Mikey figured, once the paperwork was done, the hard part would be over. After all, private religious schools weren't exactly tolerant, and he had to register under a sex that didn't match his birth certificate and get uniforms to match. But Donna Way was a force to be reckoned with, and principals cowered in her path. It was pretty cool.
And then the bullying started.
It wasn't about Mikey. Mostly. It was that Mikey was in Gerard's sphere, and Ray's, and Frank's. They stirred shit, and Mikey was collateral damage. Not a big deal. He'd take some ketchup on his glasses if he got to see Gee not dress out for PE and Frank prank the shit out of the preps and Ray chew on his pencils (okay, that one bothered him a little).
But then he found Ray and Gerard in the boys' bathroom between classes, Gerard pinching a paper towel over his nose.
"--expect me to do?"
"I don't know," Ray said, crossing his arms over his chest. "Back off?"
Gerard scowled. "Fuck that. They called him a fag."
"They did?" Mikey asked, stepping forward.
"No way," Gerard said quickly, tossing his wad of bloody paper in the trash. His nose looked puffy and swollen. "I was just--"
"What did they say?"
Gerard grabbed the sink and looked away. Ray sighed and said, "They asked him if he kept his hair long because he was a fag."
Like his brother. Ray didn't have to finish it.
Mikey stepped forward and leaned against the tile wall. "So? You don't think being gay is a bad thing."
"No, of course not!" Gerard went pale. Paler, anyway. "But they thought it was."
"Gerard thought it would be a good time to talk about their language." Ray laughed a little.
Mikey rolled his eyes. "They punched you because of that?"
"And that...how did you say it?"
Blood started trickling out of Gerard's nose again. "Homophobic language usually means homosexual tendencies."
Mikey laughed and grabbed a handful of towels. "You still have blood on your nose."
Wrapping every day sucked.
Mikey got special permission to change in a bathroom stall for PE, so it's not like anyone ever saw his bindings. But his asthma always flared up when he exercised, and not being able to expand his chest all the way meant he needed extra time while he was changing back to his regular uniform to use his inhaler and wait for his lungs to open up. It wouldn't be an issue if he didn't have his boobs, but he'd started on his hormones too late. And then Gerard had needed private school to get away from the bullies he'd been dealing with (never mind that he got new ones), and Mikey transferred so he could get a new start, and there just wasn't money for surgery or anything.
So he changed alone and wheezed alone. Until, one day, he wasn't alone.
"Way," one of the jocks said, knocking on the stall door. Mikey grabbed the sides like he could stop whatever was about to happen. "Why don't you come out of there?"
"Because," Mikey said helpfully.
A hand snatched his clothes from the bottom of the stall, and a few seconds later, he heard a toilet flush. Laughter rang on the tiles, was drowned out for a moment by the sounds of students in the hallways, and disappeared entirely.
Mikey took a breath and opened the stall door. No one was there.
He went to the stall where his clothes got flushed and huffed a breath. At least they'd only gotten his gym clothes.
Frank was an awesome boyfriend.
He started out as an awesome hook-up who would come from a basement gaming session with Gerard buzzed and horny. He'd drape himself behind Mikey, press his boner against his ass, and mutter dirty things in Mikey's ear, his breath hot and toxic. And he really knew how to use his tongue.
But the awesome came from the first time, when Mikey said, "Nothing below the waist", and Frank not only listened, but he didn't stop or pause or say anything. He just moved his hands up, and Mikey jerked him off, and it was fucking rad.
After a few times like that, and Frank came over to do it sober, Mikey asked, "Are we, like, a thing now?" And Frank had grinned and said, "Fuck yeah," and went back to grinding against him.
After they'd both come, Mikey told him what he hadn't been saying. Frank said, "Explains why you're never hard," and they went for round two.
The only snag was when Frank tried to drag him out by the pool to make out, and when Mikey said no, Frank said, "Is it because...you know..." And Mikey had stomped off after shoving him because fuck, he thought Frank knew better.
Frank apologized by bringing a pair of stinky white briefs in a pair of tongs to Mikey's house after school.
"Thanks?" Mikey said.
Frank pinched his nose with his free hand and said, "These are Dirk Anderson's. Feel like running them up the flagpole with me?"
Mikey kind of did - he'd flushed Mikey's clothes every day for a week until Mikey had figured out to drape them off the back of the toilet when he changed - so he walked back to the school with him.
Frank didn't say anything besides "sorry" as they walked along, so Mikey finally caved and said, "I hate PDA."
"Makes me lose my boner."
Frank laughed as they clipped the briefs to the rope, and when they pulled the whole thing up, they watched it flap in the breeze.
It wasn't until the guys started talking senior pranks, croquet mallets slung over their shoulders, that Mikey realized he'd be alone next year. Frank was his age, so it was easy to forget he'd ended up doing enough solo work when he was sick as a kid that he skipped a year or two.
It'd be easier in some ways. All the asshole bullies were graduating, and Mikey was quiet enough and old enough that the underclassmen and the others his age would leave him alone. But he was also losing the only guys who really knew him, and that sucked. Hard.
"Can I help?" Mikey asked.
Frank rolled his eyes, Gerard beamed, and Ray pulled him in for a hug.
The bell rang, and Mikey bumped the Walkman clipped to his side as he got his backpack. He had just the thing in mind.