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A Kiss With A Fist

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Frank/Gerard ~ NC17 for language, sex and violence.



After med school, Gerard had this idea of what life would be like. The idea now probably seems more than ridiculous, but still it’s what he clung to in order to drag himself through those gruelling morning hours after an all nighter of studying or writing some preposterously long paper on some disease or medical break through or why whatever part of the human body does whatever it does, and what happens when it doesn’t.

He had this gloriously bright image of an impeccably white doctor’s coat and neat, laminated name tag to let everyone know that everything would be ok because Dr. Way was here to save the day. There’d be grateful mothers with their bandaged up children, coughing pensioners so glad just to see his smiling face. Maybe even young men with war injuries who thought for sure they’d never walk again, only to have the brilliant Dr. Way pull them out of their pits of despair by telling them that he believed in them and that anything was possible.

Yeah, it all seems pretty stupid now, just a silly little fantasy where he gets to be just like those superheroes he spent so much of his teenage (and non-teenage) life obsessed with. People would need him, appreciate his help and find comfort in his presence, a complete contrast to his teenage years (and some of the none teenage ones) He supposes every med student has that same picture. That dream that one day, after all the hard work and long hours and years of being treated like you’re the smallest fish in the largest ocean in the world that it would all be worth it, that one day you too would be the most important person in someone’s life because you’re the one that saved it.

It only took a day after finishing med school for the cruel fist of life to start punching Gerard right in the gut. Nothing went to plan, not one single thing. None of the hospitals who trained him had any paying jobs; no tutors who got him through some of those head bashing papers had any advice or tips on where he might possibly find work. No clinics, no drop in centers or homeless shelters or anything which would make him feel like he was even remotely making a difference in the world had any room on their staff for him – not paying anyway. And while he would love to take a year to volunteer around the city, help as many desperate and needy and down on their luck folk as possible, he also had a strong desire to eat and make rent (of which he was already behind on).

No, this life was nothing like the pictures in the college brochures had promised him. Sometimes he finds himself so angry that he wants to make his own college fucking brochure with his own god damn facts and figures.


College tuition – more than you’ll ever make back
Work load – will take you to breaking point.
Personal gain – it’ll make you want to die.
Social life – HAHAHAHAHA!
Employment prospects – whatever comes before 0%

And then to finish it off a nice picture of himself standing outside the career center, face pressed against the glass as he tries to read the job ads in the pissing down rain, soaked from his coat right down to his socks as he searches for any job out there which will just give him some cash so he doesn’t end up back in his mother’s basement. The title at the top would say Two Years Later… and maybe there could be a thought bubble that reads - Why oh why didn’t I go to community college instead?

Gerard takes a step back from the window and the rain squelches in his shoes. He grimaces and wipes away the wet hair that’s been plastered to his face since the moment he stepped outside. It hasn’t stopped raining in days and sometimes Gerard doesn’t think it ever will, at least not for him anyway. The rain here may pass and maybe the sun might even show up, but Gerard Way will still be an unemployed twenty seven year old med school graduate with no means of saving himself from a life of sleeping in cardboard boxes and talking to his fingers.

---

“Mikey, I’m home!” Gerard calls in to the closet sized apartment, shrugging off his wet jacket and not bothering to pick it up off the floor. It takes another moment or two after no reply for the realisation to hit Gerard like a stack of bricks. Mikey’s not here anymore. Mikey’s not here because Mikey moved out and abandoned him two days ago.

Well, he supposes ‘abandoned’ might be a little dramatic. Mikey was only staying temporarily until the water pipes in his apartment were fixed after a nasty accident with the wrong turn of a wrench and an inexperienced maintenance man. But still Gerard got used to having someone else around, even if it was his accident prone, loud and annoyingly optimistic baby brother.

As if the boy had telepathic skills, Gerard’s phone starts to ring. He pries it out of the pocket of his sopping wet jeans and answers it quickly.

“What the hell do you want?” its Gerard’s usual greeting and by now, Mikey’s unfazed by it.

“Just making sure you’re still alive and that you haven’t run yourself over with your positive train of thought.”

Gerard rolls his eyes, smiling. “And your water pipes haven’t burst yet and flooded your apartment to the point that leaves you drowning in a never ending swirling vortex of water?...No? Just a pleasant dream I had?”

Mikey snorts. “You’re such a fucking douche. I’ll be there in twenty minutes with take out and you better have the latest CSI episode loaded on your laptop or I get Mr. Chang here to spit on your spring rolls.”

“You’re an ass.”

“Love you too, bro.” Then the line goes dead.

---

The next morning Gerard steps on an almost empty carton of take out, smushing left over noodles in to his carpet.

“Damn it,” he grumbles, dragging his foot along more carpet to scrape off the noodles until he gets to the bathroom.

He turns on the shower, sheds yesterday’s clothes and climbs in under the steam with a relieved sigh. He’s got just under an hour until he’s meeting Mikey for lunch, so he should really hurry the hell up and haul ass since Mikey promised to pay, but the water is so hot and Gerard’s body is achy and tired and moving at a pace quicker than ‘wounded snail’ just feels impossible right now.

His glorious shower has him running late, at least by fifteen minutes, but he feels refreshed and Mikey always forgives him, so it’s not too detrimental.

Mikey’s crammed in to a corner booth, glaring at the menu in front of him when Gerard gets there.

“You’re late, asshole,” he says without even looking up.

“Sorry,” Gerard offers as he slips in opposite and plucks the menu from Mikey’s grasp. “Lost track of time.”

“You have no concept of time,” Mikey replies before stealing the menu back. “I’m ordering since I’m paying, and I’m also choosing the snacks at the cinema.”

“We’re going to the cinema?”

Mikey hums and nods. “That tiny one near your place. They’re showing the Evil Dead movies all afternoon. I have no place to be and no one else in my life who really appreciates the art of shockingly awful, yet amazing movies.”

Gerard pouts his lips in thought and nods back. “Cool.”

 

It turns out to be a pretty great evening. Gerard does love these movies and hasn’t watched them in far too long, and it’s always more amazing watching something you love on the big screen, loaded with sugar and other things that will slowly clog his arteries over the years while sitting next to the only other person in his life who just gets why movies like these are just so incredible.

It’s gone eight when they leave the darkness and warmth of the cinema to the darkness and sharp, cold winds of the outside world where, unfortunately, there are no possessed forests or awesome guys with chainsaw hands.

Mikey pats his brother hard on the back. “This was fun,” he grins and Gerard nods, smiling back. “I’ll call you tomorrow. And remember we’re at mom’s for dinner the day after.”

Gerard’s shoulders drop. Oh crap he forgot about that. Mikey notices the brief panic in Gerard’s eyes and instantly points an accusing finger in his brother’s face.

“You are not bailing out on me again, nuh-uh, Gee. No fucking way. I’m not making up any more excuses for you.”

Gerard sighs heavily. “Yeah, I know,” he says, pulling his collar up to his chin. “I’ll be there.”

Mikey’s expression softens and he grasps Gerard in an awkward sort of half hug. “She just wants to see that you’re ok.”

Gerard nods. “I know, don’t worry. I’ll be there.”

Mikey smiles and punches Gerard’s shoulder. “Good. Now go home before you catch another cold.”

Gerard watches his brother walk away, waiting until he’s no longer in sight before turning and walking in the direction of his own apartment.

As he walks, he kicks at the stones on the pavement and thinks about what he’s going to say to his mother when she asks him how the job search is going. He hates telling her that it’s not going anywhere and then she has that look of hopeless disappointment while Gerard can see it in his father’s face that he’s practically counting all the money they spent and wasted putting him through school. The worst thing is that they know it’s not his fault. He’s fully qualified with excellent recommendations from his tutors – it’s just that there are no jobs anywhere right now.

Gerard sometimes forgets that the picture he had, that dream of his life as a doctor; it wasn’t just his picture, it was his parents too. It was Mikey’s and his grandma’s and every aunt and uncle and cousin that his mom wrote to in her Christmas letters while he was in med school, full of stories about Gerard’s good grades, work experience and internship possibilities.

Kicking a rock particularly harsh down an alley, Gerard’s keys also fly out of his grip as his arms swing in order to help his foot send the rock flying down the alley way and bouncing off a trash can. He hears the keys hit the same trash can and then clatter to the floor.

Gerard curses and storms in to the alley.

From a side door he never saw at first, two people come crashing out of the building and against the opposite wall.

“God, Frank. Jesus, just stay still ok? You might have a fucking concussion, you moron.” One of the guys with curled brown hair is running after the other, steadying the dark haired man by grabbing him by his tattooed arms. “Frank!” he shouts sternly, pressing the man’s back against the brick.

“You can’t hold him down,” Gerard finds himself saying, startling both of the men as well as himself. They both jump and stare at him and Gerard finds himself pinned by the gaze of the tattooed man’s hazel eyes.

“Excuse me?” Curly haired guys says.

Gerard gulps and steps forward. “If he’s hit his head, he needs to stay still. Get him to sit down and take deep breaths.”

“Ok-” Curly haired guy gets cut off by tattooed guy, who Gerard can now see is bleeding from his nose and eyebrow.

“I am right here you know?”

Eight years of med school and training suddenly kicks in and Gerard ushers Curly haired guy out of the way and puts a hand on tattooed guy’s shoulder, pressing down slightly.

“You need to sit down,” he says softly, and slowly, with an uneasy expression, the guy slides down the wall until he’s sat on the cold, wet floor next to a trash can. As he kneels in front of him, Gerard notices his keys. He ignores them. “Alright, keep your neck still and look directly at me.” He holds up three fingers. “How many fingers do you see?”

Tattooed guy rolls his eyes. “Three. Jesus, do we have to do this?”

“Frank,” Curly haired guy warns.

“Yes, Frank, we do. I need to make sure you don’t have a concussion. Now make your eyes really wide and look right at me.” Frank does so, and Gerard finds that he very nearly loses himself for just one brief intense moment before shaking himself out of it. He examines the cut on Frank’s eyebrow. “Well, your eyes look fine and you’re not pale and your temperature’s good. Do you feel sick?” Frank shakes his head. “Dizzy?”

Frank shakes his head but then grimaces. “A little.”

“Ok, you need to stay here for a couple more minutes taking deep breaths. Relax, maybe have a lie down later. If you have pain around your neck and head tomorrow then go see your doctor.” He brushes his thumb lightly over the cut on Frank’s eyebrow. “You’re lucky. If this cut were any deeper you’d be in the Emergency Room.” Gerard stands up and turns to Curly haired man who’s watching him with an odd look of surprise. “Don’t let him fall asleep for the next couple hours. Make sure someone keeps an eye on him.”

The guy nods. “Will do. I’m Ray, by the way.”

When he extends a hand Gerard pauses a moment before taking it in his own in a firm shake. “Gerard.”

Ray nods. “Well thanks a lot, Gerard. You’re a life saver.” Gerard gives a weak smile. He wishes that were true. “Are you a doctor?” Ray asks, letting go of Gerard’s hand.

“Yeah, well. Sort of. Out of med school, don’t have a job though.”

“Oh, well, that sucks. Sign of the times, I guess.”

“I guess,” Gerard shrugs. There’s another awkward pause between the three of them before Gerard coughs abruptly and begins to back away. “Well, I’m just gonna…get going…”

“Yeah, sure. Thanks again, man. Frank, say thank you to the nice man.”

They look down at Frank, who’s in the middle of lighting a cigarette. He looks up and gives Gerard a half assed wave before staring at the ground.

Gerard scoops up his keys and shoves them in to his pocket and then leaves. When he gets back on to the street, he looks up at the abandoned gym, probably not as abandoned as he once thought.

---

The next morning Gerard gets a call. It’s early, Gerard’s not sure how early but it definitely feels like it’s before ten. He fumbles around for his phone, half ready to yell at Mikey for being an inconsiderate asshole when he notices the ‘Unknown Number’ flashing on the screen.

Gerard coughs a few times, getting the phlegm off his throat before answering, trying his best to sound like he’s not just woken up. “Hello?” he half manages it.

“Is this Gerard Way?” a sickly sweet female voice asks. Gerard can hear her chomping gum between her back teeth.

“Uh, speaking.”

“You submitted an application to H. R. Telecommunications Company, is this right?”

Gerard scratches his head. “Yeah, that’s right.”

“We’re pleased to inform you that your application has successfully made it through round one of eliminations. Are you available for an interview?”

“Yeah, sure. When?”

The woman sighs. “Today, Sir, at three o’clock.”

Today?” Gerard repeats, surprised before he realises he’s not exactly got a full day.

“Yes, Sir. Is that a problem?”

“No,” he drawls. “No problem.”

Gerard listens as she rattles off an address, floor number and department names before politely thanking her and saying good day. When he gets off the phone, he messages Mikey quickly.

Got an interview today!

He’s out of bed and turning on the shower when he gets a reply.

Awesome. Now maybe you can buy me lunch for once, sponger! (Proud of you)

 

Gerard hasn’t smelt this clean in a while. He scrubbed at himself for over an hour in the shower before shaving, over applying the aftershave as well as possibly half a can of deodorant and then a splash of cologne. His hair is combed and flat apart from the little curls at the side that always refuse to cooperate, forcing him to tuck them behind his ears. His shirt is clean and dark jeans clean-ish. Maybe if he gets this job he’ll have to actually buy a pair of slacks.

He doesn’t even realise he’s on the same street as the gym until he sees the curly haired guy, Ray, standing outside it. He pushes himself away from the boarded up back door and flicks his cigarette to the ground when he sees Gerard. Gerard sort of hopes he’s just going to give a friendly smile and let him pass, but that hope dies as soon as Ray steps in to his path.

“Y’know, I was sort of hoping I’d see you again,” he says.

Gerard stops and blinks in bemusement. “Me? Really?”

“Yeah,” Ray smiles with a wide, open mouth. “You said you didn’t have a job, right?”

Gerard shoves his hands in to his pockets. “Right. Well, actually, I-”

“I was talking to the boss yesterday. You were really good with Frankie.”

“Frankie?” Gerard repeats.

Ray nods firmly. “Frank. Anyway, he said we could use someone like that around. Would you be interested?”

Ray looks very hopeful and it makes Gerard feel sort of uneasy. “Interested in what, exactly?”

“Being the med guy,” Ray says with his hands exaggerating the words.

“Oh!” Because oh. That would be an actual medical job, as in Doctor Gerard Way, as in making people feel better like he has wanted to all along. “Yeah, I guess. I mean, yeah,” he babbles before Ray grins until it reaches his eyes.

“Fucking awesome, man. Come on,” and he grabs Gerard by the elbow and ushers him back around the side of the gym to the side door where they first met.

 

The first thing that hits Gerard when he’s shoved through the door is the heavy stench of sweat. It almost makes him gag for a second as he chokes on the musky air around him. The lights in here are dim and flickering, casting a dirty yellow glow over the room. It doesn’t look much like a gym. It’s got everything you’d find in a gym, weights, treadmills, punching bag and even a half size boxing ring, but it’s definitely not your typical gym. The floors are dirty and the mats beaten and over used, it smells like BO and oil and it’s eerily quiet except for the sound of their own footsteps as Ray ushers him out in to a wide corridor.

“Where are we going?” Gerard finally asks. Ray’s walking quickly and still grinning like he’s excited.

“To see Leo,” he says like it’s so obvious. “He’s in a good mood today so you’ve got a pretty good shot.”

“A pretty good shot?” Gerard parrots, unsure, but then they come to an open doorway and a flight of stairs. Ray stops them and speaks lowly.

“Alright. So if you stay behind me and don’t speak unless you’re spoken to, then you’ll be alright. Oh,” he adds as an afterthought, “Leo’s body guard, Bruno, he’s got this scar down his face,” and he drags a finger over his left eye as a visual. “Do not, under any circumstances, stare at the scar. He really hates that.”

Gerard gulps, his stomach sinking in to his shoes as Ray gives him another grin and grabs his elbow again, pulling him down the narrow staircase to the door at the bottom. There’s a sign on the door that says Staff Only, and as soon as Gerard steps off the last step, the smell of sweat is instantly replaced by the scent of cigar smoke.

Ray knocks on the door three times, and there’s barely a second between the last knock and the deep booming voice which replies. “Come in.”

Ray gives Gerard a quick wink of confidence before grabbing the handle and pushing open the door. A wave of smoke wafts over Gerard, stinging his eyes and making it hard not to cough. The carpet beneath his shoes is thick and soft and the dark red walls are lined with multiple shelves. The shelves are stacked with files and books, and they lead to a large desk at the back where a short, round guy with slick, oily looking black hair sits. His suit is as sharp as his face, the same colour as the man that stands next to him. Gerard only sees that guy from the shoulders down, because he refuses to look any higher. The guy is built, in every sense of the word.

“What can I do for you, Ray?” the man, who Gerard presumes is Leo, behind the desk says, smiling with crooked little teeth.

“This is that guy I was telling you about,” and Ray clamps a hand on Gerard’s shoulder and drags him forward. “This is the med guy, Gerard, uh…” and he looks back to Gerard.

“Way,” Gerard quickly supplies, wondering if that classes as him being spoken to first.

“Way,” Ray confirms with a sharp nod.

Leo, with his pointy nose and round chin, just his face up as he looks Gerard up and down, judging every inch until Gerard feels positively stripped back. “Gerard Way, eh?” he says with narrow, coal like eyes. “You know much about boxing?”

“Boxing?” Boxing? Gerard’s tongue suddenly feels too large for his mouth as little pieces start to slide together in his brain. Leo’s still looking at him expectantly, though he’s quickly losing patience. “I used to watch it with my dad,” he says, feeling like that’s the dumbest answer he could have given. It’s also not one hundred percent true because he saw one match on TV with his dad years ago, because there’s was nothing better to do that day.

Leo seems impressed though, and he smiles brightly. “Boxing is a family business,” he says, “and I like to think we’re a family here. Family is important, isn’t it?” Gerard glances at Ray and back to Leo. He nods and Leo laughs. “Excellent. Well, I’m happy for you to become a part of this family. We could use a guy to help patch up our squabbling children,” he pulls a new cigar from a box in his desk and Bruno passes him a gold, Zippo lighter. “Think you’re up to the task, Way?”

Gerard surprised by how quickly he nods. “Yes, Sir.”

Leo’s smile is wickedly bright. “Excellent. Ray, kindly show our new boy ‘round. Take a list of his requirements and we’ll have them ordered in by the end of the week. It was very nice meeting you, Gerard Way.”

Gerard’s about to reply but Ray’s already pulling him away and Leo’s looked back down at his desk, signalling the conversation is over.

 

At the top of the stairs, Ray claps a hand on Gerard’s back. “Welcome to the team, man. I think Leo likes you.”

Gerard’s feeling dizzy from the whirlwind of conversations. “You think?” he says and Ray laughs.

“Well, like I said, he’s in a good mood today,” he slides an arm around Gerard’s shoulders and steers him in to the gym. “So, this is the training room,” and he extends his hand out in presentation.

“Training…boxing…right. So you want me to, like, be the medic?”

Ray smirks. “That was the general idea. Are you alright, man?”

Gerard rubs the back of his neck. “I’m fine, just – trying to get my head around this whole thing.”

“Hey, I swear this is going to be the easiest job in the world. All you have to do is patch up a few busted lips, couple nose bleeds and make sure no one gets brain damage. Pay’s good too, depending on what type of week we’ve had.”

Gerard quirks an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

Well, lets just say that if the right fighter falls, we can eat well for a week.”

“Oh,” Gerard says, though he still has no idea what that’s suppose to mean. He’s still pondering it when Ray ushers him towards the door.

“Alright, well my fighters will be here for training soon. You need to make a list of your needs. Y’know, medical supplies and shit. Bandages, swabs – all that crap. We’ll stock up.”

“Hey, wait,” Gerard stops them when they get to the door. “I’m not really trained in sports injuries, I-”

Ray flaps a hand at him. “Leo doesn’t want some smart ass, know it all sports professional,” he explains, using air quotes. “You know what you’re doing, that’s all he wants.”

Just then the door swings open and Frank steps in, gym bag in one hand and cigarette in the other.

“Frank, you can’t smoke in here,” Ray scolds.

Frank rolls his eyes, takes one last drag and flicks it back out of the door. “Happy?” he says after blowing the smoke quickly out of the side of his mouth.

“Insanely,” he deadpans. “Frank, you remember Gerard.”

Frank nods. “Sup, bro?”

Gerard nods back, shoving his hands in to his pockets and trying not to think about the shape of Frank’s mouth around that cigarette.

“He’s the new cutman,” Ray explains. Frank laughs shortly.

“New? We didn’t have an old one.”

“Just shut up and hit the bags, Iero,” Ray says and Frank gives him a sarcastic wink, ignoring Gerard completely as he brushes past them.

-

“So, your brother said you had a job interview yesterday,” says Gerard’s mother the next day at dinner. She brushes her blond hair back and gives him a hopeful, red painted smile. The eyes of the table instantly fall upon him. “How did it go?”

Gerard takes another bite of chicken and gulps it down hard. “Great, actually. I, uh. I got the job.”

There’s a moment’s pause around the table as a grin spreads across his parent’s faces. Mikey smirks and kicks his brother under the table.

“Why didn’t you tell me yesterday?” he says and Gerard just shrugs. He really wants to yawn or rub at his eyes, there’s definitely some sleep still lodged in the corners. This is probably due to him being up until some ridiculous time, on medical supplies and sports therapy sites, drawing up a list which he dropped off to the gym that morning. He hadn’t seen Frank, which was disappointing.

“Just wanted to surprise you, I guess,” he finally says.

“Well,” his mother smiles as she leans forward, “tell us about it, where is it?”

Gerard pushes the food around his plate for another few seconds before replying but not looking up at his family. “I’m a medic at, uhm, a gym. It’s near my place.”

“That’s incredible, sweetie,” she says, reaching across the table to grab Gerard’s hand and squeeze it. “I’m really proud of you.”

-

Gerard’s first day on the job is just as much of a whirlwind as his interview. From the second he steps through the door Ray’s grabbing him by the arm and pulling him in to a small dark room with a broken light. Its stacked high to the ceiling with medical supplies from simple first aid kits and bandages to shots of pain killers and sporting braces for every part of the body.

Gerard stares at the room in awe. “How the hell did you get all of this stuff in so fast?”

Ray laughs. “That’s Leo for you.”

And then he learns there’s a fight tonight, and he’s going to be there for the whole thing and won’t be leaving until at least eleven.

Out in the gym, Ray introduces Gerard to the rest of the fighters and the one other coach. Brian, the other coach, greets Gerard with a firm nod and nothing else before disappearing to the other side of the room where a fighter with a skin head and dodgy facial hair is throwing his boxing gloves repeatedly against the wall.

“What’s that guy’s deal?” Gerard leans in and asks Ray quietly.

“Brian or Steve?”

“Both?” he says and Ray shrugs.

“Steve’s been fighting a long time and Brian? He’s a busy guy, he works with all of the fighters,” Ray explains.

“And what about you? Don’t you work with everyone?”

Ray smiles a little and waves over at someone behind Gerard. “I sort of work exclusively with Frank. Isn’t that right?”

“Yeah, yeah. Lucky me. Hey, Gerard.”

Frank comes in to Gerard’s view a second later, scooping his dark hair behind his ear as he shoots him a crooked smile. His skin is tanned and already sparkling with sweat. He must have been here for a while already. The sweat on his skin makes his vast amount of tattoos look fresh and dark, and Gerard can’t seem to stop himself from staring at them, his eyes spiralling down Frank’s arms.

It’s only when Frank cocks his head to the side that Gerard realises he’s yet to say anything. Frank’s smirking when Gerard’s eyes finally reach his, and Gerard wants to shrink back in to himself.

“Hi,” he says, rather sheepishly.

“Gerard’s gonna give you a quick check over before training, Frank,” Ray tells them both, because it’s the first time Gerard’s heard anything about it. “Make sure you’re ok from your little scuffle. We need you fighting fit tonight.”

Frank sighs and nods. “Sure, yeah.”

“I’ll be waiting in the ring when you’re done,” he says and then bows away, leaving Gerard stood awkwardly in front of Frank.

Frank shoves his hands in to the pockets of his shorts and shrugs. “So, is this like a ‘turn your head and cough’ deal, or what?” he says.

Gerard laughs, though it sounds more like a snort, and shakes his head. “Uh, not exactly, no. I just need to check you out – I mean over,” he quickly corrects himself with flailing hands. “I need to check you over.”

Frank’s smirk is wicked and he back himself down on to a bench. “Can I sit?”

Gerard nods. “Sure. Its more questions anyway,” he says as he kneels in front of Frank and takes his brand new pen torch out of his pocket. He shines it in to Frank’s right eye, watching the hazel colours instantly pop and his dark pupil shrink. The other eye gives the same reaction, and Gerard almost wants to make up some shit just so he gets to watch Frank’s pupils shrink and expand over and over again. “So what happened the other day?” he finds himself asking as he clicks off the pen torch.

“Just a little, uh, disagreement with Steve over there,” and he juts his chin in the direction of the ex con looking fighter with Brian.

“Disagreement?” he repeats and Frank smiles mischievously back at him.

“Well, Stevie is a little short tempered and doesn’t really have a sense of humour,” Frank explains.

“Oh,” Gerard says as he bobs his head. “Ok, so. Any dizziness or headaches since the other day?” Frank shakes his head. “Any nausea?” Frank shakes his head again. “Alright, I think you’re fine.”

Frank stands quickly, almost knocking Gerard back on to his ass. He offers Gerard a hand and helps him up.

“Thanks, Doc,” he says before bounding off to the ring where Ray’s pulling on a pair of focus pads.

 

For the rest of training, Gerard just hangs around the outside of the ring and watches. Although he always thought boxing was a pretty mindless sport, he finds it almost mesmerising to watch as Frank repeatedly jabs away at the focus pads Ray’s wearing, moving his feet in quick twists and turns like he’s dancing.

Frank’s muscles move a lot when he punches, Gerard notices, like they’re alive beneath his tanned skin, writhing away like snakes wrapped in silk as his arms extend and retract over and over again. Gerard also gets the privilege of seeing just how tattooed Frank is and what sort of work he has etched in to his skin. So far, Gerard can tell that Frank’s a huge fan of punk rock, horror and New Jersey.

No one seems to mind Gerard just standing there amongst the groans and grunts and sweat, and he feels quickly accepted and in place, even though this surrounding should be completely alien to him.

It becomes quickly apparent to Gerard that he’s rapidly developing a fascination with the way Frank moves, the way he lunges forward in to punches and hops back out of them, the way he gets so focused and zoned in on nothing but what his fists are doing, the way his hair moves with him until Frank bats it back clumsily with a gloved hand.

He thinks that maybe Frank notices too, if the sly little glances and smiles whenever he takes a short breather are anything to go by. If he does notice, he shows no signs of being bothered by it.

For the first time in his life, Gerard’s actually looking forward to watching a boxing match.

 

It feels like a whole other hidden world down here in the fighting room, like a secret society that only those in the know will ever see, lurking underground beneath the gym. When Gerard first got lead down there, before the crowd had arrived, he felt like he was walking deeper in to the unknown and a dark sinking feeling swirled around in his stomach.

The room is capable of holding two, maybe three hundred people at most, but Ray often recalls nights when it was packed far beyond its capacity. The boxing ring sits in the middle, large and high and proud, stained with all manner of things. The seats tear up on a slope until they leer over the ring. Gerard has never seen a boxing ring up close before, and somehow its not at all like he imagined it to be. This room, this underground world, definitely instils a feeling of fear far greater than Gerard had anticipated.

After he’s been shown the main room, Ray leads him to the locker rooms, which actually remind Gerard a lot more of high school locker rooms than anything else. There’s only the one main locker room, though Ray tells Gerard that this one is mainly for Frank, and the other fighters tend to use a much smaller room down near Leo’s office.

“So, is Frank like, the star or something?” Gerard asks and Ray’s lips quirk in to an amused smile. It’s only now that Gerard notices the TEAM F’NSTEIN across the chest of Ray’s t-shirt.

“You could say that,” he replies.

“He’s good at what he does then?” Gerard says as he runs his eyes over the various broken lockers that line the closest wall to him.

“Frankie?” Ray laughs again. “Yeah, he’s the best here, I’d say.”

“You wouldn’t think it though, would you?” Gerard notes. “I mean, some of the other guys here are what? Six foot?”

Ray snorts and takes out a small key from his pocket, opening a locker on the top row and pulling out a roll of tattered tape. “I wouldn’t under estimate him if I were you. Just because the guy’s short doesn’t mean he can’t pack a punch. He’s short, yeah, but he’s an agile little fucker. I think it’s more of an advantage,” he explains before waving the tape in Gerard’s face. “Frank’s lucky tape.”

“He has lucky tape?”

“Yeah, and lucky underwear too,” Frank says from the door. Gerard jumps a little in surprise but Ray doesn’t flinch, which makes Gerard think that he’s been there a while.

Frank’s got his gloves slung around his neck by the laces and he’s already in his shining green and yellow shorts. They say ‘F’NSTEIN’ around the waistband, the same colour and font that’s across the chest of his sleeveless hoodie. The zip is drawn down low to his stomach, revealing his tanned, well toned chest and the tattoos that Gerard has yet to see which glisten there. Gerard never thought boxing shorts could look sexy with their awkward length and unpleasing material, but Frank seems to make them work.

He really makes them work.

Ray yanks Gerard from his trance by tapping on his shoulder with the roll of tape. “You should tape him up while I go sort some business out with Leo before the crowds get in,” he says and plants the roll in Gerard’s hand.

Gerard watches Ray leave and once again finds himself awkwardly stood in front of Frank, who’s smiling like he knows something.

“I can do it myself if you want?” Frank offers, but Gerard shakes his head slowly.

“No, its ok. I guess I have to learn anyway, right?” Frank doesn’t reply, just smiles again and straddles the bench in the center of the room. He pats the space in front of him.

“Come on then,” he says and Gerard tries his best to seat himself on the bench in the same position, without tripping and falling flat on his face. He barely manages it.

Frank takes the tape from Gerard’s hand and untabs the end of it. “Here, I’ll start you off,” he says before attaching the end to his skin. He winds the tape a few times around his palm and the back of his left hand. “See,” he says, “it’s easy,” and he holds the roll still and motions for Gerard to take it. He does so with caution.

“Alright,” he says, more to himself before he winds the tape around a couple more times.

“That should be enough,” Frank says after another few winds. “Just tear it off and stick it down.”

Gerard attempts to snap the tape a few times with his fingers, but after the third failed try Frank laughs and finally takes pity on his. He pulls his hand away from Gerard and up to his mouth where he tugs at the tape with his teeth. It splits in two easily.

“Oh,” Gerard says and Frank’s smile is brilliant.

“And now for the other hand.” Frank holds his right hand out and the roll of tape, waiting for Gerard to take one. He grabs the tape and repeats Frank’s steps, winding it around his hand until it resembles the other.

“So how did you get in to boxing?” Gerard finds himself asking.

Frank’s biting on a nail on his free hand when he shrugs and says, “I just kind of fell in to it. I wasn’t really good at school and I got in to fights a lot. Someone suggested letting my frustration out at the gym and, I don’t know. I just really liked hitting the heavy bags until I was exhausted.”

“Oh. And how did you end up here?” Gerard asks, glancing up momentarily from his task to see if Frank finds the questions annoying. He doesn’t seem to.

“Ray,” he states simply. “I met him at a gym years back and he told me about this place. I’ve been here ever since.”

“So how long have you been here?” Frank laughs and Gerard looks up again.

“Sorry,” he blushes and Frank laughs, shaking his head.

“Don’t be. I’ve been here almost three years,” he says, stopping to tear the tape. Gerard beats him to it though, pulling Frank’s hand to his mouth as he tears the tape with his teeth. Frank’s a little stunned, but he does nothing but watch Gerard smooth the tape down. “So,” he says after what feels like an infinite amount of moments has passed, “what’s your story? You said you’re out of med school?”

“Two years out of,” Gerard starts to explain. “I tried to get a job everywhere, all the hospitals I’d worked at while I was studying but no one was hiring. I’ve had a few odd jobs, nothing special, just making enough to get by.” He stops and sighs. “I didn’t think I’d ever get a job that had anything to do with healing people.”

“But you did,” Frank smiles, and it’s such a genuine smile that it makes Gerard automatically smile back.

“Yeah,” he nods, “I did.”

The door swings open just then and Ray comes striding in with a large blue gym back with the word MEDIC across it.

“The crowds really coming in now,” he says before dropping the bag in front of Gerard. “Here, this is for you.”

The bag lands in Gerard’s lap with a heavy thud, a weight he was not expecting. “Shit, that’s a lot of stuff.”

Ray laughs. “Yeah, you’ll probably need it.”

 

The empty main room Gerard saw before feels like a completely different place to this. It’s packed with people who are buzzing with excitement, shouting and swearing and slapping cash in to other people’s palms.

“Are they gambling?” Gerard leans in and says to Ray, who just simply laughs at Gerard and pulls out another water bottle. Gerard gets the feeling he’s going to get laughed at a lot in his first few weeks here.

As he spends a few more minutes staring at the crowd, Gerard quickly realises that about eighty percent of them are exchanging money or scribbling something down. And then some more things starts to flash in Gerard’s mind, the brightest words being unlicensed and illegal, and little pieces of the past few days click together until DING! He gets it.

He’s got no more time to ponder that realisation though, because the crowd roars as Frank and his opponent stride in from opposite ends of the room and climb in to the ring.

The referee is already in the middle as the fighters take to their corners. Frank sleeveless hoodie is completely unzipped now, his chest from throat to navel exposed. Ray jumps up to the side of the ring, hauling himself up by the ropes as he checks the lacing on Frank’s gloves one last time. He hits his fists against Frank’s gloves, slots the gum shield in to Frank’s mouth and jumps back down next to Gerard.

Frank gives Gerard a quick wink before turning to the center of the ring.

“Here, Doc,” says Ray as he hands Gerard a metal bucket. “You’ll be needing this in about three minutes.”

Gerard thinks he knows what’s coming next. He spent most of the previous night on Wikipedia, taking in as much as he could on the rules and regulations of boxing. He knows each round lasts three minutes and that there are twelve of them with a minute break in between. He knows a few of the foul moves and most of the common injuries and that a panel of three judges score the boxers, and if neither of the boxers are knocked out, the fighter with the highest score wins.

What he hadn’t really contemplated all that much was putting Frank in this concept, and after the first ring of the bell the realisation soon hits him like a punch in the face as Frank receives his first blow to the face. He doesn’t know why, but it’s only now that he’s here and its happened before his eyes that he realises this is essentially two people punching the hell out of each other.

The crowd is screaming, so loud its almost deafening and its hard for Gerard to keep a track of Frank, even though he’s just right there. He moves in a blur of red gloves and green shorts, only really stopping to block his face with his arms. Barely a minute in and it already stinks of fresh and stale sweat and Gerard would be lying if he said he didn’t feel nauseas.

The bell dings again – end of round one.

Ray immediately springs in to action, jumping up to the side of the ring. Gerard follows clumsily, pulling himself up with one hand, the bucket clutched in the other. Ray’s squirting water in to Frank’s mouth and Frank immediately turns and spits in to the bucket. Oh, Gerard thinks. So that’s what that’s for.

Frank juts his chin out in Gerard’s direction. “Any blood yet?” he says. “Doesn’t feel like there is.” Frank chest is heaving and bare and gleaming under the harsh lights of the room. Gerard pulls his eyes back up to Frank’s face just long enough to examine it quickly.

“No, nothing yet,” he says and then Ray interrupts him, shouting in Frank’s ear about defensive moves.

And then the bell rings again.

Its not until the fifth round that Frank starts to bleed. There’s a cut just above his right eyebrow, and Gerard’s swabbing at it as carefully and quickly as possible as Ray wipes at Frank’s hair with a towel and feeds him water. Gerard’s skin is buzzing and he can feel himself overheating in his dark t-shirt and jeans. He now fully understands the need for sportswear, because it feels like he’s trapped in a furnace with his own hair sticking to his forehead.

When the bell dings again, Frank breathes a quick, “Thanks,” before throwing himself back in to the center of the ring.

The crowd seem to be getting even more riled up as both fighters slow in the coming rounds, feet staggering just that little bit more with every successful hit. They’re screaming at the fighters and the ref, cursing and waving their fists and betting slips in the air angrily. Gerard’s heart hammers in his chest every time Frank staggers back.

After each round, Gerard’s there dabbing away the fresh line of blood that streaks down his face. Frank doesn’t wince, not once, even though Gerard’s sure he himself is wincing every time he touches Frank’s warm face.

The other fighter is bleeding a lot more than Frank, the blood trickling down his dark skin and sticking to his eyebrows. The other medic seems more concerned about punching techniques than cleaning up his fighter. He’s a good five inches taller than Frank, hair dark and short, cut close to his skull. He’s not as quick as Frank, though, and his heavy movements as exhaustion settles in seem to be where Frank takes his advantage.

On the tenth round, Frank knocks out the other fighter.

The room erupts, half cheering and the other half swearing obscenities at everyone else. The referee pounds on the mat, and when he gets to ten, the room gets even louder. The fighter shakes his head in to the mat, spitting blood and grimacing. Frank’s last punch got him right in the jaw. The other fighter’s corner are shaking their heads too and coaxing him back to their side of the ring.

When it’s announced that Frank (or F’NSTEIN) is the winner and the ref holds up Frank’s arm, the smile on his face is one that Gerard can’t help but reciprocate, despite the stench of sweat and blood and that fact that now he really does feel nauseas.

Ray pulls himself up to the side of the ring just as Frank gets there and throws his arms around Frank’s shoulders, yelling out his congratulations.

Frank turns to look for Gerard, grinning down at him when he sees him. He beckons Gerard up to the ropes and Gerard finally sets down the bucket and pulls himself up alongside Ray. Frank pulls him in to a crushing hug, his chin digging uncomfortably in to his shoulder, but Gerard doesn’t care.

“Well done,” he laughs and Frank pulls back to knock a gloves hand against the side of Gerard’s head.

“You did good too,” he says. Gerard reaches up and squeezes one of Frank’s shoulders. It’s warm and slips beneath his hand, but he’s not got very long to think about that because Frank’s wincing.

Gerard’s about to ask if everything’s ok, but Frank gets swept away in another mass of congratulatory back pats and hair ruffles as members of the crowd pull themselves up to the side of the ring.

 

Gerard’s waiting for them in Frank’s locker room when Ray finally wrestles Frank away from the crowd. A cut over his eye has started to bleed again, and the blood is circling around his eyebrow. Ray ushers Frank quickly in to the room.

“Get cleaned up, I’ll be back soon,” he says before pulling the door closed again.

Frank collapses on to the bench with a heavy sigh. He’s still looks exhausted and his chest is rising and falling as he stares at the floor in silence. When he looks back up at Gerard he smiles.

“Wanna help me get these off?”

Gerard nods and straddles the bench, causing Frank to turn and do the same. He’s already undone both of the bows of lace with his teeth, and all Gerard has to do is loosen the laces. He does so easily, pulling the lace through the hoops until the glove is loose enough for Frank to slip off. He flexes his free hand a few times before wiping the sweat on his shorts as Gerard starts to unlace the other glove.

As Gerard pulls swabs and gauze from his medic kit, Frank unwinds the tape from both of his hands before throwing the clumps to the floor.

“You did really well out there,” Gerard says as he leans forward and swabs the blood, searing it in with sweat before he finally gets it off Frank’s skin.

“Yeah?” says Frank. “How’d you find your first boxing match?”

Gerard pauses to look up at Frank, eyebrow quirked. “How did you know it was my first?”

“The look on your face,” Frank laughs. “You looked fucking terrified.”

Gerard ducks his head in hope to hide the redness of his cheeks. “Well, it looked pretty brutal out there.” Frank shrugs, and when he does so he winces. Gerard frowns. “What’s wrong with your shoulders?”

“Hell, I don’t know,” Frank replies. “Could be from a life time of fighting or two years of flipping burgers.”

“Two years huh?”

Frank shakes his head. “Just some diner job. If it wasn’t for training I’d probably never leave the house.”

Gerard nods. “Ah. Well, I suppose free burgers are always a plus side too.”

“I wouldn’t know. I’m vegetarian,” Frank explains and there’s a brief look of confusion on Gerard’s face that makes Frank snort with amusement. “I know, right?” he laughs before grimacing as he moves his left shoulder.

Gerard pulls his medic bag in to his lab and begins to rifle through it. “Aha,” he finally says before triumphantly pulling a tube of deep heat rubbing cream out from its depths. “This should help.” Pushing himself off of the bench, Gerard turns Frank around.

As he rubs the warm paste like cream in to Frank’s knotted muscles, Frank rolls his shoulders back and hisses.

“Fuck,” he curses, and Gerard’s hands still. He’s about to apologise when Frank’s head turns a little. “Dude, don’t stop,” he says. So Gerard carries on, kneading his fingers in to Frank’s tired and aching muscles, working his tips against the tattoos, following their lines and curves. Frank starts wincing less, and instead gives an appreciative little groan.

It’s not long before Ray’s back, carrying two small brown envelopes. He doesn’t even flick an eyebrow at the scene he walks in on, instead handing each man an envelope.

“There you go boys,” he says warmly. “Good night’s work.”

Gerard doesn’t check the envelope until he gets out of the gym some thirty minutes later. Inside are five one hundred dollar bills. He counts them several time to make sure he’s not seeing things, and when he’s more than proven to himself that yes, he did just get paid five hundred dollars for a day’s work, he pockets the envelope, still keeping a tight grip on it until he gets home.

-

“Holy shit,” Mikey drawls out the next night when Gerard produces a bag of take out and sets it on the kitchen units. “You actually bought dinner?”

Gerard grins and opens the bag. “Yes I did,” he announces proudly.

“So, this new job thing’s going well, huh?” he asks, tipping noodles on to a plate.

Gerard pauses, thinking for a moment and then nods. “Yeah, I guess.”

“I didn’t even know there was a gym near here,” Mikey continues, gesturing at the window with his fork.

Gerard messes with the lid of the rice carton and shrugs. “It’s a private gym,” he explains.

“Ahh…so you’re tending to snooty rich guys all day then.”

Gerard laughs shortly. “Something like that, yeah.”

Mikey twirls his fork in to a heap of noodles before scooping them in to his mouth. He chews through them, slurping in a disgusting way that makes Gerard frown and mutter something about gross little brothers.

“Mom called me this morning,” Mikey says, licking noodle juice from his hand. “You’re officially wonder boy again. She’s really proud.”

Gerard gives his brother a weak smile before walking in to the living room with the entire carton of rice and a spoon.

-

When Ray said this would be the easiest job in the world, Gerard thinks he may have been telling the truth. It’s not so easy that he ends up bored; staring in to space for the majority of the day, but it’s definitely not like the adrenaline rushed life he’d experienced in the hospitals.

The majority of the time Gerard watches the fighters train. He stands along the outskirts of the room, medic kit by his feet and watches them press weights, hit the heavy bags and focus pads, skip and do push ups and press ups. It’s never long though before someone twists something or an old injury acts up. Fighters have a lot of those, Gerard notices, just like Frank’s sore shoulders. Everyone’s got a trick knee or a dodgy ankle that needs Gerard’s attention at some point during the day.

The other fighters don’t seem at all affected by Gerard’s presence and they don’t engage with him like Frank does. They just give him the odd nod in answer to his questions or grunt of thanks when he’s done whatever needs to be done. Gerard supposes that’s the way it goes though. That’s all he is to them, the med guy.

Brian’s a pretty nice guy when he catches Gerard on a smoke break. He bums one from Gerard and then pats himself down for a lighter before giving Gerard a hopeless sort of look. Gerard laughs and throws his own over.

“Thank, man,” he says, lighting his cigarette before handing it back. Gerard pockets it again with a nod.

“So you settling in then?” he asks on Gerard’s fourth day.

Gerard takes a long drag of his cigarette and nods. “I guess. I don’t know…am I?”

“Well…” he drawls. “No one’s punched you in the face yet.”

Laughing, Gerard flicks his half smoked cigarette in to the alley. “That’s something,” he says before heading back inside.

-

There’s another fight that week, though it doesn’t involve Frank. It’s the big guy from Gerard’s first day, Steve (or Stevie as Frank referred to him) Even his opponent looks worried as Steve bumps his gloves against Brian’s fists and turns to the center of the ring with a snorting, bull like grunt.

Although Steve fights like a caged animal, he’s not as mesmerising as Frank is to watch. He’s all about brute force whereas Frank’s more about agility. By the third round, Steve’s face is already full of cuts and Gerard’s pretty sure that he’s the cause of most of them.

During the rounds with his attention not captivated so much by the fighters, Gerard finds himself looking over the crowd. It’s not as packed at Frank’s night, but the atmosphere is the same. People are shouting loudly, waving around betting slips and still exchanging money, more energetic as each round passes. What surprises Gerard is how normal the people in the crowd look; they’re not seedy money hungry people or meat head ex-boxers looking for a thrill. They’re just your average working men and women on a night out.

Gerard also notices how Leo leers around the table of judges, looking dominant and reeking of importance even through he’s a good five inches or more shorter than most of the people in here. Bruno stays near the crowd, hands linked behind his back as he keeps an eye on the money that’s passed back and forth. Gerard wonders more about how it works here, soon stopping himself because how much does he really want to know?

Steve loses. He finishes all twelve rounds but the judges give his opponent an extra three points for something Gerard doesn’t quite understand yet. When the referee raises the other man’s arm, Steve has to be held back from punching them both in the face.

-

“What do you think of our little Stevie then?” Frank asks the next day, just before training, with a mocking sort of smile.

Gerard rubs the Deep Heat cream quickly in to Frank’s left calf muscle and shrugs. “I don’t know. He was kind of all over the place.”

“Yeah, that’s sort of his thing,” says Frank, watching absent-mindedly as Gerard’s fingertips work the white paste in to his skin. “He’s more a ‘punch now, think later’ kind of guy.”

Gerard smiles because yeah, that sounds about right. “And what about you?” he asks. “What kind of guy are you?”

Frank only has to pause and think for a second before he smirks and winks, “The best kind.”

Gerard laughs.

-

Frank and Steve definitely have a mutual dislike for each other, that’s been pretty obvious to Gerard from the first day. Frank will often say something mocking, just loud enough for Steve to hear, who will then retaliate with some insult – usually about Frank’s height. Frank laughs it off, though…most of the time.

Gerard’s checking his bag for supplies when he hears the commotion. Ray looks up from the training ring and the look in his eyes tells Gerard everything he needs to know. Ray’s quick to push his body through the ropes and jump down from the mat and he strides quickly across the room.

When Gerard stands up to follow Ray, he finds himself physically stopped by the sight of Frank pressed against the wall, blood already dripping from his nose and Steve’s fist raised, ready for another punch as Frank laughs manically in his face. Brian’s pulling at Steve’s shoulders, trying to get him to back away but he seems to be tunnel visioning on Frank’s lunatic like smile.

“Go on,” Frank says, blood dripping on to his lips, “Hit me again, I fucking dare you.”

Steve looks like he might; in fact Gerard’s pretty damn sure he would have if Ray didn’t grab Frank by the elbow and yank him forcefully from Steve’s grip.

“That’s enough!” he says, voice loud enough for everyone in the training room to hear. And once Ray’s said that, everyone goes back as Ray drags Frank over to Gerard. “Sort him out,” he says, pushing Frank to sit on a bench as he stalks back over to Brian.

Gerard looks down at Frank, dazed and confused as Frank simply grins up at him.

“Hi,” he says and Gerard shakes his head and drops down next to Frank on the bench.

“You are fucking insane, man,” he says quietly. Frank spins around, hooking his leg on the other side of the bench and nods.

“So I’ve been told.”

Gerard pulls out the swabs and a cold pack from his medic bag. He touches the tender bits of Frank’s nose, squeezing the bridge gently between his fingers. “Lean forward,” he instructs, coaxing Frank forward a little with a hand on his shoulder. “What was that about?”

Frank shrugs with one shoulder. “The guy is just highly strung,” he explains.

“Mmhm,” Gerard replies. “Is it still bleeding?”

“A little,” sighs Frank. “Besides, what makes you think its something I did?”

“I never said that,” Gerard protests and Frank looks up at him through his messy, uncombed hair.

“Would you call me a girl if I said that its not what you said, it’s the way you said it?” and he looks more amused than accusing.

Gerard laughs, pushing Frank back in to an upright position. “Probably. Here, hold this low on your forehead,” he says, handing Frank the cold pack before grabbing the swabs.

“You know,” Frank starts after a moment, “the swabs are only really for matches, to keep the blood away from my eyes. You can just use a cloth or something if you want.”

Gerard takes his hand away quickly, cheeks flushing. “Oh,” he says with stomach dropping embarrassment. “Sorry,” he adds, fumbling in his kit for cotton pads.

Frank smiles. “Its ok, I just thought it would be easier for you.” He’s still smiling when Gerard gets back to his face with the cotton pads, all warm and bright and not at all mocking. Gerard’s stomach eases up a little as he cleans Frank’s face up as quickly as possible.

“There you go,” he announces when he’s finished, sitting back and dropping the used pads and swabs in to a separate bag. Frank hands him back the cold pack and winks.

“Thanks, Doc.”

-

When Gerard gets to training early one afternoon, the room is filled with the electrifying sound of Smashing Pumpkins’ Tarantula. He’s surprised, to say the least, but definitely delighted, even more so when he sees Frank’s fist buzzing around the speed bag, sending it swinging back and forth with a noisy brrr.

There’s no one else in the gym, not even Ray and suddenly Gerard’s worried that they’re not open today and someone just forgot to give him the memo. He’s about to take a few steps back towards the door when Frank finally notices him. He stops the bag against one hand and grins over at Gerard.

“What’s up, Doc?” he says and then laughs at his own joke. He doesn’t wait for Gerard to answer before walking to the small stereo that’s settled on the bench and lowering the volume.

“How early am I?” Gerard asks, looking around the empty gym.

“The others aren’t getting in until later. Ray wants me to circuit train today. He’s in the back now planning out the next hour of torture.”

“Oh. So, do you want me to go or-”

“Hell, no!” Frank interrupts. “Who knows what he’d do to me without witnesses. I need you, man.”

“You crying over my abuse again, Iero?” says Ray as he strolls in, unfolding a piece of paper.

“No, master,” Frank deadpans, turning away from Ray to pull a funny face. Gerard bites his lip in order to contain his smile. Ray flicks Frank’s ear as he passes and Frank frowns before rubbing at it with a gloved hand. “Asshole,” he grumbles.

Gerard gets himself in to a comfortable position on the bench as he watches Ray point out the circuit to Frank. He doesn’t look impressed as Ray gives him his instruction from everything from the speed bag to the medicine balls. Frank pulls off his shirt and turns up the music, resetting the song to the start.

The circuit lasts for five minutes, and Ray makes Frank do it three times. Frank’s put the Pumpkin’s song on repeat, and Gerard taps his foot along to it as he watches Frank give the heavy bag twenty heaving punches. Ray follows alongside Frank at every stop in the circuit, coaxing him along with his enthusiastic words. Frank’s got excellent stamina, and it’s not until the start of the third round that he begins to look tired, starting with ten sit ups. Ray’s at his feet, counting loudly until the very last one before thrusting a sports bottle in to Frank’s hand as he ushers him over to the skipping rope.

Gerard watches with interest when Frank skips, the rope making a whipping sound as it cracks off the floor and swings back in to the air. Frank makes it move so quickly that it’s just a blur and his feet hop rhythmically against the ground. Gerard’s never seen it look quite so masculine before.

When Ray calls time, Frank slumps himself down on the bench and sags against Gerard. His shoulder is hot and sweaty as it rubs against Gerard’s hoodie, but neither of them seem to care.

“Smoke break,” Frank gasps and Ray rolls his eyes.

“Of course it is.”

Frank winks and hauls himself up from the bench before grabbing his t-shirt and slipping it back on. He picks his smokes up from on top of the stereo and heads for the door. He gets two or three steps away before turning back to face Gerard.

“You comin‘?” he asks, and without missing a beat Gerard gets up and follows.

“I didn’t know you like the Pumpkins,” Gerard says as he watches Frank light up his cigarette.

Frank takes a deep drag of nicotine and nods. “Yeah, man. Pumpkins rule.”

“My brother is crazy for them,” Gerard replies and Frank lifts an eyebrow.

“You have a brother?”

“Yeah. Mikey. He’s younger, probably around your age actually.”

Frank laughs. “My age? How old do you think I am?”

Gerard shrugs. “Twenty four, twenty five?”

“Close,” Frank nods, impressed. “Twenty three. What about you, oh wise one?”

“Twenty seven,” Gerard states.

“So almost-”

Gerard holds up a hand, interrupting him mid sentence. “Don’t even say it!” he warns and Frank genuinely giggles.

-

“Oh my,” says Mikey as Gerard takes the bill from the waitress and opens his wallet. “You’re paying again? I just gotta…I need to take a moment,” he says as he starts to dramatically fan himself with a menu.

Gerard rolls his eyes. “Asshole.”

-

By Frank’s next fight, Gerard’s almost as pumped as he is. He tapes up Frank’s hands without being asked and even makes a decent attempt at lacing up the gloves with minimal input on Frank’s behalf.

“You nervous?” he asks, tying off the last bow on the second glove.

Frank shakes his head. “Nah, not really. I’ve fought this guy before. He’s good for the first couple rounds but then he just kind of loses his touch. I’ll have him down by the tenth round.”

Gerard laughs. “So modest,” and Frank winks.

At the ringside, Frank pumps his gloves against Ray’s fists before doing the same to Gerard, who can’t help but feel a pang of satisfaction and belonging as Frank flashes them both one last smile and they climb down from the ropes again.

Frank’s right about the guy really going for it on the first few rounds. He’s pale skinned and fair haired with not much muscle to him, but he’s tall and gets in a good few punches, one of them reopening an older cut above Frank’s eye. Gerard sorts it out as quickly as possible whilst Ray squirts water over Frank’s face and in to his mouth before sliding his gum shield back in.

Gerard rubs over Frank’s matted hair with the towel briefly before backing away and letting Frank back in to the ring.

The other fighter does in fact start to lose his stamina by the fifth or sixth round, Gerard finds himself losing track of what number they’re up to as they all seem to mash together in one blur of fists and bells. Frank has him on the ropes at one point, and Gerard’s edging closer to the ring, eyes locked on to Frank in awe as he corners a man almost twice his size. Frank looks powerful and its hard for that to not effect Gerard in some way or another.

“You got this,” Ray tells Frank during the next corner. “He can’t take much more, I can see it. He’s getting tired. Just a couple more jabs, a few more of your right hooks and he’s gonna come down.”

Frank doesn’t say anything, just swishes the water around his mouth before spitting in to the bucket Gerard’s holding, a mix of foamy spit and pinkish bits. The bell dings again and Ray pushes Frank out of his seat with an encouraging yell.

At the start of the ninth round, Frank knocks the guy out cold.

Gerard never imagined he would celebrate another man’s unconsciousness with quite this much excitement, but as the referee lifts Frank’s arm in to the air, he can’t stop himself from dancing around and shouting along with Ray and the crowd. Frank’s grinning right down at them, raising his other arm as he basks in his glory, yelling back at the audience.

In his locker room, Frank jumps on the spot, bumping his gloved fists together. Ray grabs him by the shoulders and shakes him, grinning. “Well-fucking-done, you god damn champ,” he says and Frank finally heaves himself on to the bench, laughing.

“Get these things off me, Gee,” he says, holding his gloves up. Gerard straddles the bench with him and quickly unlaces the gloves, pulling them on when they’re loose enough and dropping them to the floor.

“You were awesome, Frank,” he praises and Frank beams back.

“I kind of was, wasn’t I?” he says and Gerard snorts as he starts unwinding the tape around Frank’s hands.

“Ever so modest.”

Frank uses his teeth to get the rest of the tape on his other hand and he winks at Gerard as he does so. “You know it.”

 

That night when Gerard closes his eyes, all he can see is Frank’s tan skin and the brilliant muscles that move beneath it. He thinks about the power in Frank’s eyes, the control he has, all his skill and speed and the way his body drips with sweat.

Before he knows it, he’s got a hand in his boxers palming his already half hard dick. He gasps, arching his hips up in to his hand as he thinks again about the way Frank fights, his dominance and skill. He pictures the sweat rolling down Frank’s chest and over the ripples of finely toned muscle as he makes a tight ring with his fingers around the base of his dick. He thinks about Frank circuit training, the music filling his ears as he watches Frank speed around the room, pumped and ready for whatever comes next, never wanting to stop.

When the sweating and heavily breathing Frank in his mind finally does stop and look up to wink seductively at Gerard, it only takes a few more tight fisted strokes before Gerard’s coming all over himself, biting his bottom lip hard enough for it to hurt in order from stopping himself saying the name he wants to say most.

-

The following day, Gerard promotes himself to watching ring side whilst Frank trains, without much thought about last night. He hands over the chalk bag, standing close to Frank as he thumps it against his hands until they’re coated white. He hands it back to Gerard with a grateful smile as Ray fastens up the focus pads.

“Come on then, champ,” he calls over to Frank. “Lets have you on the pads for fifteen.”

Gerard leans back against the ropes and watches, tucking his hands in to the pockets of his sweats and hooking one ankle over the other casually.

Frank and Ray stay near the far end of the ring, occasionally moving a little closer to the center when Frank gets four or five jabs in quick succession before Ray manages to reign him back in again. Frank’s focused on the pads, fists firing out quickly against them. Gerard watches his muscles in his arms work and it reminds him of his first day, the first time he ever saw Frank really use them.

When its getting close to the end of the fifteen minutes, Gerard climbs down from the ring to search his medic bag for the bottle of water he knows Frank will need soon.

Frank’s grin is winning when he jumps down from the ropes and accepts the bottle of water.

“You are my hero,” he says before taking a sizable gulp. He dumps a good amount on to his head for good measure before shaking it in Gerard’s face an announcing, “Smoke break.”

“Five minutes!” Ray calls down to them. “And then I want you back in here and on those weights.”

Frank salutes him before grabbing his sleeveless hoodie from the floor of the ring and jutting his head in the direction of the door.

“Come on, man,” he says and Gerard willingly follows.

Outside, Frank bums Gerard’s lighter and they smoke in silence for the first few moments. It’s a little cold out today, and Gerard can feel the breeze prickling against his skin. Frank seems unfazed by it though as he leans back against the cool brick of the gym wall, tilting his head back and breathing the smoke up towards the sky.

“So,” Frank says, finally breaking the silence, “how are you liking it here?”

Gerard takes another deep drag of his own cigarette before bobbing his head forward. “Yeah, I like it,” he says. “Its, uh…interesting.”

Frank starts laughing and he doesn’t stop until he pushes himself off of the wall. He looks like he’s about to say something in response when he notices something on Gerard and cocks his head to the side.

“You got a little chalk,” he starts before reaching out to the patch of skin revealed by the stretched out neck of Gerard’s t-shirt.

When Frank’s fingertips make contact with Gerard’s skin, he gasps. “Cold hands,” he says quickly.

“Sorry,” Frank replies before breathing on to his hand and rubbing it against his shorts before reaching out for Gerard again. He smears the white powder away with his fingers, leaving them there for possibly a moment or two longer than necessary. “You had a little chalk there,” he explains, but Gerard’s eyes are too fixated on Frank’s hand to hear anything other than the sound of his own blood rushing in his ears.

They continue to smoke in a comfortable silence until Ray pulls them both back inside.

-

Tonight, one of Brian’s fighters, Danny the Devil, has a fight. Gerard drops his freshly stocked medic bag by the ring and rolls the sleeves of his loose hoodie up to his elbows. Brian’s at ringside with Danny, their foreheads pressed together as he gives him an intense speech that Gerard only catches little glimpses of. It seems to get Danny pumped though, because next he’s letting out a psyched Yeah! and slamming his gloves against Brian’s fist. Brian pumps his fist in to the air and jumps down next to Gerard.

“We’ve got this fight in the bag,” he says to Gerard with overflowing confidence.

Gerard smiles back and nods, eyes drifting away from Brian’s face and over to the crowd. He’s starting to notice some regulars now, some that always stand in the back counting money and some that stay on the first few rows where you can really smell the blood. He spots Leo next to one of the judges, a hand on his shoulder as he leans down to mutter in to his ear.

Gerard’s wondering what they’re saying, even straining his eyes to see if he can lip read, but Leo’s mouth is hidden and the judge’s face is blank so it’s impossible. Something else quickly catches his attention, and his eyes flicker over to the man on the first row in ripped jeans, dirty sneakers and a holey black hoodie.

Frank’s staring at Gerard like he’s been watching him for a while, just waiting for him to notice his presence. When he finally does, Frank grins and give Gerard a quick wave. Gerard must look baffled, because Frank starts to laugh to himself. Hi, he mouths.

Gerard waves back, still dumbfounded. Hi, he mouths back. What are you doing here? He makes each word wide with his mouth so Frank can read. He points at his own eyes and then to the ring.

Watching, he replies.

Gerard’s thinking of something else to say when the ding of the bell announcing the start of the first round breaks their attention.

It’s a busy fight that seems to last forever. Danny starts to no look very good pretty early on, and so Gerard has to keep a close eye on him, on his face and feet and how quickly he recovers from any blows or stumbles. He doesn’t manage that many glances back at Frank, which is a real shame because Gerard can’t help but notice that Frank’s wearing jeans, which he has definitely not seen him in before. In fact, Gerard doesn’t think he’s seen Frank in anything that isn’t boxing gear.

A few times, Gerard notices Frank looking back at him, just staring at watching Gerard watch the fight. Gerard can see it out of the corner of his eye, the way Frank watches him pull himself up on to the ropes between rounds. It makes Gerard feel self conscious as he messes with the waistband of his sweat pants thinking that he has got to get some more attractive looking work clothes, but he’s been far too busy Googling the crap out of ‘Common Boxing Injuries’ to look for better work attire.

Frank, on the other hand, looks impressive. His thighs and lower legs are hugged perfectly by the dark denim, and if he would just turn a little more when he jumps out of his seat to egg Danny on, then maybe Gerard could get a decent glance of his ass. He almost gets it after the tenth round. Frank’s been standing for the last few rounds and Gerard thinks that maybe if he just takes one more step back he’ll get a half decent view, but then Danny’s cheek gets busted open and Gerard’s tearing through his kit for fresh swabs and Vaseline.

Though Gerard really didn’t think he would, Danny makes it through all twelve rounds and he feels genuine surprise and surge of delight as the final scores come in and the ref raises Danny’s arm high in to the air.

Gerard and Brian hug and high five as the crowd around them surges with energy. Bu the judges table, Leo nods in his seat, arms crossed and pointy nose raised towards his winning fighter. Frank’s applauding too, though his hands seems to be more in Gerard’s direction than anyone else’s.

When the crowd is settling down, Frank makes his way over, turning for just a moment to wave up and Danny and then Yes! Gerard gets that shot of Frank’s jean clad ass he’s been waiting for all night and it’s glorious. He doesn’t get too long to appreciate it because Frank spins quickly back around and takes the last few steps until he’s in front of Gerard. He punches Gerard’s shoulder lightly.

“You’re getting really good at this,” he says and Gerard’s head shrinks in to his shoulders.

“Yeah?”

“Fuck, yeah. You actually look like you know what you’re doing.”

“Oh, ha,” Gerard deadpans to which Frank smirks and clicks his tongue against his teeth.

“Really, though. You’re a natural.”

 

The image of Frank in jeans and the audio of You’re a natural is more than enough to get Gerard’s hand down his pants pretty much as soon as he gets home and flops back on the bed. His sweats slide easily down his thighs and he presses his head back in to the pillow as he starts to slowly palm himself.

It doesn’t take long until he’s hard, hell, he’s been half hard since Frank showed up at the match. Gerard jacks himself quickly, just wanting to come. He doesn’t want it to be slow or drawn out and he doesn’t want to take his time, because then he’d have more time to think about the fact he’s jerking off and has been jerking off to the image of Frank’s sweat soaked muscles and dangerous smile for days now.

No, this is just about getting off, it’s just about coming and having that little release to bring himself down from the rush of adrenaline he gets from being in the thick of a match. At least, that’s what he tells himself, but as he comes with Frank’s face behind his closed lids its obvious that it’s so much more.

-

When Gerard hears Frank’s muffled and frustrated voice, Gerard instantly prepares himself for another Steve-induced-cut-to-clean. Only, Steve’s in the training ring with Brian and the focus pads like he has been for over an hour now, no where near the direction of sound.

They’ve been training for most of the day and when Ray had pulled Frank to the side to “talk”, he figured it had something to do with tonight’s match. Gerard was busying himself with his medic kit, ready to carry it down to Frank’s locker room.

Gerard kicks his medic bag under the bench and wanders out in to the corridor. Neither Steve or Brian, the only other two people in the training room, look up as he leaves.

He finds himself at the top of the stairs leading down to Leo’s office. The door is open, but he can’t see anything, just hear. There’s a shadow cast out on to the stairs that looks like Frank, pacing quickly back and forth.

“I’m not going to just throw myself down in front of this guy,” Frank grits. “I’ve had him out three fights running, no one is going to believe-”

“It’s not about that, Frankie,” a voice Gerard instantly recognises as Leo says. “It’s your turn in the books, kid. You gotta hit the mat tonight.”

“For this guy?” Frank argues. “Nuh-uh, no fucking way, man.”

“You seem to think that you have a choice in the matter,” Leo’s voice sneers creepily. It makes Gerard want to shudder. “If you want to fight anywhere in this town ever again, you’ll do as I tell you. This is my show, and no champion is going to ruin that.”

“Frank,” it’s Ray, a total contrast to the sharp eerie tone of Leo’s shrill voice. “Think about this, please-”

Psst,” Gerard almost jumps a foot in the air as someone behind him whispers, and it takes everything he’s got not to let out a surprised yelp. Brian smirks. “Naughty, naughty,” he grins. “Listening in on the bosses private conversations could get you in to a lot of trouble.”

“It can’t be that private if the door’s open,” Gerard whispers, taking a step back closer to Brian.

“Really? You wanna go down there and tell him that?” he asks with a cocky smirk. When Gerard takes another step away from the staircase, he snorts. “Didn’t think so.”

Gerard blinks, ignoring the comment. “What’s that about?” he says, head motioning in the direction of the office.

“That? Oh, it’s just Frank having a tantrum. He doesn’t want to throw the fight,” Brian explains and Gerard’s eyebrows draw together in confusion.

“Throw the fight?” he repeats slowly and Brian laughs in disbelief.

“Oh man, you really are new here aren’t you?” When Gerard doesn’t answer, he shakes his head. “It’s Frank’s turn to lose. Y’know? Hit the mat, throw the fight? The other guy, his boss has more business than Leo so it’s our turn to take the fall. Frank goes down, the bookies get paid and everyone goes home with a pocket full of cash and the chance to see another day. Get it?”

Gerard nods, slow and dumbfounded. “Yeah.”

Brian clamps a hand on Gerard’s shoulder. “Glad I could clear that up for you.” The conversation downstairs seems to have stopped, and Brian peers down the staircase. “I’d get to the locker room if I were you,” he whispers. “It’s show time soon.”

 

Gerard’s been in the locker room not even twenty seconds when the door flies open, almost tearing off its hinges. Frank storms in, grabs the door and swings it closed again with a loud slam.

Gerard stands and watches, not able to do much else. He’s never seen Frank this angry before, he doesn’t think he’s seen Frank angry ever even in a fight. He’s always got so much control and he’s so tactful with his punches, but as he turns and crashes his fist in to the back of the door there’s nothing tactful about it.

The anger and frustration is rolling off of Frank’s body in waves and when each one gets to Gerard he finds himself leaning closer. Gerard doesn’t know if Frank knows he knows about the fight, or maybe he just doesn’t care. Maybe he hasn’t even noticed that Gerard’s stood right here yet.

A few more punches in to the door and Frank turns his attention to the lockers with an angry yell. He pummels his fist in to one of the rectangular metal doors, fist pounding over and over as the rest of the lockers rattle beneath the force.

As soon as Gerard sees the first glimpse of blood he quickly rushes to Frank’s side, yanking back his shoulder to try and put some distance between them and the locker.

“Frank, Frank don’t,” he tries but Frank just lets out another angry yell and punches the locker again. “Frank, please,” Gerard pleads with another sharp tug on his shoulder. He moves himself forward as Frank’s fist connects with the locker door again, and when the fist pulls back, it catches Gerard right in the mouth.

The force of the hit sends Gerard’s head snapping back, and Frank instantly breaks out of his red mist trance just as Gerard’s back slams against the locker. He clamps a hand over his mouth, eyes wide in shock as he watches Frank just stare right at him.

When Frank goes to move forward, raising a hand intent on letting it get to Gerard’s face, Gerard flinches away. Frank’s whole body slumps, his eyes brimming with hurt and disappointment as he lowers his hand again. He seems so calm and yet Gerard feels like a small cornered animal, breathing heavily. Frank steps closer, moving himself in to Gerard’s personal space as Gerard draws in a breath and holds it there, staring in to Frank’s wide, focused eyes as he waits.

Frank pulls Gerard’s hand away from his lip and the blood smudges down his chin. It’s not a lot of blood, just a drop or two from a little tear on his bottom lip. Frank wipes it with his thumb, and this time when he touches Gerard’s face, Gerard doesn’t flinch. He’s about to say something to Gerard, mouth open ready to form a word like Okay? but instead he leans forward and pecks softly at Gerard’s bottom lip. When he draws back, he looks up at Gerard who’s looking back at him now with complete trust and expectation.

Frank pecks at Gerard’s lip once, twice, three times, and on the third Gerard moves his own mouth to meet with Frank’s. And then it’s like the final barrier between them has been broken, and all that’s left for Frank to do is slide a hand in to Gerard’s hair, brush his tongue between his already parted lips and kiss him with a fierce driving sort of hunger.

Gerard takes to the kiss almost as quickly as Frank does, lips parted and wet against Frank’s as he finds himself pressed in to the lockers. One hand grips Frank’s shoulder as the other finds its way to the center of Frank’s vest, bunching the material in its fingers. Frank’s mouth is warm and giving as Gerard takes everything he can from the kiss, everything Frank offers he swallows down and savours the taste.

With a hand sneaking up the hem of Gerard’s t-shirt Frank runs his fingertips against the warm skin, gliding further up as Gerard’s shirt rides up at the sides. Frank presses his palm flat between Gerard’s shoulder blades, pushing Gerard against his own body. When Gerard’s breath hitches and he lets it out in a little whimpers, Frank can’t help himself but bite away at Gerard’s lips and those needy little sounds.

Gerard’s lip is still buzzing with the pain of being punched, but the sensation of being kissed so urgently hides it, and he finds himself pressing back for more.

As Frank latches a hand on to the shelf of an open locker, pushing himself firmly over Gerard’s body, their little piece of perfection is shattered with a loud voice from down the hall.

“Frank!” Ray calls. “You’ve got thirty seconds to get out here, man.”

Frank tears his mouth away, not able to resist the urge to shiver at the sloppy noise their lips make when they break out of the kiss. He presses his forehead against Gerard’s, who’s still got his eyes closed, breathing heavily.

“I don’t want to go,” he whispers, breath hot on Gerard’s face.

“I know,” Gerard whispers back, finally opening his eyes.

“But I have to.”

Gerard gulps and nods. “I know.”

Cupping the side of Gerard’s face, Frank gives his mouth one last hungry kiss before cutting it roughly short and pulling himself away from Gerard’s body.

He walks out of the room, tempted to look back but not being able to because he knows if he does, he’s not going to be able to go.

-

When Gerard gets out to the ring, the crowd is already surging with energy. Frank’s in the ring, looking down at Ray as he pulls off his vest and throws it down to him.

“Here,” Ray says, dropping Gerard’s medic bag at his feet. “You left this upstairs.”

Gerard nods in thanks and looks up to Frank who’s tightening a bow on his glove with his teeth. Ray pulls himself up on to the ropes, bottle of water already in hand. He squirts some in to Frank’s mouth and then calls down for Gerard to bring up the gum shield.

He finds it quickly in his bag and hoists himself up to Ray’s side. Frank opens his mouth wide and Gerard feeds him the shield, trying not to hold his breath as Frank uses his tongue to click it in to place. Ray’s got nothing more to say to Frank, they just bump fists against gloves and when Frank turns to do the same to Gerard, Gerard can’t help but latch on to that sinking look in Frank’s eyes.

It only gets worse from there. During the first few rounds, Gerard finds out that Frank’s not suppose to fall until the eleventh round.

“He’s got to fight the whole match?” he whispers, appalled.

Ray just nods slowly, “I’m afraid so,” he replies.

All Gerard wants to do is kiss Frank again, but for the next thirty something minutes all he can do is stand there and watch Frank put his everything in to a fight he knows he’s not allowed to win.

Between rounds, Ray doesn’t have much to offer other than the usual encouraging words that Frank doing well, really well. Frank won’t look at Gerard as he feeds him water or swabs clumps of Vaseline over his cuts, he just looks at Ray or his opponent. Gerard doesn’t know what would be worse, having Frank look at him or not. He supposes Frank can’t look at him, maybe he’s embarrassed, or maybe he’s ashamed.

As Gerard tends to every cut and wipes away every smudge of blood he can’t help but feel increasingly enraged at the other fighter, because now it just seems like Frank’s getting the hell beaten out of him for nothing other than entertainment. Its not about competition now or sport, its about money and watching someone else fall.

Towards the end, Frank grows more furious and he gets some strong knocking punches in against the other fighter, who looks confused and completely surprised like he thinks Frank might not go down as planned. For a few moments, Gerard thinks that maybe Frank won’t, but then he sees Frank’s guard arm drop and a punch from his opponent gets him right in the jaw.

Toppling face first on to the mat, Frank stays down with his eyes tightly closed, spitting blood and pressing his gloves in to the side of his head as the ref pounds his hand against the mat and counts to ten.

When he gets to ten, the crowd roars and Gerard feels intensely ill.

Ray climbs in to the ring to help Frank back up and Gerard pulls himself up against the ropes, waiting until Frank’s back in the chair. He expects Frank to look lost, disappointed and hurt, but all he can see is that same anger from before as a red mist descends over Frank’s vision.

 

In the locker room, Gerard gets Frank’s gloves and tape off before he picks up Frank’s bag and throws it to him. Frank catches it effortlessly.

“Get changed,” Gerard’s instructs.

“Why?”

“Because you’re coming to my place. There’s no way I’m leaving you here with that temper, you’ll fucking kill somebody.”

For a moment, Gerard worries that he sounds like a nagging wife, but still Frank does as he’s told, changing quickly in to ripped jeans and his ratty sleeveless hoodie before stuffing his match clothes carelessly in to a locker. He slings his gloves around his neck by the laces and slams a locker door closed.

“Ready,” he says to Gerard who’s been leaning back against the closed door watching. Gerard nods and pushes himself away from the door.

“Come on, then.”

They smoke in silence as the walk the several blocks to Gerard’s place, shoulders bumping together occasionally.

 

When they get through the door, Gerard throws his keys on to the table and then stands by the back of his couch, watching Frank with mild fascination as he takes in Gerard’s small, crappy apartment.

Gerard shifts his weight from one foot to the other, just waiting for that moment when Frank’s eyes get to him. When they finally do, Gerard feels a little awkward about it and the silence that follows. They haven’t been much for words today, either of them, just looks and touches and kisses. God, that kiss. Gerard bites his lip subconsciously just thinking about it.

It takes him a moment to notice Frank’s lazy smile and when he does, he shrinks back in to himself. “What?” he says and Frank laughs and shakes his head.

“Just, I don’t know. Come here?” he asks, though he starts moving towards Gerard himself. There’s only another few steps until they’re chest to chest and Gerard takes them quickly, not even caring that he makes what is quite possibly the most pathetic noise he’s ever heard, just before Frank captures his mouth.

They tumble back on to the couch with zero amount of grace. There’s an elbow in someone’s shoulder and a knee in someone’s ribs and then Frank laughs again and settles himself on top of Gerard. “Sorry,” he says, rubbing the spot on Gerard’s rib with one hand as the other slides around the back of Gerard’s neck, pulling his head up away from the couch until there’s no room left and they kiss.

Gerard’s been thinking about this, wanting only this for the whole match and then some. He gets his fingers in Frank’s hair as he holds him there for him to kiss, deep and consuming as Frank surges forward with a devouring hunger. The noise that Frank makes in the back of his throat has Gerard liquefying against the fighter’s body, so whiney yet animalistic.

“Wanted to kiss you all night,” Frank says in to Gerard’s mouth as a hand slides up the front of Gerard’s shirt. “Fuck, you taste so good.”

Gerard feels a little too breathless to reply with actual words, so instead he cups Frank’s hardening dick through his tight, ripped jeans. Frank curses, eyes falling momentarily closed before he opens them again and looks at Gerard again with that same hunger.

When they kiss again, the force of it pins Gerard back against the couch. He pulls his hand away to fasten it around Frank’s hip, coaxing both of their bodies to start moving against each other. Frank gets on board instantly, grinding himself down against Gerard with quick, rolling motions.

“Jesus-fuck,” Gerard pants, chest tight and stomach loose. Frank grabs Gerard by the thighs and pulls him further down the couch in one quick swoop, and Gerard can’t help but feel that maybe he shouldn’t enjoy being dominated by someone with twice the upper body strength, except with Frank it feels totally okay.

Frank settles himself back over Gerard, cocks aligned through denim and fabric and Gerard can’t help but buck up against him. Frank drops his mouth on to Gerard’s jaw and leaves it there for a while, breathing heavily on to his skin, not quite kissing and not quite biting though his teeth scrape against it. Gerard gets a leg hooked over Frank’s waist, using it as anchorage so he can hoist himself up and press their hips together.

“Gerard,” Frank whispers on to his jaw, dragging his lips over Gerard’s chin and finally on to his mouth. He licks over the cut on Gerard’s lip, making it sting just a little, but Gerard uses the sensation as more of a turn on.

When Frank can’t take it anymore, he fumbles messily with his jeans, ripping open buttons and tugging down zips before reaching for Gerard again.

With their pants sliding down to their lower thighs Gerard helps Frank’s dick out of his boxers, shuddering with excitement when he gets a hold of the hot, sticky flesh. Frank tugs Gerard’s boxers down as much as he can, just enough until it’s skin on skin, cock on cock and it feels amazing.

“Fuck,” Frank breathes. “You feel, fucking-” and he’d like to finish his sentence, really he would but the sensations are robbing the sounds from his chest before they even make it to his throat.

Frank steadies himself with one hand on the arm of the couch above Gerard’s head, and Gerard’s still got a leg over Frank’s waist as they pull their bodies together, over and over until they’re slick with sweat and pre come. It sounds glorious and smells delicious and Gerard thinks about really wanting to taste Frank’s skin sometime soon. Not now, though, because he’s about to come all over the place.

“Frank, shit, yeah,” is his only warning before he comes, hot and messy all over their stomachs. Frank pauses for just a moment, looking down at his come covered belly and giving an appreciative groan before rubbing himself off against the inside of Gerard’s thigh.

When Frank comes, Gerard kisses him through it until they’re both spent and empty.

-

In the morning, Frank wakes up staring at a ceiling that doesn’t look like his own. The sheets beneath him don’t feel like his bed sheets and that is definitely not his Pulp Fiction poster on the back of the bedroom door (though he kind of wishes it was) It takes him another good few moment to conclude that no, this isn’t his bed or his room, and another few on top of that until the burliness of sleep clears. When the body next to his moves it all comes rushing back. The argument, the fight, the kiss – it’s all there clear as day now.

When Frank turns to see Gerard still sleeping on his front and with his face smushed in to his pillow, there’s a flash of images, of bodies moving and grinding on Gerard’s couch. He closes his eyes briefly; they still ache with a weight of sleep. As the rush of remembrance starts to slow, he sees it all again, how they came and how they kissed for what felt like hours after. They must have fallen asleep, or at least he must have, because the next thing he knew Gerard was shaking his shoulder, ushering him up off the couch and leading him in to the bedroom. There was a brief expectance of more in Frank’s mind, whether that was more kissing or coming he didn’t know, but he was surprised when Gerard kicked off his jeans and crawled in to bed, already half asleep. Surprised…Yes. Disappointed…No.

Frank rubs a hand over his eyes before turning to retrieve his phone from his jeans, suddenly aware that he’s got no idea what time it is.

It’s early, thankfully, and he’s got a good few hours before he’s due for his lunch shift at the café. He knows he needs to leave soon, though. He’s got to shower and change and eat and though he could probably do two out of three things here, he needs to get some place where his head can sort through the last twenty four hours before he ends up doing something stupid, like usual. There’s a part of him that really doesn’t want to get up. It wants him to turn towards Gerard and run a hand through his hair, cuddle in to his warmth and kiss him some more.

He doesn’t, though. No matter how much that piece of him jabs at his heart with its small, sharp corners.

Finally, he pushes himself up out of bed and gets dressed. When he’s stuffing his feet in to his sneakers, Gerard starts to stir beneath the covers before finally rolling over and opening his eyes. He blinks in to the morning light until he sees Frank at the edge of the room. He sits up, pulling self consciously at the hem of his t-shirt as it attempts to ride up.

“Hey,” he says. “Are you leaving?”

Frank waits a second, takes in a quick breath before nodding. “Yeah, I have to be at work soon.”

“Oh…” As Gerard goes silent, Frank can practically see the next thought in his head.

“I was going to wake you before I left,” he tries to assure, not sure if Gerard quite believes him until the other man’s lips quirk in to a small smile.

“Ok,” he says and he sounds happy about it. Frank smiles back, relieved.

“I’ll see you at training later?”

Gerard nods. “Yeah, you will.”

That little piece from before is starting to twist inside Frank, forcing him forward on his feet until he finds himself at Gerard’s bedside. He stares up at Frank with expectant, hopeful eyes. When Frank leans down and kisses him, Gerard’s still smiling. It’s a brief kiss but Frank makes sure that it’s promising. He wants to tell Gerard that last night, it wasn’t just a one time deal or just something he needed to make the day feel better. He wants to tell him about that piece inside him, twisting so sharply and tugging him back towards the bed.

He doesn’t, though, mostly because he could never think of the words so for now, the kiss is enough.

 

Frank’s been gone for about an hour when Mikey calls. Gerard spent that time staring at the ceiling, half wanting to get out of bed and the rest refusing to. When Mikey calls Gerard rolls on to his side, sighing like it’s a great effort and he snatches up his phone from the floor.

“Yeah?” he says.

“I’m feeling very unloved you know,” Mikey says dramatically. Gerard laughs and rolls on to his back.

“I’ve been busy. At work,” he clarifies. Mikey sighs on the other end of the line.

“Ok. Well, I am very proud of you and all, so just to show how supportive I am, I’m going to let you buy me dinner.”

“You’re an ass.”

“Shut up, ass face. My boss is being a dick and I need to vent,” Mikey argues.

“Fine,” Gerard sighs in defeat. “We’ll go to dinner.”

“Awesome,” Mikey sings and Gerard can hear the fist pump. “Pick me up at seven.”

 

Gerard doesn’t realise how dirty he is until he’s walking to the shower. His shirt is sticking to his stomach with sweat and come, crumpled from bed sheets and bodies. He tears it off and drops it on the bathroom floor.

After a long, hot shower Gerard searches the kitchen for food, which ends up being a bowl of cereal. He leans against his counter as he eats, chewing down bits of milky marshmallows and staring at his couch. When he stares hard enough, he thinks he can still see the outline of Frank’s back. He blinks the image away after a few moments, smiling to himself as he grabs the box of Lucky Charms and pours himself bowl number two.

 

Ray corners Frank almost as soon as he gets in to the gym. Gerard’s not arrived yet; Frank concludes this with a final look around the room even as Ray’s staring at him sternly.

“What happened to you last night?” he says and Frank simply shrugs.

“Nothing,” he lies. “We went for a beer; he said I needed to chill out.”

“You did need to chill out.”

“Well I did, I am,” Frank nods, giving Ray a Satisfied now? look. Ray keeps his eyes locked with Frank’s for a few suspicious moments before finally stepping aside.

”Good,” he says. “Now warm up.”

When Gerard arrives, the sweat is thick across Frank’s back, soaking through his shirt as he pounds in to the heavy bag, gloves smashing in to the thick red material. Gerard stuffs one hand in to the pocket of his jeans (these are old, thinning and frayed jeans he had found after his shower in the back of his closet. A God send in this situation he’s sure) and tugs the medic bag over to the bench.

Frank gives him a quick side glance, eyes on Gerard for an extra beat as he looks him up and down. Gerard tries not to act like he’s noticed, even though he’s sure he’s smirking.

“Hey,” Ray calls over, giving Gerard a short wave. Gerard nods his own greeting before another fighter with a sore knee from a previous fight demands his attention.

Frank can’t help but feel the tug of jealousy in his stomach as Gerard kneels down before one of the newer fighters, hands brushing over his swollen looking knee. He slams his gloved fist in to the right side of the heavy bag with a grunt, spitting saliva out on the exhale.

“He can’t just be your medic, y’know?” Ray comments smugly from the side lines. Frank turns to give him a sarcastic smile before sending one last right hook plummeting in to the punching bag, after which he gnaws at the strings of his glove and tugs it loose.

“Medic!” he shouts, voice barely carried across the noise of the room, but Gerard looks up his way. He says something to the fighter, reaches in to his bag and hands him something before picking it up and moving quickly across the room. Ray mutters something, but Frank chooses not to listen, instead works on yanking one of his gloves off.

“What’s the matter?” Gerard sets the bag down next to the bench, looking at Frank expectantly. It reminds Frank of this morning, the way he looked just before he left and those little pieces start to move again.

“My hand,” he says. “I, uh. I think I caught it on the wrong side.” It’s not a very convincing performance, but Gerard doesn’t seem to doubt him one bit.

“Ok,” he says, reach out and taking Frank’s hand between his own, “lets just have a look then.” He turns Frank’s hand palm up and runs his fingertips along the back, pressing gently at different points. “Does this hurt?”

Frank shakes his head. “No,” It feels wonderful. “I think its ok now.”

Gerard looks up but doesn’t move his hands away and Frank doesn’t pull back his own. There’s a look between them, more than a glance but less than a stare and it’s telling Gerard everything he needs to know and giving Frank the exact answer he was hoping for.

“Ray, Gerard’s taking me to get more Heat Spray for my hand,” he says, looking briefly in Ray’s direction before walking in the opposite.

Gerard looks after Frank, glances at Ray who waves at them dismissively before following Frank out of the training room.

Frank takes a turn in to another room, and Gerard doesn’t realise where he is until he’s being pushed up against a half tile, half grime wall. It stinks of bleach and disinfectant in this bathroom, but soon he’s got a mouth full of Frank and the taste of sweat and mint flavoured gum. Gerard sinks quickly in to the kiss, keeping up with the rhythm Frank puts down. He almost pins Gerard to the wall with his pumped shining muscles, one hand on his shoulder and the other pressing Gerard’s hip against a broken tile. He doesn’t mind, doesn’t care and maybe even likes it a little, being taken over almost. It’s a lot of what he expects.

What Gerard doesn’t expect is for Frank to pull roughly out of the kiss, give Gerard a look of want and hunger before falling to his knees.

Gerard chokes on a mouth full of both their spit, head banging back against the wall as Frank starts to tug at his jeans. They’re loose enough to slide down Gerard’s hips without fussing with zips and buttons, to which Frank gives an appreciative groan as he hooks his fingers around the band of Gerard’s boxers. He gives Gerard a smirk, not looking directly at him as he pulls the boxers down letting Gerard’s already half hard cock spring free, but Gerard still knows its meant for him.

Frank wets his lips with his tongue before sinking down on to Gerard’s dick, covering all of it with his mouth until it starts to grow fully hard. He curls a hand around the base, listening to Gerard’s gargled moans as he does so. He tightens his fingers and sucks, cheeks hallowed and tongue swiping expertly.

“Sh-sh-it,” Gerard breaths, his hands itching at the side of him to reach out and grab at something on Frank, his hair, face, shoulders - anything. His hips shoot up from the wall and Frank pushes them back down. He slides off of Gerard’s cock with a wet noise, rocking back on to the balls of his feet and licking his lips as he looks up at Gerard.

“Tell me,” he starts, one hand back on Gerard’s cock as he jacks him slowly. “Tell me what you want. Show me what you want me to do.” Gerard’s trying to process the words he’s hearing, and it must be taking him a while because Frank’s smirking again.

When Frank’s got his mouth on him again, Gerard takes the invitation and settles a hand on top of Frank’s head, fingers raking through his warm hair as he leans back and lets his hips jut forward. When Frank swipes his tongue over the head again, Gerard gasps and nods to himself.

“Yeah,” he says. “Fuck. Do that again,” Frank does and Gerard’s other hand moves to Frank’s shoulder, fingertips digging in to the back of his dark vest. “Go down again, as far as you can,” Gerard instructs, eyes closed and head tilted towards to ceiling as he waits for the zings of pleasure to grow stronger than any feelings of self consciousness. It doesn’t take long, and as Frank’s lips meet his own fingers wrapped delicately around the base of Gerard’s dick Gerard feels perfectly comfortable with urging Frank on more. “Yeah, just like that, JesusFrank. Yes,” he hisses, hand tightening in Frank’s hair. “Suck, hard,” Frank groans and does exactly as he’s told, suddenly realising that he is an utter genius because demanding Gerard is definitely one he’d like to see more often.

Gerard’s moaning loud now, head back and mouth open and they’re not that far from the training room that if there was a sudden moment of silence they wouldn’t be able to hear one of Gerard’s filthy but delicious moans. Frank’s gotta get this wrapped up as quick as possible if he’s got any hope of getting one of Gerard’s healing hands on his dick before someone comes looking for them.

He curls his lips in to a tight ring around Gerard’s cock and sucks hard, dragging his lips all the way up and almost completely off before sinking back down again.

Gerard shivers as he comes, breath held as the surprise of his orgasm hits him. He’s banged his head against this wall fifteen times in the last few minutes, but he throws in one more for good measure as he feels Frank swallow around him and then spit on to the floor.

Frank’s panting just as much as Gerard as he climbs his way back up Gerard’s body.

“Fuck,” Gerard breaths, smiling and eyes closed until Frank kisses them open. Gerard laughs when Frank presses his hard on against Gerard’s thigh, and his hands just passed Frank’s stomach when there’s noise from the hall.

“Frank, what the fuck, man? Where the hell are you guys?” Ray’s calling. Frank presses his forehead against Gerard’s as Gerard lets his hand fall back to his side. He grunts in disappointment and Gerard smiles almost apologetically.

“I’ll be there in minute,” he calls back.

“What are you doing in there?”

“Jesus, Ray. Will you just fuck off?” he shouts.

“Okay, fine you defensive little shit. But you better be back out here in thirty seconds.”

When they’re sure he’s gone, Frank falls forward against Gerard with a sigh. “Cock blocking asshole,” he mumbles and Gerard laughs.

Ray doesn’t say anything when they get back in to the training room, just points towards the ring and the stack of focus pads and body guards. The fighter with the trick knee starts complaining again as soon as Gerard’s in his eye line and with one last knowing look he and Frank go their separate ways.

 

“Hey,” Frank says, jogging over to Gerard as he’s pulling on his jacket at the end of training. “Do you want to do something later?”

Gerard’s face instantly perks, but it only lasts for a moment as he remembers his brother. “I’d love to, but I’m going to dinner tonight with my brother.”

“Oh,” Frank looks genuinely disappointed.

“I can blow it off though, if you want?” he offers and Frank laughs, shaking his head.

“No, you can’t blow off your brother. We can hang out tomorrow?”

“Yeah,” Gerard nods. “We can. Oh shit,” he presses a palm to his forehead. “There’s a fight tomorrow night.”

Frank sighs, fiddling with the zip of his sleeveless hoodie. “How about we just play it by ear then?”

 

Later at dinner, Gerard can’t stop thinking about Frank and what they’d most likely be doing right now if he wasn’t here. Half way through a rather inappropriate thought, Gerard concludes that he’s a pretty terrible big brother as Mikey’s giving him a stern look of disappointment.

“Are you even listening to me?” he says, looking from Gerard’s plate of Chinese food, barely touched.

Gerard could lie, but then Mikey will only ask him what the last thing he said was and then Gerard will have to make something up which will obviously be wrong, which will in turn spiral Mikey in to another rant about Gerard’s lack of conversation skills. He shakes his head. “No, sorry.”

Mikey glares some more before easing up and sighing. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. I’m fine.” But Mikey is not convinced.

“No you’re not. Usually I can hardly hear myself over the sound of you shovelling pork balls in to your mouth.”

“Thanks,” Gerard says, rolling his eyes and pushing a pork ball around his plate with his fork.

“So go on then,” Mikey urges, “tell me what’s on the mind of private gym medic.”

Gerard stabs his fork in to the battered meat ball and shoves it in to his mouth to stop himself from answering.

-

“Hey, man. I got something for you,” Ray says with a warming smile. Gerard drops his bag by the bench and gives a small curious nod. Ray hands over the navy t-shirt he’s been holding and Gerard unfolds it, holding it out in front of himself.

“Team F’NSTEIN?” he reads aloud. Ray nods.

“Yeah, thought we’d make it official. Turn it over.” Gerard turns it slowly until the back and the white letters that arc across it become readable. MEDIC. Gerard grins.

“This is really awesome, man. Thank you.”

“No problem. Frank’s not here yet, you can change in to it and surprise him,” Ray shrugs, though his smug smirk is telling Gerard more. He doesn’t probe, just nods and takes the t-shirt to the bathroom.

When Frank arrives, Gerard’s filling in a medical journal, sitting on the bench with his bag at his feet and his back to the door. He spots Ray in the ring, dropping a chalk bag in to every corner. He juts his head towards Gerard, and when Frank raises a confused eyebrow he sighs and points directly at Gerard mouthing Look!

Feeling eyes all over him, Gerard turns towards Frank, smiling brightly when he sees him. With another two or three steps closer, Frank finally sees the t-shirt. When he stops dead, Ray turns away, grinning triumphantly to himself whilst Gerard stands, pulling subconsciously at the hem of his new shirt.

“Hey,” he says and Frank’s eyes jump quickly to Gerard’s face. For a second, Gerard swears he can see a look in Frank’s eyes that reads Mine!

“Hi. Nice shirt,” he nods and Gerard smiles, brushing invisible dust from the front.

“Yeah? You think Steve will mind if I wear it to his fight tonight?” Frank laughs, shaking his head as he walks closer and drops his bag next to Gerard’s.

“I can’t imagine him having a problem with it. He’s a really laid back guy.” In any other circumstance, it wouldn’t be that funny, but the nervous energy that’s running between them quickly has them both cracking up until gasping for breath.

“Alright, ladies, it’s time for a proper warm up,” Ray comments from ring side, hands clasped on the top rope as he smirks down at them.

It’s been well over twenty four hours since Frank last kissed Gerard, but about four minutes since Gerard last thought about it as he watches Frank jab away at Ray’s body guard. He’s all slick skin and dark tattoos, faces and shapes that Gerard’s spent far too long staring at over the past few weeks.

“Hey, doc,” Brian calls from the floor, “I need to talk to you about tonight.”

And that’s Gerard busy for the rest of training.

 

A part of Gerard thinks, maybe hopes, that Frank will show up for the fight. He doesn’t though, and Gerard would be lying if he ever said he wasn’t disappointed. He doesn’t get much chance to think about it or anything that isn’t being a cutman, for that matter. The fight is full of injuries from round one and Steve seems to be on a blind rampage, fists of fury and a book full of foul moves until the ref almost makes him forfeit the fight.

Gerard’s running low on supplies by the final few rounds as he peers in to the measly contents of his medic bag. The tub of Vaseline is almost empty and there are only a handful of swabs and an empty bottle of Adrenaline Chloride left in there. He seriously needs to stock up.

Steve loses the fight due to a drastic loss of points thanks to all his illegal moves. Gerard thinks his disqualification in an illegal fight is almost laughable, but he shrugs if off and gets ready for a face full of curses and spit when he has to clean Steve up.

He’s in for a long night.

 

Taking on over time at the café may not have been Frank’s most impressive decision, but it’s definitely kept him busy for the past five hours. However, now he has to close because his manager is a no good slacker who would rather gamble away his next pay cheque than do his actual job. Frank clears away the last coffee cup, settling it on the partition in to the kitchen. Someone else can clean that up in the morning, he’s so out of here.

There’s tapping on the door. Frank slumps his shoulders and shakes his head. “We’re closed,” he says loudly, refusing to turn around and shoo away whatever drunken bum wants to use the bathroom or talk their way in to a free cup of coffee. The person raps their fist against the glass again and Frank glares in to the empty kitchen. “I said,” he starts, but when he turns around he quickly swallows his next words.

Gerard’s stood outside, hoodie pulled tight around his neck as he waves sheepishly. Frank quickly walks to the door, unlocking it and pulling Gerard inside.

“Hey,” Gerard says as Frank closes the door again.

“How long have you been out there? It’s fucking freezing.”

Gerard shrugs. “Just long enough to make sure this was the right place.” There’s a short pause as Gerard fiddles with his sleeve. “Brian told me you might be here tonight.”

Frank steps back behind the counter and gestures to a seat on the opposite side. “Yeah, I put in some overtime. I’m just finishing up, though, if you want to wait?” Gerard nods and slides on to the stool. Frank absent minded wipes down the counter with the towel hooked in his belt loop. He doesn’t take his eyes off Gerard as he cleans. “So how was the fight?”

Gerard sighs and shakes his head, shoulders slumping. “Bad,” is all he says at first, but Frank gives him this look of concern which makes him want to say more. “Steve lost and he was not happy about it.”

Frank chuckles. “There’s a surprise.” The sound of Frank’s laugh lifts Gerard’s face and he smiles back honestly. “You look worn out,” Frank says.

“It’s been a long night,” Gerard replies, resting his chin in the palm of his hand as he attempts and fails to hide a yawn.

Frank’s about to say something along the lines of Well, maybe you should head home then when he notices Gerard’s t-shirt. “Did you wear my shirt to Steve’s fight?” he asks quietly. Gerard looks down at his own t-shirt, almost like he’s surprised to see it there.

“Uhm, no. I actually changed back in to it after the fight,” he admits, cheeks tinting just the slightest hue of pink.

Frank’s lips suddenly feel very dry and he finds himself licking them two or three times before he can speak again. “Ok, so I’m gonna kiss you now,” he says.

Gerard looks at him with wide eyes and a lip caught under his teeth. He looks trapped, but in the best kind of way. He nods slowly as Frank leans down and covers Gerard’s mouth with his own.

There’s a stupid little sound in the back of Gerard’s throat that he would never admit to making if asked, but then Frank’s working his mouth against Gerard’s and curling his fingers beneath Gerard’s chin, tilting his face upwards ever so slightly and deepening the kiss, turning it in to something else. It makes Gerard’s stomach churn and toes curl, he’s spent all night trying not to think about how good Frank tasted the last time, and now he’s got a mouthful of that delicious scent and it’s even sweeter than it was before.

When Frank pulls back just barely, Gerard can’t stop himself from saying, “Your place is near here, right?”

Frank presses their foreheads together, breath warm over Gerard’s face as he lets out a breathy little chuckle. “Just across the street,” he says.

With a hand on Frank’s cheek Gerard pulls him back in to another kiss, shorter this time because if they get in to it here they’ll never be able to get out of it. “Not close enough,” he says and Frank’s already got the store keys out of his pocket.

 

It’s been a difficult three minutes trying to keep their hands to themselves as they cross the street and make it up the first two floors of Frank’s apartment building, but they’re quickly rewarded as they soon find themselves on the other side of a locked door. Gerard presses Frank against it, all hips and hard ons as he mouths his way messily along Frank’s throat. Frank takes a fistful of Gerard’s slightly rain dampened hair, groaning and hips bucking when teeth scrape over his Adam’s apple. When Gerard’s hand snakes between them to cup Frank through his jeans, Frank knows there’s only one place this is going.

“Bedroom,” he says quickly, grabbing at Gerard’s shoulders and steering him back a few steps. Gerard’s disappointed to have his mouth jerked away from Frank’s neck, but it doesn’t last long as Frank’s fingers wrap around his wrist, leading them both deeper in to the apartment. Gerard doesn’t get much of a chance to look at it through the darkness, but by the time it takes them to get from the door to the hall he concludes that it’s at least three times the size of his own.

In the bedroom Frank sits himself down at the end of the bed, it’s still dark but Gerard can read the look on his face clear as day. He closes the door behind him and steps closer to the bed. When he’s a step away Frank pulls off his hoodie and t-shirt in one, tossing them to the side and giving Gerard a still view of all those tattoos he’s been staring at for weeks.

Reaching out, Frank takes Gerard by the hips and pulls him that last step forward until his knees are touching the end of the bed. Frank moves his hands further up, sliding the edges of Gerard’s hoodie and t-shirt up until there’s a strip of stomach and hips in front of him. He presses a closed mouthed kiss just below Gerard’s navel and Gerard shivers, head leaning back and face relaxing as Frank kisses along the strip of skin. Gerard combs a hand through Frank’s dark hair, breathing a little heavier as Frank’s lips start to trail down.

Frank eases Gerard’s jeans over his hips with little trouble as Gerard slides his hoodie down his arms and on to the floor. When he goes for the t-shirt, Frank’s hand stops him. “Leave it,” he whispers. “Just for a little while.” Gerard nods.

As Gerard’s kicking his jeans and shoes off Frank slides further up the bed, beckoning Gerard to follow. He does so instantly, climbing on to the bed and over Frank, finally able to get his lips on that chest and those tattoos. He trails his mouth along the string of words across Frank’s collar bone. He’s never been able to read them and still can’t see them properly in the dark, but now he knows how good they taste and that’s enough for him.

When Gerard goes for Frank’s jeans, Frank helps to get them undone and off along with his underwear and then Gerard just has to lean back on his knees and look because now he’s got Frank naked right in front of him, skin glistening in the dark and still somehow looking so powerful in such a vulnerable position. Gerard bites his lip and runs a hand over Frank’s thigh. “I want you to fuck me,” he says and the words sound too loud in this quiet room.

Sitting up completely, Frank pulls Gerard in to a quick and messy kiss before nodding. He guides Gerard down on to the mattress, and when Frank’s weight settles over Gerard’s body, it feels like a sigh of relief. Gerard’s thigh part around Frank’s hips and he holds him still between them for a moment, just looking up at Frank and offering everything he’s got. That look, it seems to be too much for Frank, because he closes his eyes briefly and leans up and over to the nightstand.

Gerard rids himself of his underwear quickly as Frank pulls out a box of condoms and a bottle of lube. He fumbles with the lid of the box awkwardly for a moment or so, swearing when the lid rips off. He uses his teeth to rip off a single condom from the strip before tossing the box a little harder than necessary to the side. When he turns back, Gerard’s smiling at him. He’s about to ask what’s so funny when Gerard pulls him down by the shoulders, kissing him too much teeth and too little tongue, but Frank still lets it happen willingly.

“You really need to fuck me now,” Gerard whispers, eyes lighting up when Frank groans involuntarily. He nods and pushes himself back on to his knees. When he gets the bottle and pumps a good dollop of lube on to his hand, Gerard quickly grabs him by the wrist and dips his own fingers in to it.

“What-” Frank says before he’s interrupted by the sight of Gerard’s hand creeping down between his own legs, fingers slick and ready as they get closer to his ass. “Fuck,” Frank says, because that’s all that’s in his brain right now as Gerard presses a finger against his tight hole. He presses his shoulders back against the pillow, leaning back and pushing his hips up a little so that he’s got more room and Frank’s got a better view. Frank’s brain is still babbling away, offering nothing useful as Gerard pushes the first finger in. When he moans, Frank feels it all the way down his dick and when Gerard gasps “Frank,” he has to dig his hands so hard in to his own flesh on his thighs to keep from touching himself.

Gerard works the finger inside himself for a while before he shifts he legs further apart and presses in with the second. His head hangs back and he says Frank’s name again like it’s him doing all of this, making all of this happen. The fact that Gerard wants it to be, wants to say Frank’s name while he rides his own hand makes Frank want to pin him down by the wrists and fuck him until they’re both delirious with it. He brushes his palm over Gerard’s knee. “Fuck, Gerard,” he pants like he’s the one getting finger fucked, “You have no idea,” and then his brain short circuits again when Gerard starts to thrust back against his hand.

“Fuck, Gerard,” he starts again, shaking his head and forcing himself to speak. “Are you ready? I’m gonna come in like, twenty seconds if I have to keep watching this.”

Gerard smirks, barely keeping himself from laughing. “I was ready a while ago. I just wanted to see how much you could take.”

Frank growls low in his throat, feral and possessive as he pulls Gerard’s fingers out of himself and leans back over Gerard’s body. “You were fucking with me,” he says, eyes dark and wanting.

Gerard’s still smirking, and this time he does laugh. “Technically I was fucking with myself,” he says. Frank makes an unf sound and grabs the condom from the mattress, tearing it open with his teeth. “Let me,” Gerard says moving to take the ripped wrapper but Frank quickly pulls it out of reach.

“Oh no,” he says, eyes bright and playful, “You’ve done enough.”

Gerard won’t stop moving his hips and pushing their cocks together as Frank tries to reach between them and put on the condom. He’s smirking as he does so, watching Frank struggle between annoyance and arousal until he finally snaps. He moves quickly, grabbing Gerard by the wrists and pinning them above his head.

“You better fucking behave,” he growls, “or else I’m going to tie you to this bed and never let you come ever again.” Gerard could say something cocky like Promise? but he’s too busy enjoying being so dominated and held down. Instead he bites his own lip and nods.

“I’ll behave,” he says lowly. Frank’s grip eases on his wrists (much to Gerard’s dismay) and he kisses Gerard, soft and needy, using it as a distraction to finally reach between them and roll the condom down his hard dick.

Gerard lifts his feet off the mattress and Frank gets a hand on the underneath of one of Gerard’s thighs, pushing it up and closer to his chest until Gerard is even more exposed. Gerard wraps the other leg around Frank’s waist and waits. Its another one of those moments again, those heavy breath, intense soul searching gazes that makes something raw hurt in Frank’s chest. He closes his eyes again and reaches down to grab his cock and press it against Gerard.

“You good?” he asks, eyes quickly opening to see Gerard nod. He gives Frank’s body a quick squeeze with his thighs and Frank takes that as his final word go. He lines up and pushes swiftly in, surprised when Gerard stays silent, just his mouth hanging open and eyes screwing shut. He waits for a few seconds, body still as he stares down at Gerard.

“Ok,” Gerard says, “Go, move,” and he presses his hips up to prove it. Frank does so, fingers gripping the sheets below as he holds himself over Gerard with his arms, hips snapping back and forward as he drives in to and out of Gerard. With one hand Gerard scratches down Frank’s chest and with the other he sinks his fingers in to Frank’s hair, wanting to keep as much of their bodies touching as possible as Frank fucks him in to the bed.

Frank runs his hands under Gerard’s t-shirt, pushing it further up until all the letters bunch together. “Off,” he says and Gerard arches his back as they both pull it over his body. Frank dips his head lower and tongues over one of Gerard’s nipples, sucking it hard in to his mouth until Gerard gasps and jerks. He moves his hands to Frank’s ass, gripping it with both hands as he pulls Frank deeper inside of him.

“Oh shit, Gerard,” he chokes, forehead pressed against Gerard’s chest as his arms start to tense. He keeps his hips moving as much as possible, steady and snapping as he fucks Gerard as deep as he wants. “You feel so - fucking, fuck. Good.”

Gerard moves a hand back to Frank’s hair and pulls his face down so they can kiss, hard and manic, lips breaking apart every other thrust but always coming back for more. “Harder Frank,” Gerard pants, “Fuck, deeper. Fuck me deeper, please,” he babbles.

Frank’s all too happy to comply and Gerard’s words seem to electrify him with new energy as he grabs the sheets and hauls himself up, pushing deeper and quicker, in and out as hard as possible. Gerard holds on by the bars on the headboard, one hand wrapped tightly around it with the other digging in to the back of Frank’s shoulder. Frank clamps a hand down over Gerard’s on the headboard, using it to pull himself in with even more force until the whole bed starts to creek.

“Fuck yeah,” Gerard moans, head back and hips up as Frank bites at his neck. “Touch me, please, Frankie,” he begs and Frank takes his hand off the board and slips it between them, taking hold of Gerard’s cock in a tight, firm fist. He doesn’t have to jack him much, mostly because there’s not a lot of room to move, but the pressure of Frank’s fist and the feel of their stomachs rubbing over it makes Gerard’s whole body tighten. Frank feels it too.

They’re both close, both so close and wound so tight that it’s not going to take much until they snap and unravel. That thing ends up being when Frank licks a hot wet stripe over one of Gerard’s nipples at the same time as he tightens his fist around Gerard’s cock, and then Gerard’s coming. He comes hard and fast, taking him by surprise and robbing the breath from his chest as his body stills and jerks and stills again as he coats them both in thin white ribbons.

Frank stops moving as Gerard comes, and its this that allows him to feel how Gerard tightens and relaxes around him. It’s enough to push him closer but not enough to send him over the edge. In fact its when Gerard presses the heel of his foot against Frank’s lower back and says, “Go on, keep going, keep fucking me,” that Frank knows its only going to be a matter of seconds.

Two, three, four quick and sloppy thrusts later Frank’s coming, head dropping forward as he comes long and hard until it makes him feel dizzy.

Slowly, Frank slides out of Gerard, hammering heart finally starting to slow as he pulls off the used condom, ties it and tosses it in the direction of the bin. Still on his knees, he looks down over Gerard, naked and spent and covered in come. He’s gorgeous.

“What?” Gerard says, unaware of how wrecked his voice is. Frank smiles and drags himself off of the bed. “Where are you going?”

“Towel,” is all Frank says, disappearing out of the bedroom for a few moments before returning with a blue gym towel. He rubs it over his stomach and chest, and if the image of Frank’s come smeared abdomen wasn’t enough to get Gerard going again, the sight of him dragging a towel over himself, clearing their mess away is. Gerard groans from the bed and he doesn’t miss it when Frank looks up and smirks. He tosses the towel to him.

When he collapses back on to the bed, Gerard’s letting the towel drop to the floor after a half assed attempt at cleaning up. He’s got a feeling they’re going to get messy again before leaving, so sees little point in cleaning. The moon is high and its beams of light are bright and strong as they pour in through the open window. Most of Frank’s body is hidden in the shadows, but Gerard can see his face clearly, which he’s glad for. Frank looks sleepy but he’s still smiling, a lazy pull of lips that reaches all the way up to his eyes.

“I was thinking,” Frank starts before he’s interrupted by a yawn. Gerard spends the entire of Frank’s yawn wondering what Frank could possibly be thinking, everything from ‘I was thinking, this was fun and all but my next date’s gonna be here any minute’ to ‘I was thinking, I think we’re soul mates and I want to grow old with you’. Not that anything going through Gerard’s mind is at all likely, but he can’t help that feeling of dread that this is all going to go tits up. “I was thinking you could stay here tonight? Unless you can’t, which is cool.”

The flood of relief that runs through Gerard forces him to smile, and Frank offers him a little confused but pleased quirk in return. “Yeah,” Gerard finally says. “I’d love to.”

The pleased little quirk on Frank’s face quickly deepens in to an obscene smirk and he leans over to drop a kiss on Gerard’s bare shoulder. “Good, because I don’t think I’ve finished with you yet.”

-

Never before has a night full of so little sleep had Gerard grinning quite so brightly. He ignores comments like ‘Dude, did you sleep with a hanger in your mouth?’ from Ray in favour of thinking through last night and this morning in excruciating detail. Frank’s mouth and hands (oh god, his hands) and the way both ran over his body, biting and pinching and licking and stroking. Gerard can’t even remember how many times they came, and the blue towel is probably still on Frank’s bedroom floor, stuck like Velcro to the carpet. Every time Gerard sees Frank pound his fists in to the heavy bag he can’t help but see in his head the way Frank’s lips curve when he comes or how his eyebrows raise like he’s surprised before his entire face relaxes again in a complete state of bliss. Gerard could think about that face all day.

“MEDIC!” Maybe not then.

Danny the Devil has pulled his calf muscle again and he’s got a fight tomorrow night, a fight he’s got to win. Brian makes it pretty clear that Danny not fighting tomorrow is not an option, or well, not an option Gerard really wants to take. It’s a pretty bad pull, it looks and feels sore and Danny winces just a little every time he walks.

“What did I tell you about completing the warm ups, Danny?” Brian says as he rubs a hand over his stressed features. From the bench, Danny shrugs.

“Sorry, boss,” is all he has to offer.

He shakes his head and looks back to Gerard. “What do we do?”

Gerard knows what they need to do, but it’s not going to take a day. Everything he learnt is telling him to tell them straight, he needs to rest it for a week - at least, but the look on Brian’s face and the smallest little ounce of fear in his gut if he does stops him. “Alright,” he says finally. “You need ice packs, a compression bandage and a shit tonne of Tylenol. And he has to stay off his feet until tomorrow.”

Brian shakes his head. “No, he needs to train today.”

“If you want him to walk on that leg at all tomorrow, he has to spend the rest of today and the majority of tomorrow off of it, otherwise he won’t be fighting anything.” Gerard’s trying to sound serious without appearing threatening. The last thing he wants to do is piss off a bunch of people who hit things for a living. But he’s still a Doctor.

After a few tense moments, Brian lets up and nods. “Fine,” he says but he definitely doesn’t sound happy about it. “Go get the damn brace. You,” he flicks his eyes at Danny, “get changed, you’re going home.”

Gerard is sickeningly relieved.

 

“So, you wanna come over tonight?” Frank asks near the end of the day. Gerard’s filling in his medical journal, pencil in his mouth and he almost swallows it when he realises Frank’s standing over him, sweaty and smiling. “I mean, unless you have plans.” His tone suggests it’s no big thing, but Gerard can’t ignore the hopeful glint in Frank’s eyes, and Gerard’s never been so happy to have a completely clear schedule.

“No, no plans,” he says with quick, nervous sort of smile and Frank instantly beams in return.

“Great. I’ve got all the movie channels so maybe we can find something to watch?” he suggests, hands animating his every word. Gerard nods.

 

The TV screen is cold and blank, just as its been since Gerard first sat down on Frank’s couch and quickly found himself with a mouth full of Frank, full of tongue and nippy little teeth and short little gasps. Gerard hauls himself in to Frank’s lap and rakes a hand through his freshly washed hair. He smells clean, like shower steam and soap and Gerard presses his face in to Frank’s neck and inhales him. Gerard grinds down against Frank’s hard on and the moan that vibrates in his throat tickles Gerard’s lips so he bites instead. He sucks the skin in to his mouth for just a few moments, not enough to bruise but enough to make Frank buck back up against him.

“Fuck,” Frank whispers, head against the back of the couch and mouth hung open as Gerard’s lips work a path towards it. When they kiss, Frank rests a hand on the back of Gerard’s neck and though it’s a small touch it urges Gerard’s hips on more as they work against Frank’s below him. “You taste like coffee,” Frank scrapes against Gerard’s lips. Gerard can feel him smile and with nothing more to do he smiles back and laughs breathily.

“You’ll get used to it,” he says and Frank groans, sucking Gerard deeper in to the kiss. He dips a hand in to Gerard’s pants, and Gerard doesn’t know why he’s surprised because it’s not like he wasn’t expecting it, but he gasps as though he is anyway, a small strangled little yelp as Frank starts to cup him through his boxers.

It turns quickly from then on from a heavy make out to got to get you off right now as Gerard finds himself tearing open Frank’s jeans and possibly ripping off a button (neither of them are willing to stop and check, though). When everything has been as shoved down and pulled out as it possibly can be Gerard grips the back of the couch until his knuckles are white, grinding down in to Frank and the warm and sticky sensation between them. Frank fastens his hands to Gerard’s hips, fingers digging hard in to the flesh but it spurs Gerard on more than it hurts.

Frank starts to curse and pull Gerard down harder. He bucks back up against Gerard with force and grabs the back of his neck to pull their faces close together. “You close?” he pants and Gerard nods. “Don’t come. Don’t come,” Frank growls. “Not yet,” and he wraps his fingers around Gerard’s cock, jacking him quick and rough as Gerard slams his face in to Frank’s neck.

“Fucking Jesus, fuck, Frank.” Gerard’s just got time to sink his teeth in to Frank’s shoulder before he’s coming, rutting against Frank as the flesh of his shoulder muffles Gerard’s moans. The sensation of Gerard jerking against his body and the sharp pin like pain in his shoulder pushes Frank to an end, and he keeps his fingers tangled in Gerard’s hair as he comes.

“We’re going to have to move soon,” Frank says some few minutes later. Gerard shakes his head. “But it’s gross.”

“And it will still be gross in five minutes,” Gerard points out and Frank laughs before carefully easing Gerard back a little, just enough so he can see his face again.

“If you move we can clean up, eat and then get messy again.” The way Frank’s eyebrows bob suggestively gives Gerard the will power to move. He sucks on his own bottom lip for a moment, pretending to be deep in thought until finally he looks back at Frank.

“What do I get to eat?” he says and Frank’s deep smirk is all the answer he needs.

 

Orgasm number two sees Gerard pressed against Frank’s bedroom wall, headboard digging in to his stomach and Frank’s fingers in his mouth as Frank fucks him slowly from behind. There’s spit webbing between Frank’s hand and Gerard’s chin and all Gerard can think about as Frank drives hard in to him is how much he wants to lick Frank’s hand. When Frank’s fingers slip from between Gerard’s lips they trail over his chin, through the spit, before falling on to Gerard’s chest. The hand falls down, ghosting over Gerard’s skin until he finally gets to his dick. Gerard’s head falls back and he shoves back against Frank. Gerard’s mouth instantly misses Frank’s fingers.

Frank comes first with his forehead pressed between Gerard’s shoulder blades as he does so. Watching his cock disappear in to Gerard’s tight heat finally got too much for him, and now he’s spent and empty, panting against Gerard’s skin as he tries to jack him lazily, messily and at awkward angles. Gerard thrusts in to it though, and soon he’s coming too, head knocking against the wall.

Blue towel reused and discarded, they lie against the headboard, sharing a cigarette as they watch the smoke rise towards the ceiling and disappear before it gets there. When Gerard’s phone vibrates from the pocket of his jeans on the floor, he groans.

“You should get that,” Frank says. Gerard flaps a hand dismissively.

“Only one buzz, it’s a message,” he replies and Frank smiles, nudging Gerard’s side with his elbow. “Alright, alright,” he sighs before heaving himself on to his side like it’s a hard task. “It’s my brother,” he says when he’s read it. “He’s reminding me about dinner with my mom next week, and apparently I have to call her,” he stops to roll his eyes. “Mothers.”

Frank shrugs. “I wouldn’t know.” Gerard’s face is utter confusion until Frank glances away for a moment. “My mom died when I was seventeen.”

Gerard blinks. Oh. “Oh,” he says quietly. “I’m-”

“Sorry?” Frank says before nodding. “I know. It’s ok.”

With soft eyes, Gerard tries to read Frank’s face for any indication he should stop or continue. Frank’s own eyes are open and trusting and so Gerard drops his phone on the bedside. “Was she sick?”

“No. It was a car accident,” he replies and Gerard wants to put a hand on him somewhere, but he’s not sure if that’s what Frank wants. “Pile up on the highway. She died pretty quickly.”

“You wanna talk about it?”

Frank snorts. “Believe it or not, my mother’s death isn’t usually my choice topic of conversation after I’ve come.” Taken back, Gerard’s eyes must bug because Frank starts laughing. He leans over and kisses Gerard, sweet and slow before pulling back with a smile. “I’ll let you know all about my shitty existence after we’ve had a shower.” It’s hard for Gerard to protest Frank’s choice wording when he’s smiling so sweetly and he gets the feeling that’s not what Frank’s looking for, so he lets Frank pull him from the bed and towards the bathroom.

After orgasm number three with wet hair, slippery fingers and warm open mouths it’s late, and with a day of work and an evening of kissing and coming it’s definitely acceptable to feel tired as they lie on the damp sheets, air drying their skin and smiling.

“I’m beat,” Frank sighs as he flings an arm over his eyes and swallows back a yawn. “It’s definitely bed time.” There’s a moment of unease in Gerard and once again, he’s not sure what he’s suppose to do. Frank shifts out of his towel and pulls the sheets up around them both. He hooks an ankle around Gerard’s leg and closes his eyes before flickering them open at second thought. “Night,” he smiles and then closes them once more.

-

In the morning Frank wakes gasping for breath, spluttering his way through a series of coughs. He hammers hard on his chest with his fist as a glob of phlegm makes its way up his throat. He grimaces and swallows it back down with an ack sort of sound. Everything feels tight and uncomfortable and if Frank moves his head too quickly, things start to spin a little. “Ugh,” he grumbles. “Not good.”

There’s a warm hand sliding over the small of his back and he turns to see Gerard staring up at him, lips pressed together in concern. “You ok?” The hand on his back is comforting, and Frank wants to arch back in to it.

“Fine,” he croaks and then coughs his throat clear. “Just, I don’t know. A cold or something.”

Sitting up slowly, Gerard drops a quick kiss on to Frank’s bare shoulder as he presses his hand to Frank’s forehead. “You’re hot.” Smirking, Frank bobs his eyebrows until Gerard laughs and pushes him back playfully. Frank winces when Gerard’s hand yanks gently at his shoulder and Gerard instantly recoils.

“Shit, sorry,” he says quickly. “Is it sore again?” Frank nods, moving his shoulder back and forth and rotating it.

“I think it was the shower that did it in,” he says and Gerard frowns.

“But hot water should help with…oh,” because something clicks in his head between Frank’s grin and the second half of the sentence. “You meant what we did in the shower.” Frank’s grin is beaming, touching his eyes shining against the morning sunlight as he chuckles softly, and it’s almost enough to make Gerard forget that he’s being mocked.

 

Frank’s no better by the time they show up for training, just a few minutes apart because Frank stops to buy smokes (and perhaps to make it look like they didn’t spend the night together, though its never said out loud). Ray frowns when he sees Frank and quickly pressed a hand to his face.

“You look like shit,” he says and Gerard has to admit, Frank does look a little like shit (though still incredibly hot).

“Thanks,” Frank snorts.

“You have a fight tomorrow,” Ray stops himself, sighs and shakes his head. “Warm up, but take it easy ok? We’ll do some focus training and then I’ll let you go early.” Frank nods, shrugs out of his jacket and trails slowly over to the mats. “Hey, Gerard!”

Gerard looks up from his journal. “Yeah?” When Ray gets closer, Gerard can see how anxious he looks.

“I need you to keep an eye on Frank, make sure he doesn’t get over worked or look worse or anything, ok?”

Gerard glances over to Frank and then back to Ray. “Sure,” he nods. “Does he, uh…get sick often?”

“Frank? Sort of, but not as much as he used to. Leo gets all paranoid about his fighters. They’re tested and health checked several times a year.”

“And he pays for all that?”

“Fit fighters equals more wins, when we can. And if any of them start using their pay for anything they shouldn’t be or on anyone they shouldn’t be, it’ll show up on the test and Leo cuts them loose,” Ray explains and all Gerard can do is stand and listen because this definitely feels like a conversation he doesn’t want to get deeper in to.

“Ok. So, eye on Frank?” he nods to himself. “Sure.”

Keeping an eye on Frank is difficult when Brian wants Danny kept a close eye on for every second of his training. Danny’s leg is a little less swollen and he manages his way slowly through warm ups. To be fair, Danny is the fighter that needs the most of Gerard’s attention, but he still can’t help making his way over to the ring just to make sure that everything’s ok. Apart from sneezing over his gloves, Frank seems to be doing alright.

“So what do you say, Doc? Danny gonna be ready for tonight?” Brian asks mid way through the day. He’s trying to glance over the top of Gerard’s medical journal, but he quickly snatches it against his chest.

“He needs to take it easy and you better help me haul a crap load of ice packs from storage.” Brian nods, circling his hand rapidly to hurry Gerard to his point. Gerard’s not happy about it, not one tiny bit but he doesn’t really want to think about what will happen if he doesn’t say what Brian and evidently Leo want to hear. Finally, he nods. “Sure.”

Brian grins and sighs like relief makes him weightless. “Excellent. Thanks, man. Hey,” he glances behind them, “Frank wants you.”

When Gerard turns around, Frank’s waving him over with a gloved hand. Brian’s already disappeared so Gerard makes his way quickly across the room and pulls himself in to the ring. “Everything alright?” he says and Frank smiles at him with tired and weary eyes. Frank sniffs back against a congestion of mucus in his nostrils and Gerard grimaces. “You don’t sound good.”

“No shit,” Frank replies with a stuffy voice. Gerard feels Frank’s forehead again and shakes his head.

“You should go home to bed,” he says and instantly there’s this playful look on Frank’s face that Gerard can’t miss. But he also can’t do anything about it here. “You need to rest,” he finishes, taking his hand away from Frank’s face.

“He’s right,” Ray says as he climbs through the ropes. “You’ve got a fight tomorrow and you need to rest up.” He slaps Gerard on the shoulder. “A lot of bust up fighters this week, huh?”

“Yeah. Next someone will get a hernia lifting a medicine ball and really complete my week.” Ray laughs and turns to start unlacing Frank’s gloves.

“Alright, you go home and get some rest. I’ve got a meeting with the boss.” When he pulls off the gloves he hands them back to Frank and climbs back out of the ring.

“Wanna walk me home?” Frank asks and Gerard’s about to reply when Brian calls him from the other side of the gym, sounding annoyed. Frank gives him a reassuring smile. “How about you just walk me out?”

 

“Will you be ok?” Gerard says when they get outside. Frank zips up his hoodie and pulls out a pack of smokes.

“Yeah. I was suppose to be at the café tonight but I think I’m gonna call in sick.”

“Tell them your doctor said you have to,” Gerard adds, smiling and feeling smugly satisfied when Frank grins back and laughs.

“Are you going to come by later and take my temperature?” he asks with playful and expectant eyes.

“After the fight? Won’t you be asleep?” Frank shrugs and lights up a cigarette. He coughs roughly after the first drag and hammers a couple times on his chest. “Alright,” Gerard finally says, “I’ll stop by.”

Frank beams in triumph. “Awesome. You can tell me how the fight went.”

 

The fight goes better than Gerard could have ever expected. Well, in his mind he was expecting Danny’s leg to snap off at any point, so the fact that the leg is still intact is a mild victory. Danny does look in genuine pain half way through the fight, and at every corner Gerard presses packs of ice and rubs on way more heat rub than medically advised. The leg seems to hold out though, and Danny limps on through the rest of the rounds, using the skill he has with his fists rather than agile moves to get his opponent backed up against the ropes. The crowd roars with satisfaction as Danny pounds in to him and even Gerard can feel the excitement within himself as Danny gets so close to a knock out. And then Gerard has to think about the fact he’s getting excited over another man’s unconsciousness…again. This is a weird sport.

Both fighters last until the end round and so the decision moves to the judges. Gerard packs the ice bags against Danny’s leg as they make their decision. “How does it feel?”

“Sore as hell,” Danny winces. He moves his leg and groans, “Fuck.”

“The adrenaline will be wearing off. You need to rest that leg for the rest of the week or it could get a lot worse,” Gerard says as he glides his hands over the swollen muscles.

“You got it, Doc,” Danny nods.

Danny wins the fight. As he’s declared winner, Gerard can’t help but catch the glimpse of Leo and Bruno who are dressed in similar dark, sharp suits and sitting just behind the row of judges. Leo is smirking, running a hand through his slicked back with a pleased nod as Danny stands center ring, taking in all the glory. Leo spots Gerard looking over and with smug satisfaction he send a wink his way. Gerard smiles uneasily and turns away. That guy definitely gives him the creeps.

 

It’s getting late by the time Gerard finally gets out of there, and as he stands outside in the evening breeze he finds himself torn between two directions. Go home or go to Frank. He quickly realises that he doesn’t even have Frank’s number and that maybe he should actually go and get a decent night’s sleep for the first time in god knows how long.

Pulling his cigarettes out of his jacket pocket, Gerard fumbles in all his other pockets for the lighter. It doesn’t take him long to realise that it’s probably still at Frank’s place. He replaces the cigarettes back in to his pocket and turns towards the direction of Frank’s street.

When Gerard gets to Frank’s apartment, he hesitates outside for a moment with a finger raised just in front of the intercom. Finally, he pushes the button.

“Yeah?” comes a gruff and snotty voice.

“Frank? It’s me,” and then Gerard contemplates adding his name on to the end of that, but the door buzzes open before he can.

As soon as he gets to Frank’s door, it opens before he can even knock. Frank stands in a ratty t-shirt and a pair of dirty boxers, hair a mess and eyes heavy with sleep. He rubs a hand over his face. “Don’t even say it,” he says. “I look like shit, I know.” Gerard frowns and ushers Frank back inside the apartment.

Not long later Gerard’s got his t-shirt covered chest pressed against Frank’s bare back as he reaches over Frank’s body and jacks him slowly. They had been laying on the bed together, Frank listening to Gerard talk about the fight when Frank had suddenly tumbled forward on to Gerard and claimed his mouth in a hard kiss. Gerard flicks his wrist and tightens his grip as Frank rides along with his hand. Gerard presses hot, open mouthed kisses against the back of Frank’s neck as Frank whispers filthy little encouragements until he’s rutting uncontrollably in to Gerard’s fist.

Afterwards, Frank stays in exactly the same position, not even enough energy to clean himself up. He falls asleep quickly and Gerard keeps a hand running soothingly through Frank’s damp hair until he’s sure he’s really out of it.

-

The next morning, things aren’t looking good. Gerard wakes up to the noise of Frank hurling his guts up from the bathroom. He shakes is head through the first haze of sleeps and rolls out of bed. It’s cold and he thinks about pulling on his jeans, but Frank sounds like he’s dying in the next room. He looks like it too if the darkly rimmed eyes and pale, clammy skin is anything to go by.

“Frank? You alright?” he says softly and there’s a snort of amusement from inside the toilet bowl. “Dumb question, I know. Do you want anything?”

“Water,” the toilet bowl says. “And aspirin. In the kitchen, top cupboard.”

“Right,” Gerard nods. When he returns Frank’s sitting with his back against the wall, eyes closed and breathing slowly. He really doesn’t look good. “Do you want me to call Ray?” he asks, handing over the water and pills. Frank shakes his head, grimacing as he swallows them down.

“No, it’s ok.”

“You can’t seriously be thinking about going in today,” Gerard frowns. “You need to stay in bed like, forever.”

Frank laughs. “You sound like my mom.”

Gerard’s not quite sure what to do with that, so instead he presses his hand to Frank’s burning face. “Frank, please?” he whispers. “You’re sick. You need to see a doctor.”

Opening his eyes, Frank looks up at Gerard and smiles. “I can see one right now.”

Rolling his eyes, Gerard still can’t help but smile at Frank’s defiant playfulness. “I mean you need to see your doctor. Even more than that you need to stay in bed.”

Frank shakes his head again. “No can do. I have to fight tonight. I’ll be ill next week.”

Gerard kneels on the tiled floor in front of Frank and starts pressing his hands to Frank’s burning cheeks again. “You’re ill now,” he says even though he knows it’s useless.

Frank sighs. “I have to fight.”

There’s a tug of war going on in Gerard’s chest right now because he knows Frank’s right. If Leo will let injured fighters fight then he’ll sure as hell let a sick one fight, which is so backwards for a guy so obsessed with making sure his fighters are squeaky clean. But he’s a doctor, he trained and slaved for years to help people and to make them better, not to condone them getting their head bashed in when they’re sick as a dog just so someone can make some money.

Finally, Gerard nods in defeat. This is happening whether he likes it or not so he might as well just accept it. “I know,” he says and then stops to look at Frank and he gets it. Whatever it is Gerard is trying to say, he seems to get it. “Ok, you take a shower and I’ll run out and get you some ibuprofen. It’ll work better than aspirin.” He picks up the glass of water from the floor and hands it back to Frank. “Finish your water.”

Frank’s smile is small but real and he mutters, “Yes, doctor,” before gulping down the rest of the water.

 

Gerard had hoped to have Frank’s fever down just a little before they got to training, but here they are with Frank bundled up in three hoodies and a scarf and still, no improvements. Ray almost recoils when he sees Frank and then instantly begins shaking his head.

“He shouldn’t be here,” Gerard tells Ray as they both watch Frank battle pathetically with his zip. “And he certainly shouldn’t be fighting tonight.”

“I know but-” Gerard quickly holds up a hand, silencing Ray.

“I really don’t want to hear it. Just don’t let him get too out of breath. Make sure he rests when he can and drink a lot of water. Oh, and he needs to take these in about two hours,” and he hands over a small box of ibuprofen. “I’m going to be in the stock room because if Leo insists on putting his fighters through this torture then I’m not going to watch.”

Ray doesn’t say anything and really, Gerard didn’t expect him to. It looks like he might, but he quickly rethinks, wraps his fingers tightly around the small box and nods. Gerard doesn’t look at Frank when he leaves, just balls his fists and keeps on walking.

In the stock room Gerard begins to rearrange everything, picking up boxes and stacking them in new piles somewhere else, organising and disorganising, picking up and shoving boxes back down again. It helps with the anger, just a little but it’s something to stop him from dragging Frank out of training and in to a doctor’s office.

“Why did I get myself in to this?” he asks an unopened box of cotton swabs. He huffs and shoves the box away on a low shelf. “What the hell have I gotten myself in to?” he whispers but nothing in the stock room has an answer for him.

He spends another hour sulking, pulling and shoving at more boxes as he contemplates his life his job and Frank. But mostly Frank. Gerard knows the fight is getting closer and he should go out there and check on Frank, because he’s probably Frank’s only chance of getting through the day without being admitted to hospital or worse. Now that the stock room is in possibly the oddest form of organisation Gerard finally sucks it up, puts on his game face and steps out of the safety of the stock room.

In the gym, Frank’s sitting on the benches looking like he’s struggling for breath as Ray leans back against the ring and watches him intently. When Ray sees Gerard, he quickly waves him over and with one last deep breath and readjustment of his game face, Gerard walks over.

“Hey,” Frank smiles, hand on his chest and looking tired.

“How are you feeling?” Gerard says and Frank makes an ‘ok’ sign with his fingers. It’s such a lie and they both know it. “Remember to take the ibuprofen,” he reminds Frank just before Ray gets a hand on his elbow and starts dragging him a few paces away from the benches.

Checking that Frank’s not following, Ray crowds them both by the ring. “Hey, man. Are you alright? I mean, well, I know you’re pissed but you’re not gonna, uh, say anything to Leo are you?”

Gerard shakes his head and scratches a hand over his face. “No,” he sighs. “I’m not an idiot.

“Look,” Ray starts, and his voice gets considerably quieter. “I know you care about Frank.”

“I care about all the fighters,” Gerard interrupts in a moment of determined panic.

“Of course, yeah. I know. Just – I’ve seen Frank get through worse than this,” he says but Gerard doesn’t look any less displeased. “He’ll be fine.”

Gerard turns back to see Frank who’s still on the bench with his head in his hands. “Fine,” he nods. “I gotta get back to work.”

 

Gerard manages to catch a well earned break after training and before the fight. Frank’s already gone down to the locker room with Ray, dosing up on more pain killers and working his way through a second six pack of water. He sits on the step of the doorway, smoking and shivering in his too thin hoodie. Its cold tonight, colder than it’s been in a while which has made it harder to stabilize Frank’s ever changing temperature. He manages to chain smoke his way through two and a half cigarettes before Brian appears behind him.

“You better get down there, man,” he advises as he pulls his own pack of smokes from his back pocket. “Sounds like your man’s coughing up a lung or something.” Gerard flicks the rest of his cigarette angrily across the alley and heaves himself on to his feet with a heavy sigh. “Hey, can I bum a light?”

Gerard wordlessly hands his lighter over without looking up and he waits for the sound of the first drag from Brian’s lips before he looks up again.

“Thanks, man,” says Brian as he hands the lighter back. “So, I heard Ray talking to Leo the other day. Apparently Ray tried to talk him in to postponing the fight.”

Gerard’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “Really?”

Brian takes another long drag and nods. “Yeah, man. Leo wasn’t impressed. I think it’s a good thing he’s been here so long otherwise Leo would have had a lot more to say.”

“Ray…Ray tried to cancel the fight?” Gerard says in disbelief and Brian snorts.

“You got cotton swabs in your ears? That’s what I said, isn’t it?” but Gerard doesn’t answer.

Gerard can already hear the crowds piling in as he descends to the locker room. He’s not been this apprehensive about a fight since the first one. Passing the opponent’s room the door’s ajar, and a waft of the coach’s pep talk catches Gerard’s ears.

“It’s not impossible to take this chump down. Word is he’s not so hot tonight so I want you to give that little fucker hell!” Gerard grits his teeth and walks faster to Frank’s room.

Frank’s grinding pills between his back teeth, concentrating on the bitter taste and not the pounding in his head. Ray’s replacing a snapped lace in one of Frank’s gloves and watching him out of the corner of his eye. Frank closes his own eyes briefly, he’s almost begging himself to be ok, just to keep going for the next couple hours and then it can do whatever the hell it wants. The thudding in his head quickly gets louder, his body obviously isn’t cooperating.

When the door comes flying open, Frank’s surprised to see Gerard standing there and looking like he should be the one putting the gloves on tonight. Ray looks up briefly almost like he’s about to say something, but decides against it at the last minute and finishes lacing the gloves.

“You alright?” Frank says and instantly Gerard’s face begins to soften, though he still looks pissed.

Gerard sighs and shakes his head. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. I just-” he stops talking for a second to shake his head again, like he’s trying to talk himself out of something. “You don’t have to do this,” he finally says as one last weak and desperate attempt.

Frank’s forehead creases as he frowns and it makes him look at least ten years older. “Gerard,” he says softly. “You know I have to.”

Ray shifts uncomfortably against the lockers, loops the laces together and walks over to Frank. He drops the gloves by his feet and says, “Two minutes, guys,” before leaving. Sometimes, Gerard genuinely wonders how much Ray knows but doesn’t dwell on it too much. He can’t, not now. Frank watches Ray leave before glancing back up to Gerard.

Gerard drops down on to the bench, leg either side as he starts to drum his fingers against the wood. After a moment or so, Frank covers Gerard’s hand with his own and rubs his thumb over the knuckles.

“I’ll be fine,” he says quietly, though even he sounds like he doesn’t quite believe it.

“I know I can’t talk you out of this just…I don’t know, try not to get punched in the face as much, ok?” Gerard says and Frank smiles, lips quirking until he ends up laughing softly.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he eventually says, squeezing Gerard’s hand briefly and giving him a reassuring smile before reaching for his gloves.

 

Gerard can’t stop glaring at Leo out of the corner of his eye as the fighters make their way in to the ring. Right now, he hates this sport. He hates this crowd and he definitely hates Leo. He’s still glaring in that direction as he pulls himself ring side, until Frank’s red eyes and stuffy nose finally pull his attention away. Gerard moves like he’s going to check Frank’s temperature, but quickly pulls his hand back. Ray slaps a hand over Frank’s naked shoulder and shakes him a little.

“Keep your wits about you, champ. This one’s a bit of a freak,” and he juts his chin towards the fighter in the other corner. He’s not much taller than Frank but he’s darkly skinned and heavily muscled with a wicked look in his eyes. His skinned head makes Gerard think of Steve.

Gerard feeds Frank his gum shield, bumps his fists against Frank’s gloves and steps down from the ring.

At first, it’s not all that bad. Frank’s moving and ducking and jabbing just as he’s done before, and Gerard starts to wonder if maybe he was over reacting. Maybe Frank does this often and he has fought through worse. Maybe Gerard’s just a paranoid doctor.

A few rounds in and Gerard starts to see it. That slightly glazed look in Frank’s eyes. He’s starting to lose focus and he only just manages to duck away from what would have been a hard right hook to the face.

At the next corner, Frank throws himself on to the stool and lets his head fall back. He gazes up at the lights and heaves hard, uncontrolled breaths as Ray squirts water in to his mouth. Frank lunges forward and spits in to the bucket before giving Gerard a drunken lop sided smile. The smile spreads in to a grin, bordering on idiotic and Gerard gives him a confused and concerned stare back. There’s spit and snot around his mouth and he looks like shit, pale and puffy eyed like he’s over medicated – which he probably fucking is.

The bell dings and Frank throws himself back in to the center of the ring.

Even through the roars of the crowd Gerard can still hear Frank’s laboured breaths. He can feel them in his own chest, tight and strangling as he watches Frank step clumsily back and forth.

“He’s losing it,” he turns to Ray and says. Ray doesn’t say anything but his face is flushed with apprehension. There’s a build up of tension in Gerard’s arms as he grabs on to the ropes with white knuckles, watching whilst Frank tries to land a punch on the other fighter. It misses by a mile. “I’m not watching this,” Gerard grits and Ray sighs.

“Gerard,” he says, but he sounds more pleading than irritated.

In the ring, Frank blocks a hit with raised arms and the force makes him stumble back. Gerard knows he can’t be the only one who’s noticed Frank’s staggering and unusual clumsiness, not if the smirk on the other coach’s face is anything to go by. He’s shouting at his fighter, egging him on with fierce words and erratic hand movements. The fighter’s jaw locks and clenches as Frank takes a step back, fist pulled back ready to try for another hit. But he’s not quite as quick as usual and the other fighter gets there first, landing a forceful punch right in to the left side of Frank’s jaw. His head instantly snaps back and he stumbles as Gerard’s stomach drops. The bell chimes and the crowd boos, displeased that they have to wait at least thirty seconds until someone gets knocked out.

When Frank gets back to the corner he slides down on to the stool, heels skidding against the floor of the ring like he can’t even be bothered to keep himself propped up anymore. Gerard shines his pen torch in to Frank’s eyes and the pupils quickly shrivel. Frank looks dazed and confused and Gerard is not happy.

“Frank, are you ok?” and its such a dumb fucking question but he’s more interested in hearing Frank speak.

There’s not really an expression on Frank’s face and Gerard finds that more concerning than if he looked like he was in agony. He’s probably just running on adrenaline now. Frank finally hums and Gerard doesn’t know if its suppose to be a yes or a no. All Gerard knows is that Frank looks pale all over except for his eyes that look bruised and sore like he hasn’t slept in a week.

“Frank,” he says again, trying to mask his worry in a stern tone but he’s not all that sure he pulls it off.

Frank stares at Gerard for a while like he’s concentrating really hard on his face. “I’m ok,” he says and its not slurred or mumbled, it’s actually formed words but Gerard isn’t even the slightest bit convinced.

Gerard shakes his head. “I’m not sending him back out there.”

“Gerard,” Ray says followed immediately by Frank.

“I’m not going to let you do this to yourself. You can’t fight like this, Frank. You’re a mess out there.”

“No,” Frank says. “I can. I have to,” and he starts to pull himself to his feet. “My decision,” he says before he shoves the gum shield back in to his mouth. He’s got a glove pressed to the side of his head as he gets back in to the center of the ring. Headaches. He’s got headaches and he’s about to take a blow to the head. The other coach is positively beaming, slapping his fighter on the back and practically throwing him up out of his seat.

“Go get him!” he yells to his fighter with clenched, excited fists and both he and the fighter look completely possessed.

“They’re going to fucking kill him!” he says to Ray, pointing accusingly at the other corner as he pleads with Ray to just back him the fuck up on this.

“It’s out of my hands,” Ray says helplessly, eyes flickering to the seats behind the judges table where Leo peers disapprovingly over his clasped hands. “It’s not my decision.”

“Like hell it isn’t,” Gerard says and Ray just gives him another hopeless stare. Gerard huffs, aggravated and annoyed as he watches the fighter advance on Frank.

Four things happen at once.

The fighter gets Frank against the ropes as the crowd roars in their blissful approval. The other coach screams “Get him!” with his red, veiny face and forehead and tightly clenched fists. Frank and Ray’s words ‘My decision’ and ‘Its not my decision’ swim around Gerard’s head only to crash in to another thought, a realisation that’s just shot in to his brain from a memory of late night Wikipedia-ing. The words Technical Knock Out flash in Gerard’s head in huge, red letters because it is his decision. Of course it’s his fucking decision, he’s the fucking medic.

He realises this just in time as Frank starts to lose his footing and slides against the ropes as the other fighter pulls his fist back and it’s all in slow motion for a moment.

“TIME!” Gerard cries and he doesn’t give a shit if it’s the wrong fucking sport because it gets the ref’s attention. He’s motioning wildly and the ref nods and separates the fighters. The crowd boos and Gerard tries not to notice the way Leo sits up and narrows his eyes at them.

“What the hell are you doing?” Ray says hurriedly as Frank and the ref get to their corner. Gerard climbs through the ropes and pulls himself in to the ring, ignoring Ray.

“Technical knock out!” he blurts to the ref, who’s eyes widen a little. “I’m calling it.”

“On what grounds?” the ref asks just as Frank starts to protest and Gerard almost wants to laugh.

“Look at him,” he says, pointing to Frank’s face and the ref glances at him quickly because he doesn’t really need to look. Of course he knows Frank’s sick as a dog, he’d have to be blind not to.

“No,” Frank says. “No,” and he turns to the ref. “I can fight. Just, shit,” he breathes in heavily, he’s out of breath and doesn’t have enough to continue his argument.

“It’s your call,” the ref says to Gerard and Gerard only has to glance momentarily at the other fighter banging his gloves together before he grabs the white towel from Ray’s shoulder and hurls it in to the center of the ring.

“No!” Frank croaks, hand outstretched like there’s any slight possibility he might be able to catch it.

The booing from the crowd is deep and thundering and Gerard can’t even bring himself to look in that direction, but he knows he’s no doubt being watched by a rather furious Leo.

With one final nod of the ref’s head, Frank loses the match.

 

Gerard knows exactly what’s coming next and maybe one of the most concerning things is how he’s just accepting of it, how he’s going to be punished for doing what was right to him.

It’s not what he expects, though. Somehow, his mind has managed to conjure up some Godfather, mafia movie cliché type deal complete with cigars and whisky and sleeping with the fishes. But its not that, not even a little. Its much more impersonal than he’d ever have expected from the ‘family’ speech he received from Leo on his first day. Its rather more…business.

Frank finds it relatively easy to get out of the crowd and makes it back to the locker room just moments after Gerard had been led away by Bruno for a word. Leo had stayed behind, talking to a judge and glaring calmly at Frank.

“I did what I had to do,” Gerard’s saying to a fierce looking Bruno when Frank finally crashes through the door. Ray looks up from the corner, arms crossed and looking complacent.

“No!” Frank says instantly but its already too late. Bruno’s fist has pulled back and, with impressive accuracy that can only come from years of watching countless boxing matches and, of course, punching people in the face himself, he hits Gerard right on his left eye.

Something definitely cracks Gerard feels as his head snaps back. The force of the hit sends his whole body shooting back and he finds himself landing ungracefully on his ass with a thud. Frank jumps in the space between Gerard and Bruno, instantly regretting the quick movement as his headache rattles around inside his skull like a ball of nails. Ray’s stepped away from the wall too, though looks like he’s not going to move any further.

“Frank, this is none of your business,” Bruno says in his deep and vicious voice, knuckles tightening in to a fist again.

“Just try and move me,” Frank says with as much conviction as he can muster, even though it feels like he’s about to throw up with the rattling in his head.

For a moment, Bruno looks like he’s thinking about it, but everyone in the room knows that Frank can’t be touched. Bruno sneers and the expression makes his scar look deeper. “Tell your man he forfeits a week’s pay,” he says and leaves, the door slamming closed behind him.

As soon as he’s gone Frank falls next to Gerard, kneeling by him and pawing at Gerard’s face. “Shit, Gerard. Are you ok? Are you ok?” he babbles, pulling Gerard’s hand away from his face to inspect his swelling eye.

“I’m going to have to get used to getting punched in the face around here, aren’t I?” he says in an amused sort of groan.

Frank snorts and shakes his head slowly before leaning down, pressing his cheek to Gerard’s forehead. “You fucking moron.”

A purposeful cough from the corner makes Frank look up as Ray stares down over them, lips quirking in a knowing way. “Uh, maybe the medic should tend to his own injury?” he suggests.

With a sigh Frank heaves himself on to his feet and then helps Gerard to his. It takes a moment to get them both steady with a skull crushing headache and a busted eye. Frank runs a thumb softly over Gerard’s eye and tuts.

“You still look like shit,” Gerard says and despite everything, Frank grins.

 

“I think Ray knows,” Gerard says quietly from the couch of Frank’s apartment. Frank’s eyes flicker bright, and its slight but Gerard can see it because Frank’s face is just millimetres from his as he holds an ice pack to Gerard’s face.

“Maybe,” Frank hums though he’s pretty much one hundred percent sure that he knows. Gerard hisses when there’s a little too much pressure on the surely forming bruise and Frank winces along with him. “Sorry,” he whispers, kissing lightly the bridge of Gerard’s nose. “How does it feel?”

“Like I was punched,” Gerard replies and Frank flicks his shoulder.

“Smart ass.”

Smiling, Gerard lets his head fall back against the couch with an umpf. “Thanks, by the way,” he says after a moment, eyes still closed.

Frank takes the pack off and plonks it on to the coffee table. “For what?”

Gerard opens his good eye. “Sticking up for me.”

Nudging his nose against Gerard’s chin, Frank smiles to himself. “Don’t mention it,” he whispers, pressing his lips where his nose previously touched and following the line of his jaw, peppering kisses all the way up until he gets to the ear.

“How are you feeling?” Gerard asks quietly and he raises a hand to Frank’s forehead. “Hm. Still warm. How’s your head?”

“I’ll be fine,” Frank tries to reassure, even though he can still feel his head pounding like a kick drum with every word spoken. “I’m fine.”

“You need to take some more pain killers,” Gerard instructs but Frank just laughs.

I need pain killers?” he snorts. “Fucking doctors,” he adds just before surging in to a coughing fit.

-

For possibly the first time ever, Frank takes the day off from training. It’s doctor’s orders though, and usually he’s not one for following orders that don’t come from Ray, but with the way his doctor pulled him in to the shower to lather him up and then scrub him down, its hard not to be persuaded. So Frank lets Gerard put him back in to bed after they dry off, takes his pills and promises to stay there drinking plenty of fluids until Gerard gets back.

Gerard’s learnt a lot about not getting what you expected these past weeks, and so he’s not surprised when no one even bats an eyelid differently at him when he gets to the gym. Brian does his usual not-that-bothered-nod as he works with Steve in the ring and Ray waves him over from the heavy bags, one of which Danny is currently punching his way through.

“How’s Frank?” is the first thing Ray says and Gerard is tempted to reply with ‘How should I know?’ before he quickly decides against it.

“A little better,” he replies, smoothing down the front of his t-shirt. “He should have a few more days in bed but knowing Frank he’ll be back in tomorrow.”

Ray huffs out a breathy laugh, “Yeah,” and then stops to instruct Danny over to the skipping ropes. When he’s out of earshot he turns back and says, “So you know you’re working for free this week?” a little quieter than usual. Gerard nods slowly, averting his eyes to the ground. “Man, just be lucky that’s all you got,” he says, looking up to Gerard’s impressive black eye.

“Yeah, lucky,” Gerard says and Ray doesn’t reply, just gives him a reassuring shoulder squeeze before going after Danny.

 

“What the fuck happened to your face?” Mikey squawks when he sees Gerard later that day. Gerard groans. He had hoped to hide from his brother until the swelling went down, but since Gerard’s social life went from none existent to never able to answer the phone, that guy has been one suspicious little fucker. This, of course, explains why he’s waiting for Gerard outside his apartment building when he gets home from work. He had been planning to just walk straight to Frank’s, but he was in desperate need of a change of clothes.

Gerard manages to get Mikey inside before he can cause a scene, and as soon as they’re in his apartment and the door is closed Mikey’s dragging Gerard’s face closer with both hands to assess his black eye.

“What the fuck? Have you been in a fight? Jesus fuck, Gerard. What the hell happened?” he babbles on like a chattering monkey.

Gerard fights him away. “If you’d shut up I’ll tell you,” he says and then realises that shit, he actually has to tell him now.

So he does – and he goes from start to finish from meeting Frank and Ray in the alley and Leo and Danny and Brian and Bruno and the whole operation, right up to last night. Well, he leaves out the sex parts. Mikey already looks like his head is about to explode, so a new relationship will have him trapped in this apartment listening to his little brother lecture him for days.

“So, this Frank,” is the first thing Mikey says. Well, the second. If the muttering of ‘You complete and utter moron’ half way through Gerard’s story counts. “Are you like…y’know?” and he makes immature motions with two circled fingers and a straight one. Gerard thinks two things at once. One - God damn! and two - oh dear god.

“Mikey, what the fuck?” he says and Mikey just shrugs.

“It’s a legitimate question. And it would explain why you’ve not been answering your phone or bugging the crap out of me every day, and why you cancelled on mom for dinner. Which, by the way, she called me about. Thanks for that, asshole.”

Gerard feels genuinely guilty because now he thinks about it, he really has been the worst brother ever wrapped up in his own life. It’s just, well…he’s never really had a life to be wrapped up in thanks to years of med school.

“So?” Mikey says again. “You are though, aren’t you?” For a few moments, Gerard says nothing until he doesn’t actually have to say anything because his silence says it all. Mikey cracks up. “Oh man. Only you could get in to the most macho, scary ass sport in the world and find a gay guy.”

With an offended glare Gerard punches his brother hard in the shoulder. “You’re not funny, asshole.” But Mikey doesn’t stop laughing.

 

When Gerard finally makes it back to Frank’s (after actually receiving the lecture on how much of a dumb ass he is from Mikey), he finds Frank curled up in bed asleep. His fist is clenched and jammed under his chin, making him look innocent and child like. Gerard feels Frank’s forehead with the back of his hand and it’s a lot cooler than when he left. In his sleep, Frank sighs and brushes his face against the touch. Gerard smiles.

“Frank,” he whispers as he prods at Frank’s shoulder a little. Frank’s nose wrinkles and he makes a small irritated noise before he opens his eyes. He blinks against the light and coughs once.

“Time is it?” he croaks.

“Not late. Did you eat anything today?”

“Uhm, pop tarts?” he replies and he doesn’t even have to look up to know he’s being glared at sternly. “Ugh, fine. No, not really,” he says with a sigh and flops on to his back.

“Do you have anything to eat in your kitchen?”

“I answered that with my last answer,” Frank says, cracking his eyes open a fraction to smile and watch expectantly as Gerard rolls his eyes.

Gerard orders food. It’s not exactly the best option for a sick person right now, but it’s all Frank will accept and he whines if Gerard even so much as mentions going out to buy something to make. So he orders Frank the simplest Chinese dish, which again he complains about because he wanted pizza.

“At least there’s vegetables in this,” Gerard says like that’s going to convince Frank at all.

What ends up convincing Frank is having Gerard hand feed him his egg foo-yung in bed. Frank grins through every mouthful, explaining to Gerard why this is a far superior idea to just ‘eating on the couch’. Gerard only complains a little, up until they’ve finished and Frank drags him down in to a deep, foo-yung scented kiss.

-

Gerard accidentally crushes a take out carton with his foot as he clambers messily out of bed with bad breath and a full bladder the next morning. For a few moments, he forgets where he is and is confused by the positioning of the bed and the fact his bedroom door isn’t where he left it until the haze of sleep clears just enough for his bearings to come back.

At Frank’s side of the bed he presses his hand to Frank’s forehead and makes a mental note to bring an actual thermometer today. Cooler than yesterday, which is a relief.

On the way back to bed after spending the majority of his time in there thinking about Frank’s wet skin in the shower and how he’d very much like to get that again pretty soon, he has a shockingly brilliant idea.

Practically gliding to the bed, Gerard is thrumming with excitement and nerves as he carefully eases himself back in to bed. Pealing away the sheets, he reveals Frank’s tanned and toned flesh, all it’s wonderful colours, lines and shapes that he knows almost by heart now. It’s such a helpful factor that Frank sleeps naked as it would make Gerard’s plan rather difficult to execute otherwise.

When the sheets pull down to reveal Frank’s tight and perfect ass, it sends little zings right through Gerard’s body and straight to his dick. Frank is positively fucking edible, and that’s exactly what Gerard plans to do.

So maybe he’s not really one hundred percent sure that Frank will be in to this but damn, the guy’s been in to everything else so far, Gerard thinks as he shuffles down the bed and crawls over Frank’s legs. He settles the first kiss right at the base of Frank’s spine, eyes glancing up whilst his lips are still pressed to the skin. Nothing. Gerard goes lower, lips trailing over one round globe of flesh, tongue wetting the way before he sinks his lips down against it. There’s a twitch. Just a twitch and a tiny little noise that Gerard has to strain his ears to hear.

Lower still Gerard licks his lips and blows an experimental breath right between Frank’s ass cheeks. And then there it is. A groan. The little sign that Gerard’s been waiting for.

With an eager grin Gerard thrusts his tongue against the tight, pink hole and suddenly Frank is catapulted in to consciousness.

“Wah-What?” he breathes as he tries to shake the fog of sleep and look over his shoulder at the same time. It doesn’t work.

Smoothing a hand up Frank’s back, Gerard shushes him softly before flattening his tongue against Frank’s hole again. A gasp rips right from the bottom of Frank’s chest and he presses his face deeper in to the pillow. Gerard hums, tongue curled and probing further as Frank grinds himself against the bed.

“Gerard, fuck,” he chokes and Gerard hums again.

Frank’s ass moves beneath his mouth and he follows it eagerly, lapping at the bitter taste of morning skin, chasing the feel of tight flesh and muscle around his mouth. Frank continues to rub himself against the sheets, cock now springing that last inch in to full arousal.

Oh god,” he whispers. “Fucking. Yes, Gerard,” and that’s all the encouragement Gerard needs before grabbing Frank’s ass cheeks with firm and eager hands and spreading them apart until he can devour Frank from the inside out. With his fingertips he moves one hand to trace lightly against Frank’s balls before cupping them and caressing, massaging in the same pace as his tongue thrusts in and out of Frank’s slippery hole.

Humming again, Gerard uses the hand still on Frank’s ass to urge him in his grinding and soon, Frank’s fucking the mattress. With filthy little words he keeps Gerard going, probing and licking and just fucking eating Frank up like he’s the most delicious thing Gerard’s ever tasted – which is probably true.

Frank’s orgasm takes them both by surprise as his ass clenches and balls tighten. He comes between the sheets and his stomach, moaning until its an obscenity.

Gerard licks his lips, satisfied and pleased as Frank finally stops shaking. Dragging himself over Frank’s body he kisses his way up until he’s at the shoulder and drapes himself across Frank’s back.

“You,” Frank breathes. And that’s all Gerard’s going to get out of Frank for the next ten minutes.

-

Gerard learns rather quickly that when it comes to Frank, his best bet is to trust his gut instinct. Whether its sex or work or all that’s in between he knows that if he over thinks things he’ll scare himself in to a paranoid silence. So he doesn’t. Whatever he feels he does, and he thinks Frank appreciates that. He doesn’t hesitate and when he wants something, he takes it or he gives it, grabs a hold of it and offers it up for Frank to take and share. It must work, because Frank’s always ready to give back.

“Chinese or pizza?” Gerard asks with a menu in each hand. Frank snorts from the couch and changes the channel for the fifth time in thirty seconds. “Pizza,” Gerard says to himself. “It’s always pizza.”

“No, not always,” Frank adds, looking away from the TV screen to flicker one of his trade mark smirks Gerard’s way. Gerard laughs. This has become something of a routine now. Work, dinner at Frank’s place, sex and sleep. Not every day though, no. Some days Gerard goes to see Mikey or Mikey comes to see him and they eat and try to find things to talk about that aren’t how Gerard works in illegal sports.

Gerard thinks that Frank is going to look like a pizza soon because that’s what he eats ninety percent of the time. Mozzarella cheese pizza from Benito’s down the street. Frank’s got them on speed dial – not that Gerard’s judging, of course. He couldn’t. Aside from his brother and mom, there isn’t a contact in his phone that isn’t food related.

After the pizza arrives Frank settles his legs across Gerard’s lap and mutes the TV. When Frank had first done this Gerard had given him an odd look and asked why, to which Frank replied so very seriously, “It’s pizza. You don’t interrupt pizza.”

Gerard’s preparing for the next thirty seconds of silence while Frank consumes and inhuman amount of pizza and so he’s almost flabbergasted when Frank chews thoughtfully on a mouthful and says, “Y’know, my mom used to make really awesome pizza bread.”

For a few moments, Gerard’s not sure what he’s supposed to do with that information and he just sort of stares at Frank, mid-chew. It when Frank looks at him like he’s waiting for a reply that he finally swallows the mouthful and replies, “Yeah?”

Frank nods. “Yeah. When I was sick or upset she’d make a whole bunch. My dad tried to make them after she died but, they were never as good.”

“Do you miss her?” Gerard asks quietly, and he knows its got to be a stupid question but something makes him ask it anyway. Frank takes another bite of pizza, not answering for a moment and it makes Gerard apprehensive and he’s just about ready to apologise when he reaches out and presses his fingertips lightly against Gerard’s neck.

“Everyday,” he says and there’s a glint of hurt across his face that makes Gerard want to pull him close and kiss it better.

“Maybe you should learn to make it yourself, like, your own recipe,” Gerard suggests and Frank quickly smiles.

“There’s a reason I live off take out, y’know.”

When Gerard’s setting the empty pizza box down in the kitchen, strong arms appear around his waist in a tight hold as a wave of warm breath runs over his neck. “Hey,” he says, turning his head as far as possible to see Frank’s lips drop on to his shoulder.

“It’s bedtime,” Frank says and backs them towards the hall with impressive accuracy.

In all the time they’ve been together, Gerard’s still not used to being fucked like this, to just being pressed down and held open, pushed in to and pulled apart in the best possible way. Frank takes him but never controls and even on his back Gerard feels like the dominance is shared and when they get around to coming, Frank looks just as desperate and needy as him. He calls out Gerard’s name like it’s his favourite word, like he really loves the taste of it as the syllables wrap around his tongue and pulls his mouth down against Gerard’s in a searing kiss.

Gerard falls asleep to the sensation of Frank’s gentle kisses trailing down his shoulder.

-

“You’re having dinner with Mikey tomorrow night, right?” Frank says the next day on the first of many smoke breaks.

Gerard flicks the butt of his cigarette to the ground. “Yeah, his boss is being an asshole again and he needs to vent.”

“But you’re mine tonight, right?” he says and Gerard laughs.

“All yours.”

Back inside and Frank’s called down to Leo’s office by Ray. As soon as he hears it, Gerard’s stomach drops because Ray looks anxious. He looks, more than anxious and it’s making Gerard feel ill.

He barely concentrates on the entry in his medical journal, instead draws pointless lines and dots in the corners until Frank and Ray come back. When they do get back, Frank looks furious. He storms through the gym, snatching his gloves off the bench when he gets there before disappearing somewhere near the heavy bags.

As Ray gets over to him, he doesn’t even have to ask but he does anyway. “Again?” he says and Ray just nods in that hopeless way he does when something is so out of his control. “But it’s not been long-”

“I know,” Ray interrupts. “Usually Frank doesn’t, but a lot of people made a lot of money last time and I guess Leo couldn’t refuse that offer.”

“When is it?”

“Tomorrow.”

Gerard turns to seek out Frank but he can’t see anything passed the blur of a swinging heavy bag and the sound of the chains and bolts holding it up groaning. “So he’s pretty pissed then,” he states and Ray sighs.

“Evidently.”

 

Frank doesn’t talk at all in training, not even to Ray and so Gerard keeps his distance, hovering over near Danny and Steve and working on updating his medical journal and writing out a new stock list instead. When Frank storms out for a smoke, Gerard thinks about following but Ray looks at him like that’s a bad idea. It fucking hurts Gerard to stay away and tears him in to tiny pieces because he just wants to make it better. Because Frank’s not some brain dead meat head he’s a guy with emotions and a lot of crap in his past that is still making him hurt and Gerard just can’t do anything about it.

Frank seems a fraction more relaxed when he gets back, if the wink Gerard gets on the way back is anything to go by.

Near the end of the day when Gerard is pretty much caught up with all things medic related, Frank flops down on to the bench, guzzling a bottle of water.

“Tough day,” Gerard says and its not even a question. Frank finishes off the bottle and nods.

“Yup.”

“So. I’m, uh. I’m gonna head home soon.” He’s trying to see Frank’s face without making it too obvious that he’s trying to see if his earlier invite is still valid.

For a moment, Frank’s lips are pressed together and he stares hard at the empty bottle until he finally says, “Don’t.”

 

When they walk to Frank’s together, Frank lets Gerard prattle on about how fucking cold its been lately that he’s been thinking about buying a warmer jacket whilst he smokes in silence and listens. He doesn’t talk, doesn’t answer back just nods and shrugs where appropriate, even when they get inside.

“I don’t want you at the fight tomorrow,” he says suddenly, interrupting Gerard’s rant about over priced jackets as he riffles through the kitchen draw for take out menus. He stops, hand freezing over a Benito’s menu and stares at Frank like he’s just been speaking in tongues.

“What?” he says, and he can’t decide if his tone is sharper than intended or not sharp enough.

“Tomorrow. I don’t want you to be there. I…you’re not going to be there.”

Gerard’s jaw is on the floor but his hands are too clenched to pick it up again. He shakes his head. “Are you fucking kidding me? It’s my job.”

“Not tomorrow it’s not. I already told Ray about it. He’s gonna be the cut man,” Frank says calmly and it’s infuriating.

“And he just went along with this?” Gerard asks in disbelief and Frank just shrugs.

“I didn’t give him a choice.”

Gerard’s shaking his head again and he pulls his hand out of the draw to slam it closed. “I’m not just gonna stay away and let you go through that. I need to be there. I’m going to be there.”

With that annoying calmness, Frank slowly shakes his head. “This isn’t a request, Gerard. I can’t have you there again to see that. I don’t want you there,” and that really fucking stings.

Without thinking, Gerard opens the drawer and grabs a handful of menus before throwing them in Frank’s face. Frank doesn’t move, even as Gerard grabs his coat and leaves.

-

Gerard spends all night positively fuming. He barely sleeps, instead tosses and turns and tries not to think about the speed he went from wanting to make all the problems in Frank’s life disappear to wanting to punch him in the face. It’s heartbreaking, even more so when his phone flashes with a new message.

Don’t hate me.

Gerard grips the phone tightly before throwing it to the other end of the bed. He buries his face in to the pillow and forces himself to sleep.

-

At training Gerard hides in his stock room, making twenty minutes worth of work stretch out over a good couple of hours. He storms around and picks up boxes, moving them in to unnecessary places, checking over supplies that he’s already checked a million times before.

“Fucking asshole,” he says to an unopened tub of Vaseline before slamming it down on a shelf next to the others. “Stupid fucking asshole. Fucking stupid god damn asshole.”

“Hey, that’s no way to talk to your supplies,” says Brian from the doorway, and Gerard jumps, knocking a whole opened box of swabs to the floor.

“Damn it,” he grumbles.

“Sorry,” Brian laughs though he doesn’t sound very fucking sorry. “I just thought you should know that Frank’s about to have his throat ripped out by Steve so, yeah. You might want to do something about that.”

Gerard rolls his eyes and huffs. “Fine,” and he goes to start picking up the swabs before Brian interrupts again.

“I’d, uh…do that after if I were you,” he says and then a perfectly timed ‘Fuck you, you fucking dwarf!’ sounds from the gym. Gerard groans and drops the box again.

Out in the gym Frank’s laughing like a god damn loon as Steve’s only just held back by Danny. Ray’s got the back of Frank’s vest in his fist as he tries to yank him away.

“Say that again, Iero, you fucking pussy!” Steve’s saying, and just when Frank’s about to open his mouth Gerard opens his first.

“Frank!” he says sharply and both fighter’s heads snap towards him. “Knock it off. If you guys kill each other I’m not cleaning it up.” Something inside Gerard wonders where he got the balls to yell at two guys who could probably kill him with just their pinkie fingers, but he has barely slept and he’s annoyed and frustrated and working for free and he just wants to go home.

He’s surprised when the two fighters cease their struggling to get to one another, and Steve turns to storm off in the opposite direction. From behind him, Brian laughs loudly and clamps a hand over Gerard’s shoulder. “Dude, you finally grew a pair. Congrats, man,” and Gerard feels more proud than offended.

He shoots Frank a ‘You better behave’ glare before stalking back in to his stock room to clear up.

 

It’s not even thirty seconds lately when the door to the store room opens, briefly letting the light from the hall spill in to the room until it closes again, leaving the orange tinge from the old overhanging light bulb. Gerard doesn’t even need to look up as he gathers the swabs from the floor and dumps them in to the trash can.

When he stands up right, Frank catches him with his stare and for a few moments Gerard allows himself to be held in it before turning away.

“What do you want?” he says, fiddling with box corners. “I’m busy.”

“No you’re not,” Frank replies and he sounds so calm and just not bothered by the fact Gerard’s been sulking in here for hours now.

“I don’t want to talk to you right now,” Gerard says. “Just go.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Well you don’t have a choice,” Gerard adds bitterly and starts to rearrange Vaseline tubs for perhaps the fifth time today.

Suddenly, Frank’s hand wraps around his wrist and when he says Gerard’s name it’s almost desperate. “Please,” he whispers. “Don’t hate me.”

Gerard stares as Frank’s hand and sighs before shaking it off and turning away from the shelves. “I don’t hate you, Frank. I just don’t understand why.”

Frank’s look is pleading as he reaches out to briefly touch Gerard’s arm again. “I just can’t have you there. I don’t want you to see that.”

“I’ve seen it before,” Gerard points out and Frank licks his lips quickly.

“That was before.”

Gerard gives him a look and he thinks he knows the answer but he’s going to press for one anyway. “Before what?”

For a second, Frank’s lips twitch like he’s going to smile and he doesn’t look as sad as he just had done. He steps close and leans in, placing a quick and desperate peck on Gerard’s lips that Gerard wants to follow when Frank pulls back. He doesn’t though. “Just before,” Frank whispers.

 

It feels physically impossible for Gerard to leave, like his legs just won’t carry him out of the door. Frank’s not going to change his mind, Gerard knows that much, no matter how much he wants him to. Ray hasn’t spoken to him all day either, so he’s probably feeling guilty as hell in that special Ray kind of way. Even Brian manages the one sympathetic look as Gerard pulls on his coat and he has to wonder, Christ, does everyone know? No. Probably not. Not that they’re fucking anyway.

He wants to look back at Frank when he leaves, wants to make a point of giving him this look that shows just how hurt he is, but Frank’s already downstairs. So he puts on his jacket, pulls out his phone and leaves.

“You’re cancelling, aren’t you?” Mikey says as soon as he answers. Gerard holds in a long breath and thinks through all the lies he could tell before finally deciding against it. He sighs.

“It’s a work thing.”

Mikey laughs, shortly. “Its always a work thing.” And then there’s a pause as Mikey clicks his tongue against his teeth. “You’re not in any trouble are you? I mean…you didn’t get punched in the face again, right?”

Gerard smiles to himself and instinctively lifts his fingertips to touch his cheek. The bruise has been gone for a while now but the skin still feels tender. Maybe its just in his head though. “No, nothing like that. Rain check, ok?”

“Yeah, fine. So, do you have to go do this work thing right now or do you have some time to talk?”

Gerard kicks a rock in to a puddle and turns on to his block. “No, I have some time. Go ahead.”

 

Frank feels physically sick as he throws himself back in to his corner. In a fair fight, there’s no way this guy would beat him, not a single chance in hell. He’s got to be one of the worst, most unskilled and under trained fighters Frank’s ever seen, so god knows how he landed himself with someone apparently more powerful than Leo.

Ray fumbles with a pack of new swabs, ripping open the paper and spilling some on the ground. He curses to himself and yanks one out of the packet before using it to clear up the blood on Frank’s cheek. He knows Ray’s frustrated. He hasn’t had to be his cut man and coach for a while now and really, it is a lot to ask of him. He doesn’t know if he understands because hell, Frank doesn’t really understand himself why he can’t have Gerard here. It’s not really about pride but more about principal. Frank’s a good fighter and he works hard and trains hard and he’s really fucking good at what he does that no one in a million years should ever believe that Frank could be beaten by this guy.

But they do and they will because it’s money. Frank’s given everything he’s got to this sport for this. Money. To be some puppet on a string. He can’t have Gerard see that, not again. Not after he’s kissed Frank the way he has or the way he’s looked up at him when they fuck like Frank is just everything in the world and more. He can’t.

Except now he wishes he could.

 

Frank loses on the sixth round so the fight is relatively short, though that does nothing to quench Frank’s fury as he storms in to the locker room. He doesn’t even take his gloves off before he starts losing it, and with the way he pummels in to an already broken locker door that’s probably a good thing.

At first, Ray doesn’t even try and stop him, just stands by the door and watches as the anger pours out of Frank in huge, high waves. When Frank pauses to press his face against the cool metal of the above locker, spitting blood against it also, Ray finally steps forward and put a hand on Frank’s shoulder. At first he flinches but Ray doesn’t back off.

“Just go to Gerard,” he says.

 

Gerard’s been staring in to nothing all night. In his kitchen, living room, bedroom he’s just been stood on one fixed point and staring at nothing, mind slowly ticking over the past twenty years of his life. He’s starving but he can’t bring himself to eat and he needs to shower but he just doesn’t want to. All he wants to do is sit on the arm of his shitty couch and stare at the door.

That’s hard to do when someone starts banging on it and jerks Gerard harshly out of his thoughts. With a brief panic that something terrible has happened, Gerard leaps up from the couch and over to the door where he flings it open without a second thought.

What comes next is a blur of things. A blur of flesh and tattoos and lips as Frank’s fasten to his hard a fast. Gerard finds himself yanked back, pushed in to the apartment and turned, Frank biting as his mouth as he slams them back against the door, jolting them both as it closes forcefully. He presses Gerard against it, hands either waist of Gerard’s waist, trapping him in as he kisses back hard.

“I’m sorry, I’m so fucking – sorry,” he mumbles brokenly in to Gerard’s mouth.

Gerard nods, hands sliding in to Frank’s damps hair and gripping as he drags their mouths apart. “I know,” he says breathlessly. “I know. It’s ok.”

Frank shakes his head but doesn’t stop kissing, just slips his tongue passed Gerard’s lips to reach every corner of his mouth. Frank’s hand gets up Gerard’s shirt, pushing it over his skin until he’s got room to press his hand against his chest where it stays for a moment before falling back to Gerard’s waist. Gerard thrusts quick and hard against the head of Frank’s body, hands still in his hair and mouths fused together.

As soon as Frank gets a hand on the front of Gerard’s jeans they both know that this is happening, and it’s going to be right here and right now.

From then on there’s no stopping it. Gerard’s jeans are open and shucked down and gone and Frank’s hand is in his boxers, jacking him quickly as he sucks on Gerard’s collar bone. Gerard swears and fumbles with Frank’s sweats, the elastic waistband slipping out of his grip as his whole body jerks along with Frank’s fist.

When Frank presses them both in to the door just for some more friction, Gerard’s finally able to slip the waistband over Frank’s ass and Jesus, fuck he’s not wearing any underwear. Gerard grabs one of his perfectly round cheeks and groans. Frank growls something animalistic and feral, biting all over Gerard’s neck and shoulder as he pulls down his boxers.

“Need to fuck you,” he pants, thigh between Gerard’s legs and hand on his cock.

“Don’t have any-”

“I’m clean,” Frank cuts him off and Gerard’s brain quickly zips back through conversations with Ray before confirming this.

Gerard nods. “Yeah. Yeah, ok,” and he pushes himself against Frank again as he squeezes Gerard’s dick.

Gerard pulls Frank’s free hand off the door and brings it to his mouth. One by one he sucks on Frank’s fingers, sliding his lips over the perfect tanned and tattooed skin, webbing thick globs of saliva over each one whilst Frank watches on with hungry, sedated eyes.

Frank smashes his face in to Gerard’s neck because he just can’t watch anymore, the sensation is almost enough to make him come and if he carries on watching it’s all going to be over. “Fuck, Gerard,” he says in to his skin. “You have no fucking idea how good you look right now.”

Gerard gives Frank’s palm one final lick before pushing the hand between his own legs. Frank pushes the first a second finger in only moments apart and it makes Gerard hiss quietly at the burn. It probably shouldn’t feel so good but it does and he presses back against the door to push himself up on to his toes, leaning against Frank and giving him more room. Frank’s fingers twist and roll roughly as his lips trail in a contrasting gentleness over Gerard’s throat. In another moment, Gerard reaches down to push Frank’s hand away and he doesn’t even have to say anything. He just takes Frank’s hand again and slips the fingers in to his mouth, tasting them both on the skin as he lets trickles of spit roll down them.

Frank jacks himself with Gerard’s own brand of spit/sweat lube and it takes a lot to stop because he’d love to ride himself against Gerard. But he pulls away because this is going to be so much better. Gerard pushes himself up on to his toes again, supporting himself between Frank’s body and the door as Frank shifts and angles himself to slide in to Gerard’s tight heat smoothly.

It’s good, its great because it’s skin on skin and tight and filling and amazing, but it’s not enough and they both feel it. It needs to be closer, no air between them but this isn’t the most accommodating position. Not until Frank gets his hands on the backs of Gerard’s thighs and urges him up, lifting him off the ground until Frank’s body is clamped between Gerard’s thighs. He pins Gerard against the door and then instantly they feel it, Frank slides in deeper and they moan with it, foreheads knocking together as it pulls the breath from them.

Its going to be a hard position to maintain but it’s not going to take much to get there. As soon as Frank pushes forward Gerard can already feel his legs start to shake. With both of Frank’s hands busy Gerard reaches for his own dick, wraps his slick fingers around it and jacks himself. Frank stares down at him, watching Gerard’s cock move in to his fist and it’ so fucking hot. He angles his head down to latch on to Gerard’s nipple, biting at the pink nub as Gerard’s moans start to come out in hiccups.

“Gonna come. Fuck, Frank, I’m gonna – gonna,” Gerard warns and Frank presses closer, ramming them both in to the door until Gerard’s head and heels start to knock loudly against it. His neighbours are going to hate him but that’s pretty impossible to think about when Frank starts biting his jaw.

“Come on, come on,” he whispers, encouraging Gerard to let go. He presses him in to the door one last time before Gerard actually does lose it, coming between their pressed bodies and riding himself against it.

Frank’s almost immediate to follow, nearly dropping Gerard when he comes, only just managing to hold him up against the door long enough to come inside of him. He drops Gerard’s legs slowly and Gerard can barely stand on them. He keeps his arms tight around Frank’s neck, panting heavily in to his chest until the world stops spinning.

 

They move to Gerard’s room soon after, stripping off the remainder of their clothes along the way. Gerard pulls Frank under the comforter, hands curling in to the sheets that sprawl partially across Frank’s chest, legs hooked together.

-

It seems Leo is now fully aware that when Frank falls, he rakes it in. People like taking a dare and betting against a champion, and when they get it right its like they’ve got a taste for it, for blood and they all want more. Leo wants Frank to give more, and so after Frank wins a fight three nights later, Leo makes Ray break the news again.

“I’m being there,” is the first thing Gerard says when he finds out.

“Yes, you are,” Ray adds, glaring at Frank like he means business and Frank starts to wonder when the two bossiest men in his life started working against him.

“Alright, I know,” he says, hands held up in defence.

For the rest of training, Frank is lethargic and Gerard watches safely from the bench before being called away to a bloody nose from a new fighter.

When they get back to Frank’s place, Frank sucks Gerard off in the kitchen, ambushing him when he’s got a pizza menu in one hand and the phone in the other. The phone is on the floor and the menu is clutched between Gerard’s hand and Frank’s shoulder as Frank devours Gerard’s cock.

Gerard thinks it might be some coping mechanism, but he’s not exactly up for asking right now and honestly, he’s not about to complain. If sucking him off is what Frank needs then Gerard isn’t going to stand in his way.

 

The fight is awful in every way Gerard expected it to be. It’s another mid fight fall and acting like he thinks he’s going to win has got to be the worst part for Frank. At least this guy seems a little more up to it than the last, or so Gerard’s heard. He looks a lot like Steve only shorter and not as furious. The crowd are split right down the center, half wanting nothing more than for Frank to hit the mat and the other half wanting him to be champion. Gerard wishes so badly Frank didn’t have to do this, because with every brilliant, well skilled punch the people in and around the ring know it’s all for nothing.

He’s glad he’s here this time and in a way, so is Frank. Its not just his body taking a beating out there and so on every corner its some what comforting to see Gerard’s kind yet concerned face. He feeds Frank his gum shield, wipes away the blood and sweat and worries his bottom lip between his teeth.

When Frank hits the mat, the crowd loses it in opposite ways. Half of them look so overjoyed and gleeful whilst the rest spit curses and insults down and Frank as he crawls to his knees after the ten second count. He feels worthless. Ray hauls him back on to the ropes and Gerard stays where he is, waiting for Frank to stumble back to the corner. He doesn’t look at Gerard but when he falls down in to the stool Gerard squeezes his shoulder, leaving it there for just a touch longer than necessary.

After he’s announced the loser, Frank’s eyes darken and he orders everyone back to the locker room.

He lands a punch in to the first locker when he gets there. Ray looks from Frank and his red glare and heaving chest to Gerard’s worrying gaze and nods. He gives Gerard a little half wave, mimes towards the hall and then leaves, pulling the door closed behind him.

Gerard thinks about saying something but comes up short and so leans back against the lockers and watches Frank glare angrily in to the abyss. Frank tugs his gloves off, jerking at the strings until they’re loose enough to shake his gloves on to the floor. He grunts to himself and thinks about punching something else when he sees Gerard leaning back, studying him cautiously.

When Gerard’s eyes meet his, Gerard smiles and Frank supposes it’s meant to be sweet and comforting but it does something else to him.

A mouthful of Frank isn’t quite what Gerard expected, well, maybe it is. Maybe he’s not at all surprised when Frank surges in to a kiss, grabbing at Gerard’s chest and sides as he tries to mould their bodies together. When Frank’s teeth find Gerard’s neck, Gerard gasps and tightens his grip on Frank’s bicep. “Frank, we can’t- not here,” he tries, but Frank growls and licks over his teeth marks on Gerard’s throat.

“My room, my rules,” is all he says before pulling Gerard’s face back to his.

Frank may be growling and demanding, but Gerard can taste the desperation in Frank’s mouth, the heavy scent of need. So Gerard clings on and just goes with it, holds on tight as Frank pushes and pulls at their clothing and Gerard finds himself naked from the waist down with his ‘Team F’NSTEIN’ shirt rucked up his ribs. Frank lifts Gerard just like before after a brief jerky fingered preparation and pushes his dick swiftly inside. Gerard hisses because at this angle, everything feels a little tighter but not like it’s too much.

Gerard clamps his legs around Frank’s waist and holds on with on hand digging in to Frank’s shoulder and the other clinging on to the shelf of a broken locker. Frank pushes in to Gerard again, fucking him almost clumsily but it still feels good. It’s got to be adrenaline and anger with a pinch of something else keeping Frank upright as he holds on to the outsides of Gerard’s thighs and just goes for it, the lockers clanging and smashing with loose doors and shelving.

Frank grabs on to Gerard’s hand, the one plastered to the shelf of a near by locker and holds them both steady with it, their fingers slipping together, hot against the metal and they’re barely holding on.

Frank’s the first to come and as soon as he’s done he slips out of Gerard, letting Gerard’s wobbly legs get back on the ground before he presses Gerard back in to the locker and jacks him quickly until he comes, face buried in Frank’s neck.

-

For someone whose profession it is to punch the crap out of other people, Frank’s got to be one of the sweetest guys Gerard’s ever met. It’s so god damn confusing when Gerard sees Frank put so much practiced concentration in to pounding a heavy bag none stop for ten minutes until he’s sweating and looking as dangerous as possible, to then have that same person turn to him and smile this purely gorgeous and yeah, he’ll say it – pretty fucking cute smile.

Because Frank is cute and he is sweet and he makes Gerard feel good about himself whether he’s listening to Gerard spout medical crap with an impressed smirk, or babbling about the perfection that is Gerard’s mouth as he sucks Frank off after a particularly tiring day at training. And when he falls asleep with his head tucked beneath Gerard’s chin, it’s the best kind of wanted Gerard’s ever felt.

Even Mikey’s starting to come around to the notion that dating a boxer who is part of illegal sporting events isn’t the worst idea in the world.

“So when am I gonna meet him, huh?” Mikey asks over vegetable rolls one evening.

Gerard coughs uncomfortable. “Uhm.”

“Are you gonna take him to dinner with mom next week?” Mikey probes, smirking.

Gerard glares. “Shut up. You can meet him when you’re not a moron.”

Mikey flings a roll at his brother’s head. “Go to hell. But before you do, could you pass the rice?”

 

For a while, the fixed fights seem to simmer down and not just for Frank. There are still fights, a lot of fights but they’re all fair down to referee and judges’ scores and skill. Frank’s still a champion, and even if he doesn’t feel like it people seem to have forgotten his previous falls, ready to cheer him on again as he pummels fighter after fighter in to the ropes.

Gerard likes to watch Frank fight and train, likes to watch him work up a sweat and know there’s more to come later when they’re back at someone’s apartment. Which are most nights. Some nights Frank’s working at the café and some nights Gerard has dinner with Mikey or his mom or both.

By now, Gerard is one hundred and ten percent sure that Ray knows about them, but he never lets on past a smirk or always knowing just the right moment to leave the two of them alone.

 

“Pizza?” Frank asks when they collapse on to the couch at Gerard’s place. Gerard smirks as Frank slides around and drops his head in to Gerard’s lap. “If you pay I’ll put out,” he adds with wiggly eyebrows.

Gerard pays. Frank puts out.

-

Gerard curls himself tightly around Frank’s body the next morning when he tries to get up. “No,” he whines.

“Yes,” Frank laughs. “I’m going to be late for work.”

“You make me late for work all the time,” Gerard argues, hand slipping further around Frank’s waist.

“That’s because where you work, I’m the boss’ favourite. Where I work, my boss is a greasy gambling sleaze ball who only keeps me around because he’s afraid I’ll kick his ass.”

Gerard frowns. “You suck the fun out of everything.”

Frank squirms around in Gerard’s grip until they’re face to face and he leans in to bite Gerard’s jaw. “If you let me get up, I’ll show you how much I suck when I get back.”

Gerard chews his lip in thought and hums. “Deal.”

“Besides, you’re meeting your brother for lunch,” Frank points out as he finally wriggles free of Gerard’s grasp and hops out of bed.

“Lunch is lame,” Gerard sighs.

Frank pokes him in the shoulder. “Your face is lame.”

Gerard pokes back. “Your mom’s lame,” he says and then his playful smirk instantly falls in to an expression of horror. “I – I,” he stutters. For a moment Frank looks utterly confused and Gerard is petrified, desperately trying to think of something to say before he hears Frank snort. His face cracks in to an idiot grin and he falls back on to the bed in fits of laughter.

“Your face,” he chokes.

Gerard scowls and kicks Frank in the ribs. “You are such a fucking asshole.” Frank giggles and rolls on top of Gerard, pinning him to the bed with strong fingers wrapped around Gerard’s wrist. Gerard groans.

“Less of an asshole now, huh?” he smirks.

-

When he’s not working, Frank comes to watch the other fighters’ matches, though he doesn’t spend much time watching the fighters. Tonight is exactly the same, and Frank sits front row in those jeans and his own team shirt looking far too distracting for Gerard’s liking. Not that he’d ever complain, of course.

Towards the end of the match Gerard notices Frank chewing on his thumb nail, lips wrapped around the tip of the digit. Gerard’s throat feels a little dry and he swallows just as Frank’s eyes find his. He smiles and waves and Gerard has to tear his eyes away.

 

Frank’s waiting for Gerard outside the gym after the match. He pulling a cigarette from behind his ear and lighting it with Gerard’s lighter when Gerard gets there, and he rests the cigarette between his fingers for a long moment before finally taking a drag. Gerard licks his lip and steals the cigarette.

“I have a theory,” Frank says with a quirky little smile. Gerard exhales the smoke from his mouth and nods.

“Oh yeah? What’s that then?”

Retrieving his cigarette, Frank reaches out and runs the tip of his index finger over Gerard’s lips. “I think you might have a thing for my hands,” and he sounds cocky about it, because they both know he’s right.

With narrowing eyes Gerard challenges, “Prove it.”

 

Frank proves it back at his place when he strips Gerard down and gets him on his back. He uses spit, precome, sweat and sticky sweet lube to work Gerard open, finger by finger pushing inside Gerard’s hole, curling and stroking around the curves of muscle until Gerard’s shaking. Feet planted on the bed Frank kneels between Gerard’s knees, one hand ghosting over Gerard’s shaking thigh as his other fingers work inside of him.

Gerard’s moaning becomes almost obscene as his voice gets tight, rugged and tired as Frank pushes him to the edge before quickly pulling him back. When he finds that particular bundle of nerves Gerard starts to fall apart.

“Fuck,” he pants. “Just let me come, Frank.”

Frank grins, leaning over Gerard in his boxers and team shirt as he curls his fingertips tight against the muscle. Gerard’s head falls back and he groans long and loud, hips jerking off the mattress. He’s rock hard but Frank’s yet to touch him and satisfaction starts to curl in Frank’s stomach when he realises its just him and his fingers getting Gerard like this, tattooed skin sliding in and out and in again, quick and slippery and driving Gerard as close to crazy as he can possibly get. He’s hard himself, straining against his boxers and Gerard is just right there, open and waiting and wanting and he just wants to fuck him in to oblivion. But there’ll be plenty of time for that later.

“You wanna come?” Frank whispers, leaning as far over Gerard’s body as he can get with his fingers still anchored inside of him. He scrapes his teeth down Gerard’s collar bone and curls his fingers again. “Come then.” Gerard moans, hands grasping for Frank’s skin, grabbing at his shoulders and nodding.

“I wanna, I wanna come,” he pleads, almost with himself. “Fuck, Frank.”

“Come on then. You know you want to. I can feel it, you’re so ready,” and he starts to thrust and pull his fingers quickly in and out of Gerard, fucking him until he’s cursing, shaking with his eyes pressed shut, calling out Frank’s name like it’s going to help him come quicker.

When Frank pushes the fingers of his free hand in to Gerard’s mouth he finally comes, spilling over his own stomach in warm splashes as Frank fingers him through it.

“Shit,” is all Gerard has to say when he can, hand pressed against his eyes as he breathes heavily.

Frank strokes Gerard’s lips with his fingers. “So I was right then?” he smirks.

-

They’re eating breakfast, cereal in the kitchen, when Frank looks over the unit and chews thoughtfully. “I think my mom would have really liked you,” he says and instantly, Gerard stops chewing.

“Huh?”

“My mom,” he clarifies. “She would have really liked you.”

Gerard smiles. “Really?” and Frank smiles back and nods.

“Yeah. Really.”

Frank doesn’t talk about his mom a lot, just odd little bits, little stories and anecdotes after he’s looked contemplative for a while. Gerard can’t decide if he looks sad or not and he tries not to probe, just talks when Frank wants to.

One night when it’s raining and neither of them can sleep, Frank rests his chin on Gerard’s chest and stares out at the rain. “Are you close with your mom?” he asks.

“Yeah,” Gerard answers without thought. “I mean, we don’t talk every day but yeah, sure, we’re close.” Frank hums and Gerard picks up his hand and lays it in Frank’s hair. “Were you close with your mom?”

Frank closes his eyes, leans in to the touch and smiles a little. “Yeah, I was. She was a great mom. She was,” he pauses to take in a breath and Gerard pets his hair back. “She was really sweet.”

Gerard smiles sweetly. “That must be where you get it from,” he says, tugging softly at Frank’s hair. Frank laughs quietly and turns his head to kiss Gerard’s chest.

“Yup, must be. Certainly didn’t get that from my old man.”

Gerard strokes a finger down Frank’s face. “So, not close with your dad then?”

“Close as in we share DNA, but that’s about it.” Gerard snorts. “He’s not a bad guy or anything he’s just a guy, y’know?”

“I think so.”

“He got even more distant after mom died and then I just left,” Frank explains as Gerard traces around his cheeks and mouth.

“Do you still see him?”

Frank shrugs. “Every now and then, not for a while now though. I don’t even think he knows how to be a dad anymore.”

Gerard presses his lips together. “I’m sorry,” he whispers. Frank pulls himself up over Gerard’s body and kisses him briefly.

“Don’t be,” he says. “I’ve got everything I need.”

-

“Hey, man. Frank’s got another fight next week,” Ray says when Gerard arrives at the gym the next morning. Frank stopped to buy smokes again.

Gerard quirks an eyebrow. “Fair?” Ray nods. “Good. So he’s training hard all week then?”

“As always,” Ray grins and slaps a hand on to Gerard’s shoulder. “I’ll need you to keep an eye on him, make sure his shoulders don’t act up, no signs of sickness or anything. No late nights,” he adds with a sharp, meaningful look. He gives it a second to sink in before smirking and leaving for the ring.

 

“Ray said we can’t have sex before your fight,” Gerard says and Frank chokes on his mouthful of water, spluttering it all over his shirt.

“What?” he wheezes, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “He said that?”

“Well, not in so many words. He said no late nights.”

Frank shrugs as he recaps the bottle. “So we’ll just have sex in the morning then.”

“But then we’ll be late for training,” he says.

“Well then we’ll get up earlier.”

“But then that’s still less sleep.”

Frank shakes his head. “Then how about we have sex whenever the hell we want and we don’t tell Ray about it?”

For a long moment, Gerard actually looks like he’s thinking about it before he smirks and punches Frank in the arm.

-

After a couple days of intense training, Frank’s shoulders start to feel it again. Gerard can see it every time Frank hauls himself down from the ring, hands tight on the ropes as he winces with the way his shoulders roll out of place. So he swipes a couple tubes of heat rub from the supply room and hides them in his jacket.

“Son of a bitch,” Frank curses, sliding off his hoodie when they get back to Gerard’s apartment. He tosses the hoodie towards the couch and growls. “Shit.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Fucking shoulders,” he grumbles and Gerard smiles to which Frank offers him a puzzled look in return.

“Thought so,” he says before disappearing in to the bedroom. When Frank follows, Gerard settles a hand on his shoulder and urges him softly on to the edge of the bed. He produces the heat rub triumphantly and Frank instantly grins.

“You, are a very smart man.”

Gerard laughs and helps Frank out of his shirt. “Well, I did make it through med school,” he says as he climbs on to the bed.

“And for very good reason,” Frank adds as Gerard rubs the translucent substance between his palms. When he gets his hands on to Frank’s skin, Frank instantly sighs.

Gerard works his fingers in to Frank’s knots, easing the tense spots in the muscles with deep rolling motions. Frank hums contently, even on the bits that feel like they hurt. When Gerard leans around to grab the tube, he notices Frank smiling at him. He stops, suddenly oddly worried that he’s doing something embarrassing without realising it.

“What?” he says quickly, hand snapping away from the tube.

Frank’s smile brightens. “Nothing.”

“Why are you smiling like that?”

Frank shrugs. “I don’t know…I was just thinking about your first day, y’know, after the first time you saw me fight?”

Gerard lets himself fall from his knees in to a sitting position. “Yeah…” he trails.

Frank laughs softly and shakes his head. “Oh, man. I so wanted to impress you that night,” he admits, looking a little pink.

Gerard smiles and lands a kiss on Frank’s oily shoulder. “You did,” he says. “You still do. You’re, a very impressive person.”

Frank’s eyes are full of something, and Gerard can’t quite tell what it is but he thinks it’s good, he hopes it is and well, it seems to be because Frank is cupping his face and kissing him. “Not as impressive as you, Doctor Way,” he mumbles before licking his way back in to Gerard’s mouth.

 

They don’t eat dinner. They don’t even get to the phone to order it. Instead, when the muscles in Frank’s shoulders are loose, Frank pulls Gerard down on top of him, ridding them of clothes as they kiss and laugh their way up the bed.

Gerard doesn’t know exactly when he decided to stop Frank mid fuck and change things up a little, or even exactly why. Right now, he just knows he’s glad he did and thinks that maybe he should always ride Frank’s dick, because the view is so fucking pretty from up here. He can see Frank more, see all of him splayed out on the bed as his face tightens and relaxes. Gerard’s able to sink Frank deeper, to rock himself over Frank’s hardness and get to new angels and levels that they could just never quite reach before.

Frank seems more than pleased as his hands grip bruising at Gerard’s thighs and he arches back off the mattress. He’s starting to lose it and he’s not even in control, but Gerard wonders if that’s part of it. He scrapes his blunt nails down Frank’s abdomen and rocks quickly forward again. Frank curses, eyes shooting open and chin tipping upwards until his throat is exposed and Gerard just can’t resist. He leans down, hands gripping hard at Frank’s shoulders as he licks a warm tongue over his Adam’s apple.

Gasping, Frank reaches out and presses a hand against Gerard’s ribs. “You,” he says, and that’s all he seems to have for a while as he stares up at Gerard, pulling him apart with his eyes. Gerard smiles and it’s almost sweet and Frank kisses his forehead before pushing Gerard back up in to position.

As the space between them fills with the sounds of moans and moving skin Gerard starts to lose all concept of time. All he knows is that he’s starting to ache and he’s held on for so long it feels like it might be too long. But then Frank finally finishes his sentence as Gerard’s leaning back, hand tugging at his own hair just to keep himself on edge. “You,” he groans, voice shot and shaking, “You’re fucking…everything.”

Gerard lets go and comes just seconds in front of Frank before collapsing forward, breathing hard and melting slow.

-

Ray emerges from downstairs, lips pressed like something should be wrong though his eyes don’t show it. Gerard presses Danny’s hand on to the ice pack covering his knee and tells him he’ll be right back. When Ray sees Gerard advancing, he automatically heads for a quiet corner.

“What is it?” Gerard asks quietly. “Is it Frank? Is there a fight?” Ray nods. “Fixed?” he nods again. Gerard sighs. “When?”

“The next one.”

“But…you said that one was fair.”

Ray shakes his head slowly. “That what I was told. Apparently Frank’s a favourite again. He’s fixed to win.”

“Oh,” Gerard says because, oh. That’s not that bad. “Does Frank know?”

“Does Frank know what?” Gerard hears from behind.

Frank doesn’t take it too badly. He just nods, face blank, and stares at Ray as he explains it. At least it’s not a fall, is all Gerard can think, and that’s definitely something.

-

Gloved up and focused, Frank sits in his locker room ready for the fight. Ray’s getting in some last minute whatever from Leo as Gerard packs Frank’s tape and bandages away in one of the only none broken lockers. The crowds are starting to get rowdy.

“Who are we fighting again?” Frank asks and Gerard’s mind can’t help but get stuck on that word, we.

“Uh…I think he’s called ‘El Diablo’,” Gerard replies and blinks.

“Hm.”

Gerard closes the locker and flips the lock. “You know him?”

Frank juts out his bottom lip and shakes his head. “Can’t say that I do.”

“I didn’t think there were any fighters you hadn’t heard of.”

“Me either.”

 

Down the hall and to the left in the opponent’s room, El Diablo (or Michael Sanchez) hands his gloves over to his coach. He looks unsure and so his coach smiles at him with yellowing teeth as he grabs the thick, silver filled syringe from the medic bag.

“You sure this is such a good idea, boss?” says Michael and his coach laughs.

“There are no good ideas, Diablo,” he replies, puncturing the glove and pressing the syringe passed the first few layers of padding.

Michael watches, curious. “So, the metal will just…set in there?”

Coach nods as he elevates the glove. “More weight and one hell of a punch,” he says. “Now give me the other glove.”

 

Ray swings open the door and leans in to the room with one hand on the frame like he doesn’t intent on staying there long. “We’re up,” he says.

“Right,” Frank nods before heaving himself up off the bench. Gerard grabs his medic bag and pats Frank’s shoulder as he passes.

In the ring, Frank gives El Diablo a quick look over just to clarify that he’s never seen him before. He hasn’t. Diablo’s build is strong and he looks like he’s been in some form of training for a while, though if its boxing specific, Frank’s yet to find out.

He turns to the ropes where Ray and Gerard are watching him, waiting for him to accept his gum shield and swig of water.

Gerard doesn’t like the look of this guy. Well, he never really likes the look of any guy fighting Frank, but there’s something about this one that’s just getting under his skin. He pushes it back though, mostly because he has to. He’s got a job to do and right now, Frank is his only focus.

Definitely boxing trained, Frank concludes with himself as the match starts. Sometimes he’s fought men with minimal training, guys that just look like they could pound on you for half an hour without getting tired. Only problem from them is that usually they’re unskilled and uncoordinated, and so it’s easy for Frank to move his way passed their blocks and have them on the mat in no time. That’s not the case today. This guy is agile and by the end of the first round, neither of them have got in any damaging blows and Frank’s almost sorry that he’s fixed to win. He likes a challenge.

“You feeling alright?” Ray says when Frank gets to his corner. Frank nods and turns to wink at Gerard as he rubs the white towel over his shoulders.

After water and his gum shield, Frank heaves himself up. “See you next corner,” he says.

Except he doesn’t get to next corner.

When Diablo gets in his first punch, it throws Frank more than he expected. Diablo is not a big guy. He’s not over muscled and is a slight build, yet his punch ripples through Frank’s cheek in a wave of pain. It’s odd. Usually Frank can tell what kind of a punch he’s going to get just by looking at a guy, he’s had a lot of practice, but this throws him. He must have had a lot of training. Frank shakes his head and lands one of his own right under Diablo’s left eye. The crowd cheers.

Gerard sees Frank stagger back from the punch, noticing the second or so more it takes him to steady himself. He frowns. Frank’s not sick, he tells himself. He hasn’t shown any signs of anything…

He watches the seconds count down on the clock on the wall. Thirty seconds until the next corner. He mentally picks out what he needs from his medic bag, pen torch, water etc. Ten seconds.

About to turn for his bag, Gerard’s head snaps back to the fight when Diablo’s fist hooks under Frank’s jaw in an upward angled punch. Frank’s head snaps back and Gerard practically hears the crack. His stomach drops and horror swells in the space as Frank’s eyes roll slowly back and he drops like a dead weight to the mat. The crowd roars.

Before anyone else has got time to react Gerard throws himself in to the ring. Pushing passed the ropes he hears Ray scrambling behind him. Gerard’s on his knees before he even gets to Frank and he crawls the last few steps, hands gripping Frank’s body as soon as he gets there.

“Frank, Frank!

Frank’s eyes are closed and his mouth is slightly ajar. Ray appears and Gerard registers the boots of Diablo as he staggers back.

“What? What’s the matter?”

Gerard doesn’t answer. He pulls up Frank’s eyelids. His pupil’s are small. He’s still breathing, shallow but even. He’s completely unconscious and unresponsive as Gerard’s fingertips press in to his face. Gerard doesn’t realise how quiet the room’s gotten, all he can focus on is Frank’s breathing.

“We need help,” Gerard says and his voice is cracked. He look at Ray and up to the Ref who nods and looks down to the judge’s table. Leo’s in front of it, and Gerard turns to call, “Call an ambulance!”

Leo whispers something to Bruno until he nods and turns. “Everybody out!” he calls to an already scampering crowd. They know what this means. Ambulance, police…people they don’t want catching them at an illegal sporting match. They leave quickly.

Leo watches the crowd disperse for a few seconds and they’re the longest seconds of Gerard’s life. He stares at Leo like he’s crazy for being calm because, well…he IS crazy for being calm when everything inside of Gerard is screaming.

“What’s the fucking hold up? Call an ambulance,” Gerard demands, looking around at the ref and back to Leo. Leo shakes his head.

“No. You can’t bring cops here,” he says calmly.

Gerard’s blood runs cold. “He needs help, he needs a fucking ambulance.”

“No,” Leo’s voice is sharp. He looks at Ray. “Get him to a hospital.”

“What? No,” says Gerard, leaning back on his knees. “We can’t move him, are you crazy? His neck, his head. We can’t-”

“Either you move him or I will have him moved.”

Gerard wants to be sick. He can feel it curling in his stomach and he’s not sure if he’s going to puke or tear Leo’s head off.

“Gerard,” Ray says and he reaches out to touch Frank’s shoulder. Gerard wants to flinch. “Come on, man. We have to. Tell me what to do.”

Gerard swallows down the lump of vile anger as he tries to reboot his brain.

“There’s a neck brace in my medic bag, get it.”

Gerard’s bag drops by his side and when he looks up, Danny’s kneeling down with them. “What do you need me to do?”

“We need a car,” Gerard says and quickly Ray starts to grope at his pockets. He pulls out his keys and tosses them to Danny.

When Danny leaves, Brian climbs through the ropes. “We’re moving him, I know,” he says.

Gerard nods and breathes, neck brace shaking in his hands. “Ok, yeah.”

It takes a few careful, breathless moments to get the neck brace on. Gerard’s gentle but he’s got to make it secure. Frank’s still not moving, he’s not even twitching. He’s breathing though, Gerard reminds himself. When the brace is on the three men crouch around the boxer, hands steady under shoulders and limbs.

“Steady,” Gerard says. “Take it easy.” He uses his arm to brace Frank’s neck and head as Brian and Ray take up the weight of the rest of Frank’s body. “Keep his head as still as possible,” he says, though he’s sure he’s talking more to himself.

It’s the most intense few minutes of Gerard’s life moving Frank, nothing like the dramas he faced on his internships. He almost forgets who it is in his hands and he thinks that maybe that’s for the best because all he can concentrate on right now is making sure Frank’s head and neck endure minimal movement. It’s hard getting him down from the ring, sliding Frank’s body beneath the ropes like he’s that game at fun fairs where the hoop can’t touch the wire.

Gerard barely looks up, just briefly to check their direction and he sees the concentration on the other’s faces, feels the tension in their arms. Brian’s never looked so serious.

The stairs are next and Gerard’s so on edge he can barely breathe, like there’s tight straps around his chest pulling tighter with every step. Frank’s still lifeless, but breathing. He’s breathing. Gerard repeats this to himself like they’re the only words he knows.

Danny holds the door open for them. Ray’s car is parked practically next to it, all the doors open and engine still running. They thread Frank in to the car carefully, Gerard scooting in backwards until he’s out the other door, keeping Frank supported above the shoulders. When Frank’s slotted on to the seats Gerard steps back and it hurts because Frank has never looked so small and breakable.

“Alright, let’s go,” Ray says and Danny hands over the keys.

Jamming the passenger seat as far forward as possible, Gerard crouches in the foot well of the back seats by Frank’s head. Danny and Brian shut the doors behind them before standing back from the car.

“Drive safe,” one of them says and then the car chugs out of the alley. Gerard grips Frank’s leg with one hand and shoulder with the other, keeping him still while the car swerves on to the road.

Frank’s eyelids are twitching and Gerard exhales slowly. Good, he thinks. He’s unconscious, but things are still happening inside his head. He’s breathing. He’s breathing.

Gerard slides his hand carefully in to Frank’s hair, feather light touches as he pets it back. “Hey,” he whispers, and through the roaring traffic and hum of the engine, everything zones out. “Just please keep breathing, please. It’s going to be ok, I promise. You’re going to be ok.” Gerard can feel the words clog in his throat. There’s too much to say and he can’t organise his thoughts. Frank’s skin is pale even in this dark light and he’s warm, too warm. His eyelids are fluttering and a small gasp slips from between Frank’s lips. He’s breathing.

Gerard rubs his thumb gently over Frank’s temple. “Almost there, just hold on.” Hold on, Gerard thinks because he can’t think about Frank letting go. It’s not an option, its not going to happen. He’s not going to let it happen – not to the man he loves.

Leaning forward, he places a shaky kiss to Frank’s temple. “Hold on,” he whispers.

 

Gerard barely registers the car swerving across the entrance of the ER, tires bumping off the curb and jolting Gerard forward. He hears Ray shouting though it sounds further away, and then the doors and pulled open and Gerard’s being yanked out of the way.

There’s a stretcher and a blur of white coats and blue scrubs. Frank’s body is threaded back out of the car carefully and urgently before he’s strapped down to the stretcher. Inside someone says, “Give me some stats,” and Gerard’s mind instantly snaps awake.

“Frank Iero. Twenty three year old male. Boxer. Sporting accident. Unconscious for about twenty minutes. Unresponsive but stable breathing. Possible neck injury.”

One of the doctor’s, chief of medicine Gerard guesses due to the age and the wrinkles around the man’s eyes and mouth like he’s seen a lot in his life, stares hard at Gerard for a moment as they wheel Frank down the long corridor. He nods.

“I want blood pressure and heart rate readings now, people. Let’s go.” The stretcher crashes through the doors and the point of no entry for Gerard. The doctor hangs back for a second. “You did good. We got him now,” he says and disappears again.

Halfway down the corridor, Ray’s standing still and watching. Gerard turns to him, heart heavy and hurting. Ray nods. “I guess I should call his dad,” he says when Gerard trails back to him.

“I guess, yeah,” says Gerard, looking lost and hopeless.

“He’s in the book. I’ll be right back,” and he stops to grab Gerard’s shoulder and squeeze it. “He’s gonna be alright, man. I just know it. You did a great job back there.”

A nurse ushers Gerard in to a waiting room, offering him tea or coffee. He declines both and perches himself on the end of an uncomfortable seat, head in his hands as he tries to hold his thoughts inside his head, tries to make sense of the last hour.

‘See you next corner,’ Frank had said and Gerard’s mind now clings to those words. He takes in a breath, swallowing the air like it tastes bitter.

He stares at the back of his hands until Ray finds him. He pokes his head in to the room at stares at Gerard before pulling himself away from the door and falling in to a chair.

“I called,” Ray says and Gerard quickly looks up.

“What did you tell him?”

Ray shrugs. “Just what we told them. He’s a couple hours away but he’s coming.” Gerard nods and looks back at his hands. “Shouldn’t you call your brother?”

 

They’ve been there maybe an hour when Mikey arrives. He dashes through the door like Gerard’s the one who’s had the accident.

“Gee?” he says, out of breath like he’s been running as he bursts through the doors. He pulls his brother in to a hug when he finally sees him. “Are you ok? How is he?”

“We don’t know much yet.”

When Mikey pulls back, Gerard gestures to Ray. “This is Ray.”

Ray smiles politely and shakes Mikey’s hand. “Hey, man. Nice to meet you.”

 

It’s not much longer before the doctor slips in, clip board in hand. It’s the same man as before, the man with the lines, and Gerard tries to read his expression but the doctor’s been at this longer than he has. Everyone stands quickly when he enters and Gerard’s the first over to him.

“How is he? What’s going on?” he speaks quickly.

“He’s stable,” says the doctor. “He’s been conscious briefly.”

“Really?” Gerard interrupts.

“Yes. He didn’t say much, just mumbled, asked for you. I presume you’re Gerard?” Gerard gulps and nods. “The consciousness was brief. We’re keeping him sedated at the moment while we run our tests. There doesn’t appear to be any major brain damage but, like I said, we’ll know more with the tests.”

“Can we see him?”

The doctor nods. “You can but he’s still sedated so you won’t get much out of him. I’ll have a nurse come for you when we get the results.” He pats Gerard’s shoulder. “You did everything you could. He’s not the first ‘sporting accident’ we’ve had,” he explains with air quotes and he gives Gerard this look like he knows exactly what’s gone on. Gerard wonders how many fighters have been here before Frank and how many of them made it out again.

The doctor leaves and they wait for a nurse to take them to Frank. When the nurse arrives, Mikey opts to wait behind.

It’s not as bad as Gerard’s thinking. In his head there are tubes and machines and oxygen masks and IVs. In his head Frank looks fragile, pale like he’s been sick for a long time. He doesn’t. It’s not like that at all, it’s much more real. Frank’s just lay there, breathing. His clothes are gone, replaced by the plain hospital gown, and there’s a single IV in his hand, though its connected to nothing.

“Shit,” Ray breathes and he walks close to Frank’s bed but doesn’t reach out. He rubs a hand over his face and inhales. “Shit.”

There’s nothing much to do but wait. It’s getting deep in to the night and Gerard’s alternating between Frank’s room and the waiting room his brother’s in. Ray goes on coffee runs, a lot of coffee runs and calls either Brian or Danny once or twice, Gerard doesn’t remember though Ray tells him often.

Gerard leaves Mikey tapping away on his phone to see Frank again. He stops at the door. There’s a man in front of the bed in a battered brown jacket and looking like he hasn’t shaved in a couple weeks. Its when Gerard sees the man’s eyes he knows exactly who he is.

“Uh…hi,” Gerard says and the man spins around. “You must be Frank’s dad.”

He nods and extends his hand. “I’m Anthony Iero.”

Gerard shakes it firmly. “I’m Gerard.”

“Gerard?” he repeats. “The guy who brought Frank in?” Gerard nods. “The doctor told me what happened. He said you saved his life.”

With an awkward sigh, Gerard rubs his neck. “Yeah. That was me, I guess.”

“Thank you. Thank you so much,” he says, sounding grateful and earnest. He puts a hand on Gerard’s elbow and he squeezes. There’s a moment where its silent and they both look over Frank’s unconscious body, listening to the monotonous beep, beep. Briefly, Gerard thinks back to his and Franks late night conversations about parents and the look on Anthony’s face is enough to confirm that he definitely isn’t a bad guy. He’s just a guy who cares about his son.

“So, are you Frank’s…” Anthony trails, eyebrows arched suggestively. Gerard’s eyes go wide.

“You know he’s…?”

He laughs. “Of course I know. My son is not exactly subtle.”

Smiling, Gerard nods. “No. No he’s not.”

Anthony’s smile slips and he eventually sighs. “Look, I’ve got to go. I have to get back to work. I just had to see him, make sure he was ok.”

“I’ll get Frank to call you when he wakes up,” Gerard promises. “He’ll be alright. He’s persistent.”

Anthony laughs again. “Always has been.”

He leaves with a final thank you and a smile that’s kind and when he’s gone, Gerard takes up the seat next to Frank’s bed and replays the conversation in his head, still in disbelief. It wasn’t at all as gut wrenching as he expected.

Leaning forward, Gerard wraps his hand around Frank’s fingers and squeezes gently. “So, I just met your dad,” he says to the quiet room.

 

Apparently Gerard falls asleep because the next thing he knows there’s someone skidding noisily past Frank’s door. He registers the feel of itchy sheets on his face and drool on his cheek. He pulls a face and peels himself off of the bed. His hand is still grasping Frank’s and it takes until he rubs the sleep away from his eyes to realise that Frank is squeezing back.

Frank’s eyelids are fluttering again. “Frank,” Gerard says, throat dry as the word comes out in a croak. “Frank.”

Carefully Gerard holds Frank’s arm and shakes.

There’s a quiet gasp and a muffled groan and then Frank’s eyes blink open once. They close. They open. Gerard’s heart jumps in to his throat.

Frank.”

Ge-r,” he says and that’s as far as he gets before he coughs. Gerard sooths a hand over his shoulder and shushes him. “Gerard,” he whispers hoarsely, when he finally can. His face is pale, it looks red and sore and he doesn’t move much, but his eyes search until they find Gerard’s. “Gerard,” he says again, hand squeezing Gerard’s tightly like Frank finally realises he’s there.

“Hey. How do you feel?” Gerard asks softly and Frank groans, feet shifting beneath the thin cotton sheets. He rubs a hand over Frank’s shoulder just so he can tell himself that this is real.

“I ache. Fuck,” he groans again and Gerard can feel his eyes welling just from being able to hear Frank’s voice again.

“Do you remember what happened?” These questions feel familiar and for a moment it feels like he’s back in med school training, interning.

“The fight,” Frank says and Gerard nods. He drops a kiss on to Frank’s shoulder, about to gasp and maybe cry but he never gets to.

“Look who’s up,” someone says, loud and cheerful and Gerard’s head snaps to the door where the doctor is currently standing. He strides in to the room with the chart. “How are you feeling? Any pain?”

“I ache,” Frank says and he frowns as he attempts to move his shoulders. “No pain.”

“Good,” the doctor says as he flips to the second page of the chart. “Well, the tests are back and there’s no damage. You’re one lucky guy, Frank. If you would have been unconscious for any longer it could have been a different story.” He tilts his pen towards Gerard. “This guy saved your life.”

Frank’s fingers are digging in to Gerard’s palm, hard and warm and Gerard never wants him to let go.

“Thanks, doc,” Frank says and the doctor smiles.

“You’ll be in here for a few days for observation so try and stay out of trouble.” He winks and leaves and as he does he takes with him the stress and heart ache of the past few hours. Gerard feels lighter.

Pulling Frank’s hand to his mouth, Gerard kisses it repeatedly over the knuckles and fingers. “You worried the shit out of me,” he says after a moment. Frank smiles, dry lips stretching in to a grin until Gerard wants to laugh and maybe slap him. “You ass,” Gerard says.

Frank places Gerard’s hand on his chest, just over his heart. “Still here,” he says and then he strokes his fingertips over Gerard’s knuckles. “Thanks to you.”

For a moment, Gerard just looks at Frank because he wants to take it in, just drink in the sight of Frank awake and alive.

“So, your dad was here,” he finds himself saying and instantly, Frank’s smile falls.

“What? Really?” He doesn’t look angry, just…surprised.

“Yeah, not for long. Ray called him. He wanted to see if you were alright.”

“Did you speak to him?”

“Yeah,” he nods. “He knew it was me who brought you in and he thanked me. He was really nice.”

Frank’s lips quirk in to a small smile. “Good,” he says. Gerard slides his hand slowly up Frank’s chest to his cheek where he strokes softly, thumb tracing the line of his eye. He’s about to say something when suddenly Frank looks incredibly serious. “I love you.”

For a tiny second Gerard panics, but he doesn’t let it show on his face. Instead he breathes, just breathes because that’s what the past few hours seem to have been all about. “I love you too.”

 

“You’re awake!” Ray says with bright, delighted eyes as he and Mikey get in to the room, plastic coffee cups in hand. “You fucking shit.”

Frank smiles. “Nice to see you too.”

Ray glares but he looks happy. “You gave me a heart attack, you fucking moron. Don’t you ever do that again.”

“I’ll try,” Frank laughs before his eyes drift over the other person in the room. It takes him just a moment to place the face, to match the awkward stance. “Mikey,” he says and Mikey looks up.

“Hey, man,” he says and gives a half wave. “Nice to meet you now that you’re, y’know…conscious.”

Frank snorts. “You guys are definitely related.”

A nurse comes by soon and ushers them all out while she takes readings and gives Frank a blood thinning injection. Gerard hovers by the door and peers in every other moment, checking. Mikey laughs and rolls his eyes. “You’re like a back seat driver,” he comments and Ray quickly agrees.

Gerard hugs Mikey tight when he finally convinces him to leave. “I’ll call you,” he says and Mikey pinches his side.

“You better, asshole.”

Ray stays a little longer, though not much because the nursing staff are starting to frown when they pass the room and hear the dull muffle of laughter. He pats Frank’s shoulder and pulls Gerard in to a half hug before finally leaving.

Its creeping towards sunrise though the rooms of the hospital are still dark. Gerard lays his head on the shadows in Frank’s bed and watches him as he drifts closer to sleep. Frank smiles calmly down at Gerard and lays a hand on his head.

“I wish you could get in here with me,” he says and Gerard smirks. “I’ll never get to sleep in this place.”

Gerard sneaks his hand beneath the sheets and strokes Frank’s leg gently, soothing his fingertips up and down the warm skin. “You will,” he whispers. “I’ll make sure you do.”

-

After almost three days in hospital, too many blood thinning injections for Frank’s liking and a mountain of paper work, Frank’s released to go home. He fights Gerard and Ray away as they try and help him in to Ray’s car, “Jesus Christ, guys. Stop fucking helping,” and complains about the amount of nicotine free hours he’s had to endure.

Getting in to his apartment, Frank moves slow. His bones and muscles feel stiff and out of use and he walks with more care than usual, letting Gerard unlock and open the door for him without complaint. He shuffles in to the apartment and guides himself over to the couch and collapses there with an exasperated sigh.

When Frank asks about the gym, Ray gets tense. His shoulder hunch and he stares down in to his mug of coffee for a moment, as if thinking.

“I quit,” he says and really, Frank’s not surprised.

“I’m not going back either,” Gerard adds and Frank nods, head bobbing back and forth with no real expression because that’s not a surprise to him either.

“Me either,” he says and he chews on his lip when he looks up at his friend and lover. Ray smiles a little and grasps Frank by the shoulder, holding it for a moment and then releasing him without saying a word. He leaves shortly after that with a promise to come by tomorrow with dinner. Pizza. Of course.

“Are you really not going back?” Gerard asks when they’re alone. He slides across the couch to take one of Frank’s hands in both of his, pulling it in to his lap so he can trace Frank’s fingers with his own. Frank shakes his head.

“No, I’m not going back,” he says affirmatively, like he’s telling himself as well.

Gerard kisses him, slow and sweet and careful. He wants more, he wants it all but it’s not the time. Still, though, Frank’s mouth opens to him, warm mouth and wet tongue as Gerard slides himself gently half over Frank. “Good,” he breaths in to Frank’s mouth, lips curling in to a smile pressed against the kiss.

With his head in Gerard’s lap, Frank falls asleep peacefully and in comfort for the first time in days. Running his fingers through Frank’s unwashed hair, Gerard smiles to himself and turns on the TV.

-

The next morning, Frank’s got a voicemail.

“Frank, its dad. I was just calling to check up, see if you’re out of the hospital yet. I guess you are…I don’t know. You should call me sometime. We can go for a beer or something, if you feel up to it. I’d really like that, it’s your call, though. Yeah. Oh, and say hi to Gerard for me. Y’know, you should keep a hold of that guy. You’ve really got a good one there, son. Ok. Bye.”

Gerard’s making breakfast, pulling out pans and things from the fridge as he talks himself through the omelette recipe he Googled not long ago.

Behind his coffee mug, Frank smiles. He definitely could not agree more.

 

The End.

 

BONUS MATERIAL

!!! :)

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