. Little Vinnie is the Don now."
"I know, ma. I know." He pet her hair gently, trying to calm her. She grabbed his sleeve.
"They're after you. If he sent The Bull, you know they're after you."
Gerard's voice fell, on the edge of angry. "Did you see him, ma? Did you see Mikey?" She was silent, taking a shuddery breath. "Tell me you didn't see him like that, ma. Please."
She shook her head. Her voice was shaking, terrified. "It was horrible. My baby boy, like that. B-bloody..."
"Shh, ma. Shh. Don't. Don't think about it." He hugged her gently, looking over her shoulder, his jaw set, angry.
He knew what The Bull had done to his baby brother. The blunt blade, the gouging, the bruising. Mikey's glasses had probably been shattered, still on his face.
And that damn card. A Tarot card, from the Crowley deck, suit of swords. The Bull's calling card, his damnable pride. The main thing that identified his handiwork, and the one thing the taunted anyone who wanted to catch him.
Gerard wanted The Bull dead.
He'd do anything to avenge Mikey's death.
And that included helping the government catch The Bull, like they'd been trying to do for a year, if not more.
He knew what he'd do.
He pressed another kiss to his mother's temple.
"I'll get him. I'll get him, ma. For Mikey."
Chapter 11: Washington DC: April 13, 2004, 11:25 p.m.
Frank gathered his bag to himself, climbing out of his car and locking the door as he went. He threw down the end of his cigarette, tamping the ember out with his toe and continuing on, flashing his keycard to open the front gate of his condo.
He bounced up the steps, sort of dancing to the music inside his head. They were so close, so damn close to catching the bastard Bull. He was gonna get him. His first big case, and he was gonna win.
He paused when he reached the front door of apartment 4E. His apartment. His and Bob's apartment.
The paint on the doorframe, right next to the knob, was scratched in a way he didn't recognize. Something was wrong.
He still had his keys out, but when he put his hand to the doorknob and found it open, he dropped his keys into his pocket, drawing out his gun instead.
He turned the knob all the way with one hand, then returned both hands to the gun, kicking the door open. The apartment was dark, which was bad enough. Bob's truck was in the lot, he'd seen it. Bob was supposed to be home.
He was supposed to be here.
Frank cleared his throat. "Bob?"
He let one hand move to the light switch beside him, flicking on the front room lights. No one. Nothing out of place, except for the conspicuous absence of his boyfriend.
No. He couldn't be...
Frank headed into the bedroom, and froze again, heart pounding in his throat, gun faltering in his hand.
"Bob. No." He returned his gun to its holster on reflex, and fell to his knees.
The wound right in the center of his chest, large and weeping and decorated by visible shards of bone, that had been enough. But the bruises marking his throat, his face, his sides and wrists made it so much worse.
His head at a strange angle, eyes rolled back in his head, hiding that perfect periwinkle blue from sight forever. "No. No, Bob. No."
Frank couldn't help but let the blood stain his hands, the way it was staining Bob's perfect freckled skin. He couldn't help but cry against his beautiful boyfriend's dead body.
He was cried out before he could pull himself away, a shaking hand grabbing his cell phone, dialing the DCPD.
It wasn't until after, as he waited for the police in the front room, that he found the one thing that had been missing.
The card. A tarot card. The Knight of Swords. Held to the inside of their... his front door, with a tiny fucking knife, like an enormous push pin.
He fell to their couch, staining pale blue upholstery with Bob's blood.
Later, after the officers that had come finished the sweep for evidence, after they'd taken Bob away, they came to the man they knew was FBI, shaking on the couch.
"This was under the card on the door. We thought you should read it before we bagged it." The forensic tech held a pale yellow post it out for Frank to read.
Scrawled in red pen were words that made Frank's blood run cold.
You got too close. Back off, or you will be punished again.
Chapter 12: Washington DC: April 14, 2004, 4:15 a.m.
A few hours had passed, and none of the officers who had responded to Frank's call could convince the agent to stand from the couch where he was slumped, staring lifelessly at the ceiling.
Some of the colder cops were more than a little disparaging. Frank was well known as a, as the 'gay cop', Affirmative Action at work, they said.
He'd been living with this guy, dating this guy for years now. So, the less discriminatory people, the forensic guys, mostly, they reasoned that it was like losing a long time girlfriend. Only it was another guy.
But still, they needed the detective out of the crime scene, especially if he wasn't going to help.
Jamia arrived just before the sun rose, walking in on virtue of her shield alone, but she wasn't here to analyze the crime scene.
She crouched down in front of the couch, taking Frank's left hand between both of hers. She noticed that the ring he'd worn on his fourth finger for as long as she'd known him was missing, leaving a pale circle of un-tanned skin. His right hand was clenched tight, she figured the ring was there.
"Frankie." Her voice was quiet, so as not to startle him. She was, and would always be, a psychiatrist first. Well, second in this case. Friend first. "Frankie."
He turned his eyes away from the ceiling to focus on his friend. His face was pale, except for the slight smears of blood from where he'd tried to wipe away long since dried tears. He cleared his throat. "Mia."
"Shh. Frankie. I talked to Anthony Burns."
He half-smiled on reflex. His voice was hoarse. "You woke up Tony over this?"
"I thought he should know." She looked down, squeezing his hand gently. "You're off the case, Frank, and he said a months leave."
He cleared his throat again. "What am I going to do for a month?"
She smiled weakly. "You're going to mourn. You're going to see his family. You're going to spend some time at home. And you're going to see me." She reached up, brushing hair out of his eyes. "Come on, Frankie. You can't stay here tonight. They need to clean anyway. You're coming home with me."
He didn't protest, simply let the tiny woman take his wrists and pull him to his feet. He wavered slightly, as if his knees didn't want to work anymore. She hugged him tight, and he let a shaky breath ruffle her hair. "What am I going to do without him, Mia?"
She hushed him again, leading him towards the door. "That's what we're gonna figure out."
Chapter 13: Garden State Parkway North: July 13, 2005, 3:00 p.m.
"I want to play questions."
Frank blinked, glancing over at Gerard, confused. "You want to what now?"
"Questions. I ask a question, you get to ask a question."
"Because maybe I want to know more about the guy I just shot a cop for."
Frank snorted. "Like you've never shot an officer before."
Gerard shrugged, lighting another cigarette. "Yeah, but I know the guys I did that for. But I don't know anything about you."
"Why does it matter?"
Gerard batted his eyelashes at Frank. "Because I'm taking you to meet my mother, I figure I should know some more about you before that."
Frank sighed. "Fine."
"So. Why do you wear a ring?"
Frank pursed his lips. "It was a gift from..." Frank paused, turning to glance at Gerard once more before changing lanes, speeding up. He wasn't sure why Gerard was so fixated on his ring, nor was he sure why he was hesitating now. He hadn't been embarrassed about his sexuality since high school, when he was regularly shoved into any number of lockers, for any number of 'transgressions'. He'd gotten over that, now. He was gay, he was an FBI agent. The end. (He refused to note how he was finding Gerard more attractive as time went on.) "My boyfriend."
Gerard nodded, considering. Frank cleared his throat.
"Why does Vincent Costello want you dead?"
Gerard sighed, turning to look out the window. "Because he's a bitch who never liked me. While he was raised being the little Prince, I was useful. I knew things. Carmine favored me. Plus, he was fucking my mom, so he had a lot of opportunity to ask me what I thought of things. Vinnie was a spoiled brat, and I'm not surprised he wants me dead." Gerard turned to look at Frank again, clearing his own throat. "What happened to your boyfriend?"
"What makes you think something happened to him?"
"Because you haven't called anyone to warn that you were taking off to Jersey, or insinuated that anyone else was in danger. You're still wearing the ring, but you're not in a relationship right now. So, what happened to him?"
Frank cleared his throat, cutting across traffic again to park beside a rest stop. He left Gerard in the car, taking the keys with him, leaving the older man alone for a bit.
When Frank returned, he had a look in his eyes that was more than a little determined. He sat down, and they were back on the highway before he spoke again.
"The Bull murdered him. Because I was on his tail, I almost caught him. I was..." Frank cleared his throat. "Punished, in his words. For almost catching him."
Gerard looked down. Now he knew why Frank took it so personally. As personally as he himself did. "I'm very sorry, for your loss."
Frank nodded, shrugging. He didn't know what to say to that, so he cleared his throat. His turn. "Have you ever worked with The Bull, Gerard?"
Gerard ran his hands through his hair as he nodded. "Yes. Sort of."
Chapter 14: Rutland, Vermont: December 21, 2002, 1:00 a.m.
Gerard remained in the car.
No way in hell was he gonna get out and watch. He'd heard what The Bull did, with the knife that Gerard had now seen with his own eyes. Usually, if you saw that knife, it was five inches from being thrust into your chest, and painfully too. He could see just by the flash of blade that the blade was dull, the point blunt. It didn't cut flesh, it broke through. It wasn't so much a knife. Knives didn't usually break bone like a battering ram.
So, Gerard stayed in the car. He'd done his job, he'd found the hit and it was The Bull's job to kill him.
The Bull's wallet was sitting in the center console. Gerard's fingers itched. There was a reason he was so useful to the mob. He had an unfortunate habit to look through wallets and purses when given a chance, and he was blessed (sort of) with a photographic memory.
And most of the people he spent time with were the ones who were openly two sided. Their real selves, with drivers licenses and social security numbers, and their mob selves, with code names. He knew the code names, but he wanted more.
Like The Bull. Gerard didn't know his real name, but god, he sure wanted too. You never know, I could come in handy, one day.
He heard McCracken cry out. He had maybe three minutes before The Bull got back in the car.
He snatched up the wallet, chewing on his lip as he slipped out the license.
Toro-Ortiz, Raymond. Toro. That explained the Bull connection. Gerard chuckled to himself. Newark, New Jersey. So The Bull was from Jersey too. Not far from his own hometown in Belleville.
Gerard scanned the license again, memorizing the address, the birth date and all of it. He slipped the card back into the wallet and returned the leather fold back to where he'd found it.
The driver's side door opened, and Gerard smiled to himself. He never got caught. He was good at the information gathering. This is why he was useful, this was why he was here in the first place. Who else would know that one random guy that Carmine Costello wanted dead was in Vermont?
The Bull settled himself back in the car. Gerard added the man's considerable height to his fast growing mental file. The more skewed from the average, when it came to height, the harder to hide. And The Bull was tall, menacing.
Gerard cleared his throat. "Done?"
The Bull put the car into gear. Gerard sat back in his seat and lit a cigarette. Easy nights work for good pay, when you thought about it.
All he'd had to do was increase his trade.
Chapter 15: Quantico, Virginia: January 30, 2004, 4:00 p.m.
Frank was flushed with excitement as he practically flew across the field, running like an excited child. Some of his new friends, men and women he'd spent the past five months seeing no one but, laughed as he passed them, calling out stilted congratulations along the way.
He leapt when he reached the approaching man. Bob caught Frank in his arms, hugging him tight, and there was an audible collective 'aww' as the pair exchanged a quick kiss, pulling away and brushing noses as Bob set Frank back on his feet.
"How's my favourite gay cop?" Bob asked, ruffling Frank's hair, as if he didn't already know. They hadn't seen each other in months, with Frank being in Virginia and Bob needing to actually work to keep their apartment in Washington.
Frank entwined his fingers with Bob's, leaning against the familiar chest with a sigh. He'd certainly missed him. "Your favourite gay FBI agent, now."
Bob pressed a kiss to Frank's temple. "Sorry I couldn't see the ceremony, I just got here."
"It's alright. Mom's here."
They headed back across the field, pausing every now and again so Frank could introduce his significant other to his new friends. Affirmative Action at work to be sure, but at least he hadn't had to deal with any noticeably discriminatory people. He'd proven himself, that was all that mattered.
Mrs. Iero met her sort-of son-in-law with a hug and a kiss, then took it upon herself, as the mother, to introduce Bob to another of Frank's new friends, a smallish girl named Jamia. She'd just spent the past five minutes talking to the young woman as her son took it upon himself to attack his boyfriend, now Frank slipped an arm around Bob's waist and reached for his mother's hand.
"Come on. I'm taking you three out to dinner."
Jamia's eyes lit up jokingly. "You're kidding. Real food? Not dorm food?"
"I know, it's a scary thought."
Jamia inserted herself easily on Bob's other side, touching his arm gently for a moment before he slipped his free arm around her waist. She blushed a bit, but it felt comfortable enough.
Dinner was a raucous affair, Jamia and Frank both making up five months sans any real alcohol, and the two girls spending plenty of time making fun of the cuddly couple.
When Frank excused himself to the rest room, Bob moved to follow, catching his beau just inside the door, holding him tight for a moment, breathing him in.
"I missed you." Frank murmured. Bob smiled.
"I missed you too."
Chapter 16: Belleville, New Jersey: July 13, 2005, 5:00 p.m.
"You drive like you know your way around."
Frank blinked, sort of confused, turning to look at Gerard as they stopped at a street light. "What?"
Gerard gestured with one hand. "It's like you know this place."
Frank laughed, continuing past the light and turning left. "I do."
Frank paused at a stop sign, lighting another cigarette. "I was raised here."
"Why else do you think we're here?"
"I just figured you knew where I lived."
Frank continued to drive. "What do you mean where you lived? You've been in Italy for years, that's all the Bureau knows."
"Well, yeah, but I was raised in Belleville."
Frank blinked, turning to look at Gerard again. "Your brother was found in Newark."
"Well, yeah. He lived there with his girlfriend. But our mom still lives here."
Frank smiled, mostly to himself. "So does mine. That's where we're going." He turned again, down a quiet side street. "That's crazy, though. We could have known each other in school."
Gerard laughed quietly as Frank parked in front of a little house, maybe two bedrooms. But when he turned to look at the cop, it was to see that Frank was no longer smiling.
Frank slipped out of the car, drawing his gun. Gerard scrambled after him.
"No, Gerard. Wait here."
"Frank, what's wrong?"
Frank cleared his throat. "The front door is open. Stay here."
Gerard stayed beside the car, though nervously, as he watched Frank head towards the house, opening the screen door hesitantly and kicking in the door.
He disappeared into the house.
Gerard chewed on his lip, waiting, until he heard an anguished shout. He took that as a cue to dash into the house. He followed what sounded very recognizably like sobs, and found himself standing in the doorway of a nice room, decorated in shades of lavender and lilac.
A nice woman, small of frame, looking a bit like Frank, was lying on the bed.
And she was unmistakably dead, with a Tarot card lying on her upper chest. Frank's face was pressed to her stomach, despite the blood, and he was crying, sobbing brokenly.
Gerard couldn't help himself. He stepped into the room, gently pulling the smaller man away from his stolen mother. He held Frank against his chest, letting Frank cry, leaving salty red stains on his shirt.
He cast a single glance back at Mrs. Iero, gritting his teeth at the Queen of Swords card on her chest. Then he gathered Frank up, lifting the small man properly, carrying him out of the bedroom.
Gerard took Frank to the living room he'd passed through, settling down on the couch, rocking Frank reflexively, rubbing his back soothingly.
The Bull was crossing too many lines, now.
Chapter 17: Washington DC: September 2, 2004, 7:00 p.m.
Frank sat back with a sigh, running a hand through his hair. The television was on, but it was completely failing in its desired purpose of distracting him.
He couldn't help but flip through the case file, again and again. Trying to figure out something, trying to make more connections, find some kind of clue. Any hint at where The Bull was now, what he was doing, planning.
He wanted the man dead.
He tried not to think that way, especially not in the office, when he was suppose to have the mind and steel reserve of a cop, an officer of the law, with no right to judge life. He was supposed to want to catch the murderer, leave judgement up to the courts.
But sitting in his apartment, flipping through a dead end case file filled with cold bodies and no leads, looking up at the picture on his mantel, a candid shot of himself and Bob, both of Frank's feet completely off the ground as they kissed... It was a lot easier to wish The Bull dead, for stealing Bob from him.
He threw the file down, watching the pages scatter as he stood, stalking into the kitchen, tugging open his freezer and pulling out a bottle of vodka, taking a swift drink directly from the bottle.
There was a knock on the door. "Come in." He called. Jamia entered, carrying a paper bag with greasy spots here and there.
"You brought Chinese?"
She hefted another bag towards him. "And Corona. We're playing havoc with nationalities tonight."
He took another sip from the bottle of vodka, replacing it in the freezer and moving to clean off his table, where more case files were scattered.
Jamia was looking at the mess of papers on the floor in front of the couch. "Something wrong?"
He glanced over, shrugging. "Just over a month of absolutely nothing grating on my nerves. Cold cases and nothing new."
She set the bag down on the table, taking out tiny cartons. He picked one up, peeking in and handing it to Jamia, repeating the process until he found the contents to his vegetarian taste, snatching a pair of chopsticks and eating without sitting down.
They ate in silence for a while, Frank pacing the kitchen as he ate his fill, then his fortune cookie.
Jamia stood up from the table, catching him on his return pace, hugging him tight, speaking quietly against his chest.
"You'll get him, Frankie. Okay? I know you will."
He hugged her, closing his eyes and pressing his cheek to the top of her head, sighing.
"I'm almost afraid to, Mia."
"I know you are, honey. But you'll get him, and you won't lose anyone else."
They rocked slightly, two best friends taking a moment of silence to remember their losses.
"I sure hope you're right."
Chapter 18: Belleville, New Jersey: July 14, 2005, 8:00 a.m.
Frank drummed anxiously against the steering wheel. He was on such edge. His mother was dead, thanks to him. He'd called in her death anonymously, but they'd had to leave before the ME arrived.
Gerard was afraid for his own mother, and so as soon as they could, they were driving across town, parking in front of Gerard's childhood home.
Gerard chewed on his lip, casting his gaze around. His mother's car was missing. This was a good sign, he hoped. If she was away, then she was safe, even if The Bull had been here.
Frank climbed out of the car after Gerard, a hand on his gun.
"Hold on. I just have to see if she's here. I don't think she is, her car's not. Just... just wait here."
Frank sighed, leaning against the car.
Gerard traipsed up to the house. The door was unlatched, and he was more than a little nervous. He cast a glance over at Frank, then pushed the door open. Frank's forehead wrinkled a bit.
Gerard took three steps into the house before his heart stopped.
The Bull slowly unfolded himself from the couch, all six foot two inches of him, unruly hair tied back in a curly ponytail. His eyes flashed as he drew his knife from his belt. Gerard gulped, taking a step back.
"Hold on, Toro."
The Bull narrowed his eyes. "You looked in my wallet?"
Gerard cleared his throat.
"That was three years ago. No wonder Carmine liked you so much." The Bull twirled the knife professionally, smirking darkly. "Too bad Vinnie can't stand you."
"I'm not so fond of him, either."
"You're funny, Way. Bet you make the fag cop laugh."
"Don't call him that."
The Bull continued, paying no attention to Gerard's words. "He outside waiting for you? You'd make a cute couple. The Prince and Princess, I think." He fingered his coat pocket, where Gerard figured his deck of Tarot cards was waiting. Creep.
Gerard was backed towards the door again, as The Bull continued to advance. All he needed was two seconds of uninterrupted eye contact with Frank.
But Frank wasn't beside his car. He'd disappeared.
Gerard jumped as The Bull lunged, blade glinting in the sunlight. There was a deafening crack, Gerard bit back a scream, blinking, confused as The Bull shouted angrily.
There was a rush of air, and Gerard realized two things at once. For one, Frank was the best worst shot he'd even met, seeing as The Bull was untouched, but his knife was on the ground, dinged, and for another, Frank was running past him, reaching out to grab his wrist, and then they ran together.
Gerard found himself actually sliding across the hood, like some sick Dukes of Hazard parody. Frank threw the car into gear, and they reversed out of the driveway with the doors still open. The gears made an angry grinding sound as he shifted gears again, leaving an irate murderer behind on Gerard's mother's front step.
"We have to find my mom." Gerard said breathlessly, twisting in his seat, craning his neck as he watched The Bull pick up the tweaked blade. Gerard gulped, turning around again.
Frank nodded. "Where would she be?"
"Um. Her mom lives in Montclair, I can't think of where else she'd be."
"Montclair it is."
Chapter 19: New York, New York: August 5, 2005, 1:15 a.m.
Gerard put the Mercedes in neutral, setting the parking break. He hated driving, he really did, no matter what the circumstances. Even in High School, he'd taken the bus till graduation, and before leaving for school, he let his little brother drive him around.
He took a quick moment to say a prayer.
For his mother, now thoroughly confused, in Maine with Frank's half-estranged father. They hadn't been sure what else to do with their parents, and Frank was fairly sure that as long as The Bull wasn't literally tailing them, no one would be able to find his reclusive father.
A prayer for himself, and for Frank, still shaken by the loss of his mother.
It all came down to this. A show down on the waterfront. The artiste in Gerard appreciated the setting, and the fog rolling in off the water was a nice touch indeed.
He climbed out of the car. He knew he was defenseless, and that was probably what scared him the most. Someone was going to die tonight, and he truly had no idea whether it was going to be him or not.
He turned to face the water, lighting a cigarette.
He heard a cold voice behind him, and turned to look. If he were on the outside looking in, he might appreciate his circumstances. It was a special hit that The Bull bothered actually speaking too before he forced a dull blade through their lower chest, often breaking or at least nicking the xiphoid process. Besides the damnable Tarot card, which was simply The Bull's pride showing, his trademark was brute strength.
Gerard didn't stand a chance.
The Bull was speaking. "You must think me stupid."
Gerard shook his head, taking a drag off his cigarette. It was one of Frank's, he wasn't sure when the cop had put his cigarettes in Gerard's pack. "No."
"Then what are you doing here, in his car? Where is he?"
Gerard gulped, and reached into his coat pocket again, drawing a gun, leveling it at The Bull shakily.
"You're a terrible shot, Way."
"How do you figure?"
"Vincent told me so. You're good for nothing, Gerard. How many times has the fag cop saved your life, now?"
"I've saved his ass, too."
"Where is he now, Gerard? Tell me, and maybe I'll kill you painlessly."
"That knife of yours gouging into my chest is bound to be painful, regardless."
"You say that like I don't have a sharp knife on me. I could slit your throat, instead. Cooperate. The fag cop is worth more to me, you know."
"Go to hell."
Gerard pulled the trigger. The gun clicked, empty.
The Bull's smile was terrifying as he lunged.
Chapter 20: Newark, New Jersey: July 13, 2005, 4:00 p.m.
The Bull was quietly surprised when his cell phone, rarely used, rang at his hip. Very few people had that number, which meant that he was going to get paid. Which was good, because he was exhausting his resources stalking Gerard Way, and it was driving him insane.
He lifted the phone, flipping it over. "Hello?"
"This is Don Costello."
The Bull allowed himself a minute wince. Gerard Way should be dead by now.
"Some of my men have found one Gerard Way. I want you to meet up with them, find out what they know, and I want him dead, Toro. As soon as possible. I'll double your fee if he's dead by the end of the week."
"Yes sir. Your men...?"
"I'll have them get you, if that's alright."
"And Toro. I have something else to ask of you."
"He's been in Witness Protection. That's why we couldn't find him for so long. Hiding from you, I presume. Probably helping the FBI. He's running with a cop. Some tiny bastard." The Bull smiled to himself. Sounded like he was going to get to kill a cop. He did so love killing people in uniform. "I've done some digging. He's pretty commonly known as a queer, and apparently he's an old friend of yours? On your case about a year or so ago, probably killing on my father's orders? You killed his boyfriend, this was right before my father set up your fall guy."
The Bull's eyes lit up. "Frank Iero."
"That's the one."
The Bull cleared his throat again, but it was a little more like a growl.
"I want him dead, Toro. I want them both dead. Four hundred thousand, if you can get them by Sunday. I want to go to church and pray for their immortal souls. Got it?"
"Yes sir." The Bull smirked. "They're mine... Sir?"
"Any means necessary, Toro. Get them. I'll send my boys to pick you up."
"Thank you, sir."
The Bull hung up his phone, replacing it to his hip, cracking his knuckles. This was going to be fun.
Chapter 21: New York, New York: August 5, 2005, 1:20 a.m.
Gerard jumped, wincing, as a gun shot rang out, stretching over the water. He felt the tip of The Bull's knife graze his ribs, and shied away.
He opened his eyes, blinking. He gulped. He could smell copper, his face felt damp, probably with blood.
The Bull's lanky frame was crumbled at Gerard's feet. He gulped again, taking a shuddering breath.
He couldn't help but let his foot shift, poking his toe into The Bull's ribs. The assassin wasn't breathing, and a good part of his face was missing. He was dead.
Gerard looked up. Frank came scrambling down a nearby gravelly hill. He stumbled a few times, gun held low to his side, eyes set not on Gerard, but on the body at his feet. He almost couldn't believe that after this long, The Bull was dead.
Frank came to a half-stumbling stop, looking down at the prone form. They stood in silence for a moment, looking down at the man who had been terrorizing them, stalking them, stealing family members and god knew who else.
Frank looked up. He met Gerard's eyes, and their short history together stretched out between them again. Gerard's pale gold eyes looked deep into Frank's deep brown. The smaller man gulped, holstering his gun. Gerard cleared his throat.
Frank reached forward, gently wiping a stain of The Bull's blood off of Gerard's cheek with the back of his hand.
Then they were kissing. Retrospectively, Frank wasn't entirely sure who leaned in first, but he was pretty sure they both did at least some of the leaning.
Frank's hand slipped up to thread his fingers in Gerard's hair, Gerard easily rested his arms around Frank's waist. They kissed gently, slow for a moment before Frank's lips parted and Gerard's tongue slipped into his mouth, still slow and careful.
After a long kiss, like a movie kiss, they pulled apart. Gerard was panting, Frank's cheeks were flushed, partially from exhilaration, partially from embarrassment.
He spoke quietly, all traces of the headstrong, prideful cop gone. He sounded like a high school student again. "I didn't know you were..."
"Well... I am."
"So what does that mean?"
Gerard cleared his throat, shrugging his shoulders. "I guess that's what we're gonna figure out."
Chapter 22: New York, New York: August 5, 2005, 1:40 a.m.
Gerard perched on the hood of the Mercedes. He was trembling, but if you asked him, he wouldn't be able to tell you exactly why.
"So what now?" He asked, looking at Frank with a more or less needy look on his face. It had been a long time since he was accessory to a murder (or assassination, as he preferred to view it), and he wasn't sure of the protocol any more, especially when his partner in crime was an FBI agent.
Frank flipped open his cell phone, dialing 911. The operator answered, and he spoke, quickly to stall her from asking any questions, but with perfect calm.
"I'd like to report a shooting. Right on the waterfront, I'm not sure of any street names. One man dead, I believe he might be somehow involved with the Mafia." He left it at that, hanging up and promptly hurling his phone into the water. No need to risk anyone tracking his calls.
He sighed and turned to Gerard.
"So what now?"
Gerard found himself smiling. They were both a little lost, with the constant threat to their lives temporarily taken care of.
"We won't get away with this. Vincent will send someone after us, I've no doubt. The bounty on the pair of us is probably well into the millions by now."
"I'm screwed, too. No money, can't go back home..." Frank's voice and face fell in tandem. "No one to go back home to."
Gerard looked up at the crescent moon fighting to shine through the cloud cover.
"We should go."
Gerard hefted himself to his feet, circled the car, settling down comfortably into the passenger seat. Frank let himself in to the drivers' side, and they each lit a cigarette like the addicts they were.
Frank headed towards the highway, and after moment Gerard spoke, a half-formed idea blossoming in his mind.
Frank glanced at Gerard. Feline eyes flashed, sparking with a sudden purpose. Frank blinked.
"I know where Vincent Costello lives. He's got a little villa in the mountains up-state."
A slow smile began to spread across Frank's face.
"You think he'll be there?"
"He's either there, or at his office right here in the city."
Frank's smile glowed with purpose that matched Gerard's.
Gerard spread his hands, flicking the end of his cigarette out the window. "It's my job."
The black convertible sped along the Northbound highway, as flashing blue lights flickered around the dead body of one of the most feared killers in the Northeast.
An officer with the last name of Howard bit his lip as the EMT's found identification on the body, as well as a beaten pack of Tarot cards and a nearly uselessly blunt knife.
He lifted his two-way to his mouth, and informed the chief that they should call the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Frank and Gerard rolled both windows down, wind whipping their hair around their faces as they smoked and screamed along with Glenn Danzig on the stereo.
Ready to face whatever was coming at them.
Chapter 23: Takoma Park, Maryland: January 9, 2005, 9:00 a.m.
Gerard flicked the end of his cigarette out the window of the Mercedes, watching the ember die with some measure of satisfaction. He turned to glance at the cop behind him, who rolled his eyes before getting out of the car, circling to stoop down and pick up the offending butt.
"Don't litter." He offered the still smoldering end to Gerard with a smirk, gesturing over his shoulder at the house behind him. "This is your place now, you want it to look nice."
Gerard's nose wrinkled as he took the offending object from Frank, looking up the meandering concrete walk to a little pale yellow house with lacy white lattice trim.
"That's it. Come on, all the rest of the information should be inside."
Gerard followed Frank up the walkway, eyeing the yellowing plants lining the concrete path. He wondered what color they would flower, and whether he'd actually be here long enough to find out.
Frank dug around in his pocket for a key chain, unlocking the front door before handing the keys to Gerard, making a wide sweeping motion with his arm. "After you."
Gerard stepped right into the front room of the little house, looking around and nodding. This wasn't too bad at all, really.
"Now, they've given you a new name, same initial incase you get confused." Frank led Gerard on a whirlwind tour of the fully furnished house, snatching up a file of papers from the office where even a mid-range desktop computer was included.
"Gerald Walsh." Frank snorted, handing Gerard his new State-issued Identification Card. "It's cute. Let's see..."
Frank riffled through some pages. "You've got a job, just to keep you occupied I guess. Graphic artist, your file said you went to art school?"
"Should be perfect, then. It's entirely be correspondence, so no worries about how to get somewhere else."
Frank cleared a few of the finer points of the life of a Protected Witness before sighing, pulling a mostly blank page out of the file and pulling a pen from his own pocket.
"Call this number if you need to reach me immediately. It's my cell. If you try to call my office, you'll drown in red tape, it's a bitch."
Frank handed the paper to Gerard.
"See you later."
Chapter 24: Unknown: July 14, 2006, 1:00 p.m.
"Hey Gee. Is Frank there?"
"Why, no, Mia, of course not. I killed him, and dumped him in a canal and now I'm masquerading as him. I tried so hard to curb my malicious ways, but the dark side always wins out, you know."
"God, Gee, you may be the funniest man alive."
"I'm a sight more than bilingual and you know it, Jamia Marie."
"Yeah, maybe, but you sure are bad at guessing middle names. Now, where's Frank?"
"He's making himself brown, like every goddamn day. Fucking laze about. Just because I've got the cash and he's got nothing to do. Plus, I can't take him fucking anywhere. He's pickier than fuck, did you know? And no fucking table manners."
"That's why we always just ate in his apartment. Well, can you have him call me when he comes in all lobstery?"
"Good news, I hope."
"The best, and maybe you can get him to stop being so damn lazy. The rest of the paperwork was stamped out today, he's cleared of all charges and officially withdrawn from the Bureau. So you don't even have to come back, not that I blame you."
"Sounds like an occasion for a party. You got any vacation time coming to you? You're more than welcome to come crash in the guest room for a couple days."
"Do you have any idea what a flight like that costs?"
"I'll cover it, if you get the time off."
"Oh, Gee, you don't have too."
"I want too. Let me know. I'll have Frank call you."
"Thanks, Gee. Talk to you later. Love you."
"E molto amore a voi, Sweet Mia."
Chapter 25: Capri, Italy: July 14, 2006, 1:15 p.m.
Gerard hung up the phone and continued puttering about the kitchen, exploiting his lack-luster skills in cooking, which still bypassed Frank's tendency to burn any and every thing he touched while within five feet of the stove.
He wondered how Frank could eat so damn much, tiny as he was, but somehow Frank was always hungry, and so Gerard did his best to keep the little cop (well, former cop) well fed.
"Who was on the phone?"
Gerard looked up and smiled, turning the heat down on the stove and crossing the little kitchen to Frank, slipping his arms around the shorter man's waist.
"We may be having a house guest soon."
Frank tilted his head, one eyebrow raised. "Oh really?"
Gerard sneaked a quick kiss before pulling away, returning to the stove. "It was Miss Jamia on the phone."
Frank slipped up behind him, rising onto his tiptoes to put his chin on Gerard's shoulder. "What'd she say?"
Gerard spun around again, holding Frank at arms length. "You're all red."
"Yeah, well, I burned."
"I told you to put sunscreen on."
"Fuck off. You don't even know, all you do is tan."
"I know, a fact which never fails to plague me. You brought this on yourself, anyway."
Frank pursed his lips, giving Gerard a look. "Are you gonna tell me what Jamia said, or just make fun of my complexion for the rest of the night?"
Gerard turned back to his cooking, speaking in a mischievously soft voice. "Oh, you know, just stuff. Clean records, no job, unfrozen accounts. Whatever."
There was a momentary pause before Frank grabbed Gerard by the waist, spinning him around again. Gerard barely managed to remove his hand from the pot he'd been holding, saving them both the trouble of burns and a mess. "Hey!"
Gerard smiled. Frank had that look on his face, the one Gerard sadly recognized most readily from pictures of Frank with Bob. Pure relief, ecstatic happiness, a grin that could break hearts (and had).
"Free and clear, and welcome to stay here with me forever."
"Like I wasn't going to do that anyway."
Gerard hugged the tiny man tight, sighing into his hair. It was getting long, lightening slightly due to every day on the beach.
"She might be coming to visit."
"That would be fun."
They stood silent for a long moment before Frank started to giggle out of nowhere.
"What?" Gerard held him at arms length again, searching his face.
"Good luck teaching me Italian."