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You put your arms around me and I'm home

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Frank stretches his arms over his head and Grant runs a hand down his chest and over his belly, gripping Frank’s side and rolling until Frank is lying on top of him. It's been a few weeks and Frank still isn't over how Grant's body feels against his, how amazing Grant makes him feel.

"We've got to stop doing this in the morning," Frank says. "It makes getting up and leaving so much harder."

Grant laughs and pushes his hair back behind his ear. "But it makes starting the day infinitely more pleasant."

"And then I go to work and I feel you all day and it's fucking distracting," Frank says. The reaction he gets is expected.

"I can't quite bring myself to feel any remorse about that," Grant replies smugly.

"See, but the problem is, I have this tyrant boss who requires me to do my job." Grant makes a smug face again and Frank puts a finger on his nose, making a face back. "That's kind of hard to accomplish when all I'm thinking about is giving myself to you again."

"If it helps," Grant says, rolling them back over and pressing Frank into the mattress, "I find myself constantly tempted by you."

Frank thinks for a moment. "No, that doesn't help at all. That just makes it worse. I have a hard enough time staying away from you at work."

"Lucky for you," Grant says, mouthing at the underside of his jaw, "I am quite adept at resisting temptation."

“That doesn’t actually help either,” Frank pouts.

Grant laughs. “Oh, don’t worry. Night follows day the way it always has, and I’m always waiting for you to knock on my door.” He kisses Frank, then shoos him out from under the covers. Frank showers and dresses, and fetches a cup of coffee from the pot in Grant’s kitchen, leaning against the counter and sipping it as fast as he dares.

Grant’s right about one thing: Frank’s constantly knocking on Grant’s door. If he’s not at work or out with a friend, he only wants to be here, cooking them dinner while Grant flips records on his ancient hi-fi system. Curled up with a book in an armchair while Grant writes. Stretched out on Grant’s sheets. Even doing a checklist like he and Grant had done one afternoon early on. He hadn’t expected how turned on he’d get over a series of marks on paper. Frank had been expecting it, of course. He knows even just from hanging with Mikey and Alicia how different being part of a couple is from scenes in clubs.

He shakes himself. He’d better get a travel mug, or he’s going to be late to work. Truthfully, he was only teasing about being too distracted to work; he wouldn’t do that to Zoe, or Alicia, or Tyler. They still enjoy giving him crap, anyway, but that just makes him grin.

It’s been raining for the past few days. His shoes feel unpleasantly damp when he slides his feet into them at the door, even though he’s been inside all night. He should go back to his apartment for another few changes of clothes. It's almost not worth it, until he remembers he'd wanted to bring his guitar over to Grant's. That's enough of a bribe to make himself go.

"You look like a drowned rat," Alicia says when he gets to the shop an hour later, guitar case in one hand, overnight bag in the other.

"Yeah," he says with a sigh. "I'm gonna change." He has dry clothes with him, he may as well use them.

He takes the stairs up to Grant's office two at a time. There's a towel in one of the drawers to his desk. Usually it's for more enjoyable purposes than drying off after being caught in a torrential downpour, so it's small and kind of a pain in the ass, but it works. Mostly. He gets as dry as he can get and changes and goes back downstairs to find Alicia at the front of the store, talking to some dude who looks vaguely familiar. He's gesticulating wildly about something and Alicia tips her head back and laughs free and happy.

"Frankie," Alicia calls when she sees him, still giggling, "Come over here and meet Gerard."

"Wait," he says walking toward them. "Gerard Way? Mikey's brother? Are you sure he's not a ghost?"

She darts a hand out and pinches Gerard's arm. He yelps.

"Yup," she says.

Frank rolls his eyes. "I was joking. I didn't require a demonstration." He holds out his hand to Gerard. "Hey, it's nice to finally meet you."

Gerard shakes his hand and smiles, "It's great to meet you too."

"You got here, what? Three weeks ago? I can't believe you've been here that long and this is only the first time I'm meeting you," Frank says.

"I hear you've been, ah... preoccupied," Gerard says with a teasing smile.

"You just met me and you're already giving me crap? What is this?" Frank turns to Alicia. "I'm blaming you."

"Not my fault you've been locked in with Grant so much that we ran out of excuses," Alicia shrugs with a shameless grin.

Gerard smiles at them. "If it makes you feel better, everyone's been super sweet about you guys. Do I get to meet Grant today too?"

"Unfortunately, he decided to work from home today. Man, he's gonna be bummed he missed you," Frank says. "He's been looking forward to meeting you. Did they tell you he has one of your prints in his office?"

Gerard beams. "I'd heard something about that, yeah." He glances down at his watch. "Shit, I should probably go. I was just in the neighborhood so I thought I'd stop in and say hi to Alicia."

"Good to finally meet you," Frank says.

"You too," Gerard says. He leans over to peck Alicia on the cheek and then disappears out the door.

"So, that's the brother-in-law," Frank teases Alicia.

She rolls her eyes. "Not officially."

"So when're you gonna make it official?" Frank asks.

"When we feel like it," Alicia answers, eyebrows raised.

"Fine, keep your secrets," Frank pouts.

*

A few days later, Frank is working the front by himself while Tyler works on shipping in the back room and Grant does Grant things upstairs. He's got Miles Davis playing on the stereo because it's Saturday and Saturdays are for jazz.

His eyes are closed and he's moving his head to the slow jazz beat and is surprised when he hears the door. His eyes pop open and he sees Gerard Way smiling at him.

"Enjoying yourself?"

"Yes, actually," Frank grins. "Enjoying the Saturday morning lull before we get busy. Stay right there and don't go anywhere. Grant's upstairs, I'll get him down here."

"Well, I hadn't really planned on turning around and walking out thirty seconds after I came in, so I think you're safe on that count," Gerard returns cheekily.

"You are exactly like everyone I know," Frank says with a chuckle. “Are they influencing you already or are you just a perfect fit?” He gets a laugh along with a bit of a blush, which is interesting, but he leaves Gerard where he is and goes through the backroom and to the bottom of the staircase, yelling up for Grant to come down.

Grant does after a moment, tugging his blazer back on over his t-shirt. "Yes, darling?"

"Gerard is here. You should meet him," Frank explains.

"Oh! Yes, indeed. Lead the way," Grant says and Frank takes his hand and leads him back onto the floor. Gerard is exactly where Frank left him, his hands clasped behind his back, shifting back and forth on his feet.

"Grant, this is Gerard. Gerard, Grant," Frank introduces.

Grant holds out his free hand with a friendly grin. "Gerard Way. I've been enjoying your photography prowess for several years now, and Mikey has become part of our little family here. It's wonderful to finally meet you."

Gerard beams as they shake hands. Frank isn’t sure which part made him happier, the bit about his photography, or the bit about Mikey. Just from what he knows about the Ways, it could be either. It’s adorable though. "It's good to meet you too!” Gerard says. “I've been a fan of your writing for, well, as long as I've been buying the sorts of magazines we get published in on a regular basis." His smile is crooked. That’s adorable, too.

"So strange that we've been in the same magazines so many times and this is only the first time we're meeting. Geography issues aside; I have been known to make it out to Los Angeles and I'm sure you haven't been a stranger to New York," Grant says, tugging Frank a little bit closer to himself. Frank forces himself to focus on what's being said, rather than how warm Grant feels.

"It's totally weird," Gerard agrees. "But at least we're fixing that now. We should totally collaborate on something sometime." He grimaces. "But I have to get this ad spread out of the way first, which is why I'm here today."

"Oh?" Grant asks curiously.

"I'm missing a box of props. Somewhere between Los Angeles, my parents’ place, my studio and my apartment, it got lost. And it had my good rope in it and I need some for the shoot. They're trying to make the spread edgy, hence the rope," Gerard pauses for a beat and smiles sardonically. "And me, I suppose."

“We don’t refer to them as props here,” Grant says. He’s teasing - Frank knows it takes a lot for him to snap, and it’s doubtful he’d do it at Mikey’s brother - but Gerard’s eyes widen a bit anyway.

“I didn’t mean -”

“Don’t tell me one of the most successful fetish photographers of the last ten years doesn’t have a personal collection,” Grant says lightly.

“Not really,” Gerard answers, and oh god, he’s bright red now and it’s so fucking cute. “I’ve sort of tried not to go out, because, like, expectations? If I was out playing and my models were there - because of course they could be, and - well, I made this mistake a few times in the beginning, and I really just don’t want them responding in a shoot because of what they think they know about me. It’s - about them, and the art.” He subsides again with a shrug.

It makes sense to Frank, even just from his one time modeling for Zoe - with Grant there. Just thinking about it makes his fingers stray to the cuff on the other wrist, rubbing absently over the leather. He feels Grant take a breath, shift his weight to take more of Frank’s, and realizes he’s leaning hard against him. “Well, you are in the right place, regardless. I shall loan you Frank,” Grant says, a warm tone creeping into his voice as he kisses Frank’s temple, “and he will help you pick something that is suitable for professional or personal use. Should you ever be so inspired.”

Frank sneaks a look at Grant’s face. His eyes are twinkling. He’s enjoying himself; this is what he does, after all. “Come on, Gerard,” Frank says. “You heard the man. If you give me good enough dirt on Mikey and Alicia while we’re shopping for you, I might even give you the employee discount.”

Gerard laughs. “How much is the discount? Might not be worth taking my life into my hands.”

Frank gets up on his tiptoes and kisses Grant quickly, then leads Gerard back towards the rope display. “You make a good point. Well, can’t say I didn’t offer.”

He quizzes Gerard as they walk on exactly what his idea for the shoot is, and hands him a few types of rope to compare. He gets Gerard to fess up, after a while, that he personally hasn’t been involved in the scene for years. “Too busy shooting it,” he says. “But all that work - one of the reasons I moved out here is to start talking to some people about doing a book,” he confesses.

“That’s so cool,” Frank tells him, laying a hand on his arm for emphasis.

"That is you on the website, isn't it? And the catalogs. It is, you have the same tattoos on your hands." He’s studying Frank’s fingers.

Frank takes his hand back and sticks it in his hoodie pocket. "Yeah, you stand still long enough in this joint and they strap you into a harness and point a camera at you." It comes out sort of breathless, because now he's thinking about that day again.

"I'll, ah, keep that in mind," Gerard answers with a little laugh. He hands Frank his rope selection and Frank leads him back up to the register to pay.

Frank gives him the discount, too. He’s not sure if Gerard notices; he just waves and tugs his jacket collar up around his neck and heads for the door. “Huh,” Frank says when the door closes behind him.

*

Frank looks forward to the days he and Grant both have free. They fuck slow and lazy, eat a good brunch, and spend the rest of the day doing whatever. Today, Grant is writing for a few hours in the little loft office while Frank reads, curled in a chair near his desk.

When he gets to the end of the chapter Frank stretches, takes a sip of water from the glass sitting on the side table, and startles a bit when he notices Grant staring at him intently.

"I believe it's time to go back downstairs," Grant says. A shiver rushes up and down Frank's spine and he turns down the corner of the page and places the book on the table.

Frank follows Grant down the stairs and into the bedroom. Grant backs him against the nearest bedpost and kisses him hard, fingers digging into his hips, hardly letting Frank catch his breath. So it's going to be like that today. Frank can absolutely deal with that.

"Any special requests?" Grant asks, nipping along Frank's jaw.

"Rope," he says automatically, mind flashing to the previous day at the shop, to helping Gerard pick his new props. "The black rope."

"Excellent," Grant says and orders, "Undress."

Frank's only wearing sweats and a t-shirt, so the process is fast, even though he folds them and puts them on the chair.

"Kneel on the bed facing the headboard." Grant gestures toward the mattress and Frank climbs up, kneeling in the center of the bed. Grant pushes down on his shoulder until his forehead is pressing into the pillow, pulls his arms behind his back and starts tying.

He goes slow. So, so slow, his fingers trailing over each coil of rope, brushing Frank's skin on either side, slides over the knots, tugging each one just a little bit tighter. Grant spends a long time tying Frank tightly—just the right side of too tight—into the position he's in, kneeling prostrate with his arms behind him. Far longer than Frank knows he needs. By the end, Frank is going insane. When Grant slides his fingers lightly down the cleft of Frank’s ass, Frank moans. He has no idea what Grant has planned, but he's really fucking looking forward to it.

Frank hears a click on the nightstand. “Shears are out, darling,” Grant says. "And now you will wait until I'm ready to untie you."

A thump from the corner means that Grant has sat down in the armchair. Frank knows he’s being watched, thrills racing over his skin until he steadies himself and his breathing. Frank’s told Grant this is one of his favorite things - to settle himself, to sit quietly through the confinement and the waiting. He’s getting better at it. Grant pushes, but Grant’s better at being patient. Grant loves to watch him.

The room has already receded to cobwebby sensory impressions, and Frank’s quietly counting his breaths for - a long time, Frank’s not sure - when Grant says from behind him, “I’m leaving the room, Frank, just for some water. Two minutes. Can you wait for two minutes without me? You know I can hear you from anywhere in the apartment.”

Frank blinks. “Yes,” he says, because he knows Grant expects a verbal reply. Then he hears footsteps as Grant leaves the room. Two minutes. No big deal. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, focusing on the feel of the ropes. It doesn't make him feel relaxed like it usually does. He keeps breathing.

Maybe he just needs more time. Grant sends Frank off to the bedroom to wait, sometimes, and Frank fucking loves it. This isn’t really different. Frank can do this.

But he's tied, he's tied so tight and Grant's gone. It's too quiet. Frank can't hear him, and it's way too hard to breathe right now.

He grits his teeth. Grant will be back. He said two minutes; he wouldn't leave Frank here and not come back. Frank knows he wouldn't. But knowing that isn't helping him breathe.

His chest aches. The ropes aren't tight enough for that. He knows that. His eyes feel gritty, swimmy. He blinks a few times, fast. This isn't working.

"Grant," he tries to call out. His voice is croaky. He clears his throat and tries again. "Grant." Too soft. He won't be heard unless Grant's right outside the door. He squeezes his eyes shut and hauls in a breath and calls out, "Grant! Stop!"

Immediately, he hears Grant's footsteps in the hall, hears him coming toward the bed. "Stop, please untie me," Frank says. Whispers, really. Apparently he expended everything on calling out.

Grant pulls him up into a regular kneeling position and the rope slithers free as Grant cuts it quickly away. As soon as the loops slip free Frank begins to shake, hauling in a desperate breath or two, pressing a hand to his sternum when his arms are free until it's brushed aside by Grant's.

"My darling, my darling," he says softly. Frank leans into him, lets him wrap his arms around Frank and hold him close. He feels worlds better already. "My darling," Grant murmurs against his temple.

"When you left," Frank whispers. "I didn’t know it would be like... I didn't know. You didn’t know. Grant, don't leave."

"I'm sorry," Grant tells him, stroking his hair. "So, so sorry."

"It's... I'm claustrophobic, but it's never been like that with rope, so I didn't... I didn't expect it.”

"Sometimes we surprise ourselves. Sometimes the surprises are unpleasant." Grant cups his face, leans in to kiss him deeply. "I will want to push you sometimes, darling, but never past your limits. I will remember."

Frank nods and Grant pulls his head down to his shoulder, strokes a hand over his chest soothingly. "What do you want instead? Your wish is my command," Grant whispers into his hair.

"You, always you. Close as you can be."

"I can do that,” Grant says and pulls Frank into his lap.

*

Frank and Grant arrive at the bar a little bit late. Frank is absolutely not to blame. Grant is totally to blame for not dressing fast enough after his shower. Frank couldn't help dropping to his knees and blowing Grant against the dresser.

And then Grant had pulled Frank up by his hair and stroked him off hard and fast until Frank came against Grant's bare thigh. So yeah. Not Frank's fault Grant's cock is irresistible, or that Grant is really good with his hands.

Luckily, they're not too late. Tyler's band hasn't even gone on yet and their friends all shuffle around and make room for them. Frank ends up tucked against Grant's side next to Gerard who's squeezed in next to Mikey in one of the big half moon booths.

"Hey, man," Frank yells into Gerard's ear over the din of the opening band. "Glad you could come."

Gerard beams back. "Wouldn't have missed it. It's great that all of you are so supportive."

Frank shrugs with a smile. "We're family."

Soon Tyler is introducing his band and the show is starting. Frank doesn't even last a whole song before he's pulling away from Grant and diving into the crowd. It'd be overstating things a little bit to call it a pit, but there's a tight knot of people jumping around and dancing and Frank joins them enthusiastically. He stays in the crowd the whole set and when he comes back to the group, Grant hands him a bottle of water.

"Thanks," Frank grins.

"They're really great," Gerard enthuses as Frank empties his bottle.

"They are," Grant agrees. "Tyler has just the right charisma and everyone is very talented. Excuse me, I'm going to go talk to Zoe for a moment."

Tyler appears a minute later on the arm of a very good looking guy in a bow tie who he introduces as Dallon. There's a round of greetings since this is the first time any of them are actually meeting Dallon. He seems nice enough, and he's definitely treating Tyler better than Jordan ever did in Frank's presence.

They all congratulate Tyler on a great show. Gerard comments on Tyler's leopard print vest and it's all downhill from there; it sends Tyler into his spiel about how performing isn't just playing and singing, it's the whole deal, how clothes are all part of the package. Gerard nods along enthusiastically and makes several comments of his own. Frank opens his mouth to say something, but Dallon jumps in and suddenly they're all grinning and gesticulating and talking over each other.

Which is... fine, but Frank suddenly feels twitchy and Grant is still talking to Zoe. Though, knowing Grant, he'd dive into the conversation as well. So Frank goes out and has a cigarette.

When he comes back in, Tyler and Dallon are in a knot with Ales and Zoe, and Grant and Gerard are chatting again.

"It's like Frank's tattoos," Gerard says, gesturing as Frank walks up. "They're art.”

Frank has no idea what conversation he walked into, but he can't help but beam. "Thanks."

"This one, especially," Gerard says, catching Frank's wrist and turning his arm so he can get a better look at the Lady. "Are you Catholic?"

Frank freezes. When you have tattoos - as many tattoos as Frank - you sort of get used to people forgetting the whole personal space thing. And Frank’s always been a touchy-feely kind of guy, with his friends at least. But his brain is seriously misreading this situation all of a sudden and it takes a moment of quick work to make himself answer the question. He shoots a quick look at Grant first, but Grant doesn’t seem to notice anything is up.

Nothing is up. “I, ah, grew up that way, yeah. Catholic school and everything. Not so much, anymore, but it’s still - she’s still -”

Gerard smiles. “I get it. I’m in the same boat. I had a friend look at some of the shoots in my portfolio recently and just start laughing. He’s Brazilian, so, you know - ” He waves his hands around. “And he says to me, “‘The guilt is forever, yes?’ It was totally a joke, but.”

Frank can’t help smiling back. “Yeah. I like to think the Frankenstein monster balances it out.” He bends his other arm at the elbow, and Gerard leans in for a closer look.

“Rad,” he says. His breath feathers along Frank’s bicep. “Dude, I saw the Black Flag tat and the anchor, and you know, Jersey. But is that the Banner logo?”

“Fucking yeah,” Frank says.

“You’re my new favorite person,” Gerard tells him.

“As I should be,” Frank replies with a smirk. He looks to Grant, who tugs him back against his side. “I should be everyone’s favorite person,” Frank tells Grant.

“You’re certainly mine,” Grant replies easily. Frank breathes out and leans against him.

Tyler and Dallon wander back over after a minute and Frank watches Gerard's attention shift back to Dallon. He supposes Dallon is nice enough. And Tyler seems smitten, which he deserves. Something isn't sitting quite right with Frank, but he can't figure out what. The only thing he can think of is that he's jealous, which doesn't make any sense because he and Tyler never dated and Frank didn't even want to, not really.

Frank goes home with Grant again after the show. He realizes in the cab on the way that he’s starting to call it “home” in his own head, and the thought makes him twitchy. He tries to distract himself by bringing up the show, but that just makes him remember weird, distracting things about Gerard’s hands - warm, steady - and Tyler and Dallon’s totally mismatched styles, and some guy who’d elbowed him out on the floor, and god, he’s restless. Grant seems tired; he’s not really talking as much as he usually does. Frank bites all the dry skin off his lips by the time they get home.

Home. Fuck it, it is. He feels a little better as soon as they walk in the door and toe off their shoes, but when Grant goes to feed Alfred Frank just walks over to the window and stares out at the skyline. This is a really fucking nice apartment, with its little loft and the balcony that’s tiny, but has a great fucking view. Frank’s place is nowhere near this nice. He knows Grant does pretty well, between the shop and his writing, and he’s pretty sure there’s some sort of family money, too, and he’s back to twitchy again.

Grant comes and joins him, and the hand on his shoulder makes Frank jump. "Both of us need to relax," Grant says. He shifts his hand to clasp Frank’s and leads Frank down the hall and into the bathroom, not the bedroom. Frank wrinkles his nose a bit. He’s totally cool with them taking a bath together. They’ve certainly showered together before. But he wasn’t expecting - “Strip, Frank,” Grant tells him when he hesitates.

Frank knows that tone. It’s an order. He can deal with orders. He pulls off his t-shirt - still vaguely sweaty, and okay, a shower will actually feel fucking amazing - and wriggles out of his jeans and underwear and socks. He folds them and makes a neat little pile on the sink. When he looks up at Grant, Grant nods. “Undress me,” he says, quieter. "Then you're going to -"

Frank interrupts, "Wash your back?" His lips turn up in a tiny grin.

Grant doesn’t smile back exactly, but his voice is calm and fond. "Yes, and everything else."

Frank undresses Grant like he’s supposed to, taking his time - but not too much time. Grant’s eyes never leave his face. He gets the shower running and and turns on all the fancy spray nozzles while Grant waits. "Okay," Frank says when everything is just right.

Grant steps in. Frank hesitates on the bath mat for a moment and Grant says, "I think you'll need to join me in here." Frank smiles a little sheepishly and steps in. He grabs Grant's washcloth and soap and gets to work. He starts on Grant's back, which makes him laugh a little. Frank grins to himself in response and kisses a non-soapy spot on Grant’s shoulder. The longer he works, the easier it is to focus on the task.

Grant, for his part, closes his eyes and stays mostly still, only moving when Frank needs him to. Frank soaps up every inch thoroughly. He spends a lot of time just rubbing the tension out of Grant's muscles, spending extra time on his back and shoulders and thighs.

"That feels wonderful," Grant tells him quietly.

"You've been tense. I didn't notice," Frank answers guiltily.

"It's nothing. A few late nights this week when you weren't here."

Frank frowns. Grant sleeps well enough when Frank’s with him. He shifts around, rubs harder over Grant’s neck and collarbones. He gentles his touch across Grant's stomach and cock. Grant is half-hard, but he doesn't tell Frank to do anything, so Frank keeps going until Grant is clean from head to toe.

"That was good," Grant tells him, sitting down on the shower bench. "Now the razor." His lips quirk in a little smile.

Frank swallows hard, and rubs a hand over Grant's head and down his chin. "You are getting pretty stubbly." He's a little less sure about this, but he's seen Grant shave enough times that he's pretty sure he has his process down. He starts with Grant's scalp, smoothing on a layer of foam and picking up Grant's razor, following the curves of Grant's skull with slow, delicate strokes and rinsing after each pass. Grant keeps his eyes open this time, watching Frank's face. Frank probably looks silly. He keeps catching himself with his tongue caught between his teeth, like that's helping him to not slice up Grant's head or something. Finally he finishes and smooths his fingertips over Grant's skull, checking for rough spots.

There aren't any, and Grant makes a pleased noise in his throat. "Face too," he says huskily. Frank lathers up Grant's cheeks, cupping them in his hands and just looking at Grant for a moment. His stomach does a stupid little flip and he feels himself smile. Grant reaches up to grasp Frank's wrists and smiles back. "Careful now," Grant murmurs.

"Of course," Frank says, and leans over to kiss Grant's forehead. He pulls back and gets the razor in hand and starts on Grant's neck. He's just as careful as before. Slow and steady. Frank's getting hard, too, even though the water has started to cool; he shivers a little but his hands stay steady. He finishes, shuts off the water, and grabs Grant's towel from the rack. He starts at Grant's head and works down, nudging Grant to stand and come out of the shower so he can dry his lower half. He kneels for that, and Grant runs his fingers through Frank's wet hair. "Dry yourself off now, darling."

Frank obeys quickly and Grant takes his hand again and leads him into the bedroom. Grant pulls Frank straight into bed and runs his hands up and down Frank's arms. It's warm under the covers, but sleep doesn’t seem to be the plan, not anymore. Frank runs his hands all over Grant's head and cheeks, feeling the rasp of his own fingertips over the smooth skin again, Grant leans in and kisses him softly. Slowly. Frank relaxes into Grant, relishes the warmth and the solid feel of his body. And then Grant slides his hand up Frank's shoulder and back down, over the curve of his hip and around, wrapping his hand around Frank's cock.

Frank makes a pleased noise, but puts his hand over Grant's wrist. "I thought - I was supposed to be -"

"You did exactly what I wanted you to do. Now it's my turn to take care of you," Grant murmurs, dragging his thumb over the head of Frank's cock.

"Okay," Frank breathes. He runs his hands up Grant's chest, links his fingers behind Grant's neck. Grant leans down and kisses him, moving his hand slowly on Frank's cock.

Frank can't keep his eyes open for the life of him. Grant pulls away from his lips, but moves to whisper in his ear as he works his hand up and down Frank's shaft, "You are always so good. Doing precisely as I ask. I want you to have everything you want."

"I want you," Frank says, head tilting back against the pillows as Grant kisses his throat. Grant kisses across his clavicles, takes Frank's nipple in his mouth and sucks, working his hand faster. "Fuck," Frank says, and moves his own hand down to wrap around Grant's cock. He knows the speed and pressure Grant likes, and he soon has Grant murmuring his name into the skin of his chest. Grant's teeth tug at Frank's nipple and his hand twists and Frank gasps. "So good," Frank groans, pushing his hips up, thrusting his cock further into Grant's hand. He’s losing it now, things behind his eyes going red and flashing and his spine tightening in anticipation.

"Always, darling, always. Come for me now." Frank thrusts harder into Grant's hand a couple more times and comes, gasping Grant's name, his own hand still on Grant's cock. Grant keeps moving, flexing his hips until Frank pulls it back together long enough to tighten his grip and speed up. He braces a hand next to Frank's chest and drops his head down to mouth at Frank's shoulder again.

Frank cups the back of Grant's neck in his hand and moves the other just how Grant likes it, uses his hand to pull back the foreskin and strokes the head of Grant's cock with his thumb. "Love touching you so fucking much."

"Yes," Grant groans. "I don't let you enough. Not like tonight. Keep going."

"Not gonna stop until you come or you tell me to," Frank whispers. Grant's hips start moving faster, thrusting into Frank's hand. Frank moves his hand up the back of Grant's head and Grant mouths back up Frank's chest to his lips, kissing him again.

Frank slides his thumb over the head of Grant's cock one more time and Grant comes all over Frank's belly, moaning against his lips. He starts kissing Frank harder after he gets his breath back, the sort of long, thorough kisses that make Frank feel crazy with need in the build-up and completely wonderful and relaxed afterwards.

Grant reaches down and takes Frank's hand, pulling it up to his mouth and kissing his knuckles. He licks away his own come, eyes on Frank's. Frank moans and loses himself in Grant's kisses for a few moments before rolling out of bed to get a washcloth to clean them up.

He dresses himself in clean sweats and a t-shirt and grabs Grant's favored briefs and pajama pants on his way back to bed. Grant's watching him, looking sleepy, sated, and content. Frank runs the damp cloth over his body, cleans up the mess he made and leans over to kiss Grant lightly before moving down to help Grant into his nightclothes. When Grant's hips are settled back onto the bed, Frank slides on top of him. Frank tucks his head under Grant's chin and Grant wraps his arms around Frank tightly.

"Tonight was different. But in a good way," Frank says quietly.

Grant kisses the top of his head and tightens his arms around Frank. "I agree."

*

They day of his birthday, Frank is working. He probably could have wrangled the day off, but with Alicia out of town at a Way family function, it's just easier for everyone and he doesn't mind at all. It's a pretty quiet day. They get a few people coming in looking for last minute costume pieces. Frank's happy to help the serious ones and happier still to shoo the ones looking for a cheap Sexy Costume out the door.

Dallon comes in mid-afternoon to take Tyler out for coffee for his afternoon break.

"Hey, Frank," he says.

"Hey, man. Tyler should be out here in a second, he was just grabbing his bag from the back," Frank says.

"Thanks," Dallon replies. When Tyler emerges from the back room, he beams and kisses Dallon in greeting. Frank doesn't feel a thing. So. Not jealous because of Tyler.

He thinks about it the entire time Tyler is gone on his break and the only thing he can come up with is that the only times he felt really weird about Dallon's presence was when he was talking to Gerard. He's not sure what that means and he doesn't have time to try to figure it out because then Tyler is back and Frank needs to go do the online orders for the day.

"Yo, birthday boy!" Tyler calls through the door to the back room a little while later. "You've got a package up here to sign for."

Frank puts down the leather harness he was about to box and comes out. There's a bike messenger looking impatient, holding a thin package wrapped in brown paper.

Frank signs and pulls the envelope taped to the package off and reads the note inside: Hi Frank! Sorry I had to be out of town for your birthday dinner! Halloween for a birthday is awesome, though. Here's some things I pulled from my files that made me think of you. xoxo g

Frank tears into the paper and pulls out a mat with two prints in it. One of them is a shot of a tombstone, but from a viewpoint that’s clearly underground.

"Oooh, cool," Tyler breathes over his shoulder.

"What'd he do, sneak into a cemetery just after they dug a grave? Christ. He's lucky he didn't get arrested," Frank says with a laugh. It's fucking awesome.

"You would know," Tyler says.

Frank laughs. "Yeah, it's true. So many nights of my adolescence spent in or around cemeteries."

The other print is someone's shadow against a wall that's been tagged with bright, multi-colored graffiti. Next to the graffiti, the shadow looks like it's melting a dark hole in the wall. "Awesome," Frank breathes.

"Totally," Tyler says. "Speaking of your birthday, finish the order so we can close up and go to dinner. Grant's meeting us there, yeah?"

"Yeah," Frank says absently and wanders back, still staring at his gift. It's a completely amazing gift and he thinks maybe that might be weird coming from someone he basically just met, but he and Gerard hit it off so well, it doesn't feel weird.

*

Dinner with just the shop family and a couple more close friends is great, but he has to laugh and preen a little bit when he walks into the joint birthday party for him and Alicia to cheers. Then there is a round of back slapping and hugs for Frank as they start greeting people. Frank heads straight to Alicia and gives her a hug and kiss. They grin at each other. "Next year, we're having the party on your birthday. I want a costume party," she declares.

"Deal. Though I'm not the one whose boyfriend had to go out of town on Halloween," he teases.

Alicia makes a face. "What did you and Grant end up doing, or don't I want to know?"

"We just went out to dinner. We were gonna go to Mistress Kristan's Halloween party, but, um, we didn't even make it out the door. So no. You probably don't want to know." Frank grins at her unrepentantly.

She laughs. "Well, I'm sure you had a good time, anyway."

"Who's here?" he asks, linking their arms. She's being nice and letting him drag her around.

"Pretty much everyone. If they're not here yet, they will be soon. I haven’t even seen Zoe, but I think Ales caught Gerard when he came in the door." She giggles. "He's probably expounding on some political thing or another."

"Are you sure it's not just comics?"

"Could be. It's a toss-up with him. I saw Mistress Kristan come in a bit ago. Oh! And your friend, Hambone. He's here somewhere."

"And the important question is -"

"Drinks in the kitchen. Follow me."

Alicia hands him a beer from the fridge and pops open her own and they go back out into the main room. They're both greeted and wished happy birthday by several people and then Gerard apparently escapes from Ales' clutches because he's in front of Frank grinning and wishing him a happy birthday.

"Gerard! How was the golden wedding thing?" Frank asks, because he hasn’t actually seen Mikey since they came back either.

Gerard rolls his eyes, but he's smiling. "Lots of old people. I got pinched a lot."

Frank waits a beat, then looks him up and down and says, "And that's different than your normal day, how?" Gerard honks out a laugh and Frank can practically hear Alicia roll her eyes, but whatever. "Thanks for the gift, man," Frank says when they're done laughing.

Gerard waves a hand. "Seemed appropriate. Did you like it?"

"Fuck, dude, it's amazing. I hung it in my apartment as soon as I got it home," Frank replies, beaming. He feels Grant wrap around him, hands encircling his waist, and Frank laces their fingers together over his belly.

"He propped it up on the counter all day, too. It's too bad you weren't there to see his face," Grant tells Gerard.

Disappointment flickers over Gerard's face for a moment. "I wish I could have been," Gerard says. "The cheek pinching and asking if LA changed me got old."

"Did LA change you?" Alicia needles with a grin, then someone calls her name and she grimaces. "Ugh never mind, gotta go." She squeezes Frank’s forearm and vanishes into a crowd of people.

"Did it?" Frank asks after a moment.

Gerard rolls his eyes and huffs dramatically, but answers anyway. "It changed me in ways my old relatives probably wouldn't approve of, but I feel like my own person now, so I think it was positive on the whole. I don't think it changed me in the cliche ways everyone always talks about when they talk about LA."

"Tell me what changes your old relatives wouldn't approve of," Grant says, amused.

Gerard laughs. "Well, the whole fetish photography thing is a pretty big one. It never even occurred to me before I moved out there."

"That must be an interesting story," Frank says. "Like me finding my job on Craigslist." Grant laughs quietly in his ear and nuzzles him.

Gerard giggles. "It's less interesting than you'd think. A friend who's in the scene was putting together a zine and I owed her a favor. And then she asked again for the next issue and I shrugged and said yes and got paid for it that time."

"You kept doing it though. Why? I'm sure fashion work pays better," Grant asks.

"Personal interest," Gerard says after a moment of hesitation.

"I thought you didn't play," Frank says.

"I don't play often, no. I'm... interested for a lot of reasons. Anyway, so much of the stuff I see focuses on capturing the scene, capturing the act. I wanted to capture the people."

"I think that's your secret," Grant muses. "Real individuality."

Gerard smiles brightly. "I'm glad you think so. That's why I try to use people who actually play over models even when it's not an actual scene that I'm photographing. Someone who isn't part of the scene never has quite the right look in their eyes." Frank meets Gerard's eyes for a second. He looks particularly intense. Frank represses a thrill and an urge to lick his lips. He runs his hand through his hair instead. Grant kisses his temple and squeezes him tighter. "So yeah. I'm seriously thrilled you think all that translates. I think it's important, you know?"

"I do know," Grant says. "I agree, but I'm sure that doesn't surprise you."

"No," Gerard answers, then turns to hug someone who calls his name as they walk by.

Frank blinks. He'd nearly forgotten the party going on around them. Truth be told, he'd rather keep talking to Gerard and Grant. "Was it always photography?" he asks.

"I went to SVA for cartooning, actually. Wanted to make comics. Photography was something that was suppose to be supplemental income while I got my foot in the door in the comics industry." He shrugs. "It's all worked out fine."

"You have made a remarkable photography career for yourself," Grant says and Gerard beams, flushing a little bit.

Frank’s still stuck on the comics thing. "Best superhero," he says. "Go."

Gerard thinks for a few moments and then says, "Daredevil."

Frank eyes him. "I suppose it could have been worse."

"What?" Gerard demands, eyes sparkling. "Mikey and I have loved him since we were kids. He's awesome."

"I'm not saying he's not good. Just... Batman's better," Frank says.

Gerard laughs. "This is an argument we'll never end if we start it now."

"But it's a fun one," Frank replies.

Gerard laughs. "Yeah, it can be. Depends on who you're talking to. Some comics fans are terrifying about their opinions."

“I’ve met quite a few SVA students and faculty over the years,” Grant comments.

“Is it different, going to college in the city?” Frank asks.

Gerard laughs and scratches his head. "Sometimes it was exactly like all the cliches say it is. But most of the time it was fuckin' college, man."

"I hear that," Frank answers. "Rutgers was fuckin' college, only less New York City, more New Brunswick." He pauses. "If I do go back, I'm not sure where it'll be."

"Wherever you want," Grant says immediately. "We'll sort it out." Grant had listened to Frank talk nonstop about grad school one weekend a few weeks ago, until Frank had realized he was driving himself crazy and bookmarked the sites to look at one at a time. Frank turns his head up and kisses Grant quickly.

"What would you go back for?" Gerard asks.

Frank laughs. "No idea. It's just something I've been thinking about."

"What was your major?" Gerard asks.

"I have a degree in psychology. Total BS make-my-mom-happy stuff, if you ask me. When I graduated, grad school wasn't something I wanted to pursue and I couldn't afford it anyway so I got an equally BS job. Kept me in Converse and concert tickets while it lasted. Now..." he shrugs.

"Now he's working at a sex shop and wondering where he went wrong in life," Grant says teasingly.

Frank has to twist around look up at him, see his face. Make sure he's truly joking.

"I love my job," he tells Grant seriously, just in case, and turns back to Gerard. “Some of my friends think it’s weird, that I picked a sex shop over, like, Guitar Center. But it’s really fucking interesting, and I love talking to all the customers and I’ve basically read all the manuals we stock cover to cover. I'm just not sure it's what I want to do long-term yet. Maybe it is. Or maybe I'll go back to school and become a social worker or some shit. I honestly don't have a clue at this point, but I’m really good at helping people pick the perfect harness!" He winks.

"Hey, that works," Gerard says, smiling.

"Well, it works for now at any rate," Frank says with a dry chuckle. “Alicia is totally where I got the grad school idea, but Zoe is like...Grant’s right hand woman, and they both seem pretty happy with things. So...” He trails off, but Gerard nods.

“I totally get it, yeah.”

While Grant is getting them more drinks in the kitchen, Mikey comes by. Frank slings an arm around his waist and says, "You've got a cool brother, Mikey Way."

Mikey smirks smugly. "I know. This is what I've been saying."

Gerard beams at Mikey.

"See? Aren't you glad you came back?" Mikey asks Gerard. "You get to meet cool people."

Gerard rolls his eyes, but he's still smiling. "Yes, you were right. Jesus. Gotta say, Frankie might be my favorite, though."

"You're just saying that because it's my birthday." Frank bites his lip, trying to hold in his smile. Grant comes back, runs a thumb over Frank's mouth, tugging his lip from between his teeth, and hands Frank his beer with a kiss to his temple.

Frank drinks just enough to tip him over into buzzed, and loses track of time somewhere between Kristan tugging Grant off for a chat and someone handing him a guitar. The rest of the evening is a pleasant blur, but eventually he finds himself back in Grant’s bed, with Grant kissing Frank slow and lazy.

"It was nice to talk to Gerard for a while tonight," Grant comments between kisses.

"You're talking about this now?" Frank asks, even as he tips his head so Grant can suck his earlobe.

"You'd rather I didn't?"

"Well, it just seems like a strange time to bring up another guy," Frank says.

"Mmm. Or the perfect time. I saw how you reacted to him."

Frank pulls back. "Okay, I can't tell what you're saying. I mean, yes, I think he's awesome. And hot, but... are you upset about that?"

"Are you forgetting our agreement?" Frank remembers that part of the checklist well. He’d looked over at Grant and waved his pen helplessly, and Grant had just said, “Answer honestly, but we’ll talk about it more if we ever have reason to.” Grant for his part doesn't sound concerned about it now.

"Of course not," Frank says emphatically, leaning in to nuzzle Grant's cheek. "You think I'd forget this quickly?"

"Then I'd hardly be upset that you admired our friend Mr. Way."

"Okay," Frank murmurs, kissing down Grant's jaw. "Because I might admire him, but I'm here kissing you."

"And doing such a good job of it, too."

Frank smiles into Grant's neck; he can't help it. He moves back up to Grant's lips. "Do I get a reward?"

"I believe I can arrange something of that nature," Grant murmurs against his lips and rolls over on top of him, fingers wrapping around Frank’s wrists and holding them over his head. Frank moans. "What was that, darling?"

"Hold me down," Frank gasps.

"Do you want me to use anything to help me do so? Or do you want just my body?" Grant moves his hips slowly against Frank's.

"Just you, please, please," Frank begs. Grant nuzzles his neck and tightens his hold on Frank's wrists.

"You can have me. If you don't squirm."

"I won't, I'll be so good, the best," Frank insists. "Anything you want."

"I want your voice. I want you to tell me exactly how I'm making you feel." Still holding Frank's wrists, he kisses down Frank's neck and nips at the skin under his ear, rolling their hips together.

"Fuck," Frank gasps. "So good. Every inch. Like... you're trying to set all my nerves on fire. In a good way, the best way."

"Oh, I am," Grant murmurs, leaning down to suck at Frank's collarbones. Frank moans when Grant bites down and twitches ever so slightly. "Don't move," Grant reminds him in a whisper. "No, I’ve changed my mind. Grab the headboard, darling."

Grant releases Frank's wrists and he reaches behind him, grabbing on tight and looking up at Grant. "Now what?" he asks breathlessly.

"I keep playing, and you keep talking." Grant lets his lips trail back downwards. He kisses his way down Frank's torso, then settles with his thighs bracketing Frank's hips. His weight holding Frank there feels amazing, and Frank says so. Grant smiles and leans over and rifles through one of the toy drawers, then holds up a pair of nipple clamps for Frank to see.

"Fuck, Grant," Frank says and bites his lip.

"Do you know you bite your lip when you're flirting? You did that a lot tonight. With Gerard." Grant reaches out and runs his thumb over Frank's mouth until he releases his lip.

"I... I'm..." Frank takes Grant's thumb in his mouth and sucks.

"I like watching you be charming like that," Grant murmurs. "You're beautiful."

Frank moans, tries not to squirm. Grant's making him feel so many things. And then he leans over and starts murmuring more nonsense in Frank's ear. His chest isn't quite touching Frank's, but he can feel the heat. He’s so distracted that he misses Grant opening the first clamp until he feels it touch his skin. His groan is loud in his own ears. Grant smirks and rubs Frank's other nipple, tweaking it just a bit before clipping on the second clamp. Frank hisses. God, he loves that feeling. Then Grant starts talking again.

"I like watching you do other things too. I saw you once, you know. At Kristan's. Your wrists were tied behind your back and you were sucking cock like you were born for it."

All the breath leaves Frank and he has to haul in a deep breath just to answer. "You saw that?"

"I did. I was so angry that top didn't savor you, reward you as he should have," Grant whispers. “You deserve to get exactly what you want.” He tugs on the chain between the nipple clamps. Frank can't stop himself from arching and gasping.

"Behave," Grant reminds him. "Whether I'm touching you or not, I'm still watching." Frank moans. He never once imagined how good that would feel.

"Sorry. You. The... you make me feel so fucking," Grant tugs on the chain again. "So fucking amazing."

Grant runs his fingers lightly over Frank's chest, runs one down Frank's sternum and lets it pull down on the chain just a little bit. Just enough to make Frank shiver. Grant keeps going, fingers trailing over Frank's stomach, teases at his hips, then wraps a hand around Frank's cock. Frank only just manages to keep still, to keep from arching up into the touch. Instead, he begs, "Please, Grant. More."

Grant slides his hand slowly up and down Frank's shaft. "Why?"

"Because." Frank gasps when Grant flicks his thumb over the head of Frank's cock. "Because it feels so fucking good. Because I can't… fuck."

Grant stops the hand moving on Frank's cock and reaches up with the other, pulling on the chain, a steady pressure that makes Frank swallow hard.

"Please," he repeats.

Grant starts moving his hand again, keeping up pressure on the chain then releasing it only to start tugging again. He varies the pressure. Sometimes short, sharp tugs, sometimes light ones, sometimes long and steady, all the while working Frank's cock with his other hand. Frank is to the point that he doesn't even need to remind himself not to move. He's paralyzed with so much sensation.

"You are incredible like this," Grant murmurs. He pulls hard on the chain and flicks his thumb over the head of Frank's cock again and says lazily, “Now,” and Frank is coming into Grant's hand and all over his own thighs and belly.

Grant puts a finger in his mouth and sucks off the come there, then wipes his hand through the rest of the mess and wraps it around his own cock.

"Grant," Frank moans. "Jesus, you're so fucking hot." Frank watches as Grant jerks himself off. After a few good strokes, Grant grabs Frank's hand and wraps it around his cock, his other hand periodically reaching out to give the chain a little tug, just to remind Frank it’s there, he's sure.

Frank works Grant's cock, using his fingers, his thumb, to make Grant's breath start coming more quickly until he finally moans and comes, adding to the mess on Frank's belly. Grant reaches down and trails his hand through the mess again. But this time he leans forward and raises it to Frank's face.

Frank obediently licks it off, sucking each of Grant's fingers.

Grant rolls out of bed and pads quietly into the bathroom. Frank hears the water switch on and off and Grant's back, gently cleaning him up, and finally removing the clamps carefully from his nipples. It throbs, but Frank likes it. Likes the reminder of what just happened.

"Perhaps it's a terrible cliche, but you're the best thing to happen to me in a very long time," Grant murmurs.

"Kiss me now," Frank says, begs really. He's always begging for more, with Grant. He can't get enough.

"Happily," Grant says and leans toward Frank, covering Frank's lips with his. He starts slow, sweet, and quickly gets intense, using teeth and tongue to drive Frank insane.

"You should always be kissing me," Frank mutters against his lips. "You should have been kissing me from the first day."

"I wanted to," Grant says, hauling Frank on top of him. "I wanted to kiss you as you looked wide-eyed at the photography in my office."

"I wish you had," Frank says whispers, kissing across his cheekbones.

"No you don't. You needed to explore."

"I did. I spent months exploring. And I still want to," Frank tells him. "Just, with you. And you're still showing me new things. Like tonight."

"How about I tell you something new as well?" Grant asks.

Frank smiles up at him, full of curiosity, "What?"

Grant leans close. "I love you," he whispers in Frank's ear. Frank sucks in a breath and buries his face in Grant's neck for a second before pulling back and looking him in the eye. Grant reaches out and pets his hair, runs his fingers through it and cups Frank's cheeks. "I love you," he repeats.

Frank beams at him, he can't quite find his voice for a second. "I love you too. So much."

Grant smiles too and Frank leans up to kiss him, but they're both smiling so much, they mostly just grin against each other's mouths for a few moments.

The next morning, they have a quiet breakfast together of eggs and toast and coffee. It's wonderful. Frank can't help but rub his nipples over his t-shirt a few times, the ache from last night's activities still present.

Neither of them have to work, so they take fresh cups of coffee into the living room, sit on the sofa, and read. Frank gets engrossed in his book and it takes him a while to notice Grant is really just watching him fondly.

"Move in with me," Grant says and then adds, "That's a request, not an order."

Frank laughs. He can't help it. "I know that, you weirdo. Orders are for play time. Really?"

"Laughter is not quite the response I was looking for. Yes, really," Grant says crankily. Frank can tell he's joking, though.

He very carefully bookmarks his spot and places his book on the coffee table before crawling down the sofa and into Grant's lap.

"Yes," Frank says, cupping Grant's cheeks. "Please."