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Strays

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Frank's curled up on the couch with his Kindle. It's pretty much the best place in the world; there's lot of light, and whenever he and Gerard get a dog, there'll be room for it to snuggle, even if it's big. Frank is pretty fond of small dogs, so it's likely any snuggling will be on his feet or chest or whatever, but the possibility's awesome.

And okay, it's also great when Gerard comes over and starts running his hands all over Frank. And when he climbs on top of him and licks Frank's tattoos. And when he gets on his knees, yanks Frank's jeans down, and starts mouthing at his cock while humming happily. Maybe it makes Frank's neck ache to be shoved against the sofa's arm, but it's always worth it.

Today, Gerard has dried paint on his hands, and that's not his usual style; he's generally a markers kind of guy. But it adds just a hint of roughness to his fingers, and when he drags his hands over Frank's ass, Frank arches into the touch. Gerard's eyes flutter up—and fuck, his mouth, all stretched and red. Frank manages a wordless warning, and he comes not long after Gerard switches to his hand, splashing Gerard's cheek with his spunk.

Frank laughs in a gasp, brushing sweat off his forehead. "Where the fuck did that come from?"

Gerard kisses him as he wipes his own face, and Frank catches a touch of saltiness on his tongue, either from sweat or come or both. "Can't blow you much on tour," he says, his voice a little rough. "I like doing it."

"I like you doing it, too." Frank runs his hands through Gerard's messy hair, and Gerard laughs and pulls back.

"And I have to go to the store, but I was putting it off."

Frank snorts. "Love you, too."

Gerard pushes to his feet and adjusts his jeans. "You need anything? We've got enough for dinner, right?"

"Think so," Frank says. He pushes up, grabs his Kindle, and walks with bare feet across the tile until he hits the kitchen. They're going to pull up all the carpet in the next couple weeks so they won't have to worry about dog hair and house training and crap, but fuck, he's going to have get slippers or something. He pulls open the cabinets and, after a cursory glance, closes them again. "Yeah, I've got all the stuff for vegetarian chili. Think I'm out of toothpaste, though."

Gerard looks away.

Frank shuts the cabinet with a snap. "You used up my toothpaste again?"

"It's good!" Gerard says. "I like the minty stuff."

"Then stop buying the gross orange crap."

"It's not gross."

"It's orange. Orange is an unnatural flavor."

Gerard laughs, dorky and loud. "Orange? Is unnatural?"

Frank crosses his arms. "The way they put it in toothpaste? Yeah."

Gerard laughs even louder, ducking his head. Frank very carefully sets his Kindle on the counter and tackles Gerard to the ground, tickling his sides. Gerard tries to push him away, but he's never been able to take Frank on, size be damned.

"And just for that," Frank says when Gerard stops struggling, "I'm not going to the store with you."

Gerard gives him big eyes and a pouty lip, but Frank turns up his head. "Nope. You used my toothpaste—my superior fucking toothpaste—and mocked me. I think I'd rather read about vampires, thank you."

"Oh." Gerard's eyebrows rise a little. "Which vampires?"

"The ones in that Guillermo del Toro book."

"Fuck yeah. You know it's a trilogy, right?"

"Seriously? I'll have to...oh no." Frank climbs off Gerard and grabs his Kindle again. "No distracting me. Go ransack Whole Foods, and maybe I'll forgive you."

Gerard gives him the finger, and Frank gives him kissy lips back. But Gerard pecks him on the cheek and murmurs, "Love you" in his ear, so it's all good.

"Yeah, yeah," Frank says, but he adds an "I love you too" loudly just as Gerard grins and rounds the corner, so he's not a complete asshole. Just mostly one.

-

By the time Gerard finishes shopping and fills up the trunk of the car, the sun has set and an unpleasant drizzle has descended, much to Gerard’s annoyance. He slumps a little and digs his cigarettes out of his pocket. He could smoke on the way home, and doing it in the rain seems like an adequate “fuck you” to the weather.

He backs away from the store a little—Whole Foods shoppers give him more shit about smoking than anyone else he's ever run into—and moves toward the side, where a security light's blinking on and off. It'd almost be creepy if he wasn't in the middle of a city with other stores and lights and driving cars nearby, and if the clouds weren't glowing kind of pink overhead.

Except... Gerard flicks his lighter open and closed a couple times as he takes a drag. Maybe it's actually creepier with people and light around. All his favorite horror stories started with dark moors or forest or snowy towns in Alaska. He's not a big fan of going outside, but he wasn't raised to be scared of nature itself. Nature doesn’t spontaneously sprout hypodermic needles. Nature doesn’t dump bodies in the river. Maybe it was scarier to think of someone hiding in a shadow, waiting like a spider waits for prey for just the right opportunity to strike.

Gerard laughs to himself, exhaling a stream of smoke into the wet air. God. He can't take a five minute smoke break without psyching himself out.

At least Frank takes him seriously. The last time he mused about zombies breaking out of a hospital—The Walking Dead show is nearly as brilliant as the comic—Frank listened to him ponder and hypothesize aloud for a good half-hour, and it took at least five minutes for him to start losing his serious face. Frank had brainstormed the kinds of weapons you could make out of IV poles and syringes, so that was something.

A car rumbles. It's weird; it sounds like it's coming from Gerard's right, but there's nothing but dumpsters and a wall that way. Probably some kind of echo.

He stubs out the cigarette and heads for the trash. The rain's getting worse, rattling on all the metal on the trash bin and attached to the building. Gerard turns up the collar of his leather jacket way too late to keep water from sliding down his shirt. Fuck. He'd be home by now if he'd smoked in the car. But the butt's soaked all the way through, so at least there's no chance of fire if he tosses it in the dumpster.

It's only when he grabs the lid of the dumpster that he notices the car noise again. Except it sounds kind of like a low growl.

Weird.

-

Frank doesn't always know when he's dreaming, but this time he does. It's not one of those weird, cheese-on-the-head kind of things. It's just him and Gerard on stage, and Gerard's got "Frankenstein" written on his neck in Sharpie, like he did the show before they fucked the first time. And Gerard's giving him those wide-eyed grins like he did that show, mostly because they'd done their sappy declarations of love between sound check and the opening act.

Except he doesn't have his guitar, and there's no one in the audience. And actually, there's no Mikey on bass, or Ray shredding on the other side of the stage. But there's music in the air, and Gerard reaching for him, and—

—he wakes up.

The house is dark, and Frank's not cold exactly, but he's not as warm as he should be. He shivers a little, straightens up, and shifts his Kindle from his stomach to the end table next to the couch. His hair's probably messed the fuck up, but whatever, it's not like he's giving interviews today.

"Gee!" he yells. Probably went straight upstairs. It wouldn't be the first time he'd gotten an idea at the store and left the groceries in the trunk. Frank doesn't see bags on the counter, and it's always Frank's job to put stuff away. Not to mention Gerard loves to screw with him if he finds him asleep. "Why didn't you wake me up, jack off?"

The art studio is right upstairs because it gets good light exposure no matter the season, and they'd rigged up a bunch of bright sockets for his late-night scribblings. But it's dark, too.

Actually, everywhere is dark except for the faint moonlight coming through the parted clouds. No Gerard in the bedroom. No Gerard in the music room. No Gerard in the guest room. He isn't in the garage, and his car isn't parked out front...

Mikey. Of course, he's totally with Mikey. Just because his phone doesn't have any unread texts or missed calls doesn't mean anything; long Batman chats don't cease for voicemail. Frank presses three in his speed dial and waits.

"Hey," Mikey says after the second ring.

"Hey, dude. Gerard pestering you?"

"No."

Frank blinks. "Oh."

"Did you fight?" Most people think Mikey's monotone and bland, but Frank hears nothing but worry in his tone. At least he isn't judging.

"Fuck you, no." Frank's voice shakes a little. "He went to the store, and I fell asleep, and he isn't back."

"When'd he go?"

"When it was light out, I don't know."

"Okay. Pick you up in ten minutes?"

"Thanks."

Frank waits outside the entire time with his phone. He calls Gerard's number seven times, and every time, it goes to voice mail. Instead of hitting speed dial for the eighth, Frank stares down at his hand, willing Gerard to call him back.

Mikey's car pulls up ahead, and Frank jogs up and climbs into the front seat. He pulls his hoodie's sleeves over his hand and puts his hood up as Mikey hits the gas.

"Didn't pick up his phone," Mikey says.

Frank nods. Mikey doesn't say "He probably just forgot to turn the ringer on" or "His battery probably died", even though that's probably what happened. Gerard hasn't dropped off the grid since...it's been a while. He just got caught up. That's all.

Mikey pulls up to Whole Foods. Frank's out the door before the car's at a full stop, half-running toward the side Gerard usually parks. Sure enough, there's the car, windows still misted with rain. Frank wipes the water free on the driver's side so he can see, but the car is empty.

"Frank."

He turns, and Mikey's further down, crouched near a dumpster, his back to Frank.

"What—"

The words die in Frank's mouth when he sees what's in Mikey's hands: Gerard's leather jacket, torn, wet, and bloody.