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Mixed Bathing at Home

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Gerard's toe was stuck in the faucet.

This was exactly why Gerard didn't like spending any more time in the bathroom than was strictly necessary. You were minding your own business, lying in the tub thinking about how much you didn't want to go to your fifteen-year high school reunion because you hated everyone you went to high school with and besides, you were single (and wondering how they even knew where to send the invitation because you were very clear that under no circumstances were your parents to give out your details to anybody who knew you between the ages of seven and eighteen, and why was there a fifteen-year reunion anyway, like not going to the ten-year reunion wasn't enough, what the fuck) and the next thing you knew, your toe was stuck in the faucet.

"In the where?" Mikey said after a minute's pause.

"In the faucet," Gerard repeated, shifting so the arm holding the phone wasn't touching the water. "My toe is stuck in the faucet."

There was another pause. This one was broken by Alicia, in the background, saying, "What's going on?"

"Gerard's toe is stuck in the faucet," Mikey told her.

Another pause. Alicia said, "Why is he even in the tub?"

"I'm taking a bath!" Gerard said, loudly enough for her to hear.

She just laughed and said, "If you say so," because she was a terrible sister-in-law who took pleasure in Gerard's misfortune.

"So your toe is stuck in the faucet," Mikey said matter-of-factly. "How are you calling me?"

"My cell was in the pocket of my jeans."

"Next to the tub?"

"On the other side of the bathroom."

"How did you reach them?"

"I hooked up a system with a nail brush and the handle of my loofah."

"Nice," Mikey said approvingly.

"Thanks," Gerard rolled his eyes.

"I want to picture it," Mikey said. "Do you have bubbles?"


Mikey laughed. "I don't know what you want me to do, dude."

Gerard stared wildly at his shampoo bottle. "I want you to come over and rescue me! You're the only other person with a fucking key."

"I can't," Mikey said. He put something in his mouth and chewed, loudly. "I'm having a very important meeting."

"With who?"

"Winston. Winston, come say hi to Uncle Gerard!"

"Mikey, I don't want to say hi to - hi, Winston," Gerard said dutifully, when he heard the damn dog snuffling against the phone. "Can you put your asshole owner back on, please?"

"I really can't come over," Mikey said when Winston ran out of things to say. "You should call the super."

"I can't call the fucking super!" Gerard protested. "I'm fucking naked and my fucking toe is stuck in the fucking faucet, Mikey, what can you possibly be doing that's more important than rescuing me?"

Alicia came on the line, then. "You know," she said slowly, "I saw this thing on the Discovery Channel about how if human skin stays underwater for too long, its, whaddyacall, molecular structure breaks down and it starts coming off in big oogy lumps."

"Fucking what?" Gerard flailed around, trying to hold as much of himself out of the water as he could. "I don't want to be an oogy lump!"

"Stop scaring him with that Discovery Channel crap," Mikey said, reclaiming the phone. "You watch too much of that shit."

"I want to be prepared," Alicia said darkly. Winston barked his agreement.

“Mikey, what the fuck am I going to do?" Gerard looked down at his toe, which was still stuck in the faucet. He tried to pull his foot free again, but it just made his toe feel like it was going to come off. "I'm completely stuck!"

"Sucks," Mikey said succinctly. "Okay, I have to go now. Let me know how you get on."

"Mikey!" Gerard yelped, but it was too late, Mikey was gone. Gerard stared at the phone, but it didn't say anything more helpful than 'Call Ended', which Gerard already fucking knew, thank you very fucking much.

The water was starting to go cold and the skin on Gerard's big toe was going a really upsetting purple color where it was jammed into the faucet. Gerard didn't even remember putting his toe in the faucet, how could it possibly be stuck in there? Gerard's life was a black abyss. Now he was going to have to go to his fifteen-year high school reunion on crutches and everyone would ask why and Gerard was a terrible liar so the whole story would come out, and Gerard would not just be single, he would be single and on crutches because he got his toe stuck in the faucet and everything he had achieved since high school would be for shit.

No. Fuck that. Fuck that. Gerard would just stay here and die, instead. Then Mikey would feel bad that he didn't come over, and would have to explain to their mom that he let Gerard die a cold, wet, undignified death. Alone.

Except. Gerard looked down at himself. He was naked, so there was his dick, and he started thinking about what Alicia said about the oogy skin lumps, and Gerard's dick wasn't going to set any records but Gerard was still pretty fond of it, and on the off-chance that he didn't die, he would rather it was still intact.

Gerard sighed. He picked up his phone again. He called the fucking super. He would lie and say he smelled gas coming from Mikey's apartment, and then Mikey would be forced out and have no alternative but to come to Gerard's motherfucking aid.

"Uh," said a voice when the line picked up. "Super's phone?"

Gerard blinked. "What?"

The guy on the other end giggled."Sorry," he said, "I'm just crashing here with Dave, and he's at his girl's place, but he said I should answer this phone if anyone calls."

"Okay," said Gerard, scowling a little. "Well, is there any way I can reach him? It's kind of an emergency."

"I can try calling him, but he usually doesn't answer his phone if he's with her."

Gerard thunked his head off the rim of the tub. "Shit."

"Is it something I can help with?" the guy on the other end said. "I'm pretty handy with a wrench."

"No," Gerard said glumly, resigning himself to a watery death. "No, it's nothing you can help with."

"Are you sure? Because you said it was an emergency, and if the place blows up or falls down or some shit on my watch I'm going to get so much grief from Dave."

Gerard clicked his tongue irritably. "Can you just leave a message for him, maybe? Tell him to call Gerard in apartment seven B as soon as he possibly can."

"Okay," said the guy affably. "Gerard in seven B. He's got your number?"

Gerard rattled it off, then hung up and dropped his phone back onto his jeans. He moaned, pitifully, then did it again because it sounded really cool and tragic, bouncing off the tiles like that. He settled his shoulders as comfortably as he could, deciding to give it five minutes before he called his mom and told her that Mikey had abandoned him to death by faucet.

After only three and a half minutes, though, he heard a key in the door. "Finally!" he yelled. "I was so close to busting your ass to Mom, you don't even know."

"I'm shaking in my boots, dude," Mikey called back, and his voice sounded really weird through the door, but maybe that was just because Gerard had water in his ears, and -

The bathroom door opened. It wasn't Mikey.

It wasn't Mikey. It was some short stocky dude with a beard and a shit-eating grin, and Gerard was naked and it wasn't Mikey.

"You're not Mikey!" Gerard said accusingly.

"Nope," said the dude cheerfully. "I'm Frank. And you're naked!"

"I'm in the bathtub!" Gerard sputtered, wishing that he did have bubbles so he wasn't naked with a total stranger in the bathroom.

"I don't know why Dave bitches about this job," Frank said, shrugging off his jacket like Gerard had asked him to get comfortable. "Naked dudes calling me up to help them out of an emergency, fuck, this job rocks."

"I'm not a naked dude!" Gerard protested. Frank raised an eyebrow and Gerard revised his statement. "Okay, I am, but I'm not a naked dude calling you up, okay, I am a naked dude who called Dave, and I didn't know you were going to come up here and break into my apartment!"

"I didn't break in!" Frank scowled. "Dave left his keys!"

"I doubt he meant for you to use them to walk into people's bathrooms without asking!"

"I knocked! You didn't answer!"

"I'm in the tub!"

Frank threw his hands up in the air. "Fuck, you know what? You're right. You're not a naked dude, you're a naked asshole. Forgive me for wanting to help you out, motherfucker."

He picked up his jacket and grabbed the door handle, and Gerard let him get halfway out of the room before squawking, "Wait!"

Frank paused. He looked over his shoulder, frowning.

"My toe is stuck in the faucet," Gerard confessed in a small voice.

Frank still looked pissed, but now his mouth was quirking at the corners, too. "Your toe?"

"In the faucet." Gerard wiggled his foot for emphasis. "And the water's getting cold."

Frank eyed him crankily. Gerard made his most pathetic face, which was pretty fucking pathetic if he did say so himself, and eventually Frank relented and put his jacket down again. "Let me see," he said, moving towards the end of the tub.

"Wait!" Gerard squawked again, flinging his hands out to cover his crotch. "Can you, like, hand me a towel?"

"Like I've never seen a naked dude before. All I gotta do is look down in the shower," Frank grumped, but he looked around for a towel. He unfolded the one on the shelf, but it was tiny. All the others were in a heap on the floor. Frank frowned at them.

"They're clean," Gerard said. "Well. Ish."

Frank picked one up between his thumb and forefinger and carried it gingerly over to the tub, where Gerard grabbed it gratefully and tucked it around his waist as best he could.

"Anything else?" Frank said pissily, kneeling down to inspect Gerard's toe.

"No," Gerard said just as pissily. He tried to fold his arms but that made the fucking towel start to dislodge itself under the water.

Frank was quiet for a minute, squinting at Gerard's toe. He turned his head to the side and touched the toe, gently.

"Ow," said Gerard, even though it didn't hurt.

"Sorry," Frank murmured. He had a nice voice, for an asshole. "Okay, we need to lubricate it with something slippery."

Gerard tried and failed not to snigger. "Here," he said, grinning as he passed over the shampoo.

"Shut up," Frank said, but then snorted a laugh out himself as he squirted shampoo onto his fingers. Gerard giggled again, then went quiet while Frank rubbed shampoo onto Gerard's toe, around the edge of the faucet. "Your bathroom is fucking dirty, dude," Frank remarked as he put the shampoo bottle back.

"I wasn't expecting company."

Frank shook his head. "Presumably you were expecting to get clean in here, though."

"Eh," said Gerard. "I'm not actually a huge bather."

"I guessed that," Frank sighed. He gave Gerard a tiny smile over his shoulder. "Getting your toe stuck in the faucet is definitely a rookie mistake."

He was fucking cute. And it sort of seemed like he was flirting, even. Except who would flirt with a dude who had his toe stuck in the faucet? Especially as Gerard usually liked to charm people with his personality before he let them in on the pale, weirdly-proportioned secret that was his naked body. "Whatever," Gerard huffed to cover his confusion. He could feel himself fucking blushing, fucking hell. Maybe Frank wouldn't notice.

"Your face is red," Frank observed.

"It's the heat of the water," Gerard said defensively. He put his palms against his cheeks.

Frank stuck his hand in the water, like right next to Gerard's knee. Gerard squeaked and tried not to jerk away. "It's not that hot," Frank said mildly.

Gerard kept his hands over his face. "Shut up."

"P.S." Frank grinned. "Your towel is floating away."

Gerard grabbed it again and looked at the ceiling, hoping for death or that Frank would go away.

Neither of these things happened. Instead, there was the noise of another key in the door, and then Mikey calling, "All right, I'm here, don't call Mom."

Frank sat back on his heels. "Uh," he said, and then Mikey came through the door.

"Oh my God," said Mikey, taking in the scene.

"Mikey," Gerard started, "This isn't what it looks like, okay, I called the super and Frank answered the phone and-"

"You're Frank Iero!" Mikey said.

"Oh," Frank kind of grinned. "Yeah."

"Dude!" said Mikey, and Mikey never ever used this many exclamation marks, usually, so Gerard knew Frank had to be somebody pretty fucking special. "You guys rock!"

"Thanks, man," Frank stood up and wiped his hands on his jeans, holding the right one out for Mikey to shake. "Your name?"

"Mikey Way!" Mikey said, shaking Frank's hand excitedly. "Fuck, do you live in this building? Don't tell me I live in the same building as Frank Iero and didn't know it, dude."

Frank laughed. "Nah, I'm just crashing with a friend - your super," he said, nodding at Gerard. "We just came off tour and I'm kind of between apartments right now. Wait - you live in this building too?"

"Yeah, across the hall. Man, my wife is gonna flip out when I tell her I met you. You know what, I have to text her."

"Okay," Frank said agreeably, like there was nothing unusual about the fact that Mikey was calling his wife so they could both lick Frank's shoes at the same time while Gerard was still fucking naked and his fucking toe was still stuck in the fucking faucet.

"EXCUSE ME," he said, as huffily as he could considering his current lack of dignity. Or clothes.

"Oh!" said Frank, coming back over to the tub. "I was right in the middle of lubricating him," he said to Mikey.

"I bet you were," Alicia said slyly, appearing in the doorway.

"This is my wife Alicia," Mikey told Frank.

Frank raised the hand he wasn't using to rub Gerard's toe. "Good to meet you."

"You too," she nodded, all cool except Gerard could see where she was squeezing Mikey's hand super tight.

"Why do they know who you are?" Gerard demanded.

"Duh," Mikey rolled his eyes. "It's Frank Iero. From Leathermouth?"

"Oh," said Gerard. He knew Leathermouth, but he didn't know what anyone in the band looked like. Fucking great. Not only was Gerard naked in the tub with his toe stuck in the faucet and his brother and sister-in-law standing over him, but also he could now never listen to Leathermouth again without bursting into horribly embarrassed flames.

"It's cool," Frank said easily. "We're not exactly setting the charts on fire, dude."

"But I liked your record," Gerard said truthfully.

Frank smiled. "Thanks."

Mikey and Alicia chattered on while Frank wiggled Gerard's toe back and forth, at one point falling over each other in horrified shock when Frank said curiously, "What's a twitter?" Within twenty minutes Mikey and Frank had respectively offered and accepted an invitation to dinner, exchanged stories about their dogs, and realized they had met briefly at a Bouncing Souls show years ago.

Gerard, however, was still naked, still stuck in the fucking faucet, and starting to get really fucking cold.

"So I can see," Alicia said when Gerard complained. She looked over the edge of the tub and smirked.

"Why are you still here?" Gerard snapped, putting his hands over his towel, and then Frank tugged on Gerard's heel in just the right way and his toe came free of the faucet with a painful scrape and a resounding pop. "Oh, thank God!" Gerard scrambled to sit upright and examine his poor abused toe. It was wrinkled and raw, but still attached, and now Gerard was free! "Dude," he said, looking up at Frank. "Dude, thank you."

"Anytime," Frank beamed, wiping his hands on the tiny towel. He had a fucking pretty smile. Gerard's stomach did a stupid, useless flip.

"Really," he said earnestly. "I could have died. You saved my life."

Frank laughed. "Dude."

"He says that to everyone," Mikey said dismissively.

"No I don't!" Gerard protested. He turned back to Frank. "How can I thank you?"

Frank waved his hand. "Don't worry about it, dude. Happy to help."


Later, when he was sitting on the couch with his foot propped up on a pile of cushions, Gerard looked Leathermouth up on the internet. There wasn't a lot, but he did manage to learn that Frank was twenty-eight and that he loved dogs, horror movies, and comic books. Also he was a really nice guy who would free a complete stranger from a faucet for no other reason than he wanted to help, and oh yeah, he was a rock star who was about a million miles out of Gerard's league. Gerard's league of old, pale people who were afraid to go to their high school reunions and couldn't take a bath without risking life and limb.

It was sort of weird, that Frank was a nice guy when his lyrics - according to the website - were all about killing people and hating everything. Gerard could relate, though, because it wasn't like his life bore any resemblance whatsoever to the Umbrella Academy. He ought to be working on it, actually, but all he wanted to do was sit around and watch reruns of The Apprentice and think about how Frank had seen him naked. Naked and cold. And how Mikey had to swan in and be all awesome and interesting and oh hey didn't I meet you at blah blah blah, which just made Gerard look even nakeder and more pathetic by comparison.

There was a knock at the door. Gerard gave one last, frustrated shove of his hands through his hair, and got up to answer it.

"Hi," said Frank, standing in the hallway. On the other side, Mikey's door was open too. Gerard could hear music playing. "You're late for dinner."

Gerard blinked. "Oh."

Frank rocked from foot to foot. He waved his hands around. "I'm supposed to bring you, man, don't make me go back there empty-handed."

"Okay?" said Gerard, and followed him over to Mikey's.

Gerard liked having dinner at Mikey's place. He liked it so much he did it almost every night, but usually there weren't cute rock musicians helping to slice the tomatoes, so he forgave himself for jittering around nervously until Alicia put a cup of coffee into his hands. Gerard took it gratefully and escaped into the living room to say hi to the menagerie.

"Did you take your antihistamine?" Alicia called after him.

"Yeah," Gerard called back, but he still gave Bunny kind of a wide berth on his way to pat Piglet's head.

He could hear Mikey and Frank talking in the kitchen, but he couldn't really make out any words until he heard Frank exclaim, "Where did you get this?"

Gerard stuck his head back into the kitchen, curious, and saw Frank staring at the framed piece Mikey had on his wall, a fucking beautiful depiction of Allison and Vanya looking back at each other over their shoulders.

"Gabriel gave it to me for my birthday," Mikey said proudly. "It's fucking awesome, right?"

"I gave it to you," Gerard corrected him irritably. "Gabriel drew it especially because I asked him."

Frank turned to stare at Gerard. "How the fuck do you know him?"

"Oh," said Gerard. He scratched his head and cleared his throat. "Well, it's kind of...mine. Umbrella Academy, I mean."

"Wait," Frank said slowly, making a cogs-turning motion with his hand. "Gerard Way, right? You fucking wrote that shit?"

"Yeah," Gerard said, holding his coffee tighter.

"Dude," Frank breathed, and then he started cracking up, managing to say between giggles, "You wrote Umbrella Academy and I pulled your toe out of a faucet!"

Mikey and Alicia cracked up too, because they were assholes, and Gerard just hid behind his coffee and waited for them all to calm down and thought about how much everything sucked, because a fucking cute guy in a rock band who liked Gerard's comic book was laughing at him for failing at baths.

Things got better over dinner, because Frank stopped laughing long enough to beg Gerard to tell him what was going to happen next. Gerard was nothing if not a dude who liked to talk about his own comic book, so he laid it out, as far as he knew, anyway, and Frank listened intently, interrupting occasionally to ask questions or exclaim over the parts he thought were especially cool. Gerard even remembered to ask about Frank, which was something he had really worked on, remembering that other people had things to talk about too. He was doing pretty good, he thought, toe-faucets aside, until fucking Mikey brought up the fucking fifteen-year fucking high school reunion.

"Fifteen?" Frank blinked at Gerard over his coffee. "What does that make you, dude, like thirty-three?"

Gerard groaned. "Yeah."

"You don't look that old," Frank shook his head wonderingly.

That old. Fuck. "Thanks," Gerard said glumly.

"It's a compliment!" Frank laughed.

"Ugh," said Gerard.

"I think you should go," Mikey said decisively. "Dude, how many people there have won a fucking Eisner?"

"And you can tell them about the movie!" Alicia added.

Frank's eyes got big. "There's gonna be a movie?"

Gerard used that as an excuse to talk solidly for another twenty minutes or so, but Mikey was like an elephant: he never forgot. Anything that Gerard didn't want to talk about, anyway.

"I went to my ten-year and it was fine," he said, like, of course it was fine for Mikey, nobody ever taped a kick-me sign to Mikey's back.

"I wouldn't go back to high school if you paid me," Frank said, shaking his head. He leaned back in his chair. "I was a fucking loser in school, dude."

"I bet you weren't," Gerard said. "Not like me."

Frank raised an eyebrow. "You ever get put in a locker?"

"No," Gerard admitted.

"Then no," Frank smiled slightly. "Not like you."

The conversation moved on after that, but Gerard kept thinking about it, kept looking at Frank, who was solid and confident and covered in tattoos and played in a rock band and could go to dinner with three strangers and how it seemed impossible that he would ever have been picked on or marginalized or scared in his whole life. Suddenly all the lyrics about hating everyone made a lot more sense.

"You never really know," he said, and then realized it had been out loud. Frank was giving him an amused look, but Mikey and Alicia didn't even blink. Gerard tried to cover with, "You never know, uh, what...okay, I got nothing."

Frank laughed, but it wasn't mean, and Gerard found himself smiling back, this time.


Gerard didn't speak to Frank for a few days after that. Partly because he really did have to work on the book, and partly because he had a lot of meetings and running back and forth to do, but mostly because he didn't have Frank's number. And okay, he knew Frank was staying in Dave's apartment, and he could have gotten in touch that way, but while Gerard might have changed a lot since high school, he still couldn't initiate...anything without wanting to throw up from nerves.

So he didn't. And the reunion loomed on the horizon, and even thought Gerard knew he wasn't going to go it still nagged at him, that somewhere all these people he hated would be getting together and probably making fun of the memory of Gerard, and he really wasn't looking forward to the weekend when Frank called and invited him to a show.

"I thought you just got off tour," Gerard stalled, turning around in an excited little circle in his living room.

"Yeah, no, uh, it's for another band. Called the Lovecats."

Gerard squinted. "Like...Lovecats by The Cure Lovecats?"

"Yeah," Frank said, and then giggled. "We're a tribute. I don't know, it's lame, I just took a shot that you might be a Cure fan."

"Are you shitting me? Fucking - dude, that is awesome, how didn't I know there was a Cure tribute band playing here this weekend?"

Frank laughed. "I don't think it's exactly headline news."

So that was how Gerard, Mikey and Alicia ended up going to a tribute concert in a bowling alley. Gerard couldn't decide what was the best part - that one of the openers was a heavy metal BeeGees cover band, or that the show was on the same night as the dumb fucking high school reunion. Although maybe both of those things were overshadowed by Frank's little cat-ears headband that he was wearing, or the way he smiled when he saw that Gerard had showed up.

"You came!" he beamed when he got off stage, all sweaty and flushed and fucking indecent.

"Sure," Gerard said casually, trying to be cool.

Then Mikey ruined it by saying, "Dude, like he would turn down an excuse to miss the reunion?"

"Oh," Frank's smile dimmed a little bit. "That's tonight?"

"But that isn't why I came," Gerard stammered, throwing Mikey a dirty look. "I mean, it's - it is tonight, but I would have come anyway. I wanted to see you."

Frank's smile grew wide again.

"Play!" Gerard added hurriedly, he wanted to die, nobody had ever been this awkward ever. "I wanted to see you play."

They hung out after the show, just shooting the shit in the bar. One or two kids wanted pictures with Frank, which was the weirdest thing ever in the world to witness, like, that happened to Gerard very occasionally at cons, but never ever out in the real world.

"But it's not the real world," Frank shrugged when they ducked outside for a smoke. "This is my convention, dude."

"I bet those kids would kill to have you pull them out of a faucet," Gerard said, and then hid behind his cigarette.

Frank laughed, exhaling smoke. He looked at Gerard out the corner of his eye and said, "I only do that for the cute ones."

"Well." Gerard looked down at his feet. He shuffled in place a little, biting his lip so he wouldn't smile too stupidly. "Mmf."

When he looked up, Frank had stepped in closer and his face was inches from Gerard's. Gerard froze, uncertain. Frank said quietly, "If you already decided not to go to the reunion, why is it bugging you so much? Why do you care?"

"Because," Gerard started, then stopped because he didn't know how to word it. "Because I want them to have been wrong," he finished eventually. "About me."

Frank looked at him steadily for a few seconds, then seemed to come to a decision. "All right," he said, dropping his cigarette and grinding it out under his sneaker. "We're going to this fucking reunion."

"We?" Gerard said weakly, but Frank was already dragging him back inside.


"I didn't RSVP," Gerard said anxiously when they were standing outside the school. Gerard's stomach was freaking out just being back there; he could feel the acid nausea in his throat and he straightened his shirt out compulsively, reminding himself that nobody was going to make him take his clothes off.

"Gym class?" Frank said sympathetically.

Gerard nodded, then shook his head so he wouldn't remember. "I was fat."

Frank looked unimpressed. "I'll see your fat and raise you a fat, short and barely able to breathe right standing still, my man."

"Fat and clumsy," Gerard stressed. "And one time I played Peter Pan."

"In gym class?" Frank raised his eyebrows.

"In all my classes," Gerard moaned. He knew he wasn't making sense, and he didn't care. He hated everything. He hated high school. He hated Mikey and Alicia for not rescuing him from this maniac who wanted to bring him back here. "Fuck. Fuck."

"You're kind of green," Frank observed. "Are you gonna hurl? Because I'm wearing new shoes."

"This was a terrible idea!" Gerard said hysterically, but Frank just rolled his eyes and started herding Gerard inside.

It was dreadful. It was exactly as dreadful as Gerard thought it would be. There was somebody he hated sitting behind the little table with all the nametags, and there was someone he hated coming out of the bathroom, and someone he hated standing by the punch.

"There are people I hate everywhere," he whispered to Frank, who ignored him in favor of picking up a random nametag off the table and handing it to Gerard.

Gerard looked at it as Frank ushered him forward. "I'm not Ted Wiltenstein."

Frank took the nametag back and slid the little card out. "You gotta pen?"

Gerard dug in his pocket and found half a pencil, and Frank used it to write 'GERARD!!' on the blank side of the card, then slid it back into the nametag and pinned it to the front of Gerard's shirt.

Gerard looked down at it dubiously. "Two exclamation points?"

"You can rock it," Frank assured him with a grin. Gerard's stomach did another squeezy thing, but this time it was much less because of nerves.

"Now Ted Wiltenstein won't have a nametag," Gerard pointed out, making a disapproving face. Frank laughed and Gerard shook his head sorrowfully. "His whole identity, stolen away in a fleeting second."

"I'm a very bad man," Frank confirmed in a low voice, touching his fingertips to Gerard's hip. "You know when I was in high school I used to fantasize about coming back to my reunion and like, blowing everyone's mind, you know? Roll up in a Merc with a model on my arm or some bullshit like that."

"Or a helicopter," Gerard agreed, making a beeline for the punch, now that the person Gerard hated had vacated the area. "And everyone else would be miserable and unfulfilled and begging you to tell them how you'd managed to become so awesome?"

"That sounds right," Frank nodded, sipping his punch. He made a face. "Gross."

The punch was pretty terrible, but apart from that it seemed okay. Frank hung out with him in the corner and while most of the people there didn't seem particularly miserable or unfulfilled, they didn't seem like they were waiting to point out all of Gerard's faults and flaws either. Most of them didn't even give Gerard a second glance, like they didn't remember him at all. It was very reassuring.

It was reassuring right up until the point when Frank decided he had to go to the bathroom, anyway. Gerard wasn't about to go with him, or anything, he had some dignity. He didn't have much, though, so he edged behind a floral display and held his punch in front of his face and did what he did best: lurked. He kept his eyes in the direction Frank had gone, so that when he started coming back Gerard could sidle out and pretend he hadn't been hiding, and that was why he didn't notice the gigantic man bearing down on him until it was too late.

"Gerard?" the gigantic man boomed.

"No," Gerard muttered, but the gigantic man jabbed at his fucking fucking nametag with a gigantic finger.

"Gerard!!" he insisted, yanking Gerard out from behind the floral display. "It says so right here."

Gerard risked a peek up at the gigantic man's face. His heart sank. "Hi, Daryl."

"You remember me!" Daryl exclaimed, as if Gerard could forget the face of someone who spent four years making his life a living hell.

"I remember all the shit you gave me," Gerard scowled, feeling like he was fifteen again and backed up against the lockers with his bag clutched in his arms.

"Ha, ha!" said Daryl, clapping Gerard on the shoulder so hard Gerard staggered backwards into the floral display. "I guess I gave you kind of a hard time back then! Ha, ha!"

Gerard righted himself - the floral display was surprisingly sturdy - and looked around nervously for Frank. Or an escape route. "You really kind of did."

"Sorry!" Daryl said, not sounding like he was at all. He crowded in to Gerard's personal space and there was nowhere for Gerard to go because the wall was behind him, shit shit shit this could not actually be happening. "It's just that you were so weird! With your hair! And your comic books! Ha, ha!"

I'm going to die here, Gerard thought miserably and then he felt a hand on his elbow.

"There you are, pumpkin," Frank said with a huge smile, then swooped in and kissed the shit out of him.

Gerard stumbled around a bit, because he wasn't expecting it, then grabbed on to Frank's shoulders and kissed him back before he could stop or change his mind. He'd never kissed anyone with a beard before, and it was kind of scratchy. But still awesome, because Frank was a good kisser, but also because when Gerard cracked one eyelid open he could see stupid Daryl staring with his mouth hanging open. That made Gerard grin, which broke the kiss, but it was okay because Frank was grinning too.

"Sorry," Daryl said again, only he did kind of sound it this time. "I didn't know you were taken."

Now it was Gerard's turn to stand there with his mouth hanging open, while Frank cracked up next to him. "You have got to be shitting me," Gerard said incredulously. Daryl made a sheepish face.

And,” said Frank, “He won an Eisner!”


"It's just crazy," Gerard said for the hundredth time while they were walking home. "He was so mean to me!"

Frank laughed. "Glad you went after all?"

"I guess," Gerard said grudgingly. "But you should know I'm totally making you go to yours."

Frank waved his hand. "I'll make sure to be on tour when it rolls around."

"We're going," Gerard insisted. He got out his key and let them both into the building. "I don't care if you have to fly back from Kuala Lumpur."

"Yes," said Frank, following Gerard up the stairs. "My tours totally take me that far afield."

There didn't even seem to be a question of Frank not coming in with Gerard. Gerard did a little dance in his own head about it, and then maybe he did one outside his head while he was making coffee in the kitchen.

"Thanks," Frank said, smiling warmly when Gerard handed him one of the cups. Gerard sat down next to him on the couch and they sipped quietly for a while. Then Frank said, "Okay, I wasn't spying or anything, but you had a bunch of papers on the couch that I moved before I sat down, and - are you writing a Batman comic?"

"Oh!" Gerard grinned, bouncing a little. "Yeah! Just a limited run."

"Dude," Frank said reverently.

"Mikey already wrote a couple Batman stories," Gerard said. "They're really good."

Frank grinned. "That kid is awesome."

"He is," Gerard agreed, feeling the warm, happy feeling he always got when someone praised Mikey. "I'll get him to show them to you."

"Okay," Frank nodded and took a sip of his coffee. "Hey, how's your toe?"

"Toe," Gerard said blankly, then, "Oh! Toe! Uh, better, I think. It doesn't hurt anymore."

Frank put his coffee down and tapped his palm on his thigh. "Lemme see."

Gerard laughed, but Frank made the tapping gesture again, so Gerard peeled off his sock and swung his foot up into Frank's lap. "I wouldn't get too close if I were you."

Frank's palms were warm and a little callused. He squeezed Gerard's foot in both hands, then ran two fingertips up to Gerard's toe. "It looks fine now."

"Yeah," Gerard said a little breathily. It was weird - Frank was just touching his foot, but Gerard could feel it tingling all the way up his leg.

Frank rubbed his thumb over the tip of Gerard's toe and Gerard shifted a little, which kind of pressed his foot down and Gerard very definitely felt Frank's dick twitch under his heel.

"Uh," said Frank, smiling a little, embarrassed. "I swear I don't have a foot fetish."

"Thirty seconds ago I would have said the same thing." Gerard pressed his foot down again, a little more firmly this time, and Frank leaned over and fisted his hand in Gerard's shirt, yanking him up and into Frank's lap.

They made out for a while, and it was nice, just kissing on the couch, learning the feel of Frank's shoulders and arms. Frank moved his hands over Gerard's back, put them on Gerard's hips and pulled him down a little, thrusting up, and Gerard got the hint and slithered off the couch to kneel between Frank's legs.

Frank had more tattoos under his clothes; Gerard found some on his belly and hips when he pushed Frank's shirt up out of the way. He tugged Frank's jeans open, spread one hand over Frank's belly, wrapped the other around his dick and went down. Frank wasn't a talker, particularly, but he did say, "Fuck," seven times in a row when Gerard moved his hand away and sucked Frank further into his mouth. Gerard preened a little and kept going; he wondered how long it had been since anyone had done this for Frank. Probably around five minutes, considering the whole rock band situation, but it was always interesting to have sex with someone new and not really know very much about them. It was cool, though, because things were a surprise, like the way Frank made little whining noises, the way he shifted when Gerard stroked his thighs, the way he cupped Gerard's jaw in one hand and said, "Hey, hey," when he was close to coming.

Gerard sucked him through it, wondering what Frank was like when he wasn't trying to be a gentleman. He pulled off and sat back on his heels, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. Frank was sitting there with his head tipped back and his mouth open. Gerard laughed.

Frank looked up, opening his eyes. He smiled a little warily. "What?"

"You're still wearing your cat ears," Gerard told him.

Frank snorted, and reached up to pull them off. "Shit," he said, giggling as he tossed them onto the coffee table.

Gerard started climbing back onto the couch. "I blew a guy in cat ears."

"Fuck yeah you did," Frank said, and kissed Gerard firmly before he got down on the floor.

Gerard absolutely was a talker, and sometimes he tried to rein it in the first time with someone new. This was not one of those times. He figured if there was going to be a second time - and he hoped there was, based on the way Frank looked on his knees - he didn't want Frank to feel like he'd been sold something he didn't want. And besides, the better the blowjob, the harder it was for Gerard to stay quiet, and this was a pretty fucking great blowjob.

It was strange, because Gerard could feel the calluses on Frank's hands, and Frank's beard was tickly, and all of that was new. But it was fucking nice, and Frank was enthusiastic and just a little sloppy and his eyebrows were weirdly perfect and his lashes looked gorgeous lying on his cheeks. Gerard told him all of that, plus some commentary about the way Frank's mouth looked around Gerard's dick, and how good it all felt, and Frank didn't seem to mind.

Gerard had reverted to wordless exclamations by the time he came, and he collapsed back on the couch and panted for a while to get his breath back. Frank climbed back onto the couch next to him and Gerard found the energy to roll his head towards him for a kiss. "Awesome," he said, trying to get his hands to work enough to do his jeans back up.

"Fuck," Frank agreed, and they just lolled there in contented silence for a while.

When time came for Frank to leave, Gerard kissed him in the doorway for a while. "I'll call you," Frank said. "Be careful in the bathroom."

"Shut the fuck up," Gerard shoved him away, grinning as he watched Frank turn and jog down the stairs.

He was about to close the door when he heard a suspicious noise. He looked at Mikey and Alicia's door and frowned. "I told you guys the peephole is not for spying on me."

The door cracked open and Mikey's head popped out, followed by Alicia's underneath. "You had sex with Frank Iero!" Mikey said.

"I totally did," Gerard beamed.

"It's so awesome," Mikey said. "Now you can get us free tickets for shows."

Alicia made a little eeee noise in agreement.

"I'm glad I can be of some use," Gerard said dryly. "Now kindly fuck off."

"You're wearing cat ears," Alicia observed. Then the door closed.

Gerard put his hand up to his head and laughed, pulling the cat ears off. He closed his own door and tossed them onto the coffee table on his way to the bathroom.

Before he stepped into the shower, he sent Frank a text message. ‘Taking a shower,’ it said. ‘Wish me luck.’

When he got out, he had a reply that said, ‘remember water comes out the faucet you don’t have to put your toe in there to clean it.’

There was also a second message that read, ‘and for fucks sake don’t put anything else in there.’

Gerard grinned to himself the entire time he was putting on his PJs and getting into bed.


The next morning there was a knock on the door, and Gerard opened it to find Mikey standing there. He was holding a can of WD40, which he held out to Gerard. “It was in front of your door.”

Gerard looked at it. There was a post-it on it that read ‘Just in case. P.S. Spray-top v. complicated, only I know how to work it. Not for beginners.’

Gerard grinned and grinned and grinned at it. It was the best post-it ever.

“Free tickets!” Mikey reminded him.

Gerard shut the door in his face.